Notes from Windward: #70


Wall-E Update

Learning some new skills


     Recently I mentioned working on Wall-E so I thought I would fill you in on my progress at becoming a bulldozer mechanic.

Wall-E with the radiator shield removed

     The radiator cover came off easily with the removal of just a few bolts, but before I could remove the blue-green engine cover, I had to remove the muffler. I ended up taking the saws-all to the pipe since it was rusted to the exhaust manifold. Then with a few clips and bolts to disconnect the air filter--the cover was off!

the muffler had to come off to pull the head

     I decided to remove a few more bolts and remove the fan guards. This provided more space and access to the head bolts.

     Once the new manifold and head gaskets arrived, it was time to change the gaskets. I first drained the antifreeze, and then tried to disconnect the hose that connected the engine block to the radiator. It was very stiff, so since it needed replacing, I just cut it away.

     Next, I carefully labeled the spark plug wires, unpluged them and then removed the spark plugs.

     Then things got serious as I addressed the task of removing the 18 bolts that connected Wall-E's head to the engine block. Several of the bolts were difficult to remove to the point where I became concerned that they might snap off in the head--that would be bad!

     Walt came out to help me remove the tricky bolts, and one by one, we got them all. Whew!

     The primary reason for doing this work was that last fall, I noticed that there was water in Wall-E's oil. That's not good. There are a variety of things that can cause there to be water in an engine's oil--some worse than others.

Wall-E's head removed--note the two coolant holes between cylinders 2 and 3

     With the bolts out, I was able to remove the head and take a look at the engine and the gasket. Sure enought, there was antifreeze in cylinder #2. That narrowed down the location of Wall-E's problem.

     The head gasket had a layer of carbon soot surrounding all the copper rings in the gasket. More significantly, one of the copper ovals that seal off the center cooling passage was distorted into nearly a figure eight. When people talk about having a "blown head gasket" that's the sort of damage they're talking about.

the "blown" head gasket

     Having located the likely cause of the water-in-oil problem, it was time to clean up the head and block, and bolt everything back together.

a close-up pic of the blow out

     The head bolts were treated to a good scrubbing with the wire wheel, and the difficult bolt hole was cleaned out with a tap to spruce up the threads.

using a tap to clean up some threads

     Next I scrapped the carbon off the sealing surfaces of the head and engine then cleaned them with gasoline.

Wall-E's head prior to scraping away the carbon deposits

      Then it was time to unpack the new gasket, put it in place on the engine block, remount the head and hand-tighten the head bolts.

     With the bolts finger tight, I unpacked our new torque wrench--one of the fancy "clicker" types. I set it to 42 ft-lbs and started torqueing the head bolts in an alternating pattern that spread the stress evenly across the block.

     Landis Zimmerman of Zimmerman Oliver Cletrak, my trusted parts supplier, filled me in on the importance of torqueing the head bolts down to 42 ft-lbs while the engine is cold, then starting the engine, let run it for a while, and then retorqueing the bolts once the engine was warmed up. The people at Zimmerman are always helpful and my parts arrive quickly--they've been great to work with.

     Some new spark plugs, a new section of radiator hose and a refill on oil and antifreeze--and WallE started right up. No trouble at all even after sitting there through our cold wet winter.

     I took WallE out for a walk, gave him a bath, and tucked him back under the "bridge" while I headed off to Portland to help Karen with the Third Annual Useful Goods Exchange.

May 5: Wall-E gets a new seat

Materials Reused and Skills Shared

     Living on a modest income there are thing that I will only buy new--like head gaskets--and things I would rather buy used or make myself. So when it was time to give Wall-E a new seat, I recalled where I could lay my hands on an old piece of foam and several naugahyde covered bench seats that were in deep storage, and reclaimed them. These items would probably end up going to the dump and salvaging them for reuse saves money and a trip to town for supplies.
Aidan stapling the naugahide
to the plywood form

     After deconstructing Wall-E's old and uncomfortable seat cushions Aidan and I spent the afternoon using the foam and naugahyde to recover the plywood seat and back. I cut the foam the same size as the plywood then cut the naugahyde oversized so it would wrap around the foam and plywood with enough extra to use a construction stapler to staple the material to the plywood.

Wall-E with the recovered seat installed

     Today, Wall-E's hood and radiator guard were reinstalled and we went out to practice driving and earth moving. We backed down the driveway with the blade scraping the drive smooth then drove back up to the landing with a bucket full of firewood. The new seat is very comfortable!

Aidan checks out the recovered seat

Notes From Windward - Index - Vol. 70