Where Race Cars Go to Die

Sometimes it’s their own trailer, other times they just end up in the back-40 somewhere and slowly are simply forgotten about. Normally they hit a certain point and restoration becomes an almost impossible task. Rust, cylinder corrosion, valve spring deterioration, sneaky mice and other rodents, oil that has simply sat and absorbed moisture – all of these plus more are the death knell of a racing car. Batteries simply sit and die over a period time, other parts that worked perfectly before, refuse to even think about functioning again.

Such is the apparent fate of the Monza. Her last trip down the strip was a dismal one having once again destroyed the transmission, this time due to a faulty pump that was fresh out of the box. I am not sure what exactly happened, but repairs were made, the transmission issue resolved and the car was driven to her trailer – now it appears almost 6 months later that this might just be her tomb. Her engine hasn’t turned over once, cobwebs are gathering and she might be on flat tires before winter hits. Sad end to a racing car that wasn’t given a chance.

End in Sight?

Well after more months than I care to count, the Monza is just about ready to go out the door finally. Sure, there are a few bits to take care of but the list is getting shorter and doing so rather quickly. At this point, I am really waiting on other people more than just facing a pile of parts and work.

Over the last few weeks the bodywork was finished, a coat of Petty blue paint was applied, all of the connections for the engine were completed such as radiator, hoses, fuel lines, vacuum lines and even spark plug wires. The transmission had to be backed off so that we could install the flexplate, convertor and the starter. Most of it went okay but we found that with this aftermarket block and the smaller 153 tooth flexplate, the starter had to be ground a bit to clear the block. Nothing huge but again it’s the details that matter.

We also had our first attempt at building the headers for the engine and I must say that they turned out pretty good. They are not equal length but after doing some reading, I found out that equal length headers are actually pretty rare birds. I believe we are within a couple of inches so I am satisfied with that and hopefully they will make good power. Our next task was grinding out the header plates to match the exhaust ports and moving some of the brake lines on the left front of the car at the master cylinder to keep them away from the header heat.


Lexan was cut for new windows except for the windshield. I outlined each one about an inch around the perimeter with black paint and mounted them with stainless steel button head screws. The rest of the interior was installed along with a new electric shifter arrangement and RPM switch for selecting the shift point.

One of our friends is helping out with doing some TIG welding on the wheelie bars and track locator bar. I had to mock up the wheelie bars to figure out where the mounts go on the rear housing, then pull it back out and do the finish welding on that. With that accomplished I was able to finish up the brake connections at the rear, put lube in the rear finally and then get the brakes bled out. One of the changes I made when doing the bodywork was filling in the old vent area in front of the windshield. While that turned out good, it also meant I had to find a new way to fill the master cylinder. There is a firewall of course in the car that has a top plate that sits under the aluminum dashboard. So I cut a hole in the top of this to access the master cylinder and made up a plate to screw back in place to cover the hole. With the brakes finished, I then put the aluminum dashboard back in and the interior is complete.

One item that I have to figure out is getting the hood scoop sealed to the carburetor. There are a couple of options, one is to put a plate on the carb and seal it with foam to the scoop or build a plate that mounts to the bottom of the hood and sits down on the carburetor. Either way the hood scoop doesn’t do much good without being sealed to the carburetor.


Update – I wrote the above back around the first of June. This is now the middle of July and the car has been finished and made a couple of trips to the drag strip. Our first two shots were less than spectacular and it’s a long story but I failed to read the camshaft card information that was given to me. Messing up the firing order of the engine will definitely cut the power output but as it turns out, maybe that was a good thing. We only picked up about .40 over the runs with the previous engine in place and as you have read there have been a ton of changes made to the car so that was certainly disappointing. But once we figured out the camshaft information, we had an entirely new animal to deal with and the chassis of the car became the center of our attention. We next attempted to try the car out with a test and tune at Coastal Plains dragway located in Jacksonville, NC. As it turns out this is more a street event for them and the track preparation is minimal at best – this along with a lot of new horsepower was not the ideal situation for us. We had problems right off the bat with the carb being gummed up with a gel and trying to get it to idle or just drive around the pits was tough. We lucked out in being able to borrow a carb from the Camaro and while it was rich, it did get us going. Initial launches of the car had us going for the fence almost immediately and even reducing launch RPM did not seem to have much impact. We finally decided that our best plan was just to try and get to the 60 foot mark with the car and not go any further under power. This allowed us to make a couple of adjustments to the ladder bars that finally allowed the car to launch straight. Unfortunately, on the last launch the driver decided to run it through – kind of a bad mistake as the car went to the right, then left, right and finally into the left lane of the track. We discovered that we had a leaking overflow bottle that was putting down some water under the right side of the car. I also believe that we need to make a front spring change as the car has zero rotation front to rear and the rear shocks are positioned too far down and need to be raised.

Currently we are not sure when our next session will be as we want to make these changes and with the current weather situation, we either are getting rained out or the heat is so oppressive that tracks are cancelling events.

Quick Performance – Too Many Issues

It’s a long story and they resolved some of it but we’re still having issues.

