Badtux the Snarky Penguin

In a time of chimpanzees, I was a penguin.

Religious fundamentalists are motivated by the sneaking suspicion that someone, somewhere, is having fun -- and that this must be stopped.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

6000 mile service

I can't believe I didn't pay someone to do this to my Jeep. I'm treating my Jeep as good as I treat my KLR, something I've never done with a car before. Huh.


  • 5 tire rotation
  • Grease all zerks with Mobil-1 synthetic grease (the tie rod end ones had to be greased during the rotation because there's no clearance between them and the wheel).
  • 6 quarts of 5w40 Shell Rotella T Synthetic. (Yeah, factory spec is 10w30, but oil analysis shows that the Rambler I-6 wants something with a 40 top end like what it was originally designed for because otherwise the iron numbers go up).
  • Mobil-1 oil filter (top quality)
Checked: Front differential fluid level (fine). Brake and clutch fluid levels (fine). Power steering fluid (at the 'add' mark, added a bit of ATF+4 to get it to the 'cold' mark). Radiator fluid (halfway between 'Add' and 'Full', made note to keep an eye on it). All the bolts and stuff that I messed with doing the Aussie locker install and the 2" suspension lift install. Belts. Hoses. Brake lines. Looked suspiciously at exterior of battery, and its 'Zero Maintenance' sticker. Rattled the U-joints to make sure they were still tight. Looked suspiciously at the upper header which appears to be rubbing on my oil pan skid, thinking maybe I need to clearance that a bit but dreading R&R on that skid which was a PITA to get in. Enjoyed the sight of all the little scratches and nicks on the underside of my Jeep, showing that this isn't *just* a mall queen, heh! Air filter looked fine, should last 15,000 mile like the book sez.

I suppose I should go ahead and check the rear differential fluid level while I'm at it. Anything else you can think of that I should check before I move my Jeep back to the parking lot and move my KLR back into the garage? (I already checked off all the stuff on the Jeep-provided service checklist).

-- Badtux the Wrenchin' Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 6/02/2007 05:10:00 PM  12 comments  

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Rant: dyed lubricants

So you get a little of that Mobil 1 synthetic grease on your shirt. No big deal, you say? It'll wash out in the laundry? *WRONG!*. That shit is dyed red, and it just dyed your shirt red!

So you get a little of that Royal Purple synthetic gear oil on your jeans. No big deal, you say? It'll wash out in the laundry? *WRONG!*. Royal Purple just *LOVES* that purple dye shit, and your jeans are gonna be purple until the day they fall apart!

Now, I don't wear good clothes to wrench my Jeep or KLR, for obvious reasons. The jeans I'm wearing right now have a rip just below the passenger side front pocket, for example, where they caught on a piece of sheetmetal and the only way I could get out of there was to pull until it gave. But still, it'd be nice if these a-holes realized that I really don't feel like lookin' like a clown every time I go down to wrench my vehicles. I mean, c'mon. Blue and purple and red and grey? Might as well stick a freakin' red nose on my face!

-- Badtux the Wrenchin' Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 4/08/2007 11:48:00 AM  1 comments  

Monday, April 02, 2007

Tired penguin

I spent all weekend putting in an Aussie Locker in the front Dana D30 axle of my Jeep. It all went pretty much according to the install write-up, except for one thing: my carrier wouldn't come out.

The carrier on a Dana D30 has a taper bearing pressed onto each end. Now, for those not in the know, these things need preload to operate properly. But there's no space in the teensy Dana D30 case for a preload adjuster. So they're shimmed to use the actual width of the carrier and bearing assembly as the "preload", i.e., the carrier assembly is actually wider than the case. Now, it's not a *lot* of preload. But these are new bearings, so it was enough preload that the carrier simply would not budge when I used the procedure on the install write-up. I spent hours tugging and prying and it wouldn't budge.

