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    East Bernard, Texas

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  1. BobCat


  2. No, but the name is very familiar - I think there is a street in town named for the family. Nice armadillo! And very kind of you to haul him out of the water.
  3. The_Hammer, I'm so sorry to see the pictures, and happy the water is dropping. Also having a little "survivor guilt" since we did not get flooded, and we are just up the road from you in East Bernard. If there is anything I can do to help you, please PM me! Not sure what use I could be but I'm not far away.
  4. Thanks Cowboy! Leaning toward a head gasket instead of re-torquing. I'm over my reluctance to pull out the injectors. Thinking about it, you are clearly right that the point is to keep trash out of the injector pump and injector inlets. Leaving them in the head will do nothing towards that. Been reading on the Internet and darned if I can find the holes in the cowl that are supposed to be there, to get the back pushrods out. I do have an engine crane. If my engine stand were not cheap Harbor Freight, suitable for small 4 cylinder engines, I'd be tempted to pull the engine out so I could work on it without tearing up my back or risking dropping trash into it. At this point I feel like, if the head does not need machining, this will be a relatively simple, if time-consuming, job. If it is warped I need to figure out where to take it and how to get it there. And on Monday I will call the mechanic that my buddy recommends, and ask him for a time and cost estimate. If it is warped, he can deal with it! Thanks and we'll see how this develops. I feel like I ought to be grateful for a chance to do something I've never done on a diesel. Andrew
  5. Cowboy, you are right; I'm almost certain it is the head gasket. No pictures but I cleaned it real well, dried, added fluorescent dye to the radiator, and started it. Let it run at idle a few minutes. I see the leak with my twisty inspection mirror and it sure looks like the head-to-block joint, near but not at the thermostat housing. It has lost almost a gallon of coolant in the last 5 weeks. If I were confident it would stay at that rate, I'd wait til plant shutdown in December and replace the head gasket. Anyway I'm ready for your tips about re-torquing the head - probably ought to start a new thread on this but we're here now. Service Manual says what you said so I'm questioning how to go to 90 ft-lb + 90 degrees, if they are already there? Is there a torque (like, 100-125 ft-lb) that would be ok but not too much? From the book, the head gasket looks not-too-hard, but I have questions. 1) Do you re-torque it after it has been run for a while, and if so, to what value? 2) Do the injectors need to come out of the head, or can I just pull the metal lines and leave the injectors alone? Concerned about dirt. 3) How imperative is it to pull the valves out of the head once it is off? No valve job in 582k mikes, but does not act like it needs one. You can tell I "want to make it right" on one hand, and "don't want go go hog wild" on the other. ...and my buddy knows a diesel mechanic who works on his 24 valve, and highly recommends him, and says I'm too old to keep doing this all myself. I could afford to have it done but am reluctant - ego too involved. May be time to grow up, let the man make a few bucks on me, spend the time with my wife or at the rifle range instead of in the barn with the truck apart... As always - Thanks! Andrew
  6. I have no problem with the fluctuation, as long as it is not damaging anything. I worry about causing problems by using "the wrong" parts or whatever. If I have to change the head gasket, I'm worried about getting dirt or contamination into something, because it is a diesel. If it were any kind of gas engine, from a lawnmower to a V8, I would have no qualms about a head gasket. But there just seems to be so much more to potentially screw up on a diesel... I worry about cleanliness and dirt in the injectors and so forth - maybe this is just "fear of the unknown". Anyway, thanks for the feedback on the thermostat! Andrew
  7. Thank you Cowboy, this is exactly what I'm worried about. I've read enough on the Internet to know it is a common leak area and have been worried. But since the truck runs fine, oil analysis is excellent, and the leak is so slow that there is never a puddle, I wonder whether it is wise to fix the head gasket leak or just monitor it (if that's what it turns out to be). Also - I want to know how to be sure it is the head gasket. Seems like if I replace the seal rings on the thermostat and the leak is still there, it is almost certainly the head gasket. Or is there another way to tell for sure?
  8. No picture yet, let me 1) Gunk the engine down, 2) run it for a few days, 3) try to get a photo using black light. I don't want to make too much of a big deal about this, but if I get the leak fixed it will be time to put a radio in the truck.
  9. Thanks, I'd never noticed it fluctuating before and was worried I'd messed up by putting in an "auto parts" thermostat instead of one made like the original. I still don't understand the rubber coat, but it is only one of the many, many things I don't understand...
  10. Cool, Thanks! Either the liquid is coming out the seal rings, or from the head. Can't you tell I'm just itching to put a head gasket in? Even if it does not need one? I think resealing the thermostat is the first step. If that fixes the leak, that was where it was leaking...
