Posted by: nwracing | May 8, 2020

American Road Trip – Part 2

I am writing the second part of the blog on our American road-trip which finds all of us in lockdown due to the Covid 19 pandemic. On reflection when we were in the US it was at the beginning of the outbreak and seemed to be a bit of a storm in a teacup. How wrong I was!

Anyway, the next part of our trip was to Brad Anderson Enterprises, the manufacturer of our engine. I wouldn’t normally mention breakfast but the lady in the motel, who hailed from Leeds, suggested a place called Spires just down the road from where we were staying. We duly arrived and ordered our food. Another customer had ordered prior to us. I had to nudge Chris when his food arrived. I can only describe the plate as like a dustbin lid about 5 inches thick with food, which comprised of what we could only guess at. Fairplay though, he ate the lot!

After a short drive we once again entered a faceless industrial area. I don’t know why but I expected the places we visited to be, I don’t know quite how to put it, but more impressive on the outside! The suppliers we were visiting have such an impact on our racing and it felt strange to be in another industrial unit. I had visions of a McClaren type building.

Entering through an innocuous looking door we were greeted by lines of engine blocks ready to be sent out, dragsters being worked on and lots and lots of engine porn! Chris and I were blown away and when we started on our list we were presented with different options by an incredibly helpful and knowledgeable Jeremy.

I duly produced my two A4 pages of parts requirements!

As an aside when we were planning the trip friends asked if it was worth spending on the flights, hotels and car hire when we could order everything off the internet. Jeremy answered this in the first five minutes as some of the parts we had written down had better options and others were plain wrong. So the face to face interaction saved us a heap of cash! Also, in the age of internet and smart phones talking directly and laying hands on the parts and asking questions enabled us to clearly see what we needed to do when we got home, and provided the sort of information that you can’t get without being in there in person.

We spent a good couple of hours at BAE and with the exception of a couple of things we needed to have made we had completed our list. Kindly, Jeremy offered to keep all the parts until we had everything which meant we didn’t have to keep them in the back of the car and carry them to our hotel room.

With BAE ticked off our list we were left with two suppliers, the first was in Colorado, a 2100 mile round trip which Chris and I were quite excited about until we looked at the weather forecast. At the time we wanted to go there had been significant snowfall and we were advised that it was probably going to get worse! The second was much nearer in San Jose. I say nearer, it was still a 700 mile round trip but felt much more manageable!

So with a route outlined we started off and estimated we wouldn’t quite make it there on that day. However, a judicious bit of map reading put us within striking distance of Hollister. If you know anything about folklore this is a mecca for bikers.

Anyway this is all for now as I am still working my way through about 1200 photos, some of which will be in my next blog.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, please keep safe and look after your families at this unusual time.

Posted by: nwracing | March 19, 2020

The American Road Trip – Part One

I am writing this sat on my sofa at 3.00am, which for some reason has become a normal time for me to rise since returning from the US! On a positive note I get loads more done with the extra hours , although I now have two dogs who glare at me in disgust when I get up at daft o’clock!

The choice of destination in the US was pretty much made for us as out of the four suppliers we needed to see 3 were in California and one in Colorado. So I booked for Chris and myself on Aer Lingus which goes via Dublin, a route I have not used previously but avoided the dreaded Charles De Gaulle airport which had proved so problematic to us in the past. I had convinced my other half (not really successfully) that this was not a holiday but a serious parts shopping trip and she wouldn’t enjoy it!

Day 1

Arrived at Birmingham airport earlier than we needed to be, the Aer Lingus website and the staff on the ground appear to have different timetables! Nevertheless we dropped off our bags and then sat and waited.

One of the peculiarities of air travel is the inordinate amount of time sat about waiting for something to happen and then everyone is rushed on to the plane to get going. Ask any drag racer and they’ll tell you they’re used to this: the phenomenon known as, hurry up and wait!

After a brief wait in Dublin airport, great city by the way and well worth a visit, we settled down for the trip to LAX.  Arriving at 20:15 local time we were greeted by a very different airport from the one we had visited previously, as it was clearly going through a massive refurbishment. So we sorted a taxi and paid 20 bucks to do about 2 miles to our hotel! To be honest Chris and I just wanted a beer and a bite to eat and a good sleep.

After fantastic food and some great, but bloody expensive beer, we settled in for the night.

