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. 

Stay up to date with us at facebook.com/coronautski

It's going to be a wild ride.

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