Category ArchiveCars

Comparison of flashpoint and viscosity index

Where I have been?

It’s been a months since my last entry, and things have been interesting.

After the meltdown at Birmingham, I thought I had licked the transmission issues with an additional cooler, and I had replaced all the melted MAP lines and covered them in heat-resistant sleeve. I also found a turbocharger gasket that had burned through, and replaced it along with all new hardware.

Transparent gaskets are cool!

But all was not good. I travelled to Peru, Indiana for the CAM Challenge. On my third run of the day, the car caught fire. Oops.

Quick thinking by corner workers had the fire out, and after a tow back to the pits and a couple hours spent cleaning up my mess, I had the car on the trailer and ready to go home. When I got home, the transmission came out.

What I found wasn’t pleasant.

That’s not good

Scoring and chatter marks indicated the torque converter was moving in unwanted ways. The heat had melted a nylon spacer in the pump and make a mess. There may have been other issues, too. In any case, the transmission went back to to the shop and the torque converter went back to PTC for diagnosis.

The verdict from PTC was the thing got hot. They freshened the converter and sent it back with a recommendation: use thicker transmission fluid. Apparently the thinner stuff will cavitate inside the converter and that creates a lot of heat.

So that led off into some research into transmission fluids. I had been using Mobil1, becaue it has a really high temperature tolerance. But it turns out Mobil1 is really thin. I charted all the major varieties of cluid I could find information on and came up with this:

Comparison of flashpoint and viscosity index

The brands are sorted by viscosity index. The Red Line high temp is the heaviest, but has a rather low flashpoint. The Motul Dexron III is slight thinner but with a much higher flashpoint. But the Motul costs $17 a quart.

Moving over one more, the Castrol Transmax Dex/Merc gives me almost as much viscosity as the Motul. The flashpoint is lower than all the Motul products, but higher than everything else. And it’s $14 a GALLON. Winner

Additionally, I addressed the cooling issues:

Old and busted on top.

This new cooler is more than twice the size of the old one. It nearly fills the grill apterture.

New cooler installed

Around the radiator you’ll see the new radiator box in kit from GNS Performance. This kit replaces some rubber baffles that had seen better days. It forces all air entering the grill opening through the radiator opening. Nothing leaks out or around.

I got some dope headlight covers from my friends at TR Custom Parts. No pics because I haven’t installed them yet, but back in the day I had a set. They were worth over 1mph in the quarter mile. I figure with the car being much faster and going on race tracks, they couldn’t hurt.

And to top it all off, I replaced the suspension… again. New 250 pound springs in the rear, and new Afco shocks all around, with the fronts being custom valved 70 series. Hopefully the wallowing we saw in Birmingham will be resolved.

Parts!

All I’m waiting on now is the transmission itself to get back. Fingers crossed it happens soon. My next local event is an autocross here in town on the 16th, followed by the SCCA Time Trials Nationals at the end of the month.

 

 

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Optima: Battle of Birmingham

My third and final Optima USCA event of 2018 is in the books. I’d gone into the event with high hopes, but sadly I ended the weekend with my sails deflated.

After having recently installed the awesome new ECUGN in the car, it was running great. More than great. It was awesome. Full boost in every gear, correct AFRs, traction control. I was primed to kick some doors down. But it was not to be. This weekend was yet another lesson in bottlenecks and balloon squeezing.

But first, let’s talk about Barber Motorsports Park. I’d heard that this track was something to behold. The stories didn’t do it justice. I’ve been to some nice golf clubs. This place was nicer. The grass was perfect. There were sculptures hidden all over the place. There was a giant metal spider in the infield.

Arrival Friday afternoon was uneventful. The format was a bit different due to some peculiarities with the track and a PCA event running that day. I listen to the Optima podcast regularly, so I had the scoop on how it was supposed to work. When the time came, we made an orderly transition from the side lot to the paddock. It took less than an hour. Bit props to the staff for pulling that off.

Saturday morning at Barber Motorsports Park

Saturday is autocross and D&E day, and those went well enough. The autocross course was on a section of the facility called the proving grounds. Instead of a giant flat piece of asphalt, it was a series of curves around beautifully manicured grass islands, with an enormous banked turn in the back. I’d never driven on a turn with this kind of banking before, so I decided to push the limits early. I found them:

Lesson for corner workers: Run perpendicular to the car, not away from it.

