Trying to extract a busted bolt, horse, forest, a new starter

I did a loop up through Chequamegon National Forest,

and then over to Eau Claire picking up the horse trail (Old Abe Trail) near Mirror Lake State Park.

We saw an interesting little critter,

unfortunately dead, and picked some wild strawberries – some of them were even ripe.

We then moved up to Lake Superior,

spending the night out in independence, MN near Superior National Forest. It is so cool there that I needed a coat.
Transitioning in and out of homelessness is very stressful – one can almost become psychotic, as I unsuccessfully tried to find a room up and down the Minnesota interstate from Duluth to Minneapolis. I really wanted to work on my book, and needed space and quiet to do this. I couldn’t find a room though that I could afford. It is a major leap from $0/month rent to over $200/week rent which is what you find with a lack of stable rental history. And then the police start following you around, parked outside when you wake up in the truck in the morning…The system is designed to select against people in my situation. I finally quit trying. Why give them the satisfaction of rejecting you?
And then the starter went on my truck… At first I had thought it was the alternator, but the voltage was reading fine on the battery, and I wasn’t seeing the lights dim with acceleration, or other symptoms of alternator problems. What I had been seeing, was a truck that would often need a cooling off period in order to start again i.e. the starter was overheating, possibly not disengaging after it started, but maybe also heat transfer from the exhaust manifold. Eventually, I was having to jump the battery every 4th or 5th start because all the amps drain out when you try to start it, and it doesn’t start. This was constraining me to stop in places where I could run the dogs, and get help to jump the truck. Then, it stopped being jumpable, the solenoid seemed stuck but it couldn’t be arced, and I was having to jack the truck up, crawl under it, and bang on the starter with a hammer, to get it to start everytime. It’s an automatic – otherwise you would just roll it to get it up to speed to pop it. Someone told me that you might be able to move the fluid in an automatic transmission to the point where it would start if you got the truck going 45 mph with a tow – but seriously, folks, you’d really have to trust the guy towing you, and my state of mind just wasn’t there. The idea seems pretty iffy at best, and given the state of my tranny, likely to kill it. The tranny cable is still being held together by 2 cable ties. At this point, I put in $75 for a reman starter from the autoparts store, and a $20 core deposit.


When it finally wouldn’t start even with a hammer, I jacked the truck up, and swapped out the starter – 2 14mm bolts, and 2 electrical connections. One has to remember to disconnect the battery cables to do this.

It wasn’t that big a job, except that one bolt broke when I took it out. I can still start the truck by keeping the intact bolt a little loose so that I can temporarily and tentatively position the broken one, but it involves crawling under the truck, and temporarily putting the broken bolt in to start it, at which point the broken bolt flies out and has to be recovered. Kind of like a pain in the butt second key, only because the starter is imperfectly coupled to the flywheel, it wears on both gears.

So it has to be fixed…I first tried guerilla glue, but that failed. No easy way out: the broken part needs to be extracted with a drill.

OK. The nice thing about a truck and being homeless, is that it is relatively robust. It can handle some pretty tough situations. On the down side, everything in the back eventually gets drenched. By some amazing miracle, I managed to find my soaked power drill, and when I tried it (using a ground fault interrupt outlet), although rusty water flew out, and the chuck was frozen, it turned. The depth of this miracle can probably only be grasped by someone who has lived through this.

I use my channel locks and some WD-40 to power the drill on and off and loosen the chuck. After multiple attempts over several hours, it finally opens and closes.

Because you have to lie right under the bolt hole to see the alignment to put the bolt in, you are pretty exposed, and I made the mistake of dropping the bolt on my open eye as I tried to put it in.

It’s a little irritated, and although a little sensitive to light – with some pain, and with a short period of a slightly different shade of vision, the vision itself is intact, and getting less irritated and sensitive. I get a bolt that looks about right from the hardware store (70 cents), and the threads work on the hole (yeah!), a drill bit ($3), and an easy out – screw extractor ($4) from the autoparts store,

and put on my safety goggles for the job.

It’s a hard angle, and the fuel line passes right by it, so I’m going to need a bit extender for the job.

Other busted bolts needing extraction – I was tempted to go, but it’s too hot and far and there is no AC in the truck.

Time for a dog walk…

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