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  1. When we were in kindergarten, it was common to take a watch apart—and not get it back together. Some of us, not content with things that no longer worked, went on to fixing things instead of just taking them apart. Toying with mechanical things versus putting things back together properly is for most a clear fork in the road. In my early childhood, I was fascinated with all things that rolled: trucks, cars, bicycles, motorized cycles, locomotives, take your pick! By age eleven, with the go kart and mini-bike craze in full swing, a neighbor built his sons a gasoline powered, wooden cart with a Briggs & Stratton lawn mower engine that had a rope starter…I was hooked. On my birthday two years later, my folks found a used Bug Kart with a bent front axle and a Clinton 2.5 horsepower two-stroke engine. I witnessed my first oxygen-acetylene welding repair when a family friend, Paul Starjack, restored the front axle with a fresh piece of new chrome-moly tubing. The task could have been a candidate for TIG, but Paul's adept skill with a gas torch made quick work of the 4130 chromoly welding repair. 55 years ago, I had a Bug Kart similar to this one. Mine came with a bent front axle tube. Watching a skilled welder replace that tube with a fresh 4130 piece taught me the the merits of welding! The end result and a fresh coat of paint made my cart look and run great. By fourteen, other mentors crossed my mechanical path. Joe Bruns ran a traditional postwar garage at Gardnerville, across the street from the Hancock gas station where I held my first job. An $8 street legal Cushman/Allstate scooter occupied my time and money that summer, and when the magneto would not fire, Mr. Bruns taught me the intricacies of a condenser on his grease-covered work bench. The dimly lit, acrid oil wafting shop, full of old cars like a Graham-Paige, a Willys-Knight tow truck, a Hudson Terraplane and a Packard, captured my imagination. This beautifully restored 1955 Allstate (Cushman) Deluxe scooter is the 'as new' version of the $8 "beater" that I bought in the summer of 1963 at Gardnerville, Nevada. Mine came with a rod knock and white paint job that looked like it had been applied with a broom. Nevada's Scooter Law enabled riding at 35 mph maximum on highways with a "basic speed law". It was not uncommon for cars and trucks to legally pass scooters at 100 mph on Highway 395. (Photo courtesy of the owner's posting online...Thanks, it's gorgeous, and the mountain backdrop looks like Carson Valley!) I grew up around older Buicks and Packards in our family, which drew me to the C.O.D. Garage (Chevrolet/Buick/Jeep® dealership) at Minden, Nevada. The dirt field across the main drag was the dealership's parking lot for Depression Era, 'forties and 'fifties cars and trucks that made their last run into Carson Valley on a tow hook. Rolling into valley from California and nearby rural Nevada communities, these vehicles had died unceremoniously from overheating, cracked blocks, throwing connecting rods or frying transmission and axle gears. I worked at the community’s service stations under the tutelage of full-service mechanics, in those years men who performed breaker point tune-ups, chassis work, tire busting and detailed lubrication and fluid changes. An oscilloscope tune-up was the hallmark of the era, and working at Bud Berrum’s Minden Chevron Station schooled me at vehicle light service and lube room repairs. This would prove ground school for my early automotive trade employment as a light and medium duty truck fleet mechanic. From age 14 to 18, I had my share of four-wheeled “project” vehicles plus numerous trips to Werner's Machine Shop at Carson City. Bill Werner smiled each time I showed up with a Ford flathead V-8 block. Several of these blocks failed the test for machining and landed in the iron scrap pile. Most often, they had cracks from freezing or cylinder wall weaknesses that opened up during the boring process. Bill was relieved when I moved to mid-'fifties Chevy small-block OHV V-8s. There were many other “teachers”. My Douglas High School Ag and Welding instructor, Mr. Gray, taught me the foundation skills for welding that led to my lifetime interest in metallurgy and all forms of welding and brazing processes. The Odom brothers at the East Bay, George Zirkle at the Nevada City NAPA machine shop, veteran truck fleet mechanic colleagues and service pros, machinists and chassis/alignment experts each deserve their due. When I served an apprenticeship with Local 3 of the Operating Engineers Union, old hands taught me the new and old school repair, welding and operator’s skills around heavy equipment…To all of these folks and any not named here, I am grateful. The learning was typically hands on, often accompanied by patient discussion, and I looked over many shoulders before performing work myself. Years later, after 15 years of hands-on professional work as a journey level truck fleet