Friday, August 21, 2009

Rear Wiper's Done!

I feel like bragging. It's stupid, juvenile but dammit it's mine and it makes me feel good, a feeling that has been absent all too frequently of late.

I fixed it. Me. With my own two hands, some luck, and my God given 290lb frame aided by leverage and penetrating oil.

Let me elaborate. Years ago a friend managed to burn out the rear wiper motor on my fiancee's 99 Subaru Legacy Outback. When we looked at parts it rapidly became apparent that the cost of a new motor was out of reach. Several hundred for the part, plus installation. Fast forward a year to the Auburn Pick n' Pull. I found several Subaru's with intact (hopefully working) rear wiper motors. I pulled one and took it home. Figured out how to get the assembly apart and then back together. I flicked the switch and all I got was "click", "click", "click" of the motor struggling to turn. I knew the motor was good, but something else was wrong.

I struggled with alignment, and bolts, and the like for a few days and finally gave up in frustration convinced I was missing some vital piece of information. I then purchased the manual for the car only to be told, by said manual, that the "replacement" for the motor was to replace the entire assembly. Great.

So I walked away for a few days, let things percolate. Then, I decided to remove the assembly from the tailgate and take it to a shop to be diagnosed. Maybe the techs at the dealer would be able to tell me what I was missing. So, I began to take the rear wiper assembly apart. First the cover, then the retaining nut, and arm. One universal constant began to emerge. Rust. It was everywhere, the entire assembly had set into a solid block of rust. I began to have a theory. What if it was not the assembly that was misaligned, what if it was simply rusted together! So, I removed the new motor and the gear and level inside of the assembly leaving only the small toothed gear that connected to the arm. I removed the locking nut and with pliers, luck, and a fair amount of penetrating oil I got the arm off the shaft. Then I stopped, I was staring at a 22mm nut and my biggest wrench was 19mm. So, after asking to local parts store for loaner tools, they had nothing that big, I got creative.

A big pair of pliers, even more penetrating oil, and some elbow grease later and the nut moved, just a bit, then a bit more, then freely. I checked inside the assembly and the little toothed gear moved as well. Victory!

I re-assembled the interior, put the arm back on, tightened the whole mess down, and hit the switch. it moved! In the wrong direction. I was wiping my license plate.

So, I turned the switch off, noting that the motor returned to the "start" position on it's own. I repositioned the arm thinking things were just mis-aligned. Tightened everything back down, and hit the switch again. Still wiping the license plate. Things were 180 degrees backwards. I was stumped. I knew I had put everything back right.

So, I walked away, wandered inside and lamented to The Missus that I was so close, but backwards. She looked up from her laptop and with the most flippant of tone said "Do you have the motor in backwards?" I stopped in my tracks, as if hit between the eyes.

It was really that simple.

Gotta love the woman.

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