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December 30, 2005

Drivers education and black ice

I was driving home from a movie with my wife in our Ford Exploder when we hit black ice tonight. The exploder just lost traction as we climbed up a local road and turned slightly following a curve on the county road. I guess we were doing maybe 45mph when it went.

It takes a long time to blow off 45mph on ice. I don't know how long it took to stop (I didn't brake at all) but it was an interesting few seconds as it tried to get me one way and then the other and so on. But, I was lucky tonight and it didn't succeed. I managed to keep it pointed in the right direction by counter steering and eventually the speed bled off and we came to a nice stop still pointed in the right direction on the side of the road. My wifes comment at that point was "That was interesting!" so which I responded "So, drivers education is a good thing then"

I reckon it tried to spin on me maybe 5-6 times (clockwise, counter clockwise, and repeat) before enough speed had bled off to damp the whole thing. The rest of the journey home was an exercise in threshold braking, the roads had glazed over completely with sheet black ice on the roads the rest of the way home.

I think my wife is starting to appreciate drivers education events a little more tonight as was I.

Happy new year and safe driving.

December 30, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 28, 2005

Recaro Pole Positions - review

The drivers side seat is hard to get out of. There isn't a lot of room between the seat side and the steering wheel. So, you gotta kind of rotate your legs out, I'm putting my hand on the door sill and getting out that way.

My buddy and I went karting today, it's a 200 mile round trip journey for us. The seat was comfortable for me. I was wearing the stock 3pt belt and had the 6pt shoulder straps flat on the seat behind me and I didn't notice them. My buddy on the other hand had a problem with the Pole Positions. It's not wide enough for him. He's 230lbs, 6 ft 3 and a 36 inch waist. His problem was his hip bone is pressing against the seat side and this was uncomfortable towards the end. He was looking at putting Pole Positions in his Ferrari 348 but this is not so sure after today. I don't think bigger seats are available besides Sparco Evo 3's and they are too big. Hard to know what to do.

I still like the seats, you feel much more part of the car with the seats. The factory belts don't feel very safe after you've had the 6pt harness on though, it's a little unnerving.

It was around 31-35F driving home with occasional light snow, the car was flawless, tons of grip, the Bridgestone Blizzaks (LM22s) are awesome in this kind of weather.

December 28, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 27, 2005

Drivers Education schedule for next year

Looks like one weekend a month from April till September. We're only doing PCA events this year, it's just a little safer, the drivers get broken in to groups of driver/car combinations with similar lap times. Donnybrook is more relaxed and while you can get more lap time with them, the problem is you're on the track with a Formula Mazda or a Radical or much faster drivers so it's a little dicey. That said, Gary Curtis, their chief instructor is awesome, and I'd love more than a few laps with his instruction.

The tracks we'll do are:

  • Brainerd (2 events)
  • Road America
  • Mid America Motorplex (MAM)
  • Autobahn club

The Autobahn club looks very nice and I'm looking forward to returning to MAM also, it's a nice track. So, all in all, it's about 10 or 11 days of track time for 2006. A set of Michelin Pilot Cups should just about last the season.

Should be a good year.

December 27, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 26, 2005

More impressions post seat upgrade

The car definitely feels different. Maybe, it's because I'm lower or more 'connected' with the car with the seats holding me. The 6pt harness real holds me tight as it should.

Cornering in the car is where it feels different. Hard to describe but it feels more agile and, of course, thats completely subjective given the car handles exactly the same as before.

Reversing is an issue with a 6 pt harness on, try trying around to see whats behind you. Not possible. Probadly why they are illegal on the road.

December 26, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 22, 2005

New track wheels arrived

I bought a used set of 18" Black Porsche rims (8's on front, 10's on rear) with 40% Michelin Pilot Sport Cups tires on them. I'll probably ditch the tires and just get a new set of cups next year before I start any events. The rims were a deal anyway, they look in great shape. They cost me 1350 including shipping from a rennlister.

