Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Gearing up for trouble

I suspect Olivia doesn't like to be all fixed (my first car the Mini had the same problem years ago). 

Just yesterday we replaced a hub gasket that had disintegrated to the point where we couldn't actually find much of it when removed!  There's no more oil spatters on the rim, no leaks on the hub - the engine's going well, the brakes work, all's right with the world!

Or so one would think...

I had a bit of a day planned today - traipsing around greater Cape Town collecting over a ton (literally) of various e-waste items and running one errand on the way in.

The errand happened to be in the same spot where Olivia had a melt-down a few weeks back.  As I turned into that road, I was thinking "here's where Olivia broke down"...and whaddayaknow, all hell broke loose.

First indication of trouble was that fourth gear suddenly started to sound like it had run dry - and I couldn't get it out of gear.  Made it around the corner on a green light with no oncoming traffic, but suddenly third and fourth just didn't exist.  It was like trying to change gears into a brick - no gap to be had!  First and second worked without a hitch.

I stopped as soon as I could, got out and checked clutch fluid.  All fine.  Third and fourth were miraculously back - until I drove off.  Then they were gone again.  I stopped in a field next to a nearby petrol & service station, and went in search of EP-90 - just in case for some reason the gearbox and/or transmission had run dry.  A bit of a search and a card-swipe later, I hauled out my meagre emergency tool box, made do with a shifting spanner, climbed under the truck (on top of a thorny plant, a clump of dry grass and half of Cape Town's sand) and checked the levels.  All good - gave them a top-up squirt just in case.

And went gingerly off again.  2km down the road, third and fourth were gone again - I pulled over just as Favourite Man phoned.  He told me to "get thee to Roverland" - a couple of km's away - and beg for help and/or fixing.  Suddenly third and fourth were back - hallelujah - so off I went holding thumbs things would stay that way.  He phoned back to give some hints and tips as to what might be wrong - selector springs might be worn/gone, something could be broken, there may be air or dirt in the system... the list of possibilities wasn't terribly short!

Olivia behaved perfectly all the way to Roverland, where I hauled a very nice gentleman out of the workshop to see what was up.  He fiddled with the gearstick, took her for a quick dash down the road, and informed me (thankfully) that there was nothing wrong with the gearbox.  However, the gearstick is wobbling a bit - he reckons the selector needs tightening and oiling up.  What probably happened was that it didn't quite go out of gear, so wouldn't go into any others.  Or a spot of dirt got in the way.  Will be attending to those matters as soon as I can manage, but at least now I know what the problem is, and that it isn't going to gigantically deplete financial resources to fix.

Nevertheless, Olivia behaved herself for the remainder of the day, hauling a trailer tipping nearly a ton and loaded down inside with more stuff, all the way home against a bit of a stiff breeze.

Let's hope she decides not to scare us again anytime soon with any new tricks!

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