Received the replacement coolant temperature sensor and finally checked its calibration… well, let me back up.
An authentic Honda coolant temperature sensor is roughly $45 online, and me being a cheapskate, looked for alternatives. Found one on Ebay for about $8, with the picture showing the sensor next to an authentic Honda part bag with the correct number on it. I knew better than to think it was actually what the picture portrayed and bought it anyway. Sure enough it arrived in a plain box with no markings whatsoever, so no surprise it’s a knockoff.
Boiling water in a Thermos was placed in the engine compartment where the wire harness could reach. The new sensor was plugged in, and it and an accurate mercury thermometer were submerged in the hot water. The sensors were allowed to settle for several minutes and then the temperature read; the thermometer settled out at 91C, while the sensor read 77C. Sigh, it wasn’t expected to read exactly right but this is kind of ridiculous. To be fair, I don’t know how accurate an authentic Honda part is, but doubt it’s that bad. We’ll see since a “real” sensor has been ordered.
Took Midlana and the granddaughter to the new Cars and Coffee location, currently at the Outlet San Clemente mall (one can only wonder how long it’ll be before they get thrown out from there as well, which seems to be the fate of the event, for noise, exhibition of speed, etc). This was the first time she’d been to any car show and, it went about as expected, not much interest, but the point was to expose her to it at least once so she knows they exist and what it’s about. I told her that I’d be happy to take her again but she has to ask – I won’t pester her to go.
No good deed goes unpunished and the traffic for the 50-mile trip home was brutal. The clutch was used about a million times because even at idle in first, Midlana wanted to move along faster than traffic. Being around 28 C didn’t help but it was a good test of the updated cooling system; coolant got up to around 90C but no higher. On the way up it was the exact opposite temperature-wise, dipping as low as 6C, brrrr. With such low temperatures, engine coolant only got up to about 80C.
Speaking of that, I’ve been watching how alternator voltage varies with temperature. In cold weather, charging voltage is 14.1V, perfect, and turning on the radiator fan caused it to drop to about 13.5V, still pretty good. On the way home in the heat though, charging voltage slowly dropped off to around 13.6V and dropped to 12.9V with the fan on. I was going to check to see whether the Chevy pickup alternator I’m using has an “S” input (Remote Sense). As I type this though, I just realized it doesn’t matter if it does or not. If there was a voltage drop problem at higher air temperature, it would still be there in cooler weather, but the problem is only during warm weather, ruling that out. It’s not like the alternator is being overheated either; right now there’s neither an engine cover nor belly pan. Also, since this is a cross-flow engine with the alternator on the intake side, it’s not near anything hot. I suspect the built-in alternator regulator just isn’t very good over temperature.
I could try running a cold air hose from the side vent to the alternator, but related to the above, since it’s already fairly well ventilated, there’s a good chance that the “cool air” being fed to it through a hose from the outside isn’t much lower than the air already swirling around the engine compartment. Of course, zooming way out on the problem, I’m not sure how much it matters. That is, it’s been this way for years and hasn’t been an issue, though I do keep a battery tender on it when in the garage. Then, during the endless traffic jam yesterday, I managed to stall it once and forgot the radiator fan was still on; when cranking, the battery clearly wasn’t happy at all about having to run both (sounding like a run-down battery). So there’s several approaches: do nothing, get the aftermarket alternator and hope it’s less temperature sensitive, or set up a cooling air duct for the existing unit and hope the outside air is a lot cooler than engine compartment air.
Finished the radiator ducting, though it still needs paint before being permanently mounted. It was assembled with temporary rivets and Midlana was taken out for a drive, again confirming a 2-3 degree C decrease in coolant temperature under all conditions.
Twice now the same cylinder head exhaust manifold bolt has backed out, the first time completely and the second time about a centimeter. Not sure why since it’s torqued to Remflex’s recommended 20 ft-lbs. It was okay after today’s drive but if it does it again it’ll be safety-wired.
Went on a longer test drive into the back country, up “my” Palomar Mountain “test track”. This time there was an interesting mix of events.
