Posted by: silverback | 2011/04/30

come get some

it should have been a piece of cake – twenty minutes, max. i popped the air cleaner of my wife’s old diesel Mercedes and shined a flashlight down at the starter. two bolts, the B+ wire, the relay wire. apparently the Germans took their revenge for losing WWII in the construction of this vehicle, Laura’s 1984 M-B 300TD wagon.

i remember my dad cursing the occasional diesel Benz that came through his import repair business. i found myself repeating some of those same epithets beneath this car today; i’m sure he was proud.

i first crawled beneath with an 8mm allen wrench to loosen the bolts. it was too small, so back to the toolbox only to find that i don’t have a 10mm allen in my home toolbox. there’s rarely a need for something that size on the motorcycles. i found a torx bit with the right outside dimensions, figuring the starter bolts couldn’t be that tight. i put the wrench on it & pushed so hard i nearly suffered a hernia. i changed angles beneath the car and pushed on the wrench until i saw spots. i swear the bolt only barely creaked. why was it so tight? so i crawled back out & got the breaker bar. of course i could only get one angle on the six-sided allen bolt, and it was the wrong one. i scooted back out, repositioned the jack and jackstands, slid back under. i got a decent angle on the (wrong tool) torx bit and pushed on it again with the breaker bar. hard. then just a bit harder. POP! the bolt finally…didn’t move at all. instead, the bit snapped. of course.

i got in the truck & drove over to work for the correct allen wrench. crawling back under the grimy chassis, i decide to try the second bolt, which was…damn near inaccessible. why the hell did they not use hex head bolts for this? i get an angle on the allen which might let me turn it 1/8th of a turn and push on it, with no result. i scoot around some more until i can get my strong arm on it, and push again…until i see spots again. then just a bit more, and it turns! of course, 1/8th of a turn is considerably less than the 1/6th of a turn that i need to get the next flat on the allen wrench. i’ll figure out how to get another turn on it in a minute. lemme try this bottom one again.

oh, look – the allen won’t go in the head of the bolt because the exhaust pipe is in the way. i slide back out and gather a handful of tools to break the bracket loose from the transmission. i repeat the crawling under & back out for another tool or two a couple more times. why is this so hard?

to make a long and agonizing story just a bit shorter, my method for removing the upper bolt involves another, shortened, 10mm allen wrench, so i have to go drive around some more, returning momentarily for my work keys. then at least one more time, as i forgot my wallet. a few more things needed to be removed or loosened. when the lower bolt finally did pop loose, i bled a little bit. i may have contemplated suicide for a few moments.

over three hours later, i got the goddamned starter off the transmission. of course, it wouldn’t drop out of the engine compartment until i crawled out one last time for a 17mm wrench to loosen and move one end of the steering damper.

ludicrously difficult to extract

when i was on the submarine, i adopted a philosophy that has worked for me in most of these situations. that philosophy is simple: i will not have my ass kicked by an inanimate object. so take that, you stupid Kraut frustration machine.


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