Someone else on the Tri-Chevy.com forum said something about not bashing a vendor and I do get that but damn it they are very willing to take your cash for the product so they do have a responsibility to at least provide what they sold you. Anything else if not corrected is simply fraud.

I can only say at this point is that if you do not have a machine shop at your disposal you will be hurting. Forget timelines and understand that the odds of anything fitting correctly the first, second or third time is seemingly unlikely.

We ordered a narrowed 9″ housing, aftermarket axles (Moser), 3rd member with spool/pro gears/billet pinion support and flange, and a universal disc brake kit.

The 3rd member was assembled and came in a Loews bucket. I guess the idea was to protect the 3rd member without supplying the cost of an actual enclosure for it. Remember, a Ford 9″ 3rd member assembled weighs about 70-80 pounds. The plastic bucket was destroyed in transit and we had to spend some time with an airgun and a can of brake cleaner to rid it of hundreds of tiny bits of plastic. The axles were not drilled for the dual wheel pattern we requested or the correct sized lugs and had to be corrected. The discs supplied in the kit were not drilled for the correct pattern nor the correct size lugs (1/2″), those also had to be returned. The second set of discs sent were not the optional drilled and slotted as requested and paid for so those had to be returned too. I have spoke with the owner a couple of times and been assured that things would be taken care of but I sit here now waiting on some minor hardware parts that were supposed to be supplied and have never been shipped. I have called back since then, spoke with a representative that told me someone would call me – that hasn’t happened yet either.

The universal brake kit needs to be cut off the rear as I mistakenly welded it in place without realizing that it allows the GM calipers to mount too far out from the discs which ends up using only about 65% of the pad surface. So much for water-jet cut brake mounting pieces as you have to modify them yourself to get them fitted correctly. There were no instructions included with the kit either but we had installed a similar kit on the Camaro when we built it and did not have these problems.


We placed this order in December, 2015 thinking we would have plenty of time to make this swap and have the car out for our first points event this season. Car still sits in the garage yet to turn a wheel this year – 4 points races have come and gone now. I guess the standard statement here is that you get what you pay for – well I think we paid rather dearly for this rear end. I can tell you that we have only had to check the rear in the Camaro a couple of times over the 10 years we have raced it, I can also tell you that I will probably pull the rear from the Monza next off season to verify that everything is okay with it.

I am actually not mad about this either as most of the issues were eventually resolved but how a company can stay in business having to rework order after order is beyond me.

Long Rides, Racing and Tough Days

Not too sure of the mileage traveled but the first few months of 2016 have definitely been busy so far. We made the run from central Virginia to Jacksonville, Florida to visit with my daughter and her family for an extended week. Certainly had some fun and enjoyed ourselves. We then made a quick run down and across Florida to St. Petersburg to visit with my wife’s aunt. She recently turned 90 and is doing well. Coming back we stopped off at Ormond Beach to check out the town and look around at some real estate. I guess our beach town of Surf City has spoiled me because Ormond was way, way too busy for my taste.

One of the things that we planned was bringing back the Jeep that we will be swapping a fresh small block Chevy motor in over the next couple of months. As we were heading back up Interstate 295, there was a sudden rumble and as I checked the mirror I knew we had a tire that just exploded. The next question on my mind was whether it was my truck or the trailer? As it turned out, the front right trailer tire had let go, making a mess of the fender, destroying the marker light and leaving us in a lurch. There was an exit just a few hundred yards away and lucked out when we were informed at a drive-in that a tire store was just a few miles down the road. So, four trailer tires, a little over an hour of time and $400 later we were back on the road headed to Virginia.


Back home again, I dived back into the Monza again. I finished up the new brackets front and rear for the ladder bars, got the rear spring mounts fitted and was ready to put the new rear disc brakes in place. Bam, dead stop. The discs were supposed to come with dual axle patterns for 1/2 inch racing studs. No luck the discs were single pattern and of course not the one we were running and the holes were not drilled for 1/2 inch studs. On the phone, the tech at the place we purchased the rear from is telling me that they don’t sell any single pattern discs. Right – and then tells me that he will call me back in an hour. So later that day I end up calling them back again and I am told that new discs are being shipped out to me. Okay – that takes care of the problem. In the interim we put together a portable paint booth made up from PVC tubing and plastic sheeting. My main objective here is to try and keep dust from the garage off of the fresh paint I shoot. My shop is an “everything” deal so a perfectly clean paint booth it is not. I also start reassembling the interior of the car getting just about all of the interior sheetmetal back in place, the seat, safety belts and other bits and pieces. Moving the car to the center of the shop, I then started working on straightening out the sheetmetal and fiberglass. This has turned out to be a very long process as the body in various ways is far from being straight. A constant series of priming, guide coating, blocking and then more bondo putty as  needed seemed to be the drill for several days. Finally, the steel shell was relatively straight and I could start the process on the fiberglass parts.


