A story about a car…

2 minute read

I have been too busy lately to blog about the nerd stuff I hoped to blog about. Instead, I’ve been working on my car. You see, a while back my car suffered a catastrophic failure during a “spirited” pass on my way to work. My car, a 2002 Electron Blue Corvette, has this thing called a supercharger. The supercharger, while innocent enough, forces more air in to the engine bringing the power from a reasonable 350 HP to about 580 HP – enough to meet the needs of most people.

Getting back to the story, this “spirited” pass involved a down shift to 3rd gear, WOT, and then blue smoke behind me. Cool. Oh wait, maybe not. The car seemed fine, so I drove it the remaining 2 miles to work where I searched for the source of the excitement. I found that my oil dip stick had ejected itself from the tube it normally calls home. The same pressure that ejected the dip stick also ejected some oil which landed on the adjacent passenger side header and promptly burned creating blue smoke.

Realizing this, I babied the car home and took a closer look later. I originally diagnosed the problem as a bad PCV valve and blamed it all on the valve. I replaced the valve for a few bucks and wrote off the incident telling myself that the PCV valve failed causing the supercharger to pressurize the crankcase and eject the dip stick. Everything made sense, or so I thought.

Shortly thereafter, it happened again. A closer investigation revealed an unusual amount of white smoke puffing out of the oil fill cap at idle when I had the cap removed and began to realize the real symptom – excessive blow by.

The only real thing that could cause excessive blow-by would be a blown ring land. This means I significantly damaged one or more pistons or their respective compression rings. As a result of the damage, combustion gas was sneaking past the piston, into the crankcase and out the weakest seal in the crankcase… which was my dip stick tube. Poof.

Sigh, this means I needed to tear down the engine, replace the pistons and rings and go on with life. This tasks would be quite expensive for somebody else to do as it’s very labor intensive.

Instead, I decided to take it on myself to save alot of money. People that know me would know that I grew up working on cars and am very capable of rebuilding an engine – in a properly equipped garage. I however, no longer live at home. Instead I live in an apartment with a very small private garage… let the fun begin!

All things said, this is what I have been working on. I started with researching everything ahead of time to make the down time minimal as I’m forced to ride my motorcycle everywhere instead. I started out by ordering parts, coordinating a shipment of tools with my Dad, ordering more parts, buying tools, and so on.

In another post I’ll show some pictures of the tear down, what failed, and what other little surprises I find along the way. If all goes according to plan, I may be able to make Dallas Cars and Coffee this weekend.

Stay tuned!