If I remember correctly I started with the GMC Sierra. It has a 6.5L turbo-charged diesel engine that has glow plugs that preheat the combustion chamber to help start the engine. When you turn the key on, a light on the dash says "Wait To Start". When that light goes off, then you turn the key the rest of the way to turn the engine. Well, in our case that wasn't doing what it should. I ended up having to spray starting fluid (ether) into the air cleaner to get the thing going, which isn't really safe for this truck, but it got it going. I had changed the glow plugs last fall with some I found for cheap on eBay, but obviously that wasn't helping. I changed the glow plug controller after that is supposed to send power to the glow plugs, but that didn't help either. I then installed an override button in the cab that let me add more time to the glow plug warming time. No dice. So in March is when I dug into the engine and changed the injectors, which spray fuel into the engine. When they're worn out, it can cause hard starting, too. Well, much to my dismay after a hard two or three days of work (and building my own injector socket), I found that didn't help either. This is when I wanted to just push the thing into our garbage pit and set it on fire. But I started testing my 'new' glow plugs and found most of them didn't work! So rather than just buy eBay junk again I bought name-brand plugs from a diesel shop and lo-and-behold that truck fired up right away! I was so relieved! Now on to fixing the next truck.
The 1990 Chevy has a 5.7L gas engine (the venerable Chevy 350 cubic incher) so it has spark plugs and I came to discover it wasn't sparking. I started with changing the ignition coil but nothing improved. She'd turn over but not fire. After a bit of research I learned there's an ignition module under the distributor cap. Changed that and away it went. Thankfully a little simpler fix! But I found that I had a fuel leak on the back of the throttle body. I figured it was a little nylon washer that was wrecked from me checking for fuel before I found it was an ignition problem. Apparently GM will only sell me a whole kit for $60 just so I can get an five cent washer. No thanks! I checked all over for this washer or something like it until I learned that a place called Fastenal could order just a washer for me. Cost me $2.33 for two of them. But...it turns out it wasn't just the washer that was screwed. It was the threads on the back of the throttle body where the fuel line attaches that were messed up because I cross-threaded the line. Ooops. Well, luckily my neighbor wrecks trucks for parts so I got a used throttle body from him and everything was just fine and I didn't even need to use my $2.33 cent washers!
So, next was the grain truck. Holy s**t, what a pain in the a** that thing turned out to be! This truck has a 366 cubic inch big-block gas engine. Again, it had no spark. This being an older engine it had the old-style points in the distributor rather than electronics. I had a huge amount of trouble getting enough spark to the spark plugs on this engine. I changed the point set twice, cleaned up or replaced corroded wires, changed the ignition coil. To make it all an even worse job was having to climb up into the engine bay to do most of this work as it's a big truck. Anyway, I ended up giving up on the old distributor and points and took an electronic ignition from one of my retired trucks and put that in, thankfully not before discovering that the oil pump drive on the bottom of the distributor shaft was different and swapping those parts from the original shaft. The last think I needed was to get the thing running only to wreck the engine because of no oil pumping around inside it! Anyway, after getting that distributor installed (and getting new plug wires that fit this distributor and engine combination) and wiring it up, which by the way turned out to be easier than I thought it would be, the truck was up and running again! Yay!
Now you'd think I had three trucks up and running again! Ha! I'm not that lucky. One day while checking cows with the diesel truck I heard a bit of rattling under the hood. As I turned and wondered what it could be, it got worse for a couple of seconds and then the truck stopped running. Uh-oh! Well, what turned out to have happened was that the positive battery cable between the two batteries (one in each front corner of the engine bay) had come loose from it's clips over the radiator and dropped into the fan, gotten wrapped up and shorted to the point of melting the connections out both batteries. What a f***ing mess! After some contemplation (and removing the fan to unwrap the cable) I came up with a plan of action. I always buy batteries that have both side posts and top posts because I never know where either one might come in handy. The truck used side posts, but both positives were melted out, so I would buy a length of bulk welding cable and clamp on some top post ring terminals. One complication was that the started cable used the same post on one side so after cutting that I put a ring terminal on that cable that would attach to the tightening bolt on the top post clamp. The other side had a smaller wire that came from the fuse box so I did the same to that one and got that truck back in action.
Now I ask myself what more could happen to these trucks! Well, a couple of days ago checking cows again the 1990 truck started hesitating or cutting out for a fraction of a second as I drove. I stopped once and checked the battery connections which were tight. Hmmm...well I drove on and not two minutes later it quit completely and smoke started coming out from under the hood. That's not usually a good sign. I took a peek and guess what? My battery cables are melted! You gotta be kidding, you say! Well, I'm not! We had a couple of days of rain so I let the truck sit for a while and got back to it today. I got a couple of cables from one of the neighbor's wrecks and headed back to the pasture. It appears that the positive cable was resting against the exhaust manifold and melted the insulation shorting the electrical system and melting the cables. It didn't take long to get it back running with the 'new' cables.
So...I'm thinking I need to just give up driving these trucks so they don't break down again! I've come to learn that things only break down when I'm using them so as long as they're just sitting here in the yard they'll be fine. :)