21 December, 2014
No progress on the car to report, I've been out of town for work the last 2 weeks......
I did learn tonight that Trevor and our car at the Baja 1000 are part of Toyota's 2015 Tundra promo video..... Just a very short clip of their truck passing us in the Viscaino area. It's pretty funny when you think about it though; our 1962 VW Beetle with 62 hp to the rear wheels and a "solo driver" kept ahead of their current year race truck for over 655 miles ......
Here's a link to the video, we're at the 1:47 point: http://youtu.be/9zxG75wHIbo
I hope to find a little time to work on the car soon; I'd like to get the front end back together before we start tearing the rest of the car apart to do the "post-race" inspection/repairs. I've got a little vacation in January, hopefully I can get the front end squared away then.
06 December, 2014
Trevor and I spent just a few minutes at the shop today, looking at the remains of the front "cage" structure and talking about how to handle the repair. We have 2 basic options: we can repair the remaining "good" parts and re-connect them to the main cage elements or we can rebuild the entire front cage with new and heavier stock. While the "repair and re-attach" option would take less effort, we've decided that recreating that section using thicker wall tubing is a better choice. We may also change the design a little by adding a "diagonal" element to stiffen the connection to the main cage. When all is said and done though, I don't think that even our new "heavy duty" front cage could withstand the abuse of a failed front suspension for long under race conditions.....
It'll be a while before we can get to the actual work, it's our "peak" season at work and I'm not going to be home much over the next month or so. We're certainly not going to make it to the San Felipe 250 now that it's in January!
04 December, 2014
I spent a couple of hours at the shop today, beginning the process of taking the front end of the car apart so we have access to make repairs. I have it down to the point where I need to remove the remains of the front cage structure, just waiting to consult with Trevor about how we want to do that.....
We obviously had multiple electrical problems during the race; some that were caused by the structural failures related to the failed suspension but there was another, more subtle, problem that began somewhere around race mile 700 or so. The car pulled in to the San Ignacio pit, we serviced it and then noticed that the battery was dead...... At that point, we thought it was just a failed battery so we swapped it for another and sent them on their way. We went through 5 batteries before crossing the finish line, even though the alternator was working perfectly...... We obviously had a short somewhere, draining the battery every time the alternator stopped supplying it with power. I spent a few minutes at the shop today,"wringing out" the main electrical system; Trevor and Victor found the major problems, but there's still a short somewhere - after disconnecting both ends of the main +12v cable, I can still measure a finite amount of resistance to the "ground" circuit. It should show infinite resistance on the multimeter but it doesn't - there is a bit of failed insulation somewhere..... I guess I'll have to spend some time finding and repairing the problem, or just replacing the cable (after figuring out why it shorted)......
03 December, 2014
Our new frame head arrived today, we've already started planning how to make the repair. At the moment, we're thinking that we'll "graft" the needed portions of the new frame head on to the car as necessary. That looks to us like the "cleanest" way to make the repair without having to take the body off the pan, something we want to avoid!
02 December, 2014
We have a new frame head on
order, hopefully it'll get here tomorrow. Once it arrives, we
can start trying to decide the best way to proceed - replace the
whole thing or "graft" portions on to the existing structure.....
Then, it'll be a matter of measuring and "jigging" to get the new
parts properly aligned and welded in place.
30 November, 2014
We spent a couple of hours at the shop today, disassembling the front end of the car. We found exactly what we expected; the frame head is totally destroyed and all 4 support tubes were broken. The only thing keeping the suspension beam on the car was one of the supports tubes was still somewhat attached to the rest of the cage structure...... Another few miles and we would have needed a tow truck to move the car!
Trevor and I were at the shop yesterday, surveying the "wreckage". The car is perfect from the windshield back; the front of the car will need a total rebuild however. We broke one of the front "torsion adjusters" late in the race, reducing us to only one of the two torsion springs that normally support the front of the car. That had several "negative" effects, the most serious being the near total inability to "absorb" any terrain irregularities - the front trailing arms were "banging against the up-stops" continuously for the last 150 miles or so. That led to the failure of the torsion beam mount (frame head), followed by the front "cage" structure, which led to serious electrical issues..... things went "downhill" rapidly! It's truly amazing that Trevor and Victor were able to nurse the car to the finish line!
Seems like the race was a
long time ago at this point - it's only been a week! I've been
editing video and adding to the website since we got home; the car
is sitting abandoned in the shop. Neither Trevor nor I want to
spend any time working on it yet..... The Baja 1000 is an
"all-consuming" event that takes months of preparation and planning;
we're ready to do something else for a change!
21 November, 2014
I've been spending my days
and nights sorting through and editing our race video; still more to
do! While I wait for the video to compile or upload to Youtube,
I try to work on the website to incorporate the finished product.
Haven't been out of the house much the last couple of days.....
18 November, 2014
I'm just beginning to sort through the photos and video - here are a few photos at the finish line:
Trevor on the finish line ramp
Trevor looks glad to be at the finish line!
Getting his "2014 SCORE Baja 1000 finisher" medal
Trevor and Victor at the finish line
17 November, 2014
We just walked in the door after driving home from the 2014 Baja 1000, a challenging race for us...... We had many problems to deal with beginning at about the mid-way point that plagued us to the very finish line in La Paz. We'll detail the race and the problems encountered in a few days after we recover a bit! I'm surprised to see that we're not on the official finisher's list, we did cross the finish line in what we believe was within the allotted time (I've got video of us receiving our finisher's awards!)...... I've sent an inquiry to SCORE, hopefully they can shed some light - we all put our hearts and souls into this race, hate to not get credit for it...... We have lots of video, will post as time permits. Thanks to everyone on the team; Victor, Ivan, Ruben, Bobby, George, Bill, Marcos, Marcus, and Dennis - you guys are the best! Congratulations to team Zazueta; those guys are fast! We didn't think they could keep up the pace they set for the entire 1275 miles but they did! Awesome.
06 November, 2014
Things seem to be on track, I actually feel like there isn't anything to do for a couple of days (I must be missing something......). Trying to just enjoy having a couple of days off before the race..... We're heading down to Ensenada on Sunday to drop off our spare tires and fuel bottles, then right back home. Monday, I'll pick up the car from the shop and load the truck so we're ready to go on Tuesday morning. The plan is to leave mid-morning to arrive in Ensenada around noon, pick up our fuel and check in to our hotel - then try to relax a bit. Wednesday will be a busy day with contingency, tech. inspection and the driver's meeting; probably not much time to relax.
I want to thank the entire team ahead of time; Victor, Ivan, Ruben, Bobby, George, Bill, Carlos, and Dennis - we're honored to race with you! We couldn't ask for a finer group of people with whom to share the experience.
01 November, 2014
Back from work, I'm off until after the race! Hopefully, I can get everything done without any major interruptions....... I've just been working the logistics issues the last couple of days; communicating with our chase crews and co-drivers to make sure everyone knows the plan before we leave the start line! I'm creating our set of "race books" for each of the vehicles involved; all the details each vehicle crew needs in one handy book. I've had a couple of "sit-downs" with Carlos (Baja Pits) to talk about the pit/chase strategy; I think the plan looks good at this point. I'm hoping that SCORE doesn't throw more major course changes at us........
26 October, 2014
I had lots of "family business" to take care of this week so I didn't spend much time at the shop. It's a good thing that everything seems to be under control there! The car itself is ready to go once I water proof the ignition system. I've been spending all my free time working on the race logistics, a seemingly never-ending task that I'll be working on until the car crosses the finish line. Now that SCORE has released yet another revision of the course map, I have to go back and re-work some of our plans; the course revision is in an area where we had a fuel stop planned and we don't yet know where Baja Pits will relocate that pit to..... It always amazes me how much time I spend just "following up" on stuff; no such thing as "one stop shopping" in off-road racing!
I'm heading out for another work trip so I'll finish up the car when I get back. I can still work logistics on the road though....
20 October, 2014
I submitted our race entry
form along with all the SCORE membership renewals today, we should
show up on the entry list in the next few days. Our fuel has
been ordered, now I just have to pay for it and figure out where to
have it staged.....
