2023 Activities:


25 May, 2023

There hasn't been much to report over the last several months and probably not much to come in the immediate future...  Having said that, I spent the day working on the race car.  It has been sitting "race-ready" for the last couple of years; we're thinking about running some "local" races this year so it was time to start a "mini-prep".  My first priority was to make sure the engine was in good condition and safe to run - aside from needing to replace a fuel line, it was good to go and ran great!  All the systems work normally but I'll be installing a new battery to ensure reliable starts when we take it out.  It was really fun to hear our high compression 1600 motor run again!



05 March, 2023

We attended the Temecula, CA Off-Road Car Show yesterday with our pre-runner.  We were one of only three pre-runner buggies; the majority of cars seemed to be "Over-Landers" and "Mall-Runners" with a few serious off-road capable vehicles in the mix...  Our pre-runner received lots of very positive attention throughout the day.  It was fun to show it again.


On display in Temecula, CA

We've been really busy with "life" and the weather has been unusually bad for the last several weeks; we haven't had an opportunity to get the pre-runner out to the desert again since our first test and tune day.


Rear view camera display
Our GPS display unit allows us to connect a camera and view the image it produces; we chose to install a rear facing camera on the rear bumper.  With the radiator and spare tire in the way, the driver otherwise has no visibility directly behind the car.  The video display can be easily selected through the GPS display menu any time we choose.  We have to manually select it though; it doesn't automatically display when selecting reverse...



09 February, 2023

We installed and leak checked our new fuel rails on the pre-runner engine today.  They fit perfectly, we like how the injectors fit in the correctly machined pockets and everything is leak-free under pressure.  This was an important safety upgrade that needed to be done; we're glad to have it complete and tested!


Passenger side fuel rail installed
The driver side fuel rail is identical to this side but it's a little more crowded over there and it's tough to get an "un-cluttered" photo.  After having the original fuel rails off the engine several times, we were able to identify and eliminate all of the "sketchy" features when we fabricated the new rails...  The new rails are safer, more secure and easier to both install and remove when necessary.



31 January, 2023

I spent a few hours at the shop today machining our new fuel rails.  It's really nice to have our own machine shop so we can make "custom" parts for the pre-runner.  The small amount of money we spent on a used mill and lathe has been a good investment in both time and money...  We enjoy using them and it's also nice to be able to make all the custom parts ourselves!  As I noted in my previous update, the new fuel rails are an important safety enhancement and I'm glad to have them ready to install before our next outing.  Here are a couple of photos:


Our new custom fuel rails ready to install
We started with "Wilson Manifolds" blank fuel rail extrusions that we cut to length and machined for the "O ring seal AN" end fittings and the injector pockets.  We drilled and tapped a couple of blind holes in the bottom of each for mounting studs.  I also machined some aluminum spacers to get the "installed height" correct - the previous installation required several washers under the mounting bracket and we wanted to eliminate them.  The new spacers will install permanently between the rails and mount brackets - no more washers to fiddle with when removing the fuel rails from the engine...


Properly machined injector pocket
Our existing fuel rails have no means of securing the injector "O" ring seals at the top of the injectors - they have  "smooth bore" injector pockets that could allow the seals to escape off the ends of the injectors...  As you can see in this photo, we machined our new rails to have injector pockets with a "step" that will eliminate any chance of a seal escaping.  The injector design confines the seal from below and the new fuel rails will confine the seals from above, retaining the seals in their "ideal" locations.



28 January, 2023

Trevor and I spent today working the few items we wanted to address after our first pre-runner test and tune session.  We also spent some time working on his "new" 1980's Toyota Land Cruiser; lots of little things to improve, all ignition related.

The pre-runner GPS was not finding our position during our test and tune - it was not seeing the "Point 1 Baja" external antenna on the NEMA 2000 network.  I discovered why as soon as I removed the hood to look at the wiring...  The problem was, as I thought, an installation error.  While the network was receiving the power it needed, it wasn't connected to the display unit...  As soon as I connected the cable, the external antenna became the primary navigation source and very quickly established a location fix - even though we were inside the garage.  Easy fix.

