Thursday, December 21, 2006

Ready To Roll

The new axle arrived right on schedule. It was exactly like the old one.

By this time we had redrilled the old one to match the alignment holes and found out a way to mount it but the clearances were awfully tight and I wasn’t happy with it.

I was concerned that I had made some kind of assembly mistake which had created the problem, so I called the company. They suggested that I loosen everything up, reinstall the axle, then tighten everything back down.

Now, this is not rocket science. I could look at it and know that this was a sellers stalling technique. It would not get the job done.

Since I had two axles now, I took one of them to my handy dandy local welder and told him to "stretch" it for me. He is splicing in plates, which will keep the same strength in the axle but make it four inches longer.

After that I’ll re-drill the puppy and install it the way I think it should be.

There’s always more than one way to skin a cat.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A Little Hitch With the Trailer

More on the trailer.

It was kind of surprising to find out that a company in China manufactures the trailer kit I ordered from a company in Quakertown, Pa. From China it is shipped to California from whence it is forwarded to the closest company distribution point (in our case Dallas) and then on to another company for local delivery. And it all happens in about a week.
It should not be too surprising then that there are little glitches in the kit package. Like not enough bolts of one size and too many of another, and a couple of holes missing for the bolts to go through. I kind of expected that.
On the whole however everything had come together pretty well. No major problems until I started to mount the axle. It was too short and would not reach the matching alignment holes on the springs. I was also concerned that the wheel hubs were too close to the side of the trailer to provide clearance for the wheels.
I called the company and explained the problem. They must have experienced it before because there was no argument at all. They would have a new axle to me in a couple of days. I hope this one works. I also wonder what I'll do with the old one.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Trailor

After the Testing session.

Going over the list of things to do before the next race is less intimidating than I thought it was going to be. It’s long, but not too frightening. Especially since we have about six-week’s time to work with. Although I must remember to factor into that Christmas, New Years day football, a trip to Florida for the final punch out on my aunt’s house and a trip to Houston to get the tow car legalities straightened out. Still it looks doable.

More importantly right now is the dirty deal the weather is pulling. The temperature for the last two nights has been below freezing. Our work area is out of doors. And shaded. Not good for arthritic fingers. Remember that I am a gentleman of the south. I consider that any place that habitually gets temperatures under fifty four degrees is uninhabitable.
Still, they’re a couple of things that can be done.

The trailer kit from RedTrailers has arrived. All it requires is bolting together. That can be done with gloves on.

Rather than lay every thing out in the driveway (which is already crowded with two trucks, a trailer, a Mercedes and a Porsche) we elected to do the first part of the construction in the work area. I’m not sure we did the right thing, because when it is mostly assembled (which is done with the trailer up side down) we will still have to move it outside to install the axles and wheels. Because of the confined space we can’t easily flip it under the carport.

Anyway the worst part is done now. We did a little welding on a few points just to add some strength and to fill the gaps where the manufacturer had neglected to drill some holes.

I discovered, after I had ordered the trailer, that I had made a mistake. I ordered the "landscape trailer" kit knowing I would have to make modifications to get what I wanted. (Like throwing away a lot of parts I didn’t need and wouldn’t use) Had I studied their website a little longer I might have found a trailer base they designed to use as base for "Teardrop" campers, which would have been perfect. And I would also be a hundred dollars richer.

Once the wheels are on there is only one little step left to do. That will be to get a "stick" of twelve inch by two inch U girt from a local metal building fabricator. It comes in thirty foot lengths. I will have that cut to the right sizes to put on the trailer to function as loading ramps, wheel tacks, and tire holding areas.

Like I said, the parts to build things for formula cars are all there. You just have to find out who is hiding them.

Th Grinch Makes an Appearance

At long last we were ready to go out for testing. The car was looking good if not totally complete.

I wasn’t going to tell anyone but the car looked more complete than it actually was. On the other hand it was a long way from being the car that I had first unloaded in the front yard.

What I had thought was going to be a practice day turned out to be a driver’s school of some sort. That meant I would not be able to get on the track unless I paid the fee for the school, which I was not interested in doing.

Still, there are a lot of things you can test at a track, or at least a lot of open driving area, that you simply can not deal with in half a carport. A rolling car and a static car are different animals.

I knew we still did not have a complete handle on the ride height problem and the springing wasn’t just right, but not to what extent the problem would manifest itself. It turned out to be considerable.

It felt good to have the Grinch out in the open. No one but Hugh and I had seen the car and I think there were a few who were becoming skeptical of its existence. But it existed. And I could prove it.

As important, was to let other people see that there were more of our cars coming out. Hugh’s had been the one they had seen most and it was developing a lot of interest on it’s own. Mikes had been seen briefly and mine would be the third. When Barry's comes out for the next race it was going to be a surprise for lot of people. Even some of our group will be surprised because all of a sudden the will be five cars out at the same time rather than just one.

Rory White, from Homa, has purchased a car he found down near Sebastion Inlet in Florida (one of my old fishing haunts).

Up to now I have claimed the "best buy" of all of the cars in our group but Rory has beaten me hollow with this one. He found a current spec, race ready car, with a fresh Noble (the best of the best) engine an extra transaxle and some other spares for sixty percent of what I paid for mine. I told him if he didn’t take it I would. I knew there would be a market for it. Any way, he will have it in time for the January race and we can expect for him to be fast.

That will mean that suddenly there will be five cars running in our class and the hook should be well set to snag others.

Tom Walter, our neighbor, who is usually handling race control for the track, is a noted car builder. He most often works on big bore stuff but he does have a good working knowledge of things Volkswagen in general and race car suspensions in particular. When he stopped by we spent about an hour discussing possible remedies for some of the trouble spots. It’s good to have neighbors. Especially smart ones. At the end of the day we were pretty well whipped. It had been a productive day and we were headed home we a two page "to do" list. That includes putting the driver on a diet.

* * *
Sunday was race day.

I wasn’t near ready but Hugh was. He kept all his wheels on this time and finished second and scored the first podium spot for the Vees.