At the base of Palomar Mountain, they were fishing a balled-up sportbike out of a ditch, the driver nowhere around. Heading up the mountain I got stuck behind a cruiser Harley where the rider was apparently still learning to ride. That’s fine, except he was going between 22 and 32 mph, I checked. At first I was polite – everyone starts somewhere – but after a while it got kind of annoying as he kept passing places he could have pulled over. And then…
After ruining about 80% of my ride up, a Harley was coming down the hill the opposite direction and correctly assessed my situation in a flash. It was quietly hysterical what he did, first tapping his helmet and then giving a palm-up gesture toward the Harley, like, “dude, how long you been holding him up?” I don’t know if the Harley ahead of me finally noticed me, or if the guilt worked, but he immediately pulled over. I had a very hard time to not laugh as I gave him a thank-you wave.
After I passed the Harley I went tearing up the rest of the hill, trying to make the best of my shortened “course.” The new tires are, well, amazing. The old ones had really lost their stick because these new ones are pretty incredible. I haven’t even managed to slide the car yet because doing so means going into a turn fast enough that if it does become unstuck, I’d likely end up in the ditch along with the sportbikes. Speaking of that, came around a turn and there was a second sportbike being retrieved from the rocks. Not far away, a cop was making an accident report but heard me coming and had a good long look at me as I came by… I waved to acknowledge, “yes, I know you see me and are thinking ‘how can that be legal’, and that I’m cutting it close.” Thankfully all I got was the look.
All the way up, coolant temperature stayed lower than it had on previous drives – I’m happy. Drove around the top of the mountain a bit then headed back down. This time I had a Harley behind me who wanted to play. I let him pass and once past the cop, we had some fun heading down the hill. I’m curious how I would have done behind a real sportbike, but that puts us both in a situation where things get serious. I previously wrote that I always wanted a car that could keep up with sportbikes heading up the hill and I may well have that. The thing is, there’s a small chance that one or both of us might go off (as said above, two bikes already had). If he went off with me right behind him, I’d stop, and then things could get really interesting, like, would he sue me because I was pressuring him, him hoping to avoid his share of responsibility?* Would the cops arrest us for street racing? Serious thoughts – or maybe I’m just old. I passed a group of sportbikers at the base of the mountain, apparently grouping for another “assault”, and sure enough, they got all excided when they saw Midlana. I waved, but decided that stopping and getting involved might not be wise.
Oh, I got my very first thumb’s-up from a Harley rider, the first out of the 500 or so I’ve passed over the years. Meanwhile, sportbike riders give enthusiastic thumbs-ups about 30% of the time – I have theories.
On the way back, passed the local university and a car pulled up alongside with several hot and crazy college girls, screaming how “sick” my car is. Ah, if I were but young and single…
During the weekend’s drives, the alternator may or may not have been acting up. It normally stays mid-13Vs, which is a little low and is why I’m considering an aftermarket adjustable unit. It’s as if my alternator heard my thoughts because now it’s charging at around 14V, which it’s never done before. Also different is that with the radiator fan on, a few times at least, voltage sagged down into the 12.XV range, which was new. Checked for loose wires and found nothing.
No bites on the transmission, but at $4000, it’s not surprising that it may take a while. The price is what it is because of the work done to ensure it’s as close to “new” as something used can be, so for now I wait. We’ll see if and when my idea of its worth matches anyone else’s!
I have all the parts to start building the rear wing, and at some point I also have to figure out airflow in the proposed location (how high it needs to mount to be in clean air). There are various ideas, one involving smoke bombs… that could be interesting…
Lastly, I tried fixing something that’s low on the annoyance scale but there nonetheless – the perpetually-crocked steering wheel. It’s because the splines on the steering wheel adaptor are fairly course, so it’s either wrong in this direction or that direction, take your pick. I finally realized that the Miata splines further down the steering column are more fine-pitch, probably around double, so I tried offsetting it by one spline, and it’s much better now.
*There’s currently a lawsuit between a sportbike rider and Laguna Seca Raceway. He had gone off-course and hit some sandbags, which threw him off. He’s claiming that Laguna unnecessarily made the track dangerous and caused him to lose control. Well, what was he doing off course if he hadn’t already lost control, but anyway, people sue for all sorts of reasons.
Went to the local hot rod show with my brother. He wanted to talk to Tremec, his transmission builder, about how the front of his case has cracked, something that’s reportedly happened to other people as well, but wasn’t much satisfied with their answers, which were a little wishy-washy. I told him the right ($$$$) solution is to suck it up and buy their next model up in strength, else the probably may well happen again. The first picture with my hand on the gears is one of their upper models. Yeah, those gears look like they could handle some pretty good torque.
The rusty white truck had a turbo about twice as large as mine, with an air cleaner about 8 times smaller than mine – yeah, it shows signs of collapse.
