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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. Who’s Paying for My Experience? When Facebook and LinkedIn became supposed “musts” for any professional, including automotive based magazine publishers. I willingly stepped up and established a Facebook page for 4WD Mechanix Magazine and signed on to LinkedIn. When I shared at Facebook that my HD video streaming rental for Jeep® YJ/TJ Wrangler and XJ Cherokee brake work was available at Vimeo On Demand, colleagues derided me for “spamming” my page. A Jeep® club member said that she had no intention of paying for such information! The streaming one-hour long rental with 30-day access had a $1.99 fee. Meanwhile, my commercial training videos under contract to major corporations were generating fees from $275-$450 per edited minute of video. As a book author with Bentley Publishers, I generate royalty income, and informed consumers have placed a value on the content. All of my Jeep® titles received manufacturers’ part numbers and endorsements from Chrysler (passing legal and engineering approval). Similarly the GM truck book and Ford F-truck book each received part numbers and endorsements from GM Motorsport and Ford SVO, respectively. The Jeep® Owner’s Bible™ became a book trade “best seller”, enjoying the largest volume of sales for a Bentley Publishers book to date. Then came the internet digital publishing world. In the internet realm, everything is presumed to be “free”. For the first seven years of 4WD Mechanix Magazine, I provided a massive quantity of free information to faceless readers and viewers. My expenses and time compensation were paid by advertising/sponsorship from major aftermarket vendors and manufacturers, and this came at a high price. I continually produced new product promotions, product installation how-to videos and on location event videos on behalf of each sponsor. Evidence: Scroll through the 400-plus videos available for free at the magazine website. This intensive time allocation means continually currying advertising/sponsorship revenue streams while satisfying the needs and expectations of forum readers and the magazine’s viewer/readers. Sponsor coverage has included annual treks to the Moab EJS for bell-to-bell filming with a video camera, filming Tierra Del Sol 4x4 Safari, filming the Off-Road Expo, filming each year's SEMA Show, filming at King of the Hammers, supporting a tire sponsor at Baja plus several trips over the Rubicon Trail—on foot with a video camera. For consumers these events are exciting and adventurous. For a focused videographer on assignment, it's all seen through the lens...When advertising revenue flows, it always comes at a price. Paying Dues Sponsors want things like traffic numbers with a demographic group's affinity for their products. Consumers need reliable information with vital facts about their technical issues. Eventually, it dawned on me that the folks who need to value the forum exchanges and answers to pressing technical issues and how-to instructional are the end users and consumers. Yes, all things Toffler should not be free! To be there for consumers' needs, engaged in a useful dialogue at the forums and magazine, doing research and making my extensive library and a half-century of professional experience available, the forum participants need to place a value on the content. We all find the anonymity of free internet content opportune, surfing away, seldom aware of the information source, quickly moving on if we're not immediately satisfied with the content. For improving your skills, however, we need a dialogue...and you need to make a modest investment. Unless you grow organic produce or have some kWh of solar energy for my welder, $12 (U.S.) per year is a sensible trade off. My personal 3,200-plus topic/replies, a number that just keeps increasing, is proof that I'm willing to share. This is the reason for the shift to a Subscriber Membership at the forums. To deliver the value and content that members deserve, I have pared down on advertising and narrowed the field of sponsors to those who best identify with the consumer interests and direct needs of our forum members. The subscriber platform benefits those who gain most: consumer members! So, I’m banking on subscriber users valuing the forums content. Internet searches can lead elsewhere for “free” information. But if you need my experience, my access to an extensive library and my earnest interest in helping you build the safest, best performing 4x4 possible, then justify the $12 per year (the cost of one replacement oil filter for a 5.9L Cummins engine!) to get your questions answered. Help make the forums an interactive learning community that respects your desire to fix things properly. Join us! —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. The steering gear and linkage are vital safety concerns—yet the pitman arm on a 4WD Jeep or other light 4x4 truck can easily be installed incorrectly. With the popularity of oversized tires and suspension lift kits, many pitman arms get replaced long before there is a parts wear issue. A dropped pitman arm is often part of a suspension lift kit, and the pitman arm on a new or relatively new vehicle may get replaced with a dropped arm. Here are some procedures that I use when installing a pitman arm: 1) Never turn the arm against either of the steering gear's extreme left or right turn positions. Force against the gear in these positions can damage the steering gear internal parts—the gear is not intended to absorb this kind of force at either end of the worm or ball nut's travel. I like to keep the steering gear and pitman arm close to the center or straight-ahead steering position during pitman arm removal and installation. 