Solution: A trip to the hardware store the next morning to get a couple of bigger prybars and an 11/16" closed-end wrench to use as a chock on the ring gear (by putting it on one of the ring gear bolts then rotating until it hit the case, I didn't have an 11/16" closed-end wrench because this is the first car I've had in ten years that wasn't all-metric and 10 years ago I had access to my Dad's toolbox which is now in my brother's possession). Only problem is that my Jeep is up on jackstands with its innards hanging out (the brake disks drooping from where I'd pulled the axles out sure looked hilarious!). Did you know that you can carry a 4' prybar on a KLR650 motorcycle by pushing the seat foam down and shoving it under the luggage rack handles? When the seat foam rebounds, it then locks the prybar in place! As a bonus, cars that try to crowd you get a new paint job (heh!).

Anyhow, the longer prybars did the trick, I put the locker in place of the spider gears and reassembled everything with the help of a 4 pound hammer and a piece of 2x4, I tested the ratcheting and lock-up actions all of which work fine, and all that's left to do now is jack the Jeep back up, kick the jackstands out from underneath it, set it down, torque the lugs (I tightened them but not to 100ft/lbs because doing that while the Jeep is up on jackstands is difficult, that's a lot of torque) and take it for a spin. The only real problem I ran into other than the carrier one is that when I cleaned off the ring gear and carrier to reassemble them (this thing must be meticulously clean, even a spec of sand can throw off the backlash), the brake cleaner and compressed air combined to wash off the marks I'd made for how they're supposed to mate. Ooops! Shoulda used my punch and made a couple of scratches instead! But this is a *heavy* ring gear, and the machining looks very good on both the ring gear and the carrier, so putting it back into the same place isn't quite as critical as with a thinner ring gear though undoubtedly this is going to cause additional wear as the ring and pinion get re-acquainted. Oh well. Can't be helped. I'm going to pop the cover off in a few hundred miles and check the ring gear torques again as well as inspect the locker just to make sure everything looks good, but honestly I don't expect a problem here.

This is a nice tight little differential, excellent workmanship, excellent assembly quality, the bearing preload is just what it needs to be to get the best bearing life, least backlash I've ever encountered from a Detroit differential, before I mucked with it I probably would have gotten 250K+ miles out of it, I probably reduced that to 150K+ miles by moving the ring gear and scuffing the mating surface of the bearing races pulling the carrier out and pushing it back in, oh well... still, I'm quite impressed. Yes, this is primitive 1960's Dana-Spicer technology, but it's done with modern tooling so it's primitive technology done *right* with the best tolerances that modern technology is capable of providing. If only the rest of the Jeep was done to such high standards. As for the Aussie locker... eh. It is what it is, a cheap way to lock the front wheels together while allowing limited differentiation for turns. The only good thing about it is that when the wheels are not being driven, it freely ratchets so it functions as a full differential in that case, making it largely invisible (other than a little noise) in 2 wheel drive mode. But I certainly wouldn't put one in the back of my Jeep. The Trak-Lock limited-slip back there has *much* better pavement manners...

- Badtux the Greasy-flippered Penguin


Posted by: BadTux / 4/02/2007 10:55:00 AM  10 comments  

Thursday, March 29, 2007

World's worst mechanic: wheel alignment specialist

When you pick up a Jeep by adding a 2" lift to it, you pull up on the drag link, which in turn pulls up on the tie rod. This causes excessive toe-in. I just checked my Jeep (which hasn't been anywhere since I lifted it except around the block), and the front of the tires are 54 7/16" apart, and the backs are 55" apart, for a total toe-in of 9/16" or over half an inch. Figure that's roughly .25", divide by the 30" tire width, take the asin (boy, you knew that high school trig was gonna come in handy, eh?), and you end up at 0.47 degrees toe-in per wheel. The spec is 0.15 degrees toe-in per wheel. (hey, so I'm a former math teacher, shoot me!) shows that .15 degrees toe-in, take the sine, multiply by 30, hmm... should be .078" difference between front and back. .075" is a tad more than 1/16 but less than 1/8.

