Wednesday, December 14, 2011

YES.. Thermostats are Important!

Complaint; "I have no heat inside my Dodge Grand Caravan. Can you tell me why and fix it?" Why sure I thought; time for the space age tools! Using my laserguided thermal temp gun I was able to deduce that the vehicle no longer had a thermostat. I would find that the thermostat had fallen apart and was now spread out deep within the upper intake manifold. Using my borescope, with grappler attachment I searched the inside of this vehicles lower intake manifold and retrieved 90% of all the thermostats components.

Now the fun begins.

The thermostat assembly in this vehicle was used in two model years, and that's 10 years ago. If I wait another four days I can get another housing. NAH! I decided to reuse the outlet housing, and it was no big deal. By grinding the stakes away I was now ready to install a new thermostat. Only thing left to do is align the thermostat and stake it in place.

These are the parts I finished out of that Dodge Grand Caravan. Yes it needed new antifreeze, and the fluid state might have caused the thermostat to fall apart, or was it simply poor engineering.

Can you recall the last time your thermostat was replaced? I know that IT HAS A PROFOUND EFFECT ON FUEL MILEAGE, but I can't remember the last time it was changed.

My missing P-Trap

Finding and then finally fixing a problem is always a rewarding event. Fixing a problem that you've been avoiding can have its rewards too. Let's use my "P-pipe", or lack of interest for an example. As the story goes, everyone has caught a whiff of the infamous methane gas. Here this lingers for quite some time, but no one is ever able to trace down its source. Many different types of "Band-Aid" style repairs or fixes have been applied and tried, but all to no avail.

No matter what the methane gas smell always returned after any fix is completed. No one admits to having any plumbing skills and, yet after years of rescuing jewelry; greasy hairballs, and those little Legos all from that evil gooseneck below the sink, I think I know why we have the methane cloud problem.

If I was putting in this pipe logic would have made me think twice before burying the drainpipe in the concrete floor. Lets cut to the chase; the house I moved my family into back in 2003 must have been built by an extinct race. Only to be bought years later by me. I am only human as are you, and must rely on the expertise and wisdom of those who say they are experts in their field.

Here's a before and after look at just what I found encased in the concrete floor of my home.

 I should mention all the names from real estate agent and the agency he represents, the builder, the County building inspector or the County Health Department inspectors who all signed off on the final inspection. I should, but I won't.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

It is so rewarding to finish!

Six hours to trace out all fuel system controls; both electrical and mechanical. The bad part was found. It was the PCM or computer that was cycling powers and grounds off so rapidly a lab scope with a high millisecond grid was the only tool that saw the problem. Using a breakout box paired with a lab scope was the trick. Diagnostics time, and final restoration of this Ford trucks’ sensors system would all be a learning experience. Sorry about the tech speak; just excited.

Someone had to find the problem; you can’t just throw away hard to diagnose vehicles. Lucky me, I guess.
This what it looks like when things are working!
One millisecond of data

Other problems found were engine oil mixed contaminated with gas.
DPFE was melted down. The catalytic convertors had been removed and tossed!
All four of them were needed for the system to work properly.
Spark plugs were so carbon fouled they were useless so they were replaced with original brand Motorcraft Platinum plugs.
Incorrect O2 sensors were not helping the problem either, new OE cost almost the same as NAPA. All testing drilled down to a PCM not supplying ground OR power to internal board component logic modules.

But what caused this to happen? My guess is a simple jump start, zappp! Do you have any ideas?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Way too many Chefs' before me there were!!

Many automotive technicians have a type of vehicle we dread repairing. It's the one that has already been diagnosed by the owner. This is evident by the numerous amounts of new parts sprinkled in the engine bay. You know it is going to be fun when you see all those new parts. But for grins add that another shops been there before you. They performed their diagnostics with assistance and input from the vehicles owner.

And now it's your turn at what appears to be a fairly simple fix. All hope fades away when you're told about what has been done by another shop and by the owner too. As more and more information is remembered by the owner, you stand there rubbing your head wondering what you've gotten yourself into. This vehicle is well-known for a myriad of problems. It came to you stinking of soot, gas and all the money someone dumped into it in hopes they could get just a few more miles. Man, I mean really!