December 22, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Back in the car and Pole Position impressions

If you want to appreciate a 911, just drive a Ford Explorer for 3 months and then switch over. Words can't describe the difference especially in snow with blizzaks on the 911.

The seats (Recaro Pole Positions) feel excellent, very snug in the car. Definitely a big upgrade from the stock seats (despite losing my seat heaters and the power adjustment). A problem with the seats is that my winter coat has velcro on the sleeve endings and it's always grabbing the fabric on the seats. A small annoyance but there it is.

My battery went flat just as I finished putting on my snow tires (Bridgestone Blizzak LM22s). A quick trip to Walmart and I bought a 60 amp battery charger/tester/starter. 70 bucks. 2 minutes after I got home, hooked it up and the car started fine. The charger said the battery was at 10%. After a 30 minute steady drive, I tested it again and 66%. So, it's fine now.

Anyway, I'm just happy to be able to drive the car again.

December 22, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 21, 2005

Seats installed

The Brey Krauss stuff arrived yesterday and I now have two Recaro Pole Positions in the car and all seat belts installed. It just bolted in as it should.

The Brey Krauss seat brackets are very nice. They aren't anodised but instead look enameled. Trust me, you don't want anodised. It scratches too easily and they won't look good for long at all. The coating on the BK brackets is tough, I hit it a few times with wrenches etc during installation and not a mark.

The tunnel side seat belt mount looks very strong, probably stronger than the one on the Porsche seats them selves. I attach a Porsche seat belt receptacle and a BK 9001 lap belt mount using the bolts/washers provided with the 9001 and it all fits just fine and doesn't require any forcing of the tunnel side carpets etc, there is room for it all.

The BK seat mounts allow the seat to be tilted using bolts. There are 3 holes on the front and one on the back. So, you can change the angle of the seat slightly. I'm currently using the middle hole on the front for passenger and driver.

In summary, if you're going to do this then get this kit, it's awesome, bolts in, no drilling, making holes bigger, grinding bolts, damaging carpet etc. It's made for the car and it just bolts in.

The final kit is as follows:

  • Recaro Pole Position (2 @ 699 each)
  • BK 907x mounts (2 @ 154 each)
  • Porsche manual sliders (2 @ 140 each)
  • Porsche seat belt receptable (2 @ 65 each)
  • BK 9001 lap belt mount (2 @ 69 each)
  • Das Sport Weekender roll bar (1200 new)
  • Simpson Polyester 6pt harness with snap on lap belts (250 ish a side)
  • BK Back braces (2 @ 125 each)
  • Bell M2 Helmet (300)
  • R3 neck restraint (1000)

Either Pole Position or Sparco Evo 2's/Evo/Pro 2000 would work with the right BK brackets. They don't make brackets for the Recaro Profi SPG. So, the total cost was 5500 bucks. I was quoted 1000 for labor but it was easy enough for me to do on my own and I reckon if I can do it, anyone can. I don't see what you could cut to drop the cost. You could use the BK harness bar (600) instead of the 1200 DasSport but the BK bar offers no rollover protection. Nylon belts instead of Polyester would also be cheaper. You could get the Aluminium seats that are available now for 300 bucks but people that have them say in a daily driver, they are impossible to live with. You can get a cheaper helmet and no neck restraint but I don't think thats a good move from a safety point of view. I reckon 5500 bucks is a meets min setup for reasonable safety in a DE car. A full race setup is better of course but thats not a daily driver.

Anyway, it's been a royal pain but I have what I wanted now finally. Do your self a favor and just get these parts, they just bolt in and are well engineered and have looks that will last.

December 21, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 18, 2005

Pictures of different seats

Here's a photo of a Sparco Evo 3 on the left, a Recaro Pole Position in the middle and a Recaro Profi SPG on the right.

