Thursday, May 31, 2018

Mechanical Restoration of the Civic

Following Pat's assessment of the car when I asked him to change my axle, I bought a bunch of parts (luckily nothing over 80$) and dropped the car at his shop earlier today.

It's disappointing to carry out so much work on the car without gaining any performance advantage. The work he is doing is basically a mechanical restoration of the car. In fact, if you look at all the work I have done to the car (OK, there hasn't been that much...), I have kept my promise to just drive it "as is" for this season and just fix things.

Still, I have managed to fix almost all the things that I hated about the car. Basically, everything I physically had to touch on the car was either was low-end or broken : cheap rubber base model shifter (replaced by 9$ Ebay shifter), cheap, oversized and old Acura 1.6 EL steering wheel (replaced last week by smaller Acura RSX leather steering wheel), cracked elbow rest in door panel (replaced by a non-cracked one), unsupportive OEM driver’s seat (replaced by a used OMP WRC race seat), broken parts in the instrument cluster (replaced by an Acura 1.6 el cluster). 

The car is not at Pat's shop
The other things that annoyed me most were the exhaust banging and rattling (to be replaced by Pat with the Ebay exhaust I bought last fall), the idle that was all over the place (fixed by Sajan at Calabogie) and the driver's side window, which does not roll up properly (may be fixed when Pat repairs the window frame).

Hopefully the car will be fixed in time to hit a couple more Monday nights before our summer trip in late June...

There are also several things I have to take care of on the BMW, the most urgent being a small oil leak that seems to be coming from the oil level sensor (which I changed last year, but only started leaking a few weeks ago) and the fact that the temperature creeps up on hot days when you sit in traffic (cooling fan clutch?)... 

Otherwise, there are many cool cars on the road these days:

Lovely spec early Miata
First-gen Viper still looks good
Focus RS looks like a rally car in white
A rare early 2000's AMG C32
One of my favourite cars you can see on the road, becoming more and more valuable
Also rare, not as valuable, Ferrari 328
It doesn't look modern, but it looks good
This M Coupe looked like somebody's track car.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Second Monday at St-Eustache

My second Monday at St-Eustache did not go as well as the first one. I was hoping to improve on my best lap of 1:02.7, given that I had a pair of brand new tires, but it was not to be. I could only manage a best of 1:03.1. Looking at the data, I did not seem to be faster anywhere, despite the new tires. What's my excuse? Maybe the tires are too new and have too much tread, which makes them "squirm" and overheat quickly... it's hard to know. Clearly, there was a problem with my right axle, and I had to cut my last session short as a strong vibration appeared when I turned left.

The car remains fun and easy to drive, however, and I was able to get home without any problem. I went to see Pat Boyer to install the new axle yesterday evening, and he discovered several other issus with the car that will need to be addressed at the same time. The most glaring issue was the terrible condition of the front subframe, which is perforated due to rust. The front frame rails also have holes, but luckily, the parts I need to fix that only cost about 100$.

He also suggested I change some motor mounts and bushings, but none of these items is particularly expensive. At least I was able to replace the huge and ugly rubber-coated Integra steering wheel that came with the car. I found a smaller leather Acura RSX steering wheel for only 50$ with the airbag. When I installed it, I realized the airbag was not compatible with my car, even though my car had a JDM RSX steering wheel when I test drove it. It turns out the North American RSX had a dual-stage airbag, while the JDM one had a single stage one, like older Civics and Integras. The solution was to use parts from both airbags and now I have a much nicer steering wheel in the Civic.

Anyway, the car will be out of commission for at least a few days while I get together the parts I need to fix the most urgent items. Stay tuned!

Cool duo spotted at St-Eustache on Monday

Thursday, May 17, 2018

First Monday at St-Eustache

I headed out to Monday night lapping at St-Eustache for the first time this year. The car was basically as I had left it after renting it out at the Calabogie race school. I put the almost-corded 2016 Hankook RS3's on the front and the fresher RS4's on the rear. I hoped this setup would allow me to improve on my best time so far of 1:03.0, which I had achieved on even older tires. 

In my first session, it took me a while to even get under 1:05 and I ended up with a disappointing best time of 1:04.3. I was still having fun, despite the lousy lap times. The car felt good, other than that the front end was not gripping as I would have liked. 

My second session was not much better, and I clocked a best lap of 1:03.7. In one of these sessions, I was closely following a Scion FRS and we even swapped places for a while. It was quite fun and I had a talk with the other driver afterwards. Carl pointed out that my car was leaking oil while parked and I was trying to figure out where it was coming from. Marc N. theorized that my oil filler cap was not sealing, and it seemed like a realistic theory, so I have since gone out to buy a new one. 

In my last session, I somehow managed to find some speed, probably due to the track cooling down a bit. I achieved my best time yet with this car, a 1:02.7. While looking at the data, I could see that I was not particularly fast anywhere on track. It's hard to predict how fast I can ultimately go with the current setup. With my old coupe, I had managed a 1:00.5 with a 1.8 Type R engine. If I want to dip under 1:01, I need to shave off 1.8 seconds... that'a a lot. Can I get a full second just by switching to fresh tires? Can I get the other 0.8 seconds with cooler temperatures, or better driving? If it doesn't rain on Monday, I will head back to the track with fresh tires and see how much that helps. My new goal for the season in so go under 1:01 at St-Eustache. Can it be done? Stay tuned...

The Civic beside two real Type R's
Carl's Civic is a lot bigger than mine
Ready for cation
Here are some of JAG's awesome photos of the evening.

Back straight
Back straight
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With the FRS
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Wednesday, May 9, 2018

AISA Race school at Calabogie

We held our second race school this past weekend at Calabogie. I headed out early Friday in the Civic, which now sported 2 fresh tires so I could get some track time without fear of wearing out my 2016 tires. It turned out one of our students needed a car to use for the school as his had some last minute problems. As a result, I rented him my car for the weekend and didn't turn a single lap behind the wheel. He brought the car back in one piece (despite one spin) and now I have a better tire budget than I did before. It was fun seeing my car on track all weekend, duking it out with 911's and Mustang's.

There were plenty of fast cars, as there always are at Ontario events. I had two Porsche 911 GT3's in my group, and a super-rare Mercedes AMG GTR. The weather was fantastic. The only down side was that I was suffering a lot of back pain, from some sort of sprain.

The weather has really warmed up and it feels a lot more like summer than it has all year. There are more and more exotic cars on the road (although strangely, very few classic cars).

Here are some photos from Calabogie:
Wide variety of quick cars at Calabogie
A rare manual 991 GT3
The Civic was surrounded by V8's
German muscle
The other 991 GT3 in my group
The Civic, ready for action
Here some photos from around town:

When you're trying to photograph a cool car and another cool car drives by...
Cool car
Strange way to carry a BMX...

Those are 22-inch wheels... huge
I still think these Cadillac's are cool!
Aventador in parking mode
Another GT3, in a neat light grey
Challenger Hellcat
Shiny Maserati GT
This Nissan still looks good, especially with these wheels.