rallyxPOS13 Reader
4/14/23 9:13 p.m.

Ok, shed water-tight, time to get the POS13 back in the garage before the first event.

At the last event of the season last year, I had one headlight adjuster fall off, and the other headlight aimed to spot enemy bombers coming in from above.

I've broken/fixed the plastic endlinks on these adjustment arms several times, and they're just too old and brittle to survive the abuse I give the car.

Enter McMaster-Carr:

More expensive than it needed to be because I chose to do it in stainless metric, and have LH hardware on one side for easy adjustment.

The stock adjustment rod is rusted metal with brittle plastic endlinks:

They fit up to a metal spherical fitting on each end:

I ground the 'ball' off the end of each fitting, drilled a hole through the center, and tack welded a stud to each location:



YMMV...   this car's been wrecked several times it seems in driftcidents, and the bumper doesn't fit quite right, the RH side cleared the bumper support just fine, but the LH side clashed with it slightly.   A bit of bending on the headlight brackets with some channel locks, and a small spacer behind the bumper attach bolts fixed it.

madmrak351 Reader
4/15/23 7:19 p.m.

I am Glad to see you back up and  making progress. Storage shed looks good. Really like the head light actuator rods. 

rallyxPOS13 Reader
4/17/23 9:31 p.m.

What a difference grip makes!

Before we get to the first 2023 Rallycross, let's do some last minute event prep:

Aligned the lights to sort of forward (looks angry without a bumper):

Also, there is occasionally fluid under the middlish of the car in the gravel... unfortunately, both the trans fill plug, and trans drain plug have been installed by idiots with impact guns and loctite, and I haven't been able to get them to budge.   However, since Miata wasn't the answer, I can fill up the whole transmission from the shifter hole, so I went with "How much fluid is in there?"  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ , more?  versus ¯\_(ツ)_/¯, not enough.

Fun story while entering the event.  I was traveling in behind a Clown Shoe there for some track day, and an E30 Drift car that was at Summit Point for a Drift Nirvana event right next to our course.  As I rolled up to the entrance, the poor booth attendant was holding all three clipboards for waivers, and trying to guess what this silly 240SX was there to compete in.  Drift was the first guess, but got RallyCross on the second one, it certainly caused some confusion! 


Ok, to the event!

We did the Barn Course, potentially named because there's an old barn.... next to the course:

Now up until this point, the entirety of my DC RallyX history is on the so-called 'Moondust' with snow tires.  This season I have a set of soft 205-width rally tires, and the course here at Summit Point, was a hard packed clay that most circle dirt tracks would kill for:

(note black stripes of laid down rubber)

Whereas at Panthera, I'm constantly chasing a millimeter wide path of ever changing grip through most corners, and managing wheelspeed through the dust..   Here, it was like a fairly open autocross with large bumps strewn about.  Most corners were even cambered into the turn, so if you blew it wide, you'd just come up on a gentle birm and bounce right back on the line.

With this freedom of line, the grippy tires, and suspension soaking up all the bumps, I could really just fling the car into a corner, lay into the throttle, and it'd just pull out into the next straightaway.  The other strange downside of this newfound speed: braking zones.  The brakes are untouched since I (technically the three A's) pulled this car out of a field. So the pads are unknown, and I've been having RF lockup issues on the street, and it was more of the same on the dirt, the fronts would lock up first, and I'd lose turn-in.  So I was attempting to re-learn how to threshold brake on a sort of loose surface.  To make this a little more complicated, the new much taller tires put most corners at either 7k in 1st gear, or bogging in 2nd, so I was also trying to make my two big clumsy feet press all the pedals at the same time, and coax a downshift into un-sycro'd 1st gear.   So yeah, real driving!

I was enjoying myself quite a bit, started getting the hang of it.  A few runs in, the guy gridded next to me wanted to know the URL for the live timing, and I looked at where I was in the massive pack...  Holy E36 M3!  It said I was in 5th place!  (I later discovered this was incorrect, because I was so far back in grid, the rest of the field had one more run than I had at the time, so my total was ~70 seconds faster)   So I did what any seasoned rallycross competitor would do in that situation:  Completely throw away the run 10' from the finish cones, fly off course over a birm, forget where first gear is, and lose about 10 seconds on the total.laugh

Now that those delusions of grandeur were over, I could go back to enjoying myself during the afternoon runs.  Some guy who was there with a buddy had a loaner helmet, and hopped into the passenger seat.   While heading up to the start line, he admitted to being a previous S-chassis owner!   So as I mentioned before, I tend to drive with a bit of extra exuberance with a passenger anyway to show them a fun time...  well with a 240 person on-board it was likely a bit more sideways than normal (or fast) for the afternoon runs.  Also tagged a bunch of cones hanging the tail out here and there.

