Rodan HalfDork
12/25/18 11:39 a.m.
mr2s2000elise said:

Prettier than my wife, weighs less, and more useful too 

Ouch! surprise

Rodan HalfDork
12/25/18 1:30 p.m.

So now that the welders are squared away, the next project is a work/welding/fabrication bench.  When you have a 20x20 garage, and as much crap as I do, consolidation (Garage Tetris) is the name of the game.

About a decade ago, I was doing the RC aircraft thing pretty heavily, and I built this workbench to build planes/helis on:

It's got a solid core door for a work top, and is built pretty solidly, with a 4x4 frame.  It's also on casters so I can roll it out from the wall and work all the way around it.  It's been a good sturdy bench and has served me well, but isn't up to fab duty.  So I'm going to replace it with something that is, and try to combine some other functions while I'm at it.

A few years ago, I also built this out of an HF cart:

It has also worked well, but it's really too flimsy for the task.  The plan is for it to go away as well.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I had planned to do this last spring, but HF discontinued the tool cabinets I wanted to integrate into the bench, and I stalled out.  Last weekend I picked up the new cabinets...

Here's the basic design:

The frame will be 2x2 .120 wall square, with the cabinets on the ends facing forward, since it will spend the majority of it's life against a wall, though it will be on casters.  I've been doing a bunch of research and looking at a lot of homebuilt fab benches on GarageJournal, YT, etc. and found a bunch of ideas about how to integrate tool mounts into the bench.

Here's a couple:

This guy has a really interesting video on building a modular worktop for a welding table:

YT fabrication table build

I'm thinking I will probably do something similar, but with only half the worktop, as in the second pic above (the one with the bandsaw).  The entire worktop will be 6ft x 32".   I have a vise that will be permanently mounte, and a tubing notcher, cutoff saw, and portable bandsaw that I'd like to build modular mounts for.  Hopefully I will have room to store them under the bench.

Anyway, hoping to get started on this over the next couple of weeks.

Rodan HalfDork
12/29/18 9:26 a.m.

On the ZL1 front, its coming up on time for an oil change...

Doing some research, I discovered that GM is changing the specified oil for the LT4 engine (CTS-V, ZL1 and ZO6) to a new Mobil 1, 0W-40.  Previously, they had spec'd one oil for street use and another for track use, creating an obvious problem.  This new oil is approved for both street and track, making life a little simpler.  Comes at a cost though...

~$11/qt and 10 quarts for an oil change.  surprise

At least the filter is cheap! cheeky

I'm hoping that the cost will come down as mainstream retailers start to carry it.  Right now, I was only able to find a few shops that had it in stock.  Ended up ordering from Summit.

Sorry for the huge image... grabbed it off google.

Rodan HalfDork
1/5/19 1:07 p.m.

Finished the oil change on the ZL1... pretty easy, with an easily accessible filter and drain plug.  Filter is vertical so mess was minimized.

Only one hiccup...  I pulled the drain plug, and it didn't have an o-ring/gasket.  Hmmm.... looked at the pan after draining, and there's a captured seal.  Good to go!  Well, not really.  Got everything back together, checked for leaks, checked levels and got the car back on the ground.  When I started pouring the used oil from my pan into a container, I found an o-ring at the bottom of the pan.  Crap...  Went online, and did some checking and sure enough, there's supposed to be one.

Put the car back on stands, and pulled the plug, trying to hold one finger over the hole while trying to get the o-ring onto the plug and then get it back in... didn't end up spilling very much. cheeky

Lesson learned.


Rodan HalfDork
1/5/19 4:37 p.m.

Also had some cool parts come in from Swag Offroad... table kit for my HF bandsaw.

This piece bolts in place of the stock foot...


And then it drops into the table:

Awesome stuff!  

I'll be taking the legs off and fabbing up a removable mount for my bench... bench design is coming together but still working out some of the details.

mr2s2000elise Reader
1/6/19 9:50 a.m.

