Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Twelve Thousand Pounds of Love Part 2

If you have been following the blog you already know that I made my decision on which forklift I wanted. The Toyota had a few too many problems for me up front. I spent a day at the guys house trying to get it fired up without any luck. It seemed within reach of a corroded condenser but in the end the Hyster was the best deal for me. In retrospect it really worked out for the best all around. My friend did end up selling the Toyota lift to somebody else that I helped connect to him. His wife is happy because the yard is eight thousand pounds lighter than it was. The fellow that bought the lift is happy because he got it for less than scrap metal price even though he had to drag lift all the way up onto the tow truck. Apparently the differential was either frozen or the parking brake was seized from sitting so long because the wheel were having no rotation available. I feel relieved at what appears to be a dodged bullet with a happy ending on my part.

So I did the deal on the Hyster lift. It was pretty easy once I finally made the decision. The guys I bought it from were super nice and even drug the thing down to my shop and parked it right where I asked. No small task when its twelve thousand pounds of literally dead weight. Now the ball was big time in my court to get it running again.

After looking the lift over I decided I wanted to start from scratch and do a proper tune up and service to get to know the new machine. Anybody that knows me well also knows I don't really like working on cars. I can justify this as a non car entity because in addition to getting me from point A to point B it can lift all manner of machine tools and heavy goodies that any respectable shop collects. Since in my mind its not really a car its okay for me to work on it. There is a back story that adds some impetus to getting the forklift up and running. But that is another article all by itself.

The guys I bought it from told me it had carburetor problems. One of the negative points of the this particular Hyster is it is a gasoline engine. I wanted a propane lift like the Toyota I was looking at so I can drive it in the shop and not kill all living things inside. When it arrived at my loading dock the lift was missing a battery and had an undefined carburetor problem. Sounds simple enough right?
I had some worry about the cost of parts from the Hyster dealer. In many cases when you buy a high end industrial machine you are expected to be willing to spend quality money on your quality machine. Down time is even more expensive right? I think anybody that has dealt with original equipment manufacturers has felt the sting of quality when they left the parts counter. I got a pleasant surprise at the first order of maintenance parts from Hyster. Pape material handling is the closesest Hyster dealer to me and its right on the way home from work. Fourteen bucks for an air filter, seventeen for a new ignition switch. Not too bad at all. Additional good news for me is the engine is a standard GM 4.3L V6. This motor came in all kinds of passenger cars so common engine parts should be pretty easy. Everything was fine until I got to the carburetor. Oops.

Ignition parts were standard off the shelf auto parts store stuff so the first leg of the resurrection went smoothly. The new battery was a tad painful since I lacked any proper core to return. Ever since having to pay the added core charge I keep my eyes peeled on the side of the freeway looking for a dead battery so I can re-coup my extra forty bucks. After the ignition tune up the lift actually started up. It ran pretty rotten but I managed to test all the hydraulics which seemed in order. After nursing it for a while it became apparent there was lots of excess fuel getting into the engine which backed up the previous owners comments about the carburetor. I decided to go ahead and do a rebuild. In the olden days when I worked on my own cars and motorcycles I have done a couple of carburetor rebuilds. Off I went to my favorite old school auto parts store California Auto in Concord. I have been going in there for nearly thirty years along with all the other crusty old car heads in the area. Claire is a great guy and a wonderful resource.  There is also a great barbeque place a couple of doors down that my roommates that worked at Cal Auto would eat lunch at daily. When you know all the waitresses by their call number you are eating there way too often.

Tracking down the right rebuilt kit was not that straight forward. After a failed attempt at ordering one that looked close I ended up at the dealer again. Lucky for me they still list one for not a lot of money. I have some time pressure now to get the lift running. There is a scheduled delivery coming to the shop and I really need the forklift for the unloading. I laid my plans so that I would have the whole weekend to do the carburetor rebuild and take care of anything else that had to happen for it to be usable for the new arrival. Fail. The shipment with my rebuilt kit went to the wrong branch of Hyster. This was late Friday after work before the big rebuild weekend. I was frustrated all weekend because I didn't have the kit and was completely stalled on the repair. The carburetor was off the machine and all clean and pretty waiting for its new gaskets and seals. To add insult to the problem I paid forty bucks extra in shipping so I would have it in time.

Over the weekend I was looking at the printout and Microfiche diagram the dealer had given me. I realized that one of the critical gaskets I needed was not included in the kit. The one I removed was blasted and totally unusable. At least I saved it was all I was thinking.  Not too difficult to reconstruct.  
Here is something I can do now to save some time next week. I decided to make this missing gasket myself in anticipation for it not being in the kit. Another fifteen bucks at the car parts store for some proper gasket material and then some measuring. This I can do!
After measuring the flange and what was left of the original gasket I drew it up in AutoCAD. Printing it one to one is a great way to fit check stuff like this. Unfortunately my printer does not feed heavy gasket paper so I had to transfer it manually. I use 3M spray adhesive or tack mount spray to bond the printed full scale drawing to the gasket material. If you try this use the glue sparingly because it never moves and the paper can be hard to remove if you douse it heavily.
I punched out the holes on the Rotex punch. One trick I use is to add a very small circle at the center of any holes on the electronic drawing. It prints the perfect center punching target to line up on. I didn't have the oddball hole size of the main carburetor bores so I used the closesest punch and nibbled my way around the template.
I guess I've had enough problems like this that the spidey sense warns me to be careful. At least I didn't schedule the delivery for Monday morning. I set it up for Tuesday or Wednesday of the next week. Lucky? or good planning? I'll never tell. I got the kit on Monday evening and rushed home to put everything back together.

Finally have the kit in my hands. I dumped it out on the counter at the Hyster dealer to make sure it had everything I was expecting. Low and behold the gasket I had made over the weekend was in the kit after all. So I rushed home and got bust putting it all back together. The Rochester two barrel carburetor is a fairly simple device but I know Murphy was watching so I took my time and double checked everything.
The first go after the rebuild was less than impressive. I kind of expected it to fire right up and idle like a kitten but It was not to be. I double checked the fuel tank visually. The electric gauge read that it had plenty of fuel but now with the same type of problem I needed to verify everything and eliminate. When I looked in the tank there appeared to be fuel there. To be sure I got a wood dowel left over from the mannequin build and actually probed the tank. Hummmm. Only an inch and a half in the tank by the stick. Now I'm thinking if I was the tank designer I sure wouldn't put the fuel pickup dead nuts on the bottom to suck up who knows what. Add flaky fuel gauge to the to do list. I added some fresh fuel and tried it again. Success! It fired up enough for me to adjust the idle jets and get some heat in the engine. A little more adjusting and I'm confident enough to take a spin around the hood. Yes, with the fire extinguisher on board.
So I'll never know now if the thing was just out of gas or my masterful rebuilt did the trick. I don't feel bad at all. It reinforces my "Trust but verify" motto and the carburetor was a leaky mess that needed help anyway. A few bucks and some time just in time to earn its keep here.

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