Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Engine oil leak...

Engine Oil Leak

General area, engine on left, transmission on right
It all started off as I was getting ready to leave Vashon, in the RV, to attend the monthly scooter meeting.  I backed up to empty my black and grey water tanks with not a care in the world.  Emptied tanks and was putting hose back in, then glanced back and saw a sight that would make anyone shudder..  A nice, steady stream of oil coming from back end of engine...  There was a really good sized puddle on the ground, at least a quart over a 3-5 minutes time frame..  Bad bad thing.

Moved the RV off to the side so could see what happened, and it was at this point that noticed had a steady stream of oil from my parking place to the dump station, then to where I parked.  Again, really not a good sign.  Went to get maintenance guy and we cleaned up the area to help mitigate effects on the environment..  Icky icky icky, but got it done to their liking, which is important!

Point of leak (cleaned up
While on island, some mechanics helped me try and figure this out, and we went with the cheap solution first, which was to simply plug the hole with a 3/4" brass plug.  This worked well, until drove a few miles up and down Vashon Highway (real name, I swear). Once got back and removed the plug, some oil came out, more than just couple drips.  Their thinking was that with the plug missing, oil would follow the easiest path.  Made sense so tried it, and it really didn't work all that well.

I stayed on Vashon Island for couple more days and called around to several garages to see who could fit me in.  Was very close to one place but they wouldn't let me stay in RV and don't really have any other place to stay, especially with two wonderful cats (Scatter and Paisley).  Until I found the one below.  Very happy with them!

Place of leak with oil pan

With the worst fears confirmed, went to Bay Engine and Truck Repair, in the Port of Tacoma area.  I couldn't find a web site for them yet one of the garages recommended them, and they could fit me in fairly early, with a promise to look at it on Thursday.

I must say, overall am very very pleased with the service they gave me!  They're great folks, very knowledgeable, and do great work.  One thing is that they're not really setup to do RV's, or much work underneath vehicles, as they don't have a heavy duty lift, other than those rolling hydraulic pump jacks.  They even let me take pictures of parts of the process, which have included here!

Driveshaft unhooked
I will also HIGHLY Recommend them if anyone needs work done in the area.  Very knowledgeable, very helpful, and all the guys that work there are super.

And, they admit when there's a goober.

The uninstall process went fairly smooth, they had to unhook driveshaft, unhook cables, remove bolts in flywheel / flexplate, and all sorts of other stuff am glossing over, where it seems easy but reality is a different story.  There was a lot of hours done in just removing things.  Putting together was quicker, but still unexpected things always happen.

Transmission / Engine seperated
Next major milestone was removal of all bolts, and removal of transmission from the engine flywheel.  That made me happy!

This opened up where the bad gasket was.  Removing the gasket was fairly easy.  They had a nifty little tool that was able to pull it out.  Not sure what the tool is named, but it had a little slide hammer, with a screw on one end which went into the old gasket.  They then slid hammer portion and it pulled out the old seal.

Now, this is where the little goober happened, and extra effort, and some more parts, needed.

After removing the seal, there was what seemed like another gasket there that needed to be removed, and mechanic thought it was welded in place with some type of epoxy or something.  Spent some time trying to chip away, only to realize they were chipping away at the rear cover, which houses the rear main seal (ebay link).  The part number is 3921043, for a Cummins diesel.  Couldn't really find a different link.

Due to this, had to drop oil pan, remove some engine mounts, replace couple more gaskets, do some extra cleaning, and all that happy fun fun stuff. 

The all important Rear Main Seal in the middle

This extra work was a mixed blessing in a way..  It added some extra time to the project, more time than I really wanted, yet it also allowed me to change the engine oil, which have been meaning to.  Didn't expect to replace all the other gaskets, such as oil pan gasket, rear cover gasket, and some type of seal kit (not these seals either).

Putting it together was pretty easy and it went together fairly quickly overall.  We had to replace a band clamp as the exhaust pipe was totally disconnected from exhaust manifold, yet most of the exhaust did go through exhaust pipe, some didn't, which probably affected a lot of things.  This band clamp was a royal pain to put in.

After it was all assembled, drove RV around for a little bit, and no more oil leak!  Went to local truck stop and spent the night so they could verify in the morning.  The following morning, as I arrived, it was sprinkling.  Soon as mechanic crawled under it started raining..  Bummer bummer.  He gave the job a clean bill of health and off I went!

Now, the bill..  Total was $2,642.25.  It seems like a lot, and it is, but seeing as this is the only real true repair have had to do it really isn't all that bad.  Diesel engines run forever and are cheap on maintenance, but, when maintenance is done, it really adds up.  Still, over two years or so, that's pretty inexpensive and now it's good for another 20 years, or until an alternate form of propulsion comes along.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Transmission oil leak...

