Wednesday, October 31, 2018

AFM Delete

  Thats "active fuel management", a term used to describe an engine system that deactivates cylinders under light load. In my GM Yukon 5.3 V8 that means it will become a V4 under light load. Well, its still a V8 but it will only run on 4 cylinders till the demand is there for more power. It all sounds so wonderful, right? The problem is that many of these engines develop valve, piston ring, lifter and cam lobe problems. Many of them also consume a lot of oil. As I understand it, when the system is in V4 mode, some oil is bypassed through a relief valve and sprayed onto the deactivated cylinders walls and pistons to help cool the engine. This can eventually lead to higher oil consumption.

  I started to worry about having these problems and I was experiencing high oil consumption.  I did a little research and found the best thing to try to do now is bypass the V4 function. I bought a little gizmo made by Range Technologies that just plugs into the OBD connector. Through the black magic of electronics, the thing tells my motor not to slip into V4 mode.

Look again. That's a bacon covered doughnut.
 I didn't eat one but the guy that did (Al)
 had a huge grin on his face.

 The whole point of Active Fuel Management is to gain fuel economy. I think GM claims something like 5-12% depending on the vehicle. Since adding the V4 delete I've calculated my mileage and its dropped from a high average of 17.7 to a steady average of 17 mpg.

 Now dropping from 17.7 to 17 isn't a concern. If it were I'd be driving something a lot smaller than a Yukon XL. What was a concern was that high oil consumption. It seemed directly related to how much hiway use I had, meaning more V4 use. Two weeks with a lot of hiway miles used almost a quart each week. Now with the little gizmo plugged in I'm seeing more like a half quart every two weeks. Ya that still sucks but it is a definite improvement. I should note that some of that oil is dripping from a valve cover leak and not all being burned.

  So I guess the point of this post is to give The Greasy Shop Rag stamp of approval to the Range Technology AFM delete module. If you're experiencing the kind of issues I was then it may be worth the $100-$150 investment. As always, your mileage may vary.


Sunday, October 28, 2018

Halloween Party

 When I was used truck shopping I thought a four door would be nice because the extra cab space would make dry secure storage for tools or whatever that normally go in the bed of a truck. Hauling passengers wasn't really a concern. My last truck was only a two seater with a subwoofer as a center console and that never seemed to be an issue. Now that I have a big ass station wagon I wonder how we got around without third row seating. Many times now I've put that third row back in for family get togethers and last night was another example when we all stuffed into the big yuke and headed off to Brooke and Mikes annual Halloween party. 


 Dinner was a chili dump. Its amazing that people can bring all different kinds of chili and dump it into one big nesco and not have it taste like crap. In fact most people go back for more. I had three bowls, all covered in cheese, fritos chips and sour cream. Oh and cold beer to wash it down.

  Amazon let my wife down when they didn't get her antennae here on time so we had to improvise with a pair of zip ties instead. 

 There was even an appearance from Dumb and Dumber. 

 A hay ride is always part of the event and halfway through we stop and watch fireworks. This pic doesn't do any justice to the great effort Mike put forth to entertain us. The fireworks were spectacular! 
 Today the kids come around for trick-or-treat. Right now the weather is kinda wet and crappy but it could stop raining by then. When I was a kid the weather would not have been a factor. If it was wet and dark you used your kid superpowers to sniff out the next door with free candy behind it, and race there as fast as you could. Shortcuts through peoples yards occasionally bumping into trees or tripping over bushes was the norm. At the end of the night you looked like you had been through combat. Nowadays if its raining you don't leave the protection of Moms umbrella. 
 I suspect someday a generation will be telling tales of how they went trick or treating and walked from house to house. They stayed dry by hiding under moms umbrella. The city and fire departments were posted on each end of town to warn outsiders that kids were in the area. Everyone felt safe. They'll be telling this to their kids as those kids fly their trick-or-treat bag equipped drones door to door. There will be a little tv screen with an emoji of what the kid might have looked like if they had made an effort at a costume. No one will be leaving the house or ever get to experience what its like to run into a wooden fence at full speed cuz your wet monster costume mask slid down your face and left you blind. Somehow there wasn't a connection between your eyes not seeing and your legs chasing candy. Smack, you hit the fence and begin learning life lessons like common sense. Future kids won't get that kind of hands on life learning experience and that's part of whats wrong with society today.


Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Mini Generator

 A lot of people carry jumper cables in their vehicles but I think that number is lower than what it used to be. It seems that when I was younger, if someone had a dead battery from cranking their car tunes all night at a party, and that someone yelled out that they needed a jump, half a dozen people would whip out a set of cables. BTW, those cables all had copper wiring but that's a gripe for another day. These days things are a bit different. Jump packs are somewhat popular although not everyone that owns one actually carries it in their vehicle or if they do, it is dead from the last time it was used. There is also a trend in these micro jump packs that might start a small car engine but certainly not a diesel with glow plugs. 
 I fit into the category of jumper cables but I also have been carrying a small generator. 

 This old Coleman Ultimite generator is something I picked up for 25 bucks a long time ago. It needed work and if you are at all familiar with their appearance then you can see I modified the jumper cable output. Its not as much overkill as you might think to carry this in the big ass station wagon. I have a big ass tote in the back that has essentials like hooks, tie down straps, trailer hitches, recovery strap, chains, a measuring wheel, etc. Yes, a measuring wheel. I could take the measuring wheel out but if I did then for sure I'd need it to measure something. Hanging on a nail in the garage is the last place I'll ever need it. I already know that nail is eight feet off the floor. Anyway, the generator is light at 23 pounds and small enough to easily fit in the tote. Realistically it takes up about as much space as two standard jump packs. I keep a can of bottled fuel in the tote as well so I never get any stink from a leak. Because its a 2 stroke I don't have to worry about any oily mess from a leak if I get wild and things go flying around and tip over. 

 The specs on this little unit are kinda impressive for its size. Its a 40cc engine and produces 1100 watts of ac power. It also (and most importantly) can charge 12 volt batteries at 90 amps. There is a 24 volt feature as well. The built in micro processor senses power demand and adjusts the throttle accordingly. Run time is 1.5 hours on that small tank of fuel but that's not really ever gonna happen in my world. Its too loud for camping and not powerful enough for big jobs. 
***We interrupt this blog post for an important message and personal pet peeve of mine. Jump starting batteries can be dangerous. Lead acid batteries found in cars, bikes and outdoor power equipment can release explosive gases. These gases can be ignited by a spark created from connecting jumper cables. This is why you should make your last jumper cable connection to a ground like the engine block away from the battery. I just cringe when I see someone that's not even wearing eye protection wiggling a jumper cable trying to make a better connection. End rant. Back to our regularly scheduled blog post.***
 I guess more than anything else its like a security blanket. I still remember when they removed kick starters from bikes and I thought "No way! That's ballsy! What if the battery goes dead?!" I felt naked not having that kick starter available. Now if I'm stranded alone with a dead battery I'll be able to fire this bad boy up and charge my vehicle or I can plug in a light and work on the vehicle.  (Note to self, put light back in the tote.) I guess in my younger days I operated like this all the time. The truth is I don't get stranded or stuck much at all anymore but my mind still works that way cuz I know how much it sucked when I didn't have the gear needed to get through a situation. At least if there's a problem I can use my cell phone to call for help, and that right there is probably why not as many people carry jumper cables anymore. 


Sunday, October 21, 2018

Double Pay?

 My brother and I worked together on landscape crews for decades until I finally landed a job where I am now mainly turning wrenches. He runs a crew in the neighboring community and periodically brings me equipment to repair. The other day he brought me a broke ass bacpac blower that had multiple issues and was a pain to start. Apparently 38 pulls was the magic number. I got the machine serviced "as good as its gonna get" given the fact that it has a bit of cylinder scoring due partly to an air leak and also carbon buildup. I advised they shouldn't rely on the machine to last long so it was decided they would replace it. Their "good" unit takes 18 pulls to start so we gave them a deal and they replaced both units.
 Uncle Tommy lives on my route home so I just dropped the blowers off at his house. I had to check out his new shed anyway so the stop had dual purpose. After some bullshittin around, the idea came up that maybe a guy could get double pay for doing twice the work?

