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.

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

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.

Putting the 911 on a weight loss program

Now that the 911 has its kill switch installed and is all sorted out and running, it is time to start adding lightness to the vehicle.  I’m first going for the free to cheap lightness adding methods.  I’ve already done some of it such as: going to a lightweight battery, stripping out the interior of the vehicle, backdating the heat, and removing the windshield washer reservoir.  However, it has come to lose some more weight off the car; but, I’m not going to remove the most obvious: the air conditioner.  I love my A/C — especially in the summer and especially while I still drive the car on the streets.

Of course, you ask, why would one want to reduce the weight of their vehicle?  There are lots of reasons for reducing weight on the 911 (and any other car).  First, the less weight you have to push around the track the faster you can accelerate and take corners.  It also makes other components in the car last longer like brakes, brake pads, and tires.  It can also help increase fuel economy, and finally, the best reason of all: a 10% reduction in weight is roughly equivalent to a 10% increase in horsepower.  The most common places to begin removing weight are from the unsprung items like brakes, wheels, trailing arms, etc.  Next comes weight from high up on the car (sunroof, etc).  After that, weight at the rear of the car, then weight from the front of the vehicle.

The cheap ones I am working on are: stereo system removal, remove of the rest of the windshield washer system, removal of the oil cooler fan in the front passenger side fender, and installation of headers (removal of the stock exhaust system).  With the exception of the headers, I don’t believe the other items will amount to a lot of weight saved initially; perhaps 10lbs to 15lbs total, but every bit helps.  The headers will knock a fair amount of weight off the vehicle since the stock exhaust parts are quite heavy and not exactly optimal for getting the most power out of the engine.

Once these easy ones are complete, then comes the harder and/or more expensive parts: replacing body panels with fiberglass or carbon fiber body panels.  At this point, it becomes a how much do you want to spend proposition.  The carbon fiber parts add about $300 over the price of the fiberglass part while weighing a pound or two lighter in most cases.  Replace the glass windows with Lexan is another place where weight can be lost but I’m not at that point yet.  Once the car is a full track vehicle, Lexan windows are in.  Removal of the sunroof and the associated electronics can drop a good 40lbs off of the top of the car, lowering the center of gravity.  Taking it a step further and replacing the steel roof with a carbon fiber or fiberglass roof can reduce the overhead weight even more.  Like I said, it becomes “how much do you want to spend to be lighter?” question.

For me, when this is all said and done, my end goal is to have the car weigh in at a maximum of 2400lbs with A/C and an empty gas tank.  As of right now my car weighs 2588lbs, so can I find an additional 188lbs to drop off the car while still maintaining an ability to drive the car on the street on the weekends?

Effectiveness of Penetrating Oils

This information has been posted on numerous bulletin boards and passed around in emails for a long time and somehow I keep deleting it every time I see it.  Well, no more.  I’m posting it here so I can see it and anyone else who is interested in it can as well.

Penetrating Oils Compared

Machinist’s Workshop magazine actually tested penetrants for break out torque on rusted nuts. Significant results! They arranged a subjective test of all the popular penetrants with the control being the torque required to remove the nut from a “scientifically rusted” environment.

Penetrating oil           Average load

None ………………… 516 pounds

WD-40 ……………… 238 pounds

PB Blaster …………..214 pounds

Liquid Wrench …… 127 pounds

Kano Kroil ………… 106 pounds

ATF-Acetone mix… 53 pounds

The ATF-Acetone mix was a “home brew” mix of 50 – 50 automatic transmission fluid and acetone.

Note:   The “home brew” was better than any commercial product in this one particular test. A local machinist group mixed up a batch and all now use it with equally good results. Note also that “Liquid Wrench” is about as good as “Kroil” for about 20% of the price.

I’ll be testing out some Liquid Wrench and PB Blaster and maybe even the home-brew ATF-Acetone mix in the near future since I’ll be trying to remove the exhaust system from my 911 in the near future.  Can you say 24+ years of dirt, grime, and maybe a little rust on them there exhaust nuts?  If we go by how bad the stuff is for you, I’m not surprised the ATF-Acetone mix is #1.

The 911’s headers and mufflers have arrived

Well, they didn’t arrive today, they arrived on Thursday and I haven’t had time to truly look at them until now.  I had spent a lot of time debating on which set of headers to buy.  Did I want to have completely custom made ones, or an off-the-shelf model like the ones from Instant-G, B&B, Fabspeed, Buckley Racing, SCARGO Racing, or SSI, etc.  After looking and reading over the various forums, specification pages and pouring over the pictures I decided on the Fabspeed headers and muffler.  The primaries on the headers were 1 5/8″ which should be good for up to a 3.8L motor or so according to what I have read.

The headers from what I can tell are well made with full mandrel-bent tubes and the ability to run either a track exhaust or a muffled exhaust.  It also came with the heater boxes so I can still use the defroster in my car.. if the need ever arises.  In addition to this, I also had to order a new cross-over oil pipe for the engine to replace the oil line that would interfere with the install of the headers.  I’m also going to see about backdating the heater in my car to remove a large extra fan and ducting from the rear of my car and simplify the engine bay a little bit more. Oh, and of course, two cans of PB Blaster to help get the nuts off of the exhaust studs so I can actually install the new system.

Once my DME arrives back from California it should be a happy fun time.  I’ll get the headers installed, the heater backdated, the DME reinstalled and then begin to troubleshoot why the car still isn’t getting spark or fuel to the engine.  And if I can’t get it sorted out… maybe I decide to rewire the entire car?