28 Dec 2009

Fabricated a rear toe-control link – piece of cake. With that done, one side of the rear suspension is complete, so a wheel was bolted on to check fit-up. Guess someone did something right; it fits great, with the tire offset being right where it was designed.

Realized the rear uprights were inadvertently swapped side-to-side when the first suspension arms were made. Turns out it was due to how much better they package – with one exception. It moves the top pivot nicely rearward, getting it away from where the shock wants to go, providing a good straight shot at the inboard pivots. The one bad thing is that the brake calipers also swap sides, such that the emergency brake cables point toward the rear of the car. However, after staring at it awhile, that’s an allowable compromise compared to all the benefits. The caliper, specifically the e-brake bracket, sticks out behind the caliper by nearly 7″, fouling where the shock needs to go. But, since the e-brake cables have to be custom anyway, it ends up routing rather nicely, curving inward and forward, under the drivetrain, up and over the tank, and forward to the lever.

Started building up the second set of suspension arms. Since the spherical bearing for the front rocker-arms or suspension aren’t here, I’m working on the arms that use neither.

24 Dec 2009

Upper rear arm is complete other than a few gussets. Next is the toe-control link which is a piece of cake.

Still haven’t figured out why the O2 sensor reading is perpetually stuck at “14.70” all the time regardless if the engine’s running or not, whether the sensor’s plugged in, or whether I feed in a simulated signal. Nothing. That’ll be dealt with later.

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope everyone has a great holiday.

22 Dec 2009

Spent the day building up the rear arm, referring to my drawings, but ignoring them at the same time when they didn’t quite match what was needed… there’s going to be a lot of redrawing needed… sigh. Anyhow, the lower arm’s done other than lugs for the shock, then there’s making the top suspension mount.

In other news, Christmas came a bit early in the form of what I consider a “total coolant solution” from k-tuned.com. With this I’ll be able to easily plumb the engine – it’s a very versatile setup, exactly what I’ve been looking for.

In the last picture, Midi stopped in to see what was going on; for some reason I find this picture hysterical.

18 Dec 2009

Fabricated the spacer for the upper spherical bearing, drilled out the top tapered hole in the upright, pressed the bearing into the arm, and it looks pretty good, just have to find a couple high-accuracy bolts.

Also, the bottom arm has been corrected; stiffening plates are yet to be added at the outboard end. The lower arm is now basically non-adjustable, but it’s not an issue since the upper arm’s used to set both camber and castor.

Since the bearings for the rocker arm’s haven’t shown up, I’ll probably build one upper and lower rear arms to see if there’s any issues there. But before that, since the coated turbine housing is back, I’ll probably fire up the engine just to hear how well the turbo and muffler work to quiet it down, and to hear, for the first time, the sound of the turbo whistling! 🙂

17 Dec 2009

Alright, how’s this? Answer: as good as it’ll get. Note now-vertical rear pivot and clevis setup, requiring reworking a number of drawings – sigh. It finally sunk in to do the suspension the best I know how and let builders decide how they’ll implement it.

The spherical bearing sits lower than the tie-rod, so a spacer is needed to bring it up to the same height, and the tapered hole in the upright has to be drilled out to accommodate a bolt – oh well. Would the old upper arm have worked? Yes, at least until a really big pothole is hit while under hard braking…

16 Dec 2009

Making some changes in the front suspension. The rod-end at the top of the uprights are being replaced with spherical bearings and the arms are being changed to aim directly at the in-board pivots. The rear pivots are changing from horizontal to vertical bolts, allowing the rod-ends to aim directly at the upright. Pictures when the first unit is built.

15 Dec 2009

Spent the day working out the push-rod geometry. It means applying loads to tubes in the middle of their span, but since the spans are short and made from 1.5″ x 0.085″ square tubing, it’s not like they’re going to move much, but gussets are an option.

My car buddy, Alan, stopped by. He’s been a metal fabricator for decades, having helped to build, among many other things, the Nissan GTP cars. When he saw the mocked-up front A-arms, he said, “WTF is this?” That’s Alan, giving straight opinions – unlike internet forums where you’re not allowed to say something’s wrong with someone’s car. Anyhow, my defense was that I’d just built them the day before and that I wasn’t real happy about the zig-zag upper arm, either, and said I can do better – he said, “That shouldn’t be hard.” I gave him the Smokey Yunick autobiography for Christmas, because I think he and Smokey were separated at birth!

