Slow Car Fast
January 1, 2009 - I drove the Camaro just a bit over the holidays.
I also managed to get it stranded at work during a good snowstorm. Dunlop D60 A2s aren't great snow tires. But it's been useful.
First off, I can't wait to liberate this engine from the Camaro. Let's just say that I'm not enamored with the chassis.
Secondly, it's allowed me to identify a couple of little problems. The shifter needs adjusting, I know that. But there was a check engine light on. A bit of monitoring with an OBD-II scanner tells me that the coolant temperature sensor is reading a constant -58F, which I'm pretty sure is not accurate. I suspect that's a "no signal" reading. I'll probably deal with that when the engine is out of the car.
entry 121 - tags: camaro
January 26, 2009 - After a fairly short and noisy period, the frame rails were removed from the car.
I then proceeded to chop them up and remove the brackets. Voila, ready to weld on to the next rails. Slowly, without too much concentrated heat. The only thing I have to worry about is getting the brackets the correct distance apart, and for that I'll simply weld them in with a lower control arm in place.
In other news, I took the Camaro in to work today. Everyone was surprised, as they assumed it had been gutted some time ago. Far from it - they're much more compact when fully assembled! I'll order a coolant temperature sensor tomorrow so I can make sure the temperature problem is sorted out before the engine goes in the new car. And I also noticed the big black car has cruise control. Hmm, how could I integrate that while making it appear completely vintage? That could be a pretty cool addition...
entry 153 - tags: camaro, suspension, frame
February 1, 2009 - I borrowed a T56 for some test fitting.
It's a brand new shiny one that should be identical to mine other than the aftermarket shifter. Oh, and a decade of grime! I'm keeping the Camaro together as long as possible.
It's a big boy and weighs about 140 lbs. Quite a contrast from the stock unit, and I'm a bit concerned about fit. But I have a welder!
entry 163 - tags: transmission, Camaro
February 17, 2009 - Not much work on the car of late.
I'm thinking that I want the full engine with all accessories before I go any further with motor mounts and the like, and that means I need to kill the Camaro. So I'm starting by making storage arrangements for at least one car while I do the work, to ensure I have space in the garage. I may shift my attention to the rear of the car first and get that sorted out, simply to postpone the chaos.
In other news, I brought an LS1 Miata home last night. No, I don't get to keep it! It's been fitted with a big nasty cam and makes a really fun noise. As an added bonus, it also has north of 400 hp. Janel got all giggly when she fired it up in the garage. Too bad we're still breaking in the rear end, so I can't unleash the hounds on this thing. Yes, this requires some self-control.
But I did learn something. It has a modified reverse lockout. The solenoid has been disabled and a different spring inserted. Even when being careful, I bounced off reverse twice while aiming for 5th. Most times I hit the desired gear just fine, but I wasn't too excited about it. So the plan is now to retain the reverse lockout in fully functional form. I'll just have to reshape the transmission tunnel. It's hammer time!
entry 174 - tags: transmission, Miata, Camaro
December 26, 2009 - It's time.
My goals for my holiday are to get the MG on its wheels and to extract the drivetrain from the Camaro. Janel is a sick little kitten today and I needed something relatively quiet to do - so the Camaro it is.
First, I had to dig it out of the snowbank. It also needed a fair bit of coaxing to fire up, due to a battery that was about as dead as a battery can get. Finally, after about 45 minutes of shoveling, battery swapping and trying to convince the Camaro to move on ice - never a favorite hobby for the car - I got it into the garage.
Janel watched through the window from her sick bed.
entry 232 - tags: Camaro
December 26, 2009 - The first thing I did - which took about an hour - was to pull off the front bumper and other bits in the nose.
This made it a lot more comfortable to work on the engine as I could get close to it instead of having to deal with that stupendous schnozz. Seriously, it's like someone dared the designers to make the least space-efficient car possible.
entry 233 - tags: Camaro
December 26, 2009 - With the AC and radiator out, you can really see how far back the engine sits.
Remember, I've already removed at least a foot of proboscis from the car. Nice work Chevy on getting the engine so far back, but serviceability is definitely a problem.
entry 234 - tags: Camaro
December 26, 2009 - Naturally, all the wire connections (that I was able to identify) got labeled for future reference.
This will hopefully make life a lot easier in the future. Of course, as I went to actually remove the engine I discovered there were a number of connections right on the back of the engine. The sort that you only find out about as you're pulling an engine and it just doesn't want to move - and as far as I can tell, that's also the only way to access them!
entry 235 - tags: Camaro
December 26, 2009 - Due to the tight constraints of the engine bay, you have to pull the intake manifold off as well as remove the engine from the transmission to pull it out the traditional way.
The drivetrain was really intended to come out through the bottom. So I took a page from the Book of Working On Classic Minis and basically lifted the nose of the car off the engine, transmission and drivetrain as a unit. I dropped the engine on to some furniture dollies so I could simply roll it out from underneath.
I'm not sure the two cars have a whole lot more in common than than.
entry 236 - tags: Camaro
December 26, 2009 - A fairly non-compelling but obligatory picture of the liberated engine and transmission.
The whole process took about 9 hours from starting with the shovel to saying "okay, that's enough for now".
I learned quite a bit about working on Camaros, slowly and methodically. One thing is that they have a clutch hydraulic setup that's basically sealed. I had to pull the master cylinder and a remote reservoir out along with the engine - and let me tell you, you can stretch that factory braided clutch line pretty far without it breaking! Also, the car has a "torque tube" that's very similar to that of a Miata, but it only locates the differential and not the transmission. I guess the fact that the differential has to move up and down in the live axle would make the more solid Miata solution unworkable.
I made an unholy mess as part of the process. Transmission fluid (whoops, didn't cap the output shaft), power steering fluid (whoops, broke a line when I tried to separate the engine from the subframe) and of course, my usual mess of coolant. It's all soaking up with kitty litter right now and I'll put the subframe back in the car tomorrow so I can push it back outside and reclaim an enormous amount of garage real estate.
I've mentioned before how this is a garage build, not one done with exotic tools or expensive facilities. This engine pull would have been a lot easier with a lift. As it was, I had ice water puddled all around underneath the car as it thawed out despite my best attempts to clean off the car. As I worked on the rusty exhaust on a creeper, the sleeves of my sweatshirt would dip into the water to give me a nice surprise the next time I'd move. Sometimes, for variety, I'd dip my pantleg in it instead.
The next person who claims I have access to special tools is going to get a poke in the nose.
entry 237 - tags: Camaro
July 17, 2010 - Okay, there's that done.
The black bumper was painted, then sanded down again and painted again. I learned a huge amount about sanding on compound curves, surface prep, paint gun setup and the general unforgiveness of shiny black paint. But now I'm in pretty good shape to paint the MG. Not that I'll remember any of this when it comes time to paint! I also made a trip back to Canada for a week or so.
But now it's time to get cracking. I have to drop a differential off at the drivetrain shop for work, so I figured I'd bring the Camaro and MG axles in for their diff swap at the same time. I don't know how to set up a rear end and I'm happy to let someone else do it for me. So I jacked up the Camaro and had at it with the tools. An hour later, the rear end was free in the driveway.
Note the very large boards underneath the jackstands, this car is not going to sink into the gravel, fall off the stands and kill me.
entry 353 - tags: Camaro, differential, rear axle, paint