Life’s been keeping me VERY busy the last week or so. A lot has happened since I last posted here – both car and non-car related, so I’ll try to catch you up on the former starting with Heidi.
Last Sunday afternoon, the newlyweds (Brianna and Nicholas) loaded up Heidi and hit the road. On one of the mountain passes just west of Frederick, Heidi had issues. Brianna called me to relate her car was down on power and making “putt, putt” noises. The last time she had done that, the right head had dropped a valve. They carefully drove to the nearest gas station and parked the car. Fearing the worse, I hitched Lucy up to the Suburban and drove out to meet them with the intention of swapping my ‘vair for hers. While I was preparing to leave home, I called Brianna and asked her to look at the engine and make sure all cables were in place. She said they were, but she also told me the engine compartment looked more oily than normal. I met up with them an hour later and had her start the car. It fired right up and idled nicely, but I did discover the oil pressure switch had a pretty significant leak. Before deciding what to do next, I took the car out and she ran beautifully – the engine pulled normally, no sign of issues. At that point, I figured the issue on the interstate was overheating. When I got back to the gas station, I told them I could try to swap the pressure switch with Lucy’s and send them on their way. Even though it was going to get them in late, they said to give it a try. I pulled the fuel pump to get access to the switch and tried removing it with a crescent wrench. I’ve got a large socket that I’d normally use to R&R the switch, but I didn’t bring it with me. I soon found out the wrench would not get a good enough grip to do the job without injuring the rather fragile switch, so it was back to plan A. They would drive Heidi back to Baltimore, I’d do the switch swap properly, and they’d then head back in the morning. I reinstalled the fuel pump, they filled up the gas tank, and we headed back east together. Less than a mile down the road, Heidi engine’s quit. After a few attempts to get her restarted, I gave up, unhitched Lucy and put Heidi in her place behind the Suburban. We made the rest of the trip to our house uneventfully.
Once we were parked in front of the house, I spent the next two hours trying to figure out why the fuel pump refused to pump fuel. I swapped the pump with Lucy’s – no difference. I thought that removing the pump had possible caused a leak in the inlet line, so I pulled the tube and tested it – no leak. I then replaced the short piece of fuel hose under the car since I saw some cracks – no success. Then we all pushed the car into the driveway so I could have gravity help me see if there was a blockage in the line – there wasn’t; the gas flowed freely all over my arm. Finally, I loosened the mounting bolt allowing the pump to rise up out of its mounting hole a slight amount – success! A bit of an explanation: the mounting bolt threads into the rear part of the engine where the fuel pump goes and is perpendicular to the pump shaft; the end of the bolt is tapered and goes into a hole in the mounting cylinder of the pump; I don’t remember this ever happening before, but for some reason installing the bolt too tightly held the pump shaft out preventing it from going up and down as it needed to. With that hurdle FINALLY over, I put everything back and Heidi was good-to-go. By the way, I thought this repair would allow me to cross off the oil leak entry on the to-do list. More on that soon.
The next day they drove her back to southwest VA at the legal speed limit. At one point I got a text from Nicholas telling me, “the low speed has been excellent on gas.” Hmm, go figure. Soon after their arrival and unpacking, Brianna drove Heidi to the store and noticed she was running roughly, barely able to hold an idle. She checked the oil level and found it was off the dipstick. I’d bought a pint of oil additive to address the oil leak prior to my discovering it was the oil pressure switch. She poured that in and topped off the crankcase with 30 weight. Got back in the car and the engine ran fine again. Connected? Who knows? Anyway, they then parked her for the week, while they drove Nicolas’s car on their honeymoon. I’ve asked her to keep her eye on the oil level now that she’s driving Heidi again. We’ll see if the overheating has caused a problem, or if I can keep “oil leak” crossed off the list.