Bad to Worse and Then a Glimmer of Hope

I want to start out with a few thank-yous.  First, this being Sunday and all, I would be remiss if I did not thank God for having seen fit to bring an end to the great Chapel Hill donut famine.  In the four years I’ve lived here, there have been no donut shops within 20 miles.  Maybe for some of you this would not be a problem, but I moved here from Philly, where the words “donut” and “breakfast” are synonymous and donut shops are as common as Starbucks.  This week, just across the street from the UNC campus (these people are not dumb) a new Krispy Kreme opened.  So in the future, if you can’t find me at home, or at Starbucks, that’s where I’ll be. 

Also, thank you dear readers.  The ol’ stat board says that our little blog went over 500 cumulative views earlier this week.  You’ve got horrible taste in what you read, and I appreciate that.  Don’t ever change!

You know, after a few days out at Gene’s tearing The Pony to pieces, I’ve come to the conclusion that if God (he’s on my mind today) had meant humans to be engine mechanics, he would not have given them finger nails.  I’ve got the remnants of black oil under and all around them; they’re all nicked and gouged too.  I go to bed at night and I can actually smell the Texas oil fields.  Bear in mind, when the Pony last had oil put into her, Texas still had some.  I’m just got to  to get this Pony up and running soon; I’m going to begin to hate myself.

It’s funny how almost anything can be traumatic, even something as mundane as trying to revive the Pony.  The “sturm und drang” of the events outlined in the last post just continued on into Saturday.  By the way, even though the Foreign Language Department at Northern Illinois University will deny it after reading this blog, I graduated with a minor in German (major in English) from that fine institution.  Even with that, the only other German that comes readily to mind is something my dad always said to me, “Du bist aber eine Schnotsky;” at least that’s what it sounded like.  To this day I don’t know what that means.  Feel free to leave a comment if you know. 

Now back to the tractor events of Saturday.  Since Gene had again tried to turn the engine over without success, I decided rather than sitting around and waiting for weeks to see if the penetrating oil would free-up the engine’s pistons (the top-down approach), I’d take a more aggressive tack and employ a “bottom-up” technique.  It’s a good thing we didn’t wait, because as the day progressed it became pretty obvious that we could have waited all year and the top-down  approach would not have worked.

I decided to go into the engine from the bottom and work up.  That meant dropping the oil pan, going inside the engine block, unbolting the bearing caps from the rods, and finally knocking the rods and cylinders up through the top.  The first problem we encountered was that we couldn’t get access to all of the oil pan bolts without disengaging the engine from I don’t know what (something).  We finally accomplished that task, and I was able to remove all of the bolts (picture of author breaking more of Gene’s tools follows; I’m not kidding).  I was then staring up for the first time inside the Pony’s gut, a place as dark as Stephen King’s mind. 

More complications ensued, but a measure of success was achieved as we managed to “knock-up” three of the four pistons.  The picture below shows the cylinders popped up and the elusive Gene looking down into the number 3 cylinder skeptically.  By the way, how is it that a guy a couple of years older than me, still has a full head of hair?  My two brothers, also hair; I’ll bet God had something to do with this too.  Dang it! The thanks stop here.  The reason I just said “measure of success” is that 1) we’d only managed to get three of the four pistons up, and  2) although we had expected them to pop all the way out, they only came an inch and a half out.  The shape of the rod kept the rod and piston from coming up and out completely.  We are thinking this is probably “ok” in that since they came out relatively easily the rings pistons and cylinder walls are in decent shape.  The real problem, is that we weren’t able to get the bearing cap off the third cylinder’s rod, and therefore, could not move that piston up.  No matter what we tried we couldn’t get that bearing cap to release, and the real fear is that, that bearing may be “welded” to the cam shaft.  If it’s frozen, that’s serious, and we could be out of business.  I’ve inserted a photo below, which was taken lying on my back looking up inside the engine.  I’ve circled the offending number three bearing cap.  Wait a minute…..isn’t that a bunny!

It could now be a matter of how much money does one want to spend to keep the Pony alive.  So with euthanasia on my mind, another day ended on a down note.

Sunday morning though, while out on my morning bike ride, I kept mulling over the problem of that stuck bearing cap.  In spite of the bad taste those thoughts put in my mouth the cinnamon roll and coffee at the half-way point went down just fine.  Maybe that helped, because on the inward leg of the ride I came up with an idea that I’ll try out on Tuesday, so there’s the glimmer.  Keep your fingers crossed.

Uh oh, The Princess is hollerin’ for me.  I think she’s feeling a bit neglected, because now I’m not only spending time on that idiotic tractor, but this idiotic tractor as well.  Hard for her to complain though, since this one was her idea.  Here she comes; I gotta go.


2 responses to “Bad to Worse and Then a Glimmer of Hope

  1. Bruce,
    We’ll get that Schnotsky running again even if it’s only on 3 “lungs”
    Brother Jim
    PS. I think the loose translation of Dad’s phrase was “You’ll never be anything but a writer” Therefore, you have no business messing around with a busted up Pony.

  2. Interesting, interesting. See what your brother thinks but from everything you’ve described, sounds like whoever abused the pony may have blown the head gasket(any sign of that when you pulled the head?) and seized the engine… then left it for dead. None-the-less, you will manage to move that piston and you will manage to get the bearing cap off and the bearings are probably NOT welded to the cam shaft. You’ll have to accept the fact that if you can get this running (hey, that includes all the rest of the parts as well) in a year of dedicated work, you will have done well! And now get used to the new term ‘knucklebuster’.

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