Dscf0015_1

December 18, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 15, 2005

BK 907x brackets

Having just ordered a pair of these for my Pole Positions in this nightmare of changing my seats, I read their installation instructions today and couldn't believe what was there:

Brey-Krause R-9071 & R-9072 side mount brackets adapt Sparco Evo/Pro 2000 seats to 996/Boxster sliders. Brey-Krause R-9073 & R-9074 side mount brackets adapt Sparco Evo 2 seats to 996/Boxster sliders. R-9075 & R-9076 side mount brackets adapt Recaro Pole position seats to 996/Boxster sliders. We provide an inside (tunnel side) seat belt mounting point designed for an off road seat belt only. Not for street use.

So I'd just ordered a pair and here in the instructions, it says you cant use em on the street. I pick up the phone in seconds. Sam at Brey Krauss was kind enough to take my call. I asked him what good were his brackets if I can't mount a 3 pt belt on it and use it on the street. He was surprised and said he'd look at the instructions again. He said what it was supposed to say was you can't use a 5pt or 6pt belt on the street. The attachment point is tested for 3000lbs and so is street legal for attaching a 3pt belt receptable to it.

Phew. so after the call, Sam had clarified the following:

  • You can attach the street belt receptable to their bracket and it's street legal.
  • You can use a 9001 adapter to also attach a lap belt for a harness.

Disclaimer: before believing anything here, call them for confirmation, this is second hand information (you're getting it from me not Sam) and while this is what Sam explained to me, until they update their instructions, I'd call to check any usage of their equipment with them directly.

December 15, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 13, 2005

It just doesn't end...

So, the BK 9071s won't work for a Recaro Profi SPG seat. So, I reckon I'll just swap it for another Pole Position and that'll work for sure.

What a pain...

December 13, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 12, 2005

Seats update

So,

I ordered a BK 9076 and a BK 9071 from Brey Krauss this morning and am sending the Speedware seat brackets and floor bracket and recaro sliders back. I'm keeping the seats.

The BK9076 brackets attach to the manual Porsche sliders. The 76s have a tunnel side bracket for attaching the stock 3pt receptable. BK only sell it for Porsche sliders as the Porsche ones seem to be the only ones tested or strong enough for attaching the tunnel stock belt receptacle.

They are pricey (145 bucks a side) but at this point, I don't care anymore. I ordered them from JimB at Apex this morning. Hopefully, my car will be back together again on Sat.

The Porsche sliders and floor mounts are a complete no brainer if you are thinking about this. They cost 140 bucks a side and are basically bulletproof and bolt perfectly in to the car. Why bother with aftermarket sliders and floor mounts when you can get the real thing for the same money. No bending, drilling, making holes widers etc.

Despite the issues with Speedware, I still like em and would recommend them. They were very good about this and have great customer service. If you want seats then they seem to have the market cornered for Sparco and Recaro seats.

My final kit should be:

  1. Porsche manual sliders and floor mount.
    Bought from a retiring PCA racer
  2. BK 9076 and BK9071 (side seat mounts)
    Bought from JimB APEX
  3. 2x BK 9001, harness lap belt attachments
    Bought from JimB APEX
  4. 2x Porsche seat belt receptables (65 bucks from dealer)
    Bought from my Porsche dealer.
  5. Recaro Profi SPG driver seat
    Bought from Speedware
  6. Recaro Pole position passenger seat
    Bought from Speedware
  7. 2x BK seat brace
    Bought from JimB APEX
  8. Das Sport Weekender roll bar
    Bought from a retiring PCA racer.
  9. Simpson 6 pt polyester harness x 2
    Bought from JimB APEX

My harness lap belts attach to the roll bar bottom hooks and the 9001 lap belt attachments. My should harness wraps about the harness bar on the roll bar. My submarine belts attach to the Porsche submarine bar that fits the Porsche sliders.

A nagging fear I have right now is that the Profi seat will be too small for PCA instructors to sit in at DE events. So, I need to find instructors less than 200 pounds.

Anyway, hopefully my next post will be titled WHOOPEE!

