Saturday, May 28, 2011

LeTigre gets new leaf springs and other goodness...

Since we're planning to leave Austin sooner I'm suddenly feeling the pressure to get LeTigre in tip top shape. So, I've spent the last week or so tackling some things she's been needing, such as a tune-up, oil change, and even some new rear leaf springs.

I used to work on cars and motorcycles all the time, first as a hobby and sometimes out of necessity.  It got old after awhile and became a chore.  Well, after getting estimates on some of the work, LeTigre has brought me out of retirement.  The tune-up wasn't too big a deal, although working on a van is weird since a lot of the work is done from inside or underneath.  I took it in for the oil change since getting rid of the used oil is a hassle, however, I might go back to doing that myself too after the experience with the oil change place.  I DO NOT recommend "Groovy Lube" on Guadalupe, if you're an Austin resident.  Basically everything you touch to get in and operate a vehicle was oily when I left.  Door handle, steering wheel, shifter, even the keys and I discovered several days later that they lost the oil filler cap.  Try finding one of those for an '88 Astro van.
I tried to keep it local, oh well.

The biggest reason for coming out of wrenching wretirement was LeTigre's sagging rearend.  When we've loaded her up with stuff to go camping she really droops in the back.  Poor gal needed a lift.  So, I took her in for an estimate to get new leaf springs and was told it'd be almost $1000.  I trust the shop I went to and think this was probably reasonable but that's also a couple of weeks on the road.  So I got on the googlenet and found a new set for $350, including shipping, and installed them today.  My air compressor bit the dust halfway thru the job, rendering my air tools useless, and the heat nearly killed me but
LeTigre got the booty lift she needed.  And isn't that what really matters?

All the usual tune-up stuff, air filter, fuel filter, spark plugs, distibutor cap, and rotor.
LeTigre did not turn loose of some of this stuff easily, note the broken spark plugs, the rotor had to be pried out, and she belched gasoline in my hair replacing the fuel filter.  Fun!

Here we go.  Old spring about to be removed.  The original springs were fiberglass!
This is the first side while I still had the aid of airtools.  Second one was pure Greg muscle!
Ugh, I'm aching already.

Ouch!  LeTigre bit me!  I was relieved to got this out of the way early.  There's always a busted knuckle or two.  Glad we got that behind us.

Luckily I had first aid supplies at the ready, such as... masking tape...
The show must go on.

Old, weird, fiberglass composite spring on the left.  Didn't even know these existed until I started looking for replacements and they don't make these anymore.  Glad they're gone, supposedly they break sometimes.  Don't need that happening out in the nature.
New steal replacement on the right.  Those suckers are heavy!

Ain't she sweet?  I neglected to take a before shot but I did measure from the pavement to the top of the wheel opening and it was 28 inches before and 30 after.
Now we can take all kinds of junk with us and not be all saggy!

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