Posts Tagged ‘mech


UDI RC repair

Since my previous post what direction would be next? Since there are a overabundance of drones on the market,  many do not get that great of reviews, or over simplify the ease of flying and have a short flight time due to the size of the battery especially at the lower end price points. Some reviewers simply state that there is a lot of junk out there. If you are not experienced and want to join the ranks of drone operators, note recommendations and reviews of current high end drone operators with experience as to what drone they flew as a starter either as a racer or photographer, in other words what is cost effective for multiple  crashes.

Technology has progressed the drone into basically two types, at the higher end of the consumer market, racing or photography. As with other types of electronics smaller lighter and faster can be the general rule to racing drones and photography, (could also be branched out to heavy lifting) stability, reliability and stunning high definition cameras on remote control gimbals  have captured the market. The new announcements releases from leading drone manufacturers to drone operators is the same furor as  the latest smartphone presentation. Prices are reasonable as with every advance there is more technology for the price. This is a growth area with the application of different technology ever expanding.

Drones have given the radio controlled hobby market a kick in the pants. Certainly a few manufacturers have taken the lead and it reminds me of other breakout tech companies when a market first explodes, such as personal computers and cell phones. Some will be shaken out and others will consolidate. The amount of technology applications involved run from remote telemetry, autonomous control, GPS, vision and remote recognition as just a few before even getting into the array of sensors utilized to give the drones stable flight. Racers have not been left out , first person view, cameras and FPV vision goggles make these people look like Borg wanna be’s. Lipo battery technology give racers crazy amounts of power and brushless motor technology constantly boost the top speeds of these racing demons.

So instead of another complete kit, as of yet, after perusing the many hobby sites and quad copter forums, a new drone was out of the question, and trying to keep the cost low would limit me to an unreliable toy for learning flight. Now many of the online hobby shops  carry repair parts with some low cost consumer drone hobby models having practically all of the parts available to build one from the ground up, this is true with racing drones as they can be built in stages but would add up to a high cost , there would be an alternative to  gaining flight practice and  knowledge.     I decided a repair/modification of a drone would be the best route to become familiar with the types of technology being utilized. So off to the junkyard so to speak in search of a decent learner drone needing to be rescued. (Many first time drone buyers simply trying out the hobby crash and burn so to speak, so postings from Ebay on drones for parts etc. gave some promising results)


Note: If you want to repair drones look up replacement parts beforehand,  many models are supported either through the original manufacturer or third party sources, ALi Express, Banggood, Ebay, drone forums Etc. Much information can be obtained from hobby sites , you tube videos, online user manuals.

Lets get to it so we can fly….


From the drone bone yard, a UDI RC salvage from E-bay. Model 818A.

Basically bought from E-bay used, listed as one rotor not turning. After arrival and check,  one of the propellers is binding . After further checking the motor is the cause.

Ordered replacement motor and also a remote transmitter control  along with spare propellers as the control transmitter  was not included in the purchase this is another factor since many low priced drones have of their own proprietary remote transmitter. (more on this later)

Previously I had removed the canopy cover and propeller guard, a one piece snap off unit and unplugged the connections to the flight controller. Take pictures of the connections or draw up in a note pad a schematic before disassembly or research pin outs for the motor connections and LEDs of the flight controller board. (google etc.)

To disassemble the faulty propulsion unit , remove screw and disconnect strut from the main chassis. On the strut, carefully pry back the motor cover, slide it back and expose the motor. Remove necessary screws and draw enough wire from the strut to access the soldered connection to the motor. The other pair of wires is for the LED on that pod.

Compare the replacement component with the original, the gear is slightly different from the original. Note: The motors ( these are brushed motors) are highly magnetic keep them a distance from any magnetic sensitive material, keep work area clean from metal particles that would stick to the motor. (especially if you work on brushless out runner motors in the future) Also if you work with circuit boards, most all videos and instructions disregard the use of anti static precautions such as wrist grounding ground straps. Electronic Static Discharge can happen and disrupt sensitive electronics and cause a myriad of undetectable problems from total failure to loss or scrambling of data. If you have problems with circuit boards arriving DOA don’t discard that ESD may be the cause of failure. If you work with large amount of electronics or expensive components ESD precautions is cheap insurance. Once you open up the cover (like a cell phone) you have penetrated any shielding to sensitive devices and components.

Utilizing the insulation tubing from original, cut the conductors and solder in the replacement motor, of course following the original wired colored connections. Slip the insulation tubing over one of the soldered connections.


Carefully route the wires by gently pulling the through the strut from the opposite end, toward the flight controller. Double check the connection of the fragile wiring before securing motor cover.

secure cover of assembled unit. (bearing below propeller should be flush to top of strut, in this case the propeller shaft is a press fit to lower gear, align as necessary)


Make the PROPER  motor and LED and camera if equipped, connection the the main board of previously disconnected. Improper motor connection order will result in a flipping over or uncontrollable drone taking flight. (How do I know this?) Also if the flight controller board was removed from the chassis insure that the proper orientation of the board is followed, most aftermarket boards are marked with an arrow to indicate front (facing) of drone. Not this one. Accelerometers and gyroscopes have to know which way the are headed ! (in relation to the propulsion units). Troubleshooting skills here learned  for flight problems!

One note here: be extremely careful when pulling delicate connections from sockets, some manufacturers use a sealing or locktite type glue. Small connectors such as 2 conductors plugs, grasp the connector , not the wires to disengage. Some sockets  are surface mount soldered and could be pulled directly from the circuit board necessitating a re soldering of socket to the main board.  If plug does not disconnect readily, be aware and proceed cautiously.

