Fix and flip: The Saga of the 2000 S10, Part 11

Today is going to be some final motor work and some cosmetic work.

The cabin fan sounded like it had mice living in there when it was on, so I pulled it out to see if I could get at the bearings to lubricate them.  No luck.  It’s just not worth the trouble.  I picked up another one for $30 and replaced it.  It’s not terrible to get at as far as these things go.

You have to move the ECU out of the way (silver thing on the right), remove its mounting from the coolant expansion tank, the expansion tank itself, and the frontmost stud that the expansion tank mounts on.  Two of the bolts (towards the fender) are pretty terrible to get at, and this is yet another “SURPRISE!  We decided not to use metric fasteners here!” area.  For the fan itself only, of course (they are 15/64).  The rest of the things you need to take out are all 10 MM.

I also finished flushing with water (2 more times).  It’s coming out clean now, so we’re all set.  It’s time to put a thermostat in and really get the truck up to temperature (it was only hitting 145 F without a thermostat).

New 180 degree thermostat (stock temperature) and a new gasket with some Permatex blue for good measure, plus a gallon and a half of Dex-Cool.  I ran it up to temperature at idle.  It went to about 140 and I heard the fan clutch engage (well, I heard the fan start blowing hard) so I know that works, then it slowly climbed to 182 F, and shot back down to 172F.  So I know the thermostat opened at the right temperature and did its job.  I let it cycle a couple of times like this and shut it down.  I’ll see what the level looks like after it cools and see if I need to do any bleeding.  This truck didn’t seem to need bleeding at all when I was flushing it with water.

This is probably a good spot to talk about DexCool.  Many of you have seen me say that DexCool easts head gaskets and cooling components.  But you need to understand that all coolant does that under the right conditions.  DexCool, like every other coolant, turns acidic in time.  I have found that DexCool turn acidic in many vehicles long before it’s claimed life (which is, or at least used to be, a ridiculous 100,000 miles).  In vehicles that have any air in the system, people who seem to be quite qualified to do so have claimed it turns acidic even faster.  Bottom line, change it on time (and “on time” means that you are doing a very simple pH strip test) and you’ll be fine.  Since DexCool was speced for this truck, that’s what I put back in.  And if it gets changed on time, this won’t happen again:

And a detail shot:

Yes, that is the actual head gasket off of this truck.  I have no idea how long the coolant had been in it, but it was orange (meaning DexCool or similar OAT/HOAT coolant), and it’s pH was somewhere near 5 according to my test strips.

Next up, the front grille needs some touch up.  It’s sun faded/water damaged on the top corners:

I took it off, taped up the chrome strip, and went at it with semi-flat plastic enamel.  It’s dry now and back on.  I think it makes a big difference:

This took all of 30 minutes and 1/3 of a can of $6 paint.  Is anyone going to notice that it’s been painted?  Probably not.  But they would notice the front end looked sloppy and old before.  These are the kinds of things that I feel are the best time/effort/cost you can do cosmetically.  Clean wheels make a huge difference as well, and I’ll decide whether the ones on this truck need to be clear coated after I clean it up….later on, once the rest of this is done.

I’ve torn down the paint around the rust spot on the 3rd door and started picking rusty garbage out of it.

In this last picture, I’ve torn out the rest of the rust and ground it down to almost all decent metal.  I have it masked off.  This will be painted from the molding strip down, to make a continuous job between body lines with no need for blending.  At the point in this picture, I’ve also sprayed it with POR-15, which is just awesome stuff.  It is a rust converter that does a great job at stopping it.  I like to spray it on all bare metal repairs, just in case I miss some rust (and you always will).  This way is doesn’t end up ruining your bodywork a year later.

I’m going to lay some fiberglass in the hole and then smooth it with body filler.  It will be primed and painted to the body color.  I hope the spot on the other side isn’t this bad – it would be nice to be able to just grind the rust out, POR it, and body fill.  Fiberglass is messy and generally annoying to worth with, and I won’t be taking any pictures as it gets all over everything and I’m just not going to want to deal with changing gloves and cleaning up that much.  Deal with it.

And here’s where I stop for today.  The glass is laid, the first coat of body filler is on, and I’ve put some primer sealer on it.  This is where you really see the flaws in your work.

As you can see, I’m pretty horrible at bodywork.  I’m sure someone better at this wouldn’t have had to put primer on it to see how badly they messed up the bottom seam.  The rest is pretty well feathered in.  It’s not great, but it will do.  I’ll cut down the bottom seam next time, put some high build primer on it and do a final wet sand before the color coat.  None of this needs to be perfect….it’s an out of the way spot that needs to be “good enough” so that your eye isn’t drawn to it (like it was when there was a big rust hole) and solid enough so that it won’t rust anymore.  It shouldn’t take much more to get to that, and then I’ll start on the other side.

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