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AxeHealey GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
7/3/23 9:27 a.m.

A fresh thread to continue to document racing, fixing and racing Hatchet, my E21 race car. For anyone new to this car, there's a lot about it in the original Small Axe Racing thread.

It's pretty rusty and a bit tired but I love it. 

Over the winter I started a rear disc brake swap. I got to the point where it seemed the 30+ year old master cylinder just wasn't doing its job any more and it seemed, at the time, that the OEM proportioning valve may have been holding pressure to the rear brakes (because drums) causing the newly mounted calipers to drag. My solution was to replace the MC and run a new line with an aftermarket proportioning valve to the rear. 

This turned into a bigger job that I expected when I found out that the right front brake line is also run through the OEM proportioning valve. That snowballed when the fitting from the hard line to the braided flex wouldn't budge and the fitting itself actually broke. Never had that happen before.  

I've also never had success with one of these removal tools but there's a first time for everything!

I then started from the T-junction in the back and ran the new line into the cabin so the proportioning valve is easily accessible. I decided to mount it by welding a couple bolts to the trans tunnel. 

And mounted. I have since run the line forward to the MC but apparently didn't take a picture. 

The clutch master has had a small weep since I've owned the car (I know, I know) so I figured now was the perfect time to replace it. I helped a friend replace the one on his E21 in college and remembered it being a total bear of a job but other than some really tight confines, it really wasn't that bad. The slight leak showed itself as moisture on the boot but it's clear that the line from the reservoir was going to start leaking any day by the looks of that little press gasket. 

The next trick is going to be making up some sort of plug or line to be able to bench bleed the brake master as I only have enough fittings for two of the three outlets. 

AxeHealey GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
7/5/23 9:26 a.m.

I haven't taken many pictures because it's been a fiddly, brake fluid-covered mess the past few days. I bench bled the MC and did a really thorough job but by the time I was able to get all three lines screwed it, it was essentially empty. So there's that. I filled it back up and forgot to tighten the junction of the hard line and the braided flex at the front left so it all drained out over night. So there's also that. I tracked down a couple small leaks - need to check the outlet on the valve again and I eventually got the clutch line pressed into the clutch MC. 

Things are tight where it sits in the garage but I've got it into a position where I should be able to access everything to bleed. wish me luck. 

Because I need at least one picture, here's the new bracket I put on for the driver's front because the old one was rusty and broke off. 

I know it's in the second line of this thread but it's sometimes not top of mind how rusty and patched together this car is. Just looking at it, it would be hard to guess but once I'm under it and digging around, it really shows. I do love it but I think it's nearing it's retirement age. 

jmabarone Reader
7/5/23 3:55 p.m.

What class are you planning to race in?  First car was an e21, the car whose faults shaped and made the e30 what it was.  

AxeHealey GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
7/5/23 5:06 p.m.

In reply to jmabarone :

E21s seem to finally be getting some love. The middle child between the 2002 and the E30 is a difficult spot to be in. 

At Schenley I'm just in a broad under 2.0L class. I ran with VRG a few years ago and was put in EPh. I think with SVRA I'd be in group 8. No clue what group I have had it in for the autocrosses I've run. 

When this car ran SCCA in the early 90's it was ITB.

AxeHealey GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
7/10/23 4:39 p.m.

This morning I went out and started the car (to put vacuum on the booster) and the pedal didn't feel great. I figured, eh, it definitely feels better than before so on your next work break, take it for a test drive. 

I get it off the rollers, push it out of the garage and it won't start. The fuel pump didn't prime but it also sometimes doesn't if it's been run recently. Tried jumping the pins on the fuel pump relay. Nada. I had removed one of the stock pump inspection covers where the wires run through when running the new brake like so I checked to see if maybe a wire was shorting. Didn't find anything. 

Ok. I don't know why the fuel pump won't run but, um, let's check spark? Pulled the cap off and...

Jackpot! Or at least I thought. Grabbed the spare rotor I have and it still won't start. Confirmed spark with a screwdriver.

At this point I called the parts store and put a fuel pump on order because I figured it has to be that. 

Final test, run 12v directly from the battery to the pump. It works. 

Hooked everything up as normal, pump primes and it runs like nothing happened. Drove it up and down my street to test brakes - pedal feel is still no good but it stops hard. Shut it off, started it right back up. 


What gives? Is the pump on it's way out and it was just, like, stuck?

AxeHealey GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
7/14/23 12:44 p.m.

Strong feelings of disappointment this afternoon. I finally had a chance to weigh Hatchet after all of my work stripping weight out. Last time it was weighed was in 2018 and it was on the 13s with Hoosiers and I have no recollection of the amount of fuel in the tank. It came in at 2,136 lbs back then.

