Door bars suck

This post is to let you know that door bars suck. I thought crawling into the race seats was pretty bad. Then I started crawling over a door bar and into the race seat. It’s rough. I’m old. And decrepit.

I got a door bar kit. I set everything together and realized I need the swingout kit as well. I spent a while deciding where I wanted everything to land, then started cutting and hacking and then finally tacked everything together. For those that are interested I used the calculator here: https://dogfeatherdesign.com/ttn_js/ . It is a fabulous free tool and kudos to the folks that figured it all out. The penis shaped printout got me in the ballpark, then it was just a matter of grinding and refitting until it was close enough.

As hard as door bars are to climb over, they are great for stiffening up the car. They made a noticeable difference, especially after they were fully welded.

Tick tick tick tick

I’ve never had a motor that didn’t have some sort of top end tick, whether that’s worn cam follower or cam chain slap or whatever, I’ve always heard ‘tick tick tick’ in all my engines. I tried hard to make the Corvette quiet but was unsuccessful. This holds true for the FireTurd.

I put on a set of admittedly Chinese rocker shafts, hoping to quell the tick. If anything, this made the ticking much louder and more noticeable. I decide that I probably had a bad lifter. I cleaned up and reinstalled the 141,000 mile lifters in my junkyard creampuff rather than replace them. I jammed a piece of hose against my ear and moved the other end all around the valve covers to determine the noisiest point. Unfortunately I found the noisiest point to be under the intake manifold on the passenger side. I decided to pull the intake manifold and take a look-see at the offending lifter.

For the true-blood Chevy guys out there, you’ll immediately say “You can’t get to the lifters on an LS engine from under the intake manifold” and to you folks I say “Yes but I didn’t remember that from when I had the engine apart three years ago”. So I yanked the passenger’s valve cover and the intake manifold, only to realize with despair that I would have to pull the heads to check the lifters. I just leaned on the fender and stared at the passenger’s side head for a while being depressed about it. That’s when I noticed the shiny push rod.

It turns out that #4 intake push rod was rubbing the hole where it passes through the head. Awesome! Problem found. In order to fix it right, by drilling the hole out larger I should pull the head. Terrible!

So I got to work. But by “got to work” I don’t mean pulling exhaust manifold, draining coolant, etc. I mean I dipped a drill bit in grease and drilled the hole out bigger. I also stuck a paper towel down the push rod hole too, just in case the grease didn’t work so well. And I wrapped the whole job up into a nice “It shouldn’t matter because the shavings will be aluminum and they should get picked up in the filter” self justification. I don’t know how many shavings fell down into the engine, but so far it is running fine. It still ticks a little bit but it’s way quieter now. I think I’ll just run it until it blows, then I can worry about making the next junkyard motor quiet.

Safety First, or in there somewhere

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve slowed down on the project significantly. I’m putting in another bathroom, it’s tax season, I’m old… I have more excuses if none of these sound worthy. But really, I was kind of depressed on the whole project. You see, when you put in a roll bar you should tack the whole thing in. Then you should mark everything. Then you should grind out the tacks and remove everything. Then weld in each floor plate completely. Then weld in each tube completely. When you are done, nothing is blocking your weld paths and everything comes out great.

Instead I had a safety erection. Well, more like a ‘git r dun’ erection. I wanted to “DO IT” as Shia Labeouf would say. So I cut the main hoop and had my daughter’s fabricator boyfriend weld that bitch in. Then I cut the rear bars and had them tacked up good and welded all around the top. Then I held off for a while, working on other parts of the project.

When it came time to get back to the roll bar the future son in law gave it his all. He broke out a big grinder and bigger professional welder and threw three or four hours into it. He made some great looking welds where his equipment would fit. But, where the equipment didn’t fit there were no welds. I pored over the NHRA rulebook looking for some sort of way out of the problem. There really isn’t any, especially when it comes to safety. So I got depressed and didn’t work on the car too much. This day, when I hacked up and fitted my driveshaft loop, was a bit different.

