Friday, April 17, 2015

Cars, cars, cars

I hate cars or at least I hate cars when they don't work.

It's been a fun couple of months dealing with a couple of problems with our car.  The longest problem was the back brakes which, at the end of January, started squealing real bad.  We didn't own jack stands, nor a good jack, and I thought the brakes were drum brakes which I had never done before. Additionally it was still really cold outside and our garage isn't insulated.  We pretty much stopped using the car at this point, except when we really needed two cars.  Thankfully they were the back breaks and the front brakes were still good (I did them last fall) which allowed us to cheat some.  I found a good deal on a jack and some jack stands, tried to get someone to help who knew what they were doing with drum brakes, and waited until it was warmer.  Around mid March it started to warm up some and I decided, after some research and not getting the help I desired, that I'd try them on my own.  I was thankful to see once I removed the wheel that they were actually disc brakes.  But this was where all the real fun began.

I spent the next month, for which I didn't have much time anyway, dealing with several problems from one of the rotors I purchased being defective, to someone (I won't mention who) loosing a pin needed to put the caliper back on, to a bolt on the back left side that I simply couldn't remove. I spent a couple of weeks alone on the bolt and never did get it off even after borrowing and purchasing new tools to help. The bolt faces the inside of the car and appeared to be somewhat stripped.  I couldn't be certain as I couldn't see the head  and had to use a camera to take a picture of it to see it.

Finally I gave up on the left side (the right side was done) and decided I'd need additional help of a friend who has a lift in order to get a better angle.  I put everything back together only to find out in the meantime my battery had died. Thankfully the battery was still under warranty and I got a new replacement battery as the battery had actually gone bad.  It was around the first week of April when I checked with Keith (the friend who has the lift) and we set a date for the following Tuesday to work on the brake.

I drove the car to work that Tuesday squeals and all only to find out there was now something else wrong.  The gas pedal felt really loose and provided no acceleration until it was almost 2/3 of the way down.  Thankfully the car still drove and without being able to do much I decided to wait until I was at Keith's shop to look at it more.

We never did get the bolt off, it was indeed stripped, but the lift provided an angle for us to remove the caliper bracket without needing to take the caliper off.  It made it a bit more difficult to replace the pad and rotor but we got it done. And I certainly got the most out of my brake pads.

The gas pedal problem turned out to be a little dog bone plastic link that had broken between the bracket the gas pedal cable attached to and the throttle. The only reason the car still worked at all, despite the broken link, was because the bottom of the bracket when pulled far enough back (meaning the pedal 2/3 of the way down) nudged up against the throttle and pushed it open slightly. Keith's comment about the broken link was "It's probably a nickel part that you won't be able to find anywhere". He was sure right.

I spent the next day trying to find out what the part was even called and if there was a replacement part I could get.  After visiting a Ford dealership I found out the part couldn't be purchased separate and that it was considered part of the throttle shaft which was discontinued.  I decided I was going to have to make my own part.

My first thought was to create a mold and use some epoxy putty to create a new piece.  I made the mold out of some play dough and needed to wait 24 hours for it to harden.

A co-worker told me I should just shape a piece of plastic to match and I decided that was a good idea as I didn't want to spend the $7 on the epoxy putty.  I found an old hanger from some slippers I had purchased that was the right thickness and carved out a similar piece.  For now it works great but I'll have to see how it stands the test of time.

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