J-Rho's '67 Camaro Z28 STX build Jason Rhoades builds a 1967 Camaro Z28 clone for SCCA STX autocross

9Oct/180

Cool photo found on Internet

I don't think Dodge ever made the Gen4 ACR in blue, too bad as I think it looks pretty good with silver stripes.

 

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28Aug/180

Motor and goodies and getting it going again

Soooo.... what's happened with the Camaro over the last 3 years...

What started as a fix-up-a-few-things quickly snowballed into a big mess. I'd really been burnt by all the valvetrain failures in STX trim and wanted to shore that up. The car was never going to be competitive again in Street Touring, and it didn't/doesn't really have a fit in Street Prepared or Street Modified either. There's a lot of unlimited-style builds out there where the cars are legal for CAM class but not much else - I didn't want to go that far, nor do I want to cut it up in the mold of a traditional CP car.

Much of the time spent over the years was just deciding on the vision for how the car will be in its next iteration. Where I arrived is at something like a light CP build, that can also run in CAM with some ballast. I'd like to get it down near 2700 pounds using a < 5.1 liter motor, so it's CP legal weight-wise, but it'll keep the lights and wipers and things that are needed for CAM. For now I just want to make it drivable again but it'll get a quieter exhaust, bigger wheels/tires (with room to turn), and better suspension.

Ordered a set of AFR aluminum heads, sized a bit on the small side (180cc) to maximize midrange torque from the 302 short block. Mike Jones did a nice bumpity solid roller cam for it, and I had ProSystems build a mechanical secondary carb to match.

Was originally going to try to hot rod the thing with the block kept in the car, but with the trans out it all became a bit of a pain, so I pulled the short block out too, so I could assemble the new motor on the stand.

With the short block out, might as well check the bearings and things, since some metal had been through the motor once or twice with the valvetrain failures. Plus oil pressure had gone to zero - or very close to it - several times under hard braking.

Unfortunately in this check, found some pretty serious scoring on the rod and main bearings. The dilemma now, have this (old, 60's GM, 2-bolt-main) short block repaired, or just get a new one? I opted for the latter, a basic Dart SHP cast iron piece, a 4" bore 3" stroke, from Chris at CNC Motorsports. Only special ask was to use 6" rods over the default 5.7", though it probably won't make much difference.

So what had started as a simple bolt-on hot rodding project was now a completely new longblock needing assembly. A bunch of things you'd think would be simple and sorted in SBC, weren't. Finding a set of rocker arms to clear the big retainers of the extra-zoot valvesprings I'd had AFR spec, was one tricky part. Had to use lash caps to get it to work with the right valvetrain geometry.

The other tricky part was the oiling system. Used a similar but new Milodon roadrace oil pan (dipstick on other side with this block), but had a hard time finding an oil pickup that'd clear the internal baffle system. Eventually found the parts needed to go along with one of the Melling shark-pattern oil pumps.

With it all put together it went into the car over 4th of July weekend 2017.

The OEM '67 belt system was a catastrophe so a March setup replaced it. The old-school alternator is replaced by a high-output one-wire, belt driven water pump now electric. Valve covers provide extra internal clearance for the rocker arm setup. They should provide room for a shaft mount system if things ever go that way.

My invaluable engine install helper:

There was still lots to do. The fuel was years old at this point, the wiring was a mess I wasn't happy with, trans needed install. Another sign of not having gotten over 2013's valvetrain drama was my insistence there be room in the engine bay to pull the (oversized) valve covers quickly and easily without too much stuff in the way.

Here's how it sits today - many many hours of labor later-

Coil is relocated up and out of the way. The big brake booster and heavy cast iron master cylinder have been replaced by a small and lightweight (20+ pounds saved!) manual balance-bar system.

The aluminum radiator and dual electric fan setup is from C&R. Can't see it but in front of the radiator, there's a modestly sized C&R oil cooler with remote oil filter mount. The filter was a nightmare to get to with those headers, should be tons easier now. I'd run a cooler on the 370z and saw what a tremendous difference it made in oil temps. This cooling system is overkill for a little 450-ish hp (hoping, not sure exactly) 302 but

The Accusump with EPC valve is housed down there in front, nice short run to the motor from the unit. Placement of these things is always an argument between the chassis guy and the motor guy - motor guy wants it close to the motor, chassis guy wants it back to favor CG. Motor guy won here.