Transmission Oil Leak

Leak around bolt on top
 It took me awhile to realize exactly how bad it was, i.e. 1,000 miles or so, though knew I was leaking transmission oil.  Now, much to my chagrin, and looks to be no long lasting damage, but was running super low on transmission fluid due to the leak.  When looking under this is what I saw.

Bolt location prior to checking
From what I could see, and from what I now know, there is a bolt head on top, and a washer below, where the leak originates.  Upon talking with some mechanics I know on the island (Vashon Island), they informed me that this is an alternate fill tube location for the transmission.  There's indications that a similar thing is on other side, but instead of a bolt and washer, fill tube, with dipstick, is there.  I didn't look on other side as that wasn't leaking, right here is leaking.

Now, what it turned out to be, and no idea how long it was like this, is this bolt was loose, very very very loose..  Did I say very?  Turned it quite a few turns by my fingers alone, which isn't a really good sign.

Tight, clean, leak free!
With this revelation it was time to tighten it and add oil.  Prior to this had picked up a gallon of ATF (Automatic Transmission Fluid), as it was cheaper to buy by the gallon.  Turns out I added the whole gallon (four quarts) and that made it go to the tippy top.

Final note on this.  I knew before hand, but somehow didn't remember (surprising, right?), that automatic transmissions need to be checked while engine is idling and transmission is NOT in gear (neutral).  Turns out I was checking fluid level while engine was off, just like we do engine oil.  Bad move, real bad move.  Had thought it was overfull, and prior to Vashon had thought it was in the normal range, until I kept seeing fluid showing up under transmission, especially when parked on odd angles.  Word to the wise, check transmission fluid dipstick on level ground, with engine running, in idle mode, for couple minutes.  Clean stick off, insert, check, and done.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

My first horse ride!

One of my things for coming to New Mexico this time was to ride a horse, and by golly, I did just that.  Was splendid and wonderful having such a powerful, and intelligent, animal to interface with.

Have had relations with this horse for a week or so, feeding her, giving her treats, and even watching her poo and pee, they're not shy of anything.

Her name is Copper, and we've gotten to know each other quite well.  She especially likes it when I come over and snuggle a little prior to giving some treats.  Am still analyzing what happened but really had fun.  Copper seems to be a thoroughbred and was trained very well prior to her going to the rescue.  She's leading a really great life here!  A really great life, especially with all the "candy" (alfalfa) that she's given!

One thing I was told, and am sure there are differing opinions, but horses expect a leader, a true leader.  It was a little shaky at first, but I was able to control her fairly well.  Was on Copper for about 15-20 minutes and had a splendid time, though almost got decapitated before it finally sunk in on what I had to do.  We were going towards the shelter at a good clip, and well, she wouldn't listen to me until I put some meaning behind my voice, which was unusual for me.  Very great learning experience.

Horses continually test us to make sure we're still worthy of riding, and maintaining a leadership position.  It's just in their nature.

Another point, which I handled fairly well, is she got startled by another horse in an adjoining pasture.  She quickly spun around and I was a little shaken though was able to remain seemingly calm while getting her to stop and relax.

It's one thing to watch a horse in the pasture, another to watch it being ridden, and still another to feel a living being underneath you.  With every breath she takes I could feel all her muscles moving, could tell when she breathed in, held her breath, and released it.  I think, after a little learning period, she seemed content, and confident, in my abilities to lead her.

When got off of Copper, my knees seemed weak but I felt good, even just had a chill go up my spine over to my right shoulder..  Really felt like we connected.  Onto more tests tomorrow.

Prior to getting to the pictures, have a lead on place in the area to get some unpasteurized milk, goat or cow.  Can't really drink regular pasteurized cow milk anymore, it tastes too weird though I was brought up on that. But, it's really for my two cats, really, I swear that they'll drink some...  Honestly..  I know you believe me, really I do...

Copper showing off, definitely a riding horse, almost a show horse?  Looks beautiful!

Copper prior to me riding.  Seemed little difficult to switch riders on her.  Beautiful eyes

Copper and I about 1/2 way through.  She really is wonderful

My favorite picture!  She's very beautiful, and looks relaxed, yet alert!

A view of copper after I exited the saddle.  Was wonderful

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

On the road again, well, almost

Sooo, great news for me, albeit a little delayed, and it being the start of Mercury Retrograde has me a little concerned, but not overly so...

