Sunday, June 22, 2014

On the road again!

So much time has passed since the last post, I've done quite a lot of stuff.

I've changed the flex plate, then had the bolts come loose again and had to re-torque both the flex plate and flywheel bolts on the side of the road in the middle of the night. Had to build a transmission cradle out of scrap wood I found nearby.

I've put on another rear main seal only to finally discover that the oil leak I have is coming from the case seam just below the seal itself. I can't fix it without disassembling the motor.
I also discovered a leaking torque converter seal while I was there.

I did an automatic transmission service with a new screen filter and fluid.
I changed the differential fluid (with Redline MT90), pan gasket, and changed out the driveshaft seals.

Instead of replacing the CV boots I had a shop replace all 4 CV joints. Upon inspection of the joints after they assembled them, I noticed that the manufacturer had put them together incorrectly. Had to reassemble/re-grease all of the joints.

I pulled the fuel tank to hammer out the dent which was messing with my fuel gauge readings. Most of the dent came out after several hours of hammering. Also applied sealant to all rubber seals to prevent future fuel leaks when full. Replaced the fuel level sensor while I was there.

Also found out that there is a space below the seats where there is no sound proofing. I stuffed it full of acoustic foam to hopefully quite down some of the road noise.

So, now after all that work, I am ready for a road trip to California. Specifically to San Diego for a month or two while I try to get a job in Costa Mesa. The van is absolutely packed with stuff and I've got a week or so of travel planned. Mostly seeing national parks along the way but also just taking my time and doing the scenic routes. I should have some nice photos of the trip soon.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

What is that noise...

tick tick tick.. rattle rattle rattle... buzzzzz...knock knock...clunk
wtf is that sound!?!?

From a cold start I was getting more then normal valve lifter noise and also some exhaust noise. Under acceleration the motor would go quiet but after letting off the throttle it would go noisy. When warm it sounded like a bunch of ball bearings in a blender.

I put the van up on the lift at work and found that the exhaust pipe had cracked through at the flange at the cat. I welded it back together and that quieted up the exhaust noise but I still has the other more serious sounds to contend with.
Then I noticed that I was about half a quart low on oil and also realized that I was still on the winter= oil 10w30. Once I topped it up some of the lifter noise went away, but the other more sinister noises were still there.

So I decided to do an oil change to 20w50 still thinking that it was a noisy lifter. I pulled both valve covers off to see if I could find anything wrong with the rockers. Didn't see anything there either. The motor did quiet down with the fresh oil but it was still making a knock sound.

Oh God I thought, I am losing this motor.

After driving it back home I started poking at various parts to see if anything had loosened up. While turning the crank by hand I could feel metal on metal contact. I was able to narrow down the location of the noise to somewhere inside the torque converter area. I pulled the rubber plug covering the access hole to the flex plat bolts and found two of the three bolts had loosened up and were letting the flex plate slap around.  Unfortunately one of the tabs had cracked but I was able to re-torque the bolts and the terrible noise went away. So now I have to split the trans case and replace the flex plate. When I do, I will flush the differential and the transmission and do the CV boots. I've already purchased a used flex plate from a local shop and the rest of the parts are on their way.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Where is my mind?

I am losing my mind. or rather control of it.
Every day a slew of emotions and ideas run through it. For a while I feel ok about doing what I do and I think I am doing ok but then it shifts to a mild panic where I think that what I am doing is crap and that I am wasting my life. Dreams and Reality are at war, there is no middle ground. It tells me to pack up and move to the islands and start sailing/working one minute and then, in the next, it tells me to get back to the engineering world and get a house and a life. Throw away everything that you don't need to survive and go explore, no wait, go get more things for you will feel happy with them. Yes, No. Do, Dont. Go, Stay. Start, Stop. Fight, Relax.

It is maddening.

Meanwhile it is mid February and I am 27 1/2 years old with little to show for all that time. And time keeps on ticking by.

Thursday, January 23, 2014


I need to move to Auckland,NZ or some other town in that country. The weather looks nice and the country looks amazing.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


I have an incurable case of wanderlust today.

I woke up at 6:30am, without an alarm, to thoughts of being in the Virgin Islands. Dreams of palm trees and white sand beaches. Tropical fish, sailing, and painkiller drinks. I could smell the sea and the feel the breeze and the warmth of the air.

Why am I tortured with these thoughts? What brings them on? Why is it appealing?  Why don't I dream of a normal life, the standard American dream with a house, wife, kids and dog? The kind of life with vacations to tropical places and an exciting home life with friends and lots of fun activities.

Why is an engineering career not appealing?

What am I supposed to do?

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

End of year post 2013

Well, another year has passed and it is time to do a review. I think it sucked.

lets take a look at last year's post:

My plans for the new year, (2013):
  • Start it off right by going on a tropical vacation in the British Virgin Islands for two weeks in January. done and so much fun
  • Drink more Tea (existing stock pile should last a few months), Failed
  • Rearrange financial portfolio to increase monthly income, Failed
  • Get rid of/sell more stuff, moderately successful
  • Figure out what is bothering the van and improve running condition
    • currently building a gauge to monitor Oxygen Sensor voltages (will post when done) Done
  • Finish Mini projects and add to Mini site, Failed, no progress
  • Read more books so I can get rid of the ones on my bookshelf Failed, no progress
  • I suppose more money would be nice, Failed, no progress
  • More fun with my camera - I received some macro filters and need to figure them out, Failed, no progress
I'll address each point and then add notable things that happened as well as upcoming stuff/plans

  • Yes I did the BVI trip and it was fun, I wanted to do more but I guess that will happen at a some other time. Nothing like being in the tropics while CO is in the dead of winter. 
  • Did not even make a dent in my Tea supplies, I even added more too it.
  • I didn't do anything useful with my stocks other then add a bit to it and not as much as I wanted to.
  •  some stuff is gone but still have too much stuff. 
  • Van is running better thanks to the new motor and all the other crap I've done
  • Nothing happened with my mini, I hardly used it.
  • Hardly read any of my books, I did get through a couple but didn't get rid of them
  • I have less money then I did at the beginning of 2012 mainly due to co-buying a rental house
  • Not much camera fun last year, no new skills or techniques or technology
Notable stuff, co-purchased a rental house, BVI trip, Lake Tahoe trip, some camping and boating in the mtns, Van upgrades.

I have no enthusiasm for 2014.

    Sunday, December 22, 2013

    Bilsteins all around!

    Finally, after weeks of waiting and working, I have all four of the new Bilstein shocks as well as the four good used springs installed. I also installed two new upper ball joints in the front end. No more clunking noises! The rear shock and spring install was a piece of cake, the suspension arm drops low enough to allow the springs to go in without the use a compression tool but the fronts are an absolute pain to do. I had to rent a spring compressor tool to do the fronts and it was still an awful job. I ended up breaking one of the sway bar links trying to unbolt it from the control arm and had to get a used one from a local VW shop. The cold weather didn't help either, having to do car work with multiple layers of winter clothing is awful, no flexibility or dexterity. Most of the suspension noises and sagging are gone and I am enjoying the firm ride.

    Also managed to do the photo comparison of the old vs new headlight bulbs. see below, I think the photos speak for themselves. I need to do a bit of adjusting to really receive the full benefit of the new lights.

    Old stock bulbs (aka why you cant see anything at night)
    New High Power bulbs

    Installed a new rear washer pump and have on order a pair of dual washer nozzles to improve the front windshield cleaning ability. Will post photos of that when they arrive