I think she's dead, Jim...
First off, just in case my sig isn't there, the 'patient' is a '97 OBS F250, 275k mi, 5sp, 4x4. With the exception of an oil leak at the turbo pedestal and some lack of power I attributed to worn rings (she also smoked at the dipstick and when you took the oil cap off), she's run like a champ. Paid $4400 for her back in '08, and since then have only had to replace the fuel and vac pumps, and when the throwout bearing blew up I installed an LuK SMF kit.
A hundred miles into what was supposed to be a 700-mile round-trip excursion this morning, I made a fuel stop. Upon pulling away from the pump, she ran like absolute unvarnished hell. Thinking she was low on oil (AGAIN, see aforementioned pedestal leak), I topped her off and started back up again. MASSIVE shaking, loping like she was running on half her cylinders, and absolutely NO power.
After finding a local diesel shop (only a mile away! what are the odds...), I limped her down the road. It was all she could do to maintain 30mph. The shop guys (used to working on big rigs) noted the oil leak at the exhaust (which I explained was from the turbo pedestal), and the now-chugging smoke from the oil filler, and deduced it was a blown piston. I wish it was that simple...
What they missed, I noted: oil in the coolant. Grey and foamy. I asked, "Head gasket?" They said, more likely scored/cracked cylinder. Cue long stream of expletives from my mouth- I'm 100 miles from home in my only tow rig.
My options went from ugly to expensive in a big hurry: one of the guys at the shop had most of a 2001 7.3 he'd sell me for $2000, but there were sufficient differences (primarily the cam) that would make a gut-and-swap a dicey affair, not to mention that the donor had 450k PLUS on it. Other options included a $4500 Jasper short-block, or a $8500 Jasper long-block, not to mention that none of these "options" accounted for shop time and any associated gaskets, wiring, etc. that racked up along the way.
Wanting to cut my losses, I opted for the $500 tow home- hey, at least they brought my trailer, too- and now I'm left with this hulk off to one side. It does run, but I couldn't move it to park it without putting it in 4-lo.
I have no code-reader, no compression gauge, no local shop, and limited hand tools. So, what are my options?
1995 F250 XLT 7.3T (on donor '97 engine with 180xxx miles) 4x4 - LuK SMF, Diamond Eye 3" downpipe to 5"straight-pipe exhaust. ZF5 manual trans, Curt hide-away gooseneck hitch, Super Duty suspension conversion.
1997 F250 XLT 7.3T - 2wd E4OD, alloy wheels w/ bald tires, gooseneck hitch, pretty much bone stock. Soon to become a trailer, spare tires, spare parts, and scrap.