2) When removing the pitman arm nut on a typical steering gear, there is a lot of force required. It is easier on parts to use an air impact gun and socket to remove the nut, as there is less tendency for the pitman to rotate...If you have the steering gear removed from the vehicle, consider holding the arm in a large bench vise (with the gear assembly free) while loosening or tightening the nut. 3) Once the nut is removed, use the correct pitman arm puller tool to prevent damage to the steering shaft and other parts. Make sure the tool fits properly between the backside of the arm and the neck of the steering gear housing, with enough clearance to prevent damaging the housing/casting! 4) There is considerable force with the pitman arm secured on tapered splines, so use extreme caution with the puller tool. Once the initial tension relieves, the arm will come off readily. 5) Clean up the sector shaft splines as needed. It is critical that the new pitman arm fits properly, an interference fit that demands clean mating surfaces. If installing a powder coated aftermarket pitman arm, I always use a suitable drill motor-powered wire brush to remove the powder coating from the tapered seat and splines of the new pitman arm. (I remove paint here, too.) Don't damage or dull the spline teeth in the process! Warning: If you mate a powder-coated part at the splines, you will get a false torque reading. There is a high likelihood that the pitman arm will loosen at the splines as steering force wears through the powder coating. If you have a powder-coated arm already installed, and if the arm has been in service, re-check the nut torque with the pitman arm in the straight ahead steering position. 6) Always use the required torque wrench and socket to bring the sector/pitman nut to proper torque. Again, make sure the arm is near the straight ahead steering position to prevent damaging the steering gear. The torque required is high, especially on a recirculating ball-and-nut power gear, much more than on a light-duty vintage Jeep cam-and-lever gear! Do not second-guess the torque setting. Use a factory or professional shop manual to determine the correct torque for the pitman/sector nut on your steering gear. 7) When reattaching steering tie-rods, make sure they are clean and free of debris. If the outer end of the new pitman arm has a tapered seat with powder coating or paint, I use a drill motor-powered wire brush to remove the powder coating and take the tapered seat to bare metal. 8) Attach a clean tie-rod ball stud to the pitman arm tapered seat, using the correct type nut (typically castellated or flanged self-locking) that comes with the tie-rod end. Flanged, self-locking nuts are often one-time use only. Consult the factory workshop manual for recommendations on replacing fasteners or use of thread locking liquid. Always use OEM grade hardware and fasteners. 9) Align steering joints, adjusting sleeves and tie-rod ends so that the ball studs are on center with the steering linkage aligned. Make sure none of the joints bind or run out of travel over the full range of steering turn positions and angles. Make sure that parts do not interfere with each other. 10) I always recheck the torque on the pitman and tie-rod fasteners after a short time in service. This is a safety precaution that may catch a part requiring a slight re-torque. Again, this is all about safety. Use of oversized tires places an even bigger load on these parts... Moses
  4. Moses, You have been an incredible source of information to me. I recently (several months ago) had my 1985 258 professionally rebuilt. It was balanced, torque plated etc etc. You helped me then. My 1985 CJ7 is completely stock, no changes seem to have been made. Components are all original to this jeep and are OEM. Currently the 258 is on an engine stand and I have removed the trans and T case. The T5 and Dana 300 are now sitting on my bench. I have watched the Dana 300 rebuild here and of course have your Rebuilders Guide. I feel comfortable with the Dana 300 rebuild and intend to do so. FYI: I will be having East Coast Gear change my D30 and AMC 20 from 2.73 to probably 3.73. I have no intention for hard wheeling nor do I want tires larger than 31 inches diameter. My Jeep will be mostly on the highway and occasionally on a Jeep like trail and snow. No hard wheeling of any kind. There are so many places on the web that will rebuild my T5 for around $950, all good, but I want my specific transmission (1352-077) to remain with this vehicle as from the factory. I would also like to build my experience with transmissions. I am willing to buy all necessary tools and parts to rebuild correctly. Arbor press, pullers, bearing installers....it doesn't matter. When finished, I will have an excellent rebuild and all the tools. Henry Ford said: "If you need a tool and don't buy it...you'll eventually pay for it...and not have it". I am a firm believer. I have the T5 FSM. I have attached a huge video file (32 mb) of my input shaft movement. VID_20160520_182156231.mp4 If I send ,lots of pictures etc can you help me rebuild my T5? Reid
