Website Update Archive

Thursday, January 5, 2017

RX-8 Steering Rack & Steering Column Replacement

RX-8 Steering Rack

I have a new page in my static site's How To section:


Replacing a Steering Column and/or Steering Rack in a 2006 Mazda RX-8


I had to do this recently, but unlike most other car projects I do, I couldn't find a write up, tutorial, or YouTube video walking you through it (and thanks to the wealth of information usually on the Internet, I've never invested in a Chilton's or Hayne's manual - I'm not even sure they have one for an RX-8). In fact, one forum I read even said something to the effect that a steering rack replacement is too much work for a home mechanic, and that if that really was your problem, you should just take it into the shop. Well, I may not be a great mechanic, but I learned enough helping out my dad that I can replace just about any part on a car (diagnosis & speed are where I fall short compared to good mechanics). So, I tackled the project, took a lot of pictures during the process, and made my own write-up to help anybody else who might need to do this. To be honest, once you know the process, it's not that hard, and should take less than a day to do.

Here's the full back story. The car had developed a weird grinding feeling when turning the steering wheel. A little Googling indicated that weird feelings in the steering were often due to the lower U-joint in the steering column going bad, so I pulled the steering column to inspect it. I didn't find any problems with that, so I sort of jumped to conclusions, reasoning that the only other major part in the steering system was the rack & pinion, so I decided to replace the steering rack, as well. I say 'sort of', because I didn't really see any major problems with the steering rack, so I wasn't fully convinced that was the problem, and so only ponied up the money for a junkyard part. I'll note in my defense that I also had an old hot water heater going out that needed to be replaced right around the same time, so I was a little rushed trying to figure out the problem with the car before getting to the water heater.

I spent two days replacing the steering rack, on one of the coldest weekends we've had here. The temperature dropped down to the teens overnight, creeping up to the 20s and low 30s during the day. And my garage is too full to work on the car there, so I did it all out in the driveway. Unfortunately, the problem didn't go away, and further inspection found the real culprit - a broken bracket holding the engine that had allowed the whole engine to drop and rub against the steering column. I should have done enough diagnosing at the outset to notice that that was the real problem, but looking on the bright side, it was a valuable learning experience. It was the first major maintenance I'd done to the car, so I did learn a whole lot about how to work on that car, and any future maintenance will go a lot quicker. Plus, since it seems the steering rack wasn't the problem, and I didn't feel like pulling the 'new' one off, I now had a spare steering rack just in case.

So, after replacing the broken engine bracket, I did take the car into the shop to get a front end alignment. I don't have the tools to do it, and the shop doesn't charge that much to do it, so that's one of those projects where I don't mind taking the car in. Well, as soon as they got it up on the lift, they found a problem that I should have noticed myself. The junkyard steering rack had a bent inner tie rod. I could have probably stolen the one from the original steering rack to put on the 'new' one, but I figured that the original was probably in good working order, and was probably closer to being aligned correctly, so I decided to swap out the 'new' steering rack for the original one.

Knowing what to do made a big difference. Remember I said it took me 2 days to replace the steering rack before, and that was actually after a good part of a day pulling the steering column. This time, it took me 4 1/2 hrs to pull the steering column and replace the steering rack. And that even included a short break for lunch. Like I said, the first time through was a valuable learning experience.

Anyway, that's the story. If I'd done the proper diagnosing to begin with, it would have only been a relatively short project replacing that engine bracket. But on the bright side, not only did I learn a lot, but now the Internet has a write up that didn't exist before, which will hopefully save someone else some time down the road. Here's the link one more time:


Replacing a Steering Column and/or Steering Rack in a 2006 Mazda RX-8

 

Monday, December 12, 2016

Website Update - Top 10 Page List for September, October, and November 2016

Top 10 ListI'm not trying to turn this into a quarterly feature, but it seems like I keep forgetting to run one of these top 10 lists at the end of the month and only remember every 3 months or so. Well, it happened again, but I still went through the server logs for the past 3 months to see what pages on this site were the most popular.

