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Showing posts with label auto repair and maintenance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label auto repair and maintenance. Show all posts

A Blast From the Past in Automotive Repair

I was looking through my old Google drive for some of my old songs, when I came across this: October 10, 2017 - Monte Carlo cylinder heads immersed in bubbly water with the valves still in, LOL. That was before I removed them and did all the related valve work. 

That was nearly four years ago when I was repairing a motor so that I could once again drive my favorite car around the neighborhood. I still remember the joy I felt the first time I drove that thing to Subway to get my first sandwich after it was fixed. 

What I learned this week is that I never needed to prove myself an automotive technician. I never needed to have an employer "crown" me as one or give me the title of "boss" in the automotive field. I don't really need a piece of paper that says I'm one either, though it'll be a nice new certificate of accomplishment to hang on the wall or keep in my dresser drawers. 

I am an automotive technician, and I don't really need anyone else's approval or acknowledgment of such a fact. That's one of the problems I have that I still need to work on. I still put my self-worth in other people's hands when I shouldn't. When you do that, you ask for trouble. Many people will try to hurt you if they know you have insecurities or vulnerabilities. Others will be too ignorant to see or care who you really are. Then there are the slim few who will acknowledge your talents and abilities. However, your wellness and self-confidence should never depend on whether they do or not. 

I've been having a lot of insightful epiphanies this week. 

Changing Battery on the 2014 Dodge Avenger

The best part of this job was hearing the impact wrench hit the lugs. No other parts of this job were really fun. My cheap jack was sort of broken, too, so I had to deal with that. The battery had blocks of corrosion on it and the terminals. I had to break the blocks and so forth. So yeah, it took me a little while to get finished with it. 

Cylinder Head Two Is Out!


I removed the second cylinder head today. I had to do a whole of "rasslin'" and "grab-assin'" to get that thing out. 

I didn't get my face in the shot. I have not been very happy with my face lately. Age just caught up with me one day, and I was like, "Wow. No." I didn't even like the way I looked with the filter on, m'kay?

The rear head was more difficult to remove than the front one. Yes, it was difficult getting all the bolts off the exhaust manifold, but that wasn't what gave me the most difficulty. It was the chain guide that was bolted to the rear head and the block, lol. I had no difficulty getting into the little space between the timing cover and head with a 10mm combo wrench and unscrewing it as far as it could go on the front head. The head still slipped out for me without me breaking anything. I eventually got the second head separated from the chain guide too, and I didn't break anything, but it was hell. It was much harder. It seemed like it was really, really stuck to it, so I had to jostle and spread/pry some things to get the bolt unscrewed more, more, more. It took a lot of patience. 

This was a very unconventional process, but all I wanted to do was remove the heads. I didn't want to work under a lifted vehicle at all. So I did a roundabout process to avoid having to take the right wheel off and the oil pan and the timing cover and the alternator and blah blah. 

As I suspected, two of the cylinders were half-full of antifreeze. I hate those god-awful gaskets they used. I will never put that type of gasket on this car. This car needs a set of soft head gaskets. I'm not sure if both the heads are warped, or the gaskets were not properly torqued, but the gasket material is horrible anyway. Everyone loves those gaskets, but I don't. To me, it looks too easy for a leak to occur. I prefer soft "flexible" gaskets. 

Now all the really, really hard work starts. Cleaning up everything. Ug. 


I'll Get at Cylinder Head Two Tomorrow

I didn't fool with the car today. It wasn't because I didn't want to. I've just been really taking a hit from all the pollen. The pollen kills me. It's the worst of all the stuff I'm allergic to. 

Yeah, so I've had a difficult time adjusting to the high pollen counts lately. I couldn't breathe last week. Today I have a hammering headache. The rest of the week is supposed to be crazy high with the pollen. 

I did go out to get a nice set of pry bars today. Sometimes, you have to be a little aggressive with a cylinder head that doesn't want to come out. Hehehe. I love these pry bars because they have nice little handles on them, and they came in a three-pack in case I needed different sizes. I do a lot of my tool shopping at Harbor Freight. I go to Walmart if I want something cheap. Between the two of them, I've accumulated a good bit of tools. 

