hey guys, thanks for the insight. i would've responded sooner but as it stood there was nothing new to report until now, and while i don't have my truck back yet (!) it looks like they're making progress.
, thanks for the solid questions. looks like it's a lot more serious than the cap/rotor - both cylinders are cracked. he mentioned "both cylinders" on the phone, not two cylinder heads, and told me he'll throw 'em in the back of my truck if i want to see them. as i have never seen inside an engine before i am very curious as to what's happened to mine and will let you know more as the plot unfolds...!
, the sparkplugs were a bit over-gapped - he found them set at 50,000ths when they should be 35-40,000ths. so he reset them. nothing.
so far, over the past two (2) months, they have:
...checked the fuel pump and fuel pump volume, nothing. installed a brand-new fuel pump fur sh!ts & giggles, nothing.
...run every possible computer test with every possible program & scope, even hooked up a video feed from the engine and drove it for an hour, nothing. so they installed a brand-new computer thinking there could be a wiring or electrical problem. you guessed it, NOTHING.
...checked, repaired or replaced every single thing any of them and any of their friends/colleagues/instructors/former instructors could think of. it has gone beyond "business" into the realm of "male pride" as they just want to figure out what the heck's wrong with my truck! the hard part is, it doesn't do it every single time. sometimes you can drive it a day with no problem, sometimes it'll chug & sputter & buck as they're pulling it out of the shop. too f'in weird, and seriously p!ssing everybody off!
one thing they noticed was that every time they top-cleaned the engine (been four times now) it does it more; after it's gone through its surging thing post-top clean it will settle back down and be fine for a while.
finally they asked if i'd noticed the truck drinking a lot of oil, which it had (not a huge amount, but i have to add a quart every 3-5 weeks) which lead them to think it had to be a valve issue. since i haven't had to pay for any of the work or new components since the distributor rotor & cap were replaced, they needed me to authorize an engine dis-assembly. which i did.
that's when they found "two cracked cylinders." freaked me out. but hey, i need to get this problem fixed! i miss my truck, and even with a $2,700 bill looming i still love the damn thing. truck was supposed to be done yesterday - when i called last night they said they were putting the finishing touches to it and about to fire it up. haven't called me today (they've gone home by now), so i'm thinking maybe it's still not fixed. in which case...anyone want a truck?!
he's going to print everything they replaced and everything they tested on an itemized report when i pick the truck up, and i'll forward this on to you guys, along with pics of the carbon-coated distributor and the cylinders.
thanks again for all your help. this is one for the ages...and has already aged me a good twenty years!
<--get the hemi, sonny! get the hemi. or go diesel.