Don't make 'em like they used to! - First Generation Forum

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Don't make 'em like they used to!
Friday, March 29, 2019 6:26 PM
Veeery pretty day today here in Virginia and so I out comes the Wagon for a working job!! A trip to work. This ole girl been carrying me to the same job since way way back in 2002 - it is so special to still have both the job AND the Wagon!!

Left for home at the same ole time and less than a mile from the plant I throw the alternator belt. Now I can tell you with absolute certainty I have changed it exactly 1 time in 17 years , but Hahaa......I can't remember when! No matter - now my thoughts are on the temperature gauge waiting to see everything go south very quickly. Not to be, because I still have power assist , hmmmmm........must still have a belt turning something, huh. Well to make a long story short I have 2 V- Belts on the old 2.0 Iron Head. Both turn the water pump, so while the ALT idiot light glowed ominously the mechanical temp gauge kept giving reassuring readings all the way home. All the way home - the ole Wagon took me once again, and THAT my friends is the difference between these wonderful old cars and the new crap that is supposedly better. Toss that serpentine belt and no one going to make it home unless you accept a blown head gasket for trade.

They just don't make them the way they used to!


......by the way - 2 new belts set me back less that 20 bucks. They will be back on and I'll be back in business tomorrow sharp! :-)


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Re: Don't make 'em like they used to!
Saturday, March 30, 2019 3:41 PM
Unless you have your old serpentine belt tucked in your trunk next to your tool box like I do.

Doug in P.R.


92 Pontiac Sunbird LE, 2.0, AT, Red / Black with Grey 149K miles. Hurricane Maria Survivor ! ( It takes a licking and keeps on ticking ! ).....in Salinas, Puerto Rico!




Re: Don't make 'em like they used to!
Wednesday, April 03, 2019 5:42 PM
I do the same with the old belt when I replace mine. Stick it in with my spare tire. I do agree with Orlen though, they don't make em like they used to. Too much electronic crap.






Re: Don't make 'em like they used to!
Thursday, April 04, 2019 8:11 AM
It has been my experience once one of those serpentine belts snap that tensioner pops as far forward as it can since there is no belt to hold it back. Once fully forward they can be a bear to get pried back to allow a new belt back on. Usually gotta have one of those special tool kits to get to the tensioner to pull it back, since space is so limited. So a spare belt in the back might be quite useless if you have no way to get it back on!

Did I mention I didn't have to pull over on my way home? If I was chased by the bad guys I I could get away away in my old Wagon - but they gonna get you when you have to stop with your car overheating. Worst case scenario - blowing a serpentine belt on the highway and having to pull over with tons of traffic all over the place and moments later Police car behind you calls in a tow truck because he not going to allow you to do repair work on the side of rush hour traffic.

A lot of the newer vehicles run the water pump off the timing chain - and this would not be such an issue nowadays. With new cars running absolutely everything off of electricity nowadays - I can't help but wonder just how far a vehicle would go once the alternator is out of commission. It doesn't take take so much as a drop of a volt for some processors and sensors to hang up. The darn thing would probable dump into limp mode the moment it detected no alternator output. Too much automation......

Anyways.... the local AutoZone actually had BOTH belts in stock the other day! The clerk mentioned that there were a lot of older vehicles in the area is why they had them. I laughed and told her it was probably because there too many old farts like myself driving around in old cars! I went on home and next day had everything back together and I have the old Wagon outside here at work for another day - today! :-)



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Re: Don't make 'em like they used to!
Thursday, April 04, 2019 2:43 PM
A 3/8 drive rachet and a piece of pipe to slip over the rachet for leverage is all you need..on my J.

You are right though Orlen , happened to me in the pouring rain on my Silverado once, no pipe but had the belt and rachet, ended using the lug wrench on the end of the rachet, took a bunch of tries, but finally got it. A 5 minute job ended up taking half a hour in the rain.

Doug in P.R.


92 Pontiac Sunbird LE, 2.0, AT, Red / Black with Grey 149K miles. Hurricane Maria Survivor ! ( It takes a licking and keeps on ticking ! ).....in Salinas, Puerto Rico!




Re: Don't make 'em like they used to!
Friday, April 05, 2019 9:16 AM
I lost an alternator belt on a 69 GTO many years ago. It too had a double pulley for the water pump, so I was able to get to a parts store. It was probably at least 13-14 miles away. At night and raining. The headlights were just about out when I got there. I do remember I did NOT use the wipers. But never would've made it at all, if not for a the 2nd belt still driving the pump. I seem to recall the did engine die when I stopped at the store. Needed a jump after I put the new belt on too.
Orlen, I also doubt a new car could run so long on battery only, especially with lights on.
Doug, why is it cars only break down when it is raining........

My Cavaliers are the only cars I've ever had that use a serpentine belt. I've always had a slight concern about it. Thankfully, so far, unfounded.
Re: Don't make 'em like they used to!
Monday, April 08, 2019 11:07 AM
Don't know why either Butch( about the rain which there really hasn't been much off this year lol.)

