Archive for the ‘Cars’ Category

Giving the truck a little more spark

Posted: December 13, 2015 in Cars

Spark plugs should never get this bad before being replaced!


By looking at this photo, you can see that the spark plugs in the truck were pretty old and rusted. I had already replaced three this summer, and finally got around to changing out the other five. Along with the new plug wires, rotor and distributor cap, as well as the spark igniter and ignition cylinder, much of the electrical system has now been replaced.

I also got a sweet new set of all-season Goodyear tires to get ready for winter, and tore off the old cracked, white mud flaps. I like the look of it, so I didn’t put new flaps on.

The patch I put on the hole in the aspirator tube fell off again, so I went to O’Reilly Auto and found a specialized putty made just for exhaust systems that gets harder under extreme heat. After slathering that on the tube, the hole seems to be finally plugged. There is still a little exhaust noise where the manifold meets the engine block that I’d like to see if I can wrap with tape, but overall the engine is much quieter than it was.

Now that the engine is quieter, I’m noticing some wind noise from the passenger window, so I’m going to put some additional weather stripping in that side and see if it helps. The driver’s door still rattles a bit too, and I think it is due to a hinge which has developed a little play in it. I’m going to try some liquid weld on the hinge to see if that will seal it to the door frame better.


The current look of the truck with window wind deflectors, new raised, white-letter tires and tonneau cover removed. Note that the mud flaps seen in this picture have since been removed.

Calming the wind on Old Blue

Posted: November 24, 2015 in Cars

In an effort to quiet the freeway-driving cabin noise on Old Blue, I researched and found a company that sells new metal-reinforced rubber door seals, and installed those before the weather got cold. I also added some additional self-adhesive insulation inside the passenger side window, where the original weatherstripping had become worn.

Lastly, I purchased some Wade wind deflectors for both the driver and passenger doors (in smoke color). Between these three modifications, the wind noise inside the cab is far lower. I’m contemplating also adding a wind deflector to the hood and possibly the rear sliding window to see how that helps as well.

Other recent modifications include the removal of the tonneau cover, which was leaking like a sieve. We’re back to just the regular pickup bed with the extra large tool chest, which is working just fine for now.

She handled pretty good during the first snow with both fuel tanks full. There was still a little tire slippage on the icy spots, which can hopefully be rectified with the addition of some all-season tires from Belle Tire in the coming weeks.

The old girl wouldn’t start or take a jump, so I had it towed and installed a powerful new battery. Now she runs great and I can count on her to start all winter. I also bolted in the board to fill the gap between the tonneau cover and tool box.IMG_0198

The board matches well and looks like it actually belongs there. This weekend I will seal it with some good clear caulk.

Old Blue started to develop a bit of a cough somewhere in her exhaust system, so I took her to the local muffler shop. After throwing her up on the lift, I was informed that there was a hole in one of my aspirator tubes, way up where it was almost impossible to reach, on the rear of the engine. They told me there was nothing they could do, because “you can’t find replacement aspirator tubes anymore,” and sent me on my way.

I didn’t like that answer, so I bought some liquid weld, taped a small piece of cardboard to an old broomstick, and reached up there with a wad of liquid weld and just painted it over the hole while laying on my back under the truck. That silenced the problem a little, but not all the way. While I was underneath, I also noticed a ring of rust where the muffler meets the exhaust pipe. So, I took her to a different muffler shop, who happily replaced the muffler. Now, I don’t have an exhaust that sounds like a Harley Davidson firing up.

The engine does, however, have a little bit of a growl, and maybe some lifter tick. It sounds cool, but drowns out the radio and makes conversation difficult while on the highway. To try and remedy this, I went and got some oil treatment, as well as a gas treatment, both of which claimed to help reduce engine noise. It helped a little, but there was still some unwanted noise. Upon checking the oil level, I was a little low, so I added a couple of quarts of high quality motor oil. The increased volume of oil and additional oil pressure quieted the engine yet a little more. My next step will be to buy hood insulation, which should muffle the engine noise a few decibels. If my truck ever had hood insulation, it’s long gone now, as no trace of it remains.