Most of the pages that made the list had made it before. However, there were two newcomers. First was Tank Game - QBasic Source Code. I'm happy to see it make the list, but a little surprised. It's a very simple QBasic program I wrote back in high school. I was proud of it when I did it - an attempt at an 'action' game with both people using the same keyboard. But it's not a particularly good program, particularly for people to use as an example. I wrote it before I learned good programming practices, and there are way too many labels and GOTO statements (even 1 GOTO statement is 1 too many). The other newcomer is Birds Are Dinosaurs. It's a few years old, so I'm surprised to see it gain popularity now, but happy to see it doing so.

I have been doing pretty good at my renewed efforts of maintaining my post per week goal. I haven't quite kept up with my goal of updating the Friday Bible Blogging series every week again, but I have been trying. I've made one new post in the series, and I've ready the next 10 chapters of Isaiah. The problem, as I've said several times now, is that I also try to read the footnotes in the New Oxford Annotated Bible before writing the entries, and I usually devote weekend mornings to doing that reading, but I've been busy with projects, trips, and get togethers the past several weeks (including replacing a hot water heater). But I will sincerely try to start updating that series on a weekly basis, again.

Overall traffic was fairly consistent for those three months, reversing a trend I noted several months ago of declining traffic. I read an entry on Daylight Atheism a little while ago that several sites have been seeing decreased traffic due to changes in Facebook's algorithms regarding external links. So, maybe that was part of the problem in addition to me not generating as much new content. Hopefully, traffic will at least hold or even grow now that I'm back to writing regularly again.

Anyway, here're the lists for the past three months.


Top 10 for September 2016

  1. Response to Rabbi Steven Pruzansky - Why Romney Didn't Get Enough Votes to Win
  2. Origin of Arabic Numerals - Was It Really for Counting Angles?
  3. Response to an Editorial by Ken Huber
  4. A Skeptical Look at MBT Shoes
  5. Autogyro History & Theory
  6. Running AutoCAD R14 in XP Pro 64
  7. Response to E-mail - 1400 years of In-breeding
  8. Tank Game - QBasic Source Code
  9. Blog - VW XL1 + E-mail Debunking - China's New "Little Car"
  10. Response to Global Warming Denialist E-mail - Volcanoes and Global Cooling


Top 10 for October 2016

  1. Origin of Arabic Numerals - Was It Really for Counting Angles?
  2. Response to an Editorial by Ken Huber
  3. A Skeptical Look at MBT Shoes
  4. Autogyro History & Theory
  5. Response to Global Warming Denialist E-mail - Volcanoes and Global Cooling
  6. Response to E-mail - 1400 years of In-breeding
  7. Retroactive Soapbox Entry- Fed Up with U.S. Public, Part II
  8. Tank Game - QBasic Source Code
  9. A Skeptical Look at Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy
  10. Review of Ray Comfort's New Movie - Evolution vs. God, Part I


Top 10 for November 2016

  1. Origin of Arabic Numerals - Was It Really for Counting Angles?
  2. A Skeptical Look at MBT Shoes
  3. Response to Global Warming Denialist E-mail - Volcanoes and Global Cooling
  4. Autogyro History & Theory
  5. Tank Game - QBasic Source Code
  6. Retroactive Soapbox Entry- Fed Up with U.S. Public, Part II
  7. Response to E-mail - 1400 years of In-breeding
  8. A Skeptical Look at Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy
  9. Response to E-mail - Are America's Hunters the World's Largest Army?
  10. Birds Are Dinosaurs

Friday, September 9, 2016

Website Update - Top 10 Page List for August 2016

Top 10 ListNow that August is over, it's time to have a look at the server logs to see what pages on the site were most popular in August. And it's pretty much a list of the usual suspects. When peeking ahead to September, though, I did notice something interesting. Granted, we're less than a week into this month, so it's probably just a quirk that will be smoothed out once I get a bit more traffic, but as of today, my 10th most popular page for this month is Tank Game - QBasic Source Code, a program I wrote back in high school to try to come up with an 'action' game. Granted, it was a very simple program even back in the day, but not too bad for a self-taught high school kid (I eventually had a couple classes on programming and so picked up on better practices).

I'm not sure if it's just the normal variation, or if my efforts at the tail end of the month to get back into regular blogging made a difference, but overall traffic for August was up a bit from the previous months. Hopefully I do stick with writing like I had been and traffic will increase back to what it was before the summer. And I haven't forgotten about the Friday Bible Blogging, but it'll probably be a couple more weeks before I begin updating that series again.