Day 2

Number one priority was to get a hire car and a quick shuttle bus to the hire car area revealed a line of brand new Corvettes. For one brief moment we did consider renting two and having our own version of the Gumball Rally, but reality kicked in and we rented a Toyota Rav4. I have to say this is nothing like the UK version and was like a spaceship inside.

Next item on the agenda was to get on our way to Good Vibrations in Whittier, after breakfast of course! Having consumed more calories in one meal than the whole of the previous week, thanks to a lumberjack breakfast at Wendy’s, we set off.

Arriving at our destination we walked through and unremarkable white door and was immediately surrounded by supercharger heaven!  Jim Maher and his team quickly got to work on our long list of parts and within 10 minutes the decision to fly to the States rather than order via the phone had been vindicated as some of the things I could have ordered would have been totally wrong for our engine combination.  An hour and a half later we had a box full of parts to complete our injection system and a tune up for our engine combination.

Armed with our parts we checked in to a hotel and spent most of the evening looking at all the goodies we had bought and working out how we were going to wrap them up to post home! I felt like a kid who had scored a massive Christmas present haul.

As I said before this was primarily a shopping trip and I feel as if I’ve cheated you without lots of pictures, but I’m not sure and industrial estate door really has any interest, unless it has a Banksy on it!

That’s all for now folks, the future posts will contain photos, not of drab industrial complexes but of the amazing places we saw while travelling and some fantastic cars! As we are currently in the midst of the Coronavirus please take care of yourselves, your friends and families.

Posted by: nwracing | February 12, 2019

Lifted Spirits!

I have finally done it! The drag jacks are finished and I couldn’t be more pleased. They have turned out really well and as an added bonus I have learnt so much about my new welder and all its myriad of settings, which gives me the confidence to use it to tackle the next job… …welding the tabs for the dzus fasteners on to the funny car chassis.

Anyhow, back to the drag jacks. I have spent the last few days lifting myself up and down on them in the conservatory much to the amusement of my dog Tommy. I don’t know why but he looks at me as if to say, “aren’t you a bit old for this?” but delivery of another biscuit seems to settle that question!

DSC_3107

Fully lowered

DSC_3108

At full lift

DSC_3109

The final test is to lift the car, but this will have to wait for a while as whilst playing with the  jacks one of the rams appeared to spit it guts out with the resultant spillage of hydraulic oil on my conservatory floor which had me scurrying for rolls of blue paper. However, thinking the ram had failed, I took it out of the jack and filled the pump and extended the ram just to make sure. This went well with no fluid leak, then as another pool of oil started to appear I traced the problem. The quick connect fitting thread had worn to the point where it wouldn’t hold against the pressure. So I have a ram that is fully extended waiting for a new fitting, which is wending its way from Poland as I speak

As you can see from the pictures the change in ram size (inadvertent mistake by me) did alter the angles which meant that the lift arms rather than sitting 2 inches off the floor, are about 4 ½ inches. This is no problem as the rear of the funny car accommodates this and at the front we will use a couple of motorhome levellers to sort this.

Other progress this month has been the internal panels for the chassis. I made some plywood mock ups and put these up against the chassis to ensure we had them exactly as we wanted. I know you can use cardboard to make the template which I originally did but transferring this to ply gives me something more substantial to work from and provides a useable pattern if we need to replace them at any time in the future.

Inner panel tremplates

As always thank you for taking the time to read my meanderings. We are inexorably getting closer to marking off some of the myriad of jobs we need to complete, to get the car ready. I could blame Brexit, Trump, EU or Nicolas Maduro but in the end it is down to time and money as it always is for any one that races.

Posted by: nwracing | January 6, 2019

Progress…. Of a sort!

Let me wish you all a Happy New Year, I hope that your dreams and aspirations all come true.

For the first time I can remember have a New Year resolution. For 2019 due to my poor posting regime I am committing to post at least once a quarter, more often if we progress more quickly.

On that note I was hoping that by now I would have more to report on the build of the Funny Car…. but I can’t!

We seem to be in a chicken and egg situation, with the contents of my old dragster trailer cluttering up my garage to the point where I don’t have the space to fabricate the new tin work. However, there may be a light at the end of the tunnel as I have managed this week to secure some storage space so I can get ready for the aluminium sheets to be delivered.

Although progress has been slow on the car I have started fabricating the new race jacks. I have always eyed the air hydraulic Pro Jacks with envy but as I have other more pressing requirements for the money they would cost me I decided to make my own. After all, how difficult can it be? As it turns out, very difficult!!!

