Two of our buddies set out yesterday around noon to go get our buddy. They had him back to our shop around 5:30 and the team started rolling back in. We commenced to pulling his engine out because the oil cooler HAD to be bad, right? That's the only way that we could have a so much oil pouring out of this thing and all over the front side of the engine shroud. Clifford pulled the plugs and noticed that #3 was fouled, but not with oil. It smelled of gas. Once the engine was out and the oil cooler was off, it was evident that the seals weren't bad... There was a crank case breather on the back of the fan shroud and it appeared to be overflowing.
We decided to put the engine on a test stand and do a compression check. Fortunately, we had modified a shopping cart with an extra transmission housing for just such a thing! We covered the vitals (oil cooler holes) and bolted it up. The needle wouldn't move on #3!
We tested #4 to test the compression tester. 150psi...ruh rho raggy...
While unbolting the head, we all took guesses at the surprised that awaited us. Hole in the piston? Collapsed rings? Bad valve? I guess nothing, trying to be optimistic. I was wrong! The top of the piston was beat the hell and a chunk was missing. There was a hole burned in the side of the piston. Spirits dropped. What can we do? Where would we find an oversized set of pistons and cylinders? What about a good set of heads that aren't beat up that have been machined to match this sized pistons and cylinders? Seth had a set of brand new 90.5s. I had one good head left from the pair that his first replacement head came from. Seth said his pistons were at his buddy's shop, which wouldn't be open until 5am.
Then we discussed why this was happening to #3? First a blown plug, then a broken valve spring, now a hole in the piston. Something wasn't right. Ok, so we patch him up and send him on his way. What happens if he breaks down again? He only has 1,500 miles to get home! We should put a different (and STOCK) motor in his trike for him.
I called around and asked everyone in the club that goes to meetings. Its a very structured group and the kingpin is a guy named Zen. He is, like his name implies, very zen. He is the lifeblood of the club and when a tough decision needs to be made, getting him on board typically swings the masses. He is also a very giving soul. We had just put on a car show in April that raised money for the local Ronald McDonald House and each year, an engine builder donates an engine to be raffled off. Now, each year, we give out 150 trophies and after last year's fiasco of rain during the award ceremony and trying to ship trophies all summer, we made the decision that you have 30 days to claim trophies, prizes, awards, giveaways, etc. When I shipped out the trophies two weeks ago, I had to step over the giveaway motor in our club trailer.
Now, why would someone not come claim a free motor that they won?
So I talked to all of the other club officers. Everyone pretty much agreed that we were "covered" as far as the unclaimed motor was forfeited, but that doesn't absolve us from a bad rap if dude shows back up asking for his motor. Every year, when the engine is given away, the builder offers to buy the motor back for cash from the winner for around $400. We decided that putting a price on the motor was the best thing we could do and, if the winner shows up, offer him a cash settlement and say that we couldn't store the motor indefinitely. The club that doesn't go to meetings said they would offer $500 for it so that Hal could get on down the road.
We snuck off while Hal was sitting there trying to figure out what he was going to do. We picked up the unclaimed motor around 9pm and got backed up to the shop door. When we carried it in and set it down, his eyes lit up and he was asking what is THAT?!?! One of the guys said, that's your new motor. He took his glasses off and made a comment about trying hard not to cry.
We threw it up on the test stand and it fired right off! We ended up having to swap his clutch on, switch exhausts and reconfigure the fuel pump (mechanical vs electrical) and the throttle cable. We adjusted the valves and she fired right up and purred really nicely. He pulled out of the shop around 1:00 in the morning and headed on down the road.
I hope that's the last time I work on that trike. I don't know what more I have to give!
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