18 October, 2014
I've been out of town all week; no progress on the car until today (I was able to do some of the logistics stuff during the week though). Trevor and I spent several hours at the shop today, working some of the "final prep." issues; we re-set the ride height front and rear, repaired a broken wire in the brake light harness and, most importantly, we were able to spend some time with Carlos Orozco (Mr. Baja Pits) talking strategy...... Afterwards, I spent some time collecting all the information we need to submit our race entry form and ordered our fuel. I think the logistics are falling into place; my last remaining issues are to order rental satellite phones, renew a few SCORE memberships and submit our entry form. After that, we'll start concentrating on planning our chase/fuel/pit strategy - but we can't really do that until Baja Pits finalizes their pit locations. Given the recent hurricanes in Baja, I expect that there will be changes to our plans on an ongoing basis......
Over the coming week, I expect to complete our "final prep." and wrap up our logistics. If time permits, I'll assemble our tool kit, get a couple of new tires mounted, pick out the spare parts we want to carry in the chase truck and organize our pit boxes.
12 October, 2014
Our test/tune session went well today, no significant problems with the car; I do have to look into why the right brake light isn't working but that should only take a few minutes. Aside from that one issue, the day went perfectly. Our objective was to prove all the systems; radio, intercom, suspension, steering, engine, transmission, lights, etc. and to give the new torsion packs a chance to "settle" (they will "settle" a bit when first run, then stabilize; we want to set our final ride height after they've stabilized). With that out of the way, we can clean the dust off, fill the fuel cell, re-set the ride height and go race!
10 October, 2014
I got a couple of logistics issues settled during my trip, just a few more paperwork things to deal with......
Today, I spent a couple of hours prepping the car for our test/tune session this weekend; I loaded the car with our spares kit, tool kit, spare tire, water, oil, jack, tow strap and all the other stuff we carry in the car during a race. I made sure the wheel lug nuts were torqued correctly and the tire pressures were where we want them. It's important to have the car configured exactly as it is for a race when we test; I want to be sure EVERYTHING is race ready, not only the car itself. The car is as "race ready" as I can make it at this point. Once we get back from testing, we'll do a thorough cleaning and inspection then "final prep.". During "final prep.", we'll check all the nuts and bolts for correct torque, check/set the valve lash, check the timing, safety wire the valve covers and carb. air box, bleed the brakes and fill the fuel cell with fresh fuel. Then, it'll be time to go race!
05 October, 2014
Not much to report; Trevor and I spent a couple of hours at the shop installing the skid plates and front end sheet metal today and I worked on some of the race logistics at home (hotel in La Paz and setting up pit services). Heading out of town again tomorrow, I'll try to work on more of the logistics while on my layovers......
03 October, 2014
I had a good day at the shop; there was actual, visible progress! I was able to finish up the engine installation, the rear bumper assembly and installation, the roll cage padding and all the interior furnishings. I spent about an hour removing the "SuperTrapp" from the old exhaust, then installing it on the new system with new hardware. Afterwards, I started the engine and let it run for about 15 minutes to check for any signs of oil, hydraulic or fuel leakage (no problems noted). The engine started on the first try and settled into a normal idle with excellent oil pressure and no unusual noises - that's as expected but always a relief! Jason at Paradise Motor Sports does outstanding work! Once the engine was up to operating temperature, I checked and set the ignition timing - something we do every time we overhaul the engine. With that done, it was time to take a couple of laps around the shop parking lot to make sure everything still worked as we expected; nothing unusual or noteworthy was evident. The only items left on my list are bleeding the brakes, installing the front and rear skid plates, the front sheet metal, securing the end of the fuel cell breather line and adjusting the steering wheel center. In total, that's about half a day's work.
02 October, 2014
Full day at the shop today, lots of progress. I installed the seats and harness assemblies (a time consuming process, space is tight!), wrestled the new exhaust system into submission on the engine (anti-seize compound is your friend....), cleaned and anti-corrosion coated the rear bumper, started installing new roll cage padding and when Trevor arrived after work, we mounted the engine on the transaxle and made all the fluid, air and electrical connections. We filled the engine with oil, then pulled the plugs and cranked it over with the starter until we had good oil pressure (that way we don't have a "dry" first start). It was too late by then to actually run the engine, I may be able to get to that point tomorrow.
We were hoping to do a
test/tune this weekend but a scheduling conflict arose; we're now
planning to do it next weekend. It was going to be HOT in the
desert this weekend anyway! The delay gives me a little time
to make sure I don't do something stupid in the rush to get the car
ready for a test/tune this weekend......
01 October, 2014
It never fails to amaze me; the thousands of little details that need to be attended to when re-assembling the car! Some days, it doesn't look like much progress has been made - today was one of those..... I actually got a fair amount done, it just doesn't look like it. Most significantly, I got the axles and CV's re-assembled, greased and re-installed - it's much easier to do before we install the engine (one of tomorrow's projects) but they're a real mess with only one person working on them..... Aside from that, I got the seats and harness assemblies cleaned and ready to install, the interior of the car cleaned and ready to accept the seats, I removed some rust from the driver area roll cage and applied an anti-corrosion coating, made the oil filter/cooler system ready for the engine and closed out the front suspension assembly.
Tomorrow, I'm planning on installing our new exhaust system on the engine in preparation for mounting it on the car later in the day (Trevor is coming by after work to help with it), bolting in the seats, mounting the front skid plate and sheet metal and prepping the rear bumper for final installation (re-attaching the tail lights, ignition coils and race number after cleaning and applying an anti-corrosion coating). We'll see how far I actually get.....
29 September, 2014
I spent most of the day at the shop today, there were a few details that needed closure before I could reassemble the interior. I routed and secured the fuel cell breather line (new) and the radio/GPS antenna cables, installed the interior firewall, replaced the fuel cell filler hose assembly (the old one had become stiff with age), installed the "UMP Super filter" engine air filter and the "Race Air" blower/filter assembly for our helmet air supply. Those "fiddly" details needed to be accomplished before moving on to finishing the interior; it doesn't sound like much but it took most of the day to get it all the way I wanted......
Next, I'll clean and re-install the seats and harness assemblies then install new roll cage padding material - that will finish the interior! That really leaves only the engine (going to install a new exhaust system first - that can be interesting.....), axles/CV's, rear bumper, tail lights and skid plates (a couple more stickers to apply also)- that's a couple of day's work, hoping to do a test/tune next weekend......
20 September, 2014
Trevor and I spent a couple of hours at the shop today; no major progress, just a few little things like mounting the oil filter, the engine breather box and connecting the fuel cell to the vent line and fuel filler line. It's all stuff that needs to get done but you don't really see any progress being made.......
19 September, 2014
Another productive day at the shop; I crossed a few things off my list including the final install of the front bumper, fuel cell, rear firewall, rear view mirror, GPS and repair of the headlight frames that were bent during our roll-over at the SF 250. I also tested the lights, horns and GPS - everything works as it should. Next time, I'm hoping to close out the interior; seats, firewall, air filter and all the little zip-ties that keep everything tidy...... Along the way, I'll clean all the roll cage tubing and re-apply our anti-corrosion coating. That may all have to wait until I get home from my next trip.
The car is sitting with both front and rear suspensions fully "drooped" - the limit straps are stretched tight at this point. Once we get the engine mounted and some fuel in the fuel cell, the rear suspension will settle some and you'll notice less "rake" (the car will sit more level). The front suspension is sitting higher than we want it at this point due to the new torsion packs we installed. They will "settle" some during our test and tune session; we'll make the final pre-load adjustments after they do so. Same with the rear suspension; we want to run the car around the desert a little before we make final adjustments. A little of the "rake" you see here is normal for a 5/1600 car, but not quite this much - the rear will probably be set 3-4" lower and the front 2" lower come race day, depending upon our best guess as to the condition of the race course.......
17 September, 2014
The car is a "roller" again, it's on all 4 wheels! I completed the assembly of the front suspension today; we installed new torsion packs but everything else was inspected/repaired/re-installed. The old torsion packs looked fine and they only had one race on them but given that our next race is the Baja 1000, they were one of the things we wanted "fresh". The amount of front suspension travel we experience is hard on them and we have no way of predicting when they'll start to fail. Failed torsion packs can lead to the front wheels coming off the car.......
