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Hanging my head in shame as I post this. Turns out that my oil leak was actually a coolant leak. Before you laugh at me too much, the Zerex HOAT antifreeze the 300 takes is yellowish/orange in color, not much different than fresh synthetic oil and the weep hole for the water pump is right over the oil pan gasket. So it appears that I have a water pump to replace in the near future. The strapping the exhaust to the drive shaft cross member was actually the opposite of what I needed to do, resulting in the worst rattle conceivable. I managed to take care of the noise with a couple of spacers on the driveshaft cross member (keeps the driveshaft from touching the ground in the event of a failure) dropping it about 3/8in. The new exhaust was 1/4in bigger in diameter than stock, so apparently there is very little tolerance.

I've been plenty busy with work the past two months. We've been pulling down our fixed wireless broadband equipment off of towers. The equipment was EOL'd 5 years ago and was not a whole lot better than dial-up for internet speeds (768/256). Just good enough 10 years ago, not a good solution nowadays. Equipment that can provide speeds for today's internet is just too expensive to invest in, so we (my work) are ramping up FTTH (fiber to the home) deployments and filling dead spots with Satellite broadband.

So, this means that my time as a tower climber has pretty much ended. My last climb was on October 25th, a 300ft tower in Madison, IN. Pretty much killed me, not helping that it was a fairly cold day. I have mixed emotions about not climbing anymore, I did enjoy it for the most part, though I think I will enjoy winter and spring a heck of a lot more from now on. Here are pictures from my first (July 13th 2007) and last climb (October 25th 2017).

Took advantage of the three day weekend to finish up repairs on the Chrysler. On the todo list this time is replacing the passenger side exhaust manifold due to the broken stud, and to replace the passenger side drive shaft that I dorked up trying to reinstall it last weekend. I was a bit anxious about the manifold, specifically breaking the block bolts, but they came out without much fight. Not much room to work in, and my forearms and hands payed the price in blood and layers of skin. I was surprised to see that the manifold had a significant crack in it when I pulled off the heat shield, so it worked out for the best that it was replaced. The drive shaft replacement was non-eventful.

I didn't get a chance to test drive before going off to work this morning. There are some unexpected rattles with the exhaust. My new exhaust sits a little lower than the OEM and was hitting the cross-member when hitting hard bumps resulting in a clunk. I had attempted to remedy this by strapping the exhaust pipe down to said cross-member. I am assuming that there is still just enough gap between the pipe and cross-member that its rattling. Another thought is the manifold heat shield is not sitting right. More time on the lift, sarcastic yahoo.

The oil pan gasket repair turned out to be a clusterf... That's putting it lightly. Started around 9:00 Saturday morning and didn't even make it to getting the pan off. Hindered by both axles being stuck in the hubs, a snapped exhaust manifold stud, and to top it all off, the lack of a 12mm long allen key to remove the oil cooler left me in the rather humorous predicament:

For context, the oil cooler is the finned object to the left. Thinking (stupidly) that I could work around it, I used a ratcheting wrench to loosen the nut while obviously not paying attention. This specific wrench is the flip type, one way tightens and you flip the wrench to loosen (or vice versa), as opposed to the type that you give a tug to change the ratcheting direction. So, here I am with the bolt all the way down to the oil cooler, and no way to tighten it back up and no where to go. At that point I called it the night frustrated, tired, and depressed.

I spend most of the day Sunday trying to drill out the broken exhaust stud and trying to recover the stuck wrench. A lot of time spinning my wheels trying to figure out how to remove the transfer case only to find out that I needed to remove the drive shaft and that would have required all new bolts. Game over! I called it quits Sunday afternoon to go out and try to purchase a 12mm allen key and a temporary bolt for the exhaust. Since this is my primary mode of transportation, so I had to take Monday off work to get a functioning car for work. Seems the 12mm key is a unicorn, as no one locally had anything over 10mm in-stock for sale. Big box stores, auto-part stores, hardware stores, nobody. Thankfully, Amazon Prime came to the rescue with next day delivery. I was able to get a hardened 1/4in bolt and nut from he local auto-parts store as a temporary band-aid for the exhaust.

Monday was the day. Early start at 7:00a after wife and daughter leave. Managed to get everything back together and working by 3:00p. After it was all said and done, I had been able to replace the driver's side half-shaft and intermediate shaft. In return, I was not able to replace the oil pan gasket and managed to destroy the passenger half-shaft's CV boot trying to get it back into the hub. Monday night, I ordered a new exhaust manifold and passenger half-shaft.

It's been four days since that "repair" and I'm still in some state of shock on how bad that went. In an interesting twist, my oil stuck seems to have stopped. I'm hoping re-torquing the pan bolts fixed the small leak, but I'm not holding my breath.

Happy eclipse day! Where I'm at, we get about 90%, so not bad.

Another month has gone by and a whole lot of stuff going on. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I think the 300 is on it's last legs. I have a surplus of parts and stuff, so as long as I spend less than a car payment on it a month, I'm going to do my best to keep her running.

Two weeks ago, it was replacing the driver's side upper hinge and typical 5k maintenance (oil change, tire rotation, etc). There are two ways of dealing with the door, pull the door or pull the fender. General consensus is that pulling the fender is the better way, since you won't have to deal with re-aligning the door since the door lock and bottom hinge keeps things in place. The whole process took a couple of hours taking my time, but as luck would have it, everything came together perfectly.

With the door hinge taken care of, it was time for the 5k maintenance. Pulled the belly pan and proceeded to drain the oil. I usually take this time to inspect CV joints and tie rods. I noticed that there was a bit of grease coming out of the intermediate shaft. Not too bad, but obviously needed replacement. Ordered the part and finished up the job. A couple of days later, I notice a small puddle of fresh oil on the floor. Put the car up and find a small oil leak coming from top of the oil pan/gasket. Thinking it was just a fluke, I clean it and button everything up. Couple of days later, same little puddle. Ok, now have to replace the oil gasket. Turns out that this is a major undertaking on an AWD. Slowly getting parts together, which all-in-all, are not that expensive, but I imagine that I will be spending considerable time working on this one. Stay tuned!

Many of you are aware that I built my wife a MAME cabinet some time ago. I still spend a bit of time playing it, currently Robotron 2048, Time Pilot 84, and Karate Champ. My all time favorites growing up are Tron and Spy Hunter. In order to play these, I'll need to upgrade some components of the cabinet. Unfortunately, these parts are not cheap. I'll be looking for alternatives over the next couple of months to see what I can come up with.

Not even remotely done recovering from the Florida trip. But that's ok, let's go to PNC Pavilion to see Megadeth! One of my all time favorites, though like Metallica (just had too), I favor the older stuff. I've heard mixed reactions about Dave Mustaine's ability to put on a good show, but I was very impressed and it turned out to be an awesome show. I'm more awe struck on how they managed to play a full 1.5hr set without as so much as a 30 second break, friggin impressive. There was a bit of a kerfuffle with the Pavilion security when two of them got a little too aggressive with the mosh pit. Dave pointed them out and the two security guys were sent packing along with Dave giving them a bit of a talking to. He later made it a point to apologize for his outburst and praised the rest of the security staff.

Support bands were Lillake (came too late to see, must of played an extremely short set), TesseracT (never heard them before, will probably pick up an album), and finally Meshuggah (not my kind of metal, but put on a very solid set). Weather was pretty darn nice to boot. Great show!

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