At least that’s what I’ve found. There’s no way we could ever be like the Cleavers and yeah, I would like to have that bus today but the Partridge Family set the bar to high for anyone I knew!
And doncha hate it when you surf around on the internet and see things folks do and you think to yourself “Man, I did that and it sure didn’t turn out like THAT!”. Well it’s true we always love to talk about cool things we do and maybe not on purpose but just don’t give any oxygen to things that didn’t turn out stellar……….. I leave after reading some of that stuff while cool I think, “he was just lucky”.
It’s true, things don’t always turn out perfect in fact sometimes I feel like I live “sideways” to the rest of the world! “Takes 10 good to offset 1 bad”….. all those sayings are true…. one thing that doesn’t work out we can’t forget , 9 things that go well….. they were supposed to! We never remember….. Boom, there it is! So wanted to show the good, the bad and the ugly…. I may have shown too many success stories… let me temper excitement a bit and show you things that didn’t go right……. you would think (of course we don’t but we say we do) if you have something fixed all should be great?
For those of you who come here for some light scrubbing the surface of neat things…. this pose may be long and will not contain much of that but wait…….. you folks I really think you need to be exposed to this because if you want to mess with a vintage machine of any kind you need to expect problems… unexpected results and just down right sideways sh&$!!!!
If you’re not mechanical follow this anyway because it could happen to you. About now some are going ,”Oh crap, here comes another rant…… very much not. Nope, I want to show you several sides of a situation even though all parties involved did the very best they could ….still, the stuff flew and life today caused it….I guess. There is a little normal stuff… at least I hope to put up …. some normal morning stuff but you need to listen to this to understand how to deal with your coach. OK, you’ve been forewarned, strap in there could be turbulence……..
The GMC is called a “Motorhome”. That slips off the tongue smoothly…. motorhome…. it’s its own word, it’s not motor home……. It’s 2 things in 1.. it’s a home with a motor…….. a residential contractor buys a coach and it comes out stunningly beautiful but it won’t move because he knew nothing about cars…… it’s a 2fer….. you have to have a great looking “home” part but it also has to have an equally good “motor” … drive train, brakes, wheels, yada, yada….. And this is where the problem is trying to get all that stuff to do what it’s supposed to….lets talk about the motor part and how it can really mess up a great idea.
So after a pile of due diligence the new GMC owner decides to go the high road and do everything top shelf…… gonna take some folding cash to do it but as the addages say, “you get out what you put in” and other such sayings.
I have to tell you I have had years even decades to learn by screwing stuff up and in motors after learning about ZDDP (look it up), Ethanol (don’t need to look that 1 up), engine theory and what you need to lump 12,000 pounds up the Grape Vine we have arrived on a set of specifications… roller cam and all that stuff trying to make the best motor we could. many factors go into a motor, it’s not just the color of the heat paint……. so many things to consider and so many ways the motor can be effected both positive and negative…… how can all of those moving parts possibly all work together! Well they do and best knowledge tells us when building a motor, to cater to what the motor needs to do…. do in it’s design and build. Cool so lets do that…. the outcome should be stellar…. right?
Remember when I said so many factors must be considered…bla, bla, bla….it’s true and if one of the factors involved changes or is effected by an outside source the results may come out very different.
A new motor is built with all the accoutrements of each predecessor….. asin the movie “No expense spared…..” And the child is born, lying there in it’s manger great hopes are leaning on this motor.
It’s in and it’s gone……… Break in time will always occur which is kinda scary…… all the sharp edges need to grind themselves smooth, rings need to seat so burning a little oil and hearing funny noises is part of it… if you have never experienced a shakedown trust me on this. But through that the motor seemed to do it’s thing and it was treated to good gas, oil and expected to pull it’s load.
One day a noise developes… not really bad but scary none the less… “that’s not normal” you think so lets get a second opinion. Going to a hot rod specialist… hey, they are called “26′ hot rods with plumbing” that sounded like the talent needed and sure nuff the agreement was there’s something going on. How can this BE!!!! Every care was taken……. Is this tied to some conspiracy theory”, is there a black hole in physics the motor has been effected by. WHY ME LORD!!!!
Putting the best heads together it was determined a piston had “galled”. Hey wait…. I never raced this thing, how can it have gotten so hot to partially melt a piston? Still needs to be taken apart to prove but it’s pretty much a heat related internal situation. So human nature wants us to answer the questions…What happened? and Who screwed up?.
