In Part Four, which was about engine computer programming, we wrote "...we knew a calibration exhibiting good drivability, as well as increased performance would be challenging."
Whoa! Did that statement prove prophetic! PFV6 had problems with idle stability and knock retard. We tried for more than a month to calibrate our way out of those troubles; we couldn't do it.
Another project goal was to pass an exhaust emissions test. While our Camaro's biannual California smog check wasn't due, we went to Quality Auto Service for a mock test to see if it passed. Owner Mike Garibay is well versed in emissions testing and service, and his shop is one of our favorites for its customer relations.
Smog check's "Enhanced Program" applies in California urban areas and combines visual inspection of emissions parts with a chassis dyno exhaust gas test. We passed the visual and the tailpipe checks. However, we still flunked because the car's computer had DTC P0300 in its memory, due to misfire at idle; any fault code causes immediate failure.
We went back to our calibration specialist, Z-Industries, for another run at improving idle. In fact, we visited Z-I four more times-each a five-hour trip-attempting to beat misfire. Z-I's Ron Zimmer changed fuel calibration, varied idle speed, and experimented with spark advance. By adding a little more fuel and jacking idle up to 850 rpm, just 50 shy of California's 900 rpm limit, we saw incremental improvement, but code 0300 persisted.
Z-I also worked on knock retard trying several spark calibrations, even one across the board, retarded from stock. We could mitigate knock retard, but not eliminate it. The symptoms were both detonation and "false knock" due to valve noise discussed in Part 4.
Second Cam ChangeMark DeGroff, our cylinder head specialist, quipped, "Are you finally ready to throw in the towel and admit you need a different cam?"
We threw in the towel and sent COMP Cams an SOS.
Billy Godbold, an engineer responsible for COMP's NEXTEL Cup cams, suggested a new profile with two differences from the first FV6 cam: 1) 4 degrees less intake duration, 2 degrees less exhaust duration, and 2 degrees more lobe separation, all to reduce overlap thereby improving idle. 2) About a 14-percent reduction in velocity just as the valve hits the seat. Tearing down our 3800 Series 2 V-6 was becoming a regular thing. This was our second cam change, third intake removal, and fourth pushrod change, so we acquired additional tools to make the job less tedious. Ratcheting combination wrenches are the rage, so we got a set (PN#SRW27K) from Mac Tools. Known as "Mac Edge," they make combination wrench use easier. We ordered Mac Tool's "Zero" ratchets in 3/8-drive (PN#XR8PAZ) and quarter-drive Flex Head (PN#MR7PAZF). Several toolmakers have ratchets with as little as 5-degree lash. The lower lash mechanism, however, makes a weaker tool. The Zero uses a cam and roller-bearing assembly-like a sprag in an automatic trans-so it has no lash. This makes for easier use in tight spots, but also, a strong, durable tool.
The second cam installed generally like the first in Part 2, however, while troubleshooting false knock retard, we'd temporarily gone back to stock lifters and a longer pushrod. So we reinstalled COMP Cams Pro Magnum roller hydraulic lifters (PN#875-12) and shorter, 7.000-inch COMP Hi-Tech pushrods (PN#7936). This time, we degreed the cam with the heads on, but again, used the "intake centerline" (ICL) method to check No. 1 and No. 3 intake lobes. If you do this with the valvetrain assembled, the lifter's adjuster must bottom before checking begins. We turned No. 1 intake to maximum lift, paused 5 minutes for the lifter to collapse, then, determined the ICL was 118 degrees
We checked No. 3 ICL with a more accurate but more difficult method. We removed the pushrod and rocker, attached a COMP Cams extension (PN#4912) to our dial indicator stem, put it through the pushrod hole in the head, and indexed on the lifter body. The No. 3 intake centerline was also at 118 degrees. Once we advanced the cam by 2 degrees, using the INTENSE Racing adjustable timing chain set installed in Part 2, ICL was the 116 degrees required by COMP Cams, so we buttoned up the motor. During the cam change, Z-Industries' Ron Zimmer had our engine computer reinstall a program we ran before we tried to fix idle and knock.
With a little less camshaft and that earlier cal, the engine ran pretty well. Idle stability was improved. Misfire was virtually eliminated, and valve noise was reduced. We still saw some knock retard but we also observed the air/fuel ratio was a bit lean, which can cause detonation.
We headed back to Z-Industries for more fine-tuning. First, Zimmer added fuel at wide-open throttle then went a little more aggressive with the spark cal. Also, we limited knock retard to 7 degrees, down from 15 degrees. If we didn't have to pass California's emissions test, we could have stuck with the first camshaft provided we'd used an off-road calibration where code P0300 does not require the check engine light and knock retard be disabled. A modified 3800, calibrated that way, requires at least 91-octane gasoline.
