Tuesday, 16 September 2014

It never rains, but it pours ...

Here in West Oz, it rains infrequently, and lightly, but sometimes we get a cloud-burst. This happens less often that the Climate Change alarmists would like us to believe, but it does happen.

When it does rain, however, the falling sky-water hits roads that are laden with the drips of oil from many thousands of cars, and lo, the roads become skating rinks. It is one of the developed world's less admirable magic tricks. The collision rate goes up, as drivers unused to such conditions fail to modify their driving behaviour, and slides become OOPS, OH SHIT, CRASH!

We had such a cloud-burst recently (well, "recently" relative to how often I post here), but this post is not about a collision, it's about the fact that drainage systems designed around light and infrequent rain cannot handle a deluge, and how standing water in a hollow at night is almost impossible to see in street lights.

I hit the damn puddle at 20 kph - it would have been 70 kph, but for the stab at the brakes prompted by a fleeting reflection of the moon off a wind-blown ripple. The bow-wave was impressive. Just as impressive was the gluteal clench - the air intake on my 944 is low in the nose (better for to breathe cold air, my dear), and I was convinced that the engine would ingest enough water to hydrolock and break something. Stunningly it didn't. I changed down to first gear, kept the revs low, and emerged, apparently unscathed, on the far dark shore.

I say "apparently" as a few days later, strange noises began to emanate from under the bonnet. It rapidly got worse, until it was impossible for anyone with any mechanical sympathy to drive it. It sounded like three of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse were having a bar fight in full medieval armour, while the fourth played drums.

Of course, all the good tools I own are at my workshop, along with the hoist, and getting there with the car was now impossible. What fun - working on my back under a car, in a two car garage, at night, in the cold, without the right tools.

Surprisingly, the culprit was easy to find - bearings in both alternator (probably original) and AC compressor (recently replaced - for some values of recently) complaining about their recent bath.

Exchange Alternator - $600+
Exchange compressor - $800+
Bearings to do it myself - $35

Even buying a cheap Chinese press to make the job easier would leave me $1000+ to the good. Guess which option I chose.

With the car on ramps, I removed all the stuff the paint shop conveniently forgot to replace, then the alternator and compressor, conveniently both driven by the same belt.

Four hours to remove; two hours to clean, disassemble, and clean; two hours to replace four bearings and reassemble; three hours to reinstall, button up, and put the tools away. Normally one long day, but done over three nights.

Result? Success! It's not silent - there are too many heavy, greasy bits whirling around, not to mention the whole suck-squeeze-bang-blow thing going on - but the bits that shouldn't be making noise now can't be heard.

Anybody want to buy a cheap Chinese automotive press? Only used once!

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