Other recent upgrades include:

  • A 6-foot tonneau cover that my dad was no longer using. But…I have an eight-foot bed. To solve this I also bought:
  • A 20-inch truck bed toolbox. This still left a gap of about 4 inches, so I took a 4 X8, coated it with DuraLiner spray, and wedged it in the gap left between the truck box and tonneau cover. After a hard rain, it appeared to keep the water out (with a few leaks) so this weekend I’ll probably bolt it in and seal it with some clear caulk

The only problem with this entire project was that the truck bed is no longer square after years of carrying around a bed camper. This required me to put wood shims in to make the rails of the cover sit square, so the tonneau would snap shut and cover the bed properly width-wise. The shims left a slight gap between the liner and bed rails, so I covered it with some thick non-skid tape to seal the gap. It matched the liner and bed rails pretty well.

The next step I want to take is to buy weatherstripping seals for the tailgate, which will make it even more dust proof and waterproof. I’m also looking into getting new door seals so the wind doesn’t whistle through the cab so loudly when I’m on the freeway. I tried greasing the door latches to make them shut tighter, which helped a little, but didn’t eliminate all of the door rattle and wind noise I get at high speeds. Lastly I found some self-adhesive weather strippping that I used to cover the little gap in my rear window where the two doors meet. It is missing the latch that holds the two parts of the door together, as well as whatever rubber weather stripping it originally came with. After making this change, the heater gets the cab warm pretty quick, with no loss of heath due to the crack anymore.


Visible in the picture are the new truck box, tonneau cover and tape seals on the bed rails. The rear window seals were not yet installed.


Cosmetic updates to Old Blue

Posted: September 15, 2015 in Cars

At some point in time during her glory days, Old Blue had a full running board that went from the front wheel well all the way to the back one. Later in her career, her owner decided to outfit her for a truck camper. Doing so necessitated his having to take the rear part of the running board off to make room for the lower brackets.

This left the truck with a vestigial rear-front wheel well fixed splash guard which looked out of place at best. On Sunday I decided to remove these vestigial limbs. Of course they were rusted, so after soaking in penetrating oil I was able to pop the heads of the bolts off on the passenger side with ease. The driver’s side was not so easy. I ended up having to cut those bolt heads off to get the guard off of the wheel well.

Two broken reciprocating saw blades later and after a trip to Ace Hardware, I was able to saw all of the bolts off. This project was partially a test of how hard it will be for me to remove the old mud flaps and replace them, which I am thinking of tackling during the upcoming weekend. I wish the original running board was in full working order, as it must have looked pretty sharp, especially when the running board lights were all wired up and operating.  

Running good — now what?

Posted: July 28, 2015 in Cars

Three weeks ago I replaced the spark plug wires and a broken spark plug. I also checked the connections on the main wire harness and zip-tied it into place to keep it from getting stretched. Since then I haven’t had a single stalling issue. I’ve been afraid to post in the fear that I would jinx myself, but the old girl is running well. Perhaps one of the spark plug wires was bad, or the cracked plug was the culprit. I may never know for sure.

I also started the process of plasti-dipping the rims in black. The rims are three piece, consisting of a base rim, chrome outer ring and chrome/plastic hub cover. The red trim on the chrome was faded and the metal rim was starting to show some rust on its faded gray paint. I masked them off and painted all four wheels with about five coats of plasticized paint. After letting it dry and cure, I noticed that there are still some areas that need touch up, but overall they look pretty good. I’ll post pictures once I’m done.

With the high humidity and heat we’ve had lately, the headliner is starting to sag again. I think I’m going to have to pull the old one off completely and get new fabric to glue on the original cardboard base. For now, it is serving its purpose.

I got tired of the rattling underneath the truck from the spare tire holder (which was empty), so I took out my handy reciprocating saw a week or so back and sawed through the bolts holding it up. It cut down on the rattling noises markedly. Now, the only sounds I hear as I go over bumps are from the tailgate, which I may have to do some work on to stop it from rattling as well. Part of the issue is due to the worn shocks, which give me a bumpy overall ride anyway. When I have a little extra money in the bank, I’m thinking I should replace them.

Before fall comes I want to put on a Tonneau cover as well, so we can carry things around in the bed without them getting wet. Over the weekend, Owen and I polished the whole truck with Nu-Shine, which made the paint color much richer and a bit shinier. It may need another coat in about 30 days according the directions on the bottle. I’ll probably follow that up with some turtle wax.

Another fall project will be replacing the rear slider window, which currently does not seal tightly or lock at all. I already have a quote on that–I’m just waiting to save the funds.