Finally – Racing Again

It didn’t all go the way we had planned but I am okay with it. I finally got back in a racecar and down the track thanks to my son, Phil.

The original idea was to hit Richmond Dragway’s Old Dominion Duels event and run the Camaro in the Top ET class. Phil would run the Footbrake class and we would take all of the money home. It didn’t exactly come out that way but I had a good time and got some runs in with the car.

Friday was a TnT session for entrants of the event. Phil made a couple of passes in the car off the foot brake and the car ran consistent numbers so we were set for that part of the program. I had not been in a racecar in about 3+ years and the last passes I made were in the Camaro with a smaller engine and just footbraking it. The Camaro is a completely different beast now and leaving off the transbrake/2-step setup was some kind of fun. I ended up making 3 complete passes and one aborted attempt. On my first shot, I got the burnout right, lined up the car, staged a little bit loose. The problem was I was late getting on the 2-step and extremely late in letting go of the transbrake button. I remember looking at the 2nd amber and saying, “oh I was supposed to have already let go of the button”. On the next shot, I didn’t get a very good burnout and then lined up about 6-8 inches out of the groove. Once again, I was late getting on the hammer and letting go of the button, maybe a smidgen better but being out of the groove, the car went to the left really hard. I got out of the throttle and just drove the car down the track. Come the third attempt, I think I was a bit perplexed. All of this stuff is so easy in my dragster. Click a few buttons, do a burnout, stage and let go. The Camaro has the release button on the shifter, I have to toggle another switch between the roll control unit and the transbrake, my son is taller than I am so I almost feel like I am stretching to push the pedals correctly and it’s really noisy. Seeing around the hoodscoop isn’t a piece of cake either. Anyway on this shot, I still managed to screw up the hit on the tree along with not getting on the hammer soon enough again, but the car made a full pass and was pulling hard at the 660 foot mark. After a short break, I took the car up for a fourth attempt but this time I sat at the back of the staging lanes for a bit, got my safety belts the way I like them, then closed my eyes and went through the entire routine in my mind. With that done, I rolled up, did a great burnout, staged the car really shallow, when my opponent lit his stage bulb I went on the hammer and when that first amber flashed I was off that transbrake button. I was rewarded with a .009 reaction time and a 6.19 at 112+ in the 1/8 mile. That was pure fun! Discussing the run afterwards, the thinking was that I probably either unintentionally pedaled the car a bit or I did not get the carb completely open. The car normally runs in the low 6, high 5 area at 113 mph. Phil took the car out next for a pass off of the transbrake but the tires chattered a bit and he had a 6.10 on that run. With that done, I decided that I needed more hits in the car to have any competitive chance in the Top ET class so I am going to try and run the car in that class at the next regular bracket event we have available. This race was too expensive to take the gamble.

As it turn out they ended up with something in the area of 370 Footbrake cars and probably close to the same number in Top ET. The crew at Richmond did an outstanding job of getting this many race cars down the track in good time on Saturday. Sunday was more of the same although there were more race car delays due to broken bits and pieces. Once again, we had a great time and one of these times we are going to get to the serious money at the end of the day.

Holidays are here?!

Wow – the holidays are here and we are down to Christmas already. It’s amazing how this time of year just seems to fly by unless you’re 5-10 years old and are just dying for Christmas Day to get here now!

When we last left here I was working on my racing trailer, the Monza was back for some updates, the Camaro got some work done and I think it was late October – see what I mean, It’s already mid-December without a new post on the site. But there has also been some big changes underneath and one that I have found to be very interesting. About a month ago, my hosting service (HostGator) announced that they were increasing the monthly price – again. Now I have been with them about 7-8 years and of course when I started it was a really good bargain, something like $4.00 a month. The latest increase has them at $12.00 per month and if I remember correctly, this is a $4.00 increase in just the last 24 months. Like everyone else, I try to cap the monthly expenses as best I can and for something like this which I consider to be “fun”, each increase hurts a little bit. So, I was off to find a new hosting service and I actually experimented with four different ones until I found one that fit my criteria – and then there is a certain amount of pain in moving your website to a new hosting service – no matter what they tell you in the cool, splashy ads that they have on their sites – so you really want to make sure of the new service before performing the work. Obviously price was a huge consideration but I needed a CPanel interface, a good amount of bandwidth and a reasonable amount of server space to place my website. I also looked at other things such as their TOS policy, cancellation policy and their ability to stay upright over the long haul. I ended up at Web Host Pro with a monthly bill of just over $4.00. And I have to say I only needed to contact their tech support one time to clear up a question I had during my move. Without going into crazy details, the move took me about a week of work, which included moving all of the site files, databases, email account plus testing everything before making it “live” again. Unless you happened to catch my site during the actual move, I doubt if you would have known. Now, the one interesting piece that I have noticed is the amount of spam mail to my email account has been cut to almost nothing. I mean I am talking a drop in spam from several hundred messages everyday to about 3-5. I would love it if it would stay that way but I am sure as time goes by, things will change. It also tells me that email spammers don’t actually target individual email accounts as much as they target hosting email servers. Overall, I hope I don’t have to move again anytime soon but we will see what happens. I have one more change coming for the site but I am going to hold off on that one until after the holidays.

