Thursday, May 28, 2020

"People run from rain but sit in bathtubs full of water"

The brackets arrived today - after a brief tour of the US because FedEx decided an indirect route was better (Nevada > Oregon > Tennessee > Illinois).

First impression: Super nice packaging - both the outer box, the inner packaging and the information they send along with the parts.

Excited to open the brackets and test them out for fit!
Ah, well...shit.  Something didn't translate and the holes don't line up.  Then I realize that I didn't check the dimensions of the brackets before I submitted the file to be cut.
That's 100% my fault.

I got super excited and shit the bed, basically.

I was so caught up in the idea of finally having a solution for mounting the thermostat/oil filter that I submitted the file without checking it first.  Rookie mistake from 'not a rookie'.  Some adjustments will be made and a second set will be made - hopefully that set is the 'winner'.  Try, try, try until it's's only 'time', right?
 In other news - I went ahead and ordered a new set of spring plates from Sway A Way and they arrived today.  The welds on this set are  significantly better than the first set that I bought years ago.  I won't have to grind anything down on the welds but the top edge is going to need some clearance work.
The clearance work isn't that big of a deal because the plating job on these spring plates is just as inconsistent as it was on the set I bought a while back with the shitty welds.  See that shiny part and the duller part next to it? That's not a photographic/lighting issue - that's a mediocre plating process.

I'll grind down the one part that's too 'square' and figure out if they're getting painted or replated.  Either way, they won't be ready for use for a while.  Fixing what should be a 'ready to use' product is super fucking annoying but it's what I've come to expect from everyone making aftermarket parts.  Yeah, my silence and accepting their shitty quality makes it 'okay' in the manufacturer's eyes but I can't keep eating return shipping fees just to make a point when I can use that money to move forward.  I've got to figure out how to pivot and persevere a lot better than I have in the past.  This car has to get put back together.  I'm tired of looking at it on jack stands in the garage.

And now that I know I won't be able to use my free week of time to work on the car like I wanted - I'll probably send the calipers and master cylinder out to be reconditioned if the price and turn around are interesting.  I can work on my oil cooler mount while I'm waiting for this other stuff to get done.  I've got three weeks to make some significant progress on this car - then I start a new job and between that, finishing up the bathroom remodel from hell and getting back to 'normal', I won't have a whole lot of free time for a while.  I'm going to try to find small things to accomplish while I'm waiting on the bigger things to be resolved.

Friday, May 22, 2020

"It is not the mountains we conquer, but ourselves."

 The brake pads from the 1993 Pontiac LeMans arrived and they're the correct fit for the front calipers.

A few small differences in the pad construction but to be fair, I bought closeout el cheapo pads for $3.
 A picture of the back side of both pads (CSP supplied pads on the right).
Stacked back to back - the holes line up.

I installed one set on the caliper and they fit perfectly.

Nice to have a 'win' once in a while!

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

"Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be."

Not much worthy of photographing happened today - I pulled out the selection of trailing arms, found the best one for the right side and prepped it for installation.

I surveyed the situation for the seat belt installation - I'll be working up some brackets, figure out the final mounting and then drilling some holes.  The final installation will require welding brackets to the pan but it shouldn't be terribly complicated.

The AutoCAD drawing for the brackets came back today - and was immediately send to for production - the final product should be available late next week.  I'd say I'm cautiously optimistic about the final result.

Why the hell is there a picture of a 1993 Pontiac LeMans in this post? Apparently, the front calipers on the CSP brake kit come from a 1993 Pontiac LeMans, among a longer list of cars that were not brought to the US.  The miniature Aztek, however, is the only one of these cars sold in the US that I could find.  To test this theory - I've ordered a $4 set of brake pads from to confirm fit - they'll arrive on Friday.

I discovered that the part number for the brake pads is printed on them - that made this process very easy to confirm the correct parts.  The rear calipers, based on my Google investigation, are from a 1996 Volkswagen Passat.

I've also started a list of parts to order as I get closer to those tasks.  One of the things I've looked into is getting the brake calipers and master cylinder painted or coated to stall corrosion - the front calipers are already suffering and it's only a matter of time before the rears are in the same shape.  I'd go with a simple silver or black - colors aren't all that important because they're largely hidden.  This offering looks interesting but I'd want to know how this is different from powdercoating them.

Monday, May 18, 2020

"Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat."

 Three things were accomplished today with the car.

One of those things was aligning the oil fill tube with the body fill location.  The late oil fill tube with the stub pipe to connect to the breather is made differently from the early style that doesn't have the stub pipe.  After making too big a deal of the remedy in my head, I grabbed it and pulled in various directions until it lined up with the fill tube.

I've thought about this issue for far longer than it took to fix it.
 I took the passenger's side door apart and swapped out the felt between the glass and the wind wing.  I'd previously installed the commonly available felt with the red line in it and the window required far too much force to go up and down.  With this felt installed, rolling the window up/down requires a thumb and a finger - it's that easy.  One more thing to remove from the list of things to do.
Along a similar vein as the oil fill tube, I used a screwdriver with a large shaft and put it in the parking brake tube.  I very gently bent it up until I could get the parking brake cable installed.  Once I checked it for fit - I moved to the other side and got this shit done.

Another thing I spent way too long thinking about when I should have just tried the simple solution.

If I can get a few things done on this car each week, the list should shrink faster than it grows.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

"There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them"

Today seemed like a good day to get the torsion bars installed in the subframe - so I took everything apart expecting to put it back together.

