Thursday, June 23, 2011

Massive work completed

I just completed what is probably the most massive and productive batch of maintenance I've ever done on my van. It went very well.

The secret was to do it in recursive, repetitive steps. This is because my van is, as a friend recently put it, "a rolling booby trap". It's true. It really sucks working on this thing. It's got a huge 7.3L diesel engine squashed into an engine compartment designed for a much smaller gas engine. The engine itself is great. But getting to stuff is a nightmare. I really have to take the whole thing apart in order to get to just about anything, and there are goofy design decisions in the way at every step, plus the usual old-vehicle things like frozen bolts and deterioration.

So I learned the technique: first plan carefully, of course, and order any parts I might need in advance. Then take apart the first layer of stuff I need to remove. If necessary, fight all the rusted/frozen/stuck bolts to the death. Then reassemble (using anti-seize!). Wait, and order more parts if needed. Reaarch more. Rest. Go back and re-dismantle what I'd just put back together-- more easily thanks to the anti-sieze and practice-- and go deal with the next layer of stuff to fight. Finally I get to my objective, and I can do the work.

I was lucky enough that the rain FINALLY stopped (hopefully until fall), and even more lucky to have a safe, quiet, centrally-located, long-term parking space to use for working, two weekends in a row. The whole project took 5 days.

So I replaced my fuel pump. And.... the fuel leak is at long last gone! Getting to the fuel pump required removing the exhaust, up-pipes, and turbo, and also loosening the fuel filter housing, as well as the usual rigamarole of removing all the air intake hoses, the doghouse cover, and disconnecting two batteries under the hood and in a separate housing on the frame rail. Yeah. I had to destroy and replace four frozen bolts in order to get to this point.

While I was doing all this, I also replaced turbo pedestal o-rings, fuel supply sleeves, and fuel filter, and I cleaned off an enormous amount of fuel and dirt and melted rubber and who-knows-what-all-else from the V of the engine and all around that area. Basically, I finally made my van biodiesel-ready-- after almost 4 years of driving it on biodiesel. Every rubber object in contact with fuel (including now the diaphragm of the fuel pump) has been replaced with biodiesel-rated Viton. Yes, this is something I should have done after first buying the van, but, hey, I was pretty ignnorant, and emotionally not very healthy then either.

While I was at it, I also retrofitted an inline transmission fluid filter onto the return hose of the transmission cooler.

My headaches appear to be gone. I think it may have been the glasses all along. I probably do need bifocals, but I'd rather spend the money for that than for brain surgery, that's for sure. I have an appointment to get a CAT scan next week so we'll see what's going on for real then.

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