OK, so I forgot to post the promised pics and even now, there'* only this one.
This is how many leaves were in the blower casing. I consolidated them for the picture. Notice the small leaves hanging out of that snorkel tube. That tube provides cool air for the blower motor. There'* no screen or other protection to keep those leave sout of the motor casing itself.
The leaves enter the motor casing, get ground to a fine dust, then are exposed to the sparks and heat from the motor brushes. It'* a crazy setup!
To make matters worse, there is no screening or other filter to keep this type of debris out of either the blower box or the blower motor casing. Once I saw what the problem was, I hunted all over in my garage for a piece of small screening to use, but my cleaning efforts were punished. I'd thrown out the extra pieces of screening I'd had left over from a screen repair.
Since I needed the truck the next day, I put everything back together. I'm still shaking my head at the design...let'* call it "oversight" to be nice...that allows that much junk into a so-called closed system.
Mike: 1997 SE w/ 183K, aka White Horse
, Gutted Airbox w/K&N, drilled 180* t-stat, tint all around, clear corners w/SilverStars, "PONTIAC" light up tail, PEMs, NGK TR55s