My best run was a 39.3 I think. It was a mid-pack finish. The car didn’t feel as sharp as I’d hoped. Here’s the in-car of the best run, check out the Buick pulling 1.9g on the banking:

But the lack of sharp handling? Well, Brian Mason managed to catch me running from a vantage point up on the hill, and well, watch this boat pitch and wallow:

So, either my shocks have died, or the extra power and braking has imparted forces on them that they can’t handle properly, or a combination of the two. Either way, this thing is all over the place. I’ll need to fix that. Soon.

GTV Doing D&E

Then, on my last few runs, I started having issues with the car wanting to stall and popping. A quick check under the hood found a melted MAP line. That’s bad. On a speed-density system, if the MAP signal is wrong, the fueling is wrong, and you can damage stuff. Fortunately, the ECUGN has a failsafe. I have a backup table loaded that registers RPM vs. Throttle position, and specifies what the MAP reading should be. If the reading from the sensor is too far from that table, the ECUGN switches to the table. That keeps the engine fueled properly even in the event of a MAP line failure. the issue is at low throttle inputs, the MAP signal wasn’t far enough from the table value, so it switched back and stalled or popped.

Melted MAP line

These melted MAP lines would turn out to be a recurring theme for the rest of the weekend.

I did pretty well at D&E this year. 26th overall, scoring 74 points. I think that’s my best D&E finish ever. And I needed it. My middling autocross performance didn’t do me any favors.

Sunday was track and speed stop day. Hoo boy is this track fun. It’s technical, lots of elevation changes. Plenty of places where the wrong line will hang you out to dry. I loved it. For one session.

My best lap was my first lap. 1:56.9. I caught up with some of my compatriots and never got around them. The car felt great except in the downhill braking sections. Once again, the shocks weren’t up to the task. For instance, in the lap video above, you’ll notice a little screw-up braking through the corkscrew. The rear tires came off the ground. Oops.

Sadly, on the last lap of the session, my transmission temps hit 220, and fluid burst forth from the dipstick tube, running down on the exhaust, and creating a spectacular cloud of smoke. At the same, the car backfired, which led many observers to think I’d blown the engine.

But no worries! It was just that stupid MAP line melting shut again! Damnit.

And to top it off, the studs that hold the turbocharger to the exhaust manifold backed out and the gasket failed. Steel studs don’t like extreme heat cycles, and they finally gave up.

So, back to the pits. I shuffled off to the parts store to get some brake cleaner and more tubing. I cleaned up the engine bay as much as I could with the brake cleaner, and I replaced that melted tube again, this time covering it with some DEI branded high-temp sleeving. I cinched down the nuts on the turbocharger as much as I could and headed for the Speed Stop.

I managed a clean set of runs. But, at the end of the right side, the car stalled. The replacement MAP line didn’t quite fit right at the sensor nipple, and it was leaking. It also couldn’t build boost quickly because of the exhaust leak. Unable to address the issues at the track, I loaded up and headed home.

So, the event was disappointing for me, but at the same time, not a total washout. I still managed 307 points, which puts me at position six in GTV for the season. With two events left, it’s possible for a select few people to leap ahead of me, but there is still a slim (slim) mathematical possibility I could land one of the at-large bids to the invitational event in Vegas. I’ll know in October. It’s out of my hands now.

As for the rest of the year, well, how about the rest of this week? The SCCA CAM Challenge is this weekend in Peru, Indiana. So far I’ve already replaced the burned up transmission fluid and removed a lot of melted electrical conduit. The melted conduit has been replaced with DEI sleeving that should hold up better. The leaking MAP line has been replaced and also properly heat shielded. The turbocharger comes off tonight so I can replace those worn out steel studs with Inconel studs and lock bolts, and I have a new set of springs and AFCO shocks slated to arrive Thursday that I’ll throw in Thursday night.

So stay tuned! CAM East this weekend. The next big event for me after that will be the inaugural SCCA Time Trials Nationals at NCM in late September!

A huge thank you to Boost Crew Motorsports for help getting the ECUGN going and a list of other small bits of assistance that made getting there at all possible, and big props to the FM3 crew and Optima for putting on yet another fantastic event!

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2018 Optima Search for the Ultimate Street Car – NCM

This weekend went well. It did not go perfectly, but it went well.

The third leg of the 2018 Optima Search For the Ultimate Street Car visited NCM Motorsports Park in Bowling Green, and for the third year in a row, I was there. For the first time, I had my daughter with me as my crew chief. We loaded up in the Period Correct Tow Pig and headed south.

