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RE: Timing Belts - the "quick" fix

Having done more than my fair share of quattro timing belts, from the Ur to
the S6 (just 2 weeks ago), I'll add my .02.

6 hours is about average for a timing belt and water pump on all cars (I don't
do one without the other, but on the S cars make darn sure you get the german
WP, not the Italian one, or you will be back soon).  The 90q and the S cars
require front end removal.  I applaud those that can do it without, but really
ask why.  To me, the task of the front end reveals a bunch of parts that could
need attention.  But alas, if the ONLY task is the belt, I suppose it could be
done that way.  Not sure how you could claim that on an S car since the room
you need requires radiator removal, doing it from up top or from the bottom
that tight makes me think you really aren't that far away anyhow.  I
personally like a direct and unobstructed view of the pulley, bolt, seals,
water pump flange, etc...

The 91 200tq also requires removal of the bumper and assorted brackets.
Again, doing it without makes me smile some, as a bumper with 2 bolts on just
about every audi is 10 minutes on and off.  Familiarity with the various
chassis puts time in your pocket, not saving front end removal, IMO.  My
latest S6 escapade also resulted in some ungodly torque on the Harmonic bolt
to get it off (the bolt on the S cars is longer than the pre), something a
"down below" or "up above" procedure wouldn't do as well, here, not at all.
As age, winters (and former air hammers) affect that 27MM bolt, they are
getting tougher to get out.  Saving time vs. a good line of sight there, could
cost you BIG in the long run.  You bugger that bolt, life (for owner and
wrench) gets ugly.

The 27mm bolt and bad 2084 mounting (or none at all) can also spin the crank
belt gear (btdt a copuple times from  former overtorque), the alignment key is
only pot steel, and it will shear immediately.  If you don't know you sheared
it, it may not be 2084 that stops the crank from turning, it's a valve (not a
good thing, btw:)

Now, the philosophy of "billable hours" comes into play at some point here,
but my own POV from a wrench standpoint is, if a mechanic beats book, he gets
gravy.  If he doesn't beat book, he takes a nick.  I don't shortcut the timing
belt procedure, it's experience that makes the book kinder.  In the long run,
the book will average and average mechanic, rewards a good one, and kills a
bad one.  From a consumer standpoint that really isn't a bad thing.  Your
trick is to get a book quote up front (you 4kq owners, please reread this).
The mechanics trick (especially some of us that can look at a car and know
"book" would be the best hope) is to get "A" time until the project is done.
For the good wrenches, "A" time rules.  Why?  Because a good wrench is busy
enough (and good enough) to take nothing less than "A" time.  That doesn't
come from "shortcuts", but from experience.  

That "A" time is earned.  How?  From repeat customers and a trust that the job
will be done right the first time.  I hear of shortcuts on timing belts, I get
nervous.  Why?  Well, I for one think a timing belt is just busy work,
methodical and exacting.  Screw this surgery up, and that customer is gone.
Forever.  The quattro community is too small to get more than a handful of
those (the 1 and 10 rule gets ugly here too), these q-lists are a perfect
example (see archives of horror stories).

So, bottom line, an experienced quattro wrench will average or beat book most
of the time.  That is the wrench you want to build a relationship with.  Part
of that relationship is knowing the car and it's owner, and it's/his repair
habits (or lack thereof).  Once that relationship is established, the mechanic
gets gravy on beating book, but so does a long term customer.  Taking
shortcuts on a timing belt of all projects in a quattro, is the highest risk a
mechanic can take, and not the risk a customer would WANT a mechanic to take,
IMO.  So, I'll pass and cast a wary eye on claims of the speedy fix,
advocating a "do the job right the first time" wastes no time or re-fixes in
the long run.

My .02

Scott Justusson
QSHIPQ Performance
'87 5ktqwRS2
'84 Urq
'87 4Runner (yoda)
'85 FJ1387