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Rodan
Rodan Dork
3/18/21 1:37 p.m.

Got a couple hours in on the NA this morning and got the taco gussets fabbed up for the door bars and tacked in.  Getting reasonably efficient at making taco gussets... cheeky

Rodan
Rodan Dork
3/20/21 2:59 p.m.

Got the door bar gussets welded yesterday.  Today working on plinth boxes for the door bar braces.

Rodan
Rodan Dork
4/10/21 6:33 p.m.

Well, it's been a while since I posted, mostly because life happens... so this post is about my Dad.

I lost my Dad in March, and he was 95, so it wasn't completely unexpected, but still...  He had actually been in very good health, though mostly just sat in his lift chair for the last few years.  He declined rapidly over a period of about a week and passed quietly and comfortably.  I think he just decided it was time to move on.

Dad was a decorated WWII vet, and although he arrived too late for D-Day, he fought in France, Belgium and Germany, including the Battle of the Bulge.  I wish I could have gotten him to talk more about his experiences during the war, but like many of his generation, he was tight lipped about his service, speaking only in general terms.  It's amazing the responsibility he shouldered, leading a squad in combat at 19 years old.

I believe this picture to be just prior to his separation from the Army in 1946.

with his M1 Garand, likely somewhere in Germany in 1945.

Although Dad was never a car guy (not sure where I got that from...) he was a great father, dedicated to his family, children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

We're going to miss you, Dad.

Rodan
Rodan Dork
4/10/21 6:48 p.m.

Back in 2016, we moved my Mom & Dad from California to Wisconsin, where my sister lives.  It was tough for us, being so far away in AZ, but they were much closer to all the grandchildren and great grandchildren (my wife and I don't have kids).  As a result, I wasn't able to be there when my Dad passed, but we did make the trip to be with family for his services.

We've made the trip every year since 2016 with our truck/camper/trailer combo, but missed last year due to Covid.  For this trip, we decided to take the Jeep Grand Cherokee.  It can cruise faster than the truck, and gets better mileage.

It was a tight fit with two people, luggage, and a dog taking up the back seat, but we made it work.  We probably could have packed lighter, but varying weather conditions had us packing for all contingencies.  The Jeep is comfortable enough for 700+ mile days, but not quite as roomy up front as our Ram.  The seats look the same, except for materials, but the Ram seats are a little better at the end of the day... firmer foam maybe?  The Jeep cruised right along at 75-80mph, even though we were plagued with high winds for most of the trip.  We had a little snow in South Dakota and Wyoming on the return trip, but the Jeep didn't care.

Almost 22mpg over the 3700 mile trip.  I can live with that.

We had to stop at Wall Drug, as my wife had never been there... never worked out on our previous trips.

All in all, a good trip... even though the reason for the trip wasn't a happy one.

Rodan
Rodan Dork
4/10/21 6:56 p.m.

So, now that I'm home, it's back to the grind stone.  Lots to do if the car is going to be ready for our next planned event in early May...

First up was finishing the door bar braces.  I cut pieces to box in the plinth boxes, and the support bars and got those welded in.

Next up was notching the door sheet metal to allow the doors to close over the support bar.

That was it for the front of the cage.  

Rodan
Rodan Dork
4/10/21 7:04 p.m.

On to the rear stays...

Access to the area where the mounting pads will be welded requires removal of the fuel filler tube and vent apparatus.  Like an idiot, I had filled the tank after the last event, not realizing it would be a problem, which I discovered when I removed the filler neck.  After siphoning a couple of gallons out, I was able to remove everything without spilling more fuel.  I sealed the tank with some plastic, and duct taped over everything to separate the tank from grinding/welding.  I will be using additional protective barriers when actually working on it later, as I have no intention of dying in a fire, or burning the car or house down.

Once I got that handled, I was able to make up the mounting pads and rear stays.  Need to make some diagonal bracing, and hopefully I can get all of it welded in tomorrow.  I was able to ballpark everything geometrically before cutting any steel, which made fitting everything up a lot quicker.  Thank goodness for online triangle calculators!

Rodan
Rodan Dork
4/11/21 6:04 p.m.

Started today with fitting the horizontal brace for the rear stays.  It was a little tricky to get it in just the right position so I could still get a screwdriver on all the screws for the access panels.

