Winter Maintenance, part deux

Thursday, December 28

Today we made another stab at getting the Lotus back in shape. Our task list looks something like this:

  • Lotus
    • Front discs
    • Front pads
    • Flush brakes (maybe)
    • Drive belt
    • Change oil
    • Clean air filter
    • Mount the 2bular exhaust

In addition, we also have these to do as well:

  • Chrysler
    • Front pads
    • Flush brakes
    • Install windshield wipers
    • Rotate tires
  • Hyundai
    • Rotate tires

Again, we managed to get a fairly late start. Michael is on vacation, after all. We decided to delay the brake flush on the Lotus given that it was done in June. We can do it in April, before I have any more track days and remain on a more or less annual schedule. We also rearranged the priorities a bit, with the Chrysler’s brakes at the top of the list with the Elise drive belt second.

The Chrysler has been treated like the red-headed step child. I’ve only driven it about two thousand miles this year. I’ve been bad about keeping up the maintenance. I should be given a stern talking to about the state of the poor car. The front pads were beyond done and the front tires are worn to the cords. We did rotate them, so the bad ones are now on the back. She’s not going anywhere until I get her new tires.

The pads were an easy fix, but the bleeding took a while. We did it the old-fashioned way.

Next up was the serpentine belt for the Elise. We watched a video on YouTube earlier. It turns out the whole repair takes about as long as the video, assuming you have the part. We did not. The video we watched suggested taking the old belt to the parts store to get the proper size. Last weekend I went to the Toyota dealer. They said they show three different sizes. They only had one in stock, at about seventy bucks. They suggested I go to O’Reilly’s.

So we got the belt off and headed to Advance. The guy there was not very helpful. His computer didn’t list any options when looking under Lotus. We only found one option when searching the Celica and that belt was too long. He suggested the dealer.

So we headed to O’Reilly’s. The coin dropped for me on the way from one store to another. We needed to look at the options for the Celica for every year until we found a match. The O’Reilly’s guy started the search that way, but failed. Then he took the old belt into the back and came back a few minutes later with a match. Seems like the Advance guy should have been able to do that.

Oh, and it’s a good thing the dealer didn’t have any in stock. Instead of paying more than $70 for the belt, it was $16.24, including tax.

Michael had the new belt on in a jiffy. I figured we had enough sunlight left to change the oil but not enough for the exhaust. We finished as the sun set behind the mountains. As it wasn’t dark yet, we knocked off the Chrysler’s windshield wipers. So, not as much progress as hoped.

Friday, December 29

After yet another discussion of the tasks we want to accomplish, I agreed that I could clean the air filter without Michael’s help. It’s a pain in the keister, as you can’t really get to it from the top and you need to go in through the left rear wheel well. And the tire rotation for the Hyundai will have to wait that car isn’t on premise, being Genae drove it to work.

First thing to do for the exhaust swap is to remove the diffuser. You may recall that, during the Incident at Woody Creek, when we were towing the car off the track, we hit the only pothole in the place and the car came off the casters. The casters rotated up and back, clobbering the diffuser, denting the rear panel, and doing a bit of damage to the fiberglass.

While Michael started dismounting the exhaust I went to work on the diffuser to see what I could do for it. Apologies for the poor photo. This gets mounted with the right of the photo to the front of the car. I neglected to take an “after” picture, but as you can imagine there wasn’t much improvement. I’ve been thinking about getting a bigger diffuser for some time. This looks like my justification, but it will have to wait until after the Chrysler’s tires.

I also fiddled around trying to straighten out the damage on the rear panel. It wasn’t nearly as bad and I’ve done a passable repair to it.

This is now the fourth time we’ve swapped out the exhaust and we’re getting more practiced at it. I think it took us something like three hours the first time and now we’ve gotten it down to about an hour and a quarter.

All finished and the car put back together, we took her out for a spin to see what she sounded like. It’s been months so it’s not like I can make an accurate comparison between the fiberglass and the steel wool. But I think it’s quieter now. It’s almost as quiet as the stock exhaust, except that it burbles and pops nicely when coming off the throttle.

