Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Updates, and Emergency Wrench Spinnin'

Ok, so on the Spinnin' Wrenches - Preview post, I said I felt like I was leaving something out, and I just realized what those were - the two that run!

- '79 GMC 3/4 ton - Uglier than homemade sin. Meaner too. Once, when my daily driver was down, and I was driving this behemoth to work, some dingbat coming out of a side street sideswiped me. Then ran. I got to work, called police to report a hit-n-run, officer came out, I showed him the truck, he said, "Which dent did she make?" I looked again, blinked, looked again, pointed to a fist-sized dent near the gas filler door, and said, "I think it was this one".

After she hit me, I saw in the side-view mirror most of her (2000-something Grand Prix, or something shaped kinda like it) passenger-side fender was flapping next to her passenger door.

And no, I'm not making this up. Nor am I exaggerating.

Daddy and I never could decide whether the truck's brown paint made the rust less noticable, or the rust made the brown paint less noticable.

It also has a 454, rock-crushing four-speed manual, 4.11:1 rearend (with positrack), and a Gear Vendors overdrive.

It's set up with (iirc) a Class 3 receiver hitch. I can say from experience, it takes about 6000 pounds attatched to that hitch before you notice you're towing anything.

Mean-ass, bad-ass work truck. I love it dearly. I sure wouldn't like driving it to work every day (BTDT) nearly as well as I like my '02, but when there's a SERIOUS job to do, I'll lean on Brown Truck where my Silverado might leave me wondering about whether it's capable. And if you read about my trip to Mississippi, you know I think pretty highly of my Silverado's (proven) capabilities.

-93 Chevy Caprice - This was Dad's daily driver. Former State Police car (I forget if it was New Mexico, or Arizona; it's on a sticker inside the trunk lid). Caprice 9C1, for those of you in the know - for the rest of you, 9C1 was the factory designation for "police package". It included lots of stuff, from the suspension, to additional cooling capacity, to a monster alternator to power all the cop electronics. Yeah, it's the updated version of the Mopar in "The Blues Brothers". It was worn slap-out when Dad bought it, and still kicked ass. Then he dropped in a new GM crate motor, had the transmission and rearend rebuilt (and rebuilt MEAN), and he and I replaced large portions of the suspension with even stiffer aftermarket stuff. Toss in a set of wide by huge, low-profile (think Pro Touring, not ricer) wheels and tires, and that 4000-pound whale is now almost a G-machine - with PLENTY under the hood. It can get ya in trouble if you're not careful. Oh yeah, and it's comfy to ride in, too... just don't get in the back seat if your buddies in front have a mischevious streak - the inside door handles still don't work (cop car legacy). :)

Did I mention it still has the spotlight mounted on the driver's side A-pillar? :)

{Blogpause while the doggies get their evening treats} I just noticed I have a red shop towel hanging out of my back pocket. That makes me smile for some reason... but I'll get back to that.

Anyway, that's what I forgot from the "Preview" post. I have some things I want to do on both of those vehicles, but mostly it's just keeping them in good shape.

Another Update - the Taurus. That @#$^&*^$@ ever-lovin' Taurus.

*shakes head... it'll be ok...*

Last Friday, as I said, Cap'n Mo and I got everything back together. No major issues to report, all looked good.

Saturday, we started it up to test. Bradumdumpdabadumbadubradadadum.... SONOFA... why's this thing running like crap!?!?!?!

It sounded like a cylinder was missing, but I couldn't identify which one by pulling plug wires. Thrice-cursed sideways V6, don't even know which way it's s'posed to point... ARGH!!!

Cap'n Mo and I twiddled, and tweaked, and tested, and couldn't find an obvious answer. Couldn't find a semi-obvious answer either. Before long, everything started looking like a nail*, and as Uncle Alex (the best mechanic I know) was going to be over the following day anyway, we decided to call it quits and get his opinion on Sunday.

