Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Southern Pet Peeve - The Mechanic's Instructions

Living and working in the South is a joy and has given me the opportunity to learn a great deal.   Not the least of which is car repair.  As long at it's on the outside of the engine, I'm ready and willing to tackle the job. As you can see above, this last repair - all shiny and beautifully installed - is a water pump on my 10 year old jeep.  The pulley is the last item to be put on, and it is also the pet peeve I have with so many so called 'experts' in the field.  

Before I even attempted this repair, I took the time to hit the Internet looking for tips, tricks and downright full instructions on how to a) remove and b) replace the water pump.  What I found was both enlightening and infuriating.  

On one site, I was told there were only 4 bolts you need to remove to take the water pump off (there are actually 5.) In another reference, I was told to loosen and remove the Power Steering Pump (there is no need to do this,)  and in a video I found, they started with the water pump already OFF the engine.  THIS is my rant this week. And Rant I will, just you stand back and hunker down so none of it gets on you. 

In order to remove the water pump (5 bolts, using a 1/2" socket) you must first remove the pulley.  There is no way to get to most of the bolts with the pulley in place. In most of the places which actually said to first remove the pulley, the instructions were exact: "Remove the pulley."  Yes, that's it. "Remove the Pulley." and in one place it was just "Remove Pulley" as if it was a generically known step.  No instruction on HOW to remove the pulley. Not in Chilton's, or Haynes' manuals, not the videos or even over on the JEEP expert forums. 

Ok, off to the Auto Parts Store where, I am told, they rent a special TOOL just for removing the pulley ($50, but when returned, you get the entire $50 refunded!)  I asked them and they were gracious enough to show me how to use the tool.  We went out to my car and they looked at the Pulley and said "Oh you don't need this tool, just remove those 4 bolts and pull off the pulley."  I was ecstatic!  4 little bolts! Just PULL OFF the pulley! I rushed home and got right to dismantling things to get to the water pump and get it all replaced.  

And again, I hit a snag.  In every description of how to remove the water pump, there is also a simple statement 'remove the fan/shroud by taking off the 4 bolts which hold it in place.' At least this time they told me there were 4 bolts (10mm, in case you're taking notes.) Yet there is no mention of the fact that you need to have an angled 10mm wrench and the hands of a 9 year old boy on the arms of a contortionist in order to get TO the bolts.  3 hours of work (which included bending one of my wrenches using my vice and a big hammer) and the shroud comes out.  Just the shroud.  I was so happy, I nearly cried.

Now, as told by the 'experts' at the Auto Parts Store, I remove the 4 bolts and the Pulley - is stuck in place.  It won't 'pull off' no matter how I work on it. I grab it with both hands and yank it - HARD. No dice. I rap it with the wrench and a rubber mallet (careful, don't want to bend it out of shape.) Still no movement. I worked under the edges with a lever - nothing. 30 minutes turned into an hour and the pulley is firmly in place. At this point I should mention that cursing at it like a drunken sailor also made no difference.  Go figure. 

After a lunch, suggested by my lovely Mrs., as a way keep my blood pressure in check, I took up the new water pump and threatened to toss it on the roof of the house. It was at that point that I noticed a couple of odd fingernail shaped cut outs next to each of the bolt holes.  Looking at the @^%$! Pulley still stuck on the car, I could see that these cut outs were still visible, albeit just barely. See what I mean?  

I then got the AMAZINGLY CLEVER idea that a small screwdriver worked into these spots might assist in loosening the Pulley...BINGO, the pulley came off with no additional cursing and, of course, no needed retrieval of the new water pump from the roof.

As you can also see, the peeve I mentioned stands. NO WHERE in anything I had read, not by Chilton's, not by Haynes, not by the experts on the Internet or from the so-called experts in the Auto Parts Store mentioned these little curved slots as a way to loosen the pulley.  Even Neighbor Bubba, who came over to help remove the shroud, (you didn't think I did that alone, did you?) didn't know about the slots, but feels that my figuring this out is merely one step closer to my being considered a Good Ol' Boy and certified shade tree mechanic. Will wonders never cease... 

Now, if I can just get the manuals all changed and the experts educated.  
It's going to be a long hot summer here in the South.  

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