I’d like to thank KRoberts for inviting me over while I was recently in his area visiting family. It turns out Ken’s only about 20 minutes away from my sister. Who would have thought an SLC would end up in the middle of nowhere? Ken was an awesome host and his car has a TON of touches I haven’t seen in any other build. He’s really pushing the envelope for what it means to have an OEM type build!
Now that the motor is in it shouldn’t be too long before I can start her up – I mean all you need is fuel, air, and spark! With fuel just about complete all I’d need to do is wire it up and slap an air filter on there right? mmmyeah … apparently not! It’s been about a month since my last update and the areas I’ve spent the most time thinking and working on have been the engine fluid systems – oil and coolant. I’ll summarize the updates to the oil system today and work on another post discussing engine coolant.
I’m finally starting to feel like I’m making tracks. Due to the nature of this type of project you’re always working about 5 different areas at any one time – keep kicking the ball! So I’ll break my progress down by area to make the reading a little more organized.
With the engine installed it was time to get it buttoned up. Turns out it really doesn’t take much effort to adapt the LS motor for the SLC. The following modifications have been made to date:
Intake manifold reversed
Fuel rail feed port flipped so it is pointing toward driver side of vehicle
Water pump outlet shortened
Flywheel/clutch assembly installed
Graziano transaxle installed
The 2 transaxle to adapter plate bolts shown here are a little different than the rest. The upper one doesn’t have enough clearance to use a socket head type fastener (not enough room for the allen key/driver). Additionally, I decided to use a shorter bolt at both these locations.
I literally spent about 4 days trying to position the battery. It was complicated by the need to package an Accusump oil accumulator and transaxle cooler along with the battery. Once I was finally able to come up with a configuration I was happy with it was a matter of making the necessary hardware to secure the battery box in place. I picked up a machined battery box off eBay knowing I couldn’t make something as nice with just aluminum angle and sheets.
Just a few last bits to the fuel system before it’s (finally) complete.
The firewall panel started out as a 1/16″ sheet of aluminum that didn’t weigh all that much. After the sound deadening and heat shielding was installed it weighed significantly more! This should help with decreasing noise and heat transmission. I’ve seen many builders use Lava Mat which is a thin layer of crushed lava rock covered with a reflective layer that looks like gold carbon fiber. I don’t have any first hand experience with the lava mat, nor do I (yet) have any experience with the Second Skin Thermal Block. However, I’m a firm believer in the power of air gaps and its efficacy as an insulator. In many typical insulation applications the goal is to use a material that’s made less dense by the introduction of air pockets. It’s actually the presence of the air that disrupts the flow of heat energy from the exposed and protected surfaces. The matrix “holding” the air pockets together is a greater conductor of heat than the air. So in my estimation one of the key elements to a thermal barrier is introducing as much air pocketing as possible. I won’t pretend to be very knowledgeable in the area of advanced insulating technologies – just using basic engineering stuff here.
So here’s why I opted to go with the SS Thermal Block over the cooler looking Lava Mat:
Lava mat measures 0.008″ thick (their basic product) or 0.025″ thick (their supreme product line). That’s not very thick. The Thermal Block product measures 0.25″ thick – that’s 10x thicker than the premium Lava Mat and over 30x thicker than the basic.
Since I believe in getting as many air pockets into the matrix as possible, a non-woven fiberglass structure will generate a higher percentage of airspace than the micropores found in lava rock. True – the fiberglass structure will have larger pockets of air meaning more convective heat transfer will occur within the heat shield, so that’s not as good as the lava mat. However, it’s tough to argue 0.25″ of barrier vs 0.008″ or 0.025″.
While the carbon fiber look is cool, a flat, shiny surface will do better for radiant heat deflection than an irregular surface. Since I haven’t seen the Lava Mat personally I can’t attest to just how irregular or reflective the surface truly is. Note that the SS website shows the Thermal Block to have a somewhat dimpled look – however you can see the stuff I received is flat.
Cost-wise, the Thermal Block is about on par with the basic Lava Mat and about 40% less than the premium version. Purchased during their Black Friday sale, the Thermal Block is even less (about 10%). I plan to use a lot of Thermal Block since high cabin temps seem to be a recurring theme on multiple build threads.
Thermal Block has been tested and passes the flammability test from FMVSS302. FMVSS302 (Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard #302) specifies the burn resistance requirements for materials used in the occupant compartments of motor vehicles. I don’t see any specific testing performed by Lava Mat.
