The GTM Supercar Build Log

Archive for the ‘Driving’ Category

More Ride Height Adjustments

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

I recently ordered a Koni spanner wrench in hopes that I could get the rear coilovers adjusted further to increase the rear ride height.  Despite the coilovers being Konis, the spanner didn’t fit ‘as is’ so I had to modify it quite a bit to make it suitable.  With the spanner usable I was able, with the use of a lot of elbow grease and a strap wrench, to get the coils dialed up a handful of turns, raising the ride height 1/2″ further. After settling the front height is now at 4 3/8″ and the rear is at 4 5/8″.

Driving feel is much improved; it’s amazing how much of a difference 1/2″ can make. I would say the improvement with this adjustment is as great as when I adjusted the height earlier this year. Handling and stability is excellent and the car doesn’t react to the road surface nearly as much.

Driving and Tuning

Sunday, September 25th, 2011

Everything has been running great since doing the coolant leak fix and getting the AC running. Just ticked past 2200 miles today and set a new record for ‘number of cameras sticking out of car windows’ in a 45 mile drive with 6. It never gets old.

Over the last month I have been working on the GTM’s engine tune. With more HP Tuners knowledge under my belt I have been focusing on fine tuning drivability, fuel efficiency, etc. I started from scratch, basically, and got the fueling (VE) and MAF airflow tables in line, making throttle response much crisper and smoother. I was able to ‘undo’ a lot of the things I tweaked last summer when I was just trying to get the motor to run and not stall at stops. Fuel economy is much better now that the motor is not running so rich at lower rpms. While tuning takes a lot of seat time to get data logs and results, that’s certainly not something I’ll complain about.

Checking in…

Monday, October 11th, 2010

I haven’t posted anything in a bit so I thought I would check in and give a general update on the latest happenings/experiences with the GTM.

A crack appears

A few weeks ago (at around the 200 mile mark) I noticed a crack forming on the underside of the driver-side wheel well. It didn’t show through on the exterior, but it was obviously bothersome to me. There are rubbing issues with the tire and wheel well edge when I hit nasty bumps. I had a friend’s shop shave the inside of the fender down a bit, fix the crack, and repaint the underside of the fender, but the crack reappeared after 50 miles. The crack is smaller, and does not seem to be getting worse, but it is something I’ll be tackling over the winter with some suspension tweaks, and reshaping of the interior fender edge.

500-mile milestone

The GTM has 545 miles on the odometer as of today. Driving this beast never gets old. Most of my drives are 20-50 mile jaunts through the country side so I can stretch it’s legs out a bit. Every drive yields a handful of thumbs-up and metal-horns from bikers and other passer-bys.  Any time I stop for gas the car gets swarmed. Every stop is different, but still the same. Someone will ask what it is. Another will ask how  much it costs. Another handful are taking pictures with their cell-phones. People will drive by real slow with big grins on their faces. Someone will be in the background repeating the phrase ‘super cool car, man’. I did have one guy come up really excited because he ‘just saw one of those on Supercars Exposed’. His opinion was ‘yours is way better, it sounds insane, and the color scheme is perfect’. Seeing the GTM ‘made his day’ and he could’t stop grinning and laughing over his ‘luck’. Another guy asked if it was a Veyron (ok, seriously now?). If I had a dollar for every time I saw someone I’m passing by on the sidewalk or in other cars do the ‘do a burnout’ gesture, or randomly start cheering…

Minor issues encountered

The GTM is running great, but it’s not faultless – yet. Aside from the fender crack above, I’ve only ran into small issues so far. The aforementioned sticky shifting issue was further addressed with a layer of Thermotec heat barrier over the Earl’s FlameGuard insulation sleeve. No reoccurrences  so far.

I had an electrical gremlin that caused my fog light switch and climate controls to dimly illuminate when pressing the brake. I realized that tonight, during my first night-time back-road drive, my left brake light was not working either. It was working fine with the lights off, though. Inspecting the brake light tonight, I discovered I had the connections backwards for the brake light bulb. I corrected that and that fixed the ‘broken brake light when lights are on’ issue, as well as the weird dash illumination gremlin. Love those 2 for 1 deals.

The thermostat-corrugated hosing connection seems to be slowly seeping out coolant when the thermostat opens while driving. I will replace the hose clamp with a smaller, better fitting clamp this winter.

