Monday, March 29, 2010

Baby's got a new pair of shoes!

So we've been "debating" the whole wheel/tire issue for a while now. The thing is that the metro came with 12" steelies. The tire on this was a 145/80R12. That's not exactly sporting. The Firefly turbo came with 13" steelies and the tires weren't that much better. Truth is, both cars came with snow tires and that's not really going to work for the summer.

So the idea was to replace the "shoes" on the car with something a little more shiny, a little less "steely" and with a little less sidewall. Personally, I was voting we go with the Toyo Proxes T1R in a 195/45R14. The rest of the team were voting more along the line of the Kumho Ecsta SPT in a 195/45R15. Now there were arguments for either side, but it was decided that the best deal on rims would ultimately decide the tire size we would use.

So every few days I would check out the Ottawa kijiji for rims using the 114.3mm bolt pattern. 3 days ago, I found what I was looking for. An awesome looking set of 15" rims for $50!!

So I e-mail the guy and he says he's selling them because he bought them for his daughter's car and they didn't fit over the calipers... First confusing thing. Anyways, he assures me that they're 15" rims and that he just wants to clear them out of his garage. Eric is really concerned about the width of the rim and wants either 6.5" or 7" wide rims. I e-mail the seller and he says that the rims are 6 3/4 inches wide. I figure this means they're 6.5" so I tell him I'll come and check them out.

So here's the fun part. I live in Kanata South (Bridlewood). This guy lives on Trim Rd on the far east side of Orleans. For those of you who have no idea how Ottawa is set up, this means that I literally have to drive from one side of the city to the other to look at these things. Google maps tells me that it's 45.8 km or 28.5 miles. So I brave rush hour traffic and drive across the city. I meet the guy, and then the fun begins...

I brought my tape measure along and as soon as I started measuring, I knew there was a problem. This guy measured from the outside lip to outside lip for all his measurements. So this means that the outer diameter of the rim is 15", but the part where the tire sits is actually 14". As I'm telling him this, I see a stamp on the inner groove saying "5 1/2 - JJx14".

Guess what that means... These are 14" rims AND they're only 5.5" wide...

The guy selling the rims got all apologetic and finally realized why the rims didn't fit over his daughter's calipers. I start telling him what the rims are for and how I'm going to have to discuss this with the team and maybe send someone else over again if we're still interested. As I start to walk away he says to me "Tell you what. I paid $100 for these rims and I feel really bad that you came all this way... I'll let you take them for $20." $20!!! He paid $100, posted them for $50, and is letting me steal them from him for $20!! I tell him that I'll take the deal and if they don't work, then I'll figure out what to do with the wheels. I hand him the money; he writes me a receipt; I load my trunk and head for home.

While I was feeling quite smug about possibly winning the rim size "discussion" I found another problem. It turns out that my tire choice of the 195/45R14 actually requires a minimum of a 6" wide rim. Thankfully the 195/55R14 of the same tire will fit a 5.5" wide rim so we'll probably end up going with these instead.

Here's the part you've been waiting for. The most awesome rims in the world...for a metroneige.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Sunday Engine Rebuild

In summary, Greg forgot the carbs at his house (which was predicted!!!), we didn't get the engine started, we broke some bolts and managed find out that the compression is apparently satisfactory!

Long story is, the day started off slow, since we had to figure out how to actually properly use a piston ring compressor. And in order to put the piston back into the cylinder we actually needed to first remove the piston from the connecting rod. A classic case of remove to install. Luckily we had plenty of hands to hold the piston in the cylinder while aligning the wrist pin with the connecting rod making sure to not drop anything.

Next up there was some re-assembly to do, which meant torquing everything down, installing the heads, some wiring, building a test stand to fire up the engine and waiting for Greg to show up with the carbs. Somebody wise then suggested that we should call Greg to make sure he didn't forget the carbs some 50kms away...

A brief period of time later (NOT!) the carbs magically appeared. We promptly broke some bolts while installing the whole intake assembly into the block, BUMMER! Yes, these are the same bolts that have been giving us grief since the beginning. Executive decision is: BUY NEW BOLTS!

At this point we decided to try and test the compression on all cylinders. First attempt was 130-100-125-120 psi. So there was one cylinder with a slightly unacceptable leak! This was of course the same cylinder causing us previous major headaches.

There was talk of honing the cylinders, getting new piston rings and generally having a more thorough (read expensive) rebuild. This being a Lemons build really would suck. Then Eric suggested we clean the heads and the pistons, so the day would not be a total loss.