Trevor had the oil pump off the engine to adjust the pressure "up" a bit and to address a small oil leak from the pressure adjusting screw.  That sounds like an easy thing but he has to remove the air filter, drain the oil and take much of the oil system plumbing apart to get to the pump - it's a several hour job, start to finish.  It'd be nice if the pressure adjusting screw was accessible without so much work...

While Trevor was working on the oil pump, I added a bit of spring "pre-load" to the front suspension - it was sagging a little after our test and tune.  We may need to add more pre-load after our next test and tune - it takes a few hard miles for a new suspension system to "settle".  We liked the way the front suspension felt so we didn't change any bypass settings; we just brought the ride height back to where we want it.

After adjusting the front suspension, I removed one of the fuel injection system "fuel rails" to measure the critical dimensions.   Our current rails work fine but they lack an important injector "pocket" feature; that omission could allow the injector seals to "escape" and cause a serious fuel leak and fire... We have tooling to correctly mill the injector pockets in our new rails and now that we have the critical dimensions, we'll get right on it.


05 January, 2023

I had just a few minutes with the pre-runner today to start looking into the GPS issue and to begin designing our new fuel rails.  We now have all the tools and hardware we need to fabricate the rails; I just need to find the time... 

A quick look at our Lowrance GPS display unit revealed that it's not seeing the "Point 1 Baja" antenna for some reason - it's not available to select in the GPS source menu.  That leaves installation errors or an outright failure of the antenna to explain why it isn't "present".  My first thought is that it's probably an installation error - lack of power to the "network" is my current guess.  When we have time, I'll double check to see that it's properly connected to +12V when the GPS is powered on.  If that's not the issue, it'll either be a cabling issue or an outright antenna failure.  It did work properly "on the bench" so I'm betting it's an installation error...



03 January, 2023


Happy New Year!

We're working a few little issues on the pre-runner that need some attention: the GPS external antenna doesn't seem to be working, the oil pressure needs to be adjusted "up" a little, the rear suspension is a little "harsh" and the engine's fuel rails are incorrectly designed/machined.

The GPS antenna issue is one of a few things - no power to the "network", not connected properly, not "selected" in the navigation menu or the antenna has failed.  This should be a fairly easy troubleshooting process and we hope to get it working quickly.  It worked perfectly "on the bench" so I'm thinking we made an installation error...

The oil pressure is fine at the moment but we'd like about 10 psi more when the engine is hot...  That's easily accomplished; the dry sump pump has a "pressure adjustment" screw that we can use to reduce the amount of oil "bypassed" within the pump.  That adjustment screw has also been a persistent source of a small oil leak so we'll want to take care of that at the same time.

The rear suspension is fine over large "whoops" but is a bit harsh over "washboard" type terrain.  We've not had the rear seats occupied yet so we don't know if the reduced weight on the rear suspension causes the harshness.  We'll be adjusting the rear shock bypass valves over the next few outings in an attempt to optimize the ride quality under a range of loading and terrain conditions.

The fuel "rails"  came with the engine core but they're not properly machined for the fuel injectors we're using.  The engine previously used different fuel injectors that had provisions for seal retention so the fuel rails therefore weren't machined to provide that function.  Our current injectors don't make provisions for retaining the "O-ring" seals and combined with fuel rails that also make no provision for it could lead to a major fuel leak and fire risk...  Generally, the fuel rails should have a "step" machined into the injector pockets that ensures the "O-rings" are properly retained.   We have new fuel rail "blanks" on order along with the tooling needed to properly machine the injector pockets for our fuel injectors.  As soon as everything arrives, we'll fabricate and install new fuel rails that eliminate this issue.  For now, we have a temporary solution in place - but we want a final solution as soon as possible.




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