Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Crunch Time for the Coronet

$100. 44 years old. 280,000 miles. Yep, Lemons Approved!
This past weekend Team Coronautski gave up their three day holiday weekend to crank out a ton of last minute work on the purple beast. In testing about a month ago, the car was down on power and suffered from over-heating. Extremely discouraging for a complete fresh engine build (since we somewhat blew up the motor at our second race in February).

Luke and Kyle carefully torque down the main bearings with the "new" crankshaft installed. 

We disassembled the motor to find the main and rod bearings were completely worn out and the crankshaft heavily damaged after just an hour on track. A local machine shop checked out the block and verified it was in good shape and cleaned it out. Meanwhile we sourced a "new" crankshaft in the form of an entire motor for about $100 up in Ashville. Fortunately all 318 cubic inch (or 5.2 liter) Dodge/Chrysler motors have interchangeable crankshafts from about the mid-1960s all the way through 2002, so this 1974 unit with 280,000 miles was up to the task.

Kyle and I installed the top end. Starting to look like an engine again.
New bearing sourced, and the grease-caked motor disassembled, we scrounged what we needed and re-assembled our motor. I helped where I could, which mostly came in the form of picking up heavy motor pieces and carefully putting them in place. It is pretty awesome taking a pile of a hundred metal bits and slowly putting them together in sequence to reveal a device that carefully and precisely controls tiny explosions several times a second.

The master fabricator (and gracious shop owner) Chuck teaches Jason how to braze the boxes used to expand our oil pan.
We've always struggled with dropping oil pressure through hard cornering and in light of our most recent engine malfunction, Jason lead the effort to enhance our oil pan. The idea is that adding two small metal boxes at the bottom of the pan will allow us to carry an additional quart of oil down low where the pump picks it up. On top of the additional capacity, we welded in some strips of metal along the sides that should help prevent as much from sloshing up the side and away from the pick up tube for the oil pump. All of this should keep more of that precious lubrication and cooling capacity flowing through the motor in the corners on track.

A touch of paint dries on the modified oil pan. Yep, even our spare parts boxes are purple.
While Jason was melting metal and Kyle, John and Luke were putting some final touches on the motor, I got to work back in the car sealing up all of the holes in the floor with aluminum tape. Being a classic piece of Detroit muscle, the Coronet is suffering from massive rust all over the car. There is enough metal left to keep the car structurally sound, but holes in the floor risk letting in exhaust fumes, which are a huge safety concern during endurance racing. We've made due in the past with duct tape, but we take our safety extremely seriously on the team and decided to patch the floors completely.
The floor is now sealed with some roofing tape. An entire 33' roll of it to be exact.

If all goes well, we'll be back out on track this Friday for a final test before our third race next weekend. It's coming down to the wire, but we have an awesome team who will make sure we beat the pants off a certain Nissan Altima at CMP!

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