Feren (feren) wrote,

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State of the truck. Or, What I Learned Under the Hood.

I got the Expedition running again yesterday, not long after lady_curmudgeon arrived at the house. Although I got only 7/8ths of the work done, replaced a serpentine belt that didn't need replacing and broke a plastic housing on a 175A fuse bus I'm still citing it as a moral victory. The day was full of amusing little things, so I'll share an abbreviated (sorta) time line:

1100: Unpack new spark plugs in preparation for the replacement work. Read the recommended gap on the plugs from the Haynes repair manual to be 0.054 inches.
1102: Scrounge up my wire-based gap gauge. I prefer wire types because they make it easy to adjust the plug if necessary. I find that it only goes up to .045 inches, which leaves a delta of 9 thousandths of an inch -- pretty huge difference in the land of spark plugs.
1112: Finish cursing after running out of possible permutations in English. Curse my lack of knowledge about cursing in foreign languages because I really wanted to keep that tirade going.
1113: Start walking to the automotive store a few blocks away because I don't want to get the engine block I'm about to work on nice and scorching hot.
1128: Stop at the Meijer by my house on a whim to check their automotive section. Hurray! A ramp-style gap gauge and two feeler gauge sets later, I have the tools I need. I'm on my way home.
1154: Arrive home. Start work again.
1212: Hate the people who designed this engine compartment.
1230: Having taken the main power distribution box apart to gain access to cylinders #3 and #4, I have in the process sheared one wiring harness clip and shattered a plastic housing for a 175 amp fuse bar. Opt to worry about craptastic engineering designs and their possible implications at later time.
1244: Aziz! Light!
1254: The mechanics gloves, they do nothing! It's easier to feel the damn connectors without them. Something has to be sacrificed to keep this project moving forward. Today it is the flesh upon my hands.
1305: The previous owner's mechanic was an idiot. Having lost one of the bolts to hold the #2 coil pack in place, they replaced it with a sheet rock screw. Opt to worry about this later.
1348: All coil packs have been removed on the passenger side bank.
1349: Begin replacing spark plugs, one by one.
1350: Discover that, lacking compressed air, the tire pump from my bicycle serves admirably to blow out the dust, dirt and general detritus that infests the spark plug wells in the engine block.
1359: I hate the plug socket I'm using because once it's taken hold of a plug it won't let go. I repeatedly pull on the drive extension I'm using, and the plug socket disconnects. This means that it stays in the plug well, stubbornly attached to the plug with no way for me to remove it except to reconnect the drive and back the plug all the way out again. Cursing fluidly in a language all my own, I swap to a new plug socket that holds the plug without trying to make itself part of my engine block.
1438: All the plugs are replaced.
1439: Begin putting all the coil packs back on. I am glad I meticulously labeled them on removal.
1535: Begin putting the distribution box back together.
1536: I'm talking to myself. The conversations are akin to Where the hell did this cable go to? There's a connector at the end of it, I remember disconnecting it, where's its mate? How do you lose a 3" pigtail connector?
1545: Button up the harness, reconnect the battery, put all tools away. Putting them away before doing the second bank seems silly but it lets me inventory them. I don't want to start the truck with a driver or wrench still in the engine compartment. My reasoning for this is two-fold: One, I am fond of my tools and do not wish them to be destroyed. Two, I am even more fond of my life and do not wish to have one of my tools turned into a lethal projectile because I got sloppy. Death by 11/32nd socket to the head is a foolish way to go.
1554: Wash hands to remove the stratified layers of filth.
1556: Crossing my fingers I turn the engine over and it starts! I start to back out of the garage and a metallic THRUNCH serves to remind me I didn't take the step ladder off the front wheel.
1557: Having taken the step ladder off the wheel, I do a victory lap around the block to make sure it's running fairly smoothly.
1602: Engine seems to be running great, the replacement coil pack seems to have done the trick. I park the truck in the garage, open the hood again, disconnect battery and begin to set up for work on the second bank.
1724: It is painfully obvious I am not going to get the coil pack off cylinder #7 using a socket driver. Having gone the day with no food, no drink and no caffeine I am in an addled mental state. It does not occur to me to try getting the retention bolt out with a box-end wrench. I declare this cylinder to be damned and move on to #8.
1754: Button up the work on the plug replacement. Move on to the replacement of the serpentine belt. Blood sugar is dangerously low, at this point I hallucinate that lady_curmudgeon is standing in the doorway and talking to me.
1755: Oh, it's not a hallucination. She really is here!
1803: Old belt is off, inspection proves I didn't need to replace it -- the assholes at the oil change joint were just trying to up-sell me on parts I didn't need. Briefly consider taking a huge dump in each of their bays -- realize this isn't feasible because they have like three bays. I'd have to eat so much food and then down so much Ex-Lax I'd risk prolapsing my entire colon onto the floor.
1812: Belt is on, but I totally flubbed something. The decal on the hood that diagrams the belt routing might as well be written in Japanese. I know I've done this a dozen times before. Still doesn't occur to me that I'm so washed out from no food and dehydration that my mental facilities have all but shut down out of self-defense.
1813: God bless my woman, she brings me ice-cold lemon-flavored water. I down two glasses of it and feel the headache that had been stealthily infiltrating my brain pause in its forward march.
1820: Finally get the serpentine belt on and routed properly. Buckle everything up, grab the 'mudgeon and go for a joy ride to make sure all is running well now that I've done a replacement on seven out of eight plugs, changed a belt and swapped out a faulty ignition pack.
1828: I am mildly freaking out -- when I turn on the headlights my radio's display goes away and the instrument cluster doesn't light up. Everything else seems to be working, however. I worry that this strange situation is due to the 175A fuse being exposed and somehow brushing against the firewall. I have visions of hours of troubleshooting to find the arcing location or wire harness I forgot to plug back in.
1829: Discover that my light situation is entirely of my own making, somehow I turned the "dimmer" switch all the way down. I'm able to breathe again.
1835: We're going 80mph in a 35mph zone behind some warehouses as I romp on the new coil pack and plugs to see if things really are fixed. Good bye, gas mileage!
1845: Despite having used up most of my day, with all but one plug changed and a pounding headache I warily glance at the "Check Engine Light." It remains unlit, meaning the computer hasn't yet found fault with any of my work. I declare this a "moral victory" and we head down to Heather and Garry's place for some socialization.

And that, my friends, is all I have to say about that.

Check my custom machine
Tags: expedition, status, weekend

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