Thursday, May 12, 2005

So much for the good news... today we are back to crying in our milk.

They spotted us in the yard today, and, thusly secured, we set to work removing part of the wardrobe, ripping out part of the carpet, and removing the access cover over the turbo.

The first problem we discovered is that the back of the carpet was covered with soot -- a sign that 1. the access cover was not well sealed and 2. exhaust is finding its way upwards in the engine bay. Number 1 was not entirely unexpected, and number 2 may or may not represent a problem. The turbo needs to be rebuilt anyway, so I am not going to worry about whether the exhaust was coming from the turbo housing.

The much bigger issue is that, surprise, the other end of the air intake duct, the end that attaches to the turbo, was also disconnected. There is evidence of a band clamp, but the clamp itself is long gone, and the metal duct is completely pulled out from the rubber elbow.

While the air-cleaner end of the duct was unmistakably misattached at the shop (the band clamp could only have been tightened as much as it was with the duct not fully engaged), this end is more of a mystery. One of the pipes installed for the hydronic system is pressing hard against the intake duct, exerting pressure away from the elbow, and it's possible that, over time, vibration and this pressure worked the duct out of the elbow.

The bad news here, of course, is that we only thought we fixed the dirt ingestion problem when we re-attached the other end of the duct 2,000 miles ago. In fact, we have continued to run the coach with a wide-open air intake system right up until today. And it was simply impossible to know this without removing the aforementioned access cover.

So Armando, the shop supervisor (who has been out the last two days, and thus not privy to the aftercooler discussion I had with Virgil) takes one look at this, turns to Virgil and says "You know, Virgil, this engine is gonna be dirted out." So there you have it -- two independent expert opinions.

Even as I type, guys are dismantling the engine from two different directions. With any luck, the turbo will be out this afternoon, and maybe even the blower. Which is good, because I'd like to put the cover back on tonight, so we can release the cats from their current imprisonment in their carriers. Dirt ingestion is one thing; cat ingestion is a whole other matter.

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