Typically, I try to reserve my Sundays for anything other than work. Let’s face it, it’s nice to take a day and do things that don’t need be done, have a schedule to be done, or have a directive from the missus – that need to get done. I say typically, because this past Sunday, the Cheyenne changed my plans.
The weather was uncharacteristically perfect for a ride on the Harley. The sun was shining, the humidity was at a pleasant level that doesn’t usually occur in Florida, and I had a day planned that was filled with nothing but the accumulation of miles on the odometer. That is, until I walked out the front door and saw the ominous puddle of something under my truck. I thought, “how bad can it be?”. Famous last words.
The several collective drips of engine oil commanded a deeper investigation, and let’s face it, as nice as a ride on the motorcycle would be, the Cheyenne is my driver, and when it hurts, I hurt. After a thorough cleaning of the underside of the engine and a few moments of run time afterwards, it was determined that the escaping lifeblood was coming from the rear portion of the oil pan gasket. That was a relief, at least is wasn’t the rear main seal.
So, instead of buying any snake oil elixirs that claim to miraculously fix a leaking gasket, I made the decision to forgo the relaxing ride and make sure the truck got fixed. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I consider it work, as time spent tinkering can almost be therapeutic. And since the weather was actually nice, working in the driveway wouldn’t be so bad. So, after a trip to the part’s store for oil and a gasket, I cautiously slid myself under the truck. Thankfully, most of the neighbors were not home, so the entertainment factor of a large, somewhat out of shape, inflexible old man working his way under a truck on jack stands – several times – was not the subject of any Youtube postings.
I know what you’re thinking, “at least it was a truck, and you had plenty of room.” All I can say, is one would think that. But remember, much of that working room was being occupied by a large, somewhat out of shape, old man. Once the oil pan bolts were all removed, the pan did require some convincing to come loose from the engine. Here’s a little tidbit of information for you. When the oil pan finally comes loose after some persuading, try to keep a hold of it. I did not, and after the first bounce on the driveway, guess where the remaining oil that did not drain out of the pan ended up? I’ll let you use your imagination.
An inevitable fact about a task such as this, is that the gasket has surely made a permanent bond to either the engine block or the oil pan. Guess where mine was affixed? Yep, instead of being able to “comfortably” work at the bench and relieve the gasket’s grasp of the oil pan, I needed to, once again, wiggle my way underneath the truck and forcibly remove the hard and crusty material from the engine block.
I next learned that removing the old gasket material was going to be a chore. This lesson presented itself when the first razor blade I used to try and scrape away the old material, unceremoniously snapped in half. The old gasket wasn’t cork or rubber, but was a dense – and now rock hard – fibrous paper-like material. This was going to require more than just a small razor blade, so I wiggled my way out from under the truck once again, and grabbed a steel gasket scraper.
As soon as I started to work on the old gasket a second time, I swear I heard a faint laugh coming from somewhere around the base of the engine. You guessed it, even the scraper wouldn’t touch it. I needed to get resourceful. I needed a hammer. Don’t worry, I grabbed a small one. It was just large enough to convince the scraper to work through and remove the old gasket. But, have you ever tried to swing a hammer toward a small chisel-type tool while crammed in between a concrete driveway and the small crevasses between the engine, frame, suspension, and exhaust of a vehicle? Unmentionable adjectives were spoken at various times. The gasket did slowly relinquish its grasp of the block, but only in bite-sized chunks that came lose like small, very dense projectiles. One thing I need you to keep in mind, is that all while doing this, the remaining oil that coated the inside pieces of the engine were also raining down and coating me.
Finally, after getting both the engine block and the oil pan ready to once again meet, the reassembly did go somewhat smoother than the removal. But any chance of enjoying my Sunday ride was gone. Regardless, completing the task did teach me a few valuable lessons. The first was, I’m not as young as I once was. Yes, it’s a fact of life that nobody wants to admit. Next, getting in and out from under a vehicle that is on jack stands takes a little longer than it used to (see previous realization). I know that task used to be easier, I’m just too old to remember when that was. And finally, no matter what, I still enjoy a good day of working on a classic – almost as much as a good ride in one.