Monday, October 26, 2015

Transmission Cooler Line Leak Fix.

Disclaimer: Transmissions are EXPENSIVE and depending on the make, year and model can be VERY difficult to remove and replace if a line comes apart under pressure and destroys same. Any hydraulic line should be considered under very high pressure and so much so as to inject fluid under your skin. The pieces are very sharp and can cause some nasty injuries to skin and eyes. Injuries due to slips and falls can happen do to fluid that is not in a container. Property damage can also occur including to pavement, your vehicle, clothing or other property. Wear personal protection equipment such as eye and hand protection when working on a vehicle. I have no control over the quality of your work, the condition of your vehicle, or the situation of your work environment. When in doubt over the quality of material, your competence or state of sobriety, use OEM parts and/or consult a competent automotive professional to perform the work. Perform any and all repairs at your our risk. This is for informational purposes ONLY!

Back in the day, I could re-plumb transmission lines on the family Oldsmobile in about ten or fifteen minutes with a hoist, wrench, a set of steel lines and my mitts to bend them to shape. Today, cars and trucks are using hybrid lines made of steel, with rubber hoses at the vibration points with crimped aluminum fittings at each end. What's more is that the steel ends are usually quick connected into the radiator and held into the transmission with a flange. In time, the steel part of these lines will rust out and develop a leak, meaning replacing the entire line with an OEM or fabricated part from a steel line and a flaring tool. This is the proper way to do it and will last the longest, but the problem is that most of us drive an old car or truck already. These lines are expensive for the OEM ones and a bit time consuming for the ones you fabricate. Especially if you want to do a professional job. Again, if the steel part is leaking, this is the only way to go.

However, the rubber hoses are usually the culprit, especially on the pressure line. They deteriorate with heat, age and pressure until they shrink inside of their crimped ends and form a leak. This is usually apparent by transmission fluid wetting the outside of these parts. The first thought would be to replace the entire part and that answer should be a resounding "yes"! Even so, there are times that the part is either not available from the neighborhood auto parts store, is too expensive or one or both of the ends is going to be too difficult to get at. While this should be a non issue with the proper equipment, there are instances that we don't have time to fight with these parts. As forbidding as this job looks, you should be able to do this with a minimum of tools, materials, time and money. You'll need, a funnel, a cutting wheel, or a drill motor with a 1/4" or 7mm bit, as well as side cutters, a set of pliers, a small tubing cutter, a utility knife or other material to cut the new hose. For materials, you will need transmission cooler hose that fits very snugly over the steel line (this is where a competent auto parts person helps, because if the lines slips off easily, IT WILL LEAK), a pair or two of fuel injection hose clamps to fit over those lines snugly (these differ from the heater hose clamps in that the bands are solid and a screw and nut cinch the clamp around the rubber line {heater hose clamps will NOT work}), and a quart or two of your favorite transmission fluid. You might also want a catch pan and rags to clean up spills.

Remove the aluminum crimps over the line with either a tubing cutter on the OUTER layer (Do NOT cut off on the steel line), by cutting lengthwise with a cutting wheel, or carefully drilling a series of holes so you can peel the crimp off the rubber line . Again, do NOT damage the steel line. Then you can remove the rubber hose and a new piece to fit. Install a clamp over where the serrations are on the steel line over the rubber and tighten securely. Carefully fill the transmission with enough fluid to replace what you lost, but do not overfill. Start your vehicle and check for leaks, tightening the clamps and wiping any fluid off the outside of the lines. For the next few days, make a habit of checking these for leaks and as long as they stay dry, mission accomplished. Maranatha!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Before Calling For Service...