From the other side, showing the new mechanical fuel pump-

With work and life and everything I haven't had the spare time to give the car what it needs. It's at Best of Show Coachworks in nearby Escondido, where Dean (mechanic) and Matt (owner) are doing a really fantastic job with it. I'm much happier with their work and the progress being made than I thought I'd be, as a consummate DIY-er.

Motor should be running again soon..wiring is still being fixed up, I'd done some naughty things to get it put together on time, Dean is repairing all my badness...

Exhaust buttoned back up:

Last bit is on the suspension. The OE style spring-over-shock thing was a mess I really didn't like, so the car is getting the ATS upper coilover mounts. This will simplify and clean up how the what is now a front coilover, mounts to the chassis.

Still brainstorming with Matt on how to improve the motion ratio, by altering some aftermarket lower control arms to locate the coilover's lower mount much further outboard, closer to the lower ball joint. May eventually do some custom fabbed arms and spindles and things but for now, looking for improvements to off the shelf pieces.

More to come in the coming weeks!

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28Aug/180

All blue

Whew, 3 years, been a while!

Some updates...

Returned that 370z to stock and sold it to a dealer, what a meh experience that whole thing was. So much for normal cars for me. It's been reclassed to STU, where it'd probably be pretty fun on 285s on 11s, so if you've got one, don't let my bad experience with 255s on 9's be a deterrent.

Somewhere out there somebody's riding around with powder coated chassis braces and a Quaife in what was probably presented to them as a stock 370 - lucky person.

The Z was gray, but before that I'd had 1 red truck, 2 black trucks, 4 red cars, and 3 black cars. The Camaro (red when I bought it) once painted blue, was my first non-black-or-red car. Now, all my cars are blue.

 

Shortly after selling the 370, decided to buy my friend Gary Thomason's blue 2008 Viper. I ran it at Nats in 2017 (6th, meh) and Spring Nats 2018. It's got the Koni 28's and front sway bar design of my old black Viper. This one has about 90hp more than my old one that comes on in a vtec-ish fashion around 4k. We rarely see those engine speeds in autox but when we do it's a lot of fun.

Video from Spring Nats Pro. Didn't finish where I wanted, but this is about the best I've driven it yet:

This car has a bit of a push that I haven't been able to get dialed out yet, though I had in the black car. Perhaps due to the stiffer coupe chassis. Have some ideas of ways to get the car to work better I plan to try out next season. SSR is a tough class!

Another change is in trailers. Had been making-do with a dilapidated old Pace. The big box style trailers are like a garage on wheels. Great when you're out at the event/track - lots of room for stuff, easy to get around the car and get to things.

The problems are they're big, heavy, and womp fuel economy. I wanted to eventually replace the Tundra with something smaller, more economical, and more comfortable - but such a beast would probably have reduced tow capacity. Towed out to Nats '17 with the old girl, had arranged sale to a fellow from Texas, we'd meet up there.

Purchased a Montrose aluminum enclosed, had delivered to the site so I could switch out there. They're made in Wisconsin, so it was a lot cheaper having it delivered to Lincoln, than to San Diego.

Moved from big old trailer to new small one while out there. A bit of an adjustment - definitely a lot tricker to live with out at an event. But on the road it's great, closer to an open trailer in trailering dynamics, than a full enclosed. For Spring Nats '18, towed up the Ike Gauntlet, which I'd purposely avoided with the Pace.

With the lighter trailer secured, the next change was to the daily driver. After 11 years, 160k miles, and ZERO issues, decided to part with the 2007 Tundra this year. It was everything you'd hope for from a Toyota, a paragon of reliability.

Part of what triggered the Tundra's departure was a family trip done in a modern rented minivan. We loved all the accommodations, especially the power doors. Started researching minivans to see if any of them could tow - 5k would be the absolute minimum to be useful. Unfortunately they're all limited to 3500lbs. It might have been possible to beef things up with airbags and tranny/oil coolers, but it might also just be pushing things too much. The MB Metris had 5k capacity but no amenities, it's like a broom closet on wheels.