I'm going to take tomorrow off, I have other vehicle maintenance issues to take care of at home. I plan to work on the car again on Friday; I think I'll have the front end complete and will start working on putting the interior back together.
My "to-do" list is very short at this point; reinstall the engine, axles and CVs, front bumper, rear bumper, brake lights, rear firewall, interior firewall, fuel cell, air filter, the seats, replace the rear view mirror, bleed the brakes and re-secure the GPS in it's mount - a couple of days work. Hoping we can do a test/tune soon.
15 September, 2014
Good progress with the car today; Trevor was able to make it down to the shop after work and took care of all the welding issues. While waiting for him to arrive, I was able to close out a few loose ends - I inspected, rebuilt and re-installed the steering box, inspected the front suspension beam and link pin bushings, installed new brake pads all around, final secured the new body shelf to the remaining old section and prepped all the parts that needed welding. With the welding now done, there are no further repairs to attend to - we're in the final "build-up" phase at last! The rear end is essentially complete; we just have to re-install the axles and engine. I plan to build up the front end over the next day or so - it should go fairly quickly now that all the parts are ready to assemble. We'll definitely have a "roller" again by the end of the week!
14 September, 2014
No progress over the last 10 days, I've been away on a trip for work. I'm planning to get some work done this week though, hopefully I'll have the front suspension complete and we'll be able to roll the car around again. There is a little TIG welding to be done; I need to get Trevor out to the shop for that but he's pretty busy most of the time now and that may hold me up a bit. While I wait for him to become available, I'll work on all the other stuff that doesn't need his attention - putting the inside of the car back together for example. I may also spend some time re-painting our doors and hood - the color match with the new body section isn't as good as we'd like (the hood is looking pretty rough anyway).
04 September, 2014
I did a little better at the shop today than yesterday; the rear suspension is complete and the car is sitting on the rear wheels! I started with fitting the shocks - the clearance holes needed a little fine tuning. Once the clearance holes were dressed with some plastic edging to protect our limit straps, I final installed the rear shocks, bolted on the wheels and got the car off the jack stands (well, the rear end anyway). Following that, I riveted the fenders in place and installed the transaxle. All in all, it was a good day.
03 September, 2014
I was at the shop for about half the day, cleaning up some loose ends; We didn't have all the new hardware we needed to re-secure our micro-stubs to the trailing arms so I had to go on a "hardware run" before heading to the shop. The micro-stubs are now fully installed, the stub axles and axle nuts are torqued and pinned and I started applying our "contingency stickers" on the new body section. Later, while setting a preliminary "pre-load" on the torsion bars, I discovered that the adjuster fingers were not free to move independent of each other - they should allow us to set each side without disturbing the pre-load of the other side..... That forced me to partially disassemble the torsion bars/spring plates/trailing arms so that I could adjust the fit of the torsion bars in the adjuster fingers; if one torsion bar is inserted just a little too far into it's adjuster, it will engage the splines on the "other" adjuster, making them move together instead of separately. I pulled both torsion bars out a little, inserted a thin piece of sheet steel between the two adjusters then re-seated the torsion bars. Problem solved, but I spent most of my day on it..... Tomorrow, I plan to install the rear shocks and the transaxle. If I have time, I'll move to the front suspension and start the reassembly process. Hoping to have the car ready for a test/tune by the end of the month - shouldn't be a problem unless we run into unexpected issues.....
01 September, 2014
Trevor and I spent the day at the shop working on the rear suspension; we were joined there by a new team member, Dennis. Dennis found our website while deployed to Afghanistan and spent many of his "off hours" reading of our humble efforts...... He contacted us to see if he could join in the adventure as soon as he returned from deployment and we've invited him to join us at this year's Baja 1000.
We cleaned and inspected all the rear suspension parts (I gave Dennis all the messy work....), then reassembled everything. The rear suspension is complete with the exception of a few fasteners for the micro-stub assemblies (we use new hardware every time we prep the car, I didn't have quite enough to finish that job). I'll buy more on Wednesday then complete the assembly and get the rear end back on the tires. Afterwards, I'll start working on getting the steering and front suspension re-assembled so we can make the car a "roller" again by the end of the week. Once the car is back on the wheels, it'll progress rapidly to the point of being ready for a test and tune......
23 August, 2014
I'm back from playing "you bet your job" in the flight simulators - good for another 6 months..... Unfortunately, I have to turn right around and fly a regular trip over the next week so there isn't going to be any progress to report in the mean time. I might be able to spend a few hours at the shop on Monday, we'll see.
18 August, 2014
I was able to spend some time at the shop today - my last time for a couple of weeks..... I wanted to wrap up a few loose ends that have been bothering me; I needed to finish our new spring plates, install a new fuel cell breather line, drill the new body's roof for both the GPS and radio antennas and mount new rear fenders. I was able to get all that stuff done, there is still a lot to do though......
15 August, 2014
I spent the day cleaning up and installing the doors on the car, it was amazing how much mud came home with us in the doors...... I wanted to install them so that I could get a sense of how good a match the new paint is; it's close, but not perfect. The new paint is just a bit "lighter" than the old paint; depending on the lighting, it varies from almost perfect to just a little lighter...... Once we get the stickers on the car, it'll be hard to see the difference - it's not enough of a difference to make me want to paint it again!
I took all the plastic sheeting (except the ceiling) off the spray booth today; it was hard to move around the shop with it in the way and now that the paint is dry, it served no further purpose.
I made templates of the old spring plates last night, so that I could duplicate them with the new spring plates today. I spent several hours marking, cutting, polishing and "blacking" the new plates; I have only to drill the bolt holes for attachment to the trailing arms. I think I'll drill one hole, then "match drill" the others on each spring plate to make sure everything fits together correctly. I ran out of time this afternoon, hopefully we can get down to the shop this weekend to finish them up (we also have some minor welding to do on one of our front spindles).
14 August, 2014
The car is finally painted;
I'm happy with how it turned out (and glad to be done)!
Now that the roll-over repair is complete, we can resume a "normal" race prep.! I brought our old spring plates home so that I could make templates we can use to modify the replacements to match. I hate to "reinvent the wheel" and what we were using worked perfectly so we'll just copy them....
13 August, 2014
Turns out ORW couldn't get the spring plates in a reasonable time frame - Sway A Way didn't have them in stock. So, we went with McKenzie's; they had them in stock and shipped them last night - got them today. Now, I just need to modify them for our IRS application.....
I spent the day at the shop finishing our spray booth construction and then went on to paint all the "fiddly" stuff - the firewall, rocker panels, windshield frame, door jambs, wheel wells, and the rear quarter panels up to the rain gutter. The rain gutter is a natural break; I stopped painting there today because I needed to do some masking that I couldn't do right after painting the windshield frame. I'll mask from the rain gutter "down" tomorrow and finish painting the roof of the car; it should only take another hour or so after it's all masked. No photos yet, I'll get some once the paint is dry and I take the spray booth down.....
12 August, 2014
I didn't get down to the shop today, had other business to take care of...... I did get out to ORW this afternoon and had Wally order some new spring plates for us - hopefully we'll have them by the end of the week. They will be "swing-axle" type spring plates so we'll have to modify them for our "IRS" installation; that's normal, nobody makes exactly what we need. There'll be a bit of cutting, grinding and drilling involved - I may add some photos of the process to our build pages.....
I made another visit to the Home Depot today; I forgot to get the plastic sheeting I needed for our temporary spray booth when I went yesterday. I think I have everything I need now, hopefully tomorrow the spray booth will be complete and all the wet sanding done. If I have time left over, I may start masking the areas that will not interfere with painting the interior portions of the new/old body joints. The actual painting will probably not happen tomorrow, but I expect to have it done before the weekend (unless I run into problems of some sort).
11 August, 2014
Picked up all our suspension parts today; most of it is okay but our spring plates are about to become spares..... They've been with us since our first race and they've just gotten to the point of no return....... We could weld them up (again) and race them but who knows how far they'd get us? Better to just cycle them out of service. One other minor thing on one of our front suspension parts but something we'll just weld. Everything else looked good so we'll clean it all up and get ready to put the car back together.
