Wednesday, August 26, 2015

We need to fetch back the time

Yesterday was a bit frustrating. I finally tried to work on Grace again after only spending about a half day on her in the past 3-4 weeks. I didn't know where to start, didn't have the parts I needed and got easily distracted. I felt like I'd lost my edge. I know I need to chill out since I've just lost a little momentum compared to the rate of progress in the past few months, but it scared me a bit.

Today was a pretty good day. I went to AAA to do a little bit of musical plates and finally register Grace. Back in 2012 or 2013, I pre-ordered a set of California Legacy Black plates. They would only make these plates if 7500 or more were ordered, and the program being run by the California State government, it took two years to actually get them. 

The problem with that is that I had ordered these for my Subaru Legacy GT, but no longer wanted them on the Subaru, I wanted Grace to have them. Sharon at the Torrance office was my cheerful guide through this experience. For those who don't know, California DMVs are the actual ninth circle of hell, where Satan himself won't go. This is why I pay for a premium AAA membership, as they can do title transfers, registration, and one 100 mile tow per year. Not having to go to the DMV alone pays for the membership, but having the insurance of a 100 mile tow is also very peachy, considering that this Falcon is about 70% of my own design and manufacture, and the rest was designed by some guy from Detroit named Herb wore a pocket protector, used a slide rule, and died 25 years ago from emphysema. Anyway, I learned from Sharon that I needed insurance before I could complete registration. I was about to get classic car insurance (comprehensive, 3500 miles per year, agreed value of $18000) from AAA for $140/year, when suddenly Martin the insurance salesman crushed my dreams. I don't have a locking garage at this point and as such, can not have a classic car policy. I had to go through Geico, and am paying $500/year for liability only. I need a garage.

But on the bright side, GRACE IS LEGAL! I can actually drive her on public streets without riding dirty, and that's a beautiful thing.

I would also like to take a minute to speak about the best new car in the world. If you've been with me for a while, you know that I love the Porsche 911. Well now I'm going to say that it really truly is the best new car in the world. Why? Is it the maddened yet sonorous growl of 400 horsepower? No. Is it the PDK transmission that knows your thoughts before you do? No. Is it the razor sharp steering or the glue like traction? Nope. It's the steering wheel. "Well what's so great about the steering wheel, Jesse?" I can hear you asking, dear reader. It's the steering wheel.

The steering wheel? What's so great about it? What does it have that others don't? It's actuall what it doesn't have that others do. What is it lacking? Look closely.


They also ditched the stupid shifter buttons they used last year and replaced them with paddles, which is awesome. Welp, I better get off this computer and go get Jen so we can drive until she pukes!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The path to heaven runs through miles of clouded hell

Life has been rather busy and I've neglected you, dear reader. I'm sorry. Please accept this blog post as a gift of sorriness. I haven't had time to work on Grace in quite a while either, so this post is looking back a few weeks.

I thought it might be a good time to put a partial exhaust system on the car so that I didn't get smoked out every time I start the car, and to quiet it down a little bit so that the mechanic doesn't get in trouble again. I used Columbia River Mandrel Bends for my exhaust tubing, and Summit Racing for my flex coupling and resonator. The plan was to make an exhaust system that terminates in front of the rear axle for the time being, and later add a muffler and tailpipes at the rear of the vehicle. 

One challenge I've always had when trying to cut tubing, especially bent tubing, is that I fail to cut the tubing perpendicular to the tubing centerline radius. This time I decided to try something new. I wrapped a wire around the tubing and twisted it until it was tight and then marked it with a sharpie. It didn't produce perfect results, but it was generally better than other methods I've tried.

The exhaust system works for now, but I can't say that I'm thrilled with the fitment. I will have to do a major overhaul once the more important things are worked out.

The second time I took Grace around the block, I let her get into the boost a little bit. Like a new puppy, she was eager to play, but also like a new puppy, she peed all over. I did not have a functioning PCV system at the time and so crankcase blowby came rushing out the block breather with a healthy portion of oil. When I had this engine in the Ranger, I used a catch can to capture any oil that escaped the crankcase as well as vent excess crankcase pressure. I wanted to clean up the installation of the catch can a bit compared to how it was in the ranger, so I spent a few extra dollars on AN fittings and bungs for the system.

Modified turbo engine block breather
Valve cover breather bung
Original (non-turbo) block breather installed
Left: modified turbo block breather   Right: stock non-turbo block breather
Modified turbo block breather installed
Breather lines installed
Catch can installed
After installing the catch can, I took grace around the block and let her boost to her heart's content and did not notice any oil loss due to the boost. Unfortunately that doesn't mean that there aren't any leaks at all, since 2/3 of my vehicles feel a need to mark their territory. This morning while working at 3 AM (I'm in Arizona for vehicle testing and it's too hot to test during the day) my coworker Dwayne told me to try Loctite 574. Apparently it is a crankcase sealer developed by Porsche, which was just recently made public. At $18 an ounce, it had better work miracles.

Dipstick tubes are not a car part that occupy my mind very often, and I've never seen anyone write about how they made a dipstick. (sidenote: dipstick is a funny word) But over the past couple weeks I thought about how I would make a new dipstick tube since it was very obvious to me that the old one would not work. As it turns out, I should not have spent so much time worrying about how I would fabricate a dipstick tube and just gone outside and made one. I noticed that my 3/8 fuel hardline was similar in size to my old dipstick tube. I tested the fit on the spare engine block that resides under my carport and so my surprise, it fit snugly but perfectly. I then bent the tube to fit around the intake manifold, trimmed and marked the dipstick, and welded a threaded boss onto the 4th intake runner to hold the tube into place. The whole process was very painless and I was thrilled with the results. 

Left: original dipstick tube   Right: new dipstick tube
measurements from the original dipstick
trimmed dipstick
Current state of my engine bay
There were two other small issues I found. First, power steering was not functional and actually began to leak. After closer inspection, I found that I had installed my power steering flow valve backwards and I had a damaged O-ring on one of the fittings. Second, unsurprisingly, I found that my intake manifold flange was severely warped from all the welding I had done. I will need to remove the manifold and have it machined, but in the meantime, I made a ring of RTV around all the ports and installed it.

Ford power steering flow valve. If it pops out, don't just
put it back in and say "it'll probably be fine".
Damaged O-ring

OK dear reader, now that you've made it this far I think it's time for full disclosure. The real reason I haven't posted in a couple weeks is because we cancelled our Verizon internet and were waiting for the Time Warner Cable to be installed... wait no, that wasn't it... Oh yeah! I got engaged. I guess that means Grace will have mom, though I'm pretty sure her parents won't love her equally. But yeah, I've been a little busy with that, and with work. In a week or two I should be able to pick up the wrenches again. In the meantime, party on.

With Jen in Sequoia National Park, where I gave her the precious

Edit: this is my 50th post. Woohoo! I also just eclipsed 40k views, which probably isn't that much, but it feels cool. I also wouldn't mind if you subscribed to the blog.