I brought the car up to the shop to use the lift. Life is easier when you have access to a lift. There is no comparison between standing up and walking and getting a tool and laying back down again versus walking over to the toolbox and walking back under your car. So I took the easy route and put the car on the lift at Adam’s Service Center.

The next hurdle was to fit my Chinese driveshaft loop. Not surprisingly, the universal driveshaft loop didn’t quite fit straight out of the box. Ultimately I hacked both sides completely in half and welded it back together again. Probably not the way the designers intended, but it works and is in the correct place. For those interested, the correct place is within six inches of the front yoke of the driveshaft. This project is done, and it’s on to the next.

Fire, Baldness, Bad Choices

This was a side project that is only tangentially related to the FireTurd–mounting trailer tires. It’s related in that whenever the differential shreds itself on the starting line I will need a trailer to drag the car home. The bad choice was buying Chinese trailer tires. Again you’d think that I would learn, but the ugly truth is that I’d buy the Chinese tires again if given the choice right now. They were so cheap compared to anything else. And it’s a trailer so who cares. Also fire.

I was excited to try lighting the tires on fire to mount them. Believe it or not it worked twice. It didn’t work way more than twice. But two times it did work and was awesome. Naturally I don’t have video of the times it worked. Here are some times it failed.

Happy days are here again…

I took the car up to my friends at Adam’s Service Center. Adam’s is frequented by man who is now my Daddy Jack. Between his years of welding experience and his ability to contort his body in painful yet amusing ways, he was able to fully weld the entire roll bar and door bar setup. Thank you Daddy Jack. He made me be his tool bitch and his blower. Before any of y’all get any funny ideas, my job was to blow out the undercoating fires under the car. That was the only blowing that went on that day.

Knowing that I wasn’t going to have to buy another roll bar setup and redo all the work I had already done reinvigorated my spirit. I immediately quit the bathroom fixup job I had been working on (who needs a bathroom anyway) and got back to the much more important project of the FireTurd. I’m sure my wife and kids understand that I need to do burnouts more than they need to pee.

Creature Comforts, aka the FireTurd is now a Cadillac

The FireTurd is fast. The FireTurd goes straight. Those are the only two positive qualities I can think of. Everything else about the car sucks. It rattles. It is hot–and not just an uncomfortable hot, no, we’re talking convection oven air pouring through the holes in the firewall hot. You could use the footwells to get bread dough to rise. Something needed done. Well, something needed done as long as it didn’t cost too much. Ebay to the rescue.

I bought (not surprisingly) some sort of cheapie insulation. It’s really light and appears to be foil covered “poppy paper”, the packing bags of plastic puffed full of air. Whatever, no problem, let’s get shit done.

Not shown is the carpet kit I bought for the car. Molded carpet is the way to go. However, for those wishing to follow in my illustrious footsteps, a word of warning. I bought a rug for a four speed car because it completely covers over the transmission tunnel. Perhaps the four speed trans tunnel is larger than the automatic? I don’t know for sure. But I do know that I have a lot of extra carpet over my transmission tunnel. Luckily I punched enough holes and ran enough bolts through the carpet that it’s all held down. WIN.

The foil works remarkably well for heat. Noise abatement is less impressive but I think the carpet covers most of that up. But most importantly, it looks great.

What a (wheel)STUD

There’s more of that innuendo–you can’t get enough innuendo my English teacher might have said at some point if I’d have listened. A thorough reading of the NHRA rulebook states that the wheel studs must penetrate through the lug nut at least as far as the wheel stud is thick. A half inch wheel stud must have at least 1/2″ of thread in the lug nuts. The lug nuts must all be open ended as well. I missed the boat on this when I ordered the Moser spool and axles and only got a 1 1/2″ wheel stud in the axle. Another thirty-some dollars to the good folks at Moser Engineering and they sent me 3″ wheel studs with the necessary .625 knurl for their axles. Yes, I looked for Chinese knockoffs–there weren’t any at the time.

