Broken Spark Plug

This made our trip home exciting
Scott and I had an eventful trip home from Wrenchfest.

The fun started early Sunday morning as we were pulling the trailer from Matt’s house where we slept to Neal’s to pick up the leftover parts Jeep. I was enjoying looking at all the old homes along the route as Matt narrated. He then pointed out the second house on the right which I commented as I drove past – “Hey that house has the same siding as Neal’s” Scott and Matt both quickly pointed out to me that is was Neal’s house and I really should have stopped there. Luckily I found an easy place to turn around and got the trailer positioned in the driveway.

The biggest challenge for loading the Jeep was that it had no brakes. No hydraulics due to broken rusted lines and no e brake due to no cables. After some careful consideration we hooked a tow strap to the hitch and got several guys to act as an anchor. I then drove the Jeep onto the trailer by quickly bumping it in and out of drive to control the speed. We got it loaded and strapped down with no more excitement.

After saying our goodbyes we got on the road around 11 am.

Just south of Elizabethtown, while climbing a steep grade, we heard a loud pop and then a loud sputtering sound. As I pulled to the shoulder I noted that the sound followed the engine speed like a bad exhaust leak. Scott jumped out in the pouring rain while I popped the hood. He noticed a broken bolt on the exhaust manifold and confirmed it must be a blown manifold gasket. We decided there was nothing we could do there on the side of the road in the rain and there was no harm in driving it further other than our ears so I pulled back onto the interstate while Scott found some ear plugs in the center console.

A few miles later we stopped at a truck stop for fuel and took a closer look at the engine under their canopy. Feeling around for the leak to make sure it was not melting something important, I noticed it was not coming from the obvious place where the bolt was broken, but below that. I kept feeling around until I found the escaping gases were coming from a mysterious round hole in the block. I thought some sort of EGR line had broken off although I did not remember there being any thing there.

After a bit more looking, we realized that the hole was the metal part of the spark plug and the ceramic part was still attached to the wire but embedded in the fender liner.

Realizing now that the gases coming out were not hot we drove on to look for a parts store. I almost always carry a tool bag but not this trip. My ratchet and plug wrench were home in the shop. Otherwise I would have stolen a plug form the Jeep to fill the hole.
Thirty miles down the road we found a Walmart. They not only had a tool kit with a plug wrench but the correct plug for the Suburban.

Armed with the proper implements, I quickly extracted the old plug base and installed a new plug. It started up and ran nice and quiet and smooth compared to the last 40 miles. We even got a break form the rain during the time it took to swap the plug.

Leaving the interstate for the back roads I had to drive slowly as there was often enough water to make the front of the Suburban hydroplane which is no fun with 5,000 lbs attached to the rear bumper. It took about 6 hours to make the trip that had taken 4.5 hours Friday night.

After dropping off Scott in Sparta, I head for Cleveland. I noticed lots of flooding as I passed through the nation’s largest sink hole called Grassy Cove, Tn. Coming up out of the sinkhole in the fog I got quite a shock as I hit a big rivulet of water coming across the road that was deep enough to shake the truck as I hit it.

As I started down off the plateau into Spring City I saw lots of blinking lights ahead. I thought there had been a wreck, but once it was my turn to go, I saw there was a rock slide blocking the down lane and it was being cleared away.

As I drove into Spring City I saw houses with water up to their porches. And I I turned to head south on US27 I drove through water that must have been six inches deep. I them decided to cross the Tennessee River at Watt Bar dam and head home on the interstate.

I finally made it home over nine hours after leaving Neal’s in KY. I parked the truck and trailer by the barn and went to bed glad to be home after a fun weekend.

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