I noticed something when I pulled it all apart - sand.  While I don't specifically remember cleaning out the cavity when the subframe came back - it is normally something I'd do right away so I never really thought about it - until today.
This is less than 20% of what came out of the cavity after a vigorous cleaning session with a dryer vent brush and the air compressor.

I am confident that it's clean inside but I didn't get much further than this place because I ran out of time - the majority of which was spent driving to Home Depot, standing in line to get in (thanks, COVID-19) and driving home.

The spring plates are beginning to rust through the original coating - both in the places I modified and places I did not. The plan for them is to strip off the zinc coating and paint them.

I pulled the brand new torsion bars out of their box for the second time and discovered the ends were surface rusted - I cleaned the rust off and coated them in grease.  I bought them nearly two years ago expecting to have them installed and the car functional in a couple of weeks.  The power of good intention and all that...

I went to the Sway A Way website to see if I could get another set of the spring plates using the part numbers stamped into the set I have - the website brings up a completely different part so I sent an email to their customer service contact to find out if alternatives are available.  I should have just kept the IRS stock for simplicity's sake but that's not what a car hobby masochist does.

In other news, I contacted CSP and asked about the step on the ID of the brake caliper brackets - they told me that their R&D department explained that the step is intentional for what amounts to an 'interference' fit and that as long as the cover is installed with even force all the way around, it should be fine.  This means that I'll have to have everything completely dialed in before fully installing them because they'll be a real bitch to remove.  What's odd is that I did not have this issue with the swing axle rear end - the bracket just went on and worked fine.

At some point, I will reach that place where I can do more than work on this for a couple of hours and accomplish very little - there's just too much going on right now to expect more than one or two steps at a time.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

"I see the world keep moving as I stumble"

While test fitting parts for the IRS rear end - I noticed that the fit of the CSP rear disc brake caliper mount isn't quite the same as it was when used on the swing axle rear end (it was flush).

There's a gap of about a half a millimetre between the two pieces.  The gap indicates that there's a problem to solve before I move forward.
 First thing, I checked the trailing arms to make sure they're round and not oval.

OD, axis X
 OD, axis Y

Not a big difference and can be considered round for the purpose of this exercise.
The two arrows show the 'step' that's inside of the brake caliper bracket.  I don't know why it's there but it is the singular reason I can't move forward.
This is the ID of the area where the red arrow above is pointing.

This is the ID of the area where the blue arrow is pointing.

A little simple math shows that if this weird step didn't exist, I wouldn't be posting this - I'd be posting about how I'd finished installing both stub axles and the bearings.

The difference is about half a millimetre - enough that I probably shouldn't try to bash the aluminum caliper bracket onto the steel trailing arm.  I've reached out to a local machine shop to figure out the cost of removing the step inside the housing.

I ordered the Setrab oil cooler mounts that I was avoiding - I thought I could get it mounted without them but what appears to be the right place for this oil cooler required them so I didn't have much of a choice.  Once the oil cooler and filter mounts are sorted, I'll be circling back to the pan hole misalignment, seat belt mounts and a few pan specific issues - once those are done, I should be in a much better place to have the car back on four tires and driving.  I just need to get past one milestone before I get too excited about the next one.

This all assumes that the house doesn't require more attention and money - most of my time/energy/money has gone into the house and it'd be great if that stopped real soon.

Friday, May 1, 2020

"Character is fate"

After screwing around in AutoCAD for the better part of three hours - I wasn't able to make anything even remotely resembling the template I made out of I reached out to my counterpart and asked if I could 'hire' him to input the part template into AutoCAD if I sent him the part.  He agreed and now the part is on its way to Arizona.  If all goes well, in about 2 weeks, I should have the part in hand...and have a plan for hoses to finally close up the engine.

I was in a bit of a time crunch as my laptop (first computer I've owned in the last 15 years that I didn't build) had to be sent in to Dell to be repaired.  The battery was swelling and pushed the touchpad out of the frame.  I might have it back by the end of next week. 

I spent a bit of time holding the Setrab oil cooler up in various places over the subframe/transmission area trying to find a suitable location to mount it...after lots of holding, thinking and head scratching, I decided that it's going to have to be mounted to the sheet metal tray that's over the transmission - with the fan pulling the hot air down.  The IRS rear end has a lot going on - add to that the rear disc brakes with wily parking brake cables, the accelerator cable, clutch cable, fuel line and there's just not that much space under there.  I may make one last session of holding it up in random spots on the passenger side since there's less going on with that side but I'm okay with the 'so far' found mounting location.  It'll allow me to move on to other things and feel like I'm making progress, even if I'm only fooling myself.

The used rear seat kick panel that I bought showed up - it's in decent shape - hard to visualize now that I know there's a NOS panel en route.  It'll go up in the rafters of the garage for a bit until I figure out what to do with it.

I've been digging through every thread I can find that details the IRS pan Type 3 because I know there are differences - looking for those details that might help me figure out how to route the brake lines from the early pan to a later suspension.

This picture I pulled from Brent's build thread on is a good shot of a late pan that gives me some good ideas of how to fix a few things on my pan to simplify the brake lines.

Perhaps I'm getting ahead of myself by moving past the oil cooler planning bit...assuming it's ready to be closed.  I really wish I wasn't such a fucking perfectionist - I would have been done with this car years ago.
I never noticed before but the late pan doesn't have the set of mount brackets on it like the early/swing axle pan.  I could remove those and relocate the T mount to a more sensible place (the early location for the brake line T is absolutely ridiculous) and simplify the whole thing.  The gears in my head are turning.