Author Archives: jdinner

Magazine Article

My old website is no more. Thought I’d add this here.


Oil Catch Can Design

My Install Video: My Catch Can Install Video


Engine runs great and no issues with performance. However, when it is idling at traffic lights I see slight blue smoke from the tail pipes. When I accelerate from the lights I get a cloud of blue smoke (oil burning) and then it does not reappear while driving normally.

The condition is worse when I decelerate while leaving the transmission in gear, (engine braking).

When one uses the engine to brake with a manual transmission the intake manifold vacuum is greater than normal. Both throttle blades are closed and the engine is being forced to spin faster than normal. This higher than normal vacuum, I believe, is drawing excessive amounts of oil mist from the crankcase into the air intake system through the BMW PCV valve, (volume control valve – VCV). These valves are a two stage vacuum valve and that makes them much different than a normal PCV valve.

In either case the oil (I believe) is being sucked in and burned whenever the vacuum is great.

Possible Solution:

I made two vacuum chambers that will be mounted about 24” away from the PCV valves. These chambers will have an ‘in’ and an ‘out’ port. The ‘in’ port will be connected to the PCV valve in the rocker cover. The oil mist will travel in a tube to the homemade chamber. This ‘in’ port has a tube connected on the inside of the chamber to force the oil mist to the bottom of the chamber to be filtered and trapped in some steel wool.  The ‘out’ port is located at the top side of the chamber and should allow for only clean air to be sucked into the intake manifold.

On the bottom of these chambers I drilled and threaded in drain ports so the oil sludge can be removed periodically. These also can be removed and washed with varsol if needed.


I used 2” diameter stainless steel exhaust pipe 6” long.


I used 1/8” plate for the top and bottom plates. I made the top plate larger so it can be the mounting bracket as well.CCan_5599

I used 4 of 3/8”NPTx3/8” barbed x 90 degree elbows for all the vacuum ports.


I used 3/8” steel fuel line inside the chamber to direct the oil mist to the bottom.

3/8" steel tubing press fit into elbow fitting.

The steel wool is from the dollar store and was $1.00.



A PCV or VCV system has a purpose. To relieve crankcase pressure and fumes. It is part of the emissions systems.

Most engines have an air inlet for the crankcase connected to the air filter side of the intake system before the throttle plate. This air enters the crankcase through a port in the rocker cover. The air/fumes are sucked out of the crankcase by way of the PCV valve in a rocker cover connected to the intake manifold after the throttle plate. It is these fumes that we need to clean up to prevent oily residue collecting inside the intake manifold and burning creating blue smoke.

Videos like this are made by people that have no idea how the system works or its purpose.

For example, this guy has now prevented air from entering his crankcase.

This guy thinks the air inlet port to the valve cover has oil in it for some reason. He has installed it on the wrong side of the PCV system. Oddly enough he calls it Oil Catch Can Explained.

This guy installed one on the inlet side as well. Very strange, I have no idea why anyone thinks there is oil in the air we breathe.

One more guy installing it the wrong way as well:

This is how it is supposed to work:

My Video:

Diablo Build Information Package

I am offering for sale a massive collection of my documents, photos, videos, electrical schematics, part schematics and how-to’s that I have generated after building several replica cars.

This package represents years of experimentation and discovery of what works and does not work in these cars.

I am offering this package at a discounted price of $50.00.

This package will save you thousands of dollars.

Please contact me at


Screen Shot 2013-09-22 at 9.34.12 AM


















Control Arm Calculator

I am often asked how I calculated the length of the control arms on a naerc replica chassis with different wheels and body. I put together a calculator to determine the correct length.

Why? Some bodies are wider or narrower than the naerc bodies, some big brake kits required a 1/4″ or 3/8″ spacer for the wheel to clear the calipers and finally some wheels are not the same offset as what naerc was selling.

Nothing looks more silly than a wheel tucked too far in or sticking out of the fender.

With this calculator you must first determine what your ‘hub face to hub face’ is by setting the wheels under the body exactly where you want them. Make your measurement and enter it into the proper cell in the calculator.


You need to have Microsoft Excel or Apple Numbers on your system to view this.

Let me know if this helped you –


Wheel Center Cap Stickers

I bought these from 3D Car Stickers

With shipping and everything it was less than $15.00 for four to my door.

They can be ordered any diameter you choose in 1mm increments.

