Friday, January 29, 2021

Wheels, Wheels, Wheels

Tires. Kind of useless without wheels

If you've got a car, odds are that it has wheels. OK, Fred Flintstone, we see you with your hand in the air, but I'm going to call those rolling stones on your car "wheels" too. For most cars, they come with one standard size, and it's likely that for a few extra dollars you could get bigger, taller, sportier, or better wheels as an option. One of my favorite movies "My Cousin Vinnie" kind of centers around some Michelin tires, 14 inch sized, the most popular tire in America back in the day. These days, you're more likely driving around on much larger wheels than that!

19 inch wheel with snazzy color Porsche center cap

In the case of the Cayman, in 2009 they came with either 17, 18, or 19 inch wheels. The NMS version was bought used, and came with these 19 inch wheels, which look pretty cool, but because of the snazzy wheel design, they have unique lug nuts that also require a special adapter for the 19mm socket. Plus, they're a bit used and road-rashed, so I've been looking for some replacements for every day driving. 

Used tires from the Fiat Abarth, 17 inch
I gave these to a local guy that needed some tires

Every day driving is a relative term, since I don't drive it every day, so let's just tell it like it is and say "cheaper and smaller", as in some used 17 inch wheels. Since I already bought some awesome OZ wheels with Hankook tires in 18 inch size, I figured the 17 inch wheels will give me plenty of options for tires, and work just fine for non-competitive driving. 

17 inch Porsche wheel, plain black logo center cap

Above are the wheels I bought from another Porsche owner, he had listed them on the Rennlist forum, and with the used tires on here needing replacing, it's time to go tire shopping! Oh, and time to go 19 inch wheel/tire  selling too! I appreciate the 2nd stimulus payment that arrived recently, but it's not really enough for a new set of tires! Hey Washington DC, here's an idea, every American gets a new set of tires for free every year! That would boost the old economy, and the tire makers, tire shops, mechanics, and pretty much everybody wins!

18 inch OZ wheels ready to rumble on track

In review, we've covered my 19 and 17 inch wheels. What's missing? My 18 inch wheels! I bought them shortly after getting the car, and with the thought that 18 inch tires are cheaper than 19 inch tires. Overall that's a pretty good rule, smaller tires are cheaper tires. I also went all out with the OZ wheels, so these are my wheels/tires I use just for autocross and track driving. If you've never heard of OZ wheels, well, they make all the wheels for Formula 1, so that's good enough for me. This model is the Allegerita, which means they are lighter, so in a perfect world, they help make the car go faster. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Also The World's Easiest Maintenance DIY (Porsche Project 8)

Something arrived in the mail from Rock Auto today!

"DIY" of course being "do it yourself." Being able to do ANYTHING yourself can be fun, cheaper, more expensive, frustrating, or really any emotion depending on how the job goes. In this case, windshield wiper replacement. Sure, you can pull into your local auto parts store and they'll do it for you, and in fact once I did this very thing since the friendly counter guy offered. But most of the time it's more fun to do it yourself. Also every time, I forget how to do it, because no matter how easy it is, or how "idiot-proof" it is, well, the world keeps making better idiots too, like me, when I have to look up a video or manual on how to do the blades again. 

Old Wiper Blades

Step One: Out With the Old

I can claim that if I did this job every day, the odds are much better that I'd remember how to do it, but wiper blades seem to be one of the replacement items that is just infrequent enough to make me forget how to do it. Maybe some really gung-ho types out there have a special calendar to track this info, or a phone app that goes DING-CHANGE YOUR BLADES!, or they change their wiper blades on a regular schedule. For the rest of us, and I'm willing to bet it's MOST of us, I'll guess that new wiper blade day comes around maybe every 3.8 years. This is totally scientific, based on analysis of millions of motorists around the world, taking into account the varied weather patterns, driving habits, and annual mileage of those millions of drivers, density of 88% chocolate, and the price of tea in China. 

Rotate the blade till you can see how it detaches

Squeeze these little tabs and away we go

Oh, sorry, I just made up that 3.8 year thing, let's every 3-4 years just for the heck of it. 

In the interests of research, I priced some wiper blades for my car, and at one local store found a single blade, 22 inches, for about 20 bucks. As part of this research, I actually bought that blade, for some reason thinking it was a package of TWO blades, and a short hour later at home, opened the package and learned a valuable lesson. Blades tend to come in packages of ONE. See how long it's been since I'd bought any? I don't even know how many eggs come in a dozen anymore, because I never buy those things either. Oh well. 

When all else fails, look at the instructions on the package
Pro Tip: This actually helps!

