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The American Garage Minute- Brake Inspection



The American Garage brake inspectionSteve shows how to inspect your brakes- even without touching the car! Whether you fix it yourself or have someone else, you can still know how to determine the condition of your brakes.


The American Garage Minute- Garden Prep

Spring time is time to plant the garden! Steve gets the ground prepared.

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The American Garage Minute- Tire Sizes

On The American Garage, Steve explains tire sizes. If you are thinking about changing the size of your tires or wheels, the fit on your car is very important. Not all wheels and tires work together, and if your car is slightly exotic, you may have limited options.

The American Garage Minute- Replacing Timing Belt and Valve Cover Gaskets



Well, we had a car project sneak up on us and require our attention at The American Garage, and we jumped in with both feet. There were so many oil leaks on the car, that it couldn’t leak more unless I left the drain-plug out. This caused a whole course of actions to ensue which included replacing the timing belt, water pump, and replacing a LOT of seals on the engine. Jump in with us as Steve takes us through the repairs. Part 1 of 2.


The American Garage Minute- Timing Belt & Gaskets Part 2


I know I am posting this as a minute episode, and it is regular length- but here is the conclusion of the car repairs that we started in the last post.  I know it is a daunting thing to dig into your primary transportation like this- and that many will not do so. But the rewards- and the trials- of a task like this have really helped me to become more able to identify problems, solve problems, and the victory of the successful completion has positively impacted my budget and allowed me to understand what I am really capable of. Perhaps by challenging  and pushing the limits of what I know and what I can do, I have found more capability then I would have thought possible. And now that the car is taken care of, we can get back to the fun projects we have in store! Feel free to ask questions and add your comments-


The American Garage Minute- Battery Safety

Steve takes a minute to show how to understand the importance of disconnecting the ground to a battery before working on a car.

The American Garage Woodworking 1- How to use a Tablesaw

This episode is all about learning to use a tablesaw properly. This is an hour long demonstration, and goes into depth with ripping, crosscutting, adjusting the saw, changing blades, and of course safety. I injected a little humor into the safety part, so I hope it is not too cheesy. Also, for some reason when the camera went on, I called the miter gauge a square. At least I was consistent- and used the wrong term throughout. Bear with me on that. The demonstration includes the making of a puzzle, which helps to learn the cuts. Here are the plans for you to build your own!


The American Garage Minute- Puzzle Solution


Okay, so I am helping you cheat on the puzzle solution. But hey! If you have built the puzzle, then you need the solution so you can drive your friends crazy. Haven’t built the puzzle yet? I go through all the steps of making the puzzle as I teach you the best ways to use a table saw in the episode How To Use a Table Saw. Go check it out. The idea is to become precise in your sue to a tablesaw- to make your work better, and to help keep you safe by using best practices. Remember, always follow the safety guidelines that come with your power tools! You are responsible for your safety. Enjoy the puzzle solution, and send me your comments!

The American Garage Woodworking- How to use a Jointer

In this video, Steve show us how to use a jointer. A jointer  really has a limited purpose, but that purpose is so important to successful woodworking that every woodworker should know how to use one. Here is a note from Steve-

I learned to use a jointer in high school wood shop, and at first considered it a low priority tool- since I could not afford one in my own shop for the longest time. It was a luxury, and one that I worked without for many years. The end result was when I glued boards together, joints would not always match up. When I made boxes, I had the hardest time getting them to sit  flat. My solution was to either 1, ignore it, 2, sand the high spots until it sat flat, or 3- use clamps and pressure to try and bend the boards in place until they dried. These solutions never worked, and sometimes gave disastrous results. Being spoiled as school with a 10 inch jointer with an 8 foot bed, the small ones I saw at the store just did not begin to measure up. When I finally got my own jointer, it is a 6 inch jointer with a 4 foot bed- I realized that the smaller size can still produce very nice results. All of a sudden, I could straighten a board and the project went flawlessly. Risks of kickback diminished because the wood sits flat on the tablesaw. Edges come out straight as an arrow. The headaches I could have saved myself! Anyway, enjoy this episode, and happy woodworking! Be safe and follow all the safety procedures that come with your power tools. Don’t forget your safety glasses!

Replacing Timing Belt- Audi A6

Steve shows us how to replace a timing belt on the Audi A6. We covered this in less detail in the car repair episodes, but this is a more comprehensive look at the timing belt process. Here are some additional words from Steve-

Hey home mechanics- There are a couple of details I did not go over in the video, that you may want to be aware of. First of all, if you are going to replace the timing belt, it is wise to always replace the water pump at the same time. The water pump is behind the timing belt, so if you had to go in there, then the belt has to be removed. Plus, you really don’t want the water pump to go bad, as it will more than likely create an over-heat problem that may ruin the engine. So, just do them at the same time. In my case, that means that every time I took out the water pump, it was in operating condition. It may seem like a waste, but this is not a part you want to have fail. Also, some folks will only replace the belt, and not the tensioner, tensioner arm, tensioner pulley or idler pulley. Save yourself the grief and replace all of these every time. On my car, that is every 90,000 miles.

Now, the second thing I want to make clear is that in the video, I describe how to make sure the cams are in time with the engine. If you look at the cam shafts, they have a little flat side. Mine are shown facing out in the vertical position. At this position, the brackets with the two holes are horizontal. Now, whether the flat sides are facing in  or out does not make a difference when you are replacing the timing belt. When they are vertical, and the main crank lines up with the mark on the casing, then you are either in top dead center, or bottom dead center. This can also be identified by those brackets with the two holes on the sides. If my memory serves me, my engine was at bottom dead center with the big holes facing out. The way the engine is designed, those brackets are not lined up horizontally unless it is in either top dead center or bottom dead center. The store bought brackets will only fit in top dead center, I made mine opposite. Do yourself a favor, and don’t move the crank or cams once the timing belt is removed. If for some reason one of them does move while you are working- well, you made marks, didn’t you?- don’t worry. Invariably, one will not be at rest, and once you bump it it will snap to a position of rest. Just move it back carefully when you get it ready for the new belt. Also, I did not mention that the tensioner comes with a little wire pin in it to hold it closed until the assemble is complete. Make sure you take that thing out once everything is in place and torqued down.


Metal Casting!

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