At this point (with propellers removed) you could attach battery, pair up the transmitter  and test the motors.



Rotors should be removed when you power up drone after modification, some unexpected reactions at times will cause the flight controller to start all propellers when battery is connected, due to an improper wiring or damaged flight controller. Assume that motors may start at any time. Again remove propellers.

Checking connection and LEDS, so far the drone is looking good, battery connection resulted in proper lighting and (not shown) blinking led on flight controller)

Secure cowling by snapping on cover/propeller guard. Mount LED headlight (white single LED). Power down and follow manufacturers direction for pairing transmitter, calibration and flight.

Most all drones have a user manual that can be found online. Some might have different conventions on flight controller and transmitter synchronizing  (pairing).

Progressing up the ladder on Radio Control it’s advantageous to get a transmitter that will support multiple Quadcopters, but this comes at a cost and matching transmitter and receivers  to flight controllers is a later lesson. Most of the low cost hobby drones require each their own radio control transmitter  system. When buying drones less a transmitter (control) research if you can buy a reasonable required replacement transmitter as they more than not will  not work with any other type for drone. Or you could swap out the flight controller with one that you already have a properly matched receiver (and/or flight controller) and transmitter using the frame and motors of the drone you are repairing.


Will it fly ?  Yes ,I was lucky as the motor was the only problem with the drone.

The firmware of the flight controller was undamaged, there is no USB or software available to re-flash the flight controller as in the case of the MultiWii.

The UDI RC with the propeller shroud can take many crashes and collisions without damage. It’s a good learner drone. I have yet to test the camera out.


The UDI drone has flown many times and is a learning challenge to pilot just around the house. The propellers are protected by the cover/shroud so they only get slightly chipped in my flights. It’s not ultra stable per say, but after some trimming of the controller pitch, roll, and yaw, easy to get to flight with the limited room indoors available to fly. Probably replacement of all 4 motors and prop balancing would improve stability. A good flyer none the less and time to move on to other repairs and construction. Several high capacity 1s batteries were purchased for increased flight time.


So could I have bought a complete  used drone instead of a damaged one? Probably so, but missing a education experience and satisfaction of repair, disassembly, motor wiring and how the drone is constructed. Modifiable? Snap off the cover and ditch the camera for weight savings, disconnect the LEDS for power savings, go with slightly larger or smaller props  and  beef up the battery with a higher capacity replacement. Add an FPV camera ? Maybe a trick out paint job or more LEDS?

Drone :  $9.99 Ebay

Controller : $16.65 Ali Express

Motor: $5.31 Ali Express

optional replacement propellers: $2.88 Ali Express

shipping for the drone was about $10.00

shipping for the propellers $2.04

other items shipped free

NEXT : Can a Propel Spyder XL (chromed) be returned to flight status ?


the flying computer

Working with open source programming on the hobby level presents it’s own set of problems for the first time user. Setup of hardware and software on some projects assumes not only that the user has basic skills in hardware setup but also programming.

The Sunfounder quadrocopter kit , consist of a microcomputer and hardware not unlike other microcomputer projects with sensors and software. The supplied documentation in book form with the kit  also assumes that the user has the skills and the proper hardware to connect the processor to a computer.  Even before starting programming or modifying the parameters, the correct drivers must be installed for the USB to serial  connections to the microprocessor. The reason for connecting this device to a computer is for calibration and verification that the proper firmware is running on the controller.

Software and documentation for open sourced programming can be fragmented, that is, different developments or versions for the software components can be found on different sources, posted on web pages, FTPs or forums. Since open source programming can be dynamic in the fact it could be either revised to a newer version from what was originally  issued on one website, or loaded on the hardware, it could also be a stalled project, that receives no additional support. Therefore more than one version may be available and as with all revisions, it’s hoped that the latest revision may still be compatible with the current hardware project but remember that it’s  an collaborative project and while some sites ask for a donation, it’s a passion of programmers to share, comment and revise their efforts available for a global audience usually for free.

Having some experience with programming over the years being mostly with the higher level languages, usually it was with one platform and hardware, now utilizing either a windows or mac environment is not foolproof as each may  have it’s own version of software, hardware  and procedures . Even command line processing and writing assumes that files are placed to follow in the correct directory paths in both execution and installation. Error messages may be cryptic at times. But such is the state of collaborative programming today as one might be inclined to write an app for sale , and BASIC still exists in many forms, open source is the current program exchange and with the online internet connections the process is much faster than the shareware years ago where programming was distributed physically on floppy disks. . One of the most popular types of programming microprocessors is the Arduino, but don’t stop there, many, many,  other microprocessors and systems are available.   There is also  a ton of programming courses and kits online  so education can be done anywhere, for free.

The main reason for the flying computer (quadrocopter) was for education and to familiarize myself with one the current micro processing platforms  to gain experience with hardware interface and programming. A drone would be a good example of  programming with tangible results, in this case flight of a miniature aircraft. The popularity of drones both by hobbyist and commercial uses abounds. It’s  a quest to understand how they actually fly. The prices run the gamut of range and the Sunfounder is the lower entry range of projects for an open source environment that includes all items needed to program, assemble, and fly. Some of the components could also be used if the person would be interested in building other flying devices.

