Sunday, September 23, 2018

Hey Buddy, Wanna See Some Trabbies?

Trabant Photo Courtesy the Spy Museum

This post was almost about cats, because my auto-correct wanted Trabbies to be Tabbies. This post is NOT about cats. Car cats I WOULD write about would include Jaguars, Panthers, and Cheetahs.

So, back on topic, Trabbies, more formerly known as Trabants, the infamous cheap cars built in East Germany during the cold war. What made them special? Well, that they were one of the few cars built in East Germany, but also that parts of the body were made of some recycled cotton material called Duroplast.

What got me thinking about Trabants was an upcoming Trabant event in our nation's capitol of all places. If you want to see some Trabbies, head to Washington DC on November 3rd. The Spy Museum will be holding their 12th annual Trabant Rally from 10-4. They claim it's the only Trabant event in the US, so unless you're in Europe, this would be a cool car event to see! For more information, check out the website at the: SPY MUSEUM

I trust you know how to Google "Trabant" for more information on how they were built and why they are so unique, so I'll just share one informational video from Aging Wheels: TRABANT

For a super-quick look at the Trabi, check out this video too: MOTOR WEEK

OK, I know, sometimes you get trapped in a YouTube mode and can't stop watching videos, so here's one more. This one is AWESOME, from 1965, it shows Trabants being made in the factory in Zwickau (East Germany), has cool 60s background jazzy music, and is narrated in German! TRABANT FACTORY

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Lemons Update

Even though the September Lemons Race in South Carolina was rescheduled, on the positive side, NMS-South has survived Hurricane Florence, and work has continued on the Team Coronautski Dodge Coronet. Also positive, NMS-North and the Altimate Driving Machine Nissan Altima have more time to prep their hunk-o-junk race car too! The Lemons race will now be held on the weekend of November 3-4, still at Carolina Motorsports Park. Team Coronautski has not made any public statements about their possible collusion with Russian automobile racers, and they did not return any NMS inquiries. More to follow as the Russian investigation continues.

More good news, considering the weather in South Carolina for drivers wearing protective gear, November should be A LOT COOLER weather-wise! Plus, maybe there won't be any hurricanes then either! If you're interested in actually trying this type of racing with a crew of fellow crazy drivers in a cheap $500 car, the sponsors of the 24 Hours of Lemons have a new guide to being a team captain, so we direct your attention to the Lemons Team Captain Toolkit at this link: TOOLKIT

While in general it's a very loose set of rules, Lemons racing is very strict on the safety issues, so it's important to know that beyond having a car that (hopefully) runs and go around the track for 2 days, that you really do need a built in roll cage, electrical cut-off, racing seats and harness, and all the safety gear and fire-protective gear for all drivers. Even having ridiculous fun for cheap should still be safe.

The NMS team has been focused on this Lemons race for most of 2018, so there's more car news to come, and just maybe we'll throw in another autocross or two before the year is over. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

From Bad to Worse to Worserer

Kyle rolls the car through tech inspection Friday morning. 
Team Coronatuski made a massive push over the last week to piece together and re-build the engine that couldn't hold it together during testing last month. The car fired up Thursday night at about 10:00 pm and by 1:00 am the car left the shop. After a few hours of sleep, the purple Dodge was fueled up and back at Carolina Motorsports Park in time for the 8:00 am driver meeting.

Improvised fuel cooler. We routed the fuel through the spare aluminum line
 up front to catch some breeze.
Testing started off discouraging when the car suffered from fuel starvation and over-heating during the first session. We got creative and built an on-the-fly fuel line cooler out of spare parts we had on hand. It wasn't pretty, but it immediately solved the fuel issues.  Heat still plagued the car and we had just started working on addressing it with our remaining 3 track sessions when smoke poured from the car, forcing Kyle to pull to a stop and wait out the session from a safe location while things cooled down.

Always good for a little comic relief, Jason provided some remaining disaster 
relief water from a few years ago to top off the radiator.
Completely let down all our hard work was failing again, we loaded on the trailer and dragged the car back to Jason's. Diagnosis immediately showed head gasket failure, and with one cylinder head removed we saw even worse news.  Two of the four brand new forged aluminum pistons (the ones we bought to help make sure the engine was extra-strong) were melted in several spots.

Melted piston. You can see the two areas missing around the edge 
where the piston rings are showing through.
The team took a tough vote to press on with one last attempt to get the car ready and stay on track to race. A friend of a friend in the area had a factory-original 1972 Dodge 318 motor in an old Ram Charger that had been sitting in his yard for a couple years. We made a deal to haul it all away for $500 with the plan of plopping that engine in our car in whatever shape it was.

$500 buys one 1987 Dodge Ram Charger with a 1972 v8 motor.
Sunday morning, the team converged on the Ram Charger at 9:00 and got it loaded on our trailer. After a quick breakfast stop, the two vehicles were side by side and the swap began. Thanks again to Phillip, Jonathan, and Ward for stopping by and lending hands to make the swap happen!

About 10:00 Sunday night we finally line up the engine and slide
 it onto the transmission.
Today is Tuesday. The engine will be fired up (hopefully) for the first time in 2 years this evening. Hurricane Florence (currently Category 4, leaning toward 5) is barreling toward the SC/NC coast and threatening to ruin the race weekend with landfall Thursday night. This is the third time we've removed and replaced a motor in the car in the last month.

Shooting one frame per minute, here's a look at our Sunday. 

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It's going to be a wild ride.