Worked on a project car

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Enterprise Architect, Teledyne Technologies
Apr 09, 2022
I took the Ghia to get a proper alignment on Thursday. Driving home, it did significantly less erratic wandering across the road, but I could also tell that one of the rear brake shoes was dragging a bit. 

I crawled under the car and tried to adjust the shoes to correct this but found that no matter how much adjustment was made the brakes either wouldn't let go when the pedal was released or else they wouldn't stop the wheel from turning when the pedal was pressed. I suspect that there may be an issue with the return springs.

I set to work removing the 36mm axle nuts so that I could pull off the drum and see what was going on... but some previous owner had helpfully painted over the nuts and the threads. I soaked the threads in paint thinner and penetrator and pulled against the nut with all my might, and wound up snapping my (cheap-but-guaranteed-for-life) breaker bar. 

You win this round, painted axle nut - but I'll be back (at some point) with more aggressive solvent, a torch, and a stronger breaker bar. Your days are numbered. 
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Enterprise Architect, Teledyne Technologies
Mar 26, 2022
Ghia gets a new distributor!

At some point in my Karmann Ghia's life, a Bosch 009-type single-advance distributor was installed. These are popular aftermarket replacements since they're cheap, plentiful, and easy to tune, but the single-advance design means they're only able to advance engine timing in response to increasing engine speed. This can cause the power to lag a bit, and often makes the engine feel bogged down when you first roll onto the throttle.

The car is supposed to be equipped with a Single-Vacuum Dual-Advance (SVDA) distributor which would be able to get ahead of the power requirement by increasing the timing advance based on the vacuum pulled off the carburetor. I found an aftermarket SVDA option which also replaces the points with an electronic ignition setup.

I got it installed, approximated the static timing, and the engine started right up! I made a minor adjustment to set timing to 7.5 BTDC at idle, and this motor purrs. I went for a quick drive and the car feels so much better. No more hesitation when pulling away from a stop, no more bogging down when I come to a stop, and the throttle is now much more responsive at cruising speeds. I'm quite pleased with this new distributor.

This is obviously still not a fast car... but it feels a lot less slow than it used to.

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DevOps Engineer, Funnel Leasing
Mar 09, 2022
Many many project car updates. The less visually appealing bits are all electrical switches and fuse box work I’ve been doing. All new fuse box and all new switches. Making it pretty is always a little more fun though.
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Enterprise Architect, Teledyne Technologies
Feb 06, 2022
It's been a while since my last Ghia update. 

The cold and wet weather broke for a bit though so I was able to drive it to work last week. 

We have developed a bit of an oil puddle under the car lately which I suspect may be due to the 5w-30 oil I put in last time (as it definitely did not leak before then). So I decided to do an oil change and replace it with 10w40 to see if that will limit the seepage. 

And I also performed a valve adjustment while I was at it. It's a simple matter of holding a flathead screwdriver in one hand and a 13mm wrench in the other and a 0.006" feeler gauge in another, but I think I'm getting better at it. 
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Enterprise Architect, Teledyne Technologies
Dec 11, 2021
With some help from my friends, I got the SCCA Sport Spec Coupe (SSC) suspension kit installed on my 2014 Subaru BRZ. 

The kit includes Eibach springs, Eibach front and rear sway bars, Koni adjustable shocks, and SPC adjustable rear control arms and toe rods. This officially bumps my car out of the D Street autocross class where I've been competing with Civic Type Rs, Hyundai Veloster Ns, Subaru WRXs, and other cars with considerably more power than mine, and into the special SSC class where I'll be directly racing against other BRZs and FRSs with the same setup. SSC is an extremely competitive class but I'm very much looking forward to my car (at least) being on even footing. 

I was a little concerned that the stiffer setup would be a bit tough to manage on the street but it's been a lot of fun so far. The ride is much more firm for sure, but it's not overly harsh even over rough pavement. 

I can't wait for the next season to start back up, but in the meantime I'm having a blast driving around town. It feels like a completely different car!
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Enterprise Architect, Teledyne Technologies
Oct 24, 2021
It's been six weeks since I last shared an update on my Karmann Ghia project, but that doesn't mean I haven't been working on it; in fact, the car's had one end or the other on jackstands for most of that time.

I drove the car to work one day following my last update, and when I got home I realized that the front-left wheel was radiating a lot of heat, while the front-right was only slightly above the ambient temperature. I removed the wheel and discovered that the caliper was seized and dragging the outside pad, which was about half as thick as the inside pad. I found a caliper rebuild kit for about $40, but I'd still need new pads (even assuming that I could successfully rebuild the bum caliper) - or I could spend $200 for a pair of new calipers with fresh pads included. I also ordered a new pair of brake hoses since the ones that were on the car were a bit worse for wear, and threw in a bunch of other small parts I'd been meaning to order as well.

When the parts arrived, I set to work replacing the hoses and calipers. That was going well until I stripped the fitting securing the hard line to the flexible hose. I realized I would have to instead remove the other end of the hard line where it connects to the brake cylinder, so I ordered  a new hard line as well.

While I waited, I installed some of the other parts to correct some minor deficiencies:
  • Replaced broken window crank handles to make it much easier to roll the windows up and down.
  • Installed (missing) carburetor pre-heat hose to feed the carb warmer air from underneath the engine until the engine bay is warmed up.
  • Replaced cracked carburetor intake hose.
  • Installed (missing) heater hoses to connect the cabin vents to the heater box under the engine.
  • Replaced broken heater cable to control the flaps closing the heater box off from the hoses leading to the cabin vents. Of course, I also found that the car was missing the levers to actually connect the flap controls to the cable so I had to order a pair of those as well.
  • Replaced (broken/missing) engine lid release cable. Also discovered that I needed some sort of guide tubing to feed the cable through so I raided a hardware store for some semirigid plastic tube of the sort used for connecting an ice maker's water supply. I got it connected to the engine lid release mechanism... and then found that the lid doesn't quite line up the way it's supposed to. Ah well, I'll fight with that another day.
Once the new brake line and heater box control levers arrived I was finally able to install those, bleed the brakes, and crank the engine for the first time in over a month (it started up fine!) and go for a test drive. 

It stops much better with the new brakes! Rolling up the windows so I can lock the car once I get to where I'm going is much easier now. Hopefully the reconnected heater components will help keep me comfortable when it's chilly outside, and hooking up the carburetor preheat should help the Ghia deal with the cooler weather as well. I'm so glad to have this car back on the road, and can't wait to drive it again!

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