Sunday, June 23, 2013

Ready and Waiting

Serious lack of photos with the last few posts, I apologize. Not so much a lack of me taking any, but how many pictures of a torn apart engine can I show you.

I'm still waiting for my new heads to arrive. I have pretty good reason to expect them to be in my hands tomorrow, but I'm still prepared for otherwise. I had this weekend off, but I chose to be very lazy and not get much of anything done. My excuse was the heat, which was true, but I also just didn't feel like putting on my 'motorhome clothes' which are literally covered in dirt and grease. It was nice to do nothing and not have to clean up afterwards.

I did manage to do some kayaking yesterday, and checked out some newer hiking trails a little north of here. I wasn't planning on hiking, and the mosquitoes were terrible. I had my first lost-in-the-woods panic. It wasn't so much that I was lost, though I was on criss-crossing trails that I had never been on before. The mosquitoes were swarming so bad I actually looked around at one point for a swarm of bees, they were that loud. It brought on a 'get me out of here asap' panic and I didn't know which route was the fastest route back out. I made it back out, safe and sound. Another car had pulled in while I was on the trails. It left me wondering if maybe they saw me along the way swatting and running down the trails like a madman.

Tonight I found some motivation to get something done and I cleaned up the engine block and got all the mating surfaces on the block and various manifolds ready for their new gaskets and for everything to be slapped back together. I'm completely ready for my new heads now. And I'm waiting.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Change of Plans

Machine shop took a look at my heads. With labor and new components they steered me towards just buying remanufactured heads. So, that is what I've done. I won't be getting them until next week so I won't be up and running this weekend as hoped. Cost is also more than triple what I was expecting. But at that point when I've got everything torn apart what options do I really have?

Turning into an expensive little motorhome but considering what people pay for RVs these days I'm still doing exceptionally well.

I have returned to edit this post to candidly admit that the financial cost of today's turn of events has struck me quite hard mentally. However, I find myself strangely driven forward. Knowing that all of this should equal a more dependable motorhome in the end. Also, for whatever reason, I'm more committed than ever to my dream of not only living in this motorhome but also reaching the point where I roam the country in seek of adventures of all kinds.

Open Engine Surgery

I got the new exhaust fully on the motorhome the other day. Took it for my normal spin. Like normal lately, it gives off a lot of blue smoke (oil burning) after I start it up after it has sat for a day or two. It clears up just fine once all the oil gets burned off.

Today was another day off. I talked to the machine shop at work yesterday and the price they quoted me for a valve job wasn't too bad. Substantial, but not too bad. I don't think I even get any sort of discount on that one for working there. Not a big deal.

I got a late start on the project today, didn't even start until 2pm. I did it though. I pulled the heads off. This is by far the deepest I have ever gone into an engine. No parades in my honor until after it's put back together and running again though, please.

The passenger side was a delight. All the exhaust manifold bolts came out very easy. I only had difficulty with getting one head bolt out and that was the lower one at the front of the engine. Just weird spacing but with a longer extension it was a breeze. Only after bloodying up my hands in a few places by trying to do it without an extension.

There was a point tonight that I didn't believe I'd get both heads off today. I was even running a scenario through my head that involved taking the entire engine out. The exhaust manifold on the driver's side proved difficult to remove. 3 of 6 bolts came out easy. The remaining three put up a fight. I finally got one of them to play nicely and come out the way it should. The other two ended up breaking off. Annoying, but considering the alternatives I was looking at in my mind I still consider it a win.

Now tomorrow I bring them to work with me for the valve job. I'm not sure how fast the guys in the shop will be able to get this done, but I'm really hoping they'll have it done by Friday afternoon so I can reinstall it all this weekend. Fingers crossed.

Seems I've been doing a lot of that. Finger crossing. Not much else you can do when you're doing work like this for the first time in your life. But hey, it's going to run like a champ again when I get it all put back together, right? If it does, my focus will turn to the interior of the motorhome. Just a few odds and ends.

