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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

An 80's 4x4 adventure: not like that tho... Part 2

Well, I finally made a plan for getting back over to my buddies old work truck. I loaded up my main tools with my diagnostic basket containing the compression tester, vacuum pump with attachments, spark tester, timing light, my electrical boxes (just in case), some spare extraneous parts from inventory and all the toothbrushes, rags, solvents and small parts washing containers I thought I would need.

When I arrived about 3 minutes early, I noticed he had been kind enough to have a stool, rags, a pad on the radiator/ front hood latch area and cardboard for random parts or to lay on already set up and waiting for me. That kind of thoughtfulness goes along way with me and always makes me smile at housecalls. Good clients are easy to work with. Occasional lemonade, coffee, snacks, and even sometimes really cool trinkets as thank you gifts.  You know who you are. Thanks for making it easier and more fun to take care of the machines.  :-) 

  I parked in a good spot for jumper cable access, and after greeting the owner and unloading and staging my tools, I told him he might not want to watch the mess I was about to make in order to make a happy machine in a couple hours. He laughed and said he wanted to watch the magician at work. “Whoa- thats high praise. I'll try to live up to that” I told him, “and yeah, if ya wanna watch, you're welcome”.  Besides, I enjoy his company, and wanted his help.

 I explained that the ultimate goal is to remove and thoroughly clean the carburetor so all the tiny passages are cleaned out and all the linkages work smoothly and easily, and that I would need his help for a compression check first. So I checked compression while the owner cranked the engine for the test. The results of the comp test were (in cyl order 1-->8) 140PSI, 140, 135, 70, 140, 135, 25, and 140PSI. Yuck. A six and a half cylinder engine, great. 140PSI is good, 70 is meh at best, and 25 is useless except as internal drag on the engine. Cylinders 4 &7 spark plugs were definitely discolored black & sooty and #7 was oily as well... imagine that with no combustion happening. 

The owner had purchased spark plugs, so they got replaced after the compression test was done. Satisfied that the engine will now run with spark and compression (most of it anyway) so long as it gets proper fuel, I remove the air filter housing, and attached plumbing to get at the carburetor. Setting the air filter assembly on the cardbourd he had laid out, I inspected the nonsense spaghetti mess of tubing and hoses under it surrounding the carburetor. Many of those tiny hoses and tubes were broken, cracked and even missing major components.  

Being that it would never again go back together how it was,  I had no choice but to start removing the entire mess of tubing and hoses and save any of it that was useful for reconnection of necessary circuits after cleaning the carburetor out.  Even being careful, half or more of the small plastic connectors broke as I tried to disconnect the hoses from them because the plastic had gotten brittle over the years from the plasticizers evaporating out. Great, no wonder the others who had tried to work on it had likely only made it worse. I have seen over and over the special little parts a company uses made so cheaply and so hard to get replacements that all that can be done is to simplify the mess back to basics to make the machine go again.

  At that point, with the broken tubes and cracked hoses removed I could easily grab the mouse-nest on the intake manifold and throw it out under a pine tree. Covering the important openings in the top of the carb with a rag and closing my eyes, I blew the remainder of the fluffy material off of the intake manifold, letting the stiff breeze carry it away before inhaling again.

Next I removed the throttle linkage assembly on the side of the carb, the fuel line, and the hard vacuum line for the brakes. That left the four bolts holding the carburetor onto the intake manifold- out they came a moment later. I popped the carb sideways with the palm of my hand and it came right off into the other hand waiting to catch it. Noting that the gasket looked flawless where the carburetor had just been, I placed a clean rag into the openings to prevent dirt from entering until I could replace the carb on the engine. I noted that the carb was full of fresh- smelling fuel as I carried it away. 

  My truck was parked at a convenient angle to allow me to work in the sunshine and have all the gasoline from inside the carb drain to one corner of the flatbed and into a bucket waiting below to catch it. I cleaned, dismantled, cleaned some more, took more apart and once it was all as clean inside as it could be, and outside as much as it needed to be, I put it back on the truck. The entire cleaning process took about an hour with old toothbrushes, spray solvents, and small picks and screwdrivers.  I also inspected and adjusted (re-bent) some of the small linkage rods to make all the mechanisms operate properly, and used a dot of good lube on the throttle and choke shaft bushings.

Bolted back down, the carb needed to have fuel supply to do any good, so that was the next check.  I connected the vacuum pump to the fuel line with a reservoir between them and began to pump fuel out of the line and pouring it into the same bucket I had used for cleaning. I asked the owner to crank the engine  for a second and immediately had him stop as the forceful spray of fresh, good smelling fuel from the pump was plentiful, indicating that the fuel pump is getting fuel from the correct tank and is pumping it too. 

I reconnected the throttle linkage, fuel, brakes and the vacuum lines mandatory for operation, and double checked everything.  There were several additional vacuum ports on the sides of the carburetor that had to be plugged off, and only a few others reconnected for the carbon canister, distributor advance mechanism and other necessary stuff, leaving a good sized pile of hose, tubing and components on the ground. 

  Once that was all done, It was time to fire it up. Since I have seen what engine fires are like, I always put the air filter back on before trying to start an engine because an air filter will stop most backfires from becoming carburetor fires and worse. After connecting the jumper cables to both of our trucks, I got in and turned the key.   A half second later the oil lite in the dash went out, a half a second after that I started pumping the accelerator pedal. Fourth pump it fired up and ran fairly smoothly on its own.

 I got out to observe from the front of the truck, and looked at the exhaust color and quantity as I did so. It was thick and substantially blue, indicating that lots of oil was getting burnt... hmmmm.  Likely, the cylinders that had not been firing now were, and the oil that had collected in them was coloring the exhaust.  Its my suspicion that the weak cylinders will wake back up and be useful again, but we shall see.  The engine seemed to smooth out as it warmed up, and the exhaust cleared fairly quickly as well. Ten minutes later the engine was running very smooth and the exhaust was fully transparent, so it seems likely thats exactly what occured.

When I stuffed my foot into the skinny pedal after the engine was fully warmed up, it immediately responded by accelerating smoothly and quickly, and roaring like a good V-8 should.  No hesitation, no sputter, stutter or missing, just velvety horsepower under my right foot.

Another smile for the day.   I recommended to him that the truck be driven once a week every week for 10 miles or more to keep it healthy and told him I would come back in a couple weeks to re-check compression. Satisfied in a job done right, I shut it down and following another quick check over, packed up my tools and supplies, cleaned up my mess, settled up with the owner and headed onward.  
Another day, another success, another happy client...  :-) MW out.

UPDATE: every time I hear this truck drive by now, it sounds as good as anything thats been built since.  Its still running sweet, has more power and is using less fuel than ever.  I see it out on the road alot more these days, which is good because it needs to be driven to keep it driveable.  

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