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

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.

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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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6Mar/130

Quick data from a tire test

My buddy Jeff Cawthorne ran a best-effort tire test this past weekend of two new tires in the Extreme Performance Summer category - the BFGoodich G-Force Rival against the Dunlop Direzza ZII.  The test was conducted in his "Stock-prepped" (extra front camber, lightened exhaust) 2013 Scion FRS.  For those that don't know him, Jeff is a veteran racer who would likely have a few National Championship jackets hanging in his closet, if any of us could ever convince him to come to Nats...;)

Upon hearing word of the test I offered Jeff my DL1 data acquisition system, to get a peek at how these new tires are really working.  My Camaro will be making its maiden voyages on previous-gen tires, the Yokohama Advan Neova AD08.  Both of the tires tested are newer and quite probably better than the Yokohamas.

Below is a screen capture from the Race-Technology data analysis software, showing a comparison of the best Rival run (red) v. the best ZII run (blue).

BFG_Rival_vs_Dunlop_Direzza

The main graph in the center here is an X-Y graph I do sometimes when I'm not looking to do any driving analysis, but instead see if a setup change made any difference in the car's limits.  The outer edges of this graph shape is sometimes called the "envelope" though to me the shape a lot of the time looks more like an acorn.  (More details on this here in CVD Part2)

This was Jeff's first time on these tires, in a car that was new to him, and using a DL1 for the first time - all at an event that wasn't really designed to let him execute a careful test plan in the way anyone would have wanted to.  As such, he wasn't able to get all the data he'd like, or take as many runs, under the sorts of conditions he would've liked.

On this day, the Rivals were a lot - 1.4 seconds on a ~65 second course - faster.  So there's not much to see in the data, the Rivals were faster everywhere, in all sectors of the course, and in all phases of the corner.  The limits appear a little higher, and the data indicates to me, Jeff had an easier time keeping the Rival at or near its limit.

However - the very next day, Jeff did something of a repeat test at a regular local championship event, and was a little faster on the Dunlop.  Didn't get data from that day unfortunately, but the actual differences are likely quite a bit smaller than the first day's results bore.

There's another event this weekend on a grippier surface, hope to get more data from it.

 

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3Mar/130

Dash Replacement

The Race-Technology DASH2 was a purchase I'd made early on in this build (back in 2010) when I saw a basically new one come up for sale for a good used price.  It sat in a box for about two years, until I was ready to get it mounted in the car and wired in (covered here, in the second half).

Race-Technology DASH2 in Jason Rhoades STX 1967 Z28 Camaro

The Race-Technology DL1 data acquisition system has served me well since 2006 - never a fault or hiccup in what has to be 100+ events, many times crammed into the center console of baking hot cars.  Race Technology's analysis software has always been good, and they've made continuous improvement over the years, both for general purpose and closed-circuit autocross-type events.  The DL1 offers amazing bang for the buck, and at no point had I come close to maxing out its capabilities to datalog many analog signals simultaneously.

Race-Technology DL1 data acquisition system on Jason Rhoades 1967 Camaro

Unfortunately I found myself having lots of problems with the DASH2 paired with the DL1.  It required a strange sequence of button pushes to start displaying data, and sometimes it would just freeze while in action.  Any time the car stalled or had to be restarted, you had to repeat the sequence - which served to compound the already aggravating scene of trying to start a finicky high-compression carbureted musclecar with a dying battery.  I spent a lot of time (time that could have been spent advancing other elements of the car) playing with different data speed settings for the serial interface, turning off unused channels, all to no avail.

There have been some data acquisition advancements since 2006.  One is an increase in available GPS frequency - the DL1 MK2 I have is 5hz, and there are now 10 or 20hz options.  The other thing is the availability of combined dash/datalogger units in a single box.  In general I don't like the proliferation of "magic boxes" and other add-ons inside an interior, preferring things simple and "clean".

Despite 7 years of nothing but positive experiences (until just recently), outstanding software that might be the most advanced and in-depth *for autocross use*, and excellent responsiveness and attempts to make things right through good service, I decided to punt on the R-T gear.  So what now?