First, though, we need to paint the car. I made some progress in that direction today - I built a temporary "spray booth" structure; now I just need to drape and tape the plastic walls and mount the filters. I also did most of the wet sanding today; I got all the complex junctions and the quarter panels, just the roof to go (ran out of time to finish today). I've got about another hour's worth of sanding to go, then I'll probably paint the new/old body joints that show in the interior. Once they're dry enough, we can mask the interior and shoot the exterior; it'll probably only take an hour or so to actually paint (masking will take longer than the actual painting).
10 August, 2014
I'm home again for a few days. Tomorrow morning I'll be picking up all our suspension parts from being "Magnaflux" checked, hopefully no problems to address. After, I intend to spend a little time at Lowe's getting all the PVC and plastic sheeting I need to build a temporary spray booth. If I have time, I'll drop all that stuff at the shop and maybe start the "wet sanding" process. Once that's done I'll assemble the spray booth, mask the areas we don't want painted and shoot the color. I have a little bit of detail painting to do first - the inside areas where the windshield frame was welded to the old body, the rocker panel joints and the rear "grill" area. If I wasn't concerned about overspray, I could do the whole thing at once but once I paint the windshield frame, I can't mask the interior areas the same day.....
I'll also have to find some time to do a little studying this week; I've got one of my annual Simulator Training events (a "you bet your job" event) next week and it's bad form to show up unprepared.....
01 August, 2014
I just tinkered with the car
a bit today; with the primer/sealer on the car, it was a little
easier to see areas that needed a bit more attention.....
There were just a couple of places that I felt were not quite ready
for paint; I worked those areas until they matched the state of the
remainder of the car. We truly are now at the point where we
have only to wet sand then paint. That will wait a week or so
before we can get to it. After getting the paint issues
squared away, I inspected the front suspension beam, the torsion
adjusters and tie rods. We always replace all the torsion
adjuster hardware, they are common failure points due to the nature
of how they are "loaded". Afterwards, I drilled our new body
shelf area to accept our secondary oil cooler mounts. Our
primary oil cooler is hard mounted in the window behind the driver's
seat; the secondary cooler is mounted horizontally atop our rear
shelf area using rubber anti-vibration spacers.
31 July, 2014
The car is in primer/sealer as of today; I spent most of the day sanding the primer/filler smooth so that once the sealer was applied, we would only need to let it dry for a few days and then wet sand it before shooting the final color. I probably will not get to it this week; I need to build a makeshift "spray booth" to keep from annoying the neighbors too much........ I'm thinking a simple PVC pipe frame with plastic sheeting, a fan and some filters on the outlet. It shouldn't be a huge deal, just takes a little time that I don't have right now.
I also spent a little time
grinding down the weld securing the frame horn patch that I created
when repairing the IRS pivot nut. It's now all smoothed out,
blended in to the surrounding area and painted to match.
I spent the afternoon replacing the defective shock rod end bearings; the old ones are pressed out and then the new ones are pressed in. Bearing replacement isn't something we do with a hammer; they are a "press fit" in the shock ends and require the use of a hydraulic press to do the job properly. That entails a trip to my brother's shop, Custom Aircraft Parts, to use his equipment. That's always a nice opportunity to catch up with what's going on his life anyway, so it's always enjoyable to make the trip. After taking care of the shocks and catching up with my brother, I headed back to our shop to drop off the shocks and do a little "feathering" of the primer-surfacer currently covering the car. This stuff is the final "smoothing" element when we prep the car for paint - all the small imperfections that would otherwise show up in the final paint are sanded out here. I have a little more feathering to do, then it'll be time to seal it up with a "primer-sealer" and, once it's dry, wet sand then shoot the finish paint. Not sure if I'll get that far this week, but I'll at least get the primer-sealer on the car.
Here are a few photos of the shock bearing replacement process:
28 July, 2014
I was able to spend a little time working on the car today and tied up a few loose ends; I bought 2 new rear tires (our supply of existing tires is showing lots of wear - good spares but we don't want to start the Baja 1000 on any of them.....), did a little prep. for paint and repaired the left IRS pivot bracket. The pivot bracket repair was no big deal; I just cut into the frame horn opposite the area needing repair, welded the nut back in place and closed up the access hole I had created. The structural repair is complete but I still need to grind the welds down and paint the area. I'm hoping to actually start painting the car this week, or at least get to the point that it's ready to paint the next time I'm home.
21 July, 2014
I delivered all our suspension components to Rick and Adam at Power Box this morning, they'll magnaflux check them for cracks and weld problems for us. Hopefully, we'll get them back with a clean bill of health and we can just clean them up and reinstall them...... They are really the only major "race prep." items left on our list of things to do; everything else seems to be under control. We received our new spherical bearings for the shocks today, I plan to install them next week when I'm home for a few days.
19 July, 2014
Trevor and I spent the afternoon at the shop removing all the suspension components so that we can deliver them for inspection next week. While removing the rear suspension, we discovered another small problem for us to deal with; we knew that the left IRS pivot was showing signs of distress but weren't sure why. Today we found that the large nut that locates and secures the pivot bolt had broken away from the bracket inside the frame horn. That allowed the inner portion of the pivot bolt to move freely when it should have been fixed in position; this forced the outer portion of the pivot bracket to bear the entire load of the trailing arm - the distress we had noticed makes sense now. We'll have to cut into the frame horn opposite the location of the nut so that we can weld it back in place - minor surgery.
The car is now on jack stands at the perfect height for us to finish the body work and paint..... Just in time for me to head out on another week long trip for work. I hope to drop off all the suspension parts to be inspected on Monday before I leave - hopefully they'll come back to us soon (though we have plenty to do without them).....
18 July, 2014
I spent today at the shop working some normal "race prep." issues in addition to some body work. The race prep. issues were all related to the pedal cluster and related cables; our car is required to retain a "stock" pedal cluster under the SCORE class 5/1600 rule set. That requirement presents us with a few problem areas to monitor; the condition of the pedal cluster itself and specifically the clutch pedal "hook", the clutch cable and the throttle cable. Each of those are known problem areas so we are careful to inspect them after each race. This time, I found a couple of problems with the throttle cable attachments and housing. During the roll-over at the last race, we "pinched" a portion of the cable housing and nearly sheared it in two; that issue caused the throttle cable to "bind" somewhat and that could cause a loss of throttle control - we have a replacement on order. The other issue was the attachment of the throttle cable end to the pedal cluster; the cable bolts to the "gas pedal" and the nut holding it all together had loosened to the point that it was probably going to come undone before long...... I've changed the bolt and nut to a cotter pin type to eliminate that possibility (it had been set up that way previously but we changed it to a lock nut type for ease of replacement during a race - that was a mistake).
16 July, 2014
No real progress made on the car today, though I did pick up our engine from Paradise Motorsports this afternoon. We had dropped it there to be "freshened" by Jason after the San Felipe 250 in March; given that we rolled the car at that race and knew that we wouldn't need the engine for a while, we told him not to rush it. There weren't any problems with the engine, we just have him go through it after every race - it's especially important when we know that our next race is the "Baja 1000"....... Now that we have all the "big ticket" items back in our possession, the only things left for us to send out are the suspension components to be "magnaflux" inspected for cracks. I'm planning to get the car up on jack stands soon so that we can remove those parts and get them sent out. While they're being checked, I plan to finish the body work and paint the car (there's also a little welding to be done that we can't get to with the rear trailing arms installed). I hope to get out to the shop tomorrow, but it might not be until Friday.....
15 July, 2014
I spent several hours at the shop today, finishing up all the welding and grinding of the new/old body joints. Now that the connections are complete, we can begin to "body work" them as necessary to blend them into the surrounding surfaces. Then, it'll just be a matter of priming and painting the exterior followed by a "normal" race prep. We're actually well along with the normal prep.; the engine and transaxle are ready to go, the replacement parts we need are either on hand or on order and we have only to inspect the suspension parts before we can begin the reassembly process.
