Well, our high hopes for the engine were dashed after we re-assembled, put the engine in and fired it up. The initial worst-case diagnosis was pretty close after all. Time for a new engine. Again.
Let me back up a bit. After being towed back to a hotel a few nights ago, we updated the blog to let folks know our status and I sent a few emails. One e-mail was to some of the Portland members of the Type 2 AIRS list (for the record, half of them bounced). It was about ten o’clock in the evening. No more than an hour later, we had suggestions of recommended mechanics, parts places, places to stay, friends of friends to call, etc. Pretty amazing, actually. I’ll repeat what’s already been said – if you’re going to break down anywhere, Portland is the place.
One response was just so good we had to follow-up immediately. Christen said, “Give me a call, I live in Gresham and am an ASE certified auto mechanic with 15+ years experience. I can offer a place to park your bus and help swapping the engine, tools too.My better half and I have a VW Karma debt to repay, so feel free to impose! ” I give her a call and it just keeps getting better. A pro mechanic wants me to tow my bus to her house, guarantees we’ll be taken care of until it’s fixed, let’s us stay at her place, picks us up from the hotel, and buys us lunch. Know any mechanics like that?
After hanging out for an hour or so, the bus arrives on the flatbed and we almost immediate get to work. Within a few hours, the engine is out and torn down to find the problem. The #4 exhaust valve broke off (see photo) and bounced around inside the cylinder for a while and mangled all sorts of metal. Did not go through the piston. Some small bits did get sucked back out the intake and into #3, but no serious damage there. After lots more inspection, we decided to cross our fingers and get a new head and piston/cylinder, reassemble the whole thing and drive away into the sunset. The rest of the evening was spent driving to get parts (again, Christen provided the wheels) and re-assembling everything back at her shop. She even had a donor engine for various bits and pieces we deemed needed replacing. After a pretty long day of wrenching, we had dinner a few beers and turned in.
The next morning, I proceeded to put the engine in. Bode and Angela rode the MAX to the OMSI. Christen had some other business to tend to: her ’58 Cadillac Hearse had to be taken to a friend to get a new exhaust (remember, Halloween is just around the corner.) Aside from being an ace mechanic, she’s also an artist, sculptor, creator of things that spew fire and enjoys scaring the hell out of people around Halloween. The ’58 Caddy Hearse with a 472 engine is a nice touch. It looks like something a zombie would drive out of a cemetery.
Anyway, my engine goes back in, I fire it up and… knock, knock, knock. It was actually funnier than some knock, knock jokes I’ve heard – but now I know for sure it’s time for a new engine. Crunching on that broken valve probably bent the crank or bearings and now there’s really no other choice. I’ve had lots of suggestions to just go buy a new engine (with lot’s of upgrades!) over the past few days and of course, I knew it would be the most likely path to success, but I’m stubborn I suppose. Thrifty too. I had to try to fix what I had. But now, without further delay, a new engine is coming. So, I pulled it out again, pulled the top-end off and took it to someone local who is going to rebuild the long-block for me. Stock. Like new again. Again.
If you go back a few months, you’ll see that’s how this trip started. The engine that came with the bus when I bought it had been on fire and was a complete mess. I found a Craigslist special – an impossibly low-priced freshly rebuilt turn-key engine. The guy built them in his garage, did his own machine work, had 30+ years experience, etc. I spent a lot of time talking with him and he seemed like a good guy and I’m sure generally does good work. I suspect he or one of his minions may have liberally re-used parts (like, valves) that maybe were just too tired to be re-used. It was a bargain, and like I seem to never learn, you get what you pay for. Hopefully, now things will right.