Harbor Freight is always a pleasure to shop at, by the way. Their people are very helpful and friendly. Even the morning shift guy was in a pleasant mood. He was swamped early this morning, too.  

Rear Cylinder Head: 1 Timiarah 0

I did manage to get back there and get all those bolts off the back of the exhaust manifold. The rear head is almost out, but it's hanging on by one bolt. I'm afraid that there may be a second bolt in that space in between the timing cover and the head that I need to undo enough to get the head loose. I can do it if I can see it, but I'll need a very long combo wrench. I worked at it until I got to the point of frustration. I was so close, and I wanted to be able to pull it out on camera and see what's underneath. I can tell you right now that I've been smelling the very strong smell of antifreeze. I can guarantee that the cylinders are full of it. 

Whenever I get frustrated, I just pack it in and start fresh another day. I usually accomplish the task the next time 'round. 

Getting Back to the Automotive Repairs

It has been six days since I worked on the car. This picture is from last Tuesday. I didn't hurt myself or anything, but I did have some pretty funky asthmatic reactions to the pollen that's been outside lately. Today is the first day I've felt well enough to go back out there. I'm charging up my phone so that I can play some music while I work. I have numerous bolts to remove from the exhaust manifold, and I have to loosen the bolt connected to the chain guide, as well. Hopefully, there won't be anything else I need to do before I remove the second head. I'm ready to get that sucker off ASAP and start cleaning, shaving, lapping, etc. I'm not spending a dime on any parts other than gaskets and an EGR valve (it was broken). I'll be using what I already have. It's not worth it to spend the money if it might not work. I'd rather get everything as even and straight as possible and then try my luck. If it doesn't work, oh well. I won't be pissed. I will be pissed if I spend over $1,000 on brand new heads and cams and it doesn't work, though. Nope. I'll make do with what I have. I have the time and patience to try to reshape things, lol. 

Started Working Toward Removing Second Cylinder Head


I started trying to get the rear cylinder head from the vehicle yesterday. I spent about an hour out there and came in when it was time to break from it. Yes, the work did require me to climb into the engine bay... sort of. If you look closely, you'll see that the weight of my body isn't on the engine but on the frame of the car. I'm supporting myself with one arm and "doing stuff" with the other arm. There are times when I have to use both hands, but even then, I keep most of my body weight on the frame. The car is still sitting on all of its wheels at this point. 

There's absolutely no room behind the head to get a leverage pipe in to get the exhaust manifold bolts loose. I also can't actually see back there. I basically have to feel my way to each bolt and then feel my way to place the socket wrench. I'm using a combo wrench and a hammer to loosen each bolt, and then I'm using the socket wrench. Right now, I have one loose and several more to go. I'm hoping for a weekend cylinder head release. We'll see. 

Yep, the rumors are true. I do sort of climb into the engine bay when necessary. Here's a one-minute video if you'd like to view the process in hyper-speed:


P.S.- I didn't break the fans. They were already damaged when I bought the car. Just sayin'. 

First Cylinder Head Bath

The above picture is a rough shot of what the first cylinder head looked like after the first light wipedown. It doesn't look great yet, but it does look much better than this:

I'm not using anything abrasive on it. All I used was a spray and a soft rag so far. I thought about immersing it in Chem Dip or Purple Power or Simple Green, but I was afraid of tearing it up any further. I'm trying to see if I can salvage it. I have not taken any measurements yet. I'm just cleaning and inspecting right now. 

Anyway, many of the valves look good and well seated. Others are going to need some work on the head parts. I removed the valves from the cylinder heads on my other car and did some TLC work to them before I reassembled it. I was hoping not to have to do that this time, but... I will. 

