2020 Activities:



31 March, 2020

The yellow Baja Bug's axle assemblies are reinstalled and ready to run.  Over the last several days, I've updated all four CV's to true "race prepped" versions, replaced both axles with lower mileage race car spares and installed new CV boots all around.  Having failed one of the CV's during our test run, we were careful to measure the current CV angles and decided that we needed to install limit straps to protect the CV's in the future.  I installed the limit straps today and am pleased with the result - the CV's now see a maximum of 26 degrees axle angle at full droop.  Typically, race prepped 930 CV's are safe to about 26.5 degrees so we believe we stay within that "safe" zone now.  Installing limit straps obviously reduces the total suspension travel at the rear end: we lost about 1" of travel on both sides; we can regain that lost travel in the future if we choose to "notch the horns" and lower the transaxle like on our 5-1600 car.  That's a lot of work though, we'll probably live with the travel we have for now....


Limit strap installed on right rear shock


Axle and CV angle at full droop

This amount of angular deflection is within the allowable range for race prepped 930 CV's.  There is no appreciable angle forward or aft so this is essentially the total angle the CV's see.  We expect the drivetrain to run smoothly and reliably under all load and road conditions we encounter now; we will always carry a spare axle/CV assembly in the car when we're going to be pre-running, however.


23 March, 2020

Interesting times - We in California are currently subject to a state government "stay at home" order due to the "Covid-19" virus pandemic.....  We're making do with the situation and are not coming into close contact with other people.  We'll eventually need to shop for food but that's hopefully down the road a way. The most difficult aspect of this situation is the forced separation from Trevor's new family - they have a new baby, Henry, and the last thing we want to do is to bring some new virus into their home.....

Murphy's law being what it is (whatever can fail, will - at the worst possible moment), our refrigerator decided now would be a good time to stop keeping things cold....  We were forced to call a repairman out; we were surprised that he was actually still available given the stay at home order but he came right over.  It's now working again, though not 100% right.....  We bought a replacement, expecting that it would not get delivered for weeks (again due to the stay at home order) but we were surprised when it was delivered  yesterday.  I think we're back in a stable "food storage" condition.  Not happy that we had to have other people in the house right now but we kept our distance and cleaned afterwards.....

I'm personally finding it difficult to be so limited but I'm finding little projects around the house and spending time working on Trevor's Baja Bug.  We damaged a CV during the recent desert outing and I've disassembled, cleaned and inspected the affected axle assembly.  The passenger side, transaxle end  CV "cage" failed and the broken bits damaged the "star" and axle splines.  Surprisingly, the balls and outer housing seem fine.  I have a new CV on order (to allow me to turn this axle into an emergency spare) along with 4130 "race" cages for the other side's axle assembly.  We have a spare "race axle" assembly so I'm going to install it on the failed side and then update the other side axle CV's with 4130 cages. 


The carnage that results when you allow a CV to operate beyond it's angular limits......
Yes, we knew we were pushing the limits.....

Axle splines damaged by the failed "cage"

It took some effort to get the CV "star" off the axle because of the damage the broken pieces of the "cage" caused.  Initially, I didn't think I could salvage this axle but now I think we can turn it into an emergency spare.  This axle is no longer good for race or "daily" use but I think we can "blend" the damage to eliminate stress risers and then use it as an emergency spare.  I've ordered a replacement CV for this axle so we can turn it into a complete, ready to install assembly that Trevor can carry in the car on pre-runs.  We'll install our existing spare race axle/CV assembly in place of this one.  Next will be the addition of limit straps so this doesn't happen again!


21 February, 2020

We took the Baja Bug out to the desert today for a suspension test and tune session; we were very pleased with how the car handled the rough terrain.  We did make a few initial adjustments to the rear shock bypass settings that resulted in a little better ride and handling; we'll continue to fine tune the settings as we gain more experience with the new suspension.  The front suspension doesn't have adjustable compression or rebound bypasses - fortunately, the stock valving is very close to perfect!  One of the CV's failed at the end of our testing; we knew that we were pushing them to their limits so we weren't surprised when one failed.  Fortunately, we were done testing for the day anyway.   We'll probably install limit straps to reduce the maximum angular displacement they see; we'll also replace them all with true "race prepped" CV's.  Here's a short clip of one of the tuning runs:

We were pleased with the updated engine and transaxle perfomance; the engine pulled hard and smooth and the new transaxle gear ratios were a perfect match for the power band and terrain.  Along with the new suspension, those updates make this car a very capable and comfortable "pre-runner" now.