mechanic, motorcycle tech and 4x4 restorer, I worked at Cunningham GMC/Pontiac in El Cajon, California, representing the service department at the General Motors Burbank Training Center and bringing that information home to be shared with the dealership's techs. Just prior to working for the Cunningham family and fresh out of the University of Oregon, I had my first taste of teaching at the San Diego Job Corps. That was my original stint of “giving back” through teaching, passing along those years of exposure to top professionals. My next step along the path was journalism, writing technical articles and columns for a broad range of enthusiast trade magazines and newspapers. Learning to Teach When I taught at the Job Corps in the early ‘eighties, the breaker point ignition era was barely ended. Electronic fuel injection was the lofty undertaking of German engineers at Bosch. That quickly changed, and by the mid-‘eighties, American vehicle manufacturers brought the internal combustion engine back from the edge of emissions extinction with the use of EFI and electronic spark management systems. All of us went back to the drawing board, up the learning curve, and became familiar with the new electronic technology. I held California smog equipment Installer and Inspection licenses during that period. Learning EFI/spark management required a foundation at automotive mechanics and the willingness to read. I was writing simultaneously to the tune of 880 published pages of magazine articles per year by 1989 (not to be confused with manuscript pages). 1990-1998 became a period of book projects alongside my continuing flow of magazine and newspaper assignments each month. Consulting to 4x4 truck, Jeep® and SUV manufacturers, plus new book editions, involved even more writing. After an intensive career at photojournalism, tech column writing, book authorship and building magazine 4x4 projects, I took a detour and returned to the classroom from 1999-2004, five teaching and administrator contract years. Working with the Rite of Passage program, first as an Automotive/Diesel Technologies instructor then as the Director of Vocational Training for four Rite of Passage campuses, we taught automotive, welding, construction trades and IT. Within the Rite of Passage training process, I was as much a student as teacher. Sure, I brought over three decades of profession level trade skills to the classroom, but my effectiveness at teaching was only as good as the delivery. What I quickly discovered in the era just before the onslaught of internet information, was that students without a clear direction and foundation in a subject were as apt to “take the watch apart” as to fix it. When left to their own devices, some students were perfectly happy dismantling mechanical things with no sense for how to put them back together—and not an inkling of academic ambition nor the curiosity to read a manual or textbook! Lectures or audio visual training tapes could easily put a non-invested student to sleep. These young adults provided the humbling lesson that without context and a drive to learn, human beings are capable of remaining kindergarten level performers forever. And that pre-internet learning environment was merely a portent of things to come, heralding Toffler's glorious, consumer driven Information Era. Along Came the Internet The fledgling internet and its information exchange showed promise. Maybe the Tofflers' predictions in their 2006 book Revolutionary Wealth were true. Alvin and Heidi Toffler predicted that the internet's wealth of “free” information would lead to a society of consumers who were less dependent upon paying for services and far more self-reliant. The emerging age would be a virtual barter system of freebie facts and answers meeting consumer needs, essentially a way to circumvent the increasingly pervasive co-dependency on corporations and professional service outlets. This idealized view of the internet, a virtual blueprint for opting out of consumer dependency, was the optimal solution to the rising costs of consumer services. In fact, outsourcing and subletting labor costs, using automotive “professional” services as just one example, have skyrocketed over the last dozen years. At North America, there is no more glaring example of consumer dependency than the automotive consumer market. Imagine paying $75,815 for a new, decked out Ram 4x4 with a Cummins 6.7L diesel. Now add to that the maintenance costs at the local dealership. CANBus troubleshooting and diagnostics equipment, exotic transmission filling and draining methods plus a host of other "specialty equipment" requirements compel many DIY consumers to reluctantly creep back into the dealerships' service lanes. Once the warranty period ends on the vehicle, consumers often try the nearly as expensive independent shops, aware that second tier aftermarket diagnostic equipment may not be up to date. A dealership's labor rate can be $110 per hour or higher. Independent shops are at least $75-$90 per hour. So given these conditions and the potential information available online, what if you could get diagnostic and troubleshooting information—or even actual how-to repair steps—for free online. Yes, how about gleaning information gratuitously placed before your eyes by simply participating at a free forum? Many believe this is possible, and to such an extent that they cannot envision paying for any kind of automotive information. Of course, we do want to avoid the high cost of labor and limited parts choices, i.e., the additional and arbitrary cost for dealership provided parts. Do we also expect to become independent mechanics without scaling any kind of learning curve or paying for schooling? As a point of interest, aside from earning a Pac-Ten university four-year degree with Dean's List honors and all the textbook costs that entailed, my library of classic and contemporary professional automotive factory and trade service manuals, plus a dozen welding instruction and metallurgy books, would today cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $7,500. I bought the Tofflers' book as an audio CD version and played it in my shop while performing professional restoration work on vintage transmissions, steering gears, engines, engine peripherals and axles. The book's theme was captivating, suggesting that we could be energy independent (off the grid) and consumer self-sufficient, sidestepping the endless grind of societal consumerism in America. Pondering just how well that would work with automotive service or IT needs, it took little thought after four decades in the automotive trade (when this book came out) to realize that bartering information, or even information in itself, is not enough to get the job done! So Where Do You Get Your “Free” Information? For automotive service work around sophisticated powertrains with 8-speed automatic transmissions or variable cylinder EFI/MPI systems, where do you barter for your free service information? Consider the bevy of diagnostic tools needed to service a vehicle and the $200-plus CD set that makes up the factory service manual for a particular model. Do you know a trained service professional who has spent $10,000 or more on equipment and data and wants to freely offer that investment to total strangers surfing the internet's Google Search engine? According to the Tofflers theory, the model would apply better to pouring a garden foot path and needing information on how to set forms. This kind of information can be found at the Lowe’s or Home Depot professional contractors desk. It’s not critical, "permitted" work and does not require meeting code. Seldom will anyone get hurt by a DIY foot path project or improperly laid sidewalk pavers. These two retailers will gladly offer free information since they will be providing the materials you need for this job. Now let’s fast forward to your automotive project. A motor vehicle is built to SAE, DOT, NHTSA and EPA standards. Whether an owner elects to honor the EPA requirements, the SAE, DOT and NHTSA standards for brakes, steering and safe suspension are something not to be ignored. There are sanctioning bodies like ASE and dealership tech training programs, apprenticeships, military training schools and college trade programs intended to support these professional standards for automotive service work. Why? Simple: Because your life and the lives of family members and others on the road depend upon vehicles that perform safely and reliably. This includes brakes, tires, chassis members, steering, suspension, the engine/powertrain, axles and electrical/electronic systems. So that begs the question: Where do you get your automotive service recommendations? Exactly who is at that forum with years of professional experience, mentoring, college level courses, military training schools, apprentice training or dealership training? If they have that level of schooling and experience, why are they at the forum giving away information for free? The Toffler paradigm may apply to shoveling and forming the ditch for a garden path footing or macramé, but do you really want to fix your brakes or troubleshoot that engine issue without a service manual, a basic knowledge of automotive mechanics or a “mentor” with some trade experience? I taught adult education level automotive and diesel mechanics plus welding for seven years. As of this month, I have a half-century of professional experience at mechanics, yet I still pull a professional trade manual or “FSM” off the shelf for any work I perform on my vehicles. —Moses Ludel