I didn't do any work on the car today because I've been preparing myself for all the labor that's going to be involved in removing the rear cylinder head. I'm using "unconventional methods" to avoid removing wheels and oil pans and getting underneath the car and so on. There's even less room for me to move my tools around to unscrew all the bolts on the rear head than there was for the first one. And I have to try to get in there and loosen that chain guide bolt, too. It's not going to be fun.

The good news is that it looks like my cylinder walls might be okay. I've been letting WD-40 do some work on them for the past couple of days. I went in there today to check on them, and I felt smoothness again. In some areas, I even saw that pretty silver color, lol. Everything might be okay. It just might take a lot of time and patience. Fortunately, I have plenty of that right now. 

First Cylinder Wipe


I'm using WD-40 and a soft rag right now. I only wiped once just to see what I could remove with a gentle wipe. The cylinder walls have rust on them, and that's the biggest problem here. So we'll see what the WD-40 and soft rag do. Then I'll move to something like naval jelly. I really don't want to use steel wool or anything like that on the walls, so I'm only trying gentle stuff for now. If worse comes to worst, then I might have to hone them. I don't really want to do that either because honing will change everything, and then I'll have to dig deeper and start fooling with the pistons and rings. I usually don't go that deep. I just deal with the top of the motor. However, I suppose I'll do it if I don't have a choice.

Meanwhile, we must pray that my crankshaft and bearings and such are okay. I really don't know. All I know is that everything was turning before I broke it down. It cranked but wouldn't start all the way up. I imagine the water in the cylinders gave it a tad bit of firing difficulty, lol.  As I said, there were no weird noises or clunking or thumping or anything. 

Like I said, I'm going to try my best to salvage it, but it's going to be a long journey. I haven't measured for warpage yet. I intend to do that after I get the other head off and clean up everything. 

Front Cylinder Head Removed


I finally got the first cylinder head removed. So I got to answer the question of whether I'd need to remove the timing cover and oil pain to get to it. NOPE!!!! It was hard though, and I'll have to say that I'm tired as crap. I'm definitely going to take a few days off before I remove the back one, LOL!
Nice rust under there, huh? 

Exhaust Manifold Is Disconnected

I had no choice but to remove the fans to get access to the exhaust manifold bolts. The good news is that I was able to get that dumb bar loose that was in my way. However, I still couldn't fit my wrench in there to get the manifold bolts off. Thus, I had to remove the fans. No, I'm not the one who broke the fans. They were already broken when I got the car, lol. 

So the exhaust manifold is officially disconnected from the head. I'm almost there. I just have to get the head loose from the timing side. I still don't really know if I can do it, but I'm damn sure going to try before I jack up the car and take a wheel off and whatnot to get the timing cover all the way off. I refuse to remove the oil pan and all that whatnot. So we'll see If I can loose the head by removing the chain guide bolts and a few of the timing cover bolts. Maybe. I hope so. 

Gigantic Black Pipe: 1 Timiarah: 0

I didn't get to do anything with the exhaust manifold today because there's a big black pipe in the way. It's blocking me from being able to get to the manifold bolts. To make it even worse, it's bolted on there backward, which makes it even more difficult for me to get it off. It's hard to even tell what size the bolts are. I hate this #$%^& car! I hate the manufacturer, too. I ran out of time, and that was a good thing because I was to the point of wanting to beat the thing senseless until it came off. I always try my best not to break anything, but in this case, breaking it was getting mighty tempting.

I usually win the second round, but I'm not too sure this time. I have a whole 48 hours to think about a new strategy, though. You don't know how bad I want to talk to someone at Ford Motor Company and curse them. I think I spewed about 10 cuss words while I was in that little tiny compartment trying to unbolt a bunch of backward bolts to give myself more room. I got very creative with some of them, but loosing what I loosed didn't really give me the room I needed. I need that black pipe gone! I can't get to the manifold bolts without removing it, so something has to give. 

Again I say that everything about this car is a pain in the behind. They made nothing easy on it. It's like they used a #@ck you blueprint to build the thing.


