atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#131: Adventures In Escort Repair 1

..."1" because I'm sure there will be more.

Whoever designed the steering column for the Escort should be raped with a mallet. This is just god-awful.

The ignition switch on the red Escort broke. It was broken when I bought it, when I intended to use the car for parts to repair my green Escort. Well, I decided not to go that way; the red Escort will be repaired with parts from the green one.

First thing is the ignition lock!

You could turn the key without much resistance to any position, and it would stay there. The car would not start or run unless you jumped the starter solenoid. Well, I got the ignition switch off the lock assembly and found a tiny piece of metal had broken--the tiny piece of metal which actually turns the switch from "OFF" to "RUN" to "START" and such. This tiny piece of metal is barely 1/4" square, by about 3/32" thick, and it has a big inclusion (empty bubble) right in the middle of it: | O | so that about 1/3 of its thickness is just empty space. And it looks like pot metal.

No wonder it broke.

The lock assembly is secured to the column with two bolts. As much as I tried to figure it out, I could not understand how a mechanic was expected to disassemble the thing...or, in fact, if he was expected to disassemble it at all. A bit of thread was visible between lock assembly and plate, but there was no obvious way to turn the implied bolts, nor any kind of obvious method of assembly. HOW had they put this together??

WELL, some nameless Ford/Mazda engineer specified special bolts for this situation. They are designed to be tightened only so far, at which point the heads


of the bolts, leaving round bits which are just big enough to secure the lock assembly to the column. To remove these abominations, one must cut a slot in the remaining head of the bolt and then use a screwdriver to loosen them. These bolts are then thrown away and new ones used to reassemble the column when repairs are complete.

You must also use a brand new bolt to reattach the steering wheel, too.

I am living in fear of what these bolts must cost. I may just substitute new stainless steel hardware and a little Loctite. But I have another problem.

In order to make this repair, I must remove the lock cylinder from this broken assembly. I wish to use the same one in the replacement assembly, you see, so that I don't have to pay a locksmith to recode the tumblers, nor have one key to unlock doors and one to start the car. This is not unreasonable, I think, since I have all the parts required on hand already. There is just one minor problem with this.

The lock cylinder is secured in the assembly with two hardened roll pins. Could Ford have used hardened steel of this quality to make the part which broke? Could Ford have just used NON-hardened steel of this quality to make the part which broke? Forevermore, why on Earth would they do that??? The car might never need a new ignition switch assembly (costing no less than around $150, plus at least $200 in labor) if they did that. And this way they saved a few bucks per car. No no NOOO no, that part is pot metal! Like it or lump it! If you want a part like that to be made out of something durable, you shouldn't be buying an Escort!

As for the roll pins, I can't get them out. They don't mind being drilled, tapped, screwed, or hit with a punch. They won't move. They're in blind holes so you can't drive them out the other side. Most of the time, you use a roll pin in that kind of application. My 1985 Fiero uses a roll pin to secure the distributor drive gear onto the distributor shaft. That's no problem; you can press or drive the thing out in a couple of minutes. But in blind holes, roll pins must be pulled out.

I have an idea on how to remove them, but this idea must wait until the hardware store opens and I can go buy some self-tapping machine screws which are long enough to fit into a slide hammer. (Don't ask. Just...don't ask.)

The use of "torque-to-yield" hardware is just insane. I understand that it has certain advantages over reusable hardware, but no one has ever bothered to explain what those advantages are, nor why automotive engineers insist on having them. It seems to me that such hardware is better used in applications where a weight difference of a few grams per bolt is critical, rather than merely desirable. If a Ford Escort weighed 85 lbs more because all its fasteners were cheap grade 8 bolts, would it really matter all that much?

The problem is these engineers think they're building Formula 1 race cars. They get bonuses based on how much weight they can pare from the car, and the end result is stupid fasteners which have heads which break off; torque-to-yield bolts which hold on cylinder heads and steering wheels; crappy ignition switches which break easily; and steering columns which collapse when the air bag goes off.

That last is what seems to have happened on the green car. I'm guessing that the 1" or so of end float the steering column acquired came from reaction to the air bag inflation. That's why I can't just take the entire steering column out of the green car and swap it into the red one. That would be EASY, you see. But no, the steering column is no good, so I'm stuck with having to dick around with this ludicrous and stupid over-engineered nonsense.

As I said above, expect this to be part one of a series. I'm nowhere near done with this bullshit yet.

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