Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Fools, morons and partsmen

Now don’t get me wrong.  There’s some incredibly good partsmen out there.  Sometimes you can walk up to a counter and you just know the experience is going to be good.  Other days – not so much.

I finally got around to changing the air filter on the bus the day after we arrived here at 16 West.  I had been procrastinating doing it because I wasn’t 100% certain that it really needed to be changed.  I couldn’t exactly remember when I last changed it and when I finally got it out it turned out we’d only been using it for less than 18 months and maybe 10,000 km at the most.  So there was no way it needed changing. 

The reason I was changing it however was because we’ve been blowing a lot of black smoke for the past couple of trips.  I’ve noticed that I have to be really careful with my right foot or I end up smoking out the poor sod behind or beside me.  Sometimes both.  I was also getting very low turbo boost pressures.  The only reason I could think of was a plugged air filter.  It didn’t make sense because I was sure we had replaced the last one roughly 2 years ago but I couldn’t think of anything else that might be causing the black smoke and it was definitely getting worse. 

When I was getting ready to change the filter I was staring at the back (front actually because the damn engine is in there backwards) of the engine and I noticed that something looked funny on the turbo.


That shiny band in the centre of the photo is a clamping v-band that holds the two halves of the turbo together.  It was ever so slightly off kilter and when I looked closer it was obvious that the clamp bolt had sheared clean off.  Not good.

But I figured, no problem, we’re in Saskatoon and there’s a Detroit Dealer here.  So off I went, prepared to spend maybe $50 for a new clamp.  Enter the idiot.

I walked up to the parts counter at Wajax Equipment carrying the old clamp.  “What’s that?” queried the parts guy and I thought to myself “this might not go well.”  But I pressed on, explaining to him that it was a clamping ring off a turbo.  “What engine is it on?”  Now that shouldn’t really matter – its a turbo, I’ve got the old clamp for sizing, there’s nothing special about it, its a v-band clamp ring – but I told him anyway.  “Oh you can’t buy them.  They never have been available.  You have to buy a new turbo."

I was dumbfounded.  Not by the news he was conveying because it was such patent bullshit.  I was dumbfounded that some moron who two minutes earlier couldn’t identify the part I was carrying now expected me to believe anything he said, let alone something as preposterous as this. 

Its a long story from that parts counter to the picture of the fixed turbo in the photo above.  In hindsight I probably could have fixed it without ever leaving the campground because I think I’ve got a spare t-bolt clamp in one of the bays.  What I ended up doing was to buy a new t-bolt hose clamp, cut out the t-bolt, spread the old clamp apart sufficiently that I could extract the broken t-bolt and replace it with the t-bolt from the donor clamp.  It likely took me longer to type this story than it actually took to repair the clamp.  It still astounds me that I couldn’t buy the v-band clamp but it turns out to be a relatively hard item to source in Canada.  Not impossible but hard.  I know where there are several of them in the US now and if I actually need one I’ll get one shipped to me but I think my fix will hold.

Then I changed the filter because I had already bought a new one.  As I expected there was nothing wrong with the old one.  I can’t test the fix until we get out on the road and put some backpressure against the turbo but I’m sure it will be fixed and we’ll prove that with a move to Outlook tomorrow.  That road is pretty flat so it won’t be a real good test but I’ll know before we get out of the city.  And the drivers behind me will appreciate the improvement in their air quality.

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