Tuesday, April 20, 2010

She's ALIVE !

New year with new expectations of finally keeping things together to complete the Novice Racing Program with Cascade Sports Car Club. We (car and me) ran all 4 sessions of the first High Performance Drivers Education (HPDE) on March 20th. Weather was perfect ! Yeah! And in Oregon even!

More on the run day in a bit, because there has to be drama with this car first, right!?!?!?!

During the engine initial start-up, after it's total rebuild, the thing wouldn't really run well. The builder tried everything he could think of. After an hour of futzing and frustration, I noticed the Ammeter was pegged to one side. The builder unplugged the alternator and instantly things were running better.

There was/is also a strange knocking noise that seems to emanate from around the water pump. It does not sound healthy (or death eminent). It didn't get worse or better and the engine guy said he didn't know what it was and that it was at my risk to run it. Un-belting the water-pump as a test didn't fix the knock.

Being fed up with missing the entire race season last year waiting for my engine to be rebuilt, waiting a month and a half to start the car up (bye-bye dyno time), I wasn't about to jump on his suggestion to pull the engine and pulling it apart (we'll see if that turns out to be a bad decision). I had planned on start-up since early February when it was reassembled, but the builder was booked. Now it was the Tuesday before the run and I was seeing red mist!

Screw it! I'm running on battery only and damn the knock!

Saturday morning arrived and it was chilly, but sunny. Wife, kid and good friend Steve came by to over-see the melee around lunch time. Wife took pics, kid had lunch in the hammock in the trailer and Steve thoughtfully ensured I got my harness belts on properly (among other little but crucial details).

The 2 morning runs were great. I took it easy and felt the car out, slowly increasing engine speeds and turn loading. Things were all right!

Car ran well, albeit it ran battery only (aka a "total loss")...meaning w/o an alternator. But, I had a nagging problem with the car not wanting to rev past 5300RPM. Oh well, I was getting seat time and I could fix that later. Smooth first, speed later. Brakes too were finally working well ! Yeah!

The after lunch session was good with the family taking smug pictures. Last session of the day I had some 1-year old 100LL fuel to use up. I put it in, cranked the carb needles to be more rich, and headed out. By the third turn though, knocking was creeping in and I know how quick that will blow things on this motor. I up-shifted to 4th to lower the revs and puttered in. Too bad it pings only when the engine is loaded up. A dyno tuning session would have helped mitigate that kind of adjustment need.
I figured I had had a good day, and it was time to thank the car by letting her off easy. That, and I know not to push my luck too much.

So, in the following weeks, I have time to address some issues before the Rose City Opener on April 24th!

Meanwhile, some pics from the day.

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