Friday went just like any Friday at one of these events goes. Arrive unload, tech, hang out. I scored all my D&E points for equipment working properly, got the stickers on the car, walked the autocross course a few times, and met up with Eric Brown for dinner. I had a sandwich nearly dropped in my lap, and retired to the hotel for a mostly sleepless night.

Saturday morning began the festivities. It wasn’t that hot on the thermometer – mid-high eighties – but it was HUMID.

This year, instead of running the autocross as a free-for-all, they’ve split the classes into run groups. GTV was in the second run group, so I had the morning to stew for a bit before taking my shot at it.

I managed my best autocross run in the first session, my third run, a 31.8. At the moment, that was good for fourth in class. But others got faster as the day wore on and I didn’t. I ended up ninth, which is still respectable, and just a tenth faster would have launched me several spots up. Spots 3-9 were inside the same second. It was close.

A comedic moment: As I came off the course on one of my runs, I noticed James Greenwell running at Optima Jim McIllvane, who was sitting at the finish with his camera, screaming, “Please tell me you got that!”

What Jim hadn’t gotten was my car picking the front wheel several inches off the ground coming out of the last turn of the autocross. Another photographer caught me packing the tire in another turn, and that shot has already made the rounds on Facebook.

And before you ask, my GoPro failed me. It got video, but all the GPS and accelerometer data was corrupt, so no track maps or G-meter data for this weekend, which sucks. I’m pretty sure I was pulling some major Gs, especially on the road course.

This is my *second* best run. The camera didn’t catch the first one. Somehow I switched it to still mode and it didn’t record. Doh.

Further, two weeks ago the Kentucky Region SCCA had an autocross at NCM. Same surface, similar conditions, so it’s a great opportunity to see if my upgraded GN1 intercooler worked:

Two weeks ago on top, Optima on bottom.

Two weeks ago on top, Optima on bottom.

Data doesn’t lie. The new intercooler reduced my average intake temperature by 11 degrees, and the minimum temperature by fourteen. And this is just a 30 second autocross. You can see the intake temperature plummets with airflow through the core.

Design and Engineering went well. I went in with a plan, and executed it. My standing at the end, however, was disappointing. Despite really good scores, others had better scores. My nearly stock body work and original 30 year old paint were my weak spots, netting me scores in the middle fives out of a possible eight. My drivetrain and suspension scores were in the middle-to high sevens. I have to figure out a way to goose my body scores, and name dropping more parts vendors will help. I managed to not run out of time this year, so if I repeat that speech, I have space to add some more detail. I may need to work on some props, too. I got better D&E Judging scores than NOLA, but ended up with fewer points because of how the series assigns points. They rank everybody, first to last. Your rank is your point total, not your actual judging numbers.

The line for D&E gets long sometimes.

The road rally was uneventful. Just a quick jaunt north to Mammoth Cave National Park and back. Wednesday rode along. The highway travel made it apparent my tires had seen better days. The rears had several flat spots on them, making for a rough ride. However, the A/C in the Buick works fantastic, and after being out in the tepid swamp air all day, we had it blasting on max, icicles forming in our noses. Several people apparently got lost, though. Which sucks.

Wednesday using her serious face.

Sunday was the nail biter day. The Hot Lap Challenge and the Speed Stop. This year, we were running the entire NCM 3.14 mile Grand Full course. Now, I’ve searched the webtranets, and I am confidant that what you are about to see below is the very first footage of a Grand National completing the Grand Full Course at NCM. Either parade laps or at speed. First. Ever.

Track Map, courtesy NCM Motorsports Park

For those not familiar with NCM, the track is crammed into a sliver of land along I-65 just outside of Bowling Green, Kentucky. It is in proximity with the National Corvette Museum as well as GM’s Bowling Green Assembly plant, where the Corvette has been built since the 1980s. In order to get such a long track stuffed into a small tract, it loops back on itself several times. There is no runoff. Armco barrier and concrete walls everywhere. A mistake will put you somewhere unpleasant. On top of that, the track is enormously technical. Large elevation changes, blind corners, and very high speeds. It’s daunting.

My first session ended with a billowing smoke screen behind the car and the distinctive smell of burnt transmission fluid. The 20 minute sessions were too much for the parts store synthetic I had put in the gearbox. It overflowed out of the dipstick tube, hit the exhaust, and made a scene.

