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lxnm New Reader
6/21/20 3:20 p.m.

In reply to irish44j (Forum Supporter) :

So, what are These indentations called if they're not sipes?

Today I finished grooving the tires, completely unrelated to the grooving guide in the link above.  The whole procedure actually wasn't that bad once the knife got hot.  Start in the morning, work outside, and it's basically fine.  No pics because the next 3 were exactly the same as the first one, but with slightly straighter cuts.

I then moved onto a project not entirely MR2 rallycross related, but a little bit.  Now that I have a race seat in the MR2, I need to put the driver seat somewhere.  Also, I've been using my crawler as the seat for my sim rig for a couple of months now.  There's an obvious solution to both these problems.  

I started by making a frame for the seat rails out of some leftover bar and angle stock I had lying around.  Here's the frame being assembled

The slight complication was that the inside rear mount (upper left in the photo) is not on the same plane as the outside rear mount (upper right in the photo).  There are probably lots of ways to fix this, but when you have a lathe in your garage things tend to look like lathe problems.  You can't see the spacer I made for that mount, but it's just a piece of round stock that I bored a hole through the middle of.  

You can see that I'm welding the frame together, in the photo those are just tack welds.  I did the tacks (and the captive nuts) with the tig welder because that way I don't get splatter all over the combustible upholstery.  But, the plan is to do all the finished welds with the mig machine.  I've been having problems with the mig for a while, it seems to be having trouble melting the mig wire or something, so that is just jabs the metal.  No combination of settings seems to fix the problem, and I've suspected for a while that the wire gauge (0.030") was just too large for the welder.  So, I got a spool of 0.023" wire (what the machine recommends), and am hoping that will fix the issue.  If it does, I can use the mig on for the skid plate refurbishment and not have to clean the surfaces quite so well.  

The good news is that the smaller gauge wire seemed to do the trick and the machine is welding again.  The welds are a little proud, but much better than they were.  I'm sure a least some of that is technique though.

If anyone is wondering, the Mig machine is a Lincoln Handy Mig, and I do not recommend it.  Get something better.   

After I had everything tacked all together, and before I started laying beads down with the mig machine (photos out of order), I took the frame down to see if it would fit the rest of the wooden sim rig.  I had measured the sim rig earlier, then measured the steel frame, then double checked that it matched the sim rig.  Of course, I messed it up anyway

I'm off by about 1/8".  But, that's why it's just tacked together.  A little time with the angle grinder fixed that right up.  The final result still looks like I built the rig out of scrap wood in about a day (a fairly accurate description), but it works

The seat moves back and forth now, in case I have any visitors over wanting to try it out, you know when I can do that again.  But, the steering wheel is now a little high; I'll fix that some other weekend.  You can see my creeper there behind the MR2 seat, I still need to move that back into the garage.  

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
6/21/20 5:02 p.m.

Sipes are super-thin and meand to allow the tread block to "open up" to better grip on ice/snow. Basically they're there to create more vertical surfaces for tires to pick up snow to create traction (or something like that). On my Alpin Arctics:

On gravels, the openings are much wider (and the blocks are much harder rubber) so I don't think they have that kind of effect. There's no way one slit there is going to allow for more tread block "opening" I wouldn't think.  I've always heard rally tires had these larger blocks with a smaller slot inside of them so that you can tell tread depth at a quick glance during service (i.e. tell if you want to change tires) without going around measuring the tread. As the tire wears 25% (or some other number) the "big block* disappears and as it wears another 25% (or whatever number) the "little slit" disappears. 

That, or just for additional general traction. Anyhow, I've never heard them referred to as "sipes" on gravel tires. But I certainly could be wrong.

My Yokohama M+S Rally tires (meant for winter rallies) have much thinner cuts (and more of them) in every tread block, which would definitely be sipes since the tires are meant for snow and frozen stuff. 

lxnm New Reader
6/23/20 3:58 p.m.

Today a harness bar showed up in the mail, it's something I ordered a very long time ago and has taken quite some time to actually arrive.  This brings up the rather contentious question of safety in this car.  When I ordered the bar I hadn't really looked into the topic, and now that it's here I know enough to be somewhat indecisive on how to proceed.  Safety is quite the rabbit hole, and I'm pretty sure the only surefire solution is to never ever drive a car anywhere.  But, I have the harness bar now, and that means I better figure out what I'm going to do.