Some quick updates – The Trailer

The trailer project continues with a couple of the aluminum storage area bins mounted again. I changed things around and mounted my oil/fluid/spray can rack on the right side wall when you are facing the workbench. The shop rag container went back where it was between the rack just mentioned and the side door. On the other wall, I mounted my helmet and racing suit rack. By doing this it allows me to make full use of the countertop work area that had to be shorted. Underneath the helmet rack and to the side of the tool boxes, I had about 20″ of floor space so I built a storage unit out of a piece of 2×6’s and 1/2 plywood. I came up with a three-sided box, 6 inches high that with the open side facing the rear of the trailer, it allows my car jack to be pushed in. A small strip of wood near the front of the box lets the front wheel go over it and prevents it from rolling back out. On top of this where the 1/2″ plywood is mounted, I used some 1″ inch wood to frame out a location for the two jackstands. A short piece of chain and a quick connect keeps the jackstands in place. To the left of this, I mounted a piece of 2″ PVC pipe about 25″ long using a PVC cap along with a bolt, washer and nut arrangement. This is for holding the jack handle. I painted the box with some of the same grey paint that I had used on the floor of the trailer and mounted it securely to the floor with a number of wood screws. I now have all of my lifting equipment in one convenient spot. The last thing that I was able to do was get the doors on the one wood floor cabinet that I kept working correctly. I ended up having to replace 3 of the 4 hinges and then put a slide bar clasp on the front to keep the doors closed. I am now in the process of taking some of my bits & pieces that have been in boxes for months on end and putting them away.

The Monza

The Monza is back for some serious updates and the longer it sits here, the longer the list grows. At this point we have built and welded in place new front engine mounts, removed the old side mounts, re-worked and corrected the rear engine/transmission mounts. Next was getting the issues with the steering corrected. When we did the steering last year, there were compromises that we had to accept and those left us with a steering that worked but was not as solid as we liked it to be. Basically, I started over cutting out some of the previous work and coming up with a solution that is much better and cleaner. To get the angle we wanted inside the car and get it connected to the rack and pinion, it requires two u-joints. But to make this better, I incorporated a support joint that is welded to the frame – this removes any side to side play that existed due to the double u-joints. I was also able to provide additional clearance for the new headers that will be built for the new engine. We also have determined that a new rear was on the list and have removed the old 12 bolt in favor of a Ford 9 inch unit. Along with that, disc brakes will be added to the rear. Replacement fiberglass doors are being mounted along with new lexan windows on the sides and rear. A new hood with a different scoop is going on and of course a new paint job. We have also finished re-working the brake lines on the front of the car and are in the process of installing a new shifter cable. The old one was getting really tight and binding up some.

The Camaro

The Camaro in contrast was rather easy – pull out the previous engine and put a new one in. But we also plan on putting the new Wilwood front brake kit in during the off-season. And maybe getting around to color-sanding the paint job which hasn’t been done yet. Anyway, passes on the new engine put us in the solid 5.90 range although we were hoping to be in the 5.75-5.80 area. So far our adjustments to timing and fuel have not netted us any additional ET reduction but it’s always about the combination and we just need to find it for this new motor. We are also discussing moving to a slightly larger tire to try and reduce the RPM level going through the traps. At least this coming season we will be able to spend most of our time with the car refining the combination. That’s a good thing.

The Mustang

The Mustang project is somewhat on hold as parts are being gathered for it. This is a true low-dollar effort but we expect some great runs from it. Craigslist, eBay and the local trader paper are definitely our friends here for good, used pieces. We will put in new stuff where it’s needed but a lot of times a good used part is perfectly fine. Heck, everything is used as soon as you take it out of the box.

The G35

Maybe this year? I sure hope so as mostly all I have done for it lately is to keep the battery charged. It’s made it’s way into the garage a couple of times but it never gets to stay long – there’s always something else that has to be taken care of right away.

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Take Off the Ugly

So, right in the middle of the new racing season we decide that new fiberglass doors and fenders would be neat to add to the car. Over a long weekend, we pulled the metal ones and replaced them. Wow, that sounds so simple. And except for having to do a little math work to figure out where and how to mount the new hinges along with the new door handles it actually went fairly well. We started Friday afternoon and by Saturday evening we had the new parts installed. Putting the new lexan windows in place was a different story all together. That little project took a couple of days to get done and we’re still not sure we like the results.

IMG_0949So if you remember, the car was a dark gray color with burgundy scoop and bottom trim pieces. That paint job was just flat ugly. It was my first attempt – and probably my last with a single stage urethane. On top of that my skill with a spray gun is nowhere near the level needed to spray a metallic paint. I hated it when I finished it and was glad to have the chance to remove it. Even if the new paint wasn’t perfect, something, anything was better than the current paint job.

So while I took off to do some work and help my youngest son Douglas move in Las Vegas, Phil started the fun task of stripping the paint off of the rest of the car. Now think about it, we already replaced the doors and front fenders so just front nose, hood and remaining body needed to be stripped. Yep – right, 3 gallons of aircraft stripper, a king’s ransom in sandpaper and well, 90% of it was off the car. That last 10%? Oh wow, it took hours upon hours upon hours. Oh and then we needed to try and straighten the body too. So here it is in the middle of June and I finally get to lay the basecoat on the car. Overall, it looked pretty dang good but I also know that putting the clear on is going to reveal every little mistake we made but as people kept saying – hey, it’s not a show car, it’s a racecar. Sure hope they remember that one. I would say that the car needs at least another 100 hours – yes 100 hours of priming and blocking to get the body right. Even in the basecoat I can see things that we missed – with clear these will be magnified a 1000 times over.