Having an   Arduino editor installed on your computer and  having the knowledge to open, edit and compile and save  the code, it gets  uploaded  to the flight controller. ( a fancy name for a microprocessor decked out with the supporting chips to run several motors).  Basically your are changing the supplied code by commenting out code you don’t need for your flight controller. The code file is written for many different types of flight controllers and hardware configurations. The Arduino editor is a simple version of a text editor, and I’m going to have to learn the language sooner or later  and more reading to familiarize myself with the syntax. For the first time user it’s build able without programming experience, but that’s not the end result I was looking for, as you know once the system is up and running the user can modify the code and actively see the results. There certainly is a wide variety of subjects to learn. Microcomputers, sensors, GPS, flight dynamics, radio controls, motor controls, electronics speed controllers, propeller pitch Etc. Years ago anyone wanting to break into the field of radio control planes was hampered by cost.

the flight controller

the flight controller

flight controller

flight controller


At first my computer didn’t connect and recognize  the USB serial cable to the flight controller board, it didn’t load the USB drivers correctly right away. Finally after restart it showed in the device manager that the driver was installed. This may utilize port settings as necessary. Sometimes Windows will try to look up and install a driver when first connected. Use the USB driver supplied in the download. Again the proper USB to serial driver must be on your base computer connected to flight controller. (DUH)

USB to microcomputer (flight controller) serial interface board

USB to microcomputer (flight controller) serial interface board

The GUI multiwiiconf.exe didn’t work correctly first try, it seems that JAVA had some files misplaced. It was necessary to copy files to correct directory. Researched on the web for correct procedure. involved both the program/java/ and java/program/ directories. (this is common with open sourced projects, so gain experience with forum setups, Q and A’s  and searches to find answers to your particular problems.) Also the GUI Multiwii, different from the text editor version , isn’t well documented as I tied to change some of the values, by typing , it was a matter of using the cursor and sliding small boxes under the values to modify them if necessary.

also some compatibility issues with the type of platform, 64 vs 32 bit for the miltiwiiconfig.exe. Didn’t run consistently on all occasions.

The GUI runs but at this time didn’t properly show the flight controller parameters yet most likely I have a port setting incorrect.

The 32 bit windows version now works fairly well , some times after starting  the GUI several times the program may hang, and going to the Task manager and stopping multiple occurrences of Java running.

This is a learning experience for a first time user trial and error processor with frequent searches on the web for solutions.

There also may be updates and revisions to the programs to download

Finally the Multiwii GUI runs and read the data from the flight controller , the calibration of the accelerometer can be accomplished.

Next. the receiver is connected to the flight controller and the transmitter is activated, and the receiver is synced to the transmitter, now the data from the movement of the remote controller can be read by the GUI.

assembly of the frame and motors.

assembly of the frame and motors.

After the completion of the assembly, the battery can be connected and the drone is ready for flight. After several attempts, the battery life is very limited, the drone was unable to fly. More diagnostics are needed, the power to each of the 4 motors is not balanced and will not propel the multi copter to level flight.

closeup of the flying computer !

closeup of the flying computer !

After loading a different version of the Multiwii and some tweaking, the drone was able to liftoff and I found out more aggressive thrust is needed to launch the drone , several flights upwards could be accomplished by holding the drone and launching it midair but flight control is a problem as it’s more difficult at first to control the direction and height of flight. ( also the drone is operated indoors, and is fast, a very large room would be better.) OUTSIDE? No,  there are restrictions on drones and it would be advisable to read and understand the safety rules and regulations for flying one. (airports are  one restriction)

a bare bones build, less the supplied LED board (lights) for flight testing

a bare bones build, less the supplied LED board (lights), for flight testing, charging the battery.

More study and tweaking  of the software is needed for more stable flights.

All in all the Sunfounder is a complete entry level kit, all parts you need are contained in the kit including  a 4 channel transmitter (remote control). It provides a challenge for the first time microcomputer programmer and an introduction into radio control flying.


apple- America-and-a-squeezed-middle-class

This is mostly a food blog , but sometimes a tech article I read on-line sparks my attention.

and now the news from the current political elections is un-escapable for the most part

 How U.S. Lost Out on IPhone Work

NY Times, Business Day ,The Economy

Published: January 21, 2012

my comments:

Asia is the leader of large scale manufacturing. This

article focuses on the electronics industry.


“Companies once felt an obligation to support American

workers, even when it wasn’t the best financial choice,”

said Betsey Stevenson, the chief economist at the Labor

Department until last September. “That’s disappeared.

Profits and efficiency have trumped generosity.”

(a)this was creating jobs for the sake of creating jobs.


    "…a current Apple executive said. “We don’t have an

obligation to solve America’s problems. Our only

obligation is making the best product possible.”
(b)this is  focusing on making a product, not influenced by political distractions

    "For technology companies, the cost of labor is

minimal compared with the expense of buying parts and

managing supply chains that bring together components

and services from hundreds of companies. For Mr. Cook,

the focus on Asia “came down to two things,” said one

former high-ranking Apple executive. Factories in Asia

“can scale up and down faster” and “Asian supply chains

have surpassed what’s in the U.S.” The result is that

“we can’t compete at this point,” the executive said. "

    "Another critical advantage for Apple was that China

provided engineers at a scale the United States could

not match. Apple’s executives had estimated that about

8,700 industrial engineers were needed to oversee and

guide the 200,000 assembly-line workers eventually

involved in manufacturing iPhones. The company’s

analysts had forecast it would take as long as nine

months to find that many qualified engineers in the

United States. In China, it took 15 days. "
(c)Other countries are set up demographically and geographically to make efficient use of manufacturing

supply chains and labor for mass production in shorter time spans. They have the resources and control



Other governments support and motivate a national pride towards production and manufacturing versus individual

financial gain (very debatable) and have the qualified work force ready.   Some governments are better at a

growing a service economy.

It seems that Asia is the only place to build fast moving (changing technology) products in great numbers at a price that makes

them affordable.