  2. Many Jeep owners need how-to information on checking valve clearances and adjusting the hydraulic valve lifters on the inline 232, 258 and 4.0L six-cylinder engines and the 2.5L Jeep pushrod engine. Between the model years 1971 and 2006, Jeep used these AMC-design 232, 258 and 4.0L sixes and the 2.5L straight four-cylinder engine (1983.5-2002). The hydraulic lifter and valvetrain design has particular needs, especially the valve clearances. When these engines develop valvetrain noise, owners often think a valve adjustment will cure the problem. In each of these AMC/Jeep engines, valve clearances are set during assembly of the engine, and adjustment is not necessary between engine rebuilds. If your engine has developed valvetrain noise, or if you are in the process of rebuilding the engine and need to know more about setting valve clearances, my HD video from 4WD Mechanix Video Network at Vimeo will assist. This video was originally a Q&A Vlog at the magazine, now available for a broader viewing audience through Vimeo. Moses
  3. There's a lot of chatter about the use of dielectric grease. Permatex suggests that Dielectric Tune-Up Grease is a good barrier to oxidation at plugs, connectors and terminals. There are some online comments at forums that say not to place dielectric grease on connector pins. I've gone to the Permatex site, and the information is vague: "Protects electrical connections and wiring from salt, dirt and corrosion. Extends the life of bulb sockets. Prevents voltage leakage around any electrical connection. Also prevents spark plugs from fusing to boots. Required for modern high energy ignition systems." Another quote from the Permatex site: Directions for Connectors: 1. Make sure ignition system is off. 2. Clean surface with Permatex® Contact Cleaner. 3. Coat both parts of terminal contact with Dielectric Grease. 4. Reassemble, maintaining metal-to-metal contact. - See more at: http://www.permatex....h.mSLOFJcy.dpuf Also, here's the PDF product information download from Permatex: Permatex Dielectric Tune-Up Grease PDF.pdf 69.55KB 0 downloads In the PDF, Permatex cites uses for the Permatex Dielectric Tune-Up Grease: TYPICAL APPLICATIONS • Spark plug boots • Distributor cap nipples • Battery terminals • Ignition coil connectors • Headlamp connectors • Trailer electrical connectors The "metal-to-metal contact" reference may create suspicion for some about "Dielectric Tune-Up Grease". I've used this product for years around tune-up work without reservation. I searched around and found an engineer's assessment of dielectric grease that suggests Permatex Dielectric Tune-Up Grease should work well on a variety of pin connector materials without creating any kind of resistance or barrier to current flow. This commentary is worth reading: http://www.w8ji.com/...tive_grease.htm, the author seems well informed, experienced, and he uses a scientific approach. According to the engineer, metal-to-metal pin contact should result if pins are clean and not tarnished, with or without dielectric grease on the pins. It's realistic to presume that the degree of conductivity is governed by the tension of the pin and socket fit, not whether we use dielectric grease. Whether or not you use the dielectric grease, I would use a quality electrical contact cleaner to get rid of the oozing material at your PCM plug and terminals. Make sure you flush out all residue and allow complete evaporation to prevent dilution of remaining grease or any issues with spark arc hazards. I would at least place dielectric grease on connector lips to act as an effective moisture and oxidation barrier. Personally, I'm good with the use of dielectric grease, others can use their own judgment. For me, the engineer at the www.w8ji.com site confirms and clarifies its intended uses. Moses
  4. Originally a Q&A Vlog question at the magazine, a Jeep owner has trouble with the gauges and engine tune on his early YJ Wrangler. I suggest several troubleshooting and diagnostics tools for checking circuits, grounds and voltage drops. The use of a volt-ohmmeter, lamp load test and other techniques apply. Wiring integrity and proper splices are also discussed: Trust you'll find this helpful... Moses
  5. The magazine's YouTube Channel generates a lot of questions, and I encourage viewers to join us at these forums. A current exchange involved a viewer installing a 4.0L Jeep water pump and asking about how to seal the gasket and engine-to-block. This is worthwhile for our forum community, here is the discussion: Question from Ben D.: Did you use Gasgacinch between the water pump gasket and block? Looooong time ago I remember using RTV. Was it necessary? My reply: I like Gasgacinch on a cut paper gasket like the water pump. RTV can slough and find its way into the radiator tubes and clog. An even coating of Gasgacinch, on each side of the cut gasket, is wise. Gasgacinch resists coolant, gear lube, engine oil and other automotive fluids. It works well around higher temperature castings. Edelbrock private labels the product for its valve cover and intake manifold gaskets, each a higher heat area of the engine. (Gasgacinch is not for an exhaust manifold where I would use Permatex Ultra-Copper RTV or Permatex Copper Spray-a-Gasket Hi-Temp sealant.) Like many other professionals, I have used Gasgacinch in motorcycle engine work. My recent XR650R Honda project's rocker box to cylinder