Thursday, October 23, 2008

Auto Shop Class

So, I didn't really have too much time to get this car stuff done, but the Volvo needed it. Especially since the T5 is now our only automobile. Tuesday I came home and pulled her up on some makeshift ramps and changed the oil. It was not too messy, but while I was under there I noticed that some oil had leaked, and is dripping slowly from the turbocharger. The cause is as yet unnown, as my ramps were not high enough to get all the way under there. I think the oil change went okay, but I inda wreced my thumb when the drain plug finally loosened and my hand slammed into something on the bottom of the car. Well, it wouldn't be working onthe car if you didn't hurt yourself, right?
So, since that Auto Shop 101 project was done, it was time to get started on 102 and maybe 103. Here is what arrived last week from IPD: Spark plug wires, spark plugs, distributor & rotor, torx tool set, brake fluid & brake pads (not pictured).So I removed my bike from the garage and pulled down the workbench to get started.First step was to remove the spark plug cover, which is the black piece on the engine that proudly says "Volvo 20 Valve." I noticed while taking it off that one of the special Torx screws that holds it on is missing, and another is stripped. The rest are corroded, so I'll need at least two, but may as well get all six new. They're $1 each from IPD.
I removed the spark plug cover and was surprised to see oil sitting in the indentations on top of the engine. It looks like oil somehow seeps up out of the oil fill cap, and then trickles under the cover. That is a bit of a relief, since I was a little concerned about the old oil on the back side of the engine, and I'm sure this is where it is coming from, not from a bad gasket.
So I replaced the spark plugs one at a time with Denso Iridium plugs. I'd had Bosch Super plugs, which were copper. I've actually heard conflicting reports. But it sounds like if you are driving a Turbo and really pushing it a lot, Iridium plugs are not as good as copper, since they run hotter and Turbocharged engines generate lots of heat. But they actually do better where you are in a lot of traffic or colder climates where the engine does not achieve as high of temp. Sadly, I don't take many spirited drives in the T5 these days, so I think these plugs will be good.
After changing each plug, I went through and replaced the wires with a higher-quality upgrade. The routing of the wires was a bit of a pain, especially trying to get all of the clips back in place. I did it pretty well, but then lost part of a clip that clamps down on all five wires where they exit the spark plug cover. It sprung out of my hands while I was trying to force it onto a wire, and fell behind the fuel injector rail, and then out of sight.
Here are the new wires installed. I decided not to do the rotor and distributor last night, because I had a lot of other stuff to do and was tired of working on the car!
So what is next? Brake pad replacement and brake fluid flush need to be done, and maybe my dad will be able to help with that while he is in town. Also I need to take the car in to have somebody look at the turbo oil leak and at least tell me what the problem is. I've also started to notice some noise coming from the fuel pump, which is located under the back seat/cargo area. Hopefully that doesn't go out!
Finally, a weather report: Bring clothes for rain/snow/wind if you are coming to Wisconsin on Sunday.

Monday, October 13, 2008

One Car Family!

We sold the Honda! It took less than 12 hours. We're now a one-car, six-bike family...
1994 Honda Accord Wagon. 127.5K miles.
Bought: 2003 for $4500
Sold: 2008 for $1700.
That is about the same return you'd get on a stock in the same period, maybe better. :)

The Garage Project

So I've had the goal since we moved into the new house of being able to park my Volvo in the garage. The garage is not big, and besides the car we want to keep bicycles and the lawn mower inside. There is a low ceiling in the garage, and I'm pretty sure it is not structural. The ceiling supports run perpendicular to the roof beams. I'm not sure what exactly is holding up the roof, but it doesn't seem like it would be these ceiling beams. Before I started this project, I took out some shelves that extended two feet out from the back wall of the garage.

I cleared out the attic area on the small side of the access, and removed the floor boards. Then I used my new reciprocating demo saw and cut out the beams. This allowed me to hang the bikes up higher, and park the car below them.

I saved the lumber, and removed all the nails. Too bad I don't have room to put any shelves in the garage!