Little ExtrasA rainy spring in Southern California had us trying Super Silicone wiper blades (PN#93060) from WeatherTech Auto Accessories, made by PIAA from "activated" silicone rubber. As the blade wipes, it leaves a slight residue, which builds over time, causing water to bead and making the wiper's job easier. Silicone WeatherTechs are more durable than typical rubber units, too, so they hold a sharp edge longer.
FV6 needed better headlights-not cute, blue bulbs, either. We wanted lighting that worked, so we installed Harison-Toshiba, Halogen Infrared (HIR) bulbs (PNs #9011, #9012) from Daniel Stern Lighting, a performance lighting compo-nents distributor. Not "over-wattage," blue-tinted stockers, Harison-Toshiba bulbs' critical dimensions are the same as OE, but they use HIR technology, which eliminates short life, greater heat production, and higher current draw of over-wattage bulbs. Their power consumption is the same as stock, yet the low beam produces 87 percent more light, and the high beam produces 50 percent more light. Stern's HIRs enhanced our nighttime driving safety.
Thermal insulation on the engine's fuel hoses needed replacement, and we wanted to insulate other fuel system parts near the engine, too. We cut the tattered OE stuff away and replaced it with Design Engineering's Heat Sheath (PN#010419), using longer lengths to insulate more of the hoses. We used DEI Cool Tape (PN#010413) to bond the Sheaths to the hoses. We cut a 7-inch-by-10-inch square of DEI Floor and Tunnel Shield (PN#050503) to cover the ends of the hard fuel lines adjacent to the left exhaust manifold. All this was to keep the fuel cooler. More Cool Tape repaired insulation on crankshaft and camshaft position sensor wiring where it passes through a very hot area adjacent to the EGR valve. Lastly, in preparation for a future header installation, we added DEI Protect-a-Boots to our MSD Super Conductor plug wires.
Suspension, Wheels, and TiresFV6's rear suspension felt sloppy in accel/decel transitions, at max effort shifts, and on roads where slab joints or tar strips get the suspension hopping. This is caused by the soft rubber mount GM stuck on the end of the rear axle torque beam along with the weal, stamped-steel beam's flexing under load. Another problem? During rapid acceleration, drive torque acts on the beam's length to decrease rear tire loading. This reduces traction, both in a straight line and accelerating out of corners.
Popular with autocrossers and road racers is Global West Suspension's "TracLink" assembly (PN#TSC-23). It alters rear suspension geometry such that torque-induced tire loading increases, and traction improves. What's more, TracLink eliminates wheelhop and decreases front-end dive under braking.
Like some racing-derived performance enhancements, this one has compromises for road cars. When it comes to noise, TracLink is not for the faint-hearted, as it increases rear axle and engine noise in the interior. We definitely want the Global West TracLink's positive affect on acceleration, braking, and handing, so we'll take the noise. However, those expecting modified Camaros to have interior noise levels approaching stock should carefully consider this product.
The GW front upper control arms installed for Part 2, through no fault of their own, proved problematic. We had 7.5-degree caster with adjustment at its negative limit. There seems to be car-to-car variance in the upper strut mount locations, and ours were so far aft that the caster increase inherent with these arms was not only unnecessary, but excessive. We removed the GW arms, transferred our Moog ball joints to the stock arms, added a set of Global's Del-A-Lum bushings, and reinstalled them.
While Global's arms are great for race cars, before you stick them on a streeter check your alignment. If caster is the stock positive-4.8 degrees and the adjustment is near its negative limit, you may not be able to use them.
We wanted more radical tires and wheels, so we swapped Part 1's 245/50ZR16 Goodyear Eagle F1 GS-D3s on stock, 8-inch wheels for a set of 265/40ZR17 Eagle F1 Supercars on 9.5-inch Fikse Profil 5Ses. This put some awesome-looking wheels on the car. In addition, because Fikses (it's "fick-sea" not "fis-ski," by the way) are so light for a street wheel, we could go from a 16-by-8 to a 17-by-9.5, yet not increase unsprung weight. We expected this, however, considering that their racing pedigree-cars on Fikses have won both the world's pre-eminent endurance races, the 24 Hours of Daytona (3 times!) and the 24 Hours of LeMans.
Profil 5Ses are a modular design with a rotary-forged, CNC-machined, clear powdercoated, aluminum center and forged, heat-treated and "TechniPolished" aluminum rims. While brothers Matt and Jim Fikse (yep, it's a family operation with their name on the building) couldn't share specific manufacturing secrets with us, they did reveal that unlike most wheel companies, Fikse USA manufactures its own centers and rim halves. That enables it to control quality more stringently than any wheel manufacturer in the U.S. Fikse builds Fourth-Gen Camaro wheels in two offsets-38mm and 51mm. We chose the 38s, as they slightly widen the car's track for a better look.
