Thursday, May 24, 2007

A New Plan

With the decision to go back to the frame and start over, comes a multitude of opportunities that I had avoided before.

This would be the time to do some serous clean up in the engine bay. I have never been satisfied with the oil cooler arrangement. It is clever and it works, but the deflector tray which routs air from the intake ducts to oil cooler is large and is always in the way when you are trying to get to the engine. It must be removed every tine you want to work on it. There has to be a simpler way to solve the problem. Simple is good.

There is a persistent oil leak at the sump cover. With the engine out of the car, that can be fixed.

This would also be the perfect time to install the zero roll stiffness rear suspension. A "zero roll" rear end has a number of handling advantages that make it well worth while. I had not attempted this before because of the other changes that it would necessitate. Like installing a whole new exhaust system. The existing one would not clear the new suspension members.

Fortunately we have most of the parts required to build the zero roll system. We can have an exhaust system fabricated locally.

With everything stripped off the car I can turn the chassis upside down and replace the offending floor pan. I can’t get over the thoughts of what could happen if the bottom grounded out at high speed. These cars have so little ground clearance that might happen at several points on the track. Does the idea of having someone run a high-speed belt sander over your ass get your attention? It sure does mine.

I have wanted to rewire the car. What is there is twenty years worth of cut and patch engineering. I would not be surprised if some of the wires had not been put in place when the Dassinger’s built the car in 1986.

Re-plumbing the brake and clutch lines falls into the same category. It has been there forever and carries several coats of paint to prove it.

This would be the time to address the roll bar brace problem. With the chassis stripped bare, any welding that needs to be done to accommodate updates is much easier. It would also be a good time to decide wether to change the front shock mounts and remove the existing shock towers. This is a new item allowed by the formula first rules which was prohibited by the Vee rules.

With the floor pan off and any modifications welded in place the chassis could then be sand blasted to remove scale and rust and repainted or powder coated, before starting the reassembly. With everything clean and in place it is much easier to work on and maintain the car.

Now we’re having fun.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Back To Bear Essentials

The season is over and done with the exception of the extra race added at the last moment to raise money for a local charity. Actually we’ll use any excuse to get on the track. This seemed like a win win deal.

I’m not going to make an effort to run the charity event since I have been doing a serious revaluation of the condition of my car.

In addition to solving the front suspension problem (which I think we have finally figured out) I have discovered that the floor plan is spliced in several places.

One of the splices has a leading edge which could very easily grab at a high spot on the track surface and rip the floor pan right out from under the area where I sit. Since I sit directly on that self-same floor pan, this raises images that I do not like to consider. A new floor pan is in order.

Added to that, I have been getting in and out of the car a good bit. One of the problems that showed up on the test day was a matter of having the roll bar braces in the wrong place to fit me.

The brace comes down meet a point where it works with the triangulation of the frame to reinforce the roll bar and at the same time add to the rigidity of the chassis. Unfortunately it also cuts right across my arms in such a way as to pin my elbows in and forces me to drive by moving only my wrist and forearms. Not good. It also makes it difficult to shift gears since I can not move my arm to reach the lever. Large bears need more space. I have to do it by turning my hand sideways and use my fingers. At NPR we shift six to ten times per lap. Change needed.
Another problem was that the starter didn’t want to work. I know the problem is in the wiring rather than the starter or the new battery. After sitting in Sal’s garage for so many years the dissimilar metals have caused corrosion on the terminals. It needs to be cleaned or replaced or even better completely rewired.

I am now at the point of deciding to do what I should have done in the first place. Stop taking half measures in an effort to get on the track and go ahead and strip the thing back down to the frame and rebuild it so that it will work and be safe.

Decision made. Back to the frame and start over. If I had done this in the first place, it would be finished by now.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Heading For the Brickyard

We got through the last race of the season.

Hugh an Rory had a nice run and even swapped positions a time or two. It looked like they were having fun. Rory finished in front with Hugh right on his tail.

The rest of us duds didn’t make it out. Mike had a business obligation, Barry’s car wasn’t ready and neither was mine.

Since it was the season’s final race they handed out the awards at a party after the final session. Hugh finished fourth in the open wheel class, which is pretty good considering what he was running against.

They also announced that there would be a special event coming up on June third. It is a charity race to raise money for the Autism society. Any excuse will work for us.

The chances of my being ready for that are slim. I have been working on the trailer, which is now close to being finished, and I have obtained some offset bushings, which I hope will solve the binding problem in the front end. Still the time from now till than is tight.

Also I have to factor in another little deal.

At long last I am finally going to go to the Indy 500.

My friend Bruce Hunninghake, an old vee racer and former garage mate, had invited me up to go and this is going to be the year. I am looking forward both to seeing him and seeing the race.