Monday, March 3, 2008

Monday March 3, 2008

Last week was mostly a blank as I was ill to some extent. I didn't even realize I was sick until Friday when I went home and then slept most of the day. However, I got up Saturday morning feeling good and actually accomplished a LOT over Saturday and Sunday.

Matt and I had been working on the '89 Horizon last weekend (2/23). The head was rebuilt on it and lots of maintenance things replaced (waterpump, hoses, timing belt, tuneup, fuel filter, fuel lines), and now, when it was all back together, it wouldn't start. I was looking at it and realized that the distributor was loose, and so I was then explaining to Matt what the different effects of retarded or advanced timing might be. Suddenly, as I was explaining retarded timing I suddenly realized that I was describing the way Vger was running!

So, this Saturday we broke out the timing light. I checked the timing on Vger ('88 Voyager) and, sure enough, the timing was about 12 degrees retarded! I set it to spec and WOW, does it run good. I'm driving it today. So, Vger has been resurrected. So, that should save me about $100/month in gas. Yippee!! I kick myself as I think of all the time and money I spent trying to figure out why it was running so badly.

Then, we took the timing light over to the '89 Horizon and set the timing while cranking. As the mark got close vroom! the Horizon started and ran. Runs pretty darn good. Needs a new Master Cylinder ($17), a couple of tires, and I need to do something with the rear bumper, it has rusted off. And the exhaust is extremely rusty and loud and leaky. But we drove it up to the corner and back and it seems to do very nicely, goes down the road straight and stops straight (after you pump the pedal). I get this baby on the road and it should save me another $50/month in gas over Vger.

When we made the "dump run" Saturday morning I noticed that Stripez ('92 Voyager) was cold, the temp gauge never quite warmed up and the heater never put out any warm air. When we got home I saw that the coolant level was low and when I pressure tested the system I saw that the cap was not holding pressure. Well, I have noticed that the engine temps have not been consistent, so, when I went to pick up a new radiator cap I also picked up a thermostat. On the 2.5L in the Voyagers it is trivial to change the thermostat, so, about 15 minutes later we had Stripez holding pressure and temp again. Matt also changed the Oil Pressure sending unit. I bought the sending unit a long time ago but it required a special socket that I finally bought a couple of months ago but hadn't gotten around to actually changing it, mostly because I figured it wouldn't help since I was told that it has had low oil pressure since the engine was rebuilt. Guess what? It doesn't show low oil pressure any more!

Well, now that we had two vehicles (Stripez and Vger) running reliably I decided that maybe we could tackle the Gladiator. First order of business was to replace the thermostat and see if we can find the coolant leak. It has been running cold all winter, but it's a pain working on anything on this '93 Chevy G20 Van. Looking from the front under the hood I can barely see and reach the thermostat housing, and I couldn't see any coolant leaks although the pressure test gauge was dropping rapidly. So, pull the doghouse off, which takes an act of God under normal circumstances but is even worse in a conversion van. By the time we get the doghouse off and the air cleaner housing out of the way the coolant leak becomes apparent, it is that the upper radiator hose hose-clamp is loose on the thermostat housing; and, although it is a stretch, it is easily accessible now. So, I replaced the thermostat, put the hose-clamp on straight and tight, now it has heat and no coolant leak.

Still have a lot to do on all the vehicles, the '89 Horizon needs brakes, exhaust, tires. The '88 Voyager needs the oil pressure gauge replaced. The '92 Voyager needs an new alternator belt. The '93 G20 needs the rear heater blower replaced and a ton of body work. But, for right now, we are in pretty good shape, far better than we were on Friday.

And gas is still at 2.999 this morning and all three vans have full tanks of gas.

EDIT 11am

When Stripez warmed up this morning it appears that the thermostat never opened, the engine temp went straight to the red zone while the radiator stayed cold. It had run just fine Saturday after we put the new 'stat in and I took it to GR and back for a test. I had to run home and put a new 'stat in. Sitting in the yard it seems to be OK, we will see what happens.

On the way home I noticed that Vger's charge gage was reading very low, and after working on Stripez and getting ready to head back to work Vger barely started, so I switched over to the Gladiator. Now, I did not test drive the Gladiator after putting the new 'stat in it; I just warmed it up and topped off the coolant. Driving the Gladiator in to work I note that the temp gage never got over the 140 mark, which is rather disappointing after changing the 'stat.

When we first got the Gladiator 3? or 4? years ago the gage went to half-way between the 140 and 180 mark, but since the new heater core was installed last fall it has never moved over the 140 mark. After installing a new 195 'stat I had hoped to see it at least hit the 180 mark. Now I don't know what to think. Guess I will try to check the coolant temp some other way to see if it is a gage problem or not.

Here is a photo of it after I drove in to work, 'prox 15 miles and 20 minutes, outside temp -2.

Just too darn cold.

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