The idle problem has been fixed; after the engine had cooled down enough I was able to find that the crankcase vent line that went from the back of the engine to the throttle body had not been connected. When I was putting the car together on Monday I had put that hose into position, but it must have slipped out while I was finagling the throttle body gasket into place. That was where my "sucking sound" was coming from, and the open port on the throttle body was why the car was running at 2,000 RPM. With the hose put in its proper place and everything buttoned down, she idles nice and smooth at 800 RPM just like she ought to.
So, it's a good bet that the actual problem with the car was the EGR pipe, which--as I discovered during disassembly--had broken, probably the last time I shut it off before October 29. Anyway, I can call it "fixed", and now all I have to do is to set the timing. That can wait until I've gotten the brakes attended to.
And so, I set to replacing the left front brake hose, figuring that because I have the part I should try the easy fix first.
Ten years ago I had that "as needed part time" job working for a mechanic, and one of the things he always complained about is that I would never leave the propane torch on a seized bolt or nut long enough, and make getting the stuck parts apart much harder than it had to be. So the other day, when I needed to get the nut off an EGR stud, I got that mother hot...and sure enough, I didn't even need to use any muscle to get it off after that. I blasted it with PB Blaster until it stopped smoking, and then it just unscrewed. (Of course I didn't touch it with my fingers.)
Today, then, I had to get the brake hose unscrewed from the brake line, after thirty years of weather. I made an attempt, then made for the propane torch.
Sat down, tried to light torch...the lighter self-destructed. I mean, when I tried to strike it, the spark wheel just came apart in my hand. I just looked at it for a moment, then went inside for another; on my way in I tossed the broken one in the trash. One of the things Mom had--when she'd go get smokes, the liquor store would throw in a few lighters, and she had quite a collection of them. She stopped accepting them after she'd filled one of those boxes that banks used to send you your blank checks in. Well, I kept that box, so I (as a nonsmoker) probably have enough cigarette lighters to last me well into my declining years.
So I got the torch lit and started heating the fitting, and heating it, and let it heat for a good while; then I hosed it with PB Blaster and tried unscrewing it. That didn't work, so I got the torch lit again and heated the everlovin' piss out of it. And as I watched the flame heat the fitting, I thought I could see...was that something dripping out of the--
The heat in the fitting had boiled the brake fluid, and the hose had blown right out of the fitting. After I got my heart restarted I laughed and shut the torch off. The fitting yielded easily to the wrenches and I used a rag to extract it from the bracket.
That left the caliper itself. I tried to compress the piston back into the caliper, and it absolutely would not budge, which meant the caliper was seized. With the hose blown out I was not going to be able just to screw everything back together, so I went ahead and pulled the caliper off the hose and took it to the workbench, intending to see if I could free up the piston by exercising it.
I had finally managed to do so, after several in-and-out cycles; then I tried to get just a little too much travel from the piston
Yes, I blew the piston right out of the damned caliper. It was working, and I blew it. Literally.
That's where I am now: the caliper is disassembled and I cannot figure out how to get it back together. Theoretically I should be able just to push the piston back in, but it has resisted all attempts at reassembly and instead has gotten jammed in the bore, twice. I did get the dust boot off, without damaging it, so that's a plus, but it doesn't matter if I can't get the damned piston back in.
Og has suggested some light brake grease on the piston, then try to work it in, turning as it goes. I'll try that, and see how we do.
Further bulletins as events warrant.