Towards the end of the following week we take the Camaro and venture down to the Racer Appreciation Race at Rockingham Dragway, NC. An interesting way to start the season, this is a free entry race for both days and there is $2000 for footbrake racers each day. Saturday starts out a little ominous as the 40 degree weather is making it really difficult to get the engine fired up. We try our usual bag of tricks but still no luck and time trials are well underway. I opt to try a little bit of the fuel that we use for the generator and get myself into some trouble. As I am adding a douse of fuel to the carb, I forget to check and make sure that there is no heat coming from the carburetor venturi. Alcohol burns clear and it can be difficult to tell that you have a small fire going on. So I end up making a big mistake, the fuel flashes and with my gloved hand on fire, I drop the small cup of fuel down the left side of the engine. Phil pulls the extinguisher from the car and between that and smothering the flames with rags we get the fire out. Now we have a carb that has a pretty good dose of powder in it so it has to come off and we stay busy for a bit cleaning up the engine compartment. We go to our backup carb and start trying to get the engine fired again, which it does after making a few adjustments to the idle mixture screws. The car is running fairly well staying within about .001 of it’s dial but a late reaction time in the 4th round ends our evening. The next morning, it’s a little warmer and we get the engine fired up okay. There is no time trial so the plan is to re-enter if we miss our dial for 1st round. The burnout is good, the car launches and then about half-track I don’t hear anything but see Phil move to the right of the lane – something is wrong. After doing what checking we can, we find that we have an engine issue and our day is finished.

Since I was close to our beach house – a little less than 3 hours – I headed in that direction while Phil took the rig home. My plan was to spend a couple of days there with my wife Debbie, get a few odd ball things done, pickup Enzo and Theo – our Yorkies and head back home.  Getting back to my shop, it was time to get back on the Monza again. Besides fitting the new rear hatch in place, I gave the main body of the car a good overall sanding and then starting taping off the interior portion of the car. I also used some cardboard to keep excess paint off of the underside of the car. I needed to keep working on the one-piece front end of the car as the fenders did not match up very well with the new ‘glass doors. The back edge of the fenders has to be extended and then matched to the contour of the doors. The front end will need quite a bit of work to get it ready for paint too. Next up was making up a batch of epoxy primer and giving the main portion of the body a really good solid coat. I sprayed about two wet coats then waited a 5 minute flash time before applying two more. I did this once more and the body is fairly well sealed up at this point. The idea behind the epoxy primer is to seal any old paint and exposed metal plus provide a solid base for subsequent body work.


At this point, the rear brake rotors had still not showed up so the rear still sits on the table waiting. BTW, we are now at day 12 and counting since I was informed that new ones had been shipped to me. Back to the body, between removing paint and some of the old bondo work, the body was wavy at best. So it was time to start leveling out the body with bondo and hammer work as needed, block sanding it down, spraying on a filler primer and then blocking again. I only had to repeat this for three days before I was actually happy with the body and I still have a few spots to work on the roof and cowl areas.

The brake rotors finally showed up so I was all set to install the brakes on the rear. Oops, dead stop again. Seems the discs that they sent were the plain Jane models and not the upgraded slotted and drilled units that I had originally ordered and paid for back in December. So back on the phone again, this time with the guy that took my original order. He apologizes and says he can get the replacement discs out overnight to me – good, problem solved – again. The new discs arrive and they are the right ones. But, before I break out the welder and go to work we have now ordered wheelie bars for the car and those brackets have to be added to the rear end too. So after all of this, I am now waiting for that order to show up and hopefully I will have a completed rear that I can put under the car in the next few days – we will see how that works out.

Next up was picking up the completed engine from Progressive Performance, without revealing too many details let’s just say that we have a very stout small block, in fact according to the shop it is the best one that they have ever had for this cubic inch size. We touched up the bare block with a few coats of clear paint, made sure that everything was tight and proceeded to mount the engine between the frame rails. Everything fit well except for having to grind off an 1/8″ from the bottom of the MSD crank trigger mount to clear the front crossmember. When we mocked up the front engine plate late last year we had lowered and leveled the engine in comparison to the original side mounting of the engine. In fact the old mounts had the engine pointing skyward so we had some anguish as to whether the Hamburger racing pan was going to clear everything, including the ground. As it turned out, all was good and looks just about perfect to us. Our next work item will be making the headers and probably moving some of the brake pieces to provide room for them.


We had hoped to make the first points race at Richmond Dragway this season but hopefully we will be out with the car before the second meet comes up in about 4 weeks. We expect the performance to be strong somewhere in the mid 5’s or better for starters.





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.

Little Monza – Quick Update

Little Monza has made it out for two test & tune sessions as the east coast seems to stay mostly wet this Spring. Our first go didn’t have the results we were looking for as we had a serious misfire situation that was a strange mystery to us. Other than clean things up a bit, put in some new plugs, coil and cap we had not really changed anything on the engine during our cleanup work. The engine ran fine during our only other runs with the car last fall. We also had some strange electrical issues with the lighting on the car, as suddenly our two-way toggle switch to control the tail lamps and headlights no longer worked properly.

