None of us are deterred by the fact that we have no idea what we're doing. Today, we're going to tear apart the Suzuki Swift's tiny three cylinder engine. Maybe, just maybe we can repair it, or find the parts we need to get it running. If not, at least we'll get to see what the damage looks like. Using the parking lot behind our hotel as a workshop, we dive in:
Flying by the seat of our pants, we wind up disassembling numerous parts of the engine that don't need to be disturbed. Here we are, taking the camshaft cover off. This is totally unnecessary to accomplish our goal of removing the bent connecting rods, but we haven't realized that yet:
Though we replace the cover right away, even momentarily getting to seeing the part of the engine that opens and closes the valves is fascinating. The Swift has two valves per cylinder. The first lets in fuel and air, while the second lets out the hot exhaust resulting from the explosion created by the spark plug. The teardrop-looking shapes covered in oil near the back are the lobes that push the valves open in an alternating pattern as the camshaft turns:
Everyone is hanging out to offer moral support, even if they aren't getting their hands dirty working on the Swift. It's funny how we all have nice clean rooms inside and yet we're all congregated outside. We should just set up the tents!
Richie and Freddie are going above and beyond the call of duty, providing steak sandwiches for the entire team. Richie tends to the stove, cooking up thick, rich cuts of meat for everyone, while Freddie peels and slices a huge bag of potatoes for homemade chips.
They've even scrounged up some spicy English mustard to smear on top of freshly baked bread. Sprinkled with salt and ground peppercorn, the meal is mouthwateringly delicious.
Tim, ever the culinary odd-man-out, sticks to his "veg" by creating what looks to be a sensational carrot and glass-noodles dish.
Back by the cars, we're using our WhisperLite for another non-cooking application: heating the crankshaft bolt at the bottom of the engine so we can remove it. Normally, this little gear is connected to the camshaft up top by a timing belt.
The crankshaft does something slightly similar to the camshaft: it converts the alternating up and down motion of the pistons, which are attached to it via the connecting rods, into rotational force for the transmission and wheels. Since the two shafts are connected, the valves open and close (letting in fuel/air, letting out exhaust) in time with the pistons going up and down.
At this point, we're still operating under the assumption that we can just drop the crankshaft out of the bottom of the engine. We do manage to break the bolt free, but quickly learn that this both unnecessary and impossible without further disassembly. The pistons only come out from the top of the engine block, after you've detached the connecting rods from the crankshaft.
I have a very complete theoretical picture of how an internal combustion engine works, but actually taking one apart is awesome! I've had plenty of opportunities to do stuff like this back home, but I've never pursued any of them. Right about now, I'm kicking myself; there really is no substitute for first-hand experience.
We're all getting a huge dose of it. Here is Charlie under the Swift, pushing the pistons out of the cylinders from below.
Soon, we've succeeded in removing them for inspection:
The big top bit is the piston head. The slightly bent piece of metal underneath is the connecting rod which attaches it to the crankshaft. It is supposed to be perfectly straight.
So, two of the conrods are bent, but one of them is significantly worse off. Here is Matt, holding the guts of his rally car. This is what happens when an engine fills with water and there is no room for the pistons to move up and down. Liquid can't be compressed (incidentally, that is how brakes work), so the metal just bends. The prognosis isn't good. :(
Well, we're covered in oil and grease, and we've done pretty much all we can do today. The results, while fascinating, aren't particularly helpful. Tom and Matt are going to go in search of parts tomorrow, and possibly try to find a mechanic who can bend the connecting rods if they don't have any luck.
For now, we're calling it a night. Time to head inside for another evening of cards and beer.