Sunday, August 26, 2018

Setting Baselines

I finally got a chance to take Kay out to her first autocross today. I was initially planning on attending the Porsche club event at Poconos Raceway but opted instead to go to the Philly SCCA autocross at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. It would give me a better baseline as there are lots of good drivers with very well prepped cars that I could use to compare against.

Ready to run - 8-26-2018
One thing I love about the Philly SCCA region is that they're a well-oiled machine and as you might expect the event ran smoothly and we were easily done by 3pm. The downside is that we only had 4 runs. From a competition perspective I'm fine with this but from my goal to get enough seat time to learn a new car, this was a bit limiting. The course was also relatively short and the surface was a bit slippery with a good number of off-camber corners (just the way the site is banked so this was unavoidable).

Philly SCCA Autox - 8-26-2018

In the few runs I did have, I learned a few things:

  • You kind of have to keep the Cayman running between runs so that the engine can cool (you can't just "lift the hood")
  • As the engine cools, the radiator fans blow an insane amount of hot air out which is great. This air is directed into the front wheel well. 
    • Neat feature if you're trying to get your tires warm
    • Not so neat when you're trying to keep the tires cool!
  • There is a very noticeable difference in Sport mode. The dampers definitely tighten up and the throttle response is quite abrupt. I'll have to get used to this. The throttle is almost "too" responsive which can make modulating tough on slick surfaces. I suspect it's perfect for high grip surfaces though. 
  • Unlike the S2000, the Cayman seems to like getting manhandled. You have to kind of chuck it into corners and in slaloms. 
  • It puts down power very nicely even without a diff
  • It's nice to have torque coming out of slow corners lol
Paddock - 8-26-2018
I improved with each run but was still about 1.2 seconds off the lead coming in 2nd. I'm not overly concerned about position right now though. I definitely had more time out there. The best part of Street class is not having much to tweak so I can just focus on finding time by making corrections in my driving here and there. I had a ton of fun today and the challenge to figure out how to drive this car well is going to be a rewarding worthwhile endeavor.

Setup Notes:
- Front bar set to 3/5
- Tire pressures: 31psi front / 28 psi rear

46qt watertight storage tote in the frunk
Oh, I also got to try the storage tote I got for the frunk to put all the autocross stuff in so it's easy to load and unload and not have to worry about things getting wet if it rains. I got the idea off rennlist from a GT4 guy but apparently, the GT4 can fit a bigger bin. I ended up getting a 46qt watertight storage tote from the Container Store and it's a perfect fit in the frunk. 

LED interior bulbs
I got so used to having LED interior lights on the S2000 that I felt it was weird to have standard bulbs in the Cayman. Unfortunately, a lot of cheap bulbs don't work properly. They either don't fit right or eventually cause errors that some bulb isn't working. I opted to get the kit from SunCoastParts which has all the right resistors on the bulbs to work correctly and swapped all the interior bulbs with LEDs during my "off heat" today and I'm now a happy guy.

Let there be light...LED lights!
I wasn't liking how the silver Porsche center caps from the OEM wheels were looking on the Anthracite OZ Allegheritas so I ordered some grey Porsche center caps from Germany and they look so much better. I didn't take any close up but you can kind of see it on the picture of Kay in paddock.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Risk Management

I dropped Kay off with the capable hands of Lee Nieto of Hybrid Motors in Fairview, NJ before going out of town for a few days so he could take care of installing the final pre-emptive fixes on her.

German cars everywhere - Hybrid Motors - 8/22/2018
Although the Cayman is such an incredible platform, it has its own design quirks and known weaknesses like any other car. One of the parts that can fail and lead to a catastrophic engine failure is the air oil separator (AOS). The AOS on Porsches is basically over-engineered (read as expensive) catch cans. The OEM unit is generally adequate but not when coupled with higher grip tires and competitive use. Add to that age of the car and in turn the rubber diaphragm inside the AOS and you've got a potential ticking time bomb. Failure of the diaphragm can lead to sudden oil pressure loss and you can say goodbye to a $15k Porsche engine in a heartbeat.

Stock AOS (left) vs Porsche Motorsports AOS (right)
Porsche makes a motorsports AOS for the 996 that people retrofit into various model Porsches but there is actually one specifically designed for the 987 Cayman. It is designed to fit into the tight space of the 987 engine bay and features a dual chamber to have higher capacity and give additional time for the oil to drain so it doesn't overfill under higher G-loads.

Porsche Motorsports 987 specific Air Oil Separator
You also need new screws and hoses (all part of the kit if you order from places like SuncoastParts) since it relocates the ports for the AOS and the tight squeeze does make it a bit of a fiddly install.

Porsche Motorsports AOS installed - 8/17/18
(Hoses not yet connected)
New hoses routed and attached to AOS - 8/17/18
Another well-documented point of failure on the 987 platform is the shifter cables. More than a few have been left stranded by cables that have snapped (primarily on the transmission side). There's no damage when this happens and you can fix it after the fact but I'd rather not have to worry about that since with my luck it'll happen at the worst possible time or location. Porsche actually doesn't sell the original cables anymore. They now only sell the revised version that requires new hardware on the transmissions side as well. This part supersedes the old part so is fully legal under SCCA Street Class rules.

Revised shifter cable
Revised shifter cable transmission side hardware
You'd think this should be a straightforward and easy install but it actually isn't because of the need to replace the hardware on the transmission side which isn't particularly easy to get to. This job takes many hours to complete. It does away with some of the rubber bushings to provides a more direct feel and less slop as well.