Back in the shop we pulled the switch panel to check the situation and found that the diode on the switch had shorted out. But we also noticed that one of the screws on the ignition switch had fallen out too. That explained the misfire problem we were having! The wire was making normal contact, but when Jeremiah attempted to bring the RPM level up, the vibrations were cutting the ignition on and off – rapidly. With these issues squared away we were ready to take another test shot with the car.

Last fall, with Phil in the car we were able to get a 6.92 in the 1/8 mile from the car. On Jeremiah’s first full pass last night at Richmond Dragway, we were rewarded with a 7.00. For an updated car and new driver – rather impressive! We ended up getting in a number of runs last night although as the evening went on, the cooler air had an affect on the hook the track provided and our last two runs were with a pretty loose race car. But prior to that and with a crowd that I would estimate at about 175 – 200 cars racing last night, we recorded a 6.81 then backed that up with a 6.77 and just short of 102 mph!!

And for those of you more familiar with quarter mile times, that converts to 10.67 @ 125 mph.

I am very proud of the efforts that everyone has put into this and with some tuning changes that we will make, we are confident that the 6.50/.40 area will be our next target for the car.


Little Monza – Almost Done

This is the post that I have been waiting to write – in one sort of way that is. All at once I am happy to be just about done with the Monza and at the same moment a little sad that another build is over with again. I hate to admit it sometimes but for all of the burns, cuts, frozen fingers, parts that were wrong and totally alarmed at some of the work done on this car in the past – I really enjoy doing this stuff!


Yep, it’s outside the shop finally. I rolled it out Sunday and cleaned up the mess that I had made. It’s amazing how much junk you can generate doing something like this. The only things left at this point is mounting the rear bulk head aluminum to protect the driver from the fuel tank and putting a couple of Dzus tabs at the bottom of the front fenders. The current setup has them underneath the fender which works but means you have to get down on your knees to even see where the quarter-turn fastener is located. I am going to put them on the lower sides of the front fender so you can get to them. And last is putting the lexan windshield back in the car – that should take all of 10 minutes.


SUNP0057 SUNP0055 SUNP0053 SUNP0052 SUNP0051 SUNP0050The engine fired up without too much effort although we had a little mix up on two plug wires. No leaks at all in any of the systems, always a nice thing. A lot of the car just fell together here at the end of things. But that was due to the fact that most of it had been mocked up so many times, it was just a matter of actually tightening the bolts down this time.

I guess out of all of it, I was really happy with the way most of the interior metal turned out and the mount for the radiator is just perfect. For now just to get it fired up and going, I decided to put the 650 cfm carburetor back on. I still plan on re-building the 750 unit and doing a video on that work.


IMG_1474 IMG_1473 IMG_1477Just for a little fun, the last 3 photos are a look back about 6 months ago and what I started out with – quite a difference isn’t it? I know some guys at the drag strip were shaking their heads looking at this mess of a car. Hopefully those looks will be a bit more approving when we get back there. With more bad weather coming this weekend, it looks like all 3 of the test and tune sessions at our drag strip have now been wiped out. I was really hoping to get the car to at least two of them before the season started but now we just have to try and rely on a few money races to get the car sorted out. Our Camaro will be out for the St. Patty’s Day race at VMP on March 21 & 22 and the driver for the Monza is out of state right now, so maybe March 28 is looking like our first available shot with the Little Monza. We will post the results when we have them – wish us luck!


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.

Little Monza – A Few More Pieces

Good weekend for accomplishing some new work. After spending the previous weekend slipping and sliding at Kinston Dragway in North Carolina, I got back home later in the week and got back to work on the Monza.

I wanted to get some more of the front end stuff done since completing the wiring job a couple of weeks back. Phil had come over for a couple of days and tried to get the alternator mounted where I had mocked it up before pulling the engine out the first time – way back in the fall of last year. The problem was, the pulleys didn’t line up real well nor could I find a belt that would fit properly. I must have made 5 trips to NAPA for a belt and came up empty. So, I decided I needed to rethink the whole deal and that meant changing everything. Due to the front crossmember on this tube frame car and the location of the engine plus the engine mounts, it meant that the alternator bracket needed to be mounted to the frame. Is was impossible to mount to either side of the engine down low where we prefer to keep them at. My original mockup had mounted it to the frame too but more on the horizontal part of the crossmember so, I ended up drilling some new mounting holes in the bracket, chopping the bottom of the bracket off to clear the steering and managed to use the same size belt that we use on the Camaro and Bracket Dragster.

SUNP0040 As you can see from this picture, room is at a premium on this car and I have to think about 10 times over about how to mount something – there just isn’t any extra room.

With the alternator done, I next put the Pinto rack and pinion steering gear back in place. The original mounting was okay but I changed out some of the bolts and used nylock nuts to keep things in place. I also had to attach the lower end of the steering shaft as it sits up in the crossmember and is impossible to access once the rack and pinion is in place.

