Tuesday, September 26, 2006
A short update
And I got the ECU mods done to the Megasquirt that I need for an HEI ignition. Tested it on the Stimulator and it seems to be working all right. I had actually sort of wondered if the input circuit would still work with the Stim, since the HEI mods involve a fair amount of changes there. It turns out that it doesn't seem to make much difference as far as the Stim is concerned.
The freshly repaired LC-1 arrived today. Hopefully tomorrow I'll be able to wire it in place and crank the Dart up!
Saturday, September 23, 2006
Installing an HEI ignition on the Dart
With Megasquirt, I can put the spark under computer control. While the V3 board has built in spark features that let it act as an ignition module, I have a V2.2 board. So I decided my best bet was to use a Lean Burn distributor and a GM 7 pin HEI module. Well, actually, it was an HEI module made by Standard Motor Products, so I hope this won't be quite as offensive to Mopar purists as the Ford throttle body.
I completed the underhood wiring today, including swapping out distributors. I guess I've had a bit more experience working in cramped conditions than when I first started working on the Dart, because I remember the last time I had the distributor cap off, I couldn't get one of the clips on without removing the oil filter. It's one of the few things I don't like about the slant six, the way they crammed the distributor into such an awkward location. I also put on an Accel Super Stock coil.
Now all I have left to do with the ignition wiring is adding the mods to the Megasquirt itself.
Still waiting on the LC-1 to get back - I've got an email from Innovate that it's in the mail.
Labels: Dodge Dart
Is this the ancestor to the CX500?
Speaking of the CX500, I had a bit of a problem with mine. Turns out when I tried to fix the stuck needle, I put the float in upside down. The result was a bike that either wouldn't run or only ran on one cylinder. I got that fixed today.
Monday, September 18, 2006
I hate it when I do that.
Fearing the worst, I took the Nissan to work and tore into the Honda's carburetor when I got home. The float didn't show any signs of damage, and when I put it back together everything worked fine. Quite a relief that this didn't cost me anything besides a little time.
Saturday, September 16, 2006
The CX500 is back together.
Not that the brackets I'd jury rigged were much better, as the fairing doesn't quite look like it's on there straight (Note: Even if I did have standard Emgo brackets, I doubt they would have fit a standard CX500. The headlight mounting screws are in a really weird place.). Oh well... like I said earlier, it's a beat up old bike and I don't really have to care about it looking perfect. Here's a few pictures of how the CX500 looks now as a cafe racer. Well, sort of a cafe racer - for the complete look I'd want to switch seats and remove the luggage rack, but this bike is meant to be practical if nothing else.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
CX500 progress, and another announcement
It would be nice to be able to ride it to work tomorrow, but it looks like that wasn't to be.
However, this time I have work to ride it to, for a change. I've just taken a job with DIY Autotune, and I'm starting tomorrow.
I wonder if Jay Leno might be interested in this...
Labels: Automotive Awefulness
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Vin Diesel makes an unlikely muse
My inspiration - if it could be called that - for taking writing seriously is a rather amusing one. I'd written some books as a kid that never got past the first chapter. What got me to try taking writing a bit more seriously was, of all things, watching The Fast and the Furious when it came out. This movie did for technical accuracy what Ed Wood Jr. did for continuity editing. I laughed at quite a few scenes that were supposed to be serious.
The plot and characterization were equally bad. I know what you're thinking - what guy criticizes a car movie because of those? Traditionally, a car movie can get away with characters who have as much depth as a piece of sheet metal. But they still need to do things for believable reasons. It just wouldn't do, for example, to have Sheriff Buford T. Justice suddenly deliver the keynote address at an NAACP conference without a very compelling explanation as to how he'd changed his ways enough to get an invitation (Remember, "Who's the sheriff here, boy?"). The ending of The Fast and the Furious left me completely puzzled as to why Paul Walker took the actions he did - no real forshadowing, no explanation, no nothing. I left the theater thinking, "I could write a better car movie script than that!"
So I tried.
And wound up with something long and unfinished, and now most of its gags are hopelessly out of date. But once I'd opened that valve, I couldn't get it closed. I started writing some other things - first a book on car mods (now on its second draft) and now a fantasy novel, plus this blog and some articles I've pitched to various magazines. It's addictive.
Up next is Organized Chaos.
Here's a list of all participating blogs:
Just a Small Town Girl
A View From the Waterfront
Mad Scientist Matt
At Home, Writing
Writing From Within
Pass the Torch
Fireflies in the Cloud
Sounds of Serenity
Kappa no He
Of Chapters and Reels
Curiouser and curiouser
The Road Less Traveled
Time out for some plain old mad science
The Disgruntled Chemist: Diet Coke and Mentos: An Experimental Study
Namely, they've tried to see how the brand of soda, the container size, and the brand of mints affects the reaction. While the soda brand didn't seem to matter, it seems you need as big a container as you can find, and Mentos work a lot better than anything else. The Disgruntled Chemist also included a link to a very crazy video that shows two British guys horsing around with thermite. At one point, they use it to destroy a derelict car.
(Found via The Road Less Traveled.)
Monday, September 11, 2006
CX500 progress and setbacks
On the downside, I managed to break the one cable that I didn't replace, the choke cable. Looks like I need to order a new one of those too.
