Those who have driven the Chaffey’s Locks Road from Perth Road to Hwy 15 over the years don’t need any convincing that it is one of the best scenic drives in Eastern Ontario. Regular improvements have turned the rough cottage track into a fine hard surface through the original twists and climbs around Upper Rock and Opinicon Lakes in this section of the Canadian Shield.  The wider eastern stretch from Chaffey’s Locks to Hwy 15 also received a superb paving job two summers ago.

Of course the county fathers clapped a 40 km speed limit on the whole thing lest there be a Miata wrapped around every tree.  The many bicyclists in summer no doubt appreciate this.

After an errand in Kingston on a snowy morning last week I came home by Perth Road, but then turned toward Chaffey’s, partly to escape the deluge of salt and sand on the more heavily-travelled route to Westport.

Ruby discovered twenty miles of packed snow with a light dusting of sand down the middle.  This could be interesting.  At 5380 pounds empty, the Porsche Cayenne plants its winter tires quite firmly on the surface below, so I expected a smooth and controlled drive around the many dips and turns.

But I hadn’t taken the traction control into account.  After a while I began to wonder why the car felt so rooted to the road, so I tried to induce a little bit of slippage on a sweeper around an open field.

No.  Ruby just slowed down to a reasonable pace and continued on her way.

What?

I tried again when I found another good sightline.  As soon as the computer detected any slippage, on came brakes in a couple of wheels and she resumed the correct line.

You mean I could drive this road without braking for turns?  But that would be crazy! There are far too many blind spots for that.

So behave, you old coot!

And so I did.  Ruby and her computer/nanny guided me on an amazingly smooth passage to Chaffey’s Locks.  The ride was as serene as an illegal golf cart tour on a back road on a fine summer day.  It offered about the same sensation of motion, but it wasn’t long until Ruby pulled up to the stop sign at Hwy 15.

We ducked across the sandy main road and followed a series of other snow-covered by-ways back to Young’s Hill.  Only at the hairpin on an unused road around Forfar Station was I able to confuse Ruby.  I guess German programmers didn’t anticipate a 25 mph hairpin turn on virgin snow over gravel.  The left rear lost traction, all four brakes instantly burped that machine-gun rattle, and Ruby collected herself and proceeded at a resolute ten miles per hour regardless of my efforts on the throttle.

Two thoughts collided:  I certainly wouldn’t want a teenager to learn to drive on this thing. If the computer ever failed with the bad habits it had engendered, he’d crash.  But then I thought how great this car would be in the kind of slush on a crowded highway which turns light front-wheel drives into aquaplaning death traps.

There’s no doubt that a smart tank like Ruby is the right conveyance for my new grand-daughter.

 

Today I ran into a case where Porsche over-engineering produced a potential safety hazard for the uninformed trailer user.

A Cayenne’s a logical choice to tow a 6X12 covered U-Haul trailer, but not until the rental’s safety chains receive an important modification.  The hooks on the trailer I recently rented would not engage the rings on the factory trailer hitch because the steel is too thick to accommodate the triangular safety devices.  Jamming the hooks into place wasn’t going to work, so I limped three miles to my shop from the rental depot by a back road.  By then, one of the three chains had worked its way loose and was dragging.

I borrowed a pair of hooks from a robust trailer I built a few years ago.  The photo shows them in place, pinned into links below the U-Haul hooks.  I only had access to two hooks this time but from now on I’ll keep three which I can add on to safety chains to ensure that the robust hitch does not itself produce a hazard.

Update:  29 December, 2016

Grab the chain about 12″ from the hook, stick the CHAIN through the hole, loop the hook around the chain. This worked for me at UHaul.

Another RennList contributor used 3/8″ stainless steel quick-links to do the same job.

According to trailer veteran Tom Stutzman, Toyota has similarly robust hitch dimensions.  Pennsylvania mandates simple S-hooks which fit easily.  Ontario regulations require the problematic hooks.

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Woodlot excursion

December 25, 2016

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Over the years it has become a Christmas ritual to tour the woodlot by whatever means necessary.  Ten years ago Charlie and Shiva began the tradition by bullying the golf cart into the trip through too much fluffy snow.  When the Ranger replaced the golf cart, it hauled passengers and their snowshoes across the windy fields to the woodlot and froze them on the return trip.