What does that leave us, the U.S. ? In the technical field; programming? software development?

So here is a follow up question , if you will: Multiple choice, no correct answer(s) at this time

What is the United States better suited at producing?
What ones will grow or shrink or remain the same?
(a) legal professionals
(b) Doctors
(c) political parties/ politicians
(d) health care systems
(e) financial/credit systems
(f) welfare systems
(g) an up to date infrastructure
(h) discourse
(i) non-profit organizations and exemptions(too many to list)
(j) Research and development
(k) Political Action Committees
(l) an affordable education system
(m) a chaotic tax code (AKA red tape)
(n) regulations
(o) benefit packages
(n) small businesses/manufacturing
(p) artistic expression
(q) agriculture
(r) defense/law enforcement

(s) computer programming/servicing/software development

add your own

I’m  poking fun at the USA, this is who we are. A diverse culture. Asia has it’s problems too, and no telling where they will be after 15-20 years.

No doubt though that hobbies should be encouraged as they were in past. They are the first step in education of the trades.

Have they been displaced by dismissing them as nonsense as they have no social redeeming value? Personally speaking, a home with out a work bench is not a home.


removing HEAT

Refrigerators don’t make things cold ! They remove heat. Heat transfer, energy transfer.
We take for granted the fridge until maybe the light bulb inside burns out or the ice cream doesn’t get as hard as it used to or the milk (or beer) doesn’t get cold enough.
This is a basic two door (side by side) fridge with out the bells and whistles , Ice maker, water dispensers etc.
Refrigeration depends on removing the heat from inside and venting it to the exterior of the fridge.
Most rely on proper air circulation both inside and outside to work effectively and efficiently .
Keeping the condenser coils, those located some where outside the box, clean promotes proper energy transfer.
Older fridges had the condenser coils on the back and simply gave off heat. Now they are usually at the bottom and air circulated over them by a fan.
It is recommended that these coils be cleaned often.

in this case remove the grill as the manufacturer recommends.

with a vacuum and a crevice tool, clean the coils

while your under there, remove and clean the drip pan.

When the fridge goes through the defrost cycle the melting ice has to go somewhere !

If you never clean it, it may cause odors, the water that collects in it normally evaporates, you don’t have to empty it periodically.

You can remove the back cover and clean the compressor, fan and coils of dust buildup that traps in heat if you desire. CAUTION ! some of these components may be hot and of course unplug the fridge before cleaning. Note any copper tubing that is touching another surface or rubs against another tube, over time this could wear due to vibration, cause noise, and or refrigerant loss. Isolate.

A look at the evaporator coils in the freezer, cover removed. It’s not necessary to clean these. This fridge relys on a fan to circulate air over the coils removing heat and ducting it from the freezer to the fridge side for cooling.

With simple periodic cleaning, you fridge will always keep your cool !


91 ranger- retired

I knew i had to get the 91 Topaz that I bought from my daughter on the road as the ol Ranger would need major rust-oration and probably wouldn’t pass state inspection.The winter is tough on vehicles that had any rust due to the salt and chems that are used on the roads. I had kept up with the chassis as best I could but the brake lines started to go and laying on your back in the driveway messing with frozen rusted fittings is bad news. The rear cab mounts are just about history also. The main brake line going from front to rear blew out at the rear. I had patched it up till I could replace it during a break in the weather, still the anti-lock was not functional and with frozen fittings no easy way to bleed out the brakes. 200,000 just passed and even the paint wore out more and more adding to a rat rod look. I don’t know what happened to the paint on the hood and roof it looks like someone took a blowtorch to it when I got it, major peeling and cracking The definite winner though is the drive train. The 2.3 L 4 cylinder still starts and runs every time, the only exception when the starter solenoid crapped out, very reliable with the dual ignition 2 plugs per cylinder and five speed tranny (4 speed with overdrive for you purist). Most likely will part it out for the 95 ranger. It’s easy to work on for the most part except for the rust and chassis and I don’t have the facilities to pull it apart down to the chassis, it would take me years (and much noise and $$$) working in the driveway. Several years ago the rust caused the front spring mount on the passenger side to pull away from the chassis, that had to go to the shop for replacement, a new one was welded in place, by the hour, welding is expensive but I got several more years out of it. Most of the other repairs/replacement I did, probably 99% of the parts were purchased on-line, tires , rims, cooling system, exhaust system, components etc. One of the advantages of the ranger is that there is a good supply of restoration parts still available even online bone yards that have rust free parts down south that I got a tranny cross member from. Purchase date was October 6th, 2003 ,$800.00 USD and odometer reading  noted was 148296. About 7300 per year average. (mostly back and forth to work).

by the way, I like to work on vehicles for the most part not 24/7, so if could get a (newer) vehicle with payments that would last 60k and be equal with the parts and labor I would put into it repairing it myself……..BORING !!!!! and definitely not classic……..and what would I learn , better finances ? and besides, does having a hobby mean that you have to turn a profit on it ?


91topaz and other car nut stuff

This posting has not been updated in quite some time current vehicle is a 2003 XLT Ranger, from Sandy Lane Auto, compared to the former Ranger Sport, more luxury, larger cab and 6 cly engine. Searching for  a used ranger is in this model year/ mileage  using a computer search gave us results of similar vehicles in the area, there is some  rust but overall a well running vehicle compared to other Rangers viewed. Small LED conversion project for interior dome lights. Fuse # 26 powers the dome light , speedometer, and windshield wipers. Thanks to the many forums on the internet I was able to find this after the interior light failed.




imageInstalling new radiator in the 2000 Galant , the old one leaked around the top gooseneck. Still researching on the evaporate and catalytic trouble codes. 12/12/2015. Radiator was 60.00 from Rock Auto. 🔩🛠🔧🔧🔧🔧🔧🔧

Fans attached from old radiator …..

