13th Oct2017

Joey Did a Thing

by Michael Chandler

I had Monday off, which meant I was hanging out in my sweatpants.  It was another mellow, relaxing day when Joey informed me that he did a thing.  I asked for clarification, and he elected to come show me his thing.  Preparing for anything, I put on real pants and grabbed all of my cameras.

And it is quite the thing, as you can see in the video.  But there were some things that didn’t make it into the video.  Awesome, fun things.  

If you remember his old LS400, then you know this thing is destined to get some neck pillows, knots hanging from the rear view mirror, and other VIP bits.  One thing this bad boy won’d need are curtains, because it has these shade dealies on the rear windows!  It also has one on the rear window, but the motor is a bit tired so it needed some help rising.

Those, along with those DVD headrests, will make his naps in the backseat much more enjoyable.  Anyway, here are some glory shots of his Q45 in a church parking lot!

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*Article, Photos, Videos, and Audio clips are copyright of CAMautoMag.Com and their respective owners.
31st Mar2016

No Intercooler, Many Problems

by Michael Chandler

March 2016 Ronda update CAMautoMag Michael Chandler-5

Well, I finally spent some time with Ronda and made some good progress.   And then, much like the IMSA WeatherTech drivers, I ran into some issues…  But I got the old intercooler and most of the piping out!

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Let’s start with the good that I managed to do.  Most of the hard, crusty intercooler piping is out.  I didn’t get to the pipe immediately coming off the compressor housing, but that’s ok because of reasons I’ll soon be explaining.  And as I said, I got the old intercooler out.  Now this is where I hit a snag.  It wasn’t as easy as undoing a few nuts & bolts, wiggling off some rubber pipes and gracefully sliding it out the bottom of the car.  No, that would’ve been too easy.  It was undoing a few nuts & bolts, using many four letter words, listening to the Sebring rain delay, and learning new things about the car.  Things like it already has an oil cooler, and that it and the coolant overflow bottle need to move for that intercooler to fit.  Neat.

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Speaking of neat things, let’s take a closer look at the new intercooler.  It’s a bit deeper and taller, and much wider due to the end tanks.  Those are all good things, and also problematic.  Like I mentioned, I have to relocate the oil cooler and overflow bottle.  The oil cooler is going to move to where a fog light was, but I have no idea where the overflow bottle is going to go.  That’ll be an issue for slightly further down the road, because I need to get some brackets fabbed up so I can mount the intercooler.  Having reached that impasse, I elected to move on to another aspect of this upgrade project.

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I’m going to be installing a new turbo elbow, downpipe and exhaust along with the intercooler.  I wasn’t going to try to pull the exhaust or the downpipe by myself, because being entirely under my car with no one around seemed a bit too sketchy.  So I decided to get the turbo elbow off.  I got the heat shield off, and the O2 sensor out, and then I made an unfortunate discovery.

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I couldn’t get the elbow off of the downpipe.  The studs connecting the downpipe to the elbow have their nuts on the downpipe side.  Deciding that discretion was the better part of valor, I put the O2 sensor back in, closed and locked the door of the storage unit, and went home.  Some people would look at this day as a failure: the new intercooler didn’t go in, and the elbow didn’t come off.  I see it as a success.  The old intercooler is out, I don’t have to buy a new oil cooler because I already have one, and the big gal didn’t crush me.  Anytime your project car doesn’t kill you is a successful outing.

And that’s how she sits.  The next step is to grab some friends and some more jack stands and try to get the old exhaust parts off, and the new ones on.  Don’t know when that is going to happen, but it’s going to happen!

*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMautoMag.Com and their respective owners.


21st Mar2016

Expect a Big Ronda Update As Well

by Michael Chandler

Yeah, I spent some time on Saturday yanking that out of the car and listening to the Sebring 12 Hour rain delay.  I’ll tell you about how annoying that was, and why that’s all that I did, later this week.  Also, follow us on Instagram: @camautomag.  We try and have fun there.

