Monday, September 6, 2010

A New Update; A Small Change to the Garage and Some Other Stuff (including some questionable shop practices?)

It has been a while since I posted to this blog. No one ever comments on my posts so that kind of saps me of my motivation to spend a lot of time talking about projects in the garage, but thanks to “anonymous” who posted a gratifying comment this week I decided to post again. It definitely means a lot when I know that my posts are helpful to others out there. Thanks “Anonymous”, you rock!

I was long overdue to do some routine maintenance on my old Dodge Ram(2001) so I decided to pull it into the shop this week. Holy cow it took us something like 5 times to get the truck straight into the lift so I decide enough was enough and it was time to put some sort of guides onto the floor. Check this out:

033 034

As you can see in the above pics we took some yellow duct tape and marked our parallel lines from the inside of the lift. Because this rotary lift is built with a bit of angle between the posts it is really hard to judge how straight you are as you approach the lift. These lines help TONS when positioning a vehicle in the lift – especially if you have someone standing up front spotting for you. As you know, if the vehicle isn’t straight you run the risk of having one of the arms being unable to reach the frame securely which introduces some hazard to the job.

Doing this was fun and allowed us to practice some math skills at the same time. Each line runs 12 feet towards the garage door from the lift posts. Between the posts, the lines were 92.5 inches apart. Doing some simple geometry, we were able to compute that the end point of each line should be 171.15(if I remember correctly) inches from the opposing start point. Think right triangle! Once we measured everything out we had a perfectly square markup. Next we chalk lined the run and laid down the tape. Easy! If I ever get an epoxy floor, I’ll make sure lines similar to this are painted permanently onto the concrete.

Once I got the truck onto the lift it was time to focus on that routine maintenance. I’ve bought a lot of crap for my vehicles, but it turns out that a lot of it isn’t really crap at all. Check out this oil pan drain plug, for instance.


I got this thing from Geno’s Garage and have not regretted it! The cool thing about it is that it has a perfectly secure seal until you are ready to drain the oil. One simply pushes the lever out of the notch and moves it to begin draining the oil. There is absolutely no risk of stripping the threads in the pan.


037 The best thing about this drain plug? No oil stained hands as you remove a plug during the last few threads.

Another great addition to the truck? Mag Hytec differential covers. This one for my rear differential, for example:

039 The great thing about these things is that they come with a very high quality dip stick to help you determine not only the quantity of lubricant, but the quality as well. I pulled this stick today and discovered some really dirty looking fluid. Draining it was easy because of the drain plug on the bottom.


Fast Coolers. This truck has a 6 speed manual transmission on it. I installed some Fast Coolers on it a while back and while I have no idea if they have helped curb transmission temps I do feel more confident pulling the 5th wheel knowing that they are there.

040 I do have one complaint though. There is no dipstick to gauge fluid level. On the top of the right cooler there is a fill plug with a magnet on the end but because it’s not really in the fluid it doesn’t really pick up any metal. I came really close to pulling it all apart today to clean up the internal magnet but decided against it for now. I did drain it and will fill it with fresh oil this week as soon as it arrives.

OK, so to the questionable shop practices issue. A few weeks ago I did a brake job on my G35.

003 013 As I was working on the car everything was going really well until I took out the old pads and noticed something suspect on one of the pads from the drivers side:


Does anyone see a problem with this picture? Here is the pad from the other side:

020 Obviously the drivers side indicator has been bent to produce the typical sounds associated with a worn pad much sooner than it should produce those sounds. The question is, was this a factory defect or was this bent in the shop. I took the car in for routine maintenance early after purchase before my garage was constructed, so I wonder. Obviously I could have waited to do this job 10 or 15 thousand miles if this defect wasn’t present.

Anyway, that’s it for now. Stay tuned for an update that includes some home improvement work that is going on here. Thanks for reading! Wayne


  1. Nice work.. I do check your site. Got it on my fav's bar. Just changed the front pads on the truck at work. Same exact thing. The wear sensor was bent on one of them. It probably could have gone 6 months atleast. Just wish lifts were standard in all home garages!!

  2. Hey Todd,

    That's odd that you also experienced this problem with a bent wear indicator. Could it be common practice with new cars to get them back to the dealer sooner than normal? I only left my car with two places: the dealer and a tire change shop on one occasion.

    I get you about the lift comment. I do not miss getting rocks down my shirt while working on the cars in our gravel driveway so long ago. While it's not a toy and is certainly dangerous, I absolutely love having that lift!


  3. Hi Wayne! I see that you haven't posted in quite some time but I figured I would try to contact you. I recently bought a used Dodge Ram myself and like you plan on pulling a 5er. Hey if you haven't checked it out, I belong to the & have been an imense help in my truck search and general info! Anyway I also live in Raleigh/Durham & am a software engineer by trade! Long story short I'm trying to see if there is a garage anywhere where I can do some basic maintenance myself as opposed to going to the stealership. I was just wondering if you would consider renting out your garage every now & then? I'm not sure if that presents an insurance issue, but I'd be happy to sign a waiver, etc... In anycase, even if you do not want to go down that road I'd love to have a chance to chat as we seem to have similar interests and live nearby!