So, also doing more research, to make up for the previous expensive research of buying one blade and then finding out it was the wrong one anyway, I went back to and ordered what should be the RIGHT blades (with an S) this time, for about 2 bucks each. As in "way cheaper" and "way more convenient" and "another great true-to-life story you can only find (thank goodness) on this blog. Life isn't always pretty, but it sure makes me laugh!

Old on top, new on bottom. The old ones have a bigger structure, probably deflects the wind and bugs or something, who knows?

New blades installed. Waiting for rain to test performance!

Monday, January 18, 2021

Porsche Project 7: Simple, Easy, Piece of Cake!

Just added the McLaren flag, love the papaya orange!

Here's a totally optional bit of work on the car that doesn't make the car go faster, but some people love this way of making their car look cooler or cleaner. The Cayman doesn't have an easy way to attach a front license plate, and some owners (so I've heard) are so picky about putting some holes in the plastic bumper to mount a license plate that they just might not even bother, and just drive around illegally with only one plate. If you live in one of the states where you don't need a front license plate, no problem! 

When I got this car, it already had the plate mounted on the front, so that's how I kept it until now. Thanks to a friendly Porsche owner on Long Island who didn't need this license plate mount, here's my latest bit of car part for mounting the license plate to the tow bar. What's a tow bar? Glad you asked!

Four screws to mount the license plate on this frame, a big black screw in holder that 
goes into the tow hook receptacle, and an Allen wrench

Before using the new mount, the top is attached by two screws with chrome covers 

Screw covers removed (easy!)

Plate, frame, black plastic Porsche backing all removed, bring on the new thing!
Only had to use a screwdriver so far. Easy!

This round cover pops out pretty easily, although you can see the bumper has been scratched from previous removal. 

Ah ha, there is the threaded tow hook mount hiding back there. 
The car comes with a tow hook, so the next time I'm on a track I'll take off the license
plate and put the tow hook in....and then drive safely so I don't need to be towed!

Attaching the license plate tow hook holder thingy with a 19mm wrench. Easy

Attaching the plate holder with an Allen wrench. Easy

Fastening the 4 bolts with the Allen wrench and a 10mm. This Snap-on wrench makes up 50% of my Snap-on tools, so as you can tell, I haven't won the lottery yet! 

Done, told you it was easy! 

So far I'm not sure I'll keep it this way because the license plate sticks out a bit from the bumper, and there are some small screw holes from the original mounting point. I've read that those holes can be filled with putty or whatever and painted to match the bumper color, but my gut feeling is I'm not worried about the appearance that much. Now if there is proof that 4 small screw holes in the bumper make the car more aerodynamic and FASTER, well, then I'm keeping it the way it is!

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

2020 Fantasy F1 Wrap Up

You're likely familiar with Fantasy Football, and Rotisserie Baseball, and I've done my share of losing in those areas too! I was hoping that F1 would be a little easier, since hey, there's only 20 drivers on 10 teams, so odds are even pure guessers might even do well! Here's one last review of 2020, as in "how'd that Formula 1 Fantasy League turn out?" 

It was fun, but out of 550,891 players from around the world, I finished in 109,006th place! Hey, that's something you can't say every day, that "I'm the 109,006th best in the world!" And I'll never say it again either! On a positive note, that puts me ahead of about 441,885 other folks. Oh well. It was fun, we'll try it again in 2021, so stay tuned for the NMS F1 Fantasy League!

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Radiator Grille Install: Porsche Project 6

Flying Car?

We've been loving the 2009 Cayman, and taking care of minor maintenance this winter too. Today's project is designed to help prevent problems with the two front radiators. This is something I've read about in the past, that the design of the car can result in road debris getting stuck up against the radiators, so you have to clean them out. The radiators are located low to the ground, with one on the driver side and one on the passenger side, hidden about 15 inches inside the front of the bumper. This design results in plenty of air flowing to the radiators, but also allows leaves, pinecones, and other foreign debris to get trapped in these little caverns, and just clump up in front of the cooling fins. The part of the bumper in front of the caves has some cool looking slats, but they are still just wide open, so that's where all the leaves get in. 

Orange circles show you the radiator grill ducts

Luckily, there are smart people out there who have developed screens to install near the bumper opening that will block the debris, but still let plenty of air get where it needs to go. After Googling around a few different designs and different price ranges, here's what we spent our money on for this: 

This screen will go on the passenger side. It comes with the 3 zip-ties already attached!
Another screen in the kit takes care of the driver side. 