One point in Lava Mat’s favor – Thermal Block has a maximum recommended exposure temperature of 800F whereas Lava Mat claims 1200F continuous/2000 intermittent. I’m not sure how Lava Mat determined those numbers. However, if my firewall is even seeing 800F then I’ve got bigger problems than which material I decided to go with. In either case I’m guessing the weak link is going to be the adhesive used to bind the materials together – and I’m also betting that stuff’s going to degrade well before even 800F.
[Update 11/19] It’s good to have someone who knows what they’re doing looking over your shoulder from time to time. After Bob read my update he asked what kind of sealant I used. I told him “the black stuff”. Turns out I used 3M weatherstripping & gasket sealer and this stuff isn’t rated for fuel. Sooo… yeah, I had to pull out the fuel level sender, clean it up, then use some actual fuel rated sealer. Luckily Bob had a new gasket that just happened to fit while also having a good supply of Permatex Aviation Form-A-Gasket on hand. Yep, we upgraded to AVIATION level stuff!
Remember how I said I’m always worried about making a decision that messes things up down the line, then having to reverse everything I’ve done to go back and fix it? Yep … so the fuel system had to partially come back apart so I could reroute the water pump outlet hose. I had originally run it above the rearward crossmember but in hindsight this would have created a high spot in the cooling system and just didn’t look good. So I rerouted it to under the crossmember. The issue is the heat shield I’d made earlier (one of my first fabricated pieces!) needed to be clearanced so the hose could pass through. Uuungh …
I didn’t stray very far from the Superlite recommended fuel system specs. You can purchase all these components from RCR directly, however I wasn’t a fan of how the lines are routed in the photo shown online. Knowing how OCD I was going to be I opted to purchase the parts individually and figure out what type of fittings I would need – the kit doesn’t use as many 90-deg fittings as I did. The 90s will cause a higher pressure drop than if you ran the hose out and put a gentle turn in it, however, that means more unsightly hose hanging out in the wind. My intended power level is well within what the system can deliver so the additional pressure losses due to all my 90s should be OK.
Fuel line: Aeroquip Startlite (Note Ken warned me this hose would permeate with fuel over time and the engine bay would eventually stink of fuel. He recommended running a teflon lined hose. If the fuel smell gets too bad I’ll investigate switching out but plan to run with the Startlite until then.) The startlite lines are sheathed in a nomex/kevlar braid for abrasion resistance. I dislike stainless sheathed hoses as they are less flexible – and given the location of where the fuel system is located, are unlikely to require very much abrasion protection.
Fittings: Aeroquip reusable hose ends
Low pressure pump: Walbro GSL392BX
High pressure pump: Bosch 044 / 61944
Low pressure fuel filter: 100 micron
High pressure fuel filter: 40 micron (Note the wiki recommends a 5-10 micron filter whereas RCR specs a 40 micron filter in their kit. I believe the 5-10 micron filter is too fine.)
Fuel pressure regulator: Aeromotive 13109 (Note the 1/8″ hose nipple should remain uncovered unless your application is boosted.)
The wiki suggests placing the low pressure filter AFTER the low pressure pump, however I would recommend placing it BEFORE the pump. You don’t want your low pressure pump standing at the front lines for your entire fuel system! Should you pick up some nasty gas the filter can be removed and cleaned whereas replacing the fuel pump would be a more costly alternative.
I’ve already covered the oil pan modification necessary to fit the LS motor into the SLC chassis. I upgraded the pan and internals to help avoid oil starvation during extended or high-G turns. One other aspect of going to the more shallow oil pan is I’m simply not able to run as much oil as I otherwise could have. If the oil pan modifications aren’t sufficient for protecting the engine from oil starvation, the implementation of an Accusump oil accumulator is the last ditch effort at saving the bearings.
Early on I’d been advised to purchase a 2qt Accusump. Boy, I wish I remembered that when I ordered my 3qt unit! As mentioned in an earlier section of this post, I hemmed and hawed and went back and forth on where to install the Accusump and battery – mostly because the 3qt unit is ginormous. An added complication is the manufacturer recommends that the unit be installed with the valve end (oil end) upward to avoid trapping bubbles. I’ve seen countless photos online of owners installing Accusumps in the horizontal location. I think for most cars that get driven fairly regularly this won’t be a problem. For a car that may sit for an extended period wear or failure to the interior seal may occur if a bubble is present and the accumulator is horizontal.
