Saturday, August 3, 2013

Roof on -- almost -- and a fall

Yesterday was a Bad Day. It all started with the truck. The part needed to fix the transmission oil leak came in, a pipe that returns the coolant to the transmission from the transmission oil cooler in the bottom of the radiator. The old one had developed a pinhole, which led to my being stranded in Darkest Dixmont, last time I wrote.

Changing the pipe went okay, but I managed to torque the "banjo" coupling on the end where it meets the tranny. Time was when such things were welded on, solid, but this one was glued on. It didn't look like it would leak, but so I decided to goop up the seal with JB weld, just in case. I also needed some transmission fluid, so I went to Belfast, to the "big box" parts store, where both things would be available, and cheaper.

(I had tried to get the fluid on my way home from the college the day before, from our local parts store seven miles away in Thorndike, but the miserable git behind the counter had gotten surly with me again, as he often does, so I walked out, as I've done several times. I wonder how much business this place loses like this. He really is a grumpy old bugger. The only reason I still go there is because it saves me gas. If I can ever buy anything from anywhere else without wasting money on gas, I do.)

I made it home and glued up the banjo good with JB Weld, every mechanic's favorite adhesive, then filled the transmission with new oil, then took a test drive. The truck transmission was still slipping, meaning I'd likely done some damage to one or more of the bands or clutches.

This was a blow, since I had been hoping it would be back to normal once the leak was fixed and the oil topped off.

I still had two more chances. I could change the transmission filter, and/or I could use anti-slip additive.

The filter notion depended upon finding quite a bit of debris in the sump, but not too much. If there was enough debris blocking transmission fluid return through the filter, then the slipping could be due to effective lack of fluid at the torque converter, and it would go away once the sump was cleaned and the filer replaced.

The additive is always just a long shot, but worth a try. I'm sure a lot of this stuff is "snake oil", but I've actually had good luck with one or two such additives, in mechanical extremis. I checked online and picked the one that had the best reviews, by a company called Lucas.

So, another trip to Belfast ensued, followed by another greasy under-the-truck job as I changed to filter and cleaned the sump.

(All this extension-building is all very well, but when am I going to get to build the workshop I need, with the vehicle lift that would make all this greasy struggling under our far-too-numerous cars and trucks go away?)

I was impressed by how little debris there actually was in the transmission sump itself.

There was a fair amount of steel material on the sump magnet, which is put in there to catch steel debris from the clutch plates, and so give the mechanic an idea of the transmission's condition.

There was certainly enough debris to plausibly slow the oil return, so I cleaned it all out, changed the filter, buttoned everything up again carefully, added more oil and the additive, and took another hopeful test drive.

I was to be disappointed. Some of the slippage had gone, for sure, but there was still some slipping from second to third gear, as well as delay changing to fourth.

Still, it drove. That's better than having it blocking the garage entrance. And the additive may yet go to work chemically on the servo piston seals and clutch material. We'll see.

If not, we'd need to start thinking about another four-wheel drive vehicle, for Aimee to drive in the winter. This wouldn't be such a bad thing, as our official family plans, anticipating the eventual death of the truck (which at the current 220,000 miles would not be that premature), state that this would be the time to get rid of the rusty old Ford Escort wagon that I drive. I would instead inherit the Camry, while Aimee would get a newer, fuel efficient four-wheel, or all-wheel drive sedan or wagon. The Land Rover plus a trailer would be expected to pick up all the work that the pick up truck does.

In the meantime I was tired and hungry from my exertions under the truck. I cleaned up, made some lunch, and took a short nap to sleep off my disappointment at having probably fried my truck transmission.

Waking at three pm, still upset with myself, and tired, I then made the mistake of getting back up on the extension roof to lay the remaining sheets of metal roofing.

This job is safe enough when the roof is dry. The purlins make it easy to walk about up there. Even when the metal is down, as long as it's dry it's not slippy and you can move around safely.

But it had been raining earlier, and while the roof was dry, the mud around the work site was not.

I did fine for the first several sheets, probably because walking to and from the stack of roofing sheets over the grass had the effect of keeping my shoes clean of mud. But eventually most of the metal was down and there were no more handy purlins to walk on.

And, of course, as soon as I got to the very last pieces, which needed to be cut to size on the outdoor workbench, the ground around the workbench was just slightly muddy, and this material stuck to my workboots and got tracked up onto the roof. I could feel myself "losing it" just slightly, but paid no attention. It was the end of the workday, the sun was beating down, I was dripping sweat as usual, and just wanted to be done with this miserable job.

And so of course I lost my footing and began to slide on my bum towards the edge of the roof. I managed to catch on to a roofing screw with my right hand, and then the ladder with my right foot and stopped myself just in time, but I was shaken up and needed some time to recover. I climbed down very, very slowly, and haven't been back up there since.

There's more to do still, the last two pieces of roofing and then all the trim, but I think that stuff can wait for a while. It's humid this morning and the mud is still wet, while the roof itself is covered in condensation. And I'm stiff from taking the fall. All my muscles must have tensed up. It doesn't feel good.

I think I'll find myself a nice safe clean indoor job until it gets drier out there. Drywall, perhaps. Or plumbing.

I need a Good Day today.

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