Early October Shop Updates

Been working in shop more than posting this week, as I’ll be spending next week at the lake with family. I usually live at the lake Friday through Monday and at the shop Tuesday through Thursday – but after being gone two weeks racing, I had a shop thrash going on this week.

I picked up the rear bumper to my Magnum XE (I point out XE as I also have a black 79 GT) and installed.

The ten year old and squeaking serpentine belt was replaced with a shorter one that was required after changing the heads from iron to Edelbrocks. I took the car for a hard drive (110 mph to) to test the belt. While that’s good, the brakes were mushy and won’t lock up. They’ll have to be dealt with when I get back.

Almost 20 years ago I put the above Dakota Digital gauges in a custom dash panel for my Magnum XE. To me the Kool Factor has gone away. I ordered a Kustom set of gauges that I’ll install into a stock dash panel, after I scuff, sand, and paint flat black with plastic adhesive paint. I’m still thinking about what to do with the “Idiot Lights” on right side of dash panel, as the gauges handle that monitoring.

If you have a 75-79 B Body and want my old Digital dash panel with gauges, lights, and switches, its yours for $300.

Moving off the XE and on onto the Magnum GT. The leaky valve cover gaskets were replaced as was the sticky brake light switch that keeps draining the battery. I’ll detail and sell that car as part of my new “Reduce my foot print and make more simple” philosophy.

The 81 Imperial I’ve had since 1986 (I restored with a 380hp 360ci, street strip trans, 8.75″ with 3.55 gears…) had the AC, Power Seats and power antenna fixed. Found a gas leak when it was filled with 93 octane, and replaced the line. The gas tank and straps were new when I restored it many years ago. It now runs perfect and has zero issues. It too needs to be detailed so I can put up for sake when I get back.

The leaking gas tank in my 58 Dodge Pick up was repaired, and it too needs to be detailed and sold. Also in the photo is my trailer of three yards of mulch I picked up yesterday. That’s to keep my Shop Rat busy next week.

Speaking of the Shop Rat, he washed the Coach (above), sanded and painted the tongue of my old Aluminum trailer with POR15, and cut 2′ X 4′ shelves from 3/8″ plywood to replace shitty stock particle board shelves that have bowed and broken.

I put together a milk crate with two bottle jacks (one of them air) operated, an impact wrench, and sockets in my Stacker trailer. I have 150 psi air supply from the coach. I mounted a 50′ air reel to the compartment connection to reach the trailers. I’ve used once the air setup to change a Stacker tire, and it is now a no problem 10 minute job by me alone – compared the PITA Dallas and I use to go through.

I fixed the trunk seal on the Thug, and the Rat washed it. Waiting on the rear glass from Proglass. I’ll be tearing the trunk down over the winter for another coat of spatter paint and clear, and to polish the aluminum. The car also needs to go on the lift for the Rat to scrub the underside and for me to inspect and tighten suspension. I really hope to have the Screamin Woody ready as primary car for Bradenton, and for the Thug to go to back up duty. Maybe Dallas will run once or twice next year as his car is kn need of a total rebuild as he’s working too many hours to deal with it.

Speaking of Screamin Woody, the underside was painted and the rebuilt rear end and 4-link reinstalled.

The high HP 383 that will be going into my 60 Plymouth Post Street car is now finished. The engine compartment has been cleaned, scuffed, and is ready for Petty Blue paint. It will ultimately be wrapped to look like a sun bleached Petty NASCAR that has been left outside since 1961.

One of my all time favorite cars is a 1967 AMC Marlin. It is the rarest of the three years Marlins were made, and the only year made on AMC’s full-size Ambassador platform. The 65-66 were built on the shorter Rambler Rouge platform. They looked weird being that short of a fastback.