December 12, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 08, 2005

Review: Speedware seat mount kit versus Brey Krauss comparison

The Speedware kit consist of a custom square bracket that bolts to the floor. This has a tab on each side for the lap belts or seat belt buckle to attach to. The kit came with Recaro sliders and Speedware anodised seat mounts.

The floor kit has some horizontal travel for the sliders and you'll need this as the Speedware seat brackets are one size fits all. Basically you bolt the seat brackets to the seats (Evo/Evo 2/Pole Position/Profi) and then you attach the brackets to the slider/floor bracket and then compress them together until it fits, then tighten up the bolts. This puts stress on the Recaro slider handle and it popped out a couple of times for me.

Speedware confirmed on the phone the other day that the Recaro sliders they'd sent are too narrow for the Porsche seat bolts to fit. So, not only would I need to drill the hole in the sliders bigger so the bolt will fit, I'd also need to scrape off the lip on the top of the Porsche bolt as otherwise the Porsche bolts don't fit in to the slider. The bolts also don't fit clean through the holes in their own custom floor mount, the holes in the floor mount are about a mm too narrow. I'm not impressed at all with that custom piece of kit. It's sold for a Porsche 996 but only fits once:

  • you drill holes in the front lateral bar for the submarine belts.
  • drill holes in the rear of the sliders to make the existing holes wide enough,
  • take the lip of the Porsche bolts so they fit in the recaro sliders
  • drill a larger hole for the Porsche bolts in Speedware floor mount because they dont fit otherwise.
  • bend the tab on the tunnel side so you can bolt on the seat belt receptable without damaging the tunnel side carpet.

And then voila, you've a custom fitted floor mount. This, for me, is too much to swallow for a part thats advertised as specially made for the car. I just didn't like this setup, too many modifications, it just doesn't seem engineered for the job. The Speedware anodised mounts are nice but are very easy to scratch.

The Brey Krauss alternative

I then ordered Porsche manual sliders and the Brey Krauss 907x brackets. The BK brackets just bolt to the Porsche sliders. The Porsche sliders are obviously a bolt in using the existing factory bolts. The BK brackets bolt to the seats and the sliders. They take a bit of wiggling to line up with the floor once they are attach to the seats and it didn't take long before the whole kit was bolted in.

The BK kits are made specifically for the seat and so are designed to bolt to the Porsche sliders which have no 'wiggle' room like the Speedware unit. But, none is needed as the brackets are fabbed with different widths depending on the seat. They make brackets for Sparco Evo/Pro 2000 and Evo 2 as well as Recaro Pole Positions. Sam from BK told me the Evo brackets won't fit a Recaro Profi seat. So, again, the parts are made to fit together exactly and this gives a better fit.

Before you put the seats in the car, you need to first attach the seat belt hardware. This again can use the factory bolts. I ordered two Porsche seat belt receptables and 2 BK 9001 tunnel side lap belt brackets. The BK seat brackets are engineered with a shoulder just like the Porsche ones and the 3pt receptable does on the shoulder followed by the 9001 bracket. Then just bolt it on the bracket. Very easy. Once the seat is installed in the car, there is some clearance between the tunnel carpet and the seat belt stuff. The other thing is the lap belts are attached to the seat not the floor bracket so when you move the seat the seat belt sockets move with you, like the stock car.

Summary

It's a no contest. The Porsche sliders with BK brackets are hands down an easier install, a better truly OEM fit, and from my point of view, higher quality product that the Speedware equivalent. It's more or less the same price as the Speedware kit also, maybe a 100 bucks more. This isn't a lot considering the overall cost is around 5k for me. If you are paying for an installation then you'll save more in labor costs due to the much easier installation. If you're doing this in your car then just get the Porsche/BK kit. I bought mine from Jim Bryant at Apex. I bought the sliders and seat belt receptables from my Porsche dealer.

