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Thursday, November 01, 2007

It seems the price of gas just keeps going higher and higher. 

Two years ago we bought a Cummins diesel Dodge 2500 pickup, because we needed something with towing power for Allison's horses and at the time diesel fuel wasn't too expensive.  Flash forward and now diesel is at the $3.80 mark, and I heard something about it going to $5.00 per gallon.  Ouch!  The saving grace, though, is the diesel gets decent mileage for as big as it is - 15 to 22 MPG.  (Ok, I know that's not in the 50+ MPG range you get in a hybrid, I'm just saying....)

Now, on the other hand, if you are a high-performance muscle car owner, you typically don't think about the cost of fuel, since you don't drive them much except weekends and nice days.  Still, it's not uncommon to burn through $70.00 worth of gas on a "Sunday Drive".

That brings me to the following specimen: One 1970 Plymouth 'Cuda.  383 cubic inches. 4-speed manual transmission. 3:90 rear end gears.  4xx horsepower.  !!! Fun car. 8-) Lousy mileage. 8-(

Before AND After - No apparent modifications!

Now, in an attempt to combat rising fuel costs, I decided an overdrive might just do the trick.  Last year I installed a Gear Vendors Under/Overdrive unit in the GTO, and am VERY happy with the results.  Of course, the GTO is an automatic, and the 'Cuda is a manual - I can do an automatic with my eyes closed, however, I have never done a manual before.  In fact, I learned to drive a manual on this 'Cuda - hence, the second reason for touching the transmission in the first place: I pretty much got all the goodie out of the existing clutch ("Honey, what's that smell?").

With that said, I needed a "can't mess this up" solution.  After some searching and reviewing, I settled on a Tremec 5-speed from Keisler Automotive Engineering.  These guys carry what they call their "PerfectFit" systems - basically everything you need plus detailed instructions to get the job done right, an expert technical support.  I will tell you this - it's not cheap, but this package is engineered to fit perfectly with minimal goofing around and it works awesome! 

It's a good looking piece of machinery!

Since I didn't want to mess up my original bellhousing, what I purchased was the PerfectFit 5-speed TKO-600 kit, a new Keisler Big-Block bellhousing, new clutch assembly and flywheel (no sense in taking a shower and leaving your socks on!).   The drive shaft is included in the price, but wasn't in the box - a quick email indicated that since these cars weren't really built to "spec" in the good old days, that you have to make a couple of measurements and the driveshaft is custom made.  Only took a couple of days for it to ship.  Total out-of-pocket, including trans, misc fluids, pull ties, band-aids: $4,800.00. My calculator broke, so I can't tell for sure at what point the cost/gallon will offset the cost/trans, but I assure you, the fun itself is Priceless! (Hopefully the better half won't be reading this....)

The good stuff!

Speaking of email, the guys at Keisler are great.  I had a couple of questions and they had fast and right answers - very professional.

Step 1: Out with the old.

This is by far the easiest step.  Unbolt the driveshaft, prop up the trans, take out the crossmember, and remove trans.  In hindsight - it would have been easier to remove the 4 transmission-to-bellhousing bolts to get the trans out.  I opted for the knucklebuster-backbreaking take-your-life-in-your-hands method of removing the bellhousing-to-engine bolts and sliding the trans and bellhousing back as a single piece - which, of course, there's little or no room to do this.  Did I mention this is the first time I've worked on a maual transmission?  Once you get the bellhousing out it's a simple task to remove the clutch - or what's left of it.

Mmm... Could use a bit of scrubbin' under here....

Step 2: Test fit and a massage.

The initial fitment is pretty easy.  Before installing the clutch, you mount up the bellhousing, loosely bolt the new trans in and put in the supplied crossmember to hold up the tail section.  From here you have to check for floor/hump/trans cleareance.  It wasn't too bad on mine - I just needed to massage the hump a little bit to give me a little more space between the hump and the edge of the transmission.

Step 3: Install flywheel and clutch and do final trans install.

