Author Topic: September 10, 2011 - Drag Week 2011, Topeka KS  (Read 10429 times)

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September 10, 2011 - Drag Week 2011, Topeka KS
« on: September 11, 2011, 01:13:41 AM »
I'm typing this on the road, going down Interstate 35 on the way to Topeka, Kansas.  We are going to make it to Drag Week!

This road trip is the first opportunity I've had to take it easy for quite some time.  I can't remember the last time I
was able to just relax for a few hours; I've been working non-stop on the car, or working at my regular job, or out of
town, or sleeping for the last five or six weeks, so its nice to get a little break, even if it is in the cab of Joel's
Dodge 1-ton. 

Rather than try to document the continued work and countless setbacks that occurred since my last major blog entry a
couple of weeks ago, I'll just try to hit the highlights.  A week ago last Friday I had pretty much finished up with
the major mechanical work on the car.  There was still cosmetic work and wiring to do, but I had the radiator and
electric fans installed, the front bumper and grille put on the car, the exhaust system finished, etc.  That Friday
I had to leave town for a family reunion up in northern Minnesota, and I wasn't back until Sunday night.  I had
thought about trying to bail out of the trip, but the look I got from my wife whenever I started tap dancing around
that subject made it pretty clear that it was not an option.  So, Sunday night when we returned I got right out to the
shop to get started on finishing the wiring on the car.  I figured that if I could get that done by the end of the day
Monday (Labor Day), I'd have a pretty good chance to finish the car in time for the event.

As always, however, that didn't happen.  The wiring seemed to go on forever!  I worked and worked on Labor Day (imagine
that...), wiring myself silly, and still didn't get it all completed.  It looked like it would be Tuesday or Wednesday
before I got it all finished up.  In addition to the wiring, there was still an issue with the driver's door window, the
interior panels hadn't been completed, the hood hadn't been cut out for the injector stacks, etc. etc. etc.  I had a
punch list of things to do that was about 20 items long, and at the end of the night on Labor Day I wasn't sure how I'd
get it all completed.

Once again this week my friends saved me, and it is only through their efforts that I'm able to make the event.  My friend
JC got back from the Ford show in Columbus on Monday night and essentially volunteered all his time to this effort; he was over helping
out Tuesday through Thursday nights.  His friend Barry also was over on Thursday night, which was the night I thought it
was over (more on that later), and my friend Kevin was over Tuesday through Friday nights giving a hand.  Joel was also
over on Friday night, and my other friend Jerry came by on Wednesday night to help me get the car buffed.  Without all
this help I'd have never made it.

It ended up taking me until Wednesday to get the wiring finished up in the car.  Here's a photo of the main wiring panel finished up and
installed in its final position under the dash:

At the end of the night Wednesday I powered everything up and checked to make sure it was working.  This was a big
moment; I was worried about a flash and a puff of smoke that would tell me I'd created a big short somewhere, but
fortunately everything worked well.  Kevin worked on the interior side panels behind the seats, which was a tedious and
time consuming job, and they turned out looking great.  JC worked on a fabricated locking mechanism for the hood, because
I didn't want to trust just the Shelby hood pins to hold the hood in place at speed.  Together we figured out the wiring of the
windshield wipers, found that I had a bad one in the car, and also a bad switch, so I ordered a reman unit from Summit with
overnight delivery and got it installed and working Thursday night.  I think I got an overnight delivery of some part or another
every night this week to keep the project on track.

I had decided that with the wiring taking so long I needed to take Friday off to get the car finished up before loading it
on the trailer on Saturday morning and heading off to Drag Week.  I used another precious vacation day (not too many
of those left anymore...), and got started on Thursday night figuring I had 24 hours to get the car finished up.  I made
an appointment with my friend BradFORD at his shop on Friday, to bring the car in to get the front end aligned.  I was
going to start and drive the car for the first time on Thursday night, run it in for the alignment on Friday morning, and
then spend the rest of the day Friday getting it finished up.  JC, Kevin, and Barry were over helping out on Thursday, and
as usual we ran late, but by 9:30 everything was ready to try to start the car.  This was another big moment, because
until the car ran I wouldn't know for sure if I'd wired the EFI unit correctly.  Fortunately, at key-on the engine
started right up.  Unfortunately, very, very, very unfortunately, the engine was making a bunch of noise!  The noise
was an RPM relating clanging or contact sound, coming from some indeterminate location under the car.  What was this
all about?? 