Definitely leaning toward an integrated dash/logger.  I enjoy nerding out on data, diving into deep analysis on the nights between and days after a race - so I need very good software.  It's got to be of a quality commensurate with the rest of the build, and available in time to have it here and on the car in advance of the SD Tour later this month.

With those parameters in mind, there are really only two other choices - AiM and Motec.

AiM is coming out with their MXL2 very soon now, which appears to offer the combined data/dash capability present in the DL1+DASH2 Race-Technology combination, at a reasonable and competitive price...but it's not out yet, and retailers weren't sure exactly when it would be.  They have the Pista dash which does these things, but it is getting very long in the tooth now, and if I went that way, I'd be installing something that is basically already outdated.

That left Motec.  The problem with them isn't quality or capability or even availability - it's price.  Their ADL3 (Advanced Data Logger) system used in most professional race cars is amazingly robust and powerful - with a price tag to match.  The ADL3's cost of entry makes sense when you've got big-name sponsors and are vying not just for first, but also for TV time during your race.  Besides being way too much $$$, the ADL3 is also way more than the Camaro needs.  They have a lower-priced SDL3 (Sport Data Logger) which cuts out a lot of the super-high-end features of the ADL3, and about halves the price.  That puts it much closer, but the thing about Motec is they get you with add-ons - the GPS is $$, additional I/O capability is $$, and even turning on the built-in data logging capability is $$.  So, even if the SDL3 started out within the realm of reason, by the time the needed add-ons are tallied, it is back into unreasonable-land.

Fortunately there is one step further down their food chain, the CDL3 (Club Data Logger).  This is a relatively recent unit, introduced at the end of 2011.  Designed for the weekend warrior club racer type, it includes even few features than the SDL3 - but even then, it still does more than I need.

Motec CDL3 Dash in Jason Rhoades STX Camaro

Well, there she is.  Bracketry was a bit rushed, as I'm getting the looming sense time is running out; the impetus is on getting it in (done) and wired (not yet done).  Excited to get some data collected and begin to use their software.

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18Feb/131

Couple videos of first drive

The family was kind enough to come outside and do some camera work as I maneuvered the Camaro out onto the street:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kmWIYpJrp8A

and around the block:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ET-FRcrcH-w

for the first time.

Fortunately the car made it off the crazy curb we have without scraping anything...not sure the story would have been the same with the subframe connectors still in place.

In the first video it is amusing to see how freely the rear axle articulates as the car descends the curb/gutter.  That's what having zero rebound will do for you!  🙂

Embarrassingly, I did stall the car on the driveway (mostly due to a small wheel interference issue I'll soon fix) - and the lesson there, was it needs a new battery.  I'd let the PC680 in it now run down a couple times, and while it will rise to and hold a normal voltage, it doesn't deliver diddly-squat when it comes time to turn over the motor.  Even with a plug-in battery tender/jump-starter at its max 80A setting, the motor wouldn't turn over after the stall.  I thought this was some kind of dreaded starter heat-soak issue, but as soon as I supplied a battery-based jumpstarter multi kit (which is also an air compressor, light, and 12V DC/110V AC power source) it turned right over and fired.

Given how much a pain getting it going in that situation was, I've decided to go to a much larger (and unfortunately, heavier) battery for the time being - an Odyssey PC1200.  At 38 lbs. it's about 2.5x the weight of the PC680, but delivers over 3x the reserve and more than 2x the cold-cranking-amps needed to get this high compression motor turning.  Will have to save the 4lb. lithium-ion PC680 equivalent for Nationals.

 

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17Feb/130

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of … the garage

 

J-Rho finally gets the Camaro out of the garage

 

This pic is funny to me, because of how much I like seeing the reverse lights.  How they worked was actually a mystery until the last couple weeks, when suddenly a curious hole in the filewall, a lonely connector under the dash, and a few parts I hadn't yet ordered, all came together.  It's a good feeling to be closing out all the remaining mysteries I had for how one of these things goes together, and given the amount of head-scratching that went into it, I'll never take reverse lights for granted again.

Once out on the driveway took a few shots...leaving a little of the blue tape on for a while since the door glass isn't done yet, it detracts somewhat.  But I think finally, the ride heights are at a pretty good place, a decent starting point anyway.

Jason Rhoades STX Camaro

Had some help of course!

