Home of K-fab & The Deztaz

Joining The Four Stroke Revolution
The Dez Gets A New Engine

So the time has come. The old Arctic Cat 1000 triples have had their last ride.
I've abused the snot out of two of them over the past five years and they've done me well. (most of the time). The problem is that they're now both starting to become a bit unreliable, one of them needs quite a bit of money thrown at it to fix the cases where a bearing spun and wiped out the journals, they get HORRIBLE fuel mileage, they're LOUD (what?) and, well, it's just time for a change.

About the same time I got into the Dez, I'd switched from a two stroke RM250 to a four stroke YZ426F and I knew I'd found the type of power plant that I like - Four Bangers RULE. The two stroke in the