Could I be a week or so away from really making the motorhome thing happen? I don't know how soon I'd move into it still, but it seems like the obstacles are becoming few.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Old Exhaust is Out

The old exhaust is out! The passenger side bolts to the manifold came out pretty easily. The driver's side bolts ended up being cut out with a reciprocating saw. Try getting one of those things up and into place in such a tight and awkward space. Luckily my dad helped me out.
By the time it got dark I had three of the four bolts for the new Y-pipe in place and ready to be tightened up. The 4th bolt is in place and has a nut on it, but I need to take the nut back off and add some washers and a lock washer. So that's the plan for after work tomorrow. Hopefully get the Y-pipe in place and tightened up. At that point the rest should be easy. Muffler slips on, and then the tailpipe slips on. Fingers crossed, I'll have the new exhaust in place by the end of tomorrow night.
This all might seem pointless with my previous post mentioning that major engine work might be needed/done very soon but I figure it should come back off pretty easy now should I need to again. I've still been leaning in the direction of taking the heads off, but at the same time I'm tempted to drive it a little more (maybe to work a few times) and see what I think after that.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Good News, Bad News

Good news, bad news has been the way of everything the last couple days it seems.

Earlier this week I ordered the new exhaust parts for the motorhome, and also the new master cylinder. Unfortunately, the muffler got 'left behind' and didn't arrive with everything else. It will arrive tomorrow, and I got a small refund for the situation.

The above picture is of my new master cylinder for the brakes. If you've never changed one it's really quite easy. Disconnect the two lines going in, and then there's two bolts holding it the the big black thing (power booster) next to it. If you don't have a power booster you would have to a little more with the linkage to the brake pedal but still not hard! And then bleed the brakes to get any air out of the lines.

Thankfully, I diagnosed that one right the first time. And my brakes are now fixed. They used to stop, but when at an intersection my brake pedal would lose pressure and sink to the floor after about 15 seconds. No more. I've actually sat with the motorhome in Drive for 10 minutes and the brake pedal applied (while diagnosing something else) and the brake pedal stayed firm the entire time. I also took it for a drive again and it was nice not to have to repump the brakes at stop signs.

My dad and I finally compression tested all the cylinders today too. I've been afraid to do it, for the very reason that happened. Two of the cylinders have way lower pressure than the others. That's a bad thing. As for the fix, I'm still looking into what I might need to do. Might be my first major-ish engine work. Either way, it distracted me from my big goal of doing exhaust work today and I ended up pulling the valve covers off. The valve cover gaskets have been leaking and I had replacements for them to put on anyway. I didn't see any problems that stood out. Above picture is my driver's side valve cover. And the inside is below.


I cleaned it up quite a bit, but not great. The picture is before cleaning. No after pictures. Second picture is the old gasket. Very hard. brittle, and was pretty much in two pieces before I even tried to get it out. I've actually never removed a valve cover myself before, but again a very easy project. 5 small bolts per cover. Main thing is to not over tighten when reinstalling.

That's what's hiding under the valve cover. Otherwise, I didn't get anything done with the exhaust like I had planned. I did work on it, but ended the day with no major accomplishments. The bolts from the manifold to the pipe are proving difficult to get out. The first one was super easy and gave me false hope. The muffler and tailpipe weren't separating either. In the end I think I'll be cutting everything off. Just need to figure out what kind of cutting device I can get in there to cut the bolts off from the manifold/pipe. Small space.
I'll probably be putting 'real' work into the engine now, but it's also an option to just ignore the issue and keep driving it as is. Could last a long time. Might fail tomorrow.
Somehow I've become better at posting YouTube videos than I am at taking pictures and keeping updates here. I never would have thought that would happen, and I'm doing my best to keep both going and informative. The downside is that some things are being mentioned one place and not the other. As always, you can see my most recent YouTube videos over on the right side of the page.

Today slightly feels like I hit a major setback with the compression issues, but I'm still more excited than ever and feel like it can't possibly be too much longer before this stops being about vehicle repair and more about the actual goal of living in a motorhome!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

New Carb Installed / Pending Exhaust Work?

So.. The good news I guess is that I got the new carb installed, and I actually got everything running again. Since the new carb had 2 less vacuum ports I listened to the guys at work and just bypassed the vacuum amplifier junk completely. So now one port goes to the distributor and one goes to the transmission. I've noticed no real downfall yet.

