Monday, August 19, 2013

Race Report: 2013 LeMons The Real Hoopties of New Jersey

Update: WE PASSED TECH! Woooo hooo. The actual race almost didn't matter  pffft. The Fuel Cell build out passed, so we were good to go. We were 3rd in line this time, and very prepared.

Final result: 47th out of 138 cars, 5th in Class C out of 18. Best of all: no tech flags, no black flags, NO CONTACT with other cars, and she ran all weekend during incredible weather.

Baby George even made the Official LeMons Video Recap with a "Hella Sweet" tag! See it here:

MGB-GT at speed, New Jersey Motorsports Park Thunderbolt track, August 2013, Scot at the wheel.
Some pics:

George Alexander Louis in the Royal Buggy on the way to the race
looking forward to a Gormless Weekend

Scot trimming the steel-braided fuel hose access hole in the MGB GT Battery Box cover
 (under which the fuel pump lives).

Prince George demanded the attention of the LeMons judges, so the Royal Guards stood outside the judge windows for about 5 minutes until they were noticed and a ruckus ensued. pip pip!

Ray escorting Brandon to the Technical / Safety Inspection garage. You know: the inspection that got us thrown out of Summit Point 2013... nerves were a bit frayed at this point, but the Royal Guard Never Waver! When Jay announced that we passed, all 5 Royal Guards present spontaneously lost composure (what little we had) and sent up a cheer.
We passed tech: we were already a winner. George is already hitting the sauce pretty hard.
Left to Right: Kurt, Ray, Brandon, George Alexander Louis, Carl, Scot.

Last minute repairs: had to move wheel weights so they wouldn't rub on hand brake.
The weights ended up falling off anyway, that's probably why we lost the race.

Our nearly empty garage space. The Gormless MGB GT needed almost zero work over the weekend, it was quite brilliant.

Ray in the lead, dodging the 4 foot poo that was deposited on the last turn before the straight by a Subaru. It was hilarious watching cars come around the bend pedal to the floor and then noticing a 4 foot poo on the track, then a delay, then a dodge to one side or the other.  

Stealing Ice from George Alexander Louis' beer cooler to refill the home made cool shirt cooler. Blessed, heavenly, wonderful, life giving and affirming cool shirt cooler.

Scot and Kurt check the vitals and top off the oil, which was being lost more by crankcase vent spewing than by burning as far as we could tell. A visit to AutoZone Millersville Saturday night and they scrounged an O-Ring, then shaved it to size, so the valve cover oil filler cap would not leak: it then proceeded to leak from every other place...

...while Ray and Carl strap in Brandon for his 2nd and award-wining 2 hour stint.
Gormless Racing MGB GT, quite possibly going the wrong way on the track... (it's an English thing)

Gormless Racing made Car & Driver's blog.... first and last time I assure you

Some idiot, standing guard and refilling George's bottle with Guinness every 1/2 hour.
Session beer indeed.

Refilling at the gas pump: the only way to go!!!!
It was an honor and a privilege to race against a Rolls Royce... the Rolls Royce! We were about to take down that frenchie in front of us like Nelson in the... well maybe not.

New Jersey Motorsport Parks Thunderbolt track from the air. 

It looks so innocent....

Links to Videos and Pictures of the Race:

Sunday, July 14, 2013

MGB GT gets an FIA rated ATL Fuel Cell

At the LeMons 2013 Capitol Offense race, we were politely told to fix the ass end of the car, as described in our race report.

What we did...


  • ATL 15 gallon FIA rated LeMons Legal fuel cell, direct off the Lemons web site in order to guarantee this cell is acceptable. 
  • Mounted in the OEM gas tank location (a little higher so we don't drag on bad entries to The Karussell!)
  • Using professional Speedway Motors Fuel Cell Bracket mount bolted to the frame
  • We have the OEM back bumper and an additional internal bumper (built from old roll cage material) behind the cell to help in heavier fender benders
  • No splash bulkhead required (though we may add one later)

The fuel cell install has begun!