...On Your Furnace
  • Check your filter, if it is dirty, replace it. One inch filters need to be checked monthly and replaced when plugged. These will cause your furnace to go off on limit and heat sporadically, if at all. 
  • Replace the batteries in your thermostat if it's digital. This is a frequent reason for a no heat. 
  • Are the switches on? Make sure the breaker, switch on the handy box, and the gas is turned on. 
  • If your furnace is a condensing one? If the drains are clogged, these furnaces won't operate. A condensing furnace has plastic pipes to vent the exhaust gases as opposed to a metal duct. These also have a plastic pipe that goes out the bottom into a drain or pump. It's a good idea to make sure the water is flowing into the drain or pump. The pump should be cleaned out twice a year.
  • Check your gas meter to make sure this is turned on.  
...On Your Water Heater. 
  • Is the thermostat high enough? Make sure that this isn't turned to "vacation". 
  • If your's is a standing pilot model, is the pilot on? 
  • Check you gas meter to make sure this isn't turned off. 
...On Your Dryer/Electric 
  • if it's not heating, or not heating enough, but tumbling okay, the circuit breaker or fuse might be bad. Turn this off then on to see if this helps. If so, you need to replace the circuit breaker or a fuse. Unless you know how to test for this, better call in a pro. 
  • Is the vent plugged? Vents that are higher up tend to get bird's nests. Check that the birdscreen on the vent caps is clean and if they're lower than two or three feet, it's best to remove them. 
  • Check the duct under the lint filter. If this is full of debris, it will slow airflow down. 
  • Is the venting longer than 25 feet? Each 90 degree elbow is like adding five additional feet of pipe/ Make sure that venting isn't crushed or kinked. 
  • Comforters, pillows, coats and other layered garments not drying on automatic cycle. Moisture sensors are designed to read the surface of a garment. Because of this the shell can be dry, but the lining sopping wet; use the timed cycle or take to the laundromat. 
  • Wrinkle Care cycle not working. These aren't designed to run continuously in this cycle, and "wrinkle care" doesn't mean "wrinkle free". Some units only move the drum a few inches every 30 minutes or so. 
...On Your Dryer/Gas
  • Same as electric, but since the heat comes from burning gas, voltage problems from the breaker will result in a no start. 
  • Is the gas cock turned on? 
...On Your Dishwasher
  • White spots on dishes? These are usually caused bu hard water. If you have a water softener, make sure this is operating. If there are hookups for one, you need to get one. 
  • Not draining and put in a new garbage disposal? Remove the drain hose for the dishwasher from the disposal and insert a screwdriver into the fitting. Likely the plug didn't get knocked out. A screwdriver, hammer and a pair of pliers will be needed to knock out the plug. 
  • Machine not cleaning? Clean the wash arms, inspect and clean the filter on some models. Use a good quality soap and drying agent. Run hot water on tap before starting cycle.
  • Dishwasher odor. High loop or air gap needs to be installed. A loop of the drain hose needs to be higher than the drain fitting and secured with a zip tie. This ill keep dirty water out of the dishwasher. 
...On Your Washer

  • Water leaks from front of door on front loaders. Clean the inside of the door as one hair can get between the seal and cause it to leak. 
  • Washer unbalanced. Double check it to make sure is is level. 
  • Washer not draining. Check to see if drain hose is in too far in the stand pipe. Six inches is more than enough. On many front loaders there is a cleanout filter that you can remove. Read your manual. 
  • Miscellaneous Washer issues. Modern washers don't like rubber backed rugs to the point it can interrupt cycles. Too much soap can cause a multitude of errors. Try cleaning it with a good quality washer cleaner and run it a few times before calling for service. Rugs need to go to the laundromat. Shoes should never be washed in a front load washer as these can damage the boot. 
...On Your Microwave (over the range) 
  • Touch pad acting erratically. Make vents are clear if you recirculate as condensation can build up. 
  • Not working. Check circuit breaker and plug first. 
...On Your Air Conditioner
  • Ice building up and poor airflow. Clean or replace the filter and run the blower. If the filter is clean you need to call a contractor. 
  • Fan outside works, but no cooling. Reset circuit breaker. 
  • Water leaks. Clean the drain trap if practical. 
  • Poor cooling on through the wall units with high electric bills. This is counter-intuitive, but the capacity on these units is limited. They need to run all day to remove the heat and humidity with the doors, windows and the vents inside the units closed. Starting the unit at five in the afternoon on a 95 degree day with 70 percent humidity with the windows open will only make it work harder and cost you more to operate. If the temperature coming out is 10 or 15 degrees lower than that going in, it's doing the best it can.  

A Look At Silicone Wedding Bands.

As a service tech and hopefully soon to be handyman, I've managed to lose or destroy 4 wedding bands in the past 21 years of marriage. The first one I nearly degloved a finger when it got crushed working at the prison in Southern Michigan, the second got lost when it got too big (mind you these were GOLD bands). I also arced a titanium one on a battery terminal and the last one is too small as my hands have swollen in recent years. My stepfather crushed his hand in a lift, and had he been wearing a wedding band, they would have had to remove his finger. For the past 20 years, I have seldom worn a piece of jewelry as the price has been too high for something I can damage or lose so easy. My hobbies are equally hard on rings. Car repairs, shooting (not so much lately) home repairs, also can cause a problem with metal rings.

