Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Italian tune-up

After all the tank cleanup work, I drove the van to get some biodiesel. It was running like crap-- no power, shifting late. Pedal to the floor, 55MPH on the freeway. Not good.

I filled up, still running poorly. Maybe my filter is plugged up from when I ran the tank down to empty? Maybe there's a vapor lock or bubble somewhere? Maybe I messed up by removing that little bag from the filler cap? Lots of questions, no answers.

I took it on the freeway to head to the suburbs, and got frustrated, decided to just gun it and keep it there. After about a minute, I had power, lots of it! The old Italian tune-up did the trick: beat it up, wind it out, push it hard.

The fuel lines are very long, going from the front to behind the rear axle, so my best guess was air in the fuel lines, or possibly some gunk still in there.

After doing that, I could feel the power even at idle, which was a very odd sensation. I'm not sure how to describe it. Not so much a sound as a feeling, as if the engine's stroke became more vigorous. I'm familiar with gasoline big-block muscle cars rumbling ominously at stop lights, but here was my biodiesel van chugging away aggressively with way more power than it needed, tons of torque at idle speed.

And still leaking what smells like engine oil now. Rain coming this week, so no major work scheduled. I'll patch a few water leaks in the cab roof tomorrow, finally, before the next rain starts. Might try to figure out what size wrenches I might need to do the starter too.

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