that da#*ed passenger side cowl drain hose - Alfa Romeo Bulletin Board & Forums
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post #1 of 28 (permalink) Old 10-06-2008, 09:30 AM Thread Starter
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replacing cowl drain hose on passenger side

I'd put this off as long as possible; but complaints by passengers (read "wife") of wet feet finally made me change the cracked cowl drain hose on the passenger side of my 91 S4. All the posts discussing the job describe it as horrific and listed necessary tools that I dont have: a free day, child-sized hands, unwavering patience, boundless creativity. And, oh, did I mention that a third hand with a full 360 degree wrist pivot is recommended, too. The particular thing that makes the passenger side hose harder to change than the one on the driver's side is (in the case of an S4, at least) the air conditioner unit which entirely blocks access to the hose from below.

Well, I did it yesterday without any of the aforementioned tools. I skipped two meals and sweated a bucketfull while doing it; but I did it. Here is how: First, of course, pull off the carpeted panel to the side of the center console. Then, remove the knee bolster -- in an S4 it's attached by three bolts. Then, remove the glove box. It is attached by a row of five screws along the lower front edge of the box -- the same screws also hold the glove box door (at this point, the screws begin to add up, so zip lock bags and a magic marker are very useful). Two more screws hold the glove box in -- one each on the upper front corners of the box; these screws also hold bumpers for the door. You may also have to remove the corded map light if your car has one. It is merely screwed into the top of the glove box (note the tiny in-line fuse for this light, which is nowhere mentioned in the shop manual). Now pull, wiggle, jimmy, coax and tug the glove box out of the hole in the dash -- don't be afraid to cuss and give one very large tug to finally remove it -- it's plastic and can take it. Once the glove box is removed you are eye to eye with the bottom of the cowl drain and the crumbling hose (photo below). Get a screwdriver and loosen the hose clamp and pull the hose off the fitting on the bottom of the cowl sump. Now, just grab the old hose and pull it free from the car. Mount it on the wall of your garage.

Here is where the agony begins. Take the new form fitted hose which you already bought (best practice seems to be to use one from Centerline or IAP, for example -- that's what I used). One end of it will attach to the cowl fitting and the other end will protrude through the firewall into the right wheel well where a steel tab will hold it like a bear hug. You can see the hole in the firewall in the photo below. The difficulty here is getting the hose through that hole when you can barely get your ham-sized hand into the available space between the dash, the a/c, and everything else down there. So, after staring at the problem, here is what I did. Take a dowel rod or some other straight thing and slide it down into the new hose in order to straighten it out and give it some rigidity. Now here is the kicker: use some dishwashing soap (see photo) to coat the far end of the new hose to make it slippery. Then take the rodded, slippery hose and thread the far end through the firewall hole. Since you probably can't reach down to the firewall hole, you will have to work at it until the hose penetrates the hole. Once it is through a few inches, retract the dowel and commence shoving the hose until it goes farther into the hole -- granted, it is too much like pushing a rope.

Now, go over to the driver's seat and turn the steering wheel all the way to the right or left so that you move the tire out of the way in order to see up into the wheel well. Go back to the right front wheel well and shine a light up there and try to see and grab the end of the protruding hose. (Note: before starting, it is helpful to have looked up there to see where the original hose came out so that you will know what to look for here). If the new hose hasn't emerged, go back and shove it more from the inside. Repeat as necessary until the hose fully emerges; pulling the hose end with pliers may be useful -- it won't hurt the hose. You will be developing bruises on your hand(s) now from cramming them into the inadequate space while shoving the hose. Feed the hose through the metal bear-hug tab in the wheel well. If necessary, you can bend the tab open and then closed without damage.

Did I say that the last step was bad. If so, the following step is worse. Here is where you have to get the end of the hose over the fitting on the underside of the cowl. Unless I got a defectively small dia. hose, it will be maddeningly difficult to get the end of your hose over the cowl fitting -- it is just a bit too small to do easily. So, here is what I did. First I removed the hose clamp altogether; for now, it will just get in the way. To get the hose over the fitting, you will just have to push, pull, twist, cram, swear, wiggle, contort and swear more. Use some soap to make the fitting slippery if you need. Eventually, after you have missed dinner and are about to give up, it will suddenly go over the fitting. Now, before the hose spontaneously pops off the fitting, take a hose clamp and unscrew it entirely so that you can open it completely; then bend it back around the hose at the cowl fitting and thread the free end back through the cog and tighten. You have now done it. Put everything back together, take a shower and go look for some leftovers in the fridge since you are very hungry.

Photo index: First pix shows the glove box removed, with a screwdriver pointing to the cowl fitting for the drain hose.
Second pix shows same close up with the old hose.
Third pix shows close up of the operating field -- the hole in the firewall for the hose to penetrate appears as an oval roughly in the center of the shot; you can also see the cowl sump fitting to which the hose will ultimately attach.
Fourth pix shows the new hose with a dowel holding it straight.
Fifth pix shows new hose in place ready to be attached to cowl. Note that the hose clamp is there, but soon to be removed because it got in the way of the difficult task of fitting the hose over the cowl fitting.
Sixth pix (in next post) shows the hose finally over the fitting with a new hose clamp.
Final pix (also in next post) shows the very handy kitchen soap for making things slippery.

