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G56 broken

2010 Dodge 6 Speed Explosion, Southbend Dual Disc Clutch Failure?

Its hard to believe that a Southbend Dual Disc Clutch would fail and damage a G56 transmission.  These transmissions have been known to fracture the case while pulling a sled or lots of weight. There is even a steel brace available to strengthen this known weak spot.  However, there is no product available to keep this from occurring.

While investigating a grinding noise on a 2010 Dodge Ram 2500 a customer was concerned with, the technician found a couple of very interesting things that prompted us to dig further and remove the transmission assembly.  What we found was nothing short of apocalyptic. The understanding we have accepted for the failure, was that the center section of the dual disc assembly seperated the locating lobes and the pieces from that damaged the transmission case and engine-to-transmission adapter. What do you think?  We will try to have this case repaired by an aluminum welder, but there are no guarantees in life.

Don Harbaugh – STL Diesel


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Practicle Jokes, 10 Safe Ways To Stir Things Up + 10 Unsafe Ways.

Every job has its difficulties, and auto/diesel repair is riddled with them.  One way to offset this dark element of employment is to commence practical joking.  Many technicians prefer not to disturb their cohorts while working, but there are moments of the day that aren’t filled with diagnostic or repairs.  This time can be used constructively, or not.  Here are ten things I have seen in a shop environment that would be considered the most common and relatively SAFE ways to stir things up.

  1. Grease under tool box or car door handles.
  2. Reorganization of tools in others tool boxes.
  3. Throw a charged capacitor to an unsuspecting operator.
  4. Actuating a car horn at inopportune moments.
  5. Blowing up a coolant or oil jug under someones tool box using shop air.
  6. Closing a hood on some one in a compromising position.
  7. Pulling strategic fuses in a vehicle to exhibit acute symptoms.
  8. Covertly drop a tailgate on a truck backing up.
  9. Long zip ties attached to driveshaft.
  10. Use a rack to lift a large tool box high off the ground.

These next ones should NOT be performed by anyone, but have been documented as “Impractical Jokes”

  1. Brake clean torch
  2. Air bag discharge
  3. Acetylene contained in a bag or balloon. (cant say how it works, or how to do it)
  4. Use silicone to adhere tires to the ground.
  5. Baby oil in washer solvent tank.
  6. Detaching an automatic transmission’s linkage.
  7. Open cans of tuna under a cars seat.
  8. Disconnect inner door handle linkage on vehicle.
  9. Remove schrader valves from tires or fuel system.
  10. Baby powder in air vents.

It should be assumed that retaliation would be acceptable if you perform any of these against your peers.  Be warned that payback is a Bi#ch.

Do you have any practical jokes, if so please comment.


Shop Music, Line in The Sand? Will Streaming Music Make Things Easier?

If you have ever visited an independent shop or dealer’s garage and heard faint sounds of a familiar local FM station playing, bet your self someone in that building HATES it.  The choice in music is personal and can be the most important detail to the days productivity.  I have found no other single object that exists in a shop that is more sensitive to altercation than the radio.

Most shops now have a wide spectrum of technicians ranging from late teens to late 60’s.  Settling on a station that satisfies the whole rowdy group IS an impossibility.  I am from St Louis Missouri and bias to the variety we have here.  The rural areas of this beautiful country may have fewer options to contend with.


OLDIES – Rock and Classics – 1960-1990 (MOST COMMON)

Oldies rock seems to be the least intrusive on listeners with easy instrumentals and words everyone knows.  However an oldies rock station is very repetitive, because there cannot be any new old hits.  After about a four week period of this redundant commercial ridden rock opera, the technicians may need a change of pace.  A brave soul will comb the FM band for something new, eventually landing on an alternative rock station.

ALTERNATIVE ROCK – Metal, Emo, Grunge, Punk, Party Hits – 1991-Current

Alternative Rock in a shop environment has a faster pace and is easily adopted after the oldies have played out.    The rhythm of alternative rock generally keeps things moving in the shop.  A station like this will play for as long as there isn’t TOO much heavy metal in succession, this will get the station changed to country music faster than the speed of sound.

