We vanquished the problems with the van yesterday morning, the boys and I. Replaced both belts successfully. One bolt on the power steering pump was in a very awkward place, but by combining forces, or rather everyone’s tool boxes, we found a combination of adapters that helped us get the ratchet where it needed to go. Total time for the repair, including some adjustment of belt tension afterwards, was about four hours.
A mechanic warned me about a manufacturing defect – he called it a “wart” – on one of the belts last year, but quoted me hundreds of dollars in labor to replace them. I assumed that the job would require moving more large components out of the way than could reasonably be accomplished with hand tools in our garage. If I’d known it would be this easy, I would’ve tried to head it off months ago.
Starting the air conditioner no longer causes 30 seconds of monstrously annoying whining from the aging belt. I had assumed that would be another repair job inaccessible to mere mortals like me, but turns out it was the same warty old belt, now vanquished. Double win!
As we were working with the van, Mrs. D. walked into the garage holding none other than my missing gray cat, Ume, assumed to have run off during Monday’s storm. Mrs. D. had put some bales of fiberglass in a box trailer Monday morning to get them out of the way for me. Ume had apparently crept into the trailer unnoticed, and gotten shut in. She was hungry but otherwise in fine health. And I no longer have to wonder about her fate.