Posted: Jun 17, 2011
Power Pack Nation 400K Excursion Part 2- Wrenches fly for all the wrong reasons
Somewhere on one of my flash drives or cameras, there is a picture of the saddest-looking oil pan you've ever seen. It did not die an honorable death, ripped to shreds by the harsh racing surface of the Baja 1000 or the jagged rock edges of the King of the Hammers. This oil pan simply rusted and did so in spectacularly miserable fashion.
A lifetime of driving Wisconsin's salty roads finally caught up with the oil pan of the Power Pack Nation 400K Ford Excursion in late-May, just before all the new parts were supposed to magically start flying onto the truck. I'm almost glad I cannot locate the "before" picture, because this "after" picture puts my mind in a much better place. It seemed nearly impossible that a big 'ol dirty, diesel Excursion could operate for more than 180,000 miles without leaking a drop of oil, but that is exactly what mine did, at least until the pan gave up the ghost.
Since ordering the truck, I never saw so much as a drop of oil fall from the 6.0 motor, but just as I was preparing to bring the Excursion to the attention of ace mechanic Craig Wibbert of Andrew Chevrolet, I noticed a rather large puddle of oil on my driveway. In the back of my mind, I'd always feared the truck would start leaking oil and for that reason, I tried to park the engine of the truck over the blacktop portion of my driveway, so any spilled drops would not stand out as much as they would on concrete.
Sure enough, as I walked out toward the truck on a bright and sunny day, I noticed a puddle of oil underneath it. I knew it was a leak, but I had no idea how serious. As I crouched below the frame, the horror hit me right away- the pan had rusted out from the outside in and the only thing keeping the rest of the oil in what was left of my pan from falling all over my driveway was several thin layers of rusty metal that were somehow still clinging to each other.
I hopped online and began researching how difficult the proposition of an oil pan swap on a diesel Excursion might be. The news was not good and typically, went something like, "You don't have to remove the engine to get at the pan, but you'd almost be crazy not to." My dealership did in fact, have to lift up the block to gain access to the pan, but that was when the news got really bad. Apparently, the rest of the pan saw as much rust as what was left of the bottom portion and years of driving on salty roads had effectively rusted
several nearly all of the bolts to the block and had to be drilled out.
This took the dealership's best mechanic nearly two weeks of work. It wasn't exactly what I had in mind when I decided to modify my truck, but at least it helped prepare me for what lie ahead. When I finally brought the Excursion back home, I immediately set out to squirting WD-40 all over the suspenion bolts that were scheduled to be removed, hoping that lubricant would somehow erase eight solid winters of rust-causing abuse. Did it work? Stay tuned!