By rigorous micrometric measurement, this was found to be a proper branch with which to ma
Iron men and wooden pistons: To this point we've talked about some real backbusters, but now we move into the heartbreaker. Those others can be crutched, but what about the total End Of The World when you've just put a rod through your block? Would that get your undivided attention? Though this is a real hardball, you can, without a $250 tow job, a $25,000,000 helicopter, or a magic R&R of the engine, drive out and drive home. Don't believe it? Well, listen up because ol' Dumbdawg n' I have done it-twice.
The scenario: You scortch along about 15 mph, pulling hard in 4WD, when with a great klung! your engine stops, your wheels lock, and you crush a cold can against the steering wheel with your chest! What has happened?! Has the tranny dropped into two at once, have the brakes locked, or have we hit an invisible tree?
You fling the tranny into Neutral, leap out, and open the hood. The rig rolls slightly-it's not the brakes or the tranny. You jumper from the solenoid to the battery and she solenoids just fine, but she doesn't even begin to turn over. You fret and fume and idly stick the oil. Yegawds! Two quarts high, lotsa water bubbles, and still rising! You yank the radiator cap and listen. Yeah, no fluid showing, and somewhere coolant gurgles outta there like a fool. And, with a quick bend-down, you see that it's not on the ground! You got one thing-a rod through the cylinder wall. It is not good to have a rod through the cylinder wall.
Well, this is no five-minute deal, so you find a simply scrumptious place to camp. Odd how you find so many great camping places this way. You drain the pan and save it. When the water settles you'll use some of that oil on top 'cause you only got a 2-quart emergency supply. You pull the pan and now you can see which side it's on (V-8). So you yank off the rod cap, twiddle around the crank, and get the rod out. Meanwhile, Lulu-Belle has pulled the head and you bang out the piston over the ridge at the top. Yup, a nice duggish hole in the cylinder wall; lucky it didn't go on through the water jacket.
You study this gem. There's no way you can drive out without plugging that hole. She'll run good enough on seven (or five or three) to get out-but that hole! With a torch you could braise some tin over it (the best way!), but you got no torch. Maybe yank the rings on that piston, slather it up with 3M, and slide it down over the hole? Too unlikely-engine vibration and heat'd probably shake it loose in the first 20 miles. You need something like an expansion plug, like a-yeah!-like a tree branch. In minutes you cut a hunk outta a near-sized branch and get it debarked.
Wow! Can this really work? You lay the short wood hunk up against the cylinder top and emboss it to the opening size with a heavy shot from your hammer. Then you trim it down to that line, try it, trim, try it again, and eventually drive it into a pretty snug fit, smooth on the side of the hole. With the pan still off, you pour in a tad more radiator water so the hole will be covered in the cylinder. You throw your bed under and eyeball the cylinder with your flashlight. Yup, she drips a bit at first, but as the wood swells she stops almost entirely. Back in business! How many times have you run with a plug disconnected after you used yore tire chuffer and forgot to slip the wire back on? A jillion! And with no big problem, except a slight down-in-the-mouth feeling that you soon correct by a quick up of the hood when no one is looking.
For sure, you carefully wrap and hose-clamp the rod throw holes that feed the bearing you took off. If you don't, oil pressure goes to zilch. Lulu-Belle, smart as a whip (who taught 'er everything she knows?), yanks the rocker arm and lifters in that cylinder so the valves won't uselessly flop around in there. You slap back on the head and pan, and the world is yours again! There's no more desperate feeling than to have your rig off the air Way Out There. But now you got your wheels again!
If one rig is momentarily dead, remember yore first-aid: mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. If
Ol' Blue now proceeds to take you outta that bad place with just about the same power as he brought you in; this tells you something about the sad state of that now-missing cylinder. And you drive that seven-cylinder special (five or three, if you got those kinda engines) not just home but for several months until Lulu-Belle delivers the son and heir she's been carrying around, and you get the sawbones paid. Call 'im Rodney or, in honor of the occasion, just Rod.
The thing about gittin' back is that it's part of our pride. It's a piece of the four wheeler mystique and romance. We can go anywhere; we can come back from anywhere! If you look at a tragic breakdown in that light, even though you're not the world's greatest wrench, you can do most anything. Because we're that different breed of cat, the kind that makes this country what it is.
And so our historic git-backers-you got some of yore own that're better no doubt-become sagas sung at ancient fires by Great Warriors as Holy Sanchems chant in the background, "Hubblemubble-dubblebubble,'' or words to that effect.