  5. Good morning all, I recently completed a front and rear differential gear swap on my '83 CJ. This included new carriers with a Spartan Locker up front and an Eaton TruTrac in an AMC20 in back. I went with 4.10 gears, and had the U-joints replaced at a truck driveline shop on both driveshafts at the same time. Now that every thing is reassembled, I'm noticing a rattle or buzz coming from the transfer case shifter about 40 MPH or above. I would describe it as sounding like a bunch of nuts and bolts being shaken in a metal can. It seems most noticeable on acceleration or steady speed. It is absent or significantly reduced under coast or engine braking conditions. I haven't had it that fast in 4WD, so I can only confirm it happens in 2HI. I've heard of various internal issues, as well as possible driveshaft phase concerns as possible causes. I DID have the driveshaft out, but I DIDN'T pull it apart. I can't say for sure that it went back in the same way (could be rotated 90-270 degrees), but the two halves are aligned the same as they were before. I'm not noticing any other symptoms of driveline vibrations, but it's a CJ, so it kind of vibrates all the time. Any idea how to isolate the problem? I'm planning to twin stick the Dana 300, and I'd like to eliminate this rattle first so I'm not chasing a problem with multiple possible sources. I ordered a Dana 300 isolator bushing. That should be an easy fix, but I don't really expect that is the issue, as there was no problem before the gear swap and driveshaft U-joint replacement. Any thoughts would be appreciated.
  6. So I have a 96 Geo Tracker 5speed manual 4x4. I bought it from my uncle who said he had just bought a brand new clutch. However the vehicle when started will only shift into reverse. It won't shift into any other gear. If I start it with the gear in first the car doesn't lurch forward or seem to do anything abnormal, except once I shift to neutral I am unable to shift to any other gears except reverse again. When the vehicle is off I have no problem shifting to all gears. I don't have the slightest clue what to check. Any feedback could be very helpful.
  7. 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
  8. Many of us have workshop "habits" we've picked up that could be helpful to others. Sometimes its an easier way to perform mechanical repairs or a welding task, other times it has to do with space-saving techniques and approaches that give you more shop floor space. Is there a piece of equipment that has made a real difference and proven its worth? A way to keep the shop cooler or warmer that saves energy and cost? Safer ways to lift a vehicle and work beneath it? What saves time or makes a difference when you perform routine or specialized work? Let us know, everyone wants to improve shop efficiency! Your how-to insights would be helpful to others! Moses
  9. I have recently purchased a 1993 Jeep YJ with a 4.0. The jeep recently started running and idling rough. The Check Engine Light (CEL) was not lit nor did it illuminate when the key was turned ON. After further investigation I found the CEL bulb was removed and found shards of glass in the socket. I removed the socket and added a new bulb. Upon further investigation I found the PCM is storing the following codes: 12 ==> Battery disconnected (accurate) I just did a head light upgrade and added relays. 27 ==> I have found a few listed on-line... Code 27 -Injector control circuit-bank output driver stage does not respond properly to the control signal. Code 27-Injectors No. 1, 2, or 3 control circuit and peak current not reached. Then followed by the closing code 55 I am not sure where to start troubleshooting this... Thanks in advance! Bruce
  10. I just recently purchased a 1984 CJ7 Laredo. The Jeep is bone stock, including the 258ci engine, T-5 transmission, Dana 300 transfer case, Dana 30 front axle, AMC 20 rear axle, and hardtop. The previous owner took meticulous care of the rig. After many hours of research and visiting many parts websites, I was hoping for some advice on what upgrades I should install and how I can prioritize these projects. This Jeep will be used around town, on coastal foothill fire roads, and trails around Bear Valley, CA. So far I'd like to do the following items: Twin Stick conversion on TC 2.5 inch suspension lift kit 32" tires (though not sure of axle drive ratios yet) Full rollcage AMC 20 retrofit (can't decide between solid axle conversion or full floater kit) Body re-spray My budget is $5,000 and my DIY skills are intermediate. I already have the Jeep Owners Bible and will be picking up a copy of Jeep CJ Rebuilder's Manual: 1972 to 1986 Maybe down the road, I will consider an EFI addition and transmission upgrade/change. Thanks Peter
  11. 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
  12. 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
  13. Good afternoon, I'm looking for information about all that we should know before servicing an axle. I'm not an experienced mechanic, so I like to investigate before mess it up. Which one will be the best fluid to fill up the differential? I've read about API GL-5 and 75W-90 specs for this. I've also read about a limited slip differentials and an additive to be required for that one. So, how can we identify the axle that we have, starting with this, I've read that the D35 has a plastic plug. But mine has a threaded one. What things can we look for, to identify the D35 and D30 axles? How can we identify or distinguish the limited slip one? Thanks in advance. Alberto.
