27 October 2004

Gold-plated crap

Oh, I've had one of those days. Been doing a job that I really didn't want to do. Harry didn't want to take the damn thing in either, but we ended up with it. The car is a 10 year old Taurus with 125K on it. It was rode hard and put up wet too many times during its life. Thing is, it belongs to the Indian's uncle, and we've known him for a million years, and he's a stubborn old goat. He pestered the shit out of Harry for months until he finally caved in. A while back it was drug in on the hook.

So, I have this car and Unk wants an upper end rebuild (cam, lifters, pushrods, cylinder heads, valvesprings, timing chain and gears, etc). Did I mention it was overheated and both head gaskets blown? Did I mention we only have 2 bays in the shop so I'd have to do this outside whenever I found time. Well, I just put it back together over the last couple days.

Now, this couldn't be the standard Taurus, with the 3.0 liter V6. Oh no, it had to have the optional 3.8L. A lot wider across the valve covers and a lot less room to work around it. You DON'T want to do motor mounts in one.

So I get it all together, everything hooked up, old oil out, 5 quarts of Castrol GTX 10W-30 and a new Motorcraft filter in, new battery, belts and hoses, new antifreeze. I hop in, turn the key and the engine spins but no vroom.

I turn the key on and off a couple times, listening for the electric pump in the tank do its 3 second run. Fine. I hop out, pull the cap off the pressure port on the injector rail and depress the schrader valve. Gasoline shoots out about a foot in the air. Good fuel pressure. I walk back into the shop and get my spark checker and pop the coil wire off the distributor and put the checker between the wire and the cap. No spark. Fine.

I go back in and get a 'known good' coil out my 'you never know' drawer in my toolbox and plug it in place of the old coil. I crank the motor. Vrooom. Good. Now I have to contort my fingers into positions God never intended to remove the old coil from the bracket and re-mount the new one. Remember what I said about that fat 3.8L? An hour later, I can finally start it and let it warm up. Well . . . no.

As I run it up (the thermostat isn't even open yet) I see a green fountain squirting through the grille. Great. Old radiator is rotted through. I guess that's how they overheated it and the impeller breaking off the water pump was a symptom of the overheat instead of the cause. Fine. Drain the anti-freeze back out and call the radiator shop and have a new one sent. Did I mention this car was in a minor front end acciddent a while back? Did I mention it pushed the radiator support back about a quarter inch? Did I mention the 3.8L V6 is wider across than the 3.0L? You'd be surprised how much a quarter inch means when you're trying to wiggle the radiator out.

2 hours later, the rad is in and refilled with anti-freeze. I hop in, vroom again. I let it run up, everything's working fine, but wait . . . what's that drip drip drip of red fluid coming from under the radiator? Oh yes, it's the rusted to HOLY HELL transmission cooler lines that decided to become porus when I had to disconnect and reconnect them to the radiator(s). Fine, it's not a bad drip so I can let the motor run through a full heat up/cool down cycle.

As I'm doing this, Indian and Harry come out, all happy that the bitch is finally running and we can get Unk off our backs. Did I mention he's stubborn AND annoying AND impatient? So, Indian says 'why don't you jump in and see if you get transmission application?'

A good idea. It sat for a couple months. might as well get the fluid coursing through the pumps, solenoids, and valvebody. I jump in, put my foot on the brake, and the pedal falls to the floor. Story of my day. That's when I threw up my hands, shut the bitch off, and locked it up. I'll diagnose the brake problem tomorrow and figure out why the master cylinder was empty when it came in full. It was just one of those days. The Great God of Auto Repair did not want that car to leave. It's leaving tomorrow if I have to push it down to the marina and off the boat ramp.

If there's a moral to this it's that a 10 year old Taurus with a million miles on it ain't worth the money Unk is pouring into it. And when you let an old car sit, shit breaks all on its own.


And far be it for me to forget (short-term memory thing) when I did make it go vroom, the clutch on the A/C compressor was jingling and jangling like Santa's sleigh. Wish I would have known it was shot while I had the cylinder heads off. Would have been easier to work on, but this car hates me. By the way, we call the thing Unk's Junk.

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