Quarterly Update

It seems like that’s what these have been, anyway.

I was finally able to figure out what was wrong with the CRX. When I rebuilt the engine, I had someone else rebuild the head and take care of any bent valves and the like. It appears that they got in too big of a hurry reinstalling the Auxiliary Intake Valves on the #1 and #2 cylinders.

The red arrow shows the o-ring that is the oil seal for the valve assembly which is inserted in from the top of the head, not from the bottom through the combustion chamber like a normal valve. The yellow arrow is the sliver of rubber that got shaved off when they inserted the assembly into the head. After 30,000 or 40,000 miles (might be more, I don’t remember now), the o-ring got heat hardened and started pouring oil right down on top of the spark plug. Which explains that gross, grainy, oily crap coating the valve face.


It took way too long to get this figured out but I’m glad I finally did. I started with the valve seals on the #1 cylinder, then #2, dumped a bottle of ring seal in the oil, replaced the rings on #1, then finally changed these o-rings on the #1 and #2 Aux valves. The car hasn’t smoked a puff since then as far as I can tell. Check that one off the list and move on!

When I got the Leaf master cylinder installed on the Supra firewall, it looked like this:


It isn’t bolted in, but notice the thickness of the aluminum adapter plate. Looks pretty good but there were two problems with it. One I saw right away – the clevis on the MC actuator was about a half inch away from the brake pedal. The other problem I didn’t notice until I was taking some pictures to post on here. This next picture is from the passenger side looking across the engine bay.


That arrow is pointing to the filler cap for the MC and it is sticking above the fender line. Everything had to come apart and I needed to do some more machining. In the end I cut the aluminum adapter down by about half and machined in an angle to try and drop the nose of the MC to fit under the hood. The end result is about 1/4 inch of clearance. I’m really hoping that’s enough. Oh, the clevis reaches the brake pedal now, too. I love two for one problem solving.


The white line below is a nylon string I stretched across the bay from fender to fender to measure that clearance.



I got a new Samsung S7 and I really like the way it takes low-light pictures. This is looking up from the floor boards with an LED drop light off to the side and no flash.

My next task is to get the ABS pump mounted. On the Leaf it mounts to the frame on the other side of the bay from the MC. And it’s actually higher than the center line of the MC.


The arrow and the poorly drawn box are an attempt to show where it sits in the Leaf.

If I were to mount it to the Supra frame, this is where it would sit:


Way down low. I don’t think that should be a problem, but I’m still thinking about it. I do think I need to go buy some brake line and rebuild all the lines rather than try and stretch and rebend the Leaf brake lines. One reason is that the Supra only has one line going to the back brakes that splits out to the separate wheel cylinders back by the back axle.  I want to upgrade that to individual lines for safety and control.


Well, I’m out of pictures and out of words so I’ll publish this and we’ll see what happens next.

Thanks for watching.



Quick-ish update

I am going to keep this on the short side today. I did some more work on the coupling and got rid of the “ears” that were hanging from it. I have some pictures but they’re on my phone and I don’t feel like transferring them over at the moment. There is still a lot of work to do on the coupling, though, and I really need to figure out how or whom to get it done.

I also did some work on the brake pedal. I was reading in the service manual and found out that the device I had marked as the Regen Pot is actually the Brake Pedal Position Sensor. It sounds like if that doesn’t move at the same rate the brake pedal does, the brakes won’t work right. So, I figured out how to mount the sensor on the side of the brake pedal assembly.

Modified Brake Pedal Assembly, side view.

The arrows point to the bend in the arm of the sensor and the washer I welded to the brake pedal to capture it. The bracket for the sensor is welded to the assembly and the booger welds ground down enough so they don’t look entirely horrible.

Modified Brake Pedal Assembly, front view.

This arrow points to the extra platform I added to catch the plunger of the second switch for the Leaf brake system. To the left you can see the two brake switches. The grey one is the actual brake light switch while the brown one is the “brake position” switch. Above the brake pedal you can see the two holes for the switches. There’s a spring over to the top right that I should see if I can get on there somewhere. It is a return spring that seems designed just to keep the weight of the pedal from pushing on the shaft of the master cylinder.

