Saturday, March 29, 2014

A Simple Job

I have known for some time that at least one of my front shocks was bad. I wasn't as sure that replacing the offending shock would cure the cacophony emanating out of our truck's front end. However; it had to help some and it was a good place to start. Speaking of starting; nothing got started when it came to finding a mechanic to do the job. Talented, honest mechanics are rare as hen's teeth in the oil patch and they can afford to be picky when it comes to accepting work. Especially when the job is down about thirteen and a half miles of teeth rattling caliche road. And that's just to get to our front gate. Add to that, that we are at least an hour away from anything bigger than a one stoplight (or flashing light) town and you can probably visualize the trouble I was having. All of the arm chair mechanics, pundits and raconteurs said it was a simple job and that I should do it myself. After some prodding from Missy I finally agreed to tear into the truck and see just how easy this simple job would be. I am not a fan of Ford(s) and I bought this truck primarily to move our 5th wheel. Once I removed the tire and got to see the underpinnings of the vehicle I was impressed. First off the tire and wheel assembly is larger and much heavier than those found on passenger vehicles. The sway bar, steering dampener, king pins, springs et all are all heavy duty and top shelf. On to the simple job. The first obstacle we ran into was that all the nuts and bolts were metric. On an American truck!-at least I think they still build Ford F series trucks here. As some of my dear readers know, I am a federally licensed air frame and power plant mechanic and I have a fairly complete set of tools. Apparently I don't have enough metric tools. A lot of time was lost attempting to find the correct size wrenches and sockets to do the job. The replacement shock is heavier duty and has larger nuts, bolts and bushings included with it. When we finally got the new shock installed we ran out of thread room on the top stud and could not secure the shock. You guessed it; off came the new shock and the question arose as to what  to do to fill the gap. Installing one of the provided bushings appeared to be a good answer, but I didn't know what to do with the factory bushing that was pressed into place and  filling the space. With the old shock out and the tire and wheel on the ground, it was time to put up or shut up. I knew there was a good reason as to why I wanted to hire a mechanic to knock this simple job out. Sniveling wasn't the answer so I took a pry bar to the factory bushing (turns out it was pretty worn anyway) and removed it. Back on we went; for the second time, with the replacement shocks, bushings, washers and nuts. Missy secured the shock while I tightened the nut on the top stud from above and it tightened down! Yeah! Missy took the MBAT (Mom's big ass truck) for a short jaunt and returned with a big smile on her face. The truck rode like new and, as a bonus, the cacophony had ceased!
For those of you wondering, we perused a ton of written and virtual material and could not find clear directions on shock removal and installation. It was all clear as mud and overly simple. Something to the effect of remove the tire and wheel, unscrew the top and bottom nuts and remove the shock absorber. Reverse the process to install. Why is it never that simple?

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