It's time to get the show on the road..  Repairs are done..  While the repair itself wasn't exactly cheap, over the time I've been traveling, it works out to be about $100+ / month...  Still not good for such a lump sum all at once, but that's pretty cost effective, much better than payment on a new RV, or a mortgage!  Will be doing a full write-up on what was done AFTER get to where am going...  Really, really delayed, but there's a reason why am delayed, and that might just be due to going to Woo Woo Wednesday again.  Got some insight on things I urgently need to take care of, I mean urgently, else we might be talking from the other side...

My plans are to head south, then east, then who knows where after that.  Probably west again though could head to East coast, depends on what parents are doing for the winter, and how long they're doing what they're doing...  Parents are unpredictable, at least they're around.

And, that reminds me...  This coming weekend my dad is having a reunion of sorts, a class reunion, of those in the general vicinity of 80 years old.  My hats go out to him, and everyone in his class, who've made it this far.  They're hanging around for a reason too as he thought he'd be a goner in his 60's.

Need to write in my journal, then take a nap.  Most likely will make a quick jaunt to the coast soon to dip toes in the ocean, sit and relax a little, and begin the cleansing process...

Best wishes to everyone. and to everyone a great time!

The "almost" part is due to needing to visit mechanic in the morning to verify everything is working as expected and no surprises lie in wait...  It feels good, no leas, scooter is on board, and ready and chomping at the bit to go!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Lessons... Learned... and Learning....

Have had some time to think over the last couple days as been waiting for my rear main seal to be replaced..  It has been a "comedy" of errors lately.  All simple, yet stupid things, that have tested my patience and delayed my urgent feeling / need to get on the road.

My main disappointment is not being able to get on the road from what I deem an acceptable time period in which to fix what needs to be fixing.  There are some lessons to be learned from this, for me and others.

First is I need to depend on others, tough as it might be.  This is something which I've always had trouble doing, and it's even more difficult now.

Second is that I can't show how upset I really am to the people who I must depend on.  This, in my mind, only aggravates the situation.

Third is dealing with the delays, oversights, and mistakes that happen, at the least inopportune times.

Fourth is putting forward a happy face while dealing with utter disappointment at not being able to advance at a more reasonable pace.  This is closely related to the second item.

Fifth is finding silver lining, a reason why I have to stay in the area.  There's a reason, always a reason, that things like this happen and continually plague us when we have to wait.  Maybe it's a lesson I need to learn, maybe it's a lesson others need to learn, or a combination.

Sixth is making sure things don't get stalled and am doing what I can to help the process along.  Am limited in what I can do, but pitch in wherever I can to streamline things / make it easier.

Overall am elated things are still moving forward, and even today there was forward movement.  So far I don't think it's the fault of anything in particular, just a slew of things went awry in all the wrong sequence, like a perfect storm, or a perfect learning opportunity.

Beer is still safely in the fridge, unopened, and awaiting for me to give it away to a lucky recipient, though thought was there it wouldn't be given away.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Engine and delays

Friday was a rough day for me, Friday night specifically, after came to the realization that couldn't get on the road till at least Monday night.  Am sure there's a reason why I need to spend more time in this area.

Found out the reason I needed to stay on Vashon and come to repair place Wednesday night. As was nearing garage remembered there was a showcase of sorts, so stopped in and talked with a good friend that did a Celtic Cross spread on me.  He awakened me to some actions I really need to take, otherwise more excellent things will slip by.  I generally lead my life in that the important things will land in my lap, slap me in the face, and be obnoxious until I recognized said thing.  He advised me that this was not the case..  WHEN they appear I need to reach out and grab those items in life that are dearest to me..  Another aspect of The Meaning, and another reason why I NEED to go to New Mexico, to clear things up.

So, my "new" plan is...
  • Get rear main seal replaced (Monday with any luck)
  • Begin traveling 3-4 hours a day to New Mexico, as work permits
  • Make side trip to Oregon coast (feel strong urge for the ocean, burrow feet down into sand in the surf and hear it crashing to shore)
  • Continue to New Mexico

The sadness I felt was very great and very deep.  Had a super strong desire to leave, and still have desire.  The sadness I felt is still with me, and felt very similar to sadness I had when lost Pia and Mia.  Really really not sure why this delay hit me so hard.

The garage and mechanics here are great, it's a tough and labor intensive job, they even let me peek and poke, which is interesting.  More stuff to write about.