First we thought it was an interference in the bellhousing area, but after shutting the engine off and looking at all the
converter bolts and clearances between the bellhousing and converter and flywheel, it didn't seem to be anything in there.
Finally we started up the engine again and I poked my head under the engine and - as I had feared - the noise was coming
from the oil pan.

Well, this kind of made sense, because I had modified the oil pan after installing the engine in the car.  I must have
done something to the pan to create an interference with the reciprocating assembly.  Dammit!  I didn't have time for
this.  I sat down in the shop, figuring that at this point I had  to throw in the towel.  There were so many unknowns
ahead of me on this project, and now I was going to have to stop and pull off the oil pan.  Of course this also meant
dropping the complete front suspension out of the car.  I figured it would take me 8-10 hours to repair this, and I
just didn't have the time.  I still had to cut the hood for the injector stacks, install the dash in the car, install
the seats, run the engine to seal the leak from the water jacket, and on and on.

For about half an hour I mulled this over while JC, Kevin, and Barry offered suggestions.  I was leaning towards calling my
participation in Drag Week off; this car had been fighting me every step of the way, and with this latest setback it just didn't seem like
I had any reasonable chance of getting it done in time for the event.  In the end, though, my ambition got
the better of me.  Those guys were all willing to stay to help me get the oil pan off the car, and once the pan was off
I would have a much better idea of what it would take to fix the problem.  I decided that with all of us working on the car
we could get the pan off in about an hour.

Starting at 10:30, we had the suspension down in about 20 minutes and the pan off 40 minutes after that.  After talking it
throug during the wrench time we determined that most likely the interference was with the windage tray, and that maybe
the modifications to the pan had pushed the windage tray up into the reciprocating assembly.  Once the pan was off I
quickly pulled the oil pump pickup and removed the windage tray.  On first inspection I didn't see any witness marks;
could something else have been making the noise? But on closer inspection, I found it.  A tiny, tiny witness mark on the
windage try, right where the number seven rod bolt heads swing by.  Adjacent to the mark was a dent in the windage tray,
like something had dented it up from underneath, and caused the clearance between the pan and the reciprocating assembly
to close up.  Here's a photo of the witness mark, seen directly in the center of the picture:

It looked like all I had to do was bend the pan back down, and maybe cut a little clearance slot in the windage tray for
insurance, and the pan and windage tray could go back on!  Suddenly the problem didn't look like such a show stopper. 
I thanked the guys for helping me get the pan off, and went to bed around midnight, figuring I would get up early and get
the pan reinstalled in the morning.

By 6:00 AM Friday morning I was back in the shop, starting to reassemble.  It took me an hour to get all the gaskets
scraped and the windage tray bent back into shape and modified with a clearance slot.  By 7:15 I was applying sealer and
gaskets and shortly thereafter I had  the windage tray temporarily positioned on the block, with oil pickup tube
installed.  I slid the pan under the car, starting about 4 hours of hell.

First, the pan didn't fit.  When we had removed the front suspension we had left the front struts attached, and then the
windage tray had come out first.  With the windage tray and oil pickup tube removed, the pan had come out between the
block and the dropped crossmember.  But with the windage tray and oil pickup tube in place, the pan would no longer fit. 
So, I had to drop the driver's side strut to gain clearance.  Next I positioned the pan in place under the block, but had
a hard time getting the first bolts started.  For some reason I just couldn't get the bolt through the oil pan, the windage
tray, both gaskets, and into the block no matter how hard I tried.  The pan was heavy to hold up, and it didn't want to
fit properly on the block because the block plate has a little kickout that goes towards the front of the engine right at
the oil pan rail.  The stock sheet metal pan clears this kick out with plenty of room to spare, but my pan, with the 1/4"
thick rail, plus the two gaskets and the windage tray, is a very tight fit.  The kickout kept the pan from fitting back far enough
on the block to get the holes to line up.  I had encountered this problem when I had done the installation of the modified pan
a few weeks ago, but at that time there were no header tubes, wires, alternator, or other brackets installed that made the
space cramped.  With all that stuff in place, it seemed like an impossible task to get the oil pan lined up and bolted on. 

