Cleaning Out the Grime - Tire Review Magazine

Cleaning Out the Grime

Getting rid of the unseen blockages makes things run as they should.

Car-Side-Slim-Shambles-April-2014Tooner shoved a handful of greasy popcorn into his mouth and then waved the half-empty bag under my nose. “Want some?”

My stomach churned as I looked inside. The triple dose of hot butter had mixed with the black grime from Tooner’s hands, leaving a trail of dirty streaks behind. “I think I’ll pass. Basil, how ‘bout you?”

Basil shook his head and put a finger to his lips. It was show time.

“Okay, places everybody!” Ham Hockley, theater director for our community plays, called the auditions to order. He poked absently at his left ear with the eraser end of his pencil as he consulted his clipboard. “Hmm…Beanie Madison, it’s your turn.” He turned to the bored-looking pianist who was parked stage left. “Maestro? If you please.”

Beanie stepped nervously up to the microphone as the pianist hit the opening chord. We braced ourselves, but it wasn’t enough. Car alarms went off in the parking lot as Beanie blasted his first note.

“Yikes! What was that?” Tooner stared up at us from under his chair. “I ain’t heard anything that bad since my alternator bearing seized!”

Basil grimaced, his fingers jammed in his ears. “Surely this will be the end of Beanie’s singing career. I’m not a vocalist, but that…that…”
“That was magnificent!” shouted Ham. “Beanie, you’ve got the part. Rehearsals are on Tuesday nights. Next!”

We drove back to the shop in stunned silence while Beanie whistled a merry tune. The rest of us had come along for this noon hour audition to offer moral support – after all, we worked with him day in and day out; we knew how bad his singing was. But now we were the ones needing support.

“Sheesh,” mumbled Tooner as we struggled into our coveralls. “There’ll be no livin’ with him now. He thinks he’s God’s gift to music.”

Basil shook his head in disbelief. “What I can’t figure out is why Ham gave him the part. It’s like he was tone-deaf.”

“Tone-deaf?” I snorted. “You’d have to be stone-cold dead not to hear what we heard.” Loud wailing echoed through the service bays – Beanie was singing up the perfect storm. I grabbed some ear protectors. “Wish me luck. I need to give junior his next job.”

Beanie read over the work order I handed him. “Noisy power steering when hot? No problem, boss. These Chrysler minivans have had lots of power steering issues. I’ll try the old ‘extend the return hose’ trick.”

An old Chrysler service bulletin recommended removing the front return hose from the cooler and replacing it with three feet of power steering hose wrapped in a corrugated wire cover. It’s long, but you can curl it over the top of the cooler and tie it down with zip straps, both to the cooler in front and to the lines at the back. Then, using only Chrysler’s ATF+4 fluid, you drive it around until all the air is purged out. The procedure was supposed to help with all kinds of noise problems, but in this case it didn’t work.

Beanie was at a loss. Every time we turned the steering wheel, the pump whined loudly. “It’s like the fluid is aerated,” I said, shutting of the engine.

Beanie pulled the cap off the reservoir and peered inside with a light. “Yup, it is. I can see lots of tiny bubbles.” He sighed. “I feel like singing the blues.”

My heart lurched in my chest. “No! Don’t do that! Er, I mean, there’s got to be an answer for this. L-let me check with Basil.” I hurried off to the parts room where Basil was doing some Web research on another issue. “Quick, find what you can on Chrysler power steering pump noises – Beanie’s about to start singing again!”

Sweat poured off Basil’s forehead as he scanned the help forums for suggestions. “I think I’ve got something,” he said finally. “That’s a 2005, right? It says here that they’ve been having problems with the fine mesh filtering screens inside the reservoir. They plug up and restrict the return flow of the fluid. The recommended repair is to replace the reservoir housing.”

“Replace the housing? Can’t we just clean the screen?”

Basil rubbed his chin. “We could try,” he said.

Beanie drained the pump, and reaching in through the fill hole with a small brush, he cleaned what he could. But after flushing and refilling it, things were no different. “Okay, okay, I’ll order up a new reservoir,” I said. “But I hope that fixes it.”

It did. Once Beanie had the new reservoir installed, the pump was as quiet as could be. “Grr. I’m going to get to the bottom of this,” he growl­ed. He took the old reservoir and cut it open. What he found inside was a very fine screen, coated with a hard-to-remove black substance. “That must be the restriction,” said Beanie. “Who would have known?”

Tooner stared at the plugged screen and chewed his lower lip. “I wonder…” He removed his coveralls and started washing up. “I’ll see you guys in the mornin’.”

The next afternoon, Beanie received a phone call from Ham Hockley. He looked worried as he hung up the phone.

“What’s up, Bean?”

“I have to meet Ham at the theater after supper,” he said glumly. “He says he’s gonna redo all the auditions.”

After Beanie left for the day, Tooner filled us in on the details. “I knew somethin’ was hokey ‘bout that screen test the other day, and that power steering pump got me thinkin’. So I went to see Ham and asked him when was the last time he’d had his hearin’ checked. Turns out his ears were full of eraser dust from his ear pickin’ habit,” he chuckled. “Ol’ Doc Manic cleaned out his ears for him and the difference was so noticeable that he’s decided to retest all his singers.”

Basil smiled. “So with any luck, the town will be spared from Beanie’s cruel crooning in the community play.”

“That’s worth celebrating!” I added two more sugar cubes to my coffee. “Though I do feel bad for Beanie’s sake.”

Tooner shrugged. “Hey, that’s show biz. When yer hot, yer hot…”

Basil and I agreed: And when you’re The Bean, you’re not.

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