26 May 2013

Farewell trusty little Toyota Prerunner, hello big Ford F-150. Having driven the Ford for just a while, there’s a learning curve to get used to its size, but the rear sensors help a lot. Then there’s having literally twice the power. I’m truly impressed; it’s faster in a straight line than many sports compacts. It’ll have no problem towing the car.

Between shopping, checking on the parents, and yard work, didn’t accomplished much in the car department. Did swap in the new wastegate springs, and got a surprise. Not sure what happened; I was sure that 3.6 lb springs had been swapped in, and it was mentioned a while back that I couldn’t find the original 5.8 psi springs… guess where they were? Yup, in the wastegates. Hmmm, interesting, because boost was reading “0.3 bar.” However, depending how the dash software rounds the value, it’s somewhere between 4.4 and 5.7 lbs, probably the latter. The image at right is what it indicated when run on the dyno back in 2010 – note the break at 5.8 psi – but also note how it creeps higher. That’s because at the time, only one wastegate was working. With both working there didn’t seem to be any creep (or the dash sw may have been truncating the number.) So for now the wastegates contain 0.6 bar (8.7 psi) springs, and they’ll be left in order to establish how much creep there is (there has to be some just by the nature of gas dynamics.)

The clutch is scheduled to arrive Tuesday so there’ll be at least a week of putting the car back together.

Oh, and one of the light fixtures in the garage failed so I figured that would be easy – to quote Jeremy Clarkson, “how hard can it be.” Three trips to Home Depot later, it’s fixed. Over the years, fluorescent lighting has gone through three different pin configurations: two separate pins at each end, a simi-integrated “single” pin, which was/is still two pins, and the latest that has one large pin at each end. I got a strong feeling that a lot of people are experiencing the same as me, because of the 8-ft lights on the rack at HD, a whole lot of them had obviously been opened and returned, no doubt right after finding that they didn’t fit the fixture. I had originally had been using 110 W units, which are now going away; not only the bulbs but the fixtures as well. After wasting a lot of time on what to do I finally embraced the future and replaced the lamps and fixtures with the single-pin style to be done with it. To make up for the lower power 75 W bulbs, another fixture was added across the end of the garage toward the door. It’s always been a pain working on the engine back there due to the shadows, so it’ll be very welcome during the engine install 🙂

19 May 2013

As mentioned a few times, my parents are getting old; dad’s hitting 93 this year – a good run, but we know how things always end. As millions of children have already learned, what happens with elderly parents can be a huge emotional load, and the parents play a big part in it. They seem to end up in one of two groups; either philosophical about life, very calm, and very accepting. Or, end up in the “mean old man” group, perpetually grumpy and nasty… I told my wife that if I ever get that way, just take me out behind the woodshed and hit me over the head with a shovel… It’s very difficult trying to care for someone who doesn’t want it, even when they very much need it.

Discussed the situation with a social worker, and she laughed and said “welcome to the club”, saying that she hears the same story a million times. She said that ultimately, you have to let them do what they want, as the laws are written such that they always have the last say, which makes sense… to a point. My brother said that another social worker had an interesting comment, “Grown kids come to us all the time, thinking that they have problems caring for their parents, and yet when you ask the parents, they say ‘what problems?’ ” I guess that’s another form of the same: just let them do what they want.

Nothing done this weekend car-wise other than ordering the 8.7 psi wastegate springs, which will “probably” result in a boost level of right around 10-11 psi.

Finished the first retaining wall – I actually like doing new stuff even if it’s laborious. We’ll see how I like doing the second wall…

17 May 2013

Since the clutch isn’t back yet, Wife Points were earned building a retaining wall. Car-related things still to do include:

1. The current 3.6 psi wastegate springs limit boost to about 5 psi, so there’s an approximate 1.5 psi overhead to due routing and/or tolerances. With the exhaust out of the car for the clutch work it’s a good time to change the spring pressure and I’d like to go to the designed-to value of roughly 11 psi. What’s a bit of an unknown is how that overhead pressure number will change with spring pressure; will it remain a constant or change as a percentage?