10 February, 2020

Trevor and I drove the yellow Baja Bug yesterday - the first test drive after installing the re-geared transaxle.  We're happy to report that the gear ratios are perfect now!  We had also addressed a couple of minor oil leaks while the engine was out of the car; everything looks tight now.  It was a real pleasure to drive the Baja again - it's been a long time!  Now that everything seems to be working the way we want, Trevor will be wanting to get the car in the desert so we can tune the suspension a bit.  It's amazing how much it drives like our 5-1600 car now; the "fast steering" that comes with the rack and pinion setup isn't ideal for street driving but it'll be great off-road.  Tuning the suspension should get us close to "race car" handling in the rough also but now that Trevor is a father, it may be a while before he finds an opportunity to get it in the dirt.......


02 February, 2020

We welcomed a new member of the GONZO Racing team this afternoon; Henry W. Anderson was born to Kristen and Trevor this afternoon at 3:59 pm after a nearly 32 hour labor!


25 January, 2020

Trevor and I finished putting the yellow Baja Bug back together today.  We installed the engine then did it's first "post re-build" oil change and valve adjustment in addition to addressing a minor oil leak.  We were pleased to note that the drained oil looked clean with no evidence of metal present.  After reinstalling the bumper, we ran the engine for a few minutes to verify that there were no leaks then finished up with the install of the "deck scoop" and engine skid plates.  By that time, Trevor needed to get home so we haven't had a chance to test drive it yet.  We're expecting the transaxle gear ratios to be more appropriate now - hopefully we'll have a chance to drive it soon.


23 January, 2020

I took my torque wrench ratchet apart and found the problem last night (nothing that affected the calibration) - it's all sorted out now so I went back over the CV bolts to be sure they were all torqued correctly.  In doing so, I discovered two of the boots had small cuts that we had not previously noted.....    We were re-using old 5/1600 car boot flanges that had sharp edges and had cut into the boots - it was a mistake to try to save a few $ by re-using them.  I went to ORW and got new flanges and boots to replace the problem parts.  That replacement required that I once again remove the axle/CV assemblies from the car.  After the parts swap, I bolted everything back in place, torqued the bolts and checked for free rotation - no binding at the extreme suspension travel points.  Ready for the engine install.


21 January, 2020

I finished prepping the CV's and reinstalled the CV/axle assemblies on the yellow Baja Bug today; everything runs smoothly with no binding at the limits of suspension travel.  My torque wrench ratchet started giving me problems midway through the install so I need to go back and check everything once I get the torque wrench sorted.... Also remaining is the replacement of one CV's boot retaining wire; I need to retrieve my safety wire pliers from the hangar to do that, hopefully in the next day or so.  Once those open issues are closed out, Trevor and I will install the engine then do an oil change and valve adjustment.  There are also a couple of areas where we have small oil leaks that we want to fix at that time.  Hopefully, we'll be driving again next weekend!


18 January, 2020

I picked up Trevor's Baja Bug transaxle from PowerBox yesterday so Trevor and I put it back in the car today.  We had the 4th gear ratio changed to something a little "taller"; hopefully that'll keep the engine RPM's in a reasonable range on the freeway but still give us good up-hill performance.  We only installed the transaxle today; the axles and CV's will come another day - we want to spend a little time doing a more detailed "race-prep" to be sure we don't have any problems given our increased suspension travel.


02 January, 2020

Happy New Year!

Trevor and I spent a couple of hours working on the Lothringer Pre-Runner yesterday; we mocked up the tie rods I had roughed out last week to check for correct length before welding the threaded ends in place.  We then began removing all the body panels so that we have unobstructed access to the frame for us to clean and corrosion protect it.  Once that's done, we'll final install the front control arms and rear trailing arms then install the front and rear hub/brake assemblies and tires/wheels so we can roll it around while we work on it.

Our initial plan is to coat the tube frame so that it doesn't rust while we build the car over the next several years, then start the build with the steering system followed by the other driver controls - brake, clutch and accelerator pedals.  Once the controls are installed, we can begin fabricating and installing the brake and clutch lines.  We should have a functional brake system fairly quickly but the clutch system will have to wait for the transmission purchase....  We have plenty of work to do before we start needing to have the "big ticket" items on hand.




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