The argument is that using a harness in a car without a roll bar is more dangerous than the 3-point belt the car came with.  If you roll the car, the harness will keep your body upright and if (when) the roof compresses, that's going to put the weight of the car on your spine.  Generally considered a bad thing, and there is a real possibility of rolling the car on track.  As a counter point, the 3 point belts in the car currently are 35 years old, and the inertial lock for the belt doesn't appear to lock anymore when you yank on them (I tested them recently).  That doesn't seem all that safe either, and I can't exactly just get them new from Toyota anymore.

Right now, I'm looking at 3 options:

  1. Get a DOT legal harness, probably one of the ASM Schroth ones (but I'm open to suggestions)
  2. Try and source new 3-point belts.  If the belts from the 86+ MR2s will fit, this might be doable without visiting a junkyard or buying something sketch from China.
  3. Put my head in the sand and pretend there's nothing wrong with the belts that are in the car now, and/or try and refurbish the belts I have.  Seems like a bad idea.

End of the day, there's not really much I can do to a 35 year old MR2 to make it a safe car.  I'm probably over thinking this.  I should also probably get a trailer.  

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
6/23/20 5:04 p.m.

Just don't roll it, and you'll be fine ;)


lxnm New Reader
6/23/20 5:58 p.m.

In reply to irish44j (Forum Supporter) :

Sounds like a vote for option 3!  Also, not rolling is always the plan.

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
6/23/20 7:34 p.m.

btw, I bought 3-point belts "from China" for the Raider and they are probably twice as good quality as the OEM 1980s belts that came out of the truck, looking at the stitching and material thickness/weave. So I wouldn't worry about buying non-OEM belts - where do you think most OEM belts are probably made in the first place (China!). 

The bigger is concern is whether the China/ebay belt retractors will fit in the space the original ones went and/or have the same attachment positioning and design (for the Radier, the answer was "no, but I modified things to work")

If you're worried about the harness safety, one option is to just make the shoulder straps all that tight - keep them loose enough you can slip out of them. Also, if you don't have a sub strap (5/6 point) you can pretty much just slide down under the lap velt.  Obviously none of these are idea, but for rallycross, I personally wouldn't sweat it. 

lxnm New Reader
6/28/20 7:20 p.m.

The plan for the weekend is to tackle refurbishing my skid plate enough that I can use it one more season (maybe) before building a new one.  Before starting on that, I figured I'd change the oil since you can't do that with the plate on.  And while under the car, I noticed that one of the bolts for the clutch slave cylinder was missing.  This turned into a giant pain to get back in there.  

The slave cylinder in this car is well known to be a giant pain to access.  Access to these bolts is tight, and they're hard to see.  To make matters worse, the bolts go through a bracket for the transmission shifter cables, then through the slave cylinder, and then into the transmission.  Here's a photo, maybe that will help

Three layers to get lines up for the bolt to grab the threads, and you can't see the hole from the bottom of the car or access it from the top.  Actually, the bolt that's missing is fully blind, you can't see it at all from the bottom of the car.  I'm not sure how I noticed that it wasn't there actually...

I have replacement M8 bolts, a whole case of them.  But for the life of me, I couldn't get the damn bolt to engage the threads and actually tighten.  After about an hour futzing around with it, I figured it was time for more drastic action.  First I tried making an alignment pin, so that I could align the hole and then tighten down the other bolt.  That didn't work.  Then I modified the bolt so that there was a built in alignment pin in the tip

That didn't work either...  What finally worked was removing the other bolt entirely and putting in the other one first.  Guess I should have done that sooner.  ah well.  I finished the oil change and moved onto the skid plate.  This is the skid plate

This is not a heavy duty plate suitable for stage rally use.  Instead, it's a frame of 1/8" steel bar stock, with 22 gauge sheet metal wrapped around it.  I did paint it, but the color you see now is a healthy coating of West Virginia clay.  That wet spot is where the coolant leaks to when invariably add too much when trying to top the car off. 

The front mounts to the engine mount, and the rear mounts to a bracket over the engine mount.  These should be pretty solid.  The left and right to the mounting points which I think were meant for the plastic under-tray of this car (which I never had) and are flimsier.  The final mounting point is more supplemental and not really needed, it goes way up into the wheel well.  