Jason Rhoades STX Camaro

Jason Rhoades STX Camaro

Did get a couple little videos, will get them posted soon.

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6Feb/130

First race entry

The SCCA San Diego National Tour is coming up March 30-31 - this is my home event on the SCCA National Tour series, and will probably be the car's first live autocross.  That only leaves 7 and a half weeks to get this thing together!

To put extra pressure on its completion, went ahead and registered now - so here is the car's first appearance on an autocross entry list-

entrylist

Entries are still a little light as of today - most people register in the few weeks just before the event.  There are 30 registered at the moment, should be 300+ by the time registration is complete.  The 2 entrants in the STX ("Street Touring Extreme") class should be 12 or so come race day.

Still a lot to do, though the to-do list is slowly shrinking.

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31Dec/126

Many obstacles overcome, still more to go.

About a month ago I posted a list of stuck-points on the project - fortunately since then, with a lot of effort and tool purchases, progress has been made!  Have put more time into the car this past month, than in any month so far.  First, an update on each of the old sticking points-

Power steering leakage

New pump was purchased and super-carefully installed.  All lines cinched up, and no leaks after a couple weeks, yay!  Still have to see how it holds up under the pressure of real use with the pump cranking away, but so far so good.

Brake line fitting leakage

This was due to an incorrect flex line in the rear - correct part ordered and installed, and the brakes were bled, no leaks!  My brake bleeding assistant, who's never driven a manual car, had some trouble with my instructions to "push the pedal in the middle" - since the throttle pedal was sunken to the floor, the clutch appeared in the middle of the e-brake, clutch, and brake pedals.  I'm going from corner to corner, wondering why fluid is barely eking out as I hear her pumping away!  🙂  A little revised instruction and it's good to go.

Still had some air after a couple passes, at which point I realized the multi-piston Wilwoods need to be bled at the top of both caliper halves (inner and outer) to get all the air out.  Last few bubbles gone and the brake pedal feels very firm inside.

Leaf Springs

This was a rather labor intensive process.  In typical easier-said-than-done fashion they were cut down 2.25" in length; bushings were trimmed or hogged out to fit appropriate sleeves for mount bolts; the front spring eyes were flipped and ground for clearance; initially the rears were flipped also but it looked like clearance would be an even bigger problem, so they were left upright, but still got some grinding.

Rear ride height on Jason Rhoades STX Camaro Z28

This has an ultra-scientific "one to two finger gap" in the rear.  Added about 65 lbs. of fuel (more on that later) which only brought it down about 1/8".  Only weight left to go in is the headliner and door glass, so this is where it'll be for now.  It's not likely this spring rate will be the one I wish to keep forever, so for the next pair of springs, it should be easy enough to request an additional ride height decrease, in addition to the spring length decrease.  Bushing work will swap over.

Oh, and in the picture above, the rear wheel has 3/4" of spacer.  There's room to go inboard or outboard bit if needed, but this provided a more athletic appearing stance, while still providing for tons of wheelwell clearance in all directions.  At this setting rear track width is 70.75", which still, isn't *that* wide.  It's about 4" wider than my 240sx was, and about 7" narrower than the Viper.

Road Draft Tube

Have to thank my buddy John Coffey for talking me through this one.  Tried several different things and took a long time with this, and ultimately found a solution.  This item was holding up permanent installation for a lot of simple things in the engine bay, so once it was out of the way a lots fell quickly into place - carburetor, fuel lines, distributor, throttle and choke linkages, etc.  The tube coming off the road draft vent hole is the black one fuzzily visible in the passenger side carb photo below-

carb-passenger_side

carb-driver_side

 

You may note, the stock-style valve covers.  These are actually the third set of valve covers I have for this thing - the first set didn't fit the bolt pattern (they're for an even older small block) and the second set were a bit bigger and made of thicker material.  They *look* nice and original, but caused all kinds of interference problems with things like the fuel line and the bracket for the power brake booster vacuum line, visible above.  While in general I'm not a fan of extra chrome, these are at least very lightweight, and totally stock.

 Coolant Temp Sensor Port

This problem begat a bevy of tool purchases.  After nothing could convince the old plug to come out, began drilling with ever-larger holes.  The largest thing I had on hand for going through metal was 3/8" (bits and chucks), so it was time for some upgraded hardware.  Now have a new 1/2" chuck drill, and an array of drill bits up to 1" in size.