(I’m putting my OCD/paranoid hat on right now and it’s pretty big…)
Here’s my concern: A bubble in the oil side of the accumulator, if big enough, could cause a portion of the interior tube to “dry out” if the vehicle is stored for long enough. Over time, the surface area where the bubble sits may have oil drain down the sides leaving it dry. During the next start cycle the accusump piston will compress, pushing the oil out into the engine during the pre-lube cycle. When it does this, the o-ring inside the accumulator will be running across this “dry” section of the tube. With repeated movement this may lead to o-ring damage.
(sensible hat back on)
OK, it would take MANY (thousands?) of cycles of the above scenario to approach anything near damaging the o-ring, let alone failing it. It’s really a silly thought and I shouldn’t be considering it at all.
(OCD hat back on…)
The reason the manufacturer recommends installing it with the oil side up is to minimize the ability for air to get trapped inside the cylinder during pressurization. The piston doesn’t fully seat against the face of the end tube and therefore some amount of air bubble will remain once the system reaches pressure. Tilting the oil end up will help push the bubble out. With the tube horizontal, any bubble would get trapped along that horrible upper dried out section of tube I just mentioned. So if I were to mount the Accusump perfectly horizontal I KNOW there’ll be a bubble (gah). So why not just mount it to the upper firewall and tilt it?
BECAUSE IT’LL BE VISIBLE FROM OUTSIDE THE VEHICLE.
Again, my OCD balked at having something so beautiful and shiny (it’s really quite a piece of hardware) askew, especially in plain sight. So I compromised by putting it at a significant angle – but in a location not easily visible with the rear engine cover in place. In addition to the accumulator I sprang for the electric remote valve. Having the electric remote valve allows me to operate the accusump without having to run any potentially very hot oil into the cabin and makes operating it much simpler.
To integrate the Accusump I needed to purchase an oil circuit adapter; I opted to go with the Improved Racing EGM-106 unit. This is a non-thermostatically controlled adapter (this is important if running an Accusump) and installed just after the oil filter. Improved racing also offers a similar adapter that has the thermostat integrated in the adapter unit itself (EGM-112). The idea behind using a thermostat on the oil circuit is to allow the oil to get up to temperature before circulating it into the cooler – oil that’s too cold isn’t so good for lubrication or power. The issue with running a thermostatic adapter and an accusump is if the thermostat is closed (because the oil is too cold) and you lose oil pressure, the accumulator is going to try and push into an adapter that’s (mostly) closed off. I say (mostly) because the thermostatically controlled IR unit appears (based on pictures) to allow some amount of flow from the cooler circuit even when the unit is fully closed. However, this would cause a significant pressure loss to the accumulator oil pressure just before entering the engine oil circuit.
Plumbing the oil cooler took me a fair bit of time (again, my need to have the plumbing look neat weighed against the very little remaining room).
Accumulator: Canton 24-006 (their 2qt unit is 4″ shorter, PN 24-026)
Remote electric accumulator valve: Canton 24-271X
Accusump check valve: Canton 24-280
Required tee: Canton 23-245TA
Accusump clamps: Canton 24-200
Remote oil thermostat: Earl’s 501ERL
Oil cooler: Earl’s 42500 ERL
A number of folks have asked me about the Quickjack and whether I’m still liking it – the answer is yes! The project remained stagnant for a good number of months while we were back into home renovations but the lift system fired right back up and worked flawlessly even after months of just holding the car up. The quick disconnects are still clean and there are no indications of hydraulic fluid leakage anywhere.
I’ll have to admit – I was very nervous mating the transaxle to the engine. There’s almost nothing at the front of the car yet since everything I’ve been working on has been at or behind the rear lift pads. I figured this would really upset the balance of the chassis while on the lift and it would want to tip over backwards. So far, so good! I believe this is the most unbalanced the project will ever be and I still need to lean pretty heavily on the transaxle tail to get the car to move. If I put all my weight on the very end of the transaxle I can get the front to lift up off the pads; don’t try this at home! Note the rear lift pads are located under the firewall – so both the engine and trans are fully cantilevered out behind.
I have a block of wood behind for safety (I’m not a complete idiot!)