Friday, February 15, 2013

The continuing saga...

Well, the transmission leak is back.  I don't think it's as bad as it was before, so maybe it actually did have a gasket leak from the warped pan.  But I think it's coming from an aftermarket temperature sensor someone installed.  I plan on installing a DashDaq at some point, and need to be able to watch transmission temperature, but according to the internet, my truck has one factory installed, so I don't need this one.  If I can seal it, I'll probably leave it, just because it's cheaper than buying a pipe plug to fill the hole.

The next thing I've worked on is the steering gear.  The alignment shop told me it was leaking and needed replacing.  When I started taking it apart, I banged into one of the fluid lines, and it was loose.  I didn't know whether I knocked it loose or it was already loose, so I finished taking the gear off in the hopes that I could test it.  If you have to do this, I found these instructions.  One thing I screwed up, when it says "remove the steering shaft pinch bolt", it really means "remove".  I figured, "it's just a pinch bolt, so I just need to loosen it, right?"  Wrong.  The input shaft has a groove that the pinch bolt goes through.  So in addition to pinching the clamp closed, the steering shaft can't be removed from the input shaft until the bolt is fully removed.  I slipped while trying to pry the steering shaft off before removing the bolt, and that's when I banged into the power steering fluid line.

Anyway, I couldn't find any way to bench test the steering gear, and I didn't see anywhere it was obviously leaking after I cleaned it; none of the seals seemed to be leaking.  The internet said the loose line was supposed to be loose and is the pressure-side line, but I figured I'd hope that was it anyway.  So I put it back on and hooked the lines up.  The steering gear looks like cast iron and is the standard rough, rusted, surface.  So it's not like I can polish it up and see a clean trail of fluid when it leaks.  Instead, any leaks just soak into the surface and the entire thing looks wet.  And without a torch, I couldn't get it completely dry in the first place, so I wouldn't be able to find a small leak.  So I covered the whole thing in flour.  I figured any leaks would soak in and stain the flour.  The loose line was definitely leaking.  The other line got a little red, but didn't appear to be getting worse, so I chalked it up to just left-over fluid that was spilled while I hooked the lines back up.  After more research, I've found that there's supposed to be a washer on the pressure-side line.  Then says there's supposed to be an o-ring on both lines.  The pressure-side line has a seat for a washer or o-ring and I had an assortment pack from the plumbing department in lowe's.  It fits, I'm just hoping the Mercon fluid doesn't eat it.

The leak is much slower than it was, but still leaking.  I think it's the other line.  The flare nut on the that line is bigger, and doesn't seem to have a seat for the washer or o-ring, so I'm still trying to figure out for sure where it goes.  I found a tiny o-ring on the end of the line running through the flare nut, and I'm searching the internet to determine whether that is the only one and needs to be replaced, or whether it's supposed to have another on the nut.

But, at least I think I found a better way to work on it next time.  Originally, I pulled the battery, the battery tray, the air filter, and a pipe running to the intake manifold (which I think is actually an output pipe used to exhaust excess pressure from the turbo).  The battery tray had to be pulled because it has an extended section that holds up the housing for the Air-Aid filter.  I know the box is after-market, so I'm guessing the battery tray isn't the stock one either, but I could be wrong.  I could actually work without moving the turbo exhaust pipe, but it was easier with it removed.  Now, while I was tightening up the steering gear-to-frame bolts, I realized I could see the top of the steering gear and the fluid lines through a gap between the wheel well insert and the frame.  So I think if I just remove that insert, I should be able to get to the lines without having to take everything else loose.  That's also why I think the other line is the leak; looking at it from that angle, the exposed threads on that flare nut appear wet.

Anyway, so that will be the next thing I work on.  Them I'm going to pull the turbo to try to find the oil leak.  I haven't decided whether to do that right away or not, though.  I have to get back to the property eventually and clear more fence line.

Finished the alignment

Well, I installed the ball joints. They are slightly smaller than stock, so the ball joint press I got from AutoZone didn't quite fit. When pressing a balljoint in, you are supposed to press on the outside rim; pressing on the top could, in theory, collapse the top of the socket. Unfortunately, I also couldn't find a pipe at Lowe's that fit it precisely either. I did find a couple of sockets that would fit, but I would have to cut them apart to get them over the threaded shaft. It would have been fine by me; 20 bucks to keep from having to tear the front end apart again later would have been fine. But my wife didn't want me spending the money, so I just pressed on the top. I couldn't see any issues, so I think I'm fine.

I took it back up to Firestone to complete the alignment. They are the only place in the area that has equipment that can handle a truck my size. It took them a while, and when they finally finished, they told me that they couldn't get the drag link loose. So to get the tires straight down the road, the steering wheel would be crooked. It was already after closing, they had soaked it with PB BLaster and the next step was to heat it up with a torch, which they didn't have time to do that day. I went back the next day, and they got it loose, but told me the steering box is leaking and needs to be replaced. Apparently it can't be rebuilt, at least not by them.

So, that's on the list. I'm fixing things in order of biggest puddle right now. This past weekend, I changed the oil, just to be safe. It was low, and I know I have an oil leak somewhere. I'm hoping it's something relatively simple. The high pressure oil pump (HPOP) is a typical culprit and is supposed to be fairly easy to fix (although I have to take off the turbo to get to it. I've also found that the turbo has an oil drain, and that it needs its o-rings replaced any time the turbo is removed. I know it was removed by the wholesaler I bought the truck from in order to install the EGR delete, so it may be that they just didn't replace the seals. I'm going to first try finding it with the inspection mirror. If not, I'll remove the turbo and see what I see. Even if it is the turbo drain, I may go ahead and proactively do any HPOP fixes I can.

Technically oil isn't leaving a big puddle, it's just all over the back of the engine. The biggest puddle was transmission fluid, so I fixed that today. I figured it was a bad gasket, so I changed it and the filters out yesterday. And then it was leaking even worse. I drained the fluid back out into the bottles and left it until today. I pulled the pan back off today and found that it had been overtightened at some point (probably before, and then I made it worse). Many of the bolt holes were domed up. I used a hammer and backed it with one of the bars from a flaring tool. That gave me a nice flat surface (I clamped it to the pan) that I could hammer down to. I got it all as flat as I could, installed the original gasket (it's reusable), and rented an inch/pound torque wrench from AutoZone to make sure I didn't overtighten them again. I got it all filled back up and drove it around the block, and it's still not leaking, so I think I'm good. Next I'll tackle that steering box. I think I'm going to remove it, tear it apart, and see if I can find enough parts to rebuild it myself.