Spinning Right Round on Skidpad

I’ve been working on videos for HPDE classroom and this one I’m currently editing is supposed to show large angle oversteer from both the external and internal perspectives. Click the photo below to see the video of out-takes. Thanks to Bob for recording. (14mb download)

Click for video

Click the second photo to download a clip on oversteer. When the car in front appears in the middle-to-right of the windshield, then the trail car is also in oversteer. Notice two things about the driver’s inputs: 1. Quick to catch; and 2. Smooth. (30mb download)

Oversteer Laps

Porsche Front Bumper Mesh DIY

As we’ve shown on this site before, the front mounted radiators of the 996 collect all kinds of debris over time. We bought this kit from Rennline many months ago, but never got around to putting it on. Since we had the bumper cover off this weekend for some other work, we thought we’d try it out (and clean out the debris again).
Bumper cover removed
The install process is fairly easy. The hardest part is getting to all of the appropriate screws to remove the bumper cover. Put your car on jack stands and remove the front wheels. Start by removing the screws under the cover-plate for the trunk release. Pop out the side-markers and remove the two screws there. Pop the two closest quick-releases to the side markers, and remove the screw that mounts up into the side-marker. Shift to the bottom of the bumper cover. Remove the five torx screws. The cover should slide forward and off of the bumper.
We’ll be working from the back side of the bumper cover to install the grilles. We don’t have a third radiator in the middle of our bumper. There’s a blanking plate that covers this space. You could remove the plate to add a grille, but we just skipped that step. The grill is included in the kit.
Fit the grilles and bend them to conform to the shape of the openings. Use the screws included to the kit to attach the grilles, taking care not to screw anywhere that would be visible from the front. Because the grilles fit between the black housing and the rubber radiator ducts, it takes some finesse to get the bumper cover back in place when finished, just be patient and work both sides evenly.
When finished, it’s a very clean look. But would I still buy the kit today if I had a choice? Probably not.
These grilles are pricey for what you get. If I were doing it again, I would just buy some Gutter Guard at home depot and some short, sell tapping screws. When you buy this kit, you’re really just buying time. How much time would it take you to figure out the right shape, bend and cut the raw material, then figure out where best to attach it. The shape isn’t that complex and the grilles are sandwiched between the bumper cover and radiator housings anyway so they don’t need to be that secure. Save your money and try it the Home Depot way first. If you fail, you’re only out $5. If you succeed, you just saved $270.

Use a Vacuum to Change the Oil Drain Plug

Have you ever needed to change a drain plug or a drain plug seal ring, but didn’t want to change your oil? This post shows you how by using your shop-vac to pull a vacuum on the oil fill tube which will hold the oil in your oil pan even when you remove the drain plug.
pull a vacuumYou will need a clean shop towel, folded in quarters; a shop vac hose adapter that’s slightly larger than the oil fill tube opening; and assistant  to hold it in place and operate the shop vac.  In this case, I’m working on a Porsche 996.  The 2.5 inch hose adapter fits over the fill tube and is taped to the end of the shop vac hose. It is very important that the hose adapter not move or you will lose the vacuum holding the oil in the pan.

Listen to the tone of the shop vac once the video starts.  You will hear the tone change when the drain plug is removed, but the oil will not start flowing as long as the vacuum stays on.  To change the drain plug seal ring, you just need to keep the vacuum running and you have time to remove the plug, change the ring, and put the plug back in.  Wait until it’s is hand tight before you release the vacuum.  In this video I’m actually going to dump the oil for an oil change (using Driven DT-40), but I wanted to show you how it works and that there really is oil in this engine.

996 Shift Light Install DIY

using_the_shiftifuse panelHaving a shift light is a handy way to keep an eye on your revs at the track without having to look down at the gauges. Installing it is pretty easy if you’re comfortable with splicing wires.  In this DIY, we’ll add an Ecliptech Shift I shift light to a Porsche 996. The process is similar for any OBDII car made after 1996.