Still, it was good to have a couple different passengers in the afternoon runs, they'd ridden in several different cars that day, and were able to give some relative feedback from the passenger seat.  That was valuable, and confirmed that the front suspension was soaking up the bumps better than most of the field. 

My times (raw, minus all the cones) were actually fairly consistent in the 72-73 second zone, and that's 2-4 seconds, and that's only 3-5% off the pace.   So the car's thereish.  I need to clean up the cones, focus on driving instead of screwing around this season, and I think I might be able to play with this incredibly competitive field.   I'll also be tweaking things along the way to try and make the car faster, and my driving easier.



So the list:

  • Install Li-Ion battery back up in the engine bay to get rid of the big box in the hatch
  • Cut out cat-hump from floor, and mount ultrashield on flat floor for more helmet clearance and minimize dust ingress
  • Make an airbox around the filter to keep dust out of the filter
  • Pull rear shocks and actually lathe a groove in there for lower spring perch, then source longer/softer springs for rear
  • Chip out soud deadening/remove rest of interior, and paint inside to keep rust at bay.
  • Drive it more!

There were tons of photogs swarming the site this time, so hopefully some decent pictures will surface in the next week.

madmrak351 Reader
4/18/23 8:12 a.m.

Great to hear the car is working so well and you are having so much fun! 

madmrak351 Reader
4/21/23 9:09 a.m.

Also I have a set of OEM front calipers with brackets you are welcome to. If you know anyone going to the Challenge I can bring them there.

rallyxPOS13 Reader
4/22/23 12:36 p.m.

In reply to madmrak351 :

What a gracious offer! I think if I have to mess with it at all, I'm going to put in Z32 brakes.  I'm fairly certain they're the same setup as WRX 4pots that fit under 15" rally wheels, and will improve braking.


rallyxPOS13 Reader
4/22/23 1:00 p.m.

One of the photographers at the event posted some great shots:


The pictures are great, I finally get to see the suspension working from outside.

Here's a shot where you can see close to full compression on the rear with the new larger tires, still plenty of room to tuck that tire in.  Also the LF tire under turning load with grip, the sidewall looks fairly deflected here. I was running ~30psi most of the day:


Here's one of my favorite series of shots.  A lot to grab from this series.  Since the rear is up on a birm, it looks like I'm using the droop travel to keep the front wheels with good contact patch keep steering in control.  Also with the middle picture, you can see the inside rear tire is actually lifted under the car.  That means I could better optimize rear rebound or droop to help get more grip.  It's also worth noting that the diff is apparently working, as the inside tire is airborne, but the outside still seems to be churning dirt just fine.  By the last picture, you can see while I'm obviously offline and driving like a jackass, the tires were able to grip up and send the front back to the apex. (Also, I need to order another gold "3"!  laugh )

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) MegaDork
4/22/23 1:03 p.m.

In reply to rallyxPOS13 :

rallyxPOS13 Reader
5/13/23 11:48 a.m.

Since moving out east, I've not made it out to watch/work at a Stage Rally.  With a free weekend, I decided to go down and watch some GRM'ers race at Bristol Forest Rally.

It's been a few years since I've been hanging out in the woods but it was really nice to be back.  The 'feel' was quite a bit smaller than I'm used to at the circus of a big national event at 100 Acre Wood.  For the Friday Night tarmac stage, I drove in with the marshals on the actual stage less than an hour before it was hot.  The spectator point had like 20-25 people instead of hundreds.  So I parked out on a side road and set up to watch some rally cars!

There were a lot of talented photographers out there in the woods...  I was not one of them.  It took a few cars for me to remember that I'm just some idiot with an iPhone, and the pictures were not turning out well at all, then I just gave up took the opportunity to watch and take it in.