So now I apply some more trigonometry to figure out what the difference *should* be (boy, you knew that high school trig class would come in handy, huh?). The spec is +/-0.06 degrees, so the toe-in should be between 0.09 degrees and 0.21 degrees. Take the sine of each of those, multiply by 30, hmm... that's 0.047" to .101 inches. Multiply by two to add up the toe angle for each wheel, and that's 0.094" to .202". Or, given the limits of my tape measure which don't do decimal,more than 3/32" (0.093"), but less than 7/32 (.21875"). So let's say 1/8" to 3/16" is fine. Definitely *not* 9/16"!

Soooo... tomorrow I get to go under the Jeep and loosen up the tie rod turnbuckles and test out how well my pipe wrench works on the steering tie rod! Now I hear what you're saying. "Should the world's worst mechanic be doing something so... dangerous... as mess with the steering?". Ah, but see, I'm not mechanicing anymore. I'm in the realm of mathematics now... and mathematics doesn't care how incompetent a mechanic I am. As long as I tighten those turnbuckles back up when done, there's nothing I can do wrong here. It's all just measure... adjust... measure... adjust... measure until the measurement is between the limits I mention above.

Oh, how I measured: Take tape measure, and a bit of duct tape. Tape tape measure to first row of tread at the front of the tire. Extend tape measure to other tire. Take measurement at first row of tread. Now do the same thing to the back of the tire. Simple, crude, and ... close enough. This is a Jeep, for cryin' out loud. I could get a bit closer with one of those fancy machines like some real suspension alignment shop would have, but it's not as if the beast really cares that much. You can almost get it close enough just by banging on it with a hammer and duct taping random stuff, which is pretty much how the gnomes in Cleveland put it together in the first place (heh!)

And so a little magic goes out of the world, replaced by mathematics. No incantations needed, just use of the sin and asin buttons on my scientific calculator. That's the world, folks. There is no magic, no matter how much people want to believe in the Invisible Sky Fairy that will do all sortsa neat things for them if they just babble the right incantations. It's all math, in the end. Even mechanicking is all math, in the end. Which is probably why mechanics are the most intuitive mathematicians I've ever run into, even though most of them don't have the slightest damned idea they're doin' it :-).

-- Badtux the Math Penguin

PS - the fun part is going to be re-centering the steering wheel after I do this, since there is only a single adjuster on the tie rod... luckily the drag link has its own adjuster for centering the steering wheel!

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Posted by: BadTux / 3/29/2007 11:51:00 PM  7 comments  

Saturday, March 24, 2007

I am the world's slowest mechanic

I just spent six hours doing a one hour job. Is that sad, or what?

This morning I went to Harbor Freight Tools and Kragen Auto Supply to round up the supplies I needed (or wanted) for the job. Actually, when I go to Harbor Freight I buy more stuff than I need, but that's another issue :-). I ate some Pho while I was in Newark's Little Vietnam where Harbor Freight is. Yum. That's good stuff. I love all the great ethnic food you get around here in the SF Bay area. I was in the mood for some chicken soup... and pho is the Vietnamese version of chicken soup (if you get it with chicken that is :-).

Then I came home and started working on my Jeep... and working... and working... slow, slow slow. And I can't even say that I did it any righter than Joe-bob down at the local garage. I overtorqued a jounce bumper spacer and probably cracked it because I was mis-reading the torque table in my factory manual (why, oh why, do these guys play hide-and-seek with the torque values? Just askin!), and while the other issue I ran into was a case of a poor quality bushing on the part of the shock vendor (I'm supposed to put 50 ft/lbs of torque on the lower shock mount? Nuhn-uh, that collapses that cheap-ass bushing!), it wasn't much fun to deal with. Probably got about 25 ft-lbs on the replacement bushing (luckily there was a spare in the box the shock came in!) and then it's a case of hoping that red thread-locker does what it's supposed to do.

