Ruth, walking on a rocky section of shoreline near Bunecit Beach, Albania.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Sarandë, Albania.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Nokovë, Albania on April 21st

Friday, September 9, 2016

Well, I knew that was going to be a big job...

And it was.

But, the patient is being good. It's the doctor who needs to recover! The operation isn't quite finished yet, and my sore knees and back aren't looking forward to getting back under there.

But although it was time consuming, it was fairly successful.

Just to give you some background, Sherman's engine is a 1995 Chevrolet 7.4 litre (454 cubic inch) on a P30 chassis. These engines have a very common problem where the exhaust manifold gets too hot and when it expands, it breaks the studs that hold it in place. The biggest part of the problem is that the broken piece of the stud remains in the engine head and can be very difficult to remove.

There are eight studs, and it's common that the two rear studs on the right hand side will break. That's exactly what had happened to Sherman. It's actually been like that for quite some time, but the exhaust leak noise due to the broken studs has been steadily getting worse, and I finally decided to do something about it.

I bought new stainless steel studs, as well as new studs and hardware for where the manifold bolts on to the exhaust pipe. Also, a bolt extractor kit and some high quality drill bits to drill out the old broken studs.

First, I had to get the right side up in the air, supported safely, and the wheel removed.

Next was to remove this air flow shield so that we could access the manifold.

See the hole at the end of the manifold? There's supposed to be a stud and nut holding that together. Worse still, the next one over is broken too!

The shield came out fairly easily. 4 bolts and two clips.

Now, we have access to the manifold.

I removed the spark plug wires from the plugs on that side and tied them up out of the way. Then, I heated the remaining nuts that hold on the spark plug heat shields and sprayed water on them to cool them off right away. I used the impact gun to remove them, and they came off easier than I thought they would. I then did the same thing to the remaining nuts that hold the manifold on. Each one of them came right out! I was impressed!

Only one problem.

The oil dipstick tube runs to the oil pan through the manifold. It gets awfully hot in that location, and I noticed that it was cracked. The tube had to be removed in order to remove the manifold, and sure enough it broke. I haven't yet figured out what I'm going to do about that.

Cracked dipstick tube.

Then, I had to heat and remove the three nuts holding the exhaust manifold to the collector pipe. Again, they came off fairly easily!

With a little bit of maneuvering, I removed the manifold. 

Next, it was time to try and remove the broken studs from the head. I hit the middle of the broken stud with a center punch, and drilled a 1/8 hole. I couldn't get the drill centered though because the frame rail was in the way and the bit went in crooked. And I simply couldn't get the stud out. Very frustrating, and I had read where this might happen.

After drilling and trying various sizes of extractors, I had made a bit of a mess of it.

Hmm. What do do?

I've learned before that when something like this gives you a problem, you just walk away from it for a while. I decided to try the other broken stud and see if I had any better luck.

I managed to get the hole drilled perfectly in the center, and I drilled right through the stud. Used the 1/8th extractor, and it came right out!

The extractor walked that broken stud right out of the head. 
Why couldn't the first one have been that easy?!

So, I went back to the first one and ended up drilling it out with a bigger bit. Then, I used a 3/8" bit from a tap and die set to re-thread the hole. I threaded a new stud into the hole, and I think it's going to work. The stud is slightly crooked because I couldn't drill it straight on. I don't expect this to be a problem because the hole at that end of the manifold is quite enlarged and there should be room for it go on.

By now, it was 5:00pm and I had had enough. Glad I'm not paying someone $120 an hour to do this!

Back at it this morning to put everything back together.

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  1. It is a job , our Mechanic charges $60.00 an hour and with issues finally got all 12 done with about 4 hours labour over 4 days. Good luck with the rest of the job, you do need to be patient.

    1. Wow, I think your mechanic is underselling himself! Kevin got the job done but his body sure feels it, still he is pretty happy with the result and very glad to have it behind him now.