head seal is one example of a precisely machined, interference fit without a gasket, using only Gasgacinch for that fit. (There is no factory gasket here, just sealant.) This is a good discussion for the magazine's forums at: http://forums.4WDmechanix.com. Join us, Ben!...Moses I use Gasgacinch on transmission and transfer case cut gaskets, engine oil pan (cork, rubber or composition) gaskets, seal jackets and shells, bolt threads, and many other paper gasket and interference fit locations. It works well when coated evenly, and Gasgacinch has excellent tacking ability for holding an awkward cut paper or cork gasket in place during installation. The YouTube video series on the Jeep Cherokee 4.0L cooling system and water pump work is at: http://www.4wdmechanix.com/How-to-Jeep-4.0L-Water-Pump-and-Serpentine-Belt.html. Gasgacinch is a long time respected sealant and belt dressing, and yes, it can help preserve and quiet belts! Moses
  6. Forum Member Alberto from Colombia did a rear axle lube change on his recently purchased 1989 Jeep Wrangler 4x4. He discovered that the Dana 35 rear axle differential case is missing the lock pin retainer for the pinions/spider gear shaft. This is a crucial safety issue and deserves its own topic. Here is a copy of my response to Alberto, we can discuss this further: "Alberto...The "missing" lock pin retainer on the pinions or "spider gears" shaft is very important, as this lock pin holds the pinions/spider gears shaft in place. Warning: If the pinions/spider gear shaft works its way out on a C-clip design axle, the axle shafts can slide inward, C-clips drop loose, and the axle shaft(s) can slide out the side of the vehicle. This results in severe damage or an accident due to loss of vehicle control. On both the C-clip and non-C-clip axles, if the pinions/spider gear shaft slides out, it can destroy parts or even cause axle parts to seize. The rear axle could lock up and cause a severe loss of vehicle control and an accident. According to the 1989 factory service manual (U.S. edition), your rear Dana 35 axle should not have a C-clip design axle. You should have press-on axle shaft bearings and bearing retainer plates at the outer tube ends of the axle housing. The retainers keep the bearings and axle shafts from sliding out of the axle housing, and the axle shafts with bearings are a snug fit into the axle tube ends. These "seal retainer" plates attach to the brake backing plate studs. Some differential carriers (typically those with C-clip axles) use a retainer bolt to hold the pinion shaft in place. These bolts are notorious for snapping during removal. This ends up a major problem, as the high tensile strength sheared bolt shank must be removed before the axle can be serviced. (I'll save this repair for when such a question comes up in the forums.) Most often, during axle shaft bearing or seal replacement service, the bolt snaps as you try to remove it. In your situation, if this is not a C-clip axle, you should have a pinion/spider gear shaft "lock pin" and not a lock bolt. You may be able to install a new pin with the differential still in the axle housing. Access may be an issue, but this part is very important. If you cannot install the lock pin retainer with the differential case and ring gear in position, you will need to remove both axle shafts and the differential case with the ring gear to access the lock pin hole. First see if you can access the retainer pin hole without removing the differential case. Here is the illustration of an "open" differential, not a limited slip. Zoom-in for details. (Your mouse scroll wheel may be necessary for this step.)...Note the role of the shaft lock pin, Mopar P/N S0455313. This may be a generic part number: 1989 Wrangler Rear Axle.bmp 7.52MB 1 downloads If you have Trac-Lok, that differential also uses a lock pin to hold the differential shaft in place. Here are the Mopar part numbers for the Trac-Lok differential spider gear (pinions) shaft lock pin: PIN, Retaining...83505019 (1987-89); 05252502 for 1990 You do need to take care of this lock pin issue right away, Alberto... Moses
  7. One of the best lessons learned from years of instructing and our forum discussions is the value of visual learning! Now, the innovative Vimeo On Demand streaming HD video program enables the streaming of 4WD Mechanix 'Tech and Travel' How-to Series HD videos covering a wide range of subjects. Under the 4x4 hood and chassis, on the motorcycle repair stand or from the work bench, I'll deliver step-by-step, close-up HD video details for shop technicians and serious DIY enthusiasts. As you would expect, the growing list of instructional videos will demonstrate best professional practices and proven procedures for each step in the process! 