Here's some pics, not done yet but here it is so far:

Where the mount meets the car; long horizontals (marked '1 inch steel' here) were cut to 38 inches so they overlap the upper frame for mounting. The section of roll bar you see was existing, and has a vertical piece (inside, between two frames) about 2 inches high that welds it to the lower frame.
ATL Fuel Cell in an MGB GT hatchback

The horizontal side pieces are used from Speedway unmolested, however the verticals were cut down to 8 inches and re-drilled (oddly, one of the eight holes was the wrong size from the factory):
ATL Fuel Cell in an MGB GT hatchback - side traps
Here is the first fitting, without the improved fuel cell cage frame pieces. We could not move it forward any further without hitting the differential! It's in the OEM position, so will be OK. Well, we could move it forward, but it would be sitting on the drivers shoulders... and that's just ridiculous since we already have a cool-shirt system.
ATL Fuel Cell in an MGB GT hatchback - snugly in place

Here is the original frame from Speedway Motors; note the two upper short horizontal bars (outermost) are held in place by magnets in this picture; we were fitting the fuel cell and moving those pieces around. The holes to mount those pieces permanently have not been drilled yet, we are waiting to finish the extra L-Channel trap frame before doing so, in order to ensure a nice tight fit.

Here are the pieces of the L-Channel trap frame (I don't know the proper name for it, but it is made of L Channel steel and it traps the bottom of the fuel cell, so that's what I am calling it). We made pieces to go around all the edges on the bottom and then up the sides on the corners. Measurements in inches are 24 5/8 (two), 18 1/4 (two), 9 1/4 (four). The vertical corner pieces do not hit the upper flange, we did not want that to be a stress point.

Here is the cage tack welded, before complete joint welding by pro:
The Speedway Motors Fuel Cell Cage - augmented with angle iron to protect edges, tack welded, prior to full weld.

Update 2013-08-06 - Cage back from the welder!

Painted, mounted:
Fuel cell cage, resting in well; about 6 inches higher than normal MGB gas tank and a bit more forward

Looks simple, doesn't it?

That vent line is just a place holder

MGB Fuel Cell corner with Grade 8 mounting hardware
Detail, underneath: corner protection evident, note cross bar bolted and welded! pffft
In situ; pay no attention to that missing vent line....
Front the top
Update 2013-08-07 - some extra pics for the curious


(more pics to come, as we endeavor to make NJMP!!!)


Some links to 24 Hours of LeMons Forums regarding Fuel Cells:

Shopping List:

Fuel Cell Rules & Notes from 24 Hours of LeMons site:

  • Common Tech Failures:  Fuel cells.  If the cell is not an FIA certified rubber bladder cell (Fuel Safe or ATL) then it must have a sealed metal barrier between it and the driver, even if it is in a metal can.  NO EXCEPTIONS!      This means most cells from Jazz, RCI, Summit, Etc.   They all need a metal bulk head between the cell and the driver.   A fuel cell install is always judged by its quality of install and is looked at by the race manager, The bar is high, do a good job.   
  • How NOT to Fail LeMons Safety Inspections: Cell can't be too low (punctures), too high (rollovers), and must be far enough away from edges to avoid damage during typical accidents.
  • Rulebook: (note: always check most up to date rulebook!) - 3.25: Fuel Tanks/Fuel Cells: All fuel systems, including OE fuel tanks and aftermarket fuel cells, must be sound and in good working order. Maximum allowed capacity is 24 gallons or less. Fuel tanks or cells must be completely behind, or completely in front of, the driver (unless OE parts in their OE locations). No second fuel tanks allowed (unless OE parts in their OE locations).
            3.25.1: Aftermarket Fuel Cells Versus OE Fuel Tanks. Fuel cells are allowed,but they are NOT mandatory. Don't make the rookie mistake of assuming that anything billed as a "fuel cell" is safer than a sound OE fuel tank.High-quality, professionally constructed, correctly installed fuel cells tend to be safer than OE tanks; cheap and/or poorly installed fuel cells tend to be less safe than OE tanks.
            3.25.2: Fuel Cell Installation: If you decide to install a fuel cell, it must be securely mounted in a professional manner and must be installed in a safe location where it won't be damaged in an impact or drag on the ground if the car leaves the track. All aftermarket fuel components must use threaded fittings and appropriate hose types, and must include all appropriate racecar-quality vents, valves, and other safety features. Fuel-cell installations will be judged on their overall execution and apparent safety. Cars whose fuel cells do not feature internal foam, a puncture-resistant bladder, and/or metal encasement are considerably more likely to fail tech inspection.
    Also this section spells out an FIA certified fuel cell if it is going to be sharing the passenger compartment with the driver (or in the rear hatch area in a hatchback)
    3.18: Fuel Bulkhead: The fuel-tank area must be totally separated from the driving compartment. For example, if the fuel tank is in the trunk area, any openings between the trunk and the cockpit must be permanently sealed with bolted, riveted, or welded metal panels. OE fuel tanks that are separate from, and located completely below, the trunk floor or rear-cabin floor are acceptable. If the fuel tank can't be completely separated from the cockpit by metal panels, a metal-encased, FIA-certified fuel cell with all related compliant fittings must be used.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Diagnosing Low Max RPM: Margaret Thatcher Needs her Coffee!

