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Since taking ownership of my ZR-1, I’ve created a habit of taking at least one extended cruise a year, designed to drive on interesting roads and explore this new continent I now inhabit and also just to glory in driving around in this incredibly rare and special ‘vette so that all can see. (Actually, I don’t think anyone much notices or cares, but it helps feed my starved ego to think they do.)

Traveling this way is a little bit like royalty trying to slip the paparazzi and move around incognito. King he may be, but to most people he is sadly just a generically labelled “Corvette” judged on the quality of his paint (and current state of cleanliness) rather than the unique Lotus-designed heart that beats beneath the hood.

Coastal Road to Marquette

Coastal Road to Marquette

While no Corvette is ‘ordinary,’ Dave McClelland et al. made a very deliberate decision to run the King of the Hill in discrete clothing. Some ZR-1 owners I believe find this a source of frustration and bemoan the fact that the ZR-1 wasn’t given more distinctive features. I certainly sympathise with this when I find myself at Corvette shows and even other Corvette owners seem to not understand what they are looking at; but for the most part I actually find the relative ignorance amusing.

The first of these extended cruises was a drive around New England two years ago to take in the coastal sights. For this year’s trip (we skipped last year as my wife and I had an important wedding to attend – our own!) we decided to do a coastal trip of a different variety – the ‘Circle Tour’ around Lake Superior. This involves following the roads that skirt around the lake and had all the hallmarks of one of the most memorable journeys “on our doorstep”. The tour is 2100 km (1300 miles) around and the quickest recorded circumnavigation is 18 hours on a motorbike (driven at legal speeds).

In our case we planned to spend the first night in Paradise, MI, and then go around the southern coast of the lake, up to Duluth, cross back into Canada and stay at Thunder Bay, before curling back down the eastern coast to hit Wawa and finally Sault Ste. Marie.

The first day was the usual mix of rush and relaxation. This was our first real vacation of the year and with the world economy in full-on meltdown we were more than ready Continue reading

I’ve wanted a decent garage for years now and there’s always seemed to be reasons why it wasn’t possible. Not least of which being the difficulty of finding a contractor prepared to work with us where we’re located. (We hear “you’re too far out a lot – despite the fact that it’s only 20 mins from town).

We’ve also had challenges on location of a garage. Our lot is big (an acre) but the majority of it isn’t really useable as we back onto a rocky hill. While going through the last round of “can we/can’t we” we happened to be lunching with one of the other members of our local ‘vette club and as it happened his son has just set himself up as a contractor doing this kind of work.

Mike came around and looked at our situation. To be honest, I wasn’t feeling very optimistic, I thought I’d been through every permutation of what was possible. But he came up with a different proposal that should work just fine and doesn’t require anything fancy on the permit side of things. After several discussions and running ideas back and forth the plan looks like a go and we signed the paperwork last night to get the ball rolling!

I don’t feel “excited” as such yet. I’m definitely pleased that we’ve finally got some movement in the right direction, but it still feels too far off to get really pumped by it. For now the work will be prepping the site, leveling etc. with the actual construction happening next year once the weather breaks.

The plan is to build an oversize double in size. 24 by 32 with a 10 foot roof. This will give me good parking for two cars and the space to put a car hoist in there down the line as well as a bit of a “shop” area for working on projects etc. We couldn’t afford to go any bigger really and I don’t think we’d have room without starting to hit the rock and bumping the price up dramatically.

Mike is coming round to do a site survey and mark up the location on Wednesday and then do the leveling on Thursday. It will be interesting to see how it looks. I must remember to take some “before” now.

After much thinking about the problems, the only way that I could think of was to get rid of some of the wire to allow it to be tucked inside the passenger side kick panel. Cutting down the ignition and other wires was not a problem but the RCA leads for the speakers were a bit more daunting being a central wire surrounded by a conductive sheath. I got some new connectors and tried to solder those but after I messed up two (and got some rather painful burns on my fingers!) I decided that it would be easier to cut and splice the original wires and connectors.

