Tools. They can be wonderful things, helping you get out of mechanical snags in time for work the next morning. However, they can also be nightmarish, cantankerous appliances that don’t always live up to expectations. Today, I’m asking you what your least-favorite tool is.
Last weekend, I decided it was time for new fluids in the gearbox and differential of my 325i. Now, the BMW 188L differential doesn’t have a drain plug, but instead simply a fill plug through which you suck the old fluid out. Annoyingly, it’s not at a brilliant angle to get a traditional bottle in there and tip in new stuff, but it’s still reasonably accessible enough to use my tool cabinet nemesis — the manual fluid transfer pump.
You know the one I’m talking about, the sort with ports in both ends that you stick tubes in and manually pump like you’re filling a bicycle tire with petroleum products. The $8 Harbor Freight special by any other name, for when you’re short on time, planning, and money to get something decent. Since the full sections of tube are quite unwieldy, I sliced off reasonably-short sections of tube and carried on my merry way.
[Editor’s Note: I completely agree with Thomas. These pumps suck! They work fine for low-viscosity fluids like automatic transmission fluid, but you try pumping something thick quickly, and these hoses are popping right off! -DT].
As luck would have it, the tiny piece of tubing I cut for the discharge end of the fluid transfer pump shot out of the pump, through the fill plug hole, and into my diff. Arsebiscuits. A 20-minute job just got more complicated and wasted some fresh fluid. The remedy was simple — use a pole jack to support the pumpkin, pull the cover without removing the diff mount, and then lower the diff while swiveling the cover just enough to fish the piece of vinyl tubing out using needle nose pliers before re-sealing the diff. Not the hardest job in the world, but certainly an aggravating snag.
Believe it or not, this isn’t the most spectacular failure I’ve ever had with a fluid transfer pump. Back in high school, I was pumping diff fluid into my Crown Victoria when the pump itself failed, completely ExxonValdez-ing the concrete slab of my parents’ garage. Sorry, mum.
At this point, I’ve learned my lesson. I’ll just get a big syringe for the next time I need to do gear oil. Sure, filling a small diff with a 200 ml syringe will take five or so injections, but it beats the aggravation of forcing thick fluid through a manual transfer pump, even if 75w90 isn’t even that thick.
So, what tool do you absolutely hate to use? What never fails to fail? Do you also hate manual transfer pumps, or do you despise something even more? To the comments we go!
(Photo credits: Harbor Freight, BMW)
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