Monday, May 6, 2013

New Motor in old truck

So.... here's what I've been doing lately. What you are looking at in the pictures that I've posted is a new engine, new radiator, new heater core, new starter (NOT rebuilt), new water pump (NOT rebuilt), new intake manifold, new distributor, new plugs and wires, and new hoses. It probably would have been easier to have said that everything motor related under the hood is new but the throttle-body injectors and the computer controls.

My current service truck is one that I bought in 1990, but it's a good truck, so when it developed engine problems I decided to fix it rather than buy a new one. ( Much to my wife's chagrin.) She has been trying to talk me into buying a new truck for the past four years. I wish that I would have listened to her, it would be paid for by now, but, I would also be seventy thousand dollars poorer. (You didn't think that I was going to buy any cheap-assed truck did you?)

I live in Benbow at the bottom of Benbow hill. When I get up in the morning I go out, get in the truck on a cold morning, then go full throttle up Benbow hill on a cold engine. My wife does the same thing. Needless to say I have to change head gaskets on everything that I own every 60 to 80 thousand miles. You have no idea how many head gaskets that I have changed. I would list them but I almost lost you in the first paragraph with my list. I dare not chance a list that long again. It was rainy and wet this winter when the gaskets on my truck went out again, so I just kept adding water until the weather dried up a little.  The last time that I changed the gaskets was at eighty thousand miles. The truck now has one hundred and eighty thousand miles. I seem to get way more mileage out of my repairs than the factory engines gets. I credit "Copper Coat" head-gasket compound. They seem to go about one hundred thousand miles.

You guessed it, one morning I forgot to add water. I was going up Benbow Hill, the temperature started getting into the red, then as I crested the hill it when from hot to... bam... cold. NOT GOOD. I changed the head gaskets but exhaust was still blowing into the water jacket. Cracked heads. New heads are expensive. used heads and rebuilt heads are risky. New heads on and old engine is a foolish waste of time. My wife started to gloat. "I told You so". So I decided that before I bought a new truck that I would shop a little for a new motor. I found out that the Mexicans down south of the boarder build a darn fine GM engine in the factory that NAFTA gave us. I shopped around a little and found that I could buy a new engine shipped from the GM factory back by the Great Lakes.... and a new engine plucker-lift for @ two thousand dollars. Any thoughts of rebuilding my own engine, like I've always done in the past, went out the window like the little birdies in the cartoons.

So, I ordered a new motor and bought the rest of the stuff at the local Napa store. The engine arrived in about a week and a half, Three days later I gave birth to a brand new engine in my truck. I started it and it purred like a kitten. I ran the RPM up to 1800 RPMs like everybody does when they start a new motor. I ran it for about 15 minutes. It had a small exhaust leak on the manifold doughnut. I though that it had started running a little funny, and it was lunch time. So I shut it off to cool. When I came back I fixed the exhaust leak and started it again. It ran real good at first then slowly started running real rough, like it was getting way too much fuel. I let it idle down to check things, but when I got out of the truck it chugged to a stop. I tried to start it again, but it wouldn't turn over. My first thought was the starter, but I put a wrench on the front engine pulley. It's really called a vibration dampener, but I'm trying not to lose you here. The motor was way stiffer to turn over than it should have been. My elation turned to a very sick stomach. So, I did what I always do when I don't know what's wrong. I took the motor apart, clear down to the short block. On my way there I found that the vacuum tube that senses the intake manifold pressure had burned in two. That is why it was running way to rich with fuel. I took the heads and the timing chain off to check the bearings on the camshaft. It was fine.

The reason that the motor was hard to turn over is because the wet fuel mixture going into the cylinders had washed the oil off the cylinder walls. One squirt of oil on each piston and the motor was loose as a goose. That means that it turned over real easy. I'm trying really hard to not lose you here... After oiling the pistons, I slowly turned the motor over, imagine my joy when I found absolutely no scoring on the pistons or cylinders. I did a little victory dance over my great good fortune. Then I remembered that it was really not that great good and fortunate to have my fuel mixture control tube burn in two.... As most mechanics know, working on a motor is a combination of extremes, good luck, bad luck, and bad language. I had a friend that claimed that no one that didn't know how to cuss could ever be a good mechanic. I know that statement is probably not true, but I take great comfort in the knowledge that I can cuss with the best of them.

So, I put the motor all back together. I was extra careful to route the vacuum line to the mixture control away from anything hot, I fixed the loose connection on the starter. HEY... the starter is in a really bad place! I couldn't see the loose connection!

I checked everything multiple times, then I started the the engine. It runs very, very smooth. I took it on a forty mile trip, going through all the break-in procedures. You all know what they are. They go from never over rev it, don't ever go past half throttle, only drive it downhill for the first fifty miles... to... drive it like you stole it. I tried to come up with my own compromise. It must have worked, the engine runs perfectly. The truck will go up Benbow Hill at half throttle, and do 65 MPH. What? You didn't expect me to admit speeding did you.

One more thing. When I was kid, my dad was a good mechanic, and I had the opportunity to work on many things. I was lucky enough to have known Pete Star, a mechanic in Briceland who owned the Briceland Garage and Shell gas station. he had the reputation of being the best mechanic far and wide. He was adamant about doing clean work. If your work wasn't clean enough to eat your lunch off of he didn't even want to see you in his shop, and he meant it. By the time that I got through working on my motor I could have worn white clothes and kept them clean. I always seem to get some strange joy out of clean work, that, and I always think of Pete Star and my dad.

