Subject: (wob) sunday @ junkyard
Date: Wed, 17 Jan 2001 12:59:05 -0500
From: "Marty Roach" <>

I could feel it in my bones.

It had been nearly 5 months since I did the junkyard loop, a 138 mile sweep to some of my favorite haunts. I could "feel" that good junk was near me, and I tasted the sweetness of fresh antifreeze as though it had just dropped onto my nose to sprinkle on my lips, rust and grime in my ears, the back of my head covered with oily dirt. I imagined my hands all bashed and swollen, dangling limply at the end of two tired dirty arms.

I was going junking! The sights! The sounds! The people!

What have we here?

one old boot...
a forgotten lunch...
a few tapes...
a toothbrush...
jumper cables...
waterlogged porno mags...

You can't choreograph days like these. Pure magic. I am still convinced that a junkyard musical would make millions.

Goon suit, trailer trash Carhart vest, boots, hand cleaner, rags, tools. I filled up the Thermos with about 8 cups of coffee and I was on my way. 14,000 mgs of caffeine will put a spring in your step. Turn up the Buzzcocks CD and head off! Yeeeeeee-owwwwww!

In fact, I have been offered a role in Steve Kirby's upcoming feature film: "So many cars, but none of them start"

Not to worry that my 1/4" Snap-On swivel socket was gone, stubby 10mm wrench missing, or that my battered and bent 17mm/19mm Heyco wrench had disappeared. The best tools I ever had were all GONE! GONE! Nevertheless, I would substitute rabid enthusiasm and grizzled experience in their place. In the old days, I took two toolboxes and a two wheeled dolly to the junkyard. Hacksaws, sledges, spring compressors, yadda, yadda. Who needs 'em?

Junkyard A had 11 BMWs in it: 84 733i,s (2), 318i E30,s (2), 320i,s (2), E30 325i (1), and an assortment of hideous 528e,s (4). All of the cars were either pimped out, totalled, bashed, dinged, and simply horrible. No usable five speeds, no good heads, no Bilsteins, no limited slips, no Heyco tools, no nothing. Just a bunch of sad old BMWs. I didn't even sit in the driver's seat and imagine what they were like "in the old days". None of them had retained a shred of dignity.

I was in and out of the yard in about half an hour.

Yard B: A half dozen 320i,s, one of which with 278k on the clock. No Recaros, no limited slips, headers, rims, suspension parts: no funky anything. A few 528e,s scattered here and there. Not a damn thing. By now, E28 eta,s are usually on their third or fourth owners and the cars are just disgusting: ripped seats, paper thin brake rotors, oil leaks, crappy tires, and trunks full of cheap clothes. If you see someone driving a beat up 528e, you can bet both of their teeth that they are transporting a dayglo polyester afghan and a bevy of old shoes in the trunk. The folks I saw scavenging parts off of the 528e,s had gaping holes in their DNA. (Sharper witted S6R readers, although a purely hypothetical species, can assert that I am guilty by association by virtue of the fact that I am in the same junkyard doing the same thing. Well, that's just too damn bad.)

When a bum can save up $200, he takes everything out of his shopping cart and throws it into the trunk of his 84 528e. Who says that BMW doesn't make cars for the working poor? A 528e will hold plenty of empty aluminum cans.

Way in the back in the corner was an 80 528i: Car was not hit. Kinda rusty. 143k, older Maaco-esque respray, recent recored radiator, old Boges, cracked tires, original head, no tools, rear diff torn out of the trunk floor (floor still attached), newish guibo and center bearing...

...and a 5 speed: clean gear oil with no floaties. (YEA!!) No metal chunks on drain plug. Gears look great. Input shaft shows a "little" deflection. Needs a rear main seal. I left the bell housing there. Initiated readers can attest that starter and upper bell housing bolts on an injected car are a bloody nightmare. Total rapture.

My only fear is that ripping the diff out of the floor was part of some bizarre ritual to kill the car, owing to some other problem with the gearbox. I will advise about results, install will be in February. I can't wait to swap the close ratio box out of the coupe. I want to do some long range trips on the coupe and the overdrive is a must (along with rebuilt alternator).

Final Notes:

A goon suit is de riguer for junking. Reversible Carhart "Loser" vest is virtually indestructible and protects your back from whatever might me embedded in the ground - bolts, glass, and stones.

A good quality 1/4" flexible socket wrench is a MUST for close combat in tight spaces. The Snap-on tool that I recently lost was compact, well balanced, and had a very short throw. It fit in places that Crapsman or Husky did not fit due to slim profile, and would ratchet on 1/8 of as turn versus 1/4 for most other brands. How I miss that damn wrench! I will replace before I pull the headers on the Coupe. You'll need 10, 12, 13 mm sockets. This $40 will save your wrists and make you work much faster.

I had bent my 17/19 Heyco wrench like a banana by using a giant cheater bar on it. Suspension work is brutal on tools (and humans). Wrench was bent in the middle, along its spine, which gave it a great offset for reaching confined places. The top bolt on the driver side of the gearbox which holds the gearbox to the bell housing is a good example of where it can be used.

In order to pull the five speed gearbox yesterday, I needed another banana wrench. I wedged a straight Heyco into a mounted tire and jumped up and down on it, using my fat ass to good effect. I was able to bend it the "thin" way, which is not what I wanted, but I was able to get the bolt off.

It took me two hours to remove the gearbox, 45 minutes of which was spent on this one lousy bolt. Had my beloved "banana" wrench been on hand, I would have been done much sooner. The old banana wrench looked trick. The object that is currently defiling my toolbox looks as though some clown was jumping up and down on it.


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