Jumping from the F1 GS-D3 to the bigger, more grippy, F1 Supercar- Goodyear's ultimate, dry traction tire- improved straightline bite, cornering power, and steering response. The Supercar is one of only a few tires that bridges all-round, ultra-performance tires, such as the F1 GS-D3, and a DOT-approved, radial race tire, such as the Hoosier A6 or R6. We hauled the Fikses and Goodyears over to Covina, California's Tucker Tire Service, where they were mounted and balanced.
Rollback BluesIt was time to test how modifications to date affected the car's quarter-mile performance. We acquire acceleration data using a Vericom Performance Computer, a benchmark for medium-priced, self-contained, vehicle dynamics testers. These units are used by government agencies, vehicle manufacturers, tire companies, independent testing facilities and discriminating car enthusiasts needing accurate vehicle dynamics data.
For nearly a decade, our Vericom VC2000 served well, but it was time to upgrade. The new VC3000 has typical Vericom features: two-axis accelerometer core, 400Hz sampling rate, and ability to upload data to a PC. New with the 3000 are: a larger 128x64 LCD screen, ability to recall up to 256 tests from memory, better keyboard, better mounting system, USB port and-we saved the best for last-with the DAQ model, the ability to record OBD2 data via the car's diagnostic link connector (DLC), as well as from up to six accessory sensors.
We installed the VC3000DAQ, then headed for the track, but in a "reality bites" moment: part-way there, the car quit. We came back to the shop in a Freightliner rollback with our wallet $120 lighter.
Some failure caused by our mods? Hardly! After doing the "starts but won't run" diagnosis in the Camaro Service Manual, we figured the fuel pump was bad. We pulled the exhaust-potentially a nightmare job made easier with Eastwood's "EZ-Pull" exhaust joint separating tool (PN#43583)-drained the fuel, got the gas tank out, pulled the pump "bucket" and bench-tested it. The pump was stock, had regular filter changes, went 58,087 miles and ... was deader than a freakin' door nail. So much for GM fuel pump durability. We e-mailed Racetronix and ordered its High Performance Fuel Pump System (PN#F99-FPKG-2).
In the next part of Project Fast Victor Six, we'll install the Racetronix, build a set of headers, install 1.8:1 rocker arms, and add nitrous oxide.
SOURCES     COMP Cams INTENSE Racing 3406 Democrat Rd., Dept. CP 8430 Estates Ct., Dept. CP Memphis, TN 38118 Plain City, OH 43064-8015 (800) 365-9145 (614) 873-6499 www.compcams.com www.intense-racing.com     Daniel Stern Lighting Mark DeGroff's Cylinder Head 2101-35 High Park Ave., Dept. CP Service And Machine Shop Toronto, ON, M6P 2R6 18736 Parthenia #2, Dept. CP (866) 861-8668 Northridge, CA 91324 www.danielsternlighting.com (818) 701-5274     Design Engineering Quality Auto Service 604 Moore Rd., Dept. CP 3460 Falcon St., Dept. CP Avon Lake, OH 44012-2315 Pomona, CA 91767 (800) 264-9472 (909) 596-5502 www.designengineering.com     Racetronix Eastwood Company Locate dealers at: 263 Shoemaker Rd., Dept. CP www.racetronix.com Pottstown, PA 19464   (800) 345-1178 Tucker Tire Service www.eastwoodco.com 612 N. Azusa, Dept. CP   Covina, CA 91722 Fikse USA (626) 331-0663 6851 S. 220th St., Dept. CP www.tuckertirecompany.com Kent, WA 98032   (253) 872-3888 Vericom Computers www.fikse.com 14320 James Rd., Ste. 200   Dept. CP Global West Suspension Systems Rogers, MN 55374 655 S. Lincoln Ave., Dept. CP (800) 533-5547 San Bernardino, CA 92408 www.vericomcomputers.com (877) 470-2975   www.globalwestsuspension.com WeatherTech Automotive   Accessories Goodyear Tire and Rubber 5230 Walnut Ave. see your local Goodyear Downers Grove, IL 60515 Dealer (800) 441-6287 www.goodyeartires.com www.weathertech.com     Helm (GM Service Manuals) Z-Industries 14310 Hamilton Ave., Dept. CP 31200 Santiago Rd., Dept. CP Highland Park, MI 48203 Temecula, CA 92592 (800) 782-4356 (951) 303-6857 www.helminc.com www.z-industries.com