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Saturday, January 28, 2006


What's left to do on the Dart?

Next step will be to find a way to mount the surge tank between the low pressure pump and the high pressure one. The surge tank has to be mounted higher than the pump so that fuel will siphon into the pump rather than being driven by pressure. Maybe I should make a list of how many things to do before the Dart can actually run. I'll divide it up into categories.

Fuel system:

  1. Install surge tank.
  2. Run lines from low pressure pump to the surge tank and the surge tank to the high pressure pump.
  3. Install return line.

Electrical system:
  1. Fix the problem connections under the dash.
  2. Wire up the fuel pumps.
  3. Run the main wire to the battery positive terminal.
  4. Put the new battery in place.

Intake system:
  1. Fabricate a throttle linkage for the modular motor throttle body.
  2. Find a place to install the air intake temperature sensor.
  3. Route the vacuum / boost lines.

It's hard to believe I'm that close to having it running - or rather, assembled enough that it'll just need tuning to run. Of course, once it runs, I plan to add computerized spark control, an electric cooling fan, and an intercooler - but at least they're small incremental changes made to a running car. Then it'll be off to Atlanta Chassis Dyno to have it tuned. And when that comes, I'll be sure to let you know just how much horsepower a slant six can make with a homemade turbo and fuel injection!



Finally! A Dart update!

Ok, now that the weather has been more cooperative, I was able to get a little work done on the Dart. I've installed a high pressure fuel pump. I've mentioned this one before - it's a Carter pump that came as original equipment on some Ford trucks and vans. Today I attached its bracket to the bottom of the floor pan and ran the line from the outlet of the pump to the line feeding the fuel rail.

I had to pull out the back seat to get access to some of the panels. While I was looking under the back seat, I found something I thought was lost - the build sheet! This should be a list of all the options the Dart originally had. Of course, since these were for the workers and not the comsumer, sometimes they tossed another car's build sheet in when it came off the line, but I'll have to check the crumbling paper to see if it contains any interesting data.


Friday, January 27, 2006


Something every gearhead would like to have

What is one thing that no car guy should be without? Great neighbors. Decent neighbors will let you know if they have any objections to your working on a car in the driveway to your face rather than going straight to a homeowners' association or other buttinskis. (Of course, sensible gearheads avoid homeowners' associations altogether, since they can make even more of a pain of themselves than changing the heater core in a Mustang.) Good neighbors don't mind your projects and congratulate you when you get a project car back on the road. And great neighbors will lend you a tool when you really need one. I'm glad to say I have great neighbors.

So it was probably a mistake to try popping in a fresh set of spark plugs first thing in the morning before driving off to work. I've dealt with spark plugs on pushrod and SOHC engines, and it's normally not a problem. Unfortunately, drop a spark plug on a Zetec and it can fall into the cam cover. The only fix is to pull the cam cover.

And right now, I'm in the process of moving. The Dart's still at my old, and not yet sold, house. So are most of the tools. I hadn't thought to bring over all the tools - after all, I need them for the Dart! So I've got a spark plug under the cam cover, it's 7:15 in the morning, I don't have a tool that can reach it, and I don't have the right wrench with me to take the cover off. And I need that Focus to get me to work.

In desparation, I knocked on the neighbor's door. Luckily, the guy next door is a professional electrician. His wife lent me the socket wrench I needed to pull the cam cover and retrieve my stray spark plug. While I did get to work late, at least I did get to work without having to call a taxi!

Dave and Melissa, I owe you a big thank you, and a big batch of freshly baked chocolate chip cookie bars for being great neighbors.

Sunday, January 22, 2006


Removing stickers

Spent a bit of time removing parking stickers from my wife's Pathfinder, so I thought I'd post a Tech Tidbit on tips that make sticker removal easier. First, heat it as hot as you can stand, using a hair drier to soften the glue. Then you can peel it off. If it's on a window, you can make things easier by scraping it off with a butter knife, but on painted metal, a knife can scratch the paint. A credit card or plastic putty knife can be useful for removing stickers from painted metal.

Once that's off, you will just be left with a sticky, gooey mess. I normally use Goo Gone and a rag to scrub this off, but there's a few other adhesive removers that will work just as well. Keep in mind that anything that gets bumper sticker adhesive off will also take off wax.


First mod for the Focus

Well, such as it is. This mod isn't a very big one, cost about $30, doesn't make it go faster, and took me only a few minutes. I've converted it to adjustable-delay windshield wipers. If you've been following my Dart build, you may be a little disappointed that I haven't tried replacing the computer with a Megasquirt, converting the suspension to coil-overs, or adding a centrifugal supercharger. On the other hand, some of the less ambitious readers may be glad to see something that doesn't require a gazillion tools and days of wrenching.

Converting a Focus from the normal wipers with one delay setting to six-way adjustable delay is simply a matter of replacing the wiper switch. I bought one with a Ford Racing part number from Steeda, but this switch came standard on some higher Focus trim levels.

Like many hot rodders, I was somewhat suspicious of the claim, "Installs in less than 10 minutes with just a screwdriver!" There's been a lot of times where I have seen a part that was "an easy bolt-in" turn into a nightmare of stuck bolts and undocumented steps. With this part, though, calling it a bolt-in would make it sound harder than it actually is to install, because there aren't any actual bolts involved.

You heard that right. This switch just clips in. To install it, just use a screwdriver to pop off the top cover on the steering column by pressing on the two clip points, one on each side. I've shown one of the clips in the above picture. Once the cover is off, you can push a thumb catch to release the turn signal switch, and another catch to release the wiring from the switch. Then you just snap the new switch into place. It's easier than assembling the G.I. Joe snap-together models I played with as a boy. This adjustability is really nice for Georgia's wet weather.