I have tracked everything that both came off the car and went back on (with a pretty crappy scale, mind you) and was estimating the weight to be 1,985-1,990 lbs. I really wanted to see the number under 2,000. It's on the 15s right now with Falkens and probably has 5 gallons of gas in the tank. 

So, it's not totally apples to apples and with the 13s and less fuel it would likely be under 2000 lbs but I'm disappointed nonetheless.

simontibbett Reader
7/14/23 1:54 p.m.

I like!

AxeHealey GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
7/24/23 9:30 a.m.


Hatchet got fresh oil, trans fluid, diff fluid, cap, rotor and spark plugs leading up to Schenley. I also, um, patched some holes that had previously just been taped. 

When I got off the Squirrel Hill exit and Small Axe came on shuffle while sitting at the stop light, I started to have good feelings about this weekend. Set up and tech on Friday was uneventful, I was reunited with some vintage racing friends and had a really tasty dinner. I also put Hatchet's new shoes on for the first time. I spent literally hours measuring to get the fitment right and it's totally not but they physically fit and look cool.

The practice session Saturday morning was messy. People all over the place, pushing real hard on cold tires and brakes. I quickly realized I wanted none of that and just hung back from the main pack. I've said many times that driving this and a Miata require a very similar style but the Miata just does everything better. It takes some time to get reacquainted with how this thing moves and settles into a corner. 

My family showed up as I was sitting on grid which was awesome to see them before I headed out. When I got back from the session, someone came by to tell me that the corner workers wanted me to adjust how I had the numbers on the car (I had to be 114 this weekend instead of 14). My family stayed at my paddock spot while I shot up to my friends' to borrow some more tape. While up there, all of a sudden a tow truck put it in reverse and floored it down the hill towards the turn around. Paddocks are usually pretty orderly and especially at Schenley with so many spectators, speeds are kept very low so this was strange. 

I came back to find Elmore backed way into the woods. As it turns out, my two year old had been in it, pulled it out of park and it rolled down the hill into the woods only to be stopped by a tree. He knocked over small one on the way down. All was well but, holy hell we dodged a bullet there. My wife was, understandably, pretty shaken up. We ate lunch and calmed down a bit. 

Qualifying was in the afternoon. I felt great, the car felt great and I had a ball. Race monitor wasn't working so I didn't find out until Sunday morning that I ran a 2:24 qualifying 11th! This was 3 seconds faster than my previous personal best. 

A cool shot my friend took on grid Saturday morning to break up all these words. 

I signed up for the Axis v. Allies race for the extra seat time. My tires and brakes were hot by the end of the qualifying session and the A v. A race was immediately after. I made the decision to go out, turn 5 laps and call it to save the car for Sunday. 

Sunday morning was the warm-up sessions and all felt good. 

The race was amazing. The start was hectic, I picked up two positions but then was passed under yellow through the Serpentine on the first lap but I was feeling good and Hatchet was feeling good. We were flying, keeping up with the quick 02s and the 510 ahead of us. Just like last year, but to a larger extent, we carry just as much, if not more speed over the Panther Hollow Bridge and across in front of the Conservatory than anyone in the group. The car that passed me in the Serpentine spun out headed on to the start finish straight so I got that position back. I ran behind the 02 that was gridded immediately ahead of me for the whole race. 

In the middle my tires really got hot and I needed to pull back a bit. This allowed one MGB to catch up. We had a bit of a dog fight, he passed me up the hill before the hay bales and then I passed him at the fountain. He then disappeared after BMW corner. Turns out he hit had me in my right rear tire and went off track. I didn't have a clue. When I went to turn in he was well behind me and admitted it was my corner and he was coming in a bit hot. 

The guy who passed me and then spun out caught back up and we had a good dice. For unknown reasons, after a couple laps of fighting, I waved him by... only to see the 1 board next time by the starter! Not only that but my fastest lap was faster than his AND my last lap was faster than his last one. This has been haunting me ever since. What in the world was I thinking??

Either way, I set another personal best at 2:22 which I'm over the moon about and finished in 9th place. 

A top ten finish for me and my dull, rusty Hatchet. Couldn't have been better. 

TurnerX19 UberDork
7/24/23 12:58 p.m.

Oh boy that sounds a blast. I have only spectated Schenley Park, I'm jealous.

AxeHealey GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
7/24/23 4:03 p.m.

In reply to TurnerX19 :

I gotta tell you, it is. 

I've always wanted to race but this event is what first made me want to vintage race and I pinch myself every time I get to do it. 

Stampie GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
7/24/23 6:31 p.m.
AxeHealey said:


I came back to find Elmore backed way into the woods. As it turns out, my two year old had been in it, pulled it out of park and it rolled down the hill into the woods only to be stopped by a tree. He knocked over small one on the way down. All was well but, holy hell we dodged a bullet there. My wife was, understandably, pretty shaken up. We ate lunch and calmed down a bit. 

