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S197 3V A horse with no name, a build with no name Build Thread

Norm Peterson

Corner Barstool Sitter
930
702
Exp. Type
HPDE
Exp. Level
5-10 Years
a few miles east of Philly
I need to get some of those gauges, although I'm looking at trying out an Aim dash if it can monitor the same parameters.
If I hadn't got the Aeroforce gauge first, I might have got the DL version of the Aim Solo instead of the basic version. I'm getting ahead of myself, though.


Norm
 
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Norm Peterson

Corner Barstool Sitter
930
702
Exp. Type
HPDE
Exp. Level
5-10 Years
a few miles east of Philly
Something I should have mentioned earlier . . . at SJB-replacement time (June 2012, prompted by the horn not working at all), I had the shop investigate a suspension clunk I'd just started hearing. While they didn't find the clunk (which turned out to be loose fasteners to one of the front sta-bar chassis-side U-brackets), they did notice deterioration in the rear LCAs. I thanked them and drove home to diagnose and fix the noise myself. And started looking into LCAs.

I wasn't interested in replacing OE LCAs that had deteriorated so quickly with likely more of the same, rod-ended LCAs were out #becausestreetdrivenyearround, and poly/poly had never been an option. Nor was J&M's polyball LCA, as there were durability concerns with those. But the idea of not-a-rodend spherical at one end stuck. As had the notion of adjustability. I'd always felt that no matter what parts - or whose - I might put on my car that I'm still going to want a little adjustability so I can dial them in a little closer to my liking or to adjust for further changes later.

I was also looking to shave little bits out of the understeer, doing a little in each of a few places likely being better than trying to take it all out in just one. I have a hunch that mfrs go the other way, putting a little extra understeer into each of several places rather than shoving it all into a single aspect of handling tuning.

Anyhoo, I somehow ended up at scandc.com, a mainly GM-oriented vendor I'd been familiar with from the Malibu days. Lo and behold, he had a few S197 items in his catalog, and one of those was Currie's 'Currectrac' LCAs. Johnny-jointed at one end, poly at the other. That one end has to be disconnected in order to adjust them was an intentional choice. Even if the jam nuts loosen, the length can only "un-adjust" itself so far before the brackets physically stop the un-adjusting from going any further.

Poly? Actively chosen to go on one of my cars? Well, sort of. For some things I'm not afraid to DIY-modify brand-new parts before they go on the car, so that's what happened. I opened up the holes a bit so that the inner sleeves rotated more freely in the poly, and I shaved the faces into flattish cones so that there was free room for the bushing distortion caused by off-axis rotation to distort into. I might have done a little more to improve bushing compliance, but that's all that I'm sure of.

All I can find for pictures of the LCAs is this view. With the Koni and Strano 22mm rear bar.
Johnny joint end.jpg

The poly end looks like this ↓↓↓ . . . just a quick freehand-ish sketch I drew up this morning from memory. These are not the first set of bushings that have received this pre-installation preparation.
Poly Bushing Mod.jpg


As careful as I tried to be about matching the LCA lengths up to the OE LCAs, I found it was still off enough to notice at the steering wheel. Resetting the length only one arm by one full turn (half-turn increments being possible) brought the steering wheel back to center. I went shorter on one arm rather than longer on the other on the basis that stiffer LCA bushings would if anything need less pinion angle rather than more and that a sixteenth of an inch at the driveshaft was unlikely to be critical for plunge.

They don't make any noise, though I can tell a difference in behavior after freshly re-lubing them (a squirt or two in each of the 4 zerks a couple times a year seems to be sufficient). A little wheelspin when I'm on the throttle in 1st through a 90° corner comes much more easily.


Norm
 
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Norm Peterson

Corner Barstool Sitter
930
702
Exp. Type
HPDE
Exp. Level
5-10 Years
a few miles east of Philly
XenForo's "different" edit button location strikes again. Grrrrr :mad:


I basically left the car alone and just drove it while I was getting a little seat time running solo and out of the novice run group. By then, however, I was ready to stop trying to use the same set of tires for everything and went shopping . . .