4WD Mechanix Magazine and 'Tech and Travel' Forums have become an online resource for reliable technical information, in depth 'how-to' coverage and off-road lifestyle content for Jeep®, 4x4 truck, SUV, OHV and dirt bike/powersports enthusiasts. Vimeo On Demand takes viewers to the next level with streaming HD video instructional step-by-step learning! By following the steps provided in each video, viewers can perform professional-level work, save considerable cost and gain valuable insights. Off-pavement, your 4x4 truck, Jeep® vehicle or dirt/dual-sport motorcycle must be reliable and safe. Performing your own work, the right way, can increase your self-reliance while enhancing your troubleshooting skills. Projects take time to complete. The Honda XR650R motorcycle upper engine rebuild project became the first Vimeo On Demand production. The work and filming experienced the customary parts delays, machine shop sublet time and unforeseen obstacles. For this reason, all rentals are for a generous 30-day period. This added value provides the time needed for viewers to perform quality work. The 4WD Mechanix 'Tech and Travel' HD Video Series at Vimeo On Demand brings select, highly detailed 'how-to' instructional videos and backcountry travel narratives to viewers. Streaming HD videos can provide close-up, professional insights and sharp HD 1080P detail—directly from your mobile device, laptop, PC or the latest big screen "Smart" television! Watch the growing playlist of available streaming HD videos at Vimeo On Demand! Moses
  8. When you find that your engine repair includes cylinder honing, apply this process properly. The optimal honing finish will have the right cross-hatch pattern with correct angles. If you're unsure of the right "look" or angles, look closely at the photo below, the magazine's cylinder barrel after machine honing at L.A. Sleeve Company: Hand honing will involve the correct diameter stone hone or flex hone ("glaze buster"). Your cross-hatch pattern will depend upon the right pressure and speed of the hone as you run it up and down in the cylinder. At our tools forum, you will find my comments on the two most common cylinder hones and their applications. Once you choose the correct hone and decide what you want the cylinder wall to look like when finished, clean the cylinder carefully and take measurements. If you're honing in an automotive engine bay with the head off and the rods and pistons removed, make sure to protect the crankshaft journals from honing debris. This debris is abrasive and will instantly damage new rod and main bearings! Wrapping the journals with clean shop rags is one method of protecting the crankshaft. I like to use a suitable honing oil. Some will use an actual machine shop honing oil. I like "Lube Guard Assembly Lubricant" for its lubricating and cleaning ability. As you hone, the cylinder must slough off abrasive from its pores. There is both the cylinder material and the hone material to consider here, each highly abrasive! When honing, I like to use a rhythmic pattern up and down in the cylinder, moving the hone uniformly and with the same speed and force over the full cylinder. In the day, my mentors recommended moving the hone "in slowly, out quickly", and that pattern is good, too. If you're unfamiliar with the speed of a hone, try a one-second-down, one-second-up kind of count that's easy to follow. I use a 1/2-inch hand drill motor with cross handles if possible to maintain center while honing. Note: For some motorcycle barrels, it might be practical to use a drill press and suitable holding fixture for the barrel. Simulate the honing equipment found in an automotive machine shop. You have good speed (usually adjustable on most presses) and alignment control. Set speed to your needs. Use plenty of lubricant while honing this way! With a stone hone, you can adjust the stone pressure against the wall and also choose a suitable stone grit. If you have no idea what grit, there are usually manufacturers' recommendations for each stone set type. These are general recommendations and reflect speed and pressure as well. Cylinder wall material can vary widely. Iron is often alloyed with nickel or even chromium and moly like L.A. Sleeve Company's "Moly 2000" liners. If in doubt, use a moderate grit, it may take longer but will not chew up a cylinder wall and require re-boring. Warning: Both automotive and motorcycle engines that have Nikasil bore plating require special honing with a diamond hone. Do not attempt to hone this material with a conventional stone hone or glaze-buster silicone flex hone. Sublet honing to a shop with appropriate equipment. A good approach when determining a cross-hatch pattern is to match the original cross-hatch that is evident at the top of the bore above the taper. This ledge or "ridge" is not affected by the piston ring travel and therefore should show a pattern that the engine manufacturer (or a machine shop rebuilder) has used. Note: This works fine for most honing jobs, although there are some very exotic OEM hone patterns like the late '80s to 1990 4.2L inline six AMC/Jeep engines. Jeep had a problem with ring seating (likely due to consumers having no idea how to "break-in" an engine