Saturday, April 26, 2014


This isn't a project log like most of my posts, because the project at hand is so geeky, and so well documented elsewhere, that I wasn't even going to post it. But, something interesting happened so I wanted to log that, at least. The project (now completed) is to convert my mini mill from a spring-type lift to an "air spring" - sort of like an automotive shock absorber to lift the mill head.  The bit in the red circle below is what went away - the spring is under the round cover:

Friday, April 25, 2014


You wouldn't think that cupholders would be a great source of controversy, but in the BMW world they have been for years. Long after American auto makers were putting useful cupholders in cars, BMW either omitted them, or made them so inconvenient to use that you might as well not have them. Legend has it that when asked, BMW engineers would disdainfully say things like, "You Americans and your beverages. Don't drink - drive!"

Even as late as 2005, BMW was still making cupholders that held only small cups, and somehow managed to work poorly while still being masterpieces of German over-engineering. The left photo below shows the driver's side cupholder in the Z4 in the closed position, and the right photo when open:

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Transmission - DONE!

After the HUGE effort that Kelly Williams helped me with (parts 1, 2, and 4), along with Bob Zimmerman (part 3) and Troy Nace (also in part 4), along with some serious tool development and trans repair by myself in part 5, it was finally time to put everything together and get the car going again. John Zimmerman was the person who helped with the heavy lifting to finish the project in this post, part 6. What a project. Along the way, I wondered if all this effort could possibly be worth it, but now that everything is working and really, really improved I can say: YEAH! What a sense of accomplishment to get a transmission out that seriously didn't want to be disturbed, renew all that needed to be renewed, and put it all back together.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Pairing the Z4

My recently purchased 2005 BMW Z4 has turned out to be a fine daily driver, as long as there's not snow on the road. But one thing that puzzled me was how to get my phone paired to the Bluetooth that was clearly built in. I'm a real believer in having Bluetooth in the car for phone use. I always cringe when I see an SUV bearing down on me, with a distracted driver holding a phone to his or her head.

In 2005, Bluetooth was quite new, and BMW chose to treat that pairing code like a bank PIN, with unique numbers to each car. The car was delivered with a slip of paper containing the code, but that was long gone. I did some Internet research, and could scarcely believe what I saw - I'd have to disassemble a good bit of stuff to uncover where they hid the code in the car. But I confirmed that fact with Rob Howry at Faulkner BMW, so this afternoon I dug in.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Transmission Progress!

After I completed the detent repair on my transmission, it was time to prepare to re-install it. First up was rebuilding the shift mechanism, which basically involves replacing everything that isn't metal. Not hard, and I had ordered the parts months ago. The time-consuming part was just cleaning all the grease and gunk off.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A Good Day at the Grant St. Garage

Last night, Kelly and I met at the GSG to put my newly-repaired transmission back in. That's a whole 'nother story that I'll report soon. This story is about my parking lot, which has been a muddy mess in bad weather ever since I bought the property two years ago.

While I was waiting for Kelly, I was working in the shop with the overhead door open. A very nice, and very large, Dodge crew cab pickup stopped, and three men got out. One introduced himself, and said, "We're with Penn Paving, and we're paving right around the corner. We have some material left, and we're going to do some patching for your neighbor right across the alley here. Would you like some repairs on your parking lot?"