9.5" wide wheels weren't going to be enough for the tire sizes I had in mind - I learned all the way back in the Pinto days that I was going to prefer wheels out at or near max-recommended for the tire size - so it was a wheels & tires purchase. Once I'd seen what Vorshlag had to offer, and seen what the 5th gen SS/1LE Camaro rear fitment was, it was just a matter of pulling the trigger. 285/35-18 MPSS tires on 18x11 Forgestar F14 wheels. I'm completely OK with the mild stretch. If anything, it's a hint that the car is neither stock nor fitted out for shock value with the entire outboard flange showing.28535 on 11.JPG

Shock value lives in this picture I took at a car show a little over a week ago. On a Mitsubishi, IIRC.
Insane amount of tire stretch.JPG


I did end up with a very light tire rub on the passenger side front, which had only a little more than 0.020" strut side clearance at the tire (I'd dragged out my old feeler gauge set). The driver side was fine at a little over 0.040" clearance, so I bought some sheet aluminum in 0.025" thickness and made this . . .
Shim-thickness spacer.JPG

Eventually, I made another one.

It's really, really tight back there - that's what 0.04x looks like - but it was not rubbing even when out on the track. Something for which I have to give at least partial credit to those max-recommended wheel widths.
DSC03378-web.jpg

DSC03379-web.jpg

I found that removing the rear wheel/tire assembly could still hang up on the rear tiedown bracket/bump stop pad, so I went ahead with a little modification there. Not Vorshlag's full removal, only the portions that stuck out laterally. I still wanted to have something for the bump stop to land against. The shock boots at full length could rub, so I cut those back.
Rear bumpstop bracket mod picture 1.jpg

Rear bumpstop bracket mod picture 2.jpg


And there was one more little thing to do, involving more positive lateral axle location. So one more little DIY mod, mostly to see if it'd be enough. Anybody who knows or remembers what the 1960's drag racers did to calm wheel hop in their drag-race Chevelles can probably guess what that was, but when you force a few finish nails into a cylindrical rubber bushing you not only replace some of the squishy rubber with steel but you've now firmed up the rubber because you've compressed it. Maybe some day I'll buy an aftermarket PHB, but five years on, it still seems to be as stiff laterally as ever, the axle is decently close to being centered, and nothing rubs back there. Or maybe I'll try a different DIY mod.


Norm
 
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Norm Peterson

Corner Barstool Sitter
930
702
Exp. Type
HPDE
Exp. Level
5-10 Years
a few miles east of Philly
Added a second Aeroforce gauge and installed it where the dash-mounted GoPro could see it. Rough positioning . . .
GoPro and Aeroforce#2 web.JPG

Mounted (using Velcro so I can remove it for street driving). I can also position it above the speedometer. The Aim Solo unit came later, this is just the picture I could find for the second Aeroforce gauge. Helmet camera mount is just out of view in the rearview mirror in this picture.
Found some coolant.jpg

I'd just run through a little coolant dropped by another car and had to catch a little twitch . . .

A better view of the camera mount. Not my car, though :(
Helmet camera mount 2.jpg


The Aim Solo was sort of an accidental purchase on rather short notice. I'd been given a couple of gift cards to the track's store and found out about 11.5 months later that they were about to expire. What the store had in stock was not the DL version, but that didn't matter too much since I already had the Aeroforce gauges.

The Aim mounts through a piece of sheetmetal bent to provide a vertical surface when Velcro'd to the dash. To date, I haven't hard-wired it and its battery seems to make it through a whole day.
Aim Solo mount.JPG

Shortly after the above on-track picture was taken, my car experienced the sort of problem that ends one's day early . . .