When Carquip rebuilt my G50/52 transaxle for me they placed the breather valve right atop 5th gear (not a great place for it). As a result it is constantly spewing oil into my trans oil puke tank. Right now I have to empty the tank after every drive, otherwise it eventually overflows and sprays all over the inside of the engine bay where the tank is mounted. Not fun to clean up. This winter I will be relocating the puke tank to a higher location and connecting the overflow hose to the bottom of the tank so that anything that spews up into the tank immediately goes back down into the trans when it gets the chance.

I still haven’t had the AC leak tested yet to find where my AC leak is located at, but I will get that done before winter so I can fix it (or not). Working AC is very low on the list right now as I primarily use the Vintage Air unit for heat dispersion and defrost.

Aside from the above minor issues, things are going great. Looking forward to this winter so I can tackle everything and get the ‘Stealth GTM ver 2.0’ ready for spring.

Driving Notes, and Sticky Shifting Issue Update

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

The GTM has been seeing consistent usage whenever it has not been raining here. Odo is now at 311 fun-filled miles. Yesterday the wife and I went for its longest drive to date – 50 miles straight and it ran great. Today I took it out for another spirited 40. I’m starting to get into WOT usage in 1st and 2nd now and getting a feel for the car’s power more. Tons of power, and I’m glad I’m on DOT legal slicks. Street tires would be absolutely useless under a heavy right foot. A WOT 3-4 shift at 3rd-gear red line breaks the tires loose. A WOT romp through 1st and 2nd spins the tires most of the way. Braking is much, much better since messing with the bias balance bar. I have some tire rubbing issues with the rear tires rubbing the inside aluminum over dips in the road at speed (stiffer springs!), and the front left tire rubs the body on some turns at speed, or while going down/up an incline while turning (ie: driveways, ramps). Not sure how to address that one yet, but it is a common issue, apparently. I have been gradually filing away at the body where it rubs to see if that can give enough clearance. Raising the ride height a 1/4″ all around might do the trick as well. The ‘what is that noise’ radiator aluminum support mod I made recently is doing its job, when riding for the streets, which even have cycle lanes thanks to services from so cyclist can ride safely.

Getting back to the sticky shifting issue I reported previously in regards to the main shift cable getting too hot. I ordered some Earl’s Flame Guard which came recommended on the forums. I finally received it this week so I unhooked the shift cable, slipped it on, and called it good. No issues arose during the 50 mile drive yesterday (in low 50’s weather). Today was warmer (mid/upper 60’s) and I drove the shit out of the car. After 40 miles the shifter started getting sticky, but not as bad as it  had previously without protection, and it cooled down quite quickly. I never had any problems arise while using the temporary high temp reflective wire loom on the shifter cable so I ordered up a Thermotec heat sleeve that reflects 90% of radiant heat up to 2000 degrees, which I will slide over the Earl’s Flame Guard sleeve for even more protection. This winter I will have the exhaust coated as well to reduce temps, and probably come up with a heat shield to go between the exhaust and transmission/shifter cable surface.

“Is that a Lambo?” tally: 6

100 miles!

Sunday, September 5th, 2010

Just posting a pic of the odometer ticking off the GTM’s first 100 miles.  130ish now.

To add to previous driving experience notes: bump steer seems better than I originally thought, the back end waddles around a lot at speed, and it doesn’t seem to be from bump steer like I originally noted/suspected. Most likely an alignment issue. Stiffer springs and urethane suspension arm bushings would help, too.

“Is that a Lambo?” tally: 5

Tuning Progress, Driving Report

Monday, August 30th, 2010

Another weekend of tuning in the books.  After getting a handful of public road tests under my belt last week I spent Thursday and Friday night researching how to fix the main thorn in the GTM’s side (and my driving confidence) – stalling during quick stops, and in stop-and-go traffic.  How cool is an exotic supercar that stalls in traffic? During my research I was encouraged by several tuners on the HP Tuners forums with words of advice basically stating that “your cam is a race car cam. It is way too big for reliable drivability on the road. Stalling will always be an issue.”  Maybe this is also why several tuners I contacted via email never responded when I sent them the GTM’s engine specs. Nonetheless, I took this as motivation to get this beast on the road, and in a drivable, safe fashion. Also, fortunately, I met a very encouraging individual on the LS1tech forums that has greatly assisted my research, and has helped reduce the steep tuning learning curve for me. Without getting into boring tuning details, after about 30 VCM flashes, and lots of  middle fingers pointed at the steering wheel after stalling, I had a GTM that I could not force to stall regardless of how hard I tried. Fast stops from 35 to 0, blipping the throttle while backing out of the garage (previously a guaranteed staller), etc. They all passed the test.

