Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Oil Change from Hell

Last night I did our first oil change on our 2011 Ram 1500. Surprisingly, the recommended oil change intervals are 8,000 miles, unless notified sooner by your in dash computer. Ours popped on a few days ago with about 7,500 miles. I decided to at least get the oil filter off prior to going inside and starting our steaks on the grill. We'd never have the steaks, thanks to the filter. I first tried to muscle the thing off, which wasn't going to happen. Next, I tried my oil filter wrench, which simply crushed the filter. Next, I tried the old punch the screw driver through method and created an oily mess. The screw driver mutilated the filter and still didn't break it loose. Somewhere along the lines I managed to slice up my hands, and noticed a good amount of blood running down my arm. With a nice pool of oil on the floor, and on the back of my head, it was time to take a break to reassess the situation. With the filter now obliterated, I decided to finish her off. I got out a steel mallet and chisel and cut as much of the filter off as I could. Now left with just the mounting flange on the engine, once again, I had to take a break to determine my next plan of action.

Running out of options, I went back to the trusty steel mallet and steel punch. After a good 45 min to 1 hr of pounding, I had the remaining portion of the filter removed. Never in my life have I had such a hard time removing a filter, and I've dealt with some tough bastards over the years. I HAVEN'T ever dealt with a first oil change on a brand new vehicle, having never owned one. Friends tell me that for first oild changes, that is par for the course...though nobody has ever seen one so stubborn that it ended up like mine. While I don't anticipate such troubles in the future, I think a few more tools for my box are warranted...just in case.

Monday, April 23, 2012

1/4 Panel Removal

THIS is why I'm not heading to the track until I have a beefed up, aftermarket, Ford 9 inch out back. Then, and ONLY then, will I be putting some stickies out back.

Eh Mate, You about took out that bloody parked car!

We've all been there, but most of us have been able to recover. Without any weight over the wheels, what did he expect?

Finally, a few days off work

I worked a bit of a stretch, 7 days, thanks to the full week (8 days actually) that I had off prior.  As stated, I didn't quite get as much accomplished on my Camaro as hoped, but now have another two days off to get back at it.

I ordered a relatively small shipment from Jeg's, and plan to get back out there tomorrow morning.  The pan is in place, but had to order new gaskets for the side rails.  Also have a few relays, both for the fans and fuel pump, and the gas tank is ready to be strapped in.  Most of the stuff I will be able to knock out quickly, and then I can start focusing on the electrical and fuel system.  Stay tuned, as I will be uploading/blogging more in the morning.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Work on Dad's 1970 Challenger R/T

We finally got a chance to make it down to my parents' house and I got to wrench on my dad's Challenger. Not a whole lot of progress, but progress none the less. I started off by trying to remove the brake drums. The front ones were stubborn, refusing to come off. The rears on the other hand, I had removed shortly after I had purchased the car, and had replaced the axle seals. Surprisingly, it also seems that the rear brakes must have been rebuilt at some point shortly prior to my purchase of the car.

With the rear drums removed, I moved on to removal off all the steel brake lines. Whoever ran the brake lines last time obviously weren't concerned about fit & finish, as the lines were anything but straight. I was surprised on how easy I was able to break loose all the fittings, aside from the fittings going into the rear t-block on the axle, which refused to let the lines go.

With the brakes removed, I decided to move under the hood...or, where the hood use to reside. I worked on removing everything from the firewall, since the engine compartment would be getting stripped and repainted as well.

Here we have the ignition components and wiper motor removed.

Since we would be going with a full Wilwood manual brake setup, we had no need for the stock master cylinder and brake booster, so those were next to go. Mopar did things a bit differently, and it took me a minute to figure out how the booster came off. For whatever reason, they found it necessary to bolt the booster/master cylinder to the firewall from under the dash. After getting the four nuts removed, I still needed to remove the cotter pin from the brake rod. I fought with that damn cotter pin for a good hour. I am determined to find an easier way to install the new hardware.

