Friday, May 30, 2008

Miata Clutch Replacement - Day Three

At the end of day two, I called David M. and asked (begged) him to come give me a hand for a few hours. His free time was from 7:30 - 9:30 AM today and I was already under the car when he arrived. Together we managed to remove the 3 remaining exhaust bolts (all him), drop the complete exhaust system, and removing the remaining bell housing bolts.

It was at this point we attempted to drop the transmission on our heads. We missed, but we did get the transmission out of the car.

By this time, two hours had passed and David had to exit. We got a lot done in two hours. I could probably have spent the entire day working on it and not gotten as much done. It really helped having another pair of arms to loosen the bolts when my arms had turned to jello. Also, not having to crawl out from under the car every time another tool was needed saved a whole bucket of time.

At this point I would say my original estimate of 30% was an over estimate. My current estimate is 40%. I will be half way once the pressure plate and clutch are removed.

No new tools required today.

Time today: 2 hours x 2 guys = 4 man hours.

Total Time so far is roughly 10 hours.

I should probably comment on my emotional state also. At the end of day one when there were several bolts I could not see or reach, the whole project seemed like a bad idea. The state of day two was basically neutral - basically I was cutting up 2x10s and spraying WD-40. Nothing frustrating or gratifying about that. This morning when I rolled under the car on the creeper and could actually reach the still unseeable bolts, things started to look up. After two good hours with an extra pair of hands I am beginning to feel like I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I don't think I could have finished the project without additional clearance under the car. The 2x10's turned out to be a very economical solution.

Miata Clutch Replacement - Day Two

Day involved only about an hour of work, two if you count the time I spent making a trip to Home Depot for supplies.

Home Depot for supplies when replacing a clutch? Yeah. I bought 2 eight foot 2"x10"s. I cut them into sixteen 1' sections and stacked them underneath the jack stands. The extra height made it easier to access the bolts on the bell housing. It also made it possible to get under the car while on a creeper.

Two hours: Trip to HD, sawing the boards into pieces and then lowering and re-raising the Miata. Also spraying the exhaust bolts with WD-40.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Miata Clutch Replacement - Day One

My original estiate of 3 or 4 days to complete this task still feels about right. I read online it could be done in 9 or 10 hours with help. So far I have been working alone so 10 hours seems out of the question.

Today I drained the transmission, dropped the drive shaft and loosened 7 of the 14(?) bell housing bolts. The remaining seven at this point seem like they are unaccessible. I am sure this is not true. Three of the bolts have nuts behind them. I haven't figured out to reach the bolt and the nut at the same time. I think my arms would require multiple elbows.

I think I am about 30% done and I have put about 5.5 hours into it so far.

New tools acquired: 3/8" and 1/2" drive universal joints. 18 mm six-point socket.

I already had two sets of metric sockets. One set is 12-point and the other is an impact set. Neither had a 18 mm socket. Why?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Weekend Update

We had a busy weekend. For starters we had a most special guest. OK, it was just Terry. The kids were thrilled to see her.

Friday we saw the Narnia movie.

Saturday morning I hit a car show in Decatur at the annual balloon festival. Many nice cars, too hot for me though. After the show, I went to my mothers house were we had a birthday party. The part was to celebrate her, Terry's, and Jordan's birthdays. Speaking of which, today is Jordan's birthday. Terry bought him an MP3 player for his birthday. He has been plugged in ever since.

Sunday. Hmm. Can't recall a clue about Sunday.

Monday we saw the Indiana Jones movie. And I ordered a clutch kit for the Miata. Little Beth and David came over for dinner. And Brian is working on rebuilding the carburetor on his 1966 Mustang. Once it is complete, he is going to finally give in and sell it to G.

This morning I put another coat of paint on the trailing arms of the GMC truck. I haven't touched them in months. Once the Miata clutch is complete, I will probably finally get around to rebuilding the GMC's differential.

Time for school.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


I recently read two articles on hypermiling. One of the articles described how some guys were able to get more than 100 MPG out of a stock Prius. Hypermilers use driving techniques to exceed the estimated fuel efficiency of their vehicles. It sounded interested so I thought I would give it a try.

I decided to adopt a single technique for one tank of gas. One the next fill up I checked my mileage and started the experiment. Crunching the numbers 305.0 miles / 10.9 gallons resulted in approximately 28.0 MPG during normal driving. Not bad when you consider I tend to have a lot of fun while driving the Miata. Maybe, maybe too much fun.

The driving technique I applied is called pulse and glide. Essentially you accelerate up to some speed and then shift into neutral and coast for a while. Some folks kill the engine while coasting. I did not. After using this technique for a while, you begin to realize how often being in gear is actually holding the car back. You seem to get a little bit of free speed every time you shift out of gear. You can also use the hills for a little free energy whenever possible.

After two weeks and 324 .4 miles I filled the car up with 9.86 gallons of gas. This time the tank averaged 32.9 MPG, an increase of 4.9 MPG or 17.5%. Not bad.

Pulse and glide is easy on the open road with a manual gear box. I don't think I would try this with an automatic transmission though. Will I drive this way all the time? No. Occasionally? Certainly.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Press Button, Get Bacon

I went camping again this weekend. Also to the Sipsey Wilderness. We started at a different trail head and camped at a different site. I don't know where we were relative to the last trip but I plan to check the map later.

We had a small group this time: myself, Brian B., Chad E., David M., and Billy T.

There were a lot of folks (including two Boy Scout Troops) out camping this week. More than I have seen on any other trip. I am not sure if it was the weather or just a more popular area.

The hike in and out included 15 yards through a cave called fat man's squeeze. The packs had to come off to make it through the cave.

We had a nice flat campsite between two ridges with easy access to water. We setup in the fork where a major and minor creek met. It was fairly obviously from looking at the ground that the area was frequented by wild pigs though we did not see any. We did think we heard one the second night.

The evening meals this trip consisted of Jambalaya the first evening and red beans with rice the second evening. Dish duty was easy with the water access only 50 feet away.

Overall it was a great trip.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The Summer of Rick

A friend of mine who we shall call David has termed this The Summer of Rick.

While some would say this event started on Friday, I believe it more accurate to say that it started on Monday. Friday was mostly a normal day - I went to work. And Saturday and Sunday were as usual a weekend.

We had a busy weekend. Friday evening we attended a social. Saturday AM I was planning on taking the Turnip Truck to the a car show. It was rained out. Saturday evening, another social of sorts. Sunday included testing a propane burner I had built in the driveway. The burner sounded like a jet engine. It was really cool. And folks came from miles around to watch. OK, there were only four of us, except when Guy dropped by the strawberries.

The Summer of Rick actually started on Monday. What is this summer?

Monday morning instead of going to work, I went to school. I am now officially a full time college student again. I will be going to school full time summer and fall and then doing an internship as a student teacher in the spring. This puts me on track to graduate (again) in the May of 2009 and begin teaching in the Fall.

The summer is just one season in the Year of Rick.

I am currently 2 days into a 15 day mini-semester. It involves 3 hours in class every morning followed by me attempting to accomplished somewhere, anywhere, near the amount of studying I need to be doing to keep up with the class. The class meets the same number of hours a regular class meets, it is just all being crammed into a 3 week period.

After the first three weeks are over, the normal summer semester starts. Hopefully summer semester will be less painful. I will let you know later.