Saturday, May 7, 2005

Yesterday was a rough day.

W.W. Williams finally got us into the shop around 9:30 or so, and we headed up to their pleasant customer lounge to wait.

The whole right side of the engine is pretty much inaccessible in the frame. However, they were able to get the inspection ports open on all four of the left side cylinders. The news was bad -- the rings and liners are completely shot. They took us into the shop so we could see for ourselves. Looking through the intake ports, it's easy to see the deep vertical score lines.

Their assessment was that the engine was already critical and would not last much longer without a rebuild.

On the TPS/ECM front, the news was a little better. Our ECM apparently lacks a vibration-resisting kit that came out as a change order sometime after our ECM was made. The vibration of the PROM in its socket apparently causes many symptoms, including the TPS anomaly that we have observed.

We can have the kit installed, or put a new ECM on. The decision, naturally, was to do nothing until we know what we will do about the mechanical damage.

Our choices on that front are to rebuild the existing motor, which would involve new liners, rings, valve guides, main bearings, and a rebuilt turbocharger, or to swap it out for a remanufactured engine. The former means we get to keep our existing low-mileage block, but there is essentially no warranty on anything except the actual parts involved. The latter comes with a one-year, 100,000-mile warranty, extendable beyond that. Also, a remanufactured engine would come with a good ECM, thus killing two birds with one stone.

Williams gave me an estimate to put in a reman. It's around $30K, which includes $18,000 for the motor, and 130 hours of labor to pull the old motor, swap accessories, and install the new one.

They estimated the kit cost for the rebuild kits to be $8k-$10k, plus the same 130 hours to remove and reinstall the engine, PLUS the labor to do the rebuild (I would guess around another 20 hours minimum). In their opinion, the motor has to come out to be rebuilt. If that's true, then it makes little sense not to go with the remanufactured engine, even though we might have to wait three weeks for one.

On the other hand, I spoke today with PEDCO, a diesel engine shop in the LA area. PEDCO is well-known and respected in the bus conversion community, coming to many of the major rallies and offering their advice and expertise freely. Their opinion was that the engine could be "in-framed," meaning that it would only need to be slid out far enough to access the heads and cylinders. Their estimate on the entire job was $10,000 complete, plus or minus 20%. That was even after I spent many minutes trying to persuade them that our engine was so tight in the bay that it had to be greased and slid in there with the help of obstetrician's forceps. On top of all this, they told me they can have us out by next Friday if we are in by this Wednesday.

On Monday, we will make some more calls to some other shops, trying to get a consensus of opinion about the job. By the end of the day Monday we will make a decision. If we end up going with PEDCO, which is the front runner at this instant, we will make a 400-mile detour back to the LA area, arriving sometime Wednesday evening.

In the meantime, we are parked at the Casino Arizona on the Salt River Indian Reservation (map), adjacent to Scottsdale. We came straight here from Williams after picking up our pets at the kennel. The tribe permits parking for up to three days with no charge (and will grant another three days if one racks up 1500 points on their casino privilege card), and they have five restaurants here. As much as we dislike the metro Phoenix area, we did not want to rack up too many more miles on the engine until we knew what we were doing, and, besides, we didn't even know what direction to head. This is as good a spot as any to rest and lick our wounds while we wait for Monday morning to roll around.

The restaurants here, by the way, are quite good, at least the two we've already tried. Tonight is prime rib night in the buffet, so we'll try that.

1 comment:

  1. The engine has to come out, slide out on the cradle. The end (Trans) part of cradle can sit on the bus frame OK to work on it.
    130 Hrs is to long to do the remve/install. We remove MCI and Prevost's in 6 man hours, change over parts ect in 16 man hours, install and run in 12 man hours.
    All motor coachs are a tight fit.
    Your 8V92 has a blower and a turbo


Share your comments on this post! We currently allow anyone to comment without registering. If you choose to use the "anonymous" option, please add your name or nickname to the bottom of your comment, within the main comment box. Getting feedback signed simply "anonymous" is kind of like having strangers shout things at us on the street: a bit disconcerting. Thanks!