Sunday, January 30, 2011

R56 MINI Cooper S Manual Transmission Fluid Change

This DIY is my attempt to try to show how to change the manual transmission fluid in an R56 MINI Cooper S. For those unclear, this would be a 2007 or later model (except for the convertibles which switched to the new platform in 2009 iirc). My guess is this would be the same procedure on a Clubman and except for one item, it should be the same on both S or Justa versions. I decided to put together this DIY as there is not much info around on changing the MT fluid in a 2nd gen MINI (not really much on a 1st gen either).

I should note up front what is probably a major reason there is not much info out there on the subject. According to BMW/MINI, the manual transmission fluid is a “lifetime” fluid and does not need to be changed. If you have ever been under a MINI, you’ve probably seen the big yellow sticker on the bottom of the transmission indicating this.

I’ll also note that I relied on a couple forum threads on the Internet to help me. The first was at minitorque where another 2nd gen owner was doing his. That included a link to a thread at the Lone Star Mini Club web site describing an R53 fluid change, which is pretty much the same process (as it turns out).


Now, on to the DIY stuff. First up is getting together the tools and some fluid. Since there is not much info out there, I’m not real sure what all the options one may have. I ended getting some Red Line MT-85 75W85 oil based on some reviews I found on-line. I did note that according to the Red Line web site, their “recommended” oil is actually the MTL 70W80 oil. Royal Purple makes some stuff called Synchromax that may be an option (I use RP motor oil, but found too many poor reviews of the MT fluid to feel comfortable with it). Amsoil has some options as well. Of course, I’m sure one could probably order some MINI OEM fluid as well. I gather that one thing you need to be sure of is that whatever you select meets the GL-4 specification. On a side note, instead of ordering direct from Red Line, I got mine through bimmerworld only because the shipping was a tad cheaper (and even though I only paid for regular ground shipping, since it was just coming from Virginia, it arrived next day).

Only a couple specific tools are needed. The first is a 8mm hex head socket to go on your ratchet. These will be used to loosen and tighten the plugs. I couldn’t find these at auto parts stores, but our local Home Depot had a metric set of hex heads. The other item is a funnel with a tube. I ended up making my own out of a funnel I got from Advance Auto and some 3/8 x 1/2 clear vinyl tubing I got from Home Depot. The 1/2 inch tubing ended up fitting in the fill plug perfectly. I would strongly recommend clear vinyl. To really do things properly, you should have a torque wrench. You’ll need a container to catch the old oil that comes out. I’d recommend a good, thick, large piece of cardboard to help catch spills. So our list is:

  • 8mm hex head

  • Breaker bar/ratchet

  • Torque wrench

  • Funnel with tube (1/2” diameter)

  • Oil catch pan

  • Cardboard

  • Papertowels

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Do It Right Rally Recap


Back on January 15th, the THMMC did a run up to Stone Mountain.  This seems to be bordering on an annual event for the club in January.  Alas, I did not get to attend this year.  The run was originally scheduled for Jan. 8th, and I could have made it that day, but a snowstorm sweeping through NC that Friday and Saturday forced a postponement.  So I ended up missing the run.

I had not been able to make a run since November (and prior to that no club runs since the BRP due to the soccer schedule), so the motoring opportunities have been scant.  I decided I would just have to do something about that, so I slapped together a short-notice run for Saturday, January 29th.  After scanning through my library of routes, I decided something in the area of the 2009 Covered Bridge Run would be good.

To help mix things up a bit (especially since I might have to use some of the same roads again for a Covered Bridge Run), I decided to lay out a route that only used right hand turns.  I also knew I wanted to get in the Flint Hill Ramble and Burney Mill Road.  So I fired up MapSource and figured it out.  I ended up having to create five "loops" where we would normally make a left turn but for this run, we would go past and then use a series of right hand turns to get back to that point.  This meant programming in roads I had not been on and would not have a chance to pre-run.  It also meant programming in at least one dirt/gravel road (and the risk of losing a possible participant as some MINI owners don't run on dirt/gravel roads).  The one road I knew to be dirt/gravel also include an old, one lane bridge that looked to be constructed of wood.  Interesting that this would even qualify as a public road in North Carolina (or my cynical side would say, no, it is not interesting).

Old, rickety bridge - yes, this is a public road in NC!
The day got off to an early start as I picked up the Triangle contingent as they came through Graham.  This turned out to be a surprise - I was expecting two MINIs and instead, six showed up!  From there, we made the run over to Trinity for the rally point.  We ended up with twelve MINIs participating.  With fewer MINIs participating than some other events, it definitely meant the stress level would be a tad lower.

After a quick driver's meeting, we headed out and immediately encountered our first challenge.  This was leader-induced as I missed our second right turn and almost got us stuck in a neighborhood.  Fortunately, I was able to use my GPS-fu to find an escape - one that used only right hand turns.

From there, it was off into the country for some motoring.  It was a beautiful day if a bit on the chilly side.  But still warm enough for me to put the windows down and open the sunroof.  We did run into one additional dirt/gravel road - maybe a quarter mile long.  In a funny twist, the dirt road with the old wooden bridge ended up being one of the busiest traffic areas we had as we met two oncoming trucks on what essentially was a section of one lane road. Fortunately, MINIs are small enough to squeeze through spaces other vehicles fear!

Perhaps the only other "incident" occurred about 4 miles from the end of the run when I had a dog come barreling out of a yard and into the road in front of me.  I think it was paying too much attention to another dog to realize it had wandered into oncoming traffic.  Had to get on the brakes pretty hard.  Probably would have hit him if he had kept on crossing, but he turned back.  Fortunately, everyone behind me was able to check up as well.

Otherwise, it was lots of great twisties and gorgeous countryside.

We finished up with lunch at Silo's Smokehouse on the outskirts of Asheboro for some BBQ, slaw and hushpuppies.

For the drive home, I took a run up Old Liberty Road.

You can check out the photo gallery for some more pics (I don't get many when I lead).

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Prayer Zone

In my last post here, I wrote a little bit about getting out of our comfort zones as we follow the path God has established for us.  I decided to engage in a bit of that today as part of our service at Graham Friends Church.  But before I talk about what I did, let me set some background.

One of the tasks that I've undertaken during the service is handling the announcements - basically getting things going.  For a long time I just covered what was in the bulletin.  But after some discussion with Pastor Mark, I've tried to only hit some high points and bring in some other stuff.  This coincided with the inclusion of weekly prayer bulletins from The Voice of the Martyrs that we have started to included in the church bulletin.  Since those include prayer requests, it was only natural that part of the announcements would include a prayer to help get things going.  This will also help as I have another project that I am getting ready to introduce.

Now, doing prayers out loud in front of lots of people is a concept I find rather daunting (and I will hazard a guess that most others do as well).  Definitely out of my comfort zone.  Since I regularly have to speak in public, I figured I be able to draw on some of my experience doing that.  One tool I use for presentations is a mind map.  So for the past few weeks, I would sketch out a mind map of some key thoughts I wanted to be sure to get into the prayer.  Usually this was based on my reading of my Guide to Prayer and the readings from the weekly lectionary.  I could pull in the VOM requests as well.  Generally, I felt like this resulted in a pretty good outline (after all, the lectionary readings all support each other, so pulling bits out from them into a prayer should do the same).

While the use of the mind map was an effective tool, there was something about it in the back of my mind that was bugging me.  This past week I think I finally figured it out.  I think it can be explained by two passages, one from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament.  First, In Exodus 4:11-12 we read:

10 But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” 11 Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.”

When it comes to saying a prayer, I think I can relate to Moses in not feeling eloquent.  But we see in this passage that God tells Moses that he will take care of it.

The second passage is 1 Corinthians 2:1-5:

1 And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

Paul is explaining that when he came to the church in Corinth, he did not feel like he was up to the job of preaching to them.  In a similar way, I feel like I'm not really up to the job of leading a prayer in front of a whole church (and most likely with some fear and trembling at least on the inside).  As Paul explained to the church, he instead relied on the power of God.

As I finally recognized, the use of the mind maps was like trying to employ "lofty speech or wisdom".  Instead of relying on God, I was trying to rely on myself and the tools in my tool set.

Which brings me to today's prayer.  I decided to forego the use of the mind map and just did the prayer from my heart.  When I say from my heart, I don't mean I tried to tackle it without preparing.  I still did my readings and studies in the weekly lectionary.  As I read though, I tried to identify those key points I might want to include in the prayer and tried to imprint them in my mind so I could recall them (seems I'm doing quite a bit of that lately what with trying to memorize Galatians).  Likewise, I let the Guide to Prayer impress itself upon me along with the VOM bulletin.  So the preparation was much the same.  But when it came time to actually do it, I tried to not rely on my own tools, speech or wisdom, but on God moving in me and through me.

Not sure whether those listening could tell any difference.  I think it came out at least as well as the mind mapped prayers.  For me I'd say it was a little easier doing it this way.  And if you have stuck with the entry this far and are faced with something you find daunting, check out Mark 10:27.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

First Days with EVO

New EVO screenshot

Some of my friends are aware that I have been wanting to replace my iPhone for a while now with an Android based phone. Part of this was due to the demise of the battery in the iPhone, for which the fix would require being without the phone for a few days (yeah, right) and a high cost. And while the iPhone was not a bad device, I was always irked by the closed nature of the platform.

So finally, this past week, I was able to make the switch to a new HTC EVO on Sprint. Incidentally, my wife changed to a Blackberry Curve in the process. For her, it is her first smart phone device. It is the first Blackberry we’ve had in the family mix, though I used one from my job back in the early 00’s for a little while. Along with the new equipment, we’ve added a data plan that includes unlimited texts/messaging. It will be interesting to see how that works out.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

The Comfort Zone

Last week I received my Voice of the Martyrs newsletter (January 2011 issue) which was structured around Isaiah 61:1-2:
61 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
2  to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;

One of the stories was about "Dr. Paul", a surgeon from the Midwest.  In the article, he discussed something we touched on during my Prepared Christian class last year.  Dr. Paul was discussing a trip he had taken to Nigeria and indicated:
"We live in a country that is very unique in the world today.  We read our Bibles, and we go to Sunday school class, and some of us are even involved in outreaches, and we give to missions and we read stories about heroes of old.  When you are going home form work in Nigeria and you are a Christian, it is very possible that you may not come home at night.  But it is possible to come home at night even if you are caught, if you are willing to say, 'Allah is god and Mohammed is his prophet.'

Think about your family at home, and imagine that you are on your way home and you are stopped by a mob of vicious people saying, 'Repeat after me or die.'  Suddenly I realize our faith may be fairly broad theologically, but it is not all that deep sometimes.  These people, they don't know a lot of answers to Bible stories, and they probably can't give a good discussion on why Arminianism and Calvinism are right or wrong.  But I can tell you that when people step up to them with a gun or a knife, and they are asked, 'Will you repeat after me?' and they say, 'No, Jesus is Lord,' their theology is very deep and we need that."

Certainly something to think about.  I think one of the things I figured out during the past year has to do with the depth of my own faith.  Hopefully it has gotten a little deeper than it was a year ago (and maybe even broader theologically as well).  One sign of that I think is my recognition that my path is going to lead me to places where I am not entirely comfortable.  By this I don't just mean going off to dangerous places in the world.  Rather, I also mean getting out of my "inner" comfort zone. I'll have to get out and do things that I probably would not do otherwise.  Much like the people in Nigeria have to leave the comfort of their workplace or their home (admittedly, they are laying down a lot more than I am in those simple acts), I'll have to do the same in a sense.

As I close this post, perhaps Matthew 7:13-14 is a good passage to ponder
13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

New Year = New Bible Reading Plan

With the start of a new year, I figured I would setup a new Bible reading plan.  During 2010 I read through the entire New Testament twice and I read through the entire Apocrypha as part of my Prepared Christian class.  So, this leaves the Old Testamant outstanding.

To try to help me get through, I've decided to "program in" a couple checkpoints.  So, the first goal is to read the Law section (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) by March 31st.  Once I complete that, I'll setup reading plans for the Prophets and then for the Writings.

For the first week, the readings are:

  • Jan 1 - Gen 1-2

  • Jan 2 - Gen 3-5

  • Jan 3 - Gen 6-7

  • Jan 4 - Gen 8-10

  • Jan 5 - Gen 11-12

  • Jan 6 - Gen 13-15

  • Jan 7 - Gen 16-18

I started it yesterday and before I knew it, I had actually read ahead through Gen 4.  My suspicion is Pastor Mark will probably do a NT reading plan at some point during the year, so I'll double up my reading with that.  And, he has resolved to memorize Galatians during 2011 and challenged others to do the same.  Gonna give that a go.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

A Little Happy New Year News

So 2011 is here.

The bad news - I discovered we have a busted spigot on the side of our house.  Guess we'll have to get a plumber out here.  Doesn't look like it is leaking as long as the spigot is closed.

The good news - with a mild January 1, I was able to get out and wash the MINI.  That also meant I was able to put some NCSU Wolfpack stickers on the MINI that I had ordered a while back.  Would really like to put one at the bottom right of the rear window, but I have a bullfrog there now (albeit, he has lost his feet) that I don't want to lose and there is no guarantee I'll be able to get a replacement to relocate.  So I tried to be a little bit creative in placement.  Not sure I'm entirely happy, but they should be easy enough to remove and new ones are pretty cheap.