This weekend I learned things! We're waiting on a few parts to be delivered, so we figured that it would be a good time to make some small diagnostic efforts and see how the engine is really running. Before tackling the engine Jason and his dad took a giant pry bar to the tie rods, which were quite bent. (Never fear...this is a temporary fix, as we are planning on ordering new ones in the very near future). This served to quiet the squealing of the tires that was present whenever we drove it anywhere...who knew having two front tires that faced in the same direction was so important! (Hopefully the dumbfounded looks from other drivers that clearly said, what is that god-awful noise coming from that beautiful piece of yellow machinery will cease to exist.)
I was instructed on how to use the ratchet & socket to extract the spark plugs from the engine and after a quick Google search we figured out that our particular plugs needed to be gapped to a measurement of .028". I ratcheted, gapped, applied some thread lubricant (since they are aluminum heads) and put them back in.
Next, it was time to check the compression on the pistons. We were shooting for between 85-90 psi on each piston for a ship-shape diagnosis. I was optimistic (it has potential!) but readings between 75-120 made us less hopeful that the engine was not in need of a complete rebuild.
On top of needing new spark plugs (we realized that a good set of Bosch plugs instead of the montage of different ones in there might do us some good) there are a few other diagnostic checks that we need to make before tearing the whole thing apart. Nonetheless, it was fun to get my hands dirty and learn a little bit more about how to make this baby run!