After screwing around with this for an hour my fuse was about as short as it ever gets when working on a car.  The
effenheimers were flying LOL!.  Then, the crowning touch came as I contorted around under the back of the engine, trying
to hammer the pan into place so I could start the bolts.  Thursday night we had drained some of the oil into a pan that
was still sitting under the car.  When I had started work on Friday morning I had slid it well out of the way, but
apparently not far enough.  As I wrestled around I inadvertently put my right foot into the pan, tipping it up and spilling
its contents all over my right leg.  The four quarts of oil in the pan that didn't go on my leg spilled completely onto
the floor, creating a spreading puddle of 20W-50 Valvoline racing oil.

It has been quite a few years since I've thrown a wrench while working on my cars, but around 9:00 on Friday morning I
threw three big wrenches and a hammer.  Man, I was pissed!  I wish I had film of this sequence of events, because it would
be hilarious to show at parties.  The stress of the previous five or six weeks just came flooding out all at once. 
I spent a half hour calming down, cleaning up the mess, changing to a different pair of pants that weren't soaked with oil,
and wiping up the oil that had spilled on the garage floor.  The overall effect of this incident was to calm me down
somewhat.  When I crawled back under the car, I decided to use a jack against the rear sump of the oil pan, and after some
convincing with a hammer, a half hour later I got the first bolt in place.  From there it went pretty smoothly, and by
11:30 the pan was installed and the bolts were tight.  Never mind that the sealer had long since dried, and it would
probably leak a little; at least it was on.  The other positive thing was that I think I figured out how the windage tray
got dented up towards the crank in the first place.  When I was installing the pan at first, I noticed that it was
convenient to rest the pan on the crossmember when it was about 2/3 of the way into position.  It was also tempting to try
 to force the pan into place from this spot by wedging it between the crossmember and the windage tray.  I saw that this
time, and saw that where the pan rail was contacting the windage tray was the same spot where it had been dented up when
 I'd pulled it off the engine.  Probably I forced it in place when I installed the pan the first time, and this is what
caused the windage tray to dimple up and contact the crank.

Installing the front suspension took another couple of hours, but by 2:00 PM I was back where I'd been at 9:30 the previous
evening, ready to start the car.  I didn't do it yet, though, because I wanted someone else here when I fired it up, and I
had friends coming over that evening.  Instead I focused on the remaining work on the interior, getting the dash installed,
the high beam and GVOD floor switches installed, the main switch panel that fits into the dash installed, etc.  The only
thing that didn't go according to plan was the rear view mirror, which was for a 69 Mustang but wouldn't fit the bracket
that had come installed on my new windshield.  The bracket was designed for a slide on mirror, not the stock 69 mirror. 

In the evening Kevin and Joel were both running a little late, so after the interior work was done I decided to start the
car by myself anyway.  Once again it fired right up, and to my relief the engine was nice and quiet; the noise was gone. 
Kevin showed up while the car was running, and after I shut it off he got to work finishing up the rear side panels in the
interior.  Joel showed up shortly thereafter and took the driver's door apart, because one of the brackets that glues to the
window had come loose, so it had to be reglued.  I worked on getting the parachute cable mounted.  When I was getting started
on that, I thought I should weigh the car; if it had turned out heavier than I wanted, maybe the car wouldn't go 150 MPH
in the quarter even if the engine was running right, so in that case I could spend my time on something else.  I stuck my
scales under the tires, and with a certain amount of trepidation, looked at the readout.  The car weighed 2961!  Boy I was
happy about that.  I had been shooting for 3200 with me in it.  I got in the car and Kevin read the scales, which moved
from 3199 to 3201.  I had hit my weight goal right on the money!

