Wednesday, May 25, 2011

VSCC SeeRed at Donnington Park 2011 Report

VSCC SeeRed at Donington was certainly a feast for the eyes in terms of the variety of cars. I also got some painting done too.

GN Spider at Shelsley Walsh c1920s
Oil on Board

Here's the demonstration piece so far. There is a real dynamic to this piece that really works. Mostly work to do on the crowd as I want to keep this piece loosely rendered.


After almost being blown away twice on Saturday morning I was kindly allowed to
se up in the Paddock Suite; where I managed to run a painting demonstration rather than hanging on to the gazebo.
Lea Francis S Hyper
In original condition as raced by the factory.

Ford Special?

Brooklands Napier Railton

Cooper Mark I

Cooper 500cc Jap Engine



A very Smart Fraser Nash with a fantastic looking rear end!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

2002 BMW 325I

That is right a Bimmer. Now, I don't normally even touch these cars but I dabble from time to time. This is one of those times one of my good customers has this pretty clean BMW with 181,582 miles on it. Apparently, it had a Check Engine Lamp on and one of his techs pulled a P0171 (System Lean) code. When I get there the codes and more importantly the freeze frame data has been cleared. Since I don't normally diagnose these cars, all I can use is generic scantool data. So I focus in on our fuel trims and MAF (Mass Air Flow) sensor inputs. I know these have common issues with MAF sensors and Ventilation valves causing lean codes. I check fuel trims at an idle and they are pretty tight, raced up they start to drift into the positive side. I figure slam dunk I have a dirty MAF.
Looking at the MAF hot wire it is really clean and the customer has a factory BMW air filter. No cheapy air filter here. So, no slam dunk here. A road test is in order. I monitor short term fuel trim, rpm, and MAF g/s values. I am still thinking bad MAF here. The peak g/s easily achieves our liter displacement times 40 rule of thumb and short term fuel trims do not follow air flow. The one thing I do notice during the test drive is a distinct whistle on wide open throttle. Hmmm. Experience tells me when I hear a whistle it is usually caused by an intake restriction or some type of hole in the air tract. Since I already inspected the air box and it has a quality air filter installed. I head to the air ducting after the MAF sensor.
Bingo! Now I am a BMW expert. No way! A seasoned BMW tech would have probably found this in half the time. Here is another shot below.
The point here is some strategic testing even in generic mode and we can fix cars we are not exactly familiar with. I report my findings to the shop owner and advised him to change that much maligned ventilation valve with the updated one as maintenance considering the mileage on this car. I also advise him of Standard Motor Products new line called TechSmart that my good buddy Joe Donaggio manages. This new line is all previously dealer only, high failure, problem solving parts like these ventilation valves. It is a great alternative to going back to the dealer. I and others give Joe constant feedback from the technical "real" world and he does the leg work to make it happen. Check it out at   

Thursday, May 19, 2011

VSCC SeeRed at Donnington Park 21st - 22nd

GN Spider c1920, Shelsley Walsh Hillclimb
Oil Sketch for Painting demonstration this weekend.

I will be running a trade stand at this weekends VSCC event SeeRed at Donnington Park. The above oil sketch will form the basis for the painting demonstration for the weekend.

I have two spare tickets for the weekend for anyone that is interested.
Please contact me before the weekend if you are interested in free entry.

Organised by the VSCC who have been racing at Donington Park since the 1930s, SeeRed brings the best Vintage and Historic cars and drivers to Donington . Spectators will be fully entertained by a programme of 17 races over the weekend that highlights Pre-war Sports-Cars, Vintage and Historic (Pre -61) Grand Prix Cars, 1950s Sports Racing Cars, Formula Junior, Equipe GTS (50s and 60s production sports-cars) and 500s. More info along with race schedule can be found at the event website:

Sunday, May 15, 2011

2005 GMC Yukon Denali

This is a nice 2005 GMC Yukon with 156K miles on it, I am asked to look at on this nice and sunny morning. The customer complaint is that the Service Engine Soon lamp illuminates. I start the truck up and it runs quite well and the lamp is not on presently. I scan for current codes and get none. Scanning for history codes I get a P0171 (System lean bank 1), P0174 (System lean bank 2), and a P0101 (Mass Air Flow Performance). Now at this point most techs would say put a mass air flow sensor in it and send it on it's way. I need to be absolutely sure before I stick my neck out. So many factors could cause these codes from weak fuel pumps to glitchy connections at the mass air flow sensor to damaged air filters causing turbulence that would affect the mass air flow sensors calculations. So the first thing I do is a visual. You never know what you are going to find with your eyes.
Nothing amiss here. I check the air filter for fit and function as well as the air ducting. All seems to be in good working order. The mass air flow sensor is installed correctly as well. There are certain GM applications where the mass air flow can be installed incorrectly. There are arrows on the sensor indicating flow direction. I also look to see if there are any aftermarket air flow ducting, air filters, etc and make notes of it. It wouldn't be the first time I have seen the $450.00 chrome billet air flow tube that was supposed to give you 65 more horsepower causing issues such as this. Alright time to look at some scan data. These new generation GM V-8 motors have had their fair share of intake manifiold gasket issues. Looking at fuel trims at an idle and raced up show some pretty tight fuel control. Plus, looking at some freeze frame and failure records show me these codes set at mid range rpm's with the engine fully warmed up. Typical intake manifold gasket issues rear their heads more at low speeds and low engine temperatures.
Time to take a test drive. If you have been following my blog you know that I have been beating up my new scanner the Ottotest pretty bad. I decided to use it on this vehicle because of it's excellent graphing capabilities.
The above is part of a graph I did on the road test. Remember, click on the pics to enlarge. I graphed mass air flow sensor grams per second, short term fuel trims for both banks, and power enrichment mode. I took actual photos of these screen shots for two reasons. One, I wanted to show you the multi colored graph which is very cool. The second is that when you save the graph on Ottotest to export, it is a xps file that is black and white. Something I hope they fix. Saving it on the Ottotest retains the color, you can also scroll after the fact, as well as play with the cursors. The above screen shot is meant to show you the relationship betwen air flow and short term fuel trim. The actual numbers on the right reflect cursor 1, which isn't even on any event in this field so diregard for right now. Here is another screenshot below.

