Category Archives: Cars

7/25/2017: Broken Stud Removal

After a nice long weekend at Fenwick Island, DE, I had a little time to start on the head work for the Ricer’s bent valve issue. The first item I wanted to get done was to remove all of the intake and exhaust studs from an old LS head I had sitting around. To remove the studs, I just double nutted the stud, put some heat to stud and a little PB Blaster, and they spun out with little issue.

Once that was done, I took a look at the head I got from eBay and noticed that it had an exhaust stud broken off. Not too happy, but it gave me a chance to try a procedure that I read about but never tried. I cleaned the broken stud the best I could with Acetone and found a nut that had an inside diameter roughly the size of the stud. I broke out the welder, and with the nut out of the way, I built up a little tack weld on the stud. I placed the nut over the tack weld; then, I used the welder to weld the tack to the nut and made sure it was a good weld. With my fingers crossed, I used a wrench and turned the nut welded to the stud, and with success, the broken stud spun out with no effort. I always read that the heat from welding also helps to loosen up the broken stud, and with this experience, I cannot disagree.

7/20/2017: Volvo C30 Front Brake Change

The front pads on the C30 were getting pretty thin, so I decided it was time to swap the pads. The car has been pretty maintenance free since October 2009, and I did complete a “pad slap” once before, so it was time for a little love. I decided to replace the rotors, pads, calipers and brake line. While this was more than what was needed, I hoping that these new parts will last for another 100,000 miles with little to no issue (with the exception on new pads at some point).

Once I got the car on the lift, the swapping of the parts was a lot easier than I expected. The caliper and caliper bracket was removed, on both sides, with no problem. Once the caliper was unbolted, I decided to remove the brake line from the hard line, left the line connected to the caliper, and the caliper\caliper bracket\brake line was removed as a unit. With the bracket removed, the rotor was pulled off with little effort. The removal effort was the same for both sides, and I was happy with the basic design.

The installation was reverse order. The rotor slide on no problem, and I used a lug nut to hold it in place as I bolted on the caliper bracket. I did connect the brake line to the caliper; then, connected the soft line to the hard line. Once that was connected, the pads went into the caliper, and the caliper was connected to the caliper bracket. Once again, I was pleased with the ease of installation.

Once everything was tighten down, I used my pressure bleeder and bled all four calipers. The fluid was due a change, so it made sense to do all four at this time. After the air was bled out of the front calipers, everything was doubled checked, and it seems to be good to go.

7/13/2017: Parts, Parts and More Parts

1. It still looks like I got bent valves on the Ricer. I have been troubleshooting the misfire, and so far, it is looking like bent valves. The last item I want to check in the distributor. I got a new one showing up today, and if that doesn’t fix it, a good used head is arriving on Friday. I’ll swap in the good used head for now, and over Fall\Winter, I’ll get the current head cleaned up and rebuilt with new cams.

2. I also got new plug wires and plug wire heat shield showing up tomorrow. I had the FFR out the other day, and I noticed a miss, so I check the plug wires, and I had two that got against the header and burnt through the outer layer. I’ll add the heat shield to the new plug wires in hopes that I won’t have this issue again

3. Last but not least, I got new front brake parts ordered for the Volvo C30. The car has 98,000 miles on it, and the front pads need to be replaced. Since the car has 98,000 miles on it, I decided that I will replace the front brake hoses, calipers, rotors and pads at the same time. I figured if these items are swapped now, I should be good to go for the next 98,000 miles (with the exception of new pads at some point).

7/09/2017: 4-Post Lift

After about 10 years of looking at 4-post lifts, I finally got one. I got the PRO8 with RJ-35 sliding jack combo. The ordering and shipping portion went better than expected. After a quick call to Greg Smith Equipment, I had the combo on order, and I selected the free shipping to a nearby freight depot that is 35 minutes away from my house. The lift was ordered on a Monday, and the lift arrived on Thursday and could have been picked up as early as Friday; however, I had vacation planned, so I delayed pickup until the following Wednesday which was no problem with the Old Dominion depot.

