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Cheney Stadium Weekend Summary

STI rounding the hairpinWell, I didn’t trophy on Sunday, but I came agonizingly close. I got nudged out on the last run by the person who was in 5th. The worst part of it was that I just messed up a little bit at the finish pushing wide just enough to cost me the faster time I’m pretty sure I had that run. So, I finished 5th out of 12 on Sunday and 3rd of 7 with a Trophy on Saturday. Overall, a good weekend with mixed weather.

My First Trophy*

Today I placed 3rd in ST2 (indexed street tire class for WWSCC events) out of 7 competitors, which qualifies me for a trophy! Hooray. The event was at Cheney Stadium. It went well and no one got shot in the face. I don’t know if I’m getting better or the fact that the pavement at Cheney is not very grippy. But it seemed that the AWD cars might have had an advantage over the FWD or RWD cars. I was getting sideways a lot, but I kept it tidy on my 5th run to pull out a mid-37 second run.

My trophy was a mini RC car. It’s a 2006 Dodge Charger ROLLIN’ PHAT ON SUM DUBZ, YO! w00t.

There’s another event tomorrow at the same place. We’ll see how that goes.

* Technically I trophied when I was a novice, but that doesn’t really count (even though I beat like 45 people)

Brake, Suspension, and Tire Work All Done

Well, after the last track event I evaluated my car’s consumable situation. I checked my brake pads, rotors, and tires and, well, everything was dead.

My tires were the worst offender, they were shot. So I ordered up some wider tires and from a different manufacturer, Dunlop Direzza Z1 star specs. I wanted to return to a stiffer sidewall than the RE-01R offered, more width, and more grip. The Z1’s offered all that, so I picked them up. Since the tires were coming off, I took the opportunity to get minor curb rash repaired on my wheels as well. So, far, the tires feel great but I only have limited amount of miles on them and they were over inflated at the time.

My front rotors were also toast and my rears weren’t in the best shape ever either. So, I got lighter 2-piece rotors up front (Gyrodics). My front EBC reds had 30% life left in them, but I was unhappy with the performance. So I spent the $5 to upgrade to the package deal from AMS Performance and get the PFC 97 series compound front pads. My EBC Reds in the rear are still OK, so I’m reusing them in the rear. In the rear, I went with some Powerslot rotors, they were cheap and the rears don’t see a ton of heat. I think they will be adequate. My only concern is that the slotting in the rears goes all the way to the edge of rotor, which could induce cracking. Hopefully the lack of real heat in the rear will keep that from happening.

Also, my new Tarmac 2 coilover suspension came right before all this stuff arrived too. I got those put on just before my new tires got here. Now all I have left to do is get the car aligned. I’m pretty excited to see how these, coupled with the new Dunlop’s work at autocross. Buuuuuuuuuuuut, now I’m broke. 🙁

Bremerton Club Trials

I went to the SCCA club trials on Saturday. As usual, it was tons of fun. This time around I got someone to sit with me (thanks Steve) for the final session and give me some instruction (the first I’ve received thus far in my racing career, haha).

The only difference between this event and the last even was the V-limited replica lip I added to the car and I put on some EBC Yellow Stuff Racing brake pads so I didn’t have to worry about brake pad fires again this year.

Last year my best lap time was 1:03.864 which achieved on the 2nd day of the 2 day event. This year my best lap time was 1:02.396 with a instructor in the car (~180 lbs) and it was a one day event. That’s almost a second and a half, which is an eternity in racing. So, I’m pretty pleased with the performance and the help I got.

Here’s some video from outside of the car (taken by Jessica) of the last session:
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Replica V-Limited Lip Looks OK!

So, I wanted to get a real V-Limited lip for a long time. Mostly for the aerodynamic benefits, but I really think the lip completes the look of the car’s front end. Also, since my car is already dropped about an inch (actually a bit more than that in the front because of all my additional camber from my camber plates), I don’t have a lot of clearance. I figured it would be a waste of a nice $450 V-Limited lip if I got one for the streets.

In order to save some money and frustration, I got a polyurethane lip for $175. They look like crap out of the mold, so I went to Home Depot and grabbed some 600 grit sand paper and then to Schuck’s to grab some Duplicolor plastic adhesion promoter and then some flat black bumper paint.

