Sunday, December 27, 2009

Ce qui, encore?

Je devine que nous devons de façon ou d'autre être d'une manière amusante aux organisateurs de CiTrons. Ils ont accepté notre demande encore! Quel est le problème avec ces camarades? Ne nous connaissent-ils pas enfoncent-ils un pieu français dangereux de merde et est-ce que quelqu'un pourrait être tué??

What, again?

I guess we must somehow be amusing to the LeMons organizers. They accepted our application again! What's wrong with these guys? Don't they know we're driving a dangerous French heap and someone could be killed??

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Electron redistribution

Peugeot is a company with a long and storied history of racing. From rally to Le Mans to LeMons, Peugeots have been tearing things up. Pujo!'s 505 brethren were very successfully raced in SCCA showroom stock in the 80's. With this sort of pedigree, Pujo! is rightfully considered a racing thoroughbred. If this is the case, why did Peugeot place the 505's battery on the driver's side in the very front of the engine compartment? Clearly, we needed to rectify this design oversight.

A saucy little minx we know provided an informative guide to battery relocatification using the cable from an e30 chassis BMW 3 series car. The 6 cylinder versions of these cars come with a trunk mounted battery (it's even mounted on the passenger side!) and a long-ass battery cable that an impecunious monkey can score for the cheap price of $6.00.

Off to the self service junkyard!
ewwwwwww!!! trunk cooties!
Of the two e30 Bimmers in the junkyard, one was a 6 cylinder. It was quite a rat of a car. The fact that we were experiencing an unusually strong downpour helped by providing shivering cold to distract from the skankiness of this particular car. Pictured is the positive battery cable after I freed it from a pile of assorted wet garbage in the trunk. It snakes through a tight little hole behind the back seat and runs up along the floor on the passengers side of the car, secured with several hundred little plastic clips.

it smells like cigarettes and mildew in here
After stuffing the cable through the trunk and into the passenger compartment, the cable was fairly easily freed from its hiding place in the floor. In the picture you can see part of the cable coiled up in the passenger compartment, along with the speaker grill / kick panel that was liberated to allow the other end of the cable to come through firewall from the engine compartment. Notice the hammer perched on top of the toolbox? That's a BMW special tool for interior trim removal.

With the cable removed from the scheiße BMW, insertion into Pujo! commenced.
This involved relaxing contorting oneself into a shape that allows working amongst the racing seat mounts, roll cage, and pointy sharp crap on the floor of the car.

A bunch of pleasant discussion cursing allowed an installation solution to be found.

Bimmer-esque trunk you got there Pujo!

We had enough cable length to stretch from Pujo!'s original battery connection to the trunk, where the battery resides in cozy flammability next to the fuel tank. Note that Doug did build a really nice battery enclosure, it's just not pictured here (it's shy).

Monday, November 30, 2009

Another 15 minutes of fame?

And so, we left for Willows. We'll sum up each day of the race, but first, a quick side note.

As we got back to the hotel Friday night after a very fun team dinner at Casa Ramos (big thumbs up, by the way), a few of us began to get a photo message on our phones. Apparently, hitting mailboxes that day was the December issue of Grassroots Motorsports. A good friend of ours (hi, Laura!) took a picture of the cover. Who could that be? Why, that's Pujo! on the front cover, right by the banner, the representative photo for the article inside about LeMons racing. Our very own Reverend Scott, there in all his glory coming down "The Slide" at Reno-Fernley raceway.

On the Frickin' Cover of Grassroots Motorsports.

Representing $500 racing to everyone who lives under a rock and hadn't heard of it yet.

We're giddy. But if you've met us, that's really not a change from the normal, is it?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

We have some catching up to do!

Yes, we just got back from Thunderhill.
Yes, the car finished the race.

But... we'd be doing a disservice if we told the story out of order. So we'll blast through the next couple of chapters and get all caught up.