14 July, 2014
I'm back home for a few days, hope to get some stuff done on the car later today (it's 12:44 am now, it's tough to go back to a normal schedule after a week of working nights!). I'd like to finish up installing the new video camera power cable, complete the rocker panel welds and then start grinding all the body welds down flush. Hoping I can get all that done today, we'll see. I've got a few parts on order; the spherical bearings I have in my spares kit are "commercial" bearings rather than the "high strength" ones - we want the high strength versions on our shocks so I ordered them last week...... They're only a little more expensive and I think they'll be more resilient (we have used several different bearing types in our shocks and this seems to be one application where "you get what you pay for".....) I'll report back later in the day with the progress made.
Well, I got some of what I wanted to do taken care of.... It's always more complicated than you'd expect, something always comes up. Today it was something stupid (as usual); I cut myself deeply while grinding the body welds and had to take time to clean and dress it. I should have gone to urgent care, it really needed stitches, but that's not my style...... A little super glue did the trick. Anyway, that took time that I had hoped to use working on the car; I did get the new video camera power cable fully installed and the passenger side welding and grinding completed. The driver's side still needs to be welded on the bottom of the rocker panels then ground flush. Maybe tomorrow.
05 July, 2014
We spent a couple of hours welding the new body to the old this evening (after the air cooled down enough!). The windshield joint is complete, we just need to weld the underside of the rocker panels (I wasn't in the mood to have molten steel falling all over me tonight.....). Once that's done, we can move on to grinding the welds down flush and "body working" as necessary to prepare for paint. I think we're going to put the car on jack stands so we can remove all the suspension components for inspection/overhaul while we're body working and painting - no reason not to be working more than one thing at a time. I'm back to work next week so no progress for the next 10 days or so; hopefully we can get the car ready for paint the next time I'm home.
03 July, 2014
I found the spherical bearing stash I was looking for, fortunately we have enough of the right sizes to do both the rear and front shocks. I just need to head out to Custom Aircraft Parts to use their hydraulic press to remove the old ones and install the new ones - a task for another day. I also fabbed a new power cable for the video camera, I was never going to be happy with the modified one I created yesterday. The new one uses all standard automotive wire and connectors, so should be very reliable. I only need to thread it through the front firewall, install ring connectors and a fuse holder then connect it to the battery disconnect. Again, a task for another day.
We were contacted a few days ago by an individual who had stumbled upon our website while deployed in Afghanistan and now that he's home, wants to get involved with desert racing. We're happy that our website was a source of entertainment for him while deployed; our whole purpose here is to share the adventure. We're going to include him in our team activities (as much as possible) and possibly have him along for the Baja 1000 (if he can find the time off and we haven't burned him out by then!). It's always nice to make another friend!
02 July, 2014
A bit of a frustrating day at the shop; the simplest things seemed to cause the biggest problems! I spent WAY too much time trying to re-wire the power cable for our forward facing video camera; it's been an ongoing problem for us - the camera seems to lose power for some reason during every race and we come home without most of the cool video we thought we had captured...... I think the main problem has been that the camera received power through the battery disconnect switch; we replace those after every race because we've found that they become unreliable quickly (dust? vibration?). I now have the camera power tapped from the battery side of the switch with a 1 amp fuse in line. Hopefully, that'll solve the problem! I say it took way too much time because the wire supplied with the power adapter is not easily modified - it's almost impossible to strip it to make a connection without breaking the wire (maybe that's a reliability issue all by itself?)! I spent hours trying to get a good splice and I'm still not happy with it!! I'll probably have to go back and replace all the wire from the battery to the camera power adapter.... So, I guess I didn't really get anything accomplished with that item today. Frustrating.
I did move on to some "normal" race prep. stuff today - cleaning and inspecting the shocks, cleaning the driver/co-driver air supply pump and replacing the filter. I noticed that the rear shocks need new spherical bearings on the lower rod ends and all the front shock spherical bearings are "iffy", I then spent about an hour looking for them (I've got some new ones somewhere - but they weren't where I thought they were)..... I ran out of time looking for them so I guess that'll be my first task next time.
Meeting someone interested in getting into desert racing at the shop tomorrow, I may stick around and work on the car for a while afterwards (or at least look for those spherical bearings!).
30 June, 2014
I spent the day working some of the small details of our body swap; there are always a few little things that seem to annoy me until I get them right...... Some would say that it's "just a race car" and that I/we are doing too much to make it look good again - we're just "going to mess it up the first time we race it again"; they may be right but we take a little pride in keeping our car looking good even though it's been on it's roof a couple of times.......
Anyway, I spent a little time
adjusting the match-up of the old/new windshield joint - the
contours weren't quite the same and it would have been difficult to
make it look right after they were welded (without lots of body
filler). Assuming that the shape of the new body window
section was more correct than the old section, I re-shaped the old
section to match the new section. Now, we'll be able to weld
them together and not need a bunch of filler to make them look
28 June, 2014
Trevor and I spent a few hours at the shop today; we now have the new body section aligned and bolted down to the pan and we have only to weld the heater channels and windshield joints to complete the repair. Afterwards, we can begin body working those joints in preparation for paint. Hopefully next time we go to the shop we can get all the welding done.....
24 June, 2014
Flying in and out of San Diego every other day this week, but not home long enough on any given day to make it out to the shop. I'm using my time at home to round up all the little things that we need to replace on a normal "race prep."; things like a new battery disconnect, new air filters, transaxle oil, CV grease, fuel filters, nuts and bolts, etc.. I can do most of that kind of thing from my computer, though some of it requires visiting local businesses. Hopefully, by the end of the week, we'll have all the little bits and pieces on hand so that we can press forward with getting the car back in the desert!
Trevor started a new full-time job on Monday - working at a large CNC machine shop in our area. I'm kind of on my own working on the car at this point; he'll only be available on weekends for the foreseeable future.
I'm hoping that we can get the new body bolted/welded down this weekend - if Trevor isn't too beat up by the first week of his new job!
21 June, 2014
I spent a few hours at the shop today taking care of some small details that needed to get done sooner or later; I cleaned the oil filter, engine air filter, engine breather filter, transaxle vent filter, installed the SCORE required secondary door latches, installed a new fuel filter and trimmed the new body heater channels for a tighter door latch engagement. Nothing major but it was some of the "messy" stuff that needed doing at some point......
I wasn't happy with how the door latches were engaging; the gap at the rear of the doors was just a little too big and the latches were only partially engaging. Trimming about 1/8" from the heater channels in the new body allowed me to close the gap enough for a perfect engagement (don't want the doors flopping open during a race!). A side benefit is that the windshield joints are in better alignment now as well. Next time Trevor is available, I'm hoping we can bolt the body down and weld the joints!
19 June, 2014
I got home from a trip this afternoon and spent the remainder of the day collecting some small parts needed for repair of the fire suppression system and retrieving our air filters from the filter cleaning service...... I had a few hours of sunlight left afterwards so I headed down to the shop and finished the repair of the fire suppression system, then transferred the door hardware from the old body to the new. I hung the doors and adjusted the latches to verify the fit before we finalize the body installation; I think I need to trim about 1/16" from the heater channels to get the gap at the rear edge right - the latches aren't quite fully engaged with the doors closed. That'll just take a few seconds to adjust, but the body needs to come off the pan to do it and I can't manage that without help - I'll have to wait for Trevor to get home from Mexico I guess. After that, there is nothing stopping us from the "final install"!
14 June, 2014
Trevor and I spent a few
hours at the shop today - cleaning and coating the roll cage
structure, re-wiring our video camera power cable, running a new
radio antenna cable, replacing the fuel cell tray padding and
cutting holes in the new body for the rear shocks. Now that
all that stuff is done, there really isn't anything keeping us from
bolting and welding the new section in place! We expect to do
just that the next time we are able to get to the shop......
Trevor is heading to Baja for a week; then begins a new full time
job when he gets home. It may be a couple of weeks before we
can get back to it......
12 June, 2014
No real progress today but here's a photo of the new body section after painting the interior:
It's not perfect but it will
at least match the existing section....
