Sunday, December 18, 2016

Serpents, or belts, or a serpentine belt

It was a nice, quiet, and peaceful drive from Palm Springs, CA to Yuma, AZ.  I spent about a week in Palm Springs and was expecting to get to Yuma before noon (11 am California time).  I was well on my way to making it with 20 minutes to spare until I noticed something strange.  The battery wasn't charging and the engine temperature was pegged.....  HMMM....  Thought it was a fluke so drove a few more miles to the second exit, but with quite a few miles in between..

Soon as pulled into the gas station parking lot saw a trail of liquid on the pavement behind me...  Soon as I found a safe spot to park, I turned off the engine soon as possible to prevent any potential damage, or minimize any damage from occurring..

The sight was not welcome.....

It was definitely not welcome.

There was liquid flowing out of a tube.  Upon further investigation it was the overflow tube from the radiator that was spewing radiator fluid..  So, the temperature gauge wasn't lying, phooooey....  Stood around, scratching you-know-what, trying to think of what could be wrong.  Nothing, on the surface, looked abnormal, yet something was clearly wrong.

Crawled underneath and looked around, nothing...  Yet something...

Went inside and grabbed a fleshlight, then crawled underneath again, randomly looking around...  And suddenly, found something abnormal, something unexpected....  Something not so good, even bad...  There was no belt so saw the butt-crack....

The serpentine belt disappeared, well, mostly disappeared, yet found some fragments, as in this photo.  Pulled this from behind the radiator fan blade so there must've been quite the breakdown.  As can see, there's not much left to it..

Queue backward a few years when I replaced the alternator....  This was a chore, mainly from the standpoint of not having a third, or fourth, hand.  And such was the case here.  It took me over four hours to get this fixed, only because didn't have that third hand the whole time.

The process for the alternator was pretty much the same here, with exception of physicall removing the alternator and doing those tests.  But, speaking of the alternator, the pulley was gummed up something serious.

There was also the matter of cleaning out the old belt fragments.  This took me some time and in the picture you can see some bits and bobs.  Started manually peeling them off by hand and got what I could, but there was still gunk down in the groves.  It almost seems that, when the belt truly broke, it wrapped around here a little and probably gooified some.  Grabbed a flat head screwdriver and put one side (of the slotted end) into each groove and turned the alternator wheel.  Had to do this several times to finally get the gunk fully out, and it was truly gunk.

After using the screwdriver then gave it a final cleansing by spraying it with some carb cleane I had, and used an old sock to wipe away the gunk.  Repeated this three times until it looked decent.  Looked at the other places where the belt passed over and nothing else had to be cleaned!

Putting the belt on over the fan is actually quite easy.  As I was trying to figure out how to, it all came back to me from when watched the mechanic replace the belt once.  He, and I, slid it right over the fan blades, rotating them as you go.  It can be kinda seen in the picture that there is another belt in the way, one for the air conditioner (which still haven't fixed).  Removed the secondary belt from the air conditioner compressor, which was fairly easy.  After that it was a straight shot to get it seated on the top most grooved thing (for the fan).  Then had to replace the AC belt.

Now the time consuming part came, and that was to slide the belt all around, getting the belt tensioner out of the way too.  Long story short, and boy, was it long, is that had to loosen top bolt on the alternator, remove the bottom bolt (so it could swing free.  Then, and only then, lift up the tensioner and slide belt onto alternator, and voila...  Life is grand.  I could've removed both bolts from the alternator, though it's a royal pain the u-know-what to get it back.  Not that this whole process was ideal, but still...

What had to work with
Now, the part where really, truly, needed a third hand, was putting the bolt back into bottom of the alternator.  THIS was the problem.  However, had a knight in shining armor come by just at the right time.  He held the tensioner up and out of the way (with a breaker bar of course) as i finangled the bottom bolt in place.  Took some doing, and with him helping, that doing was only a couple minutes.  Once the bolt was started, drove it home with a socket and the ratchet, then tightened top bolt.

I then thanked the mysterious stranger, we exchanged some pleasantries, and he was off to the Rainbow Gathering, which is supposedly someplace nearby in the desert.  This guy, and bunch of his friends, ran one of the soup kitchens at the festival.  A HUGE thank you to him, wherever he is!  I did give him a Christmas Present of sorts as a way of saying thanks!  Without him would likely still be there.

At times being single is horrendous, and this was one of those times.  Now it's time to get a spare serpentine belt....  Here is an album of few more pictures, for those interested.  Not much there though there might be a gem or two to clarify things...

Let me take this moment to wish everyone a Merry Christmas too!

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