I got my YearOne Cast Snowflake 17″ wheels this week! They look great!
They package the wheels very well. They ship 2 wheels per box, with packing paper in the top and bottom of each box. Each wheel is packaged in a retail box with special elastic padded rings around each wheel. The front has a combination of Styrofoam and netting to keep debris from getting in. Each wheel is then wrapped by very thin plastic to keep them clean during shipping.
The wheels themselves are light, less than 15 lbs each. Lug nut holes are deep with 60 degree conical seats to accept any kind of lug nut and can fit most GM (and other) vehicles. Factory snowflake lug nuts are a tight fit within the lug nut holes. The depth is so deep the factory snowflake and factory acorn lug nuts look kind of funny recessed (see picture). I’m going to try a 1.45″ deep lug nut next week to see if they look better with these wheels. Other than the lug nut depth being a bit odd, these wheels are awesome!
These are a second generation version of the YearOne Cast Snowflake Wheels. To see the first generation wheel, visit the 78ta.com forums thread post contributed by Aus78Formula: http://www.78ta.com/HTAF/index.php?topic=41799.msg427726#msg427726
The wheel has a 5.125″ (5 1/18″ back spacing (previous generation had 4.875″ backspacing). If you want the original backspacing, all you have to do is buy a 1/4″ wheel spacer. You may find that a 1/8″ or 3/16″ wheel spacer is all you really need.
The hub hat diameter of these wheels 72.6mm (or 72.56mm). Factory hub is 70.3mm, so if you want to be 100% sure your wheels are centered you can get hub centric rings for that.
If you haven’t followed this blog, for Project Trans Am I decided on the Pypes brand header back X exhaust system. One of the finishing touches is to add dual chrome exhaust tips. This dual tip look was used from 1967-1969 and from 1976-1981. It is one of the subtle but unique details for any late model Trans Am of the era.
Originally I purchased a set of EVT10 Pypes exhaust splitter tips (retail for $75-$100) to connect to the splitter adapter kit TGF10E to convert my Pypes X pipe kit from a Camaro exhaust system to a Firebird Trans Am exhaust system. Though the web site advertises these to have a 2-1/4″ exit tips, the tips are actually both 2-1/2″ in diameter. The extra wide tips make it harder for them to tuck under without hitting either the rear leaf spring or the body. On top of this, the band clamps they came with are not strong enough to clamp the stainless steel. I then decided to try drilling a hole in the tips to try to use a screw to hold them to the exhaust pipe without any luck. Basically, the stainless steel used is so strong, the only way to attach these tips is to weld them on.
In addition to the problems with the tips, the TGF10E kit did not fit well with the piping portion that bridges the mufflers to just over the axles. Modification was necessary in order to get these pipes from the kit to fit without rubbing against the under body. I will still have to take my car to a muffler shop to tweak the pipes over the axles if they don’t settle away from the under body this Spring.
I decided to order a pair of the 35218 Mangnaflow exhaust tips (retail for about $125-$140) after seeing them in a previous episode of Detroit Muscle (TV show from the folks of PowerBlock TV and Muscle Car). Two days later (they came fast) I had them in my hand and I was impressed. These actually have an inlet of 2.5″ and outlet tips of 2.25″. They are also polished stainless steel. They have a straighter profile so you can tuck the tips under the car better. There are 4 relief cuts made along the collar so they can be clamped on easily. They look more like factory tips than the Pypes tips.
With all the problems I’ve had with the Pypes system from the mufflers back, if I had to order an exhaust system today, I would buy just X pipe portion and downpipes from Pypes, Texas Trans Am or Magnaflow mufflers, then Magnaflow muffler back exhaust piping and tips. I wonder if it’s even possible to buy such a combination of brands?
Here are some pictures:
Last summer I installed my Pypes brand dual exhaust with crossover. As I noted in August I installed the system and had some headaches. This post is going to explain the frustration I had with their band clamps.
12 of the 14 clamps I ordered from Amazon.com, the remaining 2 came from the tailpipe tips kit (which I had fitment issues with). Not all of the clamps are the same (see photo). The ones that use yellow zinc (gold color) hardware are really good quality clamps. The remaining ones appear to use a combination of cheap hardware and poorly cast middle H washers. One H shaped washer broke apart on me, as well as two of the nut washers sheered as I tightened the nut. The high quality clamps have the Pypes logo stamped onto them, where the cheap band clamps have the letters PYPES etched onto them. The stainless steel appears to be of higher quality with the yellow zinc hardware. The head of the yellow zinc bolt has 10.9 stamped on it, an indication that it truly is high-strength hardware.