11 June, 2014
Another day making progress on the car; Trevor and I prepped and painted the inside of our new body today! We now have to give it a couple of days to cure enough to handle - we'll try to use that time getting ready to install it on the pan; we need to do a few little things like cleaning and protecting the roll cage, installing a new fuel cell breather line and routing a new radio antenna cable. After that, it'll finally be time to bolt the new body down, weld it to the existing section and then blend and paint the welded areas. From that point onward, it's just another "race prep.".......
09 June, 2014
Finally, a little work done on the car today! Now that Trevor is out of school (graduating from UCSD but beginning the process of applying for admission to grad. school for a Masters.....), we have a little time to make some progress..... Our new exhaust system finally came in at McKenzie's, so we spent the morning driving up to get it (and a few other things). Afterwards, we spent a little time at the shop doing some minor jobs that needed doing before we get around to painting the interior and installing the new body. Next time, we hope to prep. and paint the interior so that we can finally get the body installed on the pan! After painting the interior, we'll have to wait a day or so before we can think about handling it much so we'll do a few little odds and ends while the paint cures - cleaning the cage tubing, running a new radio antenna cable and installing a new fuel cell breather line.
30 May, 2014
Sorry to report that we have made no progress on the car again this week; that's due to several other "irons in the fire" that took priority this week..... Additionally, the manager of the airport where we keep the car is on a "if it's not an airplane, it can't be in your hangar" tear at the moment; we're trying to stay out of his way for a bit..... There's no huge rush anyway, our next race is in November!
24 May, 2014
Not much to report, I've been mostly out of town for the last month..... I'm home for a bit now, and hoping to get some work done on the car next week. I plan to paint the interior, then we can install the body on the pan and paint the exterior. After that, we're back to a "normal" post-race prep..
Trevor is graduating from UCSD in a couple of weeks so it's a bit hectic at home right now - wrapping up loose ends and finishing some major school projects; we made a quick, 3-day trip to Baja this week to that end..... Some of Trevor's recent art will be on exhibit in the Adam D. Kamil Gallery at UCSD's Mandeville Center next week; he has his hands full preparing and installing his art in the gallery this weekend!
10 May, 2014
We didn't get around to painting the interior today but we did finish up all the filling on the exterior of the body. Next time, we'll spray some primer/surfacer on the exterior and maybe paint the interior. After the surfacer is dry, we'll sand smooth and then spray a primer/sealer on the exterior. It'll be time to install the body on the pan afterwards - hopefully by the end of the month.
3 May, 2014
Home for just a few days again; Trevor and I spent the day at the shop continuing the body work. Trevor worked on the exterior while I cleaned up the interior. Most of the filling and sanding is done in and out, now we just need to sand one final bit of body filler, seal it all up and paint. We're hoping to paint the interior next time were at the shop, then it'll be time to install the body on the pan and paint the exterior. We both are learning to hate body work; no more race cars with bodies on them.....
26 April, 2014
Trevor and I were able to get
down to the shop today; I'm home for just a couple of days so we
wanted to get some stuff done before I head out again.....
17 April, 2014
Trevor and I were stuck at home waiting for a delivery today - and like all deliveries, it was promised to arrive between 11am and 4pm...... It arrived at 5:45pm as expected...... So, our day was pretty well spent by then but we both needed to get out for a while. We headed down to the shop for a couple of hours, just doing some little things like repairing the fuel filler neck mount plate and making cover plates for the removed heater duct channels. We ran out of ambition about 9:30pm and headed home for the evening. Our progress has been rapid up to now, but that may be at an end for a while; there are lots of things competing for our time over the next few weeks.....
16 April, 2014
We spent most of the day at
the shop today, doing almost all of the welding on the car.
There are a few things that we can't do until the body is "final
installed" but we did most everything else - the repairs and
upgrades are done. Now, we are basically in the "normal prep."
mode, with a little body work and paint thrown in for extra fun.....
15 April, 2014
I spent a couple of hours at the shop today, inspecting the fuel cell and closing it back up with new gaskets. Everything looks perfect inside, just like new. I was going to replace the foam, filter and pick-up hose but they were in "new" condition so I left them alone. We check them at least once a year so we don't end up DNF'ing due to a fuel cell problem. We were starting to see a little "weeping" fuel around the filler flange when the cell was full so we needed to replace the gaskets anyway.
I also spent a little time refining the fit of the rear bumper and cage extensions that connect to the upper flanges on the bumper. They are all ready to weld when we get to that point. I started working on the additional fuel cell tray supports but didn't have the material I needed. Tomorrow I'll get the material, fabricate the supports and have Trevor weld them in.
14 April, 2014
Trevor and I worked on the car again today, Trevor's UCSD class for today was canceled so we were able to put nearly a full day into it. Trevor finished up the new parts for the bumper repair - they are in place but not welded yet (we are getting everything that needs to be welded ready, then we'll do all the welding at one time). We also made the new cage extensions that the bumper mounts to; they will be welded in place once the body is "final installed". I worked on the body, making the firewall removable and cutting all the holes we need for "pass-throughs". The only items left to fabricate before we start welding are the additional fuel cell tray supports. They should only take an hour or so, then we'll be ready to weld. Today was another day of little visible progress but all important stuff.
12 April, 2014
Back at the shop today, Trevor working on bumper repair and cage improvements and I did the final "fitting" of the new body. Not a lot to see at the end of the day but all stuff that needed to be done. I'm really pleased with how the new body fits; the doors fit perfectly and the rocker panels and windshield frame all fit up nicely.
"Final fitting" is a time consuming process of trimming a little then checking the fit at several points over and over again until we're satisfied. We're looking at the windshield opening to make sure it's the correct size and shape (I made a template from a good body), the fit of the doors and their engagement with the latches and the alignment of the body with the bolt holes that secure it to the pan. Small changes can make a lot of things move into or out of alignment; measure twice, cut once.........
I had to make a couple of "filler" pieces for the rocker panels, I screwed up the initial cuts - I measured very carefully, marked the cut line, then cut on the wrong side of my "cut line" leaving a gap between the remaining rocker panels and the new body rocker panels........ Oops, at least we had some spare rocker panel left on the old body to use; we'll just weld the filler pieces in the gap when we do the final install. Now that the fitting is complete, we can take the body off the car so Trevor can start welding the cage improvements. While he's doing that, I'll start the body work; hopefully we'll both reach the end of our tasks at about the same time. Once done with those tasks, we can "final install" the new body, paint and then just do a normal pre-race prep. from that point forward. I didn't get any photos today, I'll try to get some shots of the things we were working on next time we go.
11 April, 2014
Spent the day delivering our engine and transaxle to "Paradise Motorsports" and "Power Box" for freshening. It's never just a simple "here you go, call us when it's done"; we generally do a full debrief on how things worked/any problems at the last race and then we talk about any changes we want or need. After that, it devolves into normal b.s.'ing about desert racing.....
After dropping off the engine and transaxle, we spent the remainder of the day shopping for all the little parts that we'll need to complete the repairs/prep. - we never seem to be able to find everything we need in one place so it takes some time.....
Tomorrow, we plan to continue fitting the new body - we hope to have that complete by the end of the day. At that point, we'll remove the body from the pan and start working two different paths; Trevor will be repairing/upgrading the roll cage and I'll be doing the body work and paint. Once we've each finished our tasks, the body will go back on the car permanently.
10 April, 2014
Another productive day at the shop; we began trimming the new body to the "Baja Bug" shape we wanted in the engine compartment area and ended with trimming the the shelf area and fitting the body on the pan. We were both very pleased with how well the new body fits - there will be only minor adjustments necessary for it to fit perfectly. We still need to trim back the "A" pillar (front window frame) area a bit, we left it a little big so that we can fit it perfectly. I want to mount the doors again before we do the final fitting to ensure that everything fits and functions perfectly. Here are a couple of photos (look in the "Build/Prep/Repairs"/"Roll Over Repairs"/"2014 San Felipe 250 Roll Over" section for more details):
09 April, 2014
Trevor and I were at the shop today, removing the damaged portions of the body and inspecting the roll cage afterwards. The body came off fairly easily, though there were a couple of hard to reach areas that required a little extra effort to cut without damaging the pan. Once we made all the cuts, the body lifted right off without any difficulties. We spent a fair bit of time cleaning thoroughly - we wanted to be sure that we could see all the weld areas clearly once we started inspecting for problems. Trevor climbed all over the car looking for structural problems; everything looked great! There are a couple of areas that we want to work on though - there were a few joints where it was impossible to get full welds due to interference with the body. Now that the body is off, we have unobstructed access to those areas and we're going to take advantage of the opportunity. Here are a few photos:
07 April, 2014
Nothing going on with the car for the last couple of days, we had to take a little time out to work on the "daily driver" cars..... I just can't bring myself to pay someone to change the oil on the truck, Explorer, Mustang, Honda and Trevor's Baja Bug. The Explorer also needed a little ignition trouble shooting and repair. Some things I just have to do for myself! We're planning to get back to the race car on Wednesday; hopefully get to the point that we can cut the damaged body off and start fitting the replacement.