Now the test: Did you read this whole thing? Give yourself 10 points if you did. If you understood it give yourself 5 more points. If you are female give yourself 10 bonus points. What is your score?








23 comments:

Ernie Branscomb said...

OH.... Update on clifhanger post... It's still in the wings. I want to do it right! You'll see!

Anonymous said...

Back in about 95' I bought a new 300 HP 350 Chevy, with harmonic balancer, intake manifold, 4 barrel carb. and a starter motor for $2250 and that included shipping from Florida to Ketchikan, AK.
It was not an offshore made engine (Mexico) either. I heard the motors made offshore were good if they didn't leave milling shavings in places you don't want them.
Anyway, the extra 95 HP I put into my boat didn't help at all, needed a bigger outdrive paired with it.
Firewall the throttle was like flushing a toilet with no extra speed.

Ernie Branscomb said...

I had a boat back in the 60s. It would go about 30 miles per hour on smooth water. It would go about 34 with just a little chop on the water. Horsepower didn't seem to make much difference. A boat's hull will only go so fast through the water. When you reach that speed it's like coming up behind a truck. The boat just won't go any faster.

This motor seems to have an amazing amount of power compared to the old engine.

I like the flushing toilet analogy. I had to put a long downshaft on my boat to keep the prop from cavitating. Then it hopped out of the water like a porpois.

Anonymous said...

The speed of full displacement boat hulls is when the bow wave gets to 1 1/2 the length of the hull. That is why longer FD hulls are faster than the shorter ones. Planing hull speed however is limited only by HP, propeller design and guts.
My friend had the exact same boat as mine and he had a 300HP chevy in it with a larger out drive. He would burn 6 1/2 GPH at 32 MPH and had a top speed of 50 MPH. My boat would go 24 MPH with both the 305 HP and the 300 HP engines and both burned 12 1/2 GPH. I would have made a great mechanic because that caused me to cuss a lot.

Oregon

P.S. Forgot to sign my name last time..

Anonymous said...

P.S.S. My outdrive had a little 16" prop and my buddies had a 20" prop.

Oregon

Jack said...

Enjoyed your article, Ernie. I used to rebuild vw engines, so I can slightly understand what you went thru...........you continue to amazed Eileen and I on your writing skills............take care..........Jack

Ernie Branscomb said...

Jack
I am honored that you would think that I am a good writer. However, I was hoping for a compliment on my mechanic skills...

Both you and Eileen impress me. I always admired Eileen's attention to details and her gourmet cooking skills.

Also, I want everybody out there to know that I was just complimented by a person that Jack Kennedy listening to, with his head bowed. I watched it on television.

Ross Sherburn said...

These new rigs made in the last twenty years,with normal PM maintenence,you should get close to 300,000 out of them.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Ross
Yeah, I know, but racing up a hill with a cold motor WILL eventually blow the head gasket. Ask me how I know.

The head gets hot faster than the block and it squirms around. Sooner or later the gasket fails. Usually at about 80,000 mi.

Anonymous said...

Let the truck warm up first or maybe install a block heater:) I know, you like to change head gaskets...Silly me.

Oregon

Ross Sherburn said...

The fellow I work for,Well,he bought a new Chevy 3/4 ton service truck with utility bed. It cost him about $32,000 bucks. Maybe you need to quit buying from Williams????

Ernie Branscomb said...

Actually I priced out a truck with a dealer to the south. The truck came to @ $29,000 + tax & reg.

So that's about right. I was kidding about the price of the truck that I was going to buy.

We haven't had a local car dealership in about ten years.

Anonymous said...

I remember the shop truck you bought new for $4350 from Ed Williams.

Oregon

Ross Sherburn said...

Ernie,
Most people your age would have bought a new truck.
I can see there is still some "Gypo Blood" in ya.............

Ross Sherburn said...

Is there any type of a car lot in Redway or Garberville now?

Rex Sherburn said...

The Gypo gene must skip a generation!

Ross won't buy anything(an I mean anything) new unless its a lawn mower for his 5 acres.

I Always buy new stuff, especially snap on tools for work.

Rex Sherburn

Ross Sherburn said...

I won't even buy a new gun...........

Except for the last one you got, ""wink""

Ross Sherburn said...

Ernie,Tell my son "Rex" about that Cat that got away & was going down hill with the tracks a singing.I don't know how to bring it out of your archives??

Forrest Mealy said...

It looks nice, Ernie! It might have been a lot of work but as far as I can see, the new engine is installed properly. How about your radiator? Have you checked for areas that need repair or replacement? Thanks for sharing this and I wish you luck in future endeavors!

Forrest Mealy @

Horace Norman said...

Re-building your engine truck by yourself? That’s a lot of work for you. But with your determination and application of what you’ve learned from your dad, everything works well. Also, it’s a good thing you went window-shopping first for all the parts you'd need. At least that gave you the idea on how much you’d spend.

Horace Norman @ BrandonDodgeOnBroadway.net

Neil Canipe said...

Looks like a rather extensive operation. Car work is usually a pain, seeing how each of these parts can impact and curtail each other almost simultaneously. This is probably why getting the right motors or whatnot is pertinent, since they, at least, lessen the burden.

Neil @ Radiator.com

Kourtney Heard said...

My husband got a new engine in the old truck easily, and we have a nice truck to drive the family around town. The new engine runs wonderfully, and I am happy with the way it sounds. Transferring the engine into the truck was simple for my husband, and I know that he is very happy with the results he had.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Kourtney, Don't tell my wife that it is easy to change an engine. I have her convinced that I am some kind of mechanical wiz kid, and that I stuggled valiantly.