In the end, we didn’t get everything done that I wanted to get done. But I’m happy nonetheless.

A Glance Back

It was a tough year for the Elise. She spent 100 days in the shop for a camshaft replacement that went awry, resulting in a rebuilt head. The battery died and I didn’t know it was installed incorrectly, resulting it the battery bouncing around inside the boot at the track. I had the aforementioned right rear suspension failure, which was the same failure we had on the left rear back in 2011. The one good thing that happened was the left rear turn signal magically fixed itself.

This year I drove the car the fewest miles of any year since 2011. I’ve had the car nearly eight years. This year’s repair/maintenance bill amounts to almost a third of total maintenance spending since I’ve owned it. The high maintenance bill results in a total cost of a bit over a dollar and a half for every mile I’ve driven it. (For the record, that’s fuel, service, insurance, and taxes/license.) Looking at the bright side, I didn’t spend as much on it in 2017 as I did in any year I was still making payments on it.

Winter Maintenance

Every year High Plains Raceway has a free track day. Anybody who has been an open lapping customer during the calendar year is eligible, as is any member in good standing of the clubs who own the track. It is held between Christmas and New Years, unless weather causes a delay.

But I need to get the car sorted before I can take it out. I have a long list of tasks for Michael to help me do to do for me. I was hoping they’d do the track day on Friday, as that looks to have the best weather. But it got scheduled for Wednesday. So Michael and I had a lot of work to do on Tuesday:

  • Front discs
  • Front pads
  • Flush brakes (maybe)
  • Drive belt
  • Change oil
  • Clean air filter
  • Mount the 2bular exhaust

The rear pads were replaced in June, and I’ll have to replace the rear discs next time I replace the pads. Brake fluid was new in June and has roughly three track days and only a few thousand miles on it.

Tuesday, December 26

Tuesday turned out to be quite cold. I turned the garage furnace on after breakfast and hoped to get it up to 50. The thermometer in the garage read 25. I almost never see it reading below 32. Michael slept in and we spent too much time talking about what we were going to do instead of doing it. And, of course, we had to make a trip to the auto parts store, and we grabbed lunch. (The Chrysler reported the outside temp at 8 degrees.)

In the end, all we got done was the brake hardware.

I’m software, not hardware, so please forgive my ignorance as I point out the obvious.

I’ve never given the discs much thought before, I’ve never had one in my hand. When I unboxed them it was obvious because of the slots that there’d be left and right. I didn’t look for any other asymmetries. I didn’t give much thought to the slots until I held the new discs up against the old ones still mounted on the car.

First, the vents in the new discs are different than the vents in the old ones. The vents on the old discs are asymmetrical. The new ones are not. The old ones vent the same direction with respect to the car’s travel. The new ones, one will be going forward, the other back. The left side vent matches the old one, the right side doesn’t. Sadly, my photo doesn’t illustrate very well.

Second, the slots are in the opposite orientation to the holes in the drilled discs.

I’m guessing that the difference in the vents is due to the drilling. With the slots, it doesn’t matter where the vents are. But for the holes, the location of the vents matters.

Confirmation that the pads were due to be replaced. All four pads were similarly worn, except the inside pad on the left, where the wear is uneven and bottom half of the groove is gone.

It snowed much of the day, so I was anticipating a possible change to the schedule. If they change it to next week, I’ll have to skip it. Genae kept checking the weather radar and it showed no snow. But clearly it was snowing. The TV weather wonk said it was “fog snow”. Never heard of it before.

The snow and cold contributed to our lack of progress. It will be easier to do the exhaust in the driveway with the ramp. And it’s best to get the oil warm before changing it. If we open the garage door we lose all our warm air. Even the quick spin around the block to check the brakes was interesting. Our cul-de-sac is frozen packed snow. Plows have been by the other streets around the school, but there were still big patches of slush.