Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Wiring blues

I have heard about a couple of times lately where people are getting pulled over for having a burned out license plate light. Seems to be a convenient way to stop a car to see if it is subject to other, more expensive moving violations.

The truck does not have a rear bumper, the license plate is just bolted on below the tail gate. And there is no license plate light at all. I don't want to give the police a free shot at seeing everything that is wrong with this truck, so last night I picked up a small lamp at the auto parts store. It should work fine for a license plate light.

I got the lamp installed, but I did not get it wired up. The wiring under the bed is really brittle, and I could not decide exactly where I want to splice the new wires in. But I did manage to break a wire leading to the driver's side tail lamp. So now the cops can pull me over for that, too.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Broken bolt blues

Saturday afternoon The Princess wanted to help work on the truck. So we installed the fan shroud that I left off on Friday. I just had to remove the fan and slide the shroud in place. For some reason that seemed smart then, but no so much now, I loosened the alternator to remove the tension from the fan belt.

Everything bolted up just fine. Except the alternator adjustment bolt. I sheared it off with a box end wrench. Sometimes I don't know my own strength OR the weakness of my 40 year old bolts...

Luckily this bolt is designed to pass through the alternator housing so I was able to bring the broken stud on through the back side. I haven't tried a new bolt yet, to see if I trashed the threads on the alternator. If I did, I'll likely just replace the alternator. It is one of the few electrical parts that is evidently original to the truck.

I am such a good pack rat... I found a bolt that seems to match the broken one, thread pitch and all. So I was able to re-install everything this morning. Cool!

Also while in the driveway on Saturday, I noticed that the rear differential is leaking again. I'll have to look into that more this week. For now I just stuck an oil pan under it.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Cruise night

The truck has been sitting in the garage, in pieces, for a week. This afternoon I picked up a water pump and a set of gaskets for the valve covers. In and out of the auto parts store for less than $36.

it only took about an hour to get all of this stuff bolted back on. It would have taken a lot longer, but I have gotten in the habit of taking lots of digital photos when I disassemble something on this truck. That way I can go back and see how it was installed before I touched it.

This afternoon I had to refer to my pictures several times, to make sure I installed the pump with the correct bolts and to figure out how to reinstall the alternator brackets. Luckily everything I had doubts about was in the photos. Except for one washer. I could not for the life of me figure out where one last flat washer should go.

When I was finishing up bolting the fan and pulley back on, I remembered that the fan shroud must be installed before the fan is installed. So for tonight, no fan shroud.

I also had the seat out of the truck so that I could replace the fuel sender. It works, but my fuel gauge was not reading properly. When I checked it, the connections were a little loose. Once tightened, problem solved.

After I put the seat back in I drove the truck to a carnival at our church tonight. It ran great.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Water pump plus

After talking to Racecar Man on Saturday afternoon, I realized that the water pump is ready to die a horrible death. It started creaking and groaning a while back and may have been the source of the mystery noise back when I thought something was wrong with the drivetrain.

To get the water pump off, I had to pull the cooling fan and belt pulley off. To get the fan off, I had to remove the fan shroud. The alternator and it's mounting brackets had to come off so that the pump could be unbolted. Hopefully, all of this stuff will line up again in the near future.

I am always trying to learn something more about the truck, so after I got the water pump removed, I took it apart, to see how it works. It is really just an enclosed impeller that keeps the coolant moving through the block and back to the radiator. I think. It only took me 6 bolts to see that, so no real time or effort lost.

Since I was this far into the engine, I decided to pull the valve covers and clean them up and to get new gaskets installed to stop the slow oil leak coming from both sides. And on Racecar Man's advice, I researched how to tighten the valves, while the covers are off.

I needed to turn the engine by hand, so I pulled the spark plugs to make it a lot easier. The valve tightening was a pretty easy task, after all of that, thanks to a website I found. The site kind of dumbed down the process in my shop manuals, making it possible for me to follow.

Before I reinstall all of this stuff, I am cleaning up as much as I can. I scraped mud off of the frame that I had not been able to get to yet, and yesterday I blasted the fan shroud with the power washer and it cleaned up nicely. This afternoon I am going to run the spark plugs through the spark plug sand blaster. They are not oily, but they have a lot of carbon on them.