Much research went into SUVs, a gigantic spreadsheet showing the stats of every almost new SUV available was compiled. Nothing really appealed. The Toyota Land Cruiser was a top pick due to how happy we'd been with the Tundra, but with more comfort and amenities. But they still guzzle gas and probably wouldn't be that much fun to drive daily, on paved roads.

The wife wondered if there were any electric ones, since I have free charging at work. Eueka! Isn't there a Tesla SUV that can tow? There is, the Model X (in blue!), rated for 5000-ish pounds-

This 100d has a 100KWh battery, which will take it close to 300 miles on a full charge with normal/sedate driving. Maybe a bit less at high speeds, but 250+ miles in So Cal weather we've done in it already.

It's seriously quick too. Didn't opt for the big-extra-$ Performance model (which is much faster still) but this one will do the 1/4 mile in 13.0, 4.7 0-60, but its real strength is freeway merging speed, 40-70. It feels like this thing folds space when presented with a yellow light - you make lights you couldn't make in anything else, with no external drama (tire spin, engine noise).

Towing, the range is going to get cut way down - remains to be seen, but probably 100-120 miles. Thankfully Tesla has a fairly well distributed "Supercharger" network out on the highways which makes this just enough range. It'd still take a lot longer with all those stops to cover any significant distance. Plan is to use the Tesla for in-state races, but rent a truck for anything further.

When the weather is right, with some clouds, the view out the panoramic aircraft-style windshield is killer!

Then, there's the Camaro...

More to come in the next post...

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30Mar/150

SD Tour and ET Pro 2015

The Tour went poorly!  Could have been worse, but a lot went wrong.  As the car's first event in STR trim I knew not to expect too much - I think a lot of people have results like that early on with their projects and get discouraged. Gotta keep looking up!

Videos:

Speaking of up, decided to raise the rear of the car after the Tour.  The exhaust scraped over everything-

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Raised it one turn, and upped spring rate from 650 to 700.  The car felt a little too soft in the rear, and some of the handling problems I'd been experiencing were based on understeer.  Curiously the rear bar had become disconnected on one end, must not have tightened that endlink nut enough - oops!!  Hooked it back up at full soft.  With 650's the car was "cushy", 700's is still a good ride, but no longer what I'd call cushy - hopefully the car can be made to work well at this rate, suspect it will get less comfortable as rates go up from here.

Took Friday before the Pro off work to get some things done with the car.  Started in the morning with a proper alignment at Clarence Brown in San Diego.

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The crew there helped me out.  Left there with -2.5 camber rear and 1/8" toe in (had been ~-2 camber and zero toe) and -4 camber front with 1/16" toe out (had been -3.5 and zero toe).  Caster is about 5.5 degrees, wish it was more.

From there, up to Long Beach to see Shawn Church - Church Automotive Testing.  Hadn't been there in years (the SM build on the 240sx in 2007!), but glad to see he and his business doing so well.  Shawn started out mostly with Hondas but the popularity of tuning Evos, Subarus, Nissans, and lately the domestics, has increased demand for his services tremendously.

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Tuning session was quick and went well.  The process produced a solid gain through the midrange and a bunch over 6700 or so.  The factory program went really rich up there; by flattening the AFR to just under 13.0, the car saw a huge jump in top-end power, moving peak up to 7350 rpm.

Redline was raised from 7500 to 7700rpm, another 1.5mph or so of top speed in second.

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Which would come in handy at the Pro, where I'd end up hitting the limiter just once or twice.

Car was much better at the Pro, largely due to a change to the new Bridgestone RE71R tires.  They are a significant step up in capability from the Hankook RS3V2, especially in their longitudinal grip (braking/accel).  The Z's handling was much improved also, though there's still a bit to do there.

Saturday the event ran behind and heat 3 was in impound for over an hour and a half.

If you're going to be in the Impound of Eternity, it could be in a worse place than So Cal-

IMG_2643

Videos:

Had a chance to weigh the car after Saturday afternoon's runs-

IMG_2630

Not quite where I was hoping it'd be, but not far off.  Have 20lb. lighter front brake rotors (10 per side) and am now looking at headers.  So the car should ultimately get down under 3200, with a little less than 900 average on the front corners. 2 seats, extensive use of composites plus aluminum hood, doors, v6 engine...and it's 230 pounds heavier than that all steel and cast iron, 4-seat V8 Camaro.  Similar balance too, heh.

