Sunday, January 23, 2011

Motorhead Magazine

Urge and I are famous!

I walked into Tasca Ford on Friday to deliver something, and was overwhelmed by the service advisers exclaiming, "It's the Motorhead girl!" and asked me for my autograph... it was really cute. If only Urge had been there, too! He would have beamed with pride.

Motorhead is a local Rhode Island car enthusiast magazine. One of he owners came into the machine shop where I work to talk to us about some advertising, and he took a liking to the bus outside and the enormous engines inside. I did a little explaining about what was going on, and he thought it was good enough for a story in his mag, apparently! :)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Fire and Hammer!


Wow, 8 inches out there and it is still falling! Go Rhode Island! Dave and I are one of the few who have decided to brave the streets and leave our homes in a car, let alone drive the car to work and actually do something! (and we're driving down to Jamestown tonight... mostly all via back roads! Hooray for studded snow tires! Hooray for diesel Mercedes RWD power!!!)

Not too much good it does to have the Service Manager in the shop today (that would be MOI!) because no one's calling, that's for sure! And every time I try to order parts, the suppliers are all closed! The only thing that I ordered today came from Texas! (and the guy was really cute on the phone, he kept on calling me "ma'am")

Anyhow, after writing up some quotes and making tea, I have started messing around with the bus engines again. The heads from the DDEC motor are going to be pressure-tested by a friend of mine, Joe, who works at a local truck and trailer repair place that has all of this wonderful equipment. Our pressure-testing machine is awesome, but is ... *sigh* alas! Too small.

The heads are all clean and waiting patiently for Joe to come by tomorrow evening. Hoorah!

So.. Jee... what should the next step be?
Take apart the second motor, I suppose! Remove those heads, start pulling stuff off and comparing. I will use the best parts of what I have, and make sure to switch over anything that is different. The guy from CT Detroit Diesel told me that the camshafts were different. DO I believe him? Well... meh. I will see for myself!

Undo the bolts for the turbo... check!
Remove the huge pipes from the turbo... erm... hmm... harder than I expected.

Fire, and a BIG HAMMER!

Always fun!

Now, on a total side note: for those of you who know me, you know that I hate cats. HATE THEM! They make my eyes itch and nose run and skin get red and swollen... I am allergic to cats. Some more than others.


Urge doesn't mind cats at all. In fact, he likes them! Urge has 2 faithful watch cats. I panicked the other day (I do this a lot about my bus) when I realized that I hadn't put mouse traps in my bus and feared that there was bound to be a rodent infestation! However, when I went to survey the damage, I noticed that there was nothing: no signs of vermon! No droppings, no smell, no stuffing stolen from the couch... NADA! No mice.

Maybe I don't hate cats so much anymore.

I saw their prints in the snow all around my bus, and it made me happy.
Doesn't mean that I'll ever get a cat, or start liking cats, but maybe now... I am neutral. :)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Bigness.

So, I have begun to feel very overwhelmed with the BIGNESS of this project.


I said it.

I got about 2.5 hours of sleep last night. I was in bed by 9:30pm, exhausted and worn-out by a long night in the shop, waiting for a customer who never showed and working on a set of the bus's heads. But yet for some reason, the sleep wouldn't come. I tossed about in my crumpled blankets until almost 4am, wondering what the hell I am going to do. The alarm went off at 6:30 reminding me it was time to get to the shop to face my battle once more. Nothing worse sometimes than being in the same room with the motor - the elephant - and not being able to touch it. Not during a busy work day.

It sat there, ominously, taunting me.

Maybe I'm getting a little ahead of myself with that picture. I'll start from the beginning: vacuum testing.
So, a quick and simply vacuum test is a great way to check if your valves are good and seating properly and whatnot. There were a few valves that seemed a bit depressed into the head and needed to be checked out.

First, the valves were removed from their keepers and springs:

With a little bit of creativity, and a lot of help from Dave, the bus's right head was mounted onto the Rottler.


kind of...



A little tapping on the valves and the vacuum would spike a bit and then fall back down... augh.

A little inspection of the valves revealed... blech! Pitting and nastiness. Some of these valves are no good... but HOW un-good are they?
Well, they have to sit down in the seats all nice to create a nice seal. Dave gave me a quick lesson on how to "lap" the valves.

It goes like this:

1: clean the valves.

2: apply the lapping compound.

3: suction the tool thingy to the head of the valve and rub your hands back and forth like you're trying to start a fire, and put a significant amount of downward pressure onto the tool.
Here's a video so you can see what I'm doing. Yes, it was pretty cold, even indoors and I am wearing like 3 winter jackets. Yes, it made it kind of difficult to move my arms!

4: repeat with all of the valves in question.

Then what?
Do the test again and see if anything changed.
Things changed, but not quite enough. And honestly, the pitting on the valves was lousy enough that I decided that I didn't want to use those valves anyways. Thus, the sad faces on the tops of the valve surfaces.
They need replacing.

I mean, I am all for doing it right - I mean, do it once, do it right, no matter what. The struggle is the financial burden. This is part of the reason why I couldn't sleep last night. I currently have a little under $1,500.00 to my name. Not bad for a young female with minimal responsibilities, a cheap apartment, fuel-efficient car, and no cell phone bill. BUT!! How about a girl trying to get across the country in a bus?


That's not going to do it.

Not with diesel being $3.30 a gallon, my bus getting 6-8 miles per gallon, and 3,000 miles to go. It's just not happening.