So I finally bought a nice southern 67 Marlin about 15 years ago. I drove it for a couple of weeks and then parked it to wait for a restoration. This week it got pulled out to be made running, before being tearing down to restore. It had no brakes, so they were replaced. The fuel pump was missing – don’t ask me how or why. Anyway the 67 for a 343 ci was a one year only, and impossible to find. The 68 was also a one year only, equally hard to find. Both have the fuel filter as part of the pump, one on top and the other on the bottom. Everything I found on the internet says only option is to replace with an electric pump. I was able to find a new 68 for a 343, and it works perfectly. Why isn’t that on any AMC forum? So car runs great, except for a whistle from a failing carb to intake gasket. I ordered the gasket, but it had to be removed so I would order the correct one. Engine uses  Motorcraft 2bbl carb. The GM distributor had the points replaced with a Pertronix electronic, but needs the gasket I ordered to test it. Once the car has been taken for a drive, it will be torn down. Engine compartment, interior, trim,… I’ll sent car to be repainted Red (always loved red with Black top Marlins), chrome to chrome shop, detail engine and covert to 4Bbbl. I need to see what interior I can locate in black. Based on that, I’ll decide if I will change to black or keep gold.

So that’s this past week at the shop.

 

Finishing Up The Indy Race

About a week after the fact, but I’ll tie up the loose ends from the Indy race in this post.

Starting with the All Star race, I’m not All Star worthy! All weekend long up until I smacked my head, I was chopping the tree down. However, I red lit for the first time in competition in three years On the All Star race. I when I passed the red light, I figured it had to be 00something red, but it was more than that.

Later that night the ladder came out for the Big show, and I drew Russ Konkowski, one of the very few cars faster than me. I had calculated a few numbers in the bag to play the stripe. We were the first to go down the track Sunday morning. As I made the left from the staging lanes onto the track, the sun was low and right in back of me. I left with a paranoid light after going red in the All Star race. At the thousand foot I could see nothing out the back window from the sun defracting off all of the scratches on the rear window, after it popped out and passed me the day before. As I was coming up on the MPH cone I looked out the side window, saw nothing and got on the brakes pretty hard. I crossed the line first, and saw the win light in the other lane, telling me I broke out.

Russ couldn’t run the number and I gave it to him because I had no idea where he was on the track. In Texas there’s a saying “Sometimes you’re the bug, sometimes the windshield.” I was the bug that week.

I did manage to squeak out a Top Ten in points for the year.

So we loaded up, I made arrangements to leave the trailer and race car at the track, and I drove the coach to the factory in Northern Indiana, while my wife followed me in the street car.

Got to the factory at dinner time, drained the tanks, filled with water and settled in for the night. Up at 5 am, closed up coach, loaded up the car and did a walk through with their service writer. We then drove to Hamburg, NY so my wife can spend a week with her sister. The coach was suppose to be ready Friday, we were to drive there today (Sunday), and we’d check it out tomorrow. However, I got a call Friday that it  wasn’t ready yet. The plan is to leave tomorrow morning, spend the night in the Coach, and hopefully the part they’re waiting on comes in Tuesday for them to install it. Then to Indy to get the cars loaded into the Stacker, and then back to Texas.

Thug’s Qualifying At Indy

First round of qualifying at Indy was at 1 pm Friday, one hour earlier than scheduled. I usually set up to go a number slower on the first round, and then go for broke on the next two Qualifying. I felt like I had  a good launch, so I lifted at the MPH cone.

Got a 9.768 on my 9.75  index. We calculated what I would have run without lifting, and it was a 9.753. Another bad decision. Tough crowd here, so I was number 8 of 53.

I have a street car on the lift, as I’m dropping the motorhome off at the factory and then driving to Western New York for my wife to visit her sister while the coach is being worked on. When walking under the lift fairly fast, I smacked my head on the landing puck on the underside of the lift. I got woozy and fell hitting my head on the trailer fender. When I rolled over and put my hand to my head, blood was gushing out. I had blood running down my hand and arm; and my face and gasses were covered in blood. I staggered to the coach to get my wife to wet down a towel to stop the bleeding. Meanwhile another racer in the staging lanes saw me and ran to the NMCA guy directing the staging lanes. He sat me down and called the ambulance, which stopped the race. They treated me, bandaged the head up, and had me sign a waiver refusing to go to hospital for stitches. I was going to go after the second round, which was suppose to be in another 15 minutes. However, they pushed us back another two hours and we were the last ones down the track – following Pro Thug and Radial Wars, which takes a different prep. I figured the starting line was going to be garbage, and set up expecting a 1.38 60′. Another bad decision, as I had a 1.36 60′ and broke out by that difference. That moved me down to 13, now with now 63 NSS racers.

