Race / Clutch

I went to Rocky Mountain Raceway last Friday to watch some friends race in the midnight drags. I’m hoping I can go next week, but I have a problem. My old clutch was slipping so I ordered this beautiful yellow thing (ACT T1S-G01 twin disk clutch rated to 850 lbs of torque! Plus it’s lighter that the stock assembly) but I have to get it installed and broken in by next Friday. The clock is ticking…

Originally Posted September 12, 2010

The Sound of Music

I’m sure everyone is sick of hearing about my car projects. So here’s another one! In past posts I have mentioned various stereo upgrade projects (head unit, amps, sub). But the stereo wasn’t complete…until now. I finally replaced my stock speakers (mids & tweeters). Overall, I am extremely happy with the cumulative results.

I picked JL Audio ZR-series component speakers (ZR-650CSI for the front and ZR-525CSI for the back) based on reviews I’d read and because I have liked my JL Audio sub so much (the ZR series speakers produce very clear and accurate sounds). The original speakers in the C6 are these monstrous 10″ paper things. Nasty. I had to make adapters to fit the JL Audio 6.5″ set. I used 1/4″ oak ply covered with foam. Same thing for the tweeters.

The speaker install was pretty painless. The hardest thing would have been running new speaker wire but Sound Warehouse had done that last year. Getting body panels off can be tricky, but the C6 Vettes are pretty straight forward.

I decided to put the front crossovers in the doors. Instructions will tell you never to  put them inside the door, but there’s a right way to do it.  I mounted them in the side impact foam- they are perfectly safe from water and dirt.  I mounted the rear crossovers behind a carpeted body panel in the trunk section- safe and accessible

With the panels back on everything looks great. I mounted a component set in the back as well. Jim helped me tweak the setting on the amps and crossovers. We pumped out some Enya and tingled. When your stereo makes you tingle you have a winner.

Below is the total rundown of my project. The labor time listed includes fabricating parts, carpeting, installation & testing/tuning. I’m not going to discuss price, but you’ve got everything you need if you really want to know. The bottom line is that I’m thrilled and I feel like it was worth the time and money I put into it. The stereo is finished. Now it’s time for the engine. Maybe. Probably. Yes, definitely. Getting close…

Pioneer Avic Z1 head unit with the Sirus/XM radio, blue tooth and iPod modules (install by Sound Warehouse).

JL Audio ZR component speakers: 650CSI in front and 52sCSI in back  (custom front speaker plates & install by me, 12 hours).

Kenwood XR-4s amp  for the mids & tweeters and Kenwood XR-1S amp for the sub woofer (custom amp rack by Justin & me and install by me, 8 hours).

JL Audio W6 10″ sub (custom sub box by Justin & me and install by me, 7 hours).

PAC Steering wheel control interface (install by Jim & me, 1 hour)

Wiring for head unit (RCA cables from Lightning Audio), subs, and speakers by Sound Warehouse

Originally Posted March 21, 2010

Yet More Car Stuff

It’s true. You’ve heard right! I have done more stuff to my car. No one cares and I get that. But I care. It’s fun for me to post these little enhancements on my blog. And you never know- they might actually help someone who’s putting in the same stuff. If you decide to read this, fine. But I’ll just be upfront: this will probably be very boring and mildly technical. And naturally I’ll give you the “these pictures don’t do the mods justice” disclaimer. They are puzzle pieces of a much larger picture.  Once the puzzle is done I’ll wow you with some full body shots. Yeah, you can’t wait. I know.

Guess what I have on my steering wheel? Anyone? Stereo controls. It’s been bugging me for a year: steering wheel stereo controls that don’t control my stereo. But it’s okay now. I’ve remedied the situation with the PAC SWI-PS steering wheel control Pioneer stereo interface.

My Pioneer Avic Z-1 was ecstatic (”For me? Really? Oh wow. I don’t know what to say!”).  All I had to do was wire the PAC unit in and control away! After I got the car’s center console removed I had second thoughts (deja vu, right?).  After attending several years of trade school to become an electrician I began the project. First off,  I just want to say that I found the instructions for the PAC system unnecessarily confusing. They provide three different sheets of instructions (programming info, stereo harness diagrams, and car / PAC interface / version info). If you’re going to install this little guy just use the online instructions.

I got the PAC unit wired into the car’s original stereo harness just fine but I had a heckuva time finding a 12 volt power source that was tied to the ignition system. Jim to the rescue! Jim’s knowledge of electrical systems surprised me (and possibly him too) and he proved an exceptional ally as we waged war against the mess inside my car. We found a suitable 12 volt source and a ground and had the PAC interface working in nearly no time. The Z06 steering wheel has a  larger “1-6″ button that the PAC really doesn’t accommodate. I’d recommend mapping the “mute” function to it (a very handy function).

After all the excitement with my stereo I decided to take a break and tackle an easy problem.  When you work on a car sometimes you need the hood up (to pull a fuse, run a wire, charge the battery, etc). The Z06 hood has a small light that comes on when it’s open. The light never goes off.  I used to pull out the bulb, but then I had to put it back in. Out, in, out, in. What a nightmare.  I decided to put in a switch. Now when the hood is up and I don’t need the light I just switch it off. Best thing ever.

