Lessons From My First Engine Swap

Prairie Gleanings

I still remember a valuable lesson from helping my father pull an engine and swap in a new one.

Published on: May 26, 2010


Willie Vogt's current Farmer Iron blog (www.prairiefarmer.com/blogs.aspx/pickup/towing/arms/race/heats/up/1358) brings back a great summer memory for me.  

Still in high school, I was working for my dad that summer. For most of June, we spent our days fixing forklifts and trucks of all sorts. My time was primarily spent changing oil on big rigs and pick-up trucks.

Then one day, dad got a call from a local lumber yard. The engine in their Chevy 3500 flatbed had seized up for some reason. Dad's diagnosis: someone had accidentally filled the tank with gasoline. The cure: a new 6.5 liter GM turbo diesel.

This was my first time pulling an engine. What an experience. Until that point, the longest we'd spent on any one jobsite was about half a day. I foolishly assumed an engine swap would take us a day at most.

As we went piece by piece, picking the old engine apart, I remembered seeing the new one delivered on a pallet. My mind was sufficiently boggled as I realized how much stuff from the old one we were going to have to save.

Today, there's no way I could swap an engine without my dad's help. But, the experience did teach me one very important lesson: there's often more work in the preparation than the actual "task."

Not only that, but the prep work is more important than the rest of the job. As dad always points out, "Anyone can take something apart. The tough part is putting it back together."

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