Tarmac was.... weird.   I'm used to 'tasting' the stages, with a mild dust hanging in the air, and the dramatic spray of gravel.  None of the cars had a really specific tarmac setup, so they'd lean and squirm into the corners.  Not as fast and precise as watching a circuit race, but still quite interesting to see the difference in line and commitment.  Quite a few neat cars out there, two Mk2 Escorts, one with a V8 underhood, an Escort Cossie, and a good Rally Brick.   The bulk of the field was 2WD which was nice, with a gaggle of E30s, a few newer IS300s, and some Fiestas and VWs.

The next morning we woke up and made it out to the spectator point on stage 3.  It was a fun corner, a couple switchbacks into an up-hill hairpin right in front of us.  We got some prime viewing spots, and set up our chairs.

(the cars enter the corner straight ahead in this picture, the exit the corner uphill to the left of this picture)

There was this sweet Volvo Frontier clearing the course as 00!

The tight corner and low speeds meant many of the cars were pitching it in there with a flick to initiate rotation, really fun to watch.

Most of the pictures turned out to be just a nice crisp picture of this Mountain Laurel, with some fuzzy cars in the background.  I'll try to share some snaps of other GRM'ers in their build threads.

This was the bulk of the rally portion of the trip.  My sister and her family came up to visit us, and I had the opportunity to spend some time watching the rally with my 3 year old niece and 6 year old nephew.  They seemed to get a kick out of it.  I was kinda disappointed there weren't any opportunities to get up close to the teams or cars for the kids, no Parc Expose, and they wouldn't let us into service.  So our planned meeting point was just watching the cars queue up for the entrance into service.

So we caught an afternoon stage, it was basically a straightaway through an intersection with a nasty bump in the middle.  Plenty of cars catching air through there on suspension rebound, a rental IS300 and New Beetle (was that the old "Stud Bug"?) got points for height and distance through the bumps.

The rest of the time was hanging out with family, and we had the ulterior motive to check out some large plots of open land in the area, so the Velar did some more trail work with my brother-in-law's truck behind.

It was a great weekend, my wife enjoyed hanging out, and I think we'll be back for sure, likely to help out as marshals (I saw some... less experienced...  workers let cars past after counter traffic locals got on the stage and it was reported over the radio, and the response to the car fire was fairly slow and lackluster)

On the way home, traffic was backed up on I-81, so we chose to take the backroads through Lynchburg and Charlottesville.  It's a much prettier drive, and I was really glad we did!   At a stoplight I noticed a wisp of smoke pop up in the beam of the headlights!

I pulled over, and a puff of steam came out of the hood, there was a small indeterminate leak, but it was losing coolant out of the reservoir, it had already got on the belts, so spray was everywhere.   It's late at night on a Sunday, in rural Virginia, no auto parts stores open, Wally World doesn't have the specific coolant, so I spend the rest of the drive home cracking the pressurized overflow and pouring in a few cups of distilled water every half hour or so.

The leak's in there, somewhere....   After some research, Jaguar in their infinite wisdom has a coolant crossover pipe running in the heat between the V of the block, under the supercharger.  Any future engineers should take note:  This is not a great application for a two piece plastic tube glued together.   Sure enough, on the supercharged V6s and V8s, this part is known to fail at ~40kmiles.  So much so that the aftermarket created a cast aluminum part to replace it.    I love wrenching on project cars, but this one's the dealership's problem now.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltimaDork
5/14/23 6:58 a.m.

In reply to rallyxPOS13 :

Glad you got to come out and see some action! I thought not having parc expose was a little odd too, but I think it was a traded out for the tarmac stages on the first night instead- fun for the teams, at least.

rallyxPOS13 Reader
5/23/23 10:33 p.m.

Happy 5/23/23, as a died in the wool Nissan nerd, this terribly translates into Go Ni-San Ni-San! 

Update is that there was a RallyCross last weekend.  I sort of washed the car, bled the brakes to try and 'fix' the front lockup issues, and packed up the car for the event.

The night before the event, there was an email and facepace post buried in the infinite scroll threatening waist high weeds/grass throughout the course and paddock.  So I threw the old trusty Stihl trimmer in the back with my rallyX pack: (impressed the hatch swallowed it up)

When arriving on site, it was as promised.  We hacked our way into grid spots, and largely just grouped around the 'road' that made up the course:

I handed off the trimmer to someone headed out to work the course, and got ready to drive!

So yeah... racing.   Today was moments of brilliance drowned out with an overabundance of dumbassery.