Do you notice something yet? Short term fuel trims follow air flow. When air flow increases fuel trims increase. It may be hard to see due to the graph scaling. In the above screenshot the cursor is on this screen and on frame 792, so the numbers on the right are correct. Let's zoom in and recheck something the Ottotest does really well.
Now it becomes more apparent. remember this is a normal test drive. Whenever, you have fuel trims following air flow you have an air measuring error. Remember, that an air measuring error is conditional on proper air ducting, filtration, etc. Now what? Do we call a bad mass air flow sensor? Not yet. I always like to do a couple of wide open throttle runs at speed and record some parameters to calculate volumetric efficiency. So changing my parameters to graph. I go with engine rpm, mass air flow sensor g/s, intake air temperature, and power enrichment.

Here is a screen shot of a wot (wide open throttle event). Remember, the cursor is all the way at an idle event see the rpm and low g/s. I wanted to illustrate a full from idle to wot event. I always get asked what is a good g/s reading at an idle? At wot? Well, there are no hardfast rules but g/s at an idle should equal your liter displacement on anything over 2.5 liters. Wot readings should be your liter dispacement times 40 as a general rule. This 6.0 liter had a value of 7-8 g/s at an idle. Lets look at some more data.

To figure out VE (Volumetric Efficiency) you need these parameters and use your highest g/s reading. Here I snuck up on it with my cursor. Given our rule of thumb is this reading low or correct for this vehicle? Looks a bit low since we should be seeing close to 240 g/s at wide open throttle. But, lets let the VE calculator be the judge. You can find VE calculator downloads all over-some free-some not. Let's do some calculations.

Engine Size (Cid)-366.15
Engine Rpm-5048
Intake Air Temp (F)-96.8
Volumetric Efficiency-61.667%

A good VE for a naturally aspirated engine is 80% or better. Any type of forced induction should net you 100% or better. We are well below our 80% goal at 61.667%. Let's see what happens when we add our theoretical proper g/s value.

Engine Size (Cid)-366.15
Engine Rpm-5048
Intake Air Temp (F)-96.8
Volumetric Efficiency-83.146%

So, there may be some truth in that value. I always take a couple of wot runs and check a bunch of them. Here is another.

I will zoom in....

Behold, the power of graphing! On the road test the vehicle definitely didn't have the power a 6.0 liter should have and detonated quite badly. I graphed the o2 sensors on wot runs as well just to make sure I wasn't also running out of fuel. They were definitely showing enrichment. Now, I could have gone further and done a low amp probe on the fuel pump circuit as well as fuel pressure and volume tests. But, given the data I had with the customers complaint I was sure we had a bad mass air flow sensor. The detonation is coming from an improper timing schedule due to the under reporting mass air flow sensor. Typically, this is how a mass air flow sensor will fail. It will report correctly at an idle and under report as airflow increases. This is not always the case though. You can have any combination for failure. Oh, by the way I do not agree with cleaning mass air flow sensors to fix them. Cleaning to verify you are going in the right direction-yes. The reason for my thinking is simple. Once you clean that customers mass air flow sensor and it takes care of his problem they are going to think a MAF cleaning is going to fix any issue from check engine lamp to rear brake noise. I report my findings to the shop owner and move on to the next vehicle.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Ottotest Update

I have been trying to implement the Ottotest into my diagnostics as much as possible. It seems to have shortcomings every time I use it. I had a 2007 Chevrolet Trailblazer with a Service 4wd lamp on. The Ottotest didn't even recognize the four wheel drive module and I was forced to use the shops own Snap On Solus to retrieve codes for the four wheel drive system. How embarassing! Next up was a no start/no crank on a 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee. The Ottotest did a great job on retrieving a PCM code of P0513 (Invalid Skim Key) and communicating with all the other modules save one. You guessed it no communication/no menu for the SKREEM (Security) Module. The one module I needed to communicate with, the scanner shut me out. I realize that immobilizer recoding is beyond aftermarket scanner abilities. But, let me in, so I can see if its on the data buss and maybe some parameters. I had to resort to tedious backprobing at the SKREEM Module to verify operation. More time wasted. The tablet is slow. So slow that sometimes if you get impatient with commands you will lock up the program forcing a hard reboot. More time wasted. The battery life is nowhere near advertised. I have been sending feedback to Blue Streak every week. I am starting to think this tool was not as advertised and it has cost me money rather than making it. Time will tell.  

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Vintage Revival Montlhery 2011

Super Kim
(Watercolour Sketch)

Super Kim.
A Special made by a South American comprised of a Zenith frame and a heavily modified Brough Superior Engine. Winner of the most original bike at Vintage Revival Montlhery

8 valve Koehler-Escoffier
(Watercolour Sketch)

Track Fun

1933 MX Family "Bluebell" round the banking

Motorbikes on the banking at Montlhery

Pacer / Stayer Tuning

One of a pair of pacer bikes
complete with custom broom stand

Detail showing wide belt drive with rear wooden wheel

8 valve Indian Boardtrack racer engine

8 valveIndian Boardtrack Racer

Zenith KTR

Single cylinder J.A.P. Engine lightweight

Radial Engine Racer (aero engine)

Radial Engine Racer

Morgan 2 speed pickup
Tired and fully satisfied with an amazing weekend we head home.