Charge It Up

We like cost-effective solutions, especially those that involve a bit of DIY. When we heard about a very inexpensive way to put together a trickle charger with multi-vehicle capabilities, we dove right in. Assuming you have soldering equipment laying around, total cost is under $15.

Tools

Supplies

We always start by laying out our items on our workspace.

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Then its simple cutting and soldering. First, prep all the wires by removing the alligator clips, then separating and stripping the wires. This is the standard red-to-red, black-to-black arrangement. Our charger-side wasn’t colored past the alligator clips, so take care to do one color at a time to avoid confusion.

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Soldering is a simple affair. Always remember to add your heat shrink tube first! We then warm up the iron, apply solder, then use our Helping Hands to hold each side. We use a simple 180 degree twist on each side to join the pairs. Apply your iron to the joint, add solder until sufficiently connected, then let the solder cool.

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Once finished, we used a lighter to close up the heat shrink tube. Next we would attach the ring terminals to the appropriate points on our vehicle’s battery, then plug in the charger when it is needed. Easy!

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NC Mustang Parts GT500 Rear Brake Adapter Install and Review

With the Steath Bomber’s GT500 front 4-piston Brembo calipers on 14″ rotors, we love the performance and the look. However, our stock 11.8″ rear rotors left us wanting more. Having read about the inter-changeability of the GT500 rear 13.8″ rotor, we researched and found the easiest method to be the NC Mustang Parts adapter brackets. The other popular method is to use the factory GT500 brackets, which requires removing the axles, which then leads into a rear differential fluid change. That seemed a waste, seeing as we had changed our rear differential fluid just a few months ago. The great thing about this swap, regardless of method, is that the GT and GT500 rear calipers are basically the same. The only difference is that certain GT’s have a bit of interference between the caliper bracket and the GT500 rotor. With years of grinding under our belt, we weren’t afraid to make sparks fly to fit this kit.

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We ordered the brackets from NC Mustang Part’s eBay store. They arrived quick and packaged well, and included all new hardware. We also ordered a pair of StopTech slotted rear rotors. We then gathered the required tools:

  • 1/2″ Electric Impact
  • 1/2″ Breaker Bar
  • 3/8″ Ratchet
  • 3/8″ to 1/2″ Adapter
  • 18mm Socket
  • 15mm Socket
  • 13mm Socket
  • 3/4″ Socket (for lug nuts)
  • Brake Cleaner
  • Matador Surface
  • Brake Caliper Compressor
  • Permatex Medium Strength Blue Thread Locker
  • Bungee Cord (to support the brake caliper)
  • 2x Jack Stands
  • Jack
  • 2x Wheel Chocks

We began by chocking the front wheels, then jacking up the rear of the car by the axle pumpkin. Placing our jack stands under the axle tubes, we lowered the car onto the stands. Using our torque wrench, we removed the rear lug nuts and the rear wheels. Side note, this is a great time to inspect your wheels for cracks front and back, as well as clean them!

Using our 13mm socket, we loosened the two caliper slide bolts, then hung the caliper from a convenient hole in the inner fender with a bungee cord. We removed the brake pads, then used our 15mm socket to remove the two bolts holding the caliper bracket to the axle bracket. The rotor was then able to be removed. We then used our caliper compressor kit to push the brake piston back into the caliper to make the coming installation easier. Laying the stock rotor on top of the new GT500 rotor, the size difference between them was obvious!

We dry-fit the adapter bracket (which installed with 18mm bolts), then the new GT500 rotor (noting proper orientation of the slots, and using a pair of lug nuts to hold the rotor to the axle flange), then the caliper bracket, and then the caliper. During each step we judiciously checked for proper clearance. Overall, at least 2mm of clearance was present at all points, and the rotor spun free. We then disassembled everything and reinstalled the adapter bracket and caliper bracket using a dab of Loctite blue on the adapter bolts, and proper torque on the caliper slide bolts.

We reinstalled the wheel, then repeated the entire performance on the opposite side. After both sides were completely installed, we removed the jack stands, lowered the car to the ground, and took a test drive to ensure everything was operating correctly. No noises were detected and the brakes worked perfectly. We torture tested the brakes a few days later at the CSCC Fontana Autocross, where they performed great and allowed the car to stay flatter and brake later when entering corners. We highly recommend this upgrade, along with the front GT500 brakes, for any S197 Mustang.

