Saturday, August 8, 2020

Brake Maintenance and Plaid Rear Seat Cushions

After the brake fluid debacle I had at Watkins Glen in the Cayman last month, I didn't want another repeat of that with Bumblestook. I'll be at NJMP Lightning later this month with S2K Takeover and I really don't want any issues so I went to see SJF today so we could flush the brakes and give the car a once over.

Time for Brake Maintenance - SJF Performance - 8-8-2020
One thing we immediately noticed was that the front passenger side brake duct hose had torn. I hadn't planned on this but thankfully I had a spare so that was a quick swap in. I may have to find some better hoses since I really don't like how brittle these ones get with age.

Torn brake duct hose
Replaced with new hose
For the brake flush, I switched from ATE to Motul RBF660 after having good experience with it now in the Cayman in very hot temperatures. Thankfully, SJF still had the modified S2000 brake reservoir cap he put together for this car a few years ago so we could pressure bleed the system easily.

Ready for pressure bleed/flush
The color of the Motul RBF660 is a bit darker than the ATE fluid in the car which, despite its age, still looked really clean. This made it easy to tell that all the old fluid had cycled out.

Old fluid out
That worked out quite nicely and the brakes feel super nice and tight again so we're all ready to let it rip in a few weeks.

Plaid Rear Seat Cushions by GTS Classic
I also got in touch with Stefan at GTS Classic a few weeks ago asking him if he could make up some rear seat cushions in the same material he used for the front seats he made for Scarlett. Thankfully he still had some fabric left and made these fabulous pieces. No one's going to be sitting back there due to the rollbar but I think it adds a nice complete touch to the interior.

Love it when things just match perfectly
Subtle but important detail

Sunday, August 2, 2020

More LEDs and Upgraded Battery

Next to Titanium wheel bolts/nuts, the other thing I've standardized on all my cars is LED bulbs everywhere I can. They offer better illumination, generate little to no heat while in operation and don't draw as much current which for an old 911 is always a plus. 

LED interior dome lights

Replaced the glove box light too

I picked up some nice bright festoon bulbs from Superbrighleds.com and it was a nice easy swap. Visibility is night and day so using my iPhone flashlight to find things inside the car at night is now a thing of the past. 

New festoon LEDs 
Original bulb vs LED

When I changed out the headlight rings a few weeks ago, I noticed that the old gasket was broken for both headlights. This is no good as I don't want water getting behind the headlight. Picked up some new gaskets and swapped that in as well.

Fresh headlight gasket

One other thing I picked up earlier in the build but didn't get to install yet was the new lightweight battery. I wanted to wait until all the electrical weak points were taken care off before putting in a new battery just in case it got damaged from things like a malfunctioning alternator. My biggest reason for getting rid of the battery in the car now is because it's a standard flooded battery.  I'm always worried about those getting acid leaks and corroding the metal underneath it. I was a bit worried what I'd see under the battery today to be honest as I saw quite a bit of white powder around the base of the battery and even on the bolt for the battery hold down. First I had completely disconnect this old Summit Racing killswitch that the previous owner installed. I don't know why you'd install a kill switch in such a way that it actually blocks a battery from being changed easily but I was glad to see it go since it also prevented my frunk mat from laying down properly.

Old Summit Kill Switch

After taking off the crazy 50lb Group 49 Interstate battery, I was pleasantly surprised to see no real issues on the metal underneath it. I just had to clean off the white dust from the battery sulfation but no rust or corrosion was detection so at the very least, a battery had never exploded in this compartment before.

Old Group 49 battery

Nice empty spot for the new battery

For the replacement I was sure I wanted an AGM battery to avoid any issues in the future. I didn't want to go Lithium as I'm not sure if these old charging systems will do the right thing with more modern batteries. I also didn't want to go extreme light since this isn't a race car and I still wanted good reliability. I settled with the Odyssey PC925MJT (metal jacket) and bought the Rennline battery mount with killswitch. This battery is still around 25lbs so while it cut the battery weight in half, it's still got some heft to it. Not an issue on a car that's super light in the front to begin with. 

