26 Jul 2010

Every once in a while there’s a company that really impresses me. Not with just their products, but the care and support that comes after the sale. One such company is K-tuned.com. I’ve bought a number of their products in order to speed the integration of the Honda K-series drivetrain into Midlana and all of them have worked great.

Everything arrived promptly, everything’s very nicely finished, yet when I do some bonehead thing, that’s when the real test happens and Mike is always there to help out. Case in point is this cool K24 / RBC Upper Coolant Housing. Yes, I could make it myself, but there’s always a tradeoff between time, money, and quality of the end result, never mind the perceived pressure to “hurry up and get Midlana done.” However, weeks after receiving this, I disassembled the unit for no good reason other than curiosity and managed to tear an O-ring. I called up Mike and asked what they cost and he said, don’t worry about it, he’d send me a few. That’s good customer support, that’s how to run a business. I wish Mike and K-tuned all the best.

25 Jul 2010

Things are moving along and the weekend sure passed quickly: coolant bleed lines and the rest of the aluminum coolant lines are in, finishing the cooling system… pending replacing the O-ring I destroyed, vacuum lines are run, wired the new injectors, added zip-ties here and there. For a change of pace, decided to see what a wheel and tire look like on the car, but doing that took the entire day, making the bottom pivot shaft and rod-end spacers. It was hard to get a decent picture of how the wheel and tire look on the car (“huge” is the term), given that’s it’s in a cramped garage. I’ve been reminded that it’s about time for some whole-car pictures, which will be taken after I have at least the right side wheels and tires on it. Still left to do is wire the boost controller, switch, and clean up the harness right at the ECU.

18 Jul 2010

Cleaned up the wire harness, a lot. The harness won’t be formally covered and wrapped until after the car’s tuned. It’s to make sure every wire’s in-place before “zipping it up.” Made a vacuum block, mounting it to the lid of the ECU, along with the boost controller. Due to the heat of the day, quite early and went to visit the granddaughter.

11 Jul 2010

Added the exhaust and messed about with the cooling and vacuum lines. Still need a few odds and ends but the list is getting short: fabricate vacuum block, add boost controller, add last coolant tubes, and possibly clean up electrical harness around the engine. The harness work is just shortening wires so that’s easy. There’s still getting the engine computer to talk to the dash, thought that’s supposed to “just work.” The oil pressure and temperature sensors are in but getting them interfaced and scaled will take some fiddling. It’s tempting to push it off but it would be good to have oil pressure on the dash during tuning. As far as everything else goes, there’s adding the suspension pivot tubes to the bottom of the rear uprights, doing a rough alignment… and that’s about it!

9 Jul 2010

More parts of the puzzle in place: added the coolant plumbing bits for the turbo, modified one shifter cable, and received the shorter new one, so the shifter’s officially done. Regarding the coolant system, since there will be coolant bleeds in all the high points in the system, it’s possible a swirl pot isn’t needed. Might try running without and see how it does… I’m always for simpler, lighter, cheaper, and being lazy, it’s too tempting to pass up.

Talked with another expert on Honda cooling systems and I’m more confused than before, half the experts say it goes one way, and half the other, lol. Looking at how the system’s oriented, it sure looks like the thermostat gates <em>returning</em> coolant into the engine. If the thermostat housing is removed, the eye (center) of the water pump impeller is visible. Being a centrifugal pump, they draw water into the center and accelerate it tangentially outward (just like a turbocharger.) Because of that, it’ll be plumbed the way that seems correct, then run to confirm it’s right (somewhat related to being lazy, again… 😉

7 Jul 2010

Got the tires mounted and balanced, and boy are the rear ones big! Even though I went into this knowing what I was getting, seeing the tires in person is enlightening. The weight of this tire and wheel equals the total unsprung weight on one corner of Kimini. Than again, those wheels were very, um, delicate. These wheels are much tougher, cost half as much, and weigh probably twice as much, but I won’t cringe when hitting a pothole

6 Jul 2010

Going with Toyo RA1 tires; wheels will be dropped off tomorrow. Also taking in the various cooling system bits so the right AN parts can be fit up, part of plumbing in the turbo to the rest of the cooling system.

In other news, I think I goofed on the swirl tank placement. I can’t think of any reason why it needs to go up front. It seems like it could go at the other end of the same tube it’s connected to now, back in the engine compartment…

5 Jul 2010

Welded on the blow-off valve flange and intake air temperature sensor pad. The coolant lines to and from the turbo have been planned out. The loose end right now is finding a place to tap into the engine coolant as high as possible to serve as a bleed back to the header tank. Not sure how that’ll turn out.

Connected the engine harness back up, but there’s a lot of wires that need to be shortened. It’s very tempting to take care of that now before the dyno session.

Will be ordering new shifter cables this week; they’re just too critical to proper operation to have “slightly wrong.” Grrr.

And finally, the search for the first set of tires has begun. As explained in the forum, I’m tending toward sticky ones since however it handles will be recorded for all time in the book; no point using rock-hard tires and have lousy handling. There’ll eventually be a set of track wheels and tires, but for now there’s only one, hence the search for stickier tires than might be used on the street. Remember, at half the weight of “normal” cars, there’ll be an issue getting enough heat into them, which sticky compound helps solve.

The current list of possibilities is: Dunlop Z1 Star Spec (200 TWR), Hankook RS2 (150 TWR), Toyo Proxes R1R (140 TWR), Nitto NT-01 (100 TWR), Toyo RA1 (100 TWR), Hankook Ventus Z214 (40 TWR), and BFG R1 (40 TWR). I’d have gone with V710s but rumor has it that Kumho’s having logistics problems, no one has the sizes I want. While Yoko A048s are available, their sizes are too limited.

4 Jul 2010

As said before, the worst hit to motivation is having to do something over. It’s also a great reminder how important it is to have everything in-place before routing cables. Case in point, the shifter cables. If you’ve been keeping up on the diaries, you know the shifter has been done for about a year. However, only recently was the fuel tank installed and the cables run again. Surprise, the tank and fuel level sensor make the cables take a more circuitous path, necessitating tighter bends – too tight. After staring at it for a while it was decided it had to be fixed, altering the mount at the transmission end to alleviate the stressed cables, so that was done.

Moved about half an inch, it greatly reduced the stress, but now makes the cables too long. One of two things has to happen: alter the bracket again to space the threaded collars away from the transmission (reintroducing the tight bend radius,) or buy shorter cables (the existing cables can’t be modified.) Sigh…

In other news, took the kids to the fair. One vendor I’d heard about but never seen was this one, selling two outrageous produces: Deep-fried-Butter, and Chocolate-Covered Bacon – yes, you read that right. Sure enough, there they were, enthusiastically thumbing their nose at cardiac arrest. It’s pretty funny – in a rather fatalistic human sort of way – and I wasn’t the only one taking pictures of their booth. Only in America… or maybe not. I think the sense of “We aren’t getting out of here alive, may as well enjoy ourselves” is probably prevalent all over, just maybe not to this degree… (How do you fry butter anyway? Seems like the same as dropping ice cubes into boiling water. They must roll it in a batter first… probably salt and sugar…)