This year Charlie started up both 2004 Cayennes to try out their low range and differential locks around the yard.    Ruby was thus already cleaned off and warmed up when I grabbed my keys and tracked him down on the property.  Then we toured the sugar bush.

We soon observed that it would take a good deal of snow to stop a Porsche Cayenne equipped with winter tires.  I did manage to twist over an earth berm at such an angle that I needed to use the locker to maintain traction to the wheels, but Ruby felt right at home off-roading in snow.

The only problem is that puttering through the woods in a Porsche Cayenne isn’t much fun.  It’s far too capable a vehicle.  A golf cart or 2WD UTV, or even a snowmobile, provides much more of a challenge, and hence a higher fun quotient.

On the other hand Charlie is now a father and I’m not getting any younger, and we did break a good wide walking track through the bush.

Ruby visits Sweet’s Quarry.

December 15, 2016

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When Charlie tried to transfer his trailer’s registration from BC to Ontario, the clerk told him he was obliged to provide a weight for the vehicle.  Email ensued.

Roads were good today so we unloaded the BMW track car, squiggled it over driveway ice and into the shop, cleared out the luggage in the trailer, and hit the road to the Sweet’s Corners quarry.

Ruby towed the 2950 lb trailer quite willingly, though in a headwind on the return trip the fuel consumption shot up to just over 17 litres per 100 km.  (Interestingly, a few weeks later a 6X12 U-Haul tandem trailer exacted the same fuel penalty on a trip to Ottawa.)

An ongoing debate on Rennlist.com has dealt with whether a Cayenne is car, truck, or other.  Up until this point my comments have favoured “car.”  With this photo, though, I may be entering the “truck” tent.

The weigh-scales guy loved Ruby.  This tag shows the gross weight of Ruby and the trailer at 3780 kg, or 3.78 metric tonnes, as the quarry guys prefer.  That’s 8333.5 pounds to me.

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Ulp.  That means Ruby weighs 5383 pounds!  And the fuel tank was nearly empty.  The trailer weighed 2950 lb.

New CV boots for Ruby

December 2, 2016

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Background

When I switched to winter tires I was surprised to find a substantial deposit of grease inside the right front rim. The boot looked intact, but closer examination revealed a bit of cracking in one location, so axle disassembly seemed inevitable before I took the car on a sanded road.

The local auto parts supplier had access to the boots, but I had to resort to Amazon for a 32mm, 12 point impact socket for the axle bolt. Two days later the set of sockets appeared at the house, courtesy of  Canada Post.

There are no videos explaining how to perform this unglamorous repair to a Cayenne. I found one cryptic explanation on RennTech.org by a man named Whippet who popped one in to fill a need. Perhaps I’ll post an addendum to fill in a few gaps where I was left bewildered.

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Morning

I removed the right front half-shaft successfully in pursuit of the cracked boot.  After a thorough bath in the parts washer, there wasn’t any apparent internal damage to the joints,  but now I have to figure out how to pop off one end or the other prior to re-lubing both cv’s and adding boots.  Major cleanup around the brakes is in order.  Fun, but messy.

At the moment I’m stuck until I find instructions on how to disassemble the half-shaft.  20161202_095255

Early Afternoon

I had to search VW sites to gain insight into how the half-shafts come apart.  Eventually I ran across a video where a guy separated one with a slide hammer, but he said that a flat board with a slot for the axle would work pretty well for removing the outer joint if you hit it sharply with a hammer, only his board broke.  Mine didn’t until the part which goes through the brake rotor had come apart.

I’m beginning to believe that the trick to working on a Porsche is to use a heavy enough hammer.  A light mallet had no effect on the axle, but a 20 ounce construction hammer’s effect was smooth and incremental. (Similarly, I have found an eight-pound sledge perfect for the disassembly of ball joints and wheel removal.)

The cleaning of the CV joints involved hosing down each in its turn in a stream of varsol over the parts washer.  Not bad at all, though I’ll need to buy more solvent.

