Screwvenir – Definition.

oil_plug.jpgscrewvenir (skrew-von-eer) ; 1. A collectible item or souvenir that, by obtaining it, screwed you over in some way or another. 2. A trophy for “dead last but finished.” 3. Any simple bolt, fastener or clamp that takes longer then 1 hour to remove. 4. See Figure.

I was going to call this “The stupid’ist thing ever.”, but after doing a patent search for 3307731 & 3604591 (The numbers I found on the device. Thanks Google and uspto.gov) I have upgraded it to “A severe pain in the ass.” It looks like some sort of weird unmentionable marital aid, but actually it was shoved into the oil pan of my Ford F-150 Pimp Van. I had just finished some major repair work on the old girl and I was ready to do a oil change, when I came upon this piece sticking out of where a nice drain plug bolt should be. James and I determined that it was rubber and tried to quickly pry it out of the hole whilst we getting covered in 3 year old motor oil. ‘Quickly’ and ‘pry’ are not what happened. You see this baby is designed never to come out again. Ever. The concept is: You, or your stupid mechanic, strips the threads of the oil pan drain plug. Seeing as an oil pan is like $200 they decide to shove this “device” in. It is supposed to have a wing nut on it to compress the “bulb” into the “washer.” About 2 months after you bought this $2 piece of silliness, the wing nut and bolt have rusted and broken off.

Now, here’s why it’s silly. You can’t really drain the oil anymore with this thing stopped up in there. It will “leak” no problem, but there’s no more “draining” ever to be had. It just kind of runs down your hand when you try to pry at the rubber. I bet no one reading this could sit still for the time it would take 6 quarts of oil to slurp through. It also never seals tight again because of the lost rusty wing nut.

The universe could go in two directions here. Both of them will send me screaming into the woods. 1. “We lost the oil pan plug and decided to shove one of these things in here.” 2. “We stripped the threads a little and decided to shove one of these babies in.” It’s 50/50 for me. I know the previous owner well enough to know that “maybe” he tried one of these gizmos, but he didn’t do work on the van in the first place, so I’ll lay blame on some random Ford mechanic.

So, How did I get it out? Answer: Pliers, Vice Grips, screwdriver, 700 Ft/Lbs. of downward force. I have never been completely coated up to my elbows in oil. I have done countless suspension installs, 2 head gaskets, and a MOTOR SWAP. Still not this dirty. I guess I should have wedged the pliers in, waited for the 2 gallons of oil to seep through, and pried at it in the morning… Now way was I going to let it win. “James – Hand me a towel!” It doesn’t look it, but this sucker can stretch 3″ out. After about 30 minutes of prying it popped out, spewing oil into my face and hair.

Are the threads stripped THAT badly? We’ll see. A proper tool to fix them is about six more dollars then that rubber plug. Are they stripped AT ALL? I’m going to pick up a new bolt tomorrow and see. Let me say this: The threads better be destroyed. As if marred by a tractor blade, in some fluke accident, where the van was undamaged besides the gash into the oil pan drain plug threads. This is the only acceptable level for me not to go into a wooded rampage.

I found this over at Epinions.com While looking for more info on “replacement rubber oil plug.”
To quote a section:

We popped it up on the rack after a *very* short test drive (from the parking space to the bay door — it was definitely making not-well sounds) and found his problem right away. unbeknownst to him, jl had replaced his original drain plug with something known as a “universal” drain plug. this is a rubber drain plug to be used in emergency situations only and to be replaced with a regular one ASAP, usually while replacing the oil pan, as the drain plug has become horribly stripped out somehow. jl is the only chain of shops i know that even keep the universal drain plug in stock. the universal drain plug also tends not to fit very well, leaks badly if driven more than a few miles (50-100), and also has two prongs on the inside that spread out after installation to hold it in place, so the oil pan needs to come off anyway to replace it. (most shops have stopped using them at all)

Sounds like a “quick change” place may have gotten a hold of da’pimp van before I obtained it.

Update 7/15/2004: I couldn’t believe it. I can’t really describe it. The threads on the oil pan are DESTROYED. Utterly. The pan has separated from the inner threads. Both are at odd angles to each other. Even if I could get to the threads they are worthless. I called James up and let him know that he would need to replace the oil pan in 5,000 miles. After trying for 2 hours to get something in there to stop the oil from pouring out, I did a most humble thing; I shoved that stupid black rubber plug back in. It won. I admit it.

The van is now in shape (in the nick of time) to move stuff from Christine’s place, up to Maine, down to Jersey, etc. Then I will leave it in capable hands, even though shooting it, dumping it in the woods, and setting it on fire would make me feel better. :)

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