atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#3854: Well, at least it happened on my way home.

Fine time for me to be without my cell phone, which was sitting right here on my desk the entire time. *sigh*

So today I had to take my wife's computer to Best Buy again. Same problem as last time, and as the time before that: the thing is blue-screening whenever you try to do anything more complicated than move the mouse around the desktop. WoW can't update without the OS bombing so hard it shuts the entire machine down.

Me, I'm starting to think there's something wrong with the hardware. Mrs. Fungus has hardly used her computer in the past six weeks, so it's hard to see how she could have gotten a virus on the stupid thing. My first thought is "thermal problem" but she wanted it taken in to Best Buy while the extended warranty is still good.

Anyway, I dealt with that and--after browsing through the store and not seeing anything interesting--I headed home.

Perhaps five miles from the store, I went over some railroad tracks and suddenly the Jeep began making a "dragging exhaust" noise. Sighing, I drove to a convenient pull-off point (I was out in the boonies) and stopped the truck--and as I did the noise got worse--and had a gander underneath. Nothing was hanging down, and the noise wasn't egregiously bad, so I got back in and kept driving.

About a mile further on, the noise got worse, so I pulled off again to have another look. Thanks to the fact that we've had soaking rains for four fuckin' days in the Fungal Vale, there was no good place for me to lay on the ground and look under the truck without ending up sopping wet and muddy. There was still nothing obviously wrong, and the wheels and tires and suspension was all in order, so I got back into the truck and drove on at a much lower speed, hazards on.

It was a whirring, grinding noise, the kind of noise you get from a bearing which is about to fail. Considering that it changed timbre when I hit a bump--that is, when the suspension was flexed--I was pretty sure I was losing a universal joint. If I put my hand on the transmission tunnel, though, I could feel the vibration, and I began to have a sickening suspicion that the transfer case had thrown a bearing. That was going to be expensive, I mourned, even if I did get a rebuild kit and do the job myself.

That last is eminently possible, by the way. New Process transfer cases are not nearly as complicated as even a TurboHydromatic 350 is, and guys rebuild T350s in their garages all the damned time. The hard part is getting access to a hydraulic press; the rest is just tearing the thing down, cleaning everything, and reassembling it with good parts. And making sure to refill it with the right gear lube after you get it put back in.

...but it was going to be expensive and tedious, and what if it was something more complicated like the transmission?

I also mulled the possibility that it might be a wheel bearing. The rear bearings would be a pain to do; they don't go bad that often but when they do it's a stinker of a job. The front bearings would be worse, though. It didn't really fit, though, especially since the noise was obviously coming from the center of the truck.

There was now an idiot in a minivan tailgating me in a passing zone because I was only going 40 in a 45, so to make things easier for him I pulled over to the side and slowed down. He slowed down too, so I slowed more; after a few moments I was sitting on the side of the road with this anus stopped in the lane behind me. IN A PASSING ZONE WITH NO ONCOMING TRAFFIC. We just sat there for a few moments, until he finally realized that--gosh!--he could go around me, and then I was able to pull back onto the road and go slow.

As I drove on, I figured it almost had to be a u-joint, though. The sound changed when the suspension flexed, and no other component I could think of would do that. The transfer case is mounted to the chassis and doesn't move, and the noise was coming from far enough back that it was behind the transfer case anyway.

I drove into the industrial park, where the speed limits are lower, and fretted as the noise kept getting worse. There still wasn't a good place to stop, and if something came loose I wanted to be near a telephone. There was a gas station about two miles from where I was now, and if I could just limp it there then I could have a reasonably safe place to check out the issue without worrying about being on private property, or having to leave the truck while I hoofed it to the gas station.

Problem is, I know how much a u-joint flexes. The dang things rock back and forth about ten or twenty degrees twice per revolution; when you're in fourth gear and the engine's turning 2,000 RPM it means the output shaft of the transmission is turning some 2,100 times per minute, which means that u-joint's spider is moving 4,200 times per minute. They use greased needle bearings in those things for a reason.

I had this mental image of the thing going SPUKK and leaving me with no drive shaft in the middle of nowhere. As bad as that would be, my Jeep has a part-time 4WD system; because the transfer case doesn't have a differential in it, I do believe I could engage the 4WD and have, temporarily, a front-wheel-drive Jeep. But I'd have to get under the thing and either remove, or wire up, the rear shaft so that it wouldn't drag.