A quick trip to the Winding Road race shop for some Mobil1 ATF, a cut up gas can for a drain pan (thanks Darrell!) and the completely burnt stuff was out and fresh new clean fluid was in. I also shortened the rest of my sessions. As soon as I saw I was catching up to traffic, I went ahead and pitted.

And I caught up to traffic a lot more this year than before. It feels good to be passing instead of getting passed. I passed a 370Z, a C6 Corvette, a C4 Corvette… I think a few more but I forgot already.

My best lap time ended up being a 2:34.8 during my second session, which is damn good considering this is a 1987 Buick. Good for eighth in GTV. I backed the time up with another 2:35.2 in the afternoon, but by then the track was hot and the tires were greasy, and I was tired and making dumb mistakes. Hell, in the video of my best lap, you can see me screw up deception and go two over the rumble strips.

My third track session ended early due to fuel starvation. Despite having half a tank of gas in the car, I pulled enough Gs in the sinkhole the fuel pulled away from the pickup and starved the engine nearly enough to stall the car. Oops.

And how about the intercooler? This isn’t a scientific comparison, because the tracks were totally different, but this is my manifold temp chart from Putnam Park two weeks ago (light green) overlaid with my temperatures from NCM (dark green). You can clearly see I’m cooler everywhere, and the ambient temperature at NCM was higher than it was two weeks ago at Putnam.

Manifold air temp chart

Manifold air temp chart

I love it when I can prove money I spent actually accomplished something!

The fourth session was no faster than the second, so once I started catching traffic, I pitted. No sense in cooking the transmission further.

Speed stop did not defeat the car this year! But, I didn’t do as well as I’d hoped. Eleventh in class. My times were competitive, but just a few tenths too slow. I probably could have picked up more time with more attempts, but by the afternoon, I was TIRED. Reaction times were suffering. My pad knockback issue in the rear of the car also made for an inconsistent pedal, which makes consistent speed stop runs difficult.

I got video of my speed stops, but I can’t correlate the video with the results, so I’m not going to post them here. They’re not terribly riveting viewing from inside the car.

All in all, I finished ninth in class, but even more surprising – I’m now in third for overall season points! Consistency and attendance gets you there. Now, I’ll have to really crush it at Barber Motorsports Park in August to keep that position.  I really need a nearly 400-point event to lock it in. Any number of people will surely jump ahead of me after the Pikes Peak event, which I’m not going to be able to attend.

But the series only counts your top three. So a good showing at Barber could put me back up close to the top, and with everybody above me already having an invite to Vegas, the class winner invite could fall through to me. If the stars align and I hold my nose just right. I also need to buy a lottery ticket and find a rabbits foot to rub on.

Conclusion of a successful weekend!

By the end of the day, the car was back on the trailer, and had gotten there under its own power and seems to be no worse for the wear (besides the tires, I think they’re close to shot. Oops).

Big thanks to Brad Lay and Boost Crew Motorsports for helping me with the car. This engine didn’t miss a beat this weekend. A huge shoutout to Slambert Performance Engineering for helping me with the exhaust repairs after Midwest, a shout out to the Optima  and FM3 folks for putting on such an awesome series of events, and a HUGE thank you to Tim Thompson for lending me his trailer.

Midwest Muscle Car Challenge 2018

Well, I made it back. The 2018 Midwest Muscle Car Challenge, provided by Bowler Performance with a slew of sponsors including Detroit Speed, Prestone, Forgeline, BF Goodrich, and a slew of smaller sponsors was every bit as fun as last year, plus some.

The big relief for everybody was the rain, rather the lack of it. The spectre of storms was over our heads the entire weekend, but they held off. All of the road course sessions on Friday were dry, and we got almost a dozen timed runs in at the autocross course on Saturday before a squall shut us down.

We all arrived at Putnam Park at 7am and unloaded. The contingent from Kentucky consisted of myself, Eric Brown and his Corvette Z06, and Brian Shelley with his Camaro ZL1.

KYR: Paddock edition

Things went smoothly in the morning. 10/10ths knows how to run a track day. I ran in the novice group again, and had a fantastic instructor.

The first session was good. I got back into familiarity with the track. The second session I opened up the taps. The car was wonderful. All the work seemed to pay off. It was fast. It handled well. It stopped, finally. Turn seven had scared me a bunch last year, because I could fly through five and six, but then had to make the choice of lifting too early to scrub speed or pray. I went two off in seven several times last year.

Not this year. The car can put the nose on the ground.