First run:  Car feels great, the course is smaller, but not necessarily tighter, just in the meat of 2nd gear for me.  I'm able to rotate the car, and the recent rain has kept the dust down.  Coming out of the sweeper, it grips up great, and flies toward the next corner down the longest straight.  Brakes.... no really, BRAKES, COME ON BRAKES!!!   Nope.  Just locked up fronts, I went sailing off the birm of the corner straight on, no hint of turn in.  I stayed on the brakes, but since the waist high grass was also wet, it felt like it accelerated off the track.   Both at Summit and Panthera, the risk while going off track is real.  There's plenty of hidden ruts, holes, cliffs, etc. hidden just off line.  So I went both feet in and prepared for the worst.   After about 5 car lengths I feel a massive dip, the suspension bottoms out, skid plate smacks... something, I see some water splash, and notice cat-tails in with the normal field weeds, and freak out that I've beached it in a pond!   I grabbed reverse, floored it before I got stuck, and quickly pulled backwards, and flipped it around to find the course again.

As all runs count in a RallyCross, the day was pretty much blown at this point.  I hauled ass around the last couple corners to keep things from being red-flagged, and was pretty bummed that the competitive part of the day was blown.

Quick inspection in the grid, and it seems like all the wheels are attached and pointed roughly forward, and the oil pan is still there.  So I pull up for my second run, and throw down a very competitive time, with some very conservative braking into the corner I screwed up the last time.  Next run, I get about a 1/4 of the way around the course, and I see a corner worker just standing there in the course, no urgency that there's an ill-handling Nissan at full chat coming right at him.  Again, I ask all of the brakes, and I'm instantly rewarded by flinging off the track in understeer again.  But again, everyone survived the encounter.  The next run, car feels great, and I put down a top 5 time (literally 1% off the leader) of the morning in a very competitive class of 15 cars, followed by a couple mediocre runs to finish out the morning.

Working the course, and during the lunch break I was thinking back to the morning runs and looking at the times for the first time during the day, and apparently convinced myself the car was evil and untrustworthy.  So for the afternoon runs, my driving was terrible, and way off the pace.  I still managed to claw my way up from DFL, and there were moments where it all worked really really well, but overall not terribly pleased with myself.

For the car:  it hooked up great, it turned in sharply, had plenty of go, but anytime I asked for decel, it would spook me, and lock up the fronts.  During the afternoon sessions, I could at least anticipate and modulate the pedal to get some turn in, but I couldn't trust throwing it at fast corners, and was giving up quite a bit of speed on the tighter corners.  I noticed throughout the day, that the suspension was super noisy.  I've got a clunk on the LF, and both rear springs are rubbing on the coilover sleeves.  I also think the rears are binding, I'd chuck it into a corner, the back would step out and I'd commit to a line, accelerate to put weight on the back, and it'd hook up, but then post corner, it'd STEP OUT, but not predictably.  So I'd get some crazy fishtailing out of corners in the afternoon that I wasn't really expecting.  I'm not sure if it's suspension binding up when it loads or releases, or if the diff was getting too hot and the VLSD was giving up, not sure, but it needs some investigation, as it was causing some cone issues, and I wasn't able to keep it in the lines of grip.  They added a tight chicane to a corner, and I was fighting the fish tailing so much, I didn't even notice!

The day was really summed up by these pictures, interesting patterns of the wheat stalks slapped onto the hood as I launched the car (literally) over the finish line almost killing the timing box:


And huge thanks to Josh, his Raider was set up in overlanding mode as Casa de Corner 7 and shot some great pictures with elevation of the car doing it's worst:



irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
5/29/23 9:38 p.m.

lol, my corner is also where you went shooting off into the grass. Didn't have the camera on (nobody ever does that on the FIRST run lol), but it was pretty funny. We held off on red-flagging the course since you managed to reverse and get back on the course (no cones!) pretty quickly. 

rallyxPOS13 Reader
6/11/23 9:29 p.m.

With a bit of time between RallyCrosses, and the Rover in the shop for a minute, I decided to pull the car apart and catch up on some overdue projects.  First I yanked the engine to get better access to the transmission fill/drail plugs:

Dear past owner of this drivetrain: this was too many ugga duggas for a fill plug:

As you can see, everything gets filthy in a RallyX car, so I rolled it back out on some smaller wheels to powerwash the bay and fenders:

Since the braking was piss poor at the last event, I looked into the Tension Rod brackets.  There's only one longitudinal member to the front suspension, these rods set caster, and take all the braking loads up front.  On the 240, they're also the lowest point on the front suspension, and take a beating.  Especially on slammed drift cars, or cars driven by idiots who fly off rallycross courses!