Finally, the gas station hove into sight. I pulled off the road and into a corner of the parking lot where it was dry; after shutting off the engine I shinnyed under the truck to see what the hell was going on.

First I looked at the drive shaft. There was nothing obviously wrong, but then a bad u-joint probably wouldn't look bad to casual inspection. The transfer case--no leaks, nothing out of the ordinary there. The noise was loud enough that I'd expect a bad output bearing to be smoking, but everything looked exactly as it should.

And then my eye fell on the heat shield.

It's a piece of metal perhaps a foot by twenty inches, it had gotten loose from its proper location, and it somehow had wedged itself above the driveshaft. I wiggled it out and saw the patch on the metal where it had been rubbing against the driveshaft; I tossed it into the back seat and got back into the truck, and drove home without a single extraneous noise from the truck.

The noise changing when the suspension flexed was the key symptom. It got louder when I stepped on the brakes, too. Hearing that led me to think that it probably wasn't a major assembly just because--as I said--the major assemblies are hard-mounted and don't move. Even the rear axle bearings wouldn't change their sound based on suspension flex; they might get quieter if the truck was jacked up (and they were unloaded) but you wouldn't be able to hear that while driving.

But what does happen is that--when you step on the brakes--the truck's body tends to lean forward, which allows the rear suspension to unload, which changes the driveshaft angle slightly...and which therefore changed the noise made by the driveshaft rubbing on the displaced heat shield.

I'll take it. I am just as happy to have it be a stupid heat shield falling off the truck, believe me, because all the alternatives were at best a royal pain in the ass. I mean, hell--I could probably swap a drive shaft u-joint in half an hour without too much fussing; maybe an hour, considering I've only done it once and that was eight years ago. But with the excessive rain we've been having it would not have been a pleasant task to tackle. (The transfer case would be ten times worse and ten times more expensive. The transmission would be a hundred times more expensive; this way lies ruin.)

* * *

3 TB hard drive at Best Buy for $140, which ain't too shabby considering they're still selling 1 TB drives for about $70.

* * *

Yesterday, Mrs. Fungus went to a salon to get her hair done, and I tagged along because she goes to a salon up by her job and not far from me old stompin' grounds in Lombard. I dropped her off at the mall and then went to Fry's, where I saw LEDs that might (or might not) fit the bill for the motorcycle's gear indicator. They were $1 apiece and the label said "12v with resistor" but the back of the card gave resistor information for using the LED with 12V sources, so I decided not to waste money on an experiment. I'm just going to have to search on-line for the damned things.

Then I took a gander at their anime section. There was a whole lotta nothin'; mostly it was the stuff that's the most popular among kids who style themselves anime fans but can't read subtitles and only watch what's broadcast on TV.

In one gondola they had an array of "S.A.V.E." anime: "Super Amazing Value Edition", and they had various titles including the Oh! My Goddess! TV series...and Suzuka.

Suzuka is that manga series I was reading a couple of years ago, and sometime in the last 15 months or so I had learned there was an anime series of it, and I tried to find it. The one torrent I found was dead, though, so I had to give up on it; now, here was the entire firkin' series sitting on a shelf in front of me, and it was a snip at $11.99.

I mulled it. I'm not in the place to be buying anime right now, that's for sure. But the price was stinking low--$12--where other series on that shelf were $20 and up. That's $0.50 per episode, and I knew I liked the manga.

Then I realized that If I let this go, I may never see it again, so I bought it.

Truly, the life of the otaku is fraught with peril.

* * *

My electric toothbrush has given up the ghost.

Specifically, the brush head itself has died. The motor still works and the battery holds plenty of charge, but it's gotten to the point now that even though the motor runs, the shaft that moves the brush head doesn't do that any longer; I can stop the thing with my thumb. If my thumb can stop the brush, then for damned sure the brush is not doing a very good job of cleaning my teeth.

I suppose I could buy a new brush head ($8 for a two-pack) and try it--it would be the fifth time I'd bought a pack of new heads and put one on--but I've had this toothbrush since late 2005 and I think it's time to get a new one. WTF, that's only seven and a half years; it's got plenty of life left in it!


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