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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

That feeling when it's time to Sawzall your engine

Ever feel like you're at the bottom of the barrel, and only a trade name that's become a generic term can save your bacon? Remember that time when you just gotta have a Kleenex for your runny nose? Or, depending on where you live, when you need a Coke to go with your fast-food entree?
https://www.hagerty.com/media/maintenance-and-tech/that-feeling-when-its-time-to-sawzall-your-engine...
86 REPLIES 86
ed
Advanced Driver

Makes me miss my '73 with the 460 V8. All the bells and whistles before most people knew what bells and whistles were. I use to chauffeur my girlfriend around in it and we would pretend we had money, and some Grey Poupon. Ah yes, the good ol' days.

TG
Gearhead

Did it have shag carpet? My buddy's 74 did - and I mean 2 inch no-kidding shag carpet

Ken_L
Detailer

Lucky you could get to the bolt with the saw. Looks like it was a tight fit for sure. An inexpensive HF saw for occasional use makes sense to have around, but as you found out, need to have high quality blades to put on it for cutting metal. Even if you have a set of cutting torches available, if it would be in a dangerous location or damage nearby parts, a saw or cut-off wheel tool can save the day.
Glad it worked out for you.
Sajeev
Community Manager

Thank you! I knew it was gonna be pretty easy once I looked up the various lengths of blades made for Sawzalls. I got lucky in how easy the repair was, that's for sure. 

Racko
Pit Crew

Being ‘house rich and cash poor’ is a lousy reason to buy cheap tools. Typical shade tree mechanic.
Sajeev
Community Manager

Typical indeed. 

Ken_L
Detailer

I purchased a cheap (15 years ago - maybe $20 at that time) saw from HF for a one time job that would be dropping nasty stuff into the end of it and I thought could ruin a $300 saw. It got the job done, still worked, and I still have the $280 to put towards an expensive saw if I ever need one. May not be house rich / cash poor, but have lots of shade trees, hope I still qualify for the professional status.
CitationMan
Gearhead

House rich and cash poor only works after you sell the house.

Sajeev
Community Manager

Or when you reach the point you aren't spending tens of thousands on fixing up the house you just put a huge down payment on! Wait, no...that's when you are not cash poor. 😂 

eighthtry
Advanced Driver

Sawzall? 89 Lincoln? A match made in heaven.
AEZ
Pit Crew

I worked at a Lincoln-Mercury dealership in the 80s-90s…from that experience, I would like to Sawzall every Lincoln & Mercury (except the Mark VII) made from that era so I never see one again.

As Paul Harvey said, "Now you know…the rest of the story". Your initial mentioning of the problem and that picture gave me that "Oh Crap!" feeling in my gut. Glad you are now at peak essex-ing again!
Sajeev
Community Manager

The power of the ESSEX compelled me to tell the story!  I am glad you enjoyed it. 

That sounds suspiciously close to the start of an exorcism.  🙃

 

FloridaMarty
Instructor

Who uses power ratchets in a engine compartment? I cringe when a tire and wheel guy pulls out his Pneumatic. Hand tools and torque wrenches are your friends. Breaker bars too.
Sajeev
Community Manager

This guy does! Or did. 😂

Ken_L
Detailer

My son loves to use power drivers on EVERYTHING. The worst problem with that was when he had to re-install an intake manifold on his uncle's (my BIL) V-6 Mazda. It has special OEM screws that are designed to snap off if over torqued. Snapped two of them before he figured that out. Found out that you can't buy just the screws - you have to buy a complete replacement manifold! Fortunately, it did not leak with the two broken screws, and the uncle was going to be trading in soon after - so a new manifold was not purchased. That would been an expensive lesson.
SteveNL
Detailer

Sajeev:

I must admit that I'm a little confused about how this problem occurred, but I applaud you for your ability to get to the fix. I've been repairing and restoring old cars for many years and the whole thing is still 2 steps forward and 1 step back for this home mechanic. So keep up the good work!

Now I'm going to bust on you for running down the Ford 3.8 Taurus. I happen to have a beautiful two owner 1992 LX that was clearly loved by owner #1. On my car, the right inner fender well comes out to make access to the pulley side of the engine easy. Is that not the case with the Lincoln?

I also own a W124 Mercedes Coupe and an E30 BMW along with some other cars. The Taurus has given me less mechanical trouble than either the Benz or BMW. It's also easier to work on. The transmission shifts much more smoothly than the Benz and the LX with its steering rack even handles better.

