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Tales Of A Mercenary Mechanic

monkeyswrench

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Some of you have read my thread "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang". Well, I thought about it, and it really doesn't fit in with custom offroad builds, not really in the motor section...seeing as though lately things have been void of overhead valves, let alone cool stuff like blowers or turbos...just weird old stuff. So, starting this thread. Kind of a catchall for stuff I put iron to. Some may be cool. Some, not so much. Usually interesting from some point or another.

Now then, where I came up with the term "Mercenary Mechanic". There are guys here like @bonesfab and @rivermobster ...they make their livings working on cool stuff. Me, not so much. I can't say turning iron is a major moneymaker for me currently, but overhead is low, and scheduling is good for me. It allows me to run kids around, and go to their functions and appointments. By being mercenary, I mean I am kind of a hired gun. I do house calls, work on old cars and also work at several of the shops up here on odd projects or if they need to play catch up. I was not a career mechanic. My basic knowledge of motors and transmissions was trial by fire. I needed trucks for work...and new ones are expensive. As I was making more, it made no sense to me buy nicer vehicles, just to beat the snot out of them. The more advanced, or specialized things came with time. I always liked old cars. Nice old cars are not cheap...rusty beat up ones aren't. Well then, getting an idea? The more modern stuff came with hustling cars. Timing belts break, forward clutches go bad in a trans, and people sell them cheap. It's all nuts and bolts. You buy cheap, spend a weekend, and make some money. Not everyone's cup of tea, but for me it was a good change.

In the morning I'll upload a couple pics of some recent stuff. Not always cars, and not always cool. At least it's never boring...always an adventure, and sometimes a steep learning curve;)
 

monkeyswrench

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2019-11-23 17.18.30.jpg
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This was about a month ago maybe. A friend of mine got the call, but didn't want to get involved with tractors or the unknown. Upon arrival, the wheel is on the ground, the axle housing resting on a boulder, and gear oil everywhere. It supposedly "just snapped". Job was to fix it, not CSI how he did it... I used the outriggers to lift it off the boulder stand, and then the bucket to put the compactor wheel under it. The guy said the hydraulics are good. Nope, I don't trust any of them. He did have a forklift though. That made things much easier. Pulled the axle, then bolted it to the wheel on the good side, and stood it on end. The axle is an inboard planetary setup, with wet brakes. Pulled the broken half off, and removed the axle chunk. I put in new seals and the axle, and reversed the process. I was a filthy, dirty pig at the end of that day. No way around it.
 

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View attachment 824710 View attachment 824711
This was about a month ago maybe. A friend of mine got the call, but didn't want to get involved with tractors or the unknown. Upon arrival, the wheel is on the ground, the axle housing resting on a boulder, and gear oil everywhere. It supposedly "just snapped". Job was to fix it, not CSI how he did it... I used the outriggers to lift it off the boulder stand, and then the bucket to put the compactor wheel under it. The guy said the hydraulics are good. Nope, I don't trust any of them. He did have a forklift though. That made things much easier. Pulled the axle, then bolted it to the wheel on the good side, and stood it on end. The axle is an inboard planetary setup, with wet brakes. Pulled the broken half off, and removed the axle chunk. I put in new seals and the axle, and reversed the process. I was a filthy, dirty pig at the end of that day. No way around it.

Good work!

Working on any tractor you come out nasty.
 

monkeyswrench

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Good work!

Working on any tractor you come out nasty.
I have worked on some nasty, oil dripping diesels. You come out like you're in black face:eek:. Tractors are different animals. It's easy to find leaks, because that is the one clean area! Just constant dirt falling. Glasses of some type are a must, and a spud bar to pry and scrape dirt and rocks away.
 

MeCasa16

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I’m really jealous of all you guys that have not only the mechanical skills to do this stuff, but the mechanical and artistic vision to figure out the things you might not already know. I lack all of those skills.

All my repairs are made with my checkbook
 

ltbaney1

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I’m really jealous of all you guys that have not only the mechanical skills to do this stuff, but the mechanical and artistic vision to figure out the things you might not already know. I lack all of those skills.