For the front axle I’m still running factory rotors, and they have a 7/16″ wheel stud with a .564 knurl. Note: for you front drum brake F-body guys ignore this, you guys have a different size knurl. I wanted to run 1/2″-20 wheel studs so the front and rear lug nuts would be the same. You’d think someone would have this but if they do, it’s well hidden. So what I found is that wheel studs for a Ford Edge have a ‘close enough’ knurl size of .560, are 2.3″ long, and have 1/2″-20 thread. The knurl comes through the rotor just a smidge but most people’s wheels are going to cover that gap easy. Also I found that having Ford parts on my GM product didn’t slow it down too much so it’s all good.

I went to the local hardware store and bought some grade 8 nuts and washers to pull the lugs in. I was able to pull 8-10 wheel studs with a single grade 8 nut before it started showing real signs of thread trouble. I threw an old socket over the wheel stud, followed by some washers with some grease between them, then cranked the nut on and pulled. It went very well, no problems to report.

Since I had to pull the front rotors off and GM carries the bearings in the rotors on early disc brake cars, I took the opportunity to replace the front wheel bearings and seals. Ebay to the rescue (again).

Wiring sucks

It’s getting down to the wire (pun intended) and time to do some of the least pleasant of automotive work–wiring. It’s not the wiring that’s bad. I actually like wiring, I’m a computer guy after all and wiring is a part of that. The thing that sucks is contorting your arthritic body into the strangely shaped crevices that automakers leave for feet and working upside down. I learned some things today although there is no way to tell if it’s going to stick or not. Here’s the takeaways:

Remove your seats. This sucks. But do it anyway. I don’t care if removing the seat takes longer than you think the wiring is going to take. Here’s a hint–the wiring always takes longer than you think anyway, so just remove the damn seats already. Your back will thank you.

Lay down carpet. Or a pad. Or anything. You wouldn’t think that laying on your back for just a few minutes would be that uncomfortable. Please refer to the previous statement that the wiring always takes longer than you think. So lay down a pad or carpet. I did both and it was wonderful. I’ll never lay on the metal floor again. The pad really took some of the suck out of wiring.

Document as you go. You know how you’ll go back and write that down after your done? Yeah. You won’t. Somewhere you know that. Mark the wire, write it in a Google Document somewhere or something. I’ve already come back the next day to document and forgot where the wires went. You remember more quickly if it’s only been a day. If you come back a month later it will look like some drunk person threw spaghetti under your dash. Document.

Double check all your connections. There are few things worse then having to crawl back under your dash because something doesn’t work that should work. And while checking your connections, make sure you don’t have any hot conductors showing. I had a heat shrink blade connector that the heat shrink part slid back and it would arc occasionally causing the car to just shut off. I always thought I was hitting a safety shutdown for oil pressure or AFR or something. Nope–just a bad connector. Check ’em.

Last but not least, don’t be stingy with the zip ties. Good luck wiring folks.

Windshield glass replacement

You might be expecting some good tips on installing windshield glass. In a way, you’re right. Here’s my good tip: pay someone else to do it. I paid someone else to build my transmission because I wanted it to work. I got professional welders to do my roll bar because it has to pass tech. And I paid a guy to put in my windshield because it cost less than getting a windshield shipped to my house.

The guys from A-Okay Auto Glass rolled out to my garage and had the windshield replaced with no muss and no fuss in about an hour. I don’t know whether the guy had ever done a second generation F-body windshield before but you wouldn’t have known it. The guy was bing-bang-boom done. It cost me a little over $200. I could have bought a windshield for a mere $139.00 from the good folks at Jegs but the windshields aren’t part of the free shipping deal. The shipping is so un-free, in fact, that there is a $99 shipping charge on top of the cost of the glass. So for a little less money, I got the windshield brought to my house and installed in my garage. A pretty good tip if I do say so myself.

If you decide against my sage advice, it turns out that f-body windshields are just glued in. Take out the old windshield, clean up the frame, lay out a thick bead of smutz, stick on new windshield. Much like the guys at the car shows that do tool demos, there is a trick to it and this oversimplification glosses over that. I still recommend you pay someone to do it.