Norm
 
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Norm Peterson

Corner Barstool Sitter
930
702
Exp. Type
HPDE
Exp. Level
5-10 Years
a few miles east of Philly
That problem turned out to be a set of left-front wheel studs that decided they'd had enough, and just let the LF wheel go off in a different direction from everything else. No injury to me, and hardly any damage to the car aside from some of the DIY brake ducting getting trashed and a little crinkle put in the driver side fender where the tow strap had to rest. I had help in paddock pounding out the stubs and borrowing one good stud from each of the other three corners and called for a flatbed to get the car back to the hotel. Sourced a set of Dorman studs so that I could at least drive the car home (about an hour away). I suspect but won't ever know for sure that the LF lugnuts had been overtorqued at some point.

Anyway, that led directly to the next round of modifications. FRPP hubs with ARP studs and ARP studs for the rear, and a new Forgestar wheel because the one that was on that corner got gouged up pretty badly ↓↓↓
IMG_0975.JPG


That list grew to include the 14" GT500 Brembo front brakes and flexible lines all around, and FRPP front control arms.

And finally a set of firmer springs. I'd set a limit on lowering of 20mm but preferably closer to 15mm, with springs more toward the firm end of what was commonly available. Ended up choosing BMR's Handling springs for the GT500, partly for the extra 20 lb/in over the "regular GT" handling springs and partly because with the 3-valve NA engine I wasn't going to get the full 1" drop claimed for a GT500 installation. Ended up right where I wanted it up front, but there was 3/8" worth of DIY shimming involved out back to bring the 1" drop there back up. Pictures taken while "in progress" before making any attempt at cleaning up the appearance.
Fitting up a shim.jpg

IMG_0680.JPG

IMG_0681.JPG


I trimmed the rear bump stops half a convolution (and plugged the hole created by doing this).
Bumpstop mod pic 1.jpg

Bumpstop mod pic 2.jpg


This is what the car looks like in side view now, on 265/40-18 tires.
On BMR GT500 handling springs (rear shimmed, web).jpg

On the "track" wheel/tire set
On 2853518 with about half an inch of suspension lowering.JPG


The difference in ride height is only subtly different from stock, but combined with 26-ish inch tall tires the roof line feels clearly lower when you stand next to it. I'm betting that most people won't pick up on either the short tires or the minimal lowering, and I'm fine with that.

One other thing I did was to install the second set of yellows. Partly because the RR was starting to seep a little fluid out past the adjuster seal during adjustments, and partly to give me a set for potential revalving at a later date without having to take the car out of service for that. The Steeda Strut mounts had torn a couple of their O-rings, so I refurbished those.


Norm
 

Norm Peterson

Corner Barstool Sitter
930
702
Exp. Type
HPDE
Exp. Level
5-10 Years
a few miles east of Philly
Next up involved the shifter. The OE shifter had lost enough precision to bother even me, so MGW.

But I found the MGW too notchy to suit me and its short throw even on the longest setting wasn't doing it for me either. So some more DIY to lengthen the shift lever a bit.
MGW's, mine, Ford's,.jpg

Modified shift lever as initially installed.jpg


That made the shift action much nicer despite the throw being a bit longer (which I don't notice all that much). But I found that with the exposed metal of the lever that the noise level had increased substantially, even with the boot and all of the available sound isolation below the boot installed. So I insulated the lever with some household hot water pipe insulation that I had laying around just to see what gains might be available.
Modified shift lever (extended with the metal bits covered).JPG

It worked even better than expected, so it's still there exactly as pictured. Yes, I prefer the car's OE shift knob to the aftermarket's more common cue-ball style.


Norm
 

Apex3V

Heel-n-Toe Enthusiast
I have the same issue with the MGW, while I have more confidence in not missing gears with the MGW over the stock one I still find it to be a little notchy even on the longest setting. I don't care about noises or vibrations as I feel like my interior isn't as forgiving as it used to be but I do like the height that you got the knob up to. I feel like it would make the transition of your hand from the wheel to the shifter faster.
 