Moving on, the next item was the radiator. Back in the fall I had welded some 1×1 square tubing stubs to the front of the frame that would be used to hold the radiator in place. I planned out the mounting so that by pulling two pins, undoing the radiator hoses and removing one Dzus fastener we would be able to take the radiator, fan and overflow tank completely off the car for any service or work we needed to do to the front of the car or engine. Basically I created a cradle for the radiator to sit in using 1×1 tubing, then welded a mounting plate to it to catch the bottom of the radiator using button head bolts and nuts. I also used two lengths of 1/2″ tubing to create mounts for the fan assembly. Then using the overflow can that came with the car, I painted it, sealed a couple of holes that were in it for some odd reason, cleaned up the quarter turn drain valve and 90 degree fitting on it. A new stainless steel clamp that is mounted to the side of the radiator keeps it in place.

SUNP0045At the top of the radiator I took a Dzus fastener, put a 90 degree bend in it and mounted it to the center of the radiator. Off of that I ran two sections of 1/2″ tubing to the top intake manifold bolts in a “V” layout. This piece will support the top of the radiator and keep it from moving.

Right now all of the pieces are just mocked up and I will pull them apart to get them painted in the next few days. And other than finishing a new connector for the fan, the frontend stuff is now complete.

Next up is to finish getting the interior tin mounted and making a mount for the shifter. All of the steering gear is done and just needs to be finish mounted. With that we put the dash in, button up the last wire connections and fire this puppy up. The end is now in sight!

Here are some additional pictures of the car.


SUNP0024  SUNP0026SUNP0025 SUNP0027 SUNP0028 SUNP0029 SUNP0030 SUNP0031 SUNP0032 SUNP0033 SUNP0034 SUNP0035 SUNP0036 SUNP0037 SUNP0039 SUNP0040 SUNP0041 SUNP0042 SUNP0043Started the project with these gloves, think I got my money out of this pair.


And one last word this week – Arthur was our 15 year old Cocker Spaniel that I got when he was 5 weeks old. Right up until the end, he always acted like a puppy, wanting to play and cut-up. He made me mad sometimes, he was stubborn as a rock on certain days and I regret getting angry with him. But he always came to me for a pat on the head and was always looking for a snack. We had a lot of good times with him and he is missed. Sweet dreams Arthur – we love you.


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.

Getting Closer – Little Monza

A nice bit of activity with the Monza project over the last couple of weeks. After finishing our winter break, it was time to dive back in and try to get some of our goals knocked out on this deal.

First off, we finally got the rear back in, rear brakes done – save for the hard lines and setup the rear suspension. That last item was quite a trial in itself as we went through the routine several times before getting it right. The last piece there is going to be setting the pinion angle but that will have to wait until we have the engine/transmission combo back in and can take a reading.


Along with the rear, we finished up the electrical stuff connecting the fuel pump to it’s relay and wiring the taillights. Only one taillight is required by the rules but I just prefer the car having both of them lit at night. We finished off the battery covers, painted the rear wheel tubs and rollcage, ran the fuel line to the front along with the 2/0 battery cable. We also ran our return line back to the pump and put our vent line to the back of the car in the tail panel.

Under the car, the wheel tubs got about 3-4 pounds of dirt scraped out of them and we cleaned up some of the other areas that needed a little bit of help. A coat of paint here and there made things look good. My next piece of work was doing the instrument panel and since we decided to use the S&W Racecars dashboard kit which has a separate gauge panel, it was a piece of cake. I first painted the panel a semi-gloss black, then mounted the gauges. Next, it was gluing a terminal strip to the back and then wiring each of the gauges as needed to the strip.

IMG_0841 IMG_0842With that piece accomplished I moved on to the wiring of the car. As you might imagine, wiring a racecar or any car for that matter can be rather frightening for most people. Here at Rutherford Motorsports, it’s a sideline that I have done for years and I have quite a few racecars and street machines running around with my wiring work in them. Give us a call or drop us an email if you have any need for getting your machine professionally wired.

IMG_0794For the Monza, I decided to keep things as simple as possible. Along with putting ground bolts on the chassis in 4 different locations, I made up an electrical panel from a 18″x6″ piece of steel. Mounted on this panel will be the MSD box, a 2-step, the starter solenoid and a terminal strip for making connections to the panel. There is also room left on the panel to add other components in the future, such as a timing device.

We had scored a rollbar mounted switch panel made by Painless Wiring last year on eBay – saved about 2/3’s of the cost of a new one and the only minor misgiving is that the panel was made for a street car with horn and turn signal switches. However that is not a problem as either of those circuits can be switched to a different type of toggle switch in the future and used for whatever purpose we wish. The panel also came with the wire bundle, some nylon ties, screws and a couple of relays.

Your basic circuits in a racecar are comprised of the ignition, starter, fuel pump, water pump, radiator fan and lighting. Additional circuits are needed for the neutral safety switch and linelock control. Then you can get into things such as timing changers, trans-brake and nitrous oxide just to mention a few. We are of course setting up with the basics that we need to operate and race the car, while leaving vacancies in the circuits to handle additional items in the future.

