Saturday, April 26, 2008
You might ask; won’t a mechanical fuel pump have a hard time flowing enough fuel for a supercharged 429? No.
Enter in possibly the greatest swap meet find I’ve ever had! For the nice price of $50 I purchased a CV products BBF mechanical fuel pump with optional high flow outlet, which is rated at 190gal/hour or 1151 lb/hr. That’s a LOT of fuel flow.
My Fairmont has a 16 gallon tank which means that pump will be able to make the fuel gage go from F to E in 5.05 minutes. (OUCH!).
Actually before I found this fuel pump lurking in the Buckeye building at the All Ford Spring Super swap meet, I had never even heard of CV products. Not knowing anything about this fuel pump (or that it even existed) I figured it was worth the $50 risk because I could immediately tell this was a hardcore piece of speed equipment. Man am I happy I took that risk. Every part of this fuel pump is billet aluminum and even the fuel pump “arm” is polished to a mirror finish to reduce the possibility of cracking! Retail price of the fuel pump is $469! I also need to add that it's a simple design and easily rebuildable.
I had planned on running a Carter super race series fuel pump rated at 172 gal/hr, but not anymore! This CV products fuel pump is the Bad Boy of BBF mechanical fuel pumps.
Anyway, if you have some time check out CV products website, also now added to the side bar. They make a lot of NASCAR racing components, and their quality is best I’ve ever seen.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
I’ve taken a break from porting the cylinder heads for the time being. They don’t NEED to be done anytime soon, and porting really is a good project for a rainy day. Since the weather has been KILLER, I’ve started to tear into the cars front suspension.
The plans are to swap out the stock 6-cylinder K-member and brakes and swap then with a late model Mustang GT K-member and brakes. The advantage to this swap is the K-member weights 15lb less plus it’s stronger. The brakes are much more powerful then the stock 4 or 6 cylinder brakes. The rotors are 1 inch diameter bigger with the GT brakes. Note: If I had this to do over again I might consider going with the Cobra brakes are they are 1 inch bigger then the GT brakes – but I wanted to run 15 inch centerlines and those brakes will not fit under these rims.
I purchased that complete K-member with brakes for a whooping $100 and that might be the best money I’ve ever spent on the car. My old Fairmont had a built 302 and those stock 6 cylinder brakes. Now let me too you this - those brakes were barely good enough for that 6 cylinder engine, and where painfully inadequate for that built 302. I can’t even imagine how bad they would be with a super heavy supercharger Big Block engine. Actually I think these GT brakes might be a tad weak for the weight and power of my engine but I am running disk brakes in the rear so I should be OK. You can never go to big on the brakes in my opinion.
Anyway my weekend consisted of cutting the motor mounts off the new K-Member (as I will be running a motor plate setup) and bracing the stock lower control arms. Grinding the old motor mounts flush was a total pain and something I never want to do again. Bracing the lower control arms consisted of welding a piece of metal by the mounting bushings. This is a road racing trick that helps stiffen up the control arm. With the weight of this engine the front suspension needs all the help it can get!
So there you have it, I’ll try to keep the updates coming.
Stock 6 Cylinder K-member...HEAVY! (free to anyone who wants it)
GT K-member - lighter and stronger (minus motor mounts)
Lower control arm with bracing.
Close up of bracing. (HAHA, gotta do something with the old motor mounts!)
Stock 6 cylinder rotor on the left, GT rotor on the right.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
As my 89 Formula gets rougher around the edges, I had to start to think about a game plan. I pondered getting a second car to drive, retiring my Formula to parked status until fully restored. However, I've been down that road before, and I know how it would end. So the best plan I can come up with is restore the car while it remains road worthy.
My goal, which I feel is easily obtainable, is 400 hp with 30+ mpg on the highway. As is, I've got as much as 25 mpg on the highway in basically stock form. The addition of a 6 speed manual transmission would easily drop the rpm's enough to pick up an additional 2-3 mpg. For the engine, I had been seriously considering an all aluminum LS series engine. The only major downfall was the cost, as well as additional costs to put it in a third generation f-body. An accessory drive kit to tidy everything up and make it functional runs around $1,000, and that's only if you don't put a/c on the car. Had I not had a/c, I wouldn't worry about it, but I really can't bring myself to remove it, even if I do only use it a few times each summer.
