10 July 2016

Good news, after I scared myself this morning.

Took the car out to break in the new engine and all was going well until I slowed for a stoplight. There was a ugly clunking sound coming from the back somewhere only when slowing and only when turning left. Pushing in the clutch showed that it was related to wheel rotation instead of engine speed – a good thing! Pulled over and looked the car over and found nothing. It almost sounded as if I hadn’t reassembled the CV axle bits properly, but the noise only happened when slowing down so that seemed unlikely.

Got the car home and looked over everything again – still nothing. Figuring I may as well start with confirming that the wheel nuts were tight, I first rocked all the tires – nothing. Went around the car with the torque wrench and all was fine, right up until the left rear, where one nut was sort of tight and the other three just hand tight. I’d have bet money that I had checked all the wheels but obviously didn’t – glad that didn’t end differently. I honestly thought I’d grown through such nonsense and was more methodical. It just goes to show that we can be our own worst enemy.

With that out of the way the fuel tank was filled and I kept driving. The engine acts different, partly because of the different parts and also because the now-old tune I worked so hard to have a perfect idle was once again somewhat unstable. Oh well, that’ll get resolved again.

The break-in process consists of numerous gradual accelerations in order to seat the rings against the cylinder walls. The thing is, with such a light car, there isn’t room to make long smooth accelerations, especially now. That is, during summer weekends around here everyone heads to the coast highway, resulting in really heavy stop-and-go traffic. Instead I headed inland, hoping to beat the heat and get clear of the traffic (I succeeded on one count). The car ran fine, no bad noises or leaks, so I kept on going. I figured a good “dyno” for applying a steady load would be a hill – a big hill – and Palomar mountain again summoned. Once again I got stuck behind a slug of a driver. I know it’s bad when I feel like checking the speedometer to confirm it’s not just me – nope, 18 mph is just plain ridiculous. It’s not so much that they were going that slow, but pull over already! After dispatching that car, drove to the top, passing as always, groups of sportbike riders in their full leathers getting ready for their next assault. Every time I see them I just shake my head, wondering how is it that there aren’t cops all over them.

I haven’t decided what to do about the back end styling. I’ll probably use the same mesh as above to  fill the lower opening. All the better to get rid of engine heat.

Speaking of styling, during the drive I passed a car that I had never seen before. Based solely on it being a three-wheeler and seeing the partial name “…..hall” on the side was enough to have The Google cough up “Vanderhall Laguna.” Styling a three-wheeler is really difficult; for one, people “expect” four wheels, so you’re already at a disadvantage. Also, if the manufacturer uses a typical OEM FWD drivetrain, the engine compartment needs to be tall enough to cover it, resulting in the car looking a little odd, a bit taller than styling would prefer. Then there’s the front tires which couldn’t seem to make up their mind whether they were “open wheel” or not, with the odd combination of small fenders and fenderwells. What’s harder to overlook is the four separate side pipes. It’s as if we’re back in the 1970’s era of kit cars where many had the fake exhausts – but I suppose they could say a few things about Midlana as well. At $77,000 I wish them well.