Many people complain that the 3.8 is prone to head gasket trouble and problems with the Metric AXOD transmission. But my wife & I have over 700K miles on Taurus and Sables with very little trouble. I once owned a G50 Porsche 911 that had three upper engine rebuilds within 105K miles, yet no one complains about them. I vow to no longer apologize for loving my old Taurus 3.8 LX. I hope that you continue to feel proud of your Lincoln.
MustangJim
Technician

I agree with you sajeev. I have owned a lot of cars, both domestic, Asian and European. The most reliable were always domestic.
Sajeev
Community Manager

Thanks for reading and for your feedback, always nice to hear from a fellow ESSEX MACHINE owner. Seriously, thank you...it is great to hear from someone who understands the madness (as it were). A few thoughts: 

"I vow to no longer apologize for loving my old Taurus 3.8 LX. I hope that you continue to feel proud of your Lincoln."

 

That's the true love found when you realize just how good ESSEX MACHINES are, and how shockingly well they have aged over time. I will never say that these engines and transmissions are durable without aftermarket upgrades (revised head gaskets, whatever they put inside the AXOD rebuild kits), but your story lines up with a few others I have heard that suggest these powertrains are reliable PROVIDED the owner maintains them well. Don't do periodic coolant/ATF service and they fall apart real quick. Not sure about the AXOD, but the 3.8 would certainly be more durable if it was all iron like the Buick 3.8. 


"On my car, the right inner fender well comes out to make access to the pulley side of the engine easy. Is that not the case with the Lincoln?"

Correct, but that doesn't address my specific problem, as the belt tensioner is all the way back on the accessory drive. It faces the metal strut tower itself. You cannot access the belt tensioner bolt without using a hole saw to your strut tower and cutting that hole right through the A/C hard lines. Your Taurus will be the same, as our cars are completely interchangable under the hood. (To wit, I have seen a SHO powered Continental in the junkyard, the owner clearly gave up on the project.)

"The Taurus has given me less mechanical trouble than either the Benz or BMW."


My Continental, even with luxury car stuff that wasn't available in a Taurus/Sable, has been orders of magnitude more durable and cheaper to run than the handful of older and newer German luxury cars that came through my family's collection. And I never owned a Diesel Benz, which would make a 3.8 ESSEX accelerate like a Ferrari. The only reason I spend as much as I do on this car is because parts are so darn cheap, I might as well replace every wear item while I'm in there doing something (or paying labor for a pro to do it). 

Sajeev
Community Manager

Oh and @SteveNL if you want to make your ESSEX Taurus a lot more peppy, get this replacement Y-pipe. I mean wow, not having 90-degree bends at the exhaust manifolds makes a huge difference: 

https://www.magnaflow.com/products/93350-catalytic-converter-magnaflow-standard-grade-federal-epa-co... 

CitationMan
Gearhead

Love my Sawzall!

As I tell all my friends, I can cut anything you own in half, just give me a call!

jetfire88
Pit Crew

As I was taught years ago, when serpentine belts were a new thing, if you have a chirping belt at idle, spay a little water on the inside of the belt and run it. It it goes away, it's the belt, else it's something mechanical.
I've never had a bad idler that chirped, they all growled.
Glad you got it under control eventually.
Sajeev
Community Manager

Good points. I also take the belt out of tension and spin every pulley by hand, listening for the sounds of a bad bearing. It wasn't the idler in this case (I spun it and the bearings were okay) it was literally the spring mechanism that was squeaky.  I haven't seen this problem very often, but considering many serpentine systems are over 30 years old now, replacing the entire tensioner assembly (tensioner and pulley) isn't out of the question. 

NITRO450EXP
Technician

Congratulations, on your small, and somewhat drawn out victory.
I myself am in DIRE need of a Victory.
The C10 has been kicking my Ass lately.

I will try draw courage from your example and re-enter the foray this weekend.

Nitro
Sajeev
Community Manager

I approve of this message and support you fully. The photos you've shared of your project (projects, actually) are so awesome, I know that all of us regulars on the Hagerty Community are behind you! You got this! 😀

Beemerbob71
Intermediate Driver

Great story that, in one way or another, we can all relate to. I once read of the situation being referred to as "scope creep."

Rather than trash you, see how most of us could relate? Heck, I was even thinking of adding, "Well, if you think that was stupid, Sajeev, let me tell you about the time..." You all would have stopped reading by the twelfth paragraph! (Probably the third.)
Sajeev
Community Manager

As a former IT Project Manager by trade, let me tell you that scope creep is real. And it made my life miserable for a few months. 

