Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Long Time No Blog

Pardon my lapse! Its been a while since I last posted and do I have a good excuse for not writing? Short answer: no. Long answer: no, but I've been busy. . .very busy. Honest!

Since my last post I have been helping my brother, Nathan, rebuild the front steering and suspension on his ’98 Jetta. Nine years of ruts, pot holes and frost heaves had pounded that poor car’s undercarriage until it was as sloppy and loose as a. . . well, you get the idea. Last year, I had replaced all four dampeners with Boge Turbo struts and that was a good start and seemed to be the fix. But, old cars need constant love and attention. This time around the steering was getting wicked sluggish and there seemed to be a general clunkiness to the suspension. Based on the symptoms, we determined that the power steering rack had gone to its final reward and needed to be replaced. To replace the steering rack, the sub frame to which the engine and transmission are mounted, must be detached and lowered. This requires that the engine be supported. To do this, we borrowed one of those engine support bars from a mutual friend who goes by the name Cheeseman. The engine support bar sits on the fender rails and has two chain-mounted hooks that can be used to raise and hold the engine in place while the sub frame is detached.

Because the motor mounts are unbolted during this procedure, we decided to replace them. Also, we decided to replace the ball joints and tie-rod ends. After all, removing these parts was required to get to the rack, so, why not put the car back together with as many new parts as possible? Certainly, the tie-rod ends and ball joints were not completely fatigued but, considering road conditions, it was only a matter of time before these parts failed. By no means is this a new philosophy. I once had a dentist who operated under this mentality. “Well, you have a cavity that I need to take care of. And since I’m in the neighborhood I should fill the rest of your teeth too. They haven’t started to rot yet, but, it’s only a matter of time.” He was also a bit conservative with Novocain. I don’t go to see this dentist anymore. In fact, I haven’t been to a dentist in years. In addition to the parts above we also replaced the power steering lines and power steering pump. We did this because all of these parts were showing signs of wear. The steering lines were rusted and brittle and the pump whined like a country music singer. Needless to say, with all the new parts, the car now drives like new.

My next project is to replace the ball joints, control arms and tie-rod ends on my Saturn. After that, I have to rebuild the suspension on the Audi A6. So, it might be a while before you hear from me again.

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