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Mishimoto Catch Can Install and Review

Recently we picked up an Associate Sponsorship from Mishimoto. We’ve been a big fan of what Mishimoto has done in the automotive space; specializing in the intake, cooling, and oil control fields. We knew that running our Stealth Bomber at high RPM out on the track would cause excess oil consumption, so our first addition from the Mishimoto line was their Compact Baffled Oil Catch Can. We chose the two-port variant and installed it on the driver-side valve cover PCV hose. Here is the engine bay before the install.

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Installation was fairly easy. Besides the catch can, we sourced some 1/2″ fuel/PCV line from a local auto parts store. We inspected our potential mounting areas and found the location of our oil pressure sensor array to be the perfect spot. We located those sensors underneath the air filter, out of the way of any major heat sources and moving parts.

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Then, we removed the existing PCV line by turning the green levers and removing the hose. We then used a razor blade to slit the hose end, allowing us to remove the OEM fittings.

The 1/2″ fuel line was proving extremely hard to fit over the OEM fittings. We used an old hot rodder’s trick, soaking the line in hot water to soften it up, then slipped the hose over the barbed ends. We then drilled two holes in an OEM bracket on the strut tower, mounted the Mishimoto Catch Can mounting bracket with the supplied hardware, then installed the included 3/8″ NPT 1/2″ hose barb fittings in the catch can, using a bit of plumber’s tape to ensure a leak-free fit.

We then installed one end of the hose to the intake manifold, then routed it to the catch can, using a silver sharpie to mark our desired length. We then removed the hose, and made a straight cut with a razor. We then mounted the intake hose to the Out port on the catch can. We performed similar steps with the valve cover hose, routing it to the In port on the catch can. Our installation was complete in less than an hour. The mounting bracket features slotted holes, allowing for a precise clocking of the catch can to fit your vehicle.

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We love this kit’s dark aesthetic, and feel it gives the installation a near-OEM look, which fits the overall feel of the Stealth Bomber perfectly. After a few weeks of driving we opened the can and had a bit of oil caught at the bottom of the container, proving that the catch can was necessary and works as designed.

S197 Mustang Bumper Removal

We’ve seen a video or two on the S197 bumper removal process, but after tackling the job ourselves, we found a written step-by-step was needed to cover everything. Lets gather the tools.

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  • Medium Flathead Screwdriver
  • 3/8″ Ratchet
  • 3/8″ Long Extension, Wobble
  • 3/8″ 10mm Socket
  • 1/4″ Driver
  • 1/4″ 7/32″ Socket (optional)
  • 5/16″ Hex Driver (optional)
  • Short Phillips Screwdriver (We use the thumb drive in our Chapman 5503 Screwdriver Kit)
  • Matador Surface

We started by opening the hood, then popping out the six pop rivets on the upper radiator cover with our flathead screwdriver, then removing the cover.

Next, we unbolted the two 10mm bolts holding the upper bumper cover on, then lifted each corner over the retention tabs.

Then we moved to the wheel wells. The exact same process works for both driver and passenger sides. We removed the three Phillips screws and the pop clip, which required a half-turn to disengage. It can then be removed by hand. Then the lower portion of the fender liner can be pulled over the lip of the bumper. The liner hides two 10mm bolts holding the bumper to the fender, which are best removed with the 3/8″ wobble extension and ratchet. Note that the liner has a cutout to allow for just the lower portion to pivot away from the fender.

We then went under the front bumper, where in our case five 7/32″ screws and two Phillips screws held the lower splash shield to the bumper and the radiator cross member. We suspect the 7/32″ screws were added by the previous owner, as they did not appear OEM. We also loosened the hose clamps around our brake duct hoses with the 5/16″ driver, sliding the hoses off our fiberglass brake ducts.

At this point the bumper was ready to remove. We pulled down on the corners of the bumper, clearing the two studs by each of the wheels, then pulled the bumper upwards and out, from the center, and set it aside.

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Installation is – wait for it – reverse of removal! We performed this work to facilitate painting the AC condenser flat black and touching up our front tow hook, which you can find in our February 2016 Bomber update. We also performed some top secret aero work, which we cannot reveal until testing is complete, so stay tuned!