14 Dec 2009

Built one upper and lower front A-arm to test the design. Looks like it’ll work as-is with the shock mounted outboard. Installation ratio is about 0.65, which translates into a 300 lb/inch spring to get 130 cpm wheel rate. That’s not bad, and wheel rate rises slightly in compression.

With that out of the way, it brings up the issue of inboard suspension. What I prefer doesn’t mean much if everyone else like something different… so, I’v decided to go inboard. The reasoning is that since it’s more complicated, that’s what needs the attention. The simplier outboard solution uses the same A-arms and is a no-brainer to install.

12 Dec 2009

Started on the front suspension, tacked-together per the plans to see what’s going on, since a beta-builder reported trouble. If there’s a problem, it’s likely because the A-arms were modeled in CAD as point-to-point, while the real A-arms have threaded bungs at right angles to the chassis, so the tubes aren’t where they are in Software Land. The solution of which way to go, outboard or push-rod, will be answered in the next couple of days.

6 Dec 2009

Every once in a while house stuff intrudes into Car Time. You home owners know that solving a house problem by ignoring it doesn’t work – it just gets worse. With the roof done, next up is fixing the siding. Siding Guy is nearly done (for a good price due to the crummy economy), and the next thing on the list is paint… but rainy season is starting early – like, tomorrow. So, paint will be put off for a bit, maybe until spring.

Ignoring the house and working on the car means I never got around to installed rain gutters – big mistake. Due to the bonehead architect of this housing tract, water dripping off the roof gets into the wooden chimney surround causing all sorts of damage. However, I can’t blame the architect entirely because without gutters, the damage is made worse – time to suck it up and get them in before the rains. They’ll have to be removed for paint, but so be it, at least the problem areas will be protected. Putting them up took all Saturday and most of today – TinkerToys for grownups. With much of the day gone I didn’t feel like working on the car, so took Midi to visit my parents, where he gets along great with their dog.

Of course, both dogs are young, and like any “immortal” teenager, don’t know what’s safe and what isn’t – Midi the bonehead decides to jump off an 8-ft wall. No, he didn’t break any bones, but I could tell he really felt it. I’m thinking he won’t do that again; when we got home, he was real careful jumping out of the truck.

For people thinking, “Hey, what about the car?!”; the good news is that I have a big vacation coming up real soon :), so lots of car progress will happen.

29 Nov 2009

Spent part of the day learning the ins and outs of the Hondata KPro tuning software. Since a few sensors are different, corresponding changes are needed in the ECU… which means learning how to use their application. Then we took Midi with us shopping at an outdoor mall 🙂

25 Nov 2009

Getting close to first engine-start. Fuel system is in, at least enough for now, the hoses stuck in a plastic gas container. Spark plugs were removed and the engine cranked until oil pressure came up. (It’s easy to tell when it does – cranking speed increases.) No leaks, that’s good.

Just started bringing up the various relays and found another omitted wire, a rather important one connecting power to the ECU, explaining why the ECU isn’t able to power-up any of the other relays… The Honda ECU comes up in stages, where one wire is driven to +12 V, then the ECU starts its power-up sequence, bringing up other circuits and relays, and that’s not happening. Probably because of that missing wire – I hope.

22 Nov 2009

Remote oil filter is plumbed but needs mounting. This position works well: it’s out of the way, easy to get to, the hoses are short, it’s helps balance weight, and spilled oil misses the tire. Plus, if and when an oil cooler is added, it’ll go in the right-side air-inlet, so the plumbing’s already mostly done. The filter housing is also a convenient source to drill and tap for turbo oil, oil temperature, and oil pressure sensors.

The big mess here is due to being in the middle of wiring and not taking time to clean up… hard to stop when I’m getting close. It’s a good thing the harness was unwrapped; what I labeled a ground wire was a major +12V supply line. It wouldn’t have burned anything up, but it sure wouldn’t have started. Found that the fuel pump expects a 20 amp fuse… yikes! Fortunately that possibility was designed-in ahead of time… though I expected pump current to be less.

With the wiring needed for first-start is done, it’ll be brought up slowly to avoid surprises. There’s also some more fuel fittings and hose to pick up, wiring in the larger-capacity injectors – I think the electrical connectors are different. First-start will just use a plastic lawnmower gas container; no point using the real tank and smelling fumes for months. Intake manifold has to be bolted in, fuel rail, too, as does the exhaust. The turbine housing is out for coating, which is just as well; it means the turbo oil supply isn’t needed just yet.