Odyssey PC925MJT

I really love how nice this mount is. The battery is held very securely and I can mount the battery kill switch right next to it.

PC925MJT in Rennline battery mount
New battery, mount and kill switch installed - 8-2-2020

I still have to replace all the external bulbs with LEDs and change the flasher relay so it'll all operate normally but this concludes the electrical updates to the car. 

Saturday, August 1, 2020

GTi - Oil Change

Nothing really much to report on this post. Just noting that the oil was changed on the GTi after 5000 miles. During this interval I added around 3/4 quart of oil. 

Dirty oil out - 8/1/2020
New Oil in - 8/1/2020

Maintenance Updates:

Mileage: 59,521

- New Mann oil filter
- 6 quarters Liqui Moly 5W-40 Molygen

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

High Output Alternator and Starter

After the failure of both my CDI and AC relay I was starting to suspect something electrical wasn't quite right. After reading about people having their batteries explode on them from over charging, I decided to get a plug in voltmeter so I could monitor my alternator voltage while driving. I was quite shocked to see values anywhere between 12.2V all the way to 17V even when just idling. Clearly the internal voltage regular in the original alternator was starting to fail. Thankfully, I had already anticipated having to replace the alternator so I already ordered a 175A high output alternator from Classic Retrofit months ago (they're generally backordered and ship from the UK). I dropped the car off with Speedsport Tuning on Saturday so they could get to work on it while I was at Watkins Glen with the Cayman.

High Output alternator mated to fan housing - 7-20-20
Original alternator vs new alternator - 7-20-20
This unit is a nice modern alternator based on units used on stop/start capable vehicles. It's 6-phase instead of 3-phase making it much more efficient and has an internal fan to keep it cool and includes thicker ground cable and power cable to the start motor. One of the major benefits to getting this upgrade out of the way besides reliability is that it opens up the door to maybe installing the Classic Retrofit electric AC conversion in the future for significantly better cabin cooling during the hot months.

Details on the high output alternator. 

It's really quite a gorgeous piece and it's almost a shame that it's covered up inside the fan housing and shroud. It's designed by WOSP Performance in the UK for Classic Retrofit and these guys really know how to engineer stuff. Who doesn't like billet parts and well engineered products, right?

Classic Retrofit / WOSP Performance High Output Alternator
Classic Retrofit / WOSP Performance High Output Alternator
I liked their alternator design so much that I decided that if we're going through the trouble of doing the alternator, the next suspect old part that could leave me stranded was the old starter motor. Thankfully WOSP Performance also makes one that's not only high output but also half the weight of the stock starter motor. I think it's based off a Denso unit so you know it's going to very reliable. 

WOSP Performance high output lightweight starter motor
WOSP Performance high output lightweight starter motor
New starter motor installed - 7-20-2020
The combination of the new alternator and new starter motor is perfect. The car starts up beautifully each time now and the voltage output is a consistent 14.0V maximum at any RPM above 3K (drops to around 13.2V at idle). Since I did an EFI conversion, I really think this stable voltage has helped it quite a bit as I've noticed the car runs smoother now. I presume those sensors feeding the ECU are behaving more predictably with the correct voltage. 

Classic Retrofit rear fuse panel
Classic Retrofit rear fuse panel installed - 7-20-2020
While we were at it with electrical upgrades, I also got the Classic Retrofit rear fuse panel. It works the same was as the upgraded front panel but there are only 3 fuses in the rear. I just wanted to standardize on modern style fuses so they're easier to replace if needed. 

Carmagic Bright White instrument cluster LEDs
I noticed a few weeks ago that some of the instrument cluster bulbs were dead or super dim. I'm a big fan of LEDs because they're brighter and draw less current. I picked up a set of bright white BA7 LEDs from Carmagic and swapped them in today. It really makes a big difference being able to see the gauges properly at night.

