25 December, 2008

Beer, Coffee, Tools, and Beer

Why good afternoon! It's Christmas day, and Susan and I are wrapping up our day of gifts, grub, and for me, lots of booze! I'll let the pictures tell the story:

From the in-laws, Jessica and Rick, I received a grouping of beers from both Washington (where they are from) and from Oregon. Several varieties of 22oz bottles to keep me happy over the next few days:

In addition, Santa got me an awesome little Coffee machine. A Keurig single serving machine like one of our customers has at their work. It came with about 50-60 single serving coffee containers of different flavors. So yummy. I'll be taking it to work so I can enjoy a cup of luscious brew and drive my co-workers mad with envy.

I also nabbed a pair of new slippers, an excellent de-motivational calendar, sausage and cheese and mustards, and various tools (not shown) from Mr A. Overall, a good haul on my part I would say.

Off to drink more beer......mmm.....beer.


23 December, 2008

Engine is in the Car!11!!!1!!11

That's right, the built dual port engine has been sitting in the FV chassis for the better part of a week. I only had to take it out twice, and hopefully not a third time. I had expected some "issues" during the install, mostly because of the slightly bigger intake manifold end castings and their close proximity to the upper frame rails. As it turns out, I had to massage that area a tad. Luckily the frame was massged in that very area back in 1978, when this car was run nationally in Solo events, no doubt fitted with the class legal 1600cc dual port engine.

The next big hurdle was getting it turned over and ready to fire up. I followed all the VW directions and turned it over without the rocker arms installed (to keep wear off the cam) and spark plugs out (to keep compression low) until I built up oil pressure. This didn't long. Neither did getting proper fuel pressure AFTER i hooked up the fuel correctly. Not sure how I managed to reverse the flow, but whatever.

During all this, i totally forgot about the fact I have a 6v starter, which turns nice and fast on a 12v battery. Which also means you don't want to crank it for very long. As in, maybe 5-6 seconds at a time. Not the 30 seconds I was cranking to get oil pressure, fuel pressure, and set the timing. Aaaahhh. Nothing like a fried starter.

So I bought a new 12v starter from Kragen, which is funny because they carry a lifetime warranty even though it ran me a whopping $39.99. But, it won't simply bolt on. The 12v starter is meant to run a 12v flywheel, which has 130 teeth. The 6v flywheel I have has something like 112 teeth. So, I found a tech article on how to switch over the starter gears between starters. Mr A and I are going to attack that Friday, after Xmas. Hopefully, I'll have a 12V starter capable of turning a 6v flywheel. This way, I can crank and crank and crank.

For what's it worth, the engine sputtered a few times during the starters death, so I think it will light off eventually. Of course I wish I could go out and run it right effin now.....but oh well.

And just to prove some of this nonsense, here is a photo of the engine hanging on straps getting lowered into the frame.

And it case you were wondering, yes, I have long hair and demon eyes.

Have a great Christmas!


07 December, 2008

Engine Mockup

I piddled around the garage this weekend working on the 1700 FV motor, doing all those small odd jobs that turn into small projects on their own. I installed the oil sump extension, front pulley, oil cooler adapter, and after setting the end play, installed the main oil seal and flywheel.

I also spent a little time mocking up the rest of the auxillary items, like the intake manifold and end castings, carburetor, air cleaner, as well as dry fitting the upper sheet metal tin and dog house shroud. Nothing too difficult, but each little task took a bit of work to get it all to fit properly. A combination of old original parts trying to mate up with aftermarket items I guess.

I need to pick up some new intake manifold rubber boots, and then I think I'm pretty much ready to get the engine back in the chassis. I'm going to set in the chassis with the minimum amount of connections and bolts required to get it to fire up. No point spend a few hours hooking up the suspenion, shift linkage, and all the mounting bolts in case I have a problem during the initial startup phase, and have to pul it out.

As an early Christmas gift, Mr. A gave me his old timing light, which has seen duty on many a VW dating back to his days in the air force, when he went through a couple Beetles of his own, including 36hp Oval window equipped with a Judson supercharger kit. So that should help getting it timed correctly.

Here are a couple photos of the mockup, mostly complete minus the upper cylinder head tin, which has since been installed.

Looks like Susan has plans both Tuesday and Thursday nights, so we'll see how fired up I get. Maybe, just maybe, I'll have the engine in the car by this weekend, and I can wake up the neighbores with the sound of barking VWs!


04 December, 2008

Built Long Block

In the last post, I talked about the dinged up bearings I received. After a few days of phone calls and e-mails, SoCal Imports set me a new set that were in perfect shape. I got them Tuesday, just before the Thanksgiving break. So, I had a pile of parts just itching to be assembled.

