Bit of a misnomer that…idler pulleys…they do anything but idle.
I have a little old truck all rusted and beat up. “It ain’t worth dog poop even cleaned up and it ain’t cleaned up!” It’s a 1992 Sonoma with 2wd. Pretty damn useless out on a remote island on rocky logging tracks but, now and then, Sal and will I take a drive around to see distant neighbours. It would be desirable if it was reliable. But, it was not.
The red ‘engine light’ was always on. But, for $300, it was worth buying. So, I bought it. That was last year. We drove it a few times. The red light was on but it ran. “Whatever the problem is, it will show up. No sense goin’ lookin’ fer trouble. Let’s ignore it.” After the snowy winter, it wouldn’t start so we got another battery and, sure enough, away it went. It was all good if not still glowing a bit too red.
Sal, of course, is the kiss of death to all machines. Anything mechanical that can break DOES break when Sal gets near it. She doesn’t even have to touch the machine. It surrenders like a Trump white house appointment. She’s got bad machine ju-ju. And, of course, the red light asserted itself one day a few months ago while Sal was on her way back from a day-trip with her sister. They walked the rest of the way back.
Another battery got ‘er going again and now we kinda knew that it was the alternator NOT charging. I checked that with the multi-meter one day and, once confirmed, subsequently ordered a used alternator from a wrecker and today, I went to put it in. Serpentine belt. Idler pulley for tension. But NOT an idler pulley that looked like an idler pulley to me. This idler pulley was not sprung and seemed, instead, like a solid pulley on a water pump or something. It was not apparent that it WAS an idler pulley.
So, Bruce (nearest neighbour to where the car is parked) and I tried to replace the alternator and eventually used two-by-fours, wrecking bars and various implements of automobile destruction until, getting the old one off – I broke the casting (brute violence) and it literally fell off. No matter that I broke the alternator, tho. It was already broke.
The old Sonoma was built ‘the same’ for a number of years including the iteration I had. Same in 1988 through 1994. Same. So, the wrecker gave me a 1993 alternator for the 1992 Sonoma. It was – as you guessed – DIFFERENT!!
No matter. It was close enough to use force on. First revelation: two bolts would not be used again. The shape and configuration of alt-alternator was different, the wires were going in another place and nothing LOOKED like it would fit but we had force and bloody mindedness on our side and, despite the heat, Bruce and I went about the task of fitting a square peg into a round hole.
We couldn’t do it.
But another neighbour walked by (white T-shirt, don’t you know) and looked in on our work and, like Tom Sawyer, I had him in under the hood in no time flat. Good move. He knew all about the idler pulley. He saw it as an idler pulley. He pointed that out to Bruce and I.
We didn’t care by then.
Ten minutes later, it was on and the truck was running and doing so without any beaming red lights It was glorious.
So, our $300 + $65 (alternator) + $85 (battery) + $20 (tires) + $30 (gasoline) is all set to go. Total so far: $500. I doubt that we will put 1000 kms on it the rest of our lifetime.
This is how old people spend time off the grid.