I use the 0w-40 in my lotus, but had been using the Shell Rotella T6, with pretty high zero content . . Maybe time to give that Mobil you pictured a look, since rest of my fleet all run Mobil 



Rodan HalfDork
1/11/19 12:10 p.m.

I decided I wanted to switch to NB2 front upper control arms for the extra bracing, and I found a couple on eBay from Miata Mecca in Phoenix.  With free shipping, it was cheaper and easier than driving to Phoenix.

I ended up paying a little more than the typical eBay price, but most sellers don't differentiate between NA, NB1 and NB2 arms and use stock photos so it's unclear exactly what you're getting.  In this case, I knew exactly what I was getting, and they were nicely cleaned up and in great condition.  I also knew it would be easier to deal with any potential problems with the seller being semi-local.

Now I just need to pop out the bushings and ball joints, and clearance the bracing.  

Rodan HalfDork
1/11/19 12:22 p.m.

In other news, I dropped the dually off at the body shop earlier this week (FINALLY!).  Just got a phone call... NO FRAME DAMAGE.

Well, that's a big relief! laugh

Bill Mesker
Bill Mesker Reader
1/11/19 8:40 p.m.

In reply to Rodan :

Whoo hoo! When they say Ram Tough, they mean it! smiley yes

Rodan HalfDork
1/18/19 7:33 p.m.

I was driving the NB the other day and the power steering went out just as I was getting home...

Finally got a chance to dig into things today and found a little issue with the pressure line...

Apparently, it got a little too friendly with the PS pulley...

New hose is due in tomorrow morning.  So much for my Saturday... cheeky

In other news, got the truck back today.  laugh  Everything looks good, but I'll spend some time inspecting everything tomorrow.

Rodan HalfDork
1/20/19 12:13 p.m.

So I fixed the power steering hose on the NB.  It's a little irritating when replacement parts are made just enough out of spec that support brackets no longer fit...

It would appear that the failure was my fault... I think I routed that hose wrong when I did the engine swap, putting it too close to the A/C pulley.  A re-occurrance is unlikely with the proper routing.


I spent some time going over the truck, and except for a couple of very minor details it looks good.  They recleared the entire bed after repairing a couple of small scratches where the bumper touched the paint, and there's some bubbles in the replacement protective clear plastic on the front of the wheel flares that may or may not disappear, but I'll talk to the body shop about it.

It's nice to have the truck back, and now I can go get the trailer and bring the NA home for some event prep for next month's trackday.


Rodan HalfDork
1/26/19 12:37 p.m.

Brought the NA home from the 'trailer park' this week.  Time for the pre-season inspection since our first planned event is around 3 weeks out.

I got the car up on stands, and went over it stem to stern.  Only issue I found was a very slight wiggle in the front hubs.  I pulled the caps and re-torqued to factory spec (they were a bit loose) and it's all good.  I'll keep a close eye this season, as hubs are a known wear item for track Miatae.  Other than that, everything's ready to rock.

Boring pic of Miata in the garage.  It's amusing how much smaller it is than the Camaro...

I drove it around a bit yesterday to blow out the cobwebs and put some electrons back in the battery.  I also got it weighed again, as I needed a current weight for classing for the Time Trial series I plan to run this year.  I'm waiting for word back on whether I need an actual dyno sheet, or if I can get away with Virtual Dyno for the first event.  Classes are calculated from an average of HP/TQ and weight, with a modifier for tires.

Car weighed 2045 with 5 gallons of fuel in the tank.

Rodan HalfDork
2/7/19 6:57 p.m.

I finally got the NA on a dyno today...

After I did the engine swap, and got the car running, I did a bunch of street tuning.  It felt pretty good, and the virtual dyno results I got seemed to be in the ballpark, so I thought I'd done a decent job tuning it...