The color combination this time around is back to our original white but with blue bottom trim. I had originally thought about painting the hood scoop blue too but since we changed to a different scoop and I bonded this one to the hood rather than bolting it on, I decided I had enough work on my hands just making it white. So a little different that our original but we both agree that the car looks a ton better already. Upside for me is that this is another paint job done and I have learned some new things that should help me on my next paint job – you know, yep the G35 that once again sits patiently waiting to be finished.

I mentioned that I bonded the scoop and hood together, that’s really nothing new as I did the same on my old Chevelle years ago. Actually, I like working with fiberglass – it’s an easy medium to work in and you can do some really neat work with it but it does take some planning. Once you get the hang of it though, it’s really simple. In fact somewhere during the body work on the Camaro, we managed to whack a corner of the hood – cracked off about a 1/2 inch of it. But with some tape, cardboard and fiberglass mix, I had it fixed pronto. Heck of a lot easier than grinding, welding and filling sheetmetal – that’s for sure.

IMG_0936So a few pictures of the work, not exactly in any order mind you but you can see where we added the new doors and fenders, then got started on trying to straighten out the body. The doors and fenders had come with depressions where the door handle and marker lamp would mount so those had to be filled with fiberglass, then glass putty and then finally a coat of poly to finish them out. There was a lot of sanding, blocking, poly putty, more blocking and more poly. The roof was a mess and even though we worked on it a lot, we still missed some spots. Around the fender-wheels it was uneven and rough too. I also had to straighten out the body line on the left rear corner and it actually looks like a Camaro now.

 

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So with all this work you would think that the paint job would have been the easy part. So did I really. I have a new gun, a Devilbiss FLG-5 that I bought from an English supplier. Very impressive service, ordered it Saturday night and had the gun here by Wednesday morning. And the gun is fantastic – sprays extremely well, in fact another gun I had that I thought was really good is now the primer gun. A good gun makes a big difference! The weather also plays a huge role in my painting experience and the high heat and humidity meant that I had to look for windows of opportunity. I had a few days where I just had to sit and look at the car, any attempt at painting would have been an disaster.  I also had a problem with the final clear coats, getting a little too close and getting more than a few runs in the paint. Most of these I was able to level out and re-coat, but I can still see a few that I did not get leveled out completely. I am hoping that when we color-sand and rub out the finish in 30 days that most of those blemishes will be taken care of.

IMG_0988I will have a few more pictures of the finished product once I get everything reassembled on the car, but here’s a look at the new layout with the Championship White paint, complimented with a Dark Blue trim kit color. The front foglight blanks and grill were shot with a semi-gloss black. The new hoodscoop is one that I picked up years ago and was huge. I actually tried to sell it for $20 and could not get any takers. So I took it and cut about 5 inches off the bottom to get the proportions right and bonded it to the hood. I think it turned out nice.

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Project Camaro – Vintage – Part VII

Another week, more parts, more work. Starting to feel a bit like Groundhog Day around here. Good progress this week though, managed to get a few pieces bolted in place, a few others welded in and generally didn’t have any major setbacks. Guess you could call that success. We actually started off this weekend by hitting the racetrack. Unfortunately it wasn’t to race our car, we made the trip to have the dragster’s chassis certified for NHRA racing. Our local track switched sanctioning bodies over the winter so we had a few things to take care of. Like, join NHRA – it costs money, re-certify the chassis – it costs money, have to make license passes – it costs money….are you starting to see a pattern here?

Let’s take a look at what we did to the Camaro this week.

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As you can see here, we have that new piece of sheetmetal welded in place with the first coat of fiber-reinforced body filler spread into place. Looking a heck of a lot better already and as mentioned before probably saved us hours of hammer and dolly work. We’ll grind down this first coat of filler, then apply a second to level up the surface before moving on to the lite weight bondo. Just like all of the body work on the car, it’s really not that complicated, but it does take a bit of patience, plus tons of sanding. And when you think you have the sanding finished, just sand some more. You’ll get there eventually.

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We got the first part of the rollbar assembly installed with the main hoop now welded in place and the back braces welded to their support plates. On these unibody cars, you always weld to a plate which in turn is welded to the sheetmetal. The rules require it, but what you are trying to do is spread out the load on the sheetmetal as you do not have a real frame to attach anything too. Looking at this picture, I was really surprised at how quickly the welds oxidize. The welding was finished just an hour or so before these pictures were taken.

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Phil installed new front disc rotors along with fresh caliper pads, new bearings, seals and the long Moroso wheel studs required by the rulebook. The rules state that you must have at least the diameter of the stud protruding through the end of the lugnut. We checked out the stock lugs with the new Weld Pro Star wheels and they weren’t going to cut it. So, back to the store again. Actually, I rather enjoy my visits to the speedshop, as it reminds me of my youthful days looking at the racks and racks of nice clean speed parts all wrapped up in their vacumn packaging that I simply couldn’t afford. Things really haven’t changed that much after all, I still can’t afford that stuff!