Saturday, September 09, 2006
Turbo slant sixes on YouTube
Friday, September 08, 2006
I wonder if this has anything to do with Erin Brockovich?
The warning label reads, "WARNING: This product, contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects (or other reproductive harm)." And that warning label is on a chrome plated socket wrench adapter. I'm completely puzzled as to how this is likely to be a threat unless somebody eats the adapter, and even then I'm not sure how much of it would be digestable. The only thing more puzzling about this warning label is why its writer thought there should be a comma between "product" and "contains."
So the Erin Brockovich theory may be a bit far fetched, but that is definitely one hard to explain warning label.
Labels: Automotive Awefulness
While I was there, I scored a couple other interesting finds. I'd heard on the Grassroots Motorsports message board that one of the most popular cooling system upgrades out there is the fan from a Ford Taurus. It looks like the second generation models are the ones to get the fan from, as the fan these cars use is a pretty thin design, but powerful enough to cool a car that doesn't look like it gets that much airflow.
An unwritten rule of Pull-A-Part is that if you ever spot a front mounted intercooler, grab it. Even if you have to borrow a few tools (To the guy in the yellow shirt - thank you!) to remove it. This place charges less than $10 for an intercooler, so even if you don't need one, you can sell it on eBay. So when I found an MX-6 Turbo that still had its intercooler, I couldn't pass it up.
There were two other parts I had hoped to find but wasn't able to. One was a high output alternator with the right sort of pulley to fit the Dart's V-belt. While a lot of modern cars have high output alternators, most of them use serpentine belts, and I'm not sure what it takes to switch pulleys. The other was a lightweight starter. The Nippondenso starter used on later Mopar trucks will bolt right onto a slant six, weighs a lot less, and won't get so close to my turbo, either. But I couldn't find a suitable donor in the yard.
World's ugliest weld
This was supposed to be a turn signal mount for the CX500 that I was building out of aluminum C-channels. I tried to braze two pieces together using an oxygen / MAPP gas torch. Unfortunately I seem to have used too much heat and it looks like I just might have welded it instead of brazed it. This joint didn't hold up too well, so it's time for Plan B: come up with something I can hold together with sheet metal screws.
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
The Megasquirt mindset
Nor do most people buy cars with the goal of learning how to be mechanics.
With Megasquirt, though, I think it's safe to say most people who buy it either are fuel injection gurus or want to become one. The official FAQ includes the comment, "MegaSquirt requires, and develops, a number skills that other aftermarket ECUs don't require. Some would see the as a bonus, others would see it as a detriment." However, you don't really need to be a guru when you start out - I hardly knew much about soldering when I ordered my kit, and couldn't tell a VR sensor from a Hall effect sensor. But between the Megamanual, the Megasquirt Forum, the Megasquirt 'N' Spark page, and the experience from building this kit, I managed to pick things up as I went along.
Now I've noticed there is something of a difference in the way Squirters tend to approach troubleshooting compared to people who have other brands of aftermarket EFI. I've been following along with a guy on Slantsix.org who is trying to troubleshoot an Accel DFI unit (not to mention having to deal with a dead LC-1 controller) and it's really quite different from Megasquirt troubleshooting. If an Accel ECU breaks, you can send it back to the factory for repairs. After a while, it'll come back in the mail, perhaps with some explanation of what broke, but not much in the way of specifics.
But if you break a Megasquirt, there is no warranty covering it. The usual thing to do is to take it apart, bench test it, look for anything burned out, and ask for help on the forum if you're stumped. You can pay to have someone fix the Megasquit, but only as a last resort. It certainly is a lot more work on your part.
While it may take more work, though, there are some real advantages. For one thing, there's no shipping, so if you are a good troubleshooter you may have the Megasquirt up and running again much sooner. But what may be the most important advantage is that it's often possible to know just what failed and why. With all the documentation open to see, you can figure out precisely what circuit blew and often make an educated guess as to why. Not only that, but you can change the Megasquirt itself if the problem was inside the unit. Whereas with the DFI system, Accel didn't even have a pinout of the connections on their website. I couldn't quite tell if the owner had wired his ignition correctly or accidentally fed 40 volts AC from the Mopar distributor into an input meant for 12 volts.
So, is Megasquirt better? The answer is, "It depends on what you want." Buy one expecting it to get instant results may lead to disappointment. But if your goal is to become a fuel injection guru, it's a good way to learn.
So the LC-1 is officially dead.
In the meantime, I've got the Honda's clutch cable installed. Still got to get the original style lights wired up before I can take it back on the road.
Labels: Dodge Dart
Monday, September 04, 2006
Sunday, September 03, 2006
By the way, if you're ever changing throttle cables on a CX500, don't put the carbs back in place until after you have both of the cables hooked up at both the handlebar and the carb ends. You'll save yourself a lot of trouble, as I've found out the hard way.
Tomorrow I may just go ahead and try to remove the Windjammer too.
Saturday, September 02, 2006
Labels: Dodge Dart
Friday, September 01, 2006
More progress - it moves under its own power now.
Now, as this car has been sitting in my yard for quite some time, it was absolutely filthy. So I went and washed it. I'd been looking forward to doing that for a long time. Here's a few pictures.
Unfortunately, it's not quite ready to take on the road yet. My oxygen sensor doesn't seem to be working, and I will definitely want that to tune it.
Labels: Dodge Dart