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Brakes work! Courtesy ABI Photography

Even better, I was hitting 125 on the front straight. That’s 15mph faster than last year. This engine is potent. Here’s my best lap from the morning sessions:

Now, despite the faster car, I was running the same times as last year. 1:28. But it took me all day to get down to a 1:28 last year. This happened in the second session.

After lunch, things got frustrating. I was going really rich in the straights and it was bogging, like it had been at NOLA. I double checked all the charge pipes and kept running. I was only topping out at about 111 in the straight, but I managed to shave a second off my time by driving better.

After the fourth session of the day, Eric noticed my wastegate bolts had backed out. I was leaking exhaust pressure out, which was preventing the car from making enough boost. Later, I also found the driver side header had changed shape and pulled the cross-under pipe out of the passenger side up-pipe, creating another exhaust leak.

These not only should line up, the one on right is supposed to slip inside the one on the left. Oops.

We packed it in and headed back to the hotel, only to unload again and head to dinner.

On the way back from dinner, Eric’s car started making horrible noises. Turns out he had left the stability control on during the road course sessions, and it ate his rear brakes down to the backing plates. He ran to the parts store, which luckily had a set of pads, and swapped them in the parking lot.

The next morning was autocross. Once again, it was a small, mostly first gear course at the Terre Haute airport.

I got crushed. The MMC puts the model year cutoff for early/late at 1980, so I was lumped in with all the Corvettes and new Camaros. It was a bloodbath. I think I was second from last despite not driving terribly.

My ride and the RideTech 48 Hour Camaro

I did get gridded next to the RideTech 48-hour Camaro, which was cool.

The awards were after the shootout, where the top five in each of the two classes (early and late) run three runs back to back, and the times are added. Whoever has the best combined time wins. I’m happen to say Eric won in the late class, besting several excellent drivers, including Danny Popp, the living legend of Corvette racing.

Eric with his Challenge Trophy

I also got reprimanded by Mac’s Tie Downs for having janky ratchet straps. As punishment, they gave me a whole new set!

So, once again, a fantastic even put on by Bowler Performance. This  event really is the highlight of my year. Everybody is friendly, the driving is fun. It’s low key and everybody has a great time. I’ll be back again next year!

My next event is the Optima Search For the Ultimate Street car at NCM June 2-3. I’ve fixed the exhaust leaks, and I’ve added a larger intercooler to the car, which should cut my intake temps by a large amount. Stay tuned for the recap from that event!

New Intercooler!

Optima Search for the Ultimate Street Car, NOLA

So, with the season upon us, it’s time again for a weekend recap.

I spent the weekend of April 14 driving to and from New Orleans, Louisiana for the second round of the Optima Search for the Ultimate Street car.

After my shakedown cruise to Charlotte for the SCCA Match Tour last month shook what I thought was most of the bugs out of the system, I embarked on my trip to NOLA with a fresh front fuel pump in the truck and a completely new fuel system in the Buick.

Data logged during my runs at the ZMAx dragway indicated my fuel system wasn’t building pressure as boost rose past ~12psi. The most likely cause was the return line was simply too small to bypass enough fuel. This hypothesis was bolstered by the drop in voltage seen when the fuel pressure plateaued.

The solution was a completely fuel system replacement from Racetronix. New sender assembly, a 450LPH pump, and new lines. A -8 feed, and a -6 return. It’s enough pump and line to put the car into the nines in the quarter, though I have no intentions of ever actually trying to test that.

The tow to NOLA was uneventful. I arrived on site early Friday as I normally try to do and got the car tech’d and stickered.

One of these rigs is not like the other

It was immediately clear from my parking lot mates that I was overmatched in the financial resources department. By a lot. But punching above my weight is what I like to do, so carry on.

Saturday morning threatened a deluge, and the event staff wisely got things going early. We managed three dry runs before the monsoon hit. The rest of the day was spent trying to stay dry, and getting Design and Engineering completed.

My best autocross run was good for fifth in GTV, with some very fast drivers in front of me. I was not ashamed of it at all. I think I scored 25th raw time overall for the entire event, which was top third. I’ll take it.

The car’s performance was pretty good, though I did feel it nose over at full throttle a couple of times. I still need to be more aggressive with it. The car pulled 1.3g in several places, but the sweepers were much less, which means I’m not pushing it far enough.