The yellow and red show car looks like something the Simpson’s or a few Minions should be driving.
The green truck had a complete 425 (or 455) c.i. Oldsmobile Toronado in the truck bed. The picture from the side shows just how compact the drivetrain is, with the engine sitting directly over axle centerline. Compact yes, light, nope.
That tire? A “405/25-24”. I fear tires are still heading up in size.
The engine with the bluish valve covers isn’t anything remarkable, but the fuel and nitrous plumbing was “noticeable.”
There were a few rat rods, and then there was what appeared to be a very old stock vehicle, but it turned out he’d created it from authentic odds and ends from that era, including a V12 out of something. Another car had a V12 in it as well; the header fabrication would have been a fun project.
The light blue/silver car was amazing, kit or otherwise, as was the period correct engine in another car.
And then we come to our favorite, the ratty-looking pale green Chevy truck. We’d have walked right by it had we not just seen it at the autocross. Watching it approach the first turn we both said out loud “he’s never going to make that”, and then did. The thing was flat-out amazing, beating about 90% of everything else. The secret is its Corvette chassis, suspension, and drivetrain, but you couldn’t tell from the outside, though the huge brakes are a hint. The interior looks much like an old 1960’s truck, albeit with racing seats. He’s looking forward to taking it to a trackday, and it would be pretty funny seeing him pass “real sports cars.”
Went for a couple test drives to get more comfortable with the new transmission and the close ratios. Something else though, came to light during the drives that consumed my attention.
Ever since the engine was retuned I noticed that coolant temperature seemed a little higher. It wasn’t a lot though and since coolant temperature is affected somewhat by outside air temperature, it was never really clear if it really was or not.
As mentioned before, Midlana has always had this somewhat odd trait where when idling with the fan on, coolant temperature is fine (mid-80s, C of course), and when on-track and driving hard, coolant temperature is about the same. But then there’s just plodding along on the freeway at 65-75 mph. One would think in that low-power situation, coolant temperature should again be about the same, only it isn’t. Given enough time, the temperature very slowly creeps its way up to around 90C, and this weekend on the freeway while going up a long incline, it hit a new record of 93C. If it was the middle of summer it wouldn’t have been as big a deal, but outside air temperature was only 17C.
There’s about a dozen things that could be going on, and in no particular order: radiator too small, weak electric water pump (or plumbed backwards(!), mechanical water pump turning the wrong way(!), defective coolant temperature sensor, air going around the radiator, big air bubble in the cooling system somewhere, engine timing, a collapsing hose or obstruction, low coolant, or maybe something I’m missing.
First, a back story regarding pumps, which involves Kimini, predecessor to Midlana. Kimini’s new owner added an electric water pump to help move coolant from the mid-mounted engine to the radiator and back. It apparently worked well enough that he stopped paying attention to coolant temperature, because soon after, the engine was destroyed due to severe overheating. Turns out that he’d wired/plumbed the pump so it was moving coolant the opposite direction as the engine’s mechanical pump! This caused very interesting symptoms – had he noticed. At idle, the electric pump probably won the tug of war regarding flow direction, so it stayed cool. At freeways speed, the mechanical pump, now spinning fastest, probably won the fight, moving coolant the opposite direction. But consider the case of driving at some magic lower speed where the flow generated by the mechanical and electric water pump perfectly balances. At that speed, coolant flow through the engine is zero – end of story, and end of engine.
As a sanity check, both pumps were checked for proper rotation; the mechanical pump because I’d rerouted the belt, and the electric pump, just because. Both were fine, so they’re off the list.
To keep from wastefully replacing stuff, the car was warmed up to an indicated 80C, then the radiator cap on the header tank removed and the temperature measured with an accurate mercury thermometer, which read about 68C. At first it seemed like “ah hah”, but probably not because the header tank is filled by two bleeder hoses, a small one from the cylinder head, and a larger one from the top of the radiator. It’s likely that the header tank will always be somewhat cooler than the coolant measured by the sensor itself inside the cylinder head. That said, I’m going to buy a new coolant sender anyway, plug it into the harness outside the cylinder head, and put it and the thermometer in a heated container of water. The reason is because an inaccurate calibration of one of the ECU manufacturer’s default Honda sensors has already been identified. I’ve never tested the coolant sensor so this would be a good reality check.
Another reason the header temperature might be inaccurate is because coolant flowing from the engine to the radiator flows first through an oil-to-coolant heat exchanger, which can add or subtract heat depending upon oil temperature.