At the suggestion of a friend, I made silicone mold of the motor shaft and then cast it in plaster with an eye toward using it to get an accurate inside spline somehow cut in the coupler. I actually made two of them; the first covers just the splines and the second goes all the way to the face of the motor. The second one isn’t quite round, so I don’t think it will actually be useful. I don’t think I really need it to go that far since the coupling won’t sit that far up.

Side view of Plaster cast of Leaf motor shaft.

Side view of plaster cast of Leaf motor shaft. I painted the bottom black to give it more contrast for the next picture. The silicone material I used was sensitive enough that it picked up the lettering ink printed on the side of a bottle. It also picked up all the tool marks on the shaft.

Top View of Casting of Leaf Motor Shaft with the top shaved off.

Top View of Casting of Leaf Motor Shaft with the top shaved off. You can see some of the tool marks on the bottom of the picture. I shaved off the top, flat section so I could get a good look at the base of the splines. I will import this into my CAD program and draw lines to match the shape of the splines.

I found the pieces I cut out of the firewall and I’m going to weld them back into place so the brake booster is properly supported. Or, maybe I can talk a friend into doing it since my welding is so barbaric. We’ll see.

I don’t have the CRX fixed up yet, but that is rapidly climbing up my list of things to do. Fortunately, gas is still relatively cheap.

Well, that’s all I have for now. I’ll keep you posted as things progress.


It’s a Brake-through.

Yeah, okay. That’s a cheesy title, but it actually fits.

First, though, I got a lot of demolition done over the summer. I have the dash removed and a good bit of the stuff underneath it taken out and sitting in the back seat. I still have to take out the HVAC system and see if I can get that to fit in the Supra. I also have to finish pulling the wiring harness out.


I took the advice of another dismantler/repurposer and labeled everything I could while taking it apart. You can see the label maker in the back there. You’ll also see a couple of the labels later on.

I pulled the drive train and spent a lot of time (too much, really) fiddling with how I was going to make the coupler and motor adapter plate.







It doesn’t look all that big, but it weighs a lot. I didn’t put it on a scale but I have trouble lifting it and wouldn’t want to carry it very far.


Testing the alignment. It appears that however long my coupler ends up being, that’s how thick the adapter plate will be. Pretty handy, if you ask me.

Do you remember how much I said I got for taking all that ICE scrap to the recyclers? $25, to refresh your memory. Well, after wasting a bunch of time trying to draft a coupler in DesignCAD 3D Max, I realized that if I cut the end off of a crank, the biggest part of the machining would be already done. So I found a used crank from a guy up the road and paid 40 bucks for it. The irony is killing me.

After more hours than I want to recount, this is what I needed. I still need to get rid of the rest of the balance weights and round it out some more. I’m going to get someone else to do the actual machining since my lathe is too small to turn something this big, and I’ve never had much success turning steel or iron. I have never tried to cut an inside spline, either. I don’t want to mess this up!


I’m a little concerned about the oiling galleries but I’m hopeful that they’ll be okay.


Now on to the title reference.

I originally thought I could somehow shoehorn the Leaf brake/throttle pedal assembly into the Supra. After taking the assemblies out of both cars and setting them side-by-side, I knew that wasn’t going to happen.



The other problem was getting the Leaf master cylinder to fit on the Supra. The holes were completely different. I realized that after drilling and cutting a bunch of holes in the firewall.


There had to be a better way. While talking to a friend of mine who’s a real gear head, he suggested cutting a chunk out of the Leaf firewall and welding it in place on the Supra. Looking at the way the pedals were shaped, I really didn’t think that was a good idea. But it did start the train of thought that lead me to the solution.


This is the bracket that bolts on to the end of the Leaf master cylinder. It’s kind of like they plan on using the same mechanism on different platforms. Great news for me.


Nobody’s gonna want this piece of junk so it became a donor part. I cut off the section holding the bolts that run through the firewall.


I machined a couple pockets for the backside of the bolts, cut the ears off the adapter, and drill and tapped some holes then bolted it all together. Finally, I stuck some weather stripping on there to help seal out noise and drafts but I don’t have any pictures of that.