With the stalling issues hopefully taken care of, I took the GTM out for the final test – getting on the main highway that passes through the heart of my small town, offering a potential 5 stop lights (after having to pass through 3 stop signs in traffic to get to the on ramp), and then traversing one of my favorite back roads, which leads to a low speed road with more stop signs and more stop lights on the way home. A total round trip of around 20 miles, in 95 degree heat. This is a good test. I fire up the engine, queue up some Slayer, and hit the road. Getting to the highway is uneventful. That’s a good thing – no stalls.  Flying onto the on-ramp, cutting through traffic (the extreme wide-angle backup camera/rear view helps with this quite a bit), I get lucky at the first stop light, then hit a couple in the middle of town. Again, nothing to report. Sitting in traffic, the GTM behaves very well now, that is, if you ignore the lopey cam that sounds like Godzilla laughing at the traffic around you. Sometimes the computer yo-yo’s looking for the perfect idle (minor!). People have asked if others in traffic are gawking at the GTM – I really can’t tell when at a stop light. The car is so low I can only see bumpers and door handles. An occasional chin appears at the top of my sight-line. In motion, though, passengers in cars ahead are usually turned around gawking. Yes I see you with your cell phone camera, and that flash you left on just ruined your picture as it bounced off your rear window. Photography 101. Now and then a vehicle I just passed will speed up to get another look, then drop back again – or they will get ahead and accidentally veer over as they are looking in their side mirror and not at the road. This all happens in the 10 minute drive through town, so its a bit overwhelming. Out of town, I am able to open it up a bit and get away from traffic. Lots of motorcycles out – a handful of them do the signature ‘down low’ motorcyclist wave at me. I guess I am in that special club now. Turning off onto my favorite WOT back road, I find it pleasantly devoid of traffic. I blast through 2nd and set into a cruise, then decide to slowly wind out 3rd to 85 and put the hammer down for a few seconds.  Acceleration from 85+ feels like first gear in my supercharged Z06. Violent. Coolant temps are still reporting at 210. Not bad considering the scorcher of a day. I wind the motor out a few more times, nothing too severe, just getting the carbon out. At the end of the back road I see one car in front of me at the red stop light. A local cop. Cringing, despite actually going under the speed limit at this point, I pull in behind him. He waves at me in his rear view, then puts on his lights and proceeds to pull over a minivan that just blew through the intersection in front of us. Good timing, Mr. Van. At this point I notice the gearbox is getting a bit ‘sludgy’ – as in hard to shift. I’m not surprised, though, I left the trans oil cooler off for a reason to see if it would get hot on this drive.  I cruise home, get lucky at one light, handle the remaining stops fine, and pull the GTM into the garage. I leave it idling and put the fuse back into the trans oil cooler pump so that it fires up. After running a few minutes the gear box seems a bit softer (cooler). The oil pump and cooler should keep it adequately cool when I actually have it running during driving. Coolant temps have dropped to 200 by this point. A very successful test drive.

At this point I have 68 miles on the odo and am able to offer a bit of feedback now as to how it drives, handles, feels, smells, etc. I feel very confident in the cooling system right now – running at 210 in 95 degree heat, while flogging it on the back roads at speed is pretty remarkable to me with this monster motor lurking over my shoulder. Actually seeing it cool down during stops and idling is something I am not used to. The Z06, if I were ballsy enough to take it out in this weather, would idle in traffic at 235+ and throw a fit. It does not like idling in traffic at all even in cool temps.

The handling as it is, is very nice. The manual steering is very precise and it gives so much feedback – love it. There is a bit of body roll, and the bump steer (as I’ve mentioned previously) still needs to be tweaked, but it’s not so bad – it just keeps you alert.  At 120 the car gets a bit jittery. It certainly is not a Corvette at this point at speed. Once the bump steer is corrected that should greatly alleviate some of the high speed jitters and I will report back. I also plan on stiffening up the spring rates, lifting the rear end a bit more, and possibly getting stiffer shocks. The GTM as it is, rides very smooth. While that is nice for most, I like the jarring ‘feel the road with your ass’ sensation that a race-prepped suspension gives. I want (need) to figure out how to implement sway bars. For the casual driver, and especially for the driver who is not used to high-performance vehicles, the handing ‘out of the box’ will be awe inspiring. It really is incredible and only needs some slight fine-tuning for those that want/demand a bit more.