Because of the bleed lines, I don’t believe it’s possible for a big air bubble to be trapped in the cooling system; it’s self-purging by design so that’s off the list. The radiator being too small doesn’t fit either, since it works fine under hard use at the track. Coolant level is fine; I don’t think (without proof) that there’s any obstructions because I only use distilled water and Water-Wetter. That leaves air going around the radiator… hmm.
As a quick test, rags were stuffed around the radiator where I could reach and another test drive performed. Well huh – taking the very same route, at the same speeds, and in the same weather, coolant temperature struggled to reach 90C, and when I let off, it dropped faster than before. This leads to the theory that at idle with the fan on, air gets sucked through the radiator by the fan, so the gaps around the sides don’t matter. At speed on-track, there’s so much air coming in that even with the leaks, there’s sufficient air flowing through the core that cooling is sufficient. That leaves the freeway situation. Here, there’s less air coming in the nose and maybe half (a big guess) is going around rather that through the radiator and providing insufficient cooling. It’s just a theory but seems to fit the facts. So first thing was to cut off the support for the horn (it sticks around the side of the radiator and makes sealing it in that area impossible). The horn will be relocated behind the radiator. Paper templates are being made for aluminum panels to extend from the inside of the nose cone to the forward face of the radiator, with foam between the two. This is so when lifting the front cover, the panels sealing the radiator will move away from it without snagging on anything.
So things look promising, though it’s something I should have done back when the car was built. Of course back then there was a big push to get it on the road, so some things got pushed off.
Oh, and there’s one other variable – ignition timing. From my understanding, timing really affects how much heat gets pushed into the cooling system. The tuner noted that he advanced timing quite a bit, so it may well be that that’s the source of the higher coolant temperatures.
Lastly, I’ve been trying to find what the normal coolant operating temperature is for a Honda K24, something that’s surprisingly vague and variable. It seems to be somewhere between 80-95C, so it’s not like the engine is overheating. This motivation to get to the bottom of this came from seeing temperatures it had never reached before, so adding the radiator ducting is the right thing to do, regardless.
Looks like the lower most layer or two need stiffening up, which is now easy enough to do.
I enabled the HDR-AS300’s GPS overlay and while it’s interesting, it may prove to be something of a novelty since GPS speed lags so far behind (how does my dash keep up with the same data?). The route information is interesting, but again, not sure how useful it’ll prove to be.
Forgot to mention yesterday that the transmission shifts so easily, I twice shifted into the wrong gear. Doing so while just cruising (like I was) isn’t a big deal, but having that happen on-track is a different story. Going to have to get better accustomed to the new gears, syncros, and shifting effort.
Lastly, my dog-box transmission is being boxed up and shipped home. Once it’s here it’ll officially be for sale.
Spent the weekend building the new rear engine mount, which took way longer than expected. Part of this is my own doing though, because with Kimini, I planned everything out to an extreme and as a result, fabrication went smoothly and very little had to be redone. With parts of Midlana though, I’ve been testing how much I can “wing it” and still have it turn out right – this one just made it.
The plan was to have the engine mount rubber “field-tunable”. The OEM mount works fine in an OEM application – but not so much with 400+ ft-lbs of torque. Also, applying torque to the side of a bolt in a rubber-filled tube just doesn’t work well when a lot of force is applied because it’s so concentrated. That’s why a 2″ x 4″ steel “foot” is used to spread out the load and rests between layers of polyurethane sheet. Being a rear engine mount on a clockwise-spinning engine means that the layers below handle acceleration torque and the layers above handle deceleration. This allows using different durometer rubber for each layer. So the prototype was built but the unknown was how much it would deflect under power and deceleration – and how much vibration would be transferred to the chassis.
“If only I was able to watch it.” Presto, that’s what the new Sony camcorder is for, so it was attached to a rear tube and aimed at the engine mount. About now you’re probably looking for the link – well, there isn’t one yet. It’s late, the camera’s new, and I have to figure out its editor. Hopefully it’ll be good enough else I’ll have to find a “real” video editor. I watched the raw video and it’s pretty cool what you can see and hear – I’ll post it up sometime this week.
