Q: What if Ferrari built a roller coaster?

Saturday, November 13, 2010 at 11:20
A: 0 - 240km in under 4 seconds.

In the newly-opened Ferrari World theme park in the Yas Marina motorsports complex in Abu Dhabi.

Face-meltingly excellent.

In Remembrance

Thursday, November 11, 2010 at 10:00

Rallycrossing the iX

Monday, October 25, 2010 at 19:35
Now that summer autocross season is over and the Miata is in storage for the winter, I thought I'd have a go at rallycross racing. It's similar to autocross in that it's timed racing on a closed course, but it's done off-road and the scoring is a bit different. Rather than counting your fastest run in a day, rallycross totals your times and so it rewards consistency.

My winter autocross/rallycross car is an 1988 BMW 325iX. This is a fairly rare all-wheel-drive E30 chassis BMW; about 1500 came to North America and most of those went to the USA. Due to the AWD, the front suspension is unique but the rest of the car is the same as the popular E30 series. The AWD system add only about 140 lbs over the RWD chassis, so overall performance is nearly the same.

My co-driver for the day was rally driver and jazz musician Johnny Summers. We had a lot of fun together and Johnny gave me some great coaching that will help me improve my loose-surface driving skills. I've got a bit more work to do sorting the car, particularly the suspension. I also got some tips on setup that will be helpful for me. I think this will make a pretty decent rallycross car.

Here's some great pictures taken by Grant C of the car in action:







The Kids are Alright

Saturday, October 9, 2010 at 17:17

As a concerned parent, I try to keep up with music and media that my kids are into. For a while there, I was pretty concerned. The modern music scene is dominated by plastic, manufactured pop stars who can't sing (also, "get off my lawn"). I'm convinced that the state of pop music would be greatly improved if more musicians would just say yes to drugs and no to AutoTOOOOOOOON.

More importantly, I've been worried about what kind of future and careers await a generation of kids raised on a manufactured, synthetic, Disneyfied, Bieberiffic, auto-tuned, non-reality. Basically, their opportunities are going to be limited to anything that fits the general job description of "professional liar":

  • Politician
  • Stock Broker
  • Social Media Expert 

I was getting kind of depressed about it all until I discovered these crazy young lads from Austrialia, a band called Airbourne. There they were playing real rock 'n' roll on classic guitars through huge amps with REAL TUBES in them and doing it way too loud. I realized then that maybe things are OK after all. There's still kids out there that will get up on stage with loud guitars and scream their guts out about hot girls, fast cars and cold beer. You know, normal rebellious youth stuff.

Yes, the music and its themes are immature, but it's honestly immature and isn't pretending to be anything it's not. And yes, they sound a LOT like AC/DC. That's not a bad thing in my book. It's good old bluesy rock 'n' roll. An Airbourne tune is a rowdy, racous reprieve from the syrupy-fake crapfest that Disney, et al is feeding the world. So yeah, I think the kids are gonna do just fine.

(video mildly nsfw - naughty words in intro)

2010 SCCA Solo National Championships - YouTube

Thursday, October 7, 2010 at 20:42
An excellent autocross video from this year's USA national championship. Very well filmed and edited and lots of great action. Makes me sad that this year's racing is over here. Ahh, next year, maybe.

YouTube - Speedway Motors 2010 SCCA Solo National Championships Music Video: ""

PuppyCam! Ten adoptable pups from SCARS rescue.

Sunday, September 26, 2010 at 20:03
Our latest rescue dog from SCARS is a new mom with 10 puppies. She's a real trooper, thin and undernourished when we got her, but taking good care of her pups. They will be ready for adoption in a few weeks, so if you'd like one, contact me or SCARS. Meantime, enjoy their web show:


Friday, September 24, 2010 at 21:52
A race-prepped Lotus Evora w/ Cosworth engine in traditional Lotus livery, on the 'ring. 1 part AWESOME, 1 part OMG, 9 parts IWANTIUM. Yes, it goes to eleven.