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Anyway, he also got the new master cylinder from Strange Engineering installed. This is a really nice piece, converting the car from that ugly power brake mess to a much simpler and far lighter manual brake setup. This unit along with the other braking components will do a great job in slowing the car down safely and under control. We do have a mismatch in rotor sizes on the car, so a proportioning valve is also going to be added to allow us to keep the car from swapping ends

Project Camaro – Vintage – Part VI

The work that we have been doing lately really takes it’s toll on you. Not only is it physically demanding to a certain extent, but when you’re dealing with sharp objects and high voltages, you need to pay some attention to the safety aspects. We always wear eye and hand protection when working on any part of the project. If you have ever had to have a small piece of metal removed from your eye, you’ll not want to do it again. Welding involves being cautious not only with the electrical power but also the high heat that is generated. Play it safe, this whole car crafting deal isn’t worth a bean if you’re 6 feet under!

One of the things that I try to do is not get caught up in working on one part of the car continuously, it gets boring to me and sometimes you have the tendency to rush things. I like to move around the car and it’s different parts working on bits of it at a time. As we finished up the other day, we squared away our distributor for the engine. It started out as an older points style unit that was in good shape. We removed everything, stripping it down completely and then putting it back together with just the parts that we needed. The unit now will be perfect for getting the spark from the coil to the plugs – just what we wanted it to do. Plus, finishing an item like this helps recharge the batteries a bit, you get the feeling that yes – you really can complete this massive project if you just break it down to smaller pieces.

[Update – 2015 – The distributor lasted about 5 years before it started showing serious signs of it’s age. While it still handled firing the engine, a new MSD unit was installed with the latest engine refresh.]

We have started to pull apart the 355 Chevy engine that is going to power this car. We built this engine a long time ago for another project, but never used it. The block is a 4-bolt main unit with a good GM forged steel crankshaft. The rods are stock units that were re-worked and fitted with ARP bolts along with a set of flat top pistons. We’re not using them in this motor so keep checking eBay as some of this stuff is going to end up there and it’s in great shape. As we are now building a high-compression, roller cam engine, we need to pull the motor down completely and start over from scratch. But that’s okay, we need the diversion from the other car work.

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We only had Saturday of this weekend to do any work on the car, although I plan on doing a few things during the upcoming week to catch us up a little. We did manage to get the engine completely torn down to the bare block, so the next work on it will be a bit of clean up grinding, some work on the oil passages and main saddles, plus a hot soapy wash. We will follow that up with compressed air to get all of the water out and wiping down the critical areas with WD-40 to stop any rust from forming.

We installed new control arm bushings in the a-arms and then Phillip installed them on the car, but we got hung up a bit trying to get the Moroso Trick Springs back in place. Without something to compress them, they simply aren’t going to go back into place easily and that’s after we took the advice of some other racers with these cars and shortened them one coil. We need to make up a tool to get the springs compressed to a shorter length and didn’t have the raw materials on hand in the garage.

Grinding and sanding body filler definitely makes one heck of a mess. We also applied another coat of filler to the gas tank door area, but it still needs just a little more to finish it out. The lower section that we have been working on got a second look and our thinking now is that we might be ahead of the game if we just cut the panel out and weld in a replacement one. It’s hard to tell from the pictures, but that area has a lot of highs and lows that are going to take a lot more hammering to get leveled out.

We cut out a small area in the trunk recess to drop the 5 Gallon Jaz fuel cell into, but the metal strapping that we picked up to make the mounts for it ended up being about a sixteen to large to work correctly, so it’s back to the store again for something that will work. We had a lot of this going on this week, everything we did seemed to reach a certain point and then had to be stopped due to some part not working or not having the right pieces to finish it up with. Just part of car crafting, but still a royal pain in the butt!

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For additional articles on Project Camaro, please check the category titled “Camaro”.

Dennis L. Gouse Sr. liked this post

Project Camaro – Vintage – Part V

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This looks kind of simple, but with just a bit of work with a cutoff tool we shed a few more ounces off of the brake pedal assembly. We also cleaned it and gave it a new coat of paint. The face of the pedal will receive a peel and stick non-slip surface. If you need to know why, just ask Phil, he can tell you the story on that one.

Everything on this car that is removed and then going back is going to get the same type of treatment. No reason to have a shabby looking racecar and it makes it a lot more fun to work on later too.

This week we continued to put parts back in the car, which is obviously a good move on our part. Wouldn’t be much of a racecar without parts now would it?

We began with trying to figure out the installation of the roll-bar assembly and after a lot of measuring and fitting, weld tacking and un-tacking – we still got it slightly wrong. Somehow we managed to get off our marks a bit, but the net effect is that we will still have an effective cage structure to protect our driver. The main hoop and rearward support bars are now welded together along with one mounting plate on the driver’s side of the car. We still need to install the other mounting plates and the bars running to the front, across the back of the hoop and the smaller support bars.  Other items that will be added are the connector for the shoulder harness and the seatback support brace.

