Thursday, January 23, 2020

Race Ready

This past weekend, the Bunch of Idiots lemons team converged for a final time to get the engine re-assembled and running. After a week of delays and shipping incorrect piston rings back and forth, we finally gathered the correct parts and got to work.
One piston in!

Saturday was spent carefully assembling the bottom end, then mating up the head and all the accessories. Sunday the new-to-us transmission was bolted up and everything hoisted into the car. Wiring was completed, cooling system flushed and plumbed, the exhaust bolted in place and I hopped in and fired it right up! First try! It's like we've done this before.
A little wiring cleanup for our aftermarket water temp gauge.

We went back and cleaned up some of the wiring that we found had gotten mildly damaged. The suspension components were checked over. We finished off installing my larger wheels to roll the car around while Kyle takes our race wheels to get flipped. We're feeling pretty good for the Barber race coming up. We're spending Friday before the race running the test session, spending the time to break in the motor and get re-acquainted with the track so we can push for our first top 10 finish.

Looking Hella Sweet! Ready to race!

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

January Maintenance

Down at NMS South, we're ramping up for the 2020 season with some maintenance. First up, the Lemons Miata was consuming more oil than we wanted in Atlanta last month. We rebuilt the top end of the motor last year, but the bottom end was still Mazda-original, 189,000 miles. It was due for some work.
One gross bottom end of the bad motor. The bad crankshaft was the terminal blow. 

We picked up a free motor from some friends that were also running a 1.6l Miata in Lemons. This one had cooked a head gasket but we had hoped to salvage the bottom end, rebuild it, and just swap out the old one in our car with the donor one freshly built. Once the donor motor was apart to begin the build we quickly realized it was a total dud. Sticking with our theme from earlier in 2019, we've got lots of failure to talk about here.
One of the rings that was too large sits on top of the cleaned up engine block. There's no way we'll be able to compress that down into the cylinder.

The next step was pulling the good motor and disassembly. We found a fair amount of tiny metal shavings in the transmission fluid and knew it might be on its last legs. Once the motor was apart, the bottom end had a few metal shavings in the oil pick-up tube. We decided to strip it all down and send it to the machine shop for a thorough cleaning.
With some extra time on our hands, we installed some air intakes in place of the old turn signals to get some more cooling air into the engine bay. 

The following weekend it was back, looked great, everything checked out, the crankshaft went in smoothly, but then the piston rings showed up in the right box, but the wrong size. We pressed on with our other tune-up items and ordered new piston rings.
Less paint is less weight, right?

Another set of piston rings showed up, but its another batch of right box, wrong rings. To add insult to injury, I parked the car outside while it was lightly raining and then put the car cover on. After a few days in the sun, it must have turned the little bit of water under the cover to steam and bubbled up most of our clear coat. Oh well. It's just Lemons.
The square metal bracket sandwiches between the cable running to the radio and the actual antenna

On the positive side of things, I finally was able to correct a mistake I made with the car last year. I had mis-measured the hole needed in the body for mounting our long-range radio antenna and drilled it out too big. Today I realized it could be fixed by making a small bracket to adapt the size of the hole and got the antenna installed. Hopefully that'll keep us in contact with the driver anywhere on the track at our next race.

Final product sits where the factory antenna was placed and covers up my over-sized hole. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

December Lemons Recap

It's way past due, but now that the holidays are over, the NMS South crew is back in full force. December was fairly eventful with the Lemons Miata making it's third appearance and first visit to Road Atlanta. The weekend started out cold and wet, but slowly dried by the race start and continued to warm up over the weekend.
Taking a track walk Friday evening in the misty weather.

The Miata fell back to around 25th Saturday due to a few minor missteps but steadily clawed back. Our consistent driving and ever increasing pace pushed the car to a final finish in 14th position overall.  Were it not for a few laps missed from serving a questionable penalty and a minor spin, the team was on pace for a top 10 finish, keeping consistent with our 11th place from CMP.

All loaded up during a brief stop on the way to the track. 
One massive upgrade the team brought to the event was the arrival of the next generation of NMS towing capability. The 2007 Chevy Silverado 2500 was purchased from friend of the team and Altima teammate, Adam. It brings the 6.6L Duramax diesel engine paired with the Allison 6 speed automatic transmission, four wheel drive, and a full crew cab. This towing behemoth handily totes the new-to-us 24' enclosed trailer to deliver the Miata to the track with room to spare.
Complete with space heaters, chairs and a track-side view, the trailer was the best seat in the house.

The truck and trailer were welcomed by all our friends in paddock around us as we huddled inside with propane heaters to fend off the wind and cold. We're committed to continuing to race, so having an enclosed space that can be heated or cooled will keep us comfortable whenever or wherever we race.
Hanging out in paddock with the 350Z crew.

Special shout out to good friend of the team, Jason who completed the build of a Nissan 350Z and debuted it that same weekend. They had great pace with new drivers but first race reliability and a few black flags kept them behind the Miata. We're looking forward to some great competition from them in the future.