During the practice day for the 2013 LeMons Capitol Offense race, it was hard to NOT notice our MGB GT had somehow dwindled to an upper limit of 4500 RPMs, which means the very important upper 20% is missing, right in the power band. The poor girl is weak already, and a limit of 4500 would literally (and figuratively) knock us out of the race.


We check the pedal linkage, it was OK.

The accelerator cable was making grinding noise; we sprayed into the cable all we could with silicone spray, to some-but-little effect.

Scot noticed the butterfly gears on the Weber DGV Downdraft Carb were not articulated 100%, so we bent and adjusted the cable bracket all we dared to extend the motion, and then greased the hell out of it. To no effect.

We were getting driver stints in between tweaks, and by the time we fixed the butterfly gears it was time for LeMons Tech Inspection, which we failed, so we dropped the whole "Upper 20% power missing" because Tech had rendered us with a "Upper 100% power missing" situation.

After the sobbing subsided (2 weeks later) I finally got back to diagnosing the issue.

First up: Fuel Delivery.

We had previously had mega-carberator problems with gunk at Summit Point 2011, so that was a thing.

Remembering the Jet Ski in-tank fuel filter I had added 2 years prior, I decided to make sure the carbs were getting enough coffee fuel.

1) get a glass jar, clean it out, drill a 3/4 inch hole in cap (or whatever size your fuel hose is, 'natch)

Guinness does not come in clear bottles, so you'll have to resort to 9 oz poison bottles.

2) disconnect fuel line from carb.
Might want to make sure fuel pump power is OFF before doing this, dumbass.

 3) stuff this thing in that thing:
Probably illegal in New Jersey.
4) apply power to fuel pump, count how many seconds it takes to fill up bottle (6 or so seconds). Do not drink, though it would be healthier than what originally came in the bottle. I messed up timing this, in that (1) I didn't run the car first to purge the air, and (2) I didn't use a timer, but counted one-mississippi.
Pretend this pic is rotated 90 degrees counter clockwise.
5) now, don your best Saran Wrap Fetish Gear, and give your Fuel Cell a proctal exam:
Definitely illegal in New Jersey!
6) wave to neighbors, note which ones wink, reach into fuel cell and fish around for fuel pickup and in-tank filter:
This may feel uncomfortable...
7) remove said filter (and small connecting hose):
Possibly clogged filter removed, immediately wash arm with 30 gallons of soap
 8) change crappy-ass "Fuel Pressure Regulator" which is actually just a friggin fuel restrictor from 4.5 PSI to 6 PSI; retest fuel flow, receive same damn 6 second time.
Crappy ass.
 9) Be sure to leave bottle cap in fuel line so that you look like the complete tool that you are, buttclown.
Honest, it's a heat shield!

10) test drive that bad boy - 5500 RPM, bitch!!!!!   Dunno if it was the pressure regulator (probably), clogged fuel filter (probably), or the need for a saran wrap proctologist exam (probably)... but whatever - I'm happy.

Last check I need to do it run it HOT, and see if 5500 is still reachable; not too worried since the 4500 limit was all day, even once cooled. Sounds fun.

