31 March, 2009

Relocating the Steering Box

One of the items I've been wanting to fix on the FV, was the slow steering. My car used a stock steering box (per the rules) but with no extender on the pitman arm. It had a short extender (like 2 inches) when I bought it, but the brake pedal hit it when I braked hard, so I took it off. I guess I got used to having to shuffle my hands on the wheel making the big sweeping esses from turn 3 to 6.

Relocating the box wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. It needed to forward enough to clear the upper beam it mounted too originally, yet too far forward and it would interfere with the body work. After much measuring and test fitting, I got to work.

Me at Work

I made a mount that consisted of a short section of vw beam, that protruded off the stock beam about 6 inches. It it located a tad lower too, to clear the nose cone. I got this done on Sunday, and then spent yesterday evening making a new pitman arm extender. The extender is what quickens up the steering. The stock pitman arm has a length of 6.5 inches from the pivot to the where the tie-rods mount. As the pitman arm rotates, it pushes or pulls the tie rods. Making the pitman arm longer, means the same amount of turn on the steering box, will equate to more movement at the end of the pitman arm extender, which will move the ite rods more.

Forward Location of Box

Log story short, I made a beefy extender with an extra 5.5" of length. Which is a very healthy increase in movement. Hopefully not soo much it makes the steer too heavy. The steering has alays been relatively light, so if it gets heavier from this mod, it might be nice.

Anyways, here is the finished product. A basic extender cut from 1/4" thick steel plate with a rib welded on the bottom length wise. It does not flex even when I jump on it. I beefed up the main bolts to a full 1/2" diameter, with full nyloc nuts, so things should stay together during battle.

Extender, doing Extender Things

As it happens, I've also managed to get rid of most of the bump steer the car had. The tie rods are dead nuts level with the earth when the car is loaded in a turn. So no funky tow changes during hard corning, or bumps mid corner. It wasn't bad before, but it wasn't perfect.

Chris H.

Day 2 Race

Well, sorry for the delay on the day two race report. It was a hectic week last week, and frankly, I was eager to spend some time in the garage this weekend making a few improvements. Better late than never!

Day two started off better than day one, simply because I didn't get dragged in on a hook. I mnaged to get through the practice and qualifying sessions with no issues. Likewise the race too, although I noticed an oil leak after the race that was significant enough to warrant further investigation back in the garage.

But back to the race. We still had the Nascar guys with us, although there were a few less regular ARC members. Maybe 20 racers instead of 25 like on Saturday. My times were identical on Sunday, even though there was a significant head wind. As in, 30mph winds all day long. It was coming from the West, so I was head on going up the hill from turn 6 to 9. The longest section of fourth gear acceleration on the course, even longer than the front straight. I was seeing 300-400rpm less into turn 9 because of the head wind. Worse yet, there is no section of course longer than 50 yards that runs west to east, so I had no advantage of a tail wind.

End of Front Straight, Helmet Buffeting in the Wind

I gridded toward the back again, and didn't get a great start. A Mustang got by me at the green flag, and really parked it into turn 1. An RX7 and Miata got by me into 2 as a result. I played it cool and let things sort out for a lap. I knew I was quicker lap time wise compared to a few cars ahead of me, so I just reeled them in. I made a great pass on the RX7 on the outside of turn 2. Just drive around him and we were side by side into turn 3, me having the better line. I caught the Miata a lap later into turn 3, and got by into the cyclone (turn 5) on braking. After that, I just ran consistent times, and once again cut my fastest lap of the weekend on lap 11 of 11 laps.

Passing the RX7 on the Inside

There was however, some controversy after the race. A GT1 Corvette spun on the exit of turn 1, and was just parked on the edge of the track. Waving yellow into turn 14/15, and waving yellows on the front straight for the last 3 laps. Unfortunately, I got passed by three cars, two into turn 14, one on the front straight in view of everyone. Apparently those cars got black flagged with two laps to go, and parked. So i moved up several spots in teh stands. I finsihed mid pack, first in GT4. With two points races under our belts in 2009, I have two wins.

I'm a weiner!

After the race, I have a small laundry list of fixes. Things I should have worked on over th winter, but didn't because I was so tied up in the new engine, and eventually worn out.

Item 1 - Relocate the steering box forward, and run an extended pitman arm to help speed up the steering. Between turn 3 and 6, I have to shuffle back and forth on the wheel, and it gets old fast.

Item 2 - build a new breather box or puke box. My current puke box is a 1 quart oil can that has apparently rubbed through on its mount. That meant I sloshed oil all over the inside of the body, which ran up under the pedals. After a good douching off, everything is clean now, but I want to fix that. In addition, the 1,700cc engine had a LOT more case pressure, so a better solution is required.

Item 3 - The throttle cable support bracket worked loose during the race. Nothing failed, I just noticed it was loose. It was always mickey mouse (one of the things I did not change when I got it) so i want to make a real bracket.

Item 4 - Relocate the battery a little lower so it doesn't rub on the front nose cone body work.

I've already worked on Item 1, which will be detailed later.

Chris H.

21 March, 2009

In on the Hook!??!?!

