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Blue Bullet Blog-The C6 Ownership Experience

Hib Halverson

Technical Writer for Internet & Print Media
Joined
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Messages
13,453
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CenCoast CA
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71 04 12 19
A couple of weeks ago, it was time to put new tires on the Blue Bullet Two. Now I need to explain the tire thing a bit. Since BB2 is a '12 Z07, it came with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tires, a soft-compound, reduced-tread-depth tire intended for street/track use. I had those on the car until just before we used it to lead the National Corvette Caravan from Ontario CA to Bowling Green in the Summer of 2014.

Because I expected at least one day of bad weather on the Caravan, I had to be able to maintain highway speeds on wet roads. Cup tires are not a good choice for a street tire in the rain, so I took the Cups off and stored them. I bought a set of Pilot Sport 2s for the Caravan.

After we got back from the '14 Caravan, liking the better handing the Cup tires offered, I took the PS2s off and put the Cup tires back on. I decided that I'd use up the Cup tires, then make the choice between putting the PS2s back on or buying another set of Cups.

Fast-forward to mid-May this year. The car had 30,261 miles on it and the Cups were wore out–the fronts were corded on the inside and the rears were down to the tread-wear bars. After some thought, I decided to put my PS2s on Craig's List and order a set of the new Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires which were said to be as good or better on the track along with having better tread life on the street. While the Cup 2s are not any better in wet or cold weather, being that we use this car in California and southwestern states where weather is seldom so cold or so wet I can't drive the car with those tires, I was comfortable making that choice.

I checked prices at Costco, Tire Rack and Big Brand Tire and was just about ready to order from Big Brand when Ray Seider, a fellow member of Corvette Club Santa Barbara, told me about a guy, Don Risdon, who runs a 76 station in nearby Carpinteria. Risdon is a Michelin dealer and has great prices. I called Risdon and sure enough, he said he'd meet any price I got from Big Brand and he told me there was a Michelin rebate going on, too, so I ordered.

A couple of weeks later, I drove the Blue Bullet 2 down to "Carp" and had the new Cup tires put on at Risdon's station which is right at Santa Monica Rd. exit off US 101 North. Don and his guys mounted, balanced and installed the tires, then gave the BB2 a courtesy car wash. Now that's service! If you are in the Goleta/Santa Barbara/Ventura area and you're looking for competitive prices on Corvette tires, check out Ridson's 67 Autocare Center in Carpinteria.

A week later, I had the car at Bunnin Chevrolet in Santa Barbara to get the suspension aligned. One reason I like Bunnin for alignments is they have the latest alignment rack and, upon request, they will align a suspension to a customer's specifications rather than what is suggested in the Service Manual. I decided I wanted the front camber increased from -1.3°, which is the factory setting for Z06es with Cup tires, to -0.8. This is a less aggressive setting, but the original set of Cup tires were corded on the inside but still had some tread-depth elsewhere across the tread. That means for the kind of driving I do–admittedly, I'm not a hard core trackrat. I drive the car hard on the street and once in a while run it in a track environment–a bit more camber, ie: "less" negative camber, will give me better tread life from my new PS Cup 2s.

What's next for the Blue Bullet 2? In the near-term probably a few short trips out of town but mostly it gets to sit with the cover on while I work with our other Z06, a 2004 LeMans Collector Edition. The '04 we call "3Balls39" for its serial number, 00039, needs a little TLC, so it will be my project for the next few weeks.

After that, I'd like to dyno test the Zip Products Mamba air filter assembly on BB2. I finally have the engine tuned for it. It's just a case of getting down to the chassis dyno in Ontario and testing it. I'd also like to try the Hooker Blackheart exhaust for C6 Z06es. It's one of the few aftermarket axle-back systems which works with he stock exhaust bypasses and is affordable.

Finally, I want to fabricate a better antenna mounting system for the CB and UHF FM radios we put in the car for National Corvette Caravans.
 

Hib Halverson

Technical Writer for Internet & Print Media
Joined
Jan 10, 2001
Messages
13,453
Location
CenCoast CA
Corvette
71 04 12 19
We drove the "Blue Bullet 2" and "3Balls39" our C5 Z06, in the Fourth of July Parade at Santa Barbara, California. Our club, Corvette Club Santa Barbara, gets invited every year to put as many of our Corvettes in the parade as we can provide. They give equal time to the dark side by inviting the Porsche club, too. Makes no sense that equal time stuff. It's an American hoilday. Germans don't invite Corvette clubs to their independence day events so why should we have Porsches and, yes, I am an automotive nationalist.

The Parade is always a lot of fun. It runs for a couple of miles down Santa Barbara's "State Street". The crowd loves Corvette, especially those painted bright colors and those with loud exhausts. My Wife, the Fairest Sandra the Red, and I each take our neighbor's children who have a great time throwing candy at the other little kids in the crowd. We buy four bags of assorted candies from Costco for the occasion.

We end the 4 July fun at the home of one of our club members who lives near the Parade route. It's an afternoon BBQ with burgers, hot dogs and margaritas which is always a pleasant way to spend the afternoon.

Other than the Parade, I haven't been doing much with the Blue Bullet 2 so it's been spending most of its days, parked, under a cover, on our car port.

I've been thinking about changing the exhaust and I've been looking at the Hooker Blackheart "axle-back" system for C6 Z06es and ZR1s. It's one of the few on the market which supports the NPP dual-mode exhaust by coming with the actuators in stalled. I'm also trying to find out if Flowmaster is interested on offering a similar product. I'll post some more when I hear from the Flowmaster folks.
 
Joined
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Mustang, OK
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'13 427 60th vert - '21 Silver Flare Coupe - CTS V Wagon(4-door Vette)
Other than the Parade, I haven't been doing much with the Blue Bullet 2 so it's been spending most of its days, parked, under a cover, on our car port.