1. Open fuse panel door and remove four screws.

8474008231_8de306d0f9_z2. Remove the carpeted surround to get to the third Torx screw holding the OBD-II port holder. (If you have small hands, you may be able to remove the port from the holder without dropping the port holder, if so, skip to #4 below.)grab power

3. Remove the three Torx screws holding the OBD-II port.

4. Remove the OBD-II port from the bracket by squeezing the pins on the back of the connector.

5. Locate the brown (ground) wire going to pin #4 and the violet/green (RPM Signal) wire going to pin #9.

6. Position the shift light approximately where you want to install it and run the wires through the dash.

7. Connect the black wire from the shift light to brown ground wire going to pin #4.

8. Connect the blue/black wire from the shift light to the violet/green RPM Signal wire going to pin #9.

9. Locate an accessory fuse, 7 amps or less that is powered only when the key is in the on position (I used a5 amp fuse) and use a fuse doubler to “add-a-fuse”.

10. Connect the red wire from the shift light to your new power source.

11. Insert the key and turn to he on position. The shift light should perform a self test if wired correctly.

12. Secure any excess wire under the dash.

13. Reattach the OBD-II port holder.

14. Reattach the fuse surround and replace the fuse cover.

15. Use double-sided tape to attach the shift light.

16. Follow the instructions that came with the shift light to configure it.

I really like that this unit is fully configurable. You can set the shift points, the pattern, the light intensity, whatever you need to get your attention without being obtrusive. If you car has OBD-II you can install it. You just need to know where to pick up the RPM signal. I put one in the MINI too.


Porsche 996/997 Motor Mount Replacement DIY

The engine in the 996/997 hangs from the motor mounts rather than sitting on them as in most other cars. As a consequence of this design, it’s hard to tell by visual inspection when they’ve worn out. As they stretch and degrade over time the car may idle rough or one side of the exhaust may appear to hang lower than the other. Once you take the mount off of the car, you can see as in the photo above how the old one is distended compared to the new one.

The replacement procedure is very simple and can be done by any shade-tree mechanic with a good floor jack. Jack-stands for the rear of the car help, but are not required. One could just park the car on some 2x4s to get a little additional working room and easily make the swap with just the jack. We recommend using jack-stands just because it’s easier to move around under the car. Make sure the engine is cold before trying to move your hands through the exhaust-header to get to the lower nuts. As long as you only remove one mount at a time, you don’t have to worry about repositioning the engine to make it line up with the mount.

Tools required: Socket wrench; torque wrench; 13mm socket; 18mm socket (deep); and a 6 inch extension. Parts needed: Two replacement mounts, Porsche Part Number 993-375-049-08-M270 (for 1999-2005 non-turbo 996.) [Yes, that is a 993 part number, and yes, it is correct.] 997 Porsche Part Number is 997-375-049-08. If you are going to Track your car, consider upgrading the motor mounts to a more solid design like those available from Torque Solution. You’ll get less engine movement at the price of bit more vibration at idle.

Like all of our DIYs posted here: Proceed at your own risk — no wagering. These instructions are intended to familiarize you with the process and are not a substitute for a good shop manual.

    1. Safely jack up the rear of the car and place on jack-stands.
    2. Place the floor jack under the engine just behind the oil pan as seen in the photo. Use a block of wood (or a hockey puck) to avoid damaging the engine. Just do not use this as your main jack-point. It’s OK for occasional use.
      jack here
    3. Remove the air box.
      remove airbox
    4. Loosen two bolts and swing the secondary air pump out of the way.
      next to airpump
    5. Start at the right mount and remove the lower nut using a deep 18mm socket and a 6 inch extension.
    6. Remove the two upper bolts with a 13 mm socket and remove the old mount.
    7. Inspect and clean the area where the mount sits in the chassis.
    8. Insert the new mount. Install two upper bolts and torque to 25 ft lbs.Install lower nut and torque to 63 ft lbs.
    9. Repeat procedure on the left side.
    10. Replace secondary air pump and air box.
    11. Lower car and inspect exhaust tip position.
    12. Drive.


Porsche by Design

On the way to Hilton Head Island this past week, we stopped by the North Carolina Museum of Art which is hosting “Porsche by Design: Seducing Speed” through January 20, 2014. The show presents 22 Porsche automobiles going back to 1938 including the 1949 356 Gmuend Coupe (above) as well as Steve McQueen’s 356 Speedster and Janis Joplin’s art car. The collection includes 5 cars from the Porsche museum — a first for a North American exhibition — including the single ugliest Porsche Prototype we’ve ever seen. This car was presented to Ferry Porsche as a birthday present in 1989. Sort of the ugly sweater your aunt gave you, he drove it a few times and then found a safe place to “preserve” it in the museum. The coolest feature of this car was the Porsche Crest tread pattern in the tires.