Even though it's not very heavy duty, a look at the other side seems to indicate that it's effective, at least for rally cross

The plate has taken some pretty heavy hits at the front, where I was expecting it to and it's holding up ok there.  It's also taking some big hits in the rear, and that's where I'm having a problem.  The tab/bar that mounts to over rear engine mount has been kind of flattened out.  The bracket it bolts to is also looking pretty sad

You can see here that the 1/8" metal bar-stock has been pretty heavily deformed through abuse, and there's a tab missing on the bottom of the photo which is used to mount the bracket to the frame of the car.  It's also pretty rusty, because I didn't paint it for some reason.  What was I thinking?  

Anyway, I need to remake the bracket at the back hopefully stronger than before, bend the rear mounting tab of the plate back into position, and reinforce the rear mounting tab so that it can take a bit more abuse.  That's the plan.  Here's the new rear bracket

I've added gussets to strengthen the joints, those should face towards the front of the car so that I hopefully won't run into the same deforming issues again.  There is a captive nut in there too of course.  And here's the reinforced skid plate mounting tab

That's a piece of angle to stiffen up where I was seeing hits to the skid plate, and another gusset thing to keep the mounting tab mostly straight.  The welds, well hopefully they're functional.  I did the entire seem since I can't paint the inside of that angle, it probably wasn't necessary.  

In other news, I took the car in to get an alignment today (Sunday, surprised they were open).  About 15 minutes after I dropped the car off, they gave me a call and told me the rear ball joints had a lot of play in them.  They showed me, and there's a lot of play in the rear lower ball joints.  How'd I miss that?  Guess I know what I'll be doing this week.  

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
6/29/20 11:33 p.m.

Good God. That looks about 100x more abused than the stage rally plate I've had on the car for several years lol.....

lxnm New Reader
6/30/20 7:16 a.m.
irish44j (Forum Supporter) said:

Good God. That looks about 100x more abused than the stage rally plate I've had on the car for several years lol.....

Amazingly though, it's been pretty effective.  Neither the oil pan nor the exhaust have new dents that they didn't already have before I got ahold of them.  Golden can't say that about his oil pan...  Also, the plate looks a little better after a new coat of paint/rust converter.  Not a lot better, and that paint isn't going to stay on there for long, but better. 

 My original plan for this year was to build a new plate out of 1/8 or 3/16 aluminum sheet, possibly still reinforced with a framework like this one.  That would have been stronger, and less prone to rust.  But, the plan got scrapped due to all of the other work I was doing, and something called a budget.  Aluminum sheet is annoyingly expensive.  

Nice job on the sim rig. Here's what became of my AW11 seats.

Despite the fact that I live in TN, those mounts sticking out front are for pool cues, not shotguns.

I'm really enjoying the build.


lxnm New Reader
7/1/20 12:58 p.m.

In reply to wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L) (Forum Supporter) :

That's some pretty slick seating you have there.  You even added a center cosole with cup holder!  I don't have one of them in the car or on the sim rig.  

lxnm New Reader
7/2/20 7:39 p.m.

New ball joints are here, and after removing the driverside joint, I can see what the problem is; I'm pretty sure they're supposed to have greese in the boot

The driver side ball joint was particularly sketched up.  The outside of the boot had a tear in it, and the pin for the castle nut was missing.  I suspect it's been replaced before.  But, the plot thickens.  With my head now under the suspension looking for problems, I spotted this

That's the rear toe link, again on the driver side.  I'm pretty sure that there aren't supposed to be holes in those boots.  I'm guessing that the abnormal joint wear is due to this side missing the dust shield for the brake rotor, probably the heat is causing them to fail extra quick.  I don't have a replacement dust shield thing though, or a replacement outer tie rod end.  

Getting the lower ball joints back on required some creative use of the motorcycle jack.  When it's not crushing my fingers, I really like having this thing around.  It's like a seat, which doubles as a useful tool that occationally gets cranky and bites you.

With the lower ball joints replaced, I'm not feeling any play in the wheel anymore.  Hopefully I can put off replacing the tie rod end for now, maybe I'll just upgrade the whole toe link while I'm at it.

lxnm New Reader
7/4/20 12:18 p.m.

I was moving the skid plate the other day, and noticed that the wheel well mount was about to break off.  I should probably fix that.  I reinforced the joint with some bent 1" bar stock, and just welded it on.  

These still aren't pretty, but slowly starting to get better.  Like maybe I've once seen a welder before, from a distance.  In any case, that worked and the joint is much much stronger.  

