Completely shameless self promotion. I didn’t post this until later Friday and thought the morning crown may want to see it. Happy Monday to all!
Throughout the last 7 weeks the Crown has posed several, let’s call them, “challenges.” In my previous writings I detailed the gradual learning to drive process, the passion for the drive, my family bond, the fuel system issues and the pump test. I am proud to report that the Crown motors under its own power once again! However, it wasn’t without those aforementioned challenges.
Video of gears 1-overdrive post fuel system swap:
As a reminder, the fuel system was encumbered by a rotted fuel tank. Particles from the tank were clogging fuel filters at an alarming rate and sapping power from the big Cummins. The fuel tank needed to be replaced. In order to maintain as much of the original truck as possible, my father came up with a plan to mount a new tank on top of the hose bed and run the feed/return lines from there. It was the simplest and most cost effective way to get the Crown running again.
With the tank mounted on top of the hose bed, it would be out of sight, and provide easy access for fueling and maintenance. I built a wooden platform that enabled a flat base for the new tank, I then placed a wedge under the rear to provide enough fall for the fuel.
Once the tank was installed, my father put just enough fuel in it to get to the fuel station down the street and filled the tank full! Emboldened with a new confidence, my father took my mother on a ride through the country. However, things started going south quick. The truck was billowing black smoke and it was running too hot. The engine was running far too rich.
After consulting with one of our other friends (Thanks, Barry!) we determined the height of the tank was creating too much pressure. After numerous scenarios were considered we reached a sobering conclusion: The new tank, old fuel tank and the water tank all had to come completely out. This would put the new fuel tank in a position similar to the original tank. As defeating as this challenge seemed, it was also just another piece of the puzzle. My excitement to drive the Crown again was temporarily dashed, but I also knew that I had a new opportunity to learn and interact more intimately with the Crown. As I have learned over this process, it’s not just about the truck itself, it’s about the chase.
So, what do you do with almost 100 gallons of pure, fresh and incredibly expensive diesel fuel? Leaving the fuel in the tank would have required heavy machinery to remove the tank. That wasn’t a workable option. But, we also didn’t have two clean 50 gallon drums. My father and I were wracking our brains. However, we called one of our friends and he mentioned that there was a man with a trailer full of clean 50 gallon drums for sale a few towns over.
My father and I hopped in my truck, followed a long, empty road to the address where we found said trailer full of drums. They were for sale on the honor system (place cash in metal box) and we bought two! We were back in business! The process to remove the fuel was simple. All that height that created the “too much pressure” problem for the engine was perfect for draining the tank! Bucket brigade style!
Over the next few days, the old hose bed was carefully dismantled and removed. It will be re-assembled at a later date. The old fuel tank and water tank were removed as well to make way for the new fuel tank. If you’ll remember, we had patched the water tank in an effort to save it, however, that patch ultimately failed. So, in the future, a new water tank will be installed. Baby steps.
After all the tanks and superstructure were removed, my father fabricated a new cradle for the fuel tank. Even with the careful measurements that were taken, we soon realized that the tank was too tight of a fit. First we found it was rubbing up against a pre-existing rear discharge for the pump. We brought the sawzall out and made some modifications. However, the tank still would not fit in the cradle.
The cradle is simply a place for the tank to rest. To keep it from moving around. So, my brother made the recommendation to cut the cradle at the corners and wail it with a sledgehammer to provide just enough give for the tank to fall into place. It worked! We strapped the tank in place and congratulated ourselves on a job well done.
All fuel lines were run and connections made. We fired it up. We discovered the injector pump was leaking like a sieve. Before we could run the truck, the injector pump had to be rebuilt. We took it out, brought it to the shop and went to the beach for a week. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel and it no longer felt like a train. This was happening. I was getting my Crown back.
When we returned from vacation, the injector pump was re-installed. My father took the inaugural ride. After a few days of work, it was my turn. I was so excited. It had been weeks since I had taken it out on the open road. As I was cranking the Crown up my fathers said “Oh, by the way, you should know the accelerator sticks sometimes you should be able to pull it back up with your toe.” Awesome.
It did stick. But he was wrong, you couldn’t just pull it up with your toe. It was a bit of a panic moment but I recovered. That first drive with the new fuel system was cathartic. The truck had more grunt, and honestly just seemed happier. I have taken multiple rides with the truck since then, putting it through its paces. There may be a slight temperature issue, however, that’s minor in comparison to what we just accomplished.
Even though the fuel system has posed many challenges at seemingly every turn, I wouldn’t trade the process we went through for anything. I feel even more connected to the truck and my family than ever before. We, of course, have more projects planned. I will keep you all updated.