February 28, 2012

14 Years And 350k Miles

I know, I know... this blog is supposed to focus on the happenings of the SL2, but I felt the need to give the daily driver a touch of the limelight. Today the SW2 reached two milestones - fourteen years in our family and 350,000 miles on the road.

For those that may not know, this '95 Saturn SW2 is my third daily driver following in the line of a decrepit '93 SL2 (it was all I could afford) and a '96 SC2 (it was becoming too much like another project. As of January 21st it resides in Rosendale, NY). My acquisition of the SW2 heavily overlapped a long hiatus of driving the coupe. It quickly became the regular fall back vehicle while I struggled to make the SC2 orderly. As problems continued to crop up, the more I'd find myself driving the wagon. Eventually I became frustrated enough with the coupe to throw a for-sale sign on it (in retrospect, even if I had made the coupe road worthy it still would have needed too much work for my to be happy with it). Prior, the SW2 had been regular transportation for my Dad. He purchased it on February 28th,1997 with only 41,920 miles. In 1997 this car still sold for $14,735 dollars, compared to the $1300 eventually paid for my SL2. Unbeknownst to me, this car would go on to influence my admission to the Saturn community and the purchase of the SL2 that this blog is all about. Around that time the local Saturn dealership (Portsmouth, NH) was an SPS distributor and was sponsoring an employee's race-prepped '96 SL2, a car that Dad became lightly involved in. Dad, despite having vowed to "never lay a wrench on it", quickly started duplicating basic modifications from the SPS catalog - I recall walking in on him with the shifter in the vice and a hacksaw in hand. These modifications would go on to include a lot of one-off pieces, namely the tubular stainless steel rear lateral-links and trailing arms that stirred the forums. This car also features the original hand made center vent gauge bezel that was briefly replicated and made available for sale.

Vacuum Routing Preview

I've been sitting on a lot of things here and there, waiting for accompanying bits and pieces to arrive in the mail.

One of these items is the vacuum block pictured here. I sought out an over-the-top piece from Full-Race. Then I turned around and disassembled the hardware it came with. For my routing I wanted something a little nicer than running hose between hose barbs but wasn't quite willing to drop coin on AN fittings and lines. Some while back I stumbled upon a great compromise while perusing a build thread on a different forum; push-to-connect fittings. Mine all came from McMaster-Carr. As an added bonus the brass comes nickel plated! You'll see why thats important a little later. Toward the left of the shot is my solution for the vacuum feed. When I refurbished the intake manifold (some time ago) I removed the steel barbs and replaced them with some brass barbs I had a friend machine up. Later when I decided to go with the push-to-connect fittings I discovered that I had used a really strange thread that couldn't be found. So I cobbled together an alternative. After some digging through the endless parts bin of McMaster I found a barbed push-to-connect and ordered it with a 10 mm diameter stem. To make the right angle off of the intake manifold I pillaged an old PCV line for a rubber elbow. After shortening the fitting to fit the end I wanted I pressed it together; 10 mm is hair large so the assembly won't be coming apart any time soon. Floating around in the foreground of the photo are some additional fittings for the compressor housing on the turbocharger, and the wastegate housing. I don't have the actual vacuum line yet. I wanted to get everything else set up so I could order appropriate lenghts. The feed off of the manifold will be 6 mm while the plumbing off the vaccum block will be all 4 mm.