Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category

1994 Mazda Miata Engine Rebuild – Part 2

Well, in my previous post I wrote about some interesting cylinder marks on the #2 and #3 cylinders. Today I measured the head and found .033″ runout on the plane. I was so surprised, I literally measured it 9 times. The tolerance is .004″

After accepting that it was badly warped, I decided to do a more thorough inspection, and quickly found these little treats on the #2 and #3 cylinders:


#2 head crack

#2 head crack

#3 head crack

#3 head crack

So that explains it. #3 had the worse looking cylinder, and also the bigger crack.

For what it’s worth, I was never expecting to find this in my engine. The car burned oil, but it’s well documented that these engines seize their oil control rings. It never used any coolant as long as I’ve had it, and thought I was just going in for some routine (every ~150,000mi) maintenance.

Boy was I wrong.

Well, I guess I’m in the market for a new head, and seriously considering getting some more extensive work on the bottom end. I was content with just deglazing the cylinders, but now I know that the engine has had some bigger issues in the past (probably overheating) and it makes me much more suspect about the bottom end.


1994 Mazda Miata Engine Rebuild


For starters, these are just pictures of some weird issues in Cylinders #2 and #3 that I’ve never seen before. Photos of Cylinder #1 provided for reference.


1994 Mazda Miata engine with 180,000mi. Rebuild due to burning lots of oil. Found the oil rings on all four pistons to be seized.

I may update this post in the future with more info/pictures to make it a real post, rather than just a placeholder to share images.


Good looking cylinder #1

Good looking cylinder #1

Another angle of Cylinder #1

Another angle of Cylinder #1


Cylinders 2, 3, and 4.

Cylinders 2, 3, and 4.



Close up of cylinder #3

Close up of cylinder #3

Different angle of Cylinder #3, showing marks in sidewall

Different angle of Cylinder #3, showing marks in sidewall


Closeup of mirror-like finish in cylinder #1

Closeup of mirror-like finish in cylinder #1 Launched!!!

As many of you may know, I’ve been working on starting an eCommerce business selling waterproof bags and luggage. Just today, I listed the very first product for sale. I’m pretty excited about this. You can check it out here:


Soda Pop.

My friend posted this picture on facebook:

And I got to wondering about how the US cities would overlay, so I spent the 5 minutes to create an overlay.  Here’s the result:

Being from Western Massachusetts, I most certainly say “Soda.”  Living in Southern California, I still say it.  :)

This explains why no one could ever agree on this while I was going to school at RIT in Rochester, NY, as it’s right on the line.  Other locations of note are St. Louis, Green Bay, Indianapolis, Salt Lake City… and where else?

So, what do YOU say?


*Writing this post reminded me of a video I saw MANY years ago, in the early days of the Internet, before youtube. One of them, was a video of a guy drinking his first “soda pop” and I believe it was set to “Bitch” by the Rolling Stones. It may have been directed in a “Tarantino” style. It may have been called “pinecone.” My memory is surely questionable, but if any readers know what I’m talking about, please forward me along to the video as I couldn’t find it on youtube!

The Page-A-Day Calendars

In December, 2009 I got two page-a-day calendars for 2010.

Today, November 11, 2010, they’re both still showing February 12th.  Why did I save them, and why do I feel guilty at the idea of throwing them away now?  Why do I feel obligated to use them?

When I packed them up almost exactly 9 months ago, I felt the need to save them.  When I was cleaning my desk out just a few hours ago it struck me that it would do a disservice to the people who gave them to me to throw them away.  Yes, I feel guilt at the idea of throwing them away, unfinished, before the end of the year.

But the truth is I don’t really like page-a-day calendars.  I think they represent gasping for air while in a job, situation, or just generally smothering life.  They supplement real experience, and real enjoyment for “good enough” by taking away just that little bit of mundane and giving a light at the end of the tunnel, no matter how faint.  Or maybe they’re just kinda annoying.  Let us not forget the fact that I let them sit idle without a second thought for 3/4 of the year.  In fact, for those 3/4 of a year while I was actually living life I don’t think I gave them a second thought.

And here I am, debating whether I should throw them away, keep them, or go through every page I missed one by one.  The only reason I’m looking at them now is because I’m cleaning out the clutter from my life, starting with the material clutter.  Since I evidently don’t use them, and in some ways they cause me more stress than pleasure, it’s time to throw them away.

I apologize to those who gave them to me.  I value you in my life, but a page-a-day calendar just isn’t the right thing for me, at this time.  I do hope you’ll understand.  I don’t understand why I feel I need to apologize, but I do.  Thanks for the thought, but next time just give me hug or something.

Desk Lamp

Welcome to the inaugural “Projects” post!

This is what I designed this blog for.  The past few months have had a few other plans for me, so I’ve focused on some other things, but this is ultimately the core of this website – Making stuff.

Since this is the first post in this category, I’ll give a brief description of what I hope to do with my project write-ups:
1: Showcase my skills, creativity, and ingenuity.  Express my inner artist, and outer engineer.
2: Motivate myself to explore all reaches of my creativity, and challenge my abilities by putting my work on stage.
3: Motivate others to pursue their own project, or act as a catalyst to ignite new ideas in others.

So without further ado, here it is, my Desk Lamp:

Photo of the Desk Lamp

This project started out as welding practice, and quickly evolved from there.  The basic tube framework is what I was practicing welding on, and I started to get a bit carried away.  This would eventually become the base of the lamp.  I started welding the welding rod onto the tube frame in the “web” or “cage” that you can see in the pictures and at some point I decided it would be an awful waste of time, material, and energy if all this welding practice was just thrown away in the scrap bin… I decided to make it a lamp.