It actually does seem to run better, but how much better is hard to say. I think I'm pretty close to getting it running as well as I can at this point and I'll either have to accept that or ditch out of the entire plan. Currently I'm not planning to ditch out.

One annoying side note that has occured is a whining. Sometimes I might even call it a whistling. Which could obviously be some sort of vacuum leak. But if it's a WHINE, then I seem to wonder if it's the new power steering pump or possibly the alternator. It seems to be coming from the front area.

Anyway, I feel my focus now shifting to the exhaust. Which leaks. The exhaust manifold gasket on the passenger side doesn't look that bad, but I think one corner is leaking. Then there's the Y-Pipe that someone apparently cut at some time and put a flex pipe in. That flex pipe leaks pretty nicely. The only part of the exhaust system that seems fine is the muffler, but I get into that 'Well, I might as well just do it all' mindset. I'm looking at $250 when it's all said and done with shipping. That's an awful lot of money to me.

BUT, in theory, I spend that money, do that work, and then all that's left to buy is a new master cylinder and I'll probably be confident enough to start living in this thing. Hahaha. Maybe in the end I just have a damn fine vehicle to sell to someone. "Look at all them new parts!"

Thursday, June 6, 2013

New Carb vs Old Carb

My new rebuilt carb came today. After looking it over and getting the old one taken off I've, so far, noticed three main differences. Two of the vacuum ports on the front of the carb simply do not exist. So I have to figure out how big of a deal that is. And then the third difference is the cruise control linkage. Which I should probably be able to take off of the old one, but it's not that simple.

One of the two vacuum lines won't be a huge deal I don't think. I'm pretty sure that line was the one capped off with a golf tee when I bought it, and if I remember correctly I drove it the entire way home with it capped off.

This is just a teaser post. I will post more after I assess the situation better and have more time. One more day of work and then I have some days off.

Oh, and while taking the old carb off I have definitely noticed some major gasket leaks in it, and one of the mounting nuts was already loose. So my confidence in the new carb at least making a pretty good difference is rising.

Monday, June 3, 2013


So, the other day my grandpa was over and he was talking about points and setting gaps and whatnot and I was pretty sure this thing didn't have points, but it got me looking into the 'pickup'. It looked easy enough to change out, so I bought it. Well, there was a clip on the underside that of it that held it down, which I ended up breaking. It's a weird clip that I assume I'd have an awful time trying to find a replacement for. One side of the clip was never found, so I assumed it was somewhere down in there waiting to cause an issue. In the end, I decided to just buy a whole new distributor.

I was worried about replacing it because you have to keep everything lined up exactly the same and blah blah. I swapped this out in less than 20 minutes with zero problems. Here's the hole it goes in, and the gears inside that you need to line things back up with.

Another scary obstacle overcome. I think. I guess I'll find out for sure a little later on. Here's the new one installed (minus cap and rotor).
I've been a bit bummed out about my progress, and the money I'm spending while seemingly getting no where. I took stock last night and decided that this really is something I still want to do (live in a motorhome) and that it's worth it to me to keep pumping more money into the project at this point.
The distributor really didn't cost me that much money. It was more the fear of messing it up that kept me from wanting to do it. 

On top of that new purchase, I have a new remanufactured carb on its way to me from Minnesota. Compared to the distributor, the carb is a lot more money. By far the most expensive one item I've purchased for the motorhome so far. I was planning on just buying a carb rebuild kit and rebuilding my original one but that would take time to do, and do right. This way I'll be able to just swap them out a lot quicker. And I'm really hoping that my rough idle problems are history after that. My new carb comes on Wednesday, but probably won't be able to install it until Friday. I can still rebuild my original one to keep as a spare.

Almost forgot to mention that I changed out my speedometer cable the other day. Went pretty easy, except the end that connects to my cruise control mechanism has too large of a connector. It works, but as it is, could fall out at any moment. I examined my old one when I took it out and I probably can make that one work again so I might reinstall that one, or else just try to rig the new one up somehow so it can't fall out.

I've decided that, for now, I'm done putting money into or working on anything that isn't related to getting the engine running properly. If I can't get it running properly than nothing else will matter anyway.