It fits and there’s a lot of room for wiring and plumbing. Man, that makes me happy. The clutch master cylinder is there on the bottom right.

I still have a few things to figure out on the pedal side, though. I have figured out how to mount the two Leaf switches (no pun intended) onto the Supra assembly, but I need to figure out how to mount the regen pot on there. I cut the bracket for that off the other day but haven’t found a good way to get it mounted in the right place or how to get it to interact with the brake pedal yet. At the same time I need to figure out how to mount the throttle pedal. In the Leaf it’s mounted on the brake assembly but, again, that won’t fit in the Supra. I have a couple ideas simmering in the back of my mind but they aren’t quite ready to test out.

That’s all I have for now. I need to pick up the pace on this since my CRX is in starting to fall apart. It’s burning oil like a really bad diesel and it’s gotten so embarrassing to drive, I’ve actually started driving the Durango. The fact that it fouls the number one plug in about a weeks time tells me it needs more work and attention than I want to give it. I think I’m going to have to do a ring job on at least one cylinder. I have the parts but it’s starting to get cold and I will have to do it outside. Wah. The Durango gets less than half the MPG that the CRX does so it’s an expensive trade off. I’m starting to ramble so it’s time to send this to the printers. See ya next time.

Making some room.

I finally got the other side of the garage cleared out enough to move the Leaf in. I confess to being a bit envious of folks who have big garages. I barely have room to move with two cars in mine.

Oh, well. It is immensely better than trying to do this all outside. Been there, done that. I changed out the clutch in a ’98 Honda Civic one December in Northern Idaho on the uncovered patio. That was a frigid task.

Back on subject. After using up about three and a half hours changing out the brushes on the alternator in my CRX daily beater, I spent a couple of hours pulling stuff off the front of the leaf and marking cables and components. I hope to get some more done tomorrow as we have a bye week in our softball league.

In the Laboratory...

In the Laboratory…

A bit snug, he whined.

Front end June-27-15

Front end June-27-15


A door?

A door?


That’s the door into the garage. Right behind me is a small chest freezer. But there is a little more room with the charge port removed. This car came with a quick charge port, which I happy about.

That’s it for today. I’m trying to be a bit more communicative since I tend to just do the work and not talk about it. I know that doesn’t help any one who has an interest in what’s going on so I want to spend a little more time writing up these short updates instead of waiting and writing  a big update.


“Abby someone.”

Just when you gave up all hope that there would ever be another update, here’s an update.

I didn’t think there would be much to say for another while yet but I knew I should at least say something, even if just to let everybody know that I was still working on the project. I will confess that I had become a bit (okay, a lot) lazy about doing anything to the car. However, since the last update I have hauled the old engine parts off the recyclers, cleaned most of the grease and oil off the transmission, started the CAD file for the adapter plate, and, as the reference in the title may have given away, acquired an organ donor vehicle. So I did get some things done and that last item will be the catalyst to get this project really moving again.

During Christmas break I hauled off 485 pounds of steel, aluminum, and plastic from the engine, the exhaust, and what ever else I knew I wouldn’t need. I realize in hind-sight I should have sorted it out better and made them pay me for each type separately. Instead, it all went for the scrap steel price of 5 cents a pound, or a grand total of 24 dollars and 25 cents. The guy rounded it up to $25 because I had told him what I was doing and he wanted to “contribute to the project”. That was a real disappointment. I can’t help but think, though, that if I had sorted it correctly I could have made a whole $30… maybe.

20150102_141427 20150102_141439

I read online that steam was a great way to get grease and oil off of engines so I went looking for a steam cleaner. Harbor Freight has a nice portable-ish one for about $130 but they don’t carry it in-store; you have to order it. So I got a wallpaper removing steamer that was about 15 years old from a friend. It produced a very wet steam that wasn’t all that hot and, while it did work, it didn’t work as well as I had hoped. After getting most of the inside of the bell housing cleaned out, or at least the first layer, I decided to pass the steamer on to someone who needed one for actually removing wallpaper. In an earlier post you can just see what the inside of the bell looked like before, below is after.

This is telephoto shot I took the other day from about 15 feet away to use as an aid for the hole layout in CAD. It think it’s working fairly well, as shown in a later picture, but we’ll see.