I guess when voltage drops to like 10 volts , that's it for these cars. A good ( Bosch) battery just running the ignition might last longer than a Walmart one.

Doug in P.R.


92 Pontiac Sunbird LE, 2.0, AT, Red / Black with Grey 149K miles. Hurricane Maria Survivor ! ( It takes a licking and keeps on ticking ! ).....in Salinas, Puerto Rico!




Re: Don't make 'em like they used to!
Tuesday, April 09, 2019 9:17 AM
Took a day off from work yesterday and drove about an hour each way to the Pick-N-Save for some alloys that caught my fancy. That morning I decided on a whim to take the Wagon since I haven't had it to Roanoke in over a year at least. The old car ran flawlessly - had just done an oil change with 20W-50 + 1/2 quart of Lucas for good measure. My weak rod kept quiet and I drove with an eye on the temp because when it gets hot the oils thins and at certain speeds I can hear that rod knock a little. It was a good confidence builder to have the Wagon out on a good drive like that, but along the way home I happen to remember my belt experience! I was very glad to remember I had just replace both of those belts last month!
I can't imagine having to deal with these new engines that have to use 0/10 weight oil - you can't run thick oil because of the cam phasers. Once those engines start to burn oil or have a rod getting loose there really is no hope for them like these old machines. Old simple pushrod engines will pretty much push just about anything around you pour in them. I have easily managed to get years and years of use out of my old Wagon by using thick oil and driving carefully! With thin oil to begin with I bet getting a new engine hot pretty much cooks the darn thing from the inside out in short order. Buying one of these used car with lots of miles on on them is really a coin toss. Who knows how well they were taken care of. As the years pass by that is just about all we will have left to pick from , sadly......



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Re: Don't make 'em like they used to!
Tuesday, April 09, 2019 5:33 PM
Glad you enjoyed your trip.
I've got family from my dad's side in Roanoke and Lynchburg. Haven't been up there in many years though and probably wouldn't know any of them if I happened to bump into someone. Beautiful area around there, I do recall. Would like to take a trip up there sometime again.

I hope to keep my cars going for the rest of my life. Well, that is as long as A Ocrazio C doesn't ban them.
Seriously though, I'm trying to stock up on parts here and there. Need to start buying some engines, while they are still available. Maybe get a couple spare automatic transmissions too. I've got four 5 spds. There really isn't any reason they can't last for decades to come. Proper maintenance is of course key. But some day (even now to an extent) parts will be difficult to find. Most sensors, switches, filters, etc., etc., haven't been used in automotive production for many years now. Sometime down the road many replacement parts will become obsolete. I imagine many of us have already run across this searching for stuff.

I would like to have something for a daily driver. I'm putting a lot of miles on the J's driving them to work (52 miles round trip). Was very interested in the Elio, but I really don't know what is going to happen with them. I was ready to buy once they made production. I'm still open to getting one, if they ever pull it off. Cool little vehicle for a commuting. They had features I like and nothing else. Would have been great for me, actually. But I'm not at all interested in ANY new car/suv/truck. I don't want to spend that much money on one either. Up to 94 suits me perfectly and Phase 1 of the 2nd gen is the real sweet spot. I also like the 1st Gen, but never had one. Also the early S-10 pickups is something I wouldn't mind, but they too will suffer (if not already), lack of available parts. The little Elio would be cool. But driving it 52 miles a day on US19 is not appealing, to be honest. Now an Armored Personnel Vehicle,,,,

Well, we do our best to keep them alive. Glad I'm not the only one.
Re: Don't make 'em like they used to!
Thursday, April 11, 2019 8:55 AM
Everyone's situations are different, but I have managed to keep my old vehicles legal and rolling over the years by leaning on the miles driven on each of them. By using so many different vehicles and having a short commute miles it is far easier to keep these old work horses working. 1st , I have managed to acquire my little fleet 1 by 1 over the years and try to hold on to what I have. It seems to me that once I pick up one of my rides it usually involves a few years tinkering here and there to eventually wring out most of the bugs in them at the time I get them. Having various vehicles actually serves 2 functions. They break up the total milage I drive amongst the bunch so I don't wear them out and I also found it give me so much variety I don't really get tired of driving the same thing everyday. Strangely it has become a treat to drive something I've drove around in now for 17 years! My commute is a miserly 8 miles one way and on top of that I have worked 4 - 10 hour shifts now for the past 10 years or so. Not too surprising to note that while I've had the Wagon for 17 year come August, I've only clocked 45K miles during that time. My best guess from CarFax is the Wagon had about 205K on it when I titled it, so it has had a long life for a 1st Gen.
All of what I do is the result of learning along the way. I use 2 vehicles as daily runners. The 94 Sedan is pretty much an all around runner and last year I picked up a '91 Cutlass Ciera to use in mostly bad/winter weather. In the end I wound up kinda of alternating between the two. On the pretty days I keep either the Wagon or the '86 Ranger in the garage to run around in. Gives me something to look forward to on those nasty weather spells and something special on the pretty ones. Which one that isn't in the garage is always covered up in a mess of blankets, car covers and tarps. Keeping them parked like that in tarps have drastically cut back on rust both above and underneath. Lastly I have the '84 Sunbird that rarely comes out to play. Poor thing lives in hibernation but I do get it started ever few months and keep everything working. I keep antique plate on the Sunbird and just enjoy it for the toy factor. Sure there are dozens of much better kinds of vehicles I would rather have under better circumstances, but this is what I've been blessed with. If anything I've learned that there will always be something better out there if you look hard enough. There is a lot to be said about doing the best you can with what you have in this old world!
So if your circumstances are such that you can do something like this it is possible to keep some old car running pretty much as they were intended to be. From my point of view it sure beats a nasty car payment and wallet robbing insurance rates. I witness everytime I go out..... so many people driving , rushing around in their endless cycles of stress. They all appear angry, upset and in such a hurry. I just pull over and let them go by and take all that mess with them down the road and then ease back on the road myself enjoying whatever trip I happen to me making in peace. If that is what it takes to have the good life , I sure don't want no part of that! That don't look like much fun to me.