The market in Ventimiglia

Friday, August 13, 2010 at 13:23
Tonight is our last day in Nice. Tomorrow we pick up our car and start driving North. I've enjoyed the coast, but I'm done with being hot and definitely looking forward to some cooler weather and mountain vistas as we head up into Switzerland and Austria. Today we made a short trip to Ventimiglia in Italy to see their famous market there.

It's an odd beast - the market is huge and the goods for sale run the gamut from decent quality Italian leather belts, shoes and bags (10%) to meats, cheeses and fruit (10%) to loads of second-run clothing and shoes (35%) to boxes and boxes of Chinese-made fashion knockoffs (25%) and other assorted Chinese and Taiwanese crapware (20%). It's a bit like the San Jose flea market in CA but with a bit less mom-and-pop feel to it. Also, it stretches out for most of the length of the town on a road right next to the ocean. 

I did get a nice Italian belt made from a shop that let you choose the leather and buckle then assembled the belt to measure and found an interesting liqueurs store that seemed to have some good prices. I bought a bottle of Italian lemon liqueur (no idea what it tastes like, but it looks interesting) and a bottle of French Calvados (apple brandy). The kids bought some shoes and some clothes and enjoyed the day. 

Strangely, there seemed to be no bargaining to be done on the prices. We tried haggling on every purchase but got no deals and made a lot of people mad. Maybe that's part of their schtick and we're just suckers, but we were thoroughly unsuccessful at bartering for better prices. 

The return train ride to Nice was overcrowded, late, overcrowded, slow and overcrowded. Packed in like sardines with a couple hundred other sweaty shoppers returning from Ventimiglia, it was a most unpleasant ride back. I'm glad to be getting our own vehicle tomorrow. It's been fun trying out the trains and buses, but I've had all the public transportation I can take for now. 

Nice does have a public bike rental service, but it's significantly more difficult to use than the once in Paris. VeloBleu rentals can only be activated by SMS from a mobile phone and you have to pre-register your credit card and mobile # online first. I tried that and the registration web site didn't like my phone #, wouldn't let me change it, etc, etc. I gave up trying to make it work since the kids weren't that keen on cycling anyway.

Once back in Nice, we decided to stop at the "Pizza Van" that we've read about in the guest book for our apartment. It's supposed to be the best pizza in Nice, hand made and served from a van parked on the street in Place Franklin. Sure enough, it's great pizza. Bit of a wait, but there's always something going on around the area to keep you occupied. The pizza from "Chez Dominique" was one of our favorite and least expensive meals here. 

A Bucket-list day in Monaco

Wednesday, August 11, 2010 at 14:34

First, a confession: I don't really have a bucket list. But I know a bucket-list item when I see it, and for me, visiting Monte-Carlo and walking the GP circuit was one of them. 

Not only that, but I think our day in Monaco was one of our best days yet of this vacation. From the moment you step off the train, Monte-Carlo feels different. The hallways in the train station are lined with marble, the streets are almost Disney clean and the people seem friendlier. We like where we're staying in Nice, but Monte-Carlo is a lot of things that Nice (and Paris) are not: Clean, relaxed, uncrowded, safe, fresh! It even smells better. The sidewalks aren't crowded, the drivers are courteous (they voluntarily stop for pedestrians!) and the people are polite and friendly. None of the hurried pushing and shoving that seems so common elsewhere and it seems like there are Police on every corner watching over it all.

We had a fun time visiting the Musee de Oceanographique which after the hike up the steep hill was a welcome air-conditioned break. Lots of interesting fish and sea creatures, plus a fabulous view out to the Mediterranean and over the Monaco port from the "Panorama" on the roof of the building. From there we walked to the Palais and took a quick tour through. 