Next was getting the front brakes done. Well again, partially. The kit we went with is the Aerospace Industries one for the Vega/Monza spindles. There was some cutting that had to be done on the spindles which was easily handled with a sawsall. And there was a mounting bracket that needed to be tig-welded to the spindles and our good friend Kevin Houghtaling took care of that job for us. Jeremy, Amanda and some assistance from Phil got the updated spindles in place, the shocks put in and the new brake components mounted. Now all we need is the line kit to hook everything up.

Last in this update is the rear engine plate. This car had plates in it at one time and I really wanted to have at least a rear plate in the car. I feel that it helps tie the engine into the car a bit better and reduces the amount of engine twist which is wasted motion that is not getting you down the track. Unfortunately the plates were in the car for a big block and I am not sure that one of the mountings was even installed correctly. Using it would have involved spacing out to the engine plate about a 3/4″ gap so that mount was cut out and a new one built and installed in the correct spot. Before going through all of this though, I had to line up and center the engine in the chassis and also make sure that it was square to the chassis. A bit of work with a tape measure, marking pens and masking tape got that accomplished. The plate also had to have clearance for the exhaust headers so a bit of work was involved in making it fit correctly.

We also found that with the engine now properly mounted, the exhaust headers run right into the floor panels. Previously the engine was tilted downward at the back which allowed for plenty of clearance. So, we had a couple of choices, find headers that fit better or use the ones we had and modify them. We went for the second option. We obtained a couple of turn-downs from Jegs Performance and will have to do a bit of slicing and dicing plus welding to fit everything back together. I will have some additional pictures in the next post as I need sunlight in the garage to take anything decent and it has been rather dreary around here lately.

Lastly – I took time out to build a Ferrari. With my grandson LT that is, a 1/25 scale model that he brought over for a weekend stay. I must admit the couple of hours that we spent building a complete car was rather satisfying and I think LT had a blast doing it. He was rather proud of his accomplishment.


Fire the Torch!

Had a great week with family and friends during the holidays. Spent time with my daughter and her family in Florida, then headed up to our beach home on Topsail Island. I did manage to replace a defective shower faucet, help put a basketball goal together and helped replace the head gasket on my son-in-law’s Jeep. The rest of my time was however pleasantly work free; well except for some IT project work that needed to be done but even there I learned some new tricks.

So now that we are back home, we head back to the garage and get some more work accomplished on the Monza. When we left, we were mocking up the rear, waiting on some paint, wire and parts to arrive plus had just started on wiring. The vacation break allowed me to think through some of the issues that I am facing on the car, working out – at least in my mind – how to get them done. My start off point is going to be the rear – finishing up getting the brackets done, brake lines run and the drum brakes completed. Once that is done then we can move on to whatever strikes me as being next. My game plan here is trying to move from the rear of the car to the front – doesn’t always work that way but it puts some focus on a plan of sorts.

I am thinking too, that there are more than a couple of things that need to be done in my evening hours on the workbench  – like rebuilding a carb, cleaning up a distributor and building the electrical panel for the car. A lot to do but each thing done brings us one step closer to firing her up.


Little Monza Wins Round One

Well, best put efforts over a shortened amount of time allowed the Monza to win this round. Another one of those projects where I needed a chassis construction shop and fully stocked speed shop next to my house to have any hope of getting the car done on time. Asked for a little help – pickup a small item for me at the parts store and even that couldn’t make it to my shop. Oh well – next year.

The rear of the car sans brake lines and putting the rear brakes on it is complete. Next issue is putting the fuel line through a piece of pipe that the safety rules require, hanging the brake pedal and master cylinder. After that we finish wiring the car – already done some of it – and drop the engine/trans back in place. Then put the front suspension back in the car and call her done!

Since we are missing the yearly New Years race, our next opportunity comes up with 4 test and tune events beginning February 28th. I do expect the car to be there and making the first test shots on the new combo for the upcoming year. Anything after that is akin to falling off the cart – it’s just going to happen.

We will have quite a number of updates coming your way starting closer to the first of the year as we take a break right now for Christmas – so to all of our readers we do wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. May next year bring you a lot of win lights – unless of course we are in the other lane!


Bad Little Monza

After three days of hitting it pretty hard on the Monza, today it ended up being a wash. About the only thing really accomplished was picking up some fuel parts from Progressive Performance and getting the wiring done for the fuel pump relay.

Funny thing about those relays, seems like everyone has trouble figuring out how to wire them but it is actually very simple. What is hard to understand sometimes is the reason you are using one in the first place. There are a number of places on a race car where it just makes sense to use one and in a few instances you either use one or you burn up an expensive piece of hardware – ask me how I know.

30 Amp RelayHere is the most common relay used on automotive circuits,  also known as the Bosch relay. This picture is showing the 4 post unit but it can also be found in a 5 post unit – either can be used and for the majority of your installations you will only need to use 4 posts.

