28 Aug 2011

Amazing accurate, the farmer that told me years ago that the hottest week of the year is the first week of September is right on track to be very close if not flat-out right again. It’s too hot to be in the garage so the book is being worked on.

Received all the Mcmaster parts this week (see last update.) Also received a different third-taillight blinker. I’ve never been happy with the slow-blinking units that are so common—I wanted something like what ambulances have, 5-10 flashes per second. To me, that’s far more attention-getting than the slow half-second-on, half-second-off units. I like that both the number of flashes and blink rate is adjustable. This particular unit is from xdponline.com

25 Aug 2011

Typical Mcmaster order. What I ordered is in the foreground and came in the box behind. I’m convinced their shipping department does its part to increase profits. The actual shipping fees aren’t shown up-front either, added in after it’s gone out the door. They’re a great place to deal with and have fantastic service, but who would have thought that they’re also doing their part to clean up Los Angeles smog… shipping it elsewhere, four cubic feet at a time…

21 Aug 2011

Lots of odds and ends. Rerouted the turbo oil supply and return lines. Welded in mounting studs for hose clamps. Made an adaptor for the coolant overflow tank; its plastic outlet is larger than the inlet to my coolant header tank. Welded a V-band flange on the outlet of the muffler (and am still wondering why I did.) Punched a rough hole in the lower rear panel for the exhaust; it’ll have a trim ring. There’ll also be a swappable straight-through pipe to replace the muffler for certain track events.

Last picture, a baby lizard in our back yard, about 1″ long and they move quick! I’ve managed to feed them out of my hand by holding a small worm real still and when they see it, zip!

Speaking of worms, last week there was a baby bird sitting in the street so I moved him into a bush. Coming back from our walk I saw him again… in the street. No mother around but there were crows so I brough him home. He was making noises the whole way home and when we got there, we fed him a couple tiny worms and some water. He was chirping away and seemed content, and when we put a towel over his cage he quieted down and went to sleep. The next morning – dead. That sucks. You’re born, and get one day out of the nest and… “Nope, sorry, rides over, you’re done.” He may have been sick before I got to him because it isn’t normal that I should be able to pick him up, though he “seemed” okay. Some things just aren’t meant to be. That’s too bad; I was looking forward to letting him go and hearing him sing in our trees 🙁

14 Aug 2011

Welded an aluminum bend onto the airbox, which is now complete other than the support rods. Every now and then, usually toward the end of a bunch of welding, my aluminum welds look presentable – you only get to see those!

Next was finally cutting the side panel for the air inlet path to the intercooler. I stopped here because it’s kind of up in the air how to make it more finished. A trim frame and screen is very likely, though several forward-facing louvers would look fitting. The trouble with them is that they’ll bounce rocks kicked up by the front tires directly into the intercooler core – the screen would not. Also, I’m counting on the high-pressure air piled up in front of the fender as motivation for making the air turn inboard. The louvers, because they’d point forward, would somewhat shield the inlet from that air, so it needs some more thought.

There are a few nagging plumbing issues that will get resolved this week. Everytime I look at the turbo, the oil supply and oil return lines looked less and less “right”, so they’ll be rerouted. Also, I’d used plastic quick-disconnect lines for all the vacuum lines. However, when the car was dyno’d by Daniel at Church Automotive (who’s seen 100s of good – and bad – turbo setups) he said the hoses will melt. They’ll be replaced with proper AN-3 or -4 lines, not cheap but an absolute avoidance of potential trouble.

The last picture shows why thoroughness, responsibility, and care is important. As-mounted, the Honda ECU has an upward-facing USB port which, if left uncovered, can collect whatever happens to bounce inside. A few months ago I was drilling in that area and later realized that I hadn’t covered the USB connector, but figured, “Meh, how much could have gotten in there?” Over the following weeks I’ve had time to think about the potential for trouble, and the more I thought about it, the worse it seemed, with possibly very expensive repercussions. Because the Honda ECU circuitry is surface-mount, some the pins on the various parts are as close as 0.020″ apart. It would only take a very small bit of metal to cause all sorts of big trouble, so I forced my lazy-self to take out the ECU, remove the lid, and what’s shown here is what came out. Probably the worst aspect of this would be how intermittiant a failure it could have caused, likely occurring miles from anywhere half way round a bend due to the stuff sliding around. It’s a very good thing the ECU wasn’t powered up!

This reminds me of a story from when I was in high school. We’d made a big rocket using steel pipe and our own propellant (obviously pre-9/11). We took it out to the desert to launch, and at some point, someone had to get down under it and connect the two electrical wires to the ignitor. I connected one, and came right up to the ignitor lead with the other wire when the voice in my head said, “are you SURE it’s not hot?” I remembered thinking, being young and immortal, “Meh, the chances of that are about zero, it’s fine.” For some reason though, I reluctantly wasted the time to touch the leads together and was very surprised to see it spark (due to an electical problem at the launcher-end). I think about that day every now and then, wondering how different my life – if I’d lived – would have been.

7 Aug 2011

Good progress. The airbox is coming along nicely and the pictures pretty much show the process. There’s replacing the 90-deg steel inlet bend with aluminum, adding support struts, and making a proper for the filter element to keep rain out of it. The last picture is preparation for cutting the side air inlet. Not sure whether to try and form the entire intake plenum from the side sheet itself or make it a separate assembly. Either way it’ll be covered with mesh. Doing it this way keeps the option open of later adding the big flared-in fenders discussed a year or so ago.

The more I work with aluminum the better I like it. Someone once suggested that I should make the next car (if there is one) panels solely from aluminum – no composite. Yeah I could see doing that. A few more tools are needed for that though, the proper hammers, shot bag, English wheel and maybe a planishing hammer. Meh, that’s all a ways off.

2 Aug 2011

Drove my wife to a business meeting up in the mountains, and on the way there a new Mini passed us in the twisties. A moment later my wife asked if the sudden increase in speed was me trying to keep up with the Mini in her car. “Huh, what?” It was just as well, as some serious thrashing would have been in order to try and even then I’m not sure our 2001 IS300 (RWD) could have done it (serious up-hill twisties.) Anyhow, 180 miles later we stopped for dinner near home and, coming out to the car, the low sun had lit up the front tires… uh oh. The inside edge of both tires were down to the threads! The car’s dead-stock, stock tires, normal tire pressure… so what’s with that? It’s as if it has a lot of negative camber (very doubtful stock) or a lot of toe-out, yet the steering wheel doesn’t pull. Anyhow, it’s going in for tires and an alignment pronto. It made me realize that my casual mountain road antics could have turned out a whole lot different.

On the way home we came up behind a Maserati Granturismo S at a light. From the rear it was rather non-discript, a plain-looking yet obviously-overpriced car that looked surprisingly like the Lincoln in the lane next to it. Then the light turned green. What can best be described as music came out of the dual exhausts, as it should for a $122K car, and strangly, the sound was such that the price suddenly seemed much more reasonable. We switched lanes to get a look at it from the side, and it’s an awesome looking car. Black, black wheels, rad brake calipers, with very nice styling, and I immediately felt bad for comparing it to the Lincoln… well, from any angle any except the rear. But that exhaust note, oh my, but $122K, right now? In this economy? Well, I guess at least one guy didn’t care. Here’s a clip that illustrates its great sound, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uoNLbkrS1RE&NR=1