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.

Mustang – Left Turn, no maybe the Right Turn?

Progress on this Mustang project is slow, well maybe slow is not the exact word – almost at a halt would probably be far more accurate. Recently my son decided to move to another house which meant we needed to pack up everything and that included the Mustang of course. Good news is that we were able to finally drag a lot of the leftover stuff to the curb and dispose of it, bad news was it was a real pain to get the car moved from one location to another – and it was only about 2 miles between them.

Just to keep it short, it took us three attempts to finally rent one of those small tow dolly deals to even start getting the car moved. Our first two shots at it and both of the dollys were broken and could not be used, then we had to wait a few days which meant we had to borrow a pickup from a good friend. Then all the tires on the car were flat so it was a nice little drill to remove, inflate and replace them. Getting it ON the dolly was an experience that I do not want to repeat, nor was getting it off the dolly and into it’s new home. But at the end of the day or week – it was finally there.

So, left turn, right turn? In the last post on this project I talked about switching the 302 from fuel injection to carburetor. That still left us with the stock Ford AOD mess of a transmission, so after some searching around a GM Powerglide can be used by installing an adapter plate – okay. But then it was kind of why stop there, we were already talking about stroking the little 302 to get more cubes out of it but we were still short of a normal 350 Chevy engine without all of the extra work. So – and here is where the Ford purists will start screaming – I decided to go the whole deal – a small block Chevy and Powerglide transmission – no adapter plate required. Yes, motor mounts have to be built – not a biggie and a transmission mount too – again, no biggie. Bottomline is that I can build a stout little Chevy in my sleep at this point, we have spare stuff and it allows us to share information among all four of the race cars. I also have the small block Chevy – complete motor – so the costs just went down significantly.

Early hot rodders used to swap powerplants to gain an advantage over the competition. I am not sure we are really doing that here but it makes sense to me to stick with something we know and have on hand. Plus I believe we have just made a major leap forward in the progress on this project.

hot-rod-engine-swap-liftThis picture courtesy of Hot Rod Magazine shows a ’50s rodder swapping a Cadillac engine into his fairly new 1956 Chevy.

Project Low-Buck Mustang – 2

In this chapter of the build, we have decided to go off the reservation a little bit. I was never totally sold on keeping the EFI setup on the car. It operated but the more I read up on it I wasn’t exactly happy. It seems that back in 1994 when these cars were coming out they had to make some serious concessions to the EPA. In turn, the performance end of the stick took a serious hit. Now normally that wouldn’t be a big deal but again with reading I start finding out that it’s a bigger deal on these cars than originally thought. The engine tuning doesn’t play well with getting more fuel into and out of the cylinders plus it gets decidedly ugly as far as street cruising manners. So much for larger air throttle bodies, larger cam and opening the exhaust up. Most of the people working on these are reverting to a pre-94 computer package that allows some flexibility in the setup. Then there is the transmission – the later version of the AOD –  you have to switch over to a manual valvebody just to get it’s cooperation. The stock setup is shifted by the computer – when it wants too – not exactly the go-fast setup we’re looking for here. And to top it off, a straight forward rebuild of the current unit would run right around 4 bills and that doesn’t include the valvebody or replacement of any damaged hard-parts.

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So – we decided to cut and run. And cut we are as I decided that getting rid of a lot wiring was high on the list. I will have to put some of it back to operate the car but the difference will be night and day. This also allows us to chuck a lot of other non-essential items and get the car down to fighting weight. With a little 302 motor, we need all the help we can get. We are going to outfit the engine with a square 4bbl intake, a “real” ignition distributor, MSD box, and the proper pieces to make all of this work. Transmission leanings are towards a Powerglide – and that depends on what can be had for a little bit of money.

Body work is on the the agenda of course as the car was hit in the front corner and it has the normal assortment of bangs and dings in it. The hood and trunk lid will be used but we are going to do some cutting work to lighten both of them as much as we can, then hold them in place with Dzus fasteners.