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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Trailer Project – Round 4

A quick update on the trailer project.

With good weather in the forecast, I was able to make some plans for the trailer and stick to them finally. As I previously mentioned, everything that sits in the trailer has to be placed outside so that I can work on the interior. Then when I am done for the time being, I load it all back in again. So it was everything out and after going through and plugging all of the various holes in the flooring with caulk, a good sweeping and in some cases a little bit of scrubbing, the floor was ready for it’s new coat of paint. Admittedly I did not use the more expensive rollers to paint the walls or floors but let’s call them medium-grade. I think the two of them cost me about $5 total. On the walls, I used one with a lower nap that is intended for smooth surfaces but for the floor, I got the heavier nap so that all of the rough surface area would be well coated with paint. This is after all just your basic 3/4″ sheathing plywood. The paint went on really well and I was happy with the coverage it provided. Front to back and with a heavy coating, the floor took about 2/3 of a gallon. I have enough leftover to coat the ramp door area and for multiple touch-ups.


“As I moved things back into the trailer, I positioned a lot of it along one wall so that I could keep the front work area clear,”


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The air temperature was in the mid 70’s and the drying time for the paint was just about an hour. I let it sit for about 4 hours before walking on it and there was no problems. As I moved things back into the trailer, I positioned a lot of it along one wall so that I could keep the front work area clear, this will allow me to get that area finished up without having to move a lot of stuff around. In that area, I am working on two items. One is getting the pegboard in place and the other is getting all of the new wiring done. I found some short pieces of 1/4 x 2 inch wood that I  mounted for the pegboard to attach to and allow the peg hooks to fit properly. I also pulled new 110v cable in for all of the connections. Taking measurements I needed to cut the pegboard down to 42″x95″ for it to fit correctly. With that done and about 20 sheetrock screws it was in place. Now I have a place for some often used tools and small parts packages. Back to the wiring, with moving the cabinet to the front of the trailer it necessitated re-thinking how the electrical system in the trailer was going to be powered. I ran cable from the breaker box down to make the connection with the box where we plug in the generator power. Then I had to run two circuits from the breaker box to the new switch/outlet box which will control the light over the workbench and feed the rest of the lights and outlets in the trailer. I am using the peel and stick wire molding along with a couple of new outlet boxes. I don’t really trust the sticky side to stay in place, so a few more sheetrock screws on the inside of the molding will keep it where I want it. A double outlet box was mounted on the pegboard and the wiring from the breaker box was cut down to the outlet and switch. From the top of the outlet box the wiring runs up to the workbench light fixture, then over to the side wall and back to the original trailer wiring. With everything connected that finishes the 110v wiring part of the project.

Next on the list is getting the carpeting on the sidewalls and then the forward part of the trailer. I will be using a spray glue on the sidewalls along with some small carpeting staples. The carpeting on the floor will be stapled along the edges to keep it in place and of course I will re-use the aluminum trim strip where the carpeting ends. There are also 1″ angle strips that run along the edges between the walls and floor that keep the sides tidy. I also have some 2″ inch strips of vinyl that will be put at the rear of the trailer where the main door is, these should hold up to the weather better along with covering up some of the areas in the wall where the vinyl covering has come loose. One area that had me stumped for a bit was the lower part of the cabinet and the support box I built for the toolboxes. I think I am going to take a left over scrap of carpet and cover that area to give it a uniform look.

IMG_1193Putting the carpet on the walls required finding a special trim piece to cap the carpet for a finished look. I found this in 8 foot strips at E-trailer.com, and the stuff arrived in a round shipping tube complete with fasteners. I am going to go about 47-48″ up from the floor, make a couple of marks and then run a line of 1″ masking tape to used as a guide for mounting the trim strips straight. The carpet is 12′ wide so I will cut 4′ pieces and glue/staple them in place. I will probably need to come up with another piece of trim to cover where the carpet joins together, unless I get a really nice fit.


That’s about it for this time. I have a bit more to do with getting a couple of the cabinet doors working correctly, putting in the radio/speaker system and figuring out where a few items are going to be located. It’s coming along nicely and I think I will be happy with the finished trailer when it’s done.

 

 

Trailer Project – Round 3

Ah, the fun of torrential downpours or actually just non-stop rain. Unless you are under the proverbial rock, you know that the southeast coast has been hammered by rain, floods, high winds and the hurricane out in the Atlantic never really got that close to us.

