So I get back from the camping weekend and call the garage that had just replaced the engine and told them about the engine codes. They said they would call me back. After a couple days and not hearing anything I just drove the van down and dropped it off. Next day I get a call from the garage owner. He hems and haws a bit then tells me that one possible reason for the codes is problems with the catalytic converters. They've tested mine and both have failed. New ones are around $800 each.
Did you ever have one of those moments of absolute clarity where you can actually see into the future? I had one right then and I'm betting some of you who have been in a similar situation have had one too. I'm going to spend a lot of money on this and it's not going fix the problem with the codes.
To be clear, I've no doubt the converters need replaced. The whole exhaust system had me worried for a while. Having dropped around $4500 on the new engine It just hurt to spend another big chunk of change. I really had no confidence that this would clear the codes and would have made a good bet that they had just hooked up something wrong on the engine rebuild.
There's a British saying, "In for Penny, in for a Pound." I was definitely already in for a penny so might as well go for the Pound. Told him to go ahead and replace the complete exhaust system.
Back up on the rack.
Notice the bulge between the muffler and the "Y". It's a flexible fitting that the old exhaust didn't have.
One of the old catalytic converters was so far gone it rattled.
Pick up the van after it's done and pay the bill.
Catalytic converter assy. $870.61
Catalytic converter $845.75
exhaust pipe $141.95
Tail pipe $103.95
Oxygen Sensor X 2 $167.96
Oxygen Sensor X 2 $167.12
Bet you already know how the rest of this goes. Start the van and drive downtown for some carryout. Get the carryout and hop back into the van and guess what. The engine codes are back. Wasn't surprised. Disappointed but not surprised.
Drop the van off the next morning. The entire conversation went like this. "Codes are back."
Took them a few more days but after a couple false leads, they got it figured out. A couple vacuum lines on the engine had been hooked up wrong. One added benefit is I got the emergency brakes fixed for free.
So I bring Hal home to this.
Say "Hello" to my new barn. You know all those tools I've been collecting as this build has progressed? Well the mill I had delivered via huge tow truck caused the garage to reach critical mass. Had to do something. Hence the barn. I had the builder do a modification to the original plans so Hal could fit inside.
There's not enough room in the barn for both the van and and everything I want to put in there but I can use it to work on Hal off the street. With the barn being built, and me paying for it, at the same time as all this was going on with Hal it sometimes felt as if I was just hemorrhaging cash.
That being said, van does run real nice now and I'm back to using it for trips again.
And on the bright side, when I bought the van in 2009 it only cost me $2500 while the Penthouse I had SMB install cost $5000. So for once the van is now officially worth more than the Penthouse top.
Just came back from a night of camping at Fort Frederick and two days of biking
on both WMRT and the C&O.
Missed me by a couple weeks. I was also just up the C&O and the WMRT. Camped at Little Orleans this time.
Hey Big Katuna,
I'd definitely agree with the not elegant look but it didn't seem any worse for wear.
I didn't mention in the previous post that before having Hal towed to the repair shop I'd talked with the manager about which engine to get as a replacement. It was obvious that a another engine was in order. He quoted a price for a junkyard engine but I passed on it. I wanted a rebuilt. Tried for a Jasper rebuilt but they don't carry Ford 4.2L six cylinders anymore. Guess there's not enough call for them.
Manager suggested Spartan rebuild which is the Advance Auto house brand. I checked on line and found some complaints but the manager said he's not had any bad luck with them. Problem was my options where limited so went with the Spartan engine. Quoted me a price of $2600 for the engine and $760 for labor. There was a possible additional damaged core fee of $200 but I heard nothing more of that so my engine must not have been too far gone.
After ordering the engine it took close to three weeks before it was delivered. Was told that none were in stock so it had to be assembled.
How the engine looked when delivered. It came in a black packing case.
It's probably never going to look that clean again. The gentleman to the right in the middle picture is Derrick who will be doing the majority of the work on Hal.
I had to leave town for a few days just when the work got started on the van so there's not as many photos as usual.
Here's the front view with most everything removed.