Clamp on the right is worth it’s weight in gold. The clamp on the left is not even worth $1.
When using these clamps I was able to get the exhaust to seal regardless of the washers sheering, but I have no confidence in being able to re-use the hardware on the non-zinc coated clamps. The zinc coated clamp I was able to tighten confidently, where once I had one of the cheap clamps sheer a washer I took my time tightening them. I also added copper anti-seize to the threads and used a torque wrench to try to not to exceed 10 ft/lbs (I just picked a torque I thought would be safe with the cheap hardware).
I suspect Amazon.com sent me either counterfeit or old stock Pypes band clamps . I hope this is not a bean counter move by Pypes / Performance Years, as that is a company I expect better from.
A flare wrench is like an open end wrench with 5-6 contact sides and/or 4-5 contact corners. As it’s name implies, the wrench is intended for use on flared fittings. A normal open end wrench makes contact on only two sides, making the flare wrench ideal for better contact in certain situations. In many cases they can be used for the same applications, though both wrenches have specific uses. There are also flare wrenches for 12 point nuts, though rare.
Most mechanics refer to flare wrenches as special purpose tools. It’s primary use is for flare based nuts attached to piping such as brake lines, fuel lines, transmission coolant lines, and other similar lines. Even mechanical based oil pressure and water temperature gauges use flare nuts for their lines, which should be installed using a flare wrench.
Not all flare wrenches are created equal. Doing research on a number of tool based forums you will find brands have a tendency to spread, meaning under heavy usage the opening of the flare wrench spreads apart beyond an acceptable amount. Another important factor is how many corners the flare wrench comes in contact with the flare nut. The S-K flare wrench in the photo above covers 5 corners of the nut, with all sides of the flare nut getting contact on the nut’s sides. This combination of edges and corners is ideal. See the diagram below to see the difference in flare wrenches.
Budget priced flare wrenches tend to use the 4 corner pattern, were-as most quality flare wrenches use the 5 corner pattern.
Depending on your budget, Allen brand (made in USA), KD (made in USA), GearWrench (made over seas), S-K (made in USA) and Williams (by Snap-on) (made in USA) brands have good reviews.
Craftsman no longer offers a raised panel flare wrench (except on their web site, most likely until stock is depleted) and has remarked their Craftsman Professional Flare Wrenches as just Craftsman Flare wrenches. The older made in USA Craftsman Professional flare wrenches were made by S-K. The new line of Craftsman flare wrenches are now made over seas.
My Pontiac 400 engine rebuild requires me to file to fit the top 2 compression rings. In order to make sure the rings keep their true edge, a mechanical Piston Ring Filer is recommended. Because I do not plan on using this tool very often, I decided to purchase an inexpensive clone from Jegs. A quality name brand (KD Tools) version of this filer is available at Amazon.com for only a couple bucks more.
The Piston Ring Filer will come with a bracket to allow you to bolt it to your workbench. Rather than bolting it to my bench, I decided to build my own platform to permanently mount the piston filer to, that way I could mount it in my bench vise when needed. I used a 1 x 6 cut about 14 inches long, with two 45 degree cuts at one end so my knuckles do not hit the wood during cranking. I then cut a 2 x 4 at 3 1/2 inches making a square block to screw to the bottom of the filer platform for pinching with my vise. The result is pictured.
To file a piston ring, place the ring facing up on the tongue end of the filer tool with the open ends of the ring resting within the side by side wheel bearings. With either one or both sides of the ring pressed lightly into the filing wheel, rotate the wheel counter clockwise so the wheel moves against the ring in a down and inward pattern. This will leave the top and outer edge with no rough edges. I’ve viewed one engine builder use this ring filer to file only one end of the ring, leaving the other end slightly away from the grinding stone. Filing only one end of the ring has the advantage of allowing you to compare the filed end with the non-filed end to verify the edge is true.
You can file rings with a hand file, but you take the chance of filing the end of the ring unevenly. If you’re paranoid like me, drop the $50-70 on one of these ring filers, it’s a no-brainer.