Once it was tacked, I was able to remove it to weld the bottom of the joints, which would be impossible to reach once installed.

Once that was done, it went back in and I started working on the diagonal bracing.  Apparently, I forgot to take in-progress pics, but it took about two hours to get them fitted up.  Tedious, but worth it.  Diagonals welded in:

And the footings in the trunk....

Rodan
Rodan Dork
4/11/21 6:11 p.m.

And with that, principal construction on the cage is DONE.

I still have some small things to do, like making the rear hardtop mounting points, and welding on the brackets for the window net.  And I still need to make the door pulls and paint everything.  But the cage is done.

Unless I decide to add a gusset or two somewhere... cheeky

I squirted a little paint on the rear stays, as I wanted to re-install the fuel filler parts, and it would be impossible to paint without removing them again.

It's nice to have the big stuff out of the way.

adam525i
adam525i GRM+ Memberand Dork
4/11/21 8:34 p.m.

Sorry about the loss of your Father, he sounded like a great man.

The cage came out looking really good!

Rodan
Rodan Dork
4/15/21 7:40 p.m.

Thanks, and thanks.

 

Made the rear hardtop mounts this afternoon.  Since I removed the stock seat belt towers and related sheet metal, the mounting location normally used no longer exists...

 

I'm glad I never tried to use one of these race tops for the street.  Getting any kind of water/air-tight seal would have been pretty difficult.

Rodan
Rodan Dork
4/16/21 8:00 p.m.

Window net mount done.  The net I bought isn't going to work... need to order one with adjustable lower straps to fit the door bar.

Also pulled some more unused wires out of the harness.  These were all related to the power antenna and hardtop window defroster, and didn't get removed when I did the engine swap, as I wasn't paying a lot of attention to the wiring at the rear.

Hope to start painting tomorrow...

 

Rodan
Rodan Dork
4/17/21 4:20 p.m.

Despite some irritating wind and rain, and a run to HD Racing for more paint I got the cage/interior painted today.  It's very tricky not to get runs, or bang the spray can against the tube you just painted, while trying to fully cover the next tube... 

Good thing it's not a show car... cheeky

Doors will get painted after I figure out the door latch pulls.

Floating Doc (Forum Supporter)
Floating Doc (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
4/17/21 5:07 p.m.

I'm sorry for the loss of your dad. 

Rodan
Rodan Dork
4/19/21 6:22 p.m.

Rigged up a simple cable with a couple of eyelets for the door latch pulls.

And finished up painting today.

Going to try to get the dash, and maybe the seat and harness back in tomorrow.  Roll bar padding and a few other things I need for small stuff should be showing up tomorrow.

AxeHealey
AxeHealey GRM+ Memberand Dork
4/20/21 8:58 a.m.

Looking great!

Rodan
Rodan Dork
4/20/21 6:20 p.m.

Seat and dash back in...

 

Drove it around the block, and the car feels super solid.

I might need a chiropractor, or at least a massage, by the end of a track day from climing in/out though... cheeky

Rodan
Rodan Dork
4/24/21 1:04 p.m.

Finished up all the little stuff this week...  window installed in the hardtop, edge trim around the gutted doors, roll bar padding, window net, etc.

 

Car is fueled and ready to go in the trailer for our event next weekend.  And now the forecast is for 100*F in Phoenix next weekend... great.

Still, looking forward to getting the car back on track for one more event before summer rolls in.

Rodan
Rodan Dork
4/27/21 10:16 a.m.

I spent a while this morning digging out all my video camera crap to see if I can get some video on track this weekend.  I have a GoPro Hero2, a Mobius Mini, and a "LeadEdge" GoPro clone I bought off Amazon a few years ago for $40.  The GoPro was eating batteries and wouldn't record a full session, so I bought the clone... which is a POS.  I was at the point with both that I couldn't count on getting any video so I had just put them on the shelf.

The Mobius Mini I was using for drone stuff before off the shelf drones like the DJI were a thing.

I ordered some hard wire power setups to see if I can solve the battery issues with the GoPro.  I had tried replacement batteries, but they seemed to be junk from the start.  I also configured the Mobius to record when the external power comes on.  If I get decent video from it, that could be the best solution, as it will be the easiest to deal with when strapped in the car.  I'll just put a power switch on the dash for the camera, and I don't have to worry about reaching the camera on the cage.