Next we went back down the hill to the main port/marina area that had a kids fair set up where the GP pits are placed. You could see the pit markings and tire tracks left by the F1 cars. I was the only one that wanted to walk the entire GP circuit (it's the #1 reason I wanted to visit Monaco!) so I went to do that while the others did a bit of shopping. 

For me, it was a real car-geek thrill to walk the streets of this famous race course. Another friendly tourist took my photo at the distinctive Loew's turn (is there a more distinctive turn in motorsport? Corkscrew @ Laguna Seca maybe...) As I walked through the tunnel under the casio I could only imagine the howl of multiple F1 engines through that darkened enclosure. To see the slight turn and the drop that must be navigated at 190+ mph while adjusting to the sudden light change - what a challenge! 

Overall, I think what struck me most about the course in person vs. watching on TV is the extreme narrowness of many parts of the track and the magnitude of the elevation changes. The charge up the hill after the pit-out is much steeper than it looks. From low down in a racing chassis the left turn at the top will be nearly blind. Punctuating my walk around were sightings of more exotic cars than I could count and I was too slow to photograph them either - McLarens, Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and even some pedestrian Porsches.

We were all in agreement about how genuinely pleasant we found Monaco to be. Food and drinks were reasonably priced, restaurants were not crowded and the people (tourists and locals alike) were polite and  courteous. We'd definitely like to go back some day. My really big bucket list item is to follow F1 for a season, travelling to all the races and touring in between. That one's a ways off, but today was a great day that I'm very grateful for. 

Tuesday Turnaround

Tuesday, August 10, 2010 at 11:43

Today started out a bit rough - L was sick last night and this morning and not feeling up for much. The weather was warm of course, but bit overcast. By noon, the sky was clear and bright and L was feeling better so we headed down to the beach. The girls and I went for a para-sailing ride which was really a lot of fun. L has wanted to do it for years and finally got her chance today. She had a bit of a rough landing and got the wind knocked out of her, but still enjoyed the experience. It reminded me a bit of hot-air ballooning; it's so quiet and calm while in flight. So a blah kind of day ended up on a great note for us. Tomorrow the plan is to head to Monaco for the day.
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How to tell if you are not The Stig

Monday, August 9, 2010 at 04:31
Are you under the impression that you are The Stig? There seems to be a lot of that going around. Here is a brief guide to things The Stig would not do. If you are a man and you do any of these, you are not The Stig:
  • Wear pink capri pants. On purpose. In public.
  • Ride a scooter. Especially a pastel coloured Italian scooter.
  • Worse, ride double on a scooter with another man.
  • Wear hair barrettes. 
  • Carry a purse. 
  • Drive a Renault Megane II in broad daylight.
If you're a woman, all of these activities are Stiggly and you may be the Stig (except the Renault of course).

What Would The Stig Do?

Street performers in Nice

Sunday, August 8, 2010 at 16:38

The fellow playing the accordion is the musician who serenaded us with his trumpet on our arrival. Tonight he's playing accordian while another woman sings Habanera from the opera Carmen.

It's nice in Nice

at 03:39
Had a bit of a crazy travel day from Paris to Nice. Through a long chain of events and a few issues with our e-tickets, we ended up missing our train. I rebooked us for another train 4 hrs later and had to pay extra even though we downgraded from 1st Class. The kids did some more shopping while we waited.

Instead of 4.5 hour direct in 1st we ended up on a 5.75 HR milk run in second. it was comfortable enough, but little room for luggage so we had to get a bit creative. Another 35 min wait for a cab and we had to literally fight off queue jumpers for our taxi and then bribe the cabbie to let us take our luggage in his fancy Mercedes cab. 

We finally made it to our apartment and were greeted by our host Jean who was super friendly and helped us get settled in and oriented in the neighborhood. 

We woke up to beautiful sunshine and a view if the sea from our terrace. We are one block off the beach on a nice little street with plenty of shops, including an excellent bakery right below us. Fresh fruit and pastries for breakfast today - yum! 

