It was a hell of a wind yesterday evening, but Charlie had to get to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park just east of Toronto to play with his BMW and work as a Porsche Club of Canada instructor for the weekend, so he set off at 6:00 from the farm towing the 20 X 8.5 trailer loaded with his car and equipment. I checked with him at 9:50. He had just arrived.

The load-levelling hitch evened the suspension out pretty well, but the problem was SW winds were so high they had closed the airports in Toronto, and the Hamilton Skyway Bridge shut down as well because of wind gusts over 75 mph. Headwinds were a minimum of 30 miles per hour, with gusts passing 50 mph.

The 2004 Cayenne S pulled the bulky trailer through it well, according to Charlie. I asked him about the fuel consumption.

28.5 L/100 km. Normal is in the low 12’s for mixed driving. That was a serious pull over a relatively flat road. He did say it was very windy.

UPDATE: 6 May, 2018

This evening Charlie told me that when towing the trailer into in that 60 mph headwind, there was no change in engine effort when going down hills. I insisted that he check the engine oil. No change in oil level from before the vigorous exercise.

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Senior moment

April 25, 2018

In the Costco parking lot this afternoon I found myself tightening the left front lug nuts on my Porsche Cayenne. Of course today had been the day I decided to put the summer tires on, so I had Ruby up on the hoist and the wheels switched before 9:00 a.m. Seems the studs were rustier than they looked, and I forgot the torque-wrench stage.

It was fortunate that I had had to back out of a trick parking space at the Rose and Crown (fish and chips to die for) and the studs alerted me to their looseness after the prolonged full-lock maneuver. What astonished me was how many turns it took to make the four loose studs tight again. One was still intact. The studs must have been working themselves loose while I was driving down the 401 at high speed. And there was no warning until I cranked the steering enough to allow the wheel to rattle a bit, fifty miles into the trip.

Initially it sounded like a rear brake spring loose, but over a mile of driving it became steadier and louder. I parked, loosed Bet into the store, and set about with the on-board tool kit.

The tire wrench works, and I couldn’t bend it with the limited brute force I could generate. Later the torque wrench set at 105 foot pounds only tightened one stud any more before clicking. But on the left front, four of those studs had required many turns with the emergency wrench.

Crisis ended, I headed for the lunch bar and a dish of chocolate ice cream. Then came my only inspired moment of the day. My wife habitually vanishes into Costco and I can’t find her until she is ready to come out. Instead, this time I texted: “Chocolate ice cream in dish with two spoons, at the tables.” Very soon thereafter Bet showed up, took a spoon, and helped herself to the bait. She knew I would eat it all, so she had temporarily abandoned her cart to protect my blood sugar. Kind, self-sacrificing woman.

Even kinder, she did not rail upon me for forgetting to tighten the lug nuts, and even offered not to tell Charlie. Oh well, if he reads this he’ll know, and resume clandestinely torquing the wheels on his Dad’s cars.

Various journalists have written about methods to undo the knotted rope of obligation which is the Kimberly-Morgan Pipeline conflict. I would like to suggest a modest proposal which could free up the wheels of commerce and progress, once again foster amity between the western provinces, and leave Quebec out of the discussion before they over-reach their special status in Canada and provoke a backlash from the other nine provinces and three territories, and most of all, cost the taxpayer not one dollar.

The proposal would also allow the First Nations who are still holding out for a better deal to blame Ottawa for their intransigence and extract whatever largesse these moans might generate.

John Horgan feels a deep personal need for power. In order to gain it in after the last election he formed a coalition with the B.C. Green Party to turf the ruling Liberals. Those three Green Party seats have put him and the B.C. Government into the position of blocking the K-M pipeline on questionable legal grounds and damaging the economic prospects of his own province’s interior and the entire province of Alberta.

Horgan must see that this arrangement with the Greens is running away from him. Protestors are turning out to be the professional radicals who are opposed to everything. He is well on the way to appearing the dupe of the most corrupt elements of B.C. politics. Jobs for thousands of B.C. construction workers are being sacrificed each day so that Liberals rich enough to own seaside estates can continue to look out their windows over the Pacific without the sight of grimy tankers interfering with their view. Is David Suzuki’s window the hill on which John Horgan is prepared to allow his political career to die?

What if there were another way, a political move often used in western provincial politics, to dissolve this blockage? Would not a grateful public flock to the leaders who saw the way to eliminate this conflict? Would John Horgan not emerge as the statesman-premier who cooled down Rachel Notley’s rage and ensured jobs for a vast number of potential NDP voters from the interior of his own province?

