Monday, March 29, 2010

Raising the GTS

So it's been a couple of weeks since I got my car back with the 403ci stroker in it and it was getting to be time for an oil change. Also I still wanted to raise my car and do a dyno run to see what kind of power I'm making and check my A/F ratios etc because I suspect I'm running fairly rich.
So, off to Norpac it was.

Well hate to disappoint, but after how long everything took & my schedule we simply did not have any time to get it on the dyno. So yet again my HP/TQ numbers remain a mystery as do my A/F ratios.

Oil Change
Based on Kirk's ( @ VectorMotorsports) recommendation to help with break-in etc I decided to go with a 10w40 for this change. I had checked the oil coming out of it and it looked surprisingly clear & clean still, and the engine had barely eaten a drop of oil. The catch can was also emptied and there was maybe a couple of tablespoons of oil in there, if that. All in all it seems the engine is performing as expected and very well behaved!

Raising the Car

Yeah I said GTS in the subject of the blog since I'm rolling around with GTS Badges which now actually make sense. (GT Stroker ... see what I did there? ;) ) I know some people are probably wondering "why the **** would you raise your car back up?!?" (ok, maybe one of my 2 readers is haha). Don't get me wrong I LOVED the way my car sat lowered.. really looked amazing in my opinion.
Looking good!

However,  I had my XA Coilovers set pretty low, so much so that a lot of speedbumps/drives etc I was bottoming out and scraping the hell out of my cats. One even has a pretty nasty dent in it because of this!

That's NOT a pretty sight. It was just getting to be impractical to drive certain places with how low I had the car so that's why I decided to raise it again. We decided on anywhere from between a 1/2" to an inch would be needed. Just did the front first and then adjusted the rear. It turned out a little higher than expected in the back, but I was content with it and it gave the car a bit of a rake which I think looks pretty good on these cars. Also, now it was able to simply get on & off the alignment rack without the need for pieces of wood and other 'help' items which was nice for a change!

I'm pretty sure that's what the front looked like stock haha

Working on the rear

To be honest I was surprised to see any 'red' back there still  with how dirty my car gets (excuse the blur)

Back on the ground

It's quite a bit higher than before, but it looks good and at least I won't scrape anymore

The Front looking just about perfect

Looks like I got a bit of my 'rake' back now

Notice how my cats are sticking out - I still don't understand why this does not seem to be the case on other people's car with ARHs, but at least I have more clearance now.

For some reason my car is always filthy when I go to Norpac

Justin (from Norpac) after a hard days work



I'm still getting used to the 'new' look so we'll see if it sticks. It's at least comforting to know if I ever want to go lower again it's pretty simply to do so with the Pedders XAs!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Stroker Fuel Economy

Someone on the forum asked me recently about what kind of fuel economy I was getting after the stroker install. I hadn't paid much attention to it, but when I checked it turned out to be 14.4 mpg or there about. I normally on average was getting around 16-17 mpg so that looked pretty good to me. I had not yet however done the CASE(crank) relearn which some people claimed (online, so you know what that means haha) would actually help with the fuel economy. I reset my trip counters when I did the relearn and when I checked after a while I noticed it had actually dropped to 13.5 mpg! Now looking back this number did include a fair amount more of city driving vs more freeway with the higher number.

This morning I decided to reset the counters again and see what I was getting on just the freeway. I drove probably for about 15 minutes with speeds between 55 and 65, and no crazy business (WOT Throttle runs etc etc). Basically I was driving like I was a granny in a Honda or Toyota (minus the acceleration ;) ). Doing this my indicator read 22.6 MPG Average! That's not too shabby for a juicy 403/6.6L! Now came the interesting part - 6 minutes of stop & go with about 6 traffic lights (stopping at each one...) with a max speed of 35. The average now plummeted in this short amount of time from the 22.6 to a meager 18.6.

Conclusion: Highway driving this thing is a miser still, but putting around town in stop & go traffic can bring your average MPG down close to single digits REAL fast!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Blue & Black G8s

I hadn't had a chance yet to do a crank (CASE) relearn after all my work since the shop didn't have the right tool for it, and I did not have a Dashhawk. 'GrandMacPubah', one of the 'local' (over an hour away) forum members,  had one and was kind enough to drive all the way down to meet me and let me borrow his Dashhawk to complete this procedure. He has a Stryker Blue G8 GT which looks absolutely gorgeous! (See pictures below). We'll probably end up doing a muffler swap since he could use a little more sound ( I could barely even tell his car was running!) and I could use a little less!