Other than a day trip to Monaco, we don't have much planned for this week other than relaxing and visiting the beaches. 

Paris' public bike rentals

Thursday, August 5, 2010 at 16:15

Today I took the time to find out how this bike rental service in Paris works. We've been seeing the bikes all over and lots of people using them. It's pretty simple, the system is called velib, and it's quite easy to use. The idea is that there are self-serve bike rental kiosks all over the city, especially close to subway stations and busy shopping or business areas. You can grab a bike anywhere and drop it off at another location near your destination. Rate are really cheap: 0-30 min is free, up to an hour is 1 Euro, and it goes up a bit from there. After 4 hrs, it's 4 Euro/hr, so it is definitely biased toward short term rentals.

We set up temporary short term subscriptions, but you can choose 1 week or longer subscriptions, or better yet it can be linked to a Navigo card, which looks to be a refillable metro (subway/bus) pass. The Navigo is RFID enabled so you don't even need to check in at the kiosk. You just choose a bike from the stand and wave your card over the receiver. When you arrive at your destination, you just roll it back into the lock mechanism, it beeps and locks up the bike and you're on your way.

The bikes themselves are nothing special, but they all appear to be in good condition, they have easily adjustable seats and were comfortable enough to ride. They have three speeds and are equipped with lights front and back, a carrying basket and a cable lock with a key you can use if you need to lock up somewhere where there is not a kiosk stand available. All in all, a convenient and inexpensive system for getting around this city. However, I do wonder if cycling here causes the same kind of brain damage that seems to have affected most of the scooter drivers here - they are completely insane!
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An odd duck BMW

at 15:47

Saw this car parked on the street in Paris today. I've never seen one of these, it's obviously a BMW and marked Z/1. I don't know anything about it. From the styling I'm guessing it's from the mid 1990's or so. I'm not sure what it is about it, but it looks to have a fibreglass or plastic body? I'll have to do some reasearch on this model to learn what's under the hood. I wonder if it was any good?

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tap, tap, tap.

Sunday, August 1, 2010 at 11:43
Just a test for dlvr.it updating service.

That is how I drive - FLATOUT!

Thursday, July 29, 2010 at 11:21

Rule #1 for driving "FLATOUT" - Fix the driver before you fix the car.
"I didn't point you by because I assumed you would crash in front of me or burst into flames."

Save the Manuals!

Thursday, July 22, 2010 at 11:12

Ladysmith All-British Car Show 2010

Monday, July 19, 2010 at 13:17

Deuce Days 2010

at 13:16

Sorry about Celine Dion

Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 13:23
Happy Canada Day, and we're really really sorry about Celine Dion.

That car thing I do

Thursday, May 27, 2010 at 12:19
Here's a good video documentary explaining the sport of autocross. The narration is kind of wooden, but it pretty much captures the essence and fun of the sport: Precision driving, improving your skills, camaraderie with other gearheads and (usually) a nice day outside in the sunshine.

Autocross Documentary from Stephen Chiang on Vimeo.

I love Mondays!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 at 12:15
When I first saw it last week, the video below from Philip McKernan really resonated with me. More than once in my life I've found myself dragging my ass into a job I wasn't enjoying and basically just working for the weekend. So I can say with authority that it's a killer. It wasn't that I had bad jobs or worked at bad companies; in fact, quite the opposite - I think I've worked for some great companies, with smart and engaged people that helped me to become better at what I do. But once the magic is gone and boredom at work sets in, wow is that a life-sucking experience. I really don't know how people can spend years in mind-numbing jobs and still be happy and satisfied with the non-work portion of their lives. Just doesn't work like that for me.

Lately, as I've been working some new business initiatives, I've found myself doing tasks that really aren't what I want to be doing or how I want to be spending my time, but because I can see the end goal I have in mind, doing them is not a problem. I've found that really interesting because in a different context of a Jay-Oh-Bee, I'd really resent having to spend my time on them, not digging in with enthusiasm.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this little pep-talk. If you're stuck in a rut you need to get out of, DO SOMETHING. Letting it ride hoping it gets better is a waste of time and opportunity. Like Philip says, "In the absence of clarity, take action!"

