Getting the Shaft (installed)

Door Curtain

Hello and welcome to the blog tonight.  First, here is an update.  Above is the latest picture of the van door project.   I decided a valance would add a nice touch so I designed one with a popcorn stitch on the top and a ruffle on the bottom.   Then it was just a matter of crocheting the strip while watching a MacGyver re-run. Imagine the door painted a medium tan color.  The coat hook will double as a pull to lower the door panel to reveal a 20″ x 20″ dinner table.  More pictures to come later!


Here’s the reason for the title of this post.  After a busy day at work, I had to do a relatively simple (but somewhat frustrating) repair on the car.  Imagine the concern one day when I turned the corner and the steering wheel bound up … and the car wanted to keep right on turning!  The issue had prevented traveling very far for fear of ending up broken down or worse yet, wrecked!

1_old shaft

One half of this universal joint was frozen. A hint is the pile of rusty filings on top of the shaft / clamp.

Like so many things in life, a little research on the Internet helped immensely.  In net forums, Chevy Cobalt lovers have discussed the front end problems at length; I was certain of the diagnosis.  A very well constructed video revealed how simply the replacement could be performed.  The part itself was $130 at Autozone but I got the exact same item for $72 through Amazon… The icing on the cake was today when the neighborhood mail carrier stopped in at the farm store and I asked her if she’s dropped off a box for me at home.  Ya gotta love small towns where many know each other!

2_New joint

Shaft in place…

The Iowa weather was cooperative today.  We had a record high temperature of 72 degrees.  The repair went pretty smoothly with cramped access being the only frustrating (“%$@* it!) part.  At the end I was unsure if the shaft in the picture above had fully penetrated the clamp.  Technology helped once again.  The camera could see where the eyes could not.  Success!  Completed, the car drives like a new one – the steering wheel actually centered better than it was before.   🙂

While this was a simple fix, it usually costs $500 or more at the dealer.  It felt really good to make the same repair at home, save some money, and use a portion of the savings to have a very nice dinner out.  Nobody wants to have to fix his/her vehicle unless it needs it but I’m sure many readers know the delight in beating “Mr. Goodwrench” at the Chevy dealership out of a few bucks.   🙂


For now it is back to working on Saturday.  These days I’m still tinkering on the van’s Dutch door and am getting everything painted up.  It’s turning out better than expected.  The door and new dining table will be tested out in a week.  There will be pictures.

Spring is right around the corner as evidenced by today’s weather.  Pretty soon fishing season will be in full swing.  New friends have invited me along and there will be some fun adventures to share this year as different places are visited by Jennifer and I!

Thanks for visiting today!   Safe and happy travels always!

Brad and Kitty Jennifer
Jones County, Iowa

About VanTrekker

I am a former vandweller in Eastern Iowa who, for several years (off and on), lived in a 2007 Chevy cargo van. I still travel around Iowa with my tortoise shell cat, Jennifer Stefanie. Our favorite place to explore is the Country Heritage Community, the four far northeastern counties of Iowa (Clayton, Winneshiek, Allamakee, and Fayette). Ride along as we fish in pristine trout streams, enjoy fine home cooked camping meals, and meet new people. It's all possible on a shoestring budget. Happy travels always! --- Brad, the "Van Trekker"
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2 Responses to Getting the Shaft (installed)

  1. Jo says:

    Good work as always Brad. I finally took my truck in to a new place all the neighbors have been talking about. I needed a complete tune up and had them inspect everything since I had such a bad experience with my old place that I had been going to for 11 yrs. It cost $282. but was well worth it for peace of mind.

    Can’t wait to see more pictures from your door build and your next camping trip

    • VanTrekker says:

      Thanks for the note, Jo. A good, reasonable mechanic is quite a find. Yes, having things fixed is definitely peace of mind. 🙂 I’m excited about getting the Dutch door finished up. It’s going better than I’d expected which is a good thing. I’m enthused about doing a little decorating – not sure just want to put on the door the folds down but I’m sure something will come to mind. The next camping trip will be even more enjoyable.

      Take care! 🙂

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