Then came the battle-of-the-day with after-market clamps which came for the boots.  The two which fasten the narrow ends to the axle were perilously large for the job, but might work.  The others were too small.  After a long battle I managed to fit the outboard clamp (no other type of clamp will work in this position because of narrow clearances).  The clamp next to the front differential was 1/4″ short, so  after almost two hours of trying, I twisted on a 4″ plumbing clamp.  There’s no shortage of clearance in there.  I read somewhere that the pipe clamp’s a stronger alternative to the ubiquitous zip-tie on DIY boot-repair projects.

The Hint

A hint I read online eventually allowed the breakthrough on the outboard boot:  a contributor recommended drilling a small hole 1/4″ ahead of the other holes on the boot clamp.  He said this allows the use of needle-nose pliers to pull the clamp together enough for it to latch when other attempts are unsuccessful.

Surely enough, with the extra hole I was able to snug up the clamp enough that it would hold its place so that I could use the specialized crimping pliers purchased for the purpose.  I guess it’s hard to visualize the benefit of drilling a hole in a pipe clamp, but smooth pieces of stainless steel offer very little to hang onto, especially when one attempts to install them over a neoprene enclosure bursting with grease.

 

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My day with the quarter-shaft was quite challenging.  What vexes me more than anything is that I spent a day trying to salvage one of the only inexpensive parts on this car:  rebuilt quarter shafts are very cheap on the gray market.  On the other hand, my labour is free.

Monday, 5 December, 2016  5:54 a.m.   

The axle went back into the car yesterday.  Everything went surprisingly well until it came time to torque the six studs to the differential.  I couldn’t keep the axle from turning, so I pressed Bet into service on the brake pedal.  After I wore out both her legs pumping the dead pedal, we concluded that the brakes wouldn’t hold sufficiently for me to put 60 lbs of torque onto the studs, so brake bleeding moved up in the schedule.

Careful not to damage the brake line or electronic feed from the ABS, I had removed and stored the calliper early in the process.  This left the line dripping brake fluid into a tray for two days.  Now I can’t get the brakes to bleed, I assume because there’s an air lock in the system.

Charlie told me at various times he had dealt with dry brake lines on his 968 during an extensive rebuild, and it took a while to get the fluid to flow. His old bleeding pump applied pressure at Ruby’s fluid reservoir*,  but to no effect.  I’m nervous about online reports of broken pump lines spraying paint-destroying brake fluid all over everywhere, so    I’ve been very tentative in my use of this unknown tool.

Ruby’s paint is still almost perfect.

Resetting of the two alignment-critical bolts and torquing of suspension and axle parts remains incomplete.

If anybody has any ideas on reviving brake fluid flow, please chip in.

*Number 1 rule:  Make SURE you’re pouring the brake fluid into the correct reservoir.

3:30 p.m., Monday, 5 December

Brakes now work.  Under a concealment panel I found the actual brake reservoir.  No amount of positive air pressure on the power steering reservoir would bleed the brakes.  So I siphoned  nearly 1/2 litre of Motul DOT 4 brake fluid out of it.  Then I refilled the reservoir with hydraulic oil (like it said on the reservoir, only for the Kubota).  Shall drain and refill the power steering system asap.  The unlabelled plastic tank was nearly empty when I opened it, expecting a brake reservoir, so I looked no further.

 Geezers!

Bleeding the brakes was straightforward once I had located the right reservoir and put some brake fluid in it.  To its credit, the car’s sensors quit complaining as soon as the brakes worked.  Ruby didn’t hold my mistake against me.

When I told Bet she asked, “Are you going to tell Charlie?”  

I grinned:  “Sure.”
“He’ll have nightmares!”

Now all I have to do is torque everything.  The brake calipers are already at about 200 lb.  The torque wrench clicked at 140.  Then I added a 2’pipe to an old ratchet and tightened them up one lurch.  The axle nut goes to 340, but I’ll use my tractor wrench with a 4′ cheater pipe and take it easy:  for my rotary mower blades it calls for 540 foot pounds torque.  Immediately after it’s tightened, the nut is too hot to touch.  

 

I’ll have Bet hold the brake for the six axle screws which torque to 60 pounds.  And so on.  I’ll look up the suspension numbers. Then off for alignment again.  