In other news – the clutch! With the new transmission having synchros instead of dog engagement, I again used Competition Clutch’s instructions to set the clutch stop for the twin-disc clutch. With the dog-box, I couldn’t set it as instructed because it would instantly drop into gear even without the clutch. The instructions say to gently push the gear lever like you’re going into a gear, while at the same time slowly depressing the clutch. At some point it’ll drop in, then push the pedal another 1/4″ and set the clutch stop there. Well, I did, and holy smokes does it change the character of the car. Clutch throw is now much shorter and with the close gear ratios, it makes shifting much faster. I’m really happy how that turned out.
Every now and then I get caught up in the excitement of buying stuff for the car but getting too far ahead of what’s needed right now, such as wanting to pick up aluminum stock for the wing while the rear engine mount isn’t complete. I learned the hard way that if I have parts on-hand for half a dozen project, I actually make slower headway than if I just focus on one at a time.
Somewhat related, before the wings are built, air flow over the car needs to be researched, and the new Sony camcorder should help that happen.
Then there’s the higher-output alternator which was almost ordered, but again, first things first. Even when it does percolate to the top of the list, it needs to be seen if just running cool air to it might be enough.
Just remembered another task – radiator ducting. The car never overheats, but when cruising at freeway speed, coolant temperature gets higher than when driving hard on the track – why is that? The theory is that some (or even a lot) of the air coming in the nose goes around the radiator instead of through it. At freeway speed, there may be insufficient flow through the fins to carry away all the heat, but at high speed, even with much of it going around, there’s still plenty left over for actual cooling. Will probably tape up some cardboard and see if the theory’s correct.
Weather cleared up so an 80-mile drive broke in the new gears/synchros/LSD. Observations:
The ratios are noticeable closer, which isn’t a surprise but I kept catching myself pausing between gears, waiting to match gear speeds, a habit learned with the straight-cut gears, but when I let the clutch out with the new gear set, it’s clear I’m waiting too long. That’ll solve itself with time.
During the drive, 80 mph (GPS) was 4000 rpm, so back-calculating, the rolling diameter of the tires at speed is 25.1 inches (they compress about 0.5″ due to running ~15psi). That rpm is a bit high for cruising and will ironically serve to keep me more in line, read: driving slower on the freeway. Another reason to slow a bit is because boost is right there and ready to go by 4000 rpm, so it’s like riding a thoroughbred racehorse at a trot but who is ready to go right now. A third reason is that when in boost, fuel mileage takes a nosedive. That said, though the rpm is where MAP can reach maximum, since the throttle’s mostly closed, it’s only about 60 KPa (40 KPa below ambient). I read somewhere that a turbocharged engine can actually improve gas mileage somewhat by overcoming the pumping inefficiencies inherent in gasoline engines due to the throttle plate obstruction. Obviously not a big goal.
(Because of the rolling diameter of the rear tires, if I absolutely must reach 60mph in first gear, I either have to increase the rev limit to 8150 or put enough air in the rear tires to increase the OD to 25.6″, hah.)
After the drive, the OEM transmission fluid used for break-in was drained and replaced by magic oil supplied by the gear manufacture in unmarked bottles. Went for a short drive for gas and it “seems” to shift a bit easier, though it could also be my imagination. I assume it’s going to take several hundred miles for the carbon synchros to wear-in. Speaking of oil, I had an issue with the old transmission where the gear manufacturer, PPG, recommended brand X, while WaveTrac specifically recommended not using brand X. With the new transmission it’s similar, with Gear-X recommending their stuff (of course) and Giken recommending their stuff (of course) which, of course, wasn’t the same. I ended up getting both of them to hash it out on a group email and Giken finally said that Gear-X’s mystery oil would be fine.
There hasn’t been a peep out of the limited slip, or maybe I can’t hear it. Some people complain that Gikens makes noise, though others say it’s silent. Doesn’t matter either way, just a note.
If there was any question before, the test drive confirmed for sure that the engine mount has to be redone – way too much vibration.
During the test drive, logger data was used to recalibrate the ECU’s calculated “gear”. The transmission doesn’t produce gear position directly but the ECU has the variables to create one. It’s handy for various things, such as boost-by-gear. Speaking of that, boost in 5th and 6th was increased (back) to the maximum value – that’ll be fun. Assuming it’s clear this weekend I’ll do a longer drive to fully break in the gears, then change the transmission oil as requested by the gear manufacturer.
I reworked the rear engine mount (which resists torque) while the engine was out but don’t like the result, too much vibration. I have a plan to basically roll my own and I’ll post pictures. The sweet thing is that the new design will make it easy to change the stiffness on the fly.