My cousin and I went for a similar ride, around the same age, in my Granddaddy's F150.  We were lucky also and just went into the field behind his house.  Not sure what that says about your two year old.  

AxeHealey GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
7/24/23 9:22 p.m.

In reply to Stampie :

Sounds like he'll be a fine gentleman!

AxeHealey GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
8/7/23 3:06 p.m.

Coming soon to a Hatchet near you.

I've made the decision that over the winter I'm going to shore up some of the rusty areas, make some sturdy jack points, convert to dual Webers and run Hatchet for a few more years.

I just love this car too much to give up on it especially when it's competing well with as many flaws as it has. 

AxeHealey GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
9/22/23 10:58 a.m.

Elmore, Hatchet and I made the trip on the ferry over to Put-In-Bay for the Road Race Reunion. This event has always been on my list but since it's run during the week it's hard to make it work. 

I don't believe I mentioned it but before Schenley, Hatchet all of a sudden wouldn't start. The fuel pump wasn't running. I did all kinds of testing for voltage, etc. and couldn't figure it out. At some point I ran 12v directly from the battery to the pump and it worked. Went to start it and it ran no problem. I figured the old-ish pump had gotten itself stuck and just needed direct voltage to break free, if you will. Ran great at Schenley, ran great moving it around the garage a few times, ran great taking it to get aligned and then started and immediately shut off when I was taking it off the trailer last week. 

Stepping back. Why was it getting aligned? I found a freshly rebuilt quick rack for it and threw it in last week. 

Hatchet has a tendency to wander a bit when there is little/no load on the suspension (see: going over the crown in the road at Schenley). There has always been play inside the rack and the camber plate bearings have been shot since I've owned it. The steering feel is SO much better with this rack but, unfortunately, it still wanders. Next season will mean new camber plates and everything refreshed up front for sure. 

So I again did tons of troubleshooting and came to the conclusion that the pump just must have finally died and installed the new one I had on the shelf. Nope. More and more testing making sure the distributor was sending the trigger, continuity here, continuity there, voltage here, voltage there. I went to bed Saturday night stumped. Sunday morning I woke up with a fresh head and started from the beginning. Although the fuel pump fuse looked totally fine, I decided to run 12V past the fuse. Pump fired right up. Tested continuity on the fuse. Nada. It must have been broken down in one of the ends. Lots of time wasted but I was just glad to have it fixed. 

I got my daughter on the bus Tuesday morning and headed to the ferry. 

Although the Hoosiers were on the car, I decided that, to save them a bit, I'd run Hankooks I have on the 15s for the first few sessions. I threw them on after registering and going through tech and then eventually headed off to the car show/parade around the island on the original race course. 

That was cool and I hooked up with some new friends I met waiting for the ferry.

The tires turned out to be the wrong choice. We were supposed to have two laps under caution but that was cut down to 1 as they were running behind. I really struggled to get the tires up to temp probably in part because I really wasn't trying to push very hard at that point. The airport surface is a little strange and the paint is very slippery. About 5 laps into the session I decided to try 3rd gear through one of the chicanes and ended up with a bit too much speed and zero grip. I missed the corner and took out a hay bale, causing a little bit of damage to the valance. I self reported the next time by and they were already waving the checker. 

I was pretty frustrated. I wasn't even trying to go quickly and ended up off course with damage to fix. In the span of about 30-40 min I had the valance off, hammered back into shape and back on the car ready to go. When looking at the Hankooks, they look like a set of tires that has never been heat cycled. So, still totally my fault going off but it made me feel slightly better that I wasn't crazy thinking they weren't getting up to temp and I wasn't just over driving. 

The afternoon qualifying session was immediately better on the Hoosiers and uneventful. I then took part in the Trans Am 2.5 race that afternoon. What a great time! I was paddocked near an '02 racer from Texas, Tim Woodruff. We had a great time out there with me on his bumper through every set of turns and him pulling away on every straight for much of the race. On the last lap, we were coming up to a lapped Datsun 510 and I saw my opportunity, At the last hairpin down by the dog park, I made my way onto the inside of the corner and on the way out, I was able to use the Datsun as a pick. Next was the chicane where I had gone off in the morning and again was able to take position on the inside and Tim was unable to get around the Datsun. At that point I had a much better run out of the corner and grabbed the checker ahead. I have no idea what position we were battling for but, it was a riot. We both got out with huge smiles on our faces and had a few beers. Good stuff. 

For the morning race yesterday, I was gridded 8th. I passed a couple cars on the start and then a Bugeye lost it after start finish and a Spridget retired after a couple laps. That had a very quick 510 leading the race, an 02 in second and me in third. 

Chasing this 02 was the same situation as chasing Tim the evening before. He would leave me standing still on the straights but I was on his bumper in the corners. I had the opportunity to pass a couple times but wasn't able to make it stick. I ended the race in third!