August 2014 ,Topaz, semi retired, will work on it periodically.

IMG_5718Added led voltage gauge.

Ranger inspected, now the daily driver, check radiator for leaking. intermittent clicking when started, connection between battery post and cable clamp was dirty, had to use sandpaper to clean both the post and the clamp, (positive side). So far starts reliably.  IMG_5878

additional vehicle   is now a 1997 Saturn SL1, from Jim C. to replace Diane’s Toyota. needs a windshield but it’s inspected. Needs dashboard painted, was repainted with a bright blue/green for what ever reason. runs good. Windshield has been replaced. Cowl painted.



bright blue color from previous owner


remove two screws and pry off the dash panel. Easier to paint out of the car.


Also, both ends of the dash can be removed, the glove box, and the panel below the steering wheel and trim and vents from the center dash console. Now repainted with the new color.


SEM vinyl paint was used


Dashboard cover before painting.


Re-installing the dashboard components. Some areas of the pillars had the be painted also.IMG_5987


components installedIMG_5990vents and glove box and lower dash panel installed , trim surrounding radio/HVAC console pod cleaned and reinstalled.


end caps on dash reinstalled, paint is close match for door color.

IMG_5994cleaner, brighter look but still not done,

Due to the angle of the windshield, and the large surface area of the dashboard, the light color caused a lot of reflection on the windshield during the day when the sun was bright.

The top of the dashboard was removed and painted flat black thus reducing a lot of the reflection when driving the vehicle during the day.

Also due to the large amount of scratches on the exterior, I tried a compound, polish and applied several coats over several weeks. I used a product called TR3 Resin Glaze, Automobile Cleaner and Polish. Amour all black for the bumpers. There are still several large scratches. But better overall appearance.

All in all the Saturn is a decent ride, one of the best handling vehicles Ive driven, however the suspension is configured it’s done well with this vehicle considering the mileage.

One of the drawbacks is that for a person my size it’s difficult to get in and out from as it sits low to the ground compared to the pickup. The front flex pipe needs replacing and the second gear synchro is worn. Manual xmission.

Saturns seems to have an ageless design not common in other vehicles and you will notice no denting as the door panels are plastic. Slight rusting is on the front door lower interior  kick panels. Drivers side mirror needs replacing. Passenger side mirror was replaced.

August 2015

Vehicle returned to Jim C.

IMG_8506 IMG_8507


JUNE 2014

06/14 looks like the alternator crapped out. won’t start and after a charge it starts but low and declining voltage. Alternator replaced June 6th, rock auto

July 26th install serpentine belt and install self locking bolts and lock washers on alternator.


note the bright blueish green color of cowl and dashboard.

IMG_5488 IMG_5489


2000 Ranger, parking brake light  switch and pedal sometimes does not release fully, dashboard light maybe on. unmarked alarm module found under dashboard, removed. high current and melted components indicated.


all belts have been replaced on the Topaz, I had ordered them as the serpentine belt started to shred. The water pump belt broke, as the temperature gauge started to rise, thought it was the thermostat stuck  closed till I could actually see the  belt had broke. The water pump is  buried close the fire wall near the passenger side engine compartment. The alternator belt continues to squeal some times and it been one of the first repairs that was done when my daughter bought the Topaz. Apparently the alternator bracket and belt adjustment is not correct and the alternator tension does not last resulting on belt slippage and breakage. Valve cover/gasket still needs to be  corrected as it leaks. One of the exhaust recirculation hoses to the cat is split and need to be replaced.

2000 ford ranger (formerly my daughters) has a new exhaust system and rear shocks replaced. (Rock Auto). Probably will have to sideline the Topaz and switch to the Ranger.


Getting the vehicles inspected ranks right up there like going to the dentist……..

Rear license plate light replaced. Other items have to be checked for inspection. Brake light is on but a quick check looks like the parking brake/light switch has a splice for some reason, possibly some one had it tapped for 12 volts. Brakes are good but the parking brake may stick some time.


2000 ranger new spring bolts and pipe 06/2-14


2000 Ranger, new muffler, 06/2014, and clamp


2000 ranger, new rear pipe and shocks


2000 Ranger, new rear pipe


2000 Ranger, transmission


2000 ranger , front coil springs


2000 Ranger, front springs


2000 intermediate pipe and muffler, new , 06,2014


2013 December , left rear tire replaced, bead was leaking, installed on vehicle. purchased all belts for replacements. Replaced the alternator belt when alternator bearing started binding and broke belt . Ordered and replaced alternator (Rock Auto) . previous alternator was installed January 2011. The previous alternator was a “NSA” brand, figures !IMG_4155 IMG_4156 IMG_4157 IMG_4158

other items for repair, passenger side window still intermittent operation. One of those PITA (Pain in the ass) repairs to take apart the door panels and troubleshoot. brakes and fluid still a problem. valve cover still leaks despite gasket replacement. transmission leaks somewhat.

also the heater blower did not work , it is a high amperage circuit, the circuit goes through he push button  control, OFF. but the contacts crapped out, after dis assembly of the control unit the wires were connected and bypassed the switch. Also the vacuum lines under the hood lost connection due to age. repaired and proper heater control restored and no more check  engine light either.

side note, (criticized for just spinning my wheels, now that I’m older I’m supposed to be portrayed as successful) who should be driving around in old vehicles ? I like them.


other vehicle is a 2000 ,Renee’s ,a Mitsubishi Galant . Nice car.


