Monday, March 7, 2011

Mechanics, live free or die

I feel like I could almost start a series about life up here in the mountains:
X-C skiing, live free or die;
"shopping" at the town dump, live free or die;
pumping gas, live free or die.
In fact, I think I will start a series.
Episode One - Mechanics, you guessed it live free. or. die.

Unfortunately, this post doesn't have an accompanying photo, yet.

Last Tuesday night my truck started acting up. I turned the key and "VARROOOOM" it purred like it never purred before. Actually, more like a terrifying growl. Then it continued to purr... all the way home, idling WAY to high - to the point where I feared I might lose control of it.
The next morning I called up a friend who owns a NAPA store and told him all about it. He suggested that I take it to my closest mechanic, about 1/2 a mile down the road.
"He might not be the guy who will be your mainstay mechanic, but he is GREAT in a pinch, and knows engines".
Turns out this guy is great. He ended up keeping my truck for a couple of days... and only charging me twenty bucks!
But did he fix it...
The high idle was at first attributed to a clogged IAC valve, which controls the amount of air the engine is sucking in, controlling the idle. If the IAC is not running - controlling - properly, the RPM of the engine gets out of whack.
So, this guy, the kind of mechanic who will tinker to find the cause, the kind of mechanic who will re-build rather than re-place, the kind of mechanic whose hands have been black for years, cleaned out the IAC valve.

No luck.
He then went out into his "yard" and pulled an old IAC off of a truck that same age- though not aging well - as mine and put it into my truck.

No luck.
At the end of day two, he called. Excited to pick up my fixed truck, I headed over and started 'er up. She started, then died. Started. Died. I walked back into the shop shouting over the welding torch "IT IS ME!?!?"
He came back out to my truck with me...
"Oh, right. you need to start it with your foot on the gas... hold the gas down for a while, then you're good"
"Well, I couldn't get the idle down... so I just ripped the IAC out completely."
"Right. Huh?"

In case you are as confused as I was, I'll break it own as I understand it: your IAC is your intake air control valve. Without a valve to control air intake, there is no control. There is still air intake, and lots of it, with no control. So, upon starting, when the engine wants air, you've gotta give it to it, lay on the gas!

Figuring this was not a long-term solution to the problem, I thanked him, told him I'd feed him when I had food, and drove home. Today I called who I think will be my mainstay mechanic and explained the past week.

"So, there isn't an IAC on it now?" he asked... "That's gonna mean a lot of air! You should bring it in..."
Wanting to live free and NOT die, I asked if it was okay for me to drive it over - about 15 miles.
His response: "Oh, you should be fine... just drive with both feet. One on the gas, one on the brake!"
I never imagined this would be my life. Driving a 1995 Ford F150 (with both feet) down the winding, frost heaved roads of New Hampshire. Live Free or Die.

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