It turns out the Crank Relearn is a fairly simple procedure taking only a few seconds that the device guides you through step by step - It was so simple in fact I felt the need to do it twice just in case I missed anything! - Basically you warm up the car with the engine running until the coolant gets to a certain temperature (158?), then parking brake on, foot on brake, rev the engine till somewhere in between 3k-5k rpms untill you hear it cut out and then you're done!

I can't say I have noticed much difference so far in doing that , MPG now says 15.something, but we'll see where it is a few weeks from now. Powerwise I don't notice any difference before and after either this crank relearn either. I still need to schedule some time to raise my car - Pubah's sits quite nicely! One thing I did notice that between mine and his, while we both got the ARH system - him in 1-3/4, me in 1-7/8 - my exhaust near the cats seems to stick out way more on the bottom of the car, which is where I'm always scraping. I wonder if the headers bent or so during shipping/install.

Also I need to get on the dyno sometime to see what kind of numbers we are making - pessimistingly i'm going to say i'll be lucky if I'm around 400... "Why?", you ask when people with CAI/Headers & Cam have hit the 450 mark?

Well... take the following into account - Optimistic people say I should be between 450-500 hp at the wheels. I'm however seeing the following 'issues' (and I'm just giving some random arbitrary percentages here that make sense to me with what I have seen):

  • -5% - Dished Pistons - lowered compression to 9.something : 1, so i'm doing the opposite of other people who are increasing their compression to get higher HP numbers
  • -5% - 'Mild' 228/228 Cam - I don't want lope and need daily drive-ability.
  • -5% - Crappy 92 octane gas with 10% ethanol - not much you can do about this stuff!
  • -5% - PNW Crap Factor! (In case you hadn't noticed - people with the same amount of mods make a good 5-10% less power in the Pacific Northwest Regions vs people elsewhere - Not sure if it's the crappy gas, the lack of available Shops & Tuners... who knows!).

So if I roughly take a -20% of 500 I end up with 400 hp at the wheels. If I get anything above that, it will be pleasant surprise!


Friday, March 5, 2010

Some Pictures & Short Video

With a little sunbreak yesterday I figured it was time to give my car a quick wash. I hadn't in months and instead of a nice deep dark black it had turned into a dirty, crusty, gray color. I went to one of those high-pressure DIY washing places since I'm paranoid about taking my car on any carwash that a) has brushes, or b) even if they are 'touchless' then the track would most likely damage my rims. There is one carwash I know of, where you drive yourself through (no tracks) but that wasn't a viable option since that was at least 30 minutes away. Luckily for me I had a sponge and some basic supplies in the trunk still so I was able to give it a good scrubbing - which it desperately needed! The dirt & grime was so caked on that just using the high-pressure wash did NOT get it off... that's pretty bad!

Afterwards I could definitely tell I was getting more looks and when I went to get some gas, a gentleman even approached because he wanted to check out the G8! Guess that means my car looks pretty good when it's clean! I snapped some pictures just for the heck of it, and tried to capture some video on my cellphone of how it sounds right now.


What engine modifications do you speak of Mr. Dealership? ;)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

403 Stroker with 228/228 115 LSA Cam

Since I've made several posts about the cam/stroker kit etc over time (over a year!) I figured i'd be handy to summarize things a little to give a clear picture of what I had done and by whom - At 26,232 Miles on the stock block I ended up with:

End Result
  • 403 Cubic Inch (that's around 6.6 Liter) Stroker (4.005" Bore x 4.00" Stroke) with -18 cc Dished Pistons
  • 228/228 115 LSA CamShaft
  • CNC Ported Heads with Valvejob
  • Ported Throttle Body & Intake Manifold
  • Sounds like a much louder version of stock - no real lope to speak of 
  • Power: Unknown at this point but seat of pants and losing traction in 4th gear @ 60mph says 'faster' ;)

  • Norpac Street Performance - Pulling engine, stripping down, shipping parts out, re-assembly
  • Vector Motorsports - Tune & DOD-Delete Cam package
  • Livernois Motorsports - CNC Valve Jobs & Porting of Heads, Stroker Kit
  • Bud's Machine Shop - Machine work, installing crank/rods/pistons - building small block
  • Fasterproms  - Ported Intake Manifold & Throttle Body