In the middle of this very little happened with my trailer project. Since it still houses the dragster along with a large assortment of items that no longer have a home, I have to put stuff outside on the ground to actually do any work on the interior. What I did find out is that I messed up on measuring my countertop area and my old top is about 6-8 inches short of working. Last time I mentioned going with a 3/4″ sheet of plywood to replace the old top. But then I thought that as I still have the top toolbox to mount, I might as well put it back on the old bottom chest and cut the old top shorter to fit across the old cabinet and the new bottom chest. This does reduce the work area however that should be just fine as it’s really more of a convenience to have somewhere to pull a carb apart or lay parts on while working.

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The down time also allowed me to pickup a couple of things that should help out in the pits too. A lot of the newer trailers have light boxes mounted on the sides that contain those 500 watt work lights. I am sure those are great but I have one already mounted on a home made mount to the side door which provides plenty of side light. What I needed was someway to get light to where I needed it. In my garage I have a couple of trouble-light reels – the ones that you tug on the wire and it winds itself back up. I picked up one of those from Harbor Freight – with a 20% coupon, it cost a whopping $10. I haven’t decided where to mount it yet – I have a high mounted 110v plug at the back door of the trailer so I am thinking that’s where it will end up. And with the work area moved to the front of the trailer, I needed some light there too. I picked up a 4 foot, 2 bulb florescent fixture that uses the newer T-8 bulbs. Along with that I found some of the leftover electrical plastic duct work for running the wiring along with a couple of 110v outlets and cover plates. I need a couple of plastic boxes for the outlets but I am going to look through my stuff again and make sure I don’t have some of those too.

Speaking of wiring, I drew up a new wiring plan for the trailer as some of the original wiring has to be removed where it entered the cabinet that was mounted on the side. I have two breaker circuits, one for lights and the other for the outlets. The remaining old cabinet will house the breaker box, so the connection wiring will enter at that point. Another wiring issue is one for speakers – I am thinking about finding a radio, maybe a 12v one from a car and mounting it somewhere in the work area with a couple of speakers. Along with some tunes, a lot of tracks broadcast over a FM signal and it beats trying to hear what they are saying over the public announcement system.

Lastly, I am still figuring out where to put stuff. The front work area is laid out for the most part. Facing that and to your right is my helmet and driving suit storage rack. It holds two helmets, gloves, balaclava, extra helmet shields and my driving suit. I am thinking of adding a couple of small aluminum hangers to the bottom of it to hang my driving boots on. That way everything will be in one place. Also on the right side and right next to the side door is the rack that holds my throw away shop towels box. Very convenient place for it as you can grab a quick rag standing outside the trailer if you need it.

To the left side and immediately above the area that will house the jack and safety stands is where the oil/fluid/filter rack will be placed. Underneath that will be another homemade aluminum hanger that will hold the extension cords and air line. I have some space directly behind the combination tool box and if it fits, I have an aluminum tray that can hold spray cans of carb and brake cleaner, lube, etc. Next is finding a location for the trailer spare tire and plastic trailer jack, fuel cans and my bike. On the bike I am thinking about two possibilities. One is to simply strap the bike  in front of the work area and that will be the first thing I remove from the trailer when I setup the pit. The other is to put it along one of the walls.

And the last piece that needs to be figured out is the winch. Right now that is going to get mounted next to  the door. An eye-bolt will be put in the floor dead center of the trailer and just in front of one of the bottom tool chests. A snap with a pulley will be attached to the eye-bolt whenever I need to winch a car into the trailer. Wiring for the wench is rather heavy duty and will be connected directly to the battery mounted in the front trailer compartment.

I think that’s about it for the trailer – now all I need to do is make it happen. Also in my spare time, the G35 is slowly getting sanded down and prepped for primer. It’s been one panel at a time but it’s probably the best way to do it. An assortment of other projects have been going on too, mostly minor stuff but the Little Monza is coming back for some major updates including a new engine, the Camaro will get new lite weight front brakes in the off-season along with a new engine too. In fact all four of the race cars will have fresh engines for the upcoming season. I have a couple of Powerglide transmissions to update and rebuild plus I am thinking about lowering the gear ratio in the dragster. Wow – I think I had better get busy!

