Closing the Diverter Gap

I installed a new Alta IC Diverter when I changed the IC couplers the other day. One of the steps in the Alta installation instructions is to remove the plastic diverter mounted to the hood. This helps to create a larger pocket of air for the intercooler, but also leaves a gap between the scoop and the leading edge of the IC mounted diverter.  Alta closes some of that gap with a piece of trim, but a gap of more than an inch still remains. In this post, I’ll attempt to close that gap. (Sorry about the quality of the pictures.  This proved difficult to photograph — black scoop, black diverter.)

When observed from the front, a couple of things become obvious: some of the air entering the scoop misses the diverter entirely and a good quarter of the airflow hits the leading edge and presumably drops down the front of the engine rather than through the intercooler.

What’s needed is about a 1.5 inch extension to the lower edge of the scoop.  We cut some material to size, formed it to shape, and then attached it using sticky heat shielding material.

When seen from the front on the bench, you can see how much further the lower edge extends toward the IC diverter.

Once mounted on the hood, you can see how the extension lines up with the marks on the hood from the diverter.

We did some test fitting and ended up blocking the last two inches on the driver’s side to force the airflow into the IC diverter channel.  Now we just need to go for a test drive and see if it rattles at all since the heat-shield covered extension is now resting on the top edge of the IC mounted diverter.

Alta Silicone IC Couplers DIY

We seem to go through a lot of rubber intercooler boots.  Not sure if it’s a function of higher temperatures from heavy track use, or just normal for a boosted car with a top mounted intercooler. So this time we decided to try to replace them with Silicone boots from Alta which are about a quarter of the cost of stock rubber boots.

The silicone boots are usually sold to people who want to dress up their engine. Given the rat-rod nature of this car, that really isn’t a consideration. We’re looking for function over form.  Do they last longer than stock?  We know installation has a reputation to be much more difficult than the stock ones, but is it worth it? Let’s find out.

My first thought when I opened the box, was, “I could make these….” You just need two pieces of silicone hose cut to 1-5/8 inches wide (40mm), one with an inner diameter of 3.25 inches (80mm) and the other 4.25 (100mm) inches. Now to figure out how to cut them cleanly to size…. (That’s probably why it’s worth just buying them.)

Do the research. You can’t just slide these on like the rubber ones. According to the wisdom of the internet, the preferred method is three-fold: Warm them up to make them more pliable; install them on the intercooler first, using a bent awl to (carefully) pull them on to the horns; and lastly, swear profusely. The process will suck — just embrace the suck. Surprisingly, this was not our experience.

We simmered them for about 10 minutes until they were about 200 degrees F (93 C), dried them off and they slipped right on to the intercooler.  We pressed the smaller end on to the horns first, then wrangled the larger end on, using the awl to ensure it wasn’t caught on the edges. All-in-all it was no more difficult than installing new rubber boots in the past.

The bent awl made it easier, but probably wasn’t required. The top tip we discovered: read (and follow) the instructions.  Next would be to check the edges of your brackets before tightening them.  The stock brackets are reused with the silicone couplers. One half slides into the other and the receiving end has a cut-out on the side to receive the upper half. The edge of that cut-out may be sharp and will cut into the outer surface of the couplers, creating a weak-point that may eventually leak. Also, when you install the stock brackets, be sure to push them out to the edge of the couplers to avoid leaks.


Racing Mirror and Restoring Remote

If you’ve spent any time in a first generation mirror, you probably have several complaints about the interior rear view mirror because it: a). Is too small; b). Sits too low relative to the windshield and blocks part of your field of view to the right; c). Has that honking large knob on the bottom of it; d). Shakes; or e). All of the above.

Since we don’t really drive the car on the street anymore — except to and from the track — we decided to try to install a racing mirror and see how many of those problems we could solve. And in the process, we created another problem: We killed the remote. Remote door locks aren’t required on a trackcar, but as long as you have the lock actuators, they are a nice feature to still have.  You won’t miss the feature until the fifth time you had to climb into the car to unlock the doors manually to open the rear hatch.

