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Finally, a couple of down days….

Almost four weeks of good bulldozer weather had taken its’ toll on people and machinery. Dry with no hint of rain and the temperature soaring over 100 degrees most days had just worn everybody out. We were all ready for a break and coming back from the three day Fourth of July holiday with 40% rain forecast was not a bad thing. We did get some rain the past few days; a summer shower here, a good ole Texas thunderstorm there and it has knocked us out for the first three days this week.

The John Deere mechanic was here on Tuesday to replace the AC compressor on the 850C. We don’t do those kind of repairs ourselves. My time has been spent catching up on some maintenance. Greasing every thing good, blowing out all the air filters and AC filters on the cab tractors, cleaning windows, blowing out the inside of the cabs, looking everything over real good to see if there were any evident problems; that kind of thing.

One of the things on my list of things to do

The Kawasaki Mule in the "hospital"

The Kawasaki Mule in the "hospital"

was to repair our Kawasaki Mule. We don’t rag out any of our equipment. It is maintained pretty meticulously and all of the equipment is pretty new.  With that being said, we do use the equipment and all of it works hard.  The Mule is no exception.  It is our go–to vehicle if there is rough terrain involved or if we have to move through brush or extremely wet conditions.  With almost 200 hours on the clock, it has been a real workhorse and a lifesaver for the full size Chevy 4x4s.

Our Kawasaki Mule is a 4×4 and the power is transmitted to the wheels with trans axles and constant velocity (CV) joints.  The exposure  of the drive train to debris is one of the engineering weak points on the Mule.  We have auxiliary skid plates to protect the front gear box and the engine. There are also guards to protect the front CV joints and in my opinion this is where

The torn outer CV boot

The torn outer CV boot

the design really gets weak.  The CV joints are encased in a rubber boot that is filled with grease – an inner one and an outer one on each side. Some where along the way last week, we tore the left outer boot.  It might have been a sharp pine stob or it could have been a piece of clay that had baked hard as concrete in the 100+ weather.   We parked it.  When that boot is open to the elements, the dirt and grit and moisture do a number on the CV joint and we weren’t going to chance that.  The John Deere Ag dealer in Jasper is also a Kawasaki dealer and I stopped in there Tuesday to see what their shop was like.  I had already looked at the damaged CV boot and it looked like a job I didn’t want to tackle without any service manuals.  The John Deere service guy said there was a 2 week wait to get in the UTV shop and I am thinking WTH is up with that?   They need to hire another mechanic or something!  That is ridiculous.  No way we can do without our Mule for 2+ weeks!

So I decided to go to Plan B. Fortunately they had an outer boot replacement kit in stock and I bought it for about $52.00.   I got back to Basecamp and took another look at that torn boot with a different eye.  Now I had to figure out how to replace the sucker.  The problem was starkly evident.  The boot is a one piece deal and it has to slide over the axle.  The problem is their are two big old fat CV joints and that boot is not going to slide over them.  I was really scratching my head and talking to myself now.  Maybe Plan B was not so smart after all.

Way too many tools on the ground for a "simple" repair!

Way too many tools on the ground for a "simple" repair!

I just had to have some sort of idea on how to break that axle apart so I went and got on the Internet.  What did we do before we had a whole world of information at our fingertips?  Even out in the middle of Nowhere, Deep East Texas!  I found a complete Kawasaki Mule 3010 Trans 4×4 Service manual online – 332 pages- and available for $5.  Now I am sure some enterprising entrepreneur had spent some time scanning all 332 pages into a pdf file.  He is probably doing something illegal by copying the manual as well.  I probably broke some law when I purchased it and downloaded it to the new Dell XPS M1130 but I really didn’t care at that point. I was up against it and I knew it.

So today (Wednesday) was the day.  I had reviewed the service manual and the job was pretty daunting.  I had to remove most of the suspension and the axle to replace this simple piece of rubber.  I waited till it got good and hot around 2pm today to get started.  Replacing the boot took about 2 minutes.  Taking everything apart to get to the boot and then putting it all back together took 4 hours and I am not hardly done yet.  I still have some shields and guards and the tire to put back on.  I just gave out!  It was over 100 degrees with Amazonian humidity levels after the rain.  I could actually see steam coming up off the wet ground.  My knees hurt and my back aches and I sliced a thumb on a sharp piece of metal.  It is Miller time folks!  I will seriously consider paying somebody a good amount of money if we tear up another boot.  That was one miserable job, let me tell ya.

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