Sep 082013

We moved homes about a year ago, out of the burbs to a place with a little bit of land. Over time, living at the new house, it became apparent to me I could use a pickup truck. Between hauling construction materials to the house to build and repair the various things that always need building and repairing, and hauling off the debris and refuse from all of the things that got built or repaired, a truck would be nice to have.

I work in the next town over so getting a new truck and trying to justify it by using it as a commuter didn’t make sense, city mileage on a truck this size can be expected to be around 10 – 12 mpg. I knew this would be a “farm” truck, hauling bits and pieces here and there, but not really used on a daily basis. So I was looking for something used. I did the standard routine, scour craigslist, stop and look at the trucks on the side of the road with for-sale signs in the window, poke around a couple dealerships. I knew I wanted a 3/4 ton, either a F250 in Ford speak, or a 2500 in Chevy, GM, and Dodge. Four wheel drive was a must. We live out in the county with a long driveway. The county doesn’t plow driveways and the snow can fall pretty deep in Colorado. I wanted a crew cab. I have teenagers, taller than me, and any of the extended or super cabs just weren’t going to have enough room to be comfortable. I wanted an 8 foot bed. I plan on using this truck to haul construction material so a bed long enough to haul a full size sheet of plywood and studs with the tail gate closed was required. Given all of these requirements I had to hunt and wait to find a truck that fit, 3/4 ton, crew cab, 4×4, long bed. And I wanted a truck with a “reasonable” number of miles on it. I didn’t want an old junker. After months of watching CL I eventually stumbled across a 2001 Ford F250 4×4 Crew Cab with an 8 foot bed. It was in pretty good shape, around 110k miles. The guy who sold it to me is a mechanic for Arapahoe County and had done a bit of work on it. Replace some seals, changed out some fluids, replaced the spark plugs, a little of this and that. It needed new tires and the tail gate was bowed but all in all it was a clean running truck and the price was reasonable. So I bought it and off I headed to home.


Now if that were the end of the story this wouldn’t be a very interesting or “tech-y” blog post now would it.

This truck has the famous (or infamous depending on your view) Ford Triton V10 engine. The V10 gets some pretty rave reviews for power and longevity. The V10 is 6.8 L Modular V10 with 310 horsepower (230 kW) and 425 ft·lbf (576 N·m) of torque. Not a bad engine, runs on gasoline, maintenance costs can be expected to be lower than for a diesel, etc etc etc. I was pretty happy until coming home one night pulling away from a stop sign I hear this:

What the heck?? It sounded like someone had stuffed a motocycle up under my hood. The V10 is normally a quiet, smooth running engine, something was definitely not right. At first I thought the exhaust pipe had broken loose from the manifold. I checked all of the dash gauges, nothing looked out of sorts, the sound followed the revving of the engine, I was out at night and needed to get home so I drove it the remaining 10 miles or so home and parked it behind the house.

It was dark but I wanted to know what was going on. I grabbed a flashlight and started looking under the chassis and under the hood. It quickly became apparent I had blown a spark plug out of the head. I shut the engine off and groped around and sure enough, the spark coil and spark plug for cylinder 5 was laying on top of the head, rather than down in the head where it belonged. Well that sucks, now what.

And so begins my latest odyssey, dealing with a blown spark plug in the Triton V10 engine.

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