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Thursday, August 18, 2005

The Great Jeep Mishap

I really haven't posted much of anything since I came back from vacation, but I finally got around to doing a post about my big Jeep mishap.

Way back in June, if you can remember that far back, I took some vacation. I never really talked about it here, so don't be too surprised that you are just now hearing about it.

Anyway, in a earlier post about jeep concept vehicles, I mentioned that I love Jeeps. Granted, the things that I do with my Jeeps are severely limited by the constraints of my budget. So on one rare occasion, I was up in divide camping, with some friends, and decided to do some four wheeling. This is when my Jeep mishap began.

Just to give you a little background info, I have a 1984 Jeep CJ-7. She is pretty much stock, and it is about all I can do to keep her running. Aside from things breaking, I am trying to get the vacuum lines and sensors straightened out. After a good deal of work, I had her running pretty good. I had rebuilt the carburetor, replaced the dead computer, among a whole laundry list of other repairs.

So to continue my sordid tale, we were in Divide (Colorado) four-wheeling, and we were plowing through some pretty deep water and mud, at least for stock vehicles. After driving around and having fun, we decided to get out and take a break. I was standing there talking to my friend, when I noticed that there was oil pouring out off the bottom of my Jeep.

Just in case you didn't get that:

Now, being fairly level headed, after spouting a string of curses I opened the hood to find that a pipe that comes off my catalytic converter, and runs next to the firewall, had come loose, and banged a hole in my oil filter. Oil had then proceeded to spray out, coating the engine compartment. Later on, after getting a new oil filter, and some more oil, I realized that I had blown a little over 5 quarts of oil all the place. The Jeep holds 6 quarts. I don't know when the oil indicator light comes on, but at this point I assume it must be broken.

Note: If anyone from Green Peace or any other conservation group is reading this, I didn't mean to get oil all over the forest floor. I'm not a bad guy, heck, I even recycle.

At this point, I don't know quite how low the oil is, I just know that I want to get back to camp to assess the damage. After all, it was only a little hole, right? So I try to get going, but now my CJ won't start, not even a good sputter. Luckily, I have a tow strap, my good friend Scott is there to help, and he too has a Jeep.

We successfully get to Camp, and I find out that my distributor isn't nearly as water tight as I thought it was. After a little time to dry out, some starter fluid, 5 1/2 quarts of oil, and a filter, my CJ is running.

Just to use a technique called foreshadowing, as well as a healthy dose of irony, while I was taking the air cleaner off to use the before mentioned starter fluid, I decided to put the wing nut back on the post of the carburetor, so I wouldn't lose it.

I had the good sense to cover the opening to the carburetor with my hand, so just in case I dropped the wing nut, it wouldn't go into the carburetor.

As luck would have it, I did drop the wing nut, but it couldn't have gone into the carburetor.


Anyway, I didn't find it in the dirt under the Jeep, so I marked it up as lost.

On the way home, everything is going great! My CJ is running, the sun is shining, there is a loud clanking coming from the engine, and birds are singing.

???? A loud clanking is coming from the engine ????

I figure that I must have thrown a rod, since I had dumped 5 and 1/2 quarts of oil out of my 6 quart oil pan. Let us just say that at this point I am not a happy camper. After a very interesting time at a gas station, waiting on the tow truck, which is another story all together, I started the process of discovering what damage had been done.

Now the rest of the story takes place over my week of vacation. Everything up until this point had happened during the weekend. I start disassembling the engine, and I get my first glimmer of hope when I pull the spark plugs. If you look at the picture below, you will notice something different about the spark plug on the right. First off, it is missing the center piece, and it is all bent to hell.

As I said, this was my first glimmer of hope, since I had thought about the possibility that the wingnut from my carburetor had probably fallen in the carburetor. If you are curious, the two pieces of metal is what was left of the wingnut. It had worked its way back to cylinder 6, and the piston stamped it flat.

Here are a few more pictures:

This is the engine of my Jeep without the head.

Below is the intake/exhaust manifold (top), and the bottom of the head (bottom of the picture).

Now, I would like to say that everything is perfect now that I re-assembled my Jeep, but the truth is that it still does not run very well. Below is a picture the ridiculous number of vacuum hoses that I had to sort through.

I did my best to try and document the process of taking the hoses off, but when I was putting everything back on, it didn't seem to make much sense. I looked in the Chilton's book, but my diagrams make more sense than the diagrams there did. I am still trying to sort the whole mess out.

I just finished my school semester, and am taking a semester off to catch up on this, and some other things around the house that I have had to put off. Hopefully I will have it all straightened out soon.

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