Although the concept is pretty simple and the fabrication straightforward the devil is in the detail. Getting the geometry right even with the aid of a sketch has proved to be problematic.

Added to this my trusty old tig welder decided to go pop and as I need to weld aluminium I decided an upgrade was on the cards. So after much perusing of the web I settled for an R-tech unit which comes with a foot pedal, something I never had on my old welder. As I have found, this is very different to a throttle pedal, and my usual approach of mashing it to the floor required re-evaluation in order to control distortion! I now have had time to practise and love it.

So armed with my sketches I ordered some hydraulic rams from Greed Bay. They duly arrived and this is where my troubles started. I needed rams that would fit inside a 50mm box section. However, these were 60mm. No problem I thought I’ll order box section with a 60mm inside diameter. However, the best fit was 70mm with a 5mm wall. This was bloody heavy but got me out of a hole. I could always lighten it later.

So the next part was to make a jig board so I could lay it all out and use it to tack everything together. The first problem was distortion, so I made other jigs to weld tubes together as you can see from the picture which worked really well.

So Mark 1 had to be scrapped so it was on to Mark 2. This was all going to plan until I had a disaster…   …the regulator on my argon bottle decided to throw a wobbly just as I was welding a critical stress point! As these jacks are going to support the funny car with both myself and the crew lying underneath I am not prepared to risk anyone’s safety so the only option is to start again.

jig for welding

So Mark 3 was born! This seems to be going better. I have uncovered other issues caused by changing the size of the hydraulic rams, which has had a positive side effect as my CAD skills are getting a boost.

mark 3

I recall that Edison was once asked about the number of times he had failed in making a lightbulb. He replied that he had found 1000 ways not to make a lightbulb! I feel a bit like him at the moment!

So, in conclusion, I am slowly moving forward and hope to complete and test them in January.

Oh and one more thing. If you are tempted to build your own race jacks do a lot of research and if you can afford it don’t!!!

Posted by: nwracing | August 21, 2018

New Beginnings

It is with mixed emotions that I am writing this blog. The Andromeda slingshot has gone to its new home; in Finland!

It was a strange feeling, seeing the trailer with the car strapped in it on the dock side, in the rear view mirror of the truck, knowing that we wouldn’t be seeing it again. I know we shouldn’t get attached to racing cars but somehow they get under your skin. Perhaps, it is the time and effort expended on them.

It is weird having a big space in the garage where the slingshot once lived. However, as we are starting to work out all the things we need to do I have started it filling it up. And a rather alarming rate!

But, this means we are now clear to really get going on the Funny Car; or we would be if my order for chassis tabs and fittings was any closer to being delivered. They were ordered in February and still no definite delivery date! I am looking at alternatives.

There has been some progress. So far I have managed to fabricate the front tall body stand and a smaller version for travelling in the trailer and worked out the parts list for completing the engine.

I have to say I’d forgotten how much work is required to get a race car ready and at the moment it all looks rather daunting. Sometimes I think I have taken on a bit more than I can manage but onwards and upwards as they say.

I have know realised that all the header pictures we have need changing but a half finished race car does not make a great poster child!

Posted by: nwracing | July 5, 2018

So it begins – Blown Methanol Funny Car!

According to Facebook it has been 289 days since I last posted! Wow, doesn’t time fly, and thank you if you’re reading this I really do appreciate your patience.

I would like to unveil our new car. The body is Carbon fibre and needs serious paint. There are still a lot of parts to be purchased and work to be done but the basics are all there.

Funny Car 1

The first few jobs have been completed with the steering column and pedal now fully welded after my initial fitting in to the chassis.

FC Fitting 1

Also the engine, Bruno and Lenco have all been fixed in so we can get an idea of space for the coupler and drive shaft length.

Lenco fitted

One of the big changes has been for us has been the change of powerplant. After setting my heart on a blown Chevy we came to realise that to fit it to the chassis was going to require some serious reworking of the chassis and we had no idea how this would translate in altered handling as the chassis is built with the engine and transmission at a certain height which didn’t translate the same with the Big Block.

Anyway, by pure luck a BAE motor came along just at the right time and fits straight in without any chassis mods. The BAE motor is new to me and the crew but I am excited to finally be running a Hemi. So another of my wants on the wish list has been fulfilled.

KB fitted

What we are hoping to do is get the chassis completed by the end of the year, whilst we also work on the body with the intention of getting out at some point next year.