No surprise there since you and Sandra have 2 new Cadillac toys to drive - an ATS V sedan and an ATS V coupe!
:w
 

Hib Halverson

Technical Writer for Internet & Print Media
Joined
Jan 10, 2001
Messages
13,453
Location
CenCoast CA
Corvette
71 04 12 19
No surprise there since you and Sandra have 2 new Cadillac toys to drive - an ATS V sedan and an ATS V coupe!
:w

Actually, we always have time for Vettes...when we can get them out of the garage or car port. Right now I have my trusty old '01 Camaro parked right in front of the gate which closes off the car port where Blue Bullet 2 is stored. I've have the Camaro there so I can work on it to get it ready to sell.

It was a magazine project car for many years and has some stuff on it which needs to be removed prior to sale. The car had nitrous oxide on it for a while and while most of the nitrous hardware was removed last year, I still have to get the wiring and switches out of the car along with some of the hoses related to the fuel pressure tweak that was needed to run a "dry" nitrous system. I need to take the racing brake pads off and put the stock pads back on. I need to take the 16-in stock wheels and tires off and put the Fikse 17-in wheels and F1 Supercar tires back on it. Then, I need to take it to a Smog Check station and get it certified. Finally, I need to wash and detail it. Once I get all that done then I can move it.

I think it's going to be hard to sell because it's so modified but, with luck, I'll find the right buyer who wants a Gen 4 Camaro with a hot rod V6 under the hood. Interestingly, so far, the modified 3.8 V6 in that car gets better gas mileage than the 3.6 V6tt in my ATS-V.

As for my C6 Z06, I forgot to mention that I have a PIAA LED high-beam headlamp set, which is new to the market, to test in the car once I can get it in-and-out of the car port again. That should be an interesting product to try out.

The last time I drove the BB2, on 4 July, on the run home from our Club's 4 July BBQ, I ran the car pretty hard headed west on US 101. On a couple of the ramps I did an off-and-on, so I could run the car hard through 3rd a couple of times to "clean" the spark plugs after 45-min of idle and slow speed during the parade. Man...that LS7 with the MSD intake manifold really pulls hard...so much so that I'm going to put the MSD manifold for LS6es on my C5.
 

Hib Halverson

Technical Writer for Internet & Print Media
Joined
Jan 10, 2001
Messages
13,453
Location
CenCoast CA
Corvette
71 04 12 19
A week ago, The Fairest Sandra the Red, Duchess of Goleta, and I took the Blue Bullet 2 on a day trip with our club, the Corvette Club Santa Barbara. The Club's Director of Activities, Tony Megowan, led about a dozen cars, ranging from an '82 to a '16 Z51 Coupe, to "Bocali's Pizza and Pasta" on the eastern outskirts Oaji (say "Oh-high") a quaint, quirky little town in the mountains north of Ventura, California.

Bocali's Pizza sits on the outside of a big sweeper at the end of the curvy part of State Route 150 which links Oaji with City of Santa Paula 17 miles to the southeast. Some call that part of 150 "Dennison Canyon" but its official names are "Ojai-Santa Paula Road" or "Ojai Road". Whatever it's called, this road is a favorite of of the sport bike set as well as we Corvetters, but sadly, Ojai is, also, popular with tourists, aging hippies, nutty off-the-grid types and the artsy-fartsy set, who all seem to drive rented minivans, motorhomes, Toyota Prisuses, old VW microbusses and ancient, multicolored Datsun minitrucks. As a result, there are times when Dennison Canyon can become congested with slow moving cars and trucks. Oh and we can't forget bicyclists. In fact, our group was slowed so much by one Prius, that on a downhill section of tight turns, one bicyclist passed me on the inside...true story.

811.21.jpg 811.22.jpg


Anyway, the driving was kinda boring but Bocali's pizza was awesome–I had a pepperoni which was excellent. At Bocali's, we were outnumbered by Harleys and a lot of sport bikes and, including a large group of Ducati riders. I have little or no experience riding motorcycles. I decided long ago to avoid the temptation of a sport bike because I do enough dangerous stuff in life, but I appreciate high-end, canyon-carving two-wheelers. While I waited for my pizza, I wandered amongst all the motorcycles. If I wanted to get into motorcycles, a Ducati is what I'd ride. They are just the most bitchin'-sounding and coolest-looking sport bikes and they perform just as well as they sound and look.

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As we sat munching on pizza, we noted that whenever one the Harleys or sport bikes would leave, if they were headed west into Oaji, they had about a mile-long straight stretch and, expectedly, they'd depart in a blatantly obvious manner, like...wide open throttle though first, second and third gears. Sandy wanted to explore the old part of downtown Oaji and visit famed "Bart's Books", so, when it was time for us to leave, I wasn't gong to let the sport bikers show up the Corvette contingent. I rolled out of the parking lot. I shifted second at about 25-mph, then hammered it. Just short of the 7100 rpm rev limiter, I caught third stayed on it a second or so then lifted. Totally a frivolous thing to do, but a lot of fun.

After walking around Oaji a bit, we stopped at an ice cream shop then headed for Bart's Books, a couple blocks away. This huge bookstore sells only used books and has thousands of titles from every genre. I could have spent hours there, but knew, the longer I browsed, the more I'd spend. Interestingly, Bart's Books has no roof. All the books are on six-foot high sections of shelves with awnings. All the walkways are open air.

Leaving Oaji, we headed back towards Santa Paula on SR150, then west towards Ventura on SR126. Our next stop was "Plan B Wine Cellars". Located in the industrial part of Ventura in an old warehouse next to the Union Pacific railroad, one would not think such a winery wouldn't be worth a stop. In fact, according to Corvette Club Santa Barbara's resident wine connoisseur, Tony Megowan, Plan B's wine is pretty darn good stuff. My tastebuds seemed to agree.

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Each month, Plan B hosts a "Second Sunday Supper" which is a late afternoon/early evening soirée featuring some outstanding wines, a food truck along with "Deserts to Die For" a mobile dispensary of yummy chocolate treats which travels in a '67 Cadillac hearse. Second Sunday Suppers also include a live band, on this occasion: the "Cash Cats", a Johnny Cash tribute band which not only played some of the Man-in-Black's best music, but a host of other interesting rock-and-roll. At Plan B, a tradition is to "toast the train" each time one passes by. We made three toasts...and took a few sips between trains.

