Rat Season

Friday night, Dad and I finally got a chance to visit the garage after a three week break. Luckily, everything was where we left it. Our first task was to check the rat traps we set last time. Although we love working in our grungy, commercial-style shop, it can have its draw backs. When Rob dropped in for a visit a few days ago, we spotted two rats climbing down the pipes, and immediately headed off to purchase traps, bait, and poison. Although we didn’t catch any, we did find a dead mouse who had been nibbling one of the poison boxes we strategically placed around the garage.

We attempted to take the motor off of the cherry picker and put it on the engine stand, but we realized that we had no bolts for it. After I took a hasty measurement, Dad went to Kragen Auto Supply to get some bolts using the measurements I gave him. After he returned, we tested the new bolts, and, of course, they were too small. After much trial and error with bolt diameter, length, and thread pitch, we finally figured out what size we would need for the next day.

On Saturday we started early so we could get home for a family dinner. Dad set up the radio to listen to the US/Ghana world cup match while I opened up the toolboxes. Working on the Mustang has been taking up more and more floor space, so moving cars was first on our agenda for the day. Dad and I rolled the Mustang out the garage doors temporarily, and moved the truck (a 1965 Dodge A-100 pickup) onto the lift to get it out of the way.  Today, Charlie will help move the Citroen 2CV under the lift and rearrange the two Messerschmitts and the Isetta while Dad sets up the security system, and I get started on the bins of parts to be inventoried.

Ready to begin, we set up the engine stand with the correct bolts, and positioned the adjustable arms in front of the screw holes in the block. Before we attached the engine, we removed a few engine-mounted accessories while it was still hanging in mid-air from the cherry picker. First off came all exterior hoses, followed by the distributor.  Then, Dad took off the automatic transmission flexplate and I drained the oil pan. Kitty litter proved to be very helpful cleaning up all of the coolant that happened to miss the tub we placed under the engine and spilled onto the shop floor.  We also removed the water pump, carburetor, and intake manifold.  With all of the accessories removed, we bolted the now much lighter engine block to the stand and detached it from the cherry picker. (Although I knew it was created for this purpose, I was still shocked that the engine stand could support the sheer weight of the motor from one just one end.)

The rest of the day was spent disassembling the engine. After the valve covers came off, we removed the pushrods, placing them into holes punched into the bottom of an inverted cardboard box, and strung the rocker arms onto a coat hanger.  This was done so we could keep the pushrods and rockers in order referenced to the cylinder from which they were removed, so we can check for unique wear patterns or problems that could be traced back to a specific problem location in the engine. Last off were the cylinder heads. We took extra care making sure all of the head bolts were removed, after seeing a grisly picture in one of our books of a head cracked in two pieces by its owner who got a little overzealous trying to pry it off after only removing four of the eight head bolts.  Doh!