But I was pushing it hard enough to pick the wheels off the ground. Yes, the car was packing the inside front tire in turns, consistently. I’ll need some stiffer rear springs to push it back onto the ground.

D&E went well also. Again, I think I was 25th or so overall for the entire event, netting 73 points in the category. At the end of the first day, I was sitting in view of a podium finish in GTV.

Then Sunday happened.

The first road course session was reconnaissance. We all were learning the track and everybody in my run group was running in the 2:10 – 2:15 range. The car handled fine. The new brakes worked fantastic. It was such a joy jamming the pedal down and having the car immediately slow down, and do it rapidly.

After the first track session, I headed over to the Speed Stop challenge, and that’s where it all went off the rails. At WOT at the top of second, the car just died.

Then it did it again.

Back to the pits. I found this:

That’s not right

My charge pipe had come out of the coupler. So I put it back in. Went to run another speed stop, and it popped out again. Got it back in, then it popped out at the throttle body. Got that tighened down and it started leaking where the turbo outlet goes into the intercooler.

I missed the second track session of the day and burned up all my morning speed stop runs troubleshooting this. It was frustrating.

I ate lunch and completed my Road Rally requirement. Since the normal rally had been cancelled due to the rain the night before, we were tasked with getting a photo of our car at a local golf course. When I got there, another driver was there and was nice enough to get a picture not just of my car, but me with it.

Me!

Then, the afternoon road course session started. I though I had locked down the hoses, so I went out for another round. I got one crappy lap in before the hoses blew off. Additionally, at WOT before the hoses blew off, the car was leaning out to 12.4:1 AFR, so I was lifting. I topped out at 128 on the front straight and screwed up turn one, then had a pretty good lap. No drama. Could have gone a lot faster. Caught a Corvette in the twisties, but he walked me on the straight because I couldn’t put my foot down.

Shortly after this video ends, the hoses blew again. I limped it off the track and back to the pits.

I was able to piece the hoses back together enough to manage two clean speed stop runs at half throttle.

At the end of the day, I was 7th in GTV (out of 15 registered, but only 9 showed up). I scored 343 points, which isn’t terrible at all. But it was disappointing considering the car could be a lot faster.

On the bright side, at the end of the weekend, the car was still showing 23psi of hot idle fuel pressure fresh off the road course. The engine is still healthy and holding up fine. I have new rear springs ready to go in, and new charge tube couplers and clamps are on the way.

So, despite the bad outing, the only real tweaks are rear springs, new hose couplers, and add some WOT fuel to the tune.

My next event will be with the Central Kentucky Region SCCA at UK’s football stadium on April 29.

On the subject of tow rigs

The Battle wagon!

This is my tow rig. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

Period correct, even!

I was prepared for another season of loading the race tires in the back seat, filling the trunk with tools and spares, and driving myself to all my events in the car. Alas, my emergency get-home-if-I-break spot in a friend’s trailer was taken for the year by an another car, so I had to start looking for a tow rig. I’m travelling too far and pushing the car too hard. I’ve already had to be towed home from multiple-hours away three times by friends. Time to stop mooching .

Thankfully, this setup pretty much landed in my lap. The truck is a 1990 F-250 with the four speed E04D transmission and the venerable 300 cubic inch inline 6. The truck has a paltry 121,000 miles, with 21,000 being added up only since 2000. There’s some rust on the fender arches and the bottoms of the doors, but the bed is solid and the interior is nearly perfect. I snagged it from the grandmother of a friend. They’d been using it to tow a boat for the past two decades, but were boating folk no longer.

The truck’s mechanical bits were sound, but she needed some love.  The braking system worked, but hadn’t ever been serviced, so aside from the pistons that moved when stepped on the pedal, the entire system was rusted into a solid mass from the inside. I had all of that replaced. I also changed all the fluids.

The trailer is a Gatormade 16 foot. This also fell in my lap when a friend jumped on a deal for an enclosed trailer for his Exocet.

More success!

Oil!

This is a tub of oil. Note, there is no metal floating in it. This is fantastic news. I had prepared myself for the disappointment of seeing a sheen on the surface of this. The lack of visible metal in this oil is invigorating. Confidence building. Exuberation ensued.

This is drain of the 500 mile oil change. The purple dye is still intact. It’s been refilled with 5 more quarts of 5w30 Royal Purple and a new Mobil1 filter. My first event of the year is the Charlotte Match Tour, followed two weeks later by the Optima USC Event at NOLA. The car is ready.

Success!