Oh well. At least I torqued my rear lug nuts to 100 ft/lbs after I finished putting in spacers and changing out shocks. My Jeep now has an eager rear sticking two inches further in the air than it was sticking this time yesterday. Next up: I get to do the front. I expect that it's going to take me all day tomorrow to do the front too... Thankfully, I have my motorized mule so I'm not transportation-less. I can haul a *lot* of groceries between the Givi hard bags and a big duffel bag strapped to the back seat!

-- Badtux the Greasy-flippered Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 3/24/2007 08:39:00 PM  6 comments  

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Project Silver Demon

As long time readers know, a silver demon forced me to buy it back in December. It's been four months now, so it's time to farkle the thing. I just finished installing a CB radio with a Firestick antenna (which I mounted on top of the 3rd brake light over the spare tire), wiring up an auxiliary fuse block under the driver's side dashboard for that and for the rear power outlet (once I find it in my electrical junk box, I bought it for another vehicle and never installed it on that one!). So now for the fun parts:
  • 2" Rubicon Express budget boost -- spring spacers, shocks, and bump stop extensions. I already killed the OEM shocks, which are truly aweful and just did not stand up to washboarded fire roads (they puked their oil out and have mostly quit working -- sheesh, American quality at its best!). This will get the belly "shovel" 2 inches further off the ground as well as replace those piece of crap Chrysler shocks that I killed. $230 for shocks and spacers.
  • Because I have to take the front swaybar links off anyhow to get the springs out so I can put the spacers on top, JKS front swaybar disconnects -- useful in certain offroad situations to help keep both front tires planted on the ground. $130.
  • 32"x11.50 B.F. Goodrich AT KO (All Terrain) tires. These are the big ticket item, $145 apiece (!!!) plus mounting and balancing. I already shredded the sidewalls on the piece of crap Goodyear tires that came with my Jeep. These have much tougher sidewalls and will add another inch of clearance under my pumpkins and under my Jeep.
  • Cragar Soft 8 steel wheels. These have a slightly different offset than the OEM wheels so that I can fit the wider tires without hitting the shock tower at the rear or rubbing the sway bar at full turn on the front, and are much sturdier than the P.O.S. OEM cast aluminum wheels, which would shatter if a rock ever hit them. $35 apiece.
  • Aussie Locker "lunchbox" locker for the Dana D30 front axle. This gives more traction when offroad in 4x4 mode, but is utterly invisible when onroad in 2 wheel drive mode. Combined with the limited-slip in the rear axle, I get the best of both worlds -- good on-road handling and good off-road traction. $230.
All of this is chosen to preserve handling stability on-road (the wider tires and wider-offset wheels have the effect of widening the track, thus keeping the Jeep stable even though it's going to be 3" higher off the ground) while improving offroad capability. The bottom of my Jeep wouldn't have its current assortment of gashes and scrapes if it was 3" higher (heh! Famous last words!). But the folks running 35" tires and 5" lifts and such will just sneer at my little Jeep. Let them sneer. At least I won't flip over on my side turning into my driveway like their over-tall unstable heeps will!

Of course, to pay for this, I'll have to ride my motorcycle to work for the next six months so that I can save money by getting 50mpg (at $3.30/gallon 50mpg vs. 15mpg adds up, sigh!). Oh, the lengths to which a penguin will go to have a comfortable ride along forest roads and desert trails!

Oh - I'm doing all the wrenching on this myself (except mounting and balancing the tires of course, that's what tire stores were invented for). What, you think I'd let some heathen touch my silver demon to do something like this?! Sheesh! Greasy flippers are a small price to pay for knowing that the job was done right by someone who cares!

- Badtux the Greasy-flippered Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 3/21/2007 12:15:00 AM  4 comments  
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I am a black and white and yellow multicolored penguin making his way as best he can in a world of monochromic monkeys.

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