Glenn and I have this knack for being in the right place at the right time on these trips, no matter how bad things are going. This roadtrip was odd, because as we were limping the van back to Mosinee, we happened to drive passed the Balloon Festival currently in progress. Great timing.
Not only did we have the good fortune to get close to the balloons, we did it from the west, which is the least common way to cruise through the remote festival. Probably a few thousand cars were in gridlock from the east, but we cruised passed with only moderate stoppage.
Then we traversed north and east as the balloons drifted over us.
We stopped off at my dad’s to take a break from the 4-hour drive from Carlton, MN. Another coincidence was his house was in the path of these balloons trajectories. We chatted with him for a bit about the oil issue, and then we borrowed his car to take my van to the shop. Then we pulled the oil filter to inspect the canister.
Glenn suggested we cut open the filter, just to see if maybe one of the bearings had spun (mechanic-speak for the bearing deteriorating) and maybe that would account for our low oil pressure and consumption. At this point, we’d try anything.
Good and bad news, the filter didn’t have any particles. We then decided to rent a diesel compression tester and check for bad compression. Good and bad news, we had perfect compression (all numbers over 400 psi) on a hot engine. Good and bad news is actually worse than just knowing the bad news.
Now we’re really in a pickle. Good compression, no significant smoke, no oil coming out of the turbo bearings, no particles in the oil filter….. What the hell could this be. We just assumed it has to be a bad engine block or head, and that’ll have to wait till I get back to my shop in Los Angeles. The new plan is to modify the engine in ways that simplify driving the van back to L.A. Glenn’s super spiffy idea was to rig up a clean cubie with diesel crankcase oil, and have a fuel pump push one or two quarts of oil into the crankcase every 100-150 miles. We set it up with using the filler cap and a hose bib with JB Weld. Looks good, and it worked really well.