Once evening rolled around, it was time to head back to Goleta. I used the run back home to finish up a test of an interesting C6 Corvette accessory, the AutoMeter "Dash Control". This device is best described as a Head-Up Display (HUD) and Driver Information Center (DIC) enhancement which, once plugged into the car's diagnostic link connector (DLC) under the dash, allows a much greater choice of engine controls data to be displayed on both the HUD and the DIC. Additionally, it gives the driver control of the exhaust bypass valves on C6's equipped with Dual Mode exhaust systems. I've been testing the Dash Control for a couple of weeks and this trip with our club was the last test session before I posted a product review of the device elsewhere on the CAC. Click here to read the review.

811.16.jpg


This week, the Blue Bullet 2 was due for an oil change. I change oil in the car's LS7 at about 150% oil life, which we can do with the premium synthetic oil we use in that engine. We, also, change the filter three times during that drain interval. As for mileage, it works about to 12,000-to-15,000 miles which usually takes a year or so. The last time we changed the oil was just before we went on the National Corvette Caravan in 2014. Since then, we covered 13391 miles and decided to change at 140% oil life. If that's confusing, here's a better explanation: I change the oil and filter then reset the Oil Life Monitor (OLM) to 100%. At 50% I change the filter. At zero I change the filter and reset the OLM again. At 50%, I change the oil and filter.

Over the last year or so, we've been switching our fleet of project cars over to Joe Gibbs Driven Racing Oil products. We've been running Driven LS30 5W30 in all our daily drivers for more than a year and, of late, we have been switching the Vettes from Red Line 10W30 to Driven DT40 5W40. All of the Driven products use the "mPAO" base stock. Developed by Exxon-Mobil a couple of years ago, Gibbs Driven was one of the early adopters of mPAO. I'm moving to DT40 for our Corvettes because Red Line doesn't offer a 5W40 and I like the mPAO base stock. For years, I resisted 5W multigrades, but after some research and rethinking my long-held aversion, recently, I decided that today's 5W multigrades are a lot better than what was available fifteen/twenty years ago. I wanted to have the high-temperature performance an SAE40 offers along with the improved lubrication a 5W offers during cold starts and early warm-up in cold weather. That along with Driven's limited amounts of viscosity index improvers, had me, after almost 25 years of using Red Line, making the switch to Driven Racing Oil. The product's performance and that Coach Joe Gibbs is willing to put his name on the container has me glad I did.

811.27.jpg
 
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froggy47

Well-known member
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Oct 24, 2002
Messages
1,000
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CA
Corvette
Black 1996 LT4 Coupe/ 2004 Z06/Z16
Hi Hib,

A few questions:

Do you do oil testing (Blackstone for example) to "verify" your decision to go 150% OCI?

Could not find a price on the Auto Meter thingy after clicking a few hot links, got tired searching, how much? I like some of the capabilities, but detest poor customer service.

Good to see you posting, been a while.

:)
 

Hib Halverson

Technical Writer for Internet & Print Media
Joined
Jan 10, 2001
Messages
13,453
Location
CenCoast CA
Corvette
71 04 12 19
Hi Hib,

A few questions:

Do you do oil testing (Blackstone for example) to "verify" your decision to go 150% OCI?

Yes. I use either Blackstone of Carolina CAT for my oil analysis and it's shown that, if the engine oil is a premium synthetic, you can go to 150% oil life or even 200%.

Could not find a price on the Auto Meter thingy after clicking a few hot links, got tired searching, how much? I like some of the capabilities, but detest poor customer service.

Please see these web pages:
http://www.autometer.com/gauges/dashcontrol.html

Auto Meter DL1010U - Auto Meter DashControl OBDII Gauge Controllers



Hope that helps.
 
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froggy47

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2002
Messages
1,000
Location
CA
Corvette
Black 1996 LT4 Coupe/ 2004 Z06/Z16

Hib Halverson

Technical Writer for Internet & Print Media
Joined
Jan 10, 2001
Messages
13,453
Location
CenCoast CA
Corvette
71 04 12 19
Ouch. $$$

Yeah...it's a little pricey. In fact, that was my first reaction, however, after using it for a month or so, I really like the product. The configuratiron software you get as a free download allows a lot of flexability in what you put on the DIC or the HUD.

Also, if you have a car with a bimodal exhaust, you can control that system, too. You can pick between always open, always closed or computer control using the sideview mirror selector switch.

It's a pretty nifty little device.
 

Hib Halverson

Technical Writer for Internet & Print Media
Joined
Jan 10, 2001
Messages
13,453
Location
CenCoast CA
Corvette
71 04 12 19
This afternoon, after the Phoenix Cup race I was out in the shop working on the ole Blue Bullet 2. I had the car up on the floor jack changing my high-beam headlamp bulbs when my old pal U.B. Sherman walked by. He's a bit of a grearhead and lives up the street.

"What ya doin with the front end up in the air?" he asked.

"Changin' headlight bulbs?"

"All that to change a bulb? What a pain-in-the-ass!"

"Yeah it is kind of a hassle. You gotta jack up the front, reach over the tires to pull the retainer pins on this access panel, here. Then you have to reach in, remove a dust cover, unplug the light then remove the bulb. I'm testing some different headlamp bulbs for for this web site I work for sometimes, the Corvette Action Center. I'll have to do this more than once."

"Sounds like real fun," Sherman quipped.

"Yeah...lotsa fun. In fact, help me out. you can do the other side if you want."

"Uh, well...I gotta go home and clean my cat box."

