Idling with the Idler pulley

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.

17 thoughts on “Idling with the Idler pulley

  1. Good old problem solving and if that fails brute force. I was having trouble opening my van sliding door so my son said,”Let me try!” Ripped the door handle off the door. The door still would not open and I was reminded that strength coupled with incompetence will not fix much. Note to self ‘take it to an expert.’


    • That anonymous has to be S….? ‘Cause I know the strength of your son!!!
      So, ‘self’, how ya gonna take a $300 truck to an expert? I rely on denial first. Resistance second. Delay third. Then I go to ‘trying’. Then assault. Then mindless assault. Then I wait. I wait for a neighbour or friend. Works every time.


  2. But you don’t have to deal with ICBC. Another OTG benefit!
    If I were you I’d pile on the mileage to take advantage of all your ‘savings’.


    • Right! Of course. Its Like buying 100 pounds of cauliflower because it’s on sale. The first 20 pounds makes you sick of it and the bakance goes bad. I will, instead, milk this little truck. at the annual rate of 50 kms a year for twenty years. Truck and I go out together. Timing.


        • Two miles away, almost three. It is parked where the main logging track begins from the community wharf and post office. We are down the coast. We boat up to the community dock. Friends live ten or so miles along that main track which weaves through the middle and ends on the other side of the island.


  3. We’ve been hunkered down at the cabin with all the heat and smoke. How has it been over your way? We’ve given up quad rides until we get a good rain. And the lake is full of crazies with the long weekend. Plenty of time for gardening and floating in the cool water. – Margy


    • Basically life has been good but the last three days were oppressive. The smoke and heat were claustrophobia-inducing. I was getting irritated. But, today was better. The breeze was back. I can see and end of this smoky hell. But one thing is clear: I am a spoiled brat. Been living in heaven so long, I have no patience for this crap. I wanna blame someone. Trump! The bastard!
      I have to say, “My life is good. I want it to stay good. I am not amused at all this smoke in the air. “


      • Its been disgusting in Vancouver for almost 2 weeks.
        Smokey haze and zero wind.
        And today we get the added bonus of rising humidity.
        No wonder people from Beijing want to live here….. reminds them of home.


  4. Guam! North Korea wants to send a guided missile message to trump the Donald’s rhetoric. Guam is programmed into a guidance system.


    • I think that’s a bit more bluff than true bravado. Attacking Guam would invite China to the party. Kim is a real threat tho. As much because he’s as nuts as is the pit bull he is provoking. The world is the audience for a psycho-horror drama that could very well be a one act play. If the US obliterates NK, then what does that prompt China and Russia to do? Even if things settle down, what does that mean for long term ramifications?
      Nothing good.


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