All my repairs are made with my checkbook
at least you acknowledge that. i have a friend that thinks he is good wrench, will take a stab at most anything. but trys to do everything with a pair of channel locks and butter knife. i dont know how many times ive told him, do not touch it, just take it and you will save money.
 

monkeyswrench

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I’m really jealous of all you guys that have not only the mechanical skills to do this stuff, but the mechanical and artistic vision to figure out the things you might not already know. I lack all of those skills.

All my repairs are made with my checkbook
I was that kid in elementary and junior high drawing cars and boats. In high school, I branched out...chicks love a guy that can draw a cartoon character holding a rose;)
Sometime between school, girls and sports, got hooked on street racing. My friends had a bit more money, and dad's that helped them out. My Pops could keep a truck running, but Mom's went to the dealership. I learned a lot from other guys, and lots of reading. As some skills got better, I could justify buying different tools. As I was able to build some things to make a buck, I didn't have to hide tool purchases from my wife (as much:rolleyes:)

As for vision...The custom stuff I do isn't really custom. I have only emulated stuff I've seen elsewhere. On another thread, I admitted there are a lot of Minitruck ideas in my Model A Ford. I have a friend, Rudy, in Cali...he has "vision". He has a couple top three in Custom and also in Modified Coupe at the Grand National. He can chop a roof probably better than anyone I've met...and I had met most of the oldtimers. I lack the vision, skills and balls to do what he does:(

I think as mechanics or fabricators, on any level, there should be guys you "look up to". I was lucky, I learned early on big names aren't always the best people, and some of the most talented people are more than willing to offer assistance because you share a common interest.
 

rivermobster

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View attachment 824710 View attachment 824711
This was about a month ago maybe. A friend of mine got the call, but didn't want to get involved with tractors or the unknown. Upon arrival, the wheel is on the ground, the axle housing resting on a boulder, and gear oil everywhere. It supposedly "just snapped". Job was to fix it, not CSI how he did it... I used the outriggers to lift it off the boulder stand, and then the bucket to put the compactor wheel under it. The guy said the hydraulics are good. Nope, I don't trust any of them. He did have a forklift though. That made things much easier. Pulled the axle, then bolted it to the wheel on the good side, and stood it on end. The axle is an inboard planetary setup, with wet brakes. Pulled the broken half off, and removed the axle chunk. I put in new seals and the axle, and reversed the process. I was a filthy, dirty pig at the end of that day. No way around it.

I did shit like that when I was a kid. Worked at my buddies Trans and Muffler shop. They would work on Anything that came their way!

So once I had the tools and skills to get a dealership job, I applied to Cadillac and Lincon Mercury dealerships.

I wanted to work somewhere where there would be no more trucks Ever in my future! It stayed that way for the next thirty years.
 

Wheeler

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I applied to Cadillac and Lincon Mercury dealerships.

I wanted to work somewhere where there would be no more trucks Ever in my future! It stayed that way for the next thirty years.

Then you went out and bought a Ford truck anyway. :confused:
 

monkeyswrench

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I did shit like that when I was a kid. Worked at my buddies Trans and Muffler shop. They would work on Anything that came their way!

So once I had the tools and skills to get a dealership job, I applied to Cadillac and Lincon Mercury dealerships.

I wanted to work somewhere where there would be no more trucks Ever in my future! It stayed that way for the next thirty years.
It's kind of the opposite for me. It was very rare for me to working on heavies or equipment before. Growing up kind of where you are, not a lot of ranchers, and wasn't in the loop for dirt work guys. Now, stuff comes up. When you look at it as just nuts and bolts, it's all pretty normal. The good thing about my current situation, if I don't know how to do the job, or it scares the hell out of me, I don't have to take it. There was a time, that wasn't the case. Side hustle an automotive job to help make the housepayment, and figure it out as you go.
 

rivermobster

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Then you went out and bought a Ford truck anyway. :confused:

I figured out Ford built a better mouse trap back in 1974. I was working at a machine shop at that time.

