Saturday, April 4, 2009

Dismantling the car

Full disclosure time. The previous two posts were "catch-up" entries. I hadn't really thought about setting up a blog to record my progress until a fellow EVer I was corresponding with suggested it (thanks, David). So I decided to put some background info in the blog before moving forward.

In late February a '98 Saturn SC2 showed up on Craig's List with a blown engine. I went to see it, saw that the body and interior were in pretty good condition, and made an offer. I ended up getting it for $500. Not bad. Unfortunately, the car was sitting in a driveway (not drivable, obviously) 90 miles away from where it needed to be. So, ouch, the tow was more than I want to think about, but I still was under my target of $1,000 for the donor.

I have a garage at my house, but it's a tiny 1-car with a very low ceiling. Not conducive to massive auto transformations. Lucky for me a good friend of mine has a large detached garage that is relatively unused. Even luckier is that she has a large, rolling toolbox full of goodies (she's done a considerable bit of car work herself), including an engine hoist and air tools. And, luckiest, I have another good friend who has lots of experience with this kind of work, and willing to help me out.

Cold weather and my busy schedule has limited my progress with getting the combustion components out, but I've been making steady progress.

Here's the car just after being pushed into the garage. The garage looked big before the car went in, but there's not much space left now! Better re-arrange things in there before going too far.

The paint looks pretty good, though I'm not big on the color. A visit to Maaco may be in this car's future.

The interior is in pretty good shape. Bit of wear on the clutch pedal, though. We'll have to see about the condition of the clutch.

Looks like the engine has had its share of problems in the past. Valve cover gasket has been replaced (new blue gasket) and oil has been slung all over the pulley end of the engine compartment. These pictures don't do the mess justice. I wish the car ran well enough to get it to a carwash so I could steam clean the oil off before starting the disassembly.

Once I lifted the car and started peeking around underneath I realized that the oil mess wasn't confined to the pulley end. Bell housing and tranny are also drenched in oil. What a mess!

Now the fun begins! It's amazing to me how much stuff automakers cram into the front end of their cars, and how much stuff is needed to make a combustion engine work. Every time I pull something out, it reveals 3 more things to disconnect. I'm trying to label things as they come out - since this is my first attempt, I'm not 100% sure what I will or won't need once I start installing electric components. But after many hours of preparation work, the day finally came....

Finally, an empty engine compartment!

And a lonely pile of metal and oil.

Good news, though. Looks like the clutch has been replaced recently, so I won't have to pony up for new parts there. I do have my work cut out for me, though, in cleaning up the tranny before reinstalling.

It's starting to feel real now.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the blog. I'm glad you started when you did, even if you need to do a little catch up. I think this makes the story very real. Now I'm caught up too. I plan to follow this.

    Good photos. These probably slow your work down a little (greasy hands and cameras, don't usually get along), but worth it to capture the full experience. Looks like you got a good deal on a decent car. BTW, isn't red the color of most mid-life crisis cars?!?!?