We'll see how it works this weekend.

adam525i
adam525i GRM+ Memberand Dork
4/27/21 10:38 a.m.

Hardwired to a switch is the way to go, turn on the switch, the camera comes on and starts recording. I hate having to think about cameras at the track or autocross but having that footage afterwards for review is great. I've used really cheap cigarette lighter USB plugs, pulled them out of the plastic casing to just the circuit board and then soldered on some wires to hardwire it in and tucked out of the way (make sure to insulate the circuit board with tape or something).

It can be nice to have two views, one dedicated to outside the car (I go to the right of my rearview mirror) and a second inside the car so you can see what you are doing (if you try to both views with one camera it can be hard to get the exposure right, one will be over and too bright and the other not enough and dark). My inside camera goes where my dome light would normally be (or on the roll bar if installed) and it just so happens to be perfectly positioned so I can see exactly what weird expressions I'm making with my mouth/tongue in the rearview mirror while 100% focused on driving lol.

Rodan
Rodan Dork
4/27/21 2:42 p.m.

I had to run out to the storage yard for a couple things, so I rigged up the Mobius for test video, and it worked great.  Hopefully I can get the wiring rigged at the track Saturday morning.  Don't have time to bring the car home to work on it this week, and trying to get under the dash with the car in the trailer is a non-starter.

On the downside, the winch battery in the trailer was dead as a doornail... on the charger now to see if I can bring it back to life.

Rodan
Rodan Dork
4/28/21 12:18 p.m.

Today I did the thing you should never do with car projects... I got out all the receipts for the roll cage project and added things up... surprise

So, for science:

Steel, tubing and flat stock/sheet:  $425

Consumables (gas, wire, grinding discs, etc.):  $80

Primer/paint:  $50

Purchased parts (padding, net, hardtop mounts, etc):  $140

Total:  $695

Obviously, that doesn't include labor.  I probably spent at least 60 hours working on it, and more likely 80hrs total.

 

The other expense not included is tools.  I usually don't consider tools as part of the cost of a project, because once purchased, they're yours forever.  I already had a tubing bender, but bought 1.5" dies for this project ($325).  I also bought the dimple dies ($250), shop press ($120) and hydraulic punch out ($100).  So, I actually spent more on tools than materials, but those tools will continue to work into the future on plenty of other projects.

 

I did sell the rollbar that came out, recouping $350.

Selling the street hardtop paid for the race hardtop, so that was a wash, though painting it will be extra.

Rodan
Rodan Dork
5/1/21 7:02 p.m.

Well, interesting day at the track today...  some of the worst driving/etiquette I've ever seen at a track day.  Car was working great, but I had a fuel leak from the filler hose on right hand turns dumping fuel into the trunk.  Didn't want to risk a fire, so it went in the trailer.  I think this is the first time I've ever been happy to end the day early, but the way people were driving, going home with bent sheet metal was a real possibility.

Got some good video, it looks like, and quite a few pics to go through.  More detailed report to follow.

Rodan
Rodan Dork
5/2/21 10:02 a.m.

Trackday photo dump...  AZ Motorsports Park, May 1st 2021.

Lots of cool cars there, here's a few:

Nice Z

Super clean 944T

Super cool Omni... driver was wearing a GRM t-shirt, but I didn't get a chance to go back and talk to him.

Elise Cup R

DTMish Audi

Restimod Ranchero

New Supra, driven by a knucklehead (more on that later)

Some heavy hitters

The ACR was driven by a YouTube personality who used to be in Florida, but has moved to AZ and has come out to the track with a string of various performance cars.  Either YT is paying pretty well, or there's some $$ behind her.  

Rodan
Rodan Dork
5/2/21 10:45 a.m.

Our day went pretty well, considering.  The primary goal was just a shakedown with the new cage, and to get some track time in before summer.  Here in AZ, I consider our season to be Oct-May... it's too damn hot in the summer months to run in Phoenix.  They still have track days through the summer, but that's for mad dogs and Englishmen as the saying goes...

It was still pretty hot (high 80s-low 90s), and our tires are at the end of their 2nd season so we weren't setting any records.  The cage required a little getting used to, but by the end of the day getting in/out of the car was pretty well figured out.  The window net is a huge reduction in visibility out of the car... I'm going to have to do something about the driver's side mirror to remedy that.  It also made it almost impossible to give a visible point by.