My new website - early preview!

Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 17:01
I've been working on this project for a while now and I'm almost ready launch! The project is a new and unique Lease to Own (Rent to Own) property listings website. I'm excited about this, not only because I've put a lot of time into it, but because I really do think it will provide a great product for a market that is currently under-served.

The goal is to not only provide quality listings of rent-to-own properties but to be a valuable resource of information for buyers and sellers alike. So in the interest of getting some early feedback, here's the link:


Check it out and either send me an email or post a comment here if you have comments or suggestions. It's a big job reviewing every aspect of a new project and after a while, it all starts to meld together into a blur. Having some more eyeballs looking it over will be helpful. Thanks, I'm looking forward to hearing what you think!

If you don't already know what Lease to Own / Rent to Own is all about, here's some basic info to get you started.

If you're an investor looking to try the site, from now until at least our formal launch, you can sign up for a free 60-day Gold Membership that will allow you to list your properties for sale and create your own company profile page.

The Widowmaker - Now with extra widow-making juice!

Friday, May 14, 2010 at 20:04
The Krazy Krauts at Porsche say the new GT2 RS 'Widowmaker' will do the 'Ring in 7.18. Are they $#@%ing serious? Check it out:

Fixed vs Variable Mortgage Rates - Which to Choose?

Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 16:42
This is a question that comes up in real estate discussions over and over again. Whether it's investors trying to manage their cash flow and overall expenses or homeowners looking for the best deal, the choice of fixed vs. variable rate can make a difference of thousands of dollars over the term of a loan.

The analysis isn't quite as simple as comparing fixed vs variable rates and taking a SWAG at what the bank prime rate will do in the future. The principal paydown on a mortgage varies over time (increasing with time), so a more precise analysis of fixed vs variable will look at the total cost (P + I) paid in various scenarios over a period of time.

To help understand the problem, I created a spreadsheet to analyze the cost differences between a fixed rate loan and several variable rate scenarios over a 5-year term. Five years is the typical term for a fixed-rate, closed mortgage so it makes sense to use that as the baseline comparison. I then modeled 3 different scenarios of rising interest rates: a low rate of 0.5% annual increase in the prime rate, an average rate of about 0.75% and a high rate of 1.25% increase. Obviously, there's no need to model flat or declining interest rates, since in those cases, the variable rate will always be cheaper.

Some additional assumptions/parameters of the analysis:

  • 25 year amortization
  • Bank Prime rate of 2.25% (this is actually irrelevant as all other rates are relative to this)
  • Fixed borrowing rate at P + 2% (more on this later)
  • Variable rates at prime
  • Variables rising at 0.5%, 0.75% and 1.25% annually
  • Prime moves up quarterly each year
  • Variable loan payments increase with each prime rate change
  • Costs calculated per $1000 borrowed
This graph shows the total (P +I) expense over a five year period, comparing a fixed rate with the three rising rate scenarios above:

So we see that in this case, only the highest rising rate ever costs more over the 5 year period. Comparing the costs on a percentage basis, that's even more obvious:

I also modeled a couple other scenarios:

1) What if prime moved up even faster? Here's the analysis for annual increases of 0.75%, 1.0%, 1.5%:
 Very similar to the first one. In this case, the highest increasing rate starts to cost more in the 3rd year of the loan, and the middle increase only costs more in the last year. Again, the percentage difference in total cumulative cost:

2) What annual rate of increase is required to exactly equal the cost of a fixed rate loan? Solving backward for this, we find that it's at about 0.825% annual increase for the 5 year term.

Percentage difference is (by definition of the solution) zero.

