Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Monday, December 1, 2008

This is the end of the dream. . .

I decided to sell the car. I took a hard, realistic look at my finances, and the sprog is just going to make owning this car too difficult. I have it up on Craig's list now. http://cleveland.craigslist.org/cto/939377839.html

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Finish of the season

Well, the autocross season is over. I missed the last two events of the season.

I finished the season more consistent than last year. I was slow, but consistently slow. I typically finished 4th out of a field of 5.

I need to do some work on the car, it is time to replace the wires, upgrade to turbo tie rod ends, and recharge the AC. But all of that will have to wait. My wife and I are expecting our first child. So, baby shoes will replace car tires. Wish us luck with the Sprog!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Baby needs a new set of shoes

I missed the last autocross due to cash flow, gas prices and time. There is a new autocross this weekend. Right now, I expect to make that event.

I need to get a new set of tires for the 911. Looking at the tread, I am losing the side channels for getting water out from under the tread. Interestingly, I am not seeing any cupping, any uneven wear on the tires. This says that I am running at about the right level of air pressure, have a good alignment and my shocks are not worn out as much as I thought. All good things.

One nice thing about owning an old car, even though the tires are "extremely wide" and "high performance" for 1979, they are average passenger car tires for today. So much cheaper than I expected.

Monday, May 26, 2008

3rd Autocross

I attended my 3rd autocross of the season Sunday May 25th. This event was a NORPCA event at Lakeland Community College. John Hulick set up the course, with some help from another person. The course started with a long fast sweeping curve to the left on the tarmac where we usually establish the starting grid. The course then took a little jog across to the area where the course is typically laid out. There was a series of offset gates, followed by a very narrow gate into the optional slalom. At the end of the slalom was a 360 / 720 curve. You entered at 3 o'clock and followed around counter clockwise through 12, 9, 6, 3, 12 and 9 again. Out into a series of very fast straight gates, with a wicked offset gate and a Chicago box at the end of the straight. You then had a short straight and a tight left turn into the exit. 

This made for a 6 tenths of a mile course, with times running from 54 seconds out to 70 seconds, depending on the car and the driver. Fast drivers were John (of course), Doug Bradley, Dan, and Gino. Gino had the fastest time in the 4 cylinder Porsche class and John had the fastest time in the 6 cylinder Porsches and had the fastest time of the day. 

The  fastest time in the X class was a Camero with a new suspension set up. He initially had trouble with the first gate after the 360, but corrected in the afternoon and had some good runs after that. 

As for me, my times were progressively better. NORPCA gives out time slips so I have my times.

1st run 65.6 +1 cone
2nd run 63.0
3rd run 61.4 +1 cone
4th run 62.6
5th run 61.2

My group then worked the course, we took a lunch break, and then had our afternoon runs.

6th run 61.2
7th run 60.4
8th run 59.9
9th run 59.2

So over the day I took 6 seconds off my time. I was progressively faster, driving the car better each run. John gave me a compliment at the end of my last run, saying it looked really good. I was really pleased with the last run, and the run before it. Typically, when I have a good run, I end up over driving the next run and lose the progress I had made. This time I was able to keep my cool and control the car. 

I was watching Les's times as he had brought his 914-6 and his car is one of the ones I know is in my class. We ran fairly close to each other in times, and knowing where he was helped me push harder on my car.

Overall a very fun day.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

AutoCross Video

A few people have looked askance when I mentioned autocross to them. This video from the Porsche Parade in 2007 should help explain what an autocross is - Part 1

Monday, May 19, 2008

2nd Autocross

I ended up skipping the first IRAC event. I missed on being in the running for a trophy last year by one event, so I hope I don't regret it. The event was 5 hours away, and a 4 am wake up call on Sunday just did not work for me.

My 2nd event was down in Akron again, this Sunday May 18th. There was on again, off again rain all day. This made the course very interesting. Plus Walt set up a very fast course, with two long straight parts connected by a wide curve. I had a blast with the course. On my fastest run my rear end was wagging back and forth in the fast curve something fierce. My time went from a 68 second to a 60 second time, out of the running for prizes, but higher in the pack than last time.

I think I will never be in the top three, as I am always going to be easier on the car and watching to insure nothing goes awry. Getting pear shaped in the back corner was fun on the last run, but I am not sure it is something I want to do every time. Too much chance of damaging the car.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

1st "real" autocross of the season

I went to my first autocross this year on Saturday April 27th. It was out at the Eastern Buckeye Region location, the Hartville Market. This is about an hour from my home. The course was interesting. Walking the course it seemed there was a very long distance between the gates, but when I was driving that distance was very much shorter. The course had a couple of mildly offset gates that were much trickier at speed than I expected, as was the slalom with the kink in it.

On my second set of runs, about half way through, smoke seemed to be coming from the front of my car. This PANICKED me, as there is not much in the front of my car. Once I left the line, I popped the front and rear hatch, leaving the engine running. I checked my brakes (cool), my battery (fine), my front wiring (fine), my engine for leaks (fine) and my front cooler (fine). Not finding anything wrong, and not seeing any more smoke, I got back in line and finished my two runs. I have no idea what I was seeing, and it makes me nervous.