We had 80 percent chebby products in the shop at all times. Flat cams, burnt valves and wasted valve guides all day long. The SBC has to be the Worst designed engine of ALL time!

Didn't take long for even my dumb azz to figure out what a POS that engine was.

I had a 406 I built myself, in a 67 GTA Mustang back in those days. Even BBC powered cars couldn't come close to keeping up.
 

Wheeler

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I figured out Ford built a better mouse trap back in 1974. I was working at a machine shop at that time.

We had 80 percent chebby products in the shop at all times. Flat cams, burnt valves and wasted valve guides all day long. The SBC has to be the Worst designed engine of ALL time!

Didn't take long for even my dumb azz to figure out what a POS that engine was.

I had a 406 I built myself, in a 67 GTA Mustang back in those days. Even BBC powered cars couldn't come close to keeping up.

Didn't the beach boys have a song about the 406? That's right, They Didn't! :p
 

Shlbyntro

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I'm just a poor lowly boat mechanic, no stories to tell here:rolleyes:

I really enjoy what I do; playing with boats all day and spending other peoples money. but it did change the way I enjoy boating in a way I cant undo. Not saying I dont still enjoy it because I do, it's just different.... nowhere near as carefree as it used to be.

The projects with the open check books and creative license are always the best!
 

monkeyswrench

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Well, here's something I started on last week. Paint appears to be of the house variety, circa 1965. It's shot, but the owner wants to save what can be saved. I decided to do the "paint" work before the mechanical on this one. The main reason, chips of paint hurt in your eyes, and stick to skin and clothes. Here's how it looked the day I put it in the trailer
 

monkeyswrench

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After some playing around, and kind of sponge bathing the thing, I decided to go full on "Polished Turd". The only way to bring out any existing red, was to keep it wet. Well, not really an option. I knocked off most of the loose paint, and did a satin finish...near to no luster, but worked well in the experiment phase...
2019-12-16 22.52.42.jpg

Sooo, I went all in. It turned out pretty decent, though it looks like a full size toy from Hobby Lobby.
2019-12-16 22.52.08.jpg

A little sheen in this pic, but will die out shortly...in theory.
 

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After some playing around, and kind of sponge bathing the thing, I decided to go full on "Polished Turd". The only way to bring out any existing red, was to keep it wet. Well, not really an option. I knocked off most of the loose paint, and did a satin finish...near to no luster, but worked well in the experiment phase... View attachment 825953
Sooo, I went all in. It turned out pretty decent, though it looks like a full size toy from Hobby Lobby. View attachment 825955
A little sheen in this pic, but will die out shortly...in theory.

Gas monkey could get 70K for that....maybe $100K if you told 'em it didn't run cuz you left patina in the cylinders too
 

monkeyswrench

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Yesterday was old stuff...today, not so much. Did a little upgrading at a friend's shop. Ever heard the saying "Jack up the radiator cap, and drive a new truck under it" ?
2019-12-17 20.58.52.jpg

Well, here's the "old" truck...
2019-12-17 21.00.18.jpg

...and here's the "new" truck with the old cap.

When someone says it's the identical chassis, it shouldn't be very hard...they don't really know:mad:
New, 2020, truck had a control module in the way on the frame, a backup camera and Onstar crap to be re-homed. Oh yeah, and side curtain airbags in locations making some of that a bit more difficult, and box to cab mounting full of colorful language. Of course, the step bumper also needed to be cutoff and swapped too. Really a pimp truck though. Letting sealant dry overnight, and back to work it goes;)
 

monkeyswrench

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Well, not everything is a steaming pile...
2019-12-30 23.42.45.jpg
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...well, not in appearance. Guy gets car, doesn't idle for crap. Takes it to a shop here in town. They sell him on a new carb. The motor is a "383"...ok, maybe. Either way, they bolt on a new 750 double pumper! They got it to idle...better? It comes to me. I pull the air cleaner and chuckle. The mixture screws are burried, closed tight. Bowels have never been off, jets are jets I guess. So, I tell the guy that I may be able to jet it down, but the carb is just a bit much for the motor and altitude. He proceeds to tell me the carb is new and fine for this motor, it must be a vacuum leak is what the other shop said.