At the moment Chris and I keep walking round the garage looking in boxes and deciding where the parts go and making lists of jobs. But now we are starting work and I will keep you updated.

All the best Neil

P.S. The slingshot, trailer and awning are available as a package. Just hook up and go racing! I’m looking for £16,000 or nearest offer.

Posted by: nwracing | September 11, 2017

End of an era?

After our fantastic time at Dragstalgia in July where we ran personal best after personal best we faced a serious quandary…

…do we keep running the slingshot and make some major changes, or go in a completely different direction?

If you’ve read any of my previous blogs I’ve talked about selling the car, and in my mind I’d envisaged this to be when we ran 8.50. However, even though we ran this quick the motor is set up so conservatively we could potentially go much quicker with what we’ve got! And without making major changes!

But, and this is a big but, I’ve hankered for a funny car for as long as I can remember and as I’m not getting any younger (no further comment needed!) this weighed heavily on my mind as part of my decision making process.

The decision has been taken! The slingshot is going to be sold to make way for a new car. At this moment in time I’m currently in the process of doing a deal. Once the deal is finalised I’ll let everyone know and put up a few pictures.

So yes, it is the end of an era. I cannot begin to say how much fun the slingshot has been and I’ll be sad to see it go. However, this is a great car for someone to get in to drag racing.

I’ll send out an update in a few weeks so please bear with me.

P.S. If any of you reading this fancy owning the slingshot please let me know.

Dragster launch

Perfect launch!

Posted by: nwracing | July 24, 2017

Dragstalgia 2017 – They say its all over… it is now!

As I write this blog I realise that I have missed reporting on the results from the previous two race meetings, Spring Nationals May 27 – 29 and Nostalgia Nationals June 24-25. So for completeness, here is a quick precis.

The Spring Nationals at Shakey showed us moving forward again with the motor and we were heading towards our best normally aspirated time of 9.30 but I was still not completely happy and was looking forward to the Sunday. Unfortunately, a family bereavement meant that I made the decision to leave.

The Nostalgia Nationals was our next attempt to get back to our best. After a couple of clean normally aspirated runs the decision was taken to switch the NOS back on. However in my haste to get to the track I had forgotten the fly leads for the bottle heater which meant we would have to run with a lower than ideal bottle pressure. That being said we managed an 8.8, two 8.6’s and then on our final run we ran a personal best of 8.62 at 150.00mph! This whetted our appetites for the next meeting, my favourite of the year, Dragstalgia at Santa Pod.

We had the option to run on the Friday but my superstitious nature kicked in as we had broken the diff on the same day the year before. So I decided we would take the opportunity to completely clean the car, something I haven’t done for a while. Much to amusement of some of my fellow racers!

Saturday morning arrived and although it was overcast we were called to the pairing lanes. Sadly the greyness turned in to rain which persisted well in to the afternoon. After the best efforts of the Santa Pod track crew we finally managed to get a run in. A creditable 8.86 was a promising start so we prayed to the weather Gods for a good day on Sunday.

Dragster Fire up Road

Waiting for our first run of the day

Sunday morning arrived and as the Sun penetrated the awning we knew our weather prayers had been answered!

The scheduling meant we were out first and although the burnout wasn’t great we ran an 8.66. I did feel a jolt and thought we might have damaged something. Then the penny dropped… …I’d forgotten to change the NOS bottle! Doh! It was completely empty. So armed with a full bottle we went again and ran a new best time of 8.57, but again the burnout seemed a little weak. A number of comments about the amount of grip on the startline and increasing tyre pressures got us thinking so we decided to do the same.  I felt there was still more to come so we looked forward to the last run of the day. An improved burnout a strong launch and an extremely strong run all the way to the finish was a brilliant way to end the meeting. What we didn’t expect was the time, 8.47 at 151.56mph a personal best both in ET and mph!

 

And this leads me to explain the title of this blog. I have held a desire to build a new car for a number of years and move in a different direction. So I have decided to sell Andromeda to fund the new car. I could not have asked for a better car and am sure the new owner will enjoy the experience as much as I have.

Dragster launch

Perfect launch!

 

 

 

So long for now and I will keep you informed on how we progress.

 

 

 

 

Posted by: nwracing | August 5, 2016

And then all my teeth fell out!