Found the cause of the original oil leak. This is a piece from the side of the oil pan. Told me that a rod had shot out of the engine and broke this chunk off.
In the photo the engine has been removed. You can see a floor jack holding up the transmission.
This was a weird looking view without the engine in the way.
They found a safe place to store the hood, on the sofa bed.
Rebuilt with all the pieces from the old engine transferred over.
New engine in place.
Here's the replacement to a couple of the pieces that were too rusted to reuse. I told them to replace anything that looked iffy.
They put it all back together in no time flat so I don't have anymore pictures of the repair but a quick story. Manager calls me at work and wants to know if in all my customization I've done something to the headlights. They can't get them to work. Turns out that the headlights that used to work both failed when reinstalled. Most likely from being knocked around. Since neither light worked they thought it was an electrical fault.
Spartan Reman Engine $2600
Oil and Filter $32.95
Spark Plugs $28.32
Tow Bill $85.00
Water Pump $129.70
Exhaust Flange Bolts $16.20
Exhaust Manifold Bolts $13.38
Coolant Hose $157.48
Oil Cooler $275.95
Shop Supplies $20.00
Pay the bill, start up the van, and listen to that new engine purr. Most definitely you can hear the difference.
So pack up the van and go camping and biking along the C&O Canal.
Running up and over the Allegheny Mountain Range that separates West Virginia from Maryland I got a real chance to try out the engine. Everything was just fine until I noticed the check engine light. Checked the code numbers. They were P0171 and P0174. Cleared the codes to see if they would come back. They did.
Letters, I get letters. Emails actually. A few people have written to ask what's happened to me and Hal. We've both been kind of busy. Here's a recap to bring this thread up to date.
So back in May I climbed in Hal to go somewhere and the engine wouldn't turn over. I could hear the starter engage and move then stop. Figured it must be time for a new starter. If you've not done one of these before on the van it's dead simple. Didn't even bother taking pictures.
Took the old one off and went to Advance with it. Got a new one for around $100. Put the new one on the van and went to start it up. The new starter worked like a champ. The van started right up then there was a loud BANG and massive vibration. Instantly shut the engine off and climbed out and looked under the van. Oil was gushing from under the engine like I was Jed Clampett.
Quickly found my drain pan and slide it under the van but not before a goodly volume of oil had already escaped. One advantage of having cats is cat litter. Threw a bunch of that under the van. Managed to stop the oil before it ran out onto the street and down the hill.
Well no doubt about it at this point. I'm intercoursed but good. Time for some heavy thinking. Two choices. Another van or fix Hal. Start looking around to see what's available in the used van line. In this area all I can find are new to one year old vans or older than 10 year old vans. Nothing in what I would consider the sweet spot where the price has dropped off but the van's not to well used yet. That's not to say if I didn't wait around long enough one would show up but who wants to leave a large immobile vehicle directly in front of their house for however long and also camping season is starting.
Then of course there is all the work I've put into Hal. A good many of the modifications I've made can be moved over to another van but that in itself would take a lot of time. I've been working on Hal for going on five years now. A lot of that effort would have be lost with another van. So fixing Hal would seem to be the best option.
Next up find a garage that would do the work. That turned out to be easier than I thought. My favorite mechanic changed locations and a new group had moved into his old location which is within easy walking distance. I talked it over with them and they had experience with Ford van engines replacements. Their usual method was to remove the body but with all the inside work I'd done they wouldn't be able to access the bolts. So they would have to take it out the front.
Next to get the van to the shop. The van is kind of wedged in front of my house with the hill in front and a telephone pole behind. Here's how the tow truck driver got it out.
Then up on the tow bar. I was pleased to see that the van's "basement" didn't interfere with the towbar.
Here's something the driver did to the steering wheel to help hold it in place while towing.
By the way the pile of gravel has nothing to do with the van. It's for this which is going on at the same time.
I'll come back to that.
So here's what the pavement looked like after the van was dragged over.
And here's the trail it left behind.
The trail ran for three blocks.
Hal at the service center. They weren't ready to work on it yet so it sat outside. Alone and forsaken. What's worse is this is over the Memorial Day Weekend and the weather was perfect. Would have been a great time to go camping.