Also bought a 1/2" NPT tap to repair the threads, and a special 45/64" bit as the final pass before using the tap.  After using the 45/64" bit, all that was left of the plug was like foil and I could pull it out with needle-nose pliers.

Coolant temp and oil pressure sensors

Hooray!  Coolant temp sensor in its appropriate location!

Also visible in this pic, is the new oil pressure sensor.  This is a 1/8" NPT sensor occupying a small port in the block previously filled with a small square plug.  This too necessitated some tool purchases since it was a 7mm square plug, so none of my 6-point sockets would fit it, and the only way to fit a wrench on it, would be to pull off the water pump; no thanks.  Ended up buying one of these universal socket things, advertised to work on 1/4" - 3/4" bolt heads of all shapes and sizes.  After some monkeying, it got a grip on the thing and got it out.  The tool earned its keep in that one action!

Perhaps apparent from the way the wires for the oil pressure sensor have been run, am making a big effort to keep the wiring tidy and professional in the car.  Bought a ton of heat shrink tubing and overlay sheathing, in an attempt to keep everything clean, bundled, and protected.

 Vent Windows

No progress on here from last time.  The passenger vent window is just about ready to go in, been focused on what's needed to get it running.

New Progress

Lots of other progress has been made in addition to getting the above accomplished.

First Fuel Purchase

One of the simpler ones - the fuel line installation was completed, so it made sense to get some gas.  We happen to have a very neat retro gas station just a few miles from the house, that sells all sorts of good gas right at the pump, and comes complete with a smiling young man offering to clean your windows or check your oil.  It's mostly frequented by the well-to-do'ers of RSF, topping off their Range Rovers and exotic sports cars.  I felt out of place with two crummy 5 gallon plastic jugs in the pickup, but the Camaro will look right at home there.

First gas purchase for reborn Camaro

Oh, and this is the only station I've bought gas in, in the last 10 years, where you don't have to pre-pay.  Got a lucky click-off of the pump, no coins!  Hopefully a sign of good ProSolo reaction times to come.  🙂

Windshield Wipers

This is another that seems like a no-brainer...which of course wasn't.

Had the body shop install the wiper motor and attach to the wiper arms at the body shop, as doing so requires having the cowl panel off, and installation or removal of a body panel, is a big opportunity to scratch up the paint on said panel.

Unfortunately the wiper arms were not "clocked" to the motor correctly, causing the wiper blade to want to swing down initially, instead of up.  So off came the cowl panel, some time spent futzing with the mechanism orientation, but ultimately, the wipers made it in, and I managed to get the cowl back on without messing anything up too badly.

Windshield wipers on Jason Rhoades 1967 Z28 Camaro

The car had no wipers when I got it, now it has working ones, ha!

Pedals and Header-back Exhaust

The car has four functional pedals at last!  Well, the gas pedal may not make it go yet, but it does open the throttle, now that the road draft tube shenanigans were handled.

All pedals fully functional

Brakes were made ok with the bleeding a little while back, and the clutch was okay, as the pressure plate provides most of the springing, but the complementary clutch return spring that keeps the pedal up against the stop, has also been installed.

The parking brake pedal was the last to be made functional.  The Wilwood rear disc brake setup on the car has a complete functional parking brake, but comes without a means of adapting it to the factory cable system.  Fortunately the solution was pretty simple, with a pair of Lokar "Explorer style" clevises, drilled out to accept the factory parking brake cable.  The entire parking brake system is not entirely new, from the rubber of the pedal pad, to the drum lining at each rear wheel.

Magnaflow exhaust on Jason Rhoades STX 1967 Camaro

Parking brake cable

As you can tell from the second picture, at this point, the exhaust ends at the mufflers.  When I get the car to an exhaust shop, will have to see what can be done to extend the exit either to the traditional location, or out the sides.  The panhard rod in the rear suspension complicates things.

Ride Heights

They still aren't right.  Rear is too high, as discussed above.  I've raised the front "2 turns" (haven't done the math to figure how that equates to inches), but it probably needs to come up more.

This picture was taken a few days ago, before fuel and coolant were added, so both front and rear have since come down a little bit.