 

After that round, we called the Urgent Cares in the area and was told I’d have to go to a Hospital Emergency Room. I didn’t feel like I wanted to pay a $400 deductible to spend a Friday night in an Indy Emergency Room. I self treated by rubbing some dirt on it and drinking heavily for pain management.

Didn’t sleep worth a damn last night. It was midnight when I went to bed and at 2 am I had to deal with the Carbon Monoxide detector blaring. We were to race at 8:30 am, which means they call us to the line at 7:45. I got out of bed at 6 am, got the weather station set up, generator running, and the car pushed out of the trailer. At 7 am I started the car, took it for a ride to warm it up. I parked the car in my pit and put the charger on.

The weather was thirty degrees cooler, calling for a lot of weight to be added.

At the line the car stuttered and bogged. Not sure if it was low fuel pressure, wrong jetting, or the car not being warm enough for the cold air. Maybe a combination of all. Anyway the bog caused a shitty light and a horrible 60′.

That caused me to get knocked out of the All Star Shootout. Worst yet, my back glass blew out at 136 mph.

There was a mandatory NSS driver’s meeting after Q3. I wasn’t wanting to go, as I knew I was out of the All Star Shootout, and that’s what it was about. Doug Duell insisted I go, and I thought maybe he was going to pick me as his “Champion’s” choice. The way the shootout works is that 16 NMCA racers go against 16 Victory Series racers. To get the best of each, they each take the Top Five from last year and the 9 best qualifiers (who’s hot this weekend) from this race. Then the past Champion picks one. While Doug and I are good Buds, we’re also strictly business when it comes to racing. Doug picked Doug Wright, who has been on fire this year. It was the right choice. So the rest of us NMCA racers (about 20) Each got a Raffle Ticket for the final “Lucky Dog” pick, and my number was called. I haven’t been feeling lucky this weekend, and debated giving it to someone else.

So now I’m in a race with a car that bogged, has no back window, and I have a screamer of a headache from the day before. Randy Stansbury, who installed the Pro Glass back window when he painted the car, started putting it back in. Barry Dorn, who has done a few came by to help him.

They had it in in less than an hour. Thank you very much Randy and Barry. I then put on some of my wife’s “Happy Camper” duct tape to hold it in until the new Pro Glass, NASCAR window tabs and molding clips arrive at the shop.

So right now I’m “Chillin”, trying to shake this killer headache, before they call the first of five rounds for the “All Star Shootout”. Sunday, NSS has the eliminations or all 63 racers at 8 am.

The Thug Is In The House

We’re up at the NMCA Finals, and the Victory vs. NMCA Showdown at Lucas Raceway in Indy. Deb and I took a leisurely 2 1/2 day ride up here from Texas. It was relatively uneventful, with the exception of breaking a strap on the street car that was on the lift. That required me unloading and reloading both cars in a Walmart parking lot. Basically we left Monday afternoon and arrived at the track at 5 pm Wednesday.

Thursday, the track opened at 8:30 am, and we had the pit set up, credentials established, car tech’d in by noon.

Time trials started at 1 pm. Air was a horrible 4200′. I ran a 9.77 without weight.

2nd test and tune hit was a couple hours later. Starting line was horrible and I had a bad 60′.

My final hit was a little better when I took some air out of the slicks.

This morning we had a Time Trial at 10 am. The air was obviously much better, with a little tail/cross wind. I didn’t run with weight, although it was predicted I should put 60 pounds in to hit my 9.75 index.

So the First qualifying is scheduled at 2 pm, hot lapping us for the second at the end of the 2 pm group.

That assumes the weather allows all of that to happen.

Polish, D-Rings, New seats, Engine Assembly and Paint

What does all of that have in common? It and more happened at the shop yesterday.

All of the aluminum in the truck of the Thug got polished up.

Before

After

I needed more loose weight as I’d been borrowing from 00Joe and Dennis Breeden, so bought a couple dumbbells and chopped off the ends.

Photo is upside down, they weigh 11.1 pounds each.

