My father and I regrouped the next day (Monday) to try again. I had pushed the Taurus out onto the driveway the previous day, so the Jeep was still on in the garage — to be tackled first. Since there was the possibility that we would have needed the Jeep’s services, Rebecca and I had dropped it off the jackstands — and reconsideration of this point was key.
Since both cars were laid up and her car pooling friend was not working that day, my wife left on the grand experiment: to get to work on public transit. This took the form of bus, bus, train, train, bus, bus. Two hours and twenty minutes, I’m told. Not fun in this heat. The pressure was on to make some (any) vehicles work.
One of the problems with the Jeep starter is that it is hemmed in by the lower control arm, the exhaust and the engine/transmission itself all on the passenger side. On Sunday, we had the jack stands on the frame — meaning the front suspension is dangling … which interfered with both getting under the jeep (the axle and pumpkin were low) and with getting at the starter (the control arm was low). On Monday morning I decided to use the scissor jack on the lower control arm (to compress the suspension) and then put the jack stands under the axle. Both parts of this procedure are important. If you’re going to put the jack stands on the frame, it’s important to jack the frame as compressing and uncompressing the suspension will leave the car in a lower position than (in that case) jacking the frame. Similarly for the suspension — if you jack the frame (in this case), then the suspension will compress on the way back down leaving the vehicle lower than you can achieve by jacking the suspension. I’m a little more nervous putting jack stands under live suspension members, but the solid front axle of the jeep feels very dependable.
Now I’ve said to a few people that having dad around (and I know he will read this) can be a bit of a bull-in-a-china-shop experience. It’s not that he is careless — far from it — but he brings a lot of brute strength and determination to the job and that was helpful here. I recall an earlier Subaru repair where he hammered various wrenches attached to a bolt that he eventually rounded — therein lies the china shop. But the Jeep is no china shop … it is composed of surprisingly large and sturdy chunks of metal and the Bull was just the right thing to introduce.
The starter for the Jeep is affixed by two bolts: one that is removed forward and the other that is removed aft. The bottom bolt (removed forward) was tricky, but Rebecca and I did manage to remove it. There’s very little room to swing the wrench down there, but I managed to break the friction and subsequently Rebecca removed it. We had put that bolt back in (in case the Jeep was needed) so it was not the problem.
I was pretty sure (as I wrote last) that we’d have to drop the exhaust to remove the starter from the Jeep. Dad, in his amazing determined way, managed to remove the top bolt by (as he tells it) rotating the rachet as far as was possible, removing it from the bolt, advancing it one click and then replacing it on the bolt at a different rotation — in this way achieving roughly one half-click of rotation for each application. It may also have helped that Dad was the one to finally get the Heisen Bolt into place to finish putting the exhaust back on last time — that memory is motivation.
The new Jeep starter was apparently from a 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee and looked physically as rusty as the one we removed, but the important part was that it worked. The Jeep has a wonderful tone when it fires up and this tone has become extra special to my wife and I as the Jeep has had trouble starting.
Since the Jeep could remove itself from the garage under it’s own power, we set to work on the Taurus next. The Taurus is a bit of a journeyman job compared to the Jeep and even to other Taurus repairs. We didn’t have to remove the intake plenum, for instance. There is a cover that seems to be for air resistance (under the bumper), but it is easy to remove. The only really difficult parts of the Taurus repair are working in the tight quarters around the front frame member and the 3D tetris jockeying required to remove the part after unbolting it. Ford also seems fond of stud-bolts that hold a wire with an additional nut — which they use here in the most inconvenient of spots — the top bolt that you cannot see.
With the old jeep starter and both Taurus starters in our hands, we returned to Standard to return the parts. This turned out to be straight forward and they were quite helpful. The new starter we got for the Taurus was apparently from a Lincoln LS. It was also in far better physical condition and most importantly: it worked!
Coming back from standard, we caught an all day breakfast, returned a broken socket u-joint at Princess Auto, got some parts for Dad’s sander at Makita and ordered parts for a possible third repair of the day (to Dad’s Sube).
The starter went into the Taurus largely as planned. I had forgotten that I had removed two of the spark plug wires to accommodate inserting the new computer and I must say that the car ran surprisingly well on 4 out of 6 cylinders. With those replaces (after a Doh! moment), however, the Taurus was back in top form.
With two successful repairs under our belts, we couldn’t help but start a third (as it was only 1530). Dad needed to replace the middle section of the passenger tie rod on his Subaru before the shop would do an alignment. We’ve poked around in there a number of times recently, so that too went well. The boot was all cut up … and our part didn’t come with one — so that’s something that Dad is replacing by himself up north… but the jist of the repair we accomplished here was good, so that’s 3 for 3… a pretty awesome record for my shop. It almost compensates for the month-or-so I’ve been working on the Taurus no start issue… almost.