July 30, 2008

Started on removing the rear cross brace(s) this morning. James had a dentist's appointment so I didn't get started 'til 11. The Mazda orangutan squad was apparently assigned this job too. But beyond the huge force needed to initially untorque them, all of these bolts were tight (really tight!) all the way out. They were tightened into nuts that are tack welded to the frame -- I guess it was corrosion because I had to fight them all the way out (even with liberally applied penetrating oil). One bolt's nut had come unwelded so that was really a pain as I needed to get a wrench on the nut as well as the bolt -- I actually felt happy when the darned thing sheared 'cause I didn't have to finish unthreading it! Sort of reassuring to find out that a sedentary sort such as myself can still shear off a 12 mm bolt...

Getting the cross braces off is just preparation for removing the exhaust system. My shop manual recommends taking the exhaust line out as a unit. You have to get at 3 bolts that connect the downpipe to the catalytic converter, and these bolts are NOT conveniently placed! Finally got all three undone after about an hours worth of monkeying around with various arrangements of sockets. I now appreciate the manual's recommendation that you should use a universal drive and an assortment of extensions -- I think I'll see about expanding my toolkit tomorrow AM.

One of the nuts fell somewhere funny after I released it; have to remember to search more thoroughly tomorrow (maybe the engine will be out by then). (7/31 -- found it, although the engine still isn't out.)