The Engine Swap: Applying Skill Sets to a New Challenge

Written by Henry

July 2, 2023

Banner artwork by Sofia Fonzi (

Throughout the development of Counter, we have maintained a focus on preparation and organization. This focus was always set on media creation, but after the engine in Luke’s car blew, we had to use these ideas in a way that was very new to us. With a small amount of engine swapping experience of my own, I decided that we had to take this task on ourselves. With the perfect balance of ignorance and courage, and priceless help from Alexis M. and Keaton F., we were able to get it done, and learn a lot along the way.

Luke and I got right to work on the “preproduction” of this process. Since we were already used to assembling documents that outlined film projects, we used the same approach for preparing the engine bay. Every step of the process was recorded and organized in a spreadsheet with video instructions, tools needed, and hazards to watch out for. We only had one weekend to complete the engine swap, so we did as much preparation and completed as many steps as possible before the engine was pulled. Every hose, wiring connection, and part was labeled on each end before it was removed. Two days may be plenty of time for someone with lots of experience. For us, many of these processes were a first, so I did everything in my power to ensure we would stick to the plan with ease and clear direction.

Although I am more so the resident “car guy” of the group, and William and Luke do not have much experience with cars, they rose to the challenge perfectly. By the end of the weekend, the engine was in, and we all left with more automotive knowledge than we started with. The new engine ran great! However, just as with filmmaking, the task did not go as smoothly as planned, and there was more to be done. We mated the components of the transmission improperly out of haste, which caused interference during the test run, leading to broken parts scattered within the transmission. Luckily, we planned for something to come up, and had another space ready to complete the new task of swapping the transmission as well. What a week.

One quick drive to another auto dismantler, and one all-nighter later, the new transmission was in. Luke was finally able to take the car for a successful test drive. This project was packed with parallels to the media production process, with a need for concise preparation and a willingness to keep up with new challenges. Our next project with the car is to add a minimal livery of our branding to make it the true Countermobile that we have always dreamed of. Keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming blog post on that project!

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