Car work Diary

Saturday, December 22, 2001.

Just finished installing Stainless Steel Brake lines on my '91 Eclipse.  The installation went relatively smoothly (lines actually installed this past Wednesday, but couldn't finish the task because it was getting late).  However, there were problems getting to that point.

First, at the end of last August, I ordered a set of Earl's Hyperfirm brake lines from Archer Racing.  (Yes, I meant last August, and yes, it is now the end of December.) Archer had to order them from the manufacturer and, to make a long story short, they didn't arrive in my hands until the latter part of November.  So what happens when I try to put them on my car, but I find out that they don't fit my car.  Worse, they don't fit in such a way that I strip out the threads to my brake caliper.  That means a new trip to the auto part's store to get a new brake caliper and reinstall the old lines.  Archer is good about it and lets me return the lines for credit and I find out that there is an Earl's service shop right here in Indy where I can get lines custom made.  So I put the Eclipse up on jack stands, take the old lines off, and run them down to Earl's so they can make up a new set.  I take in the lines on Saturday morning and pick up the new ones on Wednesday  morning.  Wednesday night, after getting home from work, I install the lines.  So far so good, everything goes smoothly except with the left front.  I had rounded the fitting that connects one of the hard brake lines in that one and a wrench won't hold on it.  Thus, I have to use vise-grips to tighten it.  It takes a bit of work, and a few pumps of the brake to make sure it's tight enough to hold pressure and doesn't leak.

So, brake lines installed I get the system refilled with fluid.  This takes a bit less than 500 ml of Motul 600 brake fluid including finding that I need about another quarter turn on the left front line to get that last leak stopped.  But then the system is tight and I quit, stopping only short of doing a final bleed of the brakes and putting the wheels back on.

Thursday is Judo night so no car work.  Friday is dinner out with my wife.  Saturday morning, I get to finish bleeding the brakes (a few bubbles before the fluid runs clear), put the wheels back on, take it down of the stands, and give it a short road test.

Nice.  Once you've taken up the slack in the brake system, the pedal feels like you've hit the stops--but unlike actually hitting the brake stop, press harder and you stop quicker.  Before, I could stop well enough, but I would hit the stop before I could lock the tires.  The upper limit on braking ability was the brake lines, not the tires.  Now, I'm back to being limited by my tires.

Next step for the car is to measure the alignment parameters.  I bought a camber/caster gauge from Racer Parts Warehouse (a cheap one) and have checked that the floor in my garage is level.  Camber bolts are probably going in soon, and I plan to upgrade the shocks to Koni Yellows and the springs to Ground Control coilovers.

Saturday, February 16, 2002

I've done a few things recently.  I had the snow tires on the car for a while.  Some interesting things I noticed about them.  The first is that the dry traction is only about 64% of that of my previous summer tires (Dunlop SP8000).  After a few weeks, with the weather outlook not calling for any snow for the foreseeable future, I went ahead and swapped back to the summer tires.  After that, I went ahead and bought my next round of summer tires--Falken Azenis in 215/45ZR16.  The tread on these tires is about as wide as the Dunlops (225/50ZR16) even thought the section is ostensibly narrower.  The profile is lower, giving me a slight gearing advantage and dropping the ride height of the car about 1/2".  So far, I've been very happy with these tires, but we'll see how they go when the local Solo II season starts.

One of the things I've been working on for this car is some form of cold air intake.  Opening up the intake, basically by cutting big holes in the air can, gives the car better breathing but at the expense of sucking in hot air from the engine compartment.  Later versions of the Eclipse can acquire aftermarket intakes that relocate the air intake in front of the radiator, bringing in more cold outside air.  I'm told that's not possible on the early Eclipses (90-94) because of the location of the MAS sensor.  So, if Mohammed can't go to the mountain....   The first step of my new approach was to fabricate a "heat shield" from sheet aluminum.  This is a plate that fits over the air intake hose and blocks most of the gap between the engine and the air intake box.  That way more of the air coming into the air intake will be cool air from down by the road rather than the hot air from the radiator and engine.  The second step was to put some gasket material around the heat shield to further seal off the intake from the hot air.  The next step will be to run ducting to bring cool, and higher pressure air, from the front of the car into the area around the air intake.  This is a fairly modest change, involving nothing more than a few dollars worth of materials and a couple of hours of time, but it should lead to a few extra horsepower as well as quicker throttle response.  We'll see how it goes.

Thursday February 22, 2002

Tried to install the ducting for the intake today.  The duct that I had (a drier duct left over from when we had our drier installed) was too large diameter to fit through the space available.  Have to try something a little smaller diameter next time.  Also, there was a slight problem after reinstalling the heat shield.  The transmission shift levers were hitting the heat shield.  Looks like it got twisted so I have to work it around so everything clears properly again.  That can take a bit of finessing.

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