There’s the wings to make, which is a significant project but since it’s fairly compartmentalized, the car can continue to be driven while that’s underway.
There’s the rear diffuser, and right after that, filling in the gap above it, created when the damaged panel was cut out after my off at Willow Springs. Will probably use screen mesh for that.
Engine cover: Been wanting to redo it for awhile because without it, the car looks unfinished. More concerning though is the small worry about an engine fire at-speed, there’s a strong likelihood that the flames will be swept forward by the swirling air. That would be bad.
Upgrading the alternator. If I’m driving at night in stop-and-go traffic, the lights, electric water pump, radiator fan, fuel pump, and of course the ECU are all on, which is around 80 amps. I’m considering adding a small oil pump and cooler to the transmission (already have both) which moves the total current closer to potentially 90 amps at idle. The OEM Chevy pickup alternator produces around 14V when I first start the car, which is fine, but as it warms up it drops off. On the freeway with just the essentials (water pump and fuel pump), battery voltage ends up around 13.5V, and around 13V at idle when fully warm, lower than I’d like. I’d like to be able to run everything instead of having to sometimes load-shed things as the battery voltage drops off.
There are a couple solutions, like feeding cooling air to the alternator and putting on a slightly smaller-diameter pulley, though it’s being spun about as fast as it should be (18,000 alternator rpm at 8000 engine rpm). I’m currently leaning instead toward a unit that can support everything even at idle, such as the PowerMaster 478618. Better yet, it has remote sense and adjustable output voltage .
Long ago I bought LED signal flashers because the old-school mechanical ones don’t work with LEDs. Until recently, LED car lights weren’t a “thing”, so it’s random chance how the mechanical flasher sockets are wired (since polarity didn’t matter). Of course mine are backwards backwards (both the turn and emergency flasher) so the new LED-compatible flashers don’t work. I’ll have to pull out the fuse block and swap the pins.
Other things on the back burner are adding a transparent bulkhead window behind the seat to see what that does for possibly reducing wind and noise. Then there’s door fabrication. Pretty sure how I want to do them; it just endless details like: material, frame substructure, hinge type, fabrication, and placement, weather stripping, and a latch.
Lastly, I finally had enough of the buggy GoPro and have ordered a Sony action cam.
The pieces of debris are from a synchronizer hub, which is probably the best of all the things it could have been. “Best” meaning that they’re not bits off the expensive aftermarket gears and being an OEM part, it’ll be less expensive to replace. The transmission will be sent to the same place that built the new one, which works out well since they regularly build PPG gearboxes. When the unit is put up for sale, it’ll be advertised as having been verified as 100%-good.
The rain let up so the car was taken out for a short test drive. The new gear ratios are closer, with first gear being the most noticeable. Now, the car sounds much more like a road-racing car when leaving a stop; with the lower ratio, the ratio has to be slipped a bit more. Being new, the synchros are a little sticky but that’s to be expected. It’s true what Honda owners said about these gears (and the ratios) are terrible – for OEM-weight cars.
With everything that was removed and replaced, it was good to see that nothing leaked or fell off. The rebuilt rear engine mount though, is transferring too much vibration. I’ll probably have to redo it again and am considering something like having a block mounted off the engine that in cruise conditions, “hovers” between two rubber-lined stops in the engine mount. That way, vibrations will only be transferred when under hard acceleration. We’ll see.
Got the axle CV cup back, assembled the driver’s-side axle, then filled the transmission with OEM fluid to break it in. With some rare rain going on though, the test drive has to wait.
With the car stuck in the garage, finally got around to added 15-mm wheel spacers, since I’ve long had tire scuff marks on the inboard panels. Adding the spacers necessitates cutting down the OEM wheel studs, which went fine and while I was congratulated myself on my fine work, my brother called. I asked what his tire-to-chassis clearance is and was surprised when he said less than 1″, which is what I had before adding the spacers. Well nuts. He reminded me that the tires I’m now using (same as his) have stiffer sidewalls (though I don’t know how he knows that), so that’s one variable. Another is that he has roughly 450 lbs on each tire, while I have around 600 lbs on the rear tires due to being mid-engine. Another difference is that my rear suspension is IRS, so the tops of the tires move inboard under acceleration and braking. Between all these differences, it’s unknown how much the tires will squirm around. The irony is that having added the spacers and switched tires, while there won’t be any rubbing, I won’t know why. Oh well.
The bad news, well, I’m not sure how bad it is yet.
