A journey into the workshop. #106: Interesting past couple of days...

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Blog entry by dbhost posted 06-28-2016 07:52 PM 859 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 105: I found my hole saws! More shop cleanup. Part 106 of A journey into the workshop. series Part 107: Another interesting evening... More car stuff, more deck stuff. »

It would appear that I have been putting off finishing the A/C repairs on the Saturn off just a wee bit too long….

We don’t drive that car much because, well we have the Malibu that is a much nicer car, especially with my back issues, I don’t have to contort my back to get in and out of it like I do the Saturn.

Well Sunday night my wife and I were driving out somewhere, don’t recall off hand, about 9 P.M. ish when we heard a horrid noise and the car heated up in a hurry. I pulled over and investigated.

The horrid squeal was coming from the passengers side front, at the top, there was a horrid squeal that seemed to be coming from the upper idler pulley. And it was too late to get parts…

So yesterday we fired up the Saturn, drove to work, sweating our way in, and drove home from work stopping at Advance Auto Parts, again sweating to death in the process…

How did people live here before cars had A.C.?

I digress…

So I figured if the idler was bad, the tensioner was probably bad. So I went ahead and stripped the gobs of plastic off the engine to get to the belt area.

I had to put my non inconsequential weight into getting the tensioner to give me enough slack tot he belt, So the tensioner is good, no need to go back with that.

I pulled the suspect idler pulley and checked the bearing, perfectly smooth. Then went on to the AC compressor, perfectly smooth, then alternator, smooth again, lower idler smooth, tensioner, smooth, upper rear idler felt a little “gritty,” but not bad enough to do what this was doing, so I replaced it for reliability sake, and lastly… the Water pump.

Now how this thing didn’t just gush coolant out I don’t know, but it felt as if the bearing had simply exploded , there was approximately 1/2” of play fore and aft to this thing…

I ran back to the parts house, exchanged parts and got the brand new lifetime warranty water pump for $19.99, plus another $20.00 for anti freeze, and a small cheap tube of RTV sealant. Regular tubes of RTV dry up and go to waste LONG before I can use them up.

I wish I had videoed me purging the air out of the system after I got it all back together, I couldn’t find any sort of bleeder screw, so I did the next best thing, pumping the lower radiator hose, which resulted in a sound not unlike a beer belch coming from the coolant reservoir.

Now that this is all said and done, we are good to go with the Malibu, but I guarantee that we will be moving forward with getting the Saturn into my BILs shop soonest possible to get the rest of the AC system hooked back up, (everything is capped off now), then pumped down, and tested, filled up with PAG oil and R134A, and again, tested.

While it is in there, I am going to replace the rear wheel cylinders, bleed the brakes, and re-lube the parking brake cable and brake shoe to backing plate contact pints. There has been some hanging of the rear brakes taking the parking brake off.

Now remember what I said about shop progress and getting the shop AC on the bench? If not, let me brush you up. I needed to get car parts out of the shop, to make room to move the AC over and onto the workbench.

Well, all of the parts are now out of the shop!.

I do have some family related work to finish up here in the next couple of days. My FIL was treated to a new (to him) single wide on his property as his house needs tons of work that really can’t be done while he is living in it, anyway, so I went ahead and built him a deck, and handicap access ramp, which I have done, and built about 50% of the rails. Now remember I have a bad back. I literally got the rail done on the deck, and was starting on the ramp when my back simply refused to cooperate. I didn’t have a choice but to stop.

I learned a couple of lessons.

#1. Always bring your own tools sufficient to do the job at hand, and then some. I ended up borrowing drill bits from my brother in law. Metal cutting drill bits, and wood cutting drill bits are NOT the same thing, and I ended up putting WAY more work into drilling pilot holes than I should have.

#2. I love my nephews, but they are at an age where girls are far more interesting than helping your middle aged uncle make life easier for Grandpa. I fear I am going to have to sweeten the offer a bit monetarily to get some help with this! Ugh.

#3. Talking this over with my orthopedist, I need WAY more help than I have been getting. I am regularly exceeding my medical limits. Not causing more damage, just slowing down healing time…

I have some paid work going on tonight, nothing huge, but not nothing. It will keep me out of the shop for sure, but at least I know my next steps.

#1. Clean up, and put away the tools used on the car. #2. Finish the AC and interior work on the Saturn (mount the new seat). #3. Move the truck so I can get the Hardi Panel out of the way. #4. Get my wife to help clean her stuff up, stow it out of the shop area. There is a space dedicated to lawn and garden, that is where the stuff belongs. #5. Fold up and stow things like drop cloths etc… #6. Clean, clean, clean, clean… and when I think I am done, keep cleaning.

-- My workshop blog can be found at

3 comments so far

View Redoak49's profile (online now)


1820 posts in 1409 days

#1 posted 06-28-2016 08:05 PM

I am exhausted just reading what you have accomplished and my back hurts from the hard work. Good job on all that stuff.

View dbhost's profile


5590 posts in 2653 days

#2 posted 06-28-2016 08:23 PM

Yeah, I’ve got more to go. Lots to do and only one of me…

Like I said, I sure wish I could get more help from the nephews…. I am going to have a discussion with my brothers in law RE: the issue. I know when I was their age, we were expected to do this sort of thing… I guess times have changed. But good Lord willing, I WILL teach that boy to use a hammer, clamps, a drill and a saw before I am dead!

-- My workshop blog can be found at

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

3945 posts in 2585 days

#3 posted 06-29-2016 03:35 PM

Re the repairs and shop stuff, I am with Redoak, you are into too much for my aged psyche and energy level to handle. However, even I did a bunch of miscellaneous stuff over the last week in the shop. Not at the level you are working at, however.

Re the nephews, I am not sure of their age, but by age 15 or so, I had a pretty complete set of shop courses under my belt, and they were mandatory. I still will occasionally pull some minor fact or technique out of my ancient memory to use from those shop courses in present day life. We were making rubber guns out of peach crate ends (constructed of 3/4” pine in the old days) when we were in grade school. Using a saw, hammer and nails, screwdriver, and so forth was part of everyday life.

I am glad we had the luxury of replacing our two cars as I went into retirement. My car will probably end up with about 1100 miles or so for the first year of operation. I drive so few miles, I have to keep the car on a trickle charger when not in use. It already had a trickle charger installed, since when we are at our vacation home, it would need one. The keyless ignition and such keeps these new cars drawing down the battery even without activity. So the wear and tear part of automotive degeneration and chronic disease will not affect my car much. My wife drives more, still working, but still less than 10,000 miles per year. Therefore, I will not be in the position of repairing anything, even if I could.

Still haven’t gotten my project posting done… distracted with some computing necessities yesterday. But getting closer.

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

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