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After 229k miles, 5 trips up the Alaskan Hiway, surviving Alaska’s -60 degree winters to 105 degree Mississippi summers, after riding out Ivan, Cindy, Katrina, Rita and a trip across (the looooong ways) Texas, the truck has finally broken down. Looks like the bottom end has given out. It’s not too much of a surprise really. I’ve been dealing with a valve seep for a while now, and a constant touch of water in the oil from somewhere. Well, it seems that a crank bearing is finally let go. She’s making a bad noise and has developed a shake to match. Not good signs.

Since the Tranny only has about 30k miles on it and the brakes and rotors only about 15k miles, and the truck is still in pretty decent shape, I have decided to give the ghost a heart transplant. I’m looking at a 310 hp long block engine. It has an RV cam, 9to1 flat top pistons, and I’ll add a performer intake manifold. All total it’ll run me about $2k plus some misc gaskets and parts. I looked into having the engine replacement done by a local shop here in Monterey. Not a chance in hell will I be willing to pay $3k-$4k in labor, plus the cost of the long block. Not a chance! Uncle Bill would come flying out of his Urn if I were to do that! So, this last Sunday I broke out the wrenches and went to work.

I’ve stripped the engine down to the point that I only have a few linkages and the transmission still attached. Liquid wrench did wonders on the exhaust manifold bolts. First time in my life I got them all off without breaking a single one. In fact the worst I’ve done so far is to forget how the electronic choke attached to the carb and broke the plastic clip. Other than that, everything has come apart just fine.

I’m amazed by all the highly educated people that I work with that are shocked that I would do an engine swap myself. My Uncle Bill, with his 9th grade education, could do this half asleep. I’ll be darned if I won’t at least give it a go. He taught me a lot. One of those things was some common sense. It doesn’t take a degree in physics to swap out an engine. It takes patience, thought, determination, not being afraid to get your hands dirty, and sometimes a blood sacrifice. But it’s definitely doable. It’s funny. I keep hearing his voice from my past. A gentle mutter of “God Damn Kids” as he shakes his head at the latest screw up my cousin Paul and I have caused. Usually involving girls, cars, motorcycles, stupidity, or a combination of all of them. (-:

Well. Current status is. Engine has been stripped and is ready to be removed from the truck. I need to rent a cherry picker from the local rent all place so that I can get it pulled. I’m awaiting a fat check from my 401k to cover the expense, once that gets here I’ll be ordering in the new engine. This will give me time to get the engine compartment nice and clean, check the tranny to make sure it’s still okay. Maybe replace the front seal, it’s leaking from the engine shake. That and do some other touch up’s on the truck while I’m waiting.

Well, that’s the current status. I’d put up pictures of the process if my camera weren’t broken. So you’ll just have to picture the process in your head for now.

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August 2006
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