Mine were no exception, very bent, I had to hammer them into place to fit the upgraded TC rods.

Nismo makes a upgraded version of these brackets have have the open "C" channel boxed in, and a welded brace running between LH and RH brackets, tying the braking loads and keeping the brackets from spreading.  Unfortunately, they're pretty expensive, and getting rarer.  GKTech again to the rescue again, this Aussie company makes a weld in reinforcement that boxes in the brackets better than the Nismo piece, and a cross brace that's gusseted into them.

On initial fitup, I needed some wailing on the brackets to true them up enough to accept these braces, and the cross brace went right by the holes I use to mount my skidplate, and would inhibit the bolt length, so I added a 1/4" spacer to move everything aft a bit, and a small clearance to allow the bolt.

I made an impromptu welding table out of some sawhorses, a bed base, and a drip pan, then a bunch of zip-zap to put it all together.  My welding is a bit like my driving:  Mostly acceptable, completely inconsistent, but with a few runs of actually good welds in there, to give me a glimmer of hope of doing this better in the future with practice.

Then I fitted it back up, and realized that this nice beefy suspension component was installed in a combination of rust and air....

Move to the East Coast they said, it'd be fun they said....

rallyxPOS13 Reader
6/11/23 10:11 p.m.

So the foot-long piece I just cut out of the surrounding rust is fairly complicated, it's got two racetrack flanged holes, and a return flange spotwelded at the bottom.  I'm honestly not that good at this patch panel stuff yet to tackle it....   But I just cut it out in a fit of rage, so guess I better practice on something.

But first, let's talk about tools.  When I built my shed, the reason was to move enough yard-crap out of the garage to make room for an air compressor.  When I had my shop in Kansas, I had a 60 gallon air compressor, and all the air tools to go with it.  Since moving here, I've had them all stuffed away in a drawer, waiting to get the air power.  This is not a quiet system, or without risk, and the garage is right under my bedroom....   so influenced by some youtubes, and some articles on GRM, I decided to throw money at a few key battery powered tools instead:

I already had an electric impact, so I picked up a cutoff wheel, a die grinder, and a finger sander.  These were the main tools for this project of cutting and shaping metal.   My Evaluation:  First up the cutoff wheel, 50/50...  It took an entire 12V battery to do one face of this piece, it'd almost instantly read 2/4 bars on the battery level, and it'd constantly torque-out and stop cutting.   However, I had 4 battery packs, they're fast and easy to change out, and the cutting disc lasted the whole job, rather than exchanging dozens of expensive dremel cutoff wheels.   The finger sander was a revelation, I'd never had one before, and it was perfect for shaping metal, grinding down welds, and applying local metal removal.  The battery lasted long, and it was light and nimble enough to get into places I couldn't fit the grinder or any other tools.  The die grinder was again a split story, with small diameter tools, it seems to spin up fast, last long, and work well.  I've been mostly using it with a wire brush to clean off paint/rust/etc, but anything bigger than ~2" diameter or press too hard and it'll torque limit and stop spinning.   Seems like my air tools had way more torque, or at least would bypass and still keep spinning..


Anyway, to the task at hand, I needed to practice on a patch panel before I tackled the front panel.  One part I'd hated since I bought the car was the giant battery box inconveniently located smack dab in the middle of the hatch, so it'd be in the way of any tires I needed to load. Also the power wire ran through the whole car unfused, and it was only a matter of time before grit and vibration shorted it out and burned the car down.  Not to mention this whole setup is quite heavy, I'll weigh it later, but I'm guessing 50-60lbs.

So much more room for activities! The hatchback's back!

The reason I'd not replaced it earlier that this car has an SR20 in it, with a janky front mount intercooler kit.  The real kits call out for a precise 3" hole saw location to allow the tubing to pass through the battery tray.  The previous owner thought a can-opener or chisel would suffice and there is a jagged, massive hole on each side, surrounded by rust.  I did some investigation with a wire wheel to look for good metal, than cut it back with the cutoff wheel to a straight-ish cut.  

Then transfered the cutout to cardboard, then cardboard to sheet metal...

I used 16 gauge metal so I'd have something to sink the heat into, but it was still a tedious tack on tack on tack to keep from blowing through the surrounding thin, rusty metal.

