Replacing the intake manifold gaskets on my Monte Carlo’s 3.1L engine

I am replacing the intake manifold gaskets on my wife’s ’97 Monte Carlo’s 3.1L. This is by far the most intricate and tedious job I have ever done. I cannot believe how interconnected everything is on this engine!

To do this job, I’ve had to remove a ton of wires and vacuum tubes, miscellaneous electrical parts, two different coolant hoses, the alternator, the power steering pump (not complete removal; just had to move it), the fuel injection system, the upper plenum, both front engine mounts, the air cleaner, the mass air flow sensor, etc.

Here is how I started:

And here is where I am now:

(This is looking in at the engine from the driver’s side.)

Since I have everything out, I might as well replace the gaskets on the fuel injectors:

I noticed a speck or two of dirt inside the rails. I’m trying to keep everything as clean as possible, but it’s difficult to do it perfectly.

Here’s why I have to remove three of the pushrods on each side:

In certain places the gasket overlaps the pushrod! The roller rockers will thankfully make the job relatively simple.

The single part on which I wasted the most time was this:

The bright thing in the center is where a heater core line plugs into the intake manifold near the thermostat housing. The Haynes manual says you are supposed to be able to just twist the black metal hose out of the shiny part, but I could not figure out how it is done. I alternately used a set of quick connect separators and a wrench to try to get it separated but nothing worked. I ended up getting out a 1 1/16” open end wrench and just unscrewed the shiny thing from the intake manifold. I now wish I had started out doing that. I hope this part does not leak when I am done!

This engine’s exterior is full of grease. I will spend a little time with Simple Green and paper towels before reassembly.

Obviously my Wal Mart brand 5W/30 oil and oil filters and infrequent oil change cycles haven’t caused sludge buildup. Try that on for size, you boneheads who use fancy, expensive boutique oils!

Continue to part 2

Installed dryer vent

I installed a dryer vent at my house on Sunday. It was surprisingly simple. I think the entire job took about 3 hours, but a lot of that time was because I was learning “on the job.”

I had to pull off wood paneling and cut through two layers of some kind of reddish fibrous junk (some kind of insulation?) to get to the bricks. The first layer of the insulation stuff has a water-stained, white outer surface. The second layer has a shiny gray outer surface.

In this picture I had already pulled off the paneling, cut through the two layers, and punched out two bricks.

The hole went to a wood pile (the two hackberry trees that I could actually cut down!). The dryer vent is sitting on top.

Oops! While reducing the size of the two bricks, I broke one in half. Good thing I had builder’s cement:

I later cleaned up the goop on the sides with a paper towel.

Mmmm, mortar:

Mmmm, two bricks back in place with a hole for the vent:

Back inside, dryer vent is pushed through and all mortared up:

Everything’s buttoned up:

Even though this job took 3 hours, I learned a lot and saved about $100 of handyman expenses. Now my garage will no longer be covered with dryer lint!

Driving with the windows down

95% of my car’s miles are from commuting to and from work in Dallas traffic. It’s usually a hot and smelly 15 minute drive.

Tonight, after class, the skies were clear, it was a cool 65 degrees, and traffic was light.

I cranked my driver’s side window halfway down. It made the drive nice.

I don’t get to hear my car’s exhaust system nearly enough. The windows and A/C fan block out much of its sound. Tonight I heard how good it really sounds.

JFK Wackos Debunked

The movie JFK opened my eyes to the nutty world of JFK assassination conspiracists. Funny thing is that most of their theories are crackpot or just plain wrong.

A critical flaw of the theories is that they require a massive and perfectly executed covert operation that was kept perfectly secret for 40 years. Only a complete nut job could believe that the United States government is capable of this.

I believe that the Warren Commission’s report is likely as correct as we’ll ever get. does a great job at debunking all the JFK nutzo theorists.

Stupid article of the day

Pete Donohue doesn’t get it. He compares the fatality rate per hundred thousand residents to find that NYC has the fewest traffic deaths of big cities. But consider the last sentence: “New York is the only place in the U.S. where more than half the households do not own a car.” What does low car ownership rates mean? Maybe fewer traffic fatalities? Wow, amazing leap of logic here!

A better comparison would be fatalities per hundred million miles traveled, a more widely recognized standard.

An even better stat would be fatal crashes per hundred million miles traveled. That statistic gets around the skew effect of when large capacity vehicles crash. For example, suppose on the same day road x has a passenger car fatal wreck where one person dies, and road y has a 15 passenger van wreck, causing 10 deaths. Is road x less safe than road y? Probably not. Road y was unlucky enough to have a 15 passenger van crash. Agenda pushers abuse this kind of skew to support needlessly harsh traffic laws.