Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Head Gasket Chronicles

I started the head gasket project the other day. I have learned a few things.


Popped open the hood and was greeted with this.

6.6 Liter Duramax turbo diesel motor. An impressive powerplant.

Holy crap, I'm in over my head.

Seriously... What was I thinking? I don't even know what half that stuff in there is much less does or what it plugs into.


OK, don't panic. Take a deep breath and focus on what you do know. Let's start with something simple. We'll take out the batteries. Unintended electric shocks suck. Hell, intended ones probably do too, but stupidity has a price. Sorry, where was I?

Batteries. Yes, two of them. Freaking truck can't just be simple.

Let's do this.

Easy to access, lots of room. Came right out.

This won't be so bad, just take it one step at a time and take lots of pictures.  Let's take out the other battery.

That one looks a little more packed in there. Still, just a battery. 

 Stinking thing is bolted down in there. Won't move at all.

That bolt down there is a problem.

 The bolt requires a long extension to reach it.

I don't have a long extension.

Thus endeth day 1.  One whole battery removed.  This isn't going to be easy.

Time to head in and work a shift. Back tomorrow.


After the stutter of day one, we stopped at Harbor Freight on the way to work and picked up a ratchet extension set. HA!  Take that problem. Not dealing with that mess again.

Where was I?

Oh yeah, battery.

Come right out when you take that bolt off.

What's next? Let's take off something big, just to feel like we're making progress.

How about...
Yeah, that part looks big and relatively easy to get out.

BLAMMO! Success. 
Damn, what next? Let's start moving along here.

How about that big thing that says 6.6 Liter on it? That would really look like I'm accomplishing something.

Wait, it's held in by those weird Torx screws.

I don't have any of those screwdrivers.


Maybe I'll get some wires unhooked. Those things are laying all over the place.

Just have to remember to take lots of pictures about where they run and which thing-ee attaches to what deal-ee, right?

Maybe if I add some pointing fingers, that would help.

Green one goes on top.  Max was taking pictures

Look at those pointing fingers.

Excellent pointy-ness.
Alas, the paying gig calls. Luckily, I know more about being an ER nurse than about being a diesel mechanic. I only get an hour or two before work on work days.

Off to work.


The previous day saw another trip to Harbor Freight to get some Torx screwdrivers. Now I could get the 6.6 Liter thing off!

And, I had the day off, so I had all day to work on the truck.

Except for Max's final flag football game, can't miss that.

Oh yeah, and the Halloween/birthday party the kids are going to.

So, I've got an hour or two to work on the truck.

This will never end.

Oh well, on to it.

I needed to pull off the radiator fan shroud. But, there are these obnoxious plastic rivet things holding them in that I don't want to break. And, there is this metal block attached to the driver's side of the shroud and it's got a nifty wiring harness attached to it.

It looked important, so I thought I'd keep it.  I managed to pull the clips and get it off.

I flipped it over.

Hmm. They named it Allison.  Weird.

I used my new Torx screwdrivers to undo a few screws and got my 6.6 liter sign off. Looks like it feeds into the air intake above the turbo.

I'm sure it has a technical name, but I call it the 6.6 Thing.

Then, it was time to unlace the wiring loom from the top of the engine. It went places and had connectors that hooked up to places. I figured I should take lots of pictures.

For the most part, I left out the pointy fingers. I didn't want to confuse the lay-people out there.

This plug here is on top of the AC compressor

A better picture of these two without the pointy fingers.

Don't forget this one on the alternator

This one from the grounding bracket ends on top of the uhhh, thing. I should probably look that up

A pointy finger for the back of the alternator

And this little guy going onto this metal tube. 

Yeah, I'm hosed.

I got most of the harness moved from the top of the engine and a few other things done, then  it was off to the Halloween party. 

Back at it tomorrow. Consistent progress, my notebook, and lots of pictures will be my only hope for getting through this project.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

New projects

So, the rain came.

Of course, that just meant going to inside projects. 

Then, we got some bad news.

About a month ago, the truck started eating coolant.  We took it in to the dealer and paid a couple thousand dollars to get it fixed.

It didn't get fixed.  It turns out that it is probably a blown head gasket. That sucks.


The quote to get it fixed ended up being about half the home renovation budget.  I just can't do that. 

So, it looks like I'm going to have to add diesel mechanic to the skills I need.  I'm going to have to do it myself.

The shop manual quotes a trained technician with a fully stocked shop should take around 36 hours of labor.

I'll probably need longer than that.  Not being a trained technician with a fully stocked shop and all.  On the plus side, I have a garage!  And, after some rearranging, the truck even fits inside it.

But, before I disappear into the garage for a few weeks, I wanted to finish a couple of in-the-house projects.

One big one in particular. 

In order to be comfortable in the house, we needed a kitchen sink. We probably needed a cabinet to put it in as well. They are tough to use when they are sitting on the floor. 

So, cabinet maker.  Yeah.

I started out with the base.

Measured to my lovely wife's exacting specifications.

I used my new pocket hole jig from Harbor Freight. Fancy, I know.
 OK, so here it gets a little strange. I decided to use some old, scrap OSB that I had lying around for the sides. I did this for two reasons.  First, I don't really trust my cabinet making skills yet. I don't want to waste any nice wood on my mistakes. Second, I don't have a truck to go get anything else.

OSB it is.
I cut out one side panel, flipped it and marked the other side.

I'm learning the value of wood clamps. I need some better ones though.

Michael joined me for some education and to help.

I screwed on one side panel and built the frame to the panel. 

That might be backward from the normal way. I don't know. I'm not a carpenter.

The bare carcass over the plumbing.
That part took all of a day off. I spent part of the next day off working on the counter top and getting interrupted with things.

Nothing is as easy as the pictures make it look.

Then, this happened.

It's waiting for you Mom!

When this happens, you go out and look.
The sky was so crazy, it was brighter yellow than the house!
Then it was back in the house.

I cut the counter top out of a 3/4 inch plywood piece I had left from doing the sub floor. Unfortunately, I was so focused on the cutting that I forgot to take pictures.

I will say, I had to do it all twice.  Sarah ordered an undermount sink and I didn't leave enough room for the clips that secure the sink to the counter. So, I tossed that piece aside and cut another one.  That was frustrating. But, it was also educational. The second time around, everything worked a little better. But, I was running out of days off.

And something was still missing.

I went to Lowe's last night and bought all the stuff I needed to make the plumbing work.

Then, today, Lowe's came to me.

Sheet rock and 600 cinder blocks.
That will be walls and skirting some day.

Some day.

Again, I was running out of time, so I didn't take many pictures. I didn't finish this project until after 9pm this evening.

The towels were just in case it exploded. It didn't

There was one leak because I cross-threaded one fitting. It fixed easily

I even have most of what I need to hook up the dishwasher. That will be big.
It isn't fancy, but I built every bit of it.  And... it works.

I hope I can say the same about the truck repair.

It's the fanciest thing in the house. Except for the water heater maybe.

Time to change gears and hats.

Have you ever wanted to know how to change a head gasket on a Duramax diesel?

Me neither.  But, we will.