Vector Motorsports DOD-Delete Cam Package Containing:
  • 1x 12599296 - GM Valley Cover
  • 4x 12595365 - GM Lifter Tray
  • 1x 12557840 - GM Pulley Bolt
  • 1x 12586481 - GM Camshaft Sprocket 
  • 3x 12556127 - GM Camshaft Bolts
  • 1x 12626407 - GM Timing Chain Tensioner (NOT USED)
  • 16x PSI-LS 1511ML - PSI Valve Springs
  • 16x 17122490 - AC Delco Lifters - Part# HL124
  • 1x 134-3610 - ARP Bolt Head Kit
  • 16x 7795-16 - CompCams Pushrods
  • 1x CompCams CamShaft - 228/228 115 LSA
  • 2x GM Head Gaskets

With additions:
  • 1x 12579145 - LS2 PCV Outlet Plug
  • 1x 12588670 - LS2 Timing Chain Dampener (used instead of 12626407)
  • 2x 12617944 - Exhaust Manifold Gaskets
  • 1x 12612350 - Oil Pan Gasket
  • 1x 12574294 - Engine Front Cover Gasket
  • 2x 12610311 - Coolant Pump Gasket
  • 8x 12569427 - LS3 Hollow Stem Valves
  • 1x 12594779 - PCV Hose - (NOT USED - Installed Catch-Can Instead)

Further more I added:
  • 1x HME-G68V-2 - Timing Chain (C5-R) 
  • 1x MEL10295 - Oil Pump

The Actual Livernois Stroker Kit contained:
  • 8x -18cc Coated Diamond Pistons w/ rings & pins
  • 8x Callies Compstar Connecting Rods with ARP Bolts
  • 1x Callies Compstar 4.00" Stroke Crank
  • 8x (16 halves) Rod Bearings (I mistakenly thought these were Cam-Bearings at the time!)
  • 1x Main Bearings Kit

I also added
  • 1x DM Performance - LSX Girdle, which caused some issues
  • 10x 12556127 - Main cap side Bolts (Same as Cam Bolts)
In the end I was still missing:
  • Cam Bearings, Front & Rear Crank seals

Install Timeline:
  • Day 1 - Nothing happening here
  • Day 6 - Engine out and goes to Machine shop
  • Day 13 - Have baseline Tune, Machineshop has block totally bare
  • Day 22 - Little Parts confusion + Porting of Heads & TB/Manifold
  • Day 26- Few parts I forgot to get: Cam Bearings, Front & Rear Crank seals
  • Day 34 - Issue with the Girdle not fitting due to unique L76 oil pan
  • Day 37 - Machineshop is done - small writeup on them
  • Day 45 - Picking up the car! Definitely needs some fine-tuning still
  • Days after pickup - Tune issues and power-steering leak
  • Today - Seems to run great and no more leak!

No more leak & Good Tune!

Power Steering Leak
After I discovered my power-steering leak the other day I contacted several people about the possible problem and solutions. Crazy Paul was the one who came up with detailed schematics of the problem area and even pictures of what it would look taken apart etc and several things that could be the issue. I swear this guy is a wiz when it comes to technical data!

He mentioned the copper 'gaskets' they use with the banjo bolt could be the problem and that even worse it could be the rubber o-rings inside the pump if the banjo bolt had been tightented too tight. I talked to Justin @ Norpac and he told me they only took out the Banjo Bolt and not the Part underneath (The High Pressure outlet). With his information I decided to take the plunge and take out the bolt, and clean up the copper and put it back in. Paul mentioned that if I was lucky this 'could' possibly fix it.

Armed with a torque wrench and a 19mm socket (seems an odd size, but it fit) I took it out and gave it a bit of a cleaning and then put it back in. I then torqued it to the spec he gave me of 43 ft/lbs.. A quick left/right test showed no signs of leakage! After this mornings drive into work when I popped the hood I didn't see any leaking either - so i'm hoping it's fixed! Thanks to everyone who has helped me with this and gave any info they had! (CP, Justin@Norpac, Greg@Pace, Charlie & 'Wickedmom')

As I mentioned before - Kirk had sent me a new tune to battle the hot-start and dying when slowing down issues. I hadn't really had the chance to drive around yet so this morning was the big test for this as well. The engine started right up with any issues, and ran fairly smooth ( As smooth as to be expected from a 403 ci stroker!) As I took off I kept a close eye on my rpms etc and from what I could tell it all was good! No weird low rpm dips as I had gotten previously so I was happy!