Country – 1960 – Current

The twangy sounds of country music can be uplifting and widely accepted into most skilled trade environments.  Soft melodies and a slower tempo allows for clarity of thought and attention to detail.  This type of music is relatively inert and the least capable of causing an argument with fellow technicians, but will be changed none the less.

When the trend of “radio station retaliation” appears in a shop, you can bet its going to end on a Rap or Pop station before the radio magically breaks and works no longer.

The point is music is very personal to the listener, and can expose emotions of distaste towards others choice in melody.  The internet now offers a wide variety of streaming music providers with an infinite combination of songs.  Using abilities like “disliking” a song will ban it from playing indefinitely, and “liking” a song will ensure you will hear it more often.  From this platform a group of individuals, who ever they are can come up with a playlist that will hopefully narrow the gap between background music fans.  Or ignite a structure fire.

Is your work radio bickered over?  What is the “Line in the Sand” for you?

Don Harbaugh

STL Diesel


Truck and Tractor Pulls and Dyno Events. The History.

Every wonder why we get so excited about Dyno events and Truck and Tractor Pulls?  We did a little research and found that it has been a staple Pride and Power competition for over a hundred years.  Even the sled we pull down the dusty track has its roots in the late 1800’s.


Thanks to the Spanish and early settlers, we had an abundance of animals that were bred in order for this sport to evolve.  The native horses of the North American continent were long extinct before modern civilization took up residence.

After European horses were bred larger and larger, farmers would compare horses pulling heavy loads over a set distance.  They would use things such as loaded hay carts, wagons, flat boards or skids would have a horse hitched to it. Today, fixed weights on sleds are dragged for a set distance and weight is added in successive rounds.

It wasn’t until 1929 that motorized vehicles were put to use in the first events at Vaughansville, MO.  Although the sport was then recognized, it did not become popular until the ’50s and ’60s.

The growing popularity of the sport caused the creation of the new 4×4 division in 1976, which captured a larger fan base.  Today the 4-wheel drive division is one of the most popular with the success of passenger and light duty trucks.  Now more and more counties and groups are organizing these events, growing the sport further into history.

The Truck and Tractor Pulls are on Saturday.  Hope this article adds to your enthusiasm.

Don Harbaugh


cited wikipedia


Transfer Case Fluid, Should it Be Checked? Some Say NO!




New developments show that transfer case fluid may be unnecessary.  So many owners, oil change locations and other responsible automotive service centers neglect to inspect the level of fluid in this integral drivetrain component.

The fluid in the transfer case in question was undoubtedly empty for some time.  Fluid not only helps lubricate wearing components, but more importantly cools the steel and aluminum components that generate gobs of heat.  The chain in particular experiences most of the heat, and stretches.  If stretched too long the chain will jump teeth on the front output gear generally ending with a shattered case.  Heavy 4×4 action can also cause this to occur.

You are not stranded!

Don’t fret yet.  If this happens to you *simply cut the chain off (or don’t) and drive it (gently) back home, to a shop, or *off a cliff.  The vehicle will still motivate its self with only the rear output shaft functioning.

*Don’t sue me if you die.


Part 1 of 3: Birth Of A Plow Truck


Snow removal is a very lucrative business when mother nature allows for it.  A garden variety day for a snow removal technician is nothing short of brutal on driver and truck a like.  We are going to focus on the truck in this story.

A plow truck begins its life as a general daily driver pickup in a light duty environment.  After some years, mileage, dents and dings her job title changes a bit.  She may be hauling heaping piles of gravel in the bed, or pulling heavy equipment trailers to job sites.  Either way the later part of this trucks life gets harder.  If this is sounding familiar to your habits, don’t worry it is the natural way of things.

