It was a mixed blessing that the 6.2L diesel finally fired and sort of ran. All of a sudden, the leisurely tinkering and the giant carrot were gone, replaced with a laundry list of items that needed attention, some more desperately than others.
Equally double-edged was the fact that some much-needed winter rains were about to hit the way-too-dry and sunny SoCal. Suddenly finding glass for the side windows became a higher priority than figuring out what caused the grinding noise that seemed to emit from the bellhousing during deceleration. Likewise, the solar panel that serves as a charging system wouldn't be quite as effective.
But what really bummed us out was that despite all the loving, tender care we'd given this ex-junkyard pickup, it wouldn't start after sitting for a few days. Not even with the auxiliary fuel pump running and after heating the intake manifold with a hair dyer. And, yes, with fully charged batteries.
Perhaps the starting issues were because of having used up a fair amount of the year's allotted luck by finding a rebuilt radiator in a dark corner of the Diesel-Tune shop. Since it wasn't supposed to be there, and it took up space, Mike Calandra gave it to us.
Damn, it's nice to have friends. As you might have noticed, this M1008 has basically been built with friendship favors, or it would've still been the same semi-useless junkyard wreck that Dennis Franklin brought us. Thank you all for the help.
We swapped out the borrowed (but not dimensionally or otherwise correct) radiator from JET Sales and even got a brand-new radiator cap as a crowning touch, replacing a rag which had served to keep the dirt out.
Speaking of friends, Craig Calkins at CRC Performance Transmissions shares our liking for the simple and dependable GM products of the '73-'87 body style and has squirreled away parts and pieces for years, including a set of door window glass. Luckily for us, he'd come across an even better pair and donated the glass for the cause. It was a quick and simple installation, if you don't count all the time vacuuming up the old broken glass. Standing back to admire the now fully enclosed cab, we realized that it now sported a clear windshield and rear window, but with green tinted side glass, which is probably an unusual combination.
We'd figured that installing the Pierce Sales dump-bed conversion (July '07) would happen after the most pressing mechanical malfunctions were taken care of, but real life dictated otherwise. Having towed the M1008 to a better location for more serious work-OK, to install window glass-we noticed that fuel was spilling out from somewhere above the tank. Fuel out means air in, and everything pointed to the stubborn starting was due to air in the fuel system. Just drop the tank and ... no, far easier, let's take the bed off. It would have to come off anyway to install the Pierce kit, and removing it would allow perfect access to the fuel lines.
The downside to installing the dump bed at this stage? Well, without a functioning charging system, the electric-over-hydraulic dump bed would only be so useful for so long. To fix the charging, we really should convert the cryptic dual-alternator 24-volt system to 12 volts, except that we still didn't have a 12-volt starter motor. Oh, well, we'd only have to service the tractor to be able to remove the bed, which would then need a fair amount of straightening work before being reinstalled so the dirt doesn't fall out through the cracks.
And then it started raining, in the driest season on record. No big deal to you guys in Oregon, maybe, but we're just not used to it here in SoCal. Wet tools, yuck.
With the bed off for the Pierce Sales kit and planning ahead a bit, we installed a Valley receiver to enable towing again. The pintle hook went away with the M1008 bumper due to the dump-bed kit, and since we didn't quite trust having the bumper (and pintle) held on by only the two pivot bolts for the dump bed, we left it off. Now the pickup could tow again, if it only would run right.
Once the weather improved, we tightened all the fuel-line clamps, but never really found anything suspect. With warmer temperatures, the 6.2 would indeed start, usually, although now it was leaking fuel from the vicinity of the injector pump when cold, which would then stop once the motor warmed up a bit. No biggie, we thought.
With a functional dump bed and all the windows in place, we'd even installed the seat. Well, we'd put it in place, anyway-we'll find bolts for it one of these days-and covered it with a filthy Indian blanket once used in our '76 Crew Cab. By now we were getting good at using just the right amount of starting fluid (if needed) and would drive the pickup almost daily, playing with the dump bed and enjoying driving the thing in general.
As a reward, we even gave it an air-cleaner gasket to keep the bigger stuff out of the intake tract.
After comparing notes and getting advice from Diesel-Tune, we ordered new glow plugs from Rush, because they seemed to be the main issue with getting the diesel started, but mild temperatures allowed doing without for now. Even the grinding noise had virtually disappeared as something must've worn in. Or out.
Oddly enough, the sound from the bungeed-on glasspack mufflers wasn't noticeable, either. Things were working suspiciously well, and sure enough, when downhill and away from the homestead, the motor stopped running above idle. It'd get home in First gear low-range, we figured, but instead the vindictive 6.2 slowly quit running altogether. A neighbor towed us back home on a strap, which was almost as embarrassing as getting passed on the right on a multilane road. Now the new glow plugs didn't seem so important anymore. Neither did the "new" 12-volt starter we scored while visiting Dennis Franklin a week before.
So much for getting this obstinate machine to run well on time. We checked all the potentially suspect items according to the manual, then did what any self-respecting and mechanically inclined four-wheel-drive owner would do in a situation like this. We parked the pickup in a remote corner of the driveway, rolled up the windows, and put a piece of cardboard over the gauge cluster to keep the sun from baking the instruments from the backside. It's been sitting there since, in shame.