That proved much easier (for my skill level at least) and after the necessary modifications were complete I reinstalled everything. This time I manged to tuck the wires inside the kick panel and close that up properly. The head unit was still a pain Continue reading

I finally got the head unit installed okay and everything worked okay. My soldering went well after some practice to re-familiarize myself with it (and solving a slight issue with the solder itself – Thanks Rob!). Installing the head back into the dash was a bit of a pain as the sides of the dash area are angled inwards, so you have to pull them apart to slide the unit in (three  hands come in handy here…).

Once installed I switched the ignition on and the head unit booted up nicely. Everything worked as it should and I was very happy with the progress I’d made. Time for a couple of beers to celebrate!

After this it was time to put everything back together, something I thought should be relatively straight-forward but as with so much of this project that wasn’t to be the case. Continue reading

I’ve been readying my ZR-1 for summer as the weather has been getting (very slowly) warmer and removed one of the front wheels a few days ago. I’d picked up a slow puncture and wanted to get it fixed ahead of getting on the road again.

There are various restrictions about getting tires plugged:

  • The hole can be no bigger than 6mm
  • the plug can’t be within the sidewall area
  • The hole must be “clean” with no wire reinforcing showing
  • No more than three plugs per tire

A lot of the time I think that these limits (which are set by the tire manufacturers…) are designed simply to achieve more tire sales, but that said Continue reading

Worked some more on the ‘vette stereo at the weekend. I hooked it up to the car temporarily and it actually worked! Talk about surprised. For some reason I didn’t seem to have any sound on the front speakers but hopefully I can figure that out.

While messing with it I moved the head and the sound died. I checked the fuses on the left side but everything was okay. A lot of digging later I found that there were two more fuse panels and one had a radio fuse. The manual leads you to believe that these fuses are in the engine bay Continue reading

I didn’t have as much time as I hoped at the weekend but I did look at the car again.

The CDM is finally located. It’s tucked right up underneath the glove box (My car is a ’91 and I think that’s the same for ’90-92). There’s a big but though – accessibility. You can just about see the back end of the CDM if you lie down with your head at the narrow end where the door hinges are. I could see some connectors just about but can’t tell if these are the ones I need to pull to connect to.

You can also see the CDM from below. This requires contorting yourself onto your back with your head in the passenger foot-well. That isn’t the end of it though, there’s also a plastic shield of some description that you need to remove or free up to gain access to the box And even that doesn’t help a lot).

Neither of these routes has Continue reading

I unpacked the head-unit a week or so back but hadn’t powered it up because I was thinking more about getting the old Bose unit out of the car. My “buyer protection” was close to expiring though so I thought I better power it up and make sure it worked.

Luckily I had a mains – 12v transformer that was left over from an earlier car computer project that didn’t work out as planned. This was perfect for a simple plug-in test to make sure the new android unit powered up properly. After a few turns of the screwdriver to connect the main wires the unit purred (actually it was entirely silent!) into life and presented me with the main “desktop” display.

My first impressions of the unit were Continue reading

Originally I planned to install a Sony head unit to replace the dead Bose unit in my ‘vette but after thinking about it I decided to take things a step further and install an Android car computer instead. This is a bigger project but basically gives me a toy for my toy and that’s what Corvettes are about really. There are some practical reasons behind the decision:

  • I can carry my entire MP3 collection to hand (I don’t listen to the radio and CDs are just too much of a pain)
  • Built-in navigation through android apps
  • Access to any number of other apps through the app store
  • Ability to connect to OBD monitoring and diagnostic information
  • Wireless and/or 3G internet connectivity
  • Almost infinite customization possibilities
  • Not forgetting the sheer coolness of it!

The unit I chose I found through an online forum and was recommended by several people online. Things being what they are it was only available direct from Continue reading

The museum has released details of the cars damaged in the floor collapse:

  • 1993 ZR-1 Spyder on loan from General Motors
  • 2009 ZR1 “Blue Devil” on loan from General Motors
  • 1962 Black Corvette
  • 1984 PPG Pace Car
  • 1992 White 1 Millionth Corvette
  • 1993 Ruby Red 40th Anniversary Corvette
  • 2001 Mallett Hammer Z06 Corvette
  • 2009 White 1.5 Millionth Corvette

Seeing the Spyder on the list makes my heart fall. The museum also released some pictures :

DSC_1259 DSC_1250

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