So the big takeaway here is this: Given a typical spread of 2% between fixed and variable rates, interest rates must increase at greater than 0.83% per year, every year for five years, before a fixed rate mortgage starts to cost less than a variable rate loan. Even in a climate of rising interest rates, if the annual interest rate increase is less than 0.83%, the variable rate loan is the better deal. That works out to a total increase of 4.25% in 5 years. So the question you want to ask is how likely is it that prime will increase by that much?

Another point to keep in mind is that in all scenarios, we're assuming the same prime +2% spread for the fixed rate, which is about the BEST available right in Canada now. This chart shows that some banks are currently quoting as high as prime + 4%! At that cost, prime would have to move steadily to over 10% in the next 5 years (+2% annual increase in prime) before a variable loan would cost more.

The spreadsheet I used to make this calculation is available in Google Docs for you to view or copy as you wish. If you choose to publish the spreadsheet elsewhere, I would appreciate an attribution. Thanks.

I was a bit unbalanced, but I'm much better now

Sunday, May 9, 2010 at 10:20
I had the opportunity yesterday to do a corner-weighting session on my car and a few others. For those that don't know, corner-weighting is done for race cars to even out as much as possible the amount of weight borne on each tire of the car by making adjustments to the suspension. Even weight distribution = better handling. The process is done using a special set of scales with a weight pad under each tire and a central readout.

While I don't have a set of those scales, I was fortunate to be able to borrow a set from a friend. I decided to make the most of the opportunity and got together with a few others from the Wild Rose Miata Club. We chose to do the work at Doug's Garage of Awesomeness and Car Parts Emporium. The Garage of Awesomeness has a lift, at least one (and usually two) of every useful tool known to man and enough spare parts inventory to build at least 1.5 complete cars from the leftover bits. As proof, see the photo at left. I mean really, who has that many 1/2in ratchet extensions? Show off.

So we started off the morning as any any great day starts: With hot coffee and Timbits. Then it was time to get down to business.

We started by lowering my ride height about 1 inch all around. This year I'm running some smaller diameter racing wheels (13in vs 15in) and it made sense to drop it down a bit more as I have an extra inch of fender clearance. I'm probably around 2-2.25 inches lower than stock now. I've got fairly stiff springs in the car, so bottoming out isn't much of an issue. I'm running at 12 in F, 12.5 in R, height measured from bottom of fender to center of hub.

Next up, the scales of truth. Good news! My Miata weighs quite a bit less than I thought it did. Weight without the driver and with 1/2 a tank of gas is 2075 lbs. That's encouraging as I haven't really done anything specific to add lightness to it. My racing seat is about 10lbs lighter than stock, but that's about it. I thought that the stock weight was around 2300lb but this is a good bit less than that.

Next step is to put the driver (that's me!) in the car and start adjusting the spring perches up/down as needed to balance out the weight. The target is for 50% crossweight and 50% F/R weight. Crossweight is defined as

(Right Front / Left Rear) / Total car weight

Adjustments are made at opposite corners of the car - RF/LR and LF/RR are adjusted in pairs to adjust the corner weights. It took us (and by "us" I mean "not me", because I was sitting in the car up on the lift) a couple rounds of adjustment, but the final setup was very close to the optimum.

With two of the cars (Doug's and Alvin's), we really lucked out because they needed no setup adjustment at all. They were already about as close as you'd need to be without making any new adjustments.

Doug's Car:

Admittedly, we forgot to put Doug in his car, but this was a pretty good result and he insisted we just leave it alone and move on to the next car. Not fixing something that isn't broken just doesn't seem right somehow and at this time I started to question Doug's sanity, but he was also wielding a large torque wrench and so I opted not to argue about it.

 Alvin's Car (without driver)

Alvin's Car (with driver)

Steven's Car (before adjustment, without driver)

Steven's Car (after adjustment, with driver)

Since we were already at the best shop in town, Steven took the opportunity to diagnose and fix a fuel leak at the fuel pressure regulator. In doing so, we discovered the custom bracket that holds the throttle cable to the intake was bent and almost broken off. No problem! After all the weighting was done, Doug fabbed up an even better stronger one from some angled aluminum. Nice work!

