Monthly Archives: May 2012

Connecting Rod Removal

It is quite a chore to get the connecting rods out of some engines. On many small bore European engines, the big end of the connecting rod is too large to go through the cylinder bore. In some cases, the engine has removable cylinder sleeves which, when removed, will allow the rod to come through the block opening. In many engines the rod is split at an angle, to facilitate removal. Note that cap screws with locking plates, rather than studs or bolts, are used to hold the rod bearing cap in place with this type of construction.

An unusual situation is found in one English engine. The connecting rod will not come out through the cylinder bore, and the piston will not clear the crankshaft. The solution in this case, however, is to remove the connecting rod cap and push the piston up out of the bore on top. The floating piston pin is then removed  to free the piston, and the rod is removed from below.

The opposed, or pancake, engine is usually has a barrel crankcase split longitudinally, and it is necessary to dismantle the engine to get the rods out. Sometimes it may be possible, with the engine out of the car, to get one rod out by removal of the cylinder barrel on the opposite side.

Generally, on U.S. engines, the first step is ridge reaming to remove the unworn portion of the cylinder wall above piston ring travel. Then the rod caps are removed, and the entire piston and rod assembly is pushed up and out of the cylinder. Rods and their respective caps must be kept together and marked for cylinder location.


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Endwise Clearance

Obviously, the crankshaft must not move endwise to any great extent; so one of the main bearings usually is provided with cheeks or flanges that bear against a machined flange on the crankshaft. In older engines, bronze washers were installed to absorb the end thrust. There is always some end thrust on the crankshaft. This may originate in the clutch pushing against the end of the shaft, or the thrust of the helical timing gears, or both.

Just as in the case of diametral clearance, there must be some clearance on the thrust faces. Otherwise, expansion of the shaft and bearings from the normal heat of operation would cause metal-to-metal contact and burning of the thrust bearing. Here again the car manufacturer’s instructions should be followed. It is customary to provide a minimum of .004 in. and a maximum of .008 in. clearance. End thrust can be measured with a feeler gause.


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2011 Nissan Leaf

One of the first things you notice when you walk around the 2011 Nissan Leaf is that there’s no tailpipe. The next things you notice is that it is otherwise pretty familiar, which is exactly what Nissan is striving for. A different sort of vehicle that is too different would only confound potential consumers.

It’s a quirky looking hatchback, but still within the established bounds of hatchback cute. It rides and handles nicely enough, offers plenty of interior space and has a few futuristic design touches (like the stubby, blue-lit, mouse-inspired shifter, and the surprisingly soft seat fabric made from recycled pop bottles).

Because the car operates silently, engineers had to take care to diminish other noises that were suddenly too loud – noises that exist in all cars but are masked by the sound coming out of the engine bay. For instance, there was wind noise around the mirrors that was dealt with by designing long, striking (patent-pending) LED headlights that split airflow around the mirrors and direct it up and over the A-pillars.

They also programmed in a few muted sounds where necessary, such as a pedestrian warning that kicks in at low speeds, but isn’t audible from inside. To keep features such as heat from draining the battery, solar panels on top of the tailgate run some of the accessories, and the heating and air can be timed to come on automatically, programmed online or through your Smartphone.

Leaf has a range of about 160 km when fully charged. The 24 kWh lithium-ion battery is charged via a plug under the logo on the hood: level 1, a trickle charge at 110 v takes eight hours; and level 3, a quick, DC-only 50 kW charge that is not yet widely available, can be accomplished to about 80% power in half an hour.

With 207 lb.-ft. of torque right from the get-go, it gets up to about 40 km/h as well as many V6s, power at higher speeds is adequate, much as any four-cylinder.

Engineers did some considerable tinkering with the software controls to get the acceleration to behave consistently. Braking dynamics are familiar, though a bit sensitive.

Because the battery is housed in the floor and the weight distribution nearly 50/50, it handles nicely. The seats are comfortable but barely bolstered, and taking a corner particularly aggressively can give you some body roll, but it isn’t the way such a car is meant to be driven.

There is plenty of legroom and headroom everywhere, but realistically this is a four-person vehicle – no averaged-sized adult is going to want to be sitting in the centre at the back.

Among its gauge cluster is an eco-metre (tree-shaped, natch) that lets you know how ecologically sound your driving is, as well, the power gauge that lets you know how much range you have left adjusts to your driving style.

The dash does feature a good dollop of hard plastic, but its swoopy organic shape takes the edge off and makes it more attractive than it should be.

There are still issues to be ironed out – you could drive it to work on a blustery day, park it outside at your office, and return to it eight hours later to find half your range gone. A cold weather package including heated seats (front and rear) and steering wheel will be standard in Canadian Leafs (Leaves?).

All of Nissan’s factory-capacity 20,000 Leafs for the first year have been spoken for south of the border (where Leaf arrives in winter 2010). American buyers are paying just under $33,000 but Canadian prices have not been announced yet.

Even though it comes well equipped, that’s still a big chunk of change for a small hatch, were it your garden-variety small hatch.

But it’s not.


Trim Levels: SV, SL

Notable options: Quick charge port

Configuration: front motor/Front wheel drive

Motor: 80 kW AC synchronous

Transmission: single speed reducer w/shift-by-wire drive selector

Power/torque: 107 hp/207 lb.-ft.

Battery: 24 kWh lithium-ion

Warranties: Exp. 3 years/60,000 km (basic), 8 years/160,000 km on battery pack

Competitors: Chevrolet Volt, Mitsubishi i-MiEV

Strengths: no more stops for gas like many small hatchbacks, looks cool

Weaknesses: lack of infrastructure; questionable cold weather performance; no flat load floor for cargo


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Clearance Measurement

One method of measuring oil clearance is to measure the diameter of the journal with a micrometer caliper. The diameter of the shaft is measured at several points around the circumference to determine the size and to check for roundness. Measuring each end of the bearing surface will determine the amount of taper, if any.