On the other hand, no pun intended, there are considerations when working in people's homes especially with women. I believe in being professional and moral when working in people's homes and the presence of a wedding band provides a source of reassurance of your virtue. I love my wife and she understands that I'm not nor will probably never be a paper pusher or desk jockey. However, she would love to have me wearing a band as she has faithfully done over two decades. Even so wedding rings can and do scratch appliances, and contact with a live voltage source can result in a painful electrical burn. If 12 volts can weld a ring, imagine what 120 volts will do. I need my hands a little while longer...

This week, I stumbled on a solution in the form of a band made of silicone. It's not new for jewelry because bracelets have been made of this material for a decade or so. These come from a variety of sources. and are priced anywhere from a few dollars to $20. I got two of them for about $16 with shipping at today. A black and a grey one (Mrs. Grace like the grey one). I ordered a size 11 and though the fit was tight at first, it has gotten more comfortable over the few minute I've had it on. The material is a medical grade, hypoallergenic, silicone. It looks like a ring, but is very light, soft and resilient. One might compare it to a rubber band, but a rubber band is constricting. This material is odorless, smooth and warm compared to the cold harness of a metal ring. Even though my fingers have swollen over the course of my work. this ring is fairly easy to put on and take off, not that you would ever need to take this one off for any reason. It won't scratch like metal, nor will it conduct electricity. If it gets caught one something, it will break long before a finger is amputated or degloved (this is when the meat is pulled from the bone).

Another contention is that I've allergic to metal and will get dermatitis wearing the wrong kind of watch or ring. Since silicone is inert, hopefully this won't be an issue. If anything comes up, I will update you. Maranatha!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

When It's Best To Hire Something Out

I wished I could come up with a better title, and that my computer was set up, but the tablet will have to do. Tomorrow, the home office will be set up and I can type to my hearts content, or as long as my tendonitis holds off, but I digress. For those who follow this blog, we added a 2006 Pontiac Torrent to the Fixing Grace fleet in June of 2014. Thus far, we've replaced the alternator, battery, rear brakes, right rear bearing, a water pipe, and some bulbs. This is with 8000 miles of driving. We also had the car flood out due to a mafunctioning moonroof that let 3 or 4 inches of water inside. The insurance company replaced the pad, cleaned the carpet, while we paid to have the mechanism straightened out and deactivated. I also sealed the same with some clear silicone. Not one more leak since.
The one no that happened to the car in July was that a wheel bearing started calling it quits. I replaced the right rear after trying to use an old iPhone and zip ties to pin down the source of the noise.
The left front bearing was the one that had called it a day, and we got a "deal" on some new ones for the front.
The job was simple enough; one that I had done several times on other GM vehicles. There was a 34mm axle nut, four bolts holding the brake on, and three holding the bearing on the steering knuckle. Even though I broke a socket wrench, which was fortunately a Craftsman it took me less than 30 minutes to get these bolts undone. The problem was that the steel bearing had fused itself to the aluminum steering knuckle.
May I stop here for a minute? If you're an engineer, designer, metallurgist, or other decision maker for General Motors, may I pose this question? HOW, and why and WHAT don't you understand about galvanic corrosion? Was saving 40 pounds really worth making a scenario that even mechanics deem cringe worthy? While I agree that Ford's bearings are just as poorly serviceable, at least you can remove them with the proper tools without using a gas wrench.
I spent eight hours hammering, chiseling, hammering, pulling, spraying every anticorrosive known to man on this subhuman setup. I messed up my hands trying to get our car ready for the weekend. Instead, we drove my pickup to meet friends 85 miles away. All the while, the Torrent was propped on a jack stand with the spare tire on the three remaining studs.
I hit this so hard I damaged the brake shield and bent the flange, but the bearing would not budge. When I finally relented to take this to the neighborhood repair shop, I didn't even install the bolts into the bearing to drive this the block to same. It cost us about $100 to replace the beaten, worn and jacked up bearing with my provided replacement, but it was worth it in the end. The mechanic had to use a cutting torch to get this mess out of the steering knuckle. The result is that the car rides as quiet at the day we bought it.  
When two dissimilar metals are exposed to water or salt and water, they corrode. As I wear a brace on my wrist, and still feel the tingling in my hands, I've realized there are times it is much better to have someone else fix things. Even if you know what you're doing, there is a real savings in calling a professional. Time lost, damage to your body, lost tempers (mine was in check, but I was ticked) and the thought of having a vehicle propped up was costly enough. I'm all about d.i.y., but it's more than money at stake when repairs are involved. Make sure you can foot the bill when you do it yourself, because in many cases its best to call a pro who does is day in and day out. Even I don't fix cars that often. Maranatha!