Rear Wheel

Front Wheel

Kevlar Clutch Install

After two years of driving the V12 connected to the Audi 016 on a fairly regular basis the Audi 90 clutch started to show signs of slipping under heavy load.

There were also signs of a seeping rear main crankshaft seal. I took this opportunity to replace the rear seal, reface the friction disc with Kevlar and rebuild the pressure plate.

Just finished the job today and all is perfect once again.

Rear Crankshaft Seal Installed

Rear Main Seal Resurfaced Flywheel

Resurfaced Flywheel











Kevlar Friction Disc

Kevlar Friction Disc

Rebuilt and Strengthened Pressure Plate

Rebuilt Pressure PLate

Paint Cut and Polish

Over the past few days I’ve been perfecting the paint finish on the car. This paint job is the same as when we showed the car in Carlisle last year and it was very good then. The paint was applied about 16 months ago and now I am making it perfect.

This is a long, exhausting and time consuming project but it can be very worthwhile when you see the end result.

At the end of this video you will see a few dark specs on the paint, this is from the trees overhead dropping…stuff.


Haltech Setup Step-by-Step

Everything below can be downloaded as a PDF by clicking here;


Step-by-Step Haltech Platinum Sport 2000 Install and Tune V12 BMW 5.0 liter

Items required;

  • Haltech Platinum Sport 2000 with flying lead harness (about $2000.00 cdn)
  • Ht020002 Dual Channel Ignition Ignitor (about $175.00 cdn)
  • Wideband O2 Sensor with controller (about $250.00 cdn)
  • 2 of 1999 model 3.1 liter V6 throttle bodies (used about $50.00 cdn)
  • Coolant Sensor, Air Temperature Sensor, 1 extra Idle Air Control from the 3.1 V6
  • Fairly new PC laptop capable of running 3D view in the Haltech software.


  1. Make up adapter plates to mount the throttle bodies onto the intake manifolds
  2. Drill and thread ports onto the opposite ends of the intakes (plates can be removed so filings do not enter the intake). Drill and thread 3/8”NPT threads on each side and 1 extra 1/8” NPT hole for the onboard MAP sensor and don’t forget about power brakes.
  3. Install a 3/8”NPT TEE in the center of a crossover hose (3/8” rubber vacuum hose). It is important that it is in the center. Run a 1/2” rubber hose from the TEE to a custom made IAC unit, you must use 3/8” NPT X 1/2” barbed fittings, smaller will not work. I have instructions on the custom made IAC here:
  5. Wire up the engine……


Wiring the Engine

  1. Wire the bottom crank sensor (you will only need one of the two BMW crank sensors)

When wiring the sensor you will see three wires numbered 1,2 and 3 on the sensor connector located at the top front of the engine V. 1 and 2 are the reluctor wires while 3 is a ground for the cable shield. Wire the #1 wire of the sensor to the YELLOW wire in trigger cable. Wire the #2 wire to the GREEN wire in the trigger cable. Wire the #3 wire to the cable shielding in the trigger cable. I then taped the connections and added foil tape over everything to shield it.

2. Wire the IAC (Idle Air Control/ Bypass Air Control / Idle Speed Stepper Motor). NOTE: These are labelled IDL 1, 3, 4 and ABCD. The instructions call for 4-A, 3-B, 1-C and 2-D. You must make this change, 1-D and 2-C instead.

  1. Wire TPS (Throttle Position) The instructions call for A-sensor ground, B-TPS signal, C- +5volts. Mine was working backwards. I had to change A-+5volts and C-sensor ground. (Test yours first in the software, more on this later)
  2. Wire the CTS (Coolant Temperature) A-Sensor ground, B- Temperature. I needed to remove one of the stock BMW coolant sensors and I rethreaded it to 3/8”NPT so the GM sensor could be installed.
  3. Wire the IAT (Intake Air Temp) A-sensor ground, B-Temperature. I installed this sensor before the throttle plate after the air filter.
  4. Wire the injectors. All of the injectors get +12V on one side (does not matter which side) and the other pin is a pulsed ground by ECU. Wire them like this.
  5. Right bank is 123456 and left bank is 78910 11 12. DPO wires are used for this, (Digital Pulsed Output) DPO16-Injector 1, DPO15-Injector 2, DPO14-Injector 3, DPO13-Injector 4, DPO12-Injector 5, DPO11-Injector 6, DPO10-Injector 7, DPO9-Injector 8, DPO8-Injector 9, DPO7-Injector 10, DPO17-Injector 11, DPO18-Injector 12,
  6. Wire the Wideband O2 Sensor (Lambda). The wideband controller will wire to an ignition source separate from the computer. They will have built in wiring from between the controller and sensor leaving only a positive and ground to make it work. It will have an AUX out wire too, wire this to the center wire in the AVI11 wire (o2 Input). NOTE: this is a shielded wire, do not let the shielding touch the center wire.  Only the one wire to the ECU is required. I used a AEM wideband unit with the gauge included. The gauge is handy to compare the computer display.
  7. Connect your Constant power wires and Grounds and use the Pink wire for hot-during-crank ignition source. All your relays and fuses should be connected already.
  8. That is all the wiring need to make it run.