 Strap one on back and strap one on front. Start in the middle of the yard and spin around like a tornado till all the leaves are blown to the edges. Simple.
 While on the topic of landscaping I want to congratulate my daughter Mackenzie and her friend Tyler for passing the Landscape Industry Certified Technician test. Certification consists of written and hands on testing in many different areas of landscaping. Some examples include laying sod, reading plans, irrigation, skid steer operation and plant id. I guess Kenzi struggled with planting and staking a tree in 20 minutes but passed, then aced the chainsaw hands on test. Does that mean shes like her dad and is better at taking stuff apart than putting it back together? No, I think it just means shes a smart kid as proven by her high score in the company. I know this certification isn't an Olympic medal but its nice to see young people taking pride in everything they do, in a world of people just trying to scam the system.


Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Workshop Wednesday-Bad Gas

  I am a two cycle engine tech at work. Yes I fix weed wackers but also all forms of 2 stroke equipment, mostly chainsaws. One of the biggest problems I see is bad gas. Sometimes its old gas, as seen by the dirty fuel filter in this pic.

 People just think if it starts on old gas then everything is fine and they got away with it. Not true. Old fuel can get gummy. That gum can lead to stuck piston rings and engine failure among other things including plugged up carbs.
 Old gas with ethanol in it can separate and leave you with a layer of water in your can or fuel tank.

 For that reason I always dump the fuel out of the equipment I'm working on and inspect it. You'd be surprised at some of the squaw piss I find in tanks. This funnel is for filling radiators but works great for small engine repair because I can just pull the stopper and easily return it to the equipment if the fuel looks ok. At first glance the fuel in the above pic looks fine but one needs to take a closer look.

  If I lower the flashlight into the mix I can see something else going on. It looks like red water.

 If I pull the stopper and tap some of it out I can get a closer look. Whatever it is turned out to be water soluble but I'm not sure why its red. Either way it answers the customers question, "why won't my saw stay running?"
 Speaking of things that are a weird color, what do you suppose this bird had for lunch? Creamed grasshopper?  Mountain Dew and inch worms?

 Whatever it was I'm bummed he had to relieve himself on my window.
 And, speaking of bummed, I was working on a generator the other day and I was getting goofy trying to read tiny numbers on wires I had to trace.

Why do those bundles all have to be blue wires? Throw in  a few different colors just to make things a bit easier. The troubleshooting flow chart I was following didn't seem to be in a good order to quickly trace down my problem. I spent a lot of time unsoldering wires and testing components and not finding anything wrong. Some of the stuff was either newer or older than the items labeled in the manual so not all the pin outs matched. Frustrating. As of this writing the thing ain't fixed yet. I think I know what the problem is but I don't want to influence a coworkers results when I ask him to test one component with his own meter and offer his conclusions. Until then the only thing this unit is generating is a headache.


Sunday, October 14, 2018

Yukon Lift Install

 Yesterday I scheduled myself time in the shop at work to install the lift kit on the Yukon. I got an early start and its a good thing I did because when I got there I was the first employee on the scene even though I wasn't scheduled to work. There were people waiting in the parking lot so the lift would have to hold a bit. Once I was ready to pull into the shop I almost screwed up and put the kibosh on the whole project. What happened was I grabbed the remote garage door opener and got into my truck. I opened the door and before I could pull in I noticed some pressure washers in the way. I had the remote in my hand when I got out so it went into my pocket. After moving the equipment I hopped back in the truck and started pulling into the bay. I was concentrating on getting lined up on the hoist when I heard a big crunch on the roof. I quick hit the brakes and noticed in the mirror that the door came down on me! I guess when I got in the truck the remote button was activated while it was in my pocket. Luckily there was no damage because the door hit the roof rack and I slid under it. I am so glad I didn't join the ranks of coworkers that have smashed overhead doors.

