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Problem and Solution: Stories From the Truck Shop

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  • Problem and Solution: Stories From the Truck Shop

    If you've ever changed a thermostat on your car, you know there's usually a thermostat housing, the thermostat and a gasket/o-ring to seal it all up. Big truck thermostats have the same parts but also have another seal (they look like an oil seal) to deal with. Most of the time it's not an issue as that extra seal is part of the housing and can be dealt with on the bench. The Volvo D12 engine in this case... Not an easy thing.

    This particular thermostat seal requires, according to the service manual, a special tool. This is nothing new, but if a shop actually had all the "special tools" that service manuals called for, a separate building would be required to store those tools. So, as I'm sure most of you are aware, shop-made tools and work-arounds are usually the order of the day. This thermostat seal that was giving my mechanic fits is a perfect example. The truck had to be rolling by morning. No excuses. Arrow points to the seal. This is on the passenger side of the engine looking forward.



    The seal had to be installed about 1 5/8" down inside the thermostat housing which is part of the cylinder head. Not a big deal, pick a socket of the appropriate size, apply a few whacks with a hammer and you're done. Except on this engine. The exhaust manifold was in the way. Not a chance in Hades that this seal was going to be installed via the hammer and socket method. Believe me, I tried. I wasn't going to pull the exhaust manifold either. After staring at it and letting loose with a string of profanity, I noticed a spot on the end of the exhaust manifold that was relatively perpendicular to the axis this darn seal had to move. Time to make a tool. I would have gone right to the lathe but I still haven't been able to talk the boss into getting one for the shop. I also couldn't make this tool at home as there was a "next day" deadline to be met. So, as Old Tony is wont to say "A few licks on the grinder and..." a 5/8" bolt, nut and washer are transformed into a special tool.



    The bolt head was ground to a point to deal with the not-so-perpendicular exhaust manifold and a hole was cross drilled for an anti-rotation (1/4" leveling valve rod) device. In conjunction with the appropriately sized socket, this is the setup.



    I put the seal in place as square as I could by feel, held the bolt from rotating with the 1/4" rod and started turning the nut with a stubby 15/16" wrench.



    It worked like a charm. However, this thermostat housing did not have a lip to stop the seal. Frequent removal of the tool was required to ensure the seal wasn't driven too far. The result? Well, the first photo is post-installation. I took measurements along the way and will be making another installation tool that won't look so shady. Having had my basement machine shop for a couple of years has improved my performance at the day job. One eye sees things as a mechanic and the other eye sees things as a machinist. The things I've seen you people build, especially in the shop made tools thread, have definitely made me realize many problems can easily be solved. Now if I could just get a lathe at work...

  • #2
    Nice job! I like making tools to make my job easier.
    olf20 / Bob

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Tim Aldrich View Post
      Now if I could just get a lathe at work...
      No hope now. The boss knows you are a master of the grinder

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      • #4
        If I were the boss, I'd not put in a lathe either.

        if you have one, you can do a better job on tools like that you made. And take longer doing it. This way, you grind it quick and get it done. He's not making money unless the shop folks are pulling on wrenches. Making tools isn;t making money.
        1601

        Keep eye on ball.
        Hashim Khan

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        • #5
          Lisle tool people at one time offered bounty for ideas which had marketing possibilities. Shake em out.

          Any port in a storm. It's why most companies have suggestion boxes and incourage employees for their resourcefulness. We would always compliment anyone for their thinking and input, especially at merit pay review time. Good luck_____________

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          • #6
            Mother of invention! Nice Job!
            "Let me recommend the best medicine in the
            world: a long journey, at a mild season, through a pleasant
            country, in easy stages."
            ~ James Madison

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            • #7
              Originally posted by J Tiers View Post
              If I were the boss, I'd not put in a lathe either.

              if you have one, you can do a better job on tools like that you made. And take longer doing it. This way, you grind it quick and get it done. He's not making money unless the shop folks are pulling on wrenches. Making tools isn;t making money.
              That's not been my experience.If the tool will be used to preform repeat jobs and it allows the mechanic to do the same work in less time,it will make the shop money.Now,whether or not the shop owner recognizes this and compensates the mechanic accordingly is another thing entirely.
              I just need one more tool,just one!

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              • #8
                Originally posted by wierdscience View Post
                That's not been my experience.If the tool will be used to preform repeat jobs and it allows the mechanic to do the same work in less time,it will make the shop money.Now,whether or not the shop owner recognizes this and compensates the mechanic accordingly is another thing entirely.
                Only if you get repeat jobs that use the tool. then it's a reasonable investment. And those repeat jobs have a habit of disappearing.... I've made tools before in expectation of a repeat, and never saw another use for them, even though I'd done several before that and there were known to be many others out there.
                1601

                Keep eye on ball.
                Hashim Khan

                Comment


                • #9
                  Nice save in dealing with the problem at hand. Sometimes you have to wonder about designs like this that have issues that could have been made so much easier to service while in the initial design stage. It's like no one in the design or engineering dept. ever thought of the item at hand needing to be serviced in the future. Keeping things as simple as possible only helps keep the total cost of ownership lower for the end user. Little things like this add up to repeat business for the supplier.

                  Irregardless, nice job and good eye spotting the boss on the manifold to use as point to press against. I've been in similar situations where I've had to remove a bolt or two and fabricate a quick flat area out of steel plate in order to press/pull something.

                  Before I had machine tools my method of fabrication was very similar to what you're doing in the shop. A hand held drill or drill press combined with a file or grinder was what I also used to "turn" out parts or tools that I needed. This usually worked great and was a quick and easy way to fab items that were needed now. Sometimes when precision isn't required and time is of the essence I still rely on this method.

                  Thanks for sharing your story of ingenuity and resourcefulness, I hope it serves as inspiration to others to use their head and what is at hand in order to achieve a goal. Like you said, the shop made tools thread is indicative that the spirit is still alive and well!
                  Home, down in the valley behind the Red Angus
                  Bad Decisions Make Good Stories

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                  • #10
                    The surest way to kill a repeat job is to make a tool.
                    mark costello-Low speed steel

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                    • #11
                      ...so only make tools for jobs you don't like doing!

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Mcostello View Post
                        The surest way to kill a repeat job is to make a tool.
                        That has definitely been my experience.
                        1601

                        Keep eye on ball.
                        Hashim Khan

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Made a tool to adjust water pump on a vehicle about 20 years ago, as that was what you tensioned the timing belt with IIRC. Still have it but never used it since.
                          Nev.

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                          • #14
                            Great work Tim! I like the pointed base. I'm sure you've already thought of this... When you make the professional version, include a collar on the sleeve that provides the proper depth and "squarness" for the seal. Then get that thing on the market!
                            -Roland
                            Golf Course Mechanic

                            Bedminster NJ

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                            • #15
                              Thanks for the replies gentlemen. After some consideration I don't think I'll bother sending the idea to Lisle. The tool I made would have such a limited market that it probably wouldn't be profitable. In fact, I gave the thing to the mechanic that was doing the job. He has a lot more empty space in his tool box than I do As mentioned, it probably won't get used again. Just having the idea in my head and the knowledge that it will work is good enough for me.

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