Extra Long Box Wrench and a "Bully" Bar

Today, I'm probably going to disconnect the exhaust manifold from the head. There's one other problem that I'm not sure if I can get around. The timing chain has some chain guides that I believe are bolted to the head and the block. The bolts are underneath the timing chain cover. It's another one of those uncool Ford features that make the vehicle difficult to work on without lifting the car, taking one of the wheels off, taking the timing cover off, etc. I'm trying to do this without being bothered with all that. 

The good news is I have small arms and hands, and it looks like I might have just enough room to get a long box wrench or combo wrench in the space between the timing cover and the head to loosen up the guide bolts. I can use a "bully" bar to give myself leverage.

The lady at Lowe's helped me find a steel pipe I could use that was similar to the one we had at the Walmart Auto Care. She knew why I wanted it, and she referred to it as a "bully bar." I loved the name because that's exactly what I want to use it to do. I want to bully the crap out of those bolts! It has worked well for breaking other bolts loose. 

The bolts don't appear to be super-long. Therefore, there is a slight chance that I can get them out far enough as to whereas I can get the head out.

The bad news is this: If I drop my tool into the space, I'll end up having to take the timing cover all the way off anyway. I'll also have to find a creative way to stop the guides from falling into the space if and when I separate the head. I already dropped a socket down there once, but I got the socket out with a magnet. I might not be so lucky if I drop an entire heavy wrench. So I'll have to put something into the space for my tool to drop if I lose my grip on it. 

This is definitely not a job for the fearful or faint of heart. As with my other car, I wasn't scared at all. Neither this car nor my other car was running at the time when I took it apart. So the fear factor was low. Neither car could have ended up any worse than it was originally. 

The other car only needed to have the head gaskets replaced. It ran like butter after it worked all the kinks out from sitting for six months or so. I wish I still had it now. 

This car has an intake system part that needs to be replaced, and it could also have some more extensive damages to the engine. I won't have a definitive answer until I see what's going on with my own eyes. However, I'm pretty sure that it at least has a blown head gasket. That's the least of the problems I might see when I remove the heads. 

 I am trying to remove the heads one at a time. It will be great if I can get the front head off. The rear one is going to be a pure nightmare. 

One Step Closer to Removing First Cylinder Head


So today I went back out there and tried this process again. Eventually, I got the camshafts out, and then I didn't even have to worry about removing head bolts underneath the cams. I had misread something the manual said about valve spring compressors. I'll still need a special tool if I want to remove the sprockets and pulley from the cams, but I'm not worried about that right now. 

Basically, I pulled the cams from under the chain and suspended the chain in the air. It "should" still be wrapped around the crankshaft. At least, that's what it looked like when I peeked in through the little hole between the timing cover and head. 

Tomorrow, I'll take off the exhaust manifold, and the next day, I'll see if I can actually get the head out without fooling with the timing cover too much. I'm not sure. I think some things are bolted to the head. However, I do have a little space where I can get a tool in and unbolt some things. We'll see. 

This is a major learning process for me. I've never worked on an overhead cam engine before, let alone a DUAL overhead cam engine. My OHV Chevy was a breeze as compared to this car. It wasn't too much trouble to remove the heads and change the head gaskets. Yes, it was still a lot of work. I still took the valves out and did work on them. I still had to clean everything. I still had to sand the heads a little bit. However, I never had to touch the cams at all. Cams are foreign parts to me, lol, and dealing with the timing chain is something new. I did not have to mess with the timing chain on my Chevrolet. 

Anyway, I'm not going to rush any of this stuff. I'm aiming to pull the first head by the end of next week. If I get it done sooner... great!

Pulled the Water Pump With a Neck Brace On


I'm still trying to pave the way to at least one of my heads, lol, but I can't do much. I'm currently in a neck brace. I was going to rest another day, but it had already been too many days since I'd worked on the car. I wasn't going to let a little neck injury kick my butt. 

So I went out there and figured I'd just take the water pump off and stop after that. Easy enough, right? Wrong!!!

Everything about this car is complicated and a pain in the ass. Zero room, and everything is always on there real tight. I finally got the water pump and related hoses out of the vehicle, but it was a nightmare. I had to use crowbars and sh!t. All this I had to do while being very careful not to put any pressure on my neck. 

