By Rick Cogbill a.k.a. Slim Shambles
“But Slim, it just doesn’t have the power it used to have!”
“Walt,” I said, “it’s a 4 cylinder Toyota, 1984 vintage. Let’s talk reality here. It’s not gonna move mountains.”
“I don’t want to move them, I just want to go up them!” Walt was frustrated.
To us, Walter’s Camry ran like a dream. Tooner had just gone over it three weeks before, installing a new fuel filter, plugs, and even a set of ignition wires. Yet Walt still complained that the car lacked power. Once it even stopped completely going up a steep hill. After a few minutes, he was able to start it again and drive away.
“Leave it with us, Walt. We’ll figure it out.” But I had my doubts.
In the shop, Beanie had both sleeves rolled up and was flexing some newly-found biceps. He was having a hard time finding an audience, so he latched on to me.
“Hey, Boss, look at this power! Working out at the gym really makes a difference.” He swung into a pose. “Just like Arnold, eh?”
I almost lost my lunch, but instead I said, “Yeah, looks good, Beanie. Hitting the health food, too?”
“You bet! And drinking lots of water—cleans out your system!” I moved on before the Bean could demonstrate.
“Hey, Tooner, check out Walt’s Camry. Complaining of no power again.” He took the keys and grumbled his way out into the parking lot. But I knew he’d do anything to get away from Beanie Schwartzenegger.
I found Basil under the dash of a Taurus, trying to follow a wiring harness by feel. “The Force, use the Force, Luke,” he mumbled with his eyes closed.
“Here’s some force,” I offered, handing him a hammer.
Basil opened his eyes. “Very funny. That’s not what I meant.”
“I know,” I returned. “But how’s about climbing out of there and calling your friend Nigel down at Toyota.”
“Oh, dear,” sighed Basil. “Does Walter have his car in again?” He headed for the phone. “This will cost you, you know,” he called back over his shoulder.
By now Tooner was testing fuel pressure and volume. “Everything is normal,” he said. Suddenly his eyes lit up. “Give him Beanie. ‘Mr. Atlas’ can run along behind and push Walt up the hills.”
“I don’t think so, Toon,” I said,“but nice try.”
Basil returned at that moment. “Gentlemen, we may have a breakthrough.”
I sighed. “How much is this gonna hurt?”
“Nigel wants to use your Winnebago next weekend.”
“But that’s Indy weekend in Vancouver,” I protested. “I already have tickets!”
Later, as we drove Walt’s car down the highway, I couldn’t get
over how simple this was. Tooner drove, while I held a container of water fitted
with a small vacuum hose attached to the intake manifold. During coast, manifold
vacuum would suck some water into the engine, and upon acceleration, the steam
would loosen the carbon built up on the intake valves. According to Nigel, carbon
was a real problem with Toyotas, and this procedure, along with an injector
flush, really improved performance.
“So much carbon builds up, that the valves will stick open when hot, causing a loss of power.” I checked the water level. “Another kilometer should do it.”
“We’ll have to change the oil,” said Tooner. “There’ll be some sludge from this internal ‘steam-clean’.”
“So Beanie was right,” I marveled. “Water really does clean out your system.”
Walt said he felt like he was getting cleaned out, too, when he came to pay his bill. But I explained how this procedure was much cheaper than removing the head for a de-carbonizing job.
And besides, I thought, how else am I going to pay for motels in Vancouver, now that my Winni is on loan?
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