Using diagnostic tools; one of which is experience, I proceed. I should've said no after discovering that the owner thought someone had stolen one of their tires. This being due to its color difference; should have been a red flag. Actually the rim and tire by the tailpipe had been cleaned. This vehicle ran so poorly 40% of the fuel it was supposed to burn was coming out the tailpipe instead. Oh, what other surprises lay ahead. I include a photo of the first or second KOER string of codes.

Another flag was the fact that the catalytic converters, all four of them, had been gutted.

(There are Federal Laws that prohibit this from being done....)

The engine oil was so chock-full of carbon I was surprised it hadn't seized! The front heated 02 sensors were completely covered with carbon or soot. We can be sure that the pre-cat sensors do not function just by their appearance. I really need to know how to put a time frame; an estimate; a price on diagnostic time after seeing and hearing just the above?

Let us not forget the fact I have connected a breakout box to monitor, test and diagnose PID data. And the holiday season is quickly approaching. Enough for now.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

“…and the 4runner waits patiently for snow to fall, and winter to begin again.”

Okay, I know these pictures are six-months old, but everything is winterized for the 2011-2012 season. The truck w/o snowplow was in two car shows this year. Photos of the ice/slush covered 4runner from last seasons dusting of snow and are here too. Temperatures have dropped to freezing at night for the past week, who can say when IT WILL snow next? The 4runner gets the plow attached again this weekend and takes its position backed into the carport.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

It’s a Landcruiser kind of day

This Landcruiser, a 1987 FJ60 is getting the best quality lift components available. 4 inch suspension with a lot of articulation travel. Old Man EMU kits rock, no doubt! A shackle reverse kit is being installed as well. And since the SR kit involves removing the stock bumper, time for a one-off fabrication. Pictures and more on the these ToYs a little later.

Lets have a look as we start and finish a 4" suspension lift on this 87 FJ60 •

Need Music? Turn up the radio...
(Produced in 16:9 widescreen)

I hate to be a multi tasked person

As usual, I have three projects going on at once. Although each of them is a Toyota they’re all here for different reasons.

The first of these three is here to draw upon my memory of practical electrical circuitry. It arrived as a combination of “really cool” and “I don’t know what that is for so..” all thrown into a 79 Pick-up. 

Customer supplied Information comes in slowly or if I bug them it is suddenly remembered. I find that I must engineer and create parts from scratch that are safe and can hopefully withstand all the abuse each area will be given.

Each time I finish enabling a component and area, I find another problem that stops me from driving it out the door. I just need to remember it is only nuts and bolts, yet at times is seems so much a task. It’s as if the vehicle were possessed, or nearly alive. almost as though it wants to throw yet another challenge at my abilities. I could threaten the truck with fire, and maybe it will fall into line and all things screwy would work.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Are YOU really cutting car care costs????

Are you still reading? There may still be hope for YOU the CAR or TRUCK...!!!
      1. Open the glove box to locate a small booklet. You've seen it. Yes, it's the owners manual!
      2. Read it and look for some of the keywords I use in my posts. 3. Call, email, or if you are brave respond (comment) about the content of this post.

    These are some photos of components that were overdue to be replaced and the resulting damage.

    1. You can not accelerate over 25mph, even on a flat surface, with a strong tail-wind, and going downhill too! Is there a problem? Well it does seem a bit sluggish, (yes, an understatement) yet you can still get from point A to point B, you just leave much much earlier, thats all.


    I opened John's Auto Repair in June 1984 , and John's Lake Joy ToY in October 2003. One thing is a constant; parts have life spans. When you read this you should learn this mantra by repeating;


    Repeat constantly to yourself when you pay a HUGE car repair bill.

    Hey, it's no secret many automotive engineers like to ride bicycles. It helps to keep them in shape! They do spend so much time in front of a computer screen SITTING, THINKING and SITTING. I even bet that these same automotive engineers DON'T drive a car like yours. Didn't mean to crush that secure feeling you had about those automotive engineers.