What a guy! So much for gearhead camaraderie.
:chuckle

The goal is to evaluate some alternative lighting for the high-beams on a C6. I decided to pick some PIAA lighting products because PIAA sells both its modestly-priced, Quartz-Halogen "Xtreme White Plus" 4000°K product...

piaa-19165-h9-xtreme-dual-hr.jpg
...as well as a high-end, LED conversion...

piaa-17201-9006-led-white-dual-hr.jpg

for the H9 bulbs used by C6 high-beam lights. I'm going to test both of those PIAA products and post the results in the CAC's Product Evaluation section. The test will include night photography of road light patterns.
 

Hib Halverson

Technical Writer for Internet & Print Media
Joined
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Messages
13,453
Location
CenCoast CA
Corvette
71 04 12 19
Rat Rod Tailpipes.

Well, the PIAA H9, high-beam, LED conversion didn't quite work out the way I expected. PIAA's LED conversions work fine on many other cars, but not on the C6 Vette because of the way GM designed the headlamp assemblies. The core of the problem is that GM uses a sealed headlamp "capsule" on C6es. The capsules are fixed to the front fenders. Bulb changing is done by removing an inspection plate at the front of each wheel well, then removing the appropriate dust cover from the headlamp capsule and changing the bulb. Both the bulb and the wiring are inside the capsule behind that dust cover.

Disassembly of the capsule for lens cleaning is possible, but not practical for the average DIY because it requires special tools, experience and an oven. Since there's no practical way the headlamp capsule can be cleaned, preventing dust from entering the capsule is of great importance.

The first time I fitted one of the LED lights into the high-beam socket, I noted that the dust cover would not fit back in place because of the length of the small fan assembly on the rear of the LED lamp. I thought about trying to "stretch" the rubber cover to fit, but then the skin of the cover would be right against the cooling fan and there would be no air flow, which of course would cause rapid failure of the light. At that point, I removed the LED bulb, replaced the OE bulb and the conversion aside while I tried to figure out how to modify the dust cover in a way that would allow cooling air flow.

I was unable devise a the dust cover modification which would allow cooling air flow to the fan. I decided I would go ahead with the conversion with the dust covers removed to at least test the lights. Then I ran into a problem with how to secure the power converter module. The way the headlamp capsule is assembled has the wiring inside the capsule and sealed by the dust cover. While the module could be stuffed into the capsule, there was no way to secure it.

After considering all this, i decided while it was possible to install the conversion with the high-beam dust cover removed and the module lying loose in the capsule, it would be unacceptable to do that long term. As good as the PIAA LED H9s are, they just won't work in a C6 because of GM's headlamp design.

About the best you can do, short of adding auixilary lights (not something I'd rule out but best saved for later) is the PIAA "Xtreme White Plus" H9 bulbs which I have in the car, now. I'm going to put a review up on the product evauation page fairly soon on PIAA's H9s. For now, suffice to say there is not a great increase in lighting with those bulbs, but there is a notable change in color temperature towards blue-white. Many people like that, including myself. Another product I'm going to test as soon as I can lay my hands on a pair of them are some Hella Optix yellow bulbs in my fog lamps.

Ok. Let's talk about exhaust systems. For many years, I put aftermarket exhausts, almost always Flowmaster products, on my cars. Starting with our trusty '04 Z06, "3Balls39" I stopped doing that. C5 Zs came with a pair of super-light, low restriction, titanium mufflers. Admittedly, I never have measured their back pressure, but I know that the C5 Z06 development team tried to get everything it could out of stock exhaust parts so the engine could be released with 405-hp. They actually didn't make that until '02, but the idea was to match the last three years of the C4 ZR1's 405-horse LT5 which kept that car the Corvette power "King" for a full five years ('96-'01) after it went out of production. My guess is that, even now, the 01-04 Z06 exhaust is still a pretty good piece. I know a lot of you are saying, "Halverson, your nuts. My (Corsa, MagnaFlow, B&B Fusion, Borla, Kooks, Super BelchFire, or whatever) exhaust has way better sound and performance."

Well, I'm still not sold. A number of years ago, I added a Corsa X-pipe to old 3Balls39 and that, along with the stock ti exhaust, sounds great. Sure an aftermarket system might be worth a bit more power, but the stock ti system saves weight and weight out of the car is as good as increasing engine output. So, I'll keep the stock exhaust with X-pipe on my C5.

With the Blue Bullet II, the subject of this blog, I'm also running a "stock" exhaust–just not from the correct model year. A couple of years ago, I back-dated the car's "mid-pipe" section to the 2011 "catless" version, but I kept the 2012 Z06/ZR1 mufflers which had less restriction than those from earlier years. The different muffler existed because, when GM went to a four-cat exhaust for '12/'13 and adding cats reduces noise, it tried to offset some of the restriction posed by the second set of cats with a lower restriction muffler and the end result being no increase in exhaust noise.

So...the best stock exhaust for a C6 Z06 comes with the 2011 mid-pipe, the only one that's catless, and an X-pipe along with the 2012-2013 Z06 mufflers. Unfortunately, to make this work, you also have to change to '12/'13 front cats because GM changed the connections on them to preclude easy backdating of the mid-pipe.

There are more details and photos of this backdate modification in post #224

The other change I made to the exhaust was to modify the bypass valve assemblies which are part of the dual-mode exhaust on Z06es. I added some spacers to each valve's actuator rod such that each bypass valve was "hung open" about 5/16-in. That made a heck of an improvment in the car's sound then the valves are closed, but did not create any low rpm drone problem. This mod was a heck of a lot cheaper than the "Mild-to-Wild" exhaust bypass controller. For more info on that mod, see post #169.

A couple of weeks ago I was looking at the back of my car. Then, I looked at the black wheels, the black roof, the black front splitter, black deck spoiler and black side skirts. I decided the polished stainless steel tailpipes were just not that great looking 1) because the car has so much black trim, 2) the polished stainless steel looks like every other Z06 and 3) they don't stick out the back far enough.

