Saturday, October 31, 2015


Wednesday, October 21, 2015, 1:37 PM

This being part VI of a Racer's Final(s) Diary

Swapping an alternator should be a routinely simply task, it's only held in by three bolts.  My gut tells me it is not going to be that easy.  The very design of a van leaves little room to work in the front, and there is no accessing it from inside the cab.  The second issue will be relieving the tension on the serpentine belt.  This is a job for a fairly decent sized breaker bar, the problem is that you can't fit one in the compartment and clear the hood.  This means only a short ratchet, no leverage and a copious amount of swearing and definitely some busted knuckles.

I detach the alternator in fairly short order, being careful not to damage the serpentine belt in doing so.  However, it is not so willing to be removed from the engine compartment.  There seems to be no way of twisting or turning that will free this piece of shit from the tangled hoses and sharp-edged brackets that impede its outward progress.  It's like playing Operation but instead of a gentle buzzer the klaxon horns are bleating incessantly inside my head as sweat runs down stinging into my eyes.  My arms are scratched and bloody from wrestling around in this confined space.

I am forced to stop and regroup to quell the urge to smash things in this feverish frustration.  I remind myself how far I am from home, not to mention my intended destination (350 miles either direction) and my anger gives way to the cold, dank fear that if I fuck something up here for whatever reason, vexation, ineptitude, impatience etc., I will be in a world of shit.  This cannot be allowed.

If there is one thing that riding alone in the woods has taught me, it's that you better be ready to get yourself out no matter what happens.  This is no different.  I need to get myself back on the road, by hook or by crook, by myself.  Sure there is help out there, for a fee I could be towed to a clean, air-conditioned waiting room with cable TV, back issues of Field & Stream, tepid coffee and possibly even a cruller, while guys I stereotyped in high school earn a hardwon living by skill of hand and sweat of brow.  But I have already eaten into the race tire money I earmarked for the EX500 by having to purchase an alternator, baling wire and exhaust brackets.  To call in assistance at this point will run into the hundreds of dollars.  Unacceptable and impossible if I wish to have the funds for continuing onwards to Alabama.  I am on my own, and while in the heat of that particular moment I would never admit it, I think somewhere deep inside, a part of me likes it that way.

The engineers who design these things with no room to work should have to take them apart and put them back together 50 times before going into production.  Bastards who never swung a wrench or even know what one looks like.

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