Monday, November 19, 2012

Unpopular Mechanic

I got an invoice today for a new subscription to Popular Mechanics - the magazine - not pictures of Manny, Moe & Jack.  I now receive both Popular Science and Pop Mech, the better to keep abreast of technology developments.

Speaking of Manny, Moe and Jack - well, I guess you could call me 'the accidental mechanic' - and a not particularly popular one, at that.  If I told you I do mechanic work for therapy, or because it's 'cathartic', I would be lying to you.  I do it so I'll have transportation.

I would like sometime to build a stripped down hot rod.  Something without a PCM and 53 sensors.  Maybe  even with, gasp!, a carburetor and manual choke.  Room to turn a wrench  Parts you can see and identify.  But that's in the future.

This past weekend I was dealing with a balky idle on my passenger sedan.  Using the SUV as a daily commuter was making me cross (at least every trip to the QT/RaceTrac), so I'd ordered new platinum SplitFires, plug wires, and air plenum gaskets from

What would be a 20 minute job on a classic car took well over two hours.  Sure, the front bank of plugs (the engine sits side-a-ways) were easily accessible.  But the rear bank of plugs, and distributor coil pack - well, let's just say it rhymes with "witch".  To access those puppies, one must remove the air filter box, the throttle body, EGR, PCV tube, various other vacuum lines and sensor plugs, and 8 bolts securing the air plenum to the intake risers.  Then, I put my left foot in, I took my left foot out, and did the hokey-pokey...

Well, it sorta seemed that way.

Here's what it looked like with everything removed.  The paper towels are in the intake ports to prevent FOD from entering.  The red heater hose is a southern-engineered setup - attached to a shop vac - to extract any grit or dirt from the plug wells.  The 3/8" ratchet is attached to an extension, longer than my...finger...with the plug socket.  Not pictured is the air impact wrench that was required to break loose the bolts holding the EGR body to its bracket on the air plenum.

To prevent any air leaks, I installed new gaskets on the air plenum where it meets the intake risers (where the paper towels are seen).  Dutifully gapped the plugs at .054" (these are SplitFires, woo-hoo - they'll probably double my mileage - if I use magnets on the fuel line...), swabbed the contacts on the new ignition wires with a Q-tip with a wee dab of conductive grease, and installed some new cable sleeves anyplace where the cables wanted to touch each other.

Finally, I put it all back together, and didn't even have any leftovers.  I did have to charge the battery, since I hadn't driven the car in a while.

I even turned the oil filler cap right side up...ya gotta take pride in your work.

Drove it to work today - runs stronger, but still an occasional hiccup at idle, though it hasn't thrown a code yet.  This evening, I pulled the idle air valve (visible above in the 1:00 position above the EGR diaphragm) and cleaned the plunger with carb/choke spray and gave it a shot of WD-40.  We'll see tomorrow how this works out.

I wish I had a Model A.  Or maybe a '49 Chevy.



RPM said...

Well done. I hate working on newer cars. I also usually lose patience/forget to take pics of the work.

todd said...

huh huh you said abreast.