SB-100 Success: Plates are on the Car

Ah, my good friends at the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), especially my extra extra good friends on Fell St in San Francisco, how I’ve missed you! It’s been way too long. I really should have come earlier. Maybe we should hang out more often!?

Yes, maybe we should – so I can explain your own processes, regulations and laws to you since you don’t seem to get them. Perhaps I can give you a lesson in customer service too, expert that I am at that (as in been subjected to shitty customer service many times there.) Admittedly, the SB-100 registration is not a common one to be processed, probably even more so in the middle of San Francisco. I guess there are just not as many crazy guys like me building cars in the city.

And so here’s how I got to spend almost four hours there, missing a few work meetings as a consequence.

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VINning at the CHP

At the CHP in San Francisco
At the CHP in San Francisco

Well, step 2 was easy. A few years ago, step 1 to get an SB-100 sequence number at the DMV was pretty easy too. The second step, after finally getting the car roadworthy, is to go to the local CHP station to get a VIN assigned.

I had called a few weeks prior and was told to show up at 10 am on a Wednesday. It’s close by in my case, not even a 15 minute drive to get down to 8th and Bryant. Appointments are required btw – don’t just show up.

The drive down was uneventful, though admittedly I was a bit apprehensive about potentially being in rush hour traffic and simply for the fact that I was further from home than ever with the car. I had asked my wife to be on standby to give me a tow, just in case. So I fill out my 1-day pass from the DMV, drive down, pull in right on time, walk in the door and I get a friendly greeting with a quip of “getting a VIN, huh?”

Yessir! That’s what I’m looking for. Two minutes later another friendly officer calls me up and I hand him my full stack of papers. I show him the ones I knew he’ll really care about, which is the sequence number from the DMV and the receipt with VIN of the car the engine and transmission came from. After not even a minute, we walk to the parking lot together and he starts checking out the car.

This was not a cop checking your car out. It was a knowledgeable car guy asking car guy questions. We joked about the folks trying to pull a fast one with Ariel Atoms or BAC Monos. The CHP is way too smart for that. Don’t even bother. I obviously had my s*#& together and had built this myself. It was obvious from my receipts and the chatter we had as car guys.

Back in, some back office paper work and after 25 minutes total I was out the door, CHP legal with a VIN. Easy and totally painless. Great process. Thank you CHP.

For anyone else looking to do this, here are my groundbreaking tips:

  1. Be organized, have all your papers. Show everything.
  2. Be friendly, they’re good guys and want to help you.
  3. But use the process for what it is: self constructed vehicles, nothing else.

Also, by finally doing a real drive, there were some obvious things I need to work on with the car:

  1. The engine tick is still there.
  2. The shifter throw is too far, so I need to shorten the handle.
  3. The idle is too low. Due to the lightweight Cup flywheel, the engine spins down too fast. The Link ECU can’t seem to catch this fast enough with either proportional gain table without causing a super bumpy idle instead – that’s the trade off there. However, if I set the idle target to 1300 instead of 1200 it has 100 more RPM when spinning down in order to react. I think this will work.

Newly discovered issues aside, step 2 is done and now it’s onward to the Smog Referee for a brake and light inspection. Again, super close for me – either across the Bay Bridge to Alameda or down to Skyline College.

Porsche GT3 (996) engine tick: help!

I’m getting ready to take the car to the CHP this week for its VIN and the engine just developed a little tick. It seems to come from the 1-2-3 bank and perhaps is near the front (chain side) of the engine. A few different people have listened to it and we generally think that’s where it’s from, but we aren’t 100% sure either. I have no clue what it is, but here are a few thoughts:

  • If you watch the attached video, it is 21 seconds long and there are 36 or 37 ticks in it.
  • 36 or 37 ticks in the video means 103-105 per minute
  • The engine idles around 1250 RPM. I know it’s bouncing a bit in the video – the idle hasn’t been tuned to dead perfect yet.
  • 1250 RPM means around 208 strokes per minute per cylinder, specifically 104 strokes of each type per cylinder per minute

So the strokes per type per cylinder lines up with the tick frequency. I don’t know if that’s by chance, but it seems oddly related. Any thoughts on what this could be?