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.

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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 wrench 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 new plug the rubber sleeve 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 under an 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 15 mm socket at the head and the triple square thing on the other end. Then the fender connection can loosen with the same 15 mm socket and allow the torsion bar to fold out of the way.

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 socket, but a 9 or 10mm 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 a few 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 one (#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 ones down below, maybe 9 mm.

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 shuts down 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.

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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.

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We picked up a slightly used brand-name* wood chipper this morning in Osgoode, ON. It had appeared as an afterthought in a Kijiji ad for a Kubota B7510 tractor identical to ours. As promised, the Canadian-made Wallenstein* connected and was operating ten minutes after arrival at the farm.

My previous attempt to buy a wood chipper had resulted in an embarrassing return to the vendor of the unit. It looked identical to this one, but the flywheel was warped and I was convinced that it could never be operated successfully. So much for the imported clones priced at less than half that of the Wallenstein products.

After two hours and 17 minutes of relaxed chipping, my Fitbit registers 7,590 steps for the day. My heart rate peaked at 123 bpm and I have burned 2113 calories so far today.

I still have all ten fingers.

This might well be a fitness regimen which suits me. I am forever pruning my walnut trees, and until now I have hauled the cut branches to a growing pile on the property where I compact them together with the loader on my larger tractor.
But after three weeks of pruning this year and no burning done, the pile is beginning to crowd out young trees. As well, I could use a supply of wood chips.

My friend Les suggested renting a chipper for the long weekend. I responded that I usually only work for about an hour at a time. A marathon session to the tune of a raging gasoline engine on a self-contained rental unit would wear me out. I would much rather listen to my little diesel friends, Kubota and Bolens, as I chip away on the brush at my own pace in nice weather, channeling the chips into the dump trailer for distribution around the property.

Today’s task involved cleaning up the mess after I 1) burned the dried hay away from a downed Manitoba maple; 2)cut off the many branches to get at the trunk; 3) cut the trunk up into spring and fall firewood and removed it; 4) hauled most of the branches away on my dump trailer behind the Kubota.

Of course I had watched many videos of tractor-mounted wood chippers in operation. The most interesting title I saw was: “Another way to break your fingers.” When I started on the dry Manitoba maple branches, I quickly saw the point, though avoided injury from the twigs snapping back and forth as the branches enter the chopper.

For the kind of work it was doing today, the 21 hp Kubota seems well matched to the chipper. I have yet to notice the engine dying back in material up to 3″ in diameter. In fact, the larger green ash branches are easier to feed through the machine than the smaller, dried box elder ones. The Wallenstein’s* 425 pounds feels substantial behind the light tractor. I’ll leave on the three suitcase weights left over from bush hog operation in summer to balance the weight.

By the end of the day my Fitbit read 10,224 steps. That’s the most ever for me.

*The downside is that my new chipper is almost certainly not a Wallenstein product. There are lots of look-alike labels, but no “Wallenstein” brand label and no “Made in Canada” label. The problem is that I may not be able to order parts from Wallenstein without a serial number, and I need a bushing. So I have paid almost full price for a used counterfeit. The bearings had not been torqued, and three of the blades had a bolt loose, with one twisted off. On the other hand it seems to have an authentic Italian PTO shaft.

UPDATE: I ordered the bushing from the local Wallenstein dealer using the part number in the brand-name model’s online manual. For twenty dollars I received in two days a pair of sturdy steel “c’s” which combine to provide a wear surface around the moving part on the chute of the chipper. My counterfeit model had the same parts made of plexiglass. The colour was right, black, but durability was a definite issue.

After some correspondence with a contributor on Rennlist.com, I decide to satisfy myself that I can tell if a Cayenne has had its coolant plastic coolant pipes replaced with the aluminum upgrade by looking from outside. I take the scope and snake its camera into the back of Ruby’s engine compartment with only a vague idea of what evidence I am looking for, but convinced of the outcome because we have already lifted the manifold and looked at the array of aluminum below.

Eventually I tell myself I see a satisfying flash of aluminum casting just below the elaborate black plastic casting of the intake manifold. The next step is to take this methodology into the engine bay of my son Charlie’s nearly identical car to determine if it has also had the upgrade.

This proves daunting. There is an aluminum casting in the correct location, but things generally look different. After much fussing Charlie and I conclude that on Ruby the tech left out a black plastic component which sits above the pipes running toward the back of the engine. Anyway, the upshot of it is that the gray Cayenne has also had the coolant pipe upgrade, we think.

I find it hard to believe that my surgeon can replace heart valves with a variation on this scope. My hat is off to him. I can hardly find the back end of an engine with mine.

BTW: I have an unused coolant-pipes-kit in the shop with shipping and Canadian sales tax already paid, if anyone in Eastern Ontario would like to take it off my hands at a bargain price.

NOTE: The passenger side is right, the driver’s side is left for the purposes of this article.

8:00 a.m. Restless and anxious to get at the project, but must wait for son to arrive. Make work. Build fire in auto shop. Brush the dog. Clean car mats.

Enough of this. I want to wrench. I decide to pull a spark plug to see their condition. The easiest access is the second cylinder from the front on the left. The coil has a 3″ split in the plastic tube, so I pick a new one out of the box and install it, but of course I can’t test it yet.

12:00 p.m. Charlie, Roz and Ada arrive.

1:00 p.m. We start in on Ruby. Charlie scopes and photographs, and we eventually agree there’s little point of further disassembly.

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Charlie spends an hour trying to get the rear right screw into the fuel rail.

2:10 p.m. We partially remove the manifold to allow the installation of that damned screw. Now I understand why techs leave the fuel rails on the manifold, and remove the whole unit. The right rear screw is otherwise impossible.

Things go back together well. Charlie understands the strange packages with air running through them on the top of the engine. I content myself with putting on covers and clipping on injectors. Back go the fuel pump fuses, and Ruby fires up. There’s a slight miss which we decide to deal with after Easter Dinner.

4:45 p.m. The OBD reader shows P0202. That means the injector on cylinder 2 is misfiring. That’s the second one from the front. I quickly tear in to the coil I had replaced this morning, second from the front. No amount of abuse of the coil and the injector on what turns out to be cylinder #6 helps the problem.

Eventually I call up a diagram, realize I have been working on the wrong side of the car, take off the right air pump, loosen the air pump holder, remove the motor mount shaft and the notoriously fragile beauty cover which fingers in among these obstructions, only to discover an injector wiring connector which is loose under the fuel rail and an awkward clump of wiring. Ten minutes later it clicks into place. Ruby fires up smooth and powerful. I put the car back together, vowing to post a diagram of Ruby’s engine on the shop wall so I will always know where cylinder #2 is.

6:00 p.m. All better. Test drive is a quick, one mile sprint, and home.