Fitting new LED instrument gauge bulbs
It's a little hard to tell since it was very bright out when I tested them but you can see that all the gauges are now properly illuminated.

All gauges lit up with LED bulbs
All gauges lit up with LED bulbs
I actually ordered the Carmagic LED kit upgrade for the exterior bulbs too but just didn't want to tackle doing that today since it was too hot. 

I think that completes all the major mechanical upgrades to the car. I've got some minor cosmetic things and new, lightweight battery to install but now we can move onto paint. I also finally got to see my friends over at K2 Auto to chat about our game plan for this car. We're doing a windows out respray plus a few other things. They understand what these passion projects mean to me (just look at what they did to Bumblestook a few years ago) and I trust they'll do an equal, if not better, job on my 911.

Maintenance Update:

Mileage: 165,731
- New Alternator
- New Starter Motor

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Watkins Glen International with HOD

Finally got to take the Cayman out on her first track day and no better place than Watkins Glen International, hands down my favorite track in the Northeast.

Watkins Glen International - 7-20-2020
Caymans, Caymans, everywhere
I spent the better part of the first session just getting comfortable with the car on the track. It feels very different from my S2000. Power is obviously better but it doesn't have as much feedback throughout the chassis (mostly because my S2000 has spherical bushings everywhere). I was also trying to figure out the optimal gear to use for each corner. This is where I found the data from my newly acquired AIM Solo2 DL. I found it massively helpful on track to be able to see if the changes I was making at various corners were helping improve my predicted lap time. 

AIM Solo2 DL
Towards the end of my second session on the first day, I was noticing the brake pedal was feeling very spongy. As I was about to get into the final corner I could feel the pedal going to the floor so I made a quick decision to pit in. Turns out I had boiled my brake fluid (ATE) and basically had no brakes. Bad things could've happened if I attempted to barrel down the front straight at that point. Thankfully, The Little Speed Shop was there and they had the car flushed with fresh Motul RBF660 before my afternoon sessions and I didn't skip a beat. The RBF660 seems to be the ticket. I never had another case of brake fade or boiling fluid even though the ambient temperatures continued to rise the rest of the afternoon. 

Brakes getting flushed with Motul RBF660
Despite the increasing temperatures in the afternoon, I no longer experienced any further brake fade and I'm glad to report my three CSF radiators did a great job of keeping my coolant temps in check, with me not seeing anything above 217F despite outside temps being in the 90s and running 25-minute sessions. On day 2, I only ran the morning sessions since I had to leave by noon. I was finally able to get a good clean lap without traffic and improve on my time from the previous day setting my personal best at 2:20:28. I was driving well within the limits of the car. Not once did it get bent out of shape and I left enough grip for error. The one thing that changes your mentality when you do track days in a car that you expect to drive to and from the event on its own power is that you're less likely to take risky moves to find a bit of extra time. Ok, maybe that's not true for other people, but that's certainly true for me. 

Watkins Glen International - 2:20:28

Overall, it was a great event. Watkins Glen had very strict Covid-19 protocols and while that added to some extra effort from everyone, none of it really dampened the fun we had. I had loads of fun being on a familiar track enjoying such a fun car with a pretty good run group. I am a big believer in the mid-engine platform. The balance and control are really amazing and the more laps I turned the more I realized how superior it is. I will say, for a track like The Glen, having some aero could've helped. I felt I couldn't really go flat out up the esses as the front started to feel a bit light and was slightly pushy. I think some front aero to get that nose down would've helped quite a bit. The rear felt super planted though. Aero is not a direction I'm willing to take since this is not a dedicated track car and I'm not trying to win anything. I do, however, have some ideas about some brake improvements but that's for another blog post.

