Saturday, 19 January 2013

My ISM problem

“A lump of chocolate now and then for the cancer, a drop of red wine now and then for the heart, a suck on a cigar occasionally for the inflamed nasal passages, a clove of garlic for the prevention strokes, a little aspirin for the blood, a brisk walk for the Alzheimer's, some regular sex for the endorphins, a bit of red meat for the brain cells, a plate of stir fried kale for the iron, a cup of tea for the early mornings and the regular check of the intermediate shaft bearing on the Porsche 997/998 2.7 to 3.8 engine. The one fitted between 98 to 2004. That is except for the 3.6i unit fitted to the Turbo and GT3, they of course use the 993 bottom end so there's no IMS problem. Lucky bastards. No one knows when or if the bearing will fail and Porsche don't seem to offer any reason or explanation. I find it a bit disconcerting that the fault can just occur without any warning. It's time bomb really, a cot death, that's the thing with physical and mechanical health...and well being. You just never really know. One day it goes 'click', one day that thing in your brain just goes 'click'.”

“So intermediate shaft failure is probable rather than inevitable, I don't know what's worse. It's like cot death or spontaneous combustion or something. Lightning strikes even. Some nights I don't sleep for thinking about it, I toss and turn, get the sweats, losing my mind, cancer and health and that IMS failure. I have nightmares about that pool of oil there under the car, I don't notice it (or maybe I ignore it) and try to drive away and there are all those costly consequences. Towed away by a yellow truck. Cancer or shaft failure? I'm shaking thinking about it, I'm disturbed, my eyes fill up and water, I get the shivers.”

“ There are solutions out there, they say the revised shaft and seal, that's the WPOZZZ99Z (6)S**** bit that works. I'm considering it but I've only clocked 46000 miles and the expense is just too much to consider what with all my regular medications and lifestyle costs. I'm keeping it together but it's a challenge. There are no official statistics, you'd think that there would be but no, it's all word of mouth and forum gossip. I don't know about that, those guys are all in California and you just never trust those things. Fly by night. I don't know if I want to set myself anymore challenges, not now; like trying to write a story when there's some other distraction, with a knife hanging over your head, naked, out in the worst weather, dressed as a woman, drunk and incapable, cornered by a mad dog, badly parked with people honking, tied to a lamppost, waiting on that pool of oil forming. What did the forum say again? The pencil keeps breaking and I keep trying to sharpening but it's soft and the lead is broken and the sharpener is blunt and I'm having ideas but I can't get them down, can't hold a single one.”

“In the workshop a job is underway, there is a flange bearing support bolted to the engine with three bolts, the flange is removed and you can see the threaded holes for the bolts. I wished someone could show me the bolt in the middle that shears off. So I could just see it for real, put my finger tip in that threaded hole. It's all in my imagination. What is the truth about the cars? I hear that 20% of Boxters don't make it past 100k without that catastrophic failure, then a £6k rebuild, a whole engine eaten up and shredded. Then again 80% are ok, that's good odds. Still it's those cursed bolts, the bolts fail and everything just falls apart. What if I have them? Maybe if I just keep the revs low, don't gun it, kid gloves and care, light right foot, tender loving care. I could stay well under 4000 revs if I had to, I could do it. Then consider the grip and gnaw of the tension that it would create. That's no way to live.”

“There's an old theory that Porsche know all about it. They build those engines on the cheap, or just cheaper, entry level engineering, Eastern European or Indian bolts, inferior alloy and so on. Wherever they source parts, who knows? Bet they don't make them in Stuttgart. That shiny factory is like a hospital. Beautiful but mean. Better than a hospital, hazy science fiction. Cost cutting or efficiency or carelessness or a plot for the benefit of the dealers. Decisions made in the board room, wood panelled walls, whispers and fine china, maybe a brandy, maybe a whisky, a nod in the right place, cool Germans, level headed, clinical. Well it is a hospital. So times are tough and it's all about pushing out the tin and money changing hands. Long term survival or a quick buck. Just enough quality in there to get them through the warranty period, after that you're on you own, living with the risk and the cost.”

“That's the buzz out on the forums, all the geeks and honest men, retelling their tales, posting pictures, ground up oily metal and unsmiley faces pasted to the jpeg. Their solutions, their after market additions, putting things right, solving those design faults that the so-called designers missed. Men in white coats looking through glasses, checking the bits against the drawings and nodding at each other. Nobody ever won the Nobel Prize for a reliable engine bearing, nobody. What were they all thinking? Now it's all repeated and played out and frankly I'm at my wits end and it's just a silly machine, a machine with a flaw. Like me, I might get that cancer or blood disease or some STD. All liable to breakdown, out of the blue, but I'm bombarded, all the time, tales of woe, early deaths and failures, diets and quick fixes, cures and snake oil, wrecks and wreckage on the highway. Plagues. No wonder I can't sleep. We are all broadcasting, all the time, all across the social networks and forums. We are all storytellers – that's how we make sense of our lives, but still it makes no sense.”

(“You know, I have another theory. Those blown engines, the intermediate shaft failure, the early and untimely deaths. Well it is just possible that those cars were not driven regularly, not exercised or stretched. Then you get deflection in the shaft from just sitting there, idle. Thermal expansion and cooling, it gets to the metal, gets into the metal. Slowly the tolerances get out of balance. Out of balance is never good. These cars were meant to be driven, their place isn't in showrooms or languishing as trophies and garage queens. It's the open road, whatever that means to you.”)

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