This is a look at what the transmission body looks like before and after a good scrub with just a wire brush. I have a lot more of it done, I just don’t have a newer picture of it. I’m thinking of giving it a  detergent rinse, too.


Here is the start of the adapter plate. Still lots to do, but at least I have some number and circles in place. Okay, they are really hard to see in this picture, but they are there.



And finally, the donor. In spite of the title of the post, I’m not going to call it Abby Normal.


Looking at that picture, you have to ask why would I even think of using it as a parts car? Well…


There’s always another side of the story. These are from after I pulled a bunch of broken stuff off the front of the car.

20150529_155309 20150529_161738 20150529_161717More broken stuff…

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The wheel looks kind of like a Pringles potato chip. In that last picture, if you look closely just below center, you can a see a bent rod between the frame and the strut. That’s the swaybar link and it should be straight. Just above that, you can see the brake line smashed against the frame. Also, the strut itself is a bit smashed and bent. The radiator is busted and bent. The water pump is busted. The AC condenser is bent like a bow tie, as is the frame member just below it. The aluminum bumper is bent. Both headlights are broken and the charge port is pushed off to the right. I don’t know what they ran into, but it sure left a mark.

The car is a 2015 Leaf with 2542 miles on it that I bought at a salvage auction in Portland for just under $11,000. It still has that new car smell. After I bought it, I was having a bit of buyer’s remorse for spending as much as I did until I started looking at the price of used 2012 and 2013 Leaf’s with around 25,000 miles and up on them. I have a much nicer, newer platform to pull parts from with a lot less wear and tear on the overall drive train, especially the batteries, for a couple thousand dollars less. I’m pretty much over my remorse.

I bought the Leaf Spy Pro app and found that the car has had 2 quick charges and 65 Level 1/Level 2 charges. That’s barely broken in. It is just a base model S, without any of the fancy nav system or other stuff that would be fun to try to stuff into the Supra but it did have one thing that made me very happy…


A 6.6 kW charger. The other choice was 3.3 kW and that would have been a pity.


Well, it’s late and I think that’s all I have to tell you for now. I’ll keep working on this and I’ll try to do a better job of communicating what’s going on. But I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you. I’m better at just doing than telling what I’ve done.




The biggest step, so far.

Late last week, someone let me borrow their engine hoist. They even dropped it off at the house. I just had to put it back together. I thought it was a bit odd that they had taken it apart, but whatever.

Yesterday’s big project was to yank the gas engine out and pull the transmission off of it. I had already pulled the shifter out and removed the motor mount bolts so it only took about 15 minutes from the time I started lifting to the time I set the engine on the ground. It took another hour or so to get everything separated and pictures taken, though. Pictures are below their caption.

Everything hooked up and ready to go. With the chain hooked where it is, the assembly was very well balanced. The output shaft of the transmission hung about 5 inches lower than the front of the motor. I don’t have any pictures of the in-between steps, but I did record a video of it. I’m probably not going to post it, though, if for no other reason than it’s not all that interesting.


And there it is.


Before and after. Lots of room now. At least until I get some stuff to put back in there.


These came apart pretty easily, too. Pulled the bolts, grabbed the pry bar and did a little levering.


I will need to get this gunk cleaned out of the bellhousing. I’m not going to miss all this oil and grease.


The “magic number” on this transmission, the distance from the front of the bellhousing to the face of the flywheel, is 1.8 inches.The style of motor, the size of the motor adapter and this number is what determines how thick the adapter plate has to be.

The flywheel weighs just over 18 pounds so I’m considering getting a lightened one, but they are a bit pricey.


When I hooked up the battery to move the car into the garage (oh, so long ago), I wondered why the stereo didn’t come on. I found out yesterday. Somebody had an aftermarket stereo in there and just bolted the stock one in when they sold it; either to me or the guy I bought it from. And, they left all the raw wires hanging out behind there. Shouldn’t be too hard to track down what goes where, though.


That’s all I’ve got for this update. I’m probably going to be doing more design work for a bit so I should be able to clear the other side of the garage so the wife can park inside for the winter. That will make her happy.

See ya next time.

Finally, a real update.