The brake booster and master cylinder are removed.

It doesn't feel like I accomplished much, and to be realistic, I didn't. Still, every little bit counts, as it all needs to get accomplished before the car will see new parts, and the road for that matter. I'm somewhat back to the drawing board regarding the engine. While we were fairly deadset on a 500 ci stroker crate engine, I'm somewhat reluctant with rising gas prices. I'm back to debating whether or not to build up the 383 into a healthy 450 hp engine that would both cost less, and likely be more efficient when combined with a 5 speed out back.

2002 Ford F150 XLT 5.4

While dad and mom get a new car, I get a "new" used truck. I decided a few months ago to replace my 1989 Pontiac Formula 350 with my dad's 2002 Ford F150 with a 5.4 under the hood, and 2 wheel drive. It will likely get much better mileage than my 155,000 Pontiac that has seen better days. In addition, it'll be nice to have a second truck around, as I'm always hauling something for the house, and will no longer have to borrow the wife's truck or wait for her days off.

While I didn't gain too much in overall mileage, as the F150 has 124,000 miles on the odometer. The difference in quickly apparent. This 10 year old truck looks like new, both inside and out, and doesn't show a sign of rust, where as my '89 should have been parked years ago, as the rust has started getting the better of it in many areas.

So I hope to have a vehicle which I can depend upon for another good 8-10 years, thus allowing me a very low truck payment, and not being tied down to another new car loan. This will hopefully allow continued work on the Camaro, and thereafter, my Pontiac. Though 10 years old, this truck seems like a new car to me.

2013 Chevrolet Malibu

My parents received their new 2013 Chevrolet Malibu this past Monday. The other day, I got a chance to take it for a test drive. While front wheel drive/4 cylinder cars aren't my preferred flavor, I was pleasantly surprised. My parents were in the market for something that got better mpg than their 2002 F150 they were looking to replace. Initially, they were going to check out the Cruz. It was I who read an early review in the Detroit News on the upcoming Malibu that suggested they check it out, as I felt it would be more to their liking. The review reported 43 mpg on the highway on a trip from Detroit to Chicago, higher than the 38 mpg estimate on the window sticker.

In addition, this Chevy has eAssist, an electric motor that adds 15 hp and 110 ft/lbs of torque, and also shuts the engine off upon stopping, restarting upon letting off the brake pedal. This new technology was what I was most curious about. So, I hit the road and was ready to test it out.

Let me start out by saying, Chevy has a real winner here. The interior is arguably one of the nicest I have ever sat in. Everything looks high tech/high dollar, and it has all the bells and whistles available. The exterior styling is also on par. While it won't be mistaken for a muscle car, there is no denying it has a very sporty style to it, with bold body panels and sharp lines. I really like this car, and feel that many potential buyers will be attracted to it's styling.

As far as the drive, the power was sufficient. The acceleration was greater than I expected from both a stop and for passing. The handling was much better than expected, and the car really feels like it hugs the road well. Lastly, I was very impressed with the eAssist and engine shut off., they work seamlessly. While I could tell when the engine shut off and started, the first time it did, I couldn't. Only those who are really into cars and know what to listen/feel for will be able to notice. It left me wondering, how they start/stop the engine, because there is no way it's through the traditional starter we are all use to.

Overall, I walked away VERY impressed with Chevy's latest model set to be a hot seller. I love my V8's, as evident by the just acquired 2002 F150 with 5.4 from my dad, but I suppose the day will come when we will resort to one truck, and one high mileage car powered by a similar 4 cylinder engine. They have truly come a long ways since my dad's 1984 1/2 Ford Escort with it's 80 hp 4 cylinder. Very good job Chevy!