I then wet sanded down the lip with the sandpaper, wiped it clean and then looked for imperfections. There were a lot of cracks and scratches in the lip so I gave them a college try but couldn’t get most of them out; none of them are too serious though. I cleaned the lip again and then sprayed on about 3-coats of the adhesion promoter. I let that dry about 10 minutes. Finally, I applied about 6 coats of bumper paint. Lighter, faster arm-movement coats and then the later coats were slower and thicker. I think it turned out really well.

V-limited Passenger Side

V-limited Driver Side

Work Weekend 9: Hell in BMW Land

Friday night I headed down to Ocean Shores in the BMW, broken wheel bearings singing the whole way. The goal for Saturday didn’t seem very ambitious but, in retrospect, turns out to be insane. We wanted to replace both rear wheel bearings (really important), replace the torn CV boot, change the transmission fluid, mount the fire extinguisher, and maybe have time for a few extra fun things. We got started around 11:15 and our pain became obvious quickly.

We got the wheel, brake, and emergency brake off quickly. Then we had to take out the rear axle and CV joint assembly. There are 6 bolts that hold the assembly to the differential (black round bolts with a hex head key hole). 5 of them came off with no problem, however the 6th one decided it would round out the hex. It took about 10 minutes and attempts with several tools but eventually Robby used his hulk like strength and gigantic vice-grips to break it free. Good for now, but now we were short a bolt. With the axle assembly out, it was time to remove the axle-stub and then the wheel bearing, we would worry about the CV bolt later.

Robby pounded on various parts with a BFH (big fucking hammer) and a brass punch for, I don’t know, a hour and we just could not get the axle-stub or wheel bearing to come out. Robby looked around and saw that behind the axle-stub, there was a C-shaped pressure spring/ring. We decided we needed to try and take that out before pounding anything else out. Robby’s tools for removing that pressure ring were meant to be used on something that wasn’t so obscured behind a part (e.g. straight on or at a slight angle).

We headed to our local (kind of) auto parts store to replace the stripped boot screw, get right-angled spring clip removers, and possibly find a CV boot. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention we found out the CV boot kit that came in the mail was meant for the inside boot, not the outside; so we needed a CV Boot too. The local store didn’t have anything we needed. So, off to Aberdeen we went. We stopped at Schuck’s and got the tool we needed. Then we drove all the way to end entrance of Aberdeen (pretty much as far as you can go and not be in Central Park) to Ace Hardware only to discover that Ace didn’t have a bolt that matched up. There was something close, but it wouldn’t work because the bolt was too long and the blank part of the shaft was too long. Fortunately, I brought my tap and die set, so we bought 3 of them and prayed I could make it work. Back to the bat cave (no CV boots anywhere)!

When we got back to the shop, we tried to get the clip out of the hole but, that’s right, there was a problem. The tool couldn’t open wide enough to get to both tools. I looked at the tool a bit and suggested to Robby that we grind out the center part of the tool so it could open further, he agreed, we did, and it worked. We got the spring clip out and then started pounding with the BFG and brass rod some more. It wouldn’t budge.

We gave up on being nice and decided to get the assembly red-hot. However, even torching it, it wouldn’t come out. We went online and found a guide but the guide just made it seem like the half-shaft could be pulled out with ease and then you could simply take off the pressure ring (Robby had the tool for that) with the axle-stub out. However, there was no steps for removing the axle-stub, just simply “now take the half shaft out and set it on the ground” — very funny. In frustration, I took a rubber mallet and started smacking the axle stub from the bottom at the same time Robby would hit it from behind with the punch. It moved! So, we just timed our strikes right and I swung harder and it came off smoking hot in 10 hits or so, pulling the existing wheel bearing in half. The inner ring was positively stuck to the axle-stub.

Stuck Wheel Bearing

Then we had to get the rest of the wheel bearing out of the hole. Lots of heat, pounding, and blood (well, Robby’s blood) later, the wheel bearing came out. Then using the press we got the left over bearing off the axle-stub, cleaned it up and pressed the bearing on. Robby had the new bearing half way back into the car when I stopped him. We forgot to put the retainer spring back on before we pressed the wheel bearing onto the axle-stub. Some pressing, swearing, and whatnot later, we separated the axle-stub from the new wheel bearing and the new wheel bearing from itself — yeah, we thought we broke it, the seal got pretty bent. Well, we had to press on, so we got the other new wheel bearing out of the box, put the retainer spring on, then pressed the bearing on, and pounded the assembly into the car. Don’t worry, things didn’t go smoothly yet, we then realized we forgot to put the dust boot back onto the suspension arm. On some cars you can take these off with no problem, but BMW decided this would be a good place to hook the emergency brake spring to. Well, we didn’t have any more wheel bearings, so we cut the dust boot in half bolted it on and then we tack-welded it back together. Yay!