  14. Gents. Looking for a little guidance, i have a 94 Cherokee XJ with a 242J behind a AW-4 automatic on the TC tag reads 242J 5209 8046 5 19 94 2 272 I also have a 231J with a tag that reads 231J 5209 9212 1 14 98 3 272 Are they interchangeable? I have a spare front xj driveshaft and it fits both outputs, although the cases do appear to be a little different, the 231 is from a wrangler with fixed outputs front and rear, as well as having one sensor in the front case half and another sensor on the back case half. the 242J has them both together on the back half. The shift linkage looks to be the same. The 231J has 23 spline input, not sure about the 242J as it is my daily driver, Any help would be muchly appreciated as there is so much info on the net i get it buggered up trying to get it straight
  15. 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
  16. 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
  17. 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
  18. 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?
  19. 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
  20. With the growing interest in aftermarket radiators, performance and "aluminum" appear to be interchangeable terms. The Griffin radiator in our 1999 Jeep XJ Cherokee is just one example, there are many. Even OEMs have turned to aluminum when high performance efficiency is necessary. The 1999 Jeep XJ Cherokee with aftermarket performance radiator. Note the stiffer aluminum necks on these radiators. Gear type hose clamps work much better with these radiators. Aluminum radiators have aluminum necks. These necks can be stiffer and thicker walled than the traditional brass and copper radiator necks. While OEMs often use spring clamps (faster on the assembly line!) to secure hoses to the brass/copper radiator necks, this kind of sealing may not be suitable for these rigid aluminum necks! We discussed OE clamps during the Griffin aluminum radiator installation. In the time this vehicle has been in service, every OEM spring type clamp has been replaced with a high quality gear-type, adjustable hose clamp! Weeping and seepage occurred with the OEM spring clamps—especially with the range of temperatures experienced during the winter at our area...Overnight temps can drop to the 'teens or even lower, while a thermostat temp of 195-degree F occurs each time the engine warms up! At left is a quality worm gear hose clamp that works better with aluminum radiator necks...Middle is a custom T-bolt clamp that has a self-locking nut and can be readjusted as necessary. At right is the most primitive of OEM type clamps that do not work well over time. Tension of clamp at right is preset and often loosens with heat cycling over long periods of time or from recession into the aging hose. Always re-torque the worm gear clamp after heat cycling for a short time. You can also re-torque the clamp in the middle, a high performance Mishimoto stainless steel offering from Summit Racing. The more rigid aluminum radiator necks call for secure clamp loads. Tension constants are limited on spring type hose clamps. They can only hold to the preset tension at a given diameter. Making matters worse, heat cycling affects any metal, and this includes spring clamps. Spring clamps tend to tension less after higher mileage use. So, if you're switching to an aluminum radiator, or if your OE radiator or other hose necks are stiffer aluminum, consider using gear type or quality adjustable hose clamps. Make certain that you recheck the tension on these clamps after the hoses have heated and cooled for a number of cycles. Once these clamps are at the proper torque setting for a conformed hose, they will hold that setting for a very long time. Moses
  21. There's an epidemic problem with fuel these days, and many blame ethanol and winterized fuels as the culprit. Whether ethanol or MTBE is the issue, carburetor and EFI system clogging is rampant, especially in vehicles that set for long periods of time. This became clear when our XR350R Honda dirt motorcycle set for over a year with fuel in the carburetor bowls. This four-valve thumper uses two carburetors, and one has the idle circuit and a pilot jet. The engine ran flawless until parked, then would not idle after setting for a long time. Most of us are aware of this plague, especially owners of Jeep 4x4s, rock crawlers and OHVs that park for long periods. Essentially, gasoline and diesel fuel has a shelf life. These fuels break down over time. The result can be an inability to fire, severe engine ping and symptoms similar to extremely low octane performance. In the day, this would simply cause poor performance. A fresh tank of fuel would