Good luck, and holler with any questions or suggestions why I could have done this much easier.
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David
'91 Red Spider

Last edited by DavidH; 10-09-2008 at 01:44 PM.
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post #2 of 28 (permalink) Old 10-06-2008, 10:16 AM Thread Starter
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Photos that didn't fit the original post.
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post #3 of 28 (permalink) Old 10-06-2008, 10:33 AM
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Thanks for this post, I too have a puddle in my passenger floor. I've known what it is but haven't attempted the fix yet. I suppose I should get on it but after reading yours I better set aside some serious time and patience!
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post #4 of 28 (permalink) Old 10-06-2008, 11:15 AM Thread Starter
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Digger, some of the difficulty I had was from plainly not knowing what I was doing as I did it. Maybe my experience will make the job easier for you. You also have to understand that I just enjoyed moaning to everyone.

David
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post #5 of 28 (permalink) Old 10-07-2008, 12:08 PM Thread Starter
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did I scare everyone? Really, it wasn't all THAT bad a job.

David
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post #6 of 28 (permalink) Old 10-07-2008, 12:12 PM
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Hm, may have to get on it earlier than I hoped. Looking out the window the rains have started!!
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post #7 of 28 (permalink) Old 10-07-2008, 12:40 PM
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Great write up! It is a bear of a job, but in time, the scars on your hands will fade.

Mike Macaulay
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post #8 of 28 (permalink) Old 10-07-2008, 02:40 PM
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So, now that you have achieved expert status, does that mean that you are ready to do my spider next? I will even feed you dinner, lest you go hungry!

Dean
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post #9 of 28 (permalink) Old 10-07-2008, 04:02 PM Thread Starter
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Yeh, sure, Dean. Bring it on over. I take all sorts of credit cards. $250/hr.

David
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post #10 of 28 (permalink) Old 10-09-2008, 11:57 AM
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Very nice description - on my '91 S4 it was absolutely impossible to remove the knee bolster as t he bolt that holds it to the wheel well near the door opening backed into the black plastic case for the A/C components. I have read of other S4's with this same problem, I could not find any way around it. I did remove the other (3?) bolts, do not recall exactly where they were, one was accessed from radio area and one was near fron of the seat into the tunnel, and with those removed and the impossible one cbacked out as much as possible I was able to pivot the bolster down enough to be able to work around it. Removing glove box is pretty easy, be careful to pivot it out and in correctly. I used mineral oil as a lubricant and the new hose slipped in pretty easily, much more easily than the driver's side which I did not lube. I agree that the top of the tube onto the bottom of the cowl is difficult, not much space to work and the hose needs to be stretched to fit on. By the way, my knee bolster had no bolt underneath the end cap near the door and also the mounting procedure differed from the pictures in the manual. I loosened the center console and oushed that back as it got in the way at some point, and there is a connector between the right and the left knee bolster in t his area that needs to come out. The pictures in this thread are great!
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post #11 of 28 (permalink) Old 10-28-2008, 09:15 AM
 
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Thanks, DavidH, great job for some of us who need some photos. I'm still analysing my situation. I am getting some moisture on the pass. side but it seems to be coming from the black, cylinder-shaped plastic item (part of the heater assembly?). Could be originating there or could be a leak from above-the cowl drain. I'm going to try to blow out the line using compressed air (as suggested by IAP) and if that doesn't clear the water problem, I will either follow your example or buy a pair of rubber boots for my passenger to wear when riding with me. In either case, congrats on an excellent post.
post #12 of 28 (permalink) Old 10-28-2008, 05:06 PM Thread Starter
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Talking

Chowsley, If you have been running your air conditioner, the dripping could be condensation. Check to see that the black rubber hose that is supposed to be attached to the a/c box is really there. It is supposed to be attached to a fitting that is directly above the passenger's left foot, more or less. Assuming, of course, that your car has a/c and you have been running it. If not, dont read the foregoing blather. David

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post #13 of 28 (permalink) Old 10-28-2008, 05:26 PM
 
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Yes, David, I have been running the air. My wife and I drove the car back from the West Coast the week of Labor Day and ran the air across the desert and home to Dallas. Haven't experienced the problem since as I've been getting caught up from the trip. Good suggestion and I'll check it out tomorrow. Thank you and best wishes, Bill
post #14 of 28 (permalink) Old 11-02-2008, 08:34 AM
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$250 an hour? "I didn't make that much when I was....

an attorney", goes the old joke. To which he replies "Neither did I. That's why I became an Alfa mechanic".
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post #15 of 28 (permalink) Old 11-02-2008, 10:09 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidH View Post
Chowsley, If you have been running your air conditioner, the dripping could be condensation. Check to see that the black rubber hose that is supposed to be attached to the a/c box is really there. It is supposed to be attached to a fitting that is directly above the passenger's left foot, more or less. Assuming, of course, that your car has a/c and you have been running it. If not, dont read the foregoing blather. David
David, poking around and checking this idea out I found the situation shown in the attached photo. I posted a question with a subject "Duct Tape" and got a number of responses re. Duct Tape but nothing to the following question: "The duct tape is holding the Cooler Unit together. The Unit is not airtight. Should it be? Could condensation be coming from that opening? From your earlier comments, it seems that you're the expert on Alfa a/c. Thanks, Bill
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