So speculation begins……. it seems that there were some outside factors that it seems caused this…maybe. Fuel formulations today are not mixed “hot”. Put a pail of gasoline in the barn 15 years ago you would have flammable straw and dead rats….. do that today and the fuel does not chemically atomize as before. This coolaid we now burn as fuel is not the same mixture as it once was. It must burn hotter to get performance out of the stuff so we must advance our lumbering big blocks to get performance. This means you must lean the motor, heat up the mix to get it to give you go. The leaner you run a motor the hotter the explosion and hotter it will run. Our 455 motors originally called for a 9 lb. radiator cap. New cares are 18-20 and higher…. more heat needs more pressure to keep it from burning up… a vicious cycle Burning holes in pistons from this is not uncommon….. galled pistons is a function of excessive heat like a hole burned in a piston.
Consider now the fuel…the mixing device used to get an air/fuel ratio of 14.1 which the motor needs to run well. For most of us it’s a device defined as a spring loaded series of exact air and fuel leaks. That’s a carberator and until recently I loved our ole Q-jet carb. Tried and true, tried other ideas and always went back to the Rochester.
Time and the progress of man have not been good to the carburetor…… these new (toothpaste) fuels we must use do not work well in a carb…. it relies on hot fuel that chemically atomizes to aid in a complete burn…… Our fuels today are designed to be pressurized and mechanically atomized….. that’s called fuel injection. Not the older “dumb” chip or computer set up fuel injection systems but there new real time systems just coming out like is in your new car. It learns itself so if perameters change while the motor is running, the new real time systems will see that and ajust itself to offer 14.1 AFR to run that motor at optimum and hopefully not too lean….hot.
Saying all of that the motor we’re talking about got too hot somehow……. that does not have to come from overheating the cooling system….. it can also come from an event where the fuel leaned out somehow and caused extreme cylinder heat which cooked 1 of 8 pistons…… and there you are! A perfectly conceived and assembled motor driven by someone who was paying attention still developed a problem which will have to be fixed.
Now this is one possible explaination….. cheap parts or bad assembly, bad set up….. driving too fast…. a water leak in the cooling system, low lubricity in the oil causing heat, that hill was just a little too high….. what else. There are many reasons this motor failed any of which cannot negate the fact that to keep this investment alive the motor must be repaired and more money will be spent to fix it.
But wait, is there anything else we can do to not have this happen again? Yes, adapt the motor to the fuels we have today and have all of the factor constantly monitored to assure this situation is being considered…….. that would be one of the new real time fuel injection systems now out. Just like your new car… they say the more you drive it the more it learns your driving habits and can make the motor perform better for you….. That’s what the new real time systems do. We are installing the FiTech 400 systems (check them out). Carbs can no longer vary fuel needs to the motor effectively. We must use oils, fuels and other fluids available in the country…… we need to use oils having 1500ppm of ZDDP to have proper internal lubricity and it looks like now these new fuel injection systems are becoming needed to adapt our old big block motors to this new world of gasolines.
Now maybe this could be what happens but maybe not. The cause of this motor failure may have nothing to do with the fuel…it’s all speculation but non the less there it is and again “everything” will need to be considered in the repair of this motor. Anything seen should be considered but the end result needs to again be the best foot forward. At least you have folks that are willing to help and that’s the most you can hope for with such an old machine.
So that’s the mud, the blood and the beer of it. Things do NOT always work out as was figured and the world is not trying to single you out.
How about a visor that blows off when a huge truck passes……. was it a crappy install…. flimsy visor or was it mother nature threw a microburst at the front of the motorhome when the truck passed it….. who knows but the best you can hope for is someone to help…….. a wheel passes you on the road, crap! Get on the side of the road safe, go get the tire and give me a call…….. that’s what friends do.
I hope this story brought us back down to earth, it should make us more thankfull it hasn’t as yet happened to us and maybe we should do something about this cause none of us want to pay for a motor twice! What else can we do to prepare our old war horses for the cruel world out ther? It’s not what to do but where to stop! I cannot tell you that nothing will make a motor we or anyone else builds… you can consider as much as you can but it still all comes down to right now and what’s going on.
OK, I promised more than just a lesson in what can go wrong…. don’t go sell your coach, all things can be overcome and remember the alternative to have anything like a GMC to have fun with you will need to pull out well over $100,000 to come close…. so cry in your beer a little but be sure you drink the whole pint before you leave!
Wanna know how to recolor a piece of aluminum trim to the color you want? The roll at the left on the table is 7/8 blacj glossy pin stripe tape, the silver raw aluminum trim is to the far left on the table and the covered now black trim is on the table Paint is too fragile, the plastic take wraps the edges to create the black trim I need in the 57 Chevy stretch Stay tuned for more on that one and how these black trim pieces figure in……..
OK so there… how many did I loose? I tell ya there is so much that con go wrong it can be scary going out on the open road with a 40 year old vehicle and just because you threw money at it does not mean life will be great. You have to work with the machine, listen to it, give it everything it needs and always have a backup plan….. Oh and pin strip is what made Willie and Nancies headliner look so good. See ya tomorrow…..