It's not that Tobbit was broken, he ran fine, but with an old truck, there's always something to be done to make him run better or something that could later turn into a problem.
When I arrived at around 10 AM on Saturday morning, Alex was ready for me with a bag of parts to be installed that day. It was going to be a long day. What we had to do seemed simple enough but I've learned that when working on a car, nothing ever goes as you plan it to. Such as today, a bolt broke, another one's replacement couldn't be found, a cable wasn't connected right, parts won't go together like they should...
We started the day with something we thought would be simple, the speedometer cable. Tobbit's speedometer cable worked, sort of. It never went above 55 or, when it did, it just bounced about, letting me know I was going pretty fast.
The installation was supposed to be as simple as screwing things together. To get to the head of the speedometer, we had to go through the speaker hole. I had small enough hands that I could get in there. It hurt and left marks on my wrists, but I could do it. Alex tackled the other side. When we got to screwing the other side in, though, with a screw, it wouldn't fit. We searched a giant bucket of screws and none of them were right. We went to the hardware store and they didn't have one either. Turns out it was a really bizzare screw and all of the nuts and bolts stores were closed.
Zum gluck, Ed and Alex are the sort of folks who can just make things, including screws. Later in the day, Ed made up a screw that fit in perfectly.
While everything was open, Alex had a great idea to install my speakers.
Those little white speakers there have been traveling everywhere with me since 2006 - train and bike rides, strolls and sleepovers. Tobbit doesn't have a sound system so I've been using them. I plug them into the inverter and it works great --- 'cept it's pretty messy.
Alex suggested that we put them in the speaker and radio holes. We did just that and covered up the biggest hole with paisley fabric. The cords go through the back and come out neatly at the bottom. It sounds a lot better now, since the speakers are directed at me, and is a lot tidier.
The front struts are what keep Tobbit from clunking about, they keep him riding smooth. The front left one was suspected to be shot and we decided to replace them both. This involved taking off the wheels and a few bolts. Not too difficult. Alex had a spring-holder-thingy which was a huge help. I don't know how we would've done this task without it.
When we took everything apart, it turns out that Alex was right - the left shock was absolutely useless.
The installation for the struts went smoothly and I got pretty comfortable with the process. Alex is good at teaching and letting me try things out and do them. Since most things in cars seem to come in pairs, it gives me a chance to do the second of every set as best I can to test out what I've just learned.
The only hitch happened at the end when we were bolting the struts up to the top of the car (I don't know terms). I was using my hands but, apparently, I turned it to hard and the entire top of the bolt snapped off. Alex was able to pound and snap and figure out a way to get something else in there working. He never made me feel bad or acted frustrated. Solid guy.
Next came the motor mounts.
We started with the front left motor mount (top picture of the above series of two). What we had to do was replace that center rubber part that was within the metal.
The motor mounts are what hold the engine in the truck. At the engine shakes violently (BROISFJFLKSJFBRUMMBRUMMBRUMMMM), the rubber in the mounts absorb some of the shakes and keep Tobbit a bit quieter. Anyways, that rubber, in there, is not loosely slipped in - they're like one. One together.
We had to start by hand-sawing the rubber out. We froze the other rubber so it'd shrink a bit.
Then, it was time to pop it in.
Ed made/had a tool that fit together, one on each side, that could make it so we could use the massive vice to evenly apply pressure and push the two sides together. The vice already had a large handle but we had to add a large piece of pipe to it. Then I would crank it around and push down with all of my weight, feet in the air, to try and get it to come together. Bit of a spectacle - and it worked!
Installing it took quite a bit of grunt work. When it comes to grunt work, Alex does it. There are certain things I just can't really do.
He did the next mount.
I did the under/center motor mount, also pictured. That just involved laying under Tobbit and messing with screws, nuts, and bolts. I almost just wrote, "That involves laying under Tobbit and screwing," and I realized that didn't quite sound how I wanted it to.
After a full day's work, we went out and grabbed a bite to eat to see how things ran. He was certainly quieter and smoother, but the speedometer cable wasn't working.
Back at home, we tinkered with a bit more, realized the side with the screw we had just made wasn't in right. Once it was jiggled in just properly, the old screw worked. Oi.
And that was it! 11-hours later, we were done.