After getting to work I turned off the ignition and decided to start it up again to see how it would like that. It fired right up without any hesitation so that was good too! Meanwhile on the drive I had decided to open it up a little bit.. I was in 4th gear and just had taken an long offramp so I gunned it to about 5.5K rpm from a roll at 60mph. Within what seemed like a blink of an eye something attraced my attention to the dash which was showing weird lights... No, not a check engine light, but the 'overspeed' (which I have set at 80mph) had come on in combination with the ESC Traction Control... Traction problems in 4th going over 60mph..... now that's the good stuff! :D

If there was ANY doubt regarding Kirk @ Vector Motorsports being able to remotely tune your car , this has proven to me that he can totally deal with these types of scenarios since this project was way more involved than just a CAI and some headers. It also shows the value of having the cables/software to log your car as it's running since this way he can see what's going on, almost as if he was in the car with you. Yes I don't have any dyno numbers yet, and i'm sure 'in person' a good tuner could get some more HP/TQ out of it, but for doing this remotely Kirk has managed to get my car driving just great, and if you can't find a good tuner in your neighborhood (then you must live near me! ;) ) then talk to Kirk!

So now what? Well since I'm getting more and more into 'stealth' and really don't want a loud rumbling car (as cool as it is), it seems like I will be switching back to the stock mufflers - 'GrandMacPubah' on the forum is kind enough to come down with his dashhawk to do a crank relearn (still haven't done that!) and since he wouldn't mind upgrading to something a little louder we will probably do a swap!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Stroker - small issues

Two nights ago the car died on me twice (so no power steering/brakes etc! scary!) while slowing down in traffic and I still had the check engine light. Charlie figured the first was due to the tune needing more adjustment and the check engine light  must've been a loose connector of the rear driver-side O2 sensor or maybe the wires were touching the exhaust. I emailed Kirk @ Vector about this, and yesterday morning I woke up with a new tune in my email. I loaded it up and drove to work.

Car sounded a lot better, less shaking, overall much smoother power delivery etc. The Check engine light was now off too! So that's great. However, second red light the car died on me again... I drove to work without further incidents (including several lights), so it seems the car runs better when it's warmed up. I decided i'd do some idle logging and emailed Kirk the results. The log looked pretty good he said , but he made some small changes to help with it dying on me and he emailed me a new tune within an hour.

I sent him another log file after loading that tune just in case but was hoping this would be the final tune... but what do you know: This morning the car died in basically the exact same spot while driving to work! Also when the car is warmed up it actually takes a bit of throttle to get it started up, otherwise it sounds like a chain-smoker hacking up a lung!  Also there's some kind of pulsating buffering / surging going on under 5mph when coming to a stop.. Hopefully Kirk can fix these issues soon (I'm sure he's tired of me pestering him!) and he just sent me another tune after I emailed him a little earlier today. Kudos to him for the quick turn-around!

Today at lunchtime I noticed a red puddle of fluid under where I parked.. GREAT i think.. after talking to Charlie it was clear it was either transmission or power steering fluid. F-in Great...Just my luck - what else can go wrong?!?

I was hoping it wasn't the transmission, and an initial check did show my power steering on the low side, but without being able to do anything about I parked in a 'clean' spot to see where the leak was.

I then went back out a few hours later to see if it was dripping again and here's what I found -a nice puddle right behind the front drivers side wheel, which upon closer inspection actually had definite signs of 'splashing' on it.

I then decided to take a better look under the hood and notice there's quite a bit of spray going on in the engine compartment. You can see it on the header, and the black subframe.

Upon closer investigation I follow the lines from the reservoir, which seem ok, to the actual pump where i find a decent amount of fluid collected on top right where there seems to be a bolt with a high-pressure line. Perhaps this is not as tight as it should be and i'll try to tighten this one ASAP!

Also noticed the red fluid in the crimp connector where the rubber hose goes into the metal line which could be another problem area, or it could simply be funneling the fluid there, who knows at this point..

As soon as I get home i'll see if I can clean it up a bit and tighten that bolt and hope that fixes it. Otherwise i'm sure some shop locally will charge an arm and a leg for something that'll turn out to be really simple!