After reassembling the engine with the new front cover, I ran it in for 20 minutes, changed the oil, and started it back up.

This is with the water up 185. Oil probably a tad cooler since this was just running it in the garage, but 20psi warm idle? I’ll take it.

20 psi oil pressure! At idle! YAY!

After a 20 minute drive around town to get some heat in the oil, I’m still showing 15. So that problem is solved. Now to get the break-in miles done.

 

 

Tale of an Engine Build, Part 4

There wasn’t supposed to be a part four to this series.

But there is. Sadly.

After getting about fifty miles on the car and changing the oil three times, even stepping up to 15w40 truck oil, I still had an oil pan full of metal, a tick I didn’t like, and really low oil pressure at hot idle. Like 4-6psi low.

So I pulled the engine out and took it back apart. The source of the problem was located inside the oil pump.

Pump gears. Note the scoring on the right hand gear tooth that’s pointing straight up.

Evidence of contact between the pump cavity and pump gear

Pump filter adapter thrust surface

I’d fallen victim to complacency. I didn’t check the pump cover before installing it. The guys that built it for me had already packed the pump gears with Vasoline and I didn’t want to take it apart and repack it after checking it. That was a mistake.

Line indicates axis of cam sensor and pump drive

Line indicates axis of cam sensor and pump drive

The oil pump on a Buick V6 is driven off the camshaft by the cam sensor. In a carbed application, this same hole would house the distributor. Like many other engines, the cam sensor/dristributor has a tab in it that fits into a slot on the pump drive shaft. If this alignment is not spot-on, the cam sensor and camshaft side-load the pump shaft, which rocks the pump gears into the sides of the pump cavity and into the thrust surface. If the clearances are too tight on one side of the gears, that means they’re going to be too loose on the other side. Oil bypasses the gears through this extra clearance, and voila! Low oil pressure.

The pump gears also ground against themselves and the pump cavity, releasing metal into the engine.

Most of the bearing shells were scored, as were the cam bearings. The crankshaft was unharmed.

So, the entire thing went back to the machine shop to be cleaned and have new cam bearings installed.

I also went back to my friend’s shop and we pulled his entire stock of brand-new timing covers. We checked them all with a set of new pump gears and my cam sensor. All of them had bore alignment problems. Every. Single. One.

So, don’t trust the new pump covers. ATP, Pioneer, Silver Seal, TA? All of them use essentially the same casting from China. Some of them spot-check their incoming stock to see if they’re junk or not. Some don’t. And even the ones that do can miss a batch. If you buy one, put it together on the bench and make sure the assembly turns properly. My friend had a used original GM cover that checked out. I’ve already ported it. Once I get it tanked (it’s pretty grimy) and painted, I’ll be able to finish putting the engine back together.

I also resurfaced the filter adapter.

Resurfaced filter adapter. Mucho  better-o.

And the short block is back together already. Once the timing cover gets back from cleaning, I can re-set the cam endplay, assemble the oil pump and pack it with fresh Vasoline, and finish assembling the engine. Again.

Mostly assembled engine

The Tale of an Engine Build, Part 3

In the last installment, I brought everybody up until the engine was in the car.

Now for the home stretch.

New battery cables finally arrived and were quickly installed. I filled the crankcase with five quarts of Comp 5w30 engine break in oil and primed the engine with a drill.

Loading the crankcase

With the electrical system finally hooked up, it was time to turn the key and see if we had brain activity, which I did.

First light

After that, I pulled the spark plugs back out. Why? With no compression, the new high-torque mini starter was able to spin the engine at almost 600rpm, further ensuring the oiling system was primed.

Then I put five gallons of Kroger’s best pump 93 in the tank using my trusty Purolator pump and the old battery from my girlfriend’s Mercedes.

Fill ‘er up!

While the pump was doing it’s job (which was making me not have to hold a five gallon can and pour it), I put the spark plugs back in and ran the plug wires. And then I started it, right?

Nope. I first hit the terminal near the driver side valve cover that turns on the fuel pump. Lo and behold, a fuel leak quickly manifested. I had sealed the fittings for my fuel pressure sensor with teflon-based paste. The gasoline ate right through the stuff. I had to disassemble the section and put it back together using the teflon based tape. Fifteen minutes max.

Then? Well, watch for yourself:

No smoke (except the header wrap baking in), no issues. We put the hood back on it the next day.

In our next installment, fixing the brakes for what I hope is the last time:

Christmas in January!