Norm Peterson

Corner Barstool Sitter
930
702
Exp. Type
HPDE
Exp. Level
5-10 Years
a few miles east of Philly
Seems the brown truck has brought me all sorts of goodies to put in - and on - that axle. 2.7 bias Torsen, 3.73's, all the bearings, shims, and seals, lube, friction modifier . . . and a finned FPP diff cover. Basically all I'm keeping is the axle shafts and that big heavy lump that they go in.

It's this one thing about the diff cover that I'd like confirmation of my own attempts at measuring, and that's the thread size for the cover vent.

A plug for that vent was supplied, but I'm thinking of plugging the OE axle tube vent hole and relocating a better vent assembly of some sort up to the diff cover, and I may well DIY this once I know what I'm dealing with. Near as I can tell, the diff cover vent thread is 7/16-20, taken off the supplied plug using cheapie calipers and a set of thread gauges. But since the cover is aluminum I'd rather not take too many chances that it isn't something like 11mm x 1.25 or a pipe thread, and end up having to rework the vent in a brand-new cover out to 1/2".

I suppose another option could be to drill a 3/16"-ish hole in the supplied plug, solder a short length of 1/8" brake line tubing in place, and go from there without having to worry about the threading at all. If that would provide for enough airflow to prevent pressure buildup. Thoughts?


Norm
 
Seems the brown truck has brought me all sorts of goodies to put in - and on - that axle. 2.7 bias Torsen, 3.73's, all the bearings, shims, and seals, lube, friction modifier . . . and a finned FPP diff cover. Basically all I'm keeping is the axle shafts and that big heavy lump that they go in.

It's this one thing about the diff cover that I'd like confirmation of my own attempts at measuring, and that's the thread size for the cover vent.

A plug for that vent was supplied, but I'm thinking of plugging the OE axle tube vent hole and relocating a better vent assembly of some sort up to the diff cover, and I may well DIY this once I know what I'm dealing with. Near as I can tell, the diff cover vent thread is 7/16-20, taken off the supplied plug using cheapie calipers and a set of thread gauges. But since the cover is aluminum I'd rather not take too many chances that it isn't something like 11mm x 1.25 or a pipe thread, and end up having to rework the vent in a brand-new cover out to 1/2".

I suppose another option could be to drill a 3/16"-ish hole in the supplied plug, solder a short length of 1/8" brake line tubing in place, and go from there without having to worry about the threading at all. If that would provide for enough airflow to prevent pressure buildup. Thoughts?


Norm
I did the FP finned cover swap on my 2011 GT, and IIRC the easy solution was to put the supplied plug in the axle vent and put the vent that started life in the axle up on the cover. I never had a leak with the vent attached to the top of the cover.
 

Norm Peterson

Corner Barstool Sitter
930
702
Exp. Type
HPDE
Exp. Level
5-10 Years
a few miles east of Philly
Thanks, Coz. LMR is out of stock and I may postpone this until after running up some break-in miles when I'll be changing the fluid.

But I did get this project moving again by attaching the ring gear to the Torsen. Since I don't have a press, I carefully drew the gear up tight using the supplied bolts. Only a fraction of a turn at a time not looking for hard resistance. The first two or three bolts picked up the ring gear threads easily, but the next few required a little . . . ummm . . . persuasion. I've got this beat-up old rubber mallet that was enough to get the job done. The last two bolts still needed the rest of the bolts snugged up a little further. Once all the bolts were securely engaged, it was ring-around-the-rosie time with the wrench (every third bolt) so that the gear was drawn up as evenly as I could manage. I'm sure I drew this gear in more evenly than when I have had other things pressed into place hydraulically at a shop. Yeah, I know my shop space is kind of messy.
Drawing the pinion gear into position by tightening every third bolt.JPG