The weight was also with the exhaust system installed, and that would pull another 35 pounds out of the car at track time.
I figured I'd better install the parachute cable.  Joel, Kevin and I worked on our individual projects until about 11:00 PM,
and then branched off into some other work like installing the upholstery on the seats, bolting the seats into the car,
getting a new set of inspection covers and valve covers powder coated blue to match the color scheme of the car, etc.  Joel
left sometime after midnight, Kevin stayed until about 1:30, and I finally threw in the towel at 2:00 AM.  There was still
a bunch of work to do on the car, such as putting on the side stripe, adjusting the four link, checking the driveshaft
angles, etc.  But the car was now drivable, so I knew I'd make it to the event.

I was up again this morning at 6:00, after about three and a half hours of sleep.  On Friday BradFORD had mounted and
balanced the slicks on my new Centerline wheels (which had finally showed up on Thursday!), and he had agreed to meet us
at his shop to do the alignment on the car on Saturday morning.  I have a checklist of tools, spare parts, and documents
that I take with me to Drag Week, so right away on Saturday morning I dug that out and starting putting everything together.
Since the shop was a completely unorganized mess, it took a long time to get all this stuff together and put into boxes. 
Joel arrived at around 8:00 AM and pitched in, but it was 10:45 before we were ready to go.  I called BradFORD to give him
the heads up that we were on the way, said goodbye to my wife and kids, and went out for the first drive in my new car. 
Some photos:

First impressions on driving were that the car definitely needed an alignment, and that the steering wasn't that great, with a fairly
large turning radius and a stiff steering wheel.  But the car went down the road.  The tranny worked, the Gear Vendors
overdrive worked, the engine stayed cool, and the voltmeter said 14 volts.  I only put six gallons of gas in the tank at
the gas station, but the only problem that I found during the first test drive appeared there; the gas gauge just didn't
work.  I will have to look into that during Drag Week, but I can live without a gas gauge.  From the gas station I hit the
freeway for the 20 mile drive to BradFORD's shop, and the car ran at 2700 RPM at 65 MPH, and went down the road just fine. 
Feeling somewhat relieved I pulled into Brad's shop, and we got the car positioned on the alighment rack.

In addition to the alignment we took care of several other loose ends at Brad's shop.  First was insufficient clearance
between the right side tie rod end and the lower header tube; we heated up the tube and dimpled it a little with a socket
to get some space there.  Then I measured the position of the four link tubes and all the holes, so I could run a CAD
drawing to determine where the instant center of the four link setup would be at all the different combinations.  I'll
probably do that tomorrow morning, so I can adjust them at test and tune day.  We also checked the driveshaft angles and
raised the transmission mount, and adjusted the four link to get the angles right.  Finally, Brad did the alignment, and
despite not having any ability to move the upper strut location, he was able to get the camber close to zero on both front
wheels, and also to set the toe.  Caster is not adjustable with my setup, so it is what it is.  Here's a photo of Brad tightening up
the strut bolts after the alignment was completed:

All this work took about four hours.  By 4:00 PM the car was in the trailer, and Joel and I were on the road.  We will have
a late arrival tonight in Topeka, but should get a good nights sleep (hurray!) and be fresh for registration and Drag Week
test and tune tomorrow.  I will post an update after the test and tune tomorrow night.
Jay Brown
- 1969 Mach 1, Drag Week 2005 Winner NA/BB, 511" FE (10.60s @ 129); Drag Week 2007 Runner-Up PA/BB, 490" Supercharged FE (9.35 @ 151)
- 1964 Ford Galaxie, Drag Week 2009 Winner Modified NA (9.50s @ 143), 585" SOHC
- 1969 Shelby Clone, Drag Week 2015 Winner Modified NA (Average 8.98 @ 149), 585" SOHC



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Re: September 10, 2011 - Drag Week 2011, Topeka KS
« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2011, 07:49:31 AM »
Hip, hip hooray! Great job Jay and the car looks fab!

