Archive for car work

DIY or Outsource?

Driving to Grattan a few months ago, I decided that 60-65mph in an 18-foot-long extended-bed-1997 Ford F-250 towing a 28-foot enclosed trailer (total length with tongue is 18 + 3 + 28 = 49′. A semi trailer is 53′) is not a fun way to start a weekend.  Also, it is even more undesirable to end the tiring weekend to drive the thing home.
…And all that is if things go perfect – I won’t discuss tire-blow-outs, my lack of backing-up skills, having the car roll out of the trailer and into traffic (don’t ask), and so on…

If you’ve read the previous posts, at this point you are probably expecting most of my posts on this here blog to be a bad-luck filled weekend of inexperience and poor planning.  Which, might be accurate if you didn’t know that I’ve decided to let a professional help me out with this hobby.

After the Grattan race, which overall went well for me, I sat down and planned out the rest of my year.  I have a ton going on with work (I’m writing this after dinner in a hotel bar in West Virigina on a Friday night, drinking water so I can wake up at 5:30am to get to the office tomorrow, if that tells you anything), I hate driving the truck and trailer, don’t have all the tools to properly fix the car, and presently have two sports-cars too many in a two-car garage for a racecar.  My options for the rest of the year included skimping on the maintenance for the truck, trailer and Hawke, paying someone local to work on the racecar, cutting the long distance tracks (run MidOhio and Bluegrass only), and just not racing (egad!).

I spent a few minutes pondering the pros and cons, and some other tidbits about having a team/prep-shop/someone-else provide trackside support versus DIY.  In no particular order of importance, I weighed:

  1. Quality of the racecar/finishing races
  2. Stress at the track
  3. Time spent
  4. Cost
  5. Getting to the track
  6. Registration ease/showing up late

And, in afterthought I also threw in “going fast”.  I realized that I’ve read some books, driven a few fast cars, watching a little bit of racing until the ADD kicked in, and had two seasons of limited track time….but, other than that, I know nothing about actually tuning a car or coaching myself to go faster.

So, enter Lindstrand Motorsports.  If you’ve read the prior blog posts (if you haven’t, well, why are you reading this crap and not the fun stuff?) you’re aware that they have helped me out on a few occasions – the first time, in this order:

  1. parts – “here you go, a new throwout bearing from our trailer”
  2. advice – “well, it takes about 4 hours in the shop to replace that little part that happens to be in between the transmission and engine..so good luck doing it tonight at 9pm after a day of racing, night of drinking, and no experience.. and, our satellite TV in the trailer says it will be 39 degrees tonight”
  3. feedback – “well, it is impressive you replaced the bearing and it works, but you put it in backwards and you still look silly push starting your car every session”

And thereafter we had a good relationship – I’d ask stupid questions, and someone from the Lindstrand camp would answer it in sarcasm.  At least I thought they were being sarcastic.
Oh well; my favorites include myself walking over to Nick at Grattan, when it was about to rain, and asking “Are you guys goin’ out on rain tires?”, then I looked to the sky, hoping to imply it might rain (it really was), and hearing her response “Well, we go out on rain tires when it rains.”.  I walked back to my trailer thinking that was pretty damn profound.  It never rained the entire weekend, for the record.

Sooo….in July, when I returned from being in Europe for almost 2 weeks and realized I had no time or energy to do anything with the car – the car took a trailer-ride courtesy of my dad from Dayton to Lindstrands’ shop in Darien, WI, to prep and bring to the Formula Ford 40th Anniversary @ Road America next month.

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Lola prep for Firecracker Regional

The last few weeks have been busy, both under and around the Formula Ford, and with our paypal accounts and AmEx cards… Lots of things on our list to fix, and some new candidates popped up.

In summary, our accomplishments include:

  • Installed new Tilton XLT starter
  • Changed gears to be more appropriate for Blackhawk Farms than the last time (and found out there was a 17/34 1st gear in there.. no wonder it took off like a rocket. That’s a 2:1 ratio. zoix!)
  • Learned that new starter was not disengaging the pinion gear from the flywheel
  • Uninstall new Tilton XLT starter
  • Shim starter, reinstall. Works splendidly.
  • Changed oil
  • New plugs for hot summer temperatures (Champion C57’s, I recall)
  • Bled brakes & clutch
  • Mounted Hoosier R60s on spare rear rims, after cracking a rim in April
  • Rewired entire car after frying battery (maybe starter? maybe solenoid?)
  • Replaced some various hoses, fittings, and in general tidied up the car
  • This should be all we need to run a stress-free (err, less-stress) weekend at Blackhawk this Friday-Sunday.

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    New tow and track car

    You might chalk it up to another impulse buy of a vehicle, but, we waited an entire day before committing to buying the latest automobile… Don found a 1994 27′ RV near his house for a real decent price.

    At first I was skeptical of A) Don finding any more cars to buy (given the “race ready” Formula Ford find) and 2) throwing more money into this “hobby”.  Well, apparently, Don should go into sales and I should buy some waterfront property in Kansas.

    We each are 1/2 proud owners of this shiney RV with 30k 10mpg miles on it. Spectacular.  It even has floral print window valences. Bling!

    Why?

    There is some logic in saving money by not staying at hotels. However, we’ve yet to whip up an excel spreadsheet on this, because I’m not sure the Saturday-afternoon math we did on the phone works out.  More to follow. Or not. I think we’ll brush this subject under the rug.

    The biggest benefits of having this 7.3liter-studio-apartment-on-wheels is the abilty to store all our tents, chairs, tools, equipment, etc in one place (lots of storage compartments on the outside bottom of the RV), as well as being able to stay on the track – eliminating the 6am drives from scummy hotels after taking showers wearing flip-flops to keep the ecoli at bay.  This will also come in handy when I cannot make my mortgage payments due to racing expenses.

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