It certainly seems that everything has to always come in threes. No sooner had I fixed the belt tensioner and the exhaust manifold gasket than another problem arose. Late last year I did an oil and filter change and at the same time decided to change the fuel filter as well. The Nissan Patrol genuine fuel filter isn’t an inexpensive item lately, though it’s supposed to last around 40,000km (with good quality fuel). But for some reason while searching for filters online, I ended up buying a non-genuine fuel filter that after some searching appeared to be a reputable brand. That was a mistake. After fitting the filter, everything appeared to be fine until I started smelling diesel and, on inspection, noticed diesel around the top of the filter and some stains under the wheel arch. The stain was fairly mild at first, but within a week had increased substantially.
No sooner had I fixed the noise from the belt tensioner than another issue arose. Once the squealing noise from the tensioner assembly was sorted out, a Banshee screeching started to make itself known in the engine bay. Our local Nissan dealer thought that the problem could be a leaking exhaust manifold, so I did more checking and I discovered a leak where the exhaust manifold and EGT pipe connected. I cleaned things up and made sure that things went back together properly, but that still didn’t fix things. I also checked as best that I could around the exhaust manifold and no where could I spot the tell-tale marks of a leak. It also didn’t seem logical that the noise was coming from the exhaust manifold, as it varied so much, coming on and off at different times. However, then I found that the turbo dump pipe had a large crack at the turbo flange. So a new dump pipe was installed (great service from DEA Performance), yet even that didn’t make any difference to the sound, nor was there any noise to give away that the dump pipe had cracked.
Following on from an earlier post about Made in China, I thought I’d add another part to this as I recently experienced another side of made in China. As I noted previously, there are many products made in China that are of excellent quality and performance, but there are also many that are anything but excellent quality and performance. I was reminded of this when the fan belt in my Patrol started to squeal, which was a clear indication that it needed to be replaced. The fan belt is of the serpentine belt design and kept in tension by a piston on a pivoting tensioner assembly. It’s a relatively simple design and generally foolproof, but the tensioner piston can eventually start seizing, especially if you do a lot of water crossing and/or mud holes. It is sealed, but it can still seize and that causes the squealing (by not tensioning the belt enough). It’s not the idler pulley (I/P) bearing as many believe that causes the noise.
There’s a lot of contentious debate that sometimes arises when it comes to buying Chinese made products, whether they are from major retailers or through eBay. Many have a belief that if it’s made in China, it’s crap. The truth of the matter is that it’s virtually impossible to buy anything nowadays that hasn’t been made in China and, if you look back say 50 or so years, anything made in Japan was considered crap at the time. Some of it was and some it wasn’t, but now anything with a ‘Made in Japan’ label is considered a premium product. It took some time for Japanese manufacturing and quality control to reach what it’s now been for at least 40 years; however, in that time it very rapidly surpassed whatever was considered high quality Australian manufacturing. And so it is with Chinese products as more and more manufacturing is done in China and they also up their game when it comes to all manner of products.
It’s rare that I write specifically about some generic product, but in this instance I thought I would. Given that I type quite a lot, a keyboard that allows me type effectively and comfortably is rather important. So I thought I’d give my views on my new keyboard, as I recently had to replace my current one and found it quite difficult to find something suitable. Over many years, ever since personal computers were first introduced into the workplace and I had to learn to type all of my own documents, a keyboard has been a large part of my working life. I’ve seen many keyboards come and go over those years, both in the workplace and at home, and while the keyboard layout has remained much the same, the style of keyboards have certainly had their variations. The early keyboards were all mechanical, with a solid clickety clack sound and feel with each keystroke, to the near silent chiclet keyboards found most notably on laptops. The name chiclet comes from an American chewing gum, which the keys on such keyboards resemble.