I bought an aluminum trailer from Jim Bailey, but since his car was much shorter, I didn’t have enough angle for front straps, and damaged the paint on the Thug. Yesterday I cut 3″ holes through the aluminum floor and took a high speed bit to it to shape for 6,000 pound recessed D-Rings. A few bolt holes, carriage bolts and impact wrench to drive nuts on and I’m now good to go.

Moving onto my 1960 Plymouth, the Leaning Tower of Power was pulled in favor of an approximate 450 hp 383 that was in the Thug when it was a street racer 15 years ago. The 383 was assembled as far as it can go until another parts delivery arrives. Also found a bent push rod a two bad rocker adjusters, so they were ordered.


Also painted and wrapped the low mileage and strong 6-banger that came out of the Plymouth, before putting it into the shed.

I bought a set of like new black leather seats from a 2-door BMW and installed into my 78 Magnum. They looked great in the car but my “Full-Figured” ass  was too wide to be comfortable. So they were yanked out in favor of new leather aftermarket, which took 3.5 months to get here.

Wrapped these seats, which are for sale. If you have a Muscle Car with black interior, there’s nothing like the comfort of modern power seats.

These are the aftermarket leather seats. No power, and they have a satin look to them, which maybe leather conditioner might shine up, but they’re very comfortable.

Also found a couple of hours to mow my 5 acres and wash Zero turn.

Fixin to head out to the shop for another very full day.

Problems Resolved, Ready for Norwark

If you’ve read “Dave & Buster’s Excellent Adventure“, you’ll remember that my car didn’t have a full charge on the batteries for my Bye run in the Semis, and I had a stutter that felt like either lack of fuel or loss of ignition. I was able to get about 20 minutes of a charge before the Final, but I was dead right from the start with a 1.39 60′, and a couple Stutters in the run. Then about 150 miles from home, while driving in a bad storm, some idiot going about 30 pulled in front of my rig traveling in the left lane going 70. I locked up the brakes and was able to avoid hitting anything, but the car moved into a jack pouch and damaged the rear fender.

So, since I didn’t have a backup ignition and the batteries were a couple years old, I ordered a new 7AL2 Black box, new charger and two new batteries, just to be safe. While they were being shipped, The oil filter was cut open to see if there was any bearing material, as I felt the car might have been getting slower. The filter showed no gold, and in reality we had a strong tail wind Thursday and Friday; and a moderate tail cross on Friday and Saturday.

Moving onto the valve train, it was inspected and valves run. All was good. It was noticed, when getting the motor warm enough to run the valves, that the fuel pressure was a pound and half low. That too might explain speed falling off a little. My carb’s jetting was 113 square, and it has now been leaned up a little to 113/110.


Despite my batteries (when fully charged) being just as strong a week later, I replaced them anyway since I had bought the new ones. I’ll either use the older ones in the wagon, convert the Vitamin C to 16V, or sell cheap.

Pulled the Gold 7AL2 out of the Thug, and put it into The Vitamin C – just to make sure it runs right the next time I run that car. The Thug’s batteries were put in the Vitamin C, and it’s 7AL2 put in the trailer for a spare. While doing that, it was found the ignition wire had a very poor crimp in it, and it was a very loose connection. I’m pretty sure that was causing the stutter. That’s now fixed.

Also goin ons at the shop this week, was catching up mowing my five acres and the five acres of Miss Lavone (a sweet 93-year old lady) next door. The new air cleaner and valve covers on my 46 Olds street rod got a coat of gold paint, and drilled for breather and PCV. The Olds also got a new fuel pump and all it needs to be finished is an interior shop to do its magic and a new exhaust system.

Also had to reattach the fascia on my youngest daughters Hyundai, which appears to have been damaged by a concrete parking stop jumping in front of it.

Today, Randy Stansbury drove in from Louisiana to fix the damage from coming home from Joliet. While the primer was drying, he polished the car. Look at the below photo compared to the one at the beginning of this post.

Randy then laid a coat of base and clear over primed repair, and I’ll try to Blend Buff next week.

So after the blending, I’ll load the Thug into trailer to make room for a project, and I should be ready for Norwalk.

