Safety First Lessons

What a week the Petrolhead has had!

This week has been a list of disasters and big lessons in safety!
It all started with a decision to deal with a noisy lifter by adjusting the tappets on the second bank of cylinders. You may recall I adjusted the other bank some months ago. Well I had a great deal of trouble since the directions in the manual were not written with the set up of the tappets in cylinder 7 in mind!

Top Dead Centre on Cylinder 1

The whole process begins by getting cylinder one at TDC (top dead centre). You can do this in a number of ways – crank the engine with a wiring setup that runs the starter without the HT lead attached. This turns the motor slowly until you see the timing mark and stop on TDC cylinder one.
You can check that the first cylinder is up by taking out the spark plug and checking the position of the piston. If the rocker cover is off you can see the inlet valve and exhaust valve closed.

I use a socket and the distribitor. Turn the motor at the crank shaft end nut (the one that holds the harmonic balancer) until the the rotor points to the cylinder 1 position, check the piston is up and there is a good chance you have TDC on 1.

Dead Centre is on Top

Well I did this but despite being careful not to touch the alternator with the socket handle my wedding ring shorted the alternator through my finger to the spanner and I copped the full wattage of the battery!
Well you can guess what happened next the gold heated up (the ring actually has two melt marks) and started to roast my finger!

I knew that the hot gold had to come off so I just grabbed the ring and pulled it off my finger before it did more harm – a rather large chunk of the skin and flesh came away with the ring!
(I found later that the spark plug had been cracked by my hasty retreat from the engine bay with the socket still in my hand)!


This is my hand the next day!


A week later!

The only top dead centre is the brain that did not remove all jewellery before working on the engine!
Let this be a lesson to all!

Sleep On It

Well after that rather impressive reminder about safety I left the car alone for the rest of the day and got a good nights sleep before attacking her again the next day.

Having carefully removed sparkplug 1 I checked TDC and proceeded to adjust the tappets on cylinders 5-8.
Cylinder 5 was fine and had the right amount of pushrod give on the hydraulic lifter – now for cylinder 6.

It seems at some point the engine re-builder has used a few washers to space out the tappets on the 6 adjusting nut instead of moving the stud that it sits on. Normally you move the stud in or out to give the tappet the correct play on the push rod. Either the stud was too hard to move, too short or someone was just plain lazy! Anyway, I made the adjustments according to the manual and the car would not start!

I listened to the engine and figured that the valves were in fact too far open on the compression cycle and no compression! So I had no choice but to reset the tappets with the engine running! First thing is to get some fire in the beast so I pulled the tappets back until they were quite rattly and then tried to start the old girl!
Success – noisy tappets but a working motor!

So now I just tighten up the rattlers until they stop rattling and give them quarter of turn more for luck!
That works a treat and we are back on the road!

I am exhausted and a lot wiser about workshop safety!

Breakdown on the road

The second upset for the week was the failure of the distributor cap to stay in one piece!

I had a trailer of prunings to take to the tip and after spending a couple of hours on the chainsaw I was looking forward to the cruise up the coast to the tip.
Just before the turn off I felt a little hesitation in the way the car was accelerating just put it down to a bumpy road. However, as I turned the corner into the tip the engine cut out!
Two lanes of fast traffic bearing down on me and I have no power and just a little rolling force left in the car and trailer! I just clear the two lanes before the cars are on top of me – I hit the gearbox into neutral and try to restart the engine – thinking it had stalled!

Several cranks of the engine told me that there was no spark – it was an electrical problem. I pop the bonnet and look for obvious loose wires – none! I lift the dizzy cap off – look inside – the carbon centre pin is gone – no way this engine is going to fire up. Question is where is the pin?

Now this tip is a very busy centre and before long I have a 20tonne truck up behind me trying to get around the car and trailer – he manages it but I can see that this is not a good place to be broken down!
I quickly remove the trailer and push it up onto the bike path and then roll the car back up and onto the road verge.

Nothing for it I need the RAC and a flat-top to take me home. I also need someone to take the trailer home as well – otherwise you pay extra for the trailer to put on the truck. I ring Jess and get her to come and help me sort the trailer.
I call the RAC and they will be 90minutes – seems everybody chose today to have break down!

Jess arrives after about 20 minutes and we take the trailer into the tip and empty the prunings – well we have plenty of time before the truck arrives so may as well use the time wisely. Jess then takes the trailer home to my place and waits for me to arrive in the truck. Well she cannot really take off the trailer – she is 8 months pregnant!
The RAC guy tells me later that he drove pass on another job as we were putting the trailer on Jess’s car! The office dispatcher did not quite get to him with our pickup and he went to Malaga first and then back to Joondalup and then to us.

Radiator Pops its Top

Well I finally get home and roll the car down the drive and park her for the night – tomorrow I will get the new dizzy top and get the car started.

Saturday arrives and I drive up to the auto shop to collect my parts at 8am. I get home and start fitting the dizzy and I see that the radiator has sprung a leak and water is all over the floor! That’s it – a new radiator and some serious repairs to the cooling system next week!

I hope you had a better week on the road then the Petrolhead this week!

Take care and safe cruising!
The Petrolhead!

P.s. RAC breakdown is worth every dollar you pay!

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