After fixing the transmission (hooray for ingenuity and persistence!), the next few work parties addressed various issues with the car. The shocks were easily rebuilt with new seals and fresh oil (lighter weight, as the heavy weight we'd used before was probably the cause of shock failure). We relocated the battery to the trunk to make it easier to work on the engine, a little elbow room under the hood can make up valuable minutes at a LeMons race. Relocation made easy by a BMW 325 battery cable from our local junkyard. We decided we liked the spring performance with the clamps we'd used, so decided to clip the springs to make the change more permanent and prevent clamp failure. Basic maintenance of course, fluids, all that good stuff. During the course of this, we discovered that we'd need new axle nuts. Contacting our source for Peugeot parts, however, proved frustrating. The Turbo S model is, of course, different from your standard 505 in almost every way that matters, very little is interchangeable. Yes, he "could" get us the correct axle nuts, but like so many of the other parts we've asked him about, they would be about the "very last in the country" and Pug enthusiasts cry when they hear it would be going to a race car. This forced Sean to take the cheaper option. Owning your own aerospace machine shop makes it easy to replicate certain types of parts. A little 2" hex bar, some measurements, a couple hours, and only minimal swearing later, a brand new set of replacement nuts for less than we could have bought them.

We installed a more permanent location for our transponder, not that zip ties are a bad thing...

Time began to run short before the race. It was now less than a week to go, and our big ideas for redecorating would just have to be put aside. There's always another race, right? We had a team meeting to discuss trip logistics and strategies, and our youngest Monkey stepped in to ensure that our art theme would happen as planned, if not on the original scale.

We showed off the work we'd done to a tough audience, Doug's dad who was up from Nebraska, a wonderful man with many years of racing expertise under his belt. He was, to say the least, a bit dubious about our choice of a Peugeot.

The meeting was as good as a 6-person meeting can be with 2 people absent. Sadly, one of our drivers was feeling the effects of a cold, and another had been hit earlier in the week with swine flu. It was now Sunday night, and we were hopeful for quick recoveries from both guys. Our hopes turned to worry as Bret's fever continued, and by Tuesday, he was officially not going on the trip. At the last race, going from a 6-man team to a 5-man did not hurt us in anything other than the fun quotient. But even though we knew we'd have less daylight, this time was different. One of Doug's good friends from the Rally circuits was going to be coming up from San Diego to watch and support us in the pits. Would he be interested in taking a turn behind the wheel since he was going to be there anyway? After just a few questions which proved he wasn't completely mental, he agreed. We welcomed temporary Monkey Rick onto the team, and couldn't wait to meet him on Friday.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Garbled Transmissions Part Trois

Okay, that didn't work. We were able to select 1st through 4th and occasionally 5th, but reverse was out of the question. It would appear that some mechanic, the name of whom we cannot disclose, made an error in reassembling the transmission.

Back to the workbench!
We're getting fast at this.

We determined that the motion of the linkage that moves to reverse/5th was limited. Why?
The truth is in there...

Ah hah! The spring and plastic limiter that keeps you from selecting 6th and 7th gears was installed wrong! A quick bit hair-pulling session of puzzling what the correct order is for the spring, shim, washer, plastic chingus, other shim ensued.
Here's the problem!

The linkage resorted, we reassembled the transmission for the last time. We were sure to use plenty of assembly lube to make sure things went together well.
Blood makes great assembly lube.

We properly torqued all the fasteners...
Could it be done?

And tossed it back in the car. We've gotten really fast at this.
Doo dee doo...

Where... IT WORKED! WE FIXED IT!!! And it cost absolutely nothing!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Garbled Transmissions Part Deux

Since we have no idea what we're doing care so much about doing the job right, especially when it involves the dark magic of transmissions is a complex job, we thoroughly washed all the pieces of the transmission.
Ain't it purdy?

We initially couldn't determine what was wrong. But, with the gearset out, we noticed the shift selector forks behaving poorly. Turns out that when Hercules made that last shift to third, he managed to send the shifter fork too far along its allowed travel and the little pin that tells the rest of the works, "Hey! I'm in third!" fell out. Here's a shot of the selector forks, the center one is tilted to show the hole that the little pin rides in.

And here's a shot of our troublesome little friend the pin.
say hello to mah leetle friend!

With the little pin returned to its home, we put our transmission back together again.
reassembly is opposite of disassembly

We were very careful to make sure we got the shifting linkage reconnected. It would be a shame to have to take this thing apart again...
So precisely... (yes, the wire on that rod was a race day fix to the shift linkage before we garbooned it into being stuck in third).

All sealed up, we threw the transmission back in the car in about 20 minutes.
Back home again in greasy engine bay...

