17 Aug 2014

To improve engine compartment cooling, louvers will be added to the engine cover above the exhaust. There are two ways to go: really big hand-formed ones like at the front of the car, making them a feature, or go subtle and use traditional stamped louvers (less work for me), but they flow less. The judgement call was that the stamped ones will probably be good enough, especially when compared to not having any.

Searching online for places that punch louvers turned up a place surprisingly close by, rodlouvers@gmail.com run by Dave Thorburn. Drawings were sent, and when Dave said that he was going to make the the panel on my off Friday, I drove over in Midlana to pick up it up and to watch the process. He lives out in the back country (relatively speaking) and it’s impressive what type of cottage industries are hidden away out there. The machine he used was an enormous punch press made in the 1940s, back when things were built to last. The tiny little block in the center is the actual punch and die. The irregular layout of the louvers avoids both the air cleaner assembly and the center engine cover Dzus fastener. Once again I’m reminded that the best businesses to deal with are small independent shops – ones run out of a barn are even better 🙂

Summer is certainly here. Out where Dave’s shop is it was in the mid 90s and fairly humid for this area. I’m seeing something that’s come up a few times before, that when driving on the freeway at constant speed, engine coolant temperature seems to be in one of two camps. It either seems to run below normal on cooler days, and above normal on warmer days, almost like the 80 degrees C thermostat isn’t working – though it is. The electric cooling fan is configured to come on at 85 degrees C (which may be too low), and the coolant at one point reached that temperature. That seems like a bad thing that the fan needs to come on at freeway speed. One contributor is likely me being lazy and not adding radiator ducting yet. The nose cone is larger than the radiator by several inches in each direction; some of the air is taking the easy way out and going around instead of through the radiator. That’ll be taken care of shortly. One mystery though, why does it run warm at a steady state speed on the freeway, yet when I was at Fontana, running flat-out at up to 148 mph, the coolant was cooler? It was a much cooler day. Hmm, maybe my cooling system is maxed out? Could be with 400-500 hp, but then again, it only takes maybe 30 hp at steady state speed on the freeway…

In other news, the car came apart (again) to finally fix the engine mounts the right way. New left and right OEM units now support the engine weight, one a new fluid-filled type that tunes out vibrations – when it doesn’t explode due to trying to resist high torque… The front and back mounts only handle the torque reaction, so the rear mount was left as urathane. Unfortunately the urathane front mount didn’t fit due to how the chassis pick up point extends out too far so the mount was modified to fit. The combination now is what I should have done from the start but didn’t think through the consequences of a high output engine!

On the to-do list includes trimming the louver panel, getting it powder coated, and modifying the engine cover to suit. Then there’s updating the suspension springs and bending the steering arms. All perfectly doable, but much more pleasent to accomplish when it’s not so hot and humid.