Michael Roberts

Cafe 11. Earlier than 11.

Shivering. I’m shivering right now. Sitting at a little restaurant in St. Augustine Beach Florida. I know it will warm up when the sun rises. It’s 6:38am but feels like 5:38 due to the time flip. Change. Savings. Not really sure what they want me to call it. Just walked in this place. It’s called Cafe 11. Seems like a chill spot. They have beer and wine, breakfast/lunch spot. Not sure about dinner but they probably do that too. Lunch buffet on Sunday that I wish I could stick around for. The girl that works here is a local and seems real nice. She definitely gives off a beach lifestyle vibe even though it’s not even light out yet. I’m sure she would rather be sleeping at 6:40.

Cafe 11 Menu
Snapshot of the Menu at Cafe 11

The beer selection is surprisingly good at this place. The sun isn’t even up and I’m thinking about beer. Something not right about that. Twelve beers on tap, three of which are from Bold City Brewery, and one from Intuition. These are both local Jacksonville breweries and I like to see there taps spreading farther and farther from Jax. Cafe 11 has 1901 Red Ale, Dukes Brown Ale, and Killer Whale Cream Ale from Bold City, and the Peoples Pale from Intuition.

Cafe 11 Taps

Tap selection at Cafe 11

If  I am ever out here at night I definitely want to swing by and get a brew. I asked if they had live music after I noticed the stage and they said they have concerts every so often.  They are having one next weekend.

The sun doesn’t appear to be budging. I wonder how soon the light will make a crack in the sky. Being awake at this hour is serene. The only car on the road it feels like the world is made only for me. These roads are here for my convenience. I am the only one that has ever needed to use them and they are at my disposal.

I decided to have a seat and enjoy my coffee. No need to be rushing, the sun will come when it wants to.  I thank Erica for making the coffee for me and sit in silence thinking about nothing. Completely at peace with my life.

Cafe 11 Coffee

Front Subframe, Go Pro HD

Dylan let me borrow his Go Pro HD and I have been playing around with it and learning about this neat little camera. I am thinking about getting one to help take videos on my trip. These pictures are from the Go Pro sunction cupped to the tail gate of my truck. I did not want to look so serious in this picture. The picture was somewhat candid. I was viewing the settings on the front of the camera. The time lapse video is made up of pictures 2 seconds apart compiled into a video at 15fps.



Assembled engine, pretty powder.

A couple days ago my friend Karl helped me assemble my bottom end. He has assembled numerous engines and I could not have done it without him. Knowing how to assembly it in theory is not the same as knowing how to do it. Normally I dive in head first and try things but I need this engine to be perfect the first time. Experience does really matter. Thanks to Karl for everything.

These pictures were taken when I had another friend Mitchell come help me torque the bottom end. Karl and I did not have a torque wrench available the night we gapped the rings, and the bottom end requires precise measurements to keep it together.

I also got my valve cover powdercoated and my headlight buckets.  This motor is going to be beautiful when finished. Details like these headlights are things that should make this car stand out.

Engine bay, 24k gold.

The engine bay is completely prepped for paint.  All accessories are removed and bare metal has been painted with etching primer to promote adhesion. The paint is from Sherwin Williams automotive finishes. My best friend Grant and I painted his engine bay two years ago and it came out great and gave me the confidence to spray my own bay. This time I dropped the sub-frame to  give me better access of the frame rail and lower parts of the bay. Never having painted a car before this has been a great learning experience. I went with an acrylic single stage paint instead of a two stage. Two stage also commonly reffered to as “base clear”  can add a deeper shine and makes it possible to wet sand and buff more aggressively. Two stage has twice the steps adding twice the places to make a mistake. The single stage is easier to paint and easier to touch up.


Grant and Mitchell joined me in the painting. I did most of the spraying but they stepped in to spray a bit too. I really appreciated the help. There is a lot to remember, the mixing takes concentration and measuring, three minds are better than one.  Having the helping hands around made the process go smoothly.




Paint came out beautiful. Now all I have to do is put it back together. Assemble the engine, reinstall it, rewire, re-plumb, and take the car on adventures across the county.


Michael Roberts

Pretty paint, under the car.

I was looking at my wheel wells with no suspension and thought that I should address them while I had the chance.

Painted them with Rustoleum aerosol truck bed liner for durability. Now they should be able to take thousands of miles of rocks, gravel, and grime slinging off the tire. Plus they look better.




I also pressure washed the new motor I purchased Check out the post about the motor.Fresh motor, relatively Engine is looking good. It’s hard to believe I am taking apart a perfect running engine to rebuild it from the ground.




HAMMERTIME! Or should I say Ammer!



Fresh motor, relatively.