Dave & Buster’s Excellent Adventure

Last week was NMCA’s fourth race in the point series, held at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, IL. My wife had just had surgery on both feet, so it was just us boyz – my Chocolate Lab Buster and me. We took “The Thug”, which is a car I’d just finished a couple of months ago and need some data on. Its first race was Bowling Green, where I broke a rocker shaft. The next race was the Hot Rod Reunion, where I only got three passes and was fighting a couple of problems. This would be its third event.

Monday morning I loaded up the stacker, and headed out Monday at about 2pm, as I wanted to avoid Houston’s traffic. I drove 300 miles to Atlanta, TX, where I parked in Walmart’s parking lot over night, and loaded up the coach’s fridge with groceries and adult beverages.

Tuesday, I had a leisure morning, leaving at 10am and driving a little less than 500 miles to Sikeston,  MO – which is the last known Walmart parking lot in that direction that I know will not give me a problem parking on the far side of their lot.

Wednesday, I again had a leisure morning and leaving at 10 am for the 350 mile drive up the middle of Illinois, known for ticketing rigs as long as mine for over length. I arrived at the staging area (the NASCAR Track across the street from Route 66) at about 4 pm. About ten years ago that would have me 3rd in line, but this year there were at least 100 racers ahead of me. Wednesday night there was a new record of over 350 racers in line for this race.

Thursday, morning in the past would have the track start moving vendors in at 10 am, and racers at 11 am. This year, to the surprise of almost all of us, they started moving us in at 8 am. We (Rollie saved spots for Doug Duell, 00Joe Ewing, the Frees Brothers and I) got to the pits at 10am and I was set up, credentials established, and car teched in by noon.

I paid the $40 (now there’s a racket!) for test and tune, and that opened at 1 pm. I wound up being the first car down the track.

I’d checked my left weight box and it was empty, and I assumed the right was also, and so I didn’t check it until after the 1st pass, where I found 58 pounds. That put me in an awkward position between the 9.50 & 9.75 index (with breakouts for NSS). I took the weight out and decided to see if I could get close to the 9.50 index by shifting at 7200 instead of 6800, where the car still felt like it was pulling.

That didn’t buy me near enough, and it appears 6800 is the right shift point.

I pulled a plug to see if I could increase timing or lean  jetting, but it appears I was where the timing and jetting should be. I had pulled one of the two batteries, and was about to pull a seat to drop 100 pounds, but Doug talked me out of that plan. Good plan Doug! So I put them back in, loaded both boxes with weight and headed to the lanes for a third Time Trial Hit.

I waited in the staging lanes for three and a half hours while I saw some cars go through twice. It pissed off a lot of racers. There were a ton of wrecks an oil downs causing chaos.

By the time I’d gone up to race after sitting for 210 minutes with the cut off switch on, and not enough of a charge on one of the batteries,  I barely got the car started –  and had only 11 volts. I backed out and only had 4 volts by the time I got back to the pits.

Friday we had two Qualifying hits. The first at 8:30am. The car did a monster wheel stand (I’ve not put wheelie bars on the car yet) and was too fast at 9.71.

We waited a long time for the second Qualifying, as there were again a lot of oil downs. I was dead nuts with a 5. That moved me to number two, behind Jeff Frees who was dead nuts with a 2.

Saturday morning at about 8:30 am we were called for our third qualifying. I thought I was set on kill to try for dead nuts with a 0 or 1, but I ran a 9.77. We did have to wait, and weather changes fast in the mornings. Also My 60′ was a little off. They were hand spraying just as we were pulling in, and didn’t give any time to dry. As a matter of fact a video shows someone spraying in back of my car as I was staged. It might have been that, but from then on my car seemed to lose a little more each pass.

Sheet after 3 hits had me stay #2

1st Round Ladder

In the first round on Saturday night  I had Geary (pronounced Gary, as it threw me off for years) Bates. Long story short, he gave me lane choice last time and I gave him lane choice this time. He wanted Left so he could use his door mirror to watch me come up on him. I’d set my car up for a 9.73 and did a 9.76 all out. Geary took a little too much stripe (14.5.’ according to “Run Completion”) and broke out with a 10.48 on 10.50.