The fast times were in the 55 second range. My fastest time of the day was 61.x seconds. Not really on the pace, compared to my competitors. But each run was faster than the last, so I was improving. I was a bit disappointed in the class numbers. There were three or four other SC's at the event, and I was interested in seeing how I stacked up. Normally I am in the P3 class with all the other SC's and the 914. EBR uses a different set of classes, so I was instead lumped in with all 6 cylinder Porsches and turbo 4 cylinders - Boxsters, 997, 914-6, 944 turbos, and so on. Stiff competition. My best time was good for about 12th place, out of 15. Clearly, I am not the driver I think I am. On the other hand, I was beating a 993 RS fairly consistently, so that was good.

Next event is this Sunday, May 3rd in Xenia Ohio, about 3 hours away. This is the first IRAC event, and I missed out on most of those last year due to various family events. I think I am going to go - but I need to track down that smoke issue.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

New plates

I went to the BMV and requested Historical plates for the 911. Since I only ever drive it for pleasure, I think I am okay with them. So now I am legal!

Closing the barn door after the horse escaped? Perhaps. . . perhaps.

Monday, April 21, 2008

1st speeding ticket

On my way to the Autocross school at Lakeland Community College, I received my 1st speeding ticket with the 911. The ticket was for 76 in a 60 zone.

Was it justified? Oh, hell yes!

The autocross school was excellent. They established 4 teaching scenarios - a decreasing radius turn, a skid pad, a slalom and a braking zone. Each of these really opened my eyes on how the car responds in each situation. I learned a lot more about the car, and how to increase my speeds on the course.

It helped that this year the day was fantastic. Warm, with an overcast sky and a light rain. This gave us some real experience with different surface conditions without being in a competitive mode.

I plowed down a large number of cones myself, starting with the 1st scenario, the decreasing radius turn. I had Gino in my car as an instructor. He was urging me to use the brakes to their fullest extent. Go in hot, brake hard, turn and accelerate. I was, and still am, being easy on my brakes. I don't really want to run through a set of pads each session, so I tend to go in a bit slower, brake lightly and then turn and accelerate. Slower track times, but also less $$.

I had a great time and I am looking forward to the EBR event on Sunday April 27th out at the Hartville Market.

Hope to see you there!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Car back from the shop

Just got the car back from the shop. WHAT A DIFFERENCE! It responds faster, moves out better and just feels much better. And that annoying problem with second is gone as well. It was an ugly shift from 1st to 2nd or 3rd to 2nd. I wonder if I will see any difference in my times at the Autocross? Eric said it is unlikely that my driving wore this clutch out. Given that it has been in the car for a while, I hope that is true. I would hate to go through this each year, or even every third year.

I did not like paying the bill. Ah, well - such is life!

It felt so nice, I took the car down into the valley on my way back. I had the windows open, the sunroof open and just cruised for a bit. The PCA is hosting a school on Sunday, maybe I will go.

DASH GPS and Jason Calacanis

Another social networking contest, this time this is not an entry in the contest. Jason Calacanis posts about a contest on his twitter feed, and swarms of people show up and enter. Is this an abuse of these social networking tools? If so, how? It feels like an abuse to me. But I only added him to my followed on Twitter because of his MacBook Air contest. I have no good ethical reason to say this is an abuse of the concept, but it feels like it was.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Free Xbox 360 and GTA IV

This site: http://www.johncow.com/win-an-xbox360-elite-and-a-copy-of-gta4/
is running a contest for a Xbox 360 and GTA IV as a way of generating traffic. Are these sorts of contest good ways of leveraging social networking? Or are they just a cheap stunt?


Since I am out a huge amount of money for the clutch work, I thought I would enter. This would let me sell off my current system and generate some income for myself.

I should also mention that the contest was sponsored by Top hosting center - http://www.tophostingcenter.com/. Not sure why the sponsored the contest, but they did. I wonder if Porsche would be willing to sponsor a new clutch contest for a poor blogger?

Likely not . . .

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Work is finished

I'm going out on April 18th, my birthday, to pick up my car. The total amount of work done was:
  • New clutch
  • New flywheel
  • 3 new axle joints
  • New axle boots
  • Adjusted fuel mixture
  • and a Oil Change.
At the same time, Eric identified that the oil return tubes are original to the car and should be replaced soon. In addition, he reported that the car ran rough when wet, indicating that the wires, cap and rotor will need to be replaced fairly soon. It might make sense to replace the spark plugs at that time.

Here is the exact work quote:
Road test and check clutch operation (slips). Remove engine and transmission, separate units inspect clutch. Remove flywheel, replace rear main seal. Replace flywheel, pilot bearing and complete clutch. Remate engine and transmission> clean engine bay, refinish top of bulkhead. Reinstall engine and transmission.

Remove axles, clean and inspect c/v joints and boots. Replace 3 of 4 joints. joints. Pack w/ grease, replace fasteners, and boots, reinstall axles. Road test, re-torque c/v bolts, readjust clutch after seat in. Balance both front tires to minimize shimmy. Recheck fuel mixture. reset from 1.5% to 2.5%

Ah, the joys of classic car ownership!

