So last weekend I had a trip to take in my bus to Ottawa. This is typically a +10 hour drive. At about 1.5 hours into the trip I stopped in Iron Bridge, ON to wash all the salt and muck off of the windshield and fuel up. While I was washing the windshield with the engine running I could hear a pulsing, metal-on-metal grinding noise. That's never good! I finished washing the windshields and parked somewhere a little more out of the way to take a peak. Oh boy, was it ever obvious what the problem was! The grooved idler pulley had about a 1/2" worth of wobble!
Thankfully, I had tools with me. The belt tensioner accepts a 1/2" drive ratchet to relieve tension so it's easy to pop the belt off. Took it off and could have pulled the idler off by hand! It was obvious that there were no ball bearings left inside the races. Iron Bridge is a sleepy little town without any auto part stores or junkyards so I was sh!t out of luck there. The closest town with a Napa (Blind River) was 30km down the road, so I did my best to push grease into the races and watched the volt gauge intently as I drove. If the voltage dropped I'd know the belt slipped off.
Upon arriving at the Blind River Napa I was notified that the best they could do was to get an idler next day and that it would cost $150! Nice folks, though. They suggested trying the only heavy-duty truck shop in town. No luck there either, but the mechanic mentioned to try AJ Bus Lines - the local bus barn.
Great people there! They were so friendly and inviting! They told me that they hadn't been running the T444e for years, but that there could be some old stock floating around. Sure enough there was a used idler pulley with freshly pressed bearings sitting on the shelf! I asked how much they'd want for it and the guy just handed it over, saying it's on the house
They even provided me with the T50 torx socket necessary to swap it out.
In total it was about an hour of down time. Huge thanks to AJ Bus Lines of Blind River, Ontario!