Here is a picture from the "attic" looking down through the narrow access.
In the Next photo, I've taken off the "floor" boards.
Now, I've used the new sawz-all and taken out two of the beams!
There is a much better view into the "upstairs" storage area.
Success! It fits! But the car is so leafy and dirty...
Here is where we will keep the commuter bikes for easy access.
Notice that in this picture the car is clean, and in the garage so hopefully it will stay that way!

I back the car into the garage so that I can open the door to get out. There is no passenger-side access to the car while it is in the garage. The garage is quite narrow, and as I'm backing in, there are only about 3-4 inches to spare between the mirrors and the garage door frame. My brother won't be allowed to move the car in or out of the garage!
This project is pretty much done. I need to mount a support for the commuter bikes to that they don't fall over while propped on the wall, and I think I'll repair the concrete where the garage meets the driveway. There is a pretty decent curb there now.
The next projects will be car-related, as I need to work on brakes, oil change and spark plugs and wires.

My New Commuter

So, finally I've found time to post about my new cycle. It has disk brakes, an internal 8-speed transmission, and I put on a custom carbon fork to make it lighter and smoother. I also added a luggage rack on the back to hold panniers, and fenders to keep myself clean and dry in inclement weather. All-in-all, it is a pretty nice ride. I'd like to maybe get some longer cranks (they are only 170mm, but I have 175mm on my other bikes, those these feel like small circles). It was $750 for the bike, $45 for the rack, $45 for the fenders, and $200 for the new fork. It brings the total up to about what Katie's commuter bike cost. But we save about $50/week by not driving to work, so they bikes pay for themselves.
My total is now five bikes. Four in Madison, and my old mountain bike back at my parents' house. I will be getting rid of Ol' Red sometime, which will leave me with just the nice road bike, the fixed-gear (regatta bike), and the commuter.
This step of adding more bikes has led us to the decision to get rid of the Honda. If you are in the market, look at this on Craigslist.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Game On...

I've got the essentials on order:
  • Spark plugs
  • spark plug wires
  • distributor cap & rotor
  • brake pads
  • brake fluid
  • brake bleeder
  • oil
  • oil filter
Next up is clearing the garage, washing & waxing, and when it arrives, getting to work. When I'm not at work.
Also today we got a new battery for the Honda. We hadn't driven the car in 2+ months. The battery was dead, but fortunately we got a pretty good exchange fomr Sears on it, since it was less than 2 years old. Katie washed it today, and we're putting it on Craigslist! Goodbye Honda!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Mr. Handyman

So I have the goal of fitting my car into the garage for the winter. However, that has not been possible. There are lots of shelves and other stuff in the garage. And we also want to keep our bikes (at least the commuters) in the garage. (that is actually a whole 'nother post: I got a new commuter bike! Check back soon...) The garage is not too big, either. It is a total of 10.5 feet by 18 feet.
So one step I had to take was to re-arrange the (road) bicycles. I moved them from the wooden rack/stand that had held them in the apartment to newly installed hooks parallel to the wall. I would say the far wall, but it is actually quite close. There is also a ladder hanging along the wall.
On the wall opposite the bicycles was a workbench protruding two feet from the wall. Not a ton of space, but enough to work on small projects. Above that are some long, narrow shelves. So I decided that I would like to clear up the space. I bought a reciprocating saw from the Home Depot, and cut the bench about four inches from the wall, then put on some hinges, and attached legs with another set of hinges. I then added a safety straps so that. Just in case. It latches with a sliding bolt into a hole in the shelf above.
I'm the first to admit that it is not pretty, but it actually looks better than it did before. And it enabled me for the first time to pull the car all the way into the garage!!! (But the camera batteries died before I got a picture.) I will need to take out another set of shelves in the back of the garage (about 28 inches deep) and find a new home for the lawnmower in order to make it work to keep the commuters and the car inside, but each weekend I'm getting closer.
I'll be posting more blogs now that I'm doing more around the house. Be sure to check back for pics of the new commuter bike, pics of the Volvo in the garage and updates on the T5: oil changes, brake fluid changes, new brake pads, new plugs and wires and the exterior treatment.
Finally, check out the link on the right for the Three Dollar Connoisseur. We know the posters (Poseurs?)