What I wanted was some "rat-rod" looking exhaust tips. Searching for "tips" or "extensions", I couldn't find what I needed, so I decided to look for some short lengths of pipe designed to slip over another pipe. After surfing around the Internet for a while, I learned the proper name for this part was an "exhaust connector". Once again, RockAuto.com came through for me. They carry a 3.5-inch diameter, 6-inch long connector made by Walker (PN 41978) which, from RockAuto.com's description, seemed like just the part I wanted so I ordered four.

Several days later the shipment arrived–I just love RockAuto.com for their quick turnaround on orders. I unpacked the connectors and, before stripping off the labels and glue then painting them, I did a test fit. The length was just right and the look of those rat-rod looking straight-cut pipes was just what I wanted. I test drove the car and noted they didn't seem to change the sound.

Next, I removed the connector pipes, used WD40 to soften the labels and their gluie, then scraped off the labels. Using more WD40 followed by some lacquer thinner, I removed the rest of the glue. After that, I fired-up my bench grinder and smoothed off the sharp edges on the the ends of the pipes. Lastly, I spray them with Eastwood Pre (PN 10041Z), a pre-painting, surface preparation product, and wiped them off with a lintless rag.

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Next, I sprayed them with "Eastwood Extreme Chassis Black Primer" (PN 11193), then arranged them on end in a disposable turkey roasting pan and baked them at 200° for about 20-minutes. After letting them cool a bit, I gave them two coats of Extreme Chassis Black Satan Finish (PN 11175), waiting 10-minutes between coats. Then, I baked them for another 20-minutes. After another cooling period, I shot a third coat of Extreme Chassis Black on my "rat-rod exhaust tips" then gave the them a final, 20-min. baking. Finally, fresh out of the oven, while they were still hot, I carried the pan out to the shop, put on my Kevlar gloves, then pushed each tip easily in place. Fifteen minutes later, they cooled and were locked in place.

My rat-rod tailpipes just look cool as hell.

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Let me know what you think.
 
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Hib Halverson

Technical Writer for Internet & Print Media
Joined
Jan 10, 2001
Messages
13,453
Location
CenCoast CA
Corvette
71 04 12 19
Funny story about my rat rod tailpipe extensions. Couple weeks ago, one time when I was really beating on the ole Blue Bullet 2, I blew one of those extensions clean off.;LOL

I belong to the Corvette Club Santa Barbara and, once a month, I drive the car to meetings. We meet at the nearby Sierra Nevada Grille and, since it's never a good idea to take the car out but not get the engine oil temperature up to normal. on club meeting nights, typically, I head north on US101 and drive until the oil temperature is at least 160°F. Then I turn around and head back to town but I stop off twice so I can use two of my favorite on-ramps for acceleration tests.

Each time I start from about a 5-mph roll and floor it. If it's cold out, I'll spin the tires like crazy so I either lift a bit or just let traction control keep things from getting out of hand. If it's warm out, the Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires I have on the car, bite hard. Accelerating in first, the rev limit comes really quick, so in seconds, I'm in second gear headed for the rev limit, again. I usually shift at 6800 or 6900 and then hold my foot down until I see 6600 or so, then I lift and coast down. I just love the sound the LS7 makes in the 5000-7000 rpm range...thanks to my 2-cat conversion, the X-pipe and the 2012/2013 mufflers.

If I do that twice, my blood is pumping, the oil temp. is up near 200 and I am ready to hit the club meeting and order dinner.

Later that night, after I backed the car back into the shop and closed the garage door, I walked past the back of the car and noted that one of my rat rod tailpipe extensions was missing. I guess my 560-hp LS7 blew that sucker right off the back of the car!:chuckle

Those extensions were not easy to install. They had to be heated to 250°F slip over the stock tailpipes and I figured once the system cooled they'd never come off.

Wrong!:nono

I guess two hard runs from a 5-mph roll to 6600 rpm in third gear, got the exhaust hot enough that the loosest extension expanded enough to just blow off–talking about blowing one's stack. Sheesh!

The next day I ordered another extension from RockAuto.com. It arrived several days later. I painted it like the first four, installed it then put clamps on all of them. Let's hope that keeps all my rat rod extensions in place.

This Saturday, my Club along with a club from farther north in California, the Central Coast Corvette Club are joining up, for a road trip to the Estrella Air Museum in Paso Robles, California about two hours north of here. I dig onold airplanes and there's a bunch of them there to see. Plus, I like going on a run with members of neighboring clubs.

Let's hope I have no more departing tailpipes.:thumb

This day trip will also give me a chance to continue a product evaluation I'm doing of Katech's "Track Attack" driving shoes. Most know Katech, Inc. as one of the top Corvette engine performance engineering facilities. At one time they built all the motors for Corvette racing and, currently build Corvette road race engines for customers all over the World.

828.01.jpg

Katech has a lot of customers who are not hard-core road racers, but do drive in high-performance driver education (HPDE) events or run open track days. People who drive those events or just drive really hard on the street, don't need an SFI approved racing shoe. They just need a lightweight, leather shoe with the proper width and soles for performance driving. That's just what the Track Attack Shoe provides.

I'm going to wear them on the road trip tomorrow and will report back on how they do.
 

Hib Halverson

Technical Writer for Internet & Print Media
Joined
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Messages
13,453
Location
CenCoast CA
Corvette
71 04 12 19
Redwood Road Trip
I admit: I've been a bad blogger.:nono it's been quite a while since I've posted, three months to be exact.

What's up with the Blue Bullet these days? I struck me yesterday, while I was working on the car out in the shop: my Wife, The Fairest Sandra the Red, Duchess of Goleta, and I have owned the BB for five years.
Time flies when you're having fun.

The most recent road trip we did with the Blue Bullet was an overnight with our fellow members of "Corvette Club Santa Barbara". The Club visited "Humboldt Redwoods State Park", famous for about 17,000 acres of old-growth, redwood forest, the largest expanse of ancient redwoods in the World. Dendrologists–tree scientists–call them "Sequoia Sempervirens", but we common folk know them as "coast redwoods", "coastal redwoods" or "California redwoods". These evergreen trees live 1,200–1,800 years. They are the tallest trees on Earth and are among its oldest living organisms. The tallest are over 350 feet high and near 30-feet in diameter. Before commercial logging began in the 1850s, these humongous trees covered an estimated 2,100,000 acres along much of coastal Northern California and the southernmost coast of Oregon.