*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMautoMag.Com and their respective owners.
18th Feb2016

So Ronda Is In Storage

by Michael Chandler

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Unfortunately, I had to send my girl away.  It’s sad, I know; however, there’s a reason for this.  It’s a reasonable one too: someone in my house just leased a brand new car, and they wanted to keep it in the garage.  That would mean the semi-motionless Ronda had to go to a new home.  I say “semi-motionless” because the starter is going out, which makes getting the old girl started a tremendous pain.  That, combined with her lack of gas and practically dead battery, meant I’d need someone to help me drag her to the storage unit I had rented earlier that day.  I got Mat to bring his truck and trailer, and Dave to come over after he got off work, and we got her out of the garage and onto the trailer.  Then we almost ripped the lip off the front bumper as we gracefully rolled her into the unit.

And there she sat for a few weeks, mostly because it has been cold, but also because I’ve been terribly unmotivated.  Well on President’s Day I found some motivation.  I grabbed Joey, and we went down to try and do… something.  But first, let’s get caught up with Ronda a bit more.

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When last we left Ronda, she was getting lowered and getting a big cooling upgrade.  She also had an H in her name.  That’s gone now, but she did get something to make up for the loss of a letter: a braking upgrade, in the form of Stoptech drilled rotors and brake pads.  There’s a set of 17″ wheels sitting in my garage, just waiting for tires and powdercoating.  At the end of last year I jumped on a screaming deal: for $500 I picked up a Tanabe Hyper Medallion exhaust, downpipe and turbo elbow, and a new intercooler and piping.  There’s a few reasons for that purchase:

  1. The current exhaust, while stainless steel with V-Band clamps holding it together, look awful and is rusting in places.  It’s also loud and droning.  It just needs to go.
  2. The downpipe hangs low.  Really low.  It scrapes on everything.  While it’s better than scraping the oil pan on everything, it’s incredibly annoying.  It also looks pretty cheap, so might as well replace it with something shiny, new and brand name.
  3. Stock MA70 intercoolers are cool because they’re shoved into the nose of the car.  They’re not cool because the damn things, and the OEM piping, don’t do that great a job of keeping the boost in the system.  Oh, and there was one coupler that was not meant to see positive pressure.

So with that out of the way, let’s talk about what Joey and I managed to accomplish.

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The OEM boost leak, I mean intercooler

The original plan was to pull the faulty starter, and the battery, and maybe get cracking on some of the fun stuff.  We managed to pull the battery out, and we got some bolts off of a bracket holding the intercooler in.

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We also pulled off some of the old intercooler piping, and got a shiny new pipe fitted.  One with the appropriate couplers!  The rest of the piping and the new intercooler are going to have to wait for a warmer day, one when we can get going earlier since my unit doesn’t have power inside of it.

There’s still a lot left, most importantly is the starter.  That’s going to be an endeavor.  And there’s also the issue of all of those nasty, gray silicone hoses.  They’ve gotta go too.  And I should probably take care of the leaky targa top…    I should probably make a list…

*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMautoMag.Com and their respective owners.
22nd May2014

Rhonda Gets Low

by Michael Chandler

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When last we left off with Rhonda, our MA70 Supra project car, she had proven that a late 80’s GT car can be surprisingly practical. We also rifled off a list of issues that had arisen. Well sir, we got around to addressing some of those issues and found some others.

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If you recall the old girl was damn near doubling up on the boost, hitting 15psi instead of the factory set 8. It sounds cool, but hitting fuel cut in every gear except first isn’t. All the vacuum lines were intact so obviously it was something a bit more intensive than that to fix. There were a few options, including pulling the turbo off and looking at the wastegate; however, we’re on a budget with this so a plan was hatched to find a throw on a boost controller. The guys at Ziptie Dynowerks recommended the Hallman Pro RX Manual Boost Controller.