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We filled the firewall in with sheetmetal trimmed and welded into place. The rules require that any open holes be covered to keep the possibility of fire from reaching the driver. Over top of the sheetmetal we have our initial coat of filler. This filler is a fiberglass reinforced one that prevents the metal underneath from rusting. If any of you are working on an old car project and replacing sheetmetal, you want to use this type of filler for your first application. This will be ground down smooth and then a coat of liteweight body filler will go on. Once everything is nice and smooth, we shot a coat of primer and paint on the firewall, inner fenderpanels, frame and radiator support area.

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For additional articles on Project Camaro, please check the category titled “Camaro”.

Kinston Winterfest Outing

Once again I am late on getting this posted but work, snow, Monza and whatever else is going on here makes it a bit tough to stay on schedule. I still have 30+ entries to finish writing for the Camaro project!

So, our plan for Kinston’s Winterfest race which is held in Kinston, N.C. early each year was to get there on Friday, race Saturday & Sunday then head for our house at Surf City. We would hole up there, make any changes/repairs needed then head over to Coastal Plains Dragway for another big dollar event on the following Saturday and Sunday.

It almost worked.

But Mother Nature got involved and killed any chance of racing at Coastal Plains for us. The weather that weekend looked okay for Saturday but Sunday showed a huge cold front coming in and knocking temperatures down to the ‘teens. Not very good drag racing conditions.

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So we did race at Kinston on Saturday and Sunday, had a great time but to say we were having a little problem with getting the car hooked up is a huge understatement. It was pretty much launch the car, then watch it go sideways out of the groove and then Phil doing what he could to get it down the track. To sum it up, until other cars put a lot of rubber down on the surface, we were toast. Once there was some warmth and rubber on the track we started hooking and doing some positive things, unfortunately the good stuff ended with the 3rd round on both days. We did make some new friends that are from the area just east of Richmond and enjoyed talking to a lot of racers. The picture of the Vega below is their racecar.

Once we were packed up and heading to Surf City that Sunday afternoon, Phil ordered new slicks for the Camaro to be delivered to the house. Hopefully that would cure our slip and slide routine for the following weekend.

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Looking at the map, it looks like you have to go around your elbow to get from Kinston to Surf City, but actually it ends up being about a 90 minute ride taking a couple of back roads that got us on RT 258 and we cruised right on by Coastal Plains Dragway on the way to our house. We unloaded the Camaro, put it in the garage and up on stands. All the wheels came off in preparation for putting new shoes on all four corners. We had obtained new front tires prior to leaving Richmond and had those with us.

We found a tire shop in Hampstead on RT 17 that was fantastic! AC Tire Clinic helped us out big time, getting all four wheels done in about 30-35 minutes and that included balancing the fronts for us. The price was the best deal we have gotten in a long time and they will be at the top of our list if we have any tire needs again.

With the car out of the trailer, we decided to repair the front diamond plate on the front of it that was dented and damaged plus put in some 110v lighting and outlets. This took most of one afternoon but went fairly well with no major drama involved. We put in two fluorescent 4-foot tubes for lighting, added a switch and outlet box a the side door, plus another outlet box on the outside of the trailer.

The rest of our week was spent either working on a few things around the house or doing our regular work. We of course were keeping one eye on the weather. Thursday afternoon came and Coastal Plains announced that racing was cancelled for the weekend. With that we packed up and headed back home on Friday morning. Our next shot out with the Camaro looks to be the last Test & Tune event at Richmond in March before the regular season gets started.

Plumbing Your Ride

Over the years I have seen and used just about every method to plumb a race car for the vital fluids that it requires to operate. Forty plus years ago the hot ticket was clear or tinted fuel lines running from the fuel pump to a an inline fuel filter and then on to the carburetor. As you might imagine these lines getting a bit close to something hot or even warm for that matter would have a disastrous effect and “carb” fires were quite the norm at the drag strip. A bit later and of course still in use today was the denser and sometimes reinforced rubber fuel line. This was a bit better, but once again it didn’t take much to have one come loose and plumbing the stuff in tight areas wasn’t a cup of tea either.

Today, you normally see braided line, the new push-lock line or hardline. I have not used the push-lock stuff yet so I don’t have any information to share on it. Hardline can look really nice, but you need to be good with a tubing bender and plan on scrapping your share of line from mistakes. The upside is that normally you can find everything you need to plumb hardline in a well stocked auto parts store. And done right, it does look nice so it’s a good alternative to braided line if cost is an issue.

Most of the fuel, oil and water connections that I have done lately have been braided stainless steel line or AN line. Once you get used to the sizing routine, making up your own braided lines isn’t that difficult. There is a drawback that in really tight areas, you may find that you simply can’t make this type of connection even with the variety of adapters that are now available. And if you have a local shop close by, you can avoid making the lines yourself as most of them will do the work for you, sometimes at no charge if you purchase all of the parts from them. Just make sure that you write down everything that you need and take good measurements. A rule of thumb that I use is to put the hose ends in place on the components then measure the distance between the hose end nuts, if what you are doing involves turns or corners, then of course you have to allow for that increase in measurement as well. AN does not like to be in a strain, nor twisted and it’s best if the hose is laid out to have a natural flow to it.