September 2015

Working on the GalantIMG_8782 IMG_8784 IMG_8785 ————————————————————————————————————————————-

1993 Ranger needs exhaust system. (no longer one of our vehicles)

March 2013, exhaust system noisy, starter clicking not starting. Usually if the starter solenoids click and the starter motor won’t turn it may be the brushes, I had pulled the starter a while back cleaned up the brushes, and reinstalled. The brushes I ordered were incorrect,they were for different brand of starter for the application (topaz). This time when it happened, I rapped on the starter and it started and after teardown, I cleaned it up, reseated the brushes which had maximum wear on them. When the new replacements arrived, installed. This type had the brushes in a holder.
20130323-213000.jpg worn brushes.ahref=””&gt;20130323-213422.jpgthe new assembly.
20130323-213731.jpgcomparison of the old and new.

20130323-214026.jpgreference photos
The starter is mounted by studs, the large nuts are for the air tube bracket ( that goes to the cat converter) that is secured to the housing when the starter is installed.
The exhaust system started to be noisy, inspection revealed that the muffler was sagging and lost the end mount, wired up temporarily. Further inspection revealed that the front of the catalytic converter was cracked where the pipe entered the cat, apparently movement of the engine over a period of time cracked it. The manifold pipe to cat connection was rusted solid in one piece, the spring bolts over tightened. Ordered new cat, and pipe, gaskets and insulators from Rock Auto, prices very reasonable. Spring bolts that are required, I had a set ordered previously. After sawing the spring bolts with a reciprocating saw, the exhaust system was easily removed, the muffler , I planned to salvage and use broke off at the clamp.!!!!! The pipe and cat was one piece welded together . Into the yard it went for reference with the new replacements. The body of new cat was smaller in length, but had a longer pipe attached the back of it. The pipe after the cat was a exact fit, but the OD of the outlet of the cat and the ID of pipe was very tight, it did not slip in by hand. By clamping the pipe to a bench top and with a block of wood held against the inlet of the cat and smashing it with a good size ball peen hammer, I drove it into the pipe, Using the old system for a guide as far as length and plane of the cat and pipe. Secured the pipe to cat connection with a clamp, and brought out to the vehicle, it lined up with the insulators, (hangers) and the front flange mount , the flange, just required a bit of cleanup of the old gasket with a chisel . Installed a new gasket (supplied with the cat converter BTW) and the spring bolts and the system was mounted along with the air tube connectors, ordinary worm clamps. Muffler was to be ordered. Muffler later installed. exhaust system is installed.

2013, alternator belt replaced.

September 2012
Mounted and installed drivers side tire, previous tire would not hold air ,bead was leaking and unrepairable. Pulled valve cover and cleaned and applied sealer(caulking) , was leaking, topped off master cylinder with brake fluid.
Purchased from ebay 2 centre caps for the front wheels, one went missing and then another from the front only, ????? Potholes ?? The rears never fell off !! About ten dollars each. Installed lets hope they stay on.

Replaced the drivers side brake line same as previous entry, all brake lines are now good , drivers side front tire went flat, ordered replacement, bead does not want to seal , losing air. Installed spare tire. Forming brake lines



Replaced the right rear brake line , it had rusted and leaked. Most of the line from the rear flex line fitting to about half way up the chassis was rusty. Most of the line from the front halfway down he chassis is good either a small oil or transmission leak is keeping it covered in oil so it is not rusting. Cut out the old rusty portion and put in a union and had to double flair the the steel line. Purchased alloy brake line from Fedhill , This is a copper rustproof alloy 3/16 inch brake line know as Cunifer (made in Great Britian). This is easy to work with and easy to flair. It can be bent by hand without kinking. Fedhill also has a assortment of fittings.
Flared one end with fitting and closely bent it with the tubing bender, the connector that mounts to the flex line. Leaving the rest in a coil ,it was easy to bend into place and cut to size. Flair the other end and connected to the union and bled out the system. Cost for the line is about$32.oo for 12 feet. A bit more expensive but easier than steel and less than stainless. Worth it.
Now the other side needs to be done. As it’s rusted in the same place and will probably leak sooner or later. Note: due to the design of the braking system on the Topaz, both rear lines are separate from the master cylinder to the each back brake, so if one blows out you still have the other wheels operable . There is fluid loss and a brake light warning but the vehicle is still able to brake. Adjusted the parking brake.

Rusty brake lines

The brake line
Delivered in a pizza box !!!


August 2012

08/26/2012 checked fluids, vacuumed out vehicle

gas, 7.636 gallons

3.799 USD per gallon

29.01 USD total

brake light on after fill up , topped off brake fluid, strange ,,,will check level again tomorrow, possible leak? maybe the Zuma Gods are mad ! LOL

July 2012

Inspection completed, passed


installed new rear brakes and hardware

March 2012

Installed new headlights, passenger side outer rear wheel bearing replaced

rear brakes need to be installed

mileage now at : 150,0015

April 2011

Being a stubborn DIYer can have it’s advantages/disadvantages and shopping on the internet for convenience since the local warehouse club closed, where I usually would purchase tires, I had purchased two front tires delivered and as fate would have it right after DIY mounting them (I have yet to DIY balance them (badboy!) A pothole on post road took most of the air from one of them. Being a front wheel drive car I didn’t really notice any difference in handling.. so on I rode… later finding out that the new tire was woefully under inflated from the killer pothole. So I supposed I put the myself and others at risk riding around like this !!! My vehicle doesn’t have the latest safety enhancement of tire pressure monitoring! Nor do I want it. Some sidewall wear on the tire but so far so good …It re inflated and held air . The DIYer rides on… (yes you can purchase replacement insurance for tires bought online.(and yes I have old tires to bring to the recycling center or maybe look up ways to utilize them)) I will have to take a good look ,after the teeth smashing pot hole encounter, of the front end as if there was any alignment it is probably gone. (Is there an app to download for your mobile phone for pothole claim damage?)….

