Archive for car work

Thumbs up from someone who knows more than we do….

This evening, we had Yves from Historic Race Car come over and check out the [near] finished product… Yves clearly knows his stuff…and actually checked out the car a few months ago when it was in, uhm, lessar-quality-condition.

Today we finished putting the gearbox back together, reattached the suspension components we removed last night to clean and paint, measured rear-suspension hardware and ordered all new stuff, and cleaned off all the yellow spray paint that Don tinted the car with last night (one could argue that Don and the beer tinted the car).

Yves checks out our work

After Yves performed seemingly (relative to the last 2 months) easy chores, but things we never knew about, on the car – timing, adjusting values, pointing out what we need to replace and what we should/should-not do – I took the car around our ‘practice race track’ (which consists of 4 blind corners, 2 entrances for vehicle traffic, lots of kids riding bikes thru the area, and a lonely law enforcement officer every once in a while) to get the car up to speed and let Yves hear how it sounds.

It only took me 4 laps to actually floor the silly thing and get it over 6k RPM. I kept shifting early as I thought I needed to, only to find out that I wasn’t even in the car’s power band. Once I kept my foot to the floor in 1st gear, then into 2nd (thank you, no clutch shifting) I realized that this car is scary fast. I was only brought back to reality by the fire-pin I left in place gouging into my knee cap as I slammed on the brakes. Note: next time, buckle the belts and avoid slamming into small metal protrusions when braking while wearing shorts.

Bottom line: the car seems good. Sounds good. Looks much better than January. Is much safer (new fuel cell, new hardware, better harness mountings, etc).. and should be faster (that’s driver-dependent, so that might not be true as I have to drive it).

Today is a turning point in this whole adventure: Don and I feel like this weekend might actually happen. So, in predictable fashion, we drank all the beer we had at the shop, then went out and drank more beer. Then we ice cream sandwiches, complained about being tired, and went to bed. This…must…stop. Next week, of course.

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The easy stuff….

Tonight, our task list included:

  1. Change the oil
  2. Bleed brake and clutch fluid
  3. Flush coolant
  4. Make new headrest
  5. Remove, clean, repaint rear trailing arms on the suspension
  6. Drink beer
  7. Reseal the end cover and bearing carrier on the gearbox (bad seal job the last, and first time, we did it)

Well, I think our task list included more than this, but this is what we actually got done. We were both hoping for an easy night. However, this is never the case.

Two things learned this evening:

There’s no manual for race cars – So very easy questions for most cars, likeHow much oil does it need, end up being mild challenges for usSo, just fill it up, run it, and see how much more you can pour in. For those wanting to write a manual for us, it was 7 quarts of oil to make it to our feel-good mark – take note.

No job is simple on race cars – “simply” bleeding the brakes turned into an hour and a trip to Autozone. The right-front brake bleeder screw is 1/4″, which means its a really tiny wrench, with lots of possibility to round it right off. Well, someone (not us!) had done this prior (which, also means the brake fluid in there was probably 15 years old) so we ended up using the jaws of life to extract the little guy, which renders it useless. Luckily, the Autozone up the road had them in stock. I bought 3, just in case. And, in true karma fashion, if you buy spares in anticipation others will break, they won’t. Good thing they were $3.

The positive side of the evening included the coolant flush, which was painless and 10 minutes, and Don making the new headrest plate. During our SCCA tech inspection, the inspector wouldn’t pass us because the headrest was .5 square inches too small. Yeah, like .5 square inches is going to matter. That’s why I wear a helmet, right?

The trailing arms were relatively painless, too. Don paints the trailing arms, and gets high off fumes in the process Although I think Don has carpal-tunnel from scraping the old spray-paint job off. They look nice. They don’t look so bent when they’re cleaned up.

Resealing the Hewland was easier than before. Hewland Transaxle in disarrayThis time, it only took us two attempts at getting everything lined back up and spinning in the right direction. This required RTV’ing, letting the RTV get dry as we screwed around trying to stack gears, then removing all the RTV, re-RTV’ing, finding a broomstick (ok, an entire broom that Don wouldn’t cut up) to stack the gears on, then assembling everything properly. We’re getting good at this.

And, as usual, we succeeded in drinking beer. That part of the job never seems to take too long, cause too many problems, or require us to soak our hands in cancer-causing nasty oil.

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Buy parts rather than make them, what a concept!

When we got the car, the left lower trailing arm for the rear suspension was a tad bit, uhm, bent . Take alook just to the left of the “S” in this picture… It was bent just a few degrees, and it seems the car had been realigned with the bend factored in.

The car could have probably run with the old arm, but, given the surprises we’ve found on the other suspension components it was best to get a new one. A month ago, I would have just drive with the bent arm, but now that impending doom on a race track is 3 days away, I’m a bit more liberal with the things that might break and jettison my ass into a wall.

The original idea was to get some chromoly tubing and 10 hours of free time, and make a new tube. However, we’re wising up that sometimes we should just pay someone to do somethings. Given that the car needs to e on a racetrack in 4 days, it was a wise choice..

Yves @ Historic Race Car,, (luckily 5 minutes away in Crystal Lake) was able to make a new arm in short order for us… And, relative to other parts recently purchased, this was cheap (insert new picture here).

We also had a poor situation with the exhaust (see the above picture, that silver looking debacle has more holes than a pepper shaker).  The current exhaust system on the car was a bit old… rusty might be another word for it. Once we determined that the popping and richness from running around the shop was due to the ‘holy’ exhaust, it was time to replace it. The problem is, “time” to replace ended up being Friday afternoon when we needed the replacement exhaust Monday. Go buy stock in Fedex if this continues… $167 to ship the darn thing.

Here’s how it looks – pretty darn nice (made by Porter Racing in California)

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