20R – no oil pressure

March 9th, 2016 < by Mike >

Chumpy

We have been rebuilding our first ChumpCar. It is a 1975 Toyota Celica. The car belongs to our team mechanic. He has found he has cancer so we have all pitched in to build it for him to race at Daytona.

When we got the freshly rebuilt engine in the car, we found it would not make any oil pressure. We tried priming the oil pump and every other thing we could think of. It simply would not build oil pressure.

After studying the oil flow diagrams, I noticed there was a galley plug in the bottom of the engine. I had noticed that the front and rear plugs were pulled by the machine shop. Of course the builder had replaced those. I called him and asked about the lower one. No one could remember putting that one back.

celica-oil

I really did not want to pull the engine back out just to check to see if the plug was missing.

My first check was to run a wire down the passage from the oil filter to the bottom of the engine on a spare block. I then did the same on the engine in the car. The one in the car would go an extra inch or so.

My next step was to see if I could get the oil pan off with the engine still in the car. There is very little clearance between the oil pan and the cross member.

I began by seeing if I could access all the bolts. I got most by using a short 12mm socket on a wobble extension.
The two right above the cross member I got using a wobble socket.

I had to remove the two engine to transmission braces to get to the back four bolts.

Next, I disconnected the steering rod from the pitman arm and the idler allowing it to drop. I then removed the four bolts holding the motor mounts in place.

I set a jack under the front pulley and began to slowly lift the engine. I had to raise it a couple of inches to get the pan to clear the oil pick up.

With the pan off I could easily see that the lower galley plug was missing.

oil-galley-plug

I pulled the one from the spare block and transferred it to the engine in the car. Then I had to figure out how to get the pan and gasket back on.

It would have been easier to just glue the gasket to the pan but I used a trick I have learned on the Jeeps. I threaded long wire ties through the pan holes into the gasket. I put one on each of the four sides. I then lifted the pan into place and put on the two nuts for the two studs. I then carefully slid the wire ties out while inserting bolts into the holes that were opened up.

Once the pan bolts were snug, I set the engine back in place and reattached the motor mounts. I then reinstalled the engine to transmission braces and the steering rod.

After refilling with oil, I tentatively turned the engine over. I was very happy to see the oil pressure gauge start to move. We were back on schedule with our Daytona Build.

Racing at Road Atlanta

February 17th, 2016 < by Mike >

2016 ChumpCar race at Road Atlanta

We ran our 1986 Porsche 944 at Road Atlanta.

The car ran flawlessly all day. We got a couple of new battle scars but still drove it on the trailer after the checker flag.

Our pits stops went well and even though our laps times were not as fast as we would have liked, we finished 32nd out of 110 cars. We found that there car can go over three hours on fuel so we skipped fuel on two of our driver swap pit stops. That gained us a lap or two. We completed 338 laps this year in the 14 hour race.

Harlan 2015 more pictures

November 22nd, 2015 < by Mike >

2015 XJ List Fall Crawl

November 15th, 2015 < by Mike >

Harlan, KY

Once again, the XJ list met for its semi annual outing in the Harlan, Ky. We had to change campsite this time due to Rock Buggy race scheduled at the new race track in our normal camping spot. We stayed in spot 4 instead of 3 at Harlan County Campground. This might have been a nice spot out of the wind but recent logging had made it a muddy mess with barely enough room for tents and tow rigs.

We made the best of it with big fires each night made with scrap left from the loggers. As usual, the stars were amazing under the dark night sky of the back country. While the view was not great, being in the cove blocked the worst of the wind.

On Thursday, we had a small group and took a run at Mason Jar. We made an interesting observation that this group had only manual transmissions. Normally we have about an even mix of autos and stick shifts. However, in this group, everyone got to exercise their left leg.

The Toyotas played on the big rocks at the entrance while the XJs took the scary and still challenging left line. Took us about an hour to get the first fifty feet into the trail. We soon picked up the pace and noticed the trail has changed dramatically over the last ten years. Places that were hard are near impossible but there are new passages that have their own challenges. We all took various lines just to see what they were like.

Neal had a break in his air system so he had to run most of the trail with open diffs since his ARBs require pressure to lock. I got hung on a rock and needed a short tug with my winch. However when I got the cable good and tight the winch failed. Would not go in or out. I was seriously stuck until Frosty turned around and gave me enough of a tug to release the clutch and free the winch.

We made it back to camp just after dark. We built a huge fire to ward off the cold and clean up some of the logs.

Friday we had a few more rigs. We headed up trail 15 and had lunch at the helicopter pad. We played on the White Tail climb until Brian broke his rear yoke and had to be rescued. He drove back to camp in front wheel drive via the paved road stopping at a junk yard to get parts along the way.

The rest of us headed to lower rock garden and made a few passes on the beginning. Frosty and Dean played on the waterfall near rail bed and Frosty ended up breaking an axle shaft.