solve the problem. Remember that old barn find MB Jeep or Bultaco motorcycle that would not start? A fresh tank of fuel (pre-mix for the Bultaco, please), priming the carburetor, and the engine fired! Sure, the carburetor gaskets may have shrunk and they leak now, but we're running! Today's ethanol behaves like alcohol and bonds with any water in the fuel. This water, instead of laying low in the fuel tank, moves through the fuel supply system. Fuel filter materials, especially pleated paper, swell in the presence of water. This swelling serves as a safeguard to protect fuel injection and carburetor components: The filter clogs and stops fuel flow. Note: This can even happen from one bad tank of fuel (too much water content). We've all heard about or experienced the gas station that ran its storage tank to the bottom, where the water accumulates. The unlucky customers who pumped that gas wound up with clogged fuel filters. Back to the XR350R example, the stale pump gas in the fuel bowl and pilot jet caused such severe clogging of the jet that the jet could not be cleaned with carburetor cleaner! (Drilling a carburetor jet is a lost cause; the bit, even turned with finger tips, will scarf into the brass and increase the jet's bore size!) I replaced the jet with the proper size pilot and rebuilt both carburetors. The engine's dependability and performance immediately returned. So, if your 4x4, OHV, ATV or dirt motorcycle sets up for long periods, consider using a fuel stabilizer or other additives that will prevent fuel breakdown and damage from stagnant fuel. In the case of motorcycles and ATVs with petcocks, always turn off the fuel for both safety reasons and to stop flow to the carburetor. Drain the carburetor bowl(s) when your OHV or bike will set for long periods; most OHV carburetors have a simple drain plug on the bottom of the carburetor's float bowl. Don't overlook the "fuel station" on your toy hauler trailer, either! Use up that fuel or stabilize it. I keep stored fuel for no more than four or five months these days. If my 4-stroke motorcycle fuel can is setting that long with fuel, the fuel gets dumped into the street/trail driven XJ Cherokee and burned up. We do the same with the Ram/Cummins diesel and its 75-gallon auxiliary fuel tank. After 60-days without a lot of driving, I will run both tanks down completely, timing the refill for a period when fuel prices will not be devastating: This is a 110 gallon refill, and the 30-50 cents a gallon "futures-based" price hike can be costly. Does anyone have a gasoline or diesel fuel stabilizer that they find useful and effective? Please share... Moses
  22. I worked as a light- and medium-duty truck fleet mechanic in my early career. In this environment, vehicles must run well and safely. I performed any and all mechanical service work and preventive care on 22 vehicles and pieces of construction equipment. In the process, I found quick ways to "test" engines, chassis, brakes, steering, transmissions, clutches, axles and electrical systems. Some of those fundamental diagnostic skills serve me to this day. One area of testing was for internal engine wear, and at other forum topics, I discuss the use of compression, vacuum and leak down gauges. None of these tests, however, pinpoint wear on the engine's timing chain, sprockets or timing gear mechanism. The vacuum gauge comes closest, as it can show retarded valve timing or ignition retard effects, indicated by low vacuum at an idle with normal engine compression readings. Retarded valve timing indicates a worn timing chain, sprockets or timing gears. In the conventional ignition distributor (breaker point or HEI) era, there was a hint of timing chain wear when the ignition spark timing suddenly retarded (without a loose distributor housing). At one time, OEMs tried nylon coated camshaft sprocket teeth for quieter engine operation, and it was not unusual for the engine to suddenly show retarded spark timing with mysterious "white plastic" bits appearing in the engine's drain oil. Regardless of sprocket or gear design, I used my own quick test for engine timing chain wear without the need to remove the engine's timing cover. With a breaker point or breaker-less ignition distributor with a cap and rotor, the test is quick and straightforward: 1) Disable the ignition and starter, detach the battery negative cable if necessary...This timing chain or gear test will be easier if the spark plugs are removed, but this is not mandatory. 2) Rotate the crankshaft pulley in the direction of engine cranking, using a socket and ratchet wrench at the crankshaft bolt; make sure the ignition is disabled or battery negative cable disconnected. Bring the pulley to the TDC mark. 3) Remove the distributor cap. Note the position of the ignition rotor to the distributor housing. Mark the distributor housing edge with a crayon or marker if helpful. 