Since the circuit board for the remote receiver is located inside of the mirror housing, we thought we’d try to see if we could remove and relocate it without destroying the mirror.  The process we used is also helpful if you need to replace the actual mirror glass or just want to try to get inside the housing and stop if from rattling around.

The stock mirror is designed to detach upon impact, so it clamps to this bracket which is bolted to the chassis. To remove the mirror, first disconnect the battery and wait for the electronics to discharge (15 min or so, have a beer or a coffee as appropriate.) This car had the manual “dippable” mirror which has a simple two-piece housing.  Use your pry tool to separate the two halves, and unplug the electrical connector in the back. Now you can twist the mirror free of the bracket.

To get to the inside of the housing, carefully pry along the entire upper length of the mirror, taking care not to scratch the plastic.  Once you have several inches free, you can use your finger nail to get the rest to release.  Be patient and do not use too much pressure.  It will release when enough of the clips are free.

Once you’ve removed the mirror glass, you’ll the circuit board that’s attached to the bottom of the dipping mechanism. To free the circuit board, first remove the four screws holding the dipping mechanism to the back half of the mirror housing. Now flip the mirror over so the front is face down.

Gently pull up to release the ball from the socket. Do not pull too hard as the circuit board is still attached. Now you can flip it back, and you will be able to remove the two screws holding the circuit board to the bottom of the dipping mechanism. Unplug the white socket connector and push it back through the mirror housing and the ball socket to free it.

We previously relocated the wiring to the mirror to behind the A pillar trim where the airbag used to be located.  This is where we plan to reconnect it.

Attach the circuit board to the connector and reconnect the battery. Put your key in the ignition and turn it to position 1 and then off again to reset your remote. Remove the key from the ignition and test the lock function on the remote. If all works fine, wrap the board and connector in electrical tape and stow it away some place safe. We will eventually relocate it to under the dash, but for now, it’s working fine behind the A pillar trim.

Having previously removed the exterior mirrors to replace the mirror caps, we weren’t expecting the mirror to be made of glass. Given the way it rattles around, we had always assumed it was a plastic mirror sandwiched behind glass or plastic which is how the dipping function worked.  It turns out it’s just a piece of wedge shaped mirror glass.  It’s the shape of the wedge that gives it the ability to dip at night. It’s a good day when you learn something new.

K&N FIPK Kit for Porsche 996

The number two complaint about the 996 is that it’s too quiet.  (Number one is about those #@%! headlights.) One popular upgrade to improve sound as well as performance is to install a cold air intake. Today, we’ll assemble and install the Fuel Injection Performance Kit (FPIK) from K&N.

K&N claims that this intake will add about 24 hp and 23 ft lb of torque to an otherwise stock 996.  Since we’re in it for the noise, any boost in hp or torque would be welcome, but we aren’t expecting anything noticeable on the butt-dyno.

Once you unpack the box, you will start to realize that some assembly is required. For the price of this thing, you’d think they could have done much of the major assembly at the factory.  But you’d be wrong.  Think “gas grill” and you’ll get the idea. At least we managed to assemble it without (many) extra parts.

The kit does include instructions including this technical drawing that’s just a bit too small to be truly useful, and step-by-step instructions which generally do not include part numbers.  Instead it has the not-so-handy phrase to assemble XYZ component “with the hardware provided”, referring back to the aforementioned diagram.  But  you’ll get through it.

As best we can tell, most of the parts were there, and the steps were correct, except for one bolt which is incorrectly labeled in the diagram, but correctly shown in the accompanying photo. And one hose clamp is too small. Give yourself about an hour to assemble everything, then about an hour to fit it to the car.

You do have to drill three holes: two in the plastic fresh air supply duct from the stock air box, and one in the car to hold a bracket.  I wasn’t too happy about that last one — these thing should be fully reversible, but in for a penny….