One of the funniest things I see from time to time are 4WD videos and the like where the owners proudly show off how they have ‘built, not bought’ their particular 4WD. This is often a statement meant to disparage those who go to a 4WD accessories retailer such as ARB, TJM or similar and have them supply and fit accessories such as suspensions, bull bars, winches, battery kits etc; basically everything that you need to kit your 4WD for the great outdoors. Sadly, doing so is viewed by some as being inferior, if not a disgrace, to those who fit stuff themselves. Personally I see nothing wrong with taking your vehicle to such a place, especially if you’re not mechanically inclined or simply don’t want to go through the hassle and time of installing things yourself. Sometimes it’s also a matter of warranty, where if something fails or doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do, you’ll be in a better position to make a claim. It’s not much different to taking your vehicle to a dealership or mechanic for regular servicing, for some that’s far better value than doing things yourself at home, especially if you don’t have the equipment and location to do so.
We inexorably beginning the decent into an era of darkness, a time when our expectations of being able to simply throw a light switch and have a room illuminated begins to wan. With Hazelwood power station now closed and a significant component of our previously cheap and reliable electricity supply gone and Yallourn as well as others also facing the chopping block, electricity costs will continue to rise and reliability will continue to fall. We managed to miss a bullet last year by not having major blackouts, with South Australia not being so lucky, but our time will come soon enough. The rush to renewables at all cost, or damn the costs as it seems to be, will mean that the days of cheap, plentiful and reliable electricity will become a distant memory. When children in the future ask what their parents used for lighting before candles, the answer will be electricity. Grandparents will tell incredulous stories of light appearing through invisible forces.
As a bit of background, many diesels, especially trucks, use a diesel fuel lift-pump in or near the fuel tank to provide better fuel flow to the engine’s fuel filter, which is usually located near the engine. When the fuel has to travel quite some distance and the height between the fuel tank and fuel filter is significant, then a lift-pump takes a lot of strain off the main fuel pump used to pressurise injectors, or a fuel rail in common rail diesels. You can find lift-pumps in even smaller vehicles of one form or another especially 4WDs but many, like my Patrol, don’t have a lift-pump and so it’s quite common for owners to install one to assist with fuel flow and fuel pump longevity. So I did the same in 2014 with my Patrol but, unfortunately, on one of our High Country Cruises in 2016, the lift-pump unceremoniously failed, stopping fuel flow to the engine. Thankfully that wasn’t a particularly difficult job to remove, as I’d specifically installed the lift-pump so that it was easy to access.
After refusing to enter into any sort of pay TV deal for the last decade and more, I’ve finally succumbed and signed up to Netflix. It wasn’t so much for my benefit as I just don’t watch a lot of TV at the best of times, though I guess I’ll get something out of it as well, but it was more to relieve my wife from the hell that’s become free to air TV. There’s hardly anything to watch on TV and when something does come up, it’s so rife with ads that it becomes sheer torture putting up with the increasingly stultifying ads thrust onto the viewers. If it’s not the 100th time for crappy knives, bamboo pillows, ladders, wrenches, funeral insurance or another charity and the like, it’s just more ads telling you what’s coming up in the next day or week (and that’s just in one day). The basic fact is that TV stations really have little to broadcast nowadays and so fill in interminable hours of emptiness with ads. And this seems much worse with our satellite TV that is from northern Australia.
One of the things that just about everyone in Gippsland and most rural areas in Australia relies on are reliable weather forecasts, be it farmers or individuals like me that might be planning a camping trip into the High Country. Knowing what the weather is going to be in the forthcoming days or weeks can be imperative to some, especially farmers when it comes to planting and harvesting crops. Obviously the only source for Australian weather comes from the Bureau Of Meteorology (BOM). However, the BOM is, more often that not, thought of as the BOG (Bureau of Guesses), as such is the reliability of weather forecasts often ‘predicted’ by the BOM. Many people (and this comes from talking to local farmers etc) look at the BOM forecasts, laugh and plan for the exact opposite. Such is the high esteem in which the BOM’s predictive capabilities are held.