Car Trouble – It Came to Pass That…

By James Breckenridge. My friend Tom came by this Sunday morning to take a look at the beast aka my car and decided the pictures I sent of the leak and the part it was leaking out of was accurate and my water pump was shot.

We filled the radiator with all the water it would hold and I hopped in the car and … noticed that I had left the glove compartment open when I retrieved something from it the previous evening.

Being an old hand at dealing with the Universe’s efforts to get me, I keep a set of jumper cables in the trunk to discourage the Universe from trying to get me with a dead battery. A quick jump and I was racing off to Tom’s although it turned out not to require to much haste as the coolness of the weather allowed me to drive to Tom’s place without the engine getting more than barely warm .

For a while it looked like the Universe was going to be successful in getting me. Everything came apart with relative ease until the pulley that was the last barrier to removing and replacing the water pump, refused to be removed. Even after being blasted by butane torch.

Plan B required removing the alternator to get at and remove the plate blocking access to the last two bolts holding the water pump in place. Two of the three bolts that needed to be removed to remove the plate were awkward, the third was damn awkward.

The first two were removed and the third, obviously one of the Universe’s minions, refused to budge. With the difficulty in getting at the bolt it appeared it was going to be successful in thwarting replacement of the water pump.

However, the bolt and the Universe had vastly underestimated Tom. With the refusal to budge they had challenged Tom, not defeated him. So, girding his loins for battle Tom plunged back into the fray with single minded determination and … emerged victorious.

The bolt was removed and the old water pump freed.

Tom commented that he had never seen a water pump in as bad shape as this one was, with the pulley shaft flopping around through a wide range of motion. Apparently I had been driving on borrowed time for some time, with the cool weather serving to allow the engine to avoid overheating. When the bearings finally shifted enough to uncover the weep hole the water escaped, informing me I needed a new water pump.

Fate had been kind, having the weep hole open up as I was on Highway 1 nearing Clearbrook rather than in Surrey.

Tom called and spoke to someone he knew working at an auto parts store, arranging for me to pick up a new water pump.

On my way back with the pump I made a quick stop at the library to pick up the items waiting for me on the ‘hold’ shelf, including the DVD of the new Bond movie. Aaahhhhhhh, relief. After 5 consecutive days of being unable to visit the library or retrieve my holds I had feared I was slipping into withdrawal.

It only took a few minutes but added to the time being polite and observing good line etiquette at the store required the elapsed time had my phone ringing while I was still a few blocks from Tom’s. After pulling up and parking I checked my phone and it had indeed been Tom, wondering if I had been lost as he had applied the gasket cement and was anxious to have the gasket to put in place as soon as possible.

I didn’t check the phone until the vehicle was stopped because I strongly support paying attention to your driving. Not only with regard to handheld electronic devices but eating, applying makeup, doing paperwork and all the other myriad of ways humans find to distract themselves from their driving. If you think about it, the statistics on the use of handheld devices are frightening in light of the implications those statistics hold about the number of distracted drivers, their victims and accidents causing serious injury and death.

This plague of ‘I HAVE to take this’ is another aspect of the narcissism, the ‘it is all about me’, the ‘screw others’ that has infected Canada and Canadians. I would support adding confiscation of the device to the fines, since the fines don’t seem to have gotten people’s attention, although I think the confiscation should be permanent, not temporary.

Following that word from our sponsors common sense, courtesy and consideration for others, we return to our tale of Universe intrigue.

Opening the box containing the new water pump (the correct pump, human expertise defeating any machinations by the Universe to deliver the wrong pump into my hands) the gasket was removed and placed in position. The pump was removed from its sealed bag, lined up and the last bolts removed to remove the old pump became the first bolts put in place to begin installation of the replacement pump.

And so it went, installing the new pump by replacing the bolts and assorted parts (such as the alternator) in the reverse order in which they were originally removed.

Not surprisingly the installation reassembly proceeded much smoother than the disassembly removal had. Although reinstalling the belt was trickier that removing the belt had been, mainly as a result of the difficulty in getting enough slack from the belt tension mechanism to get the belt over the alternator pulley.

Until the last bolt, that had been there moments before when the reinstallation of the fan housing and the fan blades had begun, pulled a disappearing act. We sought it here, we sought it there, we looked high, we looked low But nowhere was it to be found.

The last piece of the reassembly was missing! It looked as though the Universe was going to get its last laugh and that I would need to visit an auto wrecker to find a replacement bolt and return to Tom’s later in the week to complete the final item of the installation of the replacement pump.

So we abandoned the search for the last bolt and proceeded to fill the cooling system with coolant and start up the engine. After letting the engine run for several minutes it was turned off and the radiator was topped off.

As he was topping off the radiator what should Tom’s eye spot but the last bolt hiding down among the engine parts. Grabbing his telescoping magnet tipped doohickey for retrieving bolts etc Tom plucked the bolt from its hiding place and quickly installed it.

Mission accomplished! Water pump replacement procured and secured in place.

But before i could leave Tom disappeared back to his collection of nuts, bolts, screws etc; returning with what appeared to be two wood screws. “Grab your front plate” he instructed, having noticed that I had lost the front licence plate holder but still had the front plate which was sitting in the front window. That’s the good thing about plastic bumpers he informed me as he proceeded to screw the front plate into position with the wood screws.

I was ready to hit the road … after borrowing Tom’s battery charger to fully charge up the battery. Lest the Universe be tempted to use a dead battery on the morrow to leave me scrambling to get to my appointment at mental health and to the shelter to do intake.

After all, you’re not paranoid is the Universe really is out to get you.

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