I politely told him he'd better have the other shop find the "vacuum leak"...he did not respond well to the explanation of how mixture screws work. I wasn't going to get into cfm and fuel requirements... One hour diag.. have a nice day:rolleyes:
 

Shlbyntro

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Well, not everything is a steaming pile... View attachment 829755 View attachment 829756
...well, not in appearance. Guy gets car, doesn't idle for crap. Takes it to a shop here in town. They sell him on a new carb. The motor is a "383"...ok, maybe. Either way, they bolt on a new 750 double pumper! They got it to idle...better? It comes to me. I pull the air cleaner and chuckle. The mixture screws are burried, closed tight. Bowels have never been off, jets are jets I guess. So, I tell the guy that I may be able to jet it down, but the carb is just a bit much for the motor and altitude. He proceeds to tell me the carb is new and fine for this motor, it must be a vacuum leak is what the other shop said.

I politely told him he'd better have the other shop find the "vacuum leak"...he did not respond well to the explanation of how mixture screws work. I wasn't going to get into cfm and fuel requirements... One hour diag.. have a nice day:rolleyes:

Too many people dont know what the fuck they're doing when it comes to carbed motors these days. Their answer is always just slap a new carb on it and then blaming it on the new carb when that doesnt fix it. I get your frustration but hell probably end up blowing up his motor and then you can tell him I told you so!
 

monkeyswrench

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Too many people dont know what the fuck they're doing when it comes to carbed motors these days. Their answer is always just slap a new carb on it and then blaming it on the new carb when that doesnt fix it. I get your frustration but hell probably end up blowing up his motor and then you can tell him I told you so!
I always feel bad...Innocent cars abused by their owner's stupidity:oops:

Good thing is, that car will never see any miles as is. He'll probably get annoyed and sell it. One good afternoon and that car would be nice. Has some various issues, like the GM one wire alternator being run like you'd run a regulator setup...so it kills a battery in a day or so. Easy fix, but guy was only worried about the idle. Car abuse...plain and simple.
 

mjc

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I always feel bad...Innocent cars abused by their owner's stupidity:oops:

Good thing is, that car will never see any miles as is. He'll probably get annoyed and sell it. One good afternoon and that car would be nice. Has some various issues, like the GM one wire alternator being run like you'd run a regulator setup...so it kills a battery in a day or so. Easy fix, but guy was only worried about the idle. Car abuse...plain and simple.

so if you find out he wants to sell let me know.
 

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Yesterday was old stuff...today, not so much. Did a little upgrading at a friend's shop. Ever heard the saying "Jack up the radiator cap, and drive a new truck under it" ? View attachment 826180
Well, here's the "old" truck...
View attachment 826181
...and here's the "new" truck with the old cap.

When someone says it's the identical chassis, it shouldn't be very hard...they don't really know:mad:
New, 2020, truck had a control module in the way on the frame, a backup camera and Onstar crap to be re-homed. Oh yeah, and side curtain airbags in locations making some of that a bit more difficult, and box to cab mounting full of colorful language. Of course, the step bumper also needed to be cutoff and swapped too. Really a pimp truck though. Letting sealant dry overnight, and back to work it goes;)

I grew up with Jeremy. Really good dude!
 

coolchange

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The only guys with bigger egos than boat guys, are car guys. Some people you just can't tell anything.
Funny thing is, he'll go out and spend $1,500 on EFI, rather than put a little carb on it and only be able to say it has a 600 or 650.
Just went through this with a friend. Didn't want his quadrajunk because they suck. Convinced him to bring it over before he spent money at Holley.
Huh...? Starts right up, idles cold, mileage picked up. Imagine...
 

monkeyswrench

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so if you find out he wants to sell let me know.
I'll find out what the low down is. Current "care taker" is not the actual owner...he works for the widow, that was actually going through a divorce when the husband died (Harley or Vette...can't remember...and a traffic circle:eek:) I think it is going to come up on the market, but I think both widow and other guy are thinking big money. The car has all the right stuff, but needs some TLC. It's a 4spd car with console and all pretty fresh, but been pretty much parked for 5 years.