05 April, 2014
Trevor and I were at the shop for most of the day today, continuing with the tear-down and clean-up of the car. Trevor cleaned our axles and CV's while I cleaned and inspected our fuel cell. The CV's and axles will now go out for crack checking and I will be ordering some new gaskets for the fuel cell. Trevor removed 3 of the 4 shocks, the 4th is trapped by the damaged roof and we'll have to wait until we begin the process of removing the roof to get it out. While he was doing that, I removed the damaged firewall after disconnecting all the hoses and wires that have to pass through it.... Good progress and we are thinking that we'll get the old body off the pan in the next week or so, then we can start fitting the replacement.
We had a couple of visitors today, Matt and John; each of whom are building new 5/1600 cars. They both have their cars completed to nearly the same point and had questions about the rear end set-up. We invited them to come by today to look at how our car is set-up and to just talk about 5/1600 stuff. It was a pleasure to meet them both and we look forward to seeing them at the races!
29 March, 2014
Trevor and I put the car on our trailer and took it to the car wash today, I still can't believe how much dirt comes out after we've scraped and vacumed the thing...... We thought we had cleaned out the worst of the mess but after washing it, there were piles of mud underneath it on the trailer. Anyway, it's clean enough to start the inspection process - we've already spotted a couple of problem areas that'll need a little attention; just the normal wear and tear that goes along with racing San Felipe.....
The engine and transaxle were out of the car when we washed it so we spent a little time cleaning off the worst of the mess - they were pretty dirty and I hate to drop them off for service like that....
The major structure of the car looks to be in great shape, the next step will be to remove the damaged portion of the body and start fitting up the replacement section. I'm going to be out of town for a couple of weeks and Trevor starts the new quarter at UCSD next week so it may be a while before we can get to it again.
28 March, 2014
Trevor and I had a very successful day today, we found a replacement roof and rear half for repair of our car! We picked it up and brought it to our shop this afternoon and have decided on the best way to make the repairs. Rather than try to cut out the damaged sections of our existing roof/body, we are thinking that replacing the entire roof and rear half of the body is the best way to go. We had hoped to save as much of our original body as possible but it just looks too problematic.
While at the shop, we spent the afternoon and much of the evening tearing the car down for repair/overhaul; we removed all the major components - engine, transaxle, seats, fuel cell, air filter, etc. but left the car on the wheels. We still need to wash all the dirt out of it but we are nearly to the point of being able to begin the repair of our roll-over damage. We'll start by removing the damaged sections, then proceed to fit the replacement parts. Once fitted, we'll do the minor body work necessary so that we can paint the hard to reach areas before final installation (the replacement parts are 52 years old and need a little attention......).
27 March, 2014
There hasn't been much activity to report since the San Felipe 250 - I was away from home at work for 2 weeks, followed by another trip to our house in Baja for a few days (wanted to get some work done there, it's always something......). Trevor and I are heading out to look at some VW bodies tomorrow, hopefully we'll find one that we can use to repair our car with. We hope to have the needed parts on hand soon so that we can begin the repair of the race car; we may have to look for a while before we find the right one. If we don't find what we're looking for tomorrow, we'll just press on with the post-race tear down and overhaul process and keep looking. I hate to cut up an otherwise good body to repair ours - I'd rather find one that has some existing damage and then graft the usable parts onto ours (good VW bodies are getting scarce).....
08 March, 2014
We haven't done much with the car since the race, we spent the last few days cleaning up after ourselves at the race...... There is a tremendous amount of stuff that needs to be cleaned and stored away after a race before we can get down to repairing any damage and prepping for the next race; that's what we've been doing for the last week. Now that we've got that out of the way, we can tear down the car and begin to plan our repairs. We've spent some time looking at the body damage and believe that we have a "game plan" for the repairs but we really need to strip the car and do a detailed assessment before we know the full extent of the damage we incurred. Once that's done, we can start looking for "body donor parts" for the repairs - it may take a while to find exactly what we're looking for but we hope to get it done within the month. Once the body parts are on hand, we'll start the process of grafting them on to the car while all the major components are out for inspection/overhaul. Hopefully, about the time we have the body back in shape, all those parts will start coming back to us and we can begin the reassembly process.
03 March, 2014
We returned home from San Felipe last night after a long day of travel, hindered by protesters blocking the only road heading North from town...... We're happy to be safe at home again after another adventure racing in Baja! I'm in the process of reviewing all our videos/photos and will be posting here in the next few days. We had a great race going, trading the lead back and forth with Dave Simpson for the first half of the course until Trevor found a slick section of road and spun-out/rolled the car. By the time he and Ruben got the car back on it's wheels, it was impossible to recover the lead. We finished in 3rd place, just 2 minutes behind 2nd and about 20 minutes behind 1st. If not for the roll-over, it would have been a battle for first place all the way to the finish line! That's racing; we'd never lose a race if only things went perfectly...... The really important part though is that everyone is fine, no injuries. The car will need another roof though.......
26 February, 2014
Trevor and I loaded up all the spares, pit boxes, dump cans, tools and the car this afternoon and hauled the whole mess home; we plan to leave home at about 3pm, swing by UCSD to pick up Trevor and then head South to San Felipe. We're hoping to arrive by around 9pm - I'd prefer to drive during the daylight hours but we don't really have a choice this time.... George and Bill should probably already be at the house when we get there, Victor and Ruben are arriving on Friday. I'll try to update during the next couple of days but internet access isn't always available at our house and I'm thinking that I'll be fairly busy. I'll try though.
24 February, 2014
Trevor and I spent the day at the shop, closing out a few loose ends with the car prep.. We also installed our new race numbers (#587 this time), marked all our spare tires with our number and their pit location, adjusted the car's ride height, filled the fuel cell and packed the tool box. After, we went to see Carlos (Baja Pits) to review our pit/chase strategy with him. I think our plan passed muster with him so we'll go with it....... We're going to load all the spares, pit boxes and dump cans in the truck and bring the car home on Wednesday to leave for San Felipe on Thursday afternoon (Trevor has school commitments until mid-day).
23 February, 2014
Nothing much to report, Trevor and I took the weekend off to just relax. Didn't even go to the shop, though I did spend a fair amount of time working on the Pit/Chase plan. Always a fair number of unknowns that we have to account for there; we need to have contingency plans in place to cover any holes that develop in the game plan..... As has been said many times, "no battle plan survives first contact" and that is true here as well. So, we try to have as many alternatives available as possible. Even so, there are always areas where we are weak and adopt a "we'll cross that bridge when we come to it" attitude. Hopefully, we'll have a clean race and not need to put any of our alternate plans into play! Tomorrow, Trevor and I will spend the day at the shop doing final prep..
21 February, 2014
I spent the morning working on plotting access routes for our chase vehicle GPS units; Google Earth really comes in handy, I can display the race course and just look for roads that give us access at various points. Once I've identified the access roads, I can just create a GPS file (using GPS Trackmaker or some other software) that can be displayed along with the race course file on our GPS units. Time consuming, tedious work but if we need to recover the car from some out of the way area we'll have a contingency plan in hand.....
In the afternoon, we towed the car out to Roger Norman's shop to have the annual cage inspection done. Happy to report that no problems were discovered and we're able put that worry aside. Our race number supplier (CJ Norby Signs) is in the same area so we were able to pick up our new race numbers on the same trip.