Thursday, January 19, 2006


Microsquirt - Megasquirt's little brother

Bowling and Grippo announced another main board for Megasquirt: the Microsquirt, which resembles a V3 board shrunk to the size of a credit card and waterproofed. This one was created to meet the demands of motorcyclists and others who wanted a small, weather-resistant Microsquirt. Accordingly, I have updated my FAQ entries about Megasquirt.

Saturday, January 14, 2006


News flash - bolt on supercharger for the slant six!

Forced induction can easily give the slant six the power of a V8. Unfortunately, the only bolt on forced induction that has been available for the slant was nitrous. If you wanted a turbo or supercharger, that meant custom fabrication, such as this Eaton blower on "Big Red" or the turbo project I've been documenting on this blog.

Well, now, the folks at The Supercharger Store put in an appearance at the Slant Six message board and announced a bolt-on supercharger kit for the slant six. This kit uses an ATI Procharger, a compact centrifugal blower. Right now The Supercharger Store doesn't have much about this on its own site, but they promise to have pictures up by next week.

This may make pressurized slant six buildups a lot more common now that you can just get everything you need by mail order.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


Thoughts on the Detroit Auto Show

If you want coverage of the Detroit Auto Show from someone who was actually there, see it at Edmunds.com or many of the other automotive journalism websites. While I couldn't attend, being a blogger, I feel obliged to provide opinion and commentary on it anyway. There's two developments going on that I see as very interesting to watch.

The first is, of course, Dodge and Chevrolet stepping back into the pony car wars, or at least giving us tantalizing hints with their Challenger and Camaro concept cars. The Challenger looks almost production ready, and also looks astonishingly like someone had customized an original '70 Challenger. This marks something that Chrysler hasn't even tried since 1980: A rear wheel drive, V8 powered performance car that seats four adults. (And what they tried in 1980 with the Aspen and Volare coupes wasn't exactly earth-shattering.)

The Camaro, well, I'm not too keen on that grille treatment. It looks like they were giving it a bend to bring it into the same corporate look as the Impala. Bit of a mistake in my books. But the rest of it looks pretty good, and kind of more techno than a direct copy like the Challenger. And any fast car looks good from the driver's seat.

Styling aside, this looks like they are trying to pick up where the '60s pony car wars left off, only with even bigger guns. Both Chevy and Dodge have 400+ horsepower engines, and they're not afraid to use them as regular options instead of a tiny fraction of the road rockets brought out in the days of LS6's versus Hemis. Wait... they've also brought back those two names. Maybe that should be "the first set of days of LS6's versus Hemis." There's definitely something very exciting about the effortless torque of a massive displacement V8 driving the rear wheels.

But that's only the first interesting development. The second one is that Honda and Nissan have rolled out their own small cars, while Toyota has decided to replace the Echo with the somewhat more interesting Yarris.

Now, if you're normally drooling over pony cars, you may be yawning right about now. What's so great about small subcompacts with no torque?

Well, actually, small cars can be a lot of twisted fun if you drive them like a maniac. At the GM Auto Show in Motion, some of the most fun that Kelly and I had were trying to see how quickly we could whip an Echo and an Aveo around the cones. (Yes, I also got a big kick out of driving the BMW 3-series and the Ion Redline. Unfortunately, the line for the GTO was too long.) Sure, a subcompact can often feel gutless and unable to get out of its own way. But they also can turn on a dime and really let you know when you're pushing them. A friend of mine actually got kicked out at another example of the Auto Show in Motion for getting the Echo to lift its back wheel off the ground.

The key to enjoying a small car is to flog it like a maniac, have no respect for the tires, and stay away from boring stretches of straight pavement. Once you do that, even a tiny, underpowered econobox can be exciting. In fact, a tiny, underpowered econobox can be even more fun than a big but moderately powered car.

Hopefully with the new wave of small cars, more people will discover just how much fun you can have abusing a tiny vehicle on a winding autocross course.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


Saga of a mad pseudoscientist

Ok, this post has nothing to do with cars, so I am once again invoking my seldom-used rule that anything about mad scientists is on-topic here. Pavel Tsuprak, if that's his real name, claims to be a scientist. And he sure doesn't seem to be right in the head, so that qualifies his story. Barely. He's giving mad scientists worldwide a bad name with his antics, but they're so bizarre I just had to write about them here.

The whole thing came to my attention when someone at the Absolute Write Water Cooler found that Pavel was promoting a book on what appears to be quack cancer therapy on message boards. The fact that he was only 19 was some cause for concern - with only a high school education, would this teenager really be the best one to look to for cancer advice? The book had been printed by PublishAmerica, a dubious company nicknamed PublishAnything for their tendancy to print books without actually having read them.

As if that wasn't enough, someone - almost certainly Pavel himself - began to promote the book with reviews written under a variety of names but all in a similarly semi-literate writing style. These reviews claimed that, among other things, the book appeared on Dr. Phil. So on top of questinable qualifications, we've got dishonest advertising.

When things really began to go crazy was when a negative review appeared. Suddenly, our semi-literate promoter sprung into action, furiously pounding out five-star reviews in the hopes of driving the bad publicity off the page. At times, you could even reload the page after reading the latest crop of reviews and find two or more posted, with reviews pouring in at a rate of seven or eight in an hour. To compensate for poor writing skills, the source of these reviews often resorted to cutting and pasting positive reviews from other cancer-related books.

After seeing such bizarre misconduct, Dawno took it upon herself to order a copy of this book and book and see if it had been put together in a similar fashion to the reviews. It didn't take her long to find the first example of content stolen off the web. In fact, it appears that the bulk of the book was actually cut and pasted verbatim from various copyrighted websites. At times, the author even copied captions while grabbing stretches of text and left out the pictures. Not much original content at all.

Stay tuned. This could be very interesting.


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