Comfort is a surprising point of review. While the interior of the car on a 95 day with no AC (I have a leak somewhere so I haven’t had it charged yet – winter project) can be warm, the GTM is not excessively hot. I was never much of an AC user anyways – I always prefer open windows. The Dynamat and heat barrier I applied to all of the panels separating the cabin from the engine bay do a great job. The engine cover, which is inches from the motor, gets warm, but not hot or uncomfortable. The tunnel does not get hot, either. Being 5’10, 245, getting into the GTM can be a tight fit, but the seat fits me well, its comfortable, and I like how ergonomic everything is.  Wind barely travels into the cabin of the car at speed. Due to the insanely angled windshield I have never wanted or even thought about needing sun visors. Another aspect of the GTM’s comfort – noise levels – can be taken as a pro or con. This thing is loud, even with all the sound proofing. In 1st through 4th Godzilla lets me know what it is up to back there. 5th gear, though, is pretty quiet and at cruising, I can listen to the radio without blasting it.  Conversation can be had. One very positive aspect of the noise levels, though, is that road noise is very minimal. You can hear gaps in pavement and road noise a bit louder than you can in a production car (then again, I am on slicks, which are loud to begin with), but I do not hear rocks and dirt ticking off of the wheel wells or underside of the car. You hear things that you need to hear, and there really isn’t anything that annoys me at this point.

The interior smells good. Not joking, one thing I was worried about was smelling oil, gas, and other ‘industrial’ odors from the engine sitting right behind me. I run the fuel tank vent hosing to the back of the car, and I have air filters on the trans oil overflow tank and on the engine itself. I can look in my rear view and see steam billowing out of the air filter mounted on the oil fill cap on the motor, but I never smell that stuff.

If you drive past the tennis courts while the high school girl’s team is practicing returning volley shots, they will all simultaneously turn and look at you and you will see tennis balls fly past them into the fencing.

Getting back to tuning, another thing that I addressed was the startup procedure. Previously to get it running I had to dump loads of air into the  motor to get it to start, and then I had to VERY slowly decay it out to keep it running and to set into idle. I figured out how to determine the running air flow requirements for the motor using my VCM scanner this week, and was able to dial in the running air flow tables precisely. As  a result I was able to re-tune the startup procedure so that it fires right up and decays out startup airflow instantly. Why is this a point of concern? With all that extra startup air, if I were to start driving before  it decayed out (which takes around 40 seconds), throttle response would be very erratic, and often caused stalls. Now I can just jump in and go. Very convenient.

If there are any aspects of the ‘driving experience’ that I left out and you readers want to see reviewed or talked about, post a comment or message me.

Quick Vid of the GTM on the Road

Saturday, August 28th, 2010

The Stealth GTM Meets its Brother

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

By sheer coincidence, a friend’s father-in-law acquired a Factory Five ’33 that was still in need of body work. Said friend completed the hot rod today and since he is shipping it out of state to his father-in-law tomorrow  it was a good day to stop out at his shop and got some pics of the ’33 with the GTM side-by-side.

Also, I am officially starting a tally of people that think the GTM is a Lamborghini. The tally is at 4.

Warm-Start Fixed, Driving Ensues.

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

Last night I was plodding through my log data for the drives and failed warm-starts I made this past weekend, looking for clues or anything that would help shed some light on the problem at hand, and I found something peculiar. Every failed start, and every warm-start that idled a bit then died, all failed with an IAT of -38. Some quick research shows that the LS computer seeing an IAT of -38 means it thinks the sensor is disconnected/unplugged. The sensor was obviously still in place, so I knew I had a potential problem. In the past, the -38 had shown up during idle tuning, but I assumed it was a software glitch as it only showed up for a few frames here and there. The computer thinking that its -38 out when it’s really 95 poses a problem.