04/22/2011 $3.859 USD/gallon

04/03/2011 $3.639 USD/ gallon

04/09/2011 $3.699 USD/ gallon

The ranger sitting in the driveway will have to go !!!!! Tags expired , if I was on a farm it might be nice to have a rusty pickup around !

March 2011

The air tube bracket from under the car is buzzing again, the bolt securing it is off the bracket probably from the snow that was piled up and driven over.
The starter failed, friday AM, clicking solenoid, when checked the wiring and voltage was ok, pulled the starter and dissassembled, Intermittent and slow operation when bench tested, looks like oil from the leaking valve cover has dripped down onto and into the starter. The amature and brushes were covered in oil and dirt. Cleaned out the brushes and commutator. Tested ok, reinstalled. Will have to rebuild/replace soon. last check was Sept. with a wiring problem.

Passenger side front window no power or poor connection somewhere, doesn’t work was intermittent (from October)

topped off transmission fluid

heater controls need cleaning /service ,sometimes intermittent fan operation

passenger side tire slow leak, inside sidewall has dry rot, front tires to be replaced.

3/17/2001 regular unleaded @ $3.539 USD/ gallon

January 2011

The alternator belt broke, replaced. Most likely the bearing seized up and broke the belt. Ordered parts for rebuild only to find out that the alternator is a 75 amp Mitsubishi model (should have checked more closely) and a Topaz with automatic transmission and air conditioning should have a 95 amp unit, unable to rebuild it so a 95 amp model ordered. (Installed new alternator)

December 20101

12/26/2010,12.436gals, 258 miles, 20.81 mpg

12/09/2010, 12.023 gals,248 miles,20.627mpg , $3.05 USD/gal

November 2010

$2.889 USD/gallon, 9.944 Gallons, 243 miles 24.4 miles per gallon, $28.73 USD


Unleaded regular, @2.859/G, 11.624 Gal, 266 miles, 22.88 mpg, $33.23 USD

Passenger side power window intermittent power, most likely switch, and/or connections need cleaning.

Tires: the donut spare was found to have a screw through the tread. Since I never thought that space saver spare was a good idea and it’s only for temporary service under 50 mph, I purchased on-line a 14 inch steel rim ( $43.00 and $3.00 for a tire valve ,free shipping.) I could have gone to a bone yard or got used rims on Ebay but theres no guarantee that they would be true (not bent or out of round) , for the money and convenience of delivery it’s a good deal on a new rim..Mounted a 14″ tire I had in the basement. Possibly will buy 2 new tires at a later date. Now I have a full size spare.


Valve cover leaks oil, one reference states that the late models have an integral gasket as part of the valve cover, meaning that if it’s damaged, you replace the entire valve cover. One good thing is that the valve cover is easily replaceable, there is not a lot of plumbing or components blocking it’s removal.

Recent gas up was 13.011 gallons at $2.559 USD/gal. I didn’t get the exact odometer reading but estimate mileage was 24-25 mpg. (about ~300 miles ).

tire valves
both rear tires that were previous mounted on the front of the car had leaking tire valves.
one I discovered leaking and changed, checked the other ones, they seemed alright.
The drivers side rear tire blew out and when a tire was mounted, the tire valve was leaking,
replaced the valve. It looks like fix-a flat sealant was used as there was some around the neck of the tire valve. check donut spare, it went flat when car was parked, re-inflated, may get a rim for a full size spare.

Drained coolant (no flush) and replaced about 1 gallon of anti freeze, you are supposed to remove the drain plug from the engine block to completely drain the coolant but it’s difficult to get to and no idea how easily it would be to remove it. while I was under the car checked for any major oil/tranny leaks, didn’t see any but didn’t have the engine running at the time.Getting to the petcock on the radiator to drain fluid is no easy task compared to working on the ranger. Plus you have to attach tubing to the petcock as there’s a bracket directly under the petcock. On the topaz, the air cleaner tube was in the way and if you have large hands it’s a tight squeeze. Run up to temp and top off check cooling fan.

the A/c compressor pulley has major play in it, the bearing are probably shot and that most likely the reason why it’s bypassed. If I ever have time and money to do it I’ll pull the compressor and repair /replace it. Low priority.

Starter circuit
Also pulled the starter out, by chance, the car didn’t start (solenoid clicking) after I changed the anti freeze, the starter and solenoid looked ok and bench tested ok, cleaned all electrical connections on starter and solenoid. Car still didn’t start now, but cranking, no spark, checked connection at coil, getting 12 v but noticed some slight oxidation at primary coil connection, cleaned and applied dielectic grease. vehicle started. Some times working on older vehicles you have to clean some of the electrical connections and grounds that could cause intermittents.

Also I reattached the air tube bracket from under the car. that was causing a buzzing sound at around 1200 RPM

Gas Milage
Current fill up was 10.433 gallons at 252 miles, more idle time when servicing vehicle, full throttle acceleration test to redline. stallout at idle after service not sure if it was due to computer refresh after having battery cable disconnected for starter service. Other wise, vehicle is running ok. Ignition ok in rain.