Make us one they screamed!

The day after Thanksgiving, Mr A. came over and we started the assembly process. I had spent a little time Thursday clearancing the case, as the longer 74mm stroke pushes the rods just a tick too close to the edge of the case. Luckily, it didn't take much work with the die grinder to make very small notches. We got the crank, lifters, and camshaft installed fairly quickly, and then set about sealing the case using the permatex aviation sealant I picked up at the local NAPA. This stuff stays slightly gooey even when it sets up, and was highly recommended on the VW forums.

Basic internals set in the left case:

Installing clips in the pistons, getting ready to install the barrels into the case

Barrels installed, deck height set at 0.060" for a 8.2:1 compression ratio based on the 50cc combustion chamber volume

Basic long block assembled, minus rocker arms and accessory items

Rocker shafts installed and valve clearances set, with freshly installed fuel pump, generator stand, and oil pump

Almost ready to go back in the FV. Perhaps this weekends, assuming I dont spend the weekend watching movies.


16 November, 2008

Almost Ready for Assembly

I did in fact get the second package of VW engine parts last week, on Thursday. Unfortunately, a couple of the main bearing and cam bearing shells were nicked up. Looks like they got shuffled around during shipment. So far my luck with getting this situation resovled with SoCal Imports hasn't been that great. I called shortly after 9am and was told that Candice handled returns, and that she would be coming in at Noon. I called at 12:20, and was told Candice was at lunch. This made me chuckle and question the "JC" when exactly does Candice work? JC was a douche. No I couldn't leave a message, and no she wouldn't call me back. But he suggested I call back at 1:30. I called at 1:30, and Candice had gone home for the day. Ha! Turns out, Candice is the owner, so she must work banker hours. Fortunately, "Josh" took my call this time and logged all my info. He said Candice would call me Monday. I'm holding my breath.

Notice the nicks and scratches on the main and cam bearings:

This means I couldn't do much in the way of assembly this weekend. One of the main bearings gets installed on the crankshaft before the cam gear get installed, followed by a ring, spacer, distributor gear and some woodruff keys. So what's the point of getting all that stuff installed to find out Candice wants me to return the full main bearing set? Exactly...

So I turned my attention to the cylinder heads. I had ported them a few weeks ago, so they were ready for new valves and high-rev valve springs. It was a pain in the ass to get things on, as the valve spring compressor tool Mr A gave me apparently didn't have enough "span" between arms to take into account the longer high-rev valve springs. I really had to muscle things on. The first head took me a good hour, while the second head only took me 20 minutes start to finish.

I also finished cleaning up the engine case, and cleaning up the remainder of the engine hardware. I also pirated the fuel pump, distributor, and generator stand off the 1200cc engine.

Here is a pic showing most of the engine goodies. If SoCal Imports suddenly shows some amount of customer service, I could possibly start the assembly process this week. Looks like I'll have both Tuesday and Thursday nights to myself, as Susan will be busy both nights.

I still need to dril the flywheel for 8-dowels, and I forgot to order a piston ring compressor tool, that is omewhat unique to VWs. I did however pick up some Permetex Aviation gasket maker at NAPA and some hi temp silicon. The silicon is used for sealing the cylinder barrels to the case, while the Permatex is for sealing the case and anything else that will need to seal oil.


12 November, 2008

Motor Build: Parts are arriving

So I pretty much blew through the tear-down of the spare VW motor without taking a single picture. Because of that, I'll try to snap pics of the new parts, alongside their used counterparts.

As a quick intro to this project, I'll start by saying I had grand plans very early on of building a monster race motor. But after a year of driving the FV, I don't really think it needs or wants triple digit horsepower levels. It is pretty damn fun and exciting with the 55-60hp it's little 1200cc heart pumps out now. In reality, it just needs a little more oomph to run down the straights at Thunderhill. I figure, if I can run with the Miatas and Civics down the straights, then I'll be able to stay ahead through the corners as I do now. So maybe 10-15 more horsepower? As an aside, this motor won't be legal for FV competition. but since I run with a local club it won't really matter. they use rules based on power to weight, with no regard to SCCA FV rules. Yes, I could build a 200hp monster and still have a class to run in.

I have had this stock (yet freshly rebuilt) 1600cc dual port engine in the garage. I figured just the extra 400cc alone would give a nice boost, as would the better flowing heads. I also was given a nice Weber 38 DGAS two-barrel from stepbrother Mark, and went about rebuilding it. That should give nice gains over the 28mm single-barrel Solex. In addition to the same headers and exhaust on the car currently, I think 70-75hp is very realistic, with a corresponding bump in mid-range torque. In fact, it could end up slightly higher then that, because well...I couldn't say no.