I also spent some time doing housekeeping that I'd neglected for a while. Some time around a year or two ago, Amazon changed the way they do product linking. So, a lot of the links I'd created for books just quit working entirely, leaving blank white space. I've gone through all those entries and fixed the links, occasionally updating the edition I was linking to when appropriate. Have a look at my review of Why Evolution Is True to see what I'm talking about as far as the links (and click on the link and buy the book).

And as one last administrative note, there were some issues last week when the company that hosts this site did some updates that affected Movable Type. It screwed up commenting and a few other things. I got in touch with tech support and the issue is now resolved. I'm not sure exactly when it happened since I don't check this blog every day, but I'm pretty sure that the problems lasted less than a week.

Anyway, here're the lists for last month.

Top 10 for August 2016

  1. Response to Rabbi Steven Pruzansky - Why Romney Didn't Get Enough Votes to Win
  2. Origin of Arabic Numerals - Was It Really for Counting Angles?
  3. A Skeptical Look at MBT Shoes
  4. Response to Global Warming Denialist E-mail - Volcanoes and Global Cooling
  5. Response to an Editorial by Ken Huber
  6. Autogyro History & Theory
  7. Retroactive Soapbox Entry- Fed Up with U.S. Public, Part II
  8. Response to E-mail - 1400 years of In-breeding
  9. A Skeptical Look at Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy
  10. Ray Comfort's New Movie - Evolution vs. God

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Website Update - Top 10 Page Lists for May, June, and July 2016

Top 10 ListMy blog output has been waning a bit, lately, particularly this summer. Between family vacation, a business trip, and a few projects at work, I just haven't had time to write. Plus, I seem to have fallen out of the groove of it even when I do have time, spending more time during my lunch breaks reading other sites than writing my own content. And this lack of content has also been reflected in waning traffic to this site. So, now that summer's over, it's time to make a renewed committment to this blog and website, and see if I can get back into the groove of making at least one update per week (even if it means recycling some of the answers I've been writing for Quora). And I'm really going to try hard to resurrect my long dormant Friday Bible Blogging series.

It's been 3 months since I've done a top 10 list, so this entry will cover May, June, and July. Like normal, most of the entries have made the list before. However, there were a few newcomers. Probably the one I'm happiest to see becoming newly popular is Response to E-mail - 1400 years of In-breeding, explaining the fallacies in an e-mail forward I received claiming that "The massive inbreeding in Muslim culture may well have done virtually irreversible damage to the Muslim gene pool..." Of course, that claim isn't true, as I explain in the entry. Other newcomers to the list include Theistic Evolution vs. Intelligent Design, 2012 Great American Beer Festival, and Gamera Human Powered Helicopter (which is a little surprising considering that another entry on the topic had made the list several times before, Gamera II Human Powered Helicopter Sets New Record). There was one entry this time that hadn't made the list in a few years, VW XL1 + E-mail Debunking - China's New "Little Car". I wonder if the e-mail that inspired it is making the rounds again.

Anyway, here're the lists for the past 3 months.

Top 10 for May 2016

  1. Origin of Arabic Numerals - Was It Really for Counting Angles?
  2. Response to Rabbi Steven Pruzansky - Why Romney Didn't Get Enough Votes to Win
  3. Retroactive Soapbox Entry- Fed Up with U.S. Public, Part II
  4. Rick Santorum
  5. E-mail Forward - Obama's Reaction to Ft. Hood Shootings
  6. Autogyro History & Theory
  7. Response to Global Warming Denialist E-mail - Volcanoes and Global Cooling
  8. Gamera Human Powered Helicopter
  9. Arguing on a Website - Explaining Evolution
  10. 2012 Great American Beer Festival

Top 10 for June 2016

  1. VW XL1 + E-mail Debunking - China's New "Little Car"
  2. Response to Rabbi Steven Pruzansky - Why Romney Didn't Get Enough Votes to Win
  3. Origin of Arabic Numerals - Was It Really for Counting Angles?
  4. Retroactive Soapbox Entry- Fed Up with U.S. Public, Part II
  5. Response to E-mail - 1400 years of In-breeding
  6. Autogyro History & Theory
  7. Rick Santorum
  8. Response to an Editorial by Ken Huber
  9. A Skeptical Look at MBT Shoes
  10. Theistic Evolution vs. Intelligent Design

