Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Alternator Belt is not a Team Player.

Picture the scene. It's 1am. We have to go to work for a job that starts way too damn early. It's 25 degree's outside. I have already fed and watered the ungrateful hungry mouths. We grab our thermoses and some healthy fruit snacks and pile in the car. We scrape the frost off the windows, hop in, turn up the heat and drive off into the cold morning, on our way to work.

Except we never even made it to the main road because our alternator belt blew.

Do you know what it looks like when you loose an alternator belt?

The first clue is when the battery light comes on. The second clue is when the headlights start to dim. The third clue is when the care stops running.

Well, the first clue hit and we immediately turned around chanting our war chant. Which goes something like “oh, shit oh fuck oh shit oh fuck...” Then the second clue kicked in. Do you know what it's like to be traveling in a car, in the middle of goddamn nowhere, all the while the headlights are getting progressively dimmer and dimmer?

Basically it's like every horror movie ever.

Just thought I'd clear that up.

Luckily we made it home before the third clue hit us. Then it was excitement of calling people to inform work people that it didn't appear that we would be making worky work time. Then came the super fun time of searching the sheds in the hope that we had a spare belt. It was kinda of a useless act, because our car takes a very specific belt.

Let me put it this way. We didn't think to buy two belts the last time this happened and my late father did not own a compatible vehicle. So unless the dog had purchased a belt for our car, and put it somewhere that we could be able to find it in the shed, we didn't have one.

There wasn't much to be done at this point. I drank a cup of tea and ate a banana. I went and confirmed that the not being very helpful at this point dog was still sleeping peacefully in the bed. Under the covers. Asshole non parts buying dog.

Finally we just gave up and went back to bed to wait for an auto parts store to be open. Only to be woken up like three hours later when everyone started calling us back.


Well after making a few calls later we found a local auto parts store that had the belt. Of which we only bought one because learning from our mistakes is stupid.

Installing the belt however, was a whole new level of awful. Like, okay, you know how Greek mythology has a lot of stories where the hero has to pass a bunch of really unpleasant and hard tasks to get whatever it is he wants? Yeah this was pretty much just like that. Except I think I would have rather had to face down a minotaur rather then change this belt again.

First off, it was 34 degrees outside. Which gets points for being 2 degrees above freezing, but you know what? My hands can't tell the difference. First off we had to take off the other belt, the one that was working fine, to get to the broken belt. Then we had to loosen the bolt that keeps tension on the belt. In a kind world that is all you would need to do to slip the new belt in place.

This is not a kind world.

We had to loosen almost every bolt going to the alternator. Loosen but not remove, otherwise the whole thing would have just fallen out of the car. Also, since our car is tiny and poorly designed, this involved me laying underneath the car. Under the alternator. Now I'm not really claustrophobic, but I do not like lying under a car when it is jacked up. For one, when you jack it up it always makes weird moaning sounds like the car itself hates this but can't move away because you won't let it. Two, every little bit of dirt and metal crap and filth is falling into your face. Pro tip: Keep your mouth shut. Oh and you know what's really cold in the middle of November? It's the ground. The ground I was laying on.

It seemed to take forever to wriggle, pry, curse, loosen and cajole the alternator forward, wrestle the damn belt on, and then put the second belt back on. While tiny, tiny metal bits hit me in that face and every so often a socket would fall into the car, just to spice things up. It was one of those times that you can't even be bothered to notice your hands hurt from the cold, you just pray that they keep working because you kind of need them.

Okay really a lot need them.

Anyway, before we got like, I dunno, hand frostbite or some shit we reassembled the car, tested the belts, and felt the sweet, sweet relief of everything working again. I am pretty sure that when the car started and the belts went around smoothly a beam of the purest sunshine shot down from the heavens upon us.

Or at least that's how I remember it.


  1. pure sunshine from heaven sounds legit. Where are you working that you leave at 1am to get there in time?

  2. Just about every post you write, I sit here reading, nodding my head, smiling, thinking, yup, I know what's coming next.

    And you can't wear safety glasses because it's cold out and as soon as you lay on your back, they just fog up.

    1. I did wear them, but they are the cool looking kind that look like sun glasses so the grit just fell around them into my eyes. Sometimes I miss the good ol' days with those giant honkin ones that had sides.

      They were hideous, but at least they worked.