A short road trip was long overdue, and our 10th wedding anniversary provided the perfect opportunity to get out of town. I include the shot above mainly as a way of gloating over the ample trunk room, despite the space occupied by the batteries. We buttoned her up and pointed ourselves toward Ventura, which is about 67 miles up the coast – almost at the limit of my range. So as a precaution, our first stop was Cross Creek in Malibu, where we could pause for a nice dinner and soak up a few extra electrons that would squeak us into Ventura.
. We scored a charging station at the Malibu Civic Center, and then strolled over to Marmalade Cafe for a leisurely dinner. Ninety minutes later, we returned, unplugged the car, and buckled-in for the drive north on Pacific Coast Highway. The Orion BMS reported we had 93.5% charge – nearly full, so we left Cross Creek in positive spirits. But only a few miles later my copilot reported the pack was now at at 40%, slightly less than before dinner. I don’t know what confused the normally trustworthy Orion, but I suspected a faulty charging station. Rather than push on and risk getting stranded, I decided to go back to Cross Creek to investigate. So I pulled a U-turn.
. That U-turn unfortunately put my right front tire in direct contact with an unexpected median, producing a gash that abruptly released all the air from our plans. Without a spare, I had to cash in on my AAA Plus membership for a flatbed ride back to the house. It was an unplanned turn of events that required some serious regrouping.
. Of course, it was a huge bummer that both our anniversary plans and a new tire were blown, but I was also unsettled about the cause of the dropped charge – I didn’t know whether it was the charging station, or the Porsche. So I opened the PlugShare app on my iPhone to check the charger status for Cross Creek, and to view user reports that might confirm the unit was broken. Although I didn’t see anything immediately negative, I still posted my own report, which you can read in the screenshot above. Hopefully this will elicit confirmation from other EV owners, and warrant an inspection, repair or replacement of that charging station.
. On the bright side, Plan B went extremely well. Early the next morning, my lovely wife drove us in her car to Ojai for breakfast and some pummeling and pampering at the Day Spa of Ojai. Later, we cruised the scenic route around Lake Casitas, dropped onto the 101, and returned to our favorite B&B in Ventura, the Victorian Rose. The building is an historic landmark, and the interior feels like an old-timey funhouse full of relics and legacy. If you take a few minutes to look at the rooms on their website, you might even consider a weekend in Ventura for yourself. Our anniversary dinner at Cafe Nouveau also gets very high marks, and merits a double recommendation.
. Back home on Sunday afternoon, I immediately put the Porsche in the air, removed the thrashed tire, and thoroughly inspected the underside. Happily, there was no damage other than a little undercoating scraped off the edge of the fiberglass airdam. Some minor sanding and a shot of 3M put it right again. The blown tire was still covered under the Pep Boys optional road hazard warranty, so they replaced it for the cost of labor. For the record, it’s a Hankook Optimo H426 185/65R15 88H, which is a low rolling friction tire designed to boost fuel economy. Also for the record, the battery pack charged up without incident, as it has literally hundreds of times before. This supports the suspicion that there’s something squirrely with the one charging station in Malibu.
. There was no telling how the encounter with the median had affected the wheels, so I scheduled a proper 4 wheel alignment at the first opportunity. Adjusting the front end is pretty straightforward, but the back wheels are aligned by adding or removing shims from under the rear trailing arm mounting bolts. These are the shims, pictured above. I bought two sets of 2mm, 3mm and 4mm reproduction shims from MadDogs MotorSports on eBay, which they laser cut from mild steel because the original Porsche parts are no longer available.
. These days, a precision 4-wheel alignment is done with lasers, reflectors, cameras, and a computer. I took the Porsche to Bagge and Son in Culver City, who are very familiar with the 914, and have aligned hundreds of them through the years. Thankfully, they confirmed that my encounter with the median did no harm to the front end. The whole visit took about an hour, and left me with a car that drives noticeably smoother. The steering is glassy, and any faint jitteryness in the wheel at freeway speed is gone. I didn’t think the Fahrvergnügen could get any better!
Here’s the printout of my finished wheel alignment geometry. The sheet reflects camber, toe, and caster adjustments for the two front wheels, and only camber and toe for the rear wheels. The mechanics were confident that normal body weight in the car would bring the red figures shown above into true. I have no reason to disbelieve them – Any shop that does suspension and alignment on the presidential limo is probably trustworthy.