25 Aug 2013

Instead of having fun driving the car, the first editing pass was completed. Next is to implement the corrections then forward it to my copy-editor buddy who’ll go through it “for real.” Did take a bit of time out to search for the leak. The good news is that it’s one of the hose connecting to the electric fuel pump, which means it’s easy to access. It remains to be seen if simply tightening the connection fixes it though.

18 Aug 2013

Currently on page 214 of the first editing pass and not a page is free of red ink!

I found an easy way to invoke the banging noise. Put it in second gear and drive along at ~3000 rpm. Stepping on the gas causes it, as does suddenly lifting off the gas, so that’s good, sort of. Now just have to put the camera back there.

Found a small coolant leak but can’t get to where it’s coming from. Will likely require removing both seats and the firewall panels, or the fuel tank. Neither will be any fun.

11 Aug 2013

Various wonderings:

With the manuscript ready to print (and being tired of working on it), I took time off and drove a few laps up and down the local coast highway, along with 1000s of others. It was definitely just “cruising” and nothing more due to the traffic, though on the way home there were a couple spots where it could be opened up briefly. I wore earplugs just “because” and when I got on it those few times I heard the now-predictable “bang.” However, with the earplugs filtering out much of the background noise, it was possible to more clearly listen to it. I’m beginning to think that it has nothing to do with the transmission, as the noise sounds a lot like like someone hitting a chassis tube with a ball peen hammer; there’s a definite metallic note to it… or maybe I’m imagining things.

I’ll inspect both the chassis around the drivetrain (again), and the rear suspension arms, only looking at the arms because of the metallic nature of the sound. I really don’t think there’s anything wrong with the suspension because there’s no sudden “heading change” of the car as there would be if a rod-end or spherical bearing was shifting. Still, <em>something’s</em> going on; if nothing shows up then the GoPro will be mounted in several locations to see if we can catch whatever it is.

The Hondata ECU has features that I don’t use, and last week it finally dawned on me that I have launch-control, used when drag-racing turbocharged cars. The problem with turbocharged cars is that because the turbocharger works on heat and exhaust flow, it’s not possible to build boost before popping the clutch, until now. Launch-control does three things: imposes a temporary low rpm-limit (say, 5000 rpm), retards ignition timing, and dumps in a lot of extra gas. This causes a lot of heat in the exhaust which builds boost to near-maximum, allowing for very fast launches. Part of me wants to try it since it’s “free” and only needs to be enabled. The other part of me fears for the transmission and axles, as the jolt to the drivetrain is quite violent when the clutch is side-stepped. In addition, it mustn’t be engaged for long because all that extra heat is hell on the turbocharger, so it’s typically engaged just seconds before launch. Also, the mode isn’t intended to be used on public streets because it’s definitely not “polite”, with lots of really loud popping from the exhaust. While Midlana was never intended for drag-racing, I will admit though that the curiosity to find out “what’ll it do” is strong…

In other news, I was about to sign up for an autocross event… and didn’t. Why? By the time I found out about it, all the smart people had already picked the run and work groups such that they could be done early. What was left was having to get there before 8am to register, then having to stay until after 4 pm. I used to really be into autocross but got tired of giving up the entire day for just a few minutes of track time. Yes I know an autocross is the perfect stepping-stone in testing the car – I just don’t want to do <em>this</em> one, spending all day standing around in the hot sun. Yeah I know, “Whaa, whaa, whaa.”

In less fun news, my dad’s going downhill really fast. We’ve known that this was coming but even so, it means that sometime in the coming weeks or months, I’ll have to walk through one of life’s doors that I rather not. However, we don’t have a choice and it’s neither good nor bad – it simply is. I know who the book’s dedication’s going to be to.

I know that I’ve been lax in both pictures and videos. It’s just that posting videos of driving at 37 mph in traffic isn’t worth your time or mine. Don’t worry, the good stuff will be presented in due time.

4 Aug 2013

The new wastegate springs were installed earlier this week and boost is now 10.7 psi – I’m not going any higher on pump gas. Tried another 0-60 mph run, one using first and second gear and the other using second only, which won out slightly with a best of 3.6 seconds. Hmmm, fast, but like my buddy asked, why isn’t it something nuts like 2.5 seconds or so? Traction was not an issue, with only slight wheel-spin. Putting on the engineering hat, since the weight is known the only explanation is that the car isn’t making the claimed power. The type of dyno used is known to consistently indicate about 10-12% higher than the drum type, so the “430 hp” is probably more like 380 hp or so. Even then I’d expect it to be faster. Perhaps I’m not “driving it like I stole it” – side-stepping the clutch at 8000 rpm. As an aside, one of the displayed engine parameters is lambda (air/fuel ratio) and during the above pulls it stays right at 0.8, or about 11.8:1, which seems about right, so it doesn’t look as if there’s anything to be found there.

The dog-engagement transmission is growing on me; I guess I’m getting used to it. During the runs above, there were still the occasional “BANG”, yet to be explained, and which I really hope is external to the transmission. In related news I’ve lost excitement for the Quaife sequential gearbox. Cost aside – which is large – while they offer a helical gear set for road/track cars, for some reason they don’t offer a helical 4.36 ring and pinion ratio to go with it, only a 4.75. That doesn’t seem like much but it lowers the top speed from about 150 to 137 mph, which on large tracks like Fontana becomes a limitation. It’s not just top speed, but how long the engine is held at high rpm, something I want to avoid. Between that and Quaife rating its torque capacity as “300 hp” (yes, hp), it makes me think it’s intended for high-rpm normally aspirated engines. Given its price I think I’ll let others find its limitations… it’s too much money to be a beta tester.

It wasn’t easy working on the book instead of going for a drive, but good progress was made.