Setting up the Software

Download the latest version for the Platinum Sport 2000 (1.09.1) (July 2012)

  1. You do not need to be connected to the ECU unit to do the basic setup.
  2. Download and save this file. –
  3. Open the software and Click on File, then Open, then choose the downloaded file. It is labelled Diablo_July24_2012v01
  4. Once you open this, everything for that engine should be done for you. This represents months of work, time and money to make this file.
  5. Connect to the computer wired to the engine with the USB cable provided by Haltech only. Choose File, Upload, and navigate to the file you downloaded with the extension .h2s-109 .
  6. By doing this it will upload all the files into the Haltech computer and the engine should start and run perfect if it is a 1988 to 1992 BMW V12. It might work for other model years too, not sure.


Navigating the Software Basics

Make a new page: View – Create New Page – name it

This will give a screen with something like ‘customize your tuning pages’.

Right Click anywhere in that window.

Choose ‘Text View’ . Now when you highlight an item in the left column, ‘ECU Navigator’ you will see a large chart filled with numbers. This is the best way to view and enter your tuning numbers.

Just for fun, choose any number on the chart (keep in mind the engine will change operation habits by doing this, so always have another copy on hand).

Choose a cell, it becomes highlighted, now hit PgUp or Pg Dn on the keyboard. This will change the value up or down. Set it much higher than it was just for fun.

Now, with the mouse, highlight all the cells around that cell so it looks  like a large blue box, now hit ‘L’ on the keyboard. This will linearise all the numbers in that area so the engine will make the transitions smoothly. Use CTRL + Z to undo your changes.

Those are the basics for changing table values and when connected to a running engine you will see the changes take effect in real time.


SETUP Manually

If you don’t want to download and do the upload you can do the setup entirely by yourself too. Here is how.

  1. Connect to your computer with all the power and ground wires connected properly. Connect the pink wire to a hot-during-crank 12 volt ignition source.
  2. Turn on the key and press F5 or the connect button.
  3. Choose ‘Setup’ – then copy these settings into your program.


Pictures can be found in the downloadable PDF


Additional Setups

Injector Fire Angle – Use the default numbers here

Injector Flow Rate – Use 156. This is 156cc @ 45psi fuel pressure.

Injector Dead-time – Use 1.975 @ 8.5volts to 1.219 @ 15.5volts, Mine seems to run better at these settings. I can not find any specs for these injectors. Use the L key for the rest in between.


Using the extra DPO wires I was able to control the electric fans on and off times by setting them Main Setup / Outputs / Check DPO1 / Drop down to Coolant Temp Switch 1. Then a tab will appear across the top of that window called ‘CTS Switches’. Click that tab and set your fan on value and fan off value. I picked 205*F on and 195*F off.  THESE ARE LOW VOLTAGE OUTPUTS so you must run it through a relay to avoid burning out the ecu.


TPS Setup

Go to Main Setup/Inputs/TPS.

With the key on go to the 0%TPS and click on Read Voltage.

Now hold the throttle wide open and choose 100%TPS and click on Read Voltage.

IF the 100% is a smaller number than the 0% you need to swap the 5 volt and ground wires at the TPS switch.


Tuning the Engine

If you want to tune your engine yourself without a dynamometer it is somewhat easy as long as you have a basic understanding of how engines work. I suggest a passenger in the car to start and stop ‘Data Logging’ during the testing phase.

I suggest using the VE method for tuning.  If you have used the settings I have included above it should run fairly good but every engine is different. Grab your passenger and go for a ride.