Top 10 for July 2016

  1. Response to Rabbi Steven Pruzansky - Why Romney Didn't Get Enough Votes to Win
  2. Origin of Arabic Numerals - Was It Really for Counting Angles?
  3. A Skeptical Look at MBT Shoes
  4. Retroactive Soapbox Entry- Fed Up with U.S. Public, Part II
  5. Response to E-mail - 1400 years of In-breeding
  6. Response to Global Warming Denialist E-mail - Volcanoes and Global Cooling
  7. A Skeptical Look at Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy
  8. Rick Santorum
  9. Arguing on a Website - Explaining Evolution
  10. Autogyro History & Theory

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Website Update - Top 10 Page List for February, March, and April 2016

Top 10 ListIt's been a while since I've done one of these posts - over three months. So, I figure it's about time to catch up a bit.

There were several newcomers to the list this time around, all on fairly disparate themes - Richard Dawkins' Litmus Test, Book Review - God- or Gorilla?, Chapter 23, Happy Exploration Day 2013, and Are the Beatles Overrated?. Given that they're all a few years old, I don't know why they would have surged in popularity now, but they have. Other than the Dawkins one, I'm pretty happy with all of them (and it's not like I'm unhappy with the Dawkins' one - it just that it was only a few excerpts from an article he'd written, and not much original content on my part). There was also a page that had made the top 10 before, but not for several years - Theoretical Max Propeller Efficiency. That's another one I'm glad to see getting views.

If you've been following this blog, you may have noticed how the vast majority of my recent posts have been re-posts or adaptations of answers I've written for Quora. I realize that may seem a bit lazy, but there's only so much time I can devote to writing these types of things. As reflected by the name of this blog, my main time to write is during my lunch breaks (and it usually takes multiple lunch breaks to complete one article). The rest of the workday I'm busy with actual work, and by the time I get home, I have chores and projects to do around the house, and once I get caught up on that, I want to spend my remaining free time with family and friends. So, now that I've gotten caught up writing on Quora, I don't have much time left for coming up with original content for this site. So, it's either re-post, or post nothing.

Overall traffic has been down just a bit, but still higher than what it was this time last year, so not too far out of line.

Anyway, here are the lists for last three months.


Top 10 for February 2016

  1. Response to Rabbi Steven Pruzansky - Why Romney Didn't Get Enough Votes to Win
  2. Origin of Arabic Numerals - Was It Really for Counting Angles?
  3. Retroactive Soapbox Entry- Fed Up with U.S. Public, Part II
  4. Ray Comfort's New Movie - Evolution vs. God
  5. Richard Dawkins' Litmus Test
  6. A Skeptical Look at MBT Shoes
  7. Theoretical Max Propeller Efficiency
  8. A Skeptical Look at Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy
  9. Rick Santorum
  10. Response to Global Warming Denialist E-mail - Volcanoes and Global Cooling


Top 10 for March 2016

  1. Origin of Arabic Numerals - Was It Really for Counting Angles?
  2. Response to Rabbi Steven Pruzansky - Why Romney Didn't Get Enough Votes to Win
  3. Response to an Editorial by Ken Huber
  4. Retroactive Soapbox Entry- Fed Up with U.S. Public, Part II
  5. Book Review - God- or Gorilla?, Chapter 23
  6. Response to Global Warming Denialist E-mail - Volcanoes and Global Cooling
  7. E-mail Forward - Obama's Reaction to Ft. Hood Shootings
  8. The 2014 Texas Republican Platform
  9. Happy Exploration Day 2013
  10. Are the Beatles Overrated?


Top 10 for April 2016

  1. Origin of Arabic Numerals - Was It Really for Counting Angles?
  2. Response to Rabbi Steven Pruzansky - Why Romney Didn't Get Enough Votes to Win
  3. Response to an Editorial by Ken Huber
  4. Retroactive Soapbox Entry- Fed Up with U.S. Public, Part II
  5. Response to Global Warming Denialist E-mail - Volcanoes and Global Cooling
  6. Book Review - God- or Gorilla?, Chapter 23
  7. Creationist Dishonesty and a Follow Up to Previous Entries
  8. Autogyro History & Theory
  9. Arguing on a Website - Explaining Evolution
  10. Rick Santorum

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