Tuesday, June 19, 2012

v42.9: Engine Boring for Dummies

Howdy folks,

I finally got my truck up and running and back on the road.  It's been out of commission for a few weeks due to an issue with one of my spark plugs blowing out of the engine stripping all the threads in the aluminum head.  Vehicles can be a pain in the ass sometimes, and my truck has definitely had its fair share of problems over the last year and bit since I bought it.  I realize it is a bit older, but the thing ran so well for the first 6-8 months I had it, I never imagined I would have this much trouble with it.

Now you're probably wondering, so what?  Well I'm no mechanic but I do understand a bit about the internal combustion engine.  For those of you who don't have any clue about when I'm talking about, the spark plug plays a very crucial role in the engine.  It is the piece that generates the "spark" required to ignite the fuel inside the engine causing a small explosion which will force the piston downward turning a crank which powers all the mechanics in your vehicle.  These spark plugs are designed to fire a certain sequence to ensure the crank is constantly spinning.

Now imagine, if you will, this firing sequence was disrupted and one of those spark plugs was no longer firing.  The crank wouldn't be turning as well as it should be which means there will be a loss of power and the engine will be shaking quite a bit.  In my case, since the spark plug was no longer in the engine, there was a small hole exposing the inside of the engine.  This means that not only was the truck running badly, it was also producing a LOT of noise; same as when a vehicle has no muffler.

As I mentioned initially, the hole in which the spark plug would normally fit was now stripped.  This means replacing the spark plug wasn't going to work since there were no threads there for the plug to latch on to.  So what is one to do?  I called around to various mechanics to get a quote.  The prices varied, but the best quote I could get approximately $800 (estimated parts and labour).  One place I called quoted me $2000 stating I need to take the engine apart and have the head examined and machined.  I was pissed off and figured I would be without a vehicle for quite a long time; I know $800 doesn't seem like a whole lot of money, but right now money is pretty tight so having to drop $800 like that wasn't an option.

I was shown a website which seemed to be dedicated to post how-to guides on how to fix various issues with Ford trucks.  It was great and come to find out the issue with spark plugs "blowing" out of the engine on some of the older model Triton engines is quite common.  This particular post I was looking at was talking about a kit one could buy for fairly cheap that would allow someone to bore out their own engine and insert an "insert" into the newly bored hole which, in essence, would re-thread it allowing a spark plug to be screwed in.  I was very hesitant to do this as I am definitely not a mechanic thought I have worked on vehicles before and even assisted in tearing down a couple of engines and rebuilding them.  I understand what all the parts do and how they work together, so I guess you could say I have a better working knowledge of vehicle mechanics than the average person.

I decided to take the chance.  I dropped $250 on parts and yesterday after work I decided to roll the dice and get the job done.  It was a lot harder than they described in the thread.  Obviously I don't have the best set of tools for doing this type of operation on a vehicle, but I was able to bore out the hole using a steel tap and a socket wrench.  I had to be very careful with the aluminium pieces that would be peeling away as the jagged steel bore slowly dug the hole.  I was so worried that I would end up with an engine full of pieces that I over did it on the grease on the tap.  I managed to capture all of the aluminium pieces in the grease and successfully bored out the hole so I could put in the insert and screw in the spark plug.  When the spark plug initially blew out, it also broke one of the ignition/oxygen sensor coils (which are conveniently mounted on top of the spark plug) so I had to replace that as well.  There was also one other ignition coil that wasn't working quite right, so while I was at it I decided to replace that one too.

I took the truck for a test drive last night and it worked perfectly fine.  The engine seems to be running perfect and I feel pretty good about being able to fix it.  I'm quite confident the new insert will stay though I've been going easy on it just to be safe.  It also felt good to save myself a few hundred bucks :)

With that I will leave you with the following funny story which was shared with me this week:

From a teacher -- short and to the point 

In the world of hi-tech gadgetry, I've noticed that more and more
people who send text messages and emails have long forgotten the
art of capital letters.

For those of you who fall into this category, please take note of the
following statement: "Capitalization is the difference between helping
your Uncle Jack off a horse and helping your uncle jack off a horse."
Is everybody clear on that?



Friday, June 15, 2012

v42.8: Lost in Lost

Howdy folks,

I recently started and finished watching the TV series Lost on Netflix.  I had heard good things about the show so I decided to spend some time watching it.  I must say, the first few seasons were really good.  The story is excellent and the idea of a bunch of strangers involved in a plane crash and being stranded on an island peaked my interest.  Of course nothing (and I mean NOTHING) could have prepared me for seasons 4 and 5 (especially seasons 5).

If you've seen Lost you'll know that the show has a lot of flashbacks.  The writers did this (I suspect) to help with character building.  Every so often the show would flash back to a character's life before they came to the island; usually to explain why a character behaves a certain way or has the issues they do.  Of course every single character on the show has some kind of "baggage" (and no, not the kind you bring on a plane).

As if flashing back to the past wasn't enough to lose you, around season 4 or 5, they decide to throw the island into a state of temporal flux where the characters are somehow jumping through time on the island.  One minute it's 30 years in the past, the next it's 3 months in the future.  All the while this is going on, there are flashbacks which really confuse the watcher.  I think this was intended, because by the end of all the time jumps and flashbacks, you have no sweet clue where they are in time.  In fact, one of the characters makes mention of this in the last season by stating they have no idea "when" in the hell they are.

I did start to lose interest in the show during this, but I stuck with it to the end and was a little disappointed with the ending.  If you've never seen it, I won't spoil it for you, but I think they could have done much better with the ending than they did.  That's not to say the ending wasn't good, it just didn't provide the closure I was looking for and I still had a lot of questions at the end.  If you've seen the show before, you probably feel the same way since everyone I've talked to about the show seems to have the same impression of the last episode.

So now I'm looking for the next series to get hooked on.  If anyone has any suggestions I'd really like to hear them.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy weekend!



Monday, June 11, 2012

v42.7: Renewal Notice

Howdy folks,

I received a notice to renew my domain name last week and I've been thinking about it whether or not I should let it lapse or if I should keep it going.  Today I decided I would go ahead and renew it for another near and see where it goes.

I realize I haven't been posting much lately and to be honest, I haven't really had much to write about.  I've had quite a few things happen over the last 7 or 8 months since I last posted, but nothing I really wish to share with the public; at least not yet.

The short and long of the story is I've decided to renew the domain and make a conscious effort to write as often as possible and hopefully get back to a place where I'm posting daily.  Perhaps I'll take some time and re-read some of my earlier/older musings and see if I can recapture some of the fun that made this site enjoyable for me.

I'd like to thank those of you who offered me your support and told me to keep it up all those years.  Here's to many more to come.