For Corvetters, the main attraction of Humboldt State Park is "The Avenue of the Giants". Officially, that's California State Route 254. Also, it's the pre-1960 alignment of U.S. Highway 101. This wonderfully scenic highway twists and turns its way through the Park's giant redwoods. Situated close to a major highway, the current alignment of U.S. 101, and being known internationally as a Northern California tourist spot, Avenue of the Giants is a big draw for visitors. SR254 runs 32 miles through the giant redwoods and alongside the Eel River connecting the small towns of Phillipsville, Miranda, Myers Flat, Burlington, Weott, Englewood, Redcrest and Pepperwood. The road is two lanes and has a number of parking areas, picnic sites, and attractions for visitors. There are many stretches of this 254 which have no shoulder and redwoods growing right at the edge of the pavement.

In Meyers Flat is the famous "drive-thru" tree, which is privately owned and can be driven through at five bucks a car. The high-point of our Club's drive on the Avenue of the Giants was a stop at "The Founder's Grove". It has a large parking area. You can take, a 1/2 mile, self-guided, walk. Information booklets available at the beginning of the trail. You walk through an outstanding example of an old-growth, redwood forest. Some of the State Park's biggest trees are in this grove such as the 325-foot, "Founder's Tree". Also, there is the 370-foot, Dyerville Giant, which fell down during a storm in 1991 and the impact of which was registered on seismographs in the area.

767.12.jpg
The Blue Bullet with other CCSB Corvettes parked at the Founder's Grove. Image: Author.

We spent two nights at the Miranda Gardens Resort which is an outstanding motel for a Corvette club group overnight. It was built in 1929. It's quant, comfy and right across the street from a decent restaurant, the Maranda Market which has an excellent assortment of ice cold beer:beer and a gas station. Who could ask for more?

Breaker, Breaker for a Radio Check
Longtime readers of the Blue Bullet Blog know that one reason Sandy and I purchased this car was to use it to lead the Southern California/Southern Nevada Section of the 2014 National Corvette Caravan from Ontario, California to the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green Kentucky. National Corvette Caravans take place every five years. I spent 12 years as the "SoCal/SoNev" Section Captain for leading a "fleet" of Corvettes to "B.G." One of my top memorable experiences of my years in the Corvette hobby was leading 500+ Corvettes from three Sections of the '09 Caravan the final 30-miles, from the Kentucky Downs horse racing track north on I-65 to the Museum. After the 2014 Caravan, I decided, after three events ('03, '09 and '14), I was ready to turn the top job over to a new Section Captain, Tony Megowan, out of Ventura, California. I'm still involved with the Caravan, but will work the 2019 Caravan in a low-key supporting role as one of Captain Megowan's "Lt. Commanders". Hey...the demotion is fine with me because someone else now has the responsibilities of a Caravan Section Captain and the stress which goes with them.

The Corvettes driven by Section Captains and their lieutenants usually have two-way radios, either Citizen's Band or General Mobil Radio Service (GMRS) equipment which allows them to communicate among themselves and with their Caravaners, many of whom have CB, GMRS or Family Radio Service (FRS) transceivers in their cars.

In the Blue Bullet, for 2-way radio, we have Galaxy CB and iCom GMRS transceivers. The car also has a cellular telephone amplifier. The hardware mounting is such that the radios and their respective antennas can be removed when not needed. The 2014 version of my radio set-up had power drawn from the car's two accessory sockets, one in side the center console box and the other next to the ash tray. To run all those radios along with a Valentine One radar warning receiver and a GPS receiver, required a two 1-to-3 adapters and made for a lot of power wiring all over the console and passenger foot well.

The 2014 set-up had the antenna masts attached to brackets which mounted to the back of the car. This was a convenient way to mount the antennas but was not very good from a propagation standpoint because the antennas were too low and transmitted stronger to the rear than they did to the front.
For the 2019 event, I decided to get the antennas up as high as possible. I built an "antenna bar" using a three-foot section of fiberglass "C-beam" and attached it to the Blue Bullet's carbon fiber roof using two Woods Powr-Grips which are industrial suction cups. I mounted the antennas on that bar. In testing so far, my antenna bar has withstood speeds of up to 90-mph.

767.13.jpg
Woods Powr-Grip suction cups were just the right solution. Image: Author.

767.14.jpg
Left is the antenna for the cell phone booster amp. Center is the CB antenna and right is the GMRS
antenna which is the highly directional yagi-type. It transmits a very strong signal fore and aft, ideal for
use in a long caravan of Corvettes. Image: Author.

Next was to better manage some of the power wiring for the radio gear. I removed interior trim covering the transmission tunnel and the right B-pillar along with pulling away some of the carpeting above the right rear wheel and at the rear of the cargo area.

I wanted to run power and ground for the radio gear direct to the battery. I began by installing a Powerwerx DC Noise Filter (PN LF-1-PP) to the battery. This device filters out alternator noise which can be present in the charging system. Then I ran 12-gauge red/black bonded zip cord forward to the right front corner of the cargo area at the base of the B-pillar. Then, I ran the zip cord along the top of the tunnel to a relay I installed underneath the HVAC controller. This relay is controlled by the body computer via it's radio power control signal. if the radios get left on, the battery won't go dead because, when the ignition is in any mode other than "start" or "run", the body computer shuts off of the sound system after a delay.

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Running the power and antenna wires under the center console trim made for a much neater appearance. Image: Author

Finally, I ran all the antenna cables behind carpet or under the center console trim such that only the final couple of feet from the front of the console trim up to the radios are exposed.

I'll get a chance to test out this set-up when, during the second week of July, Capt. Megowan and I do "PreRun1" for the '19 Caravan.

