Another one of my favorite shows is Monster House, where a team is given a set of impossible tasks to complete with a big timer staring them in the face to add additional pressure to the work. Well the wife and daughter were off to shop for school clothes and I had a good three hours to try and get the group head ready for chroming. Tasks facing this monster build included:
- 1) Remove petrified boiler gasket
2) Remove petrified head gasket
3) Remove lever piston gaskets
4) Try and true up the piston sleeve
5) Clean the dispersion screen
All of these tasks are difficult and with just a few wild stabs on how to accomplish them, I dug in....roll MacGyver music....
Job 1: Boiler gasket
To start with, please let me reiterate that this is an old machine....so old in fact that the gaskets are not just brittle; they are really petrified and fused to the metal. All hopes of quickly popping them off were quickly dashed when techniques used on other machines yielded no results.
What did work was to use a dremel cutting blade to get an initial hole cut in the gaskets.
Which after careful work would give you this:
Then utilizing a handy 90 degree scribe pick like this
Job one was completed in record pace with all fingers in place on only minimal bleeding.
Job 2: Petrified Head Gasket
With process now successfully patented for gasket removal, I was able to quickly drill, pick and pull the head gasket out in similar fashion.
It is really hard to believe that the gasket was once pliable rubber, so those of you with lever machines, please take my advice and do maintenance on your machines to avoid drills, cutting bits and metal picks on your expensive machines.
Job 3: Remove Lever Piston Gaskets
Now for the next job look at the picture above and take a glance at that rusted spring clip around the small hole. Wonder why it is rusted? This is one of the gaskets that I have rarely seen replaced, because it takes a special tool to remove this style of fastener. Now most garage mechanics think that anything can be fixed with a hammer, flat bladed screwdriver and a hand drill, but this is one of the times that the right tool will make the world of difference. A simple set of spring clip pliers like the ones below:
make this a simple task and for me the easiest of the day.
Clip pops out, and the washer and gasket easily come out from behind it. . Job 3 complete and now the fun begins.
Job 4: True-up the piston sleeve
As you could see from my second post, I had a bad problem where one of the original owners has deformed the lip of the piston sleeve by prying on the dispersion screen to get it off. After a long discussion with one of my car buddies, we came up with an unorthodox way to try and fix this short of sending it to Lino who was willing to use his big hammer approach. The idea was hatched to try and see if I could get something the size of the piston to shape the interior wall and then something on the outside of the wall to shape the outer edge of the lip. . While using wood was our initial thought. We came up with the idea to see if PVC pipe could be used. It is easy to cut, solid density and by cutting it down the side, it should be able to create a perfect fit. What the hell, let's give it a try.
The first step was to cut a piece and stretch it out to fit the outer circumference.
With that in place I then cut another piece and notched out a bit more so that it could fit inside the sleeve.
And now to make the magic happen, I applied a hose clamp and wrenched it down.
The end result was fairly impressive from where I had started and I think I now have something that is workable.
With Job 4 complete, time to pop a beer to thank the coffee gods for not allowing me to screw up the group head. With time still remaining on the clock I thought I would get an early finish, so on to the next job.
Job 5, Cleaning the Dispersion Screen
For those of you thinking that my morning went smoothly, let me tell you a little secret: "The Coffee Gods have a nasty sense of humor". Fresh from a string of good luck with the group head, I started to clean the silly little dispersion screen. Tried scrubbing, tried cleaner, tried straight dishwashing detergent, tried toothbrushes, tried scrub bushes...none would work. What was lodged into every little machined hole of Swiss Miss' dispersion screen was the equivalent of petrified black tar. The only way I could get it out was to use a sewing needle and work each hole.
My 5 minute job resulted in being the longest task of the day taking over one hour to complete. Had I been on Monster House, I would not be leaving with the Makita tool kit or welder. But, on the bright side the group head is completely apart, usable and now ready for rechroming.