Yesterday, I picked up 20 gallons of C12 race fuel for the initial fuel cell loading - we'll bring the car down with a fuel cell already full of known good fuel...... It's a good thing I went yesterday, I got the last 20 gallons they had..... Once in Baja, we'll rely on Sunoco to supply the fuel we'll need along the way.
18 February, 2014
Retrieved our car from Paradise Motorsports this morning, the engine checks out perfectly. Jason did a couple of dyno pulls this morning to see if running VP C12 requires any jetting changes as compared to Sunoco 110 - no changes needed in our car, your mileage may vary (literally!). We're now on to final prep., in addition to planning our logistics. Trevor and I visited Carlos (Baja Pits) today to deliver our pit service form and a check. While there, we reviewed our pit/fuel strategy with him. Seems like our plan should cover our needs...... Afterwards, I had a rare opportunity to go fly my airplane - it seems like I always get distracted by the race car when I go to the hangar intending to fly! The race car is kind of like a "black hole" in that I find it nearly impossible to be around it without feeling compelled to work on it..... We left the car in our garage at home today, so I didn't get "sucked in" as usual when we went to the shop!
17 February, 2014
Turns out that being assigned race #587 wasn't a mistake - apparently someone has "reserved" our requested number (578), though they don't seem to be entered in this race - there goes another $100...... Not a big deal, just would have been nice to save a little money and keep our Baja 1000 winning number. Spent some time today planning our pit/fuel strategy and ordering our fuel and new race numbers. Tomorrow, we'll visit Carlos at Baja Pits to deliver our registration form and fuel/spares plan. We dropped the car off at Paradise Motorsports today; Jason wanted to put it on the dyno one last time, just to be sure it's perfect. Also, we tend to use two different brands of fuel, VP at the start and Sunoco later on (it's complicated....) so we wanted to have a look at how that affects our tune - one fuel may require slightly different jetting than the other (the last thing we want is to run an air cooled and high strung engine lean!). We have an appointment with SCORE Tech on Friday to renew our annual cage inspection.
16 February, 2014
I'm back home and attending to the myriad of pre-race details that need to be resolved before heading down to San Felipe. I see that we are now showing on the entry list but for some reason they show us as race #587 rather than #578 as requested - I guess that's my first phone call on Monday...... It's not a huge deal, but I'd rather not have to change the numbers on the car and truck if possible! Today I ordered our satellite phones, filled out the Baja Pits service form and began planning our pit/fuel strategies. The chase strategy is also starting to take shape, if only in my head at this point. This race presents some difficult challenges from a "chase" perspective - the entire section between about RM 130 and RM 236 is very difficult to cover effectively. That's also the section most likely cause problems....... We'll be working on it.
12 February, 2014
I'm in Memphis this week
playing "You Bet Your job" in the flight simulators but I found some
time to submit our San Felipe 250 race entry this afternoon.
Trevor and I spoke with Carlos "Baja Pits" Orozco on Monday and he
assures us that there are several other 5/1600 teams planning to
enter the race. We hope so, if we don't have at least a couple
of other 5/1600's to race, it's not worth our time/money......
09 February, 2014
Nothing much to report at this point, I've been out of town for work the last couple of weeks and that will continue next week as well..... Tough to get any racing stuff done that way. We've been watching the San Felipe 250 entry list, we've decided that unless there are at least 2 other entries in 5/1600 it isn't worth entering (we may revise that upward, it's a lot of money and effort to race just a couple of cars....).
25 January, 2014
We spent the day at the shop cleaning up the car after our test and tune yesterday - you can't imagine what a mess it makes! We also got a good start on doing our "final race prep." in anticipation of entering the 2014 San Felipe 250. The car looks good at this point, just a couple of little things to attend to before we say "good enough" - deciding on and installing the tire/wheel combination we feel best suits this race, a final "dyno. day" to fine tune the engine and then double check all the hardware. The car has really been ready to go for several months but we always do a final "once over" before a race. Now, we just need to see some entries in 5/1600.......
24 January, 2014
Trevor and I spent the day in El Centro testing again, our third test/tune this month. We are feeling the pressure of an upcoming race, the 2014 San Felipe 250 - we have a little over a month to be 100% ready and our engine issue has been a big stumbling block. We are glad to say that today's session went perfectly, the engine issue seems to have been due to fuel gone bad. We pumped out the fuel cell and re-filled it with fresh race fuel (also replaced the spark plugs and wires) and now the problem has gone away. We are again able to run soft washes in 4th gear and wide open throttle for extended periods without any signs of power loss. Glad to have that issue behind us.
Another issue we are looking into is the fact that we are essentially forced to use a specific brand of fuel when we use "Baja Pits". They prefer Sunoco fuels for various reasons so that's what we end up getting at their pits. We prefer VP fuel so we generally start a race with a fuel cell full of VP product but end up mixing in Sunoco fuel along the way. We are planning to spend a day on the Dyno. looking into the differences; there may be performance differences in addition to a potential need to jet differently for one or the other fuels. It'll be interesting to see if they perform similarly - we may have to rethink our fuel strategy.....
23 January, 2014
We have the engine back in
the car and ready to test again. We are heading out to our
favorite testing area in the morning, hopefully we'll be able to
report that we're 100% race ready when we get back...... We
made a few changes, in addition to pumping the fuel cell out and
re-filling it with fresh fuel. We'll see how it goes and report
21 January, 2014
We got our motor back from the builder today, it checked out perfectly...... Back in the car it goes and we go test again this weekend. We still have a couple of tricks up our sleeves, we hope to have it sorted out before I head out to fly a trip all next week....
18 January, 2014
Trevor and I had the car out again today, hoping to have a 100% successful test and tune session....... Unfortunately, we are still chasing a difficult to diagnose engine issue. We've had the car on the dyno several times over the last week and while we did find a carburetion issue that we resolved, we were unable to duplicate the conditions that cause our problem. We only see the problem when we have the car in 4th gear and wide open throttle in soft sand washes; it's very repeatable in the desert but we can't get the car to do it on the dyno.. We were able to verify all the other systems to be "race ready" and it was good to get a little seat time. We'll get the engine out of the car tomorrow and take it to our builder on Monday. We need to have a 100% successful test and tune before we commit to the San Felipe 250......
15 January, 2014
Jason had the carb. off the engine and disassembled today, found a couple of issues that needed attention. After cleaning and reassembly, they ran the car on the dyno again with normal fuel/air ratio results. Hopefully, the lean condition is now resolved permanently and we can look forward to a 100% successful test/tune once we get the car back! We are still looking at the other possibilities as well; we don't want a repeat of our 2012 San Felipe 250 experience!
14 January, 2014
We dropped the car off with our engine builder on Saturday so that he could get it on the dyno to figure out what is causing the recurring issue we've been having on our test/tune days. Turns out that the fuel/air ratio is going very "lean" when we run the car hard, causing it to get hot and lose power. Now that we understand what's happening, we can move towards a solution to the problem. That shouldn't be a big deal, there are only a few things that can cause this..... We hope to have the car back in the next few days so we can do another test/tune day before we commit to the San Felipe 250.
5 January, 2014
We spent most of yesterday doing a test/tune session at our favorite OHV area for testing, Plaster City. The last time we were out, we had a minor issue with the engine that we thought we had resolved...... Turns out we still have some work to do there. Nothing major, just something we want to resolve before committing to a race. We have some ideas of our own but we'll talk with our engine builder on Monday and come up with a plan for solving the problem then plan another test day. Our guests had a good time anyway, the problem didn't really affect the quality of their rides. It was really good to get out with the race car again!
1 January, 2014
Happy New Year!
We took the trailer down to the shop to retrieve the car in anticipation of our test/tune session this Friday; we did a quick visual inspection to make sure everything looked ready to go and collected some spares and tools to bring along. The car is now in our garage where we can do a little cosmetic clean-up before we go; we'll be able to leave from our home on Friday and go straight out to the test site without stopping to get the car this way. That should make the day go a little smoother for us and our guests as well - we're giving a couple of rides while we're out. We try to combine rides with our test/tune days; it's an awful lot of work getting the car ready and then cleaning it up afterwards so we try to maximize the benefits of our outings. We're excited to be running the car again, looking forward to racing after over a year off!