I am thinking about cleaning up and painting the fan, valve covers and pulley before I install them. If I do, I want to get them really clean first, so that they hopefully won't need another paint job in a year or two.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

We love our truck

The kids and I took the truck on a box run before nap. The kids love making club houses out of big boxes from appliances and furniture. On our way out of the neighborhood, we spotted a huge box that would have made an awesome club.

Before nap, we got the truck out and cruised past the big box. Today's treasure box was full of junk and the trash guys had already come by, so we left it on the curb. Maybe next week we will cruise over to the appliance store and check the box pile outback.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Too much rain for trucking

It is raining again. And that is great, since we are in serious need of lots of steady rain. A drought that lasted all summer is still lingering.

But the truck has no working wipers and with the holes in the floorboard, it gets a little too messy to cruise in the rain. So Marge sat in the garage all weekend and likely most of this week.

In fact, if it means we get decent rain, I HOPE that she stays in the garage all week.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

New headlamps

A neighbor stopped me last week to tell me that one of my headlights was burned out. Saturday I went to a brand new auto parts store to pick a set up. I would not have been surprised if they told me that they didn't stock them, but when they tried to find something on the computer, nothing showed up for trucks older than 1970.

I joked that likely the only round sealed beam headlamps on the shelf would work. Turns out I was right. We checked on a 1970 Chevrolet and the number matched. Before I installed them I double checked on the internet.

Now the new lamps are installed but I am still a dim bulb.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Cruise Night

Tonight I am cruising the truck over to a nearby bar to hang out with some of my SAHD buddies. Several of these guys have cool old cars that they usually bring to our once a month night away from the wife and kids. Especially the kids.
So we shall see how excited by the truck these guys are. Maybe I'll print out a couple of pictures of the truck from when I started with it, then it looks a little more impressive.

Like this one:

Or this one:

After all, I may be rolling with 5 colors of paint, but at least I got the bathroom sink and the 30 gallons of paint and cattle feed outta there, right?

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Home Depot run

This afternoon The Talker and I made our first drive in the truck over to Home Depot. On the way home with several hundred pounds of mulch in the bed, the truck rode REAL nice and smooth.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Soccer Run

This morning The Talker and I are driving the truck to his soccer game. I promised several weeks ago, so the time has come. Last night I spent some time making sure everything was as good as could be for the drive.

I hooked up the vac gauge again, to check the carburetor. Last time I had not warmed up the engine for very long. But it looks good.

I hooked up the dwell meter and the points look fine. The timing light showed that the engine is right on time, at 2 degrees BTDC.

Tires. Check. Toolbox packed. Jack stuffed under the seat. Fire extinguisher. Double check.

Yep we are good to go on our soccer adventure. Should be a great 5 mile drive.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Oh, THAT fill plug...

This evening I got the rear differential all closed up and refilled with gear oil. Last time I did this I added the oil through the vent hose at the top of the differential housing, since there isn't a fill plug on the differential or on the cover. But I could not really tell how much was fluid was in the housing, so I ended up over filling it.

Per instructions I found somewhere on the 'net, I looked all over the differential this afternoon and I FINALLY found it. Yep, there is a fill plug on the differential. Right where it is supposed to be, on the top corner of the passenger's side facing the engine in a forged, recessed area.

So I figured I might as well use it to fill the differential back up. And even though the bed is installed it is a lot easier this was than the last time I did it. Best of all, the gasket was the only part I needed to buy. Gotta love a $4 repair.

Once I got everything buttoned up, I went for a short cruise to the gas station to buy some fuel for the lawn mower. While I was driving I heard the nasty grating noise again. I still can't tell if it is engine, clutch or driveshaft noise, though.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

We got there a lot quicker than planned.

When we bought the Saturn Vue, I hoped we would put 10-12 thousand miles per year on it. Now that we have had it for just over 6 months, I realize that I seriously underestimated how much use this car would get. We used up my low end mileage estimate right after we pulled out of the State Fair parking lot.

Glad we are not leasing.

Maybe we will take our next trip to Dallas in the truck. That way we can save some mileage on the Vue.

And yes, I did take a picture while I was driving 29 miles an hour. What of it?