After that, I pulled the exhaust off the car to fix a few pinhole leaks it had acquired.  Who ever welded that thing together (that was me) didn't do it properly.  I also gave it a coat of exhaust paint.  The exhaust itself is stainless, but the weld beads aren't.  There were corroding annoyingly fast.  The adapter for the supertrap on the end was particularly bad, I may have to make a new one soon. 

No photos of the exhaust, but here's the skid plate on the car

I also the car out for a drive.  The rear ball joints did quite a lot to improve high speed stability.  The last thing to get done before the event is get the car aligned.  That's scheduled for Tuesday.  

lxnm New Reader
7/5/20 9:58 a.m.

The MR2 is pretty well set for the event next weekend, so best leave it be and not risk putting it out of commission.  Instead, there's a somewhat related Toyota that needs a little bit of attention.  It also pushes the capacity of my garage a bit, I really wish the ceilings were a little higher.

This is supposed to be my tow vehicle, although I haven't actually towed anything with it yet.  A Tacoma isn't exactly a large tow vehicle, but it has a tow capacity of 5000 lbs which is enough, and I'm ok going slow.  

This truck itself is a bit of a unicorn, especially in the local area.  It's a 1999 Tacoma V6 MT, which is already pretty unusual.  On top of that, this thing has basically no power functions, which means that there are no electrics to break.  Manual windows, manual front locking hubs, and no cruise control.  This is probably exactly the specification you would want if you were into off road adventures, so it's not too surprising that it's got welded on rock sliders (which make getting in and out a little difficult), and evidence of a bull bar up front which has since been removed.  But, most surprising of all for the area, the frame is in 1 piece!  

These Tacomas have pretty serious frame rust issues, and they heavily salt the roads in MD which makes the rust that much worse.  This truck came up from South Carolina though, and and the frame is pretty solid.  This is the frame rail next to the driver side front leaf spring shackle.  It's sandwiched in there right next to the fuel tank, and this is where the rust problems start.  

There's some healthy surface rust there, but inside the frame it's clean.  I should probably get something on and in the frame so that it stays that way though.  I have a can of POR15 for the purpose, but that isn't today's project.  Instead, if this is going to be a tow vehicle, I need to be able to hook up a trailer with brakes to it.  That means inspecting the hitch situation this thing has, and installing a brake controller.  

The hitch is a REESE unit, as is the wiring harness.  The wiring is just a flat 4 thing, but as a pleasant surprise it's a fully preassembled harness.  There are no janky splices in the tail lights, and all the wires are surrounded by corrugation.  Things get a little less legit when you look at the 7-pin connector that is also attached to the hitch.  It was held in place with some zip-ties, and a closer inspection revealed some possible wiring oversights 

The black, purple, and blue wires are all completely unconnected.  They have a crimp on them, but are only crimped on one side.  The white wire (ground) is very loosely connected to the frame.  By limited knowledge of trailer wiring tells me that blue should go to the brake controller, and purple is reverse lights (maybe I can leave that one unconnected).  Black though, that's not normal.  Process of elimination says that it's probably auxiliary power.  

I did run into 1 minor issue while I was under there.  It looks like a bracket for the parking brake got bent.  That resulted in the cable lying on the rear diff, which got hot and damaged the wire bellows thing and rustified the cable.  

Also, flash photography sure does make this look a lot rustier than it does in person.  I should probably get on that rust prevention work

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
7/5/20 10:25 a.m.

Frame painting is always fun I had to do all that with the Sequoia as well...damn Dana frames....

I don't think you'll have any trouble towing We towed 4,500 all over the place with my V6 4Runner no issues. Just don't tow in 5th/OD. 



lxnm New Reader
7/6/20 7:05 p.m.

A little more truck action today.  The front bumper of the truck wasn't sitting quite straight, and I wanted to figure out why.  Maybe even fix it.   I figured probably some mount somewhere was missing or bent.  So, off comes the bumper

The evidence that this was an old off-roading toy increases.  The front of the frame studs are suspiciously ground flat, and several of the bolts that hold the front bumper together are missing.  I strongly suspect that there was one of them fancy high clearance bumpers on this thing at one point.  It'd probably look pretty something if I put one back on, but the powers that be were pretty clear that it wasn't in the budget, especially for a word truck that doesn't need a straight bumper to function.  