Jason Rhoades STX Camaro Z28 1967

You'd think moving the car around a garage floor on dollies like this would be easy - nope, big effort required!

Before trying to drive it anywhere, I'll probably raise the front another 2 turns.

The Vintage mags with 27+" tall tires will fill the wheelwells better than the Jongbloeds and AD08 rubber.  The shorter /35 series front tire vs. the /40 series on the rear, exaggerates the ride height difference.

No problem turning to full lock, even at this ride height-

Jason Rhoades STX Camaro Z28 1967

Pic inside of the front suspension with the wheel turned- contact point at extreme bump, is the lower control arm to the factory bump stop bracket, welded on the frame.  At this ride height, it has about 1.25-1.5" of travel there, equating to about 2" of travel out at the tire.

Front suspension on Jason Rhoades STX Camaro Z28 1967

Oh, and a funny one-

The family car had to go in for service (Infiniti is paranoid after the Toyota/Lexus unintended acceleration debacle, and is issuing recalls on the new JX35 like crazy.  The car needed 5 recalls done, which necessitated an overnight stay) - and since they were busy and out of branded loaners, we got a crummy rental - the Chevy Sonic.  The Sonic is one of these economical small cars - not micro like the Smart or Scion IQ, but subcompact like the Toyota Yaris, Mazda 2, or Honda Fit.  When my Tundra was serviced I got a Yaris SE loaner, which was actually decent, but this Sonic LT was crap!  Anyway, it got to park next to the Camaro one night.

What amazed me was how TALL the Sonic is!  Check out this picture-

Overall height - 1967 Camaro vs. 2012 Sonic

It only looks a few inches taller than the Camaro...until we see the Camaro is sitting on 5" tall dollies!  Will have to measure the Camaro once it's back on the ground, but I'm pretty sure its roofline is around 48", the Sonic (and lots of other cars like it) have rooflines about 60".  Wow.

Battery

Ok, so I put it in the trunk, not very exciting.  This is an Odyessy PC680, common in the aftermarket.  It's 13-14lbs., vs the 35+ of the stock battery, hanging way out past the nose.  Here's it's mounted fairly high, but more or less at the rear axle centerline.

Battery in Jason Rhoades 1967 STX Camaro

Have more thoughts on general battery placement, will have to share another time.

This battery was bought to get the car going (figuratively, not literally) - since in the beginning it is likely to get cranked a lot without much chance to charge normally, and this should stand up ok to that use.  The *real* battery I plan on using is the C680 XS Power battery, which is only about 4 lbs., and is the same form factor as the PC680, meaning it will fit in that mount.

 Interior

The insides of the car received some attention, mostly in the instrumentation area.

Steering was a bit out of whack, had to purchase a puller to get it all apart and re-clocked correctly, but it could at least be buttoned up-

Interior of Jason Rhoades 1967 Camaro Z28 clone

The wrap will come off soon!  Still getting my hands dirty doing stuff, just not as bad as before.

Note the cover plate over the center of the dash - bare as a no-option car can be.

Couple other things to see - the switch at bottom left, and of course the DASH2 dash.  The switch will be an independent control of power for the DL1 and DASH2.  The idea is, I can keep it on, to help let the DL1 keep GPS lock between runs, or any other time I want to have the engine off but instrumentation on.  Modern cars tend to have as their key positions, Off -> Accessory -> Ignition -> Run.  This car has Off -> Accessory + Ignition -> Run.  Want to be able to keep some of the electronics going, without all of it going.

Speaking of the DL1, it got its own custom bracket, just below the dash, to the right of the steering column.

Race-Technology DL1 data acquisition system on Jason Rhoades 1967 Camaro

That silly bracket took a ton of time to measure and bend up, and I'm still not totally happy with how it ended up, as I had to change its position slightly to avoid having to use a serial extender between the DASH2 and the DL1.