Shown below after snugging the gear up. I could not force my thinnest feeler gauge (0.002") between the gear and diff mating faces anywhere, so I'm reasonably confident . . .
In position.JPG
And the torquing, 77 ft*lbs, every third bolt again, plus two or three times around afterward.
Torquing (every third bolt, red Locktite on bolt threads.JPG


The next step is going to be drawing the side bearings into position. I'm thinking of pulling them up using either a length of all-thread or something similar but made of stronger stuff, and a variety of heavy washers. And some grease on the threads so that as much of my applied torque goes to pulling the bearings as I can make happen. I'm not in this for the strength training anyway.


Norm
 
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Norm Peterson

Corner Barstool Sitter
930
702
Exp. Type
HPDE
Exp. Level
5-10 Years
a few miles east of Philly
I'd started installing the carrier bearings yesterday, but between the garage temperature (and my heat sensitivity) and a snag that made me wonder if I should just throw in the towel and find a place to get the bearings pressed on.
Starting the driver side carrier bearing.JPG

The bearing went most of the way on just fine . . . until the big bottom washer (now slightly bent) bottomed out on the snout. Hmmmmm. At that point I just picked up and quit for the day.

Down, but not out.

Middle of the night something occurred to me. I save all sorts of apparently-useless shiznit because I'm apt to end up using it or repurposing it. I think she understands the use/repurpose part of that but not the saving-it part that makes it possible.
Finishing up the driver side carrier bearing.JPG

Cut from a scrap of exhaust tubing that was laying around, and squeezed down in diameter to fit the bearing's inner race. When this idea first occurred to me (some time in the middle of the night) I was thinking in terms of tackwelding the overlap. Changed my mind once I realized that it might be a good idea to let this thing expand over the snout as necessary if it didn't stay perfectly centered while I was tightening the nut.

The passenger side needed a different approach, as I couldn't chuck the whole business in the vice.
Passenger side carrier bearing needed a different approach.JPG

If you look closely, you'll see that neither the all-thread nor the washers are even close to being concentric with the eventual axle shaft axis. Couple of times I had to go off-center to draw the bearing back to "square". No problem knowing when to do this - wrenchee no turnee. And as long as the bearing was square, a 3/4" combination wrench was all the leverage I needed (at about 5-10/180-ish I'm not a particularly big guy). Note also that the block in the center of the diff has been removed to permit the off-center pulling.

Carrier bearings done. Checked for bottoming with the same feeler gauge and a bright flashlight. No gaps.
Done.JPG

Close look here shows the center block replaced as well.


Norm
 
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ChrisM

Mostly harmless.
921
974
Exp. Type
HPDE
Exp. Level
3-5 Years
SoCal
Norm, this was extremely educational for me. I've never actually seen one of these things torn apart, so they were a bit of a mystery to me. Great pics and write-up.
 

Norm Peterson

Corner Barstool Sitter
930
702
Exp. Type
HPDE
Exp. Level
5-10 Years
a few miles east of Philly
I've done most of my best work and solved countless problems in the middle of the night. Why do these eureka moments strike then?
noidea.gif

Maybe your mind actually does work in the background and focuses better when it's not so busy trying to keep up with the usual daily clutter?


Norm
 

Norm Peterson

Corner Barstool Sitter
930
702
Exp. Type
HPDE
Exp. Level
5-10 Years
a few miles east of Philly
Norm, this was extremely educational for me. I've never actually seen one of these things torn apart, so they were a bit of a mystery to me. Great pics and write-up.
Thanks.

All of the pictures were taken with a Canon SX60HS (16MP, 21-1365mm equivalent), as are nearly all of the pictures I post anywhere. The zoom feature came in extremely handy in these pictures for cropping out most of the mess, and I much prefer framing my pictures through a viewfinder than off a 2" or 3" display anyway.


Before the predictable question gets asked . . .
My Phone.JPG


Norm
 
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