The lower cross brace thing between the rails is also bent up a bit.  I suspect this is off-roading wear, rather evidence of an accident.  Just eyeballing it, things look reasonably straight.  That means just about nothing, but I don't feel like taking this thing somewhere with a frame jig.  

On the bumper front, I'm pretty sure I can get it a little less wonky by just replacing those bolts.  Maybe not perfect, but better.  

While I was taking stuff apart, I also pulled the skid plate to look for oil leaks, you can see it there on the scissor finger trap.  When you get this truck going, it smells pretty strongly of hot oil.  But, there haven't been any leaks, and it doesn't appear to be loosing oil.  From the bottom here, it's pretty clear that something on the driver side is weeping pretty good.  It's going up pretty high, so it's probably something in the valve cover.  For now, I think I'll learn from 95maxrider's mistakes and leave well enough alone.  I'll replace those seals when I do the timing belt.

lxnm New Reader
7/7/20 4:33 p.m.

MR2 went in for an alignment today, and I just got the car back.  It seems to be better, not squeeling around corners so much any more.  

Going in measurements: (positive toe points in)


+0.3    Camber    -0.7

5.8      Caster       5.9

+0.92 Toe            +1.42


-1.3    Camber    -1.6

-0.7    Toe            +0.41

So, severe toe in on the front, and wheels not straight in the rear.  Not exactly ideal.  Now, I'm at


+0.3   Camber   -0.4

5.8    Caster      5.3

+0.03  Toe         +0.02


-1.4   Camber  -1.9

+0.19  Toe        +0.19

The camber numbers didn't change much.  There's a chance they didn't bother taking off the wheels to mess with the adjustment bolts for that.  It'd be nice to get a bit more negative camber in the front though.  

Then on the way home, I noticed that during moderate braking the front left wheel kept locking first, and earlier than I expected.  I was noticing this at the autocross too, but ignored it.  So, when I got back home I jacked up the front, and had my lovely assistant press the brake pedal until the front left and right just barely locked, and then checked the other one.  Interestingly, there's a lot more drag on the front left, and it's resisting locking up during this test.  I think it's time for a caliper rebuild, or it would be if new new reman calipers weren't so cheap from rock anyway.  Still, not going to try and fix this before the weekend, that's just begging to decommission the car right before the first event.

lxnm New Reader
7/10/20 9:28 a.m.

I know I said I wasn't going to do any more work on the MR2 until after the first event, but there were a few small items that still needed doing.  Things that were very unlikely to break the car in any way.  First up, I needed to get the harness bar in the car.  I've been putting this off because the way the bar mounts means I will not be able to use the stock seat belts once it's installed.  So, once I had confirmation that a harness was actually going to show up in time for the event, I put the bar in.  

This is the T3 bar, it mounts to the outer seatbelt mounts.  Because of the shape of the seatbelt clip things, I can't squeeze them in under the mounting points for the belt.  With that done, I can get the seat and harness in place.  

Seat and harness positioning is a bit of a balancing act.  I'd like my wife to be able to drive the car, and she'll be co-driving on Sunday.  The seat doesn't slide, so we both have to be able to reach the pedals.  Similarly, I need the harness positioned such that we can both cinch our selves down in it without too much trouble. 

The harness is blue because that's what I could get delivered in time.  But, maybe blue is growing on me.  This is the Schroth ASM harness, with fancy something something which is supposed to keep you from sliding under the lap belt in a crash.  Does it work, I don't plan on finding out.  It's favored by autocrossers since it's easier to get in and out of than a traditional harness due to the buckle style.  

First impressions are that this thing is going to be a pain to get cinched down, especially and specifically the lap belt.  Maybe it'll loosen up a little with time, it'll certainly work for now.

Last, and probably lowest on the priority list, I got some mounts installed in the car for a camera and phone.  

The phone mount is a little hard to see, since it doesn't have a phone in it (being used to take the photo).  You can see it behind the gear shifter though.  It's primarily for nav information when driving places.  I should be able to use it for solostorm style tracking too, but previous attempts to do that in the MR2 had my phone overheating about 10 seconds into the run.  The camera mount on top is just a standard go-pro mount thing, with a screw running through the mount and into the metal frame to make sure it doesn't come loose.  Really though, I don't usually bother recording my runs as I don't usually get very much out of the process.  

lxnm New Reader
7/13/20 12:08 p.m.