Actually fitting it in the car was fairly simple.  Don’t forget to pull the rubber boot back on the MAP connector so you can flip the connector around and not bind the wire. It took about an hour to fit it in the car, mostly because the duct from the stock air box took some finesse to fit.  Here’s a helpful hint: Raise the spoiler so it’s easier to see if the trunk lid and the duct are actually lining up. I had to bend the connector to get the duct in the right position.

So what do we like about it? It looks cool. This is how your Porsche is supposed to look when you open the engine cover.  Even if it doesn’t help with performance, as long as it doesn’t hurt, I think we get some style points.

Dislike? Hidden in the product description is that it shouldn’t be used in harsh weather. Not really sure what that means. A heavy downpour? 100 year flood? Swapping back to stock is possible, but not that easy. We’re trying the DryCharger cover which offers a certain level of protection from splashing and will try to find a conical shaped cover.

A few thoughts about the stock box.  If the dirt pattern on the old filter is any example, it doesn’t draw very evenly across the filter.  The narrow part of the filter had hardly any dirt.  The dirtiest part was where the stock box was open on the bottom to the engine compartment. This filter has only been in the car for six months.

While you’re doing this, consider checking (and changing) your belt and if your engine is a mess, wash your engine.  You’ll feel better knowing  your motor is clean.  FYI the stock belt is K060832 and available at your local NAPA auto parts store.

Your Belt Tensioner Will Fail

With the R53 MINI, it’s not a question of if, but when the belt tensioner will fail. If you are lucky, it just doesn’t provide enough tension on the belt; the belt slips, and you get a code telling you something is wrong. If you aren’t lucky, the damper machines into the crank pulley (see this post ). (In the photo below, the tensioner damper failed and rotated into the crank pulley, machining off parts of the crank pulley in the 30 seconds it took to pull off the highway to check.)

You should regularly check the health of your belt anyway and replace it every 30,000 miles or two years (more often if you track your vehicle). A stretched belt is relatively easy to spot.  Just observe where the spring retaining clip passes through the tensioner body.  There should be at least half of a circle visible.  If not, then it’s time to change the belt. (See inset in the photo below.)

Tensioners fail when the belt breaks, causing the retaining clip to fail or when the bushings on the damper get worn and the damper fails. Unfortunately, the condition of the tensioner itself is hard to observe. Once you lock the tension on the spring, try to feel for lateral movement in the damper.  You might be able to see the front side of the bushings if you look carefully from above the motor mount.

You should consider replacing your tensioner every 60,000 miles or 4 years. And if you’re replacing the tensioner anyway, consider upgrading the bushings and adding a tensioner stop at the same time, since they’re both much easier to do before you install the tensioner on the engine.

Start with a new stock tensioner and remove the two 13mm bolts that hold the damper.  Check that the damper is functioning by compressing and extending it.  There should be resistance, but smooth movement.  Remove the two stock rubber bushings by gently pressing them out of the damper ends.

Install the Powerflex Poly bushings using the supplied silicone grease.

Since the Powerflex bushing ends are slightly larger than the stock bushings, press the Alta Tensioner stop over the end of the damper before installing the damper on the tensioner. And check for fit.  You want to ensure the open end of the tensioner stop can move freely on the end of the damper.  Be sure to also use the rubber piece on the arm to reduce vibration noise. Tighten the bolts but do not over-tighten.

Now you’re ready to replace the tensioner in your car. Be sure to replace the belt at the same time.  Pelican Parts has a great DIY write-up if you haven’t done it before.  Give yourself more than 2 hours and even though the engine has been raised, it is still a terrible place to try to wrench. Patience and gloves will spare you busted knuckles. Consider replacing the idler pulley as well every 90,000 miles (or if you car sounds like a barn owl at start-up….)

We’ve already put one together one if you want to buy one pre-assembled.