Even with all that weight, the skinny 245-width Bridgestones help up quite well.  Couldn't get 255's in time, but that was ok, these were still a huge step forward.

 

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It's funny - before these tires, I'd felt the car made enough power, as I could spin them in second gear pretty much any time.  Now with the Bridgestones, get the feeling another 20-30hp would be completely welcome. 🙂

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Ended up second at the Pro, pleased with the result, considering I ended up only about a half second off the winner Nick Bjoin, who won the Pro Finale the year before.  Especially when the data shows you left .6 seconds in one corner in the run you had to stand on 🙂

It was a good course for the car, but the result was encouraging enough (and the car so much fun!), will be proceeding with some of the phase 2 elements of the build this year.

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12Oct/140

Some images got wiped when the server went out, wanted something nice back on top-

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25Sep/140

Oops. Sorry about the downtime!

The cobbler's kids have no shoes, and the IT guy's servers probably don't get maintained as well as they should. 🙂

The Amazon EC2 machine holding this site had a drive failure, and some time ago I'd put the site's media onto ephemeral storage, mostly out of laziness.  Had a relatively recent backup, but it took some time to upload the 10+GB of media from a crummy home internet connection.

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11Jun/140

eFLEKTOR – The only ad you’ll ever see here

Between the Camaro having achieved some of its beginning completion milestones, and it having been relegated to STU this year, I've had lots of time to spend on an unrelated endeavor, starting my own business.

http://www.eflektor.com - check it out, won't you? 🙂

eFLEKTOReFLEKTOR

The basic idea here, is a product that effectively shields its owner, from their cellphone's radiation.  Primarily while they sleep-

eFLEKTOR at bedside

but could also be used while the phone is on their desk at work, with the bonus of keeping it out of sight.

eFLEKTOR on desktop

Phone in pocket, phone against head, and large-form-factor "phablets" are future use cases under consideration - the first product targets the 2/3 adults and especially the parents of the 5/6 teens who sleep with their phone at bedside.

Most of the other stuff out there is some kind of magic sticker that somehow protects you, without affecting signal.  If it sounds too good to be true...

This device has a very large and continuous piece of steel inside (steelities anyone?) - if you have it positioned so the protective direction aligns with your only nearby cell tower, it will affect signal.  In most urban/suburban environments this isn't an issue but for anyone where it is, might be reason to move it to the other side of the bed.

eFLEKTOR - White and Green

Given what this blog is mainly about, I'm certain there are several engineers in the audience scoffing right now.  That's ok - I believe everyone is entitled to their viewpoint (notwithstanding the universal applicability of science/logic).

My approach differs from the competition in this space, in that I'm not trying to scare anybody.  I'm not here to exaggerate potential risks, or hide evidence there may be no risk - I've collected all the best studies, articles, videos I could find on the subject, and organized them in the eFLEKTOR InfoCenter

The idea, is let people educate themselves, and then decide what they want to do about it.  Of course I'd love it for them to become customers!

Personally, in the past 10 years, I've had not one but two people close to me develop brain "lesions", which led to multiple conversations with a fellow that knows more about brain tumors than most:

Dr. Keith Black Time magazine cover

Dr. Black is often used by CNN and other news outlets, any time the subject of cellphones and health comes up.  My own approach follows his view, which boils down to "We don't have enough data yet to know the long-term effects, so do what you can to minimize exposure."  This jives with the Precautionary Principle advocated by the World Health Organization.

In 20 or 30 years, we'll look back and either say "Remember when all those people were worried about cell phones causing brain tumors?"... or... "Remember what it was like before everyone had eFLEKTORs?"

$39.95 is cheap enough insurance you end up on the right side either way.

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6Apr/141

Some firsts today, and CAM

Been a long time without an update - hasn't been much to report, but there are a couple developments worth mentioning.

