atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,
atomic_fungus
atomic_fungus

#1013: It always seems to take three days

...to fix anything on the van.

The van, as mentioned in a prior entry, blew a power steering hose the weekend before this last one. I, being an intrepid and capable mechanic, set out to replace it Tuesday afternoon.

In theory, it shouldn't be that much of a job: unscrew two connectors, screw in the new ones, and you're done. But this theory doesn't account for the van being driven through 12 Illinois winters and sitting a lot. No; there's a bunch of rust under there, which is the reason I had to replace brake lines and both front calipers back in November, and now have to replace the power steering lines--things which I have never had to replace on any car. (Well, I've had to replace rear calipers on the Fiero. Twice. But that's a seperate issue; the point is, I've never had to replace brake lines or power steering lines on any car I or my family or friends owned.)

The problem is, no carmaker puts anti-seize on parts. It would cost them several dollars per car to do it, and when you're talking manufacturing, "several dollars" is a lot of money even for big-ticket items. It's not $3 for one car; it's $3 for each car of about 1,000,000 that are made plus replacement parts and quality control and suppliers and.... Point is, it adds up quickly.

Anti-seize would be very helpful, though.

The fittings which hold the power steering lines into the steering box are so corroded--and there was so little room around the box inside the engine compartment--that I had actually to remove the steering box itself from the van.

I'm not kidding: forget swinging cats; there isn't enough room to swing my hand in there. The pressure line fitting was 14 mm and the only open-end 14 mm wrench I have is a "stubby", and I couldn't get enough leverage on the thing.

I had to go buy a pickle fork to get the drag link off the pitman arm. Did Ford have the drag link end come down from the top? Oh no; that would make it too easy. I've never needed a pickle fork before but I sure needed one now, so I made another trip to the parts store--the first trip of the day had been for an 18 mm box-end wrench so I could actually get the pressure line off the power steering pump, because the only freaking 18 mm wrench I had was--you guessed it--a stubby. And there was no room to swing a hammer, of course, so I couldn't just knock it loose with the stubby and a hammer.

People who market wrench assortments need to be hauled out of their offices and beaten for not including all sizes from 10 to 19 mm in wrench sets. I have never seen one all-inclusive set for sale anywhere I buy tools. Anywhere.

...so I bought an 18 mm box-end wrench ($6) and a set of crowfoot wrenches ($20) and got the damn line out of the pump.

Anyway, I was looking at the steering box and thinking, "I'd never get that pitman arm off" when it hit me: the pitman arm was connected to the end of the drag link, and if I take that off it won't upset the alignment--so I got everything in order and then discovered there was no way to remove the drag link end without a special tool...so I went and got it.

Once that was done I got the steering box out, and proceeded to knock the offending fitting right out of the box with a hammer and chisel--popped it right loose and it unscrewed nicely. Now I'm waiting for a return line so I can replace that, too, so I don't have to do this job again any time soon. And I need to find a new grease boot for the drag link end. Once I have the parts I can put it back together in an hour or two, fill it with fluid, and call it fixed.

But when I do all the rest of the job, it'll be the third day that I've spent on the job. Just like when I did the brake lines, it's taking me three days to get it done.

And people wonder why I don't want to be a professional mechanic.
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