    Now that I shared, let's open our minds and have a look at our owners manual, more often. Such a wonderful book, and so packed full of knowledge. Think of it in this way; you pay tens of thousands of dollars for this book, this manual and they include a car to go with it!

    Once again I'm a bit mystified by the interpretation/acceptance of the CEL OR SERVICE ENGINE SOON light. If it's staying on, you can rest assured there is a problem. I'm seeing more failed catalytic convertors because there wasn't any periodic or routine maintenance performed.

    There may still be hope for YOUR CAR or TRUCK...!!!

    Lack of Routine Maintenance :: THIS IS NOT a good thing
     Is public transportation in your future; really might be your way to get around. Yes, you will loose the independence, freedom and privilege that "car-ownership" affords. You will be putting those gas dollars into a Xmas account. For every dime you think you're saving on real maintenance, you're actually spending a dollar in its place.

    Save your money and let others drive for you. STOP!!

    Are you still reading? There may still be hope for YOUR CAR or TRUCK...!!!
    Open the glove box to locate a small booklet. You've seen it. Yes, it's the owners manual!
    Read it and look for some of the keywords I used at the beginning of this post.

    Call, email, or if you are brave respond (comment) about the content of this post.

    Thursday, September 15, 2011

    Once again it has been an interesting week, here at L.J. ToY.

    A 2004 Mitsubishi Eclipse, timing belt replacement service, simple tear-down and reassembly. That last word in that sentence isn't really true, because the primary part of this service cannot be correctly documented by Alldata, Mitchell, or AutoData. I have to fall back on that stupid experience/gut feeling thing again.

    1992 ToY p/u 3.0l, three codes, and a shopping list to go along with them. Parts are NOT real hard to find so far, but I keep stumbling into another person’s handy work. Have a look at the photo with this post. That tape on TPS sensor lead, what? Never seen anything like this before and I have a feeling there is more waiting too.

    Thursday, September 1, 2011

    There is so much to a name & location

    The renaming of Johns Auto Repair, llc to Johns Lake Joy ToY seemed an easy task at first. I had been in the same town for nearly 20 years, the customer list was long, but then one day I was gone. Local parts house people, although prepped months in advance for the business relocation, had forgotten all. "He moved", was a commonly given answer as to where the new shop was located, NOW.

    The jungle drum form of communication, found mainly in small rural towns should be easy to control. One problem encountered; the public is hard to educate at times. Next problem; contradictory information from those very same parts professionals. When asked for our location, the first few words uttered were vague; "uh they moved, I don't have an address yet, but...." My final, and the real problem created was people want convenience, not skill or experience..


    For the general public, unsure of your whereabouts meant only that you had left. GONE. CLOSED THE DOORS. RETIRED, GASP! As I thought about what I should share here, an idea took hold. I would share all the pictures, videos, and stories of my customers and their cars! I have stories and pictures of the NOT SO HELPFUL parts people too! I have a few that made it into local newspapers... Now when I say pictures I infer STUPID DRIVER MISTAKES that caused the problems, or mind-fart stories generated by car-pro's to cover their tails.

    So, welcome to descriptions of what I can do, have done or am planning. The next story may be YOUR vehicle, or beware, a mind-fart story that will identify who you are!

    Thursday, August 11, 2011

    I have to build a HOT ROD!!!!!!! someday...

    If you could go back in time to the mid-1930s', knowing all you do about today’s performance cars, which car or truck would you buy? Just remember, whatever you choose it will undoubtedly be almost new - then.
    Jump back to the here and now; How would you restore that vehicle so it represents a little of the period, but has all the hardcore performance add-ons a builder might want? Would you first begin with the largest cubic inch V8, topped with dual quads, or fuel injection? Perhaps a 5 or 6-speed manual or automatic transmission might be complimentary to your resto. Plus, equip the exterior with OE style trimmings making it your car.