Let's say that the fuel prices go up more.
Let's say ~$4.00
Let's assume the worst.
Let's say Urge will get 6 mpgs.
Let's say that I get lost more than twice,
So let's estimate that it will take 3,500 miles.
_ _
3,500mi / 6mi/gal = 583.3gal X $4/gal = $2,333.3

So, it will take more money to drive to Oregon than I currently possess. HOWEVER, I will be selling my Mercedes in the spring when the salt is no longer poisoning the roads and I can drive my Rabbit on the road once more.

That's $1,200 to add to that.
Well, no (let's make it less to be on the safe side) $1,000 for the Benz.
That's $1,500 + $1,000 = $2,500, which will be enough for diesel.

But let's not forget that I need some new valves, and that I also need some new guides. Let's also not forget that I need to have some travel money for campsites as I drive across the U.S., that I won't be working in that time period, and will need a stash of savings to feed myself and provide the basic necessities... so that, plus however much it is going to take to get the bus in safe running condition. I definitely need some replacement valves to fix the leak in my air system, as well as a new gauge on the cluster that leaks, may need brakes, definitely need new batteries, both an engine bank and a house bank, need electrical components, need rust-inhibiting paint to finish the floor install, insulation, and flooring material, stainless steel plates to fasten above the rear wheel wells of the bus, a water tank or two (gray water and clean water - I already have a black water), a wood stove and fittings, and some plumbing materials to install my sink and the in-line shower heater (though the electric heater can come later) and the foot pumps to operate the sink and shower water... who knows what else... the broken windshield wiper and missing wiper motor... who knows how many other engine components (gaskets that I don't yet have, pistons, bearings, o-rings, etc.) I will need to do the job "properly" and (oops - almost forgot, sorry mom!) can't forget a carbon monoxide detector for above the wood stove... heh.

And no, I am not going joy-riding, I have an absolute NEED. I !!MUST!! get out of Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and all of these East Coast states... I need to get home, to Portland, Oregon, where my soul is free and my spirit is satiated!!

Oof. So this is the conclusion that I came to after hours of processing and talking it over with a friend: the most that I can save each month to dedicate to the bus would be $1,000.
I make $400 a week, cash in hand.
That's 4 X $400 = $1,600 a month.
There are only 2 unwaivering expenses that I have each month, $200 for rent and $50 for the minimum payment on my student loans. $1,600 - $250 = $1,350

Now, I set aside the $1,000 per month, and now I have $350 a month to spend on food, fuel for my Mercedes, and whatever other necessities are needed in that time span, be it toothpaste or toilet paper or one of those things that you need that life would be very difficult without it.

Doable? For me? Absolutely.
It just means giving up a few luxuries that I, like many other people, indulge in. This would be the cup of coffee that I get out every now and then, kombucha tea in the bottles, buying everything organic, and some specialty gluten-free vegan foods that are nichey and really expensive. I mean, I don't want for much; I hate shopping, I get almost all of my clothes as hand-me-downs (or that I buy with store credit that I get from trading in all of those leftover hand-me-downs), don't go to movies, don't drink beer at the bar (and I don't like gluten-free beer), don't get my hair cut or my nails done or whatever else people spend their money on... movies, video games, I don't know. Nothing I spend it on.

I can do this.


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Bus's Heads

Well, I finally pulled the heads off of the first motor (the original, the DDEC) after much struggle. All of the hoses had been rusted miserably together to form unbreakable bonds. A day of soaking in PB Blaster and I managed to break a few free, and only damaging one, which thankfully I have a backup for on the other motor. Whew.
After detaching the electrical injectors, breaking all of the enormous head bolts free and labeling everything obsessively, I ended up asking for a hand from a strong friend to muscle them onto a wheelie cart for me, then into (and back out of,) the washing machine.

Mmmm... Downy fresh heads!!

After they were clean, I learned how to Vacuum Test the heads. 3 out of the 4 cylinders held vacuum, which means that the cylinder that doesn't... needs a valve job! Augh. Well, not too bad, because I've been interested in learning how to do one of those. The problem is now to figure out: do the one bad one, or do them all? If one is bad... then are the others going? Or is this just the case of damage from my internal issue, and all of the damage that will be done, has been done?

But cost, too. I am dead broke. I could do the one cylinder, and it would save me in time and money... and the others ARE fine.

Oooohhhhh the decisions! DECISIONS! Input, anyone??

Here, I will include some more pictures of my motor for fun!!
(note: objects in pictures are larger than they appear!)

The heads, freshly removed from the block.

Thank goodness to rebuilding the VW engine first! Priceless things that you learn: LABEL EVERYTHING!!! No, don't even THINK about it, there is NO WAYYYYY that you will remember where that bolt goes in a month from now, I don't care how obvious it looks today!!! Label it!

I guess now you could say I am a bit obsessive about the labeling... BUT it will save my butt when I go to put the thing back together. I also stamped into the heads "R" and "L" and the numbers of the cylinders so that the labels on the injectors make sense. *sigh* I am such an overachiever...

HERE! Thoroughly cleaned heads, ready for the next step.

OH! And as promised, here is a neat picture of the intake.

Yes! That's right! The intakes are on the bottom of the cylinders. Tell me that's not awesome! Silly 2-strokes...
I love old things and outdated technology!

Now, speaking of, perhaps its time to go write some letters on my typewriter...