Older hardware with rubber bushings
New hardware - metal on metal
Lee made sure to route all the cables exactly as factory and you can tell there more of a cripsness in each shift. It doesn't change the throws but just the peace of mind knowing that the new version is less likely to just fall apart like the old one is worth the extra money and effort to me.

New shifter cables installed - 8/20/2018
Finally, I wasn't sure if the power steering fluid was replaced anytime recently so I had Lee put in fresh power steering fluid, Pentosin CHF-11S (OEM spec). Dirty power steering fluid is a cause of many power steering pump failures and leaks so this is cheap insurance.

Maintenance Updates:

Mileage: 32992
- Power Steering Fluid Change - Pentosin CHF-11S
- New Porsche Motorsports Air Oil Separator
- New / Revised shifter cables

Sunday, August 12, 2018

More Maintenance and Little Details

It was comforting when I bought Kay that major service up to 30K miles was done but when it comes to fluids, I prefer to make sure that gets changed under my watch so I know what's truly in there, how much and how old. We got the oil change sorted out two weeks ago so today I went to see SJF Performance to do a few little odds and ends on the her and figured I'd get the transmission fluid changed too.

Mobilube PTX 75W-90 - 8-12-2018
One of the best recommended transmission fluids for the 987.1 CS is Mobilube PTX 75W-90 which I believe is what they use from the factory. I was able to pick up 3 Liters from Suncoast motorsports which is one of the only suppliers for this in the US. It was a good thing we did do a fluid swap because it looks like the transmission was previously slightly overfilled. When SJF took the fill plug out, quite a bit of fluid gushed out. It's not a super big deal but more isn't always better. The level for a 6-speed 987 should be just below the fill plug hole. After draining the old fluid which actually looked pretty clean otherwise, we added 2.8L of the new good stuff. Maybe it's a placebo effect but the transmission definitely felt quite a bit smoother on the drive home.

Topping off the AC refrigerant - 8-12-2018
One thing I did notice on the drive back from VA when I picked the car up was that the AC was cold but not as cold as I'd expect especially if you took it out of recirc mode. I didn't see any specific notes in the maintenance notes for the car from previous owners that any service had been done on the AC so I figured it just needed a good recharge. Steve added about a pound of refrigerant and it's now ice cold again.

While SJF was doing that, I wanted to fix something on the rear bumper that I wasn't too fond of. The bumper from the factory has an opening which is obviously there to let air through and not have the bumper turn into a parachute at speed but I wasn't a big fan that the mufflers were just easily visible through it. I picked up some Zunsport rear black grills which were easy to install (basically just wedged in) and I think it tidied up the rear a bit more.

Rear bumper open (stock) - 8-12-2018
Zunsport black rear bumper grills - 8-12-18
Much tidier rear - 8-12-2018
(Excuse the dirty bumper, drove through a downpour yesterday)
To get as much airflow into the engine as I can get, I also replaced the intake filter from the OEM paper to the aFe Magnum Flow - Pro 5R (Model: 10-10106). It's probably not going to give any appreciable gains but I might as well start with a known quantity. It was also a good chance for me to check out the engine bay for the first time. Super happy how clean the engine bay is. I highly recommend the aFe filter. Steve and I only took a few minutes to put it in which is a big relief since people that install the K&N filter report taking well over an hour trying to get that filter to fit right. It's a perfect fit and slots in just like OEM does.

First time seeing engine bay - 8-12-2018
New aFe Intake filter - 8-12-2018
New filter (left), Old filter (right) - 8-12-2018
New Filter installed. 
Next up I wanted to fix my cell phone holder. My defacto cell phone holder choice is always ProClip but it sadly is not very good on the Cayman. The center mounted version sits to the left of the radio and when you put your phone there it's mostly obscured by either the steering wheel or your hand (or both). It also doesn't seem to sit tightly as I wanted. I ended up picking up a Rennline ExactFit Magnetic Phone mount instead which fits snugly to the panel to the right of the radio. It's very solid and the phone is still easily visible but out of the way. This is definitely the way to go on a 987 Boxster or Cayman.

Notice the ProClip mount just behind the wiper stalk
Really bad placement of phone mount (ProClip)
Much better Rennline mount - 8-12-2018
Finally, I also got to test my new GoPro mount which is a RAM Mounts (RAP-B-400U) small tough-claw with 1" diameter rubber ball connected to a short double socket arm and a Ram Mounts GoPro adapter. It's nice and solid and clamps firmly to the bar between the driver and passenger seats.

GoPro 5 Session Mounted - 8-12-2018
GoPro 5 Session Mounted - 8-12-2018
I previous tested just the GoPro mounted there and the audio is terrible with the windows down. All you get is wind noise so I bit the bullet and got the external mic adapter and it's connected to a 6-foot extension and a Sony ECMCS3 Clip style Omnidirectional Stereo Microphone. Unfortunately I didn't get any audio because apparently you first have to turn on the camera using the back button before you record or the mic adapter won't work properly (i.e. one touch record doesn't work with an external mic).....arghhh!!!

Maintenance Updates:

Mileage: 32949
- Transmission Fluid Change: 2.8L of Mobilube PTX 75W-90
- Refilled AC refrigerant
- OEM air filter replaced with aFe Magnum Flow - Pro 5R