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Re: Don't make 'em like they used to!
Saturday, April 13, 2019 8:21 PM
I've never been one to run the 'rat race' either. I mean not as the masses see it. Of course we have to work and survive, but perpetual debt is optional. Something I can happily live without.
I know what you mean about how folks are in such a rush. Never time to slow down and really enjoy life. Always in a rush, and for what? Rarely anything important, I'd gather. I've seen a number of crashes on US19 over the few years I've been down here. Seen a pickup truck cross the media, turning lane and crash into a few cars sitting at the light. I suppose he hydroplaned. It had rained some that afternoon. First rain in a while too, so roads were very slick. Then just a few miles on, I heard another one, but didn't see it. Another one a year or so ago. There is something about the rain here that causes a lot of folks to think they have Senna skills. Sadly, they prove, they DON'T.
It's a crazy world and getting crazier everyday.

Re: Don't make 'em like they used to!
Sunday, April 14, 2019 7:44 PM
Orlen Brown wrote:

Everyone's situations are different, but I have managed to keep my old vehicles legal and rolling over the years by leaning on the miles driven on each of them. By using so many different vehicles and having a short commute miles it is far easier to keep these old work horses working. 1st , I have managed to acquire my little fleet 1 by 1 over the years and try to hold on to what I have. It seems to me that once I pick up one of my rides it usually involves a few years tinkering here and there to eventually wring out most of the bugs in them at the time I get them. Having various vehicles actually serves 2 functions. They break up the total milage I drive amongst the bunch so I don't wear them out and I also found it give me so much variety I don't really get tired of driving the same thing everyday. Strangely it has become a treat to drive something I've drove around in now for 17 years! My commute is a miserly 8 miles one way and on top of that I have worked 4 - 10 hour shifts now for the past 10 years or so. Not too surprising to note that while I've had the Wagon for 17 year come August, I've only clocked 45K miles during that time. My best guess from CarFax is the Wagon had about 205K on it when I titled it, so it has had a long life for a 1st Gen.
All of what I do is the result of learning along the way. I use 2 vehicles as daily runners. The 94 Sedan is pretty much an all around runner and last year I picked up a '91 Cutlass Ciera to use in mostly bad/winter weather. In the end I wound up kinda of alternating between the two. On the pretty days I keep either the Wagon or the '86 Ranger in the garage to run around in. Gives me something to look forward to on those nasty weather spells and something special on the pretty ones. Which one that isn't in the garage is always covered up in a mess of blankets, car covers and tarps. Keeping them parked like that in tarps have drastically cut back on rust both above and underneath. Lastly I have the '84 Sunbird that rarely comes out to play. Poor thing lives in hibernation but I do get it started ever few months and keep everything working. I keep antique plate on the Sunbird and just enjoy it for the toy factor. Sure there are dozens of much better kinds of vehicles I would rather have under better circumstances, but this is what I've been blessed with. If anything I've learned that there will always be something better out there if you look hard enough. There is a lot to be said about doing the best you can with what you have in this old world!
So if your circumstances are such that you can do something like this it is possible to keep some old car running pretty much as they were intended to be. From my point of view it sure beats a nasty car payment and wallet robbing insurance rates. I witness everytime I go out..... so many people driving , rushing around in their endless cycles of stress. They all appear angry, upset and in such a hurry. I just pull over and let them go by and take all that mess with them down the road and then ease back on the road myself enjoying whatever trip I happen to me making in peace. If that is what it takes to have the good life , I sure don't want no part of that! That don't look like much fun to me.



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Very true and wise words. My work life can get a little crazy, but I like to enjoy the simple stuff.

Great to take a trip in my 15 year old Cavalier.....


http://www.autorentalandsales.com/images/2004Cavalier005.JPG
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