Saturday, November 23, 2013

It had a sound that mowed the lawn

Coming to you from the Iron Hydroxide blogging office, it's your sorta-weekly installment arriving a day early!

This week was a crazy week at work. I attend three auto shows a year to write a report about the the new fuel economy technology released by the competition. It's interesting to be on the inside of the industry and see how it works and eat free food. I try to have a draft of the report sent to Japan as soon as possible, so that makes for some really long days.

Because I care about you, dear reader, I will now share some of the highlights of the show.

Chevy returns to the mid-size truck market with the Colorado.
Available with diesel in 2015.
BMW i8 plug in hybrid sports car with inline 3 turbo engine.
Strange times we are living in... I like it though.
Subary Legacy Concept 
Mercedes design concept, released in Gran Turismo 6.

The Porsche Macan was a lot cooler than I expected.
340 HP in the base model, 400 HP in the "Turbo" model
Maserati display. Someone got creative with a batch of bad pistons.
Why would you want a parachute on the front of a front wheel drive
dragster? Oh wait...
"Maximum" Bob Lutz with some goofy looking dude.
I had to tell them I coudn't let them give me their phone numbers, it's not professional.
Yep, I met Bob Lutz. For those of you who don't know who he is, do youself a favor and read this: Bob was very gracious and asked me about my job and talked with me for a bit. He would have talked longer, I'm sure, but I did the Napoleon Dynamite style duck and run because I'm awkward like that.

Today I decided to finish the axle assembly and install. This involved torquing the mains, and filling the axle with fluid. I asked the internet and it said an Explorer 8.8 should hold about 3 quarts. Luckily, I had purchased 3 quarts.

Few things are as delicious as fresh gear oil early in the morning.
Limited slip differentials require a special additive.
Ready for installation

At this point I installed the axle assembly by hooking the suspension links up and bolting the coilover shocks on. After that I bolted the brake rotors and calipers on.

Today Grace finally stood on her own legs again. It's been a few months. It's pretty exciting, seeing this today pumped up my motivation.

I need to take the car a to collision repair shop to get the unibody pulled back into alignment. Grace appears to have been in an accident earlier in life that leaves the passenger side front corner sitting higher than the  driver side. Luckily I know a bearded man that may be able to help me. Maybe I'll make motor mounts in the meantime.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Es geht sich alles nur um Autos und Frauen, zusammen Kaugummi kauen auf'm Rucksitz

For the past few weeks Grace has been doing that passive aggressive nagging thing. I had been pretty busy with other things and she felt neglected, so I'd resolved to spend more quality time with her, in fact I spent all last Saturday with her, but it wasn't enough. Every time I pulled into the driveway she'd just look at me with those big round headlights, not saying anything, just giving me that look.

I decided that Saturday was her day. I dragged myself out of bed saturday morning around 9 AM after staying up too late watching SHARKNADO by myself (0/5 stars. I recommmend it.). I spent about an hour flipping through the JEGS and Speedway magazines and eating PB&Js, and then went outside to get started. Why yes, I am a bachelor. Why do you ask?

My first task was to put my rear axle assembly together. I had to determine which differential shims went on which side. These shims locate the diff in the housing, and if you get it wrong, your ring and pinion gears will last about as long as a plate of bacon at a lumberjack's convention arm wrestling competition. When I disassembled this axle, I didn't pay attention to where the shims went. This meant I needed to paint the gears with gear marking compound (which is just a thick bright yellow grease) and see if the grease wore off in all the right places. It's a good thing I did this because my first guess was wrong and the wear pattern was off, as seen in the pictures below.

Gear marking compound and empty axle housing
Teeth painted with gear marking compound
Differential installed
Wear pattern shifted to the outside of the ring on the drive side.
Wear pattern shifted to the inside of the ring on the coast side
After seeing this, I switched the shims side for side and the wear pattern was perfectly in the middle. I then drove the axle end bearings into the housing using a very costly specialized two-by-four. After inserting the axleshafts, I realized that I was missing a c-clip and had to go to "The Axle Shop". I'll let you guess what The Axle Shop does. As much as I whine and complain about SoCal, it is really nice having places like that ten minutes from my house. I was able to get all the parts I needed and keep moving on the project.

Custom made bearing driver
Axle seal ready to be inserted
Axle shaft being inserted
Axle retention groove
Axle retaining C-clip
C-clip installed
Installing cross pin
Cross pin retaining bolt

Once I got the axle assembled, I started on re-installing the now painted rear suspension. With a little help from my friends, I got the 4-link cradle in, though I didn't snap a picture.

I'd been putting off running brake lines for a long time now, so I finally put on my big boy pants and crawled under the car. While working on the brake lines I came to the realization that not a single component of the stock braking system remained. Not a single bolt, hose, mounting point, not even the firewall where the pedals are mounted is original. The system was all designed by me. How's that for a spooky thought?

Front brake tab for the hard line to flex line adapter
With adapter and flex line installed
One of the small details on this build: I didn't like the idea of sheet metal screws
going into the floor pan, so I bought weld nuts to go inside the car for every
underbody bracket. This will keep brake and fuel lines very securely in place.
Weld nut welded in place
Brake line to the rear, in trans tunnel
Brake line routing to the master cylinders
All in all it was a long productive day. Unfortunately I don't think this next week will be as good for Grace. In fact it will likely be a very bad week for grace. I will be going to the LA auto show for work this coming week, so I know I'm going to be coming home to a lot of glares and "how was your day with all of those other newer cars??" On the bright side, I'l bring pictures for you, dear reader.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Arguments with furniture are rarely productive.

If I ever start a hotrod shop it probably ought to be called Third World Hotrods. Since I don't have a shop or a garage, I end up having to improvise pretty often. In this week's installment, you will see an old big block cylinder head repurposed as, well... you'll just have to keep reading.

One of my challenges on this project is to convert a carbureted car to a fuel injected car. I didn't want to build a carbureted car because carburetors are poorly controlled fuel leakers, and if you want a carburetor tuned, you have to sacrifice a fatted calf and take it to a wizard. I am not a wizard nor do I have a fatted calf. My roommate's doge keeps defecating on the floor though, I wonder if a canine sacrifice would do...  But I digress. I didn't feel that the stock fuel tank would provide a reliable supply of fuel to the fuel pump, seeing that it doesn't have any baffles or method of fuel control. I decided that I should build a sump for the stock tank so that I would still get a constant fuel supply under hard cornering and acceleration.

The initial cardboard pattern.
This is the shape of the sump.
Carefully laid out in sharpie.
Cut out using my hand grinder with a thin cutoff wheel.
A wild cylinder head appears.
What's this, you're not going to??
Oh yes I am!
Third world fabrication at it's finest.
Welded inside.
And out.
Prepping the fuel tank for the sump.
Installed sump.
Finished product.

So that's my mostly finished gas tank. I still need to leak test it and then paint it. Lets hope hope it does it's job without any fiery death.

I also painted the underside of the car in the rear suspension area so I can begin to re-assemble the suspension and axle.

That's about it, other than my purchase of a 10 gauge 100' extension cord. It cost more than I'd like to discuss at this time, but it has the double your money back macho guarantee. If you find a more macho extension cord which can beat this one in an arm-wrestle, you get double your money back. I seriously doubt there are serious contenders. On that note, I'll leave you to marinate in wonder at this cord.