With this configuration, the DL1 will be recording information from sensors (like coolant temp, RPM, and oil pressure) in addition to the things it can figure out on its own - speed and accelerations - and present this data to the DASH2, as configured, over an RS232 serial connection.  This is handy, because you can't really look at gauges while autocrossing.  You might have a chance to look at the tach when doing an initial 1-2 shift, but that's about it really.  On the track you can take a glance for a second or so while on a straightaway, to ensure systems are still healthy, possibly even changing your approach if you see oil temps climbing, or something like that.  In autocross you go out and hope the car makes it through the run without self-destructing.  If you are having momentary drops of oil pressure, there's no way you'll see it, without some kind of alarm light programmed in, but that can be tricky, since 20psi might be OK at idle but death at 6k RPM.  With the data acquisition, you're watching the gauges 100 times per second, and if there are any concerning fluctuations, they can be correlated to other events, like hard right-handers following a braking zone, for instance.

Race-Technology DASH2 in Jason Rhoades STX 1967 Z28 Camaro

In this photo it isn't yet talking to the DL1, so it only knows to output fuel level, which it will get from the main vehicle harness, and will not be datalogged.  Common Camaro Lore dictates one most always autocross a first or second gen Camaro with a completely full gas tank.  I'm hoping that's not actually the case, will find out soon enough.

The DASH2 is mounted to the steering column via a custom bracket I made.  When I envisioned the bracket, it had to be carbon fiber, and making it so, took extra time.  In trying to get a photo of it tonight, I now realize now silly that probably was, you can only really see it when looking down through the windshield.  Here it is, from roughly the middle of the car up against the windshield, looking back and left-

Carbon fiber bracket for DASH2 in Jason Rhoades STX 1967 Camaro

Even if the aesthetics aren't perfect, pretty happy with how it turned out functionally.  The size and positioning of the bracket and DASH2 unit, allow the wheel its full range of tilt adjustment, without bind or interference.  Here it is fully tilted up-

Custom carbon fiber mount bracket for Race Technology DASH2 in Jason Rhoades Camaro 1967 Z28 for STX

With the steering wheel in a normal position, eye level is slightly above the unit, which is supposed to be optimal for its viewing.

Race-Technology was very supportive in sending me out a loaner so I could get the car fired up, while they send my bricked unit back to the UK for repairs.  Thanks Al Seim and R-T USA!

Belts

Not very exciting, was able to get a good length PS belt on the second try, looks like I'll need a third attempt to get an alternator/fan belt of the right length, this one is a bit too long-

Alternator/fan belt on Jason Rhoades 1967 Chevy Camaro

Looks like I may need to spend some time shimming the PS and water pump pulleys to get perfect alignment.  Like so many things, you think belts will be a 5 minute deal, and it turns into hours... 🙂

###

The plan for the moment is to get it running, and solid enough to not fall apart or puke its fluids out everywhere on a short drive.  Want to make sure it builds oil pressure by free-cranking it with the plugs out, before they go in and I try to fire it.  It *should* be fine as it ran great on the engine dyno, but that was over 2 years ago, and it has since received a new oil pan.

It'll need to go to an interior shop to get the headliner put in (it's a least a 2-person, if not 3-person job on these cars), then to an exhaust shop (have some tweaks to the Magnaflow system I need/want), and to ProParts USA for some shocks.  I want to have the car ready for the San Diego National Tour, which is a short three months away!

26Nov/120

Lots of things are a pain

Have lots of different assembly sub-projects in the works at the moment.  About 40 items on the to-do list left.  Try to see them through, but often times they reach a frustrating point, and instead of getting aggravated and potentially causing a mess-up I'd regret later, the approach is to move to another project.  That gives the subconscious time to work on the problem, maybe order a new tool or part that would help, and re-address it later when fresh.

Unfortunately after a while, you run out of stuff to switch to, and have to pick back up a frustrating aspect of the project.  Here's a brief rundown of some things causing frustration at the moment.

Power steering pump catastrophic leakage.

Spent a lot of time getting the power steering lines all cinched up, with the basic routing done.  Poured in a couple ounces of the new Redline PS fluid, turned the wheel a bit (car in the air), all seemed fine.  Added about half a quart.  What's that I hear?  The PS fluid is streaming directly onto the floor!  It's not leaking from any of the fittings or orifices, it's leaking from between the main pump body and the outer reservoir housing.  No way to stop the leak, so I put the half full bottle of PS fluid back underneath and let it pour right back in.  Used the above little lab bottle to collect the drips that continued for the next couple weeks, haven't had the heart yet to get in there and undo all the painstakingly attached hoses.  Need to get a new pump too.

