"You didn't come in for your regular maintenance." he says.
"Um... no.." (It was over six hundred dollars, and I'd been a flighty idgit and not budgeted for it)
"Your differential gearbox is seriously overdue for service. There's a leak in one of the seals, cack on the bottom, and your gears are swimming in sludge. You drive any more on it and you'll be buying new axles."
And I still didn't have six hundred dollars.
However. I did have an internet connection, a wrench, and lots of smart friends.
One of 'em even owned a garage.
Well ... hangar. But close enough.
A bit of googling found several how-tos from the guys who do this for fun, so with a parts list in hand I hopped down to the parts store, got (almost) everything I needed, and scheduled a morning off from work to play mechanic.
First, open the fill bolt, then remove the bolts around the differential. This was the hardest part actually - those top bolts from "noon" to "two" were hiding behind the front steering (rods?) assembly - and since I was on drive-up jacks I couldn't turn the wheels to see if I could get a better angle.
Airplane mechanics have lots of tricksy tools for the funny angles though, and eventually everything worked out.
Crack the seal, and out pours the sludge. No metal flakes - yay!
You don't have to see the long goopy step of sopping out all the old oil and wiping down the parts. IA Guy checks the gears with me - all good! (Incidentally, I wasn't impressed with the last person in there - they left toolmarks on the mating surface even I knew to avoid - the "someone else's car" thing I guess)
Back goes the cover. (Turns out I didn't need a gasket and RTV, but one of the guys in the shop suggested stick with the gasket. So I did.) In goes the gearbox oil.
Put the plug back in, and all done! I can drive to work! One more "I didn't know *that* this morning" to add to the list, and I can still pay my rent tomorrow.
The really cool thing though?
Once again, Alaskans prove just how awesome they are. Everyone from my computer geek boss to the spiffy blonde lady who dropped by in a business suit said "oh, changing the oil in a differential. No problem, just be sure to do such and such."
Best neighbors ever. Alaskans are so cool.
And that's that!
Also - thanks y'all for your patience with the delay while I was in Boston visiting Dearest Friend.
It went very well, thank you. :)