Now everything is off the right side of the front head. I'm just going to work my way toward clearing it for extraction bit by bit. 

Rear Valve Cover Is Off

 The rear valve cover is off. It was quite a struggle. There's just no room back there to do much, lol. I had to get into some pretty strange positions to get all the bolts off. I'm pretty sure I'd have gotten into trouble for the positions I had to get into to get at all the bolts if I was working for someone else. I can hear my fictitious boss right now. 

"We don't climb into the engine bays." 

"We don't turn our backs to the vehicle, hoist one of our legs up onto the wall, and then lean back and unscrew the bolt blindly with the right hand because it's the only hand that fits in there."

Yeah, I do some crazy stuff when I'm trying to get at some of these ridiculously placed bolts. Honestly, I have fun when I have to do off-the-wall stuff to make something work. To tell me I can't do it is to take the joy and fun out of the already hard job. 

Back to Automotive Work


Okay, so I'm done with the "solo lady's night out" thing. I'm actually pretty aggravated about the experience now that I've had time to think about it. They should have updated their website to reflect that they had temporarily suspended the karaoke event. I wouldn't have gotten excited about the event and purchased dresses that I didn't even wear if I had known they weren't going to have karaoke night. I definitely wouldn't have gone there last night. I didn't think to call because I assumed that their website information was accurate.

Anyway, there's another place that does karaoke during the week. I will call them today to see if they still participate and when they do it. That place seems a bit more upscale than the one I went to last night, no offense. Maybe they still have it. I feel about Covid like this: If you're going to be open, then you might as well do it all. Offer all the services or close the entire establishment. It makes no sense to do some things but not others. The risk is still the same. You're either going to let people be around each other, or you're not. 

Gloves, masks, sanitizers, and wipe-downs. That's all you can do. I am personally so sick of the whole Covid thing and how our lives have changed that I want to vomit. We've lost jobs that we loved and entire lifestyles. We've lost people we cared about.  It's so bad that introverted people can't even find something to do during their moments of sociability. We're almost always okay with being alone, but damn! Even we want to get out and do some things that we consider as fun sometimes! It's just saddening that so much has been taken from us. 

But anyway...

Today I'll be going outside to remove the second valve cover. I want to see how bad the rear is underneath that valve cover. I'm not sure if I'm going to get much more than that done today. I might take a look at the timing cover to see everything I'll have to do to remove it and so forth. We'll see. My next automotive workday after today will be Sunday. 

Front "Valve Cover" Off, Cams and Timing Chain Exposed


I only got to the first cover before I had to come in. I got aggravated by the insane amount of weird Ford electrical connectors. They suck, and they made me take way more time than I wanted to take on this vehicle. 

As you can see, the timing chain is present in the vehicle. I had already figured that out because I could see the cam turning under the oil filler cap. Whoever told the previous owner that the timing chain had come all the way off was very incorrect. I'll get at the backside tomorrow and see what's going on in the rear. 

What I'm wondering is if I can avoid removing the oil pan (to remove the timing cover) and if there's any way possible I can remove the heads without upsetting the timing. That's something I have to think about. I'll add a video to this when it's done downloading. 

I know I will have to replace a lot of things on this car. I just wanted to put that out there. I'm well aware of that. 

Upper Intake Manifold Is Off

I had planned to go outside from 12-3, but I shut the garage down and came in at 2. I'm tired, lol. I cleaned the garage out a little bit more and drained some more nasties out of my crankcase. Then I started taking stuff off.  I only managed to get the upper intake manifold off, and the situation doesn't look very pretty. Yep, one of the lines from on top of the manifold is broken. Sure is. Will need to replace, lol. I did that. It was stuck in there pretty good, and it was pretty brittle. I tend to be a little rough with brittle stuff. So oops.

Some things were wrong and had nothing to do with me. For instance, I found that the EGR housing is broken, and some hoses in the back of the manifold weren't even connected.