In case anyone thinks I did the entire electrical in just a couple days – only the wiring for starting the engine is in, which doesn’t require anything from the dash (even skipping the starter key for now.) That’s a whole ‘nother kettle of fish which will be handled later, maybe next, maybe not. In addition to wiring the entire dash is running all the wires for the lights – that’s actually the easiest part of the job.

Engine-start will be sooner than later (at least, trying to start it…), maybe within a week, and yes, the camcorder will be running.

18 Nov 2009

I started a more detailed build log on the forum, where the logs of the two beta-builders are well underway. Since it’s so much easier to post over there I post a lot more often, blathering on about this or that, but it gives more insight into the build. Plus, comments over there are visible to everyone, instead of sending me e-mails and no one else knowing what’s going on.

Electrical work continues. All the engine-ECU wiring is done, other than a couple power and ground wires to chase down. Without them it’ll either not run at all or run “strange,” and strange is bad. To make sure, the engine harness was unwrapped to see what goes where. Debugging power and ground wires can be tricky since continuity doesn’t necessarily guarantee anything – current can go any number of paths, indicating “good,” and still not be wired right. Battery cables and disconnect-switch is in, fuse box is mounted, and wiring has started on the circuits needed to start it.

Also removed the turbine housing to be coated – which might not be a bad thing to have off the car for first start. Even though the manifold’s been cleaned, the shock of exhaust pulses and heat will no doubt dislodge stuff that shouldn’t go through the turbine blades.

13 Nov 2009

Working on electrical – there won’t be many pictures since it all looks the same. I made it tough on myself by using a block from one car, the head from another, and a harness from yet another, so there was a few where-does-this-wire-go moments. However, since that was worked out ahead of time, things are moving along fairly smoothly. In fact, the toughest part, the engine-to-ECU connections, is nearly done. It gets easier from here on, running the necessary ECU wires forward to the dash, and after that is the really easy stuff, wiring the lights and such. Of course, the lights aren’t needed to start the car – the immediate goal by the end of the year. Right now it’s looking like it’ll happen before then.

On a slightly different note, one big time-sink will be programming the flat dash. Most of the displayed variables are conveniently picked up in the CAN bus serial data – “just plug it in.” However, the OEM drivetrain has neither an oil pressure sensor nor oil temperature sensor. Both are easy to add but a bit of a project to figure out the scaling and to create the curves. All part of the fun.

8 Nov 2009

Added the flex tube to the exhaust. It’s finishing other than muffler hangers which will happen later. Note the mocked-up rear wheel; due to the chassis sitting on the table, the wheels can’t sit at ride height, but it gives an idea how big they are 😉

So now starts the long process of wiring the car. First up is placing the fusebox; placement is important for both weather weather reasons and being able to access it after the lights go out on a dark night! The first real wiring is the engine/ECU wiring, which goes behind the seat on the backside of the bulkhead. Shortening the harness was easy, though there’s some wires left over – who knows what they are. A paperwork task is adding a connector so the dash can be completely removed. Also made a list of missing connectors and the needed lengths of battery cables.

4 Nov 2009

All better now, don’t know what I had.

Got the CNC-cut A-arm patterns. They’ll help trim a ton of time off making the fixtures.

There a saying that we’re all connected by no more than seven people; that is, you know anyone through at most seven people. Every once in a while I find a new link. My boss at work told me how his dad was a doctor who did house-calls. One day he gets a call that someone at a local hotel had a cold and needed a visit. So he packs his bag, heads over, and is puzzled how he’s “checked out” first. Then he meets his patient… Elvis. So between me and Elvis there’s only two intermediaries.

Then I started thinking of how many others have only one intermediary: Clinton, Janice Joplin, John Wayne, Colin Chapman, Patton. Smokey Yunick was zero (talked to him on the phone.) Dan Gurney, saw him. Oh, then there’s Hubert Humphrey.

1 Nov 2009

Ugh, runny nose, coughing, stingy eyes, headache, achy teeth, and my hair hurts… dang cold/flu. Perhaps that helps explain why, after a full day in the garage, only this silly turbo brace was fabricated. Of course, that time also included making it wrong twice…