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Automotive Archaeology

There are amazing things you can discover on an old car. Kitty typically doesn't move very much. Spiders decided to make a couple nests in the treads of the tires. I got a really good luck at them since I spent quite a bit of time under the truck today.

I was hoping to knock off an easy item on the fix it list. One of the fog lights was out so I planned on changing out the bulbs on both sides. It's not overly difficult to swap out the bulbs, but this is an old car. While trying to remove the bolt that holds the fog light assembly in place, it snapped right off. A good soak in PB Blaster did nothing. Had to drill it out, and then reattached the assembly with some stainless hardware.

I then turned my attention to the other side and found a mess. The plastic cover was shattered and allowed the weather in. I'm contemplating what to do about it. I may leave it alone and just forget about it. Purchasing a new assembly is out of the question. A used one goes for around $70 and a new one goes for close to $100 on ebay. The option I may fall back on is designing and 3D printing a new part and giving the current pieces a thorough wash and hope for the best. We'll see.

With that setback out of the way, I decided to change the oil. There are two methods most people take when changing the oil on this car. The right way is to remove the two skid plates under the engine to gain full access to the oil filter and oil drain plug. The less desirable way is to leave the skid plates in place and remove the oil filter from the drivers side fender. This results in a lot of oil ending up on one of the skid plates and then the ground. Unfortunately, there's a lot of evidence of both going on.

This picture tells quite a bit. The last two times Kitty got an oil change was at Jiffy Lube. They apparently stripped or lost a bolt that holds the rear skid plate in place. So instead they used two zip ties. Joy... All of that grime in the foreground is a combination of dirt and oil. It's about a 1/4 inch thick. Much joy...

I can't tell for sure if all the oil is from oil changes where the skid plate wasn't removed or if the oil leak I suspect on the passenger side valve cover is a lot worse than I thought. I took a shot at removing the layer of sludge, but its quite tenacious. If there is a silver lining to this, the metal underneath all of the grime is pristine. The skid plates also did a wonderful job of protecting the frame members that were hidden away from salt.

I'm really pleased the skid plates did come off without anything breaking. It's impossible to access the front differential fill and drain plugs without taking off the skid plates. I'll need to grab a tap and chase the threads and get some new bolts however. Out of the seven bolts that are typically used to hold the skid plates in place, only four were removable. The remains of a fifth were visible but rusted to oblivion and seized in place without a head.

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