This weekend was the San Diego National Tour, approximately the first anniversary of the car's first autocross.  As mentioned in the previous post, the car has been moved to STU where it is hopelessly outgunned, so I won't be running it Nationally this season.  Instead, for this year's SD Tour I co-drove with Gary Thomason in his killer 2008 Viper, same car I ran with him at the 2012 National Champsionships-

jrho_in_viper

The car is a lot of fun - the handling is right about where my black Viper was when I sold it (still miss that car!), but his has even more power, which is always a good thing :).  Despite have a lot more power than the Camaro, the Viper is actually much easier to drive, because it has race tires, the chassis puts power down very well, and the gearing is very tall...then there's the ABS when it's time to slow it down.

On Saturday of the Tour I saw several nice musclecars present as part of the SCCA's new CAM class.  The attendance wasn't great, but considering the relatively steep entry fee for a Tour (>$100), and there being a Goodguys event that same weekend in town, the turnout wasn't bad.  This inspired me to commute down in the Camaro on Sunday.  I try to drive the Camaro around at least once per month, and it was due...

Jason Rhoades drives his STX 1967 Camaro on the freeway for the first time.  4.88 gears make this a chore...

Jason Rhoades drives his STX 1967 Camaro on the freeway for the first time. 4.88 gears make this a chore...

With the optional 4.88 final drive ration, 60mph worked out to about 4000rpm - which is a very high rpm for cruise in a small block chevy.  And that was with the >27" tall "vintage" wheel/tire setup I have, first put on the car back in November 2012, but never driven on, until today.

The taller tires effectively lengthen the gearing - on the regular autocross setup, 4000rpm would have been more like 55mph!  This was the car's first time on the freeway since the day I drove it home from Sacramento.  Fortunately other than some sore eardrums, the car made the 20-miles-each-way journey just fine.  The drive home was actually quite warm (~80)and I was impressed by how well the car's flow-through ventilation system worked.

Camaro parked at 2014 San Diego National Tour

(Credit to bigtime STX Camaro fan, 2014 SD Tour STX Winner, and all-around swell chap Max Hayter for the above photo!)

After more off-season thought I had been thinking about lengthening the gearing as a means not only of extending the 2nd gear top speed, but of extending the engine's (especially the valvetrain's!) life.  Today's freeway drive reinforced that line of thinking.  Also, that the sidepipes have got to go, for something that exists back behind the car.

###CAM###

Over the past several years, multiple series of successful non-SCCA-related "Pro-Touring" focused automotive performance events have arisen.  Pro-Touring has no agreed upon definition, but most would agree it is something like "Classic American cars set up to turn and stop, in addition to go straight - while retaining streetability.  A Pro-Touring car delivers the performance capability and civility of a modern sports car, with the cool of a classic."

Some of these events have been very low speed autocrosses in tiny lots, where the car show is the focus, but others have had timed high-speed track sessions as part of the curriculum.  Most of the people attending these events are learning to turn corners for the first time, but there are a few skilled veterans that have partaken in the movement also.

IMO, a few years later than they should have, and since my last post, the SCCA took notice of this trend, and created "Classic American Muscle", or CAM.  In CAM, which is an experimental provisional regional-only class for 2014, any American car weighing 3000lbs. on 200TW street tires is legal, so that would include my Camaro with a full tank of gas and its heavy battery.

When creating something this new - where you're trying to ensnare a big pool of potential new club members - there are a variety of approaches that can be taken, along what one might call a "spectrum of inclusivity".  At one end of this spectrum would be an approach where the class starts off with a well thought-out and thorough ruleset, designed to eliminate years of obvious pending takebacks.  This would probably look a little bit like a mix of our existing CP, SM, and XP allowances, where aero is restricted, some body/chassis dimensions can't be changed, some roadgoing equipment must be retained, and there are limits on tire/wheel size, as well as resulting vehicle balance.  Unfortunately this approach is also the least inclusive option on this spectrum.

At the other end of the spectrum is maximal inclusion - which means letting just about everybody in, which means you can't bother people with any rules that would make them illegal.  This is the approach the SCCA took.