There's a phrase that I must have picked up on here: "a grinder and paint make me the welder I ain't"  so I ground it down with the finger sander, so it was mostly flush.   And the new battery fit in both orientations:


I think I like the terminal posts up, gives more access, and there's better routing for the harness around it.  I'll weld up that bracket this week.  In the eternal words of Danny Glover, "I'm getting too old for this E36 M3" and my back is killing me from welding in un-ergonomic conditions.

madmrak351 Reader
6/12/23 8:55 p.m.

Nice job on the brace build. Yes the base of the core support is a rust trap, yours is a little more rusted than some I've seen around here. However I am out of the snow zone most winters. Nice work on the battery shelf. I wish I had included the 90 degree flange into my repair panel. I may have to look into a finger sander, that looks handy. Looks like you are having fun with the car. Any progress on the front lock up problem?

rallyxPOS13 Reader
6/18/23 7:15 p.m.

In reply to madmrak351 :

No progress yet on the brakes, I've had a trickle of parts coming in to rebuild the rears.  When I was power washing it, I noticed that the rear brake pads only had contact with 1/2 the rotor area, and it's also sliding with the parking brake set, so I'll be investigating that next!   There's an event this next weekend, so hopefully I can find some time during the week to get the engine bay wrapped up, painted, engine back in, and start tearing into the rear brakes.

rallyxPOS13 Reader
6/18/23 7:59 p.m.

Happy Father's Day to the procreators out there!   Not being one of them, I got to devote some time into wrapping up my cut rate fabricobbling.

I applied the same technique to the other side as I did to the battery tray, closing up the hole from the that side.  It was much rougher cut than the battery side, and much more critical as this side keeps the dust out of the intake filter.

If you notice in the middle, there's an oddball square hole there, that's for mounting the relay box on the LH side... I'm not sure I'm using any of those relays anymore, AC and Cruise Control are long gone, Horn is largely inop, but the headlights still go up and down, so I wanted to properly mount this rather than just let it hang and flop around on some zipties.

After this many stacked tack welds, I felt brave enough to tackle the lower radiator support.  I took my 16 gauge sheet and lesson learned from the battery side, I wanted to make the bend first, then mark the edges... but something happened:  As I went to bend it over some spare 1/4" angle I had sitting around.... I discovered that angle itself was perfect fit for the hole, and would add some significant stiffness.

Part of why I chose this angle is the added stiffness meant I didn't need to add flanged holes like the OEM piece.  However, I didn't have a good way to cut the holes, I didn't have any bits that big, or hole saws that small for my drill.  But I remembered an episode of Project Binky where Nik Blakhurst (a surgeon with a cutoff wheel) did a radiused curve by sneaking up on it with parallel cuts of the grinder following the curve, then cutting it free and sanding into final shape.  

While I lack his skill, the concept was sound, and the tools were right there, so I gave it a shot!

Yeah, definitely don't have the skills...   BUT!  with a few diagonal cuts to clear out the bulk of it, it got close.

^The right side shows what it looked like after the cutoff wheel, then the finger sander fit perfect to clean it up (on the LH side)

It sort of looks like what's supposed to be there!  the thicker material made welding easy, and the big angle helped hammer the rest of the radiator support back to where it was supposed to go.

I also made up a quick bracket with the cast off cut from the angle to hold down the battery, and welded a couple nuts below the battery shelf.  This matched up with a couple Subaru transmission case half bolts, and holds the light battery down just fine. 

Then everything bare metal got a lick of self-etching primer:

While I was sanding and prepping for paint, I found a giant chunk of hidden rust on the other shock tower base, and welded it like I did the drivers side a long time ago.  I'm much better at my welding than the first time around, that gave me some confidence that this practice is helping.

So before the RallyCross coming on Sunday, I need to prep the bay for paint, hit it all with some Rustoleum, remove the sheared off exhaust stud, re-install the engine, top off the trans fluid, then rebuild the rear brakes, replace the pads and rotors, bleed the brakes, fab some new battery cables, and hope the whole thing still works!

haha, likely not to make it back to Panthera in a week.

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
6/18/23 11:40 p.m.

Some serious work going on! Don't feel bad about the welding, looks just like mine (and mine has held up fine for years). getting rid of rust and janky previous-owner mods is always nice though. 

madmrak351 Reader
6/20/23 12:28 p.m.

