December 29, 2009

No turning back

I wrote this earlier in 2009 after my biggest maintenance project of the year. Cool story, bro.

I am back on the road after one life altering experience, and there's no turning back. 121,000 miles was enough to send me into a whirl of uncertainty. I had ridden her since the first 69, and I could sense the time on my joy ride was starting to expire.

I just finished my first timing belt job a few days after removing my first valve cover, and there was nothing quite like the feeling of listening to my DC4 idle after I was sure I hadn't ruined the top end of my motor.

I had no idea if the belt was ever changed, and I had no idea how to change it. Today, I am full of all kinds of certainty.

I started working on this car the day I bought it. The independent dealer had no clue what to do with my COdE radio read-out. I fixed it shortly after I discovered honda-tech, making my sign up date there the same day I bought the Integra.

At one point last year, I began overheating. Anonymous heads on the forum say the thermostat is easy. After that didn't fix me, I decided to tackle a leaking radiator job myself. After all, people on the internet made it sound easy.

The radiator swap gave me a taste of the feeling I have come to love--the feeling of satisfaction I get when I finish another fix or project on my car. It is a such a liberating victory for me because I hate leaving my vehicle in the care of someone else.

I was off to the races. I tore out the entire interior, mounted 6x9s beside the rear seat, and wired up an antennae kill switch so I can stop hearing the antenna mast motor run when I do not need radio reception. I removed a remote starter to trouble shoot some electrical issues, swapped a dead head unit, and tore into my front end to replace the front wheel bearings.

But alas, these jobs were all relatively low risk. I didn't truly challenge myself until I took that timing belt off the cams and watched as they slowly moved independently from each other.

I was all in. All belts except for A/C, water pump, cam seal plug, valve cover gasket kit, spark plugs...I got everything. I took my time. I lost sleep over leaving my valve cover off for so many days with a garbage bag and a pile of rags in its place. I watched my rotors get rusty again. All or nothing.

I didn't understand why the manuals suggest rotating the cam gears three teeth before tensioning the belt again, but once I did it, it was clearly genius. I tightened the 14mm tensioner bolt once again, and the belt finally looked right to me. I dropped screw drivers in the LS cam shaft holes, and my crank lined up. I turned the engine over by hand six times, and it all lined up once again.

I took a long slug of my beer before i decided it was time to start the engine. I had no more important parts lying around. It was test time, and I was about to ace. I love this shit.

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