If this approach gets a lot of people signed up and paying SCCA dues, creating lifelong members and participants (in their P-T car or not), then it will have succeeded.  The part I worry about isn't the early honeymoon phase, it's later on down the road when it's time to try to mold it into something that isn't totally unlimited, without angering and losing the people you've worked so hard to attract.  The unlimited nature of CAM feels like a trick the SCCA is playing on the average, naive-to-racing-rulesets P-T type, which I hope doesn't have the affect of turning SCCA-neutral people into SCCA haters.

So what's so wrong with CAM as it sits today?  Well, let's start with my car, which works OK for what it is - what would I need to do to prep for CAM?

  • First, is junk everything forward of the firewall.  Fenders, hood, bumper, lights, front subframe, engine, cooling system, etc.
  • Next, is cut a big hold in the firewall to maximize setback of the new aluminum V8 it'll be getting, paired to a Jerico or other lightweight race transmission.
  • Then, build a custom front tubeframe chassis for the modern SLA front suspension that is also narrow, allowing for 315s or wider without increasing overall front width.  It will have to attach to a custom cage, vs, underneath, so the whole car can get several inches lower without a frame hanging under the floor.
  • All the steel gets replaced with lightweight composites, and the cooling system, front structures, etc., all get a ton lighter, lower, and moved further back.
  • At that point I'd have a car that instead of 2950 with 56% front weight, is around 2600 @ 50/50.  But since it has to weigh 3000 lbs. when done, ~400lbs. of ballast goes in at ground level just in front of the rear axle...
  • Wait, did I just say rear axle?  What I meant to say was, just in front of the new independent rear suspension that gives room for 345's on 13's without widening the car.

IRS?  On a classic musclecar?

Art Morrison IRS on Mary Pozzi's Gen2 Camaro

That picture I took yesterday - it's an Art Morrison IRS at the left rear corner of Mary Pozzi's 2nd Gen Camaro, the one that's been made immortal by its video game fame.

But we aren't done yet!

  • Retrofit 4 wheel ABS
  • The most awful, humongous, ridiculous aero package, ever.
  • Composite doors, quarters, etc. - anything to get the weight down to the ground, just ahead of the rear axle.
  • And on and on and on...how about a sucker fan? Etc.

At that point you have a decent starting point for a Camaro CAM car.

The problem still is, the wheelbase is too long, and the car too wide.  So start all over with a Vega or Pinto or Fiesta or whatever other tiny little horrible car no P-T person actually wants.

Then, start over again like you're building an AMod car, that somehow incorporates part of the body tub of a 30's roadster, because that's legal too.

So, if I seem hesitant to start working down the CAM path, hopefully this illustrates why.   The class needs restrictions on wheelbase, overall width, wheel/tire (vs. weight), ground clearance, weight distribution, and aero.  Let people get to those limits however they want, but restrict the end values of those easily measurable and understood dimensions to keep the ridiculous sorts of cars described above, from ever being built.

The current arms race in the P-T community should remind us all what has happened countless times in "run whatcha brung" forms of racing.  Everything is fine until people actually start to care about winning.

To everybody out there that might build for CAM - be careful with your wallet and energy - the mods you do today, may not be legal in the CAM of 201x, should the class survive.

For now I'll be campaigning to have my car (and perhaps similar size-weight platforms like the Mustangs from the 60's through the Fox) moved back into STX for 2015.

Filed under: General 1 Comment
11Apr/130

Brief documentary on the Camaro

Heyward Wagner, the SCCA's communications director, was out at the El Toro Pro Solo last weekend.  While there he put together a very nice little documentary piece on the Camaro.

 Enjoy!

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25Mar/130

First real drive

Took the Camaro for its first real drive today, to get gas of course!

Jason Rhoades drives his STX Camaro to get gas

Suppose it is likely expected to see some kind of Ford GT thing blocking the driveway of your local 100-octane fuel station.

Speaking of which - ouch!

Pump gas for Jason Rhoades 1967 STX Camaro

Put 10 gallons in earlier, so with this it's been fed 21+.  Surprised it took that much, and it wasn't even filled to the point of splashing out the back.  Must have burned more than I thought getting it tuned and taking it around the block, tank can only hold 18.