If you have decided to make your own hoses, the tools are pretty basic except if you’re worried about scratching the anodized coating on the fittings. If you are, then a nice set of AN wrenches is what you will need and even those will have to be used with care. On a race car, there are probably a handful of fittings that come apart on a regular basis and while I try to not damage a fitting, I don’t worry to much about the looks either. Cutting AN hose can be accomplished in several ways. I have used a sharp chiesel, hand-sledge and a block of wood to cut hose, an air-operated cutoff tool and my favorite is a pair of cable shears. A pair of tree branch cutters will work to up to about -12. You also need a roll of masking or electrical tape, WD-40 spray, some white grease, a vise with soft jaws, open end wrenches, a sharp pair of side-cutters or sharp cheap scissors, a marker pen and some patience.

Begin by taking apart your first fitting, then apply the WD-40 to both the inside of the fitting, the threaded area, the nipple threads and a bit on the end of the hose. Carefully start the end of the hose into the fitting with a turning and rolling motion, what you want to do is get the cut ends of the stainless into the hose end before it starts to unravel on you. Continue to twist and push the hose end in place until it bottoms out on the end of the hose fitting. Take a rag and wipe off any excess WD-40 and place a mark at the bottom of the fitting on the hose. Now, holding the hose just behind the fitting, start the nipple into the fitting and hose, you will get a little resistance and probably have to push the nipple into the fitting. Carefully – I SAID CAREFULLY, start the threads of the nipple into the hose end. If you screw this up, the hose end is junk. Just remember that these parts are aluminum and that the threads will damage very easily. You can normally get a turn or two on the threads before you will need to result to wrenches, I do it this way to prevent damage to those threads. Place the hose end in your vice soft jaws so that you can see the mark that you made and have a good grip on the hose. You want to continue to apply pressure on the hose pushing it into the fitting as you thread the nipple in with a wrench. If the mark you made starts to move away from the hose end by more than a sixteenth of an inch, then stop, back out the nipple and push the hose end back in place, then start again. The hose has to stay in position to completely capture it in the fitting and keep it from leaking. Continue to tighten the nipple fitting into place until you have about a 1/16th inch clearance between the nut of the nipple fitting and the nut of the hose fitting. You can line up the flats of both for a nice look if you wish.

Okay, now you have the first fitting done. After a bit of practice, you’ll be able to install these faster than you can read the description of doing the work. Don’t worry if your first few fittings take time to complete. I remember the first one I did, I was so uncertain of it that I took it apart again just to make sure I was doing it correctly. After making sure the length of the hose is what you need, and having marked it with your pen, wrap masking tape or electrical tape tightly around the mark, covering it. I prefer masking tape and a black marker pen as I can see the mark through the tape. Using your preferred method of cutting and cut the hose on the mark and make sure to cut the hose as squarely as possible to have a good fit in the hose end. Once you have cut the hose, you may find a few strands of stainless steel that did not cut cleanly. Use your side-cutters or sharp scissors to trim those off and you’re ready to install the other fitting. Don’t forget to remove the tape before putting the fitting in place. Once you have the second fitting in place, using either WD-40 or brake cleaner, shoot some through the hose in both directions, this will help clear out any bit of matter left over from the cutting process. Do this until you are positive that you have a clean hose before fitting it to the car. One last step is to lube the hose end and the connector nipple with white grease before you do the final assembly and each time you take the fitting apart, it’s a good idea to re-lube it before you re-assemble it. Remember what I said about the threads, they can be damaged very easily and the lube can help prevent that.

So there you have it, a simple process and although the parts involved can be expensive to start with, you have to remember that they can be used over again and again. Some of the fittings on our Camaro project and my dragster are ones that I bought 12-14 years ago when I was racing another car. Along with the nice looks that stainless has, you also have the knowledge that the plumbing connection is secure and that it should never leak. Plus you did it yourself and if you decide to make changes to components, you don’t have anything holding you back.

Here’s a few pictures of the vent hose that I made for the car.

P0001581 Get the pieces together that you need to complete the job. Here you see the small collection that it takes to assemble one hose assembly. We have a bulkhead fitting that will go in the fuel tank, a 90 degree and straight hose end plus the hose itself. Missing from the picture is the other bulkhead fitting that will be mounted at the rear of the car to provide a vent for the fuel tank.

P0001584While these are Russell brand hose fittings and hose, I have come to value the fittings from Jegs Performance. I am not sure who makes them for Jegs but the savings on each piece is pretty good and they work perfectly with Russell hose. On the other hand, I tried the Jegs branded hose and will not purchase any more of it. It is hard to work with and extremely stiff compared to other brands.

P0001583This the bulkhead fitting mounted behind the rear lamp on the car. From the outside of the car, you never know it’s there.

P0001589 P0001590Marking the hose for the cut is simply wrapping masking tape around it and placing a mark in the center. Once completely assembled, the hose is put in place and another job is accomplished.

Holley Carburetors – Rebuilding and Tuning

Holley Carburetors – Rebuilding and Tuning?

I am a big fan of YouTube videos, over the last few years I have come to rely upon them for information and knowledge about subjects that are a bit vague to me and they have certainly helped me make some repairs on my stuff. But – I just finished watching a number of videos about Holley carburetors and it seems the only ones that have decent information are those that are presented by Holley themselves. Let that be a bit of warning to you.

