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Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) MegaDork
10/14/21 12:38 p.m.

In reply to EvanB :

Just remember the three magic words: "We have cars to run!"

wae
wae UberDork
10/14/21 2:06 p.m.

Found a used tire shop in Covington, Kentucky Tire, who was able to move the Indy muds to the AR24s, mount the four Falken rally tires to the bubbles, and swap out an old cracked Potenza mud for an old not cracked Potenza mud.  He did the whole thing in about 20 minutes, if that, and only wanted to charge me $100.  I gave him a little extra for being awesome.

New alternator is in.  Also had to put a new lug on the positive cable for it.

As I was getting the power steering reservoir reinstalled I said to myself, "Self, be careful you don't break the fuel line"!

So I ran out to Bessler's to get one that I think will work.  I also got a new coach battery for the motorhome.

Now it's picking up kids from school and going to bingo.  I'll go over to the shop after bingo's over and get the fuel line installed and make sure things are goodish.

Remaining items are the air filter, making number vinyl, gassing up the car, packing, grocery shopping, and I can hear the I cracked Potenza mud leaking air back there, so I need to find my bead sealant or something.

wae
wae UberDork
10/15/21 5:51 a.m.

So it's going to be one of THOSE....  Every time I cross something off the list, I have to add a couple more things apparently.

In the process of replacing the alternator, the battery terminal just came apart in my hand at 2300 last night.  The only place open at that point was Meijer so I ran out there to get terminals.  I recall that this happened to me once before - almost ready to go, late at night, and the battery terminal comes apart - and in order to hedge against that in the future, I bought two sets of terminals.  Thus guaranteeing that the terminal will never again break at the shop.

Also while putting things back together, I discovered that the spring and adjuster screw for the boost controller are both missing.  I think that means that the boost gets limited to 4psi, and that's no good.  So I need to run out and get a spring this morning.  I can use a regular bolt as the adjuster screw since it doesn't' have to have a fancy knob on it.

I was able to get everything else put together and I started it up.  I think the catch can was leaking for a while, because it really doesn't want to idle without cracking the throttle.  Some day I'll get an idle air controller to work on this car.  But for now, there aren't any nasty grindy noises coming from the alternator and it will go into all gears without any special effort, which is an improvement on before.  It's hard to know what the 1-2 shift will be like when it's all revved out, but I was also having a devil of a time getting it to shift into reverse and it will now do that easily every single time.

So this morning:  Cutting vinyl, hardware store for the spring, FLAPS to get some sort of air filter, looking at that mud tire, packing, loading, grocery store, and outta here.

wae
wae UberDork
10/15/21 11:30 a.m.

Sponsor decals applied!

New air filter is on and it should be sealed up better now

Boost controller is repaired and set.

Vinyl is applied.

Found another boost leak and fixed it.

Now I need a haircut, grocery store, load up, and go.

wae
wae UberDork
10/15/21 11:31 a.m.

In reply to wae :

And I just realized I dotted my "l" instead of my "i".

Derpadoo

wae
wae UberDork
10/16/21 12:11 p.m.

Meh.  My first run was okay but timing broke so I got a rerun.  On my rerun, the car cut out for some reason that I cannot find, so it was a very slow run.  My second timed run was pretty great for me, so things were looking up.  Then my third run, the valve stem and the front rim had a divorce while I was almost to the finish line, so another slow run.  Which puts me DFL.

At least we didn't die in a tornado last night, so there's that

wae
wae UberDork
10/18/21 7:45 a.m.

And I had a really nice, really long writeup here that took me about 45 minutes to write until I bumped the "back" button on my mouse and lost it all.

Nationals was amazeballs.  Despite finishing 6th, if I hadn't done stupid-stuff in rushing the car prep, there's a possibility I might have been able to trophy.  I was 9th fastest in the first course, but second fastest in both the second and third courses.

Also, I should have read the rules to know that on a debead I could have gotten a re-run which would have put me in 5th place, even with the car cutting out on my first run.

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) MegaDork
10/18/21 8:03 a.m.

In reply to wae :

You only get a rerun if you are stopped on course.  You finish the run = that's your time.

wae
wae UberDork
10/18/21 8:23 a.m.

In reply to Pete. (l33t FS) :

Yeah, I thought it was still that if you stopped it was a bogey time so I powered through it instead of trying to draw the red flag.

eastsideTim
eastsideTim PowerDork
10/18/21 9:08 a.m.

Glad you had fun!  I am really hoping nationals is run that close to here again after I am back in practice.

EvanB
EvanB GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
10/18/21 9:30 a.m.

I also learned that if you have a "red flag incident" caused by a debead you get a rerun. Although you generally want to stop on course in a more controlled manner. 

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) MegaDork
10/18/21 8:51 p.m.

In reply to EvanB :

I was wondering about that.  IMO they should have nixed his run and given him a DNF, but given that his DNF caused a course adjustment large enough to get a parade lap (for some unfathomable reason: they moved two cones maybe three feet) and a rerun of the class, meaning that run officially never existed, they had no reason to not give him a rerun with the rest of the class.

 

I forsee a new rule getting proposed.

 

I did appreciate the parade lap, as I could go back and count cones in three specific locations so I could identify where I really needed to keep tight and clean

wae
wae UberDork
10/20/21 9:48 a.m.