I tore down the 1600DP last weekend, measured everything, and went over my list of parts to purchase. While I don't intend to make a high reving race motor, I wanted to build up a good solid bottom end, with the top end capable of supporting sustained revs. Nothing fancy, but enough to hopefully keep it together.

I won't paste in the entire list of parts, but the key items I purchased include a counterweighted forged crank, hotter cam (might as well put it in while I have it apart) and I spent some time porting the heads. I of course got a full set of new bearings and gaskets, along with some smaller items like new pushrod tubes, high rev valve springs, new valves, and some useful tools.

So without much more babbling on my part, here are the contents of package 1:

Old 69mm stock cast crank on the right. New forged 74mm crank on the left. Note 8-dowels for the flywheel (vs 4 dowels stock) and the much larger webs for the counterweight effect, which smooths out higher rpm operation.

So yes, I got a stroker crank. About the smallest stroke you can get, so to speak, but that also means I shouldn't have to mess with case clearancing or longer connecting rods. Instead of 1586cc it will have 1699cc. 500cc moe than the 1200 in the car. Oh, and it was the same price as a 69mm crank, so what the hell. I alo got a set of barrel spacers, as the longer stroke pushes the piston out the top of the barrel. The spacers wil help me set my deck height. I'll get a slight bump in compression from this combo. 8.2:1 instead of 7.5:1. I always have the option of flycutting the heads should I want more compression in the future, but for now, I'll just be happy to run 87 octane gas. In reality, the heads will be the limiting factor with this engine. But considering it talkes about 30 minutes to pull the heads, I can always go crazy in the future.

Stock pushrod tube on the left, "windage" style pushrod tube on the right.

The pushrod tube connects the cylinder head to the case, with the pushrods running through them. During hard cornering, oil can slosh up into the tubes and run into the valve covers. Oil is good, however, the rocker arms already have a source for oil, so having pools collect in the valve covers does no good. Small leaks from valves covers seems to be a constant fight with VW motors too. I reduced mine significanly by going to kick ass composite rubber gaskets and bolt down valve covers, as opposed to the stock style clip on covers. However, for a whopping $18, the windage tubes should practically eliminate the issue. Because the end of the tube sticks out into the case more, oil won't have a chance to slosh up into them. That's the goal anyways!

My second package should arrive tomorrow. So stay tuned for more exciting pictures.

Oh, and that reminds. I ordered this stuff at noon yesterday. CBPerformance sent this package in 24 hours. SoCal Imports says the second package should arrive 48 hours after ordering. Assuming it does show up, I might get to spend some time this weekend doing assembly.


04 November, 2008

Surf's Up!

On the way home from our 4-day vacation in Oregon this past weekend, we swung by Sean's place to pick up a 1963 Bridgestone BS7 Surfrider that he's been watching over for well over a year now. He's even more cute in person! Both Sean and the bike. This was another random craigslist find. That's what I get for surfing the internets while the Mrs watches Dancing with the Stars.

The BS7 is an early model Bridgestone. Yes, the same Bridgestone that makes tires. They made motorcycles through the 60s and into the early 70s, and this little 50cc model has some unique features, including rubber mounts for the engine, and a "fan cooling" system that is essentially a small fan blade on the flywheel that draws air over the finned cylinder head.

I have the bike at work for now, until I can do a bit of cleanup in the garage this weekend. I'm right in the middle of two other projects. Here are a few pictures:

Overall condition is pretty good. Mostly original, and the chrome is decent condition

Note the shrouding up and around the cylinder head. Air is pulled through the side vent on the left side engine cover and across the cylinder head.

Unique rear tailight and turn signals set the BS7 apart from the 50cc competition of the day

Chris H.

22 October, 2008

Year End Results - Formula Vee

I've been so busy working on the C110 Racer project, that I haven't had a chance to update my "personal" blog. So I thought I would update you on the 2008 race season, since the year-end points tallies have been totaled.

I ran with the Northern California Race Club (NCRC) in their Time Trial Series. Classified in GT4, the Formula Vee gets competition from other small low powered racers, like Civics, Miatas, and the occasional Mini. Over the course of 6 events (that we attended) I managed to win the GT4 Time Trial class six times, nabbing 60 points. More importantly, since I made more than 50% of the TT events, I won the year-end GT4 class championship.

