Nicholas Fluhart

October 3, 2012

2002 F-150 4.2L Intake Manifold Gaskets

Filed under: Daily Driver,Day to Day — Nicholas Fluhart @ 3:36 pm
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Well, after ten years of trouble free service, my check engine light came on. I ran the codes and found that the intake manifold gaskets were apparently sucking air and causing a lean condition. The truck ran fine, but the problem was enough to trip the light. After doing some research, I learned that this is a common problem with the 4.2L engine. Alldata had a technical service bulletin on it. Fortunately, the problem is not the lower manifold gaskets between the manifold and the heads. However, it’s the upper manifold gaskets and the two-piece plenum gaskets along with the isolator bolts. In and of itself, that’s not too bad to fix, but the engine is partially under the firewall of the cab which makes access to the upper manifold very limited.

I was able to use a series of universal joints and a range of extensions and remove the upper plenum half without too much hassle, but it wasn’t easy getting to the rear bolts. Once removed, I saw no sign of leaks…yet.

So then I ventured lower. Once the upper half is off it gets pretty easy. I removed the isolator bolts and the bottom half comes off easy enough.

BINGO! You can see where the old gaskets were leaking. Also, the rubber (or what once was rubber) seals on the isolator bolts were as hard as concrete. No one had the isolator seals in stock, but Ford had the entire bolts which were expensive, but I was able to get them the day of the repair so I went with it. In the photo below you can see the difference in material in the seals on the bolts.

Now it’s just a matter of cleaning up the manifold parts and installing the new o-ring gaskets. Then it goes back together the same way it came apart.

Now is also a good time to clean the throttle body and idle air control assembly, and if it needs it, it would be easy to route plug wires at this time. However, I’ve only got about 20K miles on this set of wires, so I’ll let ’em ride. And back together it goes…

That’s pretty much it. It was challenging to start the engine, mainly due to all the carburetor cleaner I had sprayed into the ports had partially fouled the plugs I think, but once it cranked she cleared up and ran great. Now it’s ready to go…and no more check engine light!

Until next time…

February 11, 2011

Upgrades to the ’02 F-150

Filed under: Daily Driver — Nicholas Fluhart @ 8:02 pm

I recently upgraded my daily driver, a 2002 Ford F-150, with a trailer brake controller, new headache rack, and auxiliary lighting.  I went with a Hayes brake controller which is primarily for use with my 16ft trailer. The electric trailer brakes are great when hauling something heavy like my tractor and bush hog. Since the truck didn’t have a factory tow package, I basically had to wire the entire system from scratch, but that’s OK because I had been wanting to do some other wiring upgrades as well. I placed an auxiliary power output at the rear bumper as well as a few other components via an auto-reset circuit breaker at the battery. The auxiliary power is great for trailer-mounted work lights or other electrical equipment on a trailer.

But the one thing I was glad to finally get done was a headache rack upgrade with auxiliary work lighting.  If you’ve read many of my other posts, you know one of my personal requirements for my machines is to have an abundance of lighting. I love to be able to work at night without holding a flash light. I’ve been using a commercial grade Go Industries contractor’s rack for a couple of years now. It’s very handy for hauling lumber, ladders, and most importantly, it protects the back glass and cab of the truck. I’ve been happy with it overall, but I’ve wanted something a little lighter and smaller since it’s on a half-ton truck. Recently, my buddy from Taylor Welding hooked me up with a nice aluminum headache rack which was perfect for what I had in mind. It maintained the same lines and structure as my original but at a fraction of the weight and slightly smaller dimensions. However, since it was a different color, and to properly fit the rack and components to my vehicle, I had to do some modifications. The first thing was to get it in the shop, remove the old headache rack, and take some measurements…

Steel Rack Removed

Taking Measure

Once I determined proper fitment, I began painting the new rack low-gloss black. The rack had a silver powder coating that was still in good shape, so rather than strip it and loose the corrosion resistant coating, I lightly sanded it and painted over it.

Next, I had to modify the rack for auxiliary work lights. One of my favorite 12V work lights is an LED model offered by Northern Tool. LED’s provide good lighting with very little amp draw (these only draw 1 amp per light) so they don’t over-tax your electrical system and can be run for long periods of time without running down your battery. This particular light provides a 340 lumen flood pattern which is great for a work light. Unlike a driving light, which utilizes a concentrated beam, flood lights tend to project light evenly over a broad range.  It has a good, industrial construction…

To fit the lights on the rack, I trimmed the louvers and mounted the lights to the top cross bar as shown below:

The light fitted to the rack.

Ready for installation on the truck.

Once the rack was installed, I wired the lights to a toggle switch in the cab and powered the system directly to the battery via a 25 amp circuit breaker. The project turned out great. The lights produce a perfect amount of light for the bed of the truck and for the working area behind the truck.

February 8, 2011

2002 Ford F-150

Filed under: Daily Driver — Nicholas Fluhart @ 9:54 pm

To maintain business on a daily basis, it’s important to have a dependable vehicle. Since I use my primary driver, a 2002 Ford F-150 for more than just basic transportation, I need it to be rigged out with the type of features and equipment that are most convenient for my purposes. When I bought the truck new, I was logging quite a few work-related highway miles and I needed a vehicle that was dependable, fuel efficient, and full-size to haul my tools and pull the occasional trailer. Overall, it has performed very well.

The vitals include a 4.2L engine, which is moderately fuel efficient and surprisingly powerful, coupled to a 5-speed manual transmission. For durability, I’ve left it 100% stock, and since I have owned it, it’s required no major mechanical repairs outside of normal service. I have however, done a number of utility-type upgrades.

I lifted the front suspension 1.5 inches to allow more clearance for the front air dam. Although the truck only sees moderate off-road use, I noticed the front dragging occasionally. The lift was a quick and easy fix. I added coil-over springs in the rear to prevent the truck from squatting when hauling a heavy load or pulling a trailer.  Then I added post-mount spotlights for working after dark, and they have proven to be one of the most convenient features on the truck.  I also installed strobe lights in the headlights and in the reverse lights. This is nice if you have to work around traffic situations, such as loading or escorting heavy equipment. At the rear bumper, I’ve got an aftermarket receiver hitch and two types of trailer light receptacles. In the bed I have a skid resistant, heavy-gauge bed liner, removable tool/cargo boxes, and a commercial grade contractor’s rack (headache rack). I’ve run General Ameritrac tires since the truck was new. I got 70,000 miles out of the first set, so naturally I replaced them with the same. They have a rather aggressive tread pattern for a street radial, so they do decent in mild off-road conditions. I’ve hauled over 2,000 lbs in the bed (twice what the truck is rated to haul) for over a hundred miles in the summer heat, and the General Ameritrac’s did fine.

The interior has vinyl floors (which are easy to clean if you track in mud), a bench seat, cruise, tilt wheel, ice cold A/C, and an aftermarket ultra premium sound system. In the past I had a CB radio, 2-way radio, and a scanner. I now only use my Cobra 29 LTD Classic (talking through a 64″ steel whip) and a 150 channel scanner. I also have provisions for a laptop computer and GPS devises. Tinted windows keep the sun out on those hot summer days.

Future upgrades include a trailer brake controller, 12V auxiliary power at the rear bumper, and a few other odds and ends that I will be posting later.

I’ve been happy with this truck. It has been dependable and has served my purposes well. You will see it in a lot of my posts on this blog.

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