by that era). AMC went to a radical "swept" hone pattern: course, irregular and circular—not the conventional "X" look of typical power honing. The simplest ways to have a new hone job go sour would be failure to thoroughly clean the cylinder of debris after honing and failure to sufficiently break-in or "seat" the new rings. I tested many Jeep and other 4x4 trucks for OFF-ROAD Magazine in the '80s to mid-'90s (Argus Publishers days) and also tested vehicles on behalf of the Portland Oregonian newspaper in the early '90s. I recall several tests involving vehicles with very low miles on the clock that were using/burning oil. The cause was previous testers running these engines too hard without consideration for break-in. I never reported the oil consumption in these vehicle evaluations; this was driver error, not a manufacturing defect. In particular, I recall a 1989 Jeep YJ Wrangler with a 4.2L carbureted inline six that used a quart of oil every 50 miles and also a TBI Chevrolet Silverado V-8 pickup that used a quart of motor oil every 300 miles. Each of these engines had rings that had not seated. I was able to reduce the oil burning dramatically during my test intervals by simply treating these near-new vehicles with consideration and allowing the rings to seat properly. If given enough time, I'm certain the oil consumption could have been overcome. Some practical considerations include selecting piston rings designed for a reasonable break-in period. Unless building an all-out racing engine with forged pistons, I avoid "chrome" rings. Moly rings work very well and respond quickly to a properly finished cylinder wall. Make sure your cylinder(s) is spotlessly clean before applying either a light engine oil or Lube Guard to the cylinder walls for both piston and ring insertion and the initial engine startup. A new oil pump and pickup screen is always wise for automotive engines during a rebuild. You have the oil pan down anyway, replace the pump. For domestic engines, I've always run a Melling "High Volume" replacement pump and screen. Cheap insurance policy for a long engine life. Note: On motorcycle engines, at least measure the oil pump rotor and pump gears, check the housing for pitting and damage. Make sure parts are within specification from the manufacturer. Replace parts as needed. I'd like to follow up this article by creating an HD video how-to on cylinder honing. I'll look for an iron motorcycle cylinder or an engine block in need of honing. It would be productive to share the "art" of cylinder honing in video! Moses
  9. Hi guys. I have an odd question, and since i keep getting different answers, i figured i would ask here for some clarification. My question actually pertains specifically to the AX15 in the Dakota, but maybe this can be used to start a discussion about other transmissions as well. My question is simple, which is better to use in the Dakotas AX15, regular 80w-90, Pennzoil syncromesh, Lucas heavy duty 80w-90, or 50w engine oil? My truck sees extreme cold and warm weather, limited 4 wheel drive use, mild to once in awhile heavy towing, and frequent short trips and large amounts of highway miles. My idea was to use one quart of Lucas heavy duty 80w-90, and one quart of regular 80w-90, but some people say not to do that, and others say dont use the Lucas at all, so which is the right answer?
  10. We all know the value of anti-freeze/coolant. Anti-freeze is essential for preventing casting cracks when you park the vehicle in freezing weather. By contrast, the coolant properties raise the boiling point of the solution, making our modern engines tolerate higher operating temperatures, which can provide more complete combustion of fuel and cleaner tailpipe emissions. Higher pressure radiator caps also help raise the boiling point. Every liquid cooled engine parked at below freezing temperatures requires anti-freeze. Specifications call for anti-freeze/coolant that is compatible with engine and cooling system metals. We follow these requirements to extend engine life and preserve the engine's castings, seals and gaskets, heater core and other vital cooling system components. In addition to the type of anti-freeze/coolant, there is the manufacturers' recommendation about the concentration or "specific gravity" of the anti-freeze mixture. For cooling in summer and reasonable anti-freeze protection in the winter, most manufacturers settle for the traditional minus-34 degrees F anti-freeze protection as a year-round mixture. A 50/50 mix of pure (straight) anti-freeze and distilled water will usually provide this degree of anti-freeze protection. (See the label on the container.) Some environments require even more antifreeze protection. However, most products limit the maximum anti-freeze protection to something like minus-60 degrees F or a maximum percentage like 70% antifreeze and 30% distilled water. A closed thermostat (new Cummins thermostat shown at left) and too much anti-freeze/coolant are a recipe for