I've had a little bit of time to naval-gaze about the whole experience and to try to decide what my go-forward plan should be.  This car has been a pretty cool adventure from when I first picked it up in New Orleans back in 2005.  It's been to the $2000 Challenge twice, two Rallycross National Championships, I can't even count how many regional events, plus two National Tour events, and I've got a shelf full of 1st place seasonal trophies from WOR and OVR.  My eldest daughter and I even ran a Road Rally in it a couple years back!  On top of that, it's been a fun bang-around-town car and I've put a decent number of miles on it just going to mundane places like work or the grocery store.  Dad and I even took it behind the motorhome to be our "ground transportation" in Daytona at the Rolex a couple years back.  It isn't the best-looking car out there, and it certainly lacks creature comforts, but since its last appearance in Gainesville at the $2012 Challenge, there's been a fair amount of money poured into it.  New engine, limited slip diff, bespoke suspension, tires that were manufactured during the current century, custom-built axles, new cooling system, motor mounts, power steering, gauges, and other things to make it perform and to perform reliably.  On the open market, I could never get out of it what I've put in to it, but it's still worth every penny.

For the first several years, this car was an absolute pain in my ass.  It had multiple failures at the $2006 Challenge, and the first several seasons of its Rallycross career saw it getting pushed off the course and winched onto the trailer more often than it managed to complete all its runs for the day.  After the new engine went in, there was a rash of broken motor mounts and axles.  I even have a picture somewhere of the car flying down course with the top of right rear shock flailing around on the outside of the fender.  But as the reliability got sorted out, it became very clear to me that the limitations are not with the platform.  No amount of additional horsepower or suspension tweaking will bring any significant improvement in lap times on this car.  The only upgrade that might give any sort of significant advantage would be tires and even that gain wouldn't be really significant.  Almost all of the improvements needed are in two areas:  reliability and learning how to drive.

That gets us all caught up to where we are today.  When I look at the numbers from the weekend, I should have been in the hunt for a podium position.  I don't mean that in a whiny "I almost had you/you never had your car" sort of way, but as a way to identify areas for improvement.  With two mechanical problems, I finished the first course a full 13.482 seconds behind the eventual 3rd place car.  With only 7 runs left in the event, I would have needed to gain nearly 2 seconds per lap; you just aren't going to be competitive when you're that far behind.  I was definitely gaining on 3rd place, but in the end I was only able to get within 9.862 seconds.  But importantly, over the other 7 runs, I gained 3.62 seconds on the 3rd place finisher which averages to about .5 seconds a lap faster and in raw times I was faster than third place on every single run after the first course was complete.

In the end my slow times came down to three causes:

1. Battery cable not tightened down properly

2. Valve stem that was installed in the wheel sometime before 2005 failed

3. I didn't have a good enough understanding of the rules to know that there was a way to turn the debead into a rerun.

All of those have a common root-cause:  Failure to properly prepare for the event.  The battery cable terminal that was loose was something that I had touched just a few hours before the event.  There's really no excuse for that - when I put it on, I just didn't tighten it.  That valve stem is something that I should have thought about before I used that rim, but it's a symptom of a larger problem that I have with the car in that there are certain parts that really should just be replaced every so often.  One of the parts that I continue to fail on the course are vacuum caps.  There are three or four vacuum ports that I don't need, so I've capped them off with the purpose-built rubber caps.  I've got them secured with either spring clamps or zip ties, but several times I've had boost leaks at events that were a result of those caps disintegrating and blowing apart.  In fact, as I was prepping the car for the Nationals, I discovered - quite by accident! - that one of those caps had popped its top and needed to be replaced. 

Looking at all that information, that leaves me with what I need to do to be able to prep the car for next year's season and what I need to be able to make a better showing at national-level events.  While there are a couple things that I need to do to the car, most of what I need to do is going to be process development.  Here's what I've got so far:

  • Written check-list for a pre-event inspection.  I'm not going to be able to find every single problem this way, but if I have a list of things to walk through and check, the silly things like missing vacuum plugs, loose battery terminals, and loose strut bolts won't cost me time on the course.
  • Written lifecycle for certain wear components.  This isn't going to get too far in to the weeds, but the vacuum caps should be replaced once a year.  Valve stems should be swapped out every three years.  Oil should be changed after a certain number of events, but I haven't decided what that number needs to be yet.  Basically, I need to develop a maintenance schedule and a logbook for the car so that I can make sure that things are getting replaced before they fail.
  • Determining the cause of the shifting problems.  I thought that by locking the bushings in with zip ties, I wouldn't have problems shifting.  It's better now than it was before, but it's still a little tough.  It could be that I've thrashed the transmission, but it could also be that I need to follow the normal cable adjusting procedure.  I also may need to adjust the rod brakes in the short shifter.  And getting new Booger Bushings that don't need zip ties to hold them in place would also be a good idea once I've got it solved.
  • Electrical wiring cleanup.  The wiring on this car is an absolute mess and it's embarrassing.  So far, I don't think it has caused me any problems, but when Weird Things happen, the fact that the wiring is a bit janky means that I have to start with looking for something loose somewhere since the probability is kind of high.  I need to get the unused wires de-pinned and removed, and the rest of the wiring needs to be untangled and secured.  In fact, I think the fact that my positive battery cable just sort of flops around inside the car is a bit unsafe and also a rules violation if the changes to Modified are accepted for 2022.
  • When those things are finished, I can worry about other stuff like finishing with the installation of the interior, getting the idle air controller to actually work, putting in a nicer switch panel for the light bar, gauge lights, and cooling fan, making the cooling fan come on automatically, securing the brackets for the light bar, and other cosmetic niceties.  Oh, and a hydraulic handbrake.  I definitely need one of those.  Once that's installed, I can reconnect the vacuum system to the brake booster and have normal brakes again.

Those are the marching orders I've given myself for the winter.  I really need to work on those things a little at a time over the next few months instead of just waiting until three days before the first event of the year, like I usually do.  Next year I want to go back to Nationals again and I want to do at least one of the Tour events and being prepared is going to be the key for that.

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