New battery for the car

A few days ago I had decided to drive the 911 out to meet some friends at the wonderful German food place near my house.  So, I took the time to pull the cover off the car, give it a quick dust off, move my other car out from behind it, then hop in and then hopped in to start it.  Alas, as you can guess my the name of this post, it didn’t happen.

I figured what the heck, I only drive the car a little bit a year and I hadn’t driven it in over two months, so it’ll just need to be jump started and I can do that later.  I finally got around to later yesterday evening.  And, I tried jumping it, which was no good.  So I let it sit for a while with the other car running to see if it would charge up the battery enough to start it.  And that didn’t happen either.  So taking my a multimeter to it, I found out I only had a 9V reading across the terminals.  Yep, a dead battery.  Sucks to have to buy a new battery, but this time I’m being smart(er) and procuring a trickle charger as well.  That way I can hopefully prevent this from happening again anytime soon.

Parts, parts and more parts

As I’ve chronicled before, the 911 is becoming a race car and I’ve slowly been gathering up the safety equipment and other parts that it needs.  The latest haul is a combination of safety and comfort equipment: a fuel cell, cool shirt and associated goodies, and window nets.

The fuel cell is a FuelSafe 17 gallon “shoe-box” style fuel cell with a surge tank.  The cool shirt will help keep me cool while racing (and perhaps while driving around the street as well if I become crazy enough to ditch my A/C while I’m still driving it on the road).  And, finally, the window nets will keep me and my associated extremities inside the vehicle in case of a problem.. like a crash.

The biggest thing is to now start putting parts onto the car and selling parts I don’t need before buying anything else.  So, the install list is as follows:

  1. Headers
  2. Front Splitter
  3. Cool Shirt System
  4. Fuel Cell

With the installations I need to do, the headers, front splitter and cool shirt system I know I can attempt myself.  The fuel cell requires some welding (which I can’t do… yet) but I can at least gather the additional items needed for the fuel cell installation such as AN fittings and fuel hose to get it connected to the fuel pump and return lines.

When I get a free weekend I’m hoping to do the header install which will also necessitate an oil change because an oil line must be replaced in order for the headers to fit onto the car.  It’ll also require a torch to heat up the exhaust nuts so I can pull them off the studs without breaking them (or at least that is the hope).  I’ve been dousing the exhaust studs in Liquid Wrench and PB Blaster for the past few weeks so I hope that’ll be enough for me to at least start getting the exhaust system off of the vehicle.

Secondly, the front splitter requires me dropping the bottom air damn, which while not particularly hard (only 6 bolts) will have to be done outside (where it is currently hovering in the high 90s).  Once it is dropped, I’ll need to replace one nut and bolt on the air dam then I can start making the splitter out of the sheet of polycarbonate I have.  I’m going to design the splitter to go out at least three inches from the bottom of the air dam and also go back underneath the car to the underbody tray protecting the fuel pump.  With this I should be able to channel air better into the oil coolers since it won’t be able to escape underneath the car and will be forced through the coolers.  Also, it should at smooth out the air flow a little bit beneath the vehicle.

Finally, the last two things: the cool shirt and the windows nets.  I’m not going to install the window nets just yet since I’ve got to do some more modification to the interior of the vehicle.  However, the cool shirt system will require a little fabrication (that I can do) to hold the cooler someplace in the cockpit along with a little wiring since I’ve gotta power the dang thing as well.

And the fun part, selling all the parts that I’ve taken off the car.  Of course, I don’t want to do that until I’ve figured out which parts still work and which ones do not.  So, I really need a weekend or two to sort through everything, get it photographed and put the parts up for sale.

Passed Level 3 at The Driveway, can’t wait for Level 4 – Advanced Race Craft

Yesterday, I completed the last two sessions required before I could take the Level 3 Test at The Driveway.  After the two sessions, I took a break then took the test.  The test wasn’t the typical pen and paper type, it was, of course, one with lots of high speed driving around their Grand Prix course and being chased by another car.  And best of all, I got to do it in the rain.  But that was just the precursor as to what I really want to do: the Level 4: Advanced Race Craft course.  Taking the course will also allow me to obtain a NASA racing license so I can start competing in wheel-to-wheel racing.

The level four course teaches the basics of what to expect during a race and how to handle the situations.  I can’t really describe it much better than what they do on The Driveway’s website, so I’ll just repost it here.

  • Track walk and Identifying Passing Zones
  • Qualifying Strategies (it’s just the clock)
  • Pre-Grid procedures
  • 5-Minute, 3-Minute, 1-Minute Warning
  • Warm up lap procedures
  • Getting in position for start
  • From the Pole Procedures (pick side and pace)
  • Rolling Start procedures
  • Standing Start procedures
  • Race Starts and Turn 1
  • Aborted Race Starts
  • Setting up the pass
  • Drafting and Slip Streams
  • Taking the race line
  • Passing under braking
  • Looking for weaknesses in other cars
  • Using other cars to your advantage
  • Working with another car to increase position
  • Radio Communications
  • Preserving your race car
  • Psychology of Winning

I’ve read about the majority of these in the Drive to Win and Going Faster! books, however, nothing prepares you for the real deal out there on the track.  I think it’ll be great fun to go from learning how to move the pieces on the chess board to actually playing.

