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?



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