excessive pressure in the cooling system. The right amount of anti-freeze/coolant will raise the boiling point of the coolant. Too much anti-freeze/coolant can actually cause boil over and coolant loss, damage to the radiator or heater core, and a reduction in anti-freeze protection...You wouldn't want to overheat—or freeze and crack—this Cummins 5.9L inline six cylinder diesel's head or cylinder block by running either too little or too much anti-freeze/coolant! Warning: Do not attempt to increase the concentration of antifreeze for a temperature lower than advised on the label. Running a stronger concentration of anti-freeze than this will not provide better anti-freeze protection. In fact, with too much anti-freeze/coolant, the freezing protection decreases. Overly high concentrations or pure anti-freeze may lead to cracking a casting in freezing temperatures. As for boil over, the boiling point actually drops with too much anti-freeze concentration. The system may boil over—either during normal warm-up phase of the engine or at normal engine operating conditions! Anti-freeze is designed to mix with distilled water. If you run straight anti-freeze, there is a likelihood of high cooling system pressure during warm-up with the thermostat closed. The engine may also boil over within normal operating temperatures. In freezing weather, you can crack the block, a head or other castings by running either too much anti-freeze in solution or pure anti-freeze! Pure anti-freeze is not to be confused with "pre-mixed" anti-freeze coolant. "Pre-mix" is typically distilled water and anti-freeze mixed before packaging at a 50/50 ratio. This "pre-mixed" anti-freeze coolant is usually good for minus-34 degrees F protection in the winter and a boiling point of 260-plus degrees F in the summer—with the right pressure cap on the radiator or system. Boiling point increases with the use of a specific radiator cap pressure, usually 17 PSI or so for most modern engines. If the cap pressure is lower than the recommended OEM cap, the boiling point will drop accordingly. For this reason, it is important that your radiator cap is in top condition and holding proper pressure. Understand that a vintage vehicle with a much lower pressure radiator/cooling system cap will have a lower boiling point than 260 degrees F, even with 50/50 mix of anti-freeze/coolant. So, make sure your engine's cooling system is protected against both boil over and freezing. But don't use more anti-freeze than the mixture for the lowest recommended temperature protection on the anti-freeze/coolant container. (Typically, this mixture limit is indicated on the container's label.) Know whether the anti-freeze is pre-mix or pure anti-freeze. Make sure you allow the coolant to mix thoroughly before reading the protection level with an anti-freeze hydrometer or specific gravity tester. Too little anti-freeze/coolant is dangerous and leaves the engine unprotected against cold freezing. Too much anti-freeze/coolant can also lower protection against both overheating (boil over) and cold freezing. Anti-freeze requires the right amount of water to work properly. Read labels carefully. As a footnote, we're talking about the anti-freeze/coolant in the radiator and overflow tank. Always check the anti-freeze at the radiator after the engine has circulated coolant thoroughly, including through the heater core; to avoid severe skin and eye burns, remove the radiator cap only after the engine has cooled down completely! Loosen the cap slowly, stop at the first notch, and release all pressure before removing the cap. Prestone or equivalent tester like the one at left can be purchased for $5 or so at any auto supply. If you follow directions, this hydrometer can be accurate and a quick test for anti-freeze protection. At right is a Stant cooling system pressure tester for the radiator/cooling system and also for testing cap pressure. A Stant diagnostic tool kit like this has been in my tool set since 1981, and it still works great. The cooling system pressure tester has a variety of uses and is an excellent troubleshooting tool. Mix the anti-freeze solution in the overflow bottle to the same mixture you have in the radiator. After several complete heat-up and cool down cycles, the anti-freeze/coolant in the engine, radiator and overflow bottle should reach a uniform mixture. At that point, measure specific gravity with the anti-freeze hydrometer to get an accurate read on the protection level. Test the radiator cap's holding pressure with a pressure tester if available. If in doubt, install a new radiator cap. Periodically, test anti-freeze/coolant protection at both the radiator filler neck (engine completely cooled down first!) and at the overflow bottle. If the cooling system has been transferring coolant back and forth—cycling from cold to hot and back to cold over a long time—a quick hydrometer test at the overflow tank can be accurate. Moses
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