We then hit Fish Fossil. I had to back out of this trail last year so I was excited to lead the group in this time. Still with no winch, I was determined to make it. Neal’s expert spotting helped me get over the little water fall in the middle. However the long climb at the end was rutted too deep for my 33″s. I had to try to straddle the ruts. My first three attempts had me sliding into the ruts and having to back down. We finally sent a winched jeep up to give me a tug.

I hit it again and this time held on almost to the top. Just a few feet from the top I slipped into the rut again. More throttle from my 4.7 storker motor was probably not the best choice but I was giving it a go. Then there was a snap and the left front wheel stopped turning. Thinking it was just a U joint, I tried again. Then the front wheel gained LOTS of camber.

I accepted the cable and as I was drug to the top the wheel was separating more and more from the Jeep. The lower ball joint was gone. Is was nearing dark so while the other made their way up the hill, Evan made a rally racer run taking me back to camp to get the trailer. We made the long drive around the mountain to come in form Evarts.
With lots of help and some ratchet straps I got it on the trailer and made the long run back around to camp.

I figured I was done for the weekend and even wondered how I would get it off the trailer when I got back to the shop. In the daylight I saw it was just a ball joint and not the axle C. Scott had his ball joint press and as a group we had all the tools I needed. I picked up some ball joints from the parts store in Harlan and an hour later I was back on my wheels ready to ride. Thanks to all who helped me wrench, hammer and press the new parts into the damaged axle end.

We headed up the trail 45 which has become quite a challenge in its self. It took awhile to get every one to middle fork. We then decided to take the easy way (20) to lower rock garden. Along the way one jeep took a bad line through a wash and ended up on its roof down an embankment.

We spent the rest of the day recovering the Jeep and getting it back to camp. This extraction was an amazing feat of team work and recovery skills. No one was injured and the XJ made it way back to camp on it wheels. It ran most of the way but having lost most of its vital fluids during its long time upside down it suffered some drivability issues. We got back to camp just after dark again.

We made our usual delicious steak and potato boats. After that there was wood chopping demonstrations and other “manly” games.

Once again the events of the weekend showed me the benefits of good friends and working as a team. These are the reasons I enjoy wheeling with this particular group.

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Lexan Rear Hatch for Porsche 944

October 20th, 2015 < by Mike >

Lexan Rear Hatch for Porsche 944

944lexan

In order to improve the aerodynamics of our Porsche 944 ChumpCar racer, we decided to add a Lexan hatch. The ChumpCar rules require all glass other than the windshield to be removed. For our first race, we removed the glass and ran just the hatch frame. After looking at the other 944s racing against us we decided to add a Lexan hatch like they had.

We ordered the material from Five Star Race Car bodies on the advice of one of the other teams. This is the same material sold by Porsche specialty shops for about $100 less. The material surprisingly comes rolled up in a small box so shipping costs were reasonable.

Since we already had the glass out of the hatch we were able to start right away. Removing the glass from the hatch frame is challenging and requires a lot of patience. I have seen youtube videos of people breaking theirs out but they still had to deal with all the little pieces in the channels. I used an oscillating tool to cut the bonding material and carefully removed the glass. I had a heat gun for some places but mostly where the bonding material was cut, the glass lifted out.

We began by laying out the screw holes making sure there was no more than ten inches between holes. We paid extra to have the material cut to the size of the original rear glass. We may have been better off buying the oversized version as ours was just a little smaller than we would have liked.

We marked and drilled all the holes in the perimeter of the frame. Then we set the Leaxan in the upper groove and pressed it into place. We then carefully drilled through each hole into the Lexan. I found that if the bit ran too fast, the material would melt rather than drill and would refill the holes when the drill bit was removed. After a few holes I had the technique down. The biggest trouble we had was finding the right place to drill the holes. The best spacing away fort eh edge of the window put us in a ridge on the inside of the frame. This caused some of the holes to be angled which gave us trouble later.

We used a hand brace and a large drill bit to cut the counter sinks. We used the screws provided in the mounting kit from Five Star. The kit seemed a good value as it came with the right screws, locking nuts and a drill bit.

Due to the way the nuts hit the back of the frame, the ridge caused the nuts to not seat right. We ended up using a cutting tool to notch the frame at each of the screw holes so the nuts could sit flat. This also allowed us to use the shorter screws in the kit allowing the hatch to fit better when back on the car. Notching the frame took away some strength but once careful handling allowed us to get the Lexan mounted without it bending. Once the Lexan was in place the rigidity returned.

We added the two required one inch wide aluminum strips over the hatch and bolted them top and bottom. We then put all the rubber trim pieces back on the hatch to cover the holes and retain the look and function of the original spoiler.

The new hatch is very light weight and looks nice. We hope the performance improvement will be worth the cost and two weekends of work required to make the swap.