Monday, July 28, 2014

Brickyard 400

I have been in the Indianapolis area for all but 3 of the 21 Brickyard 400's. The first in 1994 we did not live here yet and two others were missed when we were in Arizona.

I think of myself as a NASCAR fan. I have been to numerous races starting in 1989 at Sears Point, Phoenix, Dallas etc. and in 1995 when we did move to Indy I went to the IROC race and the Brickyard 400 practice. I was not terribly impressed with the visibility on the track or the racing action during either. Because the "Craftsman Super Truck" series was brand new and literally 3-4 miles from my house I chose to go see it instead of the Brickyard. IRP was/is a great place to see a race, there is not a bad seat in the house. It would take less than an hour to get in our out of the place and I think I ended up going 6 or 7 years as well as a couple of Nationwide races. All those years I never went to the Brickyard 400.

This year I was offered a couple of tickets, what looked like it might be good seats. As we sat down directly across from us at the exit of pit lane was a line of all of the previous 20 Brickyard 400 pace cars. This shot shows the most recent pace car corvettes and lone camaro.

Unfortunately the visibility of the track was as bad as I remembered from 20 years ago. The race itself was a snooze fest with virtually no passing, the only real drama coming from pit stops.

The tickets we had ($99.00 face value) were in turn one which made me think we would be able to see turn two and four as well. In reality we were at the beginning of turn one, the stands we were sitting in blocked visibility to turn four, the infield stands directly across from us blocked turn two. We could see the half of the front stretch, 75% of turn one and half of the short shoot to turn two.

This pick was literally the best view from where we were sitting, we had beams blocking three TV screens and the infield stands blocking pretty much anything else. I do plan to go to the Grand Prix race next year the visibility to the road course is much better and the racing is much better.

Engine Mods

 I have been trying to purchase a VMax throttle body for my car most of the winter. Early in June I was finally able to get one. They are sold on an exchange basis and basically you end up paying $150.00 for a CNC ported throttle body. I would recommend this to anyone with a DBW throttle body just for the improved throttle response alone. If it added any horsepower as claimed I wont ever know as I never had my car baselined.

The installation was stupid simple and literally only took 15 minutes.

During "Black Friday" of 2013 I purchased some PFADT headers for the corvette, apparently just before they went out of business. They sat boxed in the garage until the beginning of June when Matty and I finally installed them.  I did not take any pictures of us installing them but I found a good shot of them on the internet. They are works of art, the guys that assembled these are real craftsmen.

The "tri-y" design of the headers promotes more torque than standard 4 into 1 headers with a small compromise in top end horsepower.

Here is a shot of the old manifolds and cats we removed, I am not sure of the weight savings I would guess it to be in the 20lb range.

After both the throttle body and headers were installed I drove the car for a few weeks. The car was much louder, there were no CELs but it seemed to me to be running very rich. This didn't make any sense to me as all the modifications should have made it run more lean. I was able to make an appointment on July 7th to have it tuned at Mike Norris Motorsports.

On its first dyno pull I was expecting to see around 390hp, so I was less than happy to see it register 330hp. Mike got out of the car, stared at the screen for a few seconds and said "I am going to be a hero today". I did not understand right away what he meant because I was so focused on the HP figure I did not see the air/fuel ratio.

If you look at the dyno sheet the air/fuel spikes at 2200 and goes off the chart at 3200rpm.

After 20 minutes on the laptop Mike made the second pull which netted 413hp 410tq. He said he wanted to lean it just a bit more and on the third pull it made 415hp 414tq.

Here is a video Matty took of the third dyno pull:

Two days after the session I took it back to ORP, my previous best run was a 12.7@113 with a 1.9 60 foot, this improved to 12.2@117 with a 2.1 60 foot. I don't know if it was the extra power, my driving or track temp that slowed the 60 foot but with the current tires on the car launching it quickly is very difficult. I did not lower the pressures as I have in the past and that may have been the difference.

The car has a noticeable increase in power and sound. It currently has me satisfied but like any other mods it wont be long before the power level is comfortable and I will be looking for more.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Corvette Headlights

The coating on my headlight lenses started flaking off last year. This year they have gotten much worse and have started to look very bad. Unfortunately the headlamp housings are over $1100.00 each and if you want to bake the housings and separate the lenses you can purchase new ones for $155.00-200.00 each.

I have had fairly good luck with polishing these types of lenses in the past, the only problem is the UV coating is removed and the lens yellows rather quickly.

Here are some shots of the scratches and failed coating on the lenses.

In reading some of the information on the net by people that recondition headlamp lenses for a living I came across a thread in which someone had determined that spar varnish (which contains UV blockers) could be used as a protective coating on headlamp lenses. There are companies that sell UV coatings for this application, many I could not find any information on such as anyone that had successfully used them the ones that had been used were selling for $90.00 for four ounces. I still had much of the correct polishing equipment and the varnish is very cheap so I decided to give it a try.

Most of the people doing this tape off the surrounding areas of the headlamp housings and polish them in place. I was not comfortable with this technique and decided to completely remove them. This required some dis assembly of the car which took less than an hour.

The other thing I had read was the old coating need not be fully removed. I tried this to begin with but the lens looked very hazy where the old coating was compared to the areas that it was completely removed. I decided to remove all the coating which required going to a very heavy grit paper. Because the coating is very hard I had to start with 320 grit paper, even this grit made the hard coat difficult to remove.

 After using 320 to remove the hard coat I then used 500 and 800, this was taken after I was finished with the 800.

After the 800 I used 1000, 1500, 2000 and 3000 then mirror glaze, this shot was taken after the mirror glaze .

The last step which I did not take pictures of was mixing the Minwax Helmsman Spar Urethane Clear 50/50 with mineral spirits. I then wiped the lens down with mineral spirits and used a foam brush to put on a coat of the 50/50 mixture.

In the sun the lights dried quickly and I was able to reinstall them 30 minutes after I had coated them.

The thread I read about doing this on was started early in 2008 and is still and active thread. Many of the people using this technique had documented it lasting two years or more on vehicles that spend all their time outside. Even if it only lasts that long for less than $30.00 and a few hours on a Saturday I would do it all over again.