Well, except for black anodized custom painted aluminum engine caps…  I’m trying to get a black/red color scheme going for the engine. I bought these black aluminum caps and then painted the vehicle markings on them myself. They actually turned out really well.  Vanessa loves them. Remember, Vanessa is the car. Who’s crazy?

Anyway, it was finally time for a wideband. In a nutshell a wideband is a sensor that will tell you the air/fuel (A/F) ratio of the exhaust. With that information you can determine if your car has too much or not enough fuel. I bought HP Tuners awhile back and now I’ll be able to [more] safely use it.

The wideband installation was a job. I purchased an Innovate Motorsports LC-1 kit (which so far I would recommend). It comes with a gauge to display the A/F ratio. Cool! But that meant that I had to switch out my two gauge pillar (which has fuel and boost pressure gauges) with a three gauge pillar. No sweat, right? Advice: When switching out gauge pillars don’t try to make anchor pin holes in the same spot as the old gauge pillar. Just pull out the pillar trim, drill new holes, wire everything up, attach the gauge pillar back to the trim and put it back in.

Getting under my car is tricky so I took my her to Vince (of Lung Automotive). I had him weld in a sensor bung and then run the LC-1 control module. He poked the leads out through the shift boot which seems to work really well. Thanks Vince! And once again Jim came to the rescue and assisted me with the wiring portion of the project. Advice: The instruction manual for the LC-1 notes that there are two wires which have to be soldered together. It’s not kidding. Crimping won’t work. You have to solder them. Jim proved to be an adept soldering iron handler as well. It would have been difficult to achieve such exceptional result without his help. Thanks again Jim!

The gauge itself is pretty basic (I might upgrade to the XD-16 if the wideband proves to be useful). It’s a bit bright  and the constant flickering as the A/F changes seems like it’s going to get annoying. Maybe the gauge will need a switch like my hood light! I know a guy…

And finally I decided that I’d upgrade my pedals. In retrospect I don’t really know why. The clutch and brake portions of the upgrade are just cosmetic overlays, but the whole accelerator is new. Advice: Don’t try and unhook the wiring harness on the accelerator without being able to see what you’re doing. You should be able to get both of the bolts (13mm btw) out and remove the pedal with the harness still intact. Then you can pull the pedal out and see how to unhook things. It’s a super tricky harness (with good cause).

And finally, it was time to say good by to Mr. AcDelco. That’s my old battery. It served me poorly for the last year before finally giving up the ghost this past winter. It’s actually very difficult to find the correct battery replacement for a 2007 Corvette z06. In fact I couldn’t. I ended up getting a DuraLast with similar specs (same cold crank amps- very important). Justin helped me purchase and install the battery. The battery is located in a compartment in my trunk and I have my amp rack and speaker wires sitting on top of it. Advice: If you have you battery inside the car like I do and you end up getting a replacement that’s not quite the same as the original remember to make sure the new battery is vented.

Well that blog post was almost as much work as actually doing the car mods. Next up, I’m going to finish my stereo and then start working on my new engine (LSX block). 1000WHP ready or not, here I come.

Originally Posted March 21, 2010

Locked Out? But That’s Impossible!

I got locked out of my car about a month ago. That may not seem like a big deal, but it is. When my key fob  is near the car door it automatically unlocks (and when I walk away it locks- very nice).  The car will only start with the key fob in the cabin and if you forget the fob when you get out and close the door the car reminds you to grab them (serious). So, with the fob in the car, and the door closed it shouldn’t be a big deal. Except that this one time my car decided the fob wasn’t there and locked the doors with the keys inside (the left is a picture of where the keys were). Technology is cool, but it can really hurt a guy.

I had a hot date (with my wife) and I really needed the car that night. I called Onstar.  “Sir, you could be anyone. I can’t open the car for you.” “I just need you to fax over your registration. It’s in the car? One moment, let me see what I can do.” “Click.” I was frustrated, but in retrospect it’s obvious they couldn’t help me. I did the only think I could think of…

We sell lock pick kits, so I busted one out. One of the coolest gadgets is a device that slides down under the window and pops up in the cabin. Once it’s inside you can hit the lock buttons. The second picture shows what I mean- half outside, half inside, button pressed. I was absolutely shocked at how easy it was to get inside my car. It might have taken five minutes. No alarm, no snags, no damage. Once I learn how to hot wire vehicles I’ll be on my way to grand theft auto academy.

Originally Posted December 12, 2009

September 2009

A couple weeks back Jim, Justin and I hit the Rocky Mountain Raceway for some midnight drags. Anyone who hasn’t gone should check it out- $5 to go watch people dual it out in the quarter mile. And a mighty dual it was. Corvette vs. Corvette vs. Camaro I  ran a 12.1 at 131mph, Jim ran a 12.2 at 121 and Justin ran a 12.3 at 117mph! It was a super close race between Jim and I- he had me until about 90mph. You can check out one of our races and some pictures on Jim & Cindy’s blog. We were all hoping for 11 second runs, but we’ll have to get a little faster. 

 Speaking of a little faster… That’s what I plan to be shortly. I recently picked up a copy of HP Tuners. This nifty little software package gives the user control over every aspect of the car’s engine computer (yes, this can be very dangerous) . I need to pick up a few more things before I’m ready to start seriously tweaking, but I predict a predict a lot of fun… or tears. 

Originally Posted September 28, 2009