Having never put in a clutch before, this was a little unnerving - I mean, look - an automatic has like 3 bolts, the manual has 8!  Plus the opportunity for something to pop off and put my eye out (just like my dad warned me!).  After an initial trial and error,  it was actually pretty easy.  Key is to tighten each bolt like one or two turns in a pattern - this lets the clutch seat on the clutch disc without warping.  There's a plastic alignment tool included that helps you center the disc with the flywheel.

NOTE: Don't do what I did - forget to put in the pilot bearing.  Cause if you do, you gotta unbolt the trans, take off the bellhousing, remove the clutch, and then put it all back in.  Oh, yeah, it's in the instructions, I just got excited and missed the step.  As I was tightening the last bolt on the trans, out of the corner of my eye I noticed the bearing gleaming on the bench and though "Huh.  I wonder if that's important?"

Mmm... New Clutch!  Excellent fit!

Once installed, it's just a couple of quick measurements and a phone call to Keisler and then install the drive shaft.

Step 4: Enjoy.

Mmmm.... Very tasty!  I am impressed with how well the transmission feels.  Takes a little while to get used to the 5 speed pattern versus the 4 speed.  Getting up to speed on the highway, then grabbing 5th gear is AWESOME!  65 MPH at around 2000 RPM.  That translates to 1300 SPG (Smiles Per Gallon).

Epilogue: Contact insurance company.

You know what really stinks?  To take your car out on a state highway to work through the gears, only to have a deer do a face-plant into the side of your car.    This happened within 2 hours of tightening the last bolt.  I can't believe Mother Nature tried to kill me - probably has something to do with global warming....

Relax, the deer was fine - he does owe me a pair of underwear, though, if I ever catch him. After depressing my rear quarter with his cheek and kicking the door with his heels, he bounced back up and returned from whence he came.  At least it was the side of the car and not through the windshield.

How to make a grown man cry.....

Car is drivable - it's just like walking around with mustard on your nice dress shirt.  Arrgghhh!

 In summary....

I am very pleased with the new trans.  Easy to install and works great.  I have yet to check the mileage.  I'll need to wait until next summer for that.

I would HIGHLY recommend Keisler Automotive Engineering - these guys know their stuff, and the product is exactly as advertised and the documentation top-notch.  These guys carry more than Mopar, they pretty much have auto or manual trans' for just about anything.  If you're interested in contacting them, I dealt with Gene Charsha - 865-609-8187 ext 211.  He answered even my dumbest questions.

BJ Williams
President / Chief Software Archtect

 



Thursday, February 01, 2007

You'd have to be living under a rock to not know that President Bush signed an Energy Bill back in August of 2005  that lengthens the Daylight Savings Time by four weeks, effective this year (2007).  If you're interested in the details, you can find them here.

Those of us in the IT sector have been working hard to determine what needs to be patched, what's Ok to leave unpatched, and wondering what we'll probably miss patching, and what that impact will be to the systems we have to manage.

Microsoft has issued several automated patches, and for those of use that still use Windows 2000, they have several handy articles about how to patch these "unsupported" systems. (Or, if you really have diffculty you can always spring for the one-time $4,400 fee that Microsoft is more than willing to charge you for ;-) )

What I find interesting about this whole Daylight Savings Time change is - The concept is that by doing so "could" save us up to 100,000 barrels of oil per day.  Key on "could".

One has to wonder if the "possible" savings will offset the "actual" costs of making changes to all affected systems, and what other impact there may be on file and historical dates.  For example, What if you are in a court case and audit trails will factor in greatly as to the guilt or innocence of the accused, are the dates coming from a patched system, a non-patched system, or some strange combination of both?

Probably everything will work out fine.

I just find it interesting that to please some interest group sweeping changes are made that have more impact on something else than would have been overall had they just left it alone in the first place.

Oh well, just my current rant.  Don't even get me started on the Global Warming debacle.