    Ford • Chevrolet • PontiacDodgeChryslerPlymouth • Buick • Oldsmobile, and a few more brands were built at that time, so lots of choices.

    OK, this car will be special; no expense will be spared in creating an authentic, correct, exact replica of a car that an American automobile manufacturer built. If you want people to gather round and gaze in wonder at your latest creation, take the time and spend it on those one of a kind details.

    ’s no secret that any custom restoration needs extra attention with prep and metal finishing before the paint goes on. Going above and beyond the call of duty is how you produce an awesome project resto, but being anal slows you down so think first. Good paint work gives off a reflection without ripples, waves or orange peel anywhere, and the shine carries from one panel to the next. Everything on the car must be consistent, even, and super-straight. Show-quality is a term that gets thrown around quite a bit, but the finish and fit of any resto car rivals the best even the industry can ever produce.

    The same holds true with the chrome and stainless trim. In the 30s', there wasn't a lot of chrome, so add it to enhance your overall scheme. Attention to the smallest of details makes it unique; a true custom. Although safety glass carries a soft tint that looks original, remember this era didn't have any of those "yet to be invented" items commonplace today. Take nylon for instance February, 1935 was its birthday.

    If you think the bodywork is important, now is when you should look under the hood. There
    is room for a built V8, equipped in either early or late model tech. Valve covers can be a focal point for the personal touch. Polished, painted or even plated, the finish here is probably the first “stand-out” area seen when opening the hood.
    Cars have always been a labor of love, not just monetary investments. Wouldn't you hate to be the guy or gal who owns that car parked next to you at a show? You built this one!

    Monday, August 8, 2011

    Hooo-Ha, Toys are FUN

    Some were concerned about personal Credit ratings or scores for quite some time. What DOES it all mean? We are told it matters, but with our AAA-+ now just a lowly third world rating of ‘AA’, does life still go on the same as usual?

    Here at John’s Lake Joy ToY, I needed some distraction from all that is going on in the world. I thought a short BREAKTIME from reality was called for. Why not look back at some of those good times in my work life. I forgot that meant browsing through 2tb, (TERRA-BYTES) of photos I have taken over the years. Golly gee, it was fun! Here is a collection of pic’s spanning only 15 years of shop operations. I present to you some of the toys I get to play with. Turn the sound on, it took time to compose...

    Saturday, July 16, 2011

    So what is ARTICULATION anyway

    Here are some shots from Pete's Club Grill - Hot Rods and Harleys

     + 4X4's, July 4th 2011 in Carnation, WA. The exhibition these wheelers put on was a Kodak moment. Instead Matt Petree used his Blackberry! If you weren't there have a look...

    Tuesday, July 12, 2011

    H&H Extras

    There is enough art work to generate one or more kick-@$$ calenders. 2012 is going to be a special year because it is a leap year. Read some of the cute customs as related to a leap year. My photographer thinks the calender would be "neat" and I agree.

    Retro is currently in and that means time to get all my ducks in a row. I need to recruit investors, incorporate, estimate print costs, find the market and get motivated.

    So 1950+ to 1967 will be a very good span. Lots of change without money worries or stress.....

    Thursday, July 7, 2011

    July 4th - Three days after...

    This quote is what made 2011's show work; "Whatever you do, do it with all your might. Work at it, early and late, in season and out of season, not leaving a stone unturned, and never deferring for a single hour that which can be done just as well now."
    — P.T. Barnum
    as well as;
    "The noblest art is that of making others happy"
    — P.T. Barnum
    Something I once read;
    "Give your audience more than they expected and you will entertain them."

    For 2011's HandH show I planned five different events that could occur at any time during the days show. By simply putting the materials needed in strategic places at the Hot Rods and Harley's event; the public could entertain themselves if the circus-show atmosphere began to lull. Two of these events were not possible because of the current economy, but that will change.

    The H&H Ladies were fantastic, beautiful, and so colorful;

    Perhaps you found a copy of this on your seat while at The Rock in Duvall;

    My entire body aches from running around almost the entire day. But, I did volunteer didn't I?