John Horgan needs reassurance that his government can survive the no-confidence vote he would face if he calls the Green Party’s bluff. Why not arrange a floor-crossing of let’s say five Liberals to the NDP? Who knows? Perhaps more would be delighted to find a berth as backbenchers in government again. One would hope the groundswell wouldn’t be as dramatic as the one that did in the Wild Rose Party in Alberta a couple of years ago, but the shuffling of a few seats could definitely change the political map over a weekend, reassure the Houston billionaires, gladden the Prime Minister, and give status to the beleaguered Notley.

For this boon to Western Canada I can claim no personal benefit, seated as I am on a tree farm in Eastern Ontario, drawing an indexed pension, and with no desire to enter politics at this late stage in my life.

The sole casualty of my bumbling exploration of the area under Ruby’s manifold was the following little crankcase vent hose. Pelican Parts offers it for $183. USD, plus shipping, exchange, taxes and fees. All for a little crack.

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The trouble was that there was no space for clamps.

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One contributor suggested gluing a copper junction piece in, but one end needed a regular piece of copper pipe, so I modified it a bit, then cut the end off at an angle to accommodate a slight bend in the hose. The moderator of Rennlist.com warned me in no uncertain terms not to use any product with silicone in it or it would kill the O2 sensors on the engine.

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JB Weld is apparently as good as its reputation. A mixture of limestone, steel filings, and epoxy, it works well in engines.

After a couple of hours to set, the repaired hose slid neatly into position. I left it for a day to finish its cure in a warm shop, then it worked fine.

It seemed like an easy job now that I had the beauty covers off the engine, so I bought a set of the correct Bosch spark plugs and had at it. I even laid in a new 5/8″ spark plug socket with the rubber insert to help me pull the loosened plugs out of the long tubes which guide them down into the engine.

Yeah, right. The first plug wouldn’t stay on the wrench, so I recovered it with a magnet on the end of a cable/coil arrangement which allowed me to open a grappler down the tube and grab the loosened spark plug. When I installed the fresh plug, the rubber sleeve from the expensive spark plug socket stayed on it, now torqued into the cylinder head. There was nothing to do but remove plug and all, and from then on use the grappler for the handling of loose spark plugs.

My phone provided essential information: torque the plugs to 22 foot pounds.

As I removed the old ones, most looked to be in excellent condition, but #5 and #6 showed some carbon on them. It was time to do this job. #5, for reference, is the spark plug closest to the driver’s side headlight on a left-hand-drive model.

5 through 8 are very easy to change. 1 through 4 are more of a challenge.

After one removes the beauty panels which surround the engine on a Cayenne, the coils and spark plugs are covered by a pair of decorative plastic fingered things which clip and screw on. They significantly reduce injector noise and protect the wiring harness, so they are not just a frill. The only problem is that on the right side, one of the fingers slides through a complex engine mount, and another doesn’t have quite enough room to slide out from under an air pump at the rear of the engine. First use a 30 torx screwdriver to remove the screws holding the fingers down. You’ll need a tiny ratchet and the equivalent bit for a couple of tight spots, but this shouldn’t be difficult.

Needless to say, if you don’t have access to a set of triple-square male sockets, you can’t go any further. There’s this arm which reaches from the right fender well to the side of the engine. A bolt can be readily removed with a 16 mm socket at the head and a 12mm triple square thing on the other end. Then the fender connection can loosen with the same 16 mm socket and allow the torsion arm to fold out of the way. This becomes a routine operation if one is to spend any time under a Cayenne’s hood, but it’s a non-starter if one has misplaced the triple-square male socket set.

The air pump hanging over the back of the engine, one of two, is easily moved out of the way. Just remove three screws (torx #30) and let it flop loose. It’s not fragile. Unfortunately there is an aluminum frame which holds it. It has a machine screw down into the cylinder head, some sort of strange hex bolt, but an 8mm socket will work on it. Loosen that until the air pump mount can wiggle enough to let the finger out from underneath without shattering. Remember that Porsche plastics do not age well and are prone to failure when stressed. I found over several repetitions that if I removed the oil filler cap it allowed the fingers more room to wiggle without twisting. Stuff a clean rag into the open oil filler, of course.

Once you have removed the finger cover, you’ll discover that the coil for the #3 cylinder can’t come off unless you remove the rest of that engine mount. It is fastened to the right cylinder head with four hex bolts, 10 mm on top, and more of those strange green 8mm things below.

Once these obstructions are out of the way, it’s a simple job to remove the coils and change the plugs on the right side. The coils are freed with a 10 mm socket on a small ratchet to back out the the complex studs which one level up held the screws for the fingers. Once they are out of the way (Don’t lose any!) I found that the upholstery tool, a broad, angled screwdriver with a notch in the centre which comes with most screwdriver sets, is the ideal device to persuade well-established ignition coils out of their dens.

*Triple square is like a 12-point Allen wrench.

