November 3rd, 2009

#1794: A totally mixed bag

It's a cornucopia of cynicism and derision! Just for YOU!

...I'm in a weird mood. After one of my legendary farm breakfasts this morning I ended up taking Mom to run errands and then slept from 2 PM until after midnight. I woke up feeling generally good--though desperately in need of a shower--and once the bathing was dealt with I ate chicken taquitos for "breakfast".

The Legendary Farm Breakfast starts with two potatos, grated. You wash the grated potatos with cold water until the water is clear, indicating that you've washed out the excess starch. Then you put them in more cold water with about a tablespoon of salt, to soak.

Start two strips of bacon in a cold frying pan over a burner set on "medium". After the bacon begins to sizzle, drain the potatos and add fresh water with no salt. When the bacon is about a third-done, drain the potatos and squeeze out excess water. Move the bagon to one side of the pan and put the potatos in, forming an even layer.

Scramble 2-4 eggs in a bowl with about a tablespoon or two of milk; add salt and pepper to taste.

When the bacon is done, add eggs to the pan, careful not to let them mix with the hash browns (unless you like that sort of thing; I don't). If everything has gone correctly you'll want to flip the potatos and the eggs at about the same time.

Depending on how well-vulcanized you like your scrambled eggs, the eggs will come out of the pan first; you'll want to give the potatos a few more minutes. Then enjoy your delicious and quite bad for you breakfast: you will find that the potatos absorbed every last bit of bacon grease. That's what makes them taste so good.

Do not eat this more than once every other week. Your cholesterol will be through the roof.

* * *

Falcon 9 scheduled for test launch in February. Groundhog Day, to be exact.

It's SpaceX's heavy-lift booster, and it's a rocket they hope to man-rate.

I note here that NASA flies manned rockets without them being man-rated--yes, I'm looking at you, space shuttle--and naturally because they're a government agency they're not subject to the same rules that private entities are. That's how it is.

* * *

More indications of coming market collapse. I'm telling you, it's not just me that's saying it.

* * *

PDB doesn't think it would be bad at all if the government just defaulted on its debt. He makes a good case here, I have to admit.

"Not bad" meaning that the long-term effects, and the damage to the ordinary person, would be significantly less than that coming from hyperinflation and/or confiscatory tax increases, which are our government's only other options.

...PDB points out that we could, theoretically, cut taxes to the bone, de-regulate just about everything, and let the economy grow the debt out of existence. This is theoretically possible...the same way we could theoretically build a time machine if we only had an infintely long rotating cylinder of neutronium which was spinning at the speed of light. (No problem, right?)

Democrats sure as hell aren't going to cut the federal budget and taxes--it's anathema to everything they are, believe, and stand for--and to be sure, the Republican leadership certainly isn't interested in changing the status quo.

The one positive solution to the debt problem is impossible to implement, because even if the Republican party had control of Congress and the White House they still wouldn't have the guts to cut everything: they'd quail at what the press would say and kowtow to the liberal Republicans, who might as well give it up and just go be Democrats, for Christ's sake.

* * *, the latest addition to the blogroll, on just such a phemomenon: Dede Scozzafava, leftist, RINO, is supporting the Democrat in the race she just quit.

* * *

A woman is suing because she was on TV with her pants down. The woman in question was on one of those police reality shows where they show real people getting arrested by real cops for real crimes. (Like Cops, but different.) (You now have "Bad Boys" going through your head.)

The woman in question was arrested on an outstanding warrant--you know, what the hell makes all these warrants "outstanding"? It seems to me as if there are rather a lot of them, so doesn't that make them "ordinary"? I for one refuse to participate in the artificial inflation of superlatives!*

--and somehow her "Hello Kitty" pajamas got pulled down. The camera caught it, and she refused to sign a waiver.

The article doesn't say what the "ordinary" warrant was for, nor does it say how old the woman in question is. In fact, it doesn't give any details at all whatsoever. How the hell do your pants come down during an arrest? Was it because she resisted arrest? Was it because they were loose?

The woman's stated goal of keeping this issue out of the public eye has failed, because now I want to see the episode of the show in question to determine for myself WTF happened here.

*If you think I am serious about this, get a fricking clue already.

* * *

Only the right people are allowed to be offended. That's right! If you're a Christian you must accept any and all offense, even if it's intentional.

* * *

If I wasn't seriously into WoW, Torchlight would be for me. But all my RPG-ing right now is done in Azeroth. I'll have to keep this game in mind, though.

* * *

Michelle Malkin thinks that the Democrats and leftist mainstream media are expecting to lose today.

They're already saying the elections scheduled for today "don't mean anything".

Michelle then links to The Stupid Party, an essay on the Republican party. It is a must-read.

* * *

This link contains a video which is excessively not-safe-for-work but damn is it funny. It's from some anime involving tentacles; the tentacles belong to a monster which is shaped like a giant penis. It uses its tentacles to seize girls and strip them of their panties and gym shorts., I have no idea WTF series the clip is from. I don't watch tentacle stuff. I do know that the title of the post with the video is a play on Urotsukidoji, which was often given the subtitle "Demon Beast Invasion". (How that connects to the Nazi death-rape machine is mercifully unclear to me.)