    Friday, July 1, 2011

    Hot Rods and Harleys plus 4X4s 2011

    Hot Rods and Harleys + 4 x 4s
    Once again, on July 4, 2011 my wife Gail and I will be bringing you this car show. There are some changes this year.

    The well-known high-performance guru, Mr. Jim Green of Jim Greens Performance Center will be in the parade. Instrumental in the street-rod and drag racing world for over forty years; his talents helped him win the 1968 NHRA World Championship, and the 1973 NHRA Funny Car World Championship and in 2005, he was named to the NHRA Division 6 Hall of Fame

    At this years show he has also entered some hot rods of his own creation. Jim Greens Performance Center recently relocated to the nearby city of Monroe, Washington.

    Rumor is that Mr. Green may demonstrate what three 604-cid Ford Boss 429 blown funny car engines sound like; so be ready. There will be warnings as we count down to ignition. This will happen after the parade and car show audience has had their chance to look at the infamous shotgun!

    I am announcing the introduction of a four-wheel-drive division with six classes to the 2011’ show. It seems to me that the time is long overdue for the inclusion of these talented local 4X4 builders. To have all this talent come together in one place will be awesome.

    We are working on an RTI as a part of the H&H show. Bragging about the articulation abilities of an off-road vehicle comes down to “YaY” or “Nay” with this event.

    Six classes have been properly renamed. The classes in this division definitely mean Harley Davidson. These awards are for best in class.

    With the introduction of the H&H Ladies pinup posters, which began in May, sponsorship has really grown. The H&H Ladies, who appear on these posters, will be at the show, and in the grand parade atop the Shotgun. The Ladies will be available for photos with you and your entry. Your generous donations from the photos will go to the Colon Cancer Alliance.

    2011's main sponsor is Pete's Club Grill. He chose to sponsor H&H, and be involved as long as his strength would last. I admire him and his wife Karen for what they are doing, considering the circumstances. We will miss Don, but the show will go on as we all intended.

    H&H and Carnations Fourth of July Calebration

    I would like to thank Carol Ladwig of the Valley Record for this article. Information within this write-up contained & shared much about coordinating a car show. Which only a few people really are aware of; motivation. To attempt explaining exactly what a small American town like Carnation does on the fourth of July with your readers, this was needed. Thank You

    PS - There is one error that must be corrected, it was the extremely talented Hannah Marie Schmale of hannahmariephoto.com whose eyes saw these pin-up pictures BEFORE the click of the cameras shutter. She was a motivator for me. She did this photo-shoot out of love for the unique artform she offers to others.
    Your generous donation for a photo of you, your entry and the H&H Ladies at the July 4th event will be given to the Colin Cancer Research Alliance in memory of Don Lovett. And just think. you'll have that picture to remember the day.

    The legacy of the late Don Lovett lives on in Carnations Hot Rods and Harleys + 4X4s show.

    Wednesday, June 8, 2011

    The 1st of many yet to come

    I will begin this blog by stating simply, “My brain is constantly presenting so many ideas and solving those problems all at the same time.” I have read this is just one of the classic symptoms that are adult attention deficit disorder. As an adult, I have learned to live and function with AADD in the profession I chose. If at any time, or for any reason it seems as though I am going a hundred miles an hour, working on 3 to 7 projects at the same moment now you can understand what makes me work.

    I do recall that as I grew up my childhood involved doctor visits to see why I did not seem to be growing as quickly as other children are. Yes, I was one of those that almost received an injection of a radioactive isotope used to excite or awaken the thyroid gland. However, like everything else in my childhood money was always a constant problem. As I look back now I was very fortunate not to have had this procedure.

    In a time that this disorder did not exist, I, like so many other adults have adapted our thought processing and lifestyles so that we may be able to function normally within society.

    Remember that all of this seems quite normal to me; it is others that are around me that seem a bit befuddled. As to the how and why I take on so many projects and take forever to finish them all, I think that I have now explained.

    Oh, I forgot, with this also comes the desire, the need to constant strive for perfection. This means repetitive workmanship on my part. John P.