The big feature of the Pro RX is the ceramic ball it employs instead of the standard 316 stainless steel ball found in other manual boost controllers. The ceramic ball is lighter, which allows it to act quicker than its stainless steel counterpart. The lightweight ball allows for very fine control of how much boost you want to run. It came with a light and a heavy spring, the heavier spring allowing for more boost. Since we didn’t want to go that crazy just yet, we left in light spring in. After a few runs up and down the street (the dyno was occupied by someone who booked some time and was paying  to use it), the boost was set at 10psi and that was that. Next up was a trip to Innovative Garage to adjust the attitude by changing the altitude.

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Choosing the right  set of coilovers is somewhat tricky. There are hardcore, remote reservoir 1632 way adjustable sets out there that cost more than this car did. There are dirt cheap, a step above cutting your springs sets that are just barely that. Then there’s the boat we found ourselves in.  There’s not a lot out there for the MA70, and those that are out there are either a middle of the road as far as stiffness and adjustablity are concerned or crazy track series coilovers. Eventually we landed on the Megan Racing EZ Street coilovers.

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They’re a basic monotube design and are 15 way adjustable. The spring rates are 14kg/mm in the front and 8kg/mm in the rear. They’re also shiny and blue, which is a lot better than the beat up black the stock springs and struts are. Unfortunately they didn’t have provisions for the adjustment motors that were atop the stock bits. Yeah, she had adjustable suspension from the factory back in 1987. Oh well, it’s not like that’s gonna be the end of the world or the mere existence of said motors would make the install any more difficult than it should be.

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While Tyler was on the horn with Megan Racing, I inquired about a radiator. Megan makes one, and so it was tacked on to my order and went in with the coilovers. It’s a three row, all aluminum piece that came with a 1.1 BAR radiator cap. It also didn’t have some of the nasty crap that flowed out of the old one, so that’s a bonus.

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The front went together fine…ish. Aside from a gigantic bolt holding the upper control arms in, everything went smoothly. The rear on the other hand required some trimming of some interior trim just to get those stupid motors off the top of the struts. And even then we barely got them out!  And then there was the issue of mounting the bottoms of the struts. What should’ve been a straight forward, slide em and bolt em in affair became a date with the bench grinder.

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After a light show they were slim enough to squeeze in. And then came the alignment and ride height setting. The former is still an ongoing process (26 years of life on the road means that somethings that were once separate are now one) but the ride height was pretty bang on out of the box.

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Here’s how she sits currently, a much more welcomed stance than her previous set up. The Megan’s feel great, borderline stock feel. I haven’t had much time with them aside from blasts to and from Innovative because while we were pulling the wheels off the front we found a bubble in the sidewall of one of the tires. Pair that with the gash that extends from the outer tread block down into the sidewall and we’ve got a sketchy situation. So next up are some new shoes of the 17 inch variety, and rubber that doesn’t look like it’s going to blow out and kill me!


Innovative Garage

Ziptie Dynowerks

Megan Racing

Hallman Boost Controllers

Words and photos by Michael Chandler

*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMAutoMag.Com and their respective owners.


19th Feb2014

Meet Big Rhonda

by Michael Chandler

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As some of you may know I bought a Supra.  And as some others have pointed out, it’s “the wrong one”.  The implication being that any Supra that isn’t a twin turbo, six speed Mark IV is inferior.  Let me tell you why that’s bullsh*t.  #1: Mark 3s, like my Rhonda (I’ll explain later)  used to race in Group A competition in Japan… Where it didn’t do too well.  The problem?  It’s the size of a Nimitz class aircraft carrier, and weighs just as much.  AND it competed (mostly) turbocharged, which added a penalty.  It won it’s debut JTCC at Sugo, but never secured a title losing to Ford Sierra RS Cosworths, Sierra RS500s, R31 GTS-R Skylines and (starting in 1990) the now legendary R32 Skyline GT-R.