Let’s talk about connecting a relay for the operation of a fuel pump. First off, the pump is normally at the rear of the car and as fuel pumps have gotten stronger over the years, they also have drawn more amperage or power if that is a better idea. To operate the pump you would want to have a switch located near the driver so that the pump can be turned off or in the case of a street car, it could be connected to the hot or the on side of the ignition switch. Now, due to the amount of power this pump will take, it might mean running a 10 gauge wire from the front of the car to the rear. That’s a rather heavy wire and of course we want to stay as light as possible. But there is still a problem with having a wire that long, simply said the longer the wire the more resistance it has and resistance will keep the pump from operating as well as it was intended too. This is where a relay comes into the picture. By using a relay near the pump and battery, we can connect a heavy gauge but short length of wire to the pump for power, yet operate it with a much lighter gauge of wire. In this case we would normally use a 16 or 18 gauge wire from the switch.

Starting with the post at 9 o’clock on the upper picture which is marked as post #86, you make this connection to that switched power input. Moving clockwise, you would make a connection from post #87 to the pump – this should be a heavy gauge wire to reduce resistance. Post #85 is the ground. This can be a nominal size wire and can normally run from this post to a good ground, in most cases that includes the point where the relay is actually mounted to the car. Last is post #30 – this needs to be a heavy gauge wire directly from the positive side of the battery.

So a quick review:

#86 – Connect to the switch that will control the item (pump, fan, light, etc)
#87 – Connect to the item (pump, fan, light, etc)
#85 – Connect to a good ground point
#30 – Connect directly to a positive battery source

Another thing that you can do is to gang the relays. If you have a number of items to control, such as a radiator fan, an electric water pump and lights on the front of the car, group the relays together and share a common ground and positive battery source for them. There is certainly no reason to run multiple leads from the battery source for each of these components. This will reduce the amount of wire needed and keep things a bit cleaner under the hood.

As the Monza Spins

Beats me, I couldn’t think of a decent title for this post. Probably because my mind is numb from working on the Monza the past few days. When I look at it sitting there, it keeps looking like it’s going backward rather than forward and each part that comes off of it, I tell myself this is it – I am not taking anything else off. It just doesn’t work out that way for some reason.

So right now along with the rear end that we pulled out a couple of weeks back, everything in the rear section of the car is now out. I have found so many issues with work done wrong, half-wrong and just irritating that almost everywhere I look there seems to be an issue. But, I think I am really on the verge of turning the corner in that something might finally be going back in the car – AND stay there. The other week, I built a new battery tray out of 1/2″ angle to replace the 15 pound piece of junk that someone had tossed in there to hold a battery. Now if the car was a class racer then maybe I could get it that this was a clever way of putting ballast in the car – but I am just fooling myself with thoughts like that because no one thought of anything other than just how to toss it in there. So back to the tray, I went ahead and welded it in only to discover that with a battery sitting in the tray it was about 2″ too high. So after cutting the tray out, today I put the tray back in at the correct height. I want to have the batteries sitting below the rear trunk line so that I can put an aluminum cover over the battery area sealing it from the driver.

The second item that has been put in and needs to be removed are the battery grounds that I welded to the rear roll bar tubes. The grounds interfere with the aluminum covers that I just mentioned. So I either put them on the other side of the tube or move them up further on the bar. Probably doesn’t matter really, they just need to be close enough to connect the battery ground cables.

So other work done was removing, cleaning, painting and checking out the ladder bars. Then I cleaned underneath the car – again- but it seems hopeless, the more I clean up the more dirt and crud I find. It’s seems to be endless and the car was power washed twice before it rolled into the garage. I guess it just means more rags, thinner and scraping. If I can get the underside clean and painted, then I can get the rear back in the car, the batteries mounted and start making some progress in the right direction.

IMG_0663If I could get back to this point, I think I might be happy….but for those keeping score today is December 11. I leave for vacation on December 24 and this car has to be running and rolling by December 23rd. Yep, I have 12 days to completely finish this project. Will I make it – not sure, but I am going to give it a good run.


Let the Work Continue

Just got back in town so we are ready to dive back into our list of projects. As you can read here we have a number of different projects going on right now with all of them in various states of completion. So to joggle your memory and maybe keep mine straight, here is the firing order for how we expect our project work to pan out over the next few weeks.

My son wants to compete at the Hangover Nationals at Richmond Dragway on the first of January, 2015. That means that the shell of a car sitting in my garage right now that is known here as the Monza Bracket Racer gets the pole position in the list of projects. We have everything from building a battery tray to running fuel line and wiring the car to do on this one and that just lightly touches the amount of work it needs to be ready on New Year’s Day.

Next up is my own race trailer. It’s been sitting for two years now packed with my own race car, assorted parts and odds and ends. The last time the trailer was on the road was almost two years ago when we returned from a trip out to Las Vegas and somewhere along the way managed to bend one of the axles taking out the tire by the time we got it parked in the driveway. I have a long list of things to fix and update on the trailer but the immediate one is fixing the roof. I just walked it yesterday and found that I have a number of cracks in the sealant so those have got to be fixed pronto before any more rain water gets in the wrong places.

Next would be the open trailer. Nothing big other than some paint work, all new wiring and lights plus a new tongue jack. This trailer is needed to transport the Monza so it is a must-do.

My own racecar. Actually I finished a lot of work on this one sometime ago but there is some wiring to finish up, the engine/trans to drop back in and the panels need a fresh coat of paint. I would love to make the Hangover Nats with it but we will have to see how things go.