Picked up a motor last night. A running KA24de will be a good foundation for my engine rebuild. I started tearing it down today but didn’t take the head off. I have an awesome friend with a ring gapping tool that offered to help me assemble it. Once it’s there we can take the head off, pull the pistons out, hone it, and gap my new rings. I would like to thank Kris for helping me hone the other block I wanted to use. It has a tiny scratch in one of the cylinders and I didn’t feel comfortable putting 1200 dollars into that block. The pistons and rods from this new motor will most likely be going into that block. I have an extra head to go on it and will keep it around as a “spare”.

Here is a picture right after we unloaded it from my truck.

This morning I started the tear down on the motor. Took off most of the accessories and parts on the right side of the motor (drivers side). The thing standing up in front of the tool cart is a KA24DE crankshaft.

This motor looks great for an old motor. I have high hopes for it.


Michael Roberts

Clutchline, pistons, rods… oh my!

Progress on the car is coming along nicely. I have some goodies ready to be installed once I get to whatever stage I can install them.

These are CP Pistons for my KA24DE. They are forged and make with a special alloy of aluminum. Aftermarket pistons come in two flavors, 2618 alloy and 4032 alloy. The CP Pistons are the former, 2618. This alloy has low to zero silicon content and this makes the material “softer”. You would think softer pistons would not be as good as harder ones but the softness is at the molecular level. The flexibility in the atoms makes it absorb detonation better than stock cast aluminum pistons and better than 4032 alloy pistons. Detonation is the premature explosion of the gas mixture in the cylinder. This explosion is much more powerful than the planned explosion the car normally runs on. When detonation happens the piston must absorb the extra energy or break. I have personally broken two pistons from lean (more explosive) air fuel mixtures that led to detonation and the destruction of the motor. I have pictures of that carnage I will post at the later date.

There are some drawbacks to the 2618 alloy though. They have greater thermal expansion so much be looser in the cylinder. This looseness can cause audible slapping noise when the car is warming up. Once the pistons get hot they become nice and tight in the cylinder. I will need to be careful to warm up the car before I beat on it to keep the wear down.

These pistons are a 9 to 1 compression ratio, the motor came with a 9.5 to 1 compression ratio. The lower the compression the less chance there is for detonation. Less pressure, less heat, less detonation. There is a tradeoff though, less pressure is less power. I plan on using my turbocharger to force much more air into the cylinder so I will recuperate all of this lost power with ease and still maintain the margin of error of the lower compression.


This is a stainless steel braided clutch line. It replaces the hardline and the softline from the clutch master cylinder to the clutch slave cylinder. Hydraulic fluid is pushed from the clutch pedal, through this line, to the slave which disengages the clutch.  $40 bucks at Enjukuracing.com if you want one yourself. There is not much performance advantage but it’s pretty and will simply the clutch system.

The item on the left is a connection rod. It connects the piston to the crankshaft. The force of the piston pushes down on the top of the rod (little hole) and the other end spins the crankshaft (big hole). I upgraded to Eagle rods. They are bigger and stronger than factory connecting rods. The KA24DE has very strong connecting rods from the factory but these are stronger. Around 450 ft lbs of torque output the original connecting rods have a tendency to bend.

Under the rods is a bare KA24DE block. The big holes you see are the cylinder bores. The pistons go in those holes and travel up and down. There are 4 on this motor because it is a 4 cylinder.

New year’s resolution, Hammertime.

My car, Hammertime, has been through a lot in the last 6 years. Since I purchased it in 2004 there have been a lot of renditions, and rebuilds. In July of 2010 I was participating at an open lapping track day at Gainesville International Raceway. A week before the event my Flex-a-lite electric radiator fans had shorted out and I had replaced both high powered fans with a small Mazda Miata fan. I predicted that at speed the airflow through the radiator would be adequate because of the speed of the car. That didn’t end up working as well as I thought it would.

After a 20 minute lapping session my car was overheating and I brought the car into the paddock to cool off. I let the engine idle to circulate the hot coolant through the radiator. While idling the oil pressure dropped to 4psi, normally oil pressure at idle would be 15psi. The engine oil had reached such a high temperature it became too thin to protect the engines bearings. Sitting with the car idling the connecting rod bearings began to eat themselves.  KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK. I drove the car home at 40mph to keep the engine under 1900rpm which was where the knock became audible.

Parked the car and went back to college in Orlando to finish my degree. When I graduated in December and returned to Jacksonville. Hammertime was still sitting there in the driveway. It’s a loyal car and knew I would return to take car of it.

The is going to be an important year for Hammertime. The cross country trip will be the first time the car has left the south, and the longest the car will be away from the garage that has kept it running strong for years. It needed a proper rebuild to be reliable enough for the trip.

This is the current state of the car.  I have already done a lot of prep work to the engine bay. EVERYTHING has been taken out of the engine bay. Today, I removed the entire subframe to better prep the engine bay for paint.


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