Wednesday, March 17, 2010

On oversimplification

I have a problem. It's called oversimplification. I have a feeling most car guys get this when they start to think about a project.

Today, for example, I was telling Eric that we should probably go ahead with the drivetrain swap on our Escort (ZX2 into a 2nd-gen LX). He asked me what was involved in the process of pulling an engine and transaxle from the wrecked ZX2. This is how it initially played out in my head:

  1. Bend shit out of the way.
  2. Disconnect hoses.
  3. Disconnect wires.
  4. Remove motor mount nuts.
  5. Lift entire assembly out.
  6. Remove wiring harness.
Sounds easy, right? Well, it is. Sort of. It's the details that get in the way. Each one of those steps can take a lot of time, because they all involve many, many substeps. Also, things like hammering, bending, prying, wiggling, and dealing with rusted fasteners are very big time-eaters and muscle-fatiguers.
The actual process is something more like this (which is what I sent him):

  1. Remove the hood (4 bolts).
  2. Disconnect and remove battery.
  3. Hammer/pry/smash/pull the radiator support out of the way, along with any other bent shit that interferes. This may be the most physically strenuous and improvised portion of this exercise.
  4. Inspect for broken shit.
  5. Disconnect the radiator hoses (2), heater core hoses (2), power steering hoses (2), and any other hoses I can't remember.
  6. Label all electrical connectors with tape and sharpie, on both sides of the connection.
  7. Disconnect all electrical connectors, and unbolt any ground wires to the engine.
  8. Disconnect positive starter wire.
  9. Pull out axles.
  10. Attach engine hoist to engine.
  11. Remove the nuts or bolts on each of the 4 motor mounts (max. 2 each).
  12. Slowly lift the engine and transmission out of the car, watching for any remaining connections.
  13. Roll the engine hoist (with drivetrain) into the garage.
  14. Disassemble car interior to locate the entirety of its wiring harness.
  15. Remove wiring harness, engine computer, CCRM (a control module), and instrument cluster.
Not quite as simple, right? It suddenly went from, "Yeah, we can do this" to: "... that's pretty intense." And I'm still leaving out quite a bit (especially in terms of the interior). Once this is done, we do it again to the other car. Then we swap sway bars and steering racks, overhaul a transmission, and then reinstall one of the drivetrains. Two removals, one installation.

Nobody ever said racing was easy. Or cheap. But at least it'll be fun.

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