From the cleverly titled Radiator Grille Store, we will install these beauties, one in each radiator duct, and hopefully help keep those radiators working like they should, and eliminate the risk of any damage from extra "stuff" getting in the way. 

You could do this by removing the entire bumper assembly, or 
just squeeze the new cover and your hand in between these slats in the opening like I did. 
Also in this photo you see the opening leading back to the radiator is plenty big enough
to let in leaves, trash, small rocks, etc. 

Bunch of leaves stuck in front of the radiator. Step 1 was to reach in, and pull it all out, 
with a little help from the shop-vac. If you've got really skinny arms no problem, otherwise
plan on scratching up your hand and arms a little bit. 

No more debris! Time to install the grills to prevent this from happening in the first place!

Here's the grill in place, now I just have to tighten up the zip ties around the original grill slats. Other than the shop-vac, and something to reach the leaves in there, no tools required!
Oh, and get a knife or something to trim the zip ties. 

This all might sound like over-kill to keep the radiators clear, so I just think of the NASCAR or F1 races I've seen where just a little bit of blockage in front of a radiator can ruin a race by slowing the car, causing it to overheat, or even knock the driver out of the race. Not that I'm being paid to drive or anything, but getting my money's worth out of the radiator makes sense to me!

Monday, January 4, 2021

Goals for 2021

Pre-Pandemic visit to the Ghostbusters, I mean, a Firehouse in Manhattan

Mostly in 2021 we're looking forward to the end of the COVID pandemic! A  return to normal life (like in the photo above) for all of us would be much appreciated, thank you vaccine makers and health care workers!  Hopefully, the new year will include these items on the NMS-North wish list: 

-Not driving related, but just staying healthy and returning to normal as we go through the year. If this comes true, everything else will just fall into place. 

-If we get around to driving, then I'm hoping to compete in most or all of the Metro NY Region Porsche Club of America autocross events, and then if I'm fast enough, qualify for the end of season Top 10 Shoot-out.

    My work schedule sometimes gets in the way of other things (whaaaa) but I should be able to do the majority of the monthly events from say March-November. The club has the top 10 drivers on PAX scoring compete at an event at the end of the year, so my goal is to drive fast enough to qualify for that. The fun part of this shoot-out is that each driver takes turns in the same car, with the same set-up, so it's just driving talent...although now that I think about it, if I can manage to be the last driver, and that same car has now used up a gallon of gas, and therefore weighs about 5 pounds less and goes faster....

NASA Track Day, yeah, that's the ticket!

-Drive at some great tracks like Watkins Glen for some more High Performance Driver Education (HPDE), and move up from the NASA group 1 to group 2

    Besides my positive experiences with NASA at CMP, Pocono, Watkins Glen, and Palmer, the NASA Northeast region will be be hosting weekends at Lime Rock and New Jersey Motorsports Park in the Northeast, so experiencing more tracks sounds like a great idea! In addition to NASA, I have a half price coupon for a track day with the Porsche Club of America, so I'll be sure to cash that one in during 2021 too! This half off deal is just one of the membership benefits of PCA, so if you happen to own a P-car, I'd recommend you look into joining up. BMW, Corvettes, Mustangs, and other makes and models have clubs, so I'll bet there is someone near you into cars too.  

They call me Ruby, as in Ruby Red Metallic

-Keep the Cayman in great shape, oil change, brake fluid, belt, spark plugs, etc.

    With the winter time here, I've gotten a good start on some basic items like the oil change, so I should be able to get all this done over the holidays, and then keep everything maintained next year with a lot more driving along the way. As my only car, the Cayman isn't racking up a lot of mileage now that I can walk to work every day, although I suppose there is a slight increase on wear and tear of shoes and socks to balance out whatever few pennies I save not driving every day.  

Formula 1 tickets, yeah, that's the TICKET!

-Drive in another Lemons Race

    The only Lemons Race I've done was a lot of fun, even when I overdid it and went off track, and even when the gas tank developed a leak and the fumes got pretty naturally it would be even more fun to do it again. Hopefully, this time getting to drive more than one stint would be great. I remember seeing an interview with pro bicyclist Eric Vanderaerden right after he raced in the toughest bike race in the world, Paris-Roubaix. After listing all the horrible things that had happened in the long race (mud, crashes, broken bikes, cobblestones, crashes, rain, more mud, more cobblestones, etc) the interviewer asked if he'd ever do it again. "Yes, of course!"

