Team Tinyvette is looking forward to the March race at Infineon. Instructions have gone out to team members - no more booze, sugar, or fried foods, and hit the gym. OK, this is LeMons and we do not have sponsors.
The car has sat in the carport for a month since the BW race so I took it out on Monday to see how it runs. It started fine and ran fine for the most part. I noticed a few things we need to address, and there are a few more I have been thinking about.
- The play in the steering seems to be worse, or just seems worse because I've been driving newer cars for the past month. But still, with all new bushings, tie rods, and ball joints, I'd think it would be better. It could be the steering column, or the rack. It's not something that would keep us out of a race, but it is something to look into.
- Bogging, we've still got some. I wonder if the idle mixture screw is working itself out. It was 6.5 turns out at BW but should have been 1.5 turns out. We definitely need to fix this.
- The car is still fun to drive, and gets nods from passers by.
- We have some minor oil leaks in the front of the motor. I think fixing that will be optional. The other oil leaks seem to be gone.
- I confirmed the pulsing in the front brakes that Zep reported at the end of the BW race. We'll resurface the rotors. We'll also inspect front pads and rear shoes and will have spares ready. Pads have been ordered already. I'm also getting spare hubs so that a rotor swap at a race will be a lot easier.
- Tires. We're getting down to the wear bars on the front tires. I think they will be good for another day of racing. We have to spares already mounted and ready to go. The rear tires look good.
- Engine temperatures. ;( Watch the videos and you can see clearly where the temperature gauge is at, pretty much in the 210-220F range most of the time. Plus, the car overheats unless the fan is on, even during normal freeway driving, which doesn't make much sense. What we'll do is check the temperature sensor to make sure it is reading correctly and we will get another radiator. One option for the radiator was to recore the spare radiator and use that, the assumption being that it was designed for this motor and should be fine if it was like new. Folks here have recommended getting a Sirocco radiator, that that should be good up to 200 hp. But since this radiator is taller we'd have to install it tilted forward in the nose. We'll need a surge tank to go with this since the top of the radiator will be below the heads and BMW parts were recommended for this. While that sounds like a day in the mud at Pick-n-Pull, RallyBob has offered us his and is shipping them now.
- Tach. It bounces around some at low RPM and practically floats at high RPM, over 5,000 rpm. I'll put a scope on the signal line to see what it looks like. I'll find a signal source and see how the tach works when it gets a clean signal. What we do next depends on the result of these tests, but we do have an Autometer tach we can use, courtesy of Ford Cook. But I really like the Opel tach. Maybe I can fix it. I suspect the old capacitors are the problem.
- Electrical/charging. At BW the motor cranked weakly during pit stops. Hot motor? Bad charging system? We were running two 3 amp DVRs and an 8 amp fan, plus the ignition, but no lights. That doesn't sound like a lot. I'll get the charging system checked, and am looking into getting a newer higher-capacity GM alternator that has a built-in regulator. New ones are pretty and chromed, and shiny new parts = penalty laps, so it looks like a trip to Pick-n-Pull. Does anyone know which GM car we need to rob this part from?
- The oil cooler looks like it did a great job. At BW the oil temps were generally near or just below water temps. There is a small leak somewhere, and the oil filter seems to loosen up. Odd.
- Video. I think the four-camera set-up worked great, when it worked. It was a lot of fun being able to show the race from different angles, forward, rear, roof, and driver. We did have a problem on Sunday with the roof camera cutting out. I'm sending the CF card to Datatoys to see if they can recover the video we might have lost. I also looked at our installation for the cause of the problem and it turns out it was the I/O connector on the DVR itself, which uses a D-style connector like the one used on the video cards and monitors used on your computer. I think this is a Datatoys problem and I am curious to see what they come up with. Looking back at video from earlier races I saw evidence of this problem, and during bench testing before BW I found it and thought I had fixed it by bending the connectors a bit.
For the next race I should have the audio problems solved. The current system does not have automatic gain control on audio. Normal conversations are recorded OK, but motor sounds and especially race sounds, are too loud. I am building an AGC module and we will be able to record audio correctly, plus we'll record radio conversations.
- Radio, it worked great. Brian, take notes. Using different ear buds did the job and all we did was use the ear buds that came with the radio, after clipping off the hook that goes over the ear. The IMSA set up in my helmet worked great, too. If you don't have an in-helmet mic and speaker, I recommend it, one big benefit is being able to use the PTT button on the steering wheel instead of trying to find the button on the cable.
- Streaming video! I'm looking into getting a modest system that will transmit A/V back to the paddock so that we can watch, and hear, the race from in-car. At some LeMons races people stream the race live, and if that is done at one of our races we'll make our feed available to them. Anyway, the system I am looking at runs on 12 volts and offers a 7 km line-of-sight range if we get their amplifier and high-gain antenna.
- Motor? We have a spare, almost ready to go, and we're told we can expect 120 whp from it! We'll need to disassemble it and clean it since it has sat for 10 years. The heads are off, and we have two of them. One is obviously shaved, both have over-sized valves, and also double springs that should let us rev at 7000 all day. We'll check the cams (no idea what is in them now) and piston-valve clearances, and no we won't rev it at 7000 rpm all day. Maybe I should get that shift light.
My original idea was to keep the current motor until it is used up. Unfortunately, it is proving to be quite durable. Bernhard's idea is to import a 2.4L motor and run that. If you don't look too closely it looks just like a 1.9L motor. What I am thinking now, having watched many hours of video where we're getting passed all day, is that I'm tired of getting passed all day. Plus, the red/white/green Alfa that Brian ran down at Thunderhill in August somehow found a lot of speed for BW. Somehow? And the Mini that got turbocharged? Ask Geoff. I'm game for a motor swap, maybe not for March, but definitely for May.
- Rules change. We are expected to have 2" clearance between the helmet and roll cage. What that means for us is we need more room between the helmet and roof. Our options are to get a seat that reclines more, or cut out the floor and lower the whole seat and slider by 2 inches. If we go with the latter the question becomes, can we get the car in and out of the driveway?
All in all, two big jobs, a few smaller ones, and some optional ones. Who's ready to get dirty?