Setup Notes:

Front: 

Compression: 6
Rebound: 11

Rear:

Compression: 9
Rebound: 8

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Duck This

If I told you I was going to swap a decklid on the 911 you'd say, no big deal, it's just 4 bolts. Well, nothing is ever really that simple or straightforward with this car. If you recall I bought an unpainted ducktail early on in this project to put on the car based on the metal frame of an OEM 911SC decklid with a fiberglass ducktail fused on top. That was ok but I ended up coming across a Getty Design fiberglass ducktail already painted Guards Red on Pelican so I picked that up as well. The Getty Design decklids are known for their great fitment. That, combined with the fact that it was already painted, made it a no brainer. Today I went to see SJF Performance to tackle the installation.

Test fitting the ducktail decklid - 7-12-2020
The main problem we had to deal with was the fact that the ducktail decklids are designed for cars without AC which means it's completely missing the center mounting bracket to hold up the AC condenser. The AC condenser is held up by one bolt on each side to the hinge but the center is held up on the factory decklid by a bracket that it simply rests on. After some thinking and scrounging around for something to use in the shop, SJF found a very lightweight black aluminum bar that would be perfect for this. After cutting to length and adding a rivnut, it was simply bolted onto the decklid across the middle and a bracket was screwed on to hold up the middle part of the condenser just like factory except this has actually better coverage and the addition of some rubber padding means I won't hear any clunking from the condenser moving around when I hit bumps. It's a simple, yet effective solution.

AC Condensor Bracket installed

AC Condensor Bracket installed
On my OEM decklid, I was also having issues with the decklid occasionally not popping open when I pulled the release cable after driving around for a while. The latch wasn't operating smoothly. This was particularly annoying when I'm by myself since you need to yank on the decklid while pulling the release cable which is physically impossible. SJF enlarged the holes bolts for the upper decklid latch so it could be adjusted more and trimmed the washers so it wouldn't pull shift the decklid when tightened. The release mechanism itself was greased and now the decklid latches with a very satisfying click with on a single finger and instantly pops open on first pull of the release cable.

Decklid on and emblem attached
This decklid actually came off a 3.2 Carrera so it had 4 small in the back for where the Carrera emblem was. I bought an old 911 SC silver emblem a while ago, had the pins in the back ground off, and put double-sided tape on. This perfectly covered up the holes and looks proper in the back for a very OEM look. The grill also wasn't a straightforward task. The T-bolts holding it in place weren't long enough so SJF had to fabricate something to use for now while I search for a more appropriate OEM solution. The color of the decklid is obviously slightly off from the rest of the car since it is newer paint but it's not too bad. I can survive with this until the respray.

Ducktail decklid installed
While SJF was finishing off the decklid install, I went on to replace the chrome headlight trim with some new black ones that I got. I thought this would be a simple 3 bolts per side and a quick swap but no, that wasn't simple either. There's only one bolt that actually holds the headlight in place. The other two are about 4" long bolts that are actually for adjusting the headlight aim but you still need to completely remove it to swap headlight trim. The nylon nut holding it all in place made this quite annoying and of course removing it meant I now have to re-align the headlights at some point in the future. There were also 6 "clips" that secure the trim ring to the headlight lens and trying to get all that lined up again when you do the swap required some finesse that I really couldn't be bothered with. Thanks to Jenna and Jeff for helping me with this because frankly, I don't have much patience for something so fiddly when all I want to do is a trivial change. Let's just say I'm not incentivized to replace the headlight trim again in the near future.

Black headlight trim installed
I actually like this new look. It adds a bit of aggressiveness to the front. I'm debating if I'm going to body-color match these when the car goes in for paint but for now I do like this over the chrome rings since nothing else is chrome on the car. The front fenders were also rolled a little to have better clearance at full lock so hopefully that prevents further future damage to it when I turn into steep driveways.