Best of luck at Drag Week  :)
Bob Maag


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Re: September 10, 2011 - Drag Week 2011, Topeka KS
« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2011, 07:52:37 AM »
Good luck!  The car looks like a serious ride, looking forward to your updates. 

- 70 Fastback Mustang, 489 cid FE, Victor, SEFI, Erson SFT cam, TKO-600 5 speed, 4.11 9 inch.
- 71 F100 shortbed 4x4, 461 cid FE, headers, Victor Pro-flo EFI, Comp Custom HFT cam, 3.50 9 inch


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Re: September 10, 2011 - Drag Week 2011, Topeka KS
« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2011, 08:08:46 AM »
Your car looks great, Jay.  Congrat's!

You've used the term "epic thrash" before.  Well, I think you've surpassed that.  This was a thrash of BIBLICAL proportions!   ;D



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Re: September 10, 2011 - Drag Week 2011, Topeka KS
« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2011, 10:10:36 AM »
May the Force be with you!

Definitely a thrash for the record books.  A video of the tool-throwing episode would definitely go viral on Youtube  :D
A careful study of failure will yield the ingredients for success.


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Re: September 10, 2011 - Drag Week 2011, Topeka KS
« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2011, 10:54:21 AM »
Jay did you happen to Dyno the SOHC w/ and w/o the stack filters?...........Just wondering what that much restriction would do.
Does the EFI system adapt itself to the filters?


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Re: September 10, 2011 - Drag Week 2011, Topeka KS
« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2011, 11:48:12 AM »
Go it, Jay!

You've really got what it takes!!!



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Re: September 10, 2011 - Drag Week 2011, Topeka KS
« Reply #7 on: September 11, 2011, 11:49:44 AM »
So glad to hear it all came together and you are on your way to Dragweek.  As I have said in all the past post, I wish you the best of luck.  You are going to make it there now the fun and the next step of hard work begins.  I was hoping to make it to Dragweek as a spectator but I too have been busy (in a different way) but wont be there as they are supposed to start digging the basement for my new house.

Good Luck!!
'65 Mercury Comet w/ Pond Alum. 427, C6
'61 Ford Starliner w/ 352, C6
'68 Falcon w/ ProCharged FE, Lenco 5sp
'67 Country Sedan SW
'62 Falcon awaiting turbocoupe motor & tranny
'40 Ford Tudor Sedan all original


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Re: September 10, 2011 - Drag Week 2011, Topeka KS
« Reply #8 on: September 11, 2011, 03:26:00 PM »
In my book Jay, You've already won but go ahead and enjoy yourself anyway. ;D

Joe M

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Re: September 10, 2011 - Drag Week 2011, Topeka KS
« Reply #9 on: September 11, 2011, 03:46:35 PM »
In my book Jay, You've already won but go ahead and enjoy yourself anyway. ;D
Awesome ride, Jay!  Keeping my fingers crossed for you!


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Re: September 10, 2011 - Drag Week 2011, Topeka KS
« Reply #10 on: September 11, 2011, 06:33:01 PM »
Go get'em Jay,  I hope all goes very smooth for you and you take your class. 


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Re: September 10, 2011 - Drag Week 2011, Topeka KS
« Reply #11 on: September 11, 2011, 09:56:29 PM »
A mere mortal would have given up, thankfully Jay is a GOD!  ;D To paraphrase a saying, "When you're up to your neck in uncooperative racecar it's hard to remember to objective was to have fun" Hopefully now you get to have the fun!
Kevin Rolph

1967 Cougar Drag Car ( under constuction )
1966 7 litre Galaxie
1966 Country Squire 390
1966 Cyclone GT 390
1968 Torino GT 390
1972 Gran Torino wagon
1978 Lincoln Mk V