Shipwright's Disease

Saturday, April 24, 2010 at 11:23
I'm sad to report that I've come down with a bad case of shipwright's disease. I got started doing a few improvements to the Miata for this year's autocross season. Last year, all I did was change the oil and buy new tires. This year it was going to need a little bit more.

I needed new front hubs, since I had one wheel that was really noisy and getting sloppy. I'll just get that done quick before the season starts. No problem.

Except . . .

The best place to order is from Mazdaspeed Motorsports. Since I'm ordering from them and paying shipping from the USA anyway, I might as well order some of newer the R/LE type tie rod ends that have better geometry for lowered Miatas. And oh look, that's a decent price on adjustable sway bar links, let's just replace the stock links in the back as well.

Ok, so far so good. Then Chris C. gives me a good deal on his Diamond race wheels and Kumho V710s. No problem, pick those up too. Whee!

Buuuut . . .

I know the clutch is slipping and should probably be replaced. I can baby it and if I don't do hard launch drag starts it's not too bad. However, the new tires are a lot stickier and will make the clutch slip even worse. I was a little intimidated to tackle that job in my garage, but after talking to a few people and helping a friend do a clutch on his Miata (albeit on a lift, not on stands) I decide I can do the job. Well, if I'm pulling it all out anyway, might as well order up a lightweight flywheel at the same time.

No sense going in and not replacing the pilot and throwout bearings as well (and they come in the clutch kit).

And while I'm in there, it's a really good idea to replace the rear main oil seal and the transmission F/R oil seals.

Oh! Now I remember I have a braided stainless steel clutch line I bought two years ago and haven't installed yet. I have to remove the clutch slave cylinder anyway, so this is a good time to replace that line.

Come to think of it, I really don't know how old the clutch master/slave cyls are - probably best to replace both of those at the same time. It's no "extra work" to re-install a new slave instead of the old one.

Easiest way to get the room needed to drop the trans is to pull the exhaust off. Out of curiosity . . . 26 pounds?! Hmmm. That's more than I thought it would weigh. I know the muffler isn't original and it isn't a very sporting sound so maybe that should be replaced too.

Well . . .

Now I'm only 9 bolts away from having the exhaust manifold off and there's an inexpesive new header from Raceland that seems to be getting good reviews. OK, order that, done. Will get a new pipe and lightweight muffler put in at a local shop.

Only, in order to get to the exhaust manifold bolts, the intake has to come off. Well, since it's off anyway might as well modify it a bit for better airflow. And the new header will run without the factory heat shield, so I'll need to fabricate a new shield for the intake.

Oh, and due to a blown valve cover gasket a few years back, everything under the car is coated in a thick gooey black oil/dirt mixture. Makes for a very messy job. But since the transmission is out anyway, what better time to clean it up? So I loaded it up in the truck and took it to the local wand wash where I got a couple odd looks, but mission accomplished. See before, during, and after:

So what started as a couple simple jobs spiralled out of control until I had a garage full of old and new parts, a car missing several of it's important bits - like exhaust, transmission and wheels - and a stomach full of anxiety about my ability to put it all back together again.

Well, I'm happy to say that I'm mostly done now, save for a few minor tweaks and double checks. I did learn two interesting facts that you may want to know:

  1. There are at least 19 unique ways to spill transmission fluid on the floor, the car, your tools and yourself.
  2. It doesn't taste nearly as bad as you'd think.

A friend also pointed out: 
  1. (b) - There are at least 154 ways to discover you've spilled it (which usually involve soaking some part of your clothing or hair in the puddle)!

p.s. While putting the transmission and center console back in the car I found an aluminum shifter bearing I'd also bought a while back and then threw it in the console and forgot about. So I installed that too. So now I'm wondering what else I might have forgotten to do!

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