Well, I said I would do it and now I have. Want to hear my excuses this time? No? Yeah, me either. So, on with the show.

Way back in December of 2013, I decided that I had the rust cleared out and the patch panels welded in well enough to reinstall the shock tower. When I did, though, something didn’t look quite right…


Yikes! That’s a lot of light coming through there.


Yup, I bent the snot out of the tower when I pried it out of there. It took me awhile to figure out how I was going to remedy that situation but we’ll get to that later.

In the mean-time, one of the things I have wanted to do is figure out how to get a model of the important areas of the car into a CAD program so I could tinker with it and see how things might fit together. After scouring the web (google and a couple hours time, really), I came across a program called ReconstructMe (http://reconstructme.net) that uses a Kinect sensor and a PC to do 3D scanning. It works pretty well but the evaluation version of the software leaves a bunch of giant globes hanging around that have to be dealt with. I used Meshlab to do that with somewhat mediocre results. I found a different scanning program earlier this year but I can’t remember the name of it, and it doesn’t look like I downloaded it. I have some more physical stuff to do on the car before I worry about that again, though.

The scanner bed I used is actually an RC car chassis that I had laying around. It worked a lot better than trying to keep everything steady scanning by hand.


It catches quite a bit of detail as you can see below but it still leaves a bunch of holes. I think that has as much to do with technique as it does the capabilities of the equipment.

Raw output from the scanning program in Meshlab.


Edited meshes from underneath and from above in the trunk area.


The gaping hole in the spare tire well is due to me not setting the distance threshold correctly. The hole at the top right is the missing shock tower, and the one at the bottom right is the pocket where the rear washer fluid tank sits. And again, not scanning far enough to the side.

I’ve been trying to get them into DesignCAD 3D, but I’m having a struggle teaching myself the program. I will get back to it and muddle my way through, probably when the days get short again.

By February of this year, I had decided what I was going to do to get the shock tower back in place. With that in mind, I sprayed the area under the tower and the backside of the tower with weld-through primer. I decided to use SEM 39783, but this isn’t really an endorsement, it’s just what I picked off the shelf at the auto body store. It works and doesn’t seem to impede the welding in any significant manner.


Doesn’t look too bad like that, does it? It hides all the ugly welds and grinder marks.

After that, I bolted the tower back into place using the holes I drilled throughout the tower. It looks a bit like a porcupine in this shot. This is when I got it all bolted up.


This is as far as I had gotten by April.


After working on it off and on since then, here it is now. I even have that missing piece from the front edge welded back on. I hammered the curve into this piece so I didn’t have to do anything more than clamp it in place to weld it. Just a couple more holes and it’s done. Then I’ll go get some goop and cover up all the seams and paint that whole area. After that, I’ll decide if I want to tackle the other side right away or move on to the drive-train for awhile.


With the end of this side in sight and with the garage being a little hot for welding (no seriously, it was like 85F in there), I did a little cleaning out of the engine bay.

This is what it looked like when I got the car.


This is what it looks like now.


Now I have another pile of stuff I need to get rid of, including the block when I get it out of there. This is just the new pile, I don’t have a picture of the intake and some of the other stuff that I pulled out earlier.


That’s all there is on the car.

Random picture of the post:

I was doing some work on the Durango and needed a place to put the spare tire. I told my wife maybe I should put a lift kit under the Supra. She didn’t seem at all amused even though my brother thought it looked pretty cool.


Here’s another side project I did last year and updated this spring. I made this device for a friend I play softball with. It screws into the end of his prosthetic right arm and gives him a lot more stability when he’s batting. He is a natural right-hander and still bats that way. He’s gone from batting around .100 to at least .750 and he hit a few doubles and a triple in our last few games this year. He is very happy with it and I’m glad he likes it. The bolt, nut and screws are steel and the rest is aluminum. I tried plastic for the clip at first but that didn’t last very long, too much shock. I don’t have a picture of it, but I also lined the clip with a couple strips of bicycle inner-tube.


I think that’s pretty much everything I’ve got to say today. Now I need to give the keyboard a break. My fingers, too.

I’ll be back with more before Halloween, maybe even before Labor Day.

Thanks for wasting some time with me.