I was wrong. cheeky

I'm a total noob to tuning and I'll admit it.  All the hours researching VE, AFR and ignition tables... logging, and reading logs.  Well, I had the car way lean.  Didn't help that it appears my AFR gauge appears to be reading .5-.75 rich.

I had figured I left something on the table, but it turns out I left a LOT...

Pardon the pic... couldn't get my scanner to play nice, so I had to take a pic of the printout.  Sheet is baseline when we put it on the dyno, and final result.

So, peak to peak 23hp and 15lb/ft.  

But the really good improvement to me is the shape of the curve 3500-4000rpm.   There are several corners at the tracks we frequent where the car is pulling from 3500rpm, and this is going to make a huge difference in acceleration. laugh

I never did get a response to emails or calls from our organization, but we're all signed up for next weekend, and I'm entered in the proper Time Trial class.  Looking forward to our first outing of the season!


Rodan HalfDork
2/7/19 7:05 p.m.

Oh, the car after me on the dyno...

4.2L(!) 964... I wasn't able to stick around to see numbers, but it sounded GLORIOUS!  laugh

badwaytolive Reader
2/8/19 8:55 a.m.

Good stuff- thanks for posting!

Good luck at the track!

Rodan HalfDork
2/17/19 9:04 a.m.

Well, our first event of the season is in the books...

It was spitting snow when we left our house, but great racing weather in Phoenix, if a little on the cool side... right at 50*F when the track went hot, with a high of ~ 60*F. 

The track is WildHorse Motorsports West track, sometimes called Bondurant West.  1.1 miles, and about perfect for a Miata.

I have a LOT of laps around this track, but all on a motorcycle, and running the opposite direction of what we were running.  And the last time I ran here was 2006... cheeky

Lots of cool stuff showed up, including some late model heavy metal...

The guy in the Porsche Turbo S was fast, but drove like a tool, making some stupid passes.  At the end of the day, I was running 3 seconds faster(!) than the guy in the C7 ZR1.

My wife was out first, and said the grip wasn't great, but was having fun, and starting to figure out the track.

I had started out with our NT01s, and with the cold, green track (lots of rain lately) the car was really loose, and I was sliding everywhere in the first practice session.  I forgot to start my lap timer app, so I didn't get any data.  2nd session was better as the track and tires started to warm up, and I was ~ 2.5 seconds off the lap record for my TT class.  Next session was my first "timed" session for the TT class, and I took another tenth out, but I was realizing the NT01s were done.  Looking back at my records this morning, that set of NT01s is 4 years old, and had done 11 track events!  And unfortunately, they'd spent some time in our trailer in freezing weather this winter.  

The car was running great, and felt really strong after the dyno tune.  Unfortunately, I don't have any historical data from this track, so I couldn't compare lap times or speeds.  Next time out, I'll have some data for comparisons.  Gearing was an issue, as 2nd was too short and just slowed me down, but I was coming out of a few corners at ~3500 in third, and wasn't getting good drive.  I really need a 6 speed trans to fill that gap.

I swapped on our Rivals for after my timed session, and my wife came back in and said the grip was much better.  I went out for my next practice session, and immediately picked up almost a full second.  In my last timed session, I pulled out another few tenths, but I still ended up about 1.5 seconds slower than the class winner, who dropped the lap record by ~.5 seconds.  I still felt pretty good, as he was driving an ND Miata on Hoosiers.

So, second out of 5 drivers for my first TT event, on a track I'd never driven... pretty happy with that! laugh

Now it's time to replace the NT01s... I'm not going to spend the $$$ on Hoosiers, but looking for a little more... probably Toyo RRs.

Some other cool stuff that showed up:

Mildly (180hp) turboed NA

Wildly modified C3 'Vette

Even a couple of ZL1s

Gotta love a guy who can gut and cage a brand new $70k car! yes

We didn't take our ZL1, as I wanted my wife to have her first outing in it on a track she knew.  She had a good time driving the NA, and I think driving on the shot NT01s was good for her.