It also had in house competition.  The Celica WRC program was vacuuming up money, so the MA70 just kinda kicked around.  Frankly ALL Supras just kicked around until 1996, when the Castrol TOM”S Supra won a GT500 title in JGTC.  But that’s a Mark 4, and neither here nor there.  This is about MY Supra, and my basement that needed some sprucing up…

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But first, some pertinent information about the car.  She’s a 1987 Turbo.  Yes, that means there is a 7M-GTE lurking underneath all forty feet of hood.  The three liter, turbocharged straight six is stock aside from a Cometic metal head gasket and ARP head studs.  There are three pedals, because I’m a man!  And because I’m a man, and the kid I bought it from is a lying liar, there is an Exedy clutch master cylinder replacing the stock one the kid said he replaced.  There’s also a three inch stainless steel V Band exhaust that I have to replace because it is getting pretty rusty, and because it’s not what I want on the car.  She’s also burgundy, which led to some calling her Ron.  I am of the school of thought that important things like cars, boats or golf clubs she be given female names, so I declared her Big Rhonda.  And here we are.

It being a Tuesday I knew Dave was available for shenanigans to help out, so I made my way down to Endless Garage to grab him, and to look around Endless.  After the impromptu tour, and meet and greet, we hopped in Rhonda and made our way north to the bastion of Swedish flat pack furniture.

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The big girl has some quirks.  First: despite having a radio AND speakers, neither seem to work at the same time.  The radio turns on, but it only sends sound out to the right side speaker.  Singular.  And most of the time that speaker doesn’t work, so I bought a little bluetooth speaker and jam out on that.  She also decided to double down on boost.  From the factory these Supras made 8psi.  On a fateful trip to Idaho Rhonda decided to run all the way up to 15 and introduce me to fuel cut.  Instead of solving the problem I learned to feather the throttle to keep her in boost and under fuel cut.  The little speaker did it’s job, and I really didn’t need to dip into positive pressure too much.  We pulled in, found a parking spot that allowed for a good photo, parked, snapped a photo, then made our way into the steel crate that is Ikea.

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The pathway through the store makes for a great shopping cart drift circuit.  Being the red blooded, fun loving Americans we are we took full advantage of the opportunity presented to us.  I did well, Dave killed it, the staff and other shoppers gave us dirty looks.  Soon after the death glares and fun, we emerged victorious: two area rugs, a welcome mat, some weird mat thing and a roll of no slip material.  Now was the real test: will all of it fit?

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I folded the utterly useless back seats down while Dave snapped the cargo cover up, and moved my space age hood/hatch prop and shovel and salt.  And would ya look at that!  THERE’S SO MUCH ROOM FOR ACTIVITIES!

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As you can see we didn’t take the cargo cover out.  We didn’t need to and we really didn’t have a place to put it.  So there’s that.  And the salt and shovel are in there because this beast was my only means of conveyance for about a month.  My brother was borrowing my Subaru while his was at Ziptie, and I still had to get to work.

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ANYWHO, with our bounty loaded we returned the cart and made off for our next stop…

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I needed drapery and I needed it cheap.  We drove a few miles up the freeway to a Target, because I’m willing to pay to not go to Walmart, repeated the Ikea parking procedure, and headed to the home furnishings section.  Supra Practicality Test (13 of 13)

And would you believe it?  We crammed MORE stuff in there!  AND THERE WAS STILL TONS OF ROOM!!!  JUST LOOK AT THE GAPING CHASM THAT IS AFT OF THE FRONT SEATS!!!  Shopping done, we got burgers and then got to decorating.  Rhonda proved extremely practical this day.

You haven’t seen the last of her on these pages.  She needs maintenance work (she’s twenty-six after all), and a better, more legal way to affix the license plate on the back.  We’ve also got to deal with the sudden boost increase, the amount of daylight visible underneath her, the rusty exhaust and a bunch of other things.

Words and photos by Michael Chandler

*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMAutoMag.Com and their respective owners.