Trailer Project – Round 2

Continuing the work on the enclosed trailer, I found that the peel and stick tiles that I used 16 years ago really did stick. Talk about a pain getting them off the plywood flooring! I had to take a wide putty knife, a little bit of heat and a whole lot of muscle work to finally clear all of them off. Very few of them came up in one piece and then there was the glue residue left behind. The only thing that I found that would remove it was lacquer thinner. I tried acetone, mineral spirits and alcohol but none of those did as good a job as the lacquer thinner. Bad news is that I went through about 3 gallons of the stuff and in one instance I messed up a bit and absorbed way too much of it through my hands. It actually made me sick to my stomach. After that I made sure I wore plastic gloves but those would only last a short time and had to be replaced a few times to continue the work. After wiping the floor down multiple times, I finally got it to the point where it is only slightly sticky – I never could get it completely cleaned off. But I did find out after testing a small area that the new coat of porch paint will cover it up and be just fine. And a plus was that I found out that the porch paint that was already tinted darker wasn’t nearly dark enough for me – so back to the store to have it re-tinted.

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New panel in place

I worked on the side door next. It basically amounted to removing the work/storage table and pulling the old piece of paneling out. I then took measurements from that panel and transferred them to a piece of vinyl pebble surface paneling that can never rot. I will remount the work table and put some new door seals in place – as soon as I find something suitable. I tried some stuff made for windows in the past and it was a bear to get off plus it had broken down and allowed the previous panel to get wet and rot out at the bottom.

 

 

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Painted test area

My next challenge was doing something with the interior walls – I finally decided that I wanted to carpet the bottom half to limit the damage that just seems to happen and paint the upper part of the walls.  The bottom 4 feet of the trailer walls will be covered with carpeting that matches the floor carpet. I found aluminum trim strips from eTrailer.com that add a nice touch to the top of the carpeting on the walls. I decided to also leave the ceiling in it’s original white although I did some cleaning of it with a water/bleach solution to remove the dirt and mold that had accumulated. I finished coating the upper part of the interior walls with two coats of interior paint with an eggshell finish. I went with a very light beige color instead of white and it looks pretty good. One mistake that I made in my haste was getting some of the paint on the ceiling edging. That is not going to come off easily so I may end going back and painting the edging too just to get a nice even line with trailer ceiling. There’s my OCD coming out that I try to keep hidden. Some of the silicone caulking needs to be replaced along the trim too.

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New paint really helps the look

At the front of the trailer I have positioned the one old cabinet that I retained along with building a foundation platform for the two tool box chests to bring them level with the cabinet. I originally said that I was going to keep two of the floor cabinets but I came across a Craftsman bottom tool box that was damaged for a good price and it matches the one that I bought for the trailer years ago. The weight of the tool box is probably a third of the cabinet so off to the dump went the cabinet. Anyway this gives me about 7 feet of top bench space with the old cabinet and the tool boxes lined up and I am looking at 3/4 finished plywood for the making the top. I think I will have the store cut about 3-4 inches off of one side of the plywood and use that as a backsplash. Above this will be a piece of pegboard that can be used to store some tools and parts.

I have to pull out the old carpeting but that should only take a few minutes. I may trim that up some and save it as a work mat for outside. The trailer floor will be covered with gray porch paint and then the new carpet will be installed. The carpet will cover the front 20 feet of the trailer leaving about 8 feet at the rear with just a paint coating and the 4×2 aluminum plates that I have for the tires to rest on. As of yet I have not decided whether I will cover the wheel boxes with carpet or just repaint them.

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Loose stuff everywhere

Back to the front, the one cabinet that I kept will contain the breaker box for the trailer along with providing a place for the air compressor. I need to come up with a new way to keep the two drawers closed but I think some clips that are used on RV cabinets might work. I also have some 110v wiring to change adding some lighting and outlets above the work bench. Another addition as I have about 20 inches of room along the side of the cabinets is building a two-story box that will house the jack and the jackstands on top of it.

It’s not perfect by any measure but so far I think it is going to be a lot better than it was. In addition, I have probably already shed about 300-400 pounds of weight just getting the old cabinets out. That will help fuel mileage and takes some wear and tear off of the trailer tires.

 

 

You Don’t Race a Trailer – Or do you?

That question is one that is on-going among sportsman racers of all types. Trailers of course come in all sizes and styles with your imagination and pocketbook sometimes being the only controlling factors regarding them. And you can just about customize one anyway you like it from any trailer manufacturer for a reasonable amount of money. Of course what one thinks is reasonable is probably highway robbery to another. But back to that headline – there has always been a conversation about trailers or rather “how much” trailer is needed to race.  Again, it really comes down to what you want or at least think you need to get the job done.

