Tuesday, August 20, 2019

MacGyver Eyes

The atlatl range was closed this weekend, so sadly that video will have to wait. But on the way to our campground we encountered a bit of automotive trouble that might prove a touch instructive.

I've said in the past that I try to look at a problem with MacGyver goggles, and strive to teach others to do the same. For those who haven't heard the term before, it means that you don't need to have the "right" parts to solve a problem, you just need the "right now" parts.

I recently changed trucks, and while I am very familiar with gasoline engines, turbocharged diesels are an entirely new thing for me and have been a learning process. While traveling to our campground my truck suddenly got loud and lost a bit of power. It wasn't making any strange or troubling noises, it was just much louder. The power loss wasn't enough to sideline us, but it was noticeable especially when climbing hills.

A bit of rolling diagnosis and a couple of calls to some diesel-knowledgeable friends confirmed my suspicion that I had developed a boost leak. The short definition of this is that I had a small leak at some point between my turbocharger and my intake, which caused my engine to make less power than normal. We got to a gas station and let the engine cool, and proceeded to chase the leak. We located the source, which was an abrasion in one of the rubber hoses from the turbo.

I'm transitioning between trucks, all I had available were my hand tools for work and what I could find in a tiny farm town right at quitting time on a Friday. Calling every parts house in the area let me know that this particular hose was plenty available 100 miles back up the road in Salt Lake, but that it did not exist between my location and Las Vegas, and would take at least a day to get in. Obviously, that wasn't going to work.

Taking stock of what we had at hand, I grabbed some electrical tape to seal the leak. While it is stretchy and great at sealing things, electrical tape isn't very durable or sticky, especially when hot. My wife bought a roll of duct tape in the gas station (small town gas stations are great for having a wide variety of things) and we taped up the leak in the best way we could in a parking lot. First we used the electrical tape to seal the abrasion, then we used duct tape to reinforce it.

That got us back on the road. It wasn't a great fix, but it got us to our camp site safely. We headed into the nearest town the next day hoping for a bit of good fortune. We still couldn't locate the appropriate part, but one of the stores had some parts that I could fashion a patch with.

A chunk of radiator hose, a few hose clamps, and a bit better tape job, and the truck was running at about 95% power.

The eventual result. It's not pretty, but it's holding.

The most important takeaway from this shouldn't be how to patch a turbo boot, or anything specific from my story. Instead, try to look at problems from a more abstract angle. Rather than "I need this hose that is unavailable," try "I need to stop air from coming out of that hole." It won't be a long-term repair, but it will be a way to get home.


No comments:

Post a Comment

The Fine Print

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- Noncommercial- No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Creative Commons License

Erin Palette is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.