Use the Data Logging to PC feature and choose recordable items such as RPM, Load, AFR, Timing

During the road test perform normal driving (cruising) conditions to get your basic map underway. Do this by Clicking on Data Manager in the bottom window. Choose Record and start driving. Keep your trips shorts in the beginning, about 1 minute.

Stop recording then analyze the data. Watch the AFR readings and drag the play bar to lean or rich conditions. If you have the Fuel/Base (Text View) window open you will see the blue dot moving around the screen when you drag the play bar. Stop the blue dot on rich or lean and change the values up or down (Page Up/Page Down on the keyboard) Retest the same drive and see how it improved or not. Make the corrections as needed. Use the L key feature and the 3D map to visually smoothen out the map. It won’t be a perfect wave pattern, for example, a 2nd gear fast hard pull will require a sudden blast of fuel (Transient Throttle) then a large amount of fuel at about 2500RPM to 4000RPM then it will become less fuel as the RPM gets higher, not more fuel. Your numbers will vary obviously but this is just an example to show a fuel curve is not perfect looking.

This will take some time, perhaps 6 hours of setting and watching the AFR meter in the software. This can not be accurately with a stand alone AFR meter, I tried.

Understanding the basics of the software will take some time too. I suggest watching YouTube videos uploaded by haltechecu, particularly;

  1. “Haltech ECU Manager Software Setup”
  2. “Haltech: Volumetric Efficiency Explained”
  3. “Haltech: Throttle Pump explained“
  4. “Haltech: Base Ignition Timing explained”

Those videos are key to explaining some basics.

You can watch my YouTube channel at jdinner399.


You can contact me at to ask me any questions you may have.

The Haltech Platinum Sport 2000 is AMAZING!

No video or pictures yet but I hope to post some soon.

Chris Power (a former student) and I spent about 4 hours today recording our drives with the PC logger, a feature built into the Haltech system. I connected the AEM wideband O2 sensor AUX output to the Haltech computer AVI11 input so we could record the Air Fuel Ratio- AFR and see where the problems with hesitations and backfires were happening.

We found our timing was too low at high RPM/Load and made a quick change. In 3D view you can change the pattern to a smooth wave-looking table.

We had serious AFR issues. Under certain conditions, ie: full throttle for 3 seconds, it would go lean or rich depending on the speed and load. With the logger we ware able to see the AFR in all the conditions and we were able adjust the table to bring the AFR to 14.7 in most conditions. We are running between 13.5 and 15.8 in erratic conditions, not too lean and not too rich.

Once normal driving was smoothened out we had an issue with a dead spot under accel. We introduced the Transient Throttle table to the mix (a throttle pump). With some guess work we quickly smoothed out the dead spot.

Now the car was pulling all the way through TPS 0% to TPS 100% at any speed and in any gear. BUT, our next problem was puffs of smoke after a gear down or coasting in gear condition. We introduced the Decel Cut table. This will cut the fuel injector activity during decel and 0% throttle at above idle speeds. Our smoke issue disappeared once this was introduced. It seems we were dumping normal fuel values for the engine speed and vacuum when none was required. It is now, simply, ZERO fuel during these conditions. Now the exhaust does not load up with fuel during decel and therefore, no smoke.

Another adjustment we experienced today was Injector Dead Time (IDT). When we had the engine running fairly good and I started playing with IDT. I found that by increasing the dead-time numbers at idle voltage (14.0 volts) the AFR would drop making it richer. This gave me the opportunity to reduce the fuel to make it run at 14.7.  I used ctrl-a to highlight the entire Fuel Base table (VE method BTW) and used Page-Down to increase our AFR numbers back to proper stoichiometric numbers…14.7.

It is awesome!!



Radiator Caps Explained.

Radiator Caps and Reservoirs.

There is nothing more frustration than walking into a parts supply shop and then needing to school the counter person on cooling system types and parts. Especially if the purchaser is like me, a person that makes his own stuff. I am asked “ year, make, model”. I don’t have an answer in most cases. This happened last week when looking for a radiator cap for a coolant tank I made.

Cooling System Basics

The cooling system is designed to allow the engine to run at a normal temperature of 180*F to 210*F depending on the manufacturer. The purpose of the high temperature is to keep the metal engine parts in the shape they are designed to be. For example, pistons are not made to be round, they are oval shaped. When the temperature increases the aluminum piston will expand to fill the cylinder and run in a round shape. A cold engine will cause piston damage.