Rallycross 1 for 2020.  Not the first rallycross I've done in this car, but the first I've done since rather a lot of changes have been made.  This includes the transmission, differential, springs, proportioning valve, seat, and a lot of weight reduction.  I was expecting this to feel like a different car, and it did.  

Day 1 was on the smaller lot.  In the morning, things were a bit wet from either some overnight showers, or just dew.  There's been a lot of dew lately.  It was pretty well dry by the afternoon.  Temperatures were warm, but with a breeze.  It was a pretty nice day for a rallycross.  

In general, the car setup felt pretty good.  Stability under acceleration was great (a new feature), and car rotation mid corner was slow and predictable (that's a good thing).  That meant I could generally get on the gas pretty early in a corner, and using the throttle to rotate the car was surprisingly easy.  I didn't have trouble with rear suspension travel bottoming out over bumps.  I'd hit the bump stops over the largest bumps, but that's what they're for and the car wasn't too unsettled.

The braking situation was less awesome.  I had a lot of issues with the car not turning when you were even looking at the brake pedal.  Several times, the car would suddenly start turning the second you took your foot all the way off the pedal, especially when turning right (which you usually were in the morning).  The net result was that I pushed into a lot of cones in the morning.  

The afternoon was drier, and I hit less cones.  Somehow these runs are a little less memorable to me, maybe because less overtly bad stuff happened.  I also left the video camera on through lunch, so by the time I was up to drive the afternoon runs the battery was dead.

My wife was scheduled to co-drive on Sunday, and she wasn't about to put up with camping.  So, she picked me up Sat afternoon, and we went off to a cool sounding air bnb she'd found in Charlestown on top of a brewery.  This didn't work out so great.  The apartment was clean, and large, and pretty nice.  The brewery that the apartment was attached to also had pretty good food and beer.  What sucked was the bed, it was a soft pile of E36 M3.  Neither one of us slept that awesomely.  

Sunday morning, we got out to the track a little early to do some basic maintenance on the car.  I installed a passenger seat, changed the tires, and checked the oil (I definately burned some).  Waiting for me one of the tires was this little dude

I guess my tires look like trees or something.  Saturday, I was driving on the re-grooved tires.  Sunday, I switched to the indisports.  These are soft and a little knobby, not really the best choice for very dry, very firm clay.  But, the re-grooves were feeling awesomely grippy the first day.  I figured I'd swap out the tires at lunch and get a kinda A-B comparison during the afternoon runs.  

The day 2 runs were done on Barn course, which is longer and made of smooth clay with lots of grip and sizable straights.  That's not really the best match for the tires, but grip felt pretty good to me.  I had a co-drive on Sunday, and swapping drives with the seat and harness was a bit of a hassle.  But, a major bonus of having a co-driver is that I get some exterior shots of the car on course

I am strongly encouraged to make sure my co-drive enjoys herself when she comes out, so I ended up paying more attention to her than I did to my times.  Overall, I was slower on Sunday.  There was a lot of grip, but I was timid on the brakes, and probably could have carried a lot more speed through the corners.  I didn't do awful, but I could have done better.  

The afternoon runs started dry with no breeze at all.  The dust being kicked up was a little ridiculous 

Then the rain started.  Just sprinkles at first, which was nice to stand in and cool off.  The dust started to settle, and things were looking good.  Then the rain really came down

It only rained for about 15 minutes, but the results were pretty drastic.  The entire course became pretty muddy, and sections turned into ponds

Also, the timing computer got wet.  The inevitable result was that the afternoon runs were canceled.  Fun runs were offered, and if I were by myself I probably would have taken one and then regretted it then next day.  But, my co-driver was ready to head home, so I packed up early.

So, overall I think the car setup is pretty good.  My issues right now are the brakes.  It seems like the brake bias is still too far forward, but the proportioning value is already set to full rear.  Not trusting the brakes meant I was kinda timid on them, which usually means slow.  Reviewing the video I took, and just thinking back on events, my of my turning while braking issues mostly happened while turning right.  I suspect what's going on is that the front left caliper (the loaded brake when turning right) is sticking until you take your foot all the way off the brake.  That matches what I was seeing earlier, and if that's the problem I'll have it solved once I replace the brake calipers.  