Now, we had to take care of the CV boots. After a long time searching online to figure out how to get axle apart and only finding guides telling us to replace the whole unit (dumb and expensive) we found a guide showing that we could just take off the inside shaft caps. We came up with the idea to use the boot kit to replace the part that it was supposed to even though it was broken and then take the rubber boot and use it to fix outer boot (the broken one). Anyway, this story is getting too long, so let me summarize. We were able to create a properly sized bolt, get the boots fixed, and get the assembly back together.

Fixed CV Boot

While we put the emergency brake on, Robby realized he didn’t remember exactly how it went back together. No problem, I just took the other wheel and rotor off. Robby looked at it and got everything put back together properly. While I was trying to get the caliper open, I popped open the bleeder to release the pressure and make it easy to pull back. No fluid came out and we then we found the brakes didn’t work properly. To make a long story short, we found out that the rubber brake line was blocked and the caliper was completely blocked as well (like 25 psi of air wouldn’t go through it blocked). We fixed it with some brute force and air pressure. Then we bled the brakes and they work now, hooray.

With the car all back together, after a quick test drive (revealing that we fixed the quieter of the two wheel bearings) we decided to do something fun. Being that it was already midnight, why not? Robby showed me some aluminum grain-stamped extremely thin aluminum siding. He then used his hemming tool to hem the aluminum on the top and bottom edges to make it a little bit stronger (though it was clear it wouldn’t be strong enough). We put the smooth side out, bolted it on, flared out the edges by the tires and painted it black. Interestingly enough, I got noticeably better gas mileage on the way home.

New Air Dam

It flexes at speeds above 40 MPH, but we kind of figured it would. It’s just kind of a proof of concept. I think when we make the real one we’ll flare the bottom out more and we’ll get it closer to the ground. Also, the final product will have a splitter.

Oh, and for one last thing before I left, finally, we got the fire extinguisher mounted.

Updates! Work Weekends 7 and 8

After work weekend 6 the team hasn’t been very active. We’re waiting on the guys to order things and we are also waiting on making another trip down to Robby’s shop. We’ll need his press to put in wheel bearings I ordered. Additionally, we’ll be putting on a new CV Boot because our current one is cracked.

During work weekend 7 we officially got our racing seat in. We got the cheapest seat possible from Speedware, which, while semi-intentional because we’re on a budget, worked out well because the seats that were slightly more expensive had really short race harness slots. Most of the driver’s on our time are taller than 6 foot tall and none of us are huge fans of spinal compression (especially me). The variance in height also required us to get sliders, which then also required us to get the Speedware seat bracket.

This last weekend Nick and I worked on my STI on Saturday (thanks again Nick) and then the BMW on Sunday. We re-tapped the oil pan to use a much bigger bolt. Nick accidentally tapped it at slight angle so the seal isn’t perfect even with a plastic washer. I don’t blame him because we can’t afford a new oil pan gasket so he had to do it a crazy angle. In fact, I think he did pretty damn good considering the circumstances. Then we moved the BMW “check light console” from the ceiling area to where the CD player used to go. I didn’t bring my Dremel, so we went to town with a large file. It actually fits pretty pretty well and is a pretty tight interference fit. Oh, also Nick found and removed a 1 pound bracket left over from the A/C unit.

Work Weekend 6: Mad Max Weekend

This weekend started out on Satuday at 8am when I showed up to Nick’s house and woke his ass up because his cellphone is a piece of shit. We got the car loaded up and warmed up and then we drove 2.5 hours to Copalis Crossing to Robby’s house.

Once there we started talking about the sun roof, so we just sort of spontaneously started taking it apart, right in his drive way. Once we got the sunroof out carefully without damaging it (so we can sell it) we pulled the car into Robby’s shop and busted out the cutting wheel and the acetolyne and oxygen torch.

Robby Cutting Roof Buick Trunk to Become BMW Roof

Now that we had a sizeable hole in the roof (and the car weighed 15lbs less) we needed something to cover it up. So, Robby took us out to an old Buick he has sitting on the back of his property and he litterally ripped the car trunk off the car with this bare hands. We then traced the sun roof onto the top of the trunk added an inch or so to the sides and cut it out. Some grinding, sanding, primer, paint later, we had a ghetto cover which Robby promptly bolted to the roof with self-tapping sheetmetal screws (with gaskets already in them) and then sealed it with some weather sealant caulking. The whole thing looks very Mad-max-esque.