All liquid cooling systems will have a radiator, water pump, engine and hoses to connect them all together. The radiator is full of small tubes to make the hot coolant have more surface area so that air passing through the radiator can cool the coolant easier and faster.

Water will boil at 212*F but when we put it under pressure we can raise the boiling point by three degrees F for every pound per square inch of pressure. Therefore a 15 PSI cap (fairly normal) will increase the boiling point to 257*F from 212*F.

We want temperatures around 200*F and we want pressures around 15 PSI.

Coolant Tanks

There are two basic types but many ways to describe them. Some examples are; recovery tank, reservoir tank, surge tank, header tank, overflow tank, expansion tank and swirl tank just to name the most common. I have found that ALL of these descriptions have been used to describe either tank, including three of my textbooks.

The top tank above is a ZERO PRESSURE tank and the bottom tank is a PRESSURE tank. Let’s call it that for now, zero pressure and pressure. To my knowledge I will be the first to call them this descriptor.

The ZERO PRESSURE tank has either one or two small hoses going to it. It will have one hose going to the radiator cap vent port regardless. If it has a second hose, that hose will spill to the ground. This tank can be checked at any temperature. It will have a cheap clip on or spin on cover cap.

The PRESSURE tank can have many hoses going to it. Usually two or three small hoses and one larger hose. This PRESSURE tank will have a high pressure radiator cap on it with a warning to NEVER CHECK HOT. The large hose will connect to the cooling system somewhere and this is meant for filling the engine with coolant. The smaller hoses will be vent ports from the highest points of the cooling system, usually the top of the radiator and top of the engine. These small hoses assist in allowing air too escape from the radiator and the engine during filling and running conditions.

Both tank designs are meant to keep the radiator full during operating temperatures (180*F to 210*F). The ZERO PRESSURE tank will recover the expanded coolant as it increases in pressure. Once the pressure exceeds 15 PSI the big spring on the radiator cap will be overcome by the pressure and allow some small amounts of coolant to dump to the ZERO PRESSURE tank. Later, when the coolant cools off inside the engine it will create a vacuum as the coolant changes to its normal unexpanded size. A small vent in the radiator cap will now open and draw the coolant back into the radiator so the cycle can start over again in the next driving event.

The PRESSURE tank is mounted slightly higher than the radiator. Since the top of the radiator is vented to the tank and the tank is filling the cooling system from the large port, the radiator will constantly be full. These PRESSURE tanks should never be completely full, they should be about two to three inches down from the top. Since we know coolant expands when it gets hot the air cavity on the top side will now give the coolant room to expand. The PRESSURE tank will also have a radiator cap vent port but it will always go to the ground. A properly filled system will never vent coolant to the ground, only air.

The best part of the PRESSURE tank system are the vents from the engine and radiators. As naturally occurring steam/air is being created around the engines hot spots (watch a boiling pot of water on the stove next time) the air/steam needs a place to go. Water pumps can not overcome the pressures developed by steam and thus there will be no coolant flow and an overheated engine. With the steam allowed to go the PRESSURE tank it will be expelled and help push the coolant into the water passages.

Radiator Caps

This topic is the most confusing and uninformed in the cooling industry.

I will only be talking about the metal, two tabbed, seat and spring type of radiator cap .

Parts supply stores will list these caps as ‘OPEN’, ‘CLOSED’, ‘VENTED’ and ‘NON-VENTED’. Yet there are only two types, so what is what?

Try a google search for the difference and you will find many different answers and many will end with “I think”.

NO, a lever on the top of the cap does not make it vented, NO, I am not confusing gas caps and rad caps.

A ‘Vented’ cap = ‘Closed’ cap – ‘Vented’ means is sucks from the ZERO PRESSURE tank as it cools down. ‘Closed’ means it does not go to the ground.

A ‘Non-Vented’ cap = ‘Open’ cap- ‘Non-vented’ means it does not suck coolant back into the cooling system. ‘Open’ means when the pressure gets too high it dumps onto the ground.

Both cap designs are available in lever type as well just to add more confusion. The lever makes it easier to install and remove, that’s it. Both the non lever and lever types give you a spot in the removal process to warn you about dangerous steam. You will burn yourself if you remove them hot.


So, with all that being said you will want a ‘VENTED’ or ‘CLOSED’ radiator cap if you have a ZERO PRESSURE reservoir tank.

You will want a ‘NON-VENTED’ or ‘OPEN’ radiator cap if you install it on a PRESSURE reservoir tank.