 I remembered to take measurements before anything got torn apart. The front measured  36.5" to the fender. The rear was 38".

 One thing that had to happen was removing the strut/coil and adding a spacer block on top of it. Simple stuff.

 Another thing that had to be done was to remove the upper control arm with its ball joint. The new ball joint has more range of motion to allow for the lift. The control arm on the drivers side was like new but the passenger side was rusted in tight and required some cutting. At first I tried using an air powered sawzall but finally got the torch out and sped up the process.

   Besides dealing with the lift components at the wheels, I also had to drop the front differential. This helps keep the cv shaft angle respectable. The bolts were kinda a pain to get out and equally as painful was having to grind some of the differential itself to let it clear the cross member section welded to the frame.

Then, the cross member itself had to be relieved to clear the diff. It all fits quite snug now that the grinding is done.

 There were a lot of little problems and what I just told you took all day. Except for helping at the store, I worked on that front end from 7am - 5pm. I then started the rear which consisted of a spacer on top of the coils, shock extensions, brake line bracket extension and longer sway bar connectors. I think that about covers it and that only took two hours. It would have been an hour and a half if I would have remembered to bring my coil spring clamps.

 The finished result for front fender height is 40". Thats a 3.5 lift as advertised. To me it doesn't look that high. The rear started at 38" and ended at 41.5". Thats three and a half as well but I swear the kit was advertised that the truck would be level when done. I thought the back was only supposed to go up 1.75". Oh well, maybe the front coils are weak. 

 Parked here on my sloped drive it does look level. At 3.5 inches the lift is subtle but I can really see the difference when its parked next to other vehicles. Then it becomes obvious its not stock, and thats part of what I wanted. Its not so high I need a ladder but just high enough to justify using the running board. Not a jacked up mall-crawler or an off road wannabe but pretty good I think for a station wagon that will spend most of its time on the street.


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Runaway Lemonade!

 A few months back I was used truck shopping when I decided it was time to find some grub. The closest eat em up joint to where my stomach growl originated was an Arbys. I had never eaten at an Arbys restaurant and I was alone so what the heck, I pulled in.
 First timers at the ordering counter are easy to pick out and I'm sure I looked like a new recruit stepping off the bus at army basic training. Do I order a samich, side and drink separately or do they have some kind of bundle deal? And what about sides? To me it looked like there were two choices. Curly fries or no side. Lucky for me the dude at the counter was willing to help. "I'm thinking French Dip". "Bro, like thats cool" he said and then walked me through the rest of the menu choices, which was basically just curly fries. I was handed a big ass cup and walked over to the fountain to tap myself a lemonade. After placing the cup under the discharge I pushed the button to start the flow of that sweet lemon flavored nectar.

 I'm a gearhead. I look at everything from a viewpoint of wondering how it works. If I don't know then I get curious and start investigating, or at least speculating what makes it tick. When I pushed the button to start the flow of lemonade, it kept coming out after I lifted from the button. I knew something was wrong. There is no sensor to weigh the cup or scan the fluid level. I doubt there was a timer because it doesn't know the cup size. I was sure the button was stuck and pushed it a few more times to try to stop it but the juice just kept flowing. This cup was surely gonna runneth over. It was a big cup and I had a lot of time to work this out in my head. I didn't see a camera crew anywhere so I was pretty sure this wasn't a prank. Screw it. I'm new here and will probably never return.
 Its not often I get a legitimate excuse to be a ham so when this opportunity arose, I took it. "Runaway lemonade!, Runaway lemonade!, We've got runaway lemonade here!" I spoke those words in a loud enough voice that I was sure everyone in the building heard it. The staff behind the counter was taken off guard and quite a bit of lemonade and ice cubes ran over the lip of the cup, filling the spill tray and beginning to overflow that, before anyone came out to investigate. Bro just shook his head in disgust and said "not cool dude, push the button". I explained that I had tried that already and when I pushed the button again to prove that it was stuck, it stopped the flow. Bro said "Duuuuude". Some kid came out with a mop to clean up the spill while I hung my head in shame. Not because I made a mess or was embarrassed but because I let that machine beat me.
 I spent the next minutes wolfing down a french dip while the staff pointed and giggled at me, which by the way isn't unusual, its just that this time I knew why.