 

I was totally comfortable getting roasted in the comments, but it's refreshing to see that didn't happen a whole lot. Thank you for reading, and for your kind words. 

NITRO450EXP
Technician

Sajeev

 

The sawzall has saved my butt several times. The Jeep XJ is known for several design flaws most notably the rear leafspring bolts that thread into a blind pocket that loves to trap moisture.

Invariable these seize and the fun ensues.

The sawzall with a good blade makes quick work of this problem.

 

One word of advice, spend your first born's college fund on good quality blades.

It makes the sawzall into a SUPER Tool.

 

Nitro

Hagerty Fan
Not applicable

I've never owned a Sawzall, and I can't think of maybe a couple of times where I might have really needed one...so I remain cheap and continually forget-on-purpose to buy one.

I should probably get around to snagging one eventually.

-Nate
Detailer

It's nice to see at least one other person likes to have a clean engine in their old hooptie ride .

I too love the Sawzall tool .

I too use OEM Ford part numbers to get unwanted dealer parts for my 20 year old Ford Ranger, I just wish I knew how to access some on line electronic catalog to get said part numbers as often the numbers on the original part are illegible or have been superseded .

-Nate
Sajeev
Community Manager

I wish that was available to us, too!  But I don't think it is, so you have to call/visit a local dealer to get it. 

Eliteman76
Intermediate Driver

Replacing the oil pump seals on my friend's 1995 Chrysler New Yorker...this post brought back traumatic memories of the $0.15 o-ring seals on the timing chain cover and the act of congress it took to replace them, leaving the engine in the car.
*Oh how I despise cramped FWD engine bays...*

I recall dealing with our 1999 Ford Contour SE. the alternator fried due to the field windings becoming encased in oil leaks from the rear valve cover on the 2.5 DOHC Duratec V6...
As that car aged, the problems of the Ford Mondeo architecture sprang forth like kids 9 months after an orgy.
I used 3 feet of 1/2" extensions and my old but trusted Craftsman 1/2" drive impact to break the bolts loose.
My solution for installing the bolts? Used a Milwaukee hole saw to drill two 1" holes in the passenger side frame-rail to easily gain access to the bolts. The old CEG Ford Contour Enthusiasts website (Now defunct) had such a mix of reactions to brilliant to savage hackery, to facilitate my repairs. I was going to sleeve with DOM tubing and mig weld shut, but my wife totaled the car one morning by swerving to miss a cat, and hitting a power pole. A power pole which knocked out power to 48 houses, exploded one transformer, and cost me $7500 on my insurance to replace.

I called the utility power company asking for the top of the pole because I had "Paid" for it, and was rather rudely declined.
ryanwm80
Intermediate Driver

I don't know if there was a mistake - maybe more of a challenge or learning curve. Years ago I thought I would replace the valve stem seals on the 3.8 engine in my '89 Taurus LX, and the valves would be supported by plumbing compressed air into the cylinder. The first pair went fine, but on the second cylinder, the piston was not at TDC, and the compressed air pushed the piston down, and a valve dropped into the cylinder. This was on a Sunday afternoon, and I needed that car to get to my job on Monday. I didn't have any choice but to remove the upper and lower intake manifolds and the front cylinder head, and somehow I got the engine back together and running before dinner, and I decided to re-use the existing head gasket and leave the stem seals in place because they didn't look that bad. I haven't had any problems with the engine since, except for a bad water pump.
aviones1
Pit Crew

I wonder if properly directed heat towards the stuck tool would have made a difference. I have used a Bernzomatic torch kit to remove stubborn and rusted bolts. This is assuming fuel lines were not in the immediate vicinity.
Hagerty Fan
Not applicable

IF I'm reading this correctly, I think that the head of the bolt simply stripped, and once the head of the bolt was cut off and the tensioner body was removed, the rest of the bolt simply backed out by hand. 

Given how little space is available down there, I think we'd be seeing where Sajeev set up a 'GoFundMe' page in an attempt to raise funds for a grief counselor if the entire bolt was seized.  

watever54
New Driver

this brought back a memory of when I was putting a 4.3 in my chevette. Long story short the sawzall blade wouldn't reach. In desperation I grabbed an ordinary 12 inch hacksaw blade. It locked into the sawzall chuck nicely and was flexible enough to reach what I needed. I expected it to break but it worked perfectly. Theres a hole on both ends so you cut any direction you want.