There is a ’55 Chevy sitting out there that has been extremely patient in waiting it’s turn in the garage. We have probably 90+ percent of the parts to get her finished, it’s just not been in the cards to make it happen. But, my wife recently took her first shots at drag racing glory and kind of liked it so I am thinking of giving the car a different tune and getting her some seat time in it. It’s a full on build from the ground up so it will take some time to complete – just have to see how motivated I am in the near future.

Finally we get back to the G35, my daily driver that’s been missing in action for several years now. This one has a long list of changes, mods, updates to do yet which is why it has to be at the end of the list. It’s just going to take a lot of time to do the things I want and I am in no great rush to mess it up. I would love to have the car back on the road in the spring but summer is much more likely.

I guess this is where I get to say, time to get to work!


Fuel Cell – ReDo

The Monza came with a slick aluminum pop-open lid for re-fueling the car without having to remove the entire rear hatch. The hatch is fiberglass but with the wing attached to it, it can be tough to deal with for an individual. The problem was that the fuel cell opening was positioned about 15-20 inches in front of the lid opening making it just about worthless unless you had a very long funnel. So I decided that the easiest thing to do was to move the fuel cell back closer to the lid opening. The fuel cell was strapped to a couple of ½” angle iron pieces mounted between the rear frame rails. Removing the straps allowed the fuel cell to come out and since the rearward piece of angle iron would be in the way, I took that out too. Next was cutting some remaining stock flooring back to the rear crossmember tube and along with that I removed the stock latch mounting plus a few other extra pieces of sheet metal that were no longer needed. With the opening cut out, I positioned the cell as far back as possible and propped it in place so that I could make sure the fuel outlets had enough clearance. That too required a bit of trimming but the handy saws-all took care of it quickly. For a mount I decided to go with 2″ perforated angle, it has quite a bit of strength in short lengths and adds very little weight. I placed one piece at the rear along the rear crossmember tube, welding it solidly to the frame members and the crossmember. I then positioned the front mount and welded it in place. Next, some 2″ perforated flat metal was used to make the top straps. I used the fuel cell to bend these to the correct shape, then welded one end for each of them to the rear mount. Next I welded a pair of 3/8 bolts to the front mount for attaching the front part of the straps. Some washers, nyloc nuts and a coat of paint will complete the installation.

Next up will be re-trimming the tin work in this area, building a new battery box for the left side and fixing a minor taillight problem that I found.

Long Week – Interesting Past


I took the above photo after spending all day working on the newest racecar. It was a particularly hard day of work and more than a few times I had questioned why I was doing this to myself, yet again. As I snapped the picture, I was suddenly reminded of a magazine ad that used to run in a lot of the car magazines I read back in the ’70s. I think this was about the time I was living in an apartment and building a small block Chevy engine in the extra bedroom but anyway, the ad pictured a guy sitting in front of his garage with his Camaro racecar facing out. It was a simple one car garage and I remember thinking to myself, wow, one of these days I would really like to have that situation. I guess you can say I reached that point somewhere along the line and just didn’t realize it until taking this picture. You will notice that in the bay to the left, our 9 second Camaro is patiently waiting for it’s service work too.

As I dove deeper into the Monza, there seemed to be an endless array of items that popped up needing repair or replacement. My goals initially for the week were to finish the car! I must have been crazy to think that I could get it done in a week. After a couple of days, I reevaluated the situation and decided that getting a much shorter list of work items accomplished was going to be as good as it could get for now. I decided that getting the tin work done, moving the fuel cell and getting the roll cage fixed were good goals. I tossed the thought of getting the dash done in there but wasn’t really counting on it.


With the car gutted out, I started with getting the new firewall in. First order of business was to make a template of the area that I was covering. It’s a lot less expense to cut up cardboard than to mess up a piece of tin. I had picked up a dozen pieces of poster board from the dollar store just for this work. With the template completed, I copied it to the firewall and cut it accordingly, then I ran into my first major problem. Between the cage, the top of the firewall piece that is already mounted in the car and the brake cylinder mount, there was no way to get the firewall in as a single piece. I ended up having to split the piece of tin down the center. I will make a nice looking cap cover for it as I finish up to cover the cut. With the firewall in place the pieces were the floor panels – same as before – make a template that fits, then cut the tin to match. The driver’s side was a bit challenging as a mount for the seat belt actually comes up alongside the seat. Getting that cut in place, then sliding the tin over it and around the cage mounting took some careful work. I then proceeded to the tunnel cover, which involved shortening it and slicing the back end side on an angle so that it provided clearance for accessing the rear u-joint. Last was the transmission tunnel. Once again making templates, I decided that I would fashion the tunnel into a one-piece unit which should make it easier to deal with when removing it. At this point everything was mocked up in place.








With everything in place it was time to think about how to fasten the various pieces in place. I am leaning towards fastening the firewall, floors and shaft cover with rivets then using quarter turn fasteners on the transmission cover.  The dash is next and will get put in with quarter turn fasteners too. Next up is moving the fuel cell.