The other new items were the radiator and video camera.  The radiator worked perfectly, and the highest temp I saw all day was 188*F.  The car has never had a problem with running hot with the stock radiator, but would have seen mid-high 190s, so the new radiator definitely improved things, so I have a little more headroom when more power comes along.

As noted in a previous post, I had a lot of issues with GoPros and clones.  This time I used a Mobius Mini, and it worked great.  More on that later when I get into the video.

My wife, looking serious on the grid...

The car felt really good with the increased rigidity of the cage, much better over bumps than it was before.  It was actually a little loose in the rear, but very driveable.  I've got a rear aero change coming soon, so I'll wait and see how that affects things before making any changes.  Although I had let the car sit in the sun for a few days after painting, the much higher heat had the new paint outgassing more, so we did have to deal with a pretty strong paint smell.  I wasn't expecting that, but I hope the extra heat will help cure it and it won't be a problem in the fall.

More pics...

The problem that ended our day was a fuel leak.  After one session, another driver had told me he saw fluid coming out the back of the car.  When I opened the trunk, I was greeted by a strong fuel smell and I could see some residue on the driver's side of the trunk.  I was able to determine fuel was coming out of the filler hose on the uphill side, circled on the pic below.

I tightened the clamps, but the problem persisted in the next session.  Discretion being the better part of valor, I decided to call it a day.  The last thing in the world I wanted to risk was a fire in the car with my wife driving.

Normally, I'd be pretty irritated being put in the trailer by a mechanical issue.  However, the NA has run 8 years of trackdays, and this is the first time it's happened.  That, and besides the heat, we were both a little mentally exhausted by the asshatery of some of the other drivers... 

With our normal trackday group, my wife drives in the beginner group, and I drive in the advanced group.  This has worked pretty well for us, as her speed in the car was a good match for the inexperienced drivers in faster cars, and we didn't have to deal with back to back sessions running one car.  Over the last year or so, the beginner group has become much more aggressive, and the cars that show up are getting much faster.  Yesterday, the organization instituted new passing rules for the beginner group on this track, allowing passing anywhere with a point by.  Previously, passing was restricted to two main straights, which caused a traffic problem. 

The problem yesterday was that no one was waiting for the point bys, and just passing wherever/whenever the hell they wanted to.  My wife was forced to brake, or go offline to avoid several other drivers passing where it was unsafe to do so.  One idiot in an S2000 was passing cars on the out lap (standing yellow), and promptly spun on the first corner after the green flag... got that one on video.

Even in the advanced group, which is open passing, there were a lot of boneheads yesterday.  My first session, the first lap was like someone dropped the green flag at Daytona!  It's an HPDE session, not a W2W race!  Have a little patience...  Then there were a couple knuckleheads that were just being dumb.  The guy in the Supra (pic in previous post) pointed me by after I caught him in one session... his lines were all over the place.  Two corners later, he passes me on a straight, then parks it in the next corner and I'm stuck behind him again.  A guy in a GT4 Porsche (the white one in the pic above) was holding everybody up, but hammering down the straights.  I watched a few people resort to making block passes on him just to get by.  I finally got a good enough drive to get door to door down one straight, but he still refused to lift, and I backed off to avoid hitting him.  He finally ran offline far enough that I got by.  I expect this kind of bullE36 M3 in the beginner group, but not in advanced.  It was pretty frustrating.

I'm going to email the organizer with my concerns, and call outs on some specific drivers... don't know if they'll be able to identify the problem children, but I hope so.  They didn't seem to be pulling any of them in for correction yesterday.

I really hope this isn't indicative of the future of track days...  'cause it certainly puts a damper on the enjoyment.

Anyway, have some video to go through... more to come.

docwyte
docwyte PowerDork
5/3/21 8:37 a.m.

That's an organizer issue, they've got to police the groups so everyone has a good time.

Summer temps at the track here are rarely below 90, mostly in the mid to high 90's.  My 911 is the only car I've ever driven on track that didn't need substantial upgrades in the cooling system.  It helps that it has three radiators and holds almost 6 gallons of coolant. 

We don't have the luxury to run in the winter like you do! 

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