  11. First, thanks for the help and hand-holding through my oil cooler failure - no more oil in the coolant, and oil analysis shows no coolant in the oil. Still have a minor coolant leak - I think I have it localized to the thermostat seal rings but not sure. Could be head gasket but no indication of gas in the cooling system - it is an external leak, whatever. Did y'all know that antifreeze fluoresces in black light all by itself, without any fluorescent dye added? Weird. Anyway, temperature gauge was acting like the thermostat was stuck open - taking forever to even budge off the peg and never really getting up to temp, so I took changed the thermostat out. The old one had rubber pieces stuck in it, keeping it from closing. Could not figure out where the rubber sheet-like stuff came from until my wife found a picture on the internet, showing that the stock thermostat has this rubber wrapped around the body of it. Laid out the pieces on the bench and it sure looks like that is where it came from. Auto parts store Stant 180º thermostat did not have the rubber wrap or look quite the same; put it in anyway. Re-used the two rubber seal ringss that hold the thermostat in place (since I didn't have new ones and it was a Sunday). Now the engine gets to operating temperature just fine, but if I watch the gauge I can see the thermostat open, temp drop some, then come back up to 180º, then drop some again - like, the old thermostat had the rubber coat on to keep it stable and not have to open and close so much. Temp never goes high, never drops real low, just cycles. And I think the leak - maybe a cup every week or so - is from the seals I re-used. Damp there, and black light makes it fluoresce just like new antifreeze/water mix I use to top up the overflow tank. So my question is, do you think this thermostat is ok, or should I get "the right one" (with the rubber blanket on it) and new seals, and change it out? I value your opinions. Thanks in advance! Andrew
  12. Thanks! My wife's Element is a 2004 and it only has about 85k miles on it - she uses her '92 Toyota 4x4 on the farm and runs the Honda only on the public roads, and does not go anywhere except the grocery store, Vet, and maybe the dentist. She loves that car and does not plan on giving it up. The Toyota V6 has a timing belt, I changed it years ago and it is probably due again, not based on mileage but based on time. Miles don't accrue very fast in low range but hours do. I've been looking - actually, educating myself on what is out there since I've gotten so out of touch - and have to admit I keep looking at old Dodge/Cummins pickups, newer / less miles than mine. She says I'm crazy, 3/4 the people who own a vehicle do not maintain them properly and if you buy one that has not been maintained, it will be junk. She says "buy new and run it 'til it drops, just like the Dodge" and in many ways I think she is right. There is a website - measuringworth.com - where you can plug in a dollar value, a starting year, and an ending year. It says the $4500 I piad for my '76 Chevy half-ton is equal to ~$18k now, and $25k in 1995 is like $38k now. Can't get used to it, but coffee is no longer a dime... To make things even more unclear my truck has been behaving perfectly since the oil cooler incident. I met a guy when the water pump failed last spring, who has a towing service / body shop, and I have his number in my phone. In 20 years that is the only time my truck went home on the hook (actually, on a flat-bed wrecker). So in a way I'm covered if something breaks between home and work. Still looking / thinking, thanks for the good info on the Element! Andrew
  13. You're probably kidding but that is a good idea! I used to fantasize about pvc pipes in a row, with squirt nozzles pointed up, in the garage, to rinse the undercarriage with hot water to wash the salt off. Afraid of the clean (as opposed to salty) water freezing overnight and sticking the truck in place. The old Chev, this was BC (before Cummins).
  14. Nothing to add but I'm pleased to be reminded about rust! No salt here in Texas, no rust on the frame or body, the contrast with my 76 Chevy that "grew up" in Chicago is totally stark. Every time I think I ought to have kept and restored it, all I have to do is think about the door skins flapping on account of the door bottoms rusting out, and replacing brake lines after they rusted out and the pedal went to the floor (exaggeration - only one of the rear lines burst, still had fronts). Back in the day we used to brag that if they didn't rust out, we'd keep them running forever. Didn't think about getting old, weak, achy, and having to get to work every day instead of fixing baroque cars... Z06Frank, I hope you find a good one you like!
  15. Good tip and interesting strategy! I went looking on autotrader.com for VW diesels and found a few in Houston, attractive prices, but all well over 100k miles. I'm thinking that is not really very high mileage for a TDI but what do I know? Judging by my Dodge/Cummins, 100k is almost new, but for a VW car it may be half (or more) used up. This is turning out to be interesting, I'm learning a lot, thanks.
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