Random thoughts on ease of Maintainance - 3.1

Last weekend my kid put a new intake manifold gasket on my '97 Lumina. I was his helper. This was about a solid 6 hour job. Count parts cleaning, putting a
new o-ring on the distributor/oil pump shaft, a beer and a nap, running to the parts store, etc., it's more like 10-12 hours. What makes changing a manifold gasket take so long to do? On this 60 degree 6 the pushrods pass though the manifold gasket. That means the pushrods have to come out. I bought that 20 buck Lisle pushrod removal tool so we didn't have to remove the rockers, which could open a can of worms. Well worth it. Disconnect batter, which right away means pulling the airbox, pull lower hose to drain coolant. Alternator has to come off, PS pump has to be hung aside, coil packs come off, gas lines disconnected, throttle linkage disconnected, engine brace off to pull the windshield washer tank. Then you have about 6 or 7 vacuum lines, a few line hold down braces, maybe 10 electrical connectors. Every one of these lines and connectors stresses me, because I screwed some up in the past. Many you can't see well, so you have to go by feel. They're a walk in the park for the kid, because he's just a better mechanic. Besides something like 10/10 eyes, he's had a lot of practice at boneyards. He knows every connector type and he didn't break anything. Even had a fuel line disconnected tool, something I never heard of. His first car had an older 3.1. Then you pull the manifold heater tubes, upper plenum, valve covers, fuel rails/injectors. Finally pull the intake manifold, and remove the pushrods. Clean up, and put it all back together. Drain oil. Add coolant Add fresh oil and filter, warm it up and drain oil and replace oil and filter again to make sure you removed the coolant that got in there. I used to pull and replace the intake and both heads in the same time on older cars. Don't have the heart to tackle this new stuff. I really think all the crap you have to do to get at this 3.1 manifold gasket is a sign of bad design, especially since the original gaskets were garbage, and commonly failed. I helped the kid do the lower intake gasket on the 3800 in his '95 Bonneville and it was a much easier job than on the 3.1. Like the Lumina, a badly designed original gasket that we replaced with a revised version before it went bad.
OTOH, the components of these newer cars are most often better designed than the old ones, the metallurgy is better, and failures are much more rare, so I'm not really complaining. No way I want to go backwards.
But man, the work needed to change that intake gasket on the Lumina sure surprised me.
--Vic
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needed to change that intake gasket on the Lumina

A lot of this type of thing is very labor intensive, knuckle busting, and cursing, but that you worked with your kid to do this is a blessing from God.
I rebuilt a Fiero with my son, and a Mitsubishi with my daughter. These are opportunities.
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On 06/06/2011 05:38 PM, hls wrote:

You don't like your daughter, do you?
nate
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replace "roosters" with "cox" to reply.
http://members.cox.net/njnagel
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Sure are. I'll tell you one thing for sure, it's made me respect him quite highly. Being "Dad" and Mr know-it-all before, I never thought about that respect part. Now he's better than I ever was, and I like it. Consider myself lucky.
--Vic
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Vic Smith wrote:

My last car was a Pontiac Grand Am. It was a B**** to work on. Constantly breaking. My current car is a Kia Spectra. It rarely breaks. It is probably the easiest car to work on that I have ever had. Everything is right there in the open and light weight. That goes for every part: engine, dash, brakes, etc. 70k miles and original window motors.
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On Mon, 06 Jun 2011 19:19:12 -0500, Paul in Houston TX

Funny. I drive a 2-door '93 Grand Am with a 3.3, which is variation of the 3.8. 90 degree. Just use it when my wife has the Lumina and I want to go somewhere, because I hate 2-doors. Besides, the "sport" suspension on the Grand Am is a rougher ride than I like. Suspension probably needs work. Bought it for my daughter about 7 years ago for college commuting and she gave it back when she bought a new car after finishing college. No problems with it except a leaking trans gasket, and a knocking water pump, both fixed now. Also had to unplug the TCC because that's failed, so there's no lockup. I did put a window regulator motor in the driver's door last year, but that was the fault of the window installer who bent the regulator arms. Was broken into for the stereo when my daughter had it. She had left the face plate on. It has +140k miles and looks better than the Lumina. No rust showing. Runs just as well too. Anyway, after my kid did the Lumina manifold he said he wanted to do the gasket on the Grand Am. I asked what for? He said "Practice." Reminds me of Ernie Banks saying "Let's play two." But I want the TCC solenoid replaced first.
--Vic
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Vic Smith wrote:

> Funny. I drive a 2-door '93 Grand Am with a 3.3, which is variation

My G/A was a 92 with the 3.3. That is one of the best engines I have ever had. It was a really ergonomic car but had a lot of part failures. I did the TC solenoid in my driveway one weekend and replaced the screen in the lower pan at the same time.
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