Motor Trend First Drive: 2013 Chevrolet Malibu

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Evening in the Garage

Back in the garage, first things first, I got the alternator brackets and alternator back mounted and tightened up the accessory belt. I have to say, I have grown to pretty much hate any and all chrome under the hood of a car. When money permits, my chrome valve covers, one pulley, breathers, and brackets will all either be replaced, or blasted and painted black. Chrome has it's place on an old car, but under the hood just doesn't do it for me. Plus, I don't wanna be the car that's "all chromed out." LOL

Belt and Accessories installed

The MSD 6 AL and coil are back mounted on the firewall and ready to be wired up. I think I may get a distribution block this time around, and wire up my MSD, fans, and anything I need under hood power to. Prior, I think the only item I had running to the starter terminal other than my main power was my MSD and alternator. I figure that a distribution block will simply clean things up a bit.

Bringin' the Fire

Taking a look at the oil pan, it's really going to be a headache trying to install this new oil pan gasket, as I have very little room to work. I think I'll hold off on this, aside from cleaning up the old gasket a bit and removing the filter and dipstick, to make a little more room to work. I need plenty of patience to get the new gasket installed, patience that I don't have tonight. With dipstick removed from the pan, I gained a lot of clearance, which will make the job WAY easier...glad I thought to do that.

Last job for the day, I got the passenger side header installed and spark plugs in. Tomorrow, I will get the driver side header installed, and maybe, just maybe, tackle that oil pan. Then, I'll pretty much have the engine all buttoned up and ready to go aside from the fuel lines and wiring.

Header and Plugs Installed

Back on Track

Day #2 is going a lot smoother. I started out by getting the fuel pump pushrod plug removed, removed the rod, then installed the block off plate. It wasn't completely without a hitch, as the 12 point ARP bolts were too long, since the plate is much thinner than the plate, but after a quick dig through my parts tub, sufficient bolts were found.

Fuel Pump Blockoff Plate

Next, I installed the new carb studs, and bolted the carb in place...hopefully this time it STAYS in place for awhile. I may have to remove 2 of the nuts though, as I have yet to determine how I am going to attach my throttle cable to this carb, or whether or not my Lokar cable will even work with a Dominator.

Carb Installed

I then installed the cap and rotor on my MSD Pro-billet distributor. Checking the play of the counter-weights, it seemed condensation over the years had the parts moving less than desired. I pulled the top apart, wiping everything down with a little WD40, and soon had everything moving the way it should be. I have to wonder, was this my engine miss I had been chasing? Distributor weights that were sticking? Who knows, but the cap and rotor was now installed.

Distributor cap/rotor installed

Next, I checked the PCV valve/hose for proper length, snipped it a few times until getting the desired length, then placed a hose clamp on my drilled/tapped vacuum fitting on the front of my carb, to ensure a good seal. I also put the upper radiator hose back in place and tightened up the hose clamp, then dropped the air cleaner back atop the engine. Now she's starting to look like something!

PCV valve and hose installed

Upper radiator hose installed

That's it for a few hours, as the wife has an appointment to make, and baby girl will be waking up soon. Later this evening I hope to get the new oil pan gasket in place and pan back tightened up. Then probably get the new exhaust gaskets in place and bolt the headers back on and spark plugs installed. Once the plugs, wires, and accessory drive brackets and belt is back in place, it's time to start running the wiring and figuring out how I'm going to route my fuel system. I know it doesn't seem like I accomplished a lot, but I really don't seem to have a lot left to do. The wiring, to me, it a piece of cake, and actually fun. The few parts I lack, for the electrical and fuel system, I'll have to wait a pay period or two to get. Them damn fittings are a killer!

Monday, April 09, 2012

With a Week of Work, Time to Rock and Roll

I threw some comp time along with my leave days this period and managed to get a full 7 days off. What's amazing is that pretty much every one of those days have something scheduled, and all of the sudden I'm left scrambling to find time to work on my Camaro. The plan was...and still get everything I have bolted in place, leaving just some fuel lines and a few other electrical items left in order to get the car back up and running by June. Sadly, Hot Rod's Power Tour kickoff here in Detroit ain't gonna happen. A family member is getting married that day, so as much as it hurts, I will miss the tour this year. That said, I should be ready to go come June, I just have a few things to figure out/fabricate.

