In The Pony’s Case…a Little Bit Pregnant

Well George, I can’t say you didn’t warn me.  Readers may recall my earlier post wherein I described my adventure in the chestnut tree grove; I even included a link to the Christmas song, you know “…chestnuts roasting on an open fire…” blah, blah, blah.   I spent a couple of hours one day picking chestnuts out of horribly prickly hulls, which left me, by the way, with thorns in my fingers and hands, the last one of which I pulled out with a tweezers last night.  No kidding.  Well, after getting the nuts home I separated good ones from bad ones, went on-line and looked up proper storage techniques and then popped them in the bottom drawer of the fridge.

The nuts were in a plastic bag with holes poked into it, and every time I was down in that drawer I’d grab the bag, turn it over and put it back.  Well, what a surprise, on my last trip down into the drawer there were little yellow worms crawling all over inside the bag, and a few escapees (through those handy breathing holes) crawling to freedom in the drawer.  Eew, disgusting! man like lightning I yanked those out of there and pitched ’em straight into the garbage, then went into sniper mode hunting down each and every escapee.  I think I got all the little buggers, but I’m keeping my eyes open.  Funny how an experience like that can change one’s perspective, but that once enticing grove of trees, holds nothin’ for me now. 

I’ve got a couple of pictures here of The Pony’s crankshaft.

I’m telling you, that second picture got the Idiotic Brother on the phone quick.  He’s not happy at all about that pitting you see there.  Most of the journals (surfaces where the bearings run on the crankshaft) show some wear, but these are the only two surfaces that are pitted.  After I calmed him down and he remembered that he wasn’t back in the combustion engineering lab at Sandia anymore, he admitted that “…the pits are THE PITS…” but seeing as how it’s just The Pony you’ll probably be “ok.”  What he meant was that I’m not looking for peak performance, just a decent running engine.

He did, however, begin on a whole new tirade about getting me to test the amount of wear on the journals and bearings.  If there is too much wear he says, this can result in a number of things including low oil pressure, rod and bearing knocks, and lack of power.  So he is all over me to do a plastigage check.  This involves placing a strips of plastigage across the journals and then tightening down all of the bearings onto the crankshaft just as you would if putting the engine back together.  You then unbolt the bearings and measure the width of the plastigage material that squishes out on the crankshaft.  The width of the material will tell you how big the gap is between the journal and the bearing. 

The plastigage strip brings to mind the strips used for pregnancy tests, and I’m telling you, I’m going to be watching what happens to that strip as closely as a teenage girl and dreading the results just the same.  The big difference, of course, is that with my test, it’s “ok” for The Pony to be a little bit pregnant, but preferably only about one trimester.  Here’s a picture of what the wrapped plastigage strip looks like.    Ok, maybe you don’t pee on the strip; but by comparing the widths of the green marks on this wrapper to the widths of the “squishes” on the crankshaft, you find out the amount of pregnancy, I mean clearance you’ve got.  I must digress here for just one moment.  When I went over this with spell check I found that even the spell check program knows there is no such thing as “a little bit pregnant,” because it is programmed to suggest simply the word “pregnant” when one uses this phrase.  What do they know anyway?  I’ve been busily cleaning the crank and its related bearings, bearing caps and bolts, and I should be ready to test this weekend sometime.

As I thought about The Pony, and this test, and how far from perfect that old tractor is it reminded of a thought I had earlier this week on this subject of perfection.  What got me thinking was a sunrise I saw earlier this week.  The sky was “perfectly” clear, the sun rose, but the sky didn’t really look all that special.  What it needed were a few clouds (just a little imperfection) to catch the colors of the sun as it rose and make it more interesting.  There is probably some lesson in this which totally escapes your “head in the sand” idiotic author, but suffice to say that The Pony is Very Interesting!

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