  2. I bet expensive Canadian liquor is looking good right now lol :)

    1. We actually have some of that expensive alcohol right now and yes, it was a must after that job! ;-)

  3. Good thing you didn't have to remove the head!

  4. You're a braver man than I. Once upon a time I might have tackled something like that, but I'd only do oil changes on the RV we used to have. MOSTLY because the stupid place where I figured I had to take it charged way too much. But that's a whole other story. There's not enough Tylenol (or back pain medicine of your choice) that I could take to make it not hurt *real bad*.

    1. Yes, he was a brave man and he got the job done. He knew what was going to be involved in the job and knew that it wasn't going to be easy but he psyched himself up for it and just took his time. There are definitely some sore muscles but no Tylenol was needed, just some wine. :-)

  5. Oh boy! That is about what I would expect to happen if I tried to do it - problems! I would have waited for a Mexican mechanico!

    1. Kevin has trouble trusting anyone working on Sherman, if he does it himself then he knows it is done correctly. Plus, it would be quite a while before we get back to Mexico and the problem was getting worse.

  6. During my thirty-six year as a maintenance welder for Ford's casting division I alone have removed nearly ten thousand broken bolts and pipe fittings by welding them out. They were not all in the flat position but in vertical and overhead positions as well. Using a Cellulous type welding rod (meant for welding sheet metal)at a slightly cooler than normal heat you simply Build the metal to the center of the bolt allowing the slag to fill the treads. Clean the weld that protrudes above the surrounding metal and attach first a washer then a nut then let cool. The heat from the welding expands the bolt crushing the rust of the threads. When the bolt cools it actually shrinks more than it expands.
    Disconnect the batteries and any power source to Sherman before welding. Both those bolts should have taken ten minutes from start to finish. Hope you never have to do it again but if you do that will save you lots of time.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

    1. I had read about doing it that way. In this situation though, the studs had broken off almost flush to the cylinder head. The second one drilled and extracted no problem. It was the first one that was a problem.

      And, because I had never done it that way before, I was gun shy. But thanks for the lesson. You're right, hopefully I'll never have to do it again!

    2. I understand your reluctance and the fact I did it almost daily I would not have hesitated. Many of the broken bolts were in fact broken well below the outer surface of the metal and as explained by turning the heat down you are concentrating it strictly on the broken bolt. Turn the heat up and you will be fusing the two metals together.
      Glad that it worked out for you.
      Be Safe and Enjoy!

      It's about time.

  7. You amaze me with your willingness to try anything. I am a jack of all trades and a master of none, but I would have backed away from an exhaust manifold.

    Just a quick update on us. We are now houseless and living fulltime in our motorhome in Rivers Provincial Park in Rivers Manitoba. We purchased the concession and mini golf in the park this spring and that will be our summer home from now on, and the warm south will be our winter home. We would love to meet you if you have time as you travel past Brandon on your way east. We are 20 minutes north of Brandon, and would love to buy you coffee on your way through. There is also free camping here in September with no services, but a pretty lake. You can contact us through our facebook page which is "A Place Called Away".

    ps. We will be heading for North Bay Ontario on October 2nd so won't be far behind you.

    pss.we are going to order the same kayak as you purchased and will make sure to do it through your site.

    Hope to cross paths one day

    1. If Kevin has the proper tools and a good place to work in then he is willing to tackle most jobs. He knew what he was in for and prepared himself for a long day or two and crossed his fingers that things would go smoothly and they did, except for that one stupid bolt.

      Sounds like we are planning to change our route slightly and will make the detour to visit with you both at the end of September and we will probably stay for the night. Thank you for the invite and we look forward to meeting you. :-)

    2. Hi Lorne. I met you last winter at the Bloggerfest. Good to see you are on the road having fun! You will get lots of good tips from kevin and Ruth. - Croft Randle

    3. Thats awesome. We look forward to meeting you. My email is [email protected] If you email I will give you my cell number.

      It was great to meet you Croft at bloggerfest last year. It is neat to meet all the people I follow on a regular basis. I am a little concerned because I haven't heard from Rod and I know he had some medical bumps... Hope they have another get together in Q again in 2017.

    4. Rod did have (and is still having) some medical bumps and is now at his home in the eastern US. Shadowmoss tries to keep in contact with him.


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