2. The gas welding regulator has been repaired, so bending the steering arms on the front uprights will be done soon. That’s a fair-sized job since they have to cool for hours, then assembled and checked for bumpsteer, going through the process again if it’s appreciably off.

3. Additional access holes may be cut in the bottom of the engine compartment forward of the engine. It’s really tough getting in there with the drivetrain in-place.

4. With the cooling fan thermal switch now in the outlet tank of the radiator, it needs to be wired into the fan relay.

Hmmm, with that listed out there’s still plenty to do!

12 May 2013

The pin through the rear upright has always bothered me because it counts on small bolt threads to hold it together. Worse, it’s the threads that are the only thing preventing braking or acceleration forces from popping the thing apart. Also, I’d used the wrong stainless alloy when fabricating them, so both issues were solved at once. And the thing that pushed it over the edge was that the toe-control link rod-end had some slop in it, allowing the wheel to rock back and forth when given the standard “wriggle test” such as would be administered at an autocross (note that the new toe-control link is a high-grade rod end, which necessitated drilling out and retapping the toe-control link.) Also, the original setup had no easy way to ensure that the bolts wouldn’t back out… so the whole thing was redone, starting with the proper stainless 17-4 condition H1150 rod. Switching to external threads greatly improved strength and moved the load-bearing thread out from under the rod-ends. In the picture, the new pin is at top, with the original below.

On a side note, whenever I’d walk into the garage (when the car was fully-assembled) I could always smell gas. That wasn’t altogether unexpected, since there’s no vapor recovery – I assumed it was either fumes coming out the vent hose, or seeping from yet another fuel tank leak. What’s interesting though is that with the car disassembled, there’s no gas smell at all. If the leak was in or around the fuel tank it would certainly be stinking up the garage, especially today with it being 92 deg F today… and it’s not. That “seems” to indicate that the leak is coming from somewhere else, like from the fuel rail which is currently disconnected (and in fact, is the only fuel system component that’s disconnected.) I’d expect that on a warm day like today, the smell should be especially strong due to vapor expansion, and it’s not… I don’t get it. I’ll have to look the fuel rail over real close once it’s back together and back to its usual smell…

11 May 2013

A couple readers suspect that the pilot bushing was dragging on the input shaft splines. One said that it was due to not having the dust shield between the engine and transmission which would have spaced them apart a bit more… but this engine doesn’t have a dust shield, at least none that I’ve ever seen. After a bunch of measuring with a straight edge and calipers, the pilot bushing had 0.015″ clearance to the spline shoulder, so there shouldn’t have been any binding, but it was tapped in a bit more. I’ll also double-check that the input shaft shoulder can’t contact the crank directly.

Sending in the clutch wasn’t a complete waste since it’ll rule out one possible cause. They’re also going to swap out the diaphragm for a lighter part to reduce clutch pedal effort, as long as I can deal with it “only”  holding 500 ft-lbs… that’ll do! They’re also updating the clutch assembly to the latest version; while I’m not sure what that means exactly it seems like a good idea. Of course after this is all over – and assuming the problem goes away – I’ll never know for sure what root cause was since a handful of things were changed at the same time.

9 May 2013

Took the gas regulator to the welding shop to have them check it out. Of course they can’t fix it there and have to send it out, delaying things another week… of course.

Removed the radiator to add a long-needed bottom drain and thermal fan switch. As it was, coolant temperature at the cylinder head was being used to determine when to switch on the cooling fan, which meant that there was a big slug of hot coolant already headed to the engine in the return line. The result was that the engine took a long time to cool off after the fan switched on. It makes sense to have the switching sensor on the radiator return tank because it prevents the engine from ever seeing over-heated coolant.

The clutch manufacturer should receive the clutch tomorrow but it’ll likely be Monday or Tuesday before they know anything, then another five days to get it back… oh well.

Meanwhile, 12,000 lbs of retaining wall blocks were delivered today… that’ll keep me busy!