* * *

The only problem I see with this Azumanga Daioh fanfic is that Osaka is too competent and not spacy enough.

Oh...problem #2, one of the six calling her "Ayumu"....

But it's a rarity, a fanfic which is both good and not about sex.

#1795: Escort project stuff

Despite exhaustion and laziness I did manage to get a couple minor tasks accomplished: I bought a new radiator and axle nut socket; and I took a hard look at the axle.

I knew the radiator had a leak. I'd thought it was a small one, on the engine side. But when I removed the radiator Sunday afternoon I saw the long trail of powdery yellow crud on the grille side, and realized that no, this radiator is pretty well shot.

$85 at Advance Auto. *sigh* With the axle nut socket the total was $110. $85 isn't bad for a new radiator, though.

On the plus side, it looks as if I can just reassemble the axle: the boot remained firmly attached to this piece which slides over, and snaps onto, the tripot which forms the shell of the inner CV joint. (Yes, I meant "tripot"; that's what the part is called. It's a Y-shaped cup, a tri pot.) It looks as if all I really have to do is add some grease and slide this bit over the tripot, and it'll be good to go. If I can do this, it'll save me $60 for a new axle.

I don't know when I'll get around to reinstalling the engine, though. Soon, soon....

So I was thinking about how much of a royal pain it's going to be to get the bottom motor mounts to line up, and I realized I could simply remove the crossmember. It's held on with four bolts; remove those and it's out. Then install the engine; when the upper engine mounts are bolted down, raise the crossmember into position and bolt it in. The lower mounts will be relatively easy to position as the crossmember is raised into position; and the upper mounts will provide a safety backup for the engine crane. Then just put in four bolts to secure the crossmember, and four nuts to secure the lower mounts: done.

All told, though, this little project is showing me just how much I need a good compressor which can run an impact gun. That would make a lot of things I'm trying to do easier, such as removing the axle nut.

To remove the axle nut, I'm going to have to put on the temp spare and take the car off the jack stands. Mom will have to sit in the driver's seat and hold the brakes on while I break the axle nut free; it's torqued down to some ungodly value. Then I'll have to put the car back up on jack stands to remove the wheel and get the axle out.

An impact wrench would make just about all of that totally unnecessary; I'd still have to have Mom get in the car and step on the brake but that's it. Unfortunately, my compressor can't supply enough air to an impact wrench to develop enough torque. *sigh*

Oh well. It's only a little more work, I guess.

#1796: Engine IN!

...that was excruciating.

I'm still not done--it turns out my estimate of five hours to install the engine was incredibly optimistic--but the engine is in the car and the engine mounts are cinched down.

Let's start with the story of the driver's side axle. That's where I started, about 9:45 AM.

I put the car on the ground with the spare on, had Mom step on the brake, applied 32mm socket to nut, breaker bar to socket, cheater pipe to breaker bar, effort to cheater pipe...


...the breaker bar? It broke. WTF. But it's a Craftsman, so I can get a new one for free, and I had another 15" breaker bar anyway. I applied it to the socket, fearing a repeat, but no, it popped the nut loose. That Craftsman bar is literally 30 years old; no surprise that it gave up the ghost. It wasn't the bar itself which broke, but the part which the socket snaps onto. Years of metal fatigue--oh well.

In the process of trying to knock the axle out of the hub I munged the threads on the axle so badly that I had to cut the nut off the axle. End result: I needed to buy a new axle. Oh well.

...actually I couldn't just cut the nut off; no. I ended up cutting a deep slot into the nut and then spending a lot of time widening the slot with a hammer and chisel. I eventually got the nut to split far enough that I could wiggle it off the shaft, but it took a lot of hammering to get it there. (No, I couldn't have used a nut splitter: one big enough to fit over a 32mm nut would have cost $$$$.)

New axle and new fuel filter: $65 from AutoZone. Seeing as access to the fuel filter was entirely unobstructed by engine, I figured I'd change it; so after I got home from the parts store I installed the new fuel filter. Easiest fuel filter replacement ever.

I tried to remove the crossmember, as I had thought to last night; but after trying to remove one of the bolts I realized they were probably frozen in place for good, and that I'd probably just break one or more if I tried to get them out...and these bolts are not designed to be replaceable. You can't get them out to put new ones in.

I then spent time working on transferring bits and pieces from old engine to new engine; once that was accomplished, I decided it was time to throw the thing into the car. And so I rigged the crane and hoisted 'er in there.

I stopped, though, realizing that I had to get the passenger side axle out of the way; and after looking at it and trying various things I just yanked the steering knuckle with the axle attached: fuck it. That was easier than trying to maneuver the engine and the axle into place.

The procedure for engine removal and installation on the Escort says that you only need to pop the axles loose and put something in their place to hold the differential side gears in. But in my experience, the damn axles will not move far enough aside for you to do that; you have to at least unbolt the knuckles from the MacPherson struts. I have not managed to pop the axles out and have them clear the transmission casing without doing that first.

