11 June 2015

reprieve - e350 fix

A couple weeks ago I hinted the van was down.
The month leading up to the dreaded moment,
I regaled in how bulletproof the free van had been.
Usually this is when I'll make a deal,
replace your aging fluids,
clean the inside of the excess tonnage,
you deserve it...
The meltdown wasn't truly catastrophic,
a coolant leak,
typical from a cracked plastic intake manifold,
common on the Ford modular design.
The intimidating part was the location,
the limited access,
and the daunting amount of hoses, fuel injection,wires etc.
I could take it apart no problem,
but could I put it back together properly?
Local auto shops quoted minimum $800,
as long as there were no unseen issues.
The workbook estimated 4.5 work hours,
that's with all the proper tools.
My estimate was 20 spread out over the month.
I went into denial,
and for 2+ weeks drove the hot rods as dailies.
I didn't want to jinx it,
but I searched for a possible replacement.
All we really needed was a gas sipper,
and these 1990-ish toyota camry wagons have a cult following.
Four doors for the kids,
work space in the back,
a little 4-banger to putt-putt down the freeway...
Another option was the chevy astrovan.
The big 4.6 engine perfect for pulling the boat,
and they cruise on the freeway.
This was all a late night pipe dream,
I'd have to go into major flip mode to make those happen.
The hot rods were a blast to drive around,
but San Diego's roads pounded the old suspensions.
Time to fix the van.
The plan was to temporarily plug up the whole,
get it to the shop,
and tear it up.
I've never used the egg-white trick,
and this was the perfect opportunity.
Coolant leaked out immediately,
and what a surprise,
a relieving "doh" moment.
Water wasn't coming from a crack in the plastic,
there was a small hole in a heater tube!
Before there were hoses and wires in the way,
coercing the stream into the valley pan,
making it seem like an intake crack.
This was not the time for metric wrenches and screwdrivers,
I needed plastic fantastic.
A dab of JB weld,
a cover of permatex #2,
a scrap of hose and a couple clamps...
The fix!
It was like winning the lottery,
at least a $5 scratcher.
If the van can go a week or a year,
this reprieve is a huge relief.
The van definitely deserved rejuvenating fluids,
the coolant was embarassingly brown.
Let's see how long it'll last...

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