Race Report: 2013 Capitol Offense - The 24 Hours of LeMons

Not. We failed tech.

On our home track.

On the most-fun-per-mile track on the east coast.

On a gorgeous weekend.

What did it? A perfect storm of:
  • Old Fuel Cell (RCI, not FAI rated) and 
  • Rear fuel cell protecting roll cage that tied into the front roll cage (a no-no for 2013 that we somehow missed in the rule updates, and the safety tech judge at Monticello either missed or let slide and didn't mention) AND also 
  • Diagonals of rear roll cage tied from the main upper hoop to behind the rear axle (another no-no, for 2012 that we somehow missed in the rule updates, and the safety tech judge at the last 4 races either missed or let slide and didn't mention). 
We couldn't just cut out the offending sections because they were holding in the fuel cell. Another team graciously offered to stay up all night to help fix it, but as they had 2 of their own cars needing work we didn't feel comfortable leaning on them so heavily. Death before Dishonor! Still, this hurt, being our favorite track and our home track.

MGB GT Race Car : Friday Practice Session in style!
We did have some mechanical issues Friday at test day; burnt a half quart of oil driving to the track (rings? uh oh), and the accelerator cable was very hard and making grinding noises. We also could not get above 4500 RPM (redline is at 5500 RPM), which renders the weak car even weaker, to the point of idling around the track - no fun for anyone. We checked the pedal linkage (since it came off last year at Summit), adjusted the carb linkage, greased the heck out of it, and did not find the solution by the time Safety Tech came around, at which point it was moot (though it did play a role in making us decide to not stay up all night gerry rigging an unsafe roll cage fix to get past tech).

Inconsequential Drama Recap:

Lesson 1: Do not go to Pep Boys for your tires, and if you do, (1) do it well ahead of time, (2) make sure the tires you order are not discontinued, (3) make sure the team mate ordering them knows "200 treadwear" is the top priority, (4) make sure the placement of the wheel weights do not chew away your tie rod bellows, and (5) don't go to Pep Boys. We did finally get them. See: photographic proof:

All 4, we counted

Wheel weights on inner rim interfering with tie rod bellows, move and Gorilla Tape elsewhere!
Lesson 2: Be Excessive. It's best to clean out Perty Ada The Short Bus to Adventure Tow Vehicle and Pit Party House with a Roomba and a 140 MPH leaf blower:

Friggin stink bugs from hell, begone!

Lesson 3: Bring chalk. Other than that, there may be no fix for this one. LeMons said no entry Thursday night, but we had an old friend that lived nearby walk over to the main gate and he said teams were setting up and Summit Point Gate said "go on in!". So, I threw everything I could into Perty Ada The Short Bus to Adventure and drove up to Summit; the front gate said "go on in" but when I got to the bridge at Shenandoah they had just tied it off, the LeMons judges saying Summit messed up and let some teams in. But she felt bad for me (I enacted Lesson #2 and was excessively polite) and she suggested that I could, once they left, hand carry all my spare tires and big crap a mile down to the pits and  mark off 3 pit spots (I was also saving spots for our Sister teams Team Judge Phil and Ruby McQueen (aka ex the DRTy e30s). So I did, damn the Hiatal Hernia (that has knocked me out of 2 other races), luckily I had grabbed some of my kids Sidewalk Chalk and a tape measure (Judge said 20 foot spots, any more and penalties would be levied) used it to mark off spaces. I ran out of chalk, but at least had enough to mark them some:

Midnight at Summit Point 24 Hours of LeMons Pit Land Grab and Cluster Fark

The punch line being that by the time we left Thursday late at night, the Summit Point Security guard told me it was stupid to hand carry that stuff, and that he had to drive through the gate tape anyway do his rounds 3 times and hour. >:(  But, as I had given my word to the LeMons judge, I left the school bus at the gate and moved it in the morning. Whatever, it's all good.

Lesson 4: Do not be last in line for Tech Inspection. After 8 hours in the sun listening to spoiled race car people whine, the judges may be a bit grumpy. Get 'em while they're fresh & happy.