4) Rotate the crankshaft in the direction opposite cranking, very slowly; you will be watching for the slightest movement of the distributor rotor. 5) As soon as the rotor budges, stop rotating the crankshaft. Note the number of degrees that the crankshaft has rotated. The distributor shaft and rotor will have rotated 1/2 that number of degrees, since this is a 4-stroke engine: There are 2 rotations of the crankshaft for each rotation of the camshaft. 6) This amount of movement should be slight for a timing chain or gears in good condition. Since the distributor shaft runs off the camshaft, this movement reflects the play at the timing chain or gear set. 7) Repeat this test if necessary, always bringing the crankshaft pulley slowly to the TDC mark in the cranking direction—without passing the mark. If you pass the pulley mark, rotate the crankshaft back 45-degrees or so and carefully bring it to the TDC mark again. This test indicates the play between the camshaft gear or sprocket and the crankshaft gear or sprocket. It works on most OHV engines and also L-head engines. From the earliest Willys engines with sprockets and a chain, through the gear set valve timing mechanisms, to the modern chain and sprocket sets, the principle remains the same. If you're trying to translate rotor movement to wear, my experience taught that approximately 5/8" of crankshaft pulley movement (8" or so pulley diameter), at the O.D. of the pulley, was considerable for OHV or L-head engines with a timing chain and sprockets. If the engine has timing gears, like the older Jeep L-head or F-head 134 four, movement should be less than this amount. You're talking about play between gear teeth. This is a rough test but useful when your ignition base timing has been retarding over time on a conventional distributor—and the distributor housing is not loose. On all engines, including modern EFI engines where the PCM/ECU controls spark timing, the distributor's rotor movement determines the amount of timing chain and sprocket or timing gear wear. The fleet engines I serviced and rebuilt at that time included Chevrolet, GMC, Dodge (slant six), Ford and I-H inline six-cylinder OHV types. These pushrod engines used either a timing chain with sprockets or timing gears, all with a breaker point ignition. Engines like the AMC/Jeep 232/258 and 4.0L are of similar design, beginning with breaker point, then electronic and finally PCM driven ignition systems. Moses
  23. This is one that should be common sense, but i have seen vehicles where the owners overlook this. Whenever you upgrade the alternator output to a vehicle, or change to higher amperage batteries, or even set up dual batteries, always watch where the wires are run very closely. When i wire everything up, i used heavy gauge wire, with insulated clamps to mount the wires to the inner fenders, away from anything that would cause an issue with it, and run the wires for the dual batteries through the firewall to the switch in a short piece of conduit bonded to the firewall. If you wire through a hole drilled in the firewall, with no additional insulation of any kind, the wire's insulation can rub through and cause it to catch the vehicle on fire. This can be easily prevented by using a readily available rubber grommet to insulate that one wire where it goes inside the cab. I have worked on many vehicles in the past where people don't pay attention to things that could cause an issue later on down the road. Safety should always be first and foremost in any vehicle repair or upgrade of any kind. On my 1994 Dakota, i have switched dual batteries, with the switch inside the cab, for ease of access, a higher output alternator, 1200 watt two channel amp, electric over hydraulic Meyers plow, 4 combination driving/fog lights on the front, hard wired 1800 watt power inverter in the cab, and all of the wires under the hood are run through PVC conduit that is attached to the truck with insulated hard rubber/metal clamps. The wiring in the cab is run through double layer flexible plastic, like the manufacturers use, that way i never have to worry about a fire, or a wire shorting out at the wrong time. I know running conduit isn't always practical in some vehicles, but even flexible tubing, and rubber grommets, are better than exposed wiring everywhere. And, no matter what you are wiring, from aftermarket lights, to stereo systems, to winches, plows, whatever it may be, zip ties are a very inexpensive and valuable addition to any toolbox.