The afternoon race was much the same story. I was gridded in 3rd place with a Triumph GT6 behind me. He immediately went around me and I was hanging in fourth for a few laps before two cars were stalled, one in the middle of a chicane and we went behind the pace car for two laps. 

When the green flag dropped, the 510 in the lead was off pace for some reason and the Triumph went for it. He went around the right side of the 02 and ended up destroying a hay bale and must have damaged something in the right front as he just about immediately retired. This again, left me in 3rd behind the 02 and 510. I couldn't stay as close to the 02 as I had in the morning but was comfortably in my spot. Tim in the 02 must have had an awesome run going from the back of the grid (he missed the morning race) to a distant fourth by the end of the race. 

Another on track pic and one of the paddock just because. 

I rate this as a very successful season for Hatchet. A very strong (in my opinion) finish at Schenley and two podiums at PIB. From here on out, most of my car focus will be on getting Guac ready for the Challenge but once the Challenge is done, Hatchet is going to get some well deserved attention. 

  • dual Webers
  • head refreshed - a buddy is trying to convince me to do a cam also... we'll see
  • reseal engine
  • reseal trans (?)
  • short up some soft spots and make some stout jack points
  • new camber plates
  • fresh bushings where I haven't already replaced them
  • more pad in the rear - still wants to lock the fronts and the balance is wide open to the rear
  • remove mechanical fan for electric (?)
adam525i GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
9/22/23 12:14 p.m.

I really like this car, that type of racing looks like so much fun.

I went through a rebuild on my M30 last year and will be tearing into it again over this winter, they are simple engines to work on including the heads. I'd throw a set high compression pistons in it (not so high you need race gas though) and a cam but it's always easy spending someone else's money lol.

AxeHealey GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
9/22/23 8:38 p.m.

In reply to adam525i :

I wish I had someone else's to spend!

AxeHealey GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
3/29/24 8:04 p.m.

Hatchet is still in storage but parts are starting to show up!

The plan for this year is slightly different than above:

  • Weber conversion
  • New seals in various places
  • Fresh clutch and lightweight flywheel
  • Jack points tied to the cage if I can manage it
  • New camber plates
  • Fresh bushings
  • More pad in the rear
  • Potentially electric fan

That's a lot and, like I said, the car isn't even out of storage yet but due to scheduling, it's first race will be Schenley and it's in August this year so I've got time (famous last words, I know).

I decided against the head work for this year. Depending on how this season goes and what my schedule looks like for next year, I may try to tackle a build up of the M10 myself next winter.

AxeHealey GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
5/16/24 9:47 a.m.

Hatchet is finally home. It started right up and drove happily on to the trailer albeit with a lot of belt squeal. I found the alternator wobbling like crazy with it's bushings totally wasted. Add that to the list.

I have been slowly re-assembling the carbs over the past few months and still don't have quite all of the parts I need but have gotten started with the tear down. 


Lof8 - Andy
Lof8 - Andy GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
5/16/24 10:13 a.m.

Hatchet looks great with the bright paint and contrasting black wheels and bumpers yes  and Road Race Reunion looks super cool with hay bales marking the course.  Old School!

AxeHealey GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
5/17/24 9:32 a.m.

In reply to Lof8 - Andy :

Thanks! When I first bought it I was sure I'd paint it but now, especially after adding the orange, there's no way I'd change it. 

Tear down continued last night. There's some carbon build up on the intake valves. 

I assume the head has been cleaned up at some point during its 196k mile life but I'm sort of surprised they aren't cleaner, to be honest. I would think the considerable amount of time spent at or near redline would blow all that E36 M3 outta there.

AxeHealey GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
5/17/24 3:30 p.m.

More discovery. The water pump has always felt nice and super smooth to me. Turns out, it's in great shape. 

I also found something to be missing...

EDIT: RealOEM actually doesn't show a bolt there that relates to the front cover. It definitely looks like there was a bolt there at some point... Maybe something unbolted from that position. 

AxeHealey GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
5/27/24 9:04 p.m.

I have been crazy busy as of late but the tear down continues. No surprises yet but I'm either going to have to pull the engine and trans all of the way out, drop the exhaust and slightly lift the engine or...something. Some of the pan bolts are totally inaccessible and the trans will not drop without removing the header.

AxeHealey GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
5/28/24 4:56 p.m.

The header will physically not come out without the engine lifted up a bit. Goodness.

The engine hoist I use is out at a buddy's shop but I have an idea...

Stampie GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/28/24 5:00 p.m.

In reply to AxeHealey :

Is this a hold my beer moment?

AxeHealey GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
5/28/24 9:30 p.m.

In reply to Stampie :

Yep, but it didn't work out. Guess I've got to go grab the hoist.

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