My Uncle came down with his truck and trailer on Wednesday morning to help with the lift pick up and initial install, and after a quick breakfast and a short drive, we were at the freight depot. It took a couple minutes to get checked in and sign for the lift; then, they forklifted the lift and jacks onto the trailer, and we headed home.

Once at my placed, we offloaded the lift pieces, by hand, with the assistance of rollers and jacks. While this was not ideal with two people, we managed without any injuries. With the pieces unloaded, I started to look at the instructions, and these instructions make IKEA instructions look good. The 4-post lift is not a complicated piece, but I did have a couple pieces in backwards, so it did require a little bit of re-work to get all the pieces installed correctly.

I finished all of the big items on day one – posts, ramps, cables, and I finished the details on day two to include the final adjustments. Now that I completed one lift, it would take much less time if I ever help with another lift.

I tested the lift by using the ailing (bent valves) Ricer, and as planned, I can have the Ricer on the lift, and I have room to park either the Cobra or Integra under the ramps. This will allow me to park all of my cars in the garage which I’m looking forward to.

Now that I got the 4-post lift in and working, I feel that I’m pretty much done with large purchases for the garage.

7/07/2017: Track Day Roundup

The TrackDaze track day was a fun day, and once again, it was a well run event. The day started off a little on the bad side when a VW Golf driver ended on his roof in turn 3 on his first lap. This incident did not impact the schedule much.

This was the first time I was on the Summit Main circuit in 7 years, so I did have an instructor with me for the first session, and he was great. He got me on “the line”, and I adjusted through out the day. The Main circuit is fast compared to the Shenandoah circuit, and is fun in a different way. It took a few laps to build trust with the car through the fast turns, but all worked out well.

There were a few really nice “fast” cars in my run group, and it was cool to see a GT350 and a C7 Z06 getting track time. There was other cool cars such as Ferrari, GTR, older Z06es, BMW M series and Porsches.

The bad story is that it looks like I bent valves in the Ricer when I went from third to second instead of fourth. It looks to be a common issue in overrev situations, so I will be working on taking the head off in the coming days. I am borrowing a leak down tester to see if I can figure out which cylinder has the issue. I need to figure out what I’ll do such as upgrade springs\retainers and maybe step up the cams. I do have a head with ITR cams, so a little research will let me know if it is worth swapping the GSR cams for the ITR cams.

Updates to follow.

Links to track day videos:
SL500 creating a train due to no point by

Open track

5/26/2017: Lift Purchase Recon

I’ve been eyeing up buying a lift for the second bay in my new garage for awhile now, and I’m getting close to making a decision and pulling the trigger on the purchase. I’ve been fighting between a 2-post and 4-post lift, and each have their pros and cons, so I asked other car club members on which one they would buy if they could only have one lift, and my conclusion is that a 4-post lift with sliding jacks are the way to go.

While this setup is the most expensive option, it provides the most versatility with the ability to be used as a storage\parking lift along with the option to be used as a working lift with the sliding jacks. My friends also have had good luck with the equipment from Greg Smith , so I will be looking to purchase from them, which includes free shipping to a shipping depot. I will take their free shipping option, and pick the equipment up at a depot which will save a lot of time and travel expenses (tolls and gas).

I need to figure out my schedule on when this purchase will best fit my calendar, so I can pick it up and assemble within a reasonable time frame. I will probably take a couple days off of work to get it done in a timely manner and limit my garage down time.

5/24/2017: Post Track Day Check

I had a little time yesterday to pull the wheels off of the Ricer and do a once over. I try to do a post track day inspection (I guess this goes back to my USAF Crew Chief days of doing post flight inspections) to make sure everything survived as expected, and it looks like the car did well with no issues.

I did pay attention to tire wear, and to my surprise, the inside portion of the front tire got the most wear. I was expecting to see more wear on the outside due to the pushing properties of front wheel drive. I may pull some camber out for the next track day to see if I can even out the contact patch.

The rear tires, which are pretty much along for the ride, looked pretty good on wear with the camber set to -2.2 degrees. I will leave the rear camber alone for now, and only tweak the front camber. I will post the camber readings pre and post adjustment when I get around to making the adjustment.