After the euphoria of Dragstalgia it was time to get down to the serious work of stripping the back axle out of the car. I have never done this since I have owned the car so this was new territory for me and I was surprised at how much of the car needed to come apart to get it out. As it turned out I took the diff out of the case which made the whole thing more manageable.

With a certain amount of trepidation I inspected the diff and as you can see from the pictures we have stripped teeth off the crown wheel and damaged the pinion so that is scrap. The teeth were sat in the bottom of the casing and I can only assume that the racing gods were on our side again as incredibly they had not jammed whilst I was running. A situation I fear would not have ended quite as pleasantly as it did.

Broken Crown wheel Broken teeth Diff Bearings Pinnion damage

Just for good measure I checked the bearings to see if we could salvage anything, I was being horribly optimistic. Ho hum, every bearing in the axle is trashed. It appears that the little metal filings you inevitably see from damage like this had been round all of the races so they’re toast as well!

So now we know what we’re facing its time to order all the bearings shims and gaskets. Then I’ll source the gears and axle shafts so we should be back up and running fairly soon, however, because of other commitments outside of racing it is highly likely that we won’t make it out again this season which is slightly irritating, but that’s life as they say.

So it appears that since I decided to sell Andromeda she has reacted a bit like Stephen Kings Christine without the added advantage of repairing herself which would be quite a useful feature; for all drag racers I suspect!

On a slightly different subject a number of people have asked about the website, or lack of one! I have not really got my act together on this and hope to start the process of designing a new site as soon as possible and will let you know when it’s ready.

If you know anyone who would like to read this blog or like our Facebook page please let them know about us. We would love to see them!

Of all the meetings I had been looking forward to on the racing calendar then Dragstalgia was the one. Over the last few years it has developed in to probably the best nostalgia meeting in Europe and the variety of interesting race cars and bikes seems to get larger every time it takes place.

We arrived Thursday afternoon as we wanted some time getting the car fettled and also take the opportunity to run on the RWYB day on Friday to get the car. Our intention was to get the base motor finally settled and then turn the NOS back on. Friday morning arrived and the weather was glorious so anticipation was high.

Looking at our data it was clear that we needed to keep leaning the mixture so we put a setting in to the carb and took it out for its first run.

Whilst it had ticked over in the pits it steadfastly refused to do so in the fire up lane and I did the drag racing equivalent of rubbing your stomach whilst patting your head! I also nearly managed to run Chris over as he was bringing me to the line. The result was a Red light and the motor only managed to settle down at half-track at which point it covered me in oil. Fortunately this was just a rocker gasket that had dislodged itself and I had not oiled the track which was a relief.

Back at the pits a quick plug check showed we had gone over the edge and it was leaner than we were happy with. So we tried a slightly different jet combination. At the start line the car seemed to launch ok with startling large plumes of black smoke but then it was all over the track and I’m pretty sure that I covered a lot more than a quarter of a mile!

As Chris towed me back to the pits there was a strange sound coming from the rear axle.  Putting the car back on the stands and firing it up again it was clear that all was not well and a large mechanical clunking confirmed our worst fears, we had broken the diff! Now as this was Friday this was probably the worst case scenario. However, we had booked for the weekend so decided to enjoy the rest of the weekend and sort the diff out when we were back at home.

Removing the rear axle

Removing the rear axle

And what a weekend it was, if you’ve ever wondered about the roots of drag racing then Santa Pod is a brilliant place to start your education  with cars from the roots of UK drag racing in the shape of the Allard Chrysler and bikes like Pegasus and Hobbit. A sight for all the senses is probably the best way to describe it.

A number of things stick out in my mind, firstly our friends Steph and Dave Milam of She Devil racing produced a barnstorming run of 6.18, the fastest in Europe for an Altered, secondly the UK v USA matchups which were absolutely brilliant and many thanks must go to the guys for travelling across the pond. And finally the overall atmosphere at Santa Pod: We were pitted next to a French and an Italian team and there were Germans, Dutch and many other nationalities present and guess what, we all got on! Drag racing has a way of uniting people in a way politicians can only dream of.

On a personal note it was great to see Simon from Eurodragster and finally put a face to the voice, and thanks to the Santa Pod team who put on a great show and last but not least all those people who tried to help us.

Back at NWR HQ the strip down has begun and as you can see from the pictures so far we have found that we need new driveshaft’s and this is before we even got to the diff proper.

half shaft

Twisted splines!

Next job is to get the whole axle out and see what else we’ve done!

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