The inside of the bearing is measured with the cap bolted in place, using a telescoping gauge or an inside micrometer. The difference of these two measurements represents the clearance between the journal and the bearing.

An alternate method is the use of a plastic material which deforms or flattens between the journal and the bearing when the cap is drawn down to the proper tightness. The amount of increase in the width of the plastic material, as it flattens out, is then measured with a furnished gauge to determine the clearance between journal and bearing.

The oil pressure test will also disclose if there is excessive clearance between the inserts and the crankpins. The amount of diametral clearance on automobile crankshaft bearings is specified by the manufacturer. These dimensions should be followed. In the absence of specific instructions, it is customary to use a minimum of .0005 to .001 in. for small shafts and up to .0015 to .002 in. for a large shaft. Any clearance in excess of .005 in. on either main or rod bearings usually calls for the installation of new bearings.


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Bearing Clearances

A previous study of engine lubrication revealed that oil is pumped under pressure to the various bearings in the engine. However, to get this oil into the bearing and lubricate it, clearance for an oil film must exist.

The one most important thing to keep in mind in this connection is that the steel crankshaft journal MUST be separated from the bearing metal when the engine is running or the bearing will melt. The heat generated by friction when steel moves  rapidly on soft, dry metal WILL melt the soft metal. Therefore, an automobile engine uses a film of oil between the journal and the bearing. SPACE MUST BE PROVIDED FOR THAT FILM.

The  oil film serves to hold the two metals apart and also circulates to carry away the heat generated by friction. The space is not great (measured in thousandths), but those thousandths are all important.

This film thickness will vary with the design of the engine and the type of lubrication system used. In general, a splash lubrication system is less critical of oil clearances than a pressure lubrication system. In the splash system, the oil is churned up by the internal parts of the engine into a combination of liquid and mist, which is sprayed over the entire interior of the engine.

In the pressure lubricated engine, the oil is pumped under pressure to the bearings. In this case, the flow of oil must be controlled by maintaining limited clearance all around a ROUND bearing and a ROUND shaft. If there are unequal clearances in the circulation system, too much oil will collect in one place, and not enough in other places. This is because oil under pressure will got through the largest clearance space in the greatest quantity.


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The Flash-O-Matic consists of a torque converter coupled to a three-speed dual driving range automatic transmission. The converter incorporates an impeller connected to the engine crankshaft, a turbine splined to the transmission input shaft, and a stator connected to and controlled by a free-wheel unit.

Front and rear oil pumps, are used to supply fluid to the converter, lubricate the parts and build pressure in the various oil circuits. A primary regulator valve regulates control pressure to meet all driving requirements. A manual valve, controlled by the transmission selector lever, opens combinations of oil passages to the valve and units which are required for the drive range selected.

A compound planetary gear train supplies the necessary gear combinations to provide neutral, low, intermediate, high and reverse gear ratios. Major elements include a primary sun gear, secondary sun gear, primary and secondary pinions held in a common pinion carrier, and an internal gear attached to the transmission output shaft. The selector lever has six positions: P, R, N, D2, D1 and L. In D2, the transmission starts in intermediate and automatically upshifts to direct drive. In D1, it starts in low and automatically upshifts to intermediate, then direct. In L, the transmission stays in low gear. The selector lever may be moved from D2 to D1 to L or from L to D1 to D2 at any car speed.

The various gear ratios are dependent on which gears are being held and which are driving. This phase of automatic transmission control is accomplished by clutches, bands and servos. Front and rear multiple disc clutches are used. Actuation of the front servo applies the front band to the rear clutch drum and locks the secondary sun gear to the transmission case. Actuation of the rear servo applies the rear band to the pinion carrier, locking it to the transmission case.

In Neutral position, none of the gear train members are held or driving, so there is no transfer of power. In Park, the parking pawl is engaged with external teeth on the output shaft internal gear, locking the output shaft to the transmission case.

In Drive range, D1, the front clutch couples the primary sun gear to the input shaft. The sprag  clutch is engaged and holds the planetary pinion carrier. The primary sun gear drives the planetary pinion which, in turn, drives the internal gear and output shaft.

In intermediate position (second speed), the front clutch engine is slowly cranked, the distance from the lowest point to the highest will be the lift of the cam.

It is important to measure the lift of all cams in the engine to determine if any are worn, since the cams do not all wear at the same rate. Worn cams occasionally are the cause of lost power or misfiring, which is often overlooked when troubleshooting. If a check on valve lift shows that it is less than it should be, the cams can be reground on special machinery. In most cases, however, the camshaft is replaced.


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The Fordomatic transmission is a torque converter type using three elements: the usual impeller, turbine and stator units connected to a planetary gear transmission. Ford terms the torque converter a combination hydraulic torque multiplier and fluid coupling. The planetary gear system is a compound gearset. On later models, one multiple disc clutch and two bands provide two forward speeds and one speed in reverse.

Two pumps are used to supply oil under pressure to operate the control band and clutch, lubricate the entire transmission and keep the converter filled. One pump is driven by the converter impeller, the other by the transmission output shaft.

The selector lever has five positions: P (Park), R (Reverse), N (Neutral), D (Drive) and L (Low). In Neutral and Park positions, the clutch and both bands are released by spring pressure, and drive through the transmission is impossible. In Drive position – first gear – in Low position and also in kickdown, the low band is applied. In Drive position – high gear – the low band is released and the high clutch is engaged. In Reverse position, the reverse band is applied.


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