I like the angle reinforcement/ repair!

rallyxPOS13 Reader
6/20/23 8:55 p.m.

Still doubting that I'll make it by Sunday, but I prepped and got the POR-15 down last night, and finished painting the bay just now!

Maybe it's because I'm high off paint fumes, maybe it's because my standards dropped with each brush stroke, but I think it turned out OK!

I even had time to throw a coat over the rust starting in the spare tire well:

Can't wait to get it all covered in mud again!

Speaking of which, forecast is rain all week, and 50/50 on rain Sunday, so it'll be an interesting drive if the stars align and I can both get this done and the event doesn't get rained out.

rallyxPOS13 Reader
6/24/23 12:51 p.m.

Things looked bleak, I was fighting every other fastener, and the incessant rain was making it too humid for the paint to dry.

So I took some time off work Friday and thrashed on it.  Made great progress and just fired up the car again on the tiny battery (48lbs weigh savings according to a luggage scale)


What was I in here for again?  Oh yeah, brakes!

back to it!

madmrak351 Reader
6/25/23 10:13 a.m.

Looking good in gray!

rallyxPOS13 Reader
6/26/23 8:46 p.m.

Ok, rewinding a bit to before I got the engine in.

One of the main "while I'm in there" things of why I wanted to take care of was an header gasket that was leaking a bit.  This was due to a broken off exhaust stud below flush:

While I had the welder out and felt mildly confident in my welding, I cranked up the heat and feed, then started stacking tacks on it until it was above the flange surface, grabbed a random nut that was sitting around and applied copious amounts of molten metal to that, and with all that heat, it spun right out!


Also while I had the engine out, I dealt with a heater line fitting under the intake manifold that was leaking.

Then with the paint finally cured, I dodged some light fixtures and chucked it back in the car Friday:

Then it was just plugging in odds and ends, connecting all the systems, and trying to remember to tighten everything down.  As mentioned in the previous few posts, one of my big improvements was to go from the Optima boxed in the trunk to an Antigravity Li-Ion in the normal location.  I chose not to have the normal automotive style posts, and just went with typical lug style.  I know there's a proper tool to crimp these larger gauge wires.... but I had a chisel, a hammer, and a bodywork dolly, and that seemed to do the trick.  I'll say it starts way easier, the battery holds 13V, no weirdness on charging, and it handles inrush current surge from my fans much better than the trunk mounted solution.  Also saves 48lbs, so win/win!

As for brakes, my first attempt at fixing the poor braking was to start at the back.  I think the rears were just phoning it in during braking, causing me to overwhelm the fronts when I went to the whoa pedal. From looking at the old rotors, it seemed like I was only getting the middle section of the pad in contact:

The pads seemed to have meat on them, but I figured I'd try to tackle the 'easy' part of the rear braking system.  Re-grease the sliders, put some new aggressive pads and rotors, etc.

I also picked up this easy upgrade from one of my new favorite parts suppliers, GKTech.  The 240 has an integrated e-brake function in the caliper where a small lever actuates the hydraulic piston.  So they sell a slightly longer lever to yank on, giving more force at the brake.

With it getting late on the day before the event, literally the last thing started to bite me in the ass.  With the aforementioned integrated e-brake function, to replace pads, you have to 'wind' the whole piston back into the caliper with some grooves around the edge.  Again, I'm sure there's a great tool that's purpose made for this...  but for two decades I've used this green handled pair of needle nose, and a kungfu grip to wind them back in:

Passenger side went back together easy, but the driver's side wouldn't budge.  I noticed the seal was torn, so I sprayed a bunch of PB Blaster in there to loosen it and took a break.  When I came back, the piston would spin, begrudgingly, but it didn't seem to retract.  After fighting with that for a while, I even tried it with the bleeder cracked, then threw a C-Clamp on it too, but the piston wouldn't budge.   I tired to jam it over both brakes, but it wouldn't go.   

Well E36 M3, I wasn't going to let this keep me from the event, so I figured 75% is a passing grade, so I left the house with 3/4 of the new brake pads installed, and one old pad.   Bedded the pads on the way to fill it up with gas, and it seemed to pull mostly straight on the e-brake, but temps were not at all even on the IR pyrometer (like 360 one side, 200 the other).