911 Weight Loss Continued – Removing the stereo

Well, the 911 finally has no stereo system (other than the roar of the flat 6 out back). I had removed the rear speakers when gutting the interior for the roll cage install and had just cut the wires to those speakers at the time. That was easy compared to how rough the removal of the cd player was.  The door speakers were a simple 4 screws a piece removal operation.

The faceplate surround of the cd player was wedged poorly around the cd player and took a fair amount of screwdriver usage to pry it away. After that, it should have easily been seen as to how remove the stereo from the dash. However, not the case. I had to reach underneath the dash and feel around to figure out how to remove it. I could feel some tabs protruding from the cage holding the cd player but I couldn’t pry the tabs away that were holding it to the dash.  I tried various screwdrivers, I even sat in the passenger’s seat upside down so I could see under the dash.  There just wasn’t enough room to do anything.

So I did the next best thing, start taking apart the cd player from the front.  Off went the face plate, then I was left with 6 small screws to remove, which didn’t want to go into the night easily.  At that point, I still couldn’t get to the tabs.  Now I had basically given up on saving the head unit and the removal became a lot easier.  I grabbed a nice large screw driver and began bending the metal case of the head unit so I could get to the tabs that needed to be pushed back into the cage so it could be removed.  After thoroughly ruining the head unit I got it out and tossed it on the ground.  I should have Office Space’d it, but I couldn’t find my gangster rap to play while I was doing it.. so I just tossed it in the garbage.

The object of my displeasure

I then cleaned up the loose wires tucking them around a U-bracket that was used to hold the head unit in place and when I fix the door panels I’ll pull out the speaker wires from the doors so all that’ll be left is the head unit connector plug.  I also did not pull out the power antenna that doesn’t work since I need to get an extended range antenna for the car for use with the radio.  When I get the antenna in, if I can get the antenna to fit in the power antenna hole in the fender, I’ll use the antenna wire to help feed the radio’s extended range antenna through the frunk and to the fender.  Also, the hole left by the stereo will soon house the controls for the A/C and perhaps a switch to turn the cool shirt apparatus on and off (when I break down and buy it).

Soon to be covered with aluminum and holding A/C controls

The next item on my list is to build a wind splitter for the front of my car to create some down force on the front of the car since as it gets to the higher speeds the front end becomes a bit too loose for my liking even with an aggressive front rake on the suspension.

EDIT: Added pictures and a line of text

Another Sunday at the track

This past Sunday I managed to get three sessions of track driving in (about 1.5 hours of track time all told) and was feeling pretty good about the car and my driving.  However, there is always room to improve in the driving category.  The best time I posted was 1:35.xx (sorry, forgot what the nanoseconds were) but I was averaging low 1:37s and high 1:36s creeping up to the low 1:38s near the end of the last session where I was getting really tired on The Driveway’s Grand Prix Course.

As I was driving it I knew there were lots of places where I should be able to pick up time by being more aggressive or taking a crisper line through the corners.  The corners where I found I could improve a lot were: turns 6 and 7 and turn 14.  The line shown on the picture above is a double apex where I was finding that a long sweeper through the corner and apexing turn 7 was giving me much better exit speed and position onto the back straight heading toward corner 8.  Turn 14 I was getting too close to the inside of the corner which was causing me to turn more than I had to.  To fix this I positioned the car further right on the course which allowed a better run at the apex and a much higher exit speed of the corner.  Of course, I could work on all the corners since I didn’t think I was using all of the track on some corners where I knew I could and should have to allow a better line.

But, this is what I like about going to the track, you can run the same course over and over and still find little tricks in it that you’ve missed and see how it makes you go faster.  Or you re-examine corners you’ve driven many times before and have realized, maybe you weren’t taking the best line through there.  Heck I might even change my mind and think that double apexing turns 6 and 7 is best after some more driving.

How to have a bad day at the track

Yesterday, I decided to take off from work a little early since I had hit my 40 hours around lunch time and go to the track with my now running 911.  I figured I’d get a few sessions in wearing my firesuit and all the safety equipment along with breaking in the tires all the way.  Although it was around 85 degrees I knew I’d have to get used to wearing the suit and see how important a cool shirt would be.  I started on my session and was slowly building up speed as my tires were getting heat into them and becoming broken in (as a side note, from now on, I’m paying for heat cycling of tires) the car was feeling really good and strong.  I had two laps left and as I was going down the cork screw section of the track at The Driveway, my car lost all power and began coasting, smoking was coming through the vents into the cabin.  I managed to get it into the grass, kill the power then open the trunk armed with my trusty fire extinguisher (who would have thought it would come in handy so quickly?) only to see that my battery holder had come loose and caused the positive terminal battery cable to weld itself to the side of the trunk.

An impromptu welding session

Woo! I didn't need that terminal anyway.

This bolt loved my car so much it didn't want to let go.

I ended up spending the other three hours at the track fixing my car with the help of The Driveway staff.  The total tally was one new battery cable, one set of battery terminal covers (bought and installed today), blue locktite, and one track session cut two laps short.  Well, at least I’ll have tomorrow to go get myself some track time in.

Now with battery terminal cover goodness

As for any lessons learned, etc.  Always blue locktite bolts and use battery terminal covers.  Oh, and get some tow hooks.