Not hard to see how Donohue gave up on PS after only one or two races!  It's a lot of weight (20+ lbs.) and complexity, all up at the nose of the car, that also robs power.  Just don't think I can autocross this beast with a lot of caster without it though.  Not and provide very precise driving inputs anyway.

Brake line fittings

This project has made me realize how easy most of my earlier car projects have been.  Something as simple as brake lines, has been a big pain.  The OE-style replacement hard lines don't thread into the regular Wilwood calipers.  Have to get a special adapter.  Then there's stuff like this one-

Have to figure out if it's a bad fitting, mismatched threads, bad flex line, or something else, now after the system has some brake fluid in it.  At least it's a neat blue (ATE Superblue).  Speaking of blue, took this photo of some oil.  The LAT engine oil now in the car is a really fantastic blue color.  Tried to capture it here by pouring a little in another bottle-

If you've ever seen the movie the Fifth Element, it looks just like blood from the Diva Plavalaguna after she gets shot.  I'm sure that's just what the oil engineers had in mind when they were blending it... 😉  Fortunately the engine oiling system is currently all set (though the pan install was not without its challenges), and doesn't leak, now that an oil temp sender has been installed in the pan.  Even have a dipstick now!

Leaf Springs

As noted back here, ride heights are all wrong at the moment.  Front is relatively easy to adjust, with some turns of the Afco adjuster.  Rear, not so much...variable height spacer blocks are available, but you don't want to run any more spacer block than you have to.

The Hypercoil springs I first bought way back when are the only composite leafs they offer, and come with a 4.5" "true arch", whatever that mens.  Of the many mistakes I've made in the progress of this project, one was assuming this would be a reasonable ride height.  Turns out it is way way off, even with a 1" spacer block.  Car needed to be about 3" lower from where it was with the Hypercoils, so the only real option was another set of springs.  Liteflex LLC, who makes the springs for Hypercoil, didn't return my message (their unit is a very high quality piece, despite the poor fitment for my application), so I called Flex-A-Form.  With one call they were able to take my order.  I wanted to replicate the Hypercoil specifications (spring rate and size), but be 3" lower.

To their credit, they did get the springs to me relatively quickly, considering they had to be custom made.  To their discredit, they weren't going to offer anywhere near 3" lower height than the Hypercoils.  But again to their credit, they have an offset eye design in the spring end, which helps mitigate this - by disassembling the spring end and mounting it upside-down on the leaf, you can lower the effective mounting point by 1" at one or both ends.

Flex-A-Form composite leaf spring on Jason Rhoades 1967 Z28 Camaro

Looks easier than it is, they use a pretty aggressive glue to hold it on, making it some careful prying and chisel work to get the end off without hosing the fiberglass leaf.  And the contours aren't quite the same when upside-down so a bit of file work is required for it to fit right.

Once that's done, I take a closer look at the Flex-A-Form leaf next to the Hypercoil, and realize that it is at least 2" longer in the rear section.  Ugg!  So what do I do now, send them back?  Will they take them back now that I've flipped the eyes?  The more important question that came to mind was, what are the chances they even get it right the second time around, and what will continued messing about mean to the timeline?  Instead, decided to modify them myself-

Marked and cut off the extra length; re-contoured the fiberglass to receive the spring eye; positioned eye (in the lowering upside-down orientation) and drilled holes for the mount bolts; cleaned it up, applied sealer/adhesive, and bolted it back together.

Then there's the issue of bushings and bolt sleeves and washers and fasteners.  John Coffey did a good job getting the Hypercoils mounted up way back when but had to custom-make a few pieces on his lathe to get it to go together.  I don't have a lathe or the raw materials, and thus had to improvise, cutting down and hogging out bushings to fit the larger sleeves John had made.  *Nothing* about the springs just fit as delivered.  Oh, and the subframe connectors have to be mostly removed to get the forward spring pockets out, which requires pulling apart a bunch of the interior.

What should have been a couple hours (swapping out rear springs for lower units) ended up taking at least 8, and only the first one is done!  Other side should go faster but geez what a pain.  Good news is, I should have all the info needed to get the next pair of Flex-A-Forms built right (I don't expect the 250# spring rate I'm starting with, to be the one I stick with forever) so the work on the bushings and hardware should be re-usable on the next pair, making this swap only a couple hours, the sort of thing you might try between days at a multi-day race, with normal tools.

