"I Am Not A Mechanic!"

posted Sep 2, 2013, 8:14 PM by Sara Imberi
It's Labor Day weekend and we planned to work hard on KITT all weekend long. The plan: Have KITT on his wheels by Labor Day.

Jonathan said to throw these out. I took a picture, just in case we need to know what happened to them.


I noticed all the fuel lines Jonathan installed still had little stickers stuck to them. I figured this was not authentic to KITT, so I removed them as best I could.


We picked up the front rotors and bearings from Troy Saturday morning. He had two sets of new ratcheting wrenches waiting for Jonathan. He said he uses them in the shop all the time and they were on sale for a really good price. Jonathan hung them in the garage below his other collection of wrenches.


Time to get serious. Jonathan removed the steering gear box bolts from the WD-40 and wiped them off. 


Jonathan held the steering gear box in place and I threaded the bolts through from the other side.


Jonathan tightened the bolts down, securing the steering gear box.


Next Jonathan torqued the bolts to factory specification.


Here is the steering gear box in place with the pitman arm attached to the center link.


Next Jonathan removed the tie rods from both sides so he could balance the center link.


We measured the distance from the K-member to the machined flat edge at the bottom of the center link, as directed in the service manual. Since the pitman arm side does not adjust, we had to adjust the idler arm until both sides matched. Don't be fooled by my only have one picture of this part - this took quite a while to accomplish. There is only one picture because I was too busy helping hold and measure to take pictures. 


After we got the center link balanced and were feeling pretty confident in our mechanical ability, we decided to tackle the rest of the front suspension. First, Jonathan torqued the knuckles to the ball joints.



Jonathan reinstalled and torqued the tie rods.



Troy lent Jonathan a spring compressor to aid in the installation of the front springs, since the engine is not in the car. Jonathan got out the driver's side spring first and looked at the insulator ring to see how it all fit.


Jonathan realized the sway bar end links would have to be removed to allow enough clearance for the spring. (Doh!)



This picture marks the beginning of hours upon hours of un-fun. If I had $1 for every time Jonathan said, "I am not a mechanic!" and "How the he!! am I supposed to do this?" I would have had enough money to buy pizza for everyone in the apartment building for dinner. Jonathan followed Troy's instructions on how to use the spring compressor, and while it did compress the spring, it was not able to compress it enough to get it in place. Jonathan tried everything we could think of, and I have the pictures to prove it:







Notice Jonathan's very ticked off face in the picture above.

Jonathan took a break from trying to compress the spring when he got to the point where he wanted to throw something. (He has a lot of patience. He worked on it for hours before getting to this point.) He decided to consult the internet and watched video after video of redneck mechanics telling stories about how they know this guy that almost got killed by a spring. While he was doing that, I was doing some car work of my own - on my car. First, here is a picture of my newly installed front license plate. Troy actually riveted it on for me when we were at his shop Saturday morning. We have had the Freestyle for eight years, but it never has had its front license plate installed. Now it does! 


My Freestyle has been missing this piece for six years. It literally blew off the vehicle while we were driving on the interstate in North Dakota. I have been searching for a replacement for years, and I finally found someone that had it on ebay! While Jonathan was watching a video on You Tube demonstrating how not to use a spring compressor, I was ordering a new cowl piece for the Freestyle. It is on its way here now! I am very excited about this.


I found this on the work bench and Jonathan said I could have it. However, I do not believe it will make a good bracelet after all. It seems a little too big for my wrist.


This is Jonathan back at work. His last idea was to see if he could compress the spring without using the A-arm, but it did not take long to realize this would not work. He was very frustrated, but we did find many articles after the fact talking about how incredibly hard it is to compress the front springs. We definitely are not the first to try and give up after hours of attempting installation.


Jonathan decided to install the heat shields underneath the car. They are all painted but were kind of dirty from sitting in the garage. We wiped them off with a damp cloth and removed some of the dirt.


Jonathan wire wheeled the screws for the heat shield and threw them in the WD-40 bath.


First was the rear heat shield installation. Jonathan noticed the wire for the fuel sending unit was routed to the wrong side, so he rerouted it to the driver side.


Jonathan installed the rear heat shield first and then moved forward to the heat shields underneath the front passenger area.


Here are the heat shields for the front passenger area installed. They fit around the subframe connectors with only slight modifications.



Here are the two rear heat shields installed.



We took another break from KITT and Jonathan helped me put decals on my Freestyle.


Her name is Ruby. Originally I wanted to get personalized license plates that said "MY RUBY" (since Jonathan has "MY KITT"), but I found these decals at Shopko and thought it would be neat to put her name on the back instead. Ruby is going to be so beautiful now, with her newly installed front license plate and her new LH cowl piece and her name decal!


This is Jonathan double checking the passenger area heat shields. He was trying to decide whether it needed another screw. After he broke two drill bits, he decided it did not.


Next, Jonathan started working on installing the rubber fuel lines between the front to rear fuel lines and the fuel sending unit.


The flies were really bugging us - time for a new fly strip!


Be gone stupid flies!


Jonathan had to fashion a small piece of hose to hold the breather valve (two of the tabs are broke off). 


The previous owner used a piece of miscellaneous hose to secure the breather valve. (He must have been even less of a mechanic than we are.) This hose was literally disintegrating. (It was probably from a washing machine. Nice try there though, buddy.) Jonathan cut a section of the 5/16" fuel line the same size as the original hose.


We spent this afternoon installing the rubber fuel lines.


Here is the hose Jonathan cut to hold the breather valve. 


I found these awesome scissors at Menards. Jonathan was using a side cutter to cut the fuel lines, but I suggested these instead. They rock.



Rubber fuel lines are installed! (Masking tape label on the rear shock needs to be removed though. Doh.)



The last thing we did this weekend was clean the windshield. It was totally filthy, and Jonathan was convinced it had all kinds of nicks in it from working on the car.


We cleaned it inside and out, and minus a tiny bit of paint that Jonathan scraped off with a razor blade, it is in totally awesome shape yet. Check out our beautiful clean windshield!



P.S. We need a mechanic to install the front springs. Troy, we're looking at you...