Monday, November 12, 2012

Engine Removal from the Project Manager's Perspective

As most of you saw, the engine removal we thought would go smoothly did not (OK so I was hoping it would go smooth…project managers always hope things work out!) We had planned to drop the engine out from the bottom of the car because of the way the car was assembled. Based on feedback, we were told this would be easy. But then reality set in. I was able to get one of the bolts holding the cradle in the car, while Chris was not. Chris tried the other two bolts with no luck. He went back to the original bolt and kept trying to get it out. It eventually moved about ¼ of an inch. Then it got stuck. We continued to use the impact wrench to attempt to get it out to no avail. What we didn’t know is that when we did all of this, we actually cross-threaded the bolt, broke the nut, and stripped the head. So then we had to switch our plan and start to drill a hole in the nut to try to fully fracture it with the idea that the bolt would then just fall out. After breaking three drill bits, we decided to call it a night. We came back the next morning with a brand new corded drill, new drill bits, two car jacks and the determination that the bolt WILL come out. After we jacked the engine and the frame up, we began drilling again. After 30 minutes, we decided to give the impact wrench (with a smaller socket) another try. And this time, the bolt came out as it should! After celebrations and determining it was Zhi’s cookies that gave us the power to get this task done, we got the other bolts removed and realized that we were almost there. After disconnecting a few more parts and lines, we were able to lift the car from the engine and cradle. Cheers erupted in the lab with excitement that it was finally out.
This was a great learning experience for all students involved. Very few of the students had removed an engine before, so they got the experience of doing this. For others, they had not dropped an engine from below the vehicle. From my standpoint, I was incredibly impressed by the problem solving skills shown by the students when we had the issue with the bolt and nut. Ideas were being thrown out constantly, students were leaving to do get tools from home they thought might fix it, and discussions about what to do were constant for about 2 hours. And I knew the problem solving discussions were amazing when people were asking how we knew to do what we did. This team never fails to amaze me in their dedication and determination to solve issues that come up. 

Check out our Facebook page for more pictures of our dis-assembly process, as well as our YouTube page, which includes time lapse videos of the engine removal.

  Team members after removing the engine from the vehicle
Garrett giving a "Thumbs up" on finally getting the engine out!

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