I Wanna See It Painted, Painted Black

We clearly appreciate the color black (or shade, if that’s your opinion on colors, but that’s a whole other post), and there are many types of ways to turn an item black. After getting asked by a fellow racer about the types of black paint we use on the Stealth Bomber, we decided an in-depth post was needed.

In the SkunkRennWerks garage, we have five basic categories of black paint. From left to right; Plasti-Dip, Rustoleum Textured Satin Black, Rustoleum Trim & Bumper Black, Rustoleum Flat Black Engine Enamel, and Krylon Smooth Finish Flat Black. All are spray cans for convenience. Now these aren’t the only blacks we use, but they are in the rotation the most.

The first, and our personal favorite, is the love-it-or-hate-it Plasti-Dip. Originally developed as a tool handle coating to increase grip, Plasti-Dip’s spray can formula allows the wielder to create a tough, rubbery coating on nearly any surface. This product produces more of a satin than a flat black, with an appearance similar to OEM trim. We like Plasti-Dip’s ease of application, with minimal prep work required and rather lax masking needs. It can even be re-coated over and over with no need to remove existing dip. Plasti-Dip can be peeled off, assuming sufficiently thick coats are used. The downside of Plasti-Dip is that it loves to stick to itself, so as mentioned it peels (occasionally when you don’t want it to), adding difficulty in areas where you need a harsh line. It also does not wear well, resulting in tears in the dip itself, so is not suitable for high-traffic areas. Painting with Plasti-Dip is also an art form. Unlike traditional spray paint, thick coats are a way of life. Typical application steps for us are one light mist coat, then 3-4 thick, wet-paint coats applied 15 minutes apart. Our preferred use for Plasti-Dip are grills, three dimensional badges, and trim that doesn’t get touched often. We would never use Plasti-Dip on an area that sees high heat. Plasti-Dip’s makeup means cleanup is a snap, with Goo-Gone reverting the dip to a liquid state, and overspray wiping away with detailing spray and minimal elbow grease. The Stealth Bomber has Plasti-Dipped GT badges, gauge and vent trim rings, and strut tower brace.

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Next up is the Rustoleum Textured Satin Black. This is a standard spray paint, but with just a hint of texture. This texture happens to match most OEM’s black plastic. Our preferred usage for Rustoleum Textured Satin Black is for interior trim, radio bezels, and items that get touched often. Like Plasti-Dip, we wouldn’t use this on areas that see high heat. The Stealth Bomber has Textured Satin Black on the 3-gauge panel, shift light surround, pedals, and cup holder trim.

Third in line is Rustoleum Trim and Bumper Paint. This paint is great for exactly what it says, trim and bumpers! We use this in place of Plasti-Dip where we have harsh lines and transitions that don’t bode well for the dip. Produces a satin black similar to Plasti-Dip. This paint also has a bit of flex additive in it. Currently, the Stealth Bomber has nothing painted with this paint. Works great for Fox Mustang bumper trim.

Fourth is Rustoleum Engine Enamel. The can we grabbed happened to be the 500° version, but we also use the 2000° version regularly. This paint is very flat, and best for temperature-intense areas. Note that it will produce some vapors/smoke as it fully cures after the first heat cycle. The Stealth Bomber has it’s AC Condenser and exhaust tips painted with this paint.

Finally we close with Krylon Interior-Exterior Ultra Flat. This paint seems to stick to anything, dries dead flat, and has incredible coverage. However it is not for high-temp usage, or nice enough to use in the interior. The Stealth Bomber has the tow hooks and some miscellaneous underhood items painted with this paint.

Besides the five main black paints, we also have a few little cans in our blackout bag of tricks. Among those are gloss black caliper paint, obviously only for brake calipers and recently used for touch-up on our Brembo calipers, and Testors Flat Black Enamel Model paint which was recently put into action with the rivets holding down our GT500 hood vent.

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In general, we paint in what we call a four-angle paint job. Large items are painted from four sides to ensure even application, then flipped over and repeated for complete 360° coverage. Small items are rotated by hand through each of the four sides, with the hand holding the part sheathed in a latex glove for easy cleanup.

In the words of Mick Jagger, “No colors any more, I want them to turn black