Irritations

You know what I hate? Cotter pins.

Figure 1: Two little shits.

Occasionally you’ll find a cotter pin installed correctly, with the ends curled over the castle nut or turnbuckle, but often they invite you to ram the whole thing in so that the next fool who wants to remove the castle nut can’t grab the head of the pin with pliers because there’s nothing sticking out past the side of the nut. So you spend two hours trying to push the little fucker from the other side and bending it further because the shit’s full of brake dust and rust and it just won’t come off. So now you’ve wasted two hours removing a part that weighs less than the packaging it normally comes in that you could’ve spent removing other parts of the suspension. And because the cotter pin won’t come off, the castle nut won’t come off. And if the castle nut won’t come off, the ball joint won’t come off, which means that dropping the shock now becomes exponentially more difficult. Fuck.

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You know what else I hate? Sway bar end links.

Figure 2: A fuck rod. The bolts on each end point towards the directions in which it’s gonna fuck up your day.

Dropping the shocks on a Miata requires disconnecting the sway bars. An open-ended wrench and a hex bit/wrench is normally all it takes. But if it’s a 20-year-old end link the nuts will not budge and the hex socket will round out. So you have to whip out the grinder and cut the fucker out, except that the front sway bar links in a Miata attach to the lower control arm through a tab about an inch from the shock mount, leaving no space to fit the grinder without hitting the control arm. So you have to remove the shock, but because the ball joint is still attached to the hub carrier, you have to finagle the shock body around to rotate it and finally pull it out. And guess what stands in the way of the shock? The sway bar end link. Fuck.

You might say, “why don’t you unbolt the ball joint from the control arm?,” and I’d say “awesome, let’s do it!” Guess what stands in the way of one of the bolts that fasten the ball joint to the control arm? The shock absorber. Fuck.

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Figure 3: A method and device for wasting a day of wrenching and drawing blood from knuckles.

I eventually managed to yank the old driver-side shock assembly out, disassemble it, and assemble the new unit, but not before busting my knuckles bare and running out of sunlight. As I don’t have a garage or driveway, I had to clean up the area and put away the tools and parts. Since I’m lazy, I stashed everything in the Miata’s trunk.

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Figure 4: Sad Miata on two jackstands.

This week I’ll be bumming rides to work with my wife. Fortunately my job is in between home and her job, otherwise I’d have another irritation to write about.

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