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Steve McQueen’s 356 Cabriolet is still owned by his son, Chad.


And the Janis Joplin car is very, er…. unique. I guess if you can’t recall the Summer of Love, you just don’t get it. Update: This car sold at auction for $1.76m.  Someone gets it.


I enjoyed seeing the 917K, 962C, and IROC RSR race cars, but my favorite car of the show was the 1963 901 Prototype that started the life of the 911.


The full set of photos from the show is here on Flickr.

Baltimore Grand Prix

Labor Day weekend brought what is likely to be the last Indycar Baltimore Grand Prix to the streets of Baltimore. For the past 3 years it has been an enjoyable way to spend the last long weekend of the summer season. The city never really embraced the event, however, and didn’t do much to improve the racing surface. Most of the events were marked by brief periods of intense racing followed by tedious caution periods to pick up the pieces. But, it did make for an exciting photo opportunity. Many more photos here.

DAS Rollbar & M030 Suspension for 996

We installed (and removed) the DAS Sport Roll hoop. Click here to see the complete installation process. Once you figure it out, installation takes less than 45 minutes, less if you have a helper. You loose the rear seats for passenger seating, but no one wants to sit back there anyway. You also get a nice bit of chassis stiffening in the process which should probably be balanced with a strut bar in the front sometime.


We also completed a suspension refresh. Since we’re keeping the car (mostly) stock, we went with the ROW M030 Sport Suspension from Suncoast. For those of you new to the Porsche world, “ROW” means “rest of the world” as in everywhere outside of the US where they actually use their tax dollars to pave their roads so they are flat, instead of raising their suspensions (or buying SUVs) to deal with crappy road surfaces. For a car that sees occasional track duty, this is an excellent set-up that doesn’t compromise drive-ability for performance. At $1200 it’s a bargain too; $1000 net after selling some of the old bits. Great DIY write-up here (login required.) Front end is very easy, but be prepared to spend some time on the rear strut, especially where it joins the wheel carrier.


Early Spring Track Days

In between early Spring snow squalls, GeorgeCo found some time to go to the track with the local Audi club. They needed someone to instruct on the skid pad, and GeorgeCo always needs more track time. Win-win.

With temperatures in the 40s and the GeorgeCo Porsche still wearing all-season Conti tires, we weren’t out to set any lap records. This was all about shaking the cobwebs and making sure the car is running well. The track temperature was very similar to the last day at the track last November. The work to clean our the radiators resulted in lower operating temperatures by about 10 degrees. Oil pressure was consistent, and the car is handling well, even if the suspension is a bit tired.

I’m still working on the ideal camera placement. I like having the camera between the front seats like in the MINI, but in the Porsche, that’s not an option. I tried it mounted to the windshield but that’s too far forward and between the rear seats, but the lens is too wide.

On the skid pad, I attached the camera to a cone and tried putting it on the passenger window. The telematics system doesn’t know what to do with the loss of traction. The revs and the gear indicator go nuts in the video.

Porsche Pedal Upgrade DIY

With any luck, winter is slowly winding down here in the Mid-Atlantic. Time to catch up on progress with the GeorgeCo 911. We have been concentrating on easy, single-day projects that can be done in the semi-heated GeorgeCo garage. Today we update the pedals.


Sport Pedals serve two functions. From an aesthetic perspective, they just look better than the stock pedals and are more in line with what you would expect to find in a modern Porsche. Secondly, the wider gas pedal makes heal-toe driving easier. Installation is a breeze if you follow the enclosed instructions. Remove the existing rubber pads from the brake and clutch pedals. Position the dead-pedal over the existing one (don’t remove the existing one in a 996). Use tape and a pen to mark where you need to drill. Drill holes and install pedal. The gas pedal works the same way. You may want to use a block of wood behind the pedal to make drilling easier. Be sure to allow for the hinge at the bottom and any carpet mats you normally use. Position both the brake and clutch pedals before you start drilling. Use tape and a pen to mark your holes. Drill the clutch pedal first (it’s plastic), then drill the brake pedal. Tighten but do not over-tighten the supplied bolts.