When I took my old transmission to WaveTrac to have them fix their differential design flaw, I expected them to do just that, pop out the stuck axle stub, fix the LSD, then give me a call. Well, they did:
Them: “While we were in there we also found some gear bits stuck to the magnet. We’re sure you will want to fix this so we’ll hand it back to you taken apart.”
Me: “No, I want it reassembled, then I’ll decide what to do after seeing the little parts.”
They agreed, I drove up to get it yesterday, and:
Them: “Okay, here it is, reassembled but not sealed.”
Them: “We’re sure you’ll want to take it apart, so there was no reason to seal it.”
That isn’t what they agreed to do… Anyway, when they handed me the parts, they did indeed look like broken gear teeth. After thinking it over and looking at them again later, I’m not so sure; the “teeth” on them are really small, flat-topped, and not helical. I’m wondering if they’re off some sort of slider component, though why that would break instead of the gear teeth is a mystery.
Anyway, the first step is to identify what these bits are. At best would be hearing they’re of no consequence (yeah, I know) and at the other extreme, it gets shipped to a tranny shop and torn down – again.
Drivetrain reinstallation should be complete tomorrow. The goal is to have the garage cleaned up before she gets home. It will be, well, all except for one rear wheel and tire because I don’t have the driver’s-side CV cup back yet.
Speaking of that, the differential shop said they were able to remove it without damage and also fixed the differential. The transmission will be picked up this coming week and then it’ll go up for sale.
Pictures from today show there’s a lot of stuff in a twin-scroll turbo car with a dry sump! Several hours were spent looking for hoses touching anything else and they got the dual zip-tie treatment to keep them from abrading.
The last shot is a reminder to all builders to always snip off the left-over tang on Nylon zip ties. I can’t count the number of times an overlooked one caused needless bleeding.
So there’s always the question: make the parts myself using the lathe (the dowel pins in this case), or just buy them. Given what they do and because I needed two, I took the lazy way out and stopped by the dealer. In the first picture below are two dowel pins. One of them cost $1.72 and the other cost $3.55, so why is that? The Acura dealer only had one in stock (I needed two) so they called the Honda dealer down the block and confirmed they had another, and who charged me double. I couldn’t help but wonder if they figured (correctly) that I was in a bind and doubled the price. I paid it but will keep that in mind.
While leaving, there was a formula car on display so a few pictures were taking of the wing support, which appeared to be 0.25″ aluminum plate. I fell better about seeing that so I won’t feel bad building a similarly-strong/heavy support. The wing itself appeared fake, likely explaining why pitch wasn’t adjustable.
On the way home, stopped off at a off-road shop and bought plastic plugs and caps for the AN hose ends. They help keep dirt and debris out of the AN fittings while they’re disconnected – I should have bought these years ago.
Anyway, once back home, the pins were installed, the engine/transmission mated up, then the assembly reinstalled. Amazing how much easier it went in… after the tank and shifter bracket were removed to be out of the way, and noted for next time. The rest of the day was spent reconnecting and reinstalling various bits; it always much takes much longer to install things.
The engine’s out but I didn’t help the process due to the combination of cutting corners and forgetting what had to be removed first. Lifted it halfway out and it got stuck between a chassis tube and the dry sump tank. End result, one scratched up chassis tube. Also left the push-pull cable bracket hanging free, thinking it wouldn’t get in the way… wrong. It of course got wedged between the chassis and the transmission. It’s a very unpleasant situation trying to unstick an expensive 400-lb lump hanging tenuously by a chain…
Finally got it out and safely on the ground, then removed the transmission. Transferred everything over I thought I’d need: the throw-out bearing and lever, plus the push-pull shift lever plate. Immediately loaded it into the truck and delivered it to WaveTrac, who will remove the stuck CV housing and fix the known circlip groove issue which was in an early batch of the units. That way I can both sell it with a clear conscience and advertise it as having a known-good differential.
