June 22, 2011

Downpipe Completed, Neutral Progress

I'm lagging on the updates. The good; I now have a downpipe. The bad; the car had to donate some parts to my current daily transportation.

Over the past few weeks the downpipe slowly came together. I started with an order of material from VerociousMotorsports.com and went with the good stuff; vibrant 3" 304 stainless steel mandrel bends (180, 45, and 15 degree), two 304 vibrant O2 weld bungs, a 304 3" vibrant flexpipe with interlocking liner, and a 304 3" vibrant v-band flange/clamp assembly (some of this came in a later separate order as the assembly progressed). After ball-parking my materials I was faced with the puzzle of how I was going to make a 3" downpipe fit, and how I was going to route it where I wanted it go. The other obstacle was how to work with the material. Being a perfectionist, I wasn't thrilled that I would be working with a hacksaw, but by the end of the project I had a well rehearsed method for precious cuts. This project was also a test of patience; eyeball, mark, cut, test fit (sometimes trim), de bur, weld, fit, move onto the next length. Dad once again tackled TIG welding, taking it with him to work in the mornings, frying things up on his breaks, and bringing it home in the evening for me to try out (my Dad also gets credit for drilling of the holes for the EGT bung, and two O2 bungs, having left it in his hands after being unsuccessful and breaking some small bits). The back and forth juggling of our schedules drew fabrication out. The one thing I am disappointed about is the EGT bung Auto Meter had supplied me, which to my annoyance, turned out to be mild steel. Someday maybe I'll go through the trouble of drilling it out and putting a stainless steel one in there. For now I'll just have to look the other way.

More importantly the whole thing fits, though it gets pretty tight where the downpipe passes between the swaybar and trans-to-block brace. Mounted I can't fit my finger between the bar and exhaust, nor my hand in back between exhaust and brace. Here I ended this length of downpipe with a 3" v-band flange (right under said brace) to keep the downpipe short enough to snake in and out. It takes some tricky maneuvering but I can squeeze the whole thing in there. From here the other half of the v-band assembly will pick up the exhaust system and move onto the flexpipe, then catalytic convertor and onward. Currently the downpipe is dry fitted with the gasket and is ready for the hardware to be tightened, but before I do I am going to whip up a brace utilizing the front two bolts of the transaxle brace to support the weight of the turbocharger at the two bottommost studs of the 5-bolt turbine flange. In the meanwhile I have fitted the pyrometer probe and wideband oxygen sensor which, in turn, has allowed me to tidy the wiring from the gauges to their inputs. Rather than trimming and re-soldering, the excess length of each has been coiled and zip-tied on the interior side of the firewall for tailoring to future setups. The narrowband oxygen sensor will be coming with a future order from Summit Racing. 

The good with the bad. For a few months now my '96 SC2 has been left idle in the driveway, slowly being picked at for some reworking (a story for another time). In the meanwhile I have kept the '95 SW2's legs stretched (for those unfamiliar, this SW2 unofficially retired as my Dad's daily driver with the birth of the Saturn TDI). While it does have some tricks and special details, it is starting to show some ailment with 355k accrued on the odometer. Most recently the brakes started to make some horrendous noise (rightfully so, they did have 128k on them). So, I was looking at replacing the front rotors and pads one night after work, no big deal. 

A simple brake job went south quick when the larger passenger side guide pin twisted off at the threads. The smaller one came out willingly, though looking a bit unhealthy where rust was bottlenecking the material in the same place. Not a great start, but I had spares somewhere... I thought. So I continued disassembly only to have one of the pad spreaders fall into two pieces. Frustrated I stopped to see what spare parts could be found, which of course yielded me nothing. Then I took the pad cradle into the shop to see if I couldn't at least dislodge the broken pin. No luck here either. So I moved onto the drivers side, just to make sure things would come apart. After that I found myself out of any pins (the two that didn't break definitely weren't getting reused) and two useless pad cradles. Thats when I started eyeing the SL2. I knew for a fact everything would come apart being that it was all new and barely used. I was not thrilled by the idea but I didn't have a whole lot of options. Taking apart a second vehicle doubled the time of the job but it did get the SW2 back together. Dad was able to weld some material to those broken pins and get them out. Now I just need new pins, seals, spreaders, and my detailed touch to put the SL2 back together.

Some other stuff has been a work in progress. My oil filter relocation setup is almost ready for instillation, I have an order from Forge Motorsport to address my cooling system, as well as some items to start my vacuum routing. As of late I have held back on the larger, more expensive purchase of my intercooler and a fortune in AN fittings for oil and ventilation plumbing. On Friday I will be leaving after work for Montreal with a dozen of my friends for the annual Jazz Festival. When I get back on Monday I will have a calender clear of expensive trips until late July so I should be able to splurge some of my savings then. 

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