Holley carburetors have been around for a very long time but most of us dealing with high performance cars, boats or whatever are probably thinking about the 4150/4160 or 4500 models when the subject comes up. And the main difference between a 4150 and 4160 is simply a fuel plate instead of a jet block on the secondary side of the carburetor. It was a strange method that Holley used to reduce the price of their products a bit but most people usually either skip this one or if they end up with one they change it over to the normal jet block style.

Most of what I see in the videos is someone that has read what to do, but seems to lack the experience of actually doing the work. Whether it is rebuilding the carb or tuning it afterwards, the mistakes are many. One of the things that you must have when working on a carb is patience. Small adjustments, made one at a time with the proper evaluation of what the change has done will allow you to proceed in an orderly fashion. I watched one fellow that was showing how to adjust the idle mixture screws with a vacuum gauge and he never allowed the engine to settle after making a change. He would rotate the screw, look at the gauge and rotate it again. It does take longer than that for the engine to respond – it is not instantaneous. In another video, the person could not understand why he could not get much of an increase in the vacuum draw of the engine no matter what changes he made to the carburetor. Well for one thing, while I was listening to the engine running, I could hear a vacuum leak – but that just comes with experience and listening to an engine that is rolling with the tide so-to-speak and that is a dead giveaway. He had issues that needed to be corrected before he could even get to tuning the carburetor.

So what I want to do and it’s coming quickly with the Monza project getting close to being finished is do my own video on rebuilding a Holley 750 Double Pumper and then another video on tuning it on the Monza’s 355 engine. There are more than a few things to understand about both subjects and I believe I can cover all the questions you might have with doing the work yourself on your own Holley carburetor. Along with that, I would like to help you with any issues you might be having with your Holley carburetor. Contact me at charles.rutherford@rutherfordms.com and let me know what problems you are running into – I am sure we can get your carb and engine performing correctly.

The Holley 750 that I am rebuilding is an older unit that I have had sitting around for quite some time now. My plans are to change out the main body to one of Holley’s HP units and modify the baseplate with thinner throttle shafts. Now, none of this is required to rebuild or tune your carb, I am just doing it to increase the CFM that I can get out of this carburetor.

Stay tuned – this should get interesting.

Project Camaro – Vintage – Part IV

After the last installment, I think both Phil and I felt that we had made a lot of progress on the car. Well, that was kind of short-lived. As we dug back into the car this week, you start to realize what you have actually done to yourself. I have joints and muscles in my body that are starting to talk to me…and on a pretty continual basis I might add.

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We worked on getting the chassis connectors in place and while we’re not totally happy with the results, they should work okay. Just one of those deals where you do the best you can with what you have available. The front end components also came out, and things have to be cleaned up, rebuilt and put back together. Each time we think there is nothing else that needs to come out, we remind ourselves that the original rear is still in the car and that has to be changed. We also positioned the rollbar, drilled holes below where the plates will go and dropped it into place. Some quick measurements and it’s ready to be trimmed for a perfect fit. Next step is to tack everything in place, re-check our measurements and begin the final welding. We also have an aluminum dash to put into place, holes in the firewall to fill and more bodywork to finish. Did I say we had made progress?

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The parts list is shrinking and growing all at once as we work our way through deals on eBay and pick up the odd item from Jegs or Summit. Parts that we thought we would use, but decide not too, find their way back to eBay too. We now have all of the components of a good, decent 355 engine. Iron Eagle Dart heads, Edlebrock Victor Jr., Holley carb, MSD ignition, Compcams roller cam setup, 12.5:1 SRP pistons, Eagle H-Beam rods, forged crankshaft, 4-bolt main block, Moroso pan, ATI dampner, CSR Waterpump, ministarter, Hooker Hedders, and a dose of other Manley or Moroso bits and parts. Whew!

New ball joints, tie-rod ends, idler arm and lower a-arm bushings need to be installed along with the Moroso Trick springs. Then the new brake components have to be done with the front of the car getting all new 3/16″ piping along with a role control unit. Actually, if it just warms up a little, I might as well go live in the garage at this point.

Catch all of the information about Project Camaro – look in the Category titled “Camaro”.

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Project Camaro – Vintage – Part III

The work continues on what is now the bare bones hulk of a running car that we had just a few short weeks ago. We are making really good progress at this point, having removed the engine and transmission assembly, the steering, brake system, and gutting out the doors. Lexan replacement side windows are on their way and we will begin the installation of the 8-point roll bar this week. We have some bodywork to do that presents some challenges and as with any project like this, you play a certain amount of the Chinese puzzle routine. You might be ready to bolt in certain parts and pieces, but you really need to do about four other things first or you just have to pull it all apart again.

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Not showing in this shot are the motor mounts, which ended up having all but one of the 6 bolts that held them in cut apart. With the lower control arms in the way, we simply couldn’t get a wrench on the bottom nuts. Thank goodness for compressors and cut-off tools!

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If you go back and look at some of the earlier photos, you will see that there has been some significant work done here. We have completely removed everything that was bolted down (and a lot that wasn’t) along with gutting the doors. Fiberglas doors would probably weigh just a bit less, but even my son was impressed with how light these are now that the guts of them and the stock windows are gone. Remember the old hot rod addage, every 100 pounds of weight is equal to a tenth in elapsed time. And it’s usually easier to cut a 100 pounds than it is to make the horsepower needed to gain that 10th.

