Monthly Archives: August 2011

Oh yeah, I almost forgot to mention…

The boat’s battened down, the car and truck topped off, the shelves are stocked, the barbeque safely stowed and we’re all set to hunker down. But between the earthquake and the impending hurricane, I nearly let today pass without mentioning that it’s once again Thursday.

Today’s topic: Natural disasters!!!

An ‘exhausting’ day!

So here’s the logic. If you’re going to replace the motor mounts, it’s easier to do with the transmission removed, especially when the rear seal appears to be leaking. And it’s easier to remove the transmission with the exhaust removed, when the exhaust runs directly above the transmission. Therefore, today we removed the exhaust.

The more parts we remove, the roomier the engine room becomes!

My other office smells like an engine room…

In prep for the weekend I headed down to the boat bright and early this morning, all set to attack another section of the engine room. We’re going to replace the motor mounts, which will be somewhat simpler without this little thing called a transmission in the way. And considering the rear seal on the tranny has a slight but irritating leak… you know the drill. Anyhow, I wanted to get some things cleaned up and in place for this next exciting(?) phase, and I needed to drop the dogs off for their late summer shearing, (Rex was getting pretty shaggy again,) which is on the way, so I decided I might as well just hang out at the boat until the dogs were done. The simple truth is my muses like it down there; they respond well to a bit of manual labor and without internet it’s easier to stay focused. So I packed the laptop, some cola, pita chips and an apple.  What more could a writer ask for? (Other than perhaps the dinette table and a proper seat!)

It doesn’t look so bad from this angle!

So yes, I’ve had a very productive day so far, both in the bilge and at the keyboard. And the day’s far from over. It’s back to work… as soon as I wash up. It seems that diesel engine fragrance has followed me home.

Is it already Thurdsay again?

These weeks are just flying past lately! And once again it’s Thursday, which means I’m posting over at Write On The Water. Today: In Doldrums

Getting our bearings at last!!!

They’re here! So shiny, so pretty! Our bright new Johnson Duramax cutless and rudder bearings!
Below: We had two of the cutless bearings machined to our specs, and ordered a third as a spare. Note the difference between original sleeve thickness and the machined thickness.

Yet more bearings…

Dodge on jacks? It must be Saturday.

Driveshaft bearings of one sort or another have been an ongoing theme this summer, and in each case what seemed simple and straightforward has been anything but.  First came the boat, and I’m happy to report the special-order bearings from Fort Lauderdale Propeller have been machined to our specs and are currently in transit. But in the meantime a quick inspection of the Dodge revealed that after 19 years, the main driveshaft bearing was due for replacement. And since the truck is essential for hauling tools and parts back and forth to the boat, we really can’t work on the boat unless we work on the truck first. But this one should be quick and easy… or so we thought.

In truth, we have no one to blame but ourselves. When we bought this truck back in 1992, we ordered it with a few non-standard features. Rather than the V8, which only came with an automatic, we went with the V6 and 5 speed manual. Four-wheel drive seemed an unnecessary expense, but we opted for the posi-traction rear. We added the heavy duty tow package, which beefed up various parts to handle the additional load. Anti-lock brakes were just coming on the market, and we went with that as well, along with cruise control and a few (very few) amenities.  Little did we know we had created a monster.  All these years later, whenever we need to replace some standard part, nothing matches what a 2 wheel drive V6 Dakota of this vintage should contain. Our little Dodge is a hodge-podge of parts intended for the V8, the 4 wheel drive, and in some cases, a full-size Ram.

Below: Exhibit A. Note the original driveshaft bearing, (Bottom) slightly toasted and mis-shaped after utilizing a torch and chisel to separate it from driveshaft. Notice that the ‘identical to original’ replacement in the box bears no resemblance to what we removed. Further investigation revealed the old bearing matches those used on the much larger Ram.

Exhibit B.  The driveshaft universal joints were getting stiff, so we figured we’d swap them out while the driveshaft was out. What isn’t immediately apparent in this photo is that while they should all be the same size, they aren’t.

Original universal joints – not what the parts books claim. By now we should be used to this.

Coming together at last, though not without the usual modifications. Of course, a job we thought would be wrapped up by lunch dragged into Sunday, at which point it was pouring on a biblical scale that had roads closed and rail lines shut down due to flooding.  (Update: the news reported 11 inches of rain fell over a 24 hour period. ELEVEN inches!)  And where are we? In the driveway, on our backs under the truck, reinstalling the driveshaft. But the truck is once again back together, which means we can now turn our attention back to the boat. And now that the engine room is wide open, we can pull the transmission, strip down and clean the engine, replace the motor mounts, belts, hoses, thermostat, fuel lines, oil lines, oil cooler, trans fluid cooler, heat exchanger,  solenoids, zincs,  drive damper plate, relocate the fuel-water separator, replace the cutlass and rudder bearings, rebuild the steering yet again, and by time we’re done with all that it should be cool enough to start rebuilding /fiberglassing  the salon ceiling/ bridge deck.

This, kind readers, is the fun of life with an old truck and an even older boat. And it is why ‘weekend’ and ‘relax’ are not synonymous in my vocabulary.

In case anyone was wondering…

It’s Thursday, which means I’m over at Write On The Water today.  And just about every Thursday, in case I hadn’t mentioned it.  Which explains one portion of what I’m up to for 1/7 th of the week, at least blogging-wise. As for the rest of my time, it is divided between writing insanity (take that however you chose) and the insanity of working on the boat/truck/car/whatever else leaks, squeaks or otherwise demands attention this week.  Oh yeah. And occasionally I sleep.

Now you know.