I figured I had 2 hours for it to self clearance on the way to the track if the brakes were dragging, so I threw a fire extinguisher in the car and started packing.  Flushed some rusty muddy water out of the radiator, put some coolant back in, and called it ready to go!

rallyxPOS13 Reader
6/26/23 9:53 p.m.

The drive into the RallyX was uneventful, there's three gas stations split fairly evenly on my drive there, so I'd stop and make sure the coolant wasn't bleeding out a bunch of air, the PS leak hadn't increased, or the Li-Ion was going thermal to burn down my whole life. 

Rolled into Panthera ( I love the drive into this place!) and got ready.  

While this region typically pulls 50+ people every event.  It rained literally the entire week and there was some in the forecast for Sunday, so I think it scared some folks off, as a result, this event felt much smaller and more what I was used to back 'home' in Kansas and Missouri (where we'd run events with a dozen folks).

We still had an OK showing in Mod Rear, so plenty of folks to compare times to.  Every event I've been to at Panthera has been hot and dusty, and as I've previously mentioned this creates "moon dust" which is really hard for me to drive in.  This season with my better tires, I was kinda looking forward to battling the moon dust and seeing if I needed millimeter precision to keep the car on the grip line, or if they would accommodate a bit more sloppiness that matches my car and driving right now.

Well the course didn't start out with dust.  It was an interesting mix of moist spots, and dry spots, but nothing too dusty in the morning.  The corner I was working in particular had a nice little puddle on turn in:


On the way in, I noticed a lack of torque in the car.  I'm never all the way sure, because it's way slower than my daily.  But as I was climbing up some of the mountains on the way into the site, I found I needed to add quite a bit of throttle to hold speed up hills.  From quite a bit of driving 240's over the years, and I never recall lacking the ability to accelerate up a hill with ease when the revs were above 2.5k   Now I found myself flooring it at 3k...   I figure the brakes were dragging, but when I got to the site, neither back wheel felt hot at all, so I dunno!

How this manifested itself on the course was that with the tighter, technical section of Panthera was that I was either on the limiter in first gear, or bogging in second gear.  So my fastest runs were flying down the hill in first gear, tickling the limiter into the first corner, then modulating the throttle around the corners at 6-7k.   

The morning's event was a battle of attrition in MR, on my first run the MR2 was dead just after the finish line.  Josh and Eric were out in the E30 next, there was a dirt track Subaru there that also had some issues.... and I was left basically hot lapping the car.  No time to get out of the car and check anything out, when I'd drive all the way around to the staging area, they were calling for cars at the start.  It was EXHAUSTING!   A relentless 10 runs in the morning session was remarkable! I was tired from the week, didn't have a bunch of sleep, and during the course of bouncing the car off the limiter time and time again, it was so hot in the cabin, I had melted my shoe!

The car however, just kept running solidly.   Josh (irish44j) took a run in the car.  Having that external feedback was validating some of the things that are digging at the back of my mind.   I've driven so many terrible POS's over the year, I've adapted to driving around issues and ignoring them.  Having that outside opinion of the car confirmed that the back wasn't really gripping up, it wasn't consistently transferring grip/weight to the back.  It was also notable that Josh's time was right there with the E30's with only one run.  So the car's got the potential, just need to work on my driving and dial in a few parts of the car.

In the afternoon, we ran the same thing, backwards.  The uphill running of this course seems to flow better, and was somehow faster than the downhill run of it.  Due to the extra speed, I found I needed to be in second gear instead of first, but again was feeling a lack of the torque to rotate the car at will without some additional revs, so (with another crapton of runs in the afternoon) I started to play with using the dust that was now back on the outside of turns, so spin up the tires to slow down, but keep the revs up so I could accelerate out to the next corner.   It got a little sketchy sometimes...

(Huge thanks to the corner worker, not just for the video, but for coming out the event, not driving, but putting in all the hard work on the course in the hot humid sun!) 

The MR cars that finished the event, were luckily the same ones that had to drive themselves home.  Myself, a red miata who I was trading times with back and forth throughout the event, and the silver E36 M3 that has a build thread on here too.

As I was driving home, sunburnt and smiling, I thought back to the past couple weeks.  This is why I do Grassroots Motorsports: not for the plastic trophies, not even the competition, but to give myself a profoundly stupid goal, barely complete it, go drive around like an idiot, and then come back home again.

jfryjfry SuperDork
6/27/23 9:36 a.m.

Congrats on a good weekend.  
very curious to watch you figure out the low-power sitch 

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