Monday, May 23, 2016

The drawer of Jeremy

Today is all about finishing what you start. It's something I'm pretty big on. I'm not always quick, which is why a bachelor's degree took about nine years, and a race car that should have taken a summer took four years... But it's almost always worth it to finish. 

The first thing I finished was suspension adjustment. It's not fine tuned, that will come with time, but last week I told you about adjusting the rear coil overs. It made a huge difference in ride quality and this week I adjusted the front coil overs. I was also able to do this adjustment at work, where we have a vehicle scale which meant I was able to do a rough corner balance. I won't get too deep into what a corner balance is but if you are interested in learning more, Grassroots Motorsports has an excellent article on it. In the end I was able to achieve an almost perfect cross-weight without the driver.

Nonsense scribblings in an attempt to find the appropriate settings
Perfect Crossweight: FR+RL = FL + RR

This is also the post where Grace gets her final stitches and the surgery which started over two years ago is completed. Ever since I got her running, I've been cruising around in a Flintstonian motorcar. The floorpan was not entirely steel, and the last hole was covered by the saddest excuse for a floormat I've ever seen. It must have been taken from the clearance rack at The Family Dollar. It was in my Jeep when I bought it. I actually got a discount on the Jeep because these floormats were so bad they reduced the value of a $2000 Jeep. But enough about the floormats, let's talk about a metal cone! 

While I all too often show you my escapades in using the wrong tool or making my own, there really is something to be said for using the right tool. I made this half-cone out of a sheet of metal I got for $5 with a little assistance from a sheet metal brake. 

The whole process was pretty straightforward, as you'll see below. A bit of trimming here, some patching there, a visit to the drawer of Jeremy, and four hours later, I had a complete transmission tunnel. I also had a first time experience: I started myself on fire with a grinder. I've started myself on fire with a welder several times, but using a grinder to do the job was a first.

Finishing the suspension adjustment and tying up the floorpan modifications both made a huge difference in how Grace feels. She's starting to feel like an actual car, not just some janky middle school science fair project. The suspension is now compliant, and I'm not afraid for my life when I see a seam in the concrete, or a Taco Bell wrapper. Closing up the floorpan blocks out a significant amount of noise (don't worry she's still painfully loud inside the cabin at speed) and will allow me to slowly start inching towards having a real interior.

Until next time, stay safe and don't play in the street.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Creamy Peanut Butter and 2-ply Cardboard

If you woke up this morning thinking 'Maybe today Smash Mouth will make their big comeback and I'll get to see them in concert' today is not your day.

But if you woke up thinking 'Gee I hope that guy who writes about using a DeWalt grinder wrote something today' I have some good news and I have some bad news. I wrote something, but it's not about using a DeWalt grinder. 

As you may remember, Grace lives in Oma's garage. Oma is my wife's grandma. She's a little old five foot German lady who tells us stories about being a kid during the Second World War. She always apologizes for boring me, but I love it. I lived in Germany for two years, so I've been able to hear a lot of stories from people who grew up on both sides of the conflict. 

Grace's current home, Oma's garage
I've gotten off topic but to bring it back around, Oma's garage  has carpet and a few things stored in it, so no grinding or welding happens in there. This week was just a few hours of odds and ends.

The turbo oil feed line sits in an area which is hotter than I had expected. The aluminum hose end had a plastic retainer, which as you can see, has not fared well. The tubing in the 90 degree bend also twisted a bit when I tightened the end. I decided it would be best to replace this fitting with a steel fitting for a bit more durability.

In the last installment I showed my speedometer and boost gauge mounted. This week I wired them up so that the lights would work, and added a temperature gauge. I'm still rolling with the extra fancy 2-ply cardboard instrument panel.

The final item I addressed this week was the coilover adjustment. Ever since this car has been on the road, it has had an incredibly harsh ride, and poor handling. While building the exhaust I realized this was because my car had about as much suspension up-travel the Ford Raptor shown below.

In reality, the suspension could compress about 3/4" before hitting the bumpstops, as you can kinda-sorta see in the picture below. The black urethane bumpstop is inside the coil spring. I figured if I adjusted the spring collar, and increased the pre-load on the spring, that would increase ride height enough to ensure a smooth ride. 

The coilover wrenches I picked up on eBay for a few bucks did the trick. It was an intense workout to rotate each spring collar 8 times and raise the car about an inch, but it was definitely worth it. I only had time to adjust the rear as you can see below, but already the ride is much smoother and more confident. When I get a little time I'll adjust the front as well and it will be riding as smooth as the finest imported peanut butters.

rear coilovers adjusted, fronts as installed

Today's update was short, but hopefully worth your time. Keep dreaming of a new Smashmouth album, and debating the important things, like how creamy peanut butter is better than chunky.