Wednesday, February 9, 2011



I'm so behind on these posts, it's taking me a while to remember what to write about certain days. Luckily, my photos are grouped by days, so they help provide a guideline of where to start and what to talk about. This post is supposed to be about cleaning the engine. The day wasn't really all about cleaning the engine. In fact, not much cleaning of the engine happened.

Atlanta was blanketed in snow, and that snow turned the roads all to ice. The type of ice I've never seen before. I know if I was you and was reading this from afar, I'd say "So what? Just get the snow plows out." Well, Atlanta, doesn't really have any snow plows. It really has no infrastructure at all for snow and icy conditions. It's a major metropolitan area that just shuts down at the very whisper of snow flurries. SHUTS DOWN! Work was cancelled all week for me. It would have been a great time to get some work done on the car, except for the fact that I had no way of getting to the shop. It wasn't really until Thursday that I could get in the car and drive, and I had to go into work to process stuff so people could still be paid Friday.

Back to the engine cleaning. I was able to get to the shop on Friday. The storm was well over, but the freezing conditions remained. Because of this, the shops driveway, which slopes down hill to the shop hanger doors, was still covered in frozen snow about 8 inches thick. There was no way I was going to be able to get my jeep (4x4 and all) down that hill. Wanting to stick with the shop's safety rules by parking my car behind the gates, I had to shovel an 8x10 section out of the ice so I could back my car just behind the gate. Anyone ever shoveled snow? It's not that hard, tiring, but not too hard. Well try shoveling ice. It does not come up to easily. The top layer came off fine, but the bottom layer insanely hard to get up. After 45 min worth, I lazily told myself it was good enough and backed the car in. Guess my measuring was off a little, as I had barely enough room to back the car in before it started slipping down the driveway. Nothing bad happened, the car stopped fine with about a foot of clearance for the swinging gates to close (whew). The best part about the shoveling, was it warmed me up!

Ah, but it didn't last for long. Let's just say this old shop/warehouse isn't really insulated well. The cold quickly attacked my poorly insulated fingers and toes. Cleaning the engine and tranny means using wet cleaners and water to spray it off. Rubber gloves do nothing to protect your hands from the cold. I'd even like to say that the wet parts felt even colder while wearing the rubber gloves. I was extremely unprepared for this. I lasted as long as I could before I had to take mini breaks and start messing around in the shop. Moving this and that, here and there. Any type of movement to get my body heat flowing. I even started to shovel the ice again at one point. I would spray the engine and tranny with degreaser and let it soak while I ran sprints or did jumping jacks.

Not sure if I've mentioned this or not, but the shop has no running water. Which makes it extremely difficult to wash things off, aka CLEAN AN ENGINE. There's no hose to spray the gunk and grime off. So luckily Ziggy(the shop owner) let me borrow a pump sprayer. It's a big industrial one that gardeners, and our work construction painters use all the time. It doesn't holds about 4-5 gallons, and boy does that go quick. These sprayers don't really have the best pressure, but it's all I have for now.

I'm gonna switch to another side subject (don't worry, I'll find my way back). I'd been researching places that might be able to do some work on the tranny and engine. I finally found a place that would service the transmission for me not too far from where I work. Transmissions are a completely different animal from an engine, and I wanted more experienced hands taking it apart and putting it pack together. I've also never seen the inside of a tranny, so I have no clue how things should look. I told the guy that I would bring it to him on the next Monday.

With that in mind, and not much water left to clean, I focused my efforts on cleaning the tranny . The tranny's aluminum casing made it a lot easier to clean since there really wasn't any rust to deal with. As you can see from the pics on my Flickr, the engine's iron block and headers are hard iron that have been rusted or have had heat spars occur making the metal extremely rough and discolored. With the tranny, it was just years and years of caked dirt, oil, and any other thing the road spit at it, that was caked on it. It was just a matter of soaking, degreasing, brake cleaner, and wire brushing before it came off with noticeable results. If I'd have been able to get all the grime off of it, you would have thought it was almost brand new. I ran out of water and decided to call it a day. I had bought a tarp and placed in the back of my jeep so I could protect it from the still greasy and wet tranny from doing any damage to the cars interior. I put the bell housing in the car as well so I could send them to the shop together in case they needed it too.

That Sunday, I took the tranny and bell housing to a do-it-yourself car wash. I wanted to really get the gunk off of it before giving it to the transmission shop. Armed with a pocket full of quarters, I set the pressure washer hose to the engine degreaser setting (which is more like Simple Green) and used the full five minutes spraying over and over every little nook and cranny of both object. Another round of quarters and I turned on the high power soap. This is a million times better, maybe a billion times better than the pump sprayer (sorry little pump sprayer, but it's true). It's stripped away any loose grime with ease. The real caked stuff that I wasn't able to get to with the wire brush, still stayed in place, even with the high powered water offense I was hitting it with. I used another handful of quarter to just super-soak the tranny and bell housing to rinse it off of all the soap and degreaser. If I had let it sit in the degreaser for a half hour, I probably could have had better results, but the lines were backing up and I didn't want to have to move all the gear and go to the back of the line and do it all over. I was satisfied I had done a pretty good job and knew that the transmission shop would give the tranny it's own steam bath to clean it all anyways. Besides, I had to get going so I could make the local "World of Wheels" car show that was at the convention center.

But more on that later....

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