I started off by getting the thermostat housing bolted on, bypass hose in place, plug installed, and coolant temp gauge sensor mounted in place...the easy stuff.

Next, I had to clearance the carb mounting pad on my Edelbrock Super Victor with 4500 flange...which I would like to add, is SPECIFICALLY MADE to mount a 4500 style carb to. I'm not sure whether on not Holley changed their design slightly with their new Ultra Dominator, since I never had the original style. Yet one would like to believe that Holley would not have done such a thing, considering it would cause issues with existing intakes. After taping up the top of the manifold to prevent debris from entering, I got out the Milwaukee angle grinder and took two of the corners down. NOW the Dominator fits without rubbing the intake. I keep reading in magazines how great the aftermarket quality is these days, yet I just don't see it. Every damn part I buy seems to require modification in order to fit, but hey, isn't that part of hotrodding?

I thought I would install the carb at this point. I went into the basement, cleaned up the carb studs on the wire wheel. Apparently, these studs aren't hardened studs, as it seems the wire wheel messed up the threads on every damn one of them. Luckily, I have a "miscellaneous parts bin," consisting of "extra parts," and other items. While I only located 2 carb studs, I did discover multiple other items which I didn't know I had, including a fuel pump block off plate. Ironically, I just bought a block off plate about 2 weeks ago. At least it was only $10 or so. I'm going to start mounting some of these parts that don't belong in my parts bin up on my peg board. At least then they will be in the back of my mind, as opposed to buried in a rubbermade container. Parts bin #2 (top of the tool box) also proved unsuccessful, so it seems a run to the parts store or Home Depot are in order.

Next up, I figured I may as well get the fuel pump block off plate installed, as that is a gasket and two bolt fix away. That turned out to be a no-go as well, since I didn't have an allen wrench large enough to remove the plug so I could remove the fuel pump rod. Well, it seems like this day is quickly becoming a wash, and I may as well make a run to the store and get one I need, and hopefully salvage a few hours of this day. Grrrrr.

Update: After returning from the store, with carb studs and a new set of Allen wrenches, I just didn't have the desire to head back out to the garage at 9 pm, especially so considering the way the day had gone already. With that said, I should be good to go tomorrow and hopefully get a lot accomplished.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

2013 Dodge Viper

The Viper is back with a vengeance! Packing 640 hp and 600 ft/lbs of torque (My Camaro would still embarrass it). I'm glad the Viper will once again be built right here in Detroit, and it should live up to it's reputation. There is no denying, one glance at this car, it's definitely a Viper. I guess I just expected something completely new and fresh, and instead, see what appears to be the same basic car, revised yet again. On that note, I can't say I like what they did with the front of the car and hood. I think it's mostly the hood. The lines, bulges, and curves just look a bit too rice-burner-ish for my taste. While somewhat critical of the design, I welcome the Viper back to the party with open arms. Now, let's get a REAL video, not some Nancy pussy-footin' around in a car that is meant to do burnouts, powerslides, and hard accelerations.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

1150 Ultra Dominator Vacuum Port

Recently I discovered that with my current setup, I'd never fit an air cleaner assembly on my engine. There was no way I'd be able to run the 1" spacer I had in place, and that spacer was what I had planned to drill and tap for a vacuum port in order to hook up my pcv valve. Option number two was to drill/tap the boss on my Dominator carb, so that was the route I chose.

Here is the underside of the carb, taped up and ready to be drilled.

The recessed hole you see just above the fuel bowl, below the base, is the untapped hole cast into a Dominator specifically for application that will require a vacuum port.

With an 11/32 drill bit, I drilled out the vacuum boss.

The Edelbrock 1/8"-27 NPT tap.

The stainless vacuum port.

A few wraps of teflon tape and I tightened the fitting into place.

A close-up of the port while installed.

With new port in place, I sat the Dominator/air cleaner back in place.