BJ Williams
President / Chief Software Architect



Friday, January 12, 2007

If you're from the Nebraska, there's one thing you know for a fact: There's nothing better than Nebraska Corn Fed Beef.  Period.

Here at Genesis, we periodically like to "treat" the staff to a cookout.  Typically these cookouts might be hotdogs and hamburgers (or as we like to say "I'll take a cheeseburger with a hotdog chaser!"), and for those especially tastey occasions we'll cook up some 14oz Ribeye's.  (IMHO the best cut of beef...., 2nd only to Chateaubriand)

Check out some pictures of our last cookout....

Step 1 is the proper seasoning, here it is being professionally applied:

Step 2 slow cooking over the hot grill:

Jennifer demonstrating the proper cooking method for Tater Tots - the key is individual rotation for even browning.

Get yours before they're all gone!
Going, Going, Gone!

There are two schools of thought on proper ketchup placement with your Tots:

Method 1:

And... Method 2 (there is not right or wrong... it's ALL good!)

With steaks this tasty and filling, you gotta pace yourself!

Next time your near Genesis and you smell that good cookout odor, stop in!

Brad Williams
Director of Operations


 



Monday, September 25, 2006

Some of you may know the rich Genesis history with Classic American Muscle Cars.  The stable includes Jason's 1969 Firebird, Braden's 1966 LeMans Convertible, and my 1969 GTO Convertible, 1970 Plymouth 'Cuda, and 1972 LeMans Sport Convertible.

Last year in the '69 GTO and the '72 LeMans, I decided I just wasn't happy with the "get-up and go" factor.  Sure, these have Limited Slip, and around 400 naturally aspirated horses each, but the 3.23's just weren't giving me that performance satisfaction I desired.  Cutting to the chase, I put Richmond 4.11 gears and Auburn Limited Split Differential units in both cars.  Yesss!  Off the line performance was EXTREMELY satisfying now.

Short side story (Ok, maybe is a long-short story): When your better half is out of town for the week, and JEG's will ship just about anything overnight (including Saturday), and you have too much free time on your hands, and your brothers didn't even try to talk you out of it (and perhaps even egged it on...), well..., anything is possible.  Got the rear-end parts on Friday morning. Laid low until the wife was safely out of town, and on Saturday evening, started the upgrade.  Being the control-freak that I am, naturally I would only trust myself and Brad (brother) to do the work.  Cut to 12:00am, Sunday morning,  gears in place.  I let Brad and Braden take the GTO out for the first test drive (or should I say "beat").  I could hear them burnning off the tires all the way back to the shop (picture in your mind "shaking up the bee's nest").  Now, any sane person would have just put the car back in the garage and called it a night.  Sanity is not one of my strong points when it comes to these cars.  I decided I'd make a quick run up to the local Burger King and get a snack.  They say "Possession is nine-tenths of the law" - and when Ralston's Finest (the angry bee's) pulled me over I was read the riot act.  Let's just say, I had to use my "once in a lifetime" "all day traffic school so you can still afford insurance" option.

Ok, back to main story....

The gearing and performance are unbelievable, however, with 4.11 gears and a 3-speed THM-400 Automatic, we'll, your RPM's are way up there.  The engine doesn't care, and performance is still there (both Pontaic's have 400ci engines, balanced, MSD Ignition, good for 8 to 10,000 RPM - not that you'd do that....).

Enter Gear Vendors.  These guys have an under/overdrive "gear splitter".  Basically, it takes the 4.11, and when you kick in the gear split, it equates to having a 3.23 rear end ratio.  Technically, it splits all 3 gears, do effectively you turn your 3 speed in to a 6 speed - 1st, 1st-Split, 2nd, 2nd-Split, 3rd, and 3rd-Split.  These things are ROCK-SOLID.  Let's put it this way - you can smoke the tires with the 4.11's, through 1st and second, start into 3rd, and as you are moving, split the gear - and get tire chirp as it shifts!  Try that with a regular old "overdrive".... By the way, these guys know their stuff.  I purchased my GV Unit direct from them, and they asked the right questions, and the delivered product was EXACTLY what I needed, including every nut, bolt, gasket, etc.  Even my speedometer, which previously did not have the correct speed shown, now matches perfectly!