I'll do some recon in the next couple weeks;)
 
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monkeyswrench

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The only guys with bigger egos than boat guys, are car guys. Some people you just can't tell anything.
Funny thing is, he'll go out and spend $1,500 on EFI, rather than put a little carb on it and only be able to say it has a 600 or 650.
Just went through this with a friend. Didn't want his quadrajunk because they suck. Convinced him to bring it over before he spent money at Holley.
Huh...? Starts right up, idles cold, mileage picked up. Imagine...
Funny, I was raised with Fords, so Holley was the must have. Now, been farting around with Q-jets more and more. My daughter's little 350/350 combo in an 85 pickup is getting 16+ around town with it's mild cam, headers and 3.54 gears...and I've been too lazy to actually dial it in:rolleyes:
 

Shlbyntro

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Theres a lot of bad shit about the quadrabogs. Shit I still call them quadrabogs and I actually like them. They are a great carb especially for boats that have high loads all the time. My formula has a pair of those old 4bbls on it and it loves them. Now if I could just twist my own arm into taking care of that ticking noise she'd be gtg
 

monkeyswrench

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Busy week for a holiday week. About 10 years ago water got into the trans of my neighbor's ton and a half chevy. It froze. So, I got to do a transmission with pto, carb and fuel pump...and also bleed the giant drum brakes. Probably be seeing more of this one. He wants me to fit the metal and reassemble some stuff.
2019-12-30 23.42.06.jpg

Old 6 runs like a sewing machine;)
 

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I got to help swap out wheel bearings on a 2003 Ford Expedition this week. One of my guys rolled up to our office and was squeaking like crazy. The thing sounded horrible, metal on metal grinding. He's been ignoring the noise for weeks, but it was too severe to put off any longer. I rolled out my shop jack and we lifted the front end. The wheel wobbled like a weeble. We scanned a quick youtube video for any surprise info. But it was all pretty simple.

Changed out both front wheel bearings and sensors. And some cross link connectors too. $450 in parts and 4 hours we were all done. Now the former squeaky Expedition is as quiet as a Prius sneaking up behind you. I checked on line and drove up to NAPA to pick up the spares.

We popped the cover off the bearing to see the issues. They are not ball bearings but barrel shaped. A few were in the right place, but quite a few were sideways in the track. No lube to speak of. Yes, you have a good boss. I paid for the parts, and had all the tools. Even the 10MM socket!! Booyah.
 

monkeyswrench

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I grew up with Jeremy. Really good dude!
I have never met him. A friend of mine does all their maintenance on the trucks and tractors. I ended up helping out over there with that one because it's not the normal routine. I hear he has a nice sandcar, and maybe a son with a CanAm?
 

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I have never met him. A friend of mine does all their maintenance on the trucks and tractors. I ended up helping out over there with that one because it's not the normal routine. I hear he has a nice sandcar, and maybe a son with a CanAm?


Yeah hes been in the sandcar game a while now. He and his dad built a bad ass Class 5 Baja when we were in highschool. I've wanted one ever since lol.
 

monkeyswrench

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Back to normal stuff...like 87 year old pickups...lowering time! Front end first...easier for me to bring the back down to match than the other way around.
2020-01-10 23.04.23.jpg

The rearend had overloads from hell! F150 with 550 springs...
2020-01-10 23.03.37.jpg

De-arched both ft and rr springs, reversed the eye on the front as well...
 