In terms of driving, I'm doing ok.  I'm about 1-2 seconds/run off a competitive (but not class leading) run, if I can also not hit cones.  MR in this region is extremely competitive, so that's actually pretty quick.  Even better, I can see areas of the runs where I could clearly improve, which isn't something I could say last year.  

Hooptie_Josh (Forum Supporter)
Hooptie_Josh (Forum Supporter) New Reader
7/13/20 7:26 p.m.
lxnm said:

From the bottom here, it's pretty clear that something on the driver side is weeping pretty good.  It's going up pretty high, so it's probably something in the valve cover.

Passenger side would have been luckier.  Sure you've realized the driver side valve cover on the 3.4 requires intake manifold plenum disassembly.  I had never seen so many seals on one valve cover: spark plug seals, bolt washer seals, half-moon seals, the cover seal itself, as well as the aforementioned manifold plenum gaskets.  Doing a pair is a fun afternoon.

lxnm New Reader
7/14/20 1:09 p.m.

In reply to Hooptie_Josh (Forum Supporter) :

Sounds like I have something to look forward to, as well as strong encouragement to wait until I do the timing belt to tackle the seals

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
7/14/20 2:45 p.m.

I guess all of the bugs were enjoying rally tires this weekend :)

lxnm New Reader
7/18/20 7:18 p.m.

A somewhat boring update today.  My wife decided to buy some flowers, which doesn't seem like a problem except that there's not actually a flower bed to put them in.  She expects me to build that for her.  Building a flower bed requires excavating all the crappy MD clay we have right now, and then filling it back in with some top soil.  And getting top soil requires a truck.  

All of this is a kinda long winded way of saying I need to put the truck back together, so I can take it to the dirt store and buy some dirt.  Ideally, I'd like to put the bumper back on in a less janky way than before, so it's actually time to take a look at what wrong with it.  

There were two major problems to correct.  The first was some missing bolts, these ones here circled in red and shiny because they were replaced with my McMaster stock (I may have replaced some of the others as well)

These bolds sandwich the pastic floppy bumper between the bumper reinforcement bar (I think that's what the parts book called it, a big metal piece that is bolted to the frame), and the chrome trim pieces in front.  The chrome was sitting askew because it wasn't actually very attached to anything.  And the bumper was all floppy because it was just sitting on top of the big metal piece bolted to the frame.  

Replacing these bits made the bumper a lot more rigid, you know, like a bumper.  There were also some missing clips, you can see on circled in yellow in the photo above.  I replaced those too, because I had replacements.  Seemed like a good idea.

The other problem had to do with the mounting studs for the ends of the bumper.  These were in sorry condition.  

These studs attach to that white plastic piece, because I know when I think bumper attachment points, the first and sturdiest thing that comes to mind is some plastic.  The problem here though is that there's a missing bushing.  I'm not sure if it's clear in the photo or now, but there's about 1/4" of play in where that stud attaches to the plastic.  Also the nuts are pretty rust-seized.  

I'm sure I could just order replacement bushing things.  But, that wouldn't get the dirt to the house today.  And anyway, I have a lathe here who's only purpose is making parts that I could just buy for pennies.  So, I made some bushings out of delrin.  Doing this required finding my delrin stock, a surprisingly hard procedure.  I know I'd just ordered some, and figured it was in a box in the house somewhere.  But, I couldn't find it anywhere.  Finally, I remembered that I'd put some delrin in the cabinet that's over the lathe, you know, I'd put something away (shock).  And there it was, waiting for me.  Only now I had the derlin, but not the part I was machining it for, that I'd placed somewhere in the house while looking for the delrin that was actually in the garage.  I do this a lot.  Anyway, here are the new bushings, and a new nut for good measure.  

When I got to putting my nice new bushing on the other side, I discovered that it was not as square as it should be.

The bend is what would happen if you bumped into something and pushed the bumper towards the car.  In other words, this little piece here is a major part of why the bumper was sitting uneven.  I should buy a new one, but you know, gotta get dirt.  Instead, I kinda bent it back into place with the vice, and am calling it good for now.

The last thing to do was put the bumper back on the car.  I actually got all this done (and excavating the dirt) by 10am in the morning.  I started early, because working in the heat sucks.  The rest of the day was spent driving the truck around looking for treated lumber and dirt.  

Nice wright up! 

Professor_Brap (Forum Supporter)
Professor_Brap (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
7/19/20 12:22 p.m.

Good progress, amazing how well the thing skid plate works. 

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