CravenSpeed FlexPod Install

Over 10 years ago, we built our first gauge pod for the Blue MINI. Recently we added oil pressure and temperature gauges. When we decided to move the oil pressure gauge from the center console to the speedo cluster, we also decided to swap out the DIY bracket for the CravenSpeed Flexpod.

Installation is very simple.  Unbolt the speedo cluster, unplug the cable, and bolt the bracket on to the back of it. We wanted to reuse our old Autometer gauges so that took a little modification.  First we had to make room in the gauge pod back cover for the lamp socket assembly (we’re using non-standard LED bulbs so they sit higher higher than stock ones.)

Next we had to cut down the threaded pins on the gauges.  Cut them to about the same length as the electrical connectors and they will sit flush with the spin on nuts. Be sure to cover the lamp socket opening so you don’t fill the gauge with metal shavings

It’s a tight fit to the dash, but a very clean look.  We were also able to lower the gauges relative to the steering wheel to better see the gauge faces in the smaller aftermarket Sparco wheel.

Porsche Steering Grinder Fix & New H&R Springs

The steering on the 996 has been a bit creaky lately. Noticeable when backing up or parking, there was a distinct grinding noise coming from the front right strut. Having experienced that before in the MINI, I suspected it would be a strut bearing and was right. Getting it off to replace proved to be a pain though.

The part that needed to be replaced is shown as #11 in this diagram.  It sits between the strut mount on the top and the spring below.  Between the bearing and the spring is a plate (#4) and the rubber spacer (#5). The interesting thing about this design is that you can fine-tune the ride height by using a thicker or thinner (in my case) rubber spacer. The way the design works, the piston of the strut is held in place by the retaining nut, and the strut body and spring rotate underneath it. When I took it apart, the plate (#4) was missing and the bearing was falling apart — hence the groaning whenever it spun.

Here’s a helpful hint to see if something might be wrong.  When you take the strut apart and the bearing comes out as three pieces. Something’s wrong. It’s supposed to be one sealed unit. The good news is that it isn’t terribly expensive (part number 996-343-515) and is usually $35-$45 each.  There must be a Porsche Motorsports part that’s more robust….

Since I had to tear down both front struts, I decided to go ahead and swap out the springs now rather than come back and do it in the Spring as originally planned. The new springs are H&R Sport Springs so not a huge change from the ROW M030 Sport Springs that were already there. They offer a slight drop of about a quarter inch over ROW M030 and an inch and a half over stock (US). Mostly I wanted to see if I could drop the front slightly to better match the rear and I think it worked. [ROW M030 on top; H&R Sport on the bottom]

Stuck Strut Mount

There are few things in life that can’t be fixed with either duct tape, zip-ties, or WD-40. Add angle grinder to that list. I had to replace a strut bearing on the Porsche. Unlike the MINI where the bearing is in the mount, on the 996 the bearing sits between the mount and the top of the spring. It’s not a hard part to remove and replace. Break the nut on top of the strut shaft loose (but do not remove) before you put the car on jack-stands. Remove the wheel. Disconnect the brake caliper and the connections that hold the brake line and ABS sensor wires to the strut. Disconnect the drop-link to the swaybar (which is the pinch-bolt in the hub carrier.) Remove the three nuts holding the mount and you should be able to rotate the strut through the fender and pull it out of the hub. (If you don’t get enough room, try loosening but not removing the bolt for the lower control arm to get more play.) With the strut free, use spring compressors to remove pressure on the mount, remove the top nut, and everything pulls apart. Or so that’s how it’s supposed to work.
I couldn’t get it to move.  I tried twisting it, heating it, using penetrating oil, releasing the spring, and pounding on it. Nothing made it move.  I let it soak in PB Blaster overnight and still noting. If I had a hydraulic press, I would have tried putting in it the press and compressing the strut which would have used the spring to try to press it off, but since I don’t have one, I tried my next option: power drill.

I drilled around the rubber bushing in the mount and eventually got the strut free of the mount. Next I needed a way to get under it.  I thought it might still spin off or at least move enough to get something under it to pry, so I got out the old reliable angle grinder and cut down two sides.  I could then get a wrench on it and finally got it to move enough that I could get a ball-joint fork under it.

With the fork under it, I could apply upward pressure with the fork as I spun it with the wrench and it eventually came free. In the end it was just corrosion that held it on. I was worried the threads may have been damaged, but they cleaned up fairly easily.  Now I just have to put everything back together (and do the other side.)