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...Stance looks great...don’t know how hard it would be to do...but it looks like the rear wheels could stand to be spaced out about 2 inches???...
 

monkeyswrench

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...Stance looks great...don’t know how hard it would be to do...but it looks like the rear wheels could stand to be spaced out about 2 inches???...
It really could use the offset, and under normal circumstances, it would be easy to do. The guy wants these 18"s on it, factory 32 wheels. I'm hoping he switches them out to steelies, but his ride and his money. With the way the early axles are, I have never tried to put adapter type spacers on. To push them out enough, I'd need a big aluminum type, and then it gets into needing to make a ring for the wheel hub to seat on, like the drum flange. Funny how sucked in they look, with factory wheels and axle. Never really notice when the fender lip is 8" above the tire.

...and right now, the tires are all 1 1/2" off the ground. Need to put tubes in, but this gave me the feel I needed, both for physical suspension, and asthetics.
 

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Great to know what you do- thanks for sharing.
You seem skilled at our trade.
Sometimes you catch a bit of what a guy does here and there and threads pop up from time to time.
 

monkeyswrench

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Great to know what you do- thanks for sharing.
You seem skilled at our trade.
Sometimes you catch a bit of what a guy does here and there and threads pop up from time to time.
It's odd really, here I am on a boating site sharing pics about cars. I've been pretty heavy into all things wheeled most of my life. Usually, I end up getting some of these jobs because I know how to do things "old school". Most of the early cars I learned about by either reading original old magazines and old books, or just talking to "oldtimers". I loved old cars, but buying them "done" costs big money. So, I learned what I could, and still try to learn anything I can. Different aspects from different motorsports and car manufacturers can be aplied to different things. I tinker with a lot of weird stuff, but it's never boring:p
 

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I figured out Ford built a better mouse trap back in 1974. I was working at a machine shop at that time.

We had 80 percent chebby products in the shop at all times. Flat cams, burnt valves and wasted valve guides all day long. The SBC has to be the Worst designed engine of ALL time!

Didn't take long for even my dumb azz to figure out what a POS that engine was.

I had a 406 I built myself, in a 67 GTA Mustang back in those days. Even BBC powered cars couldn't come close to keeping up.

That is a vivid dream!
 

rivermobster

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That is a vivid dream!

Dusted some dude with a 63 BBC Vette one night. I didn't know the driver, but I knew the guy that built his engine.

He was so fucking pissed he lost to me, he made me open the hood and show him. He said...

I NEVER been beat by no fucking Ford before! You got a Chevy engine under that hood!

He just stood and stared....

Sucked to be him that night. It was a bad azz Vette. He didn't loose many races either.
 

monkeyswrench

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Dusted some dude with a 63 BBC Vette one night. I didn't know the driver, but I knew the guy that built his engine.

He was so fucking pissed he lost to me, he made me open the hood and show him. He said...

I NEVER been beat by no fucking Ford before! You got a Chevy engine under that hood!

He just stood and stared....

Sucked to be him that night. It was a bad azz Vette. He didn't loose many races either.
In the early 90's, I learned that the ability to hide a bottle, and some -3 line, made up for my lack of engine building funds. Many nights with guys going up, down and through my shitbox...no way in hell it should beat anything... hit up the college kid with his girlfriend, or the guy with dad's car. 100$...usually 5's, 10's and 20's...play it off like that's what I could borrow from buddies. Minimum wage was 5 something...was easy money, and real fun.
Damn, simple times...never figured I'd look back at the 90's as "the good ol' days":rolleyes:
 

rivermobster

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In the early 90's, I learned that the ability to hide a bottle, and some -3 line, made up for my lack of engine building funds. Many nights with guys going up, down and through my shitbox...no way in hell it should beat anything... hit up the college kid with his girlfriend, or the guy with dad's car. 100$...usually 5's, 10's and 20's...play it off like that's what I could borrow from buddies. Minimum wage was 5 something...was easy money, and real fun.
Damn, simple times...never figured I'd look back at the 90's as "the good ol' days":rolleyes:

That's funny. :)

This was the late 70's for me. I had that Mustang through high school, and a for a few years after. I caught the end of the cruising scene...

High School was awesome. The parking lot was full of cars that would be worth a small fortune today! All killer 60's cars that kids dads had helped em build. Man I wish I had pics. Good times.
 
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