Category Archives: biodiesel

Old barns await Yellow’s fresh motor

Yellow waits for the return of his old motor, freshly rebuilt

Spoke with U.S. Engines in Kent the other day. The engine kit is on its way from Australia. Australia and Canada both love the old Hiluxes. And in Canada they still get new ones. Probably in Australia too. But the tariffs to get one into the U.S. are ridiculous. Anyhow, the parts are on their way. Yellow Truck, the chief vehicle of birdloft salvage operations, awaits. The old barns await. I wait too.

Best part of this news, that the rebuild kit is on its way, is that the motor was all intact when they tore it down. No cracked head or block. Everything good. There was no guarantee on that. One of the guys up here in Seattle had put the fear in me, saying they’d started on these Toyota motors a couple different times and never finished them. Always ran into something.

But he probably just didn’t care for them. There are plenty of other mechanics who’ll talk about how indestructible the Hilux is. There’s some You Tube video that is the source of a lot of this excitement. And this particular motor, the 2.2 liter “L” or “1L”, a couple different people have said it’s pretty much the same motor that Toyota puts in its forklifts. So it has to be a good motor. Even if it keeps a person in the slow lane.

With any luck, in a couple weeks now I’ll be easing the motor back onto the mounts.

Then the birdloft salvage operations can return in full force. Ah, the countryside awaits. The old barns. The dirty back roads. Just in time for spring.

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Motor Out

Toyota's "L" motor, 2.2 liters of super tough diesel

After plenty of skinned knuckles, not one stripped bolt and a few weekend days and help from old gurus, I (Neal Cassady) prevailed. The motor is out. All the parts labeled. All the nuts and screws in plastic cups on the counter. Only three mystery nuts and one mystery bolt. Not bad, all in all.

And all I want to say – the motor and transmission are in good hands.

Tuesday morning, my brother-in-law’s neighbor George was across the gravel alleyway like always. The old guy with the basement shop. A place for everything and everything in its place. Old motorbikes. A wooden pendulum clock with a wooden movement because “I always wanted to build a clock from wood.” Old aluminum boat motors. Rows of plywood boxes filled with nails. Railroad spikes, the project of the day, sharpening them by the dozen, readying them for powdercoating to eventually serve as awards for a local annual run down from Mt. Rainier. George. Slow, heavy lidded, kind. Each thought measured. Balanced. Counter-balanced. No decor. Wizened, but still unvarnished. Stalking his surroundings, finding more room for more order.

George helped me with the engine hoist getting the motor into the truck.

US Engines in Kent was my first stop. John, who runs the place, was there at the front counter. White, fifties, hair feathered and flowing back. The place maybe had been a showroom for new cars in the 1950s. All plate glass, a one-story low building. Now dingy in the corners. But still open to the day. Transparent. And across the showroom floor, rows of freshly rebuilt motors in heavy plastic. A guy bringing them out, one after the next, with a two-wheeler.

Somehow it came up that I’d gotten married. Because it’d been so long since John and I had first talked, as far as an estimate. Had been back in August. “It’ll get bitter or it’ll get better,” he said. I laughed. “So either way I should be okay then,” I said, gauging him, just to see.

“It’s a good truck,” he said.

I thought he meant the giant Dodge I’d pulled up in. My father-in-law’s. Turbo diesel. “Yeah,” I said. “I’ve been riding high today. Pretty fun.”

“The Toyota,” he said. “It’s a good truck.”

This time I was measuring his words, to see if it was just puffery. Like a good old-fashioned barber. Telling the customer in his seat, “You have good hair. You will never go bald.”

I liked John right away. Mostly because of all the engines on the showroom floor. And I told him so. I said, “I knew right away this was the place. That I was in good hands.”

We talked for awhile. Long enough. But not too long. He gazed out through all the glass while we talked. Out at a road just off a highway, with an anonymous diner, with the highway calling. It was his shop. Grounded. Here. Despite the long distance running blowing all through. All the men there that day and each day were men working for him. He told me not to worry. They’d set the motor up right.

Next door at Central Transmission, the front door was open and the two computer stations were empty. It was a bit of a shoebox. But I went to the door that had to lead out back and went out back. There were men back there working.

Pat came up, saw his name by his tag. We talked for twenty minutes it seemed like. He told me a million stories. About runaway diesels with bad rings that sucked the crankcase oil into their cylinders and kept running until they burned up, couldn’t be shut off. He told me stories like that. Grey hair pulled back tight, braided down his neck in back, wide dark eyes, smiling, beard, stiff locked knees when he walked, barrel chest.

I asked him about the flywheel bolts, said what a bear it’d been to get them off. When the engine was ready, “Bring it by,” he said, “We’ll snap those bolts on. I’ve got air.”

It was a magical day like that. I was among people with ease and time. Good at what they do.

US Engines in Kent, Washington

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Got Biodiesel

Just to let you know – new menu item here at Around Back Birdloft – BIODIESEL!

We will be drinking it again soon enough. Yellow Truck will anyway. He subsists on a diet of 100 percent recycled canola oil. It is delicious.

Read about his slow-motion resurrection here: biodiesel

Eventually, too, there will be righteous information about biodiesel as an awesome earth-empowering commodity.

But for now, we got to get the motor runnin’.

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