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We put the rollbar in to see how much we would have to trim it down, looks like about a 1/4″ is going to do the trick. The plates that go under this main hoop are an 1/8″ thick and we need about another 1/8″ to gain the clearance to the roof. We should have the rollbar and frame connectors in place over the next two weeks. The rollbar is a Jegs part number while the frame connectors came from Moroso. Quite a bit of work to do, but on these unibody type cars you really don’t have much choice if you really want to get the power to the ground.

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You might notice the amount of fingerprints all over the grey primer, that’s from us just working on the car and moving it around when we put it in the garage. We wear mechanics gloves and certainly recommend them for anyone working on a car. The number of cuts and abrasions that it saves you is well worth the price of the gloves themselves.

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We have some additional work to do on the frontend components, for one we need to find the right pitman arm for our setup. We need one that is 7 inches long, but also pre-bent. We will check with Borgeson to see if they have what we need and also for the adapter we need to connect our Chassis Engineering steering column to the steering box. We also need to finish taking apart the front end pieces, clean things up, paint them and re-assemble them.

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Just getting started on some of the body work that we need, this area and the right front fender are the worst areas of the car. It doesn’t show up too well in photos, but the lower portion of this fender panel behind the wheelwell is pushed in pretty good and the little shiny ridge that you can see running at an upward angle at the top of the fender is the result of that push. I have to pull out that bottom area and as I get that done, the pressure should be relieved on the top area and that ridge should come down some. There is also quite a bit of stretched metal right where the body line is running. That is going to take some careful shrinking work to get the body line right. And as we are going with a 5 Gallon RCI fuel cell sitting in the back “trunk” area of the car, the fuel filler door area is going to be filled with sheetmetal and smoothed off. We also will be doing the same for the firewall and the front fenders where the stock sidemarker lights would normally be.

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Not much sitting behind that front facia now, with most of the metal work removed to save weight. Plus, I like this shot of the car peeking out at you. This is going to be one serious car when we get it done and should be a real player at our local strip. Can’t hardly wait !!

 

Inspiration is where you find it..

One of my pals on Facebook posted the picture below which has now ended up as the background on my laptop – why? Well inspiration is truly where you find it sometimes. I have been working on so many different things, not including normal work, that my head has simply been spinning. One of the things that I have been trying to work on is to stop my bouncing from one project to another or at least starting another one. Now in theory this makes sense – finish what you start right? Well sometimes we don’t have the funds we need to get something to the point were we want it to be so my preference is to back off until I can make it the way I want. No point in finishing it up and not liking what I did because I am always going to want to go back and re-do it if I don’t like the outcome. So I have been working on is finishing up stuff, whether on a vehicle or around the house. I still have a lot of projects that are not completed but I am making progress, the real issue is stuff that pops up like the RV repairs that I have to make now. That was totally unplanned and means that the time I have to spend on that takes away from getting the other stuff done.

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So back to the picture, why the inspiration? It’s one of the things that has influenced me for a very long time and it’s the way I view things. I have never understood why but another person can look at a simple bolt and nut – and see a bolt and nut. Myself, I see the nut and bolt of course but can those items do something different, something that maybe hasn’t been done before? I’ve needed threads in a flat piece of steel before, the nut and bolt supplied those after a little welding work. Or cut the head off the bolt and I have a stud that I need to mount something where a bolt wouldn’t fit. In the picture, not only does it inspire me to get on with the paint jobs that I need to complete but the simple idea of pulling the wheels, putting the body up high on jacks so you can be more comfortable painting the bottom areas, blocking the bottom with cardboard to keep paint off the bottom of the chassis and the lighting mounted amidships in the shop are all excellent ideas. I see things like using cardboard to mask the car in some areas rather than trying to use paper and tape. If you have ever masked off areas on a car that are open holes basically, you know the pain it can be – the cardboard is just too simple!

Lastly as to inspiration, this picture stays as my laptop background until I get moving on the paint projects I need to complete, mainly so every time I work on my laptop it will be reminding me that those projects are patiently waiting on me.

 

Project Camaro – Vintage – Part II

Getting back to our garage meant one thing, first we had to make room for this project and I won’t go into all of the horrible details, but it took the better part of a day to clear the space we needed. After getting the car situated, we started tearing into things. Basically, everything that doesn’t help the car get down the dragstrip is removed. And as we removed all of this stuff, we piled the bulk of it into the back of our truck to take to the dump. It didn’t take very long to fill the truck several times and we’re still not finished. Yet to come out of the car is the original motor, trans and rear assembly. To our delight we have found several dollars worth of change, plus some bits and pieces that we will be putting up for auction on e-Bay.

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Our plan for the car is to use a 355 small block engine with a 350 Turbo Hydro trans and probably a 12-bolt rear with a spool. Tires will be in the area of 10-11 inches, and we may have to mini-tub it to get the room we need. The interior will consist of racing seat, 8-point rollbar, a few gauges, S&W steering assembly connected to a Vega standard steering box and B&M Pro Stick. We will use a JAZ 5 gallon fuel cell, relocated battery, Holley pump, filter, and regulator. Holley will also suppy the carburetion.

 

Catch all of the information about Project Camaro – look in the Category titled “Camaro”.