I needed something for the “stalk” of the lamp, something for the central column.  I had considered continuing to weld tubes in a haphazard way all the way to the top, but it was very time consuming, and I would prefer something a bit different and unique… not to mention easier and quicker.  After searching around the shop for a while, I happened upon this old bolt, which had the threaded section cut off.  I wanted the power chord for the lamp to be essentially hidden from view, I didn’t want it to ruin the aesthetic appeal of the rest of the structure, so I chucked the bolt up in a lathe and drilled it through.  This didn’t quite make the lamp tall enough, and I also needed something to mount the lamp socket on.

At this time, I had a pretty good idea of what my vision was for the overall product, and I took a ride to the store.  I got a standard light bulb socket from a hardware store, and the lampshade paper from a local art store.  The shade is made from “banana paper” and I wanted to use two different colors.  I wanted a lighter color for the bottom to cast more light on the desk surface, while having a darker color for the sides, so it creates some nice “mood lighting.”  I also wanted colors that would go well together.  Finally, I wanted the paper to have a visible texture to it, and the banana paper really fit that bill well.  The final test was shining a flashlight to the paper to see how well the light passed through it, and ultimately the banana paper ended up being exactly what I had in my mind’s eye.

Returning to the shop, I drilled a hole for the lamp socket in a small square piece of sheet metal (they always come with some mounting instructions that tell you what size hole you need) and welded four posts of thicker welding rod to the corners.  The cross bars are mainly for aesthetic purposes, just to maintain the theme with the base of the lamp and camouflage the chord some more.  In an effort to continue to keep the chord out of sight, I melted a hole in one of the base tubes and ran the chord through.  You can see this pretty clearly in the pictures.

The shade construction was the last part.  I ran four supports out from the base plate in the middle, and connected them into a larger square.  I knew I wanted it all to be asymmetrical, so I exaggerated that fact in places to make it clear that it was an intentional aspect of the overall design.  I ran the supports up to the top, and connected them again.  All of the shade supports are clearly visible through the banana paper.

I knew I wanted to cover the bottom of the lamp in paper, to give it softer lighting overall, and I also knew I needed to get the draw-chord through that plane of paper.  I knew it would need a guide so that it wouldn’t damage the paper over time, especially if I wanted the paper to fight tightly around the chord.  In an effort to continue to keep the overall design of the lamp unique, I made this guide tube extra long, and an intentional and attention-grabbing aspect of the design.  One key element was that I wanted the lamp to present the draw-chord to you.  I dislike how so many lamps have switches that are not immediately apparent, so I wanted the eye to be drawn to the switch itself as a key aspect of the design.  In a sense, the exaggeratedly long guide-tube is the lamp handing you the on/off switch.  The draw-chord itself was chosen specifically for it’s visual appeal, instead of using the standard one supplied with the light bulb socket, and the large bulb at the end further draws the user to the experience of turning the lamp on and off.

Finally, wrapping the shade frame in the banana paper was one of the more difficult aspects of the project, and actually the only one that I’m not satisfied with.  I used 3M Super 77 Spray Adhesive to glue the paper to the wire frame, after cutting the paper to length.  The glue works good, but I found it very difficult to get the paper cut to the right size and it ended up separating in places, as can be seen in the pictures.  Part of the difficulty is getting a good contact with the relatively small wire while the glue is drying.  This is something I plan on investigating in the future for improvements, and especially if I ever plan on selling this lamp I will need to remake the shade.  That is of course exactly why I bought a lot more banana paper than I needed and saved it – I knew this would be tricky!  If anyone has any suggestions on how to attach the banana paper, feel free to let me know!

Most of my projects that have tangible results are potentially for sale, such as this one.  If you’re interested, you can send me an e-mail at  If you like my work and have an idea for a project of your own that you would like help with, I am available for your personal projects on a contract basis.

Valve Removal

Hey Everyone!

First off I’m going to apologize to my loyal readers for being away so long.  I’ve been moving around a lot lately and time is precious…  Also in my spare time I’ve been lazy.

Anyways, I have a few projects coming down the line which I’ll hopefully be turning into content for this blog in the next few months.  Also I recently got my video camera up and running again, so I decided to do a video entry.

This is part of my larger BMW e30 Turbo Project.   This is a project I started many years ago, and thus hasn’t yet been featured on this blog, but over time it will probably have a few posts centered around it as there are many aspects to that project.   The car recently had some reliability issues due to a variety of factors including negligence, fate, and dumb (bad) luck.  I’ll outline it real quick:  The motor was detonating after the latest upgrades which included doubling the amount of boost I was running, to a full atmosphere of boost (14.7psi).   I was tuning it out when the engine suddenly died.  Investigation quickly revealed that the cam siezed.  Further investigation revealed that an important retaining piece for the rocker shafts was not in place, further investigation also revealed that one of the head bolts was stripped out of the block.  These factors all combined to blow the head gasket, which then probably overheated the head, which loosened up the rocker shafts, which then rotated, which then cut off oil flow to the cam, which then seized.

Anyways!  I got a new head, and decided to do some rebuild work (new valve seals… I’m skipping on the guides for a variety of reasons) and decided I would try out video posting.

So here’s my first video post about how to remove valves from the head of an engine as it’s not entirely obvious if you’ve never done it before.


Valve Removal

I’ll probably put this up on YouTube soon and then figure out the whole embedding thing, but this is what I’ve got for now.


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