Luckily for us, we decided to re-check the compression after cleaning the heads and noticing that we may not have seated the head gasket correctly the first time...Results:

130-120-130-125 psi. It would seem our luck has changed for the better this time!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Who: Part 4

Name: Jean-Michel Roy (AKA -> J-M, Jim, Kermit, Jimbotron, Jimbo, Jimmy King... the list goes on)
Age: err 24?
Education: Mech Eng Master's student, B.Sc.A Mechanical Engineering, B.Sc. Information Technology
Position on team: Complete n00b/NOZZLES!!!! the definite voluntold guy

J-M would like to announce he is starting a Ph.D in January 2011!!!!!!!

Complete newbie when it comes to tinkering with cars but with the background to understand how/why things work the way they do. Has been voluntold to deal with the aerodynamics of the metroneige , will try to integrate supersonic nozzles to validate the past 4 months of his thesis work. Will prevent other team members (ie. Greg) from ruining perfect aerodynamics for useless functions such as cooling brakes, the engine and especially the driver. Will not back down from foolish and often life threatening ideas such as: 1st time winter camping without the use of fire, 1st time canoeing in rapids - attempting some completely impossible rapids while ALMOST succeeding, building a rear wheel drive swift with a snowmobile engine.

Calm and quiet in most situations, extremely talkative in a canoe or when vast amounts of sugar are involved. Secretly a ninja. Also secretly wishes the car was powered by a gas turbine featuring blades coated with a TBC composed of a bond coat and YSZ ceramic layer. Would also prefer carbon fibre body panels (with fibreglass for impact resistance) and use of ceramic-metal-matrix-composite components for that extra oomph of course all under the 500$ budget limit...-

The Who: Part 3

Name: Greg Jewell
Age: 24
Education: B.Sc. Software Engineering from The University of Ottawa, Canada
Position on team: Racing Veteran and Guru

I have been racing karts with the NCKC going on 15 years. Last year I started tutoring new racers in the "art" of karting and I'm hoping that I can adapt my skills to this form of racing. I've wanted to give car racing a try for some time, but until now I've not had the opportunity. Along with being a pretty good car mechanic thanks to my Dad, I also have a passion for building "one-off" crazy custom computers. In the next few years I will be converting an old Sun Enterprise 450 chassis into a self contained juke box with an integrated touch screen, integrated speakers, and possibly a remote control setup. My other projects include building a one of a kind 1935 Oldsmobile pickup truck with my Dad, fixing whatever junker car I am currently driving, and continuing my search for the perfect Classic Austin Mini.

On the Metroneige project, I will be in charge of designing and building all of the cooling ducts that will channel fresh air to the brakes, engine, rad, driver, etc, as well as general labouring. I will also be the driving/racing instructor to my fellow drivers

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Who: Part 2 (Not the band... in case you're wondering)

Alexandre "Burger" Bergeron
Age: 22
Education: Mechanical Engineering Master's Student
Position on team: Gopher ( as in go for this, go for that) and go-to guy

After countless ridiculous projects such as restoring completely rusted through BMWs to masterminding the historical preservation of antique sailing ships, Alexandre is no stranger to hopeless projects. Having customised his own tricycle for speed at the tender age of four, and later doing an engine and battery swap in his 10$ pink Barbie Power Wheels (12V to 24V oh yeah!) at the age of seven, his expertise on the Metroneige project is unmatched (by other team members :P).

Current interests include materials science, his thesis on sailboat dynamics, LEGO pneumatic engines and world travel. He is also a newly literate member of the team and has been volunteered the tasks of finances and co-authoring the Metroneige blog. Like almost all engineers, he suffers from an overblown ego, overconfidence and the pathological need to be outlandish. Team members are authorised to dispense lashings accordingly and they can only release him from his cage once every two weeks.

The Who: Part 1

: Eric "McGiber" Giberson
Age: 24
Education : Software Engineering
Position on team : Supreme Leader and Team Flogger

Short description:
Renowned for finding the most outlandish and somehow greatest solutions to the simplest problems(also known as "Pulling a Giber"), he spent most of his childhood making and breaking his toys. Always accepting "why not" as a good reason to do something he spent his formative years working on countless legendary projects such as the Skluge and the infamous antique sail boat restoration. He's experience and engineering prowess knows no bounds. Known to everyone, his superhero like set of skills has even inspired a theme song praising his unsurpassed awesomeness. Always motivated by the pursuit of speed and pushing boundries, he is now tasked with leading this team to build the ultimate race/death machine.