  24. There are many diagnostic tools now available, mostly electronic, often in the form of leading edge apps and electronic diagnostic tools or simulations. While this is great for electronic fuel-and-spark system or overall powertrain diagnostics, there is one inexpensive and time honored spot check for the engine long block's* condition—the simple engine testing vacuum gauge. *Note: The long block is the engine block with all of the reciprocating parts plus the cylinder head installed. If the long block is in good operating condition with normal valve lift and valve timing, the rest of the engine's performance is about spark, fuel and exhaust tuning. Years ago, when I began working as a truck mechanic, the vacuum gauge was a standard tune-up item alongside a compression gauge. The vacuum test was considered quite useful for determining engine compression loss, vacuum leaks and loss, needed spark timing advance, the engine's condition under load, leaking valves and more! Hooking a vacuum gauge to your engine's intake manifold source (below the carburetor or EFI throttle body) can be very revealing. To begin, the vacuum should read steady. Depending upon the altitude at the shop, manifold vacuum should be in the 18-22 in/hg range at an engine idle under no engine load—with a stock or RV camshaft. If low, don't panic yet, the engine's spark timing may be retarded. Base spark timing has an overall effect on manifold vacuum, and advancing the timing will raise manifold vacuum. Of course, there's a limit to the amount, as the engine will begin to ping or detonate if spark timing is too far advanced for the fuel's octane rating. On modern EFI engines, timing is often fixed by the crankshaft position sensor (CPS) and the PCM/ECU/ECM software programming. The computer will instantaneously and continuously adjust spark timing. For tuning purposes, it's assumed that timing is adequately advanced unless the engine is in limp-home mode. Vacuum gauge troubleshooting and readings can include a wavering or fluctuating gauge needle. This is the sign of a valve that is not sealing or seating properly. If you see this on the gauge at an idle with the throttle closed and no load on the engine, suspect an unseated valve. Causes of an unseated valve(s) are burned valves, bad valve seats or valves adjusted too tightly. On an AMC/Jeep engine that has non-adjustable rocker arms, there are several causes for a fluttering vacuum gauge needle: pushrods too long, a surfaced block deck and/or cylinder head with the original pushrods, high valve stem heights, or a thin head gasket. Each can cause a valve(s) to remain open when they should be seated. Driven in this condition for any length of time will either burn a valve(s) or cause carbon buildup on the valve face and seat. Manifold vacuum is important enough to be part of the gauge cluster on race cars and other performance engine applications. The Auto Meter 2337 gauge (left) is dash mounted for continually monitoring a performance engine while operating the vehicle. At right is an inexpensive Equus 3620 Vacuum Gauge test kit. Maximum fuel efficiency depends upon the highest tolerable manifold vacuum—including spark timing advanced to just below the point of spark knock or detonation (ping)! Note the efficiency zones built into the readings for each of these gauges. Not a sophisticated tool but surely an important tool in your tuning equipment, the vacuum gauge says a lot about an engine's running compression and cylinder pressures. The gauge can help identify poor valve lift from worn camshaft lobes and lifters, unseated valves, low compression, retarded valve timing from a worn timing chain, retarded spark timing, vacuum leaks and losses, plus the overall engine condition and tune. Unlike both a compression gauge test and a cylinder leakdown test, the vacuum gauge is a real time, running engine test! EFI sensors that parallel a simple vacuum gauge test would be the MAP and idle air control signals. MAP factors for barometric pressure and altitude changes, important for onboard PCM/ECU/ECM tuning of an EFI fuel and spark management system. Moses
  25. I talk a lot about using a cylinder leakdown tester for pinpoint engine diagnosis. When you want to understand an engine's internal condition, the degree of wear or actual cylinder seal, this is the tool. You can narrow your findings to a bad intake or exhaust valve, worn piston rings, excess cylinder taper, a blown head gasket or an engine casting crack—even more findings if you're creative! For some, the cost of a leakdown tester is not justified. Maybe the tool will not be used beyond a one-time test of your vehicle's current engine. Maybe you're strapped for cash and simply cannot afford the least expensive tester. Regardless, I will share a very inexpensive alternative if you have access to an oxy-acetylene brazing torch, some air line fittings and an air compressor. The homemade tool consists of an old spark plug and an air hose fitting. Here are the steps: 1) Remove the ground strap from the spark plug end; grind away and wire brush any remaining, rough material. 