The year dangles into the fall and meteorologists, almanacs, or wholly worms infer a harsh winter.  Snow removal season is upon us in a blink of an eye, and you need to be ready for the first snow, a plow and salt spreader becomes part of this truck.

Stay tuned for Part 2: Life of a Plow Truck, and Part 3: Death of a Plow Truck


IS Your Used Truck Tuned? NO! How Can You Be Sure?


Joe decides one day to trade in his 2005 Dodge Ram Cummins for a sweet new ride.   Joe enjoyed the power and performance gains his tuner gave him for many years.  The hardware Joe had put away to tune his truck was lost in his last divorce.

Lets take a ride to the imaginary used car lot for a bit.  John the salesman takes the truck in on trade.  The dash has no warning lights and the truck runs very well, should have no problem selling it.

Now you are you, and you find a truck that fits your needs perfectly.  It has a fair price and you buy the truck.

Some time after, an engine light appears and generates codes that no one can seem to decipher.  Any knowledgeable shop would probably see the weird malfunction and recommend a replacement PCM.  This will fix the problem when the new PCM has been programmed with stock software.  No one will know why it’s fixed, just that it is.

You pick the truck up and feel the truck isn’t right, its now under powered and gets poor fuel mileage.  An automatic response to a new symptom occurring after an official repair is to blame the shop for doing something wrong.  A return trip will prove nothing out of the ordinary exists and are sent back on your way.

This mysterious dragon syndrome occurs often, and the correct response is to tune over the corrupt tune file, or re-flash the PCM to stock and then tune over the stock file.



The Power Of Insight and Inspection During Diagnosis

Turbo_circuit damaged

It happens often and when you least expect it.  You are driving down the road (minding your own business) and your engine begins to shudder for what seems like no reason at all, and then corrects its self.  The symptom will be fleeting and pass quickly, but will inevitably return.  The PCM (powertrain control module) is not likely to have generated a DTC (diagnostic trouble code) to help point a you in the direction of the failed component, so you start with the fuel filter.  Right?  Well chasing wiring concerns is no easy task.  The symptoms may mimic that of a bad injector, poor fuel volume or quality, or even the turbo charger its self.  With a little luck the problem will persist long enough to catch it in the act.

Circuit rubbed on valve cover and shorted to ground

In this case specifically the technician used an advanced scan tool to perform an injector “Buzz Test”.  Cylinder #3 did not buzz like all of his brothers, which prompted the inspection of the injector wiring harness to cylinder #3.  Not long after pulling back the corrugated protective sheathing a single circuit was found rubbing on the valve cover causing a short to ground.  In effect electrifying the block and not the injector.  This circuit is responsible for sending a 48v charge to the injector from the FICM (fuel injector control module) and used to actuate the high voltage solenoid releasing a pocket of high pressure fuel into he combustion chamber.  The technician repaired the circuit and protected it from further damage by insulating it with more tubing and electrical tape.  Took the vehicle on a test drive, and sent this one on its way with little expense to the customer.

With out this insight an individual may have replaced an injector confidently being a know problematic component.  It is of the utmost importance to eliminate a circuit failure before any hardware is replaced.  A small investment in time will save untold amounts of money in parts or repair.  Parts stores don’t like to return “test” parts.


Classic Missouri Dept Of Conservation Truck to Get Late Model Mods

Darrell miller and Dave blum admiring the truck.

One of the admired qualities about working at a Diesel shop is the prospect of creating interesting projects in the off time.  A couple months ago a young lady had a really bad-off Toyota Rav4.  This being her only vehicle, it was very important to have it running at peak efficiency.  In passing conversation she mentioned her families barn truck, and how it needed a lot of work.  An idea popped into existance at that moment.  Why not overhaul the Toyota in trade for the classic truck.  If the RAV’s repairs were added up the cost vastly surpassed the value of the truck, but that wasnt the point.  She got what she needed, and we got a new project, keeping the gears turning on the left side of our brains.