Sunday morning Round Two was against a pretty black 67 10.0 Chevelle that I don’t recall seeing before. He came to my trailer and told me he’d been racing for decades, quit for a little while, recently started again, and had been to a couple races I been at. I offered him lane choice, and he also chose the Right Lane. This round was a gift. As my light counted down I lost focus because he’d not left before me, and I had a .109 light. I was even more confused when he’d still not left when I did. He had a .289 light. I gave it less than full throttle and just stayed a fender ahead of him for a 9.99. I couldn’t use the run as data as it was so screwed up. I didn’t even enter it.

At about noon, Round Three was against Kurt Neighbor kn his 9.50 yellow 65 Comet. He’d been both tough on the tree and running the number all weekend. I asked him what lane he wanted, willing to flip if he wanted Left, and he wanted the Right lane, which I feel is correct for the faster car. I bagged three and we had a great race (look at the package at the bottom of the below ticket) with me dragging the brake and a little lift at MPH cone .

Run completion says I cut it pretty close and almost broke out with a 9.71 had I not lifted when I did.

Since I was the number two qualifier, won my first three rounds and there were 23 racers, I won a Bye for the fourth round. It was a good thing I had the Bye. After Round Three, I attached the charger to the charging terminals on the car and started the generator. While I was doing this Jeff Frees and his entourage stopped by to congratulate me for the close race, and then Kurt stopped by. By the time they called us for Round Four, I realized I never plugged the charger in. When I started the car, I barely had 16 volts. The last time I had to start to move into burnout box, it slow cranked and I had 14 volts for my burnout. It stuttered badly after my second gear shift, and I just drove it at 4000 RPM to get off the track. I kinda was surprised it wouldn’t run with 14 volts. Anyway, I was glad it was a Bye. I hurried back to pit to put the charger on at 25 amps, and it was taking it all.

Kevin Gass was the winner of the other Semi. He came to my pit wanting the Left. By then I had made 7 of my last 8 passes in the Left lane, and wasn’t looking to switch, so we flipped. Thanks Bobby Barrick for a heads flip for me. They called us in less than a half hour and my batteries were still taking all 25 amps. I had a hair above 16 when I started the car, and a hair under when I staged. I was dead right from the hit with a 1.39 60′ and then a stutter. I never could catch Kevin.

While I wanted the win more than you can imagine, Kevin is both a great racer and a nice guy, so if I had to lose to someone…

Being an old one eye fat man racing without help, it took me until 9 pm to tear down the pit and load up the trailer. Being it was late, that I’d had a few cold adult beverages, and that I was tired — I decided to stay overnight at the track. I showered and got to bed at about 11 pm.

Monday, I was up at 5 am, had breakfast, walked Buster and pulled out into the fog at 6 am.

I drove hard and non-stop — pulling into my shop (almost 1200 miles from the track) at 11:58 pm on the same Calendar Day.

This morning , I unloaded the trailer for a major disappointment. I stopped every couple hundred miles to take a click or too out of the straps. However, I didn’t for last 300 miles because of heavy rain. Outside Lufkin I had to lock the brakes up and swerved into the next lane because of an idiot. I should have stopped and checked the car’s straps, but I didn’t.

I’ve got my bud Randy Standsbury, who painted the car, coming next week from Louisiana to fix it for me before the Norwalk race. The car will also be gone through to see where a little speed might picked up from.

Here’s a track photo from the NMCA Gallery.

Thursday and Friday was chaotic with all the oil downs setting the schedule hours late. However Saturday and Sunday went very smooth, especially for the number of cars racing. NMCA has their stuff together.

I’d like to thank my sponsors, but on this car I have none except the battery hold downs from Aerospace Components, which are pretty nice pieces and some help from Mancini Racing with an annual credit for misc parts. On this car, I paid for the new brakes, headers, fuel system, converter, and every single other part on the car. Missing a couple of years (family and car issues) hurt me in the help department.  I feel like I’m coming back with this car and the wagon, which I’m just starting to rebuild. I hope to have the rust knocked off me and the cars by the end of this year, and come back next year with a vengeance. While far from probable, with five rounds and  #2 Qualifier Points, if I was to run the table on the last two races – and the right people fell on their face – I have a chance still. Weirder stuff has happened, and it doesn’t hurt to think BIG.