Now to test it to confirm our repair worked!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Garbled Transmissions - Part Un

Pujo! finished the Reno LeMons event stuck in third gear. Actually, Pujo! proved to be quite capable as an automatique, setting our fastest lap time with just third gear. We decided that even though the single speed transmission was clearly a performance improvement, having multiple gears from which to choose would be good for loading on and off the trailer. Last weekend, the transmission was extracted from our brave patient.
here lies a borked tranny.

Today, we decided to crack open the tranny and see what secrets lie underneath its aluminum skirt. With the transmission repair skills of 16th century blacksmiths, we set to work.

post bellhousing-ectomy attempt to crack the case.

Being stuck in third gear, the gearbox proved reluctant to share its inner workings with us. Being Surrender Monkeys, we never give up umm valiantly continue are too cheap to take it somewhere to be fixed, so blindly continue forward. (Having a budget of pocket lint and unused postage stamps helps with our DIY work ethic).

Sproing, clink, damn.
We eventually prevailed in opening the transmission. But not without the dreaded sound of pieces falling apart inside. This is where we finished for the day. We've got fifth gear (or is it reverse?) out. The selector fork is still immobile. Today we want to find out why the shifter mechanism is stuck; hopefull it's something obvious.

Then there is the simple frighteningly complex task of putting this thing back together. There was no shouting and only minimal cursing during this session. Stay tuned for part deux.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Lifting old Pugs, 2 schools of thought.

The story so far...

When we left Reno, Pujo! had some issues. The major one was the (thankfully) jammed-in-third-gear transmission. We were able to finish the race with nothing but 3rd. Ironically setting our fastest lap times with the broken transmission. We actually debated whether or not to fix it, but soon came to the conclusion that even though we get by just fine with the one gear, it really sucks not having reverse. Not being able to let up the clutch pedal while the engine is idling also is kind of inconvenient.

This weekend we removed the knackered transmission from Pujo!. We'll be installing the spare transmission from the donor car (Pugly) later this week. Pujo! is showing some substantial oil leakage from multiple places. We might spend the money on a tube of RTV to try to keep some of the vital fluid inside the engine block. Fortunately the leaks aren't large, there's just a lot of them. We'd like to avoid having to fill the crank case at every pit stop if possible.

The Forklift. My tool of choice for moving dead French iron. Good for cracking walnuts and opening locked doors too.

Doug has the goods to please both sexes. Who doesn't appreciate a nice pair of lifts?

"How did we get an oil leak back here??" Wonders Alan. Sorry Alan, that's one of those inscrutable French trade secrets.

Dark matter? We have that. Who knew it was gunky and slippery too. Astrophysicists are wasting their time using telescopes to find the stuff.

The old transmission standing ready to begin its new life as a paper weight or a boat anchor.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Project Pujo!: Begins

Hi Pujo! fans! Your Spritemare is finally over and work on Pujo! begins! There's a bunch of broken stuff to fix, but we'll easily be ready for Arse-Freeze-Apalooza in November. We need to fix the transmission, which is still jammed in 3rd gear. Probably not a huge concern since we set our fastest lap times in Reno with just the one gear. Monkeys apparently drive better without the distraction of deciding what gear to be in. Our barely opposable digits are better suited for grasping bananas (and cheese) than cranky Peugeot gear shift levers anyway.

Let the two-steps-forward-three-steps-back posts begin!

Project Sprite: Completeted

The Sprite is done! It's tuned and running perfectly. Now all we need is some good weather to put some miles on it. The forecast looks like it'll be sunny and in the mid 70s by about Wednesday. We drove it between thunderstorms on Sunday, there was even a report of a funnel cloud about 10 miles south of where we were. Not optimal weather for breaking in an engine on an open car. Currently there are about two hours on the engine. There was just some minor blue smoke out of the tailpipe during our drive but once the rings wore in a little, that went away and the exhaust has been clear ever since. I'll post some pictures later, we forgot to bring the camera on our quick drives between downpours.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Forecast: Sunny and warm... unless you need to drive a car with no top.

We have almost everything done on the Sprite. Oil leaks are fixed and the engine has gone through initial break-in with the break-in oil. I used Joe Gibbs BR-30 Break-in oil. Very good stuff. Lots of zinc and other goodies in it. Don't use it for more than about 40 minutes though. The additives act like a fine polishing compound, we don't want it to start wearing our new engine out before we even drive it.

