The Fiero Project


Some years ago my grandfather gave me an old Pontiac Fiero that had been sitting dormant for nearly twenty years. No precautions were taken to store or preserve it; it just sat outside in the elements with an undiagnosed engine problem keeping it from being moved. Once it was towed to my parents place, it sat in a garage for some years as I wondered where to begin with such a project. There where many obvious problems, and a lot needing fixing, from weathered and faded paint,and a broken windshield, to ancient gasoline in the tank, and the unknown engine problem. As I neared the end of earning a bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering, I began to take the project much more seriously. Last summer I jumped right in and started by cleaning out the fuel system.

Starting with the basics, I turned over the engine by hand to make sure nothing was seized up. Next, I changed the fuel filter, as well as the oil and battery, which predictably did almost nothing; the engine turned over just fine but wouldn’t start. So, I jacked the whole car up and dropped the gas tank; which, by the way, was atrocious on the inside. After disposing of what was surely no longer gasoline, I hosed it out with a gallon of industrial degreaser . Followed by a good soaking with muriatic acid. I also tried using phosphoric acid, since the tank flash rusted shortly after the first cleaning. In my opinion it’s not really worth the fuss, the tank still flash rusted, and I don’t really like playing with strong chemicals. Now that it was clean I painted it and replaced the fuel pump ,and assorted rubber parts that had turned to goo.

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Before and after pictures of the inside of the gas tank.


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Before and after pictures of the fuel sender.



The finished fuel tank and fuel sender.


Now surely, I though, I should get something out of the engine; and I did. What I got was what sounded like an extremely rough idle before eventually stalling. Now I was getting somewhere. Following the advice of a friend I picked up a cheap compression tester, and tested the cylinders one by one. The fourth cylinder I tested had no compression. Next step: Engine Surgery. I popped off the valve cover, and voila! A jammed valve and a snapped pushrod. From what I can gather it seems an excess amount of carbon propped the valve in an open position. Then, with no force acting on the rocker arm to keep the pushrod seated it moved out of place, the rod jammed against it, buckled, and snapped in two.

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What I found under the valve cover (left), and the broken pushrod (right).

At this point I was pretty enthused, I finally had an excuse to rebuild a sizable part of an engine.  So I pulled off the cylinder head, and tore it down until it was bare. Then I packed it all up and cleaned everything in a chemical wash basin after hours at work. I honed all the valves, and replaced the one that had jammed. I took some time while everything was apart to paint the pushrod and valve covers fire-engine red with some spray on engine enamel.


By the time I got the head reattached, my dodge blew and intake manifold gasket, and since nothing can ever be easy on a Chrysler product, I spent the rest of what was left that summer dealing with repairs on my truck. Ultimately, I ended up getting it running well enough to trade in toward my Forester with 40,000 more miles and ten times the reliability. And so now I eagerly await this coming summer when I can finish reassembling the engine and test out the Fiero.

Why I killed my Facebook and moved to Twitter

Facebook comes with baggage and is fraught with expectation. The whole air surrounding Facebook is one charged with emotion, as the complexities of interaction and identity are watered down to a few drop down selections. In my experience, the complexity of communication as well as the need for clarification goes up. This can be observed in the application of terminologies like “like” and “friend”, the perceived simplicity of black and white selected states just leads to more ambiguity. In the analog world saying “you like something” has only one meaning, when on Facebook the convention applied to the “like” button has a much broader meaning.

“Friending” is it’s own bag of marbles. Not “Friending” or “Unfriending” a friend on Facebook can defiantly send mixed message. An “Unfriended” friend may be insulted, offended, or even hurt, perceiving a correlation with friendship in the offline world. While it could be a sign your friendship is waning, it could just as easily mean you just don’t want your feed clogged with: information you easily can or do get offline, or automated post made by apps, or any of the other dozens of reasons that have nothing to do with honest to goodness friendship. Online actions could lead to the need for offline clarifications. Time spent clarifying or repairing hurt friendships is time that could have been spent, just hanging out, having fun, or just growing closer. And, well, “friending” or “not friending” family adds it’s own dimension of fresh hell to all this.

I Dont Always - I don't always use social media But when i do i use twitter

I don’t really have too much of a gripe with any of this; after all, every form of communication has it’s strengths and weaknesses. But, the complexity and the type of friction added by using Facebook is a huge turn off for me. I turned to twitter because it’s largely neutral, following someone’s feed carries far different connotations than “Friending”. My only thought when I choose to follow someone is “Do I find their feed interesting?”, not “How will they feel if I follow or don’t follow them?”. Similarly, since twitter is public by nature, the only though I have when posting is “Is it ok if what I’m about to post goes public?”, not “Did I correctly set my up privacy settings, groups, and whatnot?” With Twitter, my focus and attention is freed up to think about what I’m posting, rather than the baggage that comes along with using the social network.

And for anything I need more than 140 characters to express, I have Cheesed-Off.


Field Day 2013

This Summer, I had quite a bit of fun at Field Day 2013. I joined the Saginaw Valley Amateur Radio Association for their Field Day outing. Running a Kenwood TS-520S I recently picked up, along with the matching AT-230 tuner, I strung up a G5RV antenna in some nearby trees (with help form the club). It was the first time since I got on the air with the rig since I bought it.

Field Day 2013

From 1800UTC to 0200UTC I made a total of 12 contacts, ranging in from New England to Texas, and everywhere in between. It was a great time and really got my feet wet in the world of HF.

Time (UTC) Station Frequency (MHz) Mode Location
19:11 W4RAT 14.300 USB Virginia
19:35 N0FUK 14.275 USB Iowa
19:37 W1CUM 14.320 USB New Hampshire
21:04 K4OO 14.290 USB North Carolina
23:30 K4PMH 14.290 USB Virginia
23:35 WB4ZPI 14.343 USB Alabama
23:38 WE1CT 14.275 USB ——
23:44 W5WB 14.320 USB Texas
23:50 W5CCW 14.330 USB ——
00:39 AC8IE 14.309 USB Ohio
00:58 WC9AR 14.231 USB Indiana
01:23 N5TT 14.300 USB Texas