I had an adventure filled race today, day 1 of 2 out at Thunderhill. With the old 1200cc engine slotted back in, everything was pretty much the same as I ran the car last year, with a few a very minor changes.

We got out to the track super early to go through the 7am tech. Luckily, we don't have to tech tomorrow, so we can show up late. This weekend our ARC Club is sharing the race group with the Historic Stock Car Group. Literally old Winston Cup Stock Cars from the 80s and 90s, all built and painted up in their colors from back in the day, complete with the names of the original NASCAR driver over the door. We had ourselves some Alan Kulwiki, Morgan Shepard, and Brett Bodine. In reality, we had a group of guys in their 50s and 60s out pounding the asphalt in these great big beasts, running pretty damn fast! Like 1.57-2.02 times. Thats' Corvette ZO6 and 911 GT3 territory. They even had a full support truck with tire changing equipment.

I went out for the practice session and made it about 2 laps. I got the meatball flag as I was smoking a bit around turn 2, a long left hander. I went back out after the marshall gave it a look over and said it was just a little oil on the header. Going up the hill to turn 9, all hell broke loose. I lost power, and the exhaust sound had drasitcally changed. Uh oh. I switchd it off and coasted around to a safe spot outside turn 12. Then I got towed in on a rope.

I was assuming something terrible had happened, and even thought the weekend was over. After letting the car cool off, I inspected. I found the newly vented valve covers I had made for the 1700cc engine were leaking around the venets. And the valve covers themselves weren't that snug. And then I noticed the #3 spark plug (still attached to the spark plug wire) was just sorta keepin' it real, hanging out on the fan shroud. As in, not actually plugged into the cylinder head. Hhhmmmm.

After installing it, and making sure it was snug, the engine fired right up.

I went out for a full qualfying session with no problems, except I still had some smoke. I got out the big wrenches and really snug down the valve cover vents. I immediately planned a visit to the VW/Race shop on the way home to purchase new valve covers. I only vented these because the 1700cc had so much crank pressure, but never had that issue with the 1200.

I gridded up 26th out of 34 cars, which sounds pretty sad. But in fact, The top 15 cars were made up of GT1 Corvettes and all the Nascar boys, 10 in total. Without those fast guys, I would have been closer to my usual 15th out of 20 cars.

The race itself was good. It was exciting at the beggining, and then got boring. I managed two passes on the first lap, then traded positions with a Mustang GT and a white Spec Miata for the next few laps. In fact, we went two wide through turn 1, 2, and 3 on one lap. The Miata attempted to get inside me into 1, we were both a little slow, so the Mustang powered through. I went around the outside of the Mustang in turn 2, and held off both cars into turn 3. Of course, by the back straight they both left me. I stayed with the Miata for a few more laps, but it got busy with the leaders coming through at the half way point. I finished first in GT4, and beat about 6 or 7 cars. The last two laps got exciting too, as a full race Mustang lost a motor into turn 14. This was my first experience going through and across an oil slick, and holy shit was it slick. I damn near went off the track on the cool down lap, as I forgot the oil as there (no oil flag on the cool down laps.)

I gave the car a good douche after we got home, and installed the new valve covers. Hopefully we'll have less of a smoke show.

Of course, it started raining here a few hours ago, and rain is forcasted tomorrow. I plan on running, rain or shine. Unless it is dumping like a mad man. As it turns out, we showed a raise of hands in the race meeting today for those with rain tires. None of the big boys had rains, and said they would be running. So if we get rain, it will probably be me and half a dozen spec Miatas dueling it out for the slowest 10 lap race ever!


02 March, 2009

It did run..for a while

Well, long story short, the new 1700cc VW engine I built was in Ralphvee and running just fine for a couple weeks. I had about 5 or 6 hours of running time on it, getting the carb jetting sorted, and seating the piston rings. Then it just went eeeeeeeeekkkk. As in, no horrible mechanical sound, it just stopped. As in frozen up stopped, won't turn over by hand.

After pulling it out and putting it on the engine stand, I drained the oil and actually removed the small oil sump extension, to find some small shavings of either bearing or aluminum or both. I think I screwed up the end play setting on the crank and ate the front main bearing. I'll know more once I ever tear into it.

I only had a few days before the first practice event of the year (February 13th,Friday) and I almost got the old 1200cc motor back in the car. Actually, the engine was in the car by Tuesday, but by then I was just done. Done working in the garage, and didn't want to spend the next few nights busting my ass. Also, the weather forecast called for heavy rain on race day.

So after a couple weeks of not working in the garage, I finally got back out this weekend. I got a good deal of the back end pieces back on, and have another hour or two to get it back to track duty status. I'm just taking my time and enjoying it.

Saturday, I got the rear suspension, trans, clutch, headers and all sorts of things bolted back on:

Last night, I fit a new pair of wheel bearings to the right front corner.

I'm considering building new intake manifold end pieces to mount the bigger weber carb to the 1200. Might as well take advatnage of the freshly rebuilt carb, and savor the extra 5-6hp it might give, right? If not, I'll just throw the Solex back on and run it like I ran it last year.

The first race is March 21-22, a two-day race weekend.

Chris H.