His immediate thought upon hearing it run, given that it had jumped time, was at least one bent valve, and recommended a leakdown test. He had a couple of other ideas, but he said that was, unfortunately, the most likely.

Crap... I don't have the right tool to do a leakdown test. YAY! I get to buy a new tool!

Given that I was sick the first part of this week, that's as far as we've gotten... so that's where we stand on updates to the Taurus Saga.

Now, about the Emergency Wrench Spinnin'... remember that this Taurus, which is undrivable and has been for a while, is Mrs. Cap'n Mo's car? And that without wheels, she can't take care of the daily family operations?

Also, remember from earlier in this post, when I talked about the pretty darn capable Caprice, that up until 25 June last year, was a daily driver?

Like chocolate and peanut butter... the Mrs. could use the Caprice, while the Cap'n and I got her own wheels back under her.

Only one problem... and this is, to date, the most embarrasing thing I've written in this blog:

I basically let Daddy's car sit for nearly six months after he died.

In other words, I did the worst thing you can do to a car. I let it dry-rot in the garage. Then, I gave it a quick once-over, short checkout drive, and let the Mrs. have it.

This morning, while I was pulling on my boots, about to leave for work, the Cap'n called me. "The Caprice has a problem." "What's wrong?", I asked, with a sinking feeling in my stomach - in my attempt to loan my friends a solution, I'd loaned them a new headache instead. "It's dumping transmission fluid - A LOT". Oh crap... my first thought was that the disuse had let the tranny driveshaft seal go hard and/or dry, and I now had TWO cars needing major surgery, and Cap'n Mo, the Mrs, and their 3 kiddos, my godchildren, were down to relying on a single-cab F150 for transportation.

"Where's it coming from?" "Looks like a couple of lines coming off the transmission and going forward on the car".

OH... *whew*... ok, I think I probably know what that is. Somewhere along the line, the steel lines connecting the trans to the tranny cooler got cut, and they're now joined by 6-8 inch pieces of rubber hose. Probably the rubber hose dry-rotted during the Neglect.

"Ok, get the kids to school... does the Mrs. need the car today?" "No, she and my Mom are doing stuff, Mom can drive". "Ok, we'll fix this after work today".

Cap'n Mo left work a bit early today, to get a good look at things while it was still daylight... and it was those rubber hoses. Both were dryrotted and cracked, and easily replaced. All in all, an easy repair... but I've got those rubber hoses targeted, they're going to be replaced with flexible steel lines before too long. Right now, there's new rubber in place, and the Caprice should take care of Cap'n Mo's family for the forseeable future.

Right now, though, I'm just really embarrased that I loaned my friends a problem. If I could hook a generator to Dad's feet, I'll bet I could power a good chunk of downtown Fort Worth... he must be spinning in his grave SO FAST, that I let his car go downhill, and then loaned it to a friend (by the way, he thought pretty damn well of Cap'n Mo too) in a treacherous condition...

I'm just glad this one was an easy fix.

*shakes head* I gotta do better.

And I will.

*: Some law, I don't remember which one, says "If your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail"

Corrollary to that law: The more a problem looks like a nail, the more likely one is to use a hammer on it.


Blogger Dirk said...

You probably know this already, but...,
If you don't have a leakdown tester, do a normal compression test, check for low readings then squirt a little oil down the low cylinder just before repeating the compreesion test on that cylinder. If there is a marked change in the reading, the problem is likely piston/rings, if the reading is the same, the problem is valve/seats.

2:38 AM  
Blogger David said...

Your GMC sideswipe story reminded me of an incident in high school. I put my '72 Olds 98 into reverse and started coasting backwards veeery slowly, just under the engine's own idle power, not touching the gas. I got distracted for a second and realized with a start the car had come to a full stop. Looked around and realized I'd backed into someone's car. Caved in their trunk. Not a scratch on the Olds. That was when I learned about insurance.

3:09 PM  
Blogger Aaron Neal said...


Actually, that's a trick I haven't heard, and it makes darned good sense... Thanks!

4:58 PM  

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