Ruby’s all together now, though the steering wheel is turned about 10 degrees to the right. Next stop will be at the Hank’s Tires alignment rack.

Ruby has visitors

November 13, 2016

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I posted this photo before my typing skills had returned, so I’ll tap a few notes three weeks later.  Ruby’s visitors, a sister Cayenne S from Ottawa and a diesel Mercedes from Montreal (I dare not guess at the model number) were both purchased as tow vehicles for track expeditions.

Both track haulers fill the rest of their days transporting infant daughters, so their bullet-proof qualities rank high with the new fathers.

Where does it hurt, Ruby?

October 5, 2016

Today I pulled out to pass a minivan and the car began to shake.  I’d been expecting this.  At 127,000 km Ruby’s overdue for Cardan shaft work, so I eased out of traffic and skulked home, avoiding accelerating on hills to lessen the strain on the drivetrain.

Up onto the hoist Ruby went.  Off came the covering plate, and there was the carrier bearing, its rubber membrane cracked, but still in place.

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Nonetheless, I set out with a knife to hack the thin rubber membrane away, then followed with an air-driven hone to polish the last of the rubber off the carrier bearing.

Unwilling to leave the bare metal to rust, I sprayed several coats of black shop paint in the general direction of the bearing case.

Then came the Jimi Fix.  As claimed, it was a “twenty-minute” procedure to compress a series of cross sections of heater hose between the bearing and its frame and hold them in position with a latticework of zip ties.  By the second hour of the twenty minutes Bet had warmed to the job and insisted that I lower Ruby  on the hoist “another inch” so that she could finish the last three ties at the top of the bearing.  (My left arm was out of commission at the time due to a couple of pinched nerves from several days under the steering wheel, fighting with A/C boxes in an impossible location.)

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We cut off the ends and back on went the plate which hides everything, and Ruby seemed as good as new.

But when I started up, the “Check Engine” symbol popped.  Ruby idled roughly as I backed out of the garage, then showed an ominous triangular warning, so back into her nest she went.

The meter showed Error Code P0307.   Google told me that means a misfire on cylinder 7.  Off came a panel covering the left hand coils, fuel injectors, and spark plugs.  The various specialized screws and nuts weren’t about to stop me after the A/C actuator experience last week.  Out came coil #7.  Yep, a 2″ split right there on the side of the coil.

I ordered a set of eight from Amazon.ca, called it a night, and watched the Jays beat the Orioles with a three-run, walk-off home run in the bottom of the eleventh.

The rubber on the bearing support was brittle and cracked, though strictly speaking the Jimi Fix had been premature.  Even though Ruby’s Cardan shaft had felt much sloppier than the new one on my son’s 04 Cayenne S, the bearing carrier had still been functional when I butchered it.

Update:  10 October, 2016

The coils arrived from Vancouver Island in four days.  As soon as I slipped a new one into place, Ruby’s engine settled right down.  Why the disproportionate reaction to a single mis-firing cylinder?  Charlie explained that the unburned fuel alerts the O2 sensor, which then leans the whole bank of cylinders out to try to rectify the problem, so a single misfire affects four cylinders.  That made sense.

BTW:  Until that plastic cover removed to access the coils is properly screwed down, the engine seems alarmingly noisy.  It’s likely fuel injector noise, but to my fevered imagination it just had to be the dreaded start-up death rattle of Cayenne V8’s. Once the cover was properly installed, Ruby purred once again.

Ruby has returned to normal duty.  The drive shaft works fine, so I’d have to conclude that the Jimi fix seems a viable solution to a Cardan shaft problem, at least in the short term.  Ruby now has 127,500 km on the odometer.  I’ll report back on this periodically.

Update:  25 December, 2016

At 131,000 km Ruby’s Cardan shaft still performs perfectly.  We tested it over the last couple of weeks with a 20′ enclosed car trailer in tow, and offroad in low range with the diff lock on.  Not a whimper.

31 December, 2016  

On Rennlist.com the original contributor just posted the following update:  Traded Cayenne S with Jimi fix away. Logged mileage with Jimi fix perfectly working was 44,632 miles. Yeah…