Once the plugs are in and torqued, it becomes a matter of re-installing the ignition coils. All of the old ones I had removed had 2″ vertical splits in the side that goes down the tube, but they worked well. I had new ones to install, so I cheerfully clipped them in, fastened everything back together, and fired Ruby up.

Ruby’s ignition missed quite badly, so I put the OBD II meter on. P0308, 301, 302. Ulp! Much fussing led to the conclusion that half of my brand new Chinese coils did not function. This led to an interesting afternoon of chase-the-ignition fault until at long last I had it nailed down to just P0308. With a prayer I replaced the new imported coil with the original, cracked coil which had come out of cylinder 8. Ruby fired up and purred.

I can’t emphasize enough how desperate a misfiring Cayenne V8 appears. My son says it has to do with the O2 sensors. If one detects a richer mixture because of a misfire, it leans out the entire bank of cylinders. So tic-tack-toe with old ignition coils and potentially defective new ones is a real challenge. But once it runs, it runs beautifully. It’s more like computer programming than auto mechanics.

Then it’s just a matter of putting everything back together and testing the car on the road. In my case this step occurred a few times before success. After enough repetitions the engine mount and air pump routines become familiar and strangely comforting.

And that’s how you change the spark plugs on a 2004 Cayenne S.

With the new plugs Ruby averages 12.1 litres per 100 km. That translates to a fuel consumption rate of 23.35 miles per Imperial gallon on 91 octane. That’s about what my Volvo 240’s used to do on regular.

UPDATE: 2 May, 2018. I notified the Amazon vendor that only half of the coils in the batch actually worked. He sent me another box of eight new coils in short order, so I get to try again.

UPDATE: 3 May, 2018 The vendor sent me eight new coils from another batch. They went in and perform flawlessly. I have become rather proud of my Porsche Cayenne tune-up skills as a result of all of the practice.

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Yesterday we finished up the two trees on the south field. 2 1/2 hours of uneventful chipping provides thin gruel for a blog characterized by the misadventures of a bumbler, so I resolved to do better today. This afternoon the chipper tackled the accumulated brush from three weeks of pruning around the farm. Things went very well until I decided to see what the limits of the machine really are. Then production stopped.

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The above photo above looks much worse than it is. I had chipped the pear tree that the wind took down last week and was very pleased by the chipper’s success at reducing the twisted branches with their many perpendicular twigs to mulch. As I was pitching miscellaneous debris into the hopper I came upon a piece of rotten wood about four feet long and 4″ in diameter. It was very light, so I tossed it in to bung the twigs on through. When the blades touched it the thing apparently disintegrated. The dust consolidated some small twigs caught in the chute into a wooden concrete. With nowhere for the incoming chips to go, the machine soon overloaded, alerting my wife to warn me to shut down the Kubota. The chipper was well and truly plugged.

Clearing the blockage wasn’t hard, though it did require some shop tools.
Essentials include a 1/2″ steel rod to use to pry the flywheel around against resistance, followed by a piece of 2″ X 7/8″ white oak lath for further prying duties. The more challenging part was getting the accumulated crud out of the chute. In the shop I grabbed a cordless drill and a 3/4″ concrete bit about 2′ long. It freed up the blockage rather effortlessly, and the machine was ready for more work.

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And hour and a half produced a half-load of wood chips which filled in a soft spot on one of the roads on the property. The chips are pretty useful for that sort of thing.

Steps as of 4:51 today: 10,536 steps. It turns out I am much more willing to walk to get a tractor than I am just to walk. A chipping session involves getting three pieces of drivable equipment into place. The Ranger contains most of the tools I need as well as the loppers for small branches and the chain saw for larger stuff. It also provides a comfortable seat for Bet, who correctly believes that I require some adult supervision when playing with this set of toys.

UPDATE, 14 April, 2017

April 12th we started off to chew up a large pile of silver maple boughs. Silver maple is a common soft maple, characterized by gently-tapered, vertical branches. Turns out those branches become too fine for the machine to chop up. I kept watching 12″ drinking straws popping up and down the chute, too stiff to bend around the curve and catching on the deflector at the top, then dropping back down to plug the machine.

Now I understand one of the videos I watched where the guy demonstrated a Wallenstein chipper/shredder. He would hang onto the branches as the coarse parts rapidly chipped away, then draw out the fine ends and toss them into this hopper on top where they would instantly get shredded.

I may try some variation on this, hanging on to the branches to recover the thin parts, then consign them to a brush pile or burn barrel, or even toss them straight onto the trailer with the chips. There aren’t a lot of of quality control inspections of the chips that go into a mud hole on a farm trail.

When the chipper does plug with the fine branches, BTW, it is quite easy to unplug because of the shape of the tapered chute. If it is just branches and not consolidated with dust, just grab something and pull the whole thing out.