Anyway, getting the engine into the engine bay was the longest and hardest part of my work today. I didn't look at a clock at all while I was in the driveway but I was busier than a one-armed paper hanger trying to crowbar (quite literally in some respects) the engine into its new home.

After a seeming eternal hell of pushing, shoving, swearing, lifting, and lowering, I had the upper engine mounts bolted in. I got to work on the lowers.

The front lower mount? No problem. It dropped right in. The rear lower mount--phew.

I had had to remove the bracket for that mount because it kept getting hung up on the steering rack; I could not get the damn thing to drop past it, so I took it off.

Only problem: once the engine was in place, there was literally no way to install the bracket bolts. I had perhaps two inches--that's being generous--of room between the bracket and the K-member (which is the part that the front suspension mounts to). I could wiggle the bracket in just fine, but the lower bolt could not be installed. Ford's engineers botched this one but good: if the bracket had been designed so that the bolts went in from the passenger side there wouldn't have been a problem; there was plenty of room on that side.

My solution? I modified the bracket. Using my air-powered cutoff tool, I knocked the nut off the driver's side of the bracket; then using my flux-core welder, I welded the nut on the other side. (I finally used it to fix a car! I only bought the thing in December of 2005!) The weld was considerably less than pretty but it fused nut to bracket and that's all I care about.

I then realized that there was no way to get the bolt through the mount itself, so I preassembled mount to bracket and prepared to bolt it in--only with the mount in the bracket I couldn't wiggle the thing into place. Again, Ford engineers bungled it: there was an approximate cubic mile (measure slightly exaggerated) on the passenger side of the bracket and no room on the driver's which side was the bolt designed to go in from? The driver's side! Of course!

Inverting that part would not be easily accomplished, so I decided I would see if I could remove the rear crossmember bolts; that would give me room to wiggle the thing in. One nut unscrewed with some effort--not as much as I'd feared--so I put the breaker bar on the other one and applied torque...


I said many bad words.

Well, after I ran out of bad words I put the motor mount in and bolted up the un-broken bolt, and torqued down the motor mount nuts and tabled the broken bit for the moment.

I did some other fiddling and got the clutch slave installed. I bolted up the power steering pressure line so that it would stop dripping freaking fluid all over the zarg-barg-a-ding-dong place. I installed the speedometer drive. I got the shifter bolted up (but it's not completely done because the nut won't go on the damn bolt; I left that bit for tomorrow or Thursday or Friday or when-the-hell-ever the weather lets me finish).

I finally knocked off at 3:30. I put the old drivetrain on the furniture dolly which had formerly held the new drivetrain. Done with the crane (hooray!) I folded it up and put it away. I collected tools and parts and set them on the table I'm using as an auxiliary work surface.

The engine is in the car; that was the hardest part of the installation. The rest of it is just reconnecting wires and hoses until there's nothing left to connect. (Well, and installing the passenger side steering knuckle and the axles....)

As for the broken crossmember bolt, I realized that all I really need to do is to take it somewhere and have it welded in. Screw it; the next time that car needs to have its crossmember removed, I'll just scrap it. I can't conceive of any reason I'd need to remove it--the motor mount that was there was shot and it didn't matter at all--and if I need to do major engine work on this car again...well, no. Maybe I won't.

I had thought of taking it to a body shop, but Mom reminded me that in 2005 I worked as "part-time, as-needed" help for a guy who did mechanic work out of his garage. He would know someone who could do the required bit of welding for a lot less than a body shop would charge. And I'm more worried about the longevity of the remaining bolt than anything else; it should be able to survive a trip to New Lenox. At least, it shouldn't hurt for me to call him and see if he can help me out.

And it only took six hours!

Like I said, my original estimate was hopelessly optimistic but I'm not surprised by that; I have removed three engines and installed two, and one of those two was a longditudinal-mount V8 in a pickup truck--not exactly the same sort of job, if you know what I mean.

The pickup truck I did in 2005, when I was working for that guy in New Lenox. I had not been the guy who removed the motor; so when I put that motor in I essentially had a big three-dimensional puzzle to assemble. The motor bolted in with two easily-accessible mounts on its sides, and after that the hard part was just getting all the damn sensors and hoses plugged into the right places. None were labeled, of course, and the wiring harness had been stripped from the old engine. *sigh*

So I've removed two Escort engines and one Fiero engine, and I've installed one Escort engine. (And the pickup truck one.) My thought that the installation shouldn't have taken much more time than the removal did failed to take into account that it is much easier to yank out an engine than it is to get one in and located well enough that you can get the bolts through the mounts.

I have perhaps three or four more hours of work to do before the car is drivable. (And I'm probably being optimistic again.) But getting that damn thing in is--as I keep saying--the hardest part.

I'm going to keep telling myself that. Right now I feel well-tenderized, and it's going to be a challenge staying awake long enough to see V tonight.

Oh well.