21 Sep 2010

Tuesday morning:
The situation with the bad idle was explained to the dyno shop, and since I’m going to be a customer they gave me a tune to try – much better; now the car idles like stock and the throttle doesn’t make it die. Okay, with that out of the way the car was left idling to let it come up to temperature. Right on schedule the cooling fan came on… but the engine just kept getting hotter and was shut down when it reached 220 degrees. The coolant line leading to the radiator was getting hot like it should, but not very fast. By the time the ECU saw 220 degrees, only about 2 feet of the coolant line was hot. A big air bubble in the head? Thermostat not opening? In backwards? (It was tested early in boiling water to confirm it opened.) Since the coolant line leading to the radiator was getting hot, it is working – sort of. Sent an e-mail explaining the situation, figuring it doesn’t hurt to ask, since the sooner I show up the sooner they get my money.

While the engine was warming up, the clutch pedal-stop was set. The Competition Clutch instructions say to gently push it into gear while pushing the clutch pedal down slowly. The idea is that once the clutch disengages, push the pedal down another 1/4″; that’s where the stop should go. However, I have a dog-box, and in the back of my mind I vaguely remembered that one feature is being able to shift without the clutch. Yup, it sure did, and it was a good thing I had my foot firmly on the brakes. Way before the clutch released, first gear dropped right in, with Midlana leaving its very first skid mark – doh! That lesson learned, the clutch stop was set using 5th gear which is syncromesh. Pretty funny – in hindsight.

Tuesday evening:
Because I installed a new tune, I forgot to reenable the serial data stream that’s needed for the dash, so after doing that, alas, still no tach. Called up Race Technology and they asked if I’d set the dash to get rpm from the serial stream. Nope. Turns out that 90% of the dash’s configuration is set via its… configuration file – makes sense, but that’s not all. Turns out there’s another 10% worth of stuff that’s only accessible via dash-mounted push buttons – ugh – which are probably left over from before they had ECU interfaces, but I digress. The good news is that the tach works, though at first it read 1/4 the actual value, which is strange since the KPro application reads it fine. Anyhow, once its scalar was set, presto, it’s now joine the I’m-working-fine club.

Last issue: the engine still overheats, just getting hotter and hotter the longer it idles. After a lot of reading, suspicion fell on the thermostat. Even though it opened when placed in boiling water, there have been reports of people having problems with them. Back the car out, drain the coolant, disassemble the thermostat housing, remove said thermostat, reassemble and fill the system. Yup, no overheating at all. Great I thought, it’s the thermostat. Go to the store, get another (different brand), back the car out, drain the coolant, disassemble the thermostat housing, install the new one, reassemble and fill the system. Overheats again… huh? Did I put it in backwards? Fine, drain the coolant, disassemble the thermostat housing, flip it around, reassemble and fill the system. Still overheats… crap!

I’m using an nifty aftermarket thermostat housing, and after comparing it to the Honda housing… well, it’s a lot different. The OEM setup isn’t trivial; gone are the days of one coolant path into and out of the thermostat. Now, some thermostats are a two-tiered affair, switching the coolant system at a different temperature than the radiator path. Plus, the coolant flows very differently through the OEM housing compared to the aftermarket part; I can’t see how the thermostat bulb in the aftermarket assembly gets heated. A few people reportedly added holes in the thermostat surround plate so there’s at least some flow when it’s closed. If I have time tomorrow I may try that. Anyway, right now there’s no thermostat in the engine until that’s figured out.

So, after that long explanation, yes, the dyno date’s been set: Thursday’s the day, leaving tomorrow to deal with the trailer. Oh, forgot to mention, both MAP and AFR both work fine!