August 2010

topped off transmission fluid, sometimes 1-2 shift delayed, will have to check out transmission, leaking etc. and recheck fluid level

rotated tires,

repaired passenger side power window gear

mileage from last fill up, after emission repairs and tune up, 28mpg , 288 miles which is good but, driving for good mileage may result in an increase in vehicles that tailgate you, especially when accelerating from stoplights or on freeway entrance ramps. seems a bit high

next fill up was 25. 68 mpg, 277 miles.

repairs/ maintenance to be considered:

some small rust spots on the undercarriage and trunk floor, should repair b4 winter

rear brakes may need adjusting ?? right rear drags sometimes

should change coolant b4 winter (done)

possible starter solenoid/ wiring problems, troubleshoot, check wiring (done)

drivers side front door lock solenoid (actually a motor actuator, froze up) needs replacing, low priority

drivers side rear power window gear may need replacing, low priority

spare key works in ignition but won’t unlock doors

July 2010 repairs

Replaced :spark plugs, wires, rotor, distributer cap

Front Brake pads

CV joint boot outer left front axle, quick boot type

Left rear strut assembly

Power window motor gear, drivers side

Coolant temperature sender
(parts from Rock Auto)

Accu Auto Repairs (emission repairs)

Replaced O2 sensor $59.00 USD

Replaced EGR solenoid $62.00 USD

Labor Diagnostic $70.00 USD

RI State Inspection. $39.00 USD

VIN readout:

World Manufacturer Identifier – 1st, 2nd, 3rd Positions
VIN Code: 1ME
Assembly Country: UNITED STATES
Make: Mercury
Body Style: Sedan
Restraint System Type (Passenger Cars) or Brake Type and GVWR Class (Trucks and Vans) – 4th Position
VIN Code: P
Brake System: STANDARD
GVWR Class:
Line,Series Body Type – 5th, 6th, 7th Positions
VIN Code: M36
Vehicle Line: Topaz
Series: GS
Vehicle Type: Passenger Car
Engine Type – 8th Position
VIN Code: X
Engine: 2.3 L
Cylinders: 4
Fuel: Gasoline
Model Year – 10th Position
VIN Code: M
Model Year: 1991
Assembly Plant – 11th Position
VIN Code: K
Production Sequence Number – 12th – 17th
VIN Code: deleted
Prod Sequence Number deleted
Additional Information
Wheel Axles Wheelbase 199.8

4 door
Front wheel drive
4 cylinder, 3 speed automatic transmission
color: light blue, faded flat with primer spots (or faded clear coat) showing
one side looks like repaint, rust spot rear quarter
39000 on the clock (139000)
power side mirrors
power locks and windows
A/C, non functional, serpentine belt is for no a/c application, by passes A/C pulley.

I purchased this car from my daughter who wanted to sell it, knowing that I would need another vehicle some day when the ranger crapped out. It sat out in the driveway for a couple of years but I started it and ran it around the hood every couple of months. Some days I would come home and find a “cash for junk cars” flyer on it. I guess people don’t recognize a decent good car when they see it. (and technically they are trespassers.)

average 24 MPG

<br /
<br /


June 2017
« May    

Talking Hydroponics

Growing & Much More


A recipe blog

Power Plant Men

True Power Plant Stories

Bottles & Cans & Just Clap Your Hands

Rhode Island’s Better Beer Blog • by Lou Papineau • @BottlesCansRI •

Learn about Goa Culture, Foods and Recipes

Healthy Cravings

scrumptiously good

adorable life

eat,craft,travel, short live your life and njoy

cooking from the heart

inspired by june & norma

Little Observationist

A journal of observations & inspirations by Stephanie Sadler


Food the old fashioned way

Beer Hobo

Words and photos from the road

Alcoholidays with Mama Bear

"I feel sorry for people who don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they are going to feel all day." -Dean Martin

spf 99

random stuff and a bunch of photos

Bard's Home Brew Brewery

A Homebrew Journey

Amintiri din Bucătărie

Memories from the Kitchen

Beyond Mere Sustenance

Food as a lifestyle...


The Best of the visual Web, sifted, sorted and summarized

rise of the sourdough preacher

Of homemade bread, food and other recipes / Una storia di pane fatto in casa, cibo ed altre ricette


The spirit of fermentation


A voice of sanity in a world gone mad...

Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

My Food and Me

... just about food and more food!!!

my sister's pantry

Eat food... real food

Rantings of an Amateur Chef - What works, and what doesn't!

Two Barn Farm

Sustainable Farming, Permaculture, Gardening and Homesteading in Ohio

Miss Renaissance

Just another site

Little London Observationist

An expat blog about "the little things" in London

Mom de Cuisine

Culinary Musings of an Expat Mom

El fogoncito

Comida tradicional Dominicana y algo más...

gettin' fresh!

turning dirt into dinner

Let's Spice Things Up

Recipe Reviews, Tips & Ideas from my table to yours!


Don't ever change yourself to impress someone, cause they should be impressed that you don't change to please others -- When you are going through something hard and wonder where God is, always remember that the teacher is always quiet during a test --- Unknown


A foodie's thoughts

Food in Jars

a little mech, tech, and food

Las Vegas Food Adventures

From a Las Vegas native's point of view


Fashion, Food, Interior Design and Architecture

Rachel & Maya

Dishing about all things food related.

Advoken's Blog

Just another weblog


Food Adventures in Paris


Creative and exciting vegetarian food featuring bold flavors and world-wide cuisines. Plant-based cooking can be anything BUT boring.

Cooking in Tongues

Savoring the world through food, trails and photos.

con tomates

Juicy living in the Iberian Peninsula and beyond is the best place for your personal blog or business site.

Slow Food RI

Slow Food Rhode Island is the Rhode Island chapter of Slow Food USA.

%d bloggers like this: