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Old 09-13-2016, 06:52 AM   #1
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Default Advice For "Shade Tree" Engine Swapping

So we've all heard the term "shade tree mechanic," but I'm just curious about any innovative ideas some true shade tree mechanics, like me, have come up with to perform fairly extensive work, such as swapping engines/transmissions, etc. I have no garage or paved area to work in, my Miata is currently immobile, and I'd like to drop in a "fresh" 1.8. The issue is, with just a jack and some jack stands, it's a little stressful getting up under the car on hopefully solid dirt. Luckily, the Miata is light enough that the jack never really sinks or anything, but I really hate jacking it up on dirt. I had a MK6 Golf TDI for some time and I hated doing anything that required jacking up the car because it would start to sink my jack. I'm on the road to purchasing a house, garage being an absolute must, but for now I don't really have any good options or ideas for safely getting under my car(s).

So my question is, who here has been in a similar situation and found ways to perform engine swaps and other extensive work? How did you do it? Mostly, how did you comfortably raise the car?

Thanks for any help in advance!
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Old 09-13-2016, 08:21 AM   #2
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You're going to want to use an engine hoist, which requires smooth ground to roll back. Don't do something that is unsafe that you hate anyway. Be safe, go to a friends house, rent out some hobby shop space, or just get an experienced shop to handle it. I hike my stuff up an hour away for major things because I'd never trust my car sitting jacked on a bunch of mud/gravel/sand.
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Old 09-13-2016, 09:05 AM   #3
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There's no way I would ever consider a job like that on dirt. Way too nasty, easy to lose stuff, and seems really unsafe. There's just too much asphalt in the world to deal with that. I'd rather drive the car to a Walmart parking lot to pull the motor than do it on dirt.
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Old 09-13-2016, 09:32 AM   #4
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In desperate times I have used 2x6 or 2x8 blocks to help keep my stuff from sinking. Stay safe like the two above have said.
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Old 09-13-2016, 09:35 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pdexta View Post
There's no way I would ever consider a job like that on dirt. Way too nasty, easy to lose stuff, and seems really unsafe. There's just too much asphalt in the world to deal with that. I'd rather drive the car to a Walmart parking lot to pull the motor than do it on dirt.
Yea any time I drop a bolt, I can't find it and if I do, I have to break and clean it then hope I don't drop it again. It was more a pain in the *** and took longer to accomplish anything merely looking for parts that camouflaged into the various sized aggregate and grass patches.
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Old 09-13-2016, 09:35 AM   #6
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Why is your Miata immobile?
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Old 09-13-2016, 09:59 AM   #7
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Get a piece of plywood and put it under the car. Then you don't have to worry about **** sinking or loosing bolts. An engine hoist is absolutely required to pull the motor.
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Old 09-13-2016, 10:06 AM   #8
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Couple sheets of 3/4" ply will fix all your problems. Lay them out under the car and they will spread the load and let you do the things you need to.
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Old 09-13-2016, 11:03 AM   #9
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Wait, you mean you have other cars than a Miata that can fit plywood?
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Old 09-13-2016, 11:25 AM   #10
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Quote:
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Wait, you mean you have other cars than a Miata that can fit plywood?
I cheat, the Lowes is right across the street from my house. So I walk over, load up some plywood on one of their big blue carts. Then roll the whole cart home.
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Old 09-13-2016, 11:35 AM   #11
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Homeless Deathspot will rent you a truck for $20 an hour.
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Old 09-13-2016, 11:50 AM   #12
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Homeless Deathspot will rent you a truck for $20 an hour.
Not all of them do. My local one does not and it makes me sad.
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Old 09-13-2016, 11:58 AM   #13
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Ouch, that's the only way I've managed to own only miatas for this long.
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Old 09-13-2016, 12:24 PM   #14
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You can fit many pieces of 2x4ft precut ply in a NA miata, or other cars too if your miata is busted.

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Old 09-13-2016, 12:47 PM   #15
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Top down, bungee strap it to the roll bar.

--Ian
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Old 09-13-2016, 03:09 PM   #16
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Dude, if this guy can drop his 'Vette drivetrain without a driveway, you can easily do the same with your Miata.



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Old 09-13-2016, 03:11 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psyber_0ptix View Post
Wait, you mean you have other cars than a Miata that can fit plywood?
You have infinate space with the roof off. Put roof down, put plywood on, strap it down right gud, duck to get in, drive slow.
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Old 09-14-2016, 06:50 AM   #18
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Thanks for all the feedback! Safety is always my number one priority, hence me trying to find a safe solution for my current situation. If I had a readily available (aka cheap) option for towing, I'd take it to my buddy's shop that's a couple hours away.

Quote:
Originally Posted by psyber_0ptix View Post
Why is your Miata immobile?
I've got an unknown mileage 1.8 with a blown head gasket that came swapped in my NA6. I've kind of got everything taken apart for a head gasket repair, but I'm on the fence about repairing the head and refreshing the engine when there are a couple lower mileage replacement motors fairly local to me I could confidently spend money refreshing. There's just something about having no idea where my current engine came from that makes any semi long distance drives more nerve-racking than I'd like them to be. It's one of those situations where I wake up one day wanting to just rebuild my current engine, then the next day it makes more sense to drop in a "new" one. Either one will be a pain in my ***.
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Old 09-14-2016, 07:34 AM   #19
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Spend money on a head gasket, fix it, run it, and build a motor on the side for when you are ready to refresh with the facility and hands available.
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Old 09-14-2016, 07:54 AM   #20
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Where are you located?
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