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.