Too old for this?

Every man gets everything he wants. I wanted a mission. And for my sins they gave me one. Brought it up to me like room service.

Capt. Benjamin Willard in Apocalypse Now

The boy brought his old hoopty over to do some repairs. He has a new car and really doesn’t need an eleven year old Mazda hanging around so he’s selling it to his sister, for a nominal fee I’m guessing. He’s being exceedingly gracious by piling dough into the thing – New plugs, serpentine belt, half-shafts (driveshafts), and tires. I’ve sold my sisters more than one car and simply told them what had to be fixed, if I even remembered. Times have changed, I guess.

Like the quote above, I wanted my kids to understand how to fix things, especially cars. And for my sins, I end helping when they bring them over. And why not? I have the tools. And for half-shafts you need big tools. Breaker bars, big wrenches and sockets, a floor jack, jack stands, and an impact wrench are pretty much required.

It’s those shafts I was dreading. I have a set for my own car sitting in my garage that I’ve been dragging my feet to install. But my shoulder still isn’t 100%. It’s pretty painful to be under a car reaching up. So the plan was to have a friend of a friend that’s a mechanic do them on the side.

I’ve done them quite a bit in the past. Every time the Boy wiped out in our old Avalon, we’d put it back together. I think I’ve replaced the shafts and struts 4-5 times in that car. The thing is, a Toyota 1MZ 3.0l Six has bolts – like lugnuts on the driveshafts. So they are pretty easy to replace. My car, and his, has splines, which is somewhat trickier.

Especially if you watch the youtubes and the fool glances over the important parts. More on that in a minute.

So he went about tearing the suspension down on the drinker side while I busied myself with spark plugs. Man, this is a Japanese car, but Ford owns a chunk of them and I can smell the stink of Ford engineering idiocy miles away. You have to take the intake manifold off to get to the rear plugs. Pretty tedious process.

Then, the fun began.

We went to pull the shaft out and it came apart. Apparently, Mr. Youtubes mechanic was wrong. You don’t pull. So, axle grease everywhere. The thing to do in these situations is eyeball the new part for clues on how to remove the old part. No Bueno. RockAuto shipped the wrong part. Right part number, wrong part inside. So back to youtubes. Another Mr. Youtubes mechanic said you just remove the bearing mount.

No. You don’t. You can’t get to it, and even if you did, it has an exhaust mount bolted on top of it, and that ain’t moving. I farted with this for hours as the Boy went on a quest for the right part. When he got back we sized it up. It has a smooth surface, and it’s splines are ‘female’. Huh.

So I did the right and beat the snot out of the stuck part with a sledgehammer and it popped off. All downhill from here…


Wrong part. They gave him a 4 cylinder part. Too small. And the store closed. So he moved to the Captain side and knocked that out pretty quickly.

Keep in mind, my old ass had been going under the car all afternoon so I could frustrate myself and hone my cussing skills. And nearly every time I got out from under I caught a sloppy dog kiss right on the face from the doofus, Jasper, who was hanging with Jethro watching the show.

Poke your head out from under the car? Get it in the face. Lean down to do something, get it in the ear. I guess if that’s all I had to deal with, I was doing well. For whatever reason, they kept a wide berth from the grease. That would’ve been a colossal mess.

Around dinner time, we were done for the day. The whole scene reminded me of every time I had a torn up car in my old man’s driveway. “ this is what it was like…”

The next day, I knocked out the belt. And once the Boy showed up with the proper part, the front end went back together pretty fast. I’ll give the dude credit, he kept his cool better than me, and even cleaned up, putting the tools back where he found them. Man rules must be observed, don’tcha know.

As I followed him home to drop it off I noticed it’s really a nice car. Clean, shiny, well maintained. Doesn’t look it’s age hardly at all.

Such a deal!

Now I have to tackle mine. No youtubes. I bought the service manual.