Next event is in a month, and I need a set of tires for the NA, and still need to do a few things for the ZL1 to get ready...  it's going to be a busy month!

Rodan HalfDork
2/22/19 11:34 a.m.

I ordered a set of Toyo RRs today for the NA.  Should be in next week so I can get them mounted up for the next event.

Seemed odd to buy race tires during the biggest snowstorm in 20 years... cheeky

I know a lot of folks here get snow like this on a fairly regular basis, and we get snow regularly here in the AZ mountains, but very rarely this much in one storm.  ~24" in some areas over the last 48 hours, and another 4" expected today as it moves through.  16-18" in our yard...

Had more than that at my office yesterday... and had white out conditions for a while.

Unfortunately, since this is pretty unusual, our local snow-removal process is less than optimal.  We'll be dealing with snow on our street for some time.  Fortunately, our Bronco is up to the challenge.

Time to go back outside and see if I can shovel enough to get the truck out.... 

adam525i Reader
2/22/19 1:11 p.m.

Throw a plow on that Bronco and pay for those RRs when the weather hits like this :)


AngryCorvair MegaDork
2/22/19 2:16 p.m.

In reply to Rodan :

Looking at that HF impact, they all say "tool only" but don't provide convenient link to battery / charger.   or am i missing something?   

Rodan HalfDork
2/22/19 3:28 p.m.
AngryCorvair said:

Looking at that HF impact, they all say "tool only" but don't provide convenient link to battery / charger.   or am i missing something?   

They sell the tool separately.  Just search "Bauer 20V battery" and "Bauer 20V charger" on their site.  All the 20V tools take the same battery.  You want the 3.0Ah for the impact.

As an update, the impact has worked really well, and I'm still very happy with it.

Rodan HalfDork
2/22/19 3:44 p.m.

Took a pic of the NB...

Rodan HalfDork
2/23/19 2:21 p.m.

We're three weeks out from our next event, which will be the first time out for the Camaro.  I've been waiting, because I wanted my wife's first time on track in the Camaro to be on a track she knew, so she could concentrate on learning the car.

Only one problem...  the track has a 95dB sound limit, and I know from talking to other drivers that a stock ZL1 won't pass sound in track mode.  sad

Well, it has active exhaust... why not just use "stealth mode"??  The manual specifically says not to use 'stealth mode' on the track.  I think this is why... surprise

So, I've been planning a 'Laguna Seca' exhaust for the Camaro.  I found a couple of pics online that gave me some ideas:

The other problem is that the track has two sound meters... one on each side of the track, so the "point it away" trick won't work.  So I'm going to try "point it up"...

One nice thing, with the active exhaust in track mode, all of the exhaust goes out the outer two tips.  Any gasses that do end up coming out the inner tips will have gone through the muffler and I'm not worried about that.  So I only have to build two tips.

I started with some 3" 90 degree bends from Summit.  Nice thing is they slip right into the stock tips.

Bad thing is they're very close to the bumper.  I could only find 60* or 90*, and I really wanted something in the middle.  So I broke out my HF bandsaw on the SWAG Offroad table (have I mentioned I love this thing?!), and cut a wedge out of the bend.

The wedge was to take ~15* out of the angle, and once tacked back together, you can see the difference from the 90*.

And both tacked up...

Don't have time to finish weld them today, but once I do, I'll start working on a bracket to mount and support them.

Rodan HalfDork
2/28/19 6:29 p.m.

On the Miata front, Toyo RRs mounted and ready to go for the next event...

Mmmm... sticky! laugh

Rodan HalfDork
2/28/19 6:30 p.m.

On the Camaro front, still working on the "Laguna pipes"...

Getting it aligned in the morning...

wawazat Reader
2/28/19 6:48 p.m.

Roasted marshmallows and S'mores at lunch?  If there's enough heat to melt the fascia it should cook them up nicely.

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