Sunday, June 06, 2010

Seems It's Always Something......

There's a saying about living in interesting times, and this last weekend certainly qualifies. While driving back from the Man of Steel Championships a few weeks ago I noticed a very slight hesitation in the engine, but only at the end of a long hill on the freeway at close to 70 MPH, far faster than I should have been running the brand new engine. It sounded a little like it was running out of gas, like maybe a fuel pump or fuel filter was in need of replacement. Since I was supposed to be breaking in the engine anyway, I decided to just take it easy on the trip to Eastern Washington for the Washington State Steel Challenge Championships held last Saturday in Ephrata.

The engine ran quite well for most of the trip, but as we were nearing Ephrata is was getting a bit worse, so I stopped at an auto supply and asked for a fuel filter and a new fuel pump. They were out of fuel filters, but the pump was in stock, so I bought it and we headed to the campground where we were planning on spending the night before and the night after the Championships. The fuel pump on the Toyota 22R motor is on the right side of the cylinder head and right in front, so it's really easy to change. Installing the new pump took less than half an hour, counting clean up and putting the tools away. I ran it for a while and it seemed to be just fine. Saturday morning we drove it over to the match and back, and again it ran perfectly, although we didn't get up much over 45 MPH.

Sunday morning we packed up and headed home, but within the first mile it started acting like it was not getting enough fuel. We limped a few miles farther and it started to rapidly get worse, so we limped back to Ephrata. By then it was running terrible. I stopped at another auto parts store and they had the fuel filter in stock. As easy as the fuel pump was to reach, the fuel filter was just the opposite. The fuel pump is underneath and in back near the fuel tank, and up on top of the frame where you can barely see it, let alone reach it. As it always seems to go, the beautiful 70+ degree weather of the day before had deteriorated into steady rain. I resigned myself to getting soaked, and slid under the RV, flashlight in hand to find, and hopefully replace the fuel filter. Whoever designed this fuel filtering setup, however, did have his brain in gear, as the inlet and outlet fuel lines were both flexible rubber, and long enough that you could un-snap the filter from its retaining bracket, allowing the filter to be dropped down low enough that you could just barely reach the fuel line clamps to loosen them, and then to move the fuel lines to the new filter. Of course, I was doing this by flashlight, lying in a pool of water, with muddy water from the underside of the RV dripping in my face. Finally I managed to get the lines swapped onto the new filter, the clamps back in place,  and get it snapped into the bracket. I blew through the old filter to see just how plugged it might be. I was hoping it was really plugged so I'd know that was the problem. It seemed a little bit plugged, but not really blocked. I hoped it was plugged enough to be the problem.

We headed back out of town listening for any sounds of fuel starvation. It seemed to be running pretty well, but there were a couple of huge hills that we would have to climb, and that would be the big test. Once we reached the I-90 freeway and got up to freeway speeds it was obvious that it was running quite well, far better than before I changed the filter. Climbing the I-90 grade out of the Columbia River Gorge at Vantage was the big test, and it climbed it without any problem. The new (well, rebuilt) motor was running strong and smooth, just like it should. WHEW..................

Good thing, too, as next weekend we are heading back to Eastern Washington to do some Bass fishing, and this time we'll be pulling the boat, so we need all the engine power we can get!!



At Tuesday, June 08, 2010 8:05:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love the accounts about keeping the old Toyota running! I'm especially impressed with the rebuild- great skills at play.
Not only are these interesting, but instructive. Fuel and air filters, pcv valves, spark plugs and wires are cheap and easy fixes and are always a great place to start solving engine problems.


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