In addition to the TT series, I also ran with the American Racing Club (ARC) which is essentially an off-shoot of the NCRC club, running on the same weekends with NCRC. This is a wheel-to-wheel race series where five different classes of vehicles run on track at the same time. We usually have a practice session in the morning, followed by a qualifying heat, and then the race after lunch, which ranges from 30-45 minutes in length. Running in the GT4 class (like the TT series) I had some good dicing towards the end of the year with some BMW Spec E30s, Spec Miatas, and a few Civic/CRXs. I finished up with two race wins, a second place, and a DNS (did not finish) at the Buttonwillow event due to an off course excursion in qualifying that cracked my oil pan. I again clinched the GT4 championship.

More important than any trophies, was the fact I kept improving with the car. I got more comfortable driving it, and steadily dropped my lap times, especially around Thunderhill where most of our local events are held. To put it into real numbers, I started the season off running a 2:24 lap time in the first session. By the end of that first day, I was at 2:21. Each event I would improve a couple seconds, mostly from better driving, but partially because I would continue to improve the setup. By the last event of the year, I was solidly in the 2:14 range, with consistent 2:16s during the race while I was batling with a Spec Miata. This is roughly 3 seconds quicker than I ever ran with the Fiat 128 I ran the two years before.

I even managed to get a bit of video at a few events, when Susan remembered to turn on the camera, or when I remembered to make sure there was storage room on the SD Card in the camera. So, if you want to enjoy a few short videos, see below:

1st lap of the last Exhibition Race of the Season:

A brief 4-wheels off during a TT session:

And finally, a few pictures that Susan managed to snap throughout the year:

Events #1 at Thunderhill, running the Dunlop Vintage Tires

Buttonwillow event, during the Qualifying session:

Getting Strapped in. Helmet, driving suit, shoes, gloves, wrist restraints, harness...check!

Sitting in grid, getting ready for the start of the race:

Running the Hoosier slicks for the first time:

Mounting up the soft compound slicks for a qualifying session:

Special note: Notice in the above photo, the small enclosed trailer behind the FV. It came with the race car, but unfortunately is only 10' long. Ralphvee is about 11' long nose to tail, so the previous owner would take off the front nose cone body section everytime he put the car in the trailer. I quickly realized I didn't want to do that, so I set about making a small "bump-out" on the front of the trailer to fit the nose. You can just see this little white box at the front of the trailer, which is open to the inside. Clever, I know.

I have a few more tricks up my sleeve to get Ralphvee a few seconds quicker for 2009, so check back over the fall and winter for more progress!


09 August, 2008

Wicked Strong Shelves

I finally decided to make some seriously strong shelves to mount up above the motorcycles. we will be moving out of our storage unit at the end of the month, and will need more space for random motorcycle parts. So i did a bunch of scrounging from the scrap bins and piles at work, and found just enough steel to weld up some two-level shelf brackets.

Here I am welding the two vertical pieces together, then welding the two horizontal bars to the vertical bars. Nice solid brackets. Note the special welding shorts.

The entire bracket assembly gets bolted to the studs with large 1/2" through-bolts. Four bracket assemblies in total.

The shelves are actually special built pallets that come under AdvanTex AX100 pods - when they get strapped down to flatbeds - which is the type of wastewater treatment system I typically design with at work. Three pallets come per pod, so we've usually got a bunch of these pallets out in the yard keeping it real. The pallets just slip over the brackets, and also provide some little cubby holes for stashing small/thin objects between the upper and lower planks of each pallet.

As you can see, these new shelves are quite strong, and ready for some motorcycle and VW parts. They won't stay empty for long!


26 July, 2008

A Little FV Maintenance

I spent the morning out in the garage working on the Vee. At the last race, after the last session, I noticed the steering stem was cracked about 50% of the way around. The quick release stub (that the steering wheel mounts too) was welded to the steering stem, and just past this weld point, the stem had the crack. It was a pretty thin-walled piece of tubing, so I found a length of tubing with the correct OD - to fit inside the steering bearing and steering box connector - but a much thicker ID. After some clean up on the grinder, everything got welded up.

I also used this opportunity to re-grease and adjust the steering box, since it had gotten a tad "loose." Lastly, I also did a bit more cleanup around the work bench, swept the floor, and shook out all the rugs.

Tomorrow, I'll be replacing the master disconnect switch, since the current one does not seem to have a positive engagement when turned "on." At the last event, I had the car lose all power on the out lap of two sessions. Never again!

And if I get through that in a timely manner, I might do a little more body work on the fiberglass gas tank extension on the C110 Landspeed Racer project, "Salty."


25 July, 2008

First Blog!

Just a sample to see if this things works. And here is a photo of the FV for starters.