Sunday, October 7, 2018

Need A Lift?

 The Yukon purchase has been a good one so far. The big station wagon rides decent, gets better gas mileage than my last ride and pulls my trailer just fine.

Mowby Dick photo bomb. What a dick.

 Part of my goal in this purchase was to have a vehicle that will get me to work in the worst of Wisconsin winter road conditions. You know, like when they pull the plow trucks off the road till a blizzard ends. It doesn't take much to meet that goal. Good heat to keep the glass clear, tires that eat big chunks of snow and make their own trail, and decent ground clearance to clear drifts and ruts.
 The first part is easy and most vehicles will pass as long as they have heated mirrors. The second detail is a simple matter of purchasing different rubber. The tires on the truck now have a lot of tread left so we'll see how that plays out. The last point, ground clearance, will soon be addressed.

 This was delivered damn near to my door the other day. I say near because they left it on the front step just outside of the porch overhang. The box was rained upon all day.

 I researched lift kits before looking at any vehicles. I was looking for the best bang for the buck and didn't want to be stuck with a vehicle that needed a $1000+ investment to get it a few inches higher. This Rough Country kit is 3.5 inches at a cost of $580. The things I liked about this kit were the use of different upper ball joints that have more range of motion, and a differential drop that keeps the cv shafts at the proper angle. The big suv will ride the same, just a little higher.
 This weekend is spoken for so maybe next weekend I can look at doing the install.


Wednesday, October 3, 2018

House Rules

 My wife and I have been empty nesters for a couple years now but that situation changed a few weeks ago when we welcomed our niece Stefany into our home. The reasons for her staying with us are not anything that needs to be discussed on this blog and the length of her stay is undetermined but should be at least the rest of this school year, or maybe the rest of high school. Because she is welcome to stay as long as she wants, I felt the need to post a quick set of rules that would better keep the peace between us. For the record, some of these rules are directed at my wife so these are really just guidelines for anyone staying in this house that doesn't want an ass chewing, or at least the stink eye. I don't think any of these are unreasonable requests.

1.  Pajamas are for inside the house. Pants are for outside the house. Its ok to wear pants inside the house but its not ok to wear pajamas outside the house.
2.  You can use any tools you find, just put them back where you found them. My memory is hazy but I know the last place I set any given tool and that's where I'm gonna look for it when needed.
3.  Anyone that spends the night more than two days in a row is no longer a guest. Grab a rag or a mop and help out a little.
4.  Open the fridge door, grab your shit and close the door. Don't stand there with the door open trying to decide if you want a snack.
5.  When taking off your shoes, don't just leave them in your wake. Put them away. My wife could trip over them and break a hip.
6.  I'm willing to sit down and discuss any problems you  may have but not during Packer games and episodes of Columbo.
7.  C's for grades are acceptable but not desirable. F's are just a sign of being too lazy to do the work.
8.  The snooze button is evil and doesn't help you get any quality sleep. It also pisses off everyone else in the house. Set the alarm for the time you want to get up and when it goes off, get your ass out of bed.
9.   Don't forget to feed the cats. If Pasha is loitering in the kitchen then its probably dinner time. If Oliver is in the kitchen giving you the stink eye then its probably past their dinner time.
10. Don't be a dick.

 Pretty simple guidelines I think. I see we've been testing the waters with rule #1 already. I'm gonna let that one slide this time because your aunt may have had some involvement in that. She has her own rules for me. They aren't written down anywhere or even been verbalized but I've hung around her long enough to know what they are. I'm pretty sure my own rule #10 applies to me in this situation.