2) Knock the insulator/electrode out of the plug, wearing eye protection—porcelain is like glass! 3) Use an air coupler fitting with male NPT threads that will roughly screw into the empty steel body of the old spark plug. 4) Carefully and thoroughly braze the fitting to the spark plug shell; make this a strong, air-tight seal. Remove any flux or rough surfaces to prevent blowing debris into the engine's cylinders. The homemade tool shown here is a special extension/adapter for leak testing at the hard-to-reach spark plug threads of the magazine's Honda XR350R, XR500R and other four-valve motorcycle engines. The principle is the same for making an inexpensive, homemade cylinder leak tester. The tool I'm describing works with your air compressor. Set the line pressure first to 60 PSI, which simulates low compression seal, then boost line pressure to 100-120 PSI. This higher PSI will create enough pressure to expand the piston rings and force the compression ring(s) outward against the cylinder wall. This is more like actual engine operation pressures. Here's how to do the check: 1) Before inserting the spark plug thread air adapter, disable the ignition system and remove the spark plugs for #1 cylinder and its opposite firing cylinder. 2) Make sure the #1 piston is at TDC on its firing stroke (verify with the distributor rotor position if necessary). Note that for #1 and its opposite firing cylinder, the crankshaft timing mark for TDC will enable quickly bringing the piston to top-dead-center for the test. 3) With the piston at TDC on its firing stroke, install the homemade spark plug thread adapter. Seat the plug adapter carefully. (Use the plug's original gasket to protect the head, especially if aluminum.) 4) Apply compressed air at the lower pressure first. You will follow up with the higher pressure. 5) Listen for leaks at the crankcase (oil filler cap removed); the tailpipe; and the engine's air intake. Caution: If you suspect a blown head gasket, remove the radiator cap before applying compressed air to cylinders! Otherwise, you can blow off a radiator hose or cause severe damage to the radiator at these test pressures...This also applies when testing with a ready-made cylinder leakdown tool. When through with #1 cylinder, you can rotate the crankshaft carefully (ignition disabled!), one rotation of the crank pulley. This will bring the cylinder opposite #1 to the TDC position for testing. The reason for using these two cylinders for a quick, general engine condition test is that each of these two cylinders can use the crankshaft pulley's TDC mark for locating exact TDC for that piston. Repeat the air pressure tests at the second cylinder. Finding the opposite cylinder to #1 is simple. Note the engine's spark firing order. On a Jeep inline six, this would be 1-5-3-6-2-4. The cylinder opposite #1 is #6, both pistons rise and set in sync. When #1 is at TDC, #6 is also at TDC, one is at its firing position, the other at the top of the exhaust stroke...For a popular GM or Chrysler V-8 with a firing order of 1-8-4-3-6-5-7-2, the two paired cylinders are #1 and #6. A Jeep four is 1-3-4-2. #1 and #4 pistons rise and set simultaneously. This follows suit for other engines, note your engine's firing order. This test is for rough results only, as you are not actually measuring the percentage of leak, rather you are trying to find a substantial leak. In cases where the rings are shot, a valve or valve seat has a burned notch on its edge, or a head gasket is severely blown between cylinders, or into the cooling port(s), this test can be a quick, accurate likeness to what you get from a leakdown test. The homemade tool can also be used as an air hold for changing valve springs with the engine's cylinder head in place. With the rocker arms loose and valves closed, regardless of piston position in the cylinder, you can keep the valves in position while you carefully remove the valve springs with an overhead spring compressor. Do not allow the valve to unseat, and keep air pressure applied. As a precaution, raise the piston to TDC for this procedure; that way, the valve cannot drop far into the cylinder. If you do any volume of engine work, an inexpensive cylinder leakdown tester like the OTC 5609 tool is cost effective. I just pulled up this "best buy" on line at $58 plus shipping: http://www.tooltopia.com/otc-tools-5609.aspx?utm_source=pricegrabber&utm_medium=cse&utm_term=OTC5609&utm_campaign=pricegrabber_r1 For that price, you may prefer buying the leakdown tool. A few engine tests, and you will more than pay for the tool in pinpoint diagnostic value. This is my Snap-On leakdown tester, which has paid for itself many, many times over since 1981. I have quickly diagnosed major engine problems and internal engine issues without engine or cylinder head removal. See my additional discussion about this tool in the engine diagnostics tool forum. Moses
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