I pondered an LS engine with an iron block, as you can save a ton of money going this route on your initial cost, but adapting the engine to my car had the same added expenses. I also considered building an engine to run on E85, but quickly dismissed this thought, as I'll save that for my Camaro. So I began to search the internet for ideas, similar builds, and see what all is out there. I'll map out my game plan in greater detail later down the road, but for now, I'll give the quick and dirty version.
For the engine, I'm sticking with a 350. I may switch to an older style block, since it would give me more options with a two piece rear seal crank. For the internals, I'm going to try and lighten things up, as a lighter engine makes for a more efficient engine. So a light weight crank, rods, and pistons will be in order. I'm going to bump compression up, likely in the 10.5-11-1 range, so a good set of aluminum heads are in order as well. I'm thinking either AFR's or GM's Fastburn heads. Induction will be an aftermarket unit, dictate partially by what heads I decide on. With so many fuel systems out there, I plan to replace the stock unit with something better than my nearly 20 year old technology, same goes for the ignition system. Though I already have an MSD coil on the car, and an MSD 6AL collected dust somewhere, so maybe I'll reuse what I got in this case.
Aside from the engine, as stated, a 6 speed will be behind the engine. I first learned to drive on a manual, and if there is anything I miss about my first 89 Firebird, it's banging gears with the 5 speed. Unfortunately, you couldn't get a 5 speed with a 350, so when it came time to look for another Firebird, the light weight Formula model with a 350 and an automatic was the only option. I was never a fan of the 305 and would personally steer anybody away from wasting their time rebuilding one. Behind the trans will be an aluminum driveshaft, again, to help drop reciprocating weight.
The rear end is the Australian 9 bolt, which I have heard mixed reviews on. While I haven't beat the hell outta my car at the drag strip, I have jumped on the throttle plenty of times. With 132,000 miles, the rear still functions flawlessly, the posi seemingly still in good condition. The gears are 3.27, in which I have no intentions of replacing. Because these rears have retainer hubs, there is no need for c-clip eliminators. The only mod I may do is the addition of a T/A rear cover.
The interior of the car is actually in good shape, only needing new carpet and a rear seat cover. I would like to update the stereo system, as the cassette deck is looking just a tad bit dated. :)
As with my Camaro, I will set out to lighten the vehicle up in order to make more use of the extra underhood power, as well as to help in my goal of 30 mpg. They were still ironing out emissions equipment when this car was built, and it looks somewhat cumbersome under the hood. Considering the car is quickly closing in on classic car status, and emissions testing would likely be void if they were ever imposed here, I'll likely take it upon myself to remove most of the equipment. To be perfectly honest, the planned engine build will likely be a cleaner burning engine than what it was from factory anyways.
A new exhaust system will help efficiently dispose of the gases, likely with shorty headers, though I'll go long tube if I find clearance to be enough. Then a cat-back system, omitting the cats, with probably a Flowmaster muffer.
The suspension is already solid, being a Formula model. I have Konis in front and will get a set to compliment them in the back at some point. I'd love to give the car a drop, but a few times a year we get pounded with snow and the car already bottoms itself out. Any drop in ride height would probably add additional headaches, though I suppose I could always swap the springs out. Now that I've dropped the rear a few times, replacing the fuel pump, it wouldn't be so big of a deal. I'll also probably move the battery to the trunk for weight distribution purposes.
The benefit of having a 3rd generation F-body is the overwhelming amount of aftermarket parts out there. Tubular everything, tons of intakes, cams, and just about anything else you want. The stock restoration parts market is quickly growing as well, since these cars, along with Mustangs, are still very affordable V8 rwd cars for people desiring them.
The body is getting pretty rough around the edges, as Michigan's winters and the road salt have taken their toll. No holes, but surface rust in the expected places such as wheel wells, rockers, and door bottoms. I also noticed the floor pans getting rusted up good during recent oil changes, though nothing a little Por-15 can't handle! Aside from the smash job the shopping carts did recently, the body is very straight. When I had my Challenger, my plan was to learn how to do body work and spray with it. Since that car is gone, I may as well learn on my Formula. If it turns out bad, it can always be fixed. Body work and painting are the last areas of automotive restoration I have yet to tackle, so I suppose now is as good a time as ever to learn.
The hard part, as always, will be to figure out how to balance work on the cars while still trying to finishing house projects. So much like my Camaro, don't expect frequent updates of progress, as it will be slow going. Hopefully past experience will have set me straight, finally keeping a car road worthy while restoring it, a first for me.