Katech Contemplating
Katech is one of the top Chevrolet engine builders in the World. The company was founded in 1977 by Fritz Kayl and Warren Frieze. In the succeeding 40 years, Chevrolet engines built by Clinton Township, Michigan company have won countless races and championships in sports car racing all over the World, open-wheel Indy car racing, land speed racing at Bonneville, drag racing and on the oval tracks of NASCAR and the ASA.

Katech’s engines powered Corvette Racing from 1997 until GM took the team's engine program in-house after the 2009 LeMans race. For ten years, Katech engines in the Corvette C5-R and C6.R race cars dominated the U.S. and global GT racing by capturing six World Championships in FIA-sanctioned road racing. Katech engines won the 24 Hours of LeMans six times defeating teams from Aston Martin, BMW, Porsche, Dodge, Ferrari, Ford and Lamborghini among others.

During the period Katech built Corvette Racing's engines, the team won 78 out of 110 events it entered. After GM began doing the engines for the factory Corvette team, Katech's race engine business continued to thrive. Katech built engines for Pontiac's GTO.R program (2008 Rolex GT Manufacturer and Driver Championship) and for Cadillac's CTS-V.R road racing programs (2012, 2013, 2014 SCCA World Challenge Manufacturer and Driver championships). The company, also, has provided engines for non-factory, Corvette road racing teams all over the World.

Katech engines have powered some of the greatest names in motorsports: A.J. Foyt, Dale Earnhardt, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmy Johnson, Johnny O’Connell, and Ron Fellows. The experience and knowledge Katech gained in motorsports have allowed it to perfect a street performance product line which is truly "race-proven."

The LS7.R, an all-out race engine developed by Katech and inspired by the production LS7 engine in '06-'13 Corvette Z06es, won 12 straight races in 2005-2006 including LeMans. In '06, Katech's LS7.R was named "Global Race Engine of the Year" by a jury of 50 race engine engineers from a wide spectrum of different motorsports. :thumb

One of Katech's street performance products is the "Street Attack LS7". It combines the best of the production LS7 with selected, race-proven modifications in an affordable package suitable for street high-performance and "trackday" motorsports events. The Street Attack LS7 produces between 630 and 660-hp depending on camshaft choice, the exhaust configuration of the car in which the engine is installed and the octane of the fuel used. The modifications include forged pistons, one of two Katech camshafts (either 110° or 116° lobe separation), Cadillac Racing valve lifters, Katech C5-R timing chain, CNC-ported cylinder heads with CHE valve guides, Katech titanium intake valves, Katech valve springs, retainers and locks. The most important part of the package is Katech's meticulous engine assembly work consisting of procedures which were developed and validated by more than 20 years of building World championship and LeMans winning Corvette, Pontiac and Cadillac race engines. The specifics of Katech's engine building craft is too extensive to cover here, but a full description is on Katech's web site.

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A Katech Street Attack LS7. This particular example went into an orange car. Image: Katech, Inc.

One of my "bucket-list" items is a Corvette with a Katech engine in it. Right now, the Blue Bullet's basically stock engine produces about 540 horsepower. Installing a Katech Street Attack LS7 could increase the car's power to 620-hp. Something to contemplate, eh?

Let me know what you think, and...

Happy 4July everyone!
:pat

 

GRANDSPORT

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Jan 25, 2006
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too many
Katech

>>
Katech Contemplating
Katech is one of the top Chevrolet engine builders in the World. The company was founded in 1977 by Fritz Kayl and Warren Frieze
<<

Hib, I agree fully Katech is a wonderful company.

If anyone gets a chance to visit their headquarters in Clinton Township, MI. it is well worth it.
During Woodward Dream Cruise they have tours from time to time.
 

LLC5

Well-known member
Joined
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Messages
2,299
Location
Wa.
Corvette
98 black 6spd convert.
Redwood Road Trip

One of my "bucket-list" items is a Corvette with a Katech engine in it. Right now, the Blue Bullet's basically stock engine produces about 540 horsepower. Installing a Katech Street Attack LS7 could increase the car's power to 620-hp. Something to contemplate, eh?

Let me know what you think, and...

Happy 4July everyone!
:pat



On the face of it, looks like one of the most expensive ways to pick up only 80 HP.

I am sure that it is a great engine if you decide to do it.
 

Hib Halverson

Technical Writer for Internet & Print Media
Joined
Jan 10, 2001
Messages
13,453
Location
CenCoast CA
Corvette
71 04 12 19
Yes, the Katech Street Attack LS7 is not cheap, but the best is seldom inexpensive. They rate the engine at 630-660-hp (STP-corrected) and that's with 11.4:1 compression, the FAST intake manifold and dyno headers on the engine.

The engine they will do for me will retain the stock 11.0:1 compression ratio because I have to run on 91-oct gas, my engine's existing MSD Atomic Air Force intake manifold and stock exhaust manifolds. I hope for 620-hp SAE-corrected.
 

Hib Halverson

Technical Writer for Internet & Print Media
Joined
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Messages
13,453
Location
CenCoast CA
Corvette
71 04 12 19
It Totally Sucks when it's 120° out and your A/C Quits
Well, the good news is: my new antenna bar worked quite well on the PreRun1 trip Tony Megowan, Section Captain for the 2019 National Corvette Caravan, and I took weekend before last. The bad news is: it only worked for the first day of the trip because, the next morning, as we were preparing to leave Henderson NV on the second day of our two-day recon of the Caravan route, the Blue Bullet's HVAC quit working.

F**king s**t I exclaimed.:mad I was really pissed because this was the fourth time the air conditioning had quit in a high ambient temperature situation. That is: mid-summer in the desert wasteland of Henderson NV. The first three times, the HVAC began working, again, after a time, but, In this instance; that didn't happen.