I first tested the IAT sensor by using a multimeter and a heat gun. To test the sensor you just need to measure resistance by putting the multimeter on the 2 prongs on the sensor pins, and heat it with a heatgun. An ambient temperature of 80-85ish will yield a resistance of 2.15 or so. As the sensor gets hotter the resistance drops. I was looking for that ‘-38’ glitch to occur (ie: random jumps in resistance measurements). It never did. My sensor was working flawlessly. Next, I moved on to hooking up the laptop and scanner and monitoring the IAT while I wiggled wires around. I was not confident at all that this would yield anything as the problems only occurred with a warm engine, but…you never know. Within 20 seconds I found the wiring fault that was causing my IAT readings to bottom-out. The IAT sensor signal wire from the engine harness was damaged in the plug that connects to the MAF/IAT sensor harness. I was able to duplicate the -38 reading at will, so I went to the local Chevy dealer and got a new pigtail ordered. In the meantime, being impatient and having hoped to get the car out for its first ‘public appearance’, I snipped the IAT sensor, surgically removed the bad wire segment from the connector pin, soldered a new wire on, put the connector plug back together, spliced it in. Viola – 100% working IAT sensor. This means it’s time to drive and see if anything has changed.

My first drive on trafficked roads took me to my first stop light, introducing the GTM to a busy intersection and testing my nerves hoping it wouldn’t stall out of its idle with 10 cars around it. All was fine, though, and I made it a few miles down the highway to the gas station for the GTM’s first gas station fill-up.  I remember others stating how slowly you have to fill up the tanks, so I took 10 minutes to add 6 gallons of fuel, and explain to another customer why the GTM appeared to not have a steering wheel. Most of the Kwik Trip work staff had vacated the building at this point and were all standing 20 feet away watching and grinning. Wow, really? Perfect time to see if I fixed the warm-start issue by repairing the IAT wiring. No pressure. The GTM fired up, I exhaled, and got out of there. Another stop light  and I hit the highway, then some back roads, which brought me back around and eventually home. Everything ran well, temps stayed below 200, stability was great at speed. Bump steer could use some tweaking, and I learned quickly how sensitive the manual steering is on this beast. I was pleased to find that Slayer could still overpower the 408ci LS2’s drone, via the Blaupunkt thin series components. Initially I reported I hated the rear view mirror; it’s not so bad now that I’m used to the vantage point of the driver’s seat, and it still has its uses, even if I can only see the lower half of the bumper of any vehicle right behind me.

It was my father-in-law’s birthday today, so I invited him out on the second drive, now that I was somewhat confident handling the GTM. The GTM started right up, so it seems the warm-start issue was nailed. 20 miles later after visiting my favorite WOT playground and slow city driving we returned safely. Some choice descriptions of the GTM experience from my father-in-law included ‘that scared the shit out of me’ , ‘that thing is terrifying’, and ‘my legs are still shaking’. His constant grin was the best feedback, though. Good times, and I can say the GTM gets to triple digits awfully fast.

Now the only thing I am really concerned with fixing is the threat of stalling after quick stoppages.  If I stop the GTM quickly the engine comes awfully close to stalling out. Not a huge issue, but it’s not something I want to be worried about every time I come to a stop anywhere – especially in traffic.  I am also researching cameras for shooting in-car video, so hopefully I will get some decent drives to post soon.

More Driving, Speedo Calibrated

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

Today I put the stock FFR supplied air filter on, cleaned up some wire loom that had melted from the heat yesterday, and then installed a modified tune. This latest tune is quite a bit better than my previous tune I used yesterday. I then took the GTM out for a few loops around the block to get it warmed up. I then got a little braver and drove 4-5 miles on some side roads by my house – this thing handles incredibly well. It will take some time to get used to the braking – you really have to get on the brakes for them to clamp down, but once they grab…they grab. The tiny turn radius still blows me away.

I shut the GTM down for a half-hour or so, as it had been running quite a while by this point. When I went to restart it didn’t want to drop into idle and kept stalling. Similar to yesterday’s warm start problems with the hot intake.  I got the car started with some throttle work and backed the car out again and ran the previous back-road loop, stopped once for a stop sign, came back home and pulled it back in without any problems. Seems it’s just the start when the temps are warm that gives it trouble.

A little bit later I took out another vehicle and mapped a 2 mile length of road. I’m glad I live in a neighborhood with some good low-traffic roads to do this testing and calibrating on. Calibration is very easy, however. I started the GTM up (still finicky being warm) while holding the speedo trip/reset button until the needle swept to its max, let go, pulled out of the driveway, hit the trip button to start the calibration (the needle drops to half and a tire revolution counter appears on the speedo), and then hit the road. When I hit the 2 mile ‘marker’ I mentally logged I stopped and hit the trip/reset button again. Calibration complete. Much relief ensued after seeing the speedo work properly, matching the computer readout on my laptop perfectly.