Well, it was time to change the oil in the rear differential in my car. I tend to prefer to buy the parts and do the work myself whenever possible. I do this for three reasons. 1. I’m cheap, and I don’t like paying other people to do things I can do myself. 2. I can make sure the desired work is done. 3. I have this overwhelming belief that I great mechanical aptitude. (It is good that I am not a mechanic in real life, though, I haven’t had a catastrophic failure of anything I’ve repaired…yet.)

After that lead in, I bet you can’t wait to get to the heart of the story, can’t you? Well, I got the car halfway into the garage to reduce the effects of the wind blowing the oil around as it drained out. There just isn’t room for the car to enter any further. There are just too many tools in the way. I got the car jacked up and placed on jackstands. So far, so good. Well, draining the oil out of the differential isn’t a big deal, but there isn’t that much space to work under the car. The drain plug was on tight, too. My first efforts at removing it were fruitless, so I had to get my breaker bar. That’s a wrench with a longer handle to allow you to apply enough torque to a bolt to snap it off. Fortunately, I was able to loosen the bolt instead, and the oil started draining out.

Now I like most of the smells associated with working on cars. Break(oops!) Brake cleaner, gasoline, motor oil. They are all familiar and welcome scents. I forgot about gear oil. I’m not good at describing smells, but trust me, it stinks. It’s not like having a skunk let loose next to you, but it wasn’t very pleasant having to breathe it in while moving the oil pan around to catch the used oil. Gear oil is thick and drains slowly, so as it slowly eased down to a trickle, I kept having to shift the drain pan with the changing winds.

So, with enough oil drained out, I successfully replaced the drain plug and secured it with my uncalibrated torque wrench. Next I had to remove the fill plug. It was secured just like the drain plug. So, with another round of the breaker bar, I was ready to replace the oil. This is where it gets tricky, though. About two inches above the fill plug is the bottom of the car. Do you remember how I said that gear oil is thick? It doesn’t like to flow over a level surface. I got about half of the needed amount into the differential and could not coax any more out of the bottle. Fortunately, I had the solution. In one of the cabinets in the garage reside all of the tools that I have purchased from Harbor Freight Tools but have yet to open. She who must be obeyed rolls her eyes every time she looks in there, despite my protests of “I will need that some day!” Well, it was that day, I found the siphon pump that I KNEW I had purchased for just such an occasion. I trimed the hoses to be the right size, and I was in business. After I pumped the rest of the oil into the differential, I torqued the fill plug, and moved everything from under the car. The car was returned to ground level, and I walked into the house to rub it in that I finally used one of the tools in the Harbor Freight Tool Storage Cabinet. She who must be obeyed just rolled her eyes, knowing that there were still many more tools resting safely in their store packaging in said cabinet.

Next month, I’m going to work on the hobby cars. I’m pacing myself.

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