J-Rho STX Camaro at full service fuel station

The river of fluid in the front of the car was it.  Being a newbie to old cars, I didn't realize you aren't supposed to fill the radiator up all the way.  As it gets hot, the fluid expands and dumps out the overflow tube.  In this case onto the ground, there is no overflow bottle from the factory.  In this case it's pretty safe because it's just distilled water + Redline Water Wetter, nothing slippery like coolant.  Since the car had just been driven and was then sitting, the extra heat soak caused some extra spillage.   Should be at the right level for this weekend.

GoPro was attached for the drive there - video here: http://youtu.be/MtqnUKTV_Zs - this is a pretty boring video, but...keep in mind this is the first drive of the car above about 20mph.  I was stressed out of my mind.  Every noise and vibration was a new one, and with everything new, never can tell if what you're hearing/feeling is ok, or something you forgot to tighten.  Suspect I'll have that kind of stress for a while.

Driving impressions...hmmm...

The brakes were a little weird with a sort of shuddering at first.  I think that was just the weird black stuff being taken off the front rotors.  That went away pretty quickly.  Brakes feel good now.  Haven't tested them to lockup yet, not sure which end will do so first.

The idle is too low, around 750rpm.  Factory spec is 950, adjusted the idle screw after getting home.  Stalled the car once at a stop sign, so embarrassing.  The car started ok at the gas station, but took several seconds to get going at this stop sign.  Thank goodness for that much bigger battery!  Will be investigating some kind of heat shielding for the starter.

Back tires feel a little slippery - got the back end to move pretty easily, but controllably.  Could be the grease and oils they've collected from sitting in the garage for almost 6 months.

There was only one pseudo-corner taken on the drive, and late in corner exit the rear made a banging noise over a mild bump.  Will need to spend some time underneath to ascertain root cause - it wasn't the shocks, they have almost 2" of bump travel not used.  Could have been the axle on the frame, or the front of the diff hitting the driveshaft tunnel.

Need to check pinion angle and possibly play with rear ride height.

All major systems working well.  Alternator charging, oil pressure is good, and the cooling system is keeping temps where needed.  You can see all three (out-of-focus, shooting-while-driving photo, sorry) in the dash display below-

Motec CDL3 in Jason Rhoades STX Camaro

Speaking of which, I *love* the Motec CDL3.  Perhaps it is due somewhat to my day job as the IT Director for a software company - but I have a real appreciation for hardware and software pairs made to this level of excellence.  Yes, it was expensive, but this is a case where "you get what you pay for" works out favorably.  Need to get it pulling speed from the GPS, at which point it can also do a gear calculation to replace the big 0 in the middle.

Car is pretty loud - plan to get it in to the exhaust shop this week for some help.  While decelerating in gear, the steep rear end sounds vaguely like a siren, a little unnerving 🙂

Spring rates are pretty extreme for this chassis (~1500 front, 250 rear) but the car doesn't feel that stiff.  While it looks low, it really isn't - components like the headers and oil pan have good clearance underneath, tucking above the frame rails, making it so I can get in and out of driveways and such just as easily, if not more so, than a stock Viper.

The only shock setting I know is the fronts are at full stiff for rebound.  Everything else will be all over the map.  Feels like it needs more rear rebound - in some quick steering inputs I could tell the front tires were turning, but the car mostly just wanted to keep going straight.  Could be it has some front toe-in.

Where to go from here?

I like an autocross car to feel responsive, almost dangerously so, on the street.  Today this felt a lot more like a pickup - safe and sure-footed.  Perhaps that's because it shares more in common with a pickup than a sports car...

From here it's going to be a long way to go in getting it to work how I want in STX.  Nationals is only 5 months away, many  iterations of spring rates, shock settings, alignments, potentially shock valvings, wheel/tire tests and decisions.  The car is not likely to be very good early on, so for those following along, don't get discouraged by a particularly poor finish.   I am likely to get slaughtered at my first few events (which just happen to be big SCCA National races) but really I'll be happy if the car just makes it through the events ok mechanically.  Haven't driven at all since Nationals of last year (7 months back now) so some of it will be driver too.

Still a few things on the to-do list for the week to be ready for the weekend:

  • Headliner and interior panels
  • Exhaust - weld up mating flanges, exit out side or rear
  • Thorough nut-and-bolt check
  • Alignment
  • Shock baseline
  • Numbers

Apt to be tired by the time it gets here!

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