My enclosed trailer was built in Indiana in the summer of 1999. I purchased it through a trailer broker and customized it a bit spending what I could at the time. It is a 28 foot box with a foot of extra height, 48 inch side door, finished interior, 12v lighting and 5200 lb torsion axles. After getting it home, I was able to obtain some used but really heavy cabinets to use as storage for spare parts and other racetrack items plus I picked up a Sears toolbox. At this time I was waiting for the delivery of my dragster, so I set the trailer up to accommodate a dragster and not much else. The trailer is now 16 years old and in need of some TLC for the next racing season or even this one if I can get my act together.

Over time, I had added 120v outlets and light fixtures to the trailer along with vent covers to keep out the rain and junk yet allow the trailer to be ventilated. Various changes were made to carry fuel cans, a small moped, racing helmets and jackets, plus the usual assortment of spray cleaners, oil, filters and etc. But now I want to be able to carry a regular car and not just the dragster. I also want to get rid of some stuff that I put in there, thinking I would need it yet never really did. I also want to cut out some of the cabinets, again these were extremely heavy and removing whatever weight I can will certainly help – plus again I simply don’t need all of the storage space that I originally thought I would. I honestly know a few guys that could rebuild their entire car in the pits with what they carry in their trailer. That’s just not my deal anymore, I would rather pack it up and deal with it back in the garage.

So over the last couple of days, I have started on a trailer re-do of sorts. I am tearing everything out of the trailer except for 2 wall cabinets that I have on one side – and if the car doesn’t clear those, they’ll be gone too. I have some new indoor/outdoor carpet to replace the worn out stuff I put in 16 years ago, although I will not carpet the entire floor. Right now the trailer is about 70/30 on carpet and some vinyl tile squares. The tile is going and will be replaced with grey porch paint – something that I can touch up when it needs it. There were three wall cabinets on the other side, and four floor cabinets plus the tool box. The toolbox is staying and just 2 of the floor cabinets. All of this is being placed at the front of the trailer now. I haven’t quite figured out where I am putting some of the other stuff just yet but I would like to keep most of it near the front.

The interior walls are in sad shape in some places, this is a vinyl or plastic coated luan 4×8 sheeting and so far I have not found the same thing in a home improvement store. The 48″ side door also has a piece of this that is ruined from rain water getting to it which was due to some door seal leakage. The door seal will be replaced of course and I am looking at a 4×8 vinyl, pebble surface sheet to replace the interior piece. One thing that I like in some of the newer trailers is the carpeted side walls. They will carpet them with indoor/outdoor carpet about 4 foot up from the floor and cap it with a piece of aluminum trim. This would be one way to eliminate some of the damage that has occurred to the side walls. Other bits and pieces of trim have come loose or fallen off completely. And while I have vent covers, the actual plastic vents are dry-rotted and crumbling so those need to be replaced as well.

I also started on the outside of the trailer. First off was to replace the 16 year old tires. Out of the 4, two of them were actually in decent shape. I kept one as a spare and gave the other to the guy doing the tire changes for me – he needed a spare for his race trailer too. While getting the tires changed, I repaired some damage to the electrical connectors on 3 of the 4 brakes and I also adjusted the brakes. I had never adjusted them and while I know they would slow the trailer down, it’s questionable as to how effective they were doing so. I pulled the fiberglass fenders off, cleaned them up and shot them with several coats of white Rustoleum thinned down about 25% with paint thinner. I also painted and coated the wheel boxes with a spray-on rubber undercoating. Next will be washing the entire trailer to get rid of the dirt and skin of faded paint. Most of the screws are rusted and I plan on replacing them all with a 3/16″ aluminum rivet. That is a long-term project as it is panel by panel. I am looking for a really good stainless steel screw to replace those that hold the trim in place – but so far I haven’t found what I am looking for yet. And I forgot, but late last fall I cleaned up the roof and resealed all of the edges with a Dicor Lap Sealant. My trailer has a one piece aluminum roof on it – which is great – so I only have to worry about the edges and where the vents go through the roof. I also picked up a cheap trailer tongue box from Harbor Freight. And yes it was cheap to buy and it is cheap in looks. I think before I mount it I am going to go ahead and paint it. What paint it has looks more like a primer coat. P0001235

I don’t have much in the way of pictures but I will take a few as I get things done. This picture is the open trailer after the last paint job sitting in front of the enclosed trailer that I am working on.