I am running Hawk Blue pads up front, and they did well with plenty of pad left for a couple more track days. The rotors also still look good, so they are good to go for now; however, I will buy an extra set of pads and front rotors to have handy for when they are needed.

I also reviewed my in car camera footage, and there were two items I noticed:

1. I could gain a few seconds on braking later before the turns. I’ll let myself slide a little on this one since this was my first outing in a couple years, but I bet I left 3-5 seconds on the track with the earlier braking.

2. I ran a lap time of 1:52 to 1:53 in the last session. This is pretty decent for the track, and I knocked about 6 seconds off from my first session.

5/22/2017: TrackDaze @ Shenadoah Circuit

It was a successful track day with the TrackDaze group at the Summit Point Shenandoah circuit. It was a well ran day, and the schedule was maintained through the day. It was helpful that there were no major issues on track, so each run group got their full track time. We had (4) 30 minutes sessions, so I got more tack time than any other event which I ran before.

Here is a two lap video:
5-21-17–Shenandoah Circuit

5/20/2017: HPDE Prep

I’m going to attend a TrackDaze track day tomorrow, so I finished up prepping the car and loading the truck for the day. The prep for the car is pretty straight forward, nd I would consider it common sense. I checked all of the fluids, brake rotors, brake pads (non-stock pads. You need to upgrade the pads for a full track day), and a general chassis look over to check all bolts are tight.

Since the Ricer is only used for track days and autocrossing, I know all of my fluids are good and not old\dirty. I took the car for a quick spin around the neighborhood, to get the engine up to temp, and ensured that there are no leaks that need attention. Once all of that was complete, I deemed the car ready for the day and got it loaded on the tow dolly.

Besides the car, I have a short check list for items that I need to take with me. This list includes a torque wrench, assortment of tools, extra fluids, Windex, paper towels, rags, gloves, jack, jack stands, fold up chair, helmet and extra clothes. That about sums it up, and everyone is different on their list, so make a list and add\subtract as needed.

I also carry a folder with the track day information packet. The TrackDaze packet includes the schedule, tech inspection form and guidelines. One item that changes between organizations is the requirement for long sleeve shirts while on track. TrackDaze and SCCA require long sleeve shirts, but other do not. Make sure you know the rules and bring appropriate clothes.

While most tracks have a cafeteria, I make a habit of taking food and snacks to get through the day. I also carry a bunch of water to stay hydrated through the day, especially on a hot day. Fortunately, tomorrow should be in the low 70s, so it should be a very pleasant day on and around the track.

I hope to post pictures and\or videos of the day on Monday.


Things I Learned Today:

1. NASCAR of today continues to prove that it is unwatchable. I grew up watching NASCAR in the 70s\80s and spent way too many Sunday afternoons watching NASCAR through the 90s; however, the current NASCAR racing is just dreadful to watch. I think it is a combination of a drawn out schedule, stupid long races and horrible announcers (they need more Chris Economaki). Not to mention the perception (or reality) of intentional drama by “well placed” yellow flags. It is bad and boring racing to watch.

2. AFC North is just a bad division this year. As a life long Steeler fan, it is hard to see the AFC North teams struggle this bad during the season. Even in off years for the Steelers, the AFC North is typically a feared division to play; however, this year they are getting beat up by the other divisions (such as NFC East).

Other stuff:

LED Lights: I got more LED lights installed in the garage, and I’m a huge fan of the LED lights. They are instant on, no humming in cold weather and very bright.

Welding: I think I’m finally getting to a point to get serious about learning to weld. I built a set of rear, upper, adjustable control arms for my Ricer, and I enjoyed building the arms. For me to do more of that type of work along with a bigger car project, I need to learn how to weld better, so I plan on using YouTube to watch some training videos and spend time on practice welding.

Ricer Control Arms: As mentioned above, I built a set of rear, upper, adjustable control arms for the Ricer. These will allow me to adjust rear tire camber. I will use this to try different setting between autocrossing and track days. In autocrossing, I need the rear to rotate while on the road course, I’m not too concerned about rear rotation.