Thursday, April 14, 2005

Stuck in the Mud

For the five people out there who are fascinated by Range Rovers, I can proudly report that I managed to remove the broken shifter cable from my 1987 Rangie. I plan to install the new one Saturday.

A few weeks ago, a couple of traumatic events occurred, which greatly delayed the repair of the Rover, and yet underscored the desirability of getting it repaired quickly. My wife and I managed to get both of our vehicles (hers an '88 Volvo, mine a '90 Honda) stuck on our muddy road. We were two of at least five who were stuck that day. I was the last one, returning home after an evening shift at one of my jobs.

I managed to stave the heck out of my jerry-rigged exhaust system. I eventually needed to replace everything between the catalytic converter and the muffler. Oh, wasn't that fun, sawing off those bolts under a car with about two feet of clearance afforded by ramps, atop an extremely un-waterproof tarp on a muddy area that averaged fifteen degrees Fahrenheit.

But I get ahead of myself. Before I could try and fix my exhaust, I had to deal with issues that bedeviled my wife's car. Her alternator decided to crap out a couple of days after being extracted from the quagmire. I stayed home from work one day, and took about five hours to remove the cursed thing. I believe we will never buy another Volvo for this reason. I have never seen an alternator so difficult to access and remove.

Anyway, I did manage to get it off and get the new one on. However, because it had been so many hours since I had removed the wiring from the old alternator, and the terminal screws on the new one did not exactly match up position-wise, I decided that the new alternator must be self-grounding through the mounting bolts. This was a major mistake. When I tested the new alternator, all seemed well. However, the grounding wire must have been just touching one of the many spots on the alternator that would ground it. When my lovey-dove undertook again her trip to Portland.....poooof! No go.

At this time, I observed the battery was dead. I charged it, started the car, and tested the charging system again. Everything seemed fine. Then .......pooooof! I figured the battery couldn't handle the load, so we bought a new battery. Everything seemed fine. Then.....pooooof! At least now I was finally able to see that the charging system wasn't working.

So here's a hint to anyone installing a new alternator, especially if you can't figure out where the grounding wire should go: The ground is important. There are probably many places you can attach it. As I discovered, the remanufacturers at Auto Zone had place at least eight small bolt-ends for my grounding convenience.

More later, and peace,


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