Once we change to fresh, clean oil and put the hood back on, we'll start driving. Except, it's now September in Western Washington and that means we can expect heavy rain every time we stick the key in the ignition. Like it's doing right now. And for the foreseeable future. Until June.

We'll keep watching the skies and keep our fingers crossed. :-)

Monday, August 31, 2009

Return of the Sprite

We're almost ready to get back to Pujo!. But first, one of the last few updates on the Sprite.

We found a great engine in Oregon. It's been rebuilt but never installed in a car even though it's about 10 years old. It was definitely assembled by someone who knew what they were doing. It's the proper shade of Austin agricultural green too. Over the last few weeks we've been rebuilding most things on the car. Every bolt and nut we could find was loose. It's been a far bigger project than we first anticipated. Last night we finished installing the engine and started it for the first time. Once we sorted out some strange electrical problems, the engine fired up and ran perfectly. Oil pressure is a little high, 70 psi at 1500 rpm. Fortunately we can adjust the regulator to fix that. The only oil leak seems to be from the oil pressure gauge fitting. The car is going to be fantastic when we're done.
Footloose and engine free!

Adding the transmission to the new engine.

Engine in place with almost everything attached.

It started on the second crank after we primed the oil pump and found the electrical problem. This is where I noticed a prodigious quantity of oil pouring from a bad fitting.

Tomorrow we'll fix the oil leaks and finish breaking in the engine.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Fun photos

No idea how we forgot to get this up on our blog. Jalopnik lists their all-time costumed favorites, and we made the list!? And here we were worried about being underthemed... something we're definitely improving upon if we make it to Thunderhill this year.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Sprite/Pujo! update

Been awhile since I last posted. It's not that I've forgotten, it's just that I don't want the blog to become like FaceBook.

Right now Sean is...
Clipping his fingernails.

Right now Sean is...
Enjoying the sound of an air conditioner.

Sean has sent you a quiz!
Do you like blue?

You have a friend request from someone you were happy to forget about from high school.


I'm just not cut out for FaceBook. I'd rather write nothing than let everyone know how much nothing is going on in my life at any given moment.

But I digress.

Now about the Sprite. No, it's not going to become a LeMons car. It's my dads car. My brothers and I gave it to him for his 80th birthday last November. And we've been trying to get it fixed ever since it's engine blew up a month ago. Sadly, rebuilding the engine is proving to be time and cost prohibitive. It's rebuildable, but just barely. It's really bad. Literally the worst engine I've ever seen that didn't have a rod sticking through the block. And yet it ran great until it... didn't. So, rather than spend a lot of the Summer trying to rebuild (my dad isn't getting any younger and the Northwest has limited good weather for driving an open car) we started looking for a good used or rebuilt replacement. It's taken a couple of weeks, but we found one. A rebuild, but never installed 948cc popped up in Oregon. The owner bought it with a couple of race engines and since it was rebuilt as a street engine he's never used it. I'm going down to pull the pan off it next Tuesday and if it looks good I'll bring it home and we'll drop it into the waiting engine bay. More on that as it developes.

For you Pujo! fans out there, no you haven't been forgotten (all 2 of you. Hi mom!). After the Sprite is done and I have a couple of weekend races out of the way in July and a vacation in early August, we'll be back working on Pujo!. There are some issues to fix. For one the gearbox is jammed in 3rd. Another is the electrical system. The alternator failed in Reno and we were running on battery for about half the race. Fortunately we brought a spare battery and kept charging and swapping. We have a blown shock. Not a really big deal, but rebuild kits are about $20 to do a pair, so we might as well fix it. Other than that and an oil change, Pujo! will be ready to race in November. The only really time consuming part of the whole project will be redecorating the car. It needs something more stylish. More bold. More artful.

More.... French.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Reno highlights

Step away from the Sprite for a weekend. Ahhhhh.
No, we're still not fortified enough to dive back into Pujo! for a while yet, wives are enjoying this small respite of actually seeing our husbands during daylight hours, except for Scott. He's been hiding in the basement for weeks assembling a "best of" video from our hours and hours of in-car footage. Recently, he finally emerged, blinking in the sunlight, and shared this with the rest of us.


