And looks like I’d better order a tanker load of penetrating oil!

Granted, I live in the rust belt. “Bout a week ago I gave the Ranger a walk around in anticipation of a thanksgiving foray to my brother’s for dinner and hauling back his XS650 and whatever else I could fit on the trailer. Noted the slightly unround rear tire, and on closer examination a nail in the sidewall. Liberate the spare from it’s hiding place, set the parking brake, and slather on the penetrating oil on the studs. Come back next day and after some heaving on the 20 inch long ratchet four lugnuts are removed and the fifth breaks off at the stud. No, the battle’s not even half over as the wheel’s rusted to the hub and drum… I’m starting to wonder if hub piloted wheels were really that great an idea? After another day’s treatment with penetrating oil the wheel is liberated, and with little difficulty the brake drum is removed along with the end of a busted cable and spring.

Order up the parts, thanks again Napa they came next day and back together with the spare that only has one plug in it . Took a test drive and brakes dragging, but on the other rear wheel I didn’t touch. Yup, emergency brakes dragging… Knowing that Ford is constitutionally incapable of producing a long lived emergency brake (which may explain why they’re making automatics standard in just about everything), I’d avoided using that parking brake- for good reason. Repeat the process on the left side, but no broken studs. Currently between penetrating oil slatherings…

So thought I’d give my brother’s 11 year old Murray snowblower with the locked wheel some attention. Now this wee beastie was liberated along with the XS650 from my brother’s foreclosed house on a rescue mission a couple years back. Couldn’t see any logical cause of the locked wheel and Murray’s website considers anything they made over ten years ago worn out and beyond mechanical salvation and thus not worthy of making online owners manuals available for download. Fortunately adding one to the last digit of the model number gets you a pdf of the manual for a 2003 model that looks the same. Everything looked OK, even took the drivetrain cover off for a look and all seemed fine. Then, stumped, I rocked the stuck wheel the dozen degrees or so of movement it could manage and noted the chain wasn’t moving away in a straight line like it should after leaving the sprocket’s curve- The dang chain was frozen in rust! Repeated drenchings in chain lube and forceful rocking of the wheel in it’s ever increasing arc finally freed it up. Further drenchings of chainlube have been applied and if it rolls decent tomorrow I may actually try to start it.

Back to the Ranger, which I’m ashamed to say I’m part owner of it’s maker. The body looks great after fifteen years, but the underside is downright scary with rust everywhere. Some of that everywhere is thick metal that I’m not too worried about,but some of it is thin rusted stuff like brake lines. And thanks to Ford’s sloppy routing of emergency brake cables so they get rubbed through by stuff and adjuster slot plugs that fall out, seems like the best you can get from brake parts is about five years. Reminds me of the Econolines that rusted so horribly… One rarely sees twenty year old Econolines here in the rust belt. A couple decades back when the German vehicle inspectors got tough and flunked cars with rusted structural or safety related parts, the german manufacturers switched to galvanized steel so their cars wouldn’t flunk and get exiled to third world markets before their tenth birthday. Ford  has used galvanized steel for stuff like unit body rocker panels since the first Falcon, but apparently using it for stuff like brake parts and wheels escapes Ford. Rather sad… I was thinking of treating the Ranger to new tires and alloy wheels, but given it’s rustiness I may have to start end-of-life planning instead. A cheap tire or two and keep it close to home… Ford can do better!