Broken Bolts

After we took the old engine out and tucked it away in the depths of my garage, we put the “new” engine in the driveway. We had to take some of the parts from the old engine and put them on the “new” one so it would connect properly into Betsy. We took off the thermostat housing, the water pump, and the bracket for the generator, cleaned them and put them on the new engine.

Cleaning is my favorite. Even if it doesn’t work, at least it looks good.


After that was done the next steps were to put on the flywheel and the new clutch assembly. We figured out that the flywheel from the “new” engine was 9.5 inches while the clutch kit that I got was for a 10 inch flywheel which is what was on the old engine. However, I only found this out after trying to put the new clutch kit on to the 9.5 inch flywheel, after taking it to get resurfaced.

After finally getting the right flywheel resurfaced, and watching several hours of YouTube videos, I figured out how to get the clutch assembly on there. I put blue Loctite on all the bolts, used the star pattern to tighten, centered the clutch with the alignment tool, and as I was torquing the last possible bolt to the proper amount, the half-a-century bolt broke on me.


I had to take the whole clutch assembly off again to get that stupid bolt out of there. For the record, that bolt broke the Harbor Freight extraction kit bought to get it out. I promptly returned it, obviously. After drilling into it with everything we had and getting it our, we saw that we had hit the threads. I thought I had to find a machine shop that would fix it for me, but it turns out all they had to do was throw a Helicoil in there and call it a day.

However easy this may seem, that, it was not. After going through so many ups and downs with one project you begin to lose it. You lose your excitement, you lose your confidence, you lose your resolve to make anything happen at all. The smallest thing makes you want to throw in the towel and quit. This is the moment when you make a decision. This is the moment that really defines what you are made of. And however much you can imagine yourself in that situation, you definitely don’t know how you will act when you get there yourself. You can pretend that you’re the toughest mother effer out there, but until you’re faced with a constant stream of obstacles that beat you down to a pulp, you just don’t know.

Also same.

To get through it all, I had to learn to see every failure as a positive. There is something about this project that I just can’t give up on. No matter if logically it all seems like everything is pointing towards me quitting, I just can’t stop. And so far, even in the worst of times, Betsy has only brought the best people into my life. That’s a lesson I will take to my grave.

Just Pluck It

After what will now be known as the infamous Oil Pan Tragedy of 2017, I knew I needed some serious help. Much, much, much more serious.

My mom coincidentally found out that one of her co-workers, Evan, had a 1956 Ford truck. She was clearly very worried about me. She wouldn’t trust that I could fix all the problems on this truck myself safely, rightly so. She somehow got this poor soul to come over and check Betsy for any possible trouble spots while I was hiding in the desert crying about my transmission woes. I’m sure she bribed him with her gluten free cooking. From that moment on Evan knew he would be spending long weekends working on Betsy and he surly regretted ever saying yes to coming over that one fatefull day.

Yes, this is the cover for our debut EP Truck LYFE.

Luckily for me, Evan turned out to be the best truck dad ever. When we realized the engine Betsy came with was completely dead, he got on the ol’ Craiglist machine and started searching for any options that could be viable for Betsy. He scoured high and low, like some sort of internet bloodhound, and he found a straight 6 223 engine out of a 1959 Ford Galaxie that someone was selling in the San Fernando Valley for $300. Evan, being the hero that he is, pushed me to go for it. At the time I was considering dropping $1500 for an engine rebuild on the old engine. Somehow Evan knew that parting with $1500 wouldn’t happen so easily for me. He decided to offer me a deal, one I could not pass up. We went halfsies on the $300 ($150 from him, $150 from me) and if we dropped this engine into Betsy and it didn’t run, he would take the hit and have a new fun project on his hands. If it ran, I’d pony up the $150 and have a running engine in Betsy for a grand total of $300.

We met at my house early on a Saturday morning and set off in a rental Jeep Compass (Graciously provided by my step-dad), to the Valley. Once we got close to the promised land of I6 223 engines, I realized I had to stop by my bank to get the mullah. I missed the turn and we ended up behind a non descript office building. As if by magic, a bunch of old plywood that was carpeted on one side appeared behind the alley. It was meant to be. We quickly stuffed it in the back of that lame Compass and peeled out, pretending we had just robbed a bank.

We drove up to our destination and there was a lot of good signs. These dudes had that sweet little Galaxie sitting right out front of their huge garage. The pulled out the engine and it looked clean! It had a new oil pump, new Pertronix coil and distributor! Evan noticed that right away and knew we had scored a pretty great deal. Somehow we got it into that stubby Jeep Compass and headed back to Long Beach.

If you’ve ever wondered if a Ford I6 223 engine would fit in a dinky Jeep Compass, your answer is: Yes! Yes, it will!

And they day was only just beginning!

Evan’s magical powers of summoning things just as when we need them were not done yet. We managed to get in touch with his buddy who had an engine lift which we needed to get the “new” engine out of the Compass, and the old engine out of Betsy. So we set off on another mini road trip to Huntington Beach in my mom’s RAV4 (or RAD4, more like) to procure that instrument of grace and precision.

We got back and we wrenched and wrenched. And then we wrenched some more. It got dark, and we continued to wrench. We finally got the engine out and called the day a win.

Betsy was completely hollow. I was terrified.

It was time to get even more dirty…


Oil Pan Surprise

Between rebuilding the transmission we decided to do some basic maintenance, like any responsible owner of a crust bucket. Put in new spark plugs, replace the fuel filter, check the fluids, do an oil change, and replace gaskets.


Or so I thought.

Cool, let’s start by taking down the oil pan to change that gasket and do an oil change as well! Exciting when you can hit two birds with one stone. So we take down the damn oil pan and this is what is what we find:

Now, I’m no expert, but this doesn’t look like that’s supposed to be there…

Turns out that big old clanking sound wasn’t the transmission at all. It was the connecting rod from the 2nd cylinder that fell apart and was just banging around in the bottom of that oil pan like that. So, that’s great.

What probably happened was the bearing on that rod was installed wrong, or there was a piece of dirt that got caught between it and it spun out and the engine ate it up. The bearing was non existent at the point we found it. The spun bearing probably cause those two bolts to vibrate off and that’s how that connecting rod fell apart.

So at this point I’m half way through my transmission rebuild and I realize that now I may need an engine rebuild as well.

Current mood

Luckily I had made some friends in some low places…