24 Hours of LeMons Reno-Fernley Scrapes and Spins

This features 2 quick minutes of the fun stuff our drivers got to see (and even participate in) behind the wheel.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Sprite interrupted

I think I found one of the contributing factors for our engine failure. The oil filter remote was sealed with a bunch of silicone against the block. Not that that's generally a bad thing, but you don't need to use half a tube. The main artery to the oil filter was nearly completely blocked with a sphincter of clear silicone. Some oil could still get through, but really not enough to effectively lubricate an engine running at freeway speed. The oil pan was filled with bronze shavings and an unidentifiable hunk of metal about an inch long. I also found what appears to be a worn out rod end bearing inside the oil filter can. I have no idea how something like that could have gotten in there. None of the oil channels are big enough to allow something like that through. The rod bearings for pistons 1 and 4 are completely shot. The rods clunk back and forth easily. Curiously, cylinders 2 and 3 are the ones with bad compression. I also noticed that the engine had been painted while assembled. There was conspicuous overspray on surfaces that aren't easily visible when the engine is in the car. It looks like whoever did the restoration ran out of enthusiasm after completing the body work and had decided to sell the car before he got around to the engine and transmission rebuild and just painted the engine to make it look pretty. There's also plenty of Stop-Leak in the water jacket.

Oooo, sparkly!

Not much oil can get through there.

More broken things. Color me surprised.

On your left, from the deepest, darkest corners of an oil filter can, the metal with mettle... A Semi Cylindrical Chunk of Bronze!

And on the right, brimming with random destructive potential, the oilpan annihilator... A Bent Hunk of Steel!

Shockingly clean for how bad most of the individual parts are.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Everything that I touch, starts to melt... like my clutch.

I started tearing down the engine today. I haven't gotten too far into it, just as far as removing the gearbox and looking at the clutch and pressure plate. If the rest of this engine has been put together with as much care and attention to detail as everything else has so far, it's going to be an adventure of epically bad proportions. The clutch was (barely) held on with 3 different length bolts. Most of them were finger tight. The teeth on the flywheel are about half way worn off and it looks like the flywheel was resurfaced with a die grinder equipped with a 36 grit pad. It's not even close to flat, you can see where it was only being touched in 2 places by the clutch. The clutch itself is the cheapest piece of crap I've ever seen. It looks like compressed cardboard. The bolts holding the bellhousing had no lock washers or even flat washers. Just bolt heads right up against the aluminum. I hope it wasn't a professional shop that did this work. Some doof in his garage I can forgive, sort of. But any shop that does work like this needs to not be in business.

This is what happens to a clutch...

...and a flywheel...

...when you let this guy work on your car.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Caveat Emptor

My brothers and I bought this Sprite for my dad for his 80th birthday last November. It's a very handsome little car and seemingly in very good shape. We knew that the syncros weren't working as well as they should, but that wasn't a deal breaker. The previous owner had the car for about a year and really hadn't cracked into it very far. He had the brakes done, which work very well by the way for 4 wheel drums. But hadn't done anything else. He purchased it as a very nice older restoration. Which is what we purchased it as. We bought it for a very reasonable price. For the last 6 months it's been a fun and reliable car. However last weekend on the way to a car show in Shelton, WA it started smoking and some alarming noises began issuing from the engine bay. Having owned British cars for years we swiftly came to the realization that we'd be rebuilding this engine very soon. The compression test showed that cylinders 1 and 4 had good compression, 130. 2 and 3 were below 100. Minimum is 120. Sounds like bad rings.

Hmm, blue haze in the air and a fluid stripe on the ground. Sadly, par for the course in a 50 year old British car.

It doesn't take very long to remove an engine from a car that only has a handful of moving parts.

Oliver may be in pieces all over the garage, but he still puts on a happy face.

It has the proper smooth side gearbox, but this big missing chunk of the bell housing is not so proper.

Uh, I thought you drained the gearbox.

Ick. Pretty nasty looking exhaust gasket for a "recently rebuilt" engine.

Tomorrow I'm going to start the engine teardown. Judging from the lovely pearlescent oil that turned completely black and gross in 3 (yes, 3) miles, it's not going to be pretty. Should be fun though. :-)