835.04.jpg
Capt. Megowan (right) and I at the Rose Bowl

Not only was it hot–it was freakin' hotter than a rat's ass in the Sahara. Had it been in the low 100s, I would have considered just finishing PreRun1 without air, but on the first day, on the drive from the Pasadena Rose Bowl, the Caravan's proposed departure point, once we got over the San Gabriel Mountains, the temperature never went below 105°, in the eastern Mojave, it was never below 115° and there were times we saw 120° even 121° on the BB's outside air temperature display. That's so hot to be unsafe, so, before we left Henderson, we stopped at Henderson Chevrolet for help.

835.06.jpg
Megowan glasses Nipton Rd just off I-15. In the distance
at left is the BNSF right-of-way and the Nevada line


We spoke to two of the service consultant, Ray and Andy and, after that, decided to leave the car for them to diagnose its HVAC, then we continued the trip in Section Captain, Tony Megowan's C7. The rest of the trip went fine. We preran the route along the north shore of Lake Mead, then drove the Valley of Fire Highway through the incredibly scenic Valley of Fire State Park and ended the say in Cedar City, Utah which will be the 2019 Caravan's second overnight stop.

Repair costs Two Large–Ouch!
While we were kicking back at the Hampton Inn in Cedar City, Henderson Chevrolet called me to say that they'd looked over my HVAC and determined that the compressor had failed. The cost of replacement was (gulp) $2000.00 and that was if they could obtain a replacement compressor. Apparently, C6 Z06 A/C compressors are in short supply these days.

Well, s**t, I thought, if they can get a compressor and do the job quickly maybe I'll go for it. I called Andy at Henderson Chevy back and told him to check into getting the compressor. Then, I began to wonder: what in the heck about a C6 HVAC compressor change costs two-freakin'-grand? I borrowed Tony Megowan's laptop and logged onto GMSi, the subscription-based GM service data web portal and looked up the factory procedure for changing that compressor. After reading that, I got the memo. The Service Manual procedure for an HVAC compressor change requires dropping the front suspension cradle. No wonder it's so expensive.

That 2000 bucks was going to take a big bite out of the budget which I could spend on other stuff if I found a way around the high cost. I decided to cancel the order for the new compressor. I'd have Tony drop me at Henderson Chevrolet on his way back home on Saturday. I'd lie low at my Sister's place over on the other side of town, have dinner with her and my Brother in Law then get up about 3:00 on Sunday morning and make the trip home using the coolest part of the early morning to cross the hottest part of the desert. Once got the car home, I could either have my home dealer, Bunnin Chevrolet, fix the car or, better yet, find a way to change that compressor without having to drop the front suspension. None of this reflects badly on Henderson Chevrolet. Those guys were great! They diagnosed my car quickly and accurately and were very polite after I first said OK to the $2000 repair then changed my mind. If you need Corvette service in the Vegas Valley, consider Henderson Chevy.:thumb

Three AM at my Sis' place on the eastern side of Henderson. My iPhone goes off and I plod into the shower. I was out of clean clothes so I put yesterday's shorts and shirt back on, loaded up the car, picked-up a cup of coffee to go at a Chevron just up the street and had the Blue Bullet on the road by 3:30 AM and hit I-15 South by 3:45. It was still 97° outside. Un-freakin' real. Who lives in climate like this except desert rats and crazy people? Once I left the Vegas Valley and went up and over Mountain Pass it actually got down to the high-80s. :cool!:Holy crap–a freakin' cold snap! The rest of the trip, it was in the low-80s to low-90s, a bit warm but certainly better than the 120s.

Maybe There's a Better Way
More good news was that there was almost no one on the road and little or no LEOs out. Except for a breakfast and a gas stop, I never got below 85-mph and for parts of the run across California SR58 to Mojave, I was running 100+. I had the Blue Bullet safe, in its garage in Goleta way before lunch.

I spent a little time researching C6 HVAC compressor changes on the forums. It looks like there are ways to get that compressor out without dropping the front cradle. I did learn that, in cases of compressor failure, you usually have to replace the condenser, too, as it's got the receiver-drier built in and the drier traps any metal debris that the inline filter doesn't catch. In fact, the compressor and the condenser are not all that expensive, so that will be a project to start on later this week.

Then, I took a nap.:z

 
Last edited:

LLC5

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Corvette
98 black 6spd convert.
I doubt if your a/c compressor is bad, it is more than likely just the electric clutch hold in coil for the front hub, and is a common failure in hot weather. I would check and see if that part is available separately, but of course the compressor will still have to be removed to replace it in most cases. Good luck with it. :)
 

Hib Halverson

Technical Writer for Internet & Print Media
Joined
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Messages
13,453
Location
CenCoast CA
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71 04 12 19
After Henderson Chevrolet diagnosed my HVAC they said there was no pressure differential across the compressor when the A/C was on and that meant the compressor had failed.

I was able to visually confirm that the clutch was cycling, ie: with the HVAC off, the center of the compresor hub was not rotating and with the HVAC on, the center of the hub was rotating.

Also, now that I have the car back home in Goleta, which is a mile from the ocean with a 65° ambient, the HVAC still does not work.

Let me know what you think.
 

LLC5

Well-known member
Joined
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Messages
2,299
Location
Wa.
Corvette
98 black 6spd convert.
After Henderson Chevrolet diagnosed my HVAC they said there was no pressure differential across the compressor when the A/C was on and that meant the compressor had failed.

I was able to visually confirm that the clutch was cycling, ie: with the HVAC off, the center of the compresor hub was not rotating and with the HVAC on, the center of the hub was rotating.

Also, now that I have the car back home in Goleta, which is a mile from the ocean with a 65° ambient, the HVAC still does not work.

Let me know what you think.


No pressure differential on the high and low sides both with the a/c on can mean a bad compressor, BUT only if the center hub of the compressor is turning and not every tech will check to make sure that it is.

You state the compressor hub was turning with the a/c on, was this with the a/c not cooling? If so then it could point to a bad compressor, or a low Freon charge, just enough Freon to engage the clutch but not enough to cool the interior.

Generally speaking a compressor does not go bad without making an audible noise first, or work intermittently on and off, but stranger things have happened. Bad clutch coils or low Freon levels are usually the case in that scenario.
 

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