Journey to the center of…the Engine

I have just a few things here before we get to tractor news. 
First, you may recall that in my post of August 30, I mentioned that olb (our little blog) had gone over 500 cumulative views.  Well, thanks to you ( and your incessant desire to put important things off and read this blog), yesterday, after just 9 more days we doubled that amount to go over 1000 views.  I honestly don’t understand it, but THANK YOU! 

Second, knowing that I live in a town home, from time to time people ask me, “Why do you have a tractor,” or “What will you do with a tractor?” and I am not always prepared with the right response.  But frequent reader, Linda, has said for me what I felt, but could not verbalize (can you imagine, me not verbalizing!)  She said, “At first I wondered, why the heck does he need a tractor?  But then I realized (duh) it isn’t about ‘needing it,’ but about having something so cool.”  Perfect!  Thanks Linda.

Third, and most importantly, some things creep up on us and by the time they register they are fait accompli (that’s French for “what the heck just happened to me”).  Then we wonder how could this happen?  Who or what was behind this?  Who can we blame?  I became aware of one of these creepers a while back, but at the time I didn’t have this teetering little platform on which to bellyache about it.  Now I do, so I’d like to take just a few of your precious minutes (if they’re so precious, what are you doing reading this?) to talk about “the missing half-inch.” 

I’ll bet you know what I’m talking about.  Yes, what the heck happened to half an inch of our toilet paper!  I discovered this, (nevermind how I discovered it), and to find out what happened to that half-inch, I went straight to the most outrageous internet site I could find on the subject, you won’t believe it, Toilet Paper World (  There I found the sizes of most major brands (and a lot of minor brands) of TP.  I also found sections on the site for a Toilet Paper Encyclopedia and incredibly “Fun Facts about Toilet Paper.”  I scoured the Fun Facts section and among dozens of not so fun facts found this gem:  According to “various studies” the average person spends three years on the toilet in his or her lifetime.  I am incredibly impressed by this figure, but more importantly, how on earth were those studies conducted?

“Bottom” line, no major brand that you’d find in a store near you has a 4.5″ x 4.5″ sheet anymore.  The widths vary all over the place, but the biggest loser, no surprise to me, was Northern (my former, favorite brand) which now sports a 4×4 sheet.  Listen people, where is the outrage?  We’ve lost something important to us, something that affects each of personally (very personally) every day.  We have no one to blame but ourselves if we don’t get “behind” a new movement to restore and standardize toilet paper sheet size.  Call the manufacturers, call the Bureau of Standards, send emails, alert the media.  We can do this, and I think to give the movement cohesiveness and strength we should brand it.  Let’s call the new effort “The TP Party Movement.”

Alright, enough silliness, there’s tractor news.  Yesterday Gene and I met to see if we could get that stubborn piston to pop through the cylinder.  I don’t know if Gene was tired of watching me lie on my back under the engine with black oil dripping all over me, or if I was tired of banging upward with a really heavy sledge, or both, but before getting started we decided to flop the engine on its side, so I could get a better whack at the piston.  Although this took a lot of eyeballing, scootching, lifting and prying, we finally had the engine on its side and indeed a much better angle to knock on the piston rod.

I proceeded with 6 or 7 good hard whacks and “pop went the piston” up through the top, just like the other three.  Once up, what we found was that the rings were frozen into the “I don’t know what you callems” in the piston.  An additional problem: the piston, although up partially like the others was still dang tight in the cylinder. 

While I stood, stared and went “hmmmm,” Gene removed the coil and distributer from the exposed side of the engine.  This gave us access to the plate behind which lay the valve tappets and springs; after its removal I took a few pictures, and later emailed them to Brother Jim (since when did he become a friar).  By the way, the valve tappets and their associated valves, are pushed up and down by my other favorite shaft, the “camshaft.”  So, yes, I’ve now given you the shaft twice!

The picture inserted below is another one of those not so pretty sights I’ve shared with you in the past, so you know what to do if your squeamish.  Incidentally, I didn’t know this myself until recently, if you click on any insert in a post, the image will be enlarged.  Hoo!  Talk about gross!  As you can see there’s a good amount of rust and other gunk in there; and on top of that (literally) some of the valves may be frozen, and at the very least, are certainly carboned up. 

Another thing Jim noticed was that with the small amount of piston exposed, we don’t have access to the piston pins, the things that hold the piston to the rod.  With that fresh info, the continued tightness of the pistons and the mess the valves and tappets are in, it was decreed by Jim that “the crankshaft shall be removed.”  This will allow us to get at and thoroughly clean most of the critical engine parts.  So two guys (one of whom is only an English Major) who’ve never done such a thing before, are about to FINALLY just take the whole dang engine apart.  I don’t know about you, but that scares the poop out of me.  WHERE’S THAT TOILET PAPER!


2 responses to “Journey to the center of…the Engine

  1. You got it: Solid Lutherans don’t make good friars.
    High time you got a protest group started re T P. It has rankled you since at least December. I TOLD you just to switch brands!


  2. Interesting picture! This engine’s been worked on before. Could be worse but what about the passages in the block – they look awful! This is where you better start meticulously labeling and numbering parts, not just taking apart and throwing in a box. Keep going. This is going to be a thousand mile journey and now that the engine is open you’ll need to protect all those newly exposed surfaces from rusting. Welcome to the world of the 4 cylinder gasoline engine.

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