-Attend the US Grand Prix Formula 1 race in Austin TX in October

    The race was cancelled in 2020, but we had way too much fun at the race in 2019, so going back to Texas for some more racing, more BBQ, and all the other fun things to do in Texas sounds like the Anti-COVID secret to happiness. Compared to 2020, we'll see some new drivers, all new cars, and even some new teams (sort of) in F1 during 2021. Team wise, the Renault team remains about the same, but changes names to Alpine, which is the Renault high performance brand. Over at the Racing Point team, they also remain the same but change main sponsor, resulting in the return of Aston Martin to F1. Driver wise, lots of big names switching teams, as 4 time champion Sebastian Vettel moves to Aston Martin, and 2 time champion Fernando Alonso returns to the sport with the Alpine team. At Haas, two new drivers move in, including Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin. Other moves include Carlos Sainz Jr. moving to Ferrari, Daniel Ricciardo moving to McLaren, and Sergio Perez now at Red Bull. Whether you are a fan of a particular driver, or a certain team, 2021 should be another good year of racing.  

Whatever makes you happy, I wish you a whole bunch of it in 2021!

Friday, January 1, 2021

NMS-North 2020 Review

Cayman at Palmer

Ah yes, the good old end of year review, with a fun filled look back at 12 months that were chock full of automotive excellence. In 2020....

As I was saying, 2020 has been a tough year all around, with the pandemic, economic hardships, and the challenge of just day to day wanting to have things normal again. While this put a stop to a lot of  normal everyday stuff, as well as motoring, there have been some driving events and car news along the way. So, with due respect to everyone still having a tough year, let's look at some positives. 

Here at NMS-North the big news was remaining employed, selling the FIAT 500 Abarth, and buying a 2009 Porsche Cayman this summer. While the FIAT was a great car, and carried us through a lot of autocross and other events, it was time for about 100 more horsepower, rear wheel drive, all wrapped up in an older car. After two autocross events with the NY Metro Region Porsche Club of America, the Cayman has taken two class wins, along with a 3rd in PAX out of 24 Porsche cars at the final event. I've really enjoyed the events with this club, and as you might imagine there are some awesome cars that come out to compete. We're already looking forward to a full season in 2021. 

Cayman engine from passenger compartment

The new-to-us car also brought some new-to-us car maintenance events to check on the mid-engine Cayman, so this has been a fun part of the year too, spending more time in the garage and with the car up on a lift. 

Earlier in 2020, pre-pandemic if you will, we attended the Philadelphia auto show, and loved seeing plenty of cars. One special exhibit they had was record setting fast cars, which included the first public view of something called the Tuatara. This car made news later in the fall by claiming a new top speed record, but then also made news when the accuracy of their measurements was questioned. Last I heard, the Tuatara folks were going to make another high speed run, and be sure to verify the top speed beyond the shadow of a doubt. 

Possibly the fastest 300+MPH car in the world, the Tuatara
Spotted at the Philadelphia Auto Show, pre-pandemic

The switch from Italian to German autos is also interesting, since the Italian FIAT was built in Mexico, and this particular year German Cayman was built in Finland. After reading an article about the Porsche ice/snow driving school in Finland, I'm putting that on my bucket list, right up there with winning the lottery so that I can afford to go to Finland! The article pointed out that a lot of Finns speak English, and that there are more people in Wisconsin than there are native Finnish speakers. There's your fun fact for today!

At the final autocross of the year, I managed to place 6th overall on PAX time out of all the drivers there that day, so that marks my best overall placing. Was it luck, the new car, the new tires, the pavement at Tobay Beach? Probably was all the above, I'm not going to say it was all the driver!

On the track, the Cayman visited Palmer Motorsports Park in Massachusetts, and once again with our friends at NASA Northeast, had a great weekend on a twisty and hilly track during some prime leaf viewing season in October. The Cayman is a blast to drive, and the extra horsepower makes it even more fun. Over two days of coaching I improved my lap times, and managed to keep the car on track! If you're looking for a twisty AND hilly track, I'll recommend Palmer!

Other than driving, we attended a few Cars and Coffee events, where we kept a safe social distance and wore a mask. Well, other than the one in Carlsbad California before the pandemic really hit. In a future blog we'll look ahead to some specific goals for 2021. For now, I think we can all agree with saying good-bye to 2020!

Also Pre-Pandemic, Ferrari F-50 Prototype

Farewell 2013 FIAT 500 Abarth, seen here a few years ago at the Tidewater Sports Car Club annual awards dinner held at the Military Aviation Museum in Virginia Beach, VA.
FIAT has announced that they are discontinuing the 500L and the 124 Spider, so maybe once they finish the merger with Peugeot this year, well, who knows!