The GV unit is unbelievably simple to install.  Takes just a couple of hours.  I was spoiled, I used a car lift, but you could just as easily just put the car up on ramps and use a creeper.  Highlights from the install:

A lift makes all the difference....
 On the lift!

 Carefully review your parts list....  Let's see... Where are the band-aids..?
Parts Is Parts

Hmmm... Since the GV adds like 18" to the transmission, you gotta shorten it, or, better yet, just have Inland Truck Parts build you a new one!
Out with the old, in with the new!

Here's the "before" picture looking at the tail section and trans mount, standing at the rear of the vehicle.
Not much to look at...

If you're squeamish, close your eyes (most people go their entire lives without seeing this internal view of a transmission. Pity.)
THM-400 with rear tail section removed, ready to bolt on GV Unit!

Since we are adding length to the trans, a little massaging of the trans tunnel is required.  Not too bad.
Adapter plate bolted to trans... Massaging hardly noticeable....

 The trans crossmember has to be flipped over and around, and then just trimmed a wee bit to make it fit.  It's times like these that help to explain to the wife exactly why you needed that plasma cutter! 1) Marking, 2) Get the plasma ready, 3) Nice clean cut, 4) Little touch up.  Not shown: Bead blast, paint, air dry.  Mmmm.... Tasty....
Snug fit....

Here's the fit with the new driveshaft to splitter to adapter.
Nice clean install....

Once the "mechanicals" are in place, it's just a matter of the Speedo adapter, and wires that feed up under the dash to a hidden computer control module.  A auto/manual switch is mounted under the dash to determine if you want the device to shift automatically (Auto-Drive) or manually when you tell it to (I mounted my manual shift button above and to the right of the high beam switch on the floor - just the perfect spot to move your foot up and shift for power!).  No pictures of this part of the install as, really, it's not even seen in the car - the casual observer would never know you have the GV unit installed - until they hear it shift!

Gratitous side shot....

The only physical mods to the car are: Modify the transmission mounting bracket (slight trimming), round out the transmission hump (to make room for the GV unit's bolt "ears"), and cutting (or replacing) the drive shaft.  That's it.

So, how do I like it?  This is a pricey solution, but for the shift performance, and ease of use (you can set it to either manually go into overdrive, or you can "auto-drive" so it shifts just like an automatic 4 speed), absolutely no performance loss, better gas mileage, the list goes on....  What else could you ask for?  I HIGHLY recommend it. In my scenario, you get the best of both worlds - 4.11's when you need 'em, and 3.23's to satisfy the gas miser.  The performance is phenomenol!

BJ Williams
President / Chief Software Architect

 

 



Thursday, May 11, 2006

I know at Genesis we tend to obsess a bit about tasty foods, but what the heck, ya gotta live.

There are certain times when a busy person is just simply in need of a quick and tasty nourishment solution. Today this was my quandry and therefore this quick blog entry.

Tasty nourishment in less than 3 minutes total ! Here goes.........

One 2-pack package of  White Castle burgers, available at any of your fine grocers. These are available by the boxful at our local Sam's outlet...........

One reasonably sized microwave and a paper plate.......

Cooking Process - I found that with this small but powerful microwave that programming a 1minute and 15 second pass at medium power and immediately followed by a 1 minute pass at high power did a perfect job of heating the product to just the right "too warm to eat immediately but will get you back to your desk and still be warm temperature".

The Secret - One secret I will pass along is that I found it best to remove the product from the packaging, place it directly on the plate, then lightly drape two napkins across the top of the burgers. I don't really know what this does for the cooking process, but I think it makes the burgers feel more comfortable in their new situation.

And ba da bing, ba da bow, snack is served!

Sugested side beverages would be Dr. Pepper, Diet Mountain Dew, or bottled water.

Enjoy!

Brad Williams



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