The wires are interesting. The OEM wires are stainless steel wrapped and cost ~$300. $300 dollars for a set of wires is outrageous, to my mind. Other wire sets cost less, but do they work? Looking on-line, this seems to be a religious war, about on par with Mac/PC. The purists will say that nothing less than OEM works. The hot-rodders say that the newer silicone sets provide better spark. The cost conscious owners say that they have no trouble with the low cost sets and any more money is wasted. I can't tell who is correct. I have no true opinion. I will not be using the car on a race track, so the high end silicone ones may not make sense. I will not be entering a concour, so the stainless steel ones might not be needed.

Any opinions?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Photos of Paul Larsen's SC

These are photos of a friend of mine's 911 SC. He recently parted ways with the car, and as the weather turns nicer he is regretting his choice. This dark blue is very similar to the color of my dad's old 924, which he kindly let me drive during college. I don't think I could ever thank him enough for that. As you can see, Paul had a targa, without the "turbo" tail.
The wheels are from a 1998 Boxter. Paul tells me a spacer is needed to make them fit on a SC. I think his is a fine example of a 911 SC.

Monday, April 7, 2008


Got the news today, another "oh boy!"

The clutch was down to the rivets, so no surprise there. This damaged the flywheel enough to require replacement. So that is an extra $300. The 3 out of the 4 CV joints are in need of replacement, as are the CV boots. That adds an additional $300 for the CV joints and $120 for the boots.

Basically, I am right back up near what I spent last year. I think I need to budget an additional $300 per month for repairs every year. That means I have a monthly budget of $600 per month to drive my 911.

At that price, I should be leasing a new Porsche!

I think I had better re-read my statement of purpose for this blog. . .

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Clutch decision

I've come to a conclusion on the car. I weighed the pros and cons and decided to chicken out. I know all the real mechanics in the audience are thinking "What?!? a clutch is nothing!" but I . . . I am not a real mechanic. I can do a few minor things, but this is major. Sometimes a man has to know his limitations, and this is one of mine. Maybe the next time it needs one I'll feel more comfortable.

In the end, the risk of having a barn full of parts instead of a car outweighs the cost of $500 over the parts and tools. Plus I am having them do the main engine seal, the top end seal and the CV servicing.

Luckily the tax refund check will cover most of this. Unluckily, I also need a new washer.

And now the PT Cruiser needs something.

It never rains but it pours.

The other bad thing is this means I will miss the first IRAC event. I am looking forward to the next one, assuming the car is finished.

It goes in Saturday. It should be done when I get back from Florida.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Porsche wins Sebring outright

I think this shows that ALMS is correct in its LMP1 / LMP2 class rules. It makes for a better race, with more interesting outcomes. We'll have to wait till LeMans to see how the French rules do.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Clutch Woes

It looks like I need to replace my clutch. Right now, when I am in 3rd gear at about 3,000 RPM and I push the accelerator the revs kick up to 5,ooo RPM with no increase in speed. Then the revs drop down, speed starts to increase and the tach moves back up. My diagnosis is the clutch is slipping.

Now the hard question. Do I do this myself or do I go back out to a mechanic?

The parts are $1K. A professional will likely charge $1,500 - maybe a bit more.

The job involves removing the engine, seperating the engine and transmission, removing the flywheel and so on. It is rated a 7 on a scale of 1 -10 with 1 being washing the car and 10 being rebuilding the engine.

I want to start doing my own work on the car, but I was thinking oil changes, brake bleeding - simple stuff. Maybe fixing the heater and the AC fan. This is major work for my first project. Plus I have never done a clutch before, on any car.

But if not this project, which one? And if I pay for this, will I ever do major work on the car?

Pros of doing it myself:
  • Cheaper
  • Learn more about the car
  • Satisfaction of doing my own work
  • Less dependant on mechanic

Cons of doing it myself:

  • Need a weekend and a bit just in case
  • Risk of screwing something up
  • Risk of occupying Steve's garage for more than a weekend
  • Risk of ending up having to pay twice for the same job
  • Adds tow costs if I screw up
Any opinions?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Photo's of my stripped civic

The thieves did not leave much this time. At least it made my decision for me. There is no way the car is coming back again. 

Here are some from the first time for comparison.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Civic update

Ok, this is getting silly. My Civic was stolen AGAIN!

Last night, around 1:00 am, Duff wakes up and looks out the window on her way to the restroom. The car was gone. WTF.

I had very little sleep last night, as I woke up at 1, went back to sleep, woke up again when the cops arrived, went back to sleep - fitfully.

The car was parked in my driveway, under a streetlight, in a neighborhood STILL full of Police and Fire Department employees.

Tim said: "The firm has a phrase - "Lessons Learned" perhaps you should not have parked it there again. After it was stolen from that location before."

I only just got it running.

I had removed a distributer wire to keep people from stealing it, but when I had to jump the 911 I put it back and did not remove it again.

I will miss that car.