So far, from what I've seen, they've had to do the following (Cliff notes version):
  • Disconnect wiring harnesses
  • Disconnect hoses
  • Drain transmission oil
  • Unhook transmission cooler lines (actually had to remove "faceplate" from transmission instead of hoses, due to super tight fittings)
  • Move away exhaust (see below)
  • Disconnect drive shaft (took 45+ minutes by itself, very very tight fit (good sometimes, not here))
  • Remove bolts inside flywheel / torque converter housing (little peephole to remove them, and not THAT type of peephole)
  • Remove bolts on flywheel / torque converter housing that secures transmission to it

Drive shaft unhooked

Went to Harmon Tap Room, for lunch and a small pizza when got a call from garage as was pulling into parking lot there (came over helmet).  The exhaust was HOT to the touch after engine was off 3-4 hours...  puzzling...

Long story short, they spent some time diagnosing it and found that the cable from battery to starter was resting on the exhaust, and can guess the rest from there.  They also identified that the exhaust pipe was broken at the flair fitting coming out of the exhaust manifold (a guess on location).

Cable to the starter was shorting, and sparking, on the exhaust.  It looks somewhat new and don't think it was there for too long otherwise would've expected more damage to the wire, and worn down batteries.  My thoughts are it was hanging on just barely, then slight movement of things and it fell.  I wrapped it in several layers (5 or so) of electrical tape and am waiting for reinstall of transmission.  While electrical tape isn't heat resistant am thinking it'll at least help.  Probably best to get some shrink tubing as wire will still go over exhaust pipe.

Broken pipe I somewhat new about, as there is a flex pipe that was busted (have patch but never patched it).  Will get some of the parts to fix it to save them time.  Time is very critical now but it still needs to be done properly..

Will await Monday morning...  8 am...

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Island Life and a little bump

My journey started on the island, and for the last couple years have always circled back to the island.  There is something magical about this place that haven't seen anywhere else.  This year in particular, when was on the ferry, felt very giddy, like a schoolboy type of giddy.  Not sure why, nor am I questioning why.

There are many advantages to Vashon that I adore, such as:
  • Rural type living 30 minutes from Seattle
  • Abundance of small farms and farm stands, using honor system for payment
  • Trustworthy individuals.
  • Somewhat isolated from mainland by a fairy
  • Small town feel with a sense of community
  • Wide variety of people live here, from super well known to, well, you can guess
  • Small town feel, mostly all mom and pop locally owned stores
  • Miles upon miles of open road to explore, with minimal, if any, traffic
  • Surrounded by water, glorious water, to help clenase things.

For me, the island has a special feeling to it.  Almost feels like a "home" type of feeling, though at least one thing is missing and haven't put my finger on it yet.

This is somewhat like my feeling on the coast too, like the Oregon coast, where there is also magical things about walking into the surf and enjoying the cool (or cold) water swirling up around ankles, then calves, and if not careful, knees or higher..  But it's also where The Meaning came from too, wandering in the cloud bank, then all of a sudden it lifting...  Exciting and wondrous all at the same time.  If these two feelings could be combined think that would be the epitome of life, for me.

General area
This also leads me to my current quandry, an oil leak.  It surfaced as I was dumping the tanks getting ready to leave the island for a scooter meeting, and then off to my next destination, which is over a 1,000 mile drive.

In the picture it shows general area of the oil leak.  There's a housing that contains the flywheel.  According to engine manual it can also contain other things, though those other things went over my head.  On middle to left is the engine, on the right is the transmission.  Thing in the middle is a bell housing of sorts where the flywheel is, and am guessing, a shaft leading towards the engine.
Closer View

 A closeup of the area is shown in this picture.  As can see there's a ring there where the oil was leaking out.  Am unsure why there's no bolt here, and why oil was leaking out.  According to mechanic, pressure should build up in this housing / flywheel area, which would prevent oil from going past the rear main seal.

Now, using my thumb as a measuring guide, stuck my thumb up there and it fits neatly in the hole.  Measured thumb and it's about an inch wide.  Followed by an index finger and felt something up there.  Upon close inspection, and verification from a mechanic, tis a flywheel.  Not that I can fly with it, but it's used for momentum on the engine, among other things.

Hole and spinning thing
This picture shows the innards of the hole, and flywheel as it's rotating.  When stuck finger in hole, with engine off, coul feel some threads on side of hole.  This, and looking at engine manual, confirmed that mechanics are probably right in that there should at least be a bolt here.  Have looked around where have been for the last month and no bolt was in sight so not quite sure where it could've gone.  Will be putting some LocTite on here when put new bolt in.

One thing that struck me odd, very odd, is that diesel engines, even in 1994, seem to use METRIC stuff.  That blew me away as didn't expect that at all.

Will update again on what final resolution is.  Am optimistic the plug will solve it and keep the flywheel area fairly dry.