Side profile looking great
I've always wanted an air-cooled 911 with the classic ducktail. The lines just work really well and it's actually functional so I'm super stoked we got this done. I also put in a 12V USB outlet that shows the voltage. I was getting suspicious that the voltage regulator in the alternator was going bad and sure enough I verified that the voltage was fluctuating from 12.6V all the way to 17V. This could explain why the CDI and the AC relay randomly died. Thankfully most of the recently electrical upgrades in the car are designed to handle voltage irregularities but I'm worried this will eventually kill my battery or some other electrical system. I've got a new high output alternator here so that's getting installed very soon along with a new high output lightweight starter for improved reliability.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Small Interior and Exterior Fixes

With hot and humid weather and heavy thunderstorms in the forecast I didn't want to take the cars out today but instead focused on getting some deferred mini projects out of the way.

Project Day at Steguis Motorsports - 7-3-2020
First up was treating the new GTS Classic Seats. I asked Stefan at GTS Classic what I should do to keep the plaid cloth on the seats in good shape. He recommended using some fabric guard. This stuff's pretty cool, once it cures it pretty much makes the cloth bead water. Hopefully it'll help keep it clean. You're not supposed to apply it on leather so I masked off all the leather then when I was done treating the clotch, I applied some leather cleaner on all the leather parts. Now I can let it cure properly for 24 hours before sitting in it.

303 Fabric Guard for the seats
Next up was to do something with the ruined clear coat on the front right fender and hood. I'm still planning on getting the car painted but I still have a few things I want to get done before doing so. In the meantime, I just didn't want it sticking out like a sore thumb because frankly it looks pretty horrible if you look at the car head on.

Clear coat damage on the front fender
Clear coat damage on the front fender
As you can see it looks like someone was sweating on a black T-shirt and had all that salty sweat leave a crusty white mark everywhere. I wanted the car to at least be decent 10 feet away so I tried this L'Oxide oxide Reducing Emulsion. I was skeptical but at this point, I had nothing to lose since these panels are already in bad shape. After one layer I was already pretty impressed with the results. Sure if you're close you can still see the roughness of the clear coat but it's definitely not as bad as it was before. I'll probably put another coat next week and that'll hold me over until I get the car painted later this year. This also has to cure over night so it'll be ready for when I take her out for a drive tomorrow.

L'Oxide oxide Reducing Emulsion
After the emulsion, not bad, especially in a photo lol
Another minor thing that was bothering me was the factory fuel filler protective flap. After 37 years it basically stiffened up and kept getting in the way when trying to add fuel. I got a new one and it's nice and flexible again. It's the little details that make all the difference when you actually use a car.

Old fuel filler protective flap
Even off the car it's stiff 
New fuel filler protective cap
That's more like it
Before I dropped the car off at the shop a month ago, I installed the Element Fire Extinguisher on the rollbar and use the Rennline seat mounted extinguisher on the Cayman instead. Well after seeing how nice it was on the Cayman, I decided I had to do the same on Scarlett. Plus, it seemed super 90s ricer to have the fire extinguisher so visible from the outside when parked.

Rennline EZ Adjust seat fire extinguisher mount
Clean install, easy to get to and mostly out of sight
I even got this super easy to install/remove cup holder. I normally don't eat or drink in my "nicer" cars but sometimes you just want to bring a bottle or something with you and it's nice to have some place to put it securely. This installs with a simple thumb screw and can go pretty much on either side of either seat. I'm going to try this location first and see if it gets in the way.

Emergency Cup Holder
Finally, I was trying to keep the original 1980's rear license plate frame but there's just too much "Porsche" going on. It clearly already says Porsche right above it so I don't need to plaster more "Porsche" on the car. Thankfully Porsche makes a more appropriate license plate frame because I whole-heartedly agree...Porsche, There is no substitute. The black frame looks appropriate too with all the black accents on the car.

There is no substitute
One thing I didn't photograph because I know some people will take offense is that I put a Broadway mirror over the factory rear view mirror. Something JDM had to find its way into this car eventually. Frankly I did it because the top of the rollbar actually blocks a good amount of my rear view with the factory mirror and the larger 240mm Broadway mirror let's me see under it better so it's really a safety thing. If someone has a more appropriate German equivalent, then let me know.