Got back home, intent on plugging the new transmission onto the engine, then realized the new transmission has the same issue the old one did: a lump of aluminum near the input shaft that’s just high enough to contact the spinning clutch. (I contacted Competition Clutch about this back when it was noticed on the original transmission and was surprised by their seemingly disinterested shrug.) Did a measurement and sure enough, the lump is 2.435″ from the front end of the bellhousing, and the twin-disc clutch extends 2.44″ into the transmission. Well, yup, that’s a problem, cured by a die grinder. Hard to believe that I’m the only one on earth with this interference problem, but it’s likely anyone using a twin-disc clutch is putting it in a noisy race car and never hears it grinding away…
With that done, time to plug the transmission into the engine, only that requires two dowel pins for proper alignment, which of course were stuck in the old transmission… far from home – well nuts, guess I know what I’m buying tomorrow. To not waste time, other odds and ends where completed, removing the old gasket off the exhaust manifold and grinding a recess in the dry sump pump bracket so that it no long contacts a stainless-braided hose.
I just keep reminding myself, “This is all for fun!”
It sometimes seems to take women forever to get really ready to leave. Reminds me of a comedian who said that when your wife says she’s ready to go, it means you can watch the second half of the game and not hold her up.
Anyway, with the “storage area” of the garage freed up, work continues on pulling the engine. Interesting what you find when you take apart a car when you think there’s nothing wrong:
Leaves, dead bees, and small rocks in the intercooler – surprising given how little time the ducting has been in-place.
A braided-stainless oil line that passes right next to the alternator bracket, where the two are wearing into each other.
Found the mystery oil leak that’s been messing with me every since the engine was installed. I’ll get a better look once it’s pulled out but there’s strong evidence of a casting flaw that’s allowing oil to leak right through the pan. Will either weld it or use something like JB Weld or even gasket sealer.
Will probably pull the drivetrain tomorrow, then immediately drive the transmission to WaveTrac to have the axle CV housing removed and get the differential fixed. They don’t want me hanging around, waiting for them to remove the axle part, so it means delaying getting the fully running. The reality though is that the delay probably won’t matter because it takes a lot longer connecting everything back together than removing it, and then there’s the side project of correcting the rearr engine mount.
Started in on the transmission swap, just ancillary parts for now since there’s no room to store the big stuff yet (wife’s car’s in the way!). During removal and inspection, found the likely source of the recent vibration that’s been noticing during acceleration. The rear engine mount plastic insert has deformed (squeezed out) enough to allow the two halves of the mount to contact metal-to-metal, hence the extra vibration. With more than 400 ft-lbs of torque, I guess I should expect this sort of thing. Going to have to redesign the mount but that can be treated as a separate project.
Synchrotech Transmissions provided pictures of the transmission build. I’m familiar with the insides of engines but transmissions have always been a little mysterious; I would have liked to have been there but the pictures are almost as good at showing what’s involved. Dealing with Synchrotech went smoothly; once they received the parts, the build and delivery happening promptly, can’t ask for more than that.
As part of the transmission change was the thought of also changing the twin-disc clutch; could a replacement be found with lighter foot pressure and possibly quieter (twin-disc clutches have a characteristic rattle when in neutral). The twin-disc also has a feature that for a race car is a non-issue, but for the street is a little annoying; there’s always some slight coupling between the input and output even with the clutch fully disengaged – meaning the gears are still spinning slightly. Shifting into gear from neutral, it can always be felt that the gears are moving, so it has to be done deliberately.
I contacted Competition Clutch, maker of the clutch, and explained the situation. They said that one of their “Stage 4” clutches would do well, even after I explained the 430 ft-lbs of torque, chewing-gum-soft tires, and being mid-engine, traction increases under power rather than decreasing like a FWD. They also said that pedal pressure would be about the same – not sure how I expected it to be less. Part way through the discussion though, I realized that swapping in any other clutch meant also changing the flywheel, since it’s unique to the twin-disc. Separately from that was the realization that because I’m switching back to a synchro transmission, it’s highly likely that any slight gear rotation in neutral will be dealt with by the synchros and no longer be noticed.
I was a little skeptical how a single disc clutch could hold the same torque as a twin-disc, so to get a second opinion, K Series Parts (formally Club RSX) was called. The surprising advice was “stick with what you have, it’s the right solution.” They said that the engine’s torque is too much for any streetable single-disc clutch and it either won’t last or will be a real bear to operate (high pedal pressure). It really impresses me when a business gives an answer that prevents a sale – that right there demonstrates that they’re more interested in the right solution. They weren’t left empty-handed though, as I bought the Gear-X gear set through them.
Lastly, with yet another engine pull looming, I wondered if there was any way to drop the engine out the bottom rather than pulling it out the top. Looked at the engine bay today and was surprised to see nothing preventing it – other than the cross-bracing of course. It would have to be cut out and then either be converted to a bolt-in assembly, or welding back in after the fact.