Oh, and I was so impressed by the picture of Midlana that my buddy, Max, took with his Canon G12, I bought a used one. It remains to be seen if image quality will look any better on this site since all pictures are compressed to 1024 x 768. I like the G12 a lot and it reminds me of the old Canon G2 I had. Since the G12 is already “yesterday’s news” it was fairly cheap – not quite a DSLR but close. I’ll have to check if there’s an adaptor available so that it can be fastened to the spotting scope for bird pictures… and I just know some of you love bird pictures here…

8 May 2013

More hospital visits and another day gone. Did manage to place an order for 500 retaining wall blocks, part of keeping SWMBO happy. When I finally got home I thought I could at least get one car thing done: bending the steering arms… nope. The regulator on my acetylene tank appears to be dried up/stuck/not working right, allowing the pressure to drop to 2 psi, then, bang, back up to 15 psi, then back down to 2 psi, over and over… not safe. Tried disassembling the regulator and found nothing wrong… sigh.

It’s like a Greek tragedy, watching parents age – not easy looking into the crystal ball and learn I’m destined to slowly lose my mind. Balance that with the very selfish thought of, “It is so inconvenient that they have to get sick on my vacation.” Pretty pathetic son, huh… Maybe the second Jack and Coke was a bad idea…

7 May 2013

Between the dentist and hospital visits, the day came and went. The only car thing accomplished was filling the tanks for the welder and picking up a rose-tip for the torch in anticipation of bending the steering arms. Builders won’t have to do this unless they are installing huge brakes and want to also dial out all the bumpsteer.

6 May 2013

Shipped off the clutch, flywheel, and throw-out bearing to Competition Clutch – and hope for the best.

That was about all that was accomplished today due to getting a call that mom’s in the hospital. Any trip to visit someone in a hospital always consumes many hours – it just does. I don’t know how hospital staff do what they do, and are able to leave the images at work when they go home.

5 May 2013

While some of my coworkers are no doubt passed out somewhere after celebrating Cinco de Mayo, I pulled the drivetrain.

The good news is that nothing terrible appeared to be wrong… and the bad news is that nothing terrible appeared to be wrong… The pilot bushing was in perfect condition, as was the input shaft. The clutch looked fine, though it was surprising how much dust had already accumulated in a couple hundred miles. There was some evidence of flung grease which must have been applied to the splines by the engine builder, but there was no sign of it having contaminated the clutch faces.

So… now what? With the spotlight (apparently) off the pilot bushing, all that’s left is the clutch so it’ll be shipped off tomorrow. Attention will then turn to the other half dozen car tasks, and if not those, there’s always working on the manuscript.

As an aside, if I’d been told 30 years ago that it was possible to grow blueberries is SoCal I’d have been surprised. Not only do they grow, they grow well, as this strain is doing great in pots.

4 May 2013

Since no one reads my forum… an update.

Thanks for all the suggestions regarding what might be causing the gears to grind when the car is warmed up. The throw at the throwout bearing lever was measured when the car was cold and again when it was hot… exactly the same… nuts. That means the problem is not in the activation of the lever but is something inside the bellhousing.  After thinking it through the problem became simple: the reason the gears are spinning can only be due to the clutch or pilot bushing dragging.

The drivetrain is being prepared for removal and should be out by Sunday or Monday. The best I can hope for is that there’s something obviously wrong with the pilot bushing because I can deal with that here. If it’s not that then it’s “probably” the clutch, which will be removed and shipped off to the manufacturer. That’ll side-line the car for a couple weeks but there’s plenty to do in the meantime. The design of the lower bushing in the rear uprights will be improved (and noted in the book), and a thermal switch will be added to the radiator. Also, new front uprights will have the steering arms bent (to fix bumpsteer) and so that stock Miata steering tie-rods can be used. As it is, the combination of big brakes and large aftermarket rod-ends (used with the bumpsteer kit) don’t live well together. The rod-ends had to be ground down to clear the rotors to such an extent that I don’t trust them (being front steering it means that under braking, the tie-rods are put under tension – toward the weak grounded side.) That task will take a while as bumpsteer will have to be rechecked, though it’s easier to do now since the radiator has to be removed anyway for the welding above. If all this doesn’t get boring then there’s this book I keep hearing about that has to be finished…

This is the start of a two-week “man-cation”, staying at home while the wife’s away, morning walks with the dog, making points on yard projects, and all the above car stuff; no lounging about. Also, there’ll soon be a Ford F-150 truck in the picture, something more suitable for towing a car :).