Sunday, February 4, 2024

Automotive Technology Update #1

Kia 4 cylinder, removing the chains and tensioners.

On January 8th I started class in the Automotive Technology program at York Technical College, so from time to time I'll give a little update on how things are going. As normal with the NMS blog, I reserve the right to highlight dumb stuff (hey, that timing chain was broken before I touched it!) and leave out the bad news (like if I get bad grades!) and generally, show off how little I know about car repair. Along the way I hope to actually learn a lot and put it to use in the real world by taking care of my cars, and just maybe using that skill to drive faster at track and autocross events. Odds are that I won't get a big gig at a NASCAR team in Charlotte, or work at a Porsche dealership, but who knows!

In this video, we're looking to see how the engine mounts are holding up on a BMW Z4. If you watch the far side of the engine, it really hops up in the air, so it's time to replace those motor mounts. 

If you want to read about someone who went from being a mechanic at car dealerships (BMW and Ferrari in this case) to working on cars in Formula 1 (Benetton), as well as becoming a published author, check out the book by Steve Matchett titled The Mechanic's Tale. His description of applying for and getting into an F1 team, and the experience of his first weekend working at a race are eye-opening to say the least. Bottom line up front, if the team issues you new uniforms and work boots, you might want to get those boots broken in before working about 4 days straight at a race in Monaco! After his time in F1, Steve spent some time as a broadcaster on F1 TV coverage, so I enjoyed hearing his mechanic’s perspective on racing.

File this under "Some problems are easier to identify than others!" Broken connecting rod, with the top half pretty much welded onto the piston for good measure. The bottom end of the rod stayed connected to the drive shaft, so the damage inside the block was just "really bad" and not "catastrophic, but either way you can stick a fork in this one, because this block is done. 

My first class is Engine Repair, so in the first few weeks we've studied different engine designs, and then gotten into removing them from the car, disassembly, and cleaning. There have been reading assignments, with enough videos and hands-on time in the shop to keep us busy. We've learned about various engine checks, compression tests, oil pressure tests, engine mount checks, and covered the importance of being safe in the garage. We've been measuring parts and clearances in accordance with the specifications for things like piston bore, crankshaft parts, and oil pump wear. Our instructor is a Master Certified ASE technician, with decades of experience working in car dealerships that rhyme with "Ford." Along the way, I've seen him go way out of his way to connect with students, and help them with their own car issues, and mostly use his experience to help us understand what we're doing and why we're doing it. 


Besides learning in the classroom and taking apart engines on an engine stand, we’ve also done some work on real cars in the shop, sometimes using student’s cars too. Later this semester I'll also be in Emission Systems, Ignition and Fuel Systems, and some basic English class because this is an associate degree program. I was kind of thinking my English class from my bachelor's degree would count, but apparently not, so what the heck. Maybe I can learn me some gooder English two! Those typos were on purpose, honest. 

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