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
Where I grew up, there was an over abundance of open roads, often free of homes and intersections for stretches that lasted a country mile of more. Yet even with all that open space, there were still things that you couldn't do, things that you couldn't practice. I'm not talking about test and tuning, drag racing, or high speed jaunts to Toledo. Those were all things that you could get away with, as patrol cars were nowhere to be found. What I'm talking about is coordinate vehicle exercises through a city, done with precision, and done legally. I'm within one week of graduating, and I have to say that today was probably the most exciting, as well as practical exercise we have done. Think of it as playing leap frog, only with vehicles.
We had a designated lead car which coordinated the operation, a van, which served as our vehicle we were escorting, and then 6 additional scout cars in which we each took our turns behind the wheel. The lead vehicle would radio us and assign 1 or 2 vehicles to an intersection, stopping traffic prior to the convoy arriving at the intersection. After the trailing vehicle passed the blocking vehicles, they would sound the horn twice, and the blocking vehicles would lay on the throttle catching up to the pack. During my time I had one memory lapse. As I was blocking traffic, the convoy took a right turn behind me. I said to myself "Damn, I'm gonna have to turn around." My partner then informed me "No you don't, just throw in in reverse!" That's when I remembered "Hell, we're the po-leece! I got lights and sirens and all eyes our on me, of course I can just throw it in reverse and join the convoy!"
About the only downside is that recruits don't exactly get top of the line cruisers for such an exercise. In fact, ours was on it's last leg, acting as though the transmission may have been ready to call it quits. On the freeway, at higher speeds, our car called it quits at about 75 mph, jerking violently as if it was hitting a speed governor. That said, it was still a blast, and by day's end you would have thought we were running a legit convoy, as opposed to just a training exercise.
With eaching passing training involving vehicles I have a growing itch to go either road course racing, or as mentioned before, top speed racing out west. As it is, I'll be confined to walking the beat for 6 months, then confined to jump man riding shotgun, only to earn the right to get behind the wheel again after probably a few years of service.
Friday, April 04, 2008
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
Normally, WOT is an exhilarating experience, and the more powerful the car, the better the feeling. The other day however wasn't exactly exhilarating. Fortunate for me though, it was an experience I had been through before, a time when my panic level was much higher, so this time around I handled the situation much more calmly.
The girlfriend and I were heading back from getting groceries, and I was merging onto I-94. I always love coming off the on ramps hard and fast, ready to merge into traffic with ease with speed to spare. I figure I was probably at about 80 mph by the time I exiting the curve and entered the freeway, plenty of speed to merge, so I let off the accelerator. Only probably, the accelerator stayed to the floor, and the speedometer needle continued to climb. Hmmm...I though the under dash panel seemed a little lower than normal when it bumped the tip of my tow the other day. Would have been wise to investigate it further I guess, but that was then and this was now. Without panicking, I shifted up into neutral so my speed didn't continue to climb, hit the pedal a few times, then shifted back into drive before the engine over revved, yet still the pedal was stuck. At this point my girlfriend looked at me and asked "What's wrong?" to which I could only respond "The gas pedal seems to be stuck," still remaining calm. After a few attempts, I managed to dislodge the pedal and all was back to normal.
I never broke a sweat this time, as I knew the problem, and had a good idea how to fix it. If not, I had a backup plan to bring the car to a stop safely at the side of the road. I say "this time," as this almost identical incident happened about 5 or 6 years ago, though with my Camaro which had twice the horse power and a ton more acceleration. That time, the firewall fitting for my throttle cable had worn a groove in it, and when I slammed the pedal to the floor, that groove managed to pinch the cable, holding the car at wide open throttle. Now, talk about a panic! Cruising down the freeway at speeds of 70+ mph is one thing, being stuck at wide open throttle when you intended to just punch the throttle to get up to speed on a 35 mph road with heavy traffic is much different. That time, I killed the ignition and coasted to a stop in the first available parking lot. Being behind the wheel of a 500 hp car stuck at WOT ain't no joke, and it's amazing how quickly your mind is able to comprehend the problem at hand.
A bit ago I got under the dash, looked at the situation, then found the stud in which the panel is suppose to be secured to and proceeded to secure it. Problem solved, and hopefully I won't have to worry about another stuck throttle any time soon, as two in a lifetime is more than enough for me.