About 13 years ago, I was in my senior year at Pitt and I lived just off campus in South Oakland. I had my 99 F350 for about a year and I got better mileage out of my 7.3 then I did out of my old 4.0. Other than the effort it took to maneuver the 22-foot-long dually in the inner city I felt it was superior to my old two door 01 Explorer sport. The best part though was the novelty of driving that pickup around campus. Some of my fellow students had never seen a DRW pickup before. “How’d you put four wheels on the back axle? Is that some kind of kit or did you build it yourself? Can it run on vegetable oil?” Parking wasn’t bad, there was a large Whole Foods just off campus with parking spots reserved for electric, hybrid, and alternative fuel vehicles. The parking spots were right in front of the store and I’d squeeze eight thousand pounds of pickup between a Prius and an old TDI Jetta before buying groceries for the week. I told them I had just started working part time for a company that wanted me to experiment with hydrogen and biodiesel on my 7.3. The hippies and the go green people treated me like a rock star. I also bought a handheld ECM tuner for the 7.3 and was amazed with the what that tool could do. Months later after making some smoke and playing around a bit I heard a loud ticking sound echoing off the buildings near my apartment. I disengaged the clutch and revved the engine. My engine was the source of the sound. The company I was working for was very supportive. They let me borrow their 1995 RAM 2500 and one of the techs helped me pull the engine. I’d cracked the #4 piston and the bore needed cleaned up. I took the block to a local machine shop and showed them the damaged bore. A tech came out, measured the bore and said he could take it to 0.040 over and it wouldn’t be a problem.
About two weeks later the machine shop called and said the block was ready and the bill was $490. The machine shop’s office closed at three, so I paid the bill over the phone and went over to pick up the block after work. There was only one tech left and he was closing up. He told me the block was sitting on a pallet out back. I looked the block over and the notes said #4-cylinder bore was worn 0.040 to one side and couldn’t be repaired. The cam bearings had also been pulled and the block decked and line bored. Why would they continue to put additional machine work into the block after they determined it was junk? The tech was gone before I could ask him.
The 99-block got scrapped and I bought a 2002 7.3 out of a rolled F250 for $1200. I never did business with that machine shop again.
Written by Fernando DeMoura, Diesel Control Service. Phone 412-327-9400 Website: www.dieselcontrolservice.com