Road Draft Tube

Most people don't even know what this is, and admittedly I didn't either until recently.

In the old old days - like, before the Camaro - automakers had this thing called a "road draft tube".  They recognized that engines built up positive pressure in the crankcase, especially while the engine was working hard, and they had to figure out what to do with it.  Without anywhere else to go, the pressure would cause oil to leak out past the seals, and make a mess of the car.  So what they did, was run a tube from a port on the engine, down and back a ways, so liquid and mist oil escaping from the engine, would drip "harmlessly" on the road beneath the car.  This was a significant contributor to the black stripe in the middle of our highway lanes; an intentional, built-in oil leak.

By the early 60's people had begun realizing 1, this was bad for the environment, and 2, engines actually like a little bit of vacuum on this port - so what the heck, why don't we just ingest this misty oily air and burn it in the combustion chamber?  Thus the modern PCV system was born.

In the case of a '67 Camaro V8, the road draft tube and PCV system are fairly basic.  In the picture below (not my engine) you can see the "tomato can" - a very basic attempt at an air/oil separator - it is plumbed to the port on the block you see at the very top left.

From that port, a tube runs up and into the underside of the air cleaner lid.  This provides a slight vacuum and causes oily badness to get sucked into the engine.  This is actually not a good thing for combustion in a performance scenario, as it affects mixture in a negative way.  Thus the benefit of catch cans, which are allowed in STX (even Stock) so long as the "original PCV function is retained".  Current plan is to run the road draft tube outlet to a catch can-slash-air/oil separator, which will then be plumbed back into the original place in the air cleaner.  This should meet the rules while helping preserve healthy combustion.

So all of this ancient emission history is great, but what's the problem?  The problem is, the tube has this dome thing on it where it covers the port, where a single long bolt runs down through it, into female threads in the block.  Since this probably makes for a common oil leak spot, somebody in the history of this block, must have overtightened the bolt, and it is now snapped off in that port, without enough meat protruding to get a tool on.  The broken-off bolt has a nice dome shape to its top, making it tough to keep a drill bit centered, and it is recessed so far down there, normal bolt extractor bolts and tools can't reach.  Yay!  As an added bonus, this is at the extreme rear of the block, so to even look at it, requires climbing into the engine bay and contorting one's self, being careful not to mess up all the shiny, new, and sometimes delicate, engine parts.

I plan to give it a go with a traditional drill bit, and maybe see about extending the bolt extracting bit in some way, to get it down into the hole drilled.  On a day when I'm feeling very patient and well rested... 🙂

Coolant Temp Sensor Port

The pristine intake manifold I bought from Jerry MacNeish two years ago now-

came with a plug in the port next to the thermostat housing mount, there on the right side.  That port is used in '67 Camaros for the coolant temperature sensor.  In later years it was moved directly to the cylinder head.

I've tried penetrating fluid, tried heat, and even tried extreme force (ended up breaking the 1/2" -> 3/8" adapter), and nothing has been able to make that plug move.  At this point it likely needs divine intervention, but in the meantime, have emailed Jerry asking for advice.  Might try drilling it out, though I'm not enamored by the idea of the inevitable loose aluminum shavings floating around the cooling system.

On a related note, recently bought a complete tap and die kit.  Not sure how I ever got along without it before, it's been tremendously valuable.

 

Vent Windows

1967 was the only year the Camaro came with vent windows and as such, this is one area where replacement parts are hard to come by.  And there are a whole lot of parts to replace!  While I'm a big fan of the vent windows and like their classical elegance, from a technical standpoint, they are probably the least elegant things on the car.  It takes an atrocious number of oddly shaped metal parts, contorted gaskets, and strange hardware, to make one of these vent windows work.  Since some of the key stuff isn't remanufactured, you have to make the best of what you can find.  When it's all said and done, it is heavy and makes you wonder why they even tried doing these things in the first place.

Vent window in Jason Rhoades 1967 Camaro Z28

It's not all cleaned up here, and the gasket still needs some trimming, but the driver's side vent window is IN!

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