In the middle of all that, we checked to see where the oil leak in the engine was and Robby spotted it coming from the oil drain plug. We then drained the oil so we could see what was causing the slow leak. I turns out the previous owner decided it was a good idea to use an US measurement drain plug in our nice German metric aluminum oil pan drain plug hole. The whole was very stripped. We tried repairing it with some hokey thread repair epoxy shit, but that didn’t work.

So, we put it all back together and put some nice Mobil-1 synthetic oil Robby had in his shop into the car (which is similar to what we’ll be running at the actual race). I think it’ll be good to keep doing oil changes to clean out the engine a bit. The oil was only 250 miles old and was already incredibly black and dirty (probably from the poor running condition it was in).

We also tried to pull the dent out of the rear quater panel. Let’s just say that went really poorly and didn’t work. We have a bunch of little holes in the rear quarter panel. Not that it mattered, it already looked like shit.

Failing at Dent Pulling

After all was said and done, we headed back for Seattle/Renton. We did stop once so Nick could go to the bathroom and I put electrical tape on part of the new roof because it was letting air in and it was kind of loud.

Sunday, some lady came over and bought our seats for $150 and lets us have her old seats (we need them till we get the race seat in). Nick and David swapped the seats in for the lady and collected the $150. That’ll go towards the budget. Nick and David were also nice enough to stop the lady’s leaky power steering fluid hoses and fill up the reservoir with ATF.

Work Weekend 5 – IT’S ALIVE!

Well, we started off Saturday with some tasty waffles and blueberries, but we quickly turned to figuring out why the car still wouldn’t idle properly. We checked the resistance in every conceivable sensor and double checked all our previous work. Then we just decided the hell with it, let’s pull off the intake mainfold.

After a lot of unbolting, we pulled off the intake manifold. The first thing we noticed was that the gaskets on cylinders 1 & 2 were trashed and the area was full of carbon deposits. There was kind of a collective “OMG, that’s OUR problem”. So, we went to work.

Broken Gasket with Carbon Deposits

Chris, David, and Nick cleaned up the heads and the block (the part we exposed) and prepped the surface. I went to town smoothing out the intake runners with a Dremel. Then, I got the idea to put the intake gaskets on the manifold and heads and see if they matched up right. Sure enough, the intake runners were much smaller than the heads and the gaskets. Nick and I placed the gaskets on the intake manifold and scratched a grind-line into the aluminum. Then I proceeded to port the holes to match the new size, tapering back into the runners very carefully. Finally, I got a nice sanding attachment and smoothed out all my work and additionally smoothed out about 5 to 6 inches inside the runners.

Cleaned Head Porting Manifold

Unforunately without some dyno pulls (or at least some datalogging) we’ll never know how much the porting helped. I can’t imagine it would be all that much, but it would be interesting to see.

Anyway, we get the car all back together and fire it up and fuel starts spraying in the air like a fountain! Weeeeeeeeee! While we were putting the engine back together, I didn’t seat the fuel pressure regulator right. Nick apparently had this problem before last weekend and he re-bent the FPR mounts and we fired the car up. It sounded good! Not great, but good. It definitely sounded like we were down a piston.

We did some diagnostics to figure out which ones, but ultimately we ended disconnecting the injectors to pull them back out. We stopped, decided to put it back together for the night and figure it out later. After putting the injectors back together, we fired it up…. IT SOUNDED GREAT! Apparently one of the injector plugs was loose (that’s my guess). So we took it for a drive and it just drove great.

So, there we are, our car runs. Now we’ll switch gears, get our car bits sold and see what kind of cash we have to work with under the limit.

Work Weekend 3

Well we got to working on the car again this Saturday. We got quite a bit done, but also we were kind of brought down by the fact that car is still running really rough. Here are some before and after shots of the car.

Here is David and Chris working on the car. David is messing with the idle control unit (ICU) and Chris is doing something which I can only assume is important. He may have been removing the air conditioning radiator.
Working On The Car

Here are some more pictures of the car’s interior:
Anyone Want Some Speakers? Rear Interior

And here is the interior after removing pretty much everything from the car:
Stripped Front Cabin Rear Stripped

In other good news, we found a dollar and some change (I think it was a $1.48) in the car so we get to add that to the budget! w00t! Change We Found in the Car