I'd only recommend Sparco Evo/Evo 2/Pro 2000 and Recaro Pole Position seats after all this as you can only get Brey Krauss brackets for those seats.

Note, Speedware are an excellent company to deal with. They have probably the largest seat inventory in the country (Sparco and Recaro) and offer great customer service. While I didn't have the best experience with them because of the seat hardware, I'm still happy with them. They took it back and refunded me. I'd just ask them to either match the fit and quality of the Porsche/BK kit or simply just sell that kit rather than their own.

December 8, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 06, 2005

Back braces and harnesses arrive

Slowly, all the pieces are coming in. Jim B at Apex SPG sent the latest installment. A pair of Simpson polyester 6pt harnesses and a couple of Brey Kraus Back braces. The braces fit nicely in the Das Sport Roll bar I have so that was cool.

Still waiting on Speedware Motorsports to send me a 996 seat mount kit that fits in the car. The one they had sent doesn't fit and they admitted on Saturday that they couldn't fit it when they tried also. I've found that the tunnel side tab is too close to the tunnel carpet to be able to bolt anything to it without cutting the carpet which I don't want to do, this key was supposed to be OEM fit, not so at the mo but hopefully, they'll do what they promised and send me parts that fit this week. The recaro slides they sent have a problem also. The rear bolt holes are too small for the Porsche bolts that secure the seat to the floor. So, for now, it's all stop. If they don't fix it then I'm sending the lot back and I'll just buy Porsche GT3 seats and be done with it. Park Place in Texas sell a pair for 2800 which isn't so bad considering my Recaros with the 996 mount kits were 2400 from Speedware.

I phoned Das Sport today also and they sent a pair of bolts for anchoring the bottom of the cage to the seat belt points.

Hopefully, this weekend, everything can be installed.

-15F outside this morning, the high was 8F. Welcome to Minnesota...

December 6, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 03, 2005

997 C4 promotion arrived

So when I bought my car I registered with Porsche and I got the Porsche magazine every now and then although I haven't received one for a while.

About a month back, they sent an MP3 player which includes two tracks on the technology and design of the C4. The tracks are the engineers talking about the development of the 997.

The MP3 player itself is a SigmaTel 128MB MP3 player. It all came in a nice box encouraging me to run out and spend a 100k on a new Porsche. They may not have the horse power of the new Vette or the F430 but I think I've got the Porsche bug. These cars are way fast enough on a track and there won't be much if anything in it unless you're a pro driver or the track is a horse power track.

Now, I just need IBM stock to rise a little bit...

December 3, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 02, 2005

Called Speedware

They don't understand it. "They should just fit".

So, I'll send em a digital camera shot of whats happening. The eye bolts will need to be cut with a hack saw.

Try again tonight and tomorrow.

December 2, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 01, 2005

Getting beaten down by this seat fiasco

What a nightmare this is turning out to be. Speedware sent the wrong brackets for the Profi seat. They sent 2 sets of brackets for pole positions. They are too wide for the Profis AFAIK. To tell the truth, I wish I'd just bought the Porsche GT3 seats now. No hassle, plonk in, they work. This is fast becoming a frigging soap opera its been going on so long.

The seat fabs made by Speedware are another issue. They just don't fit right compared with the Porsche ones coming out or the units on the Evo 3s. The tabs for the front floor bolts look too long. The bolt from the front slider is below the bracket and will press on the floor when bolted in. So the fab unit isn't flush with the floor the front slider bolt prevents this. The eye bolts they sent for the seat belt receptacles are too long and interfere with the slider moving forwards and backwards. Their seat fab has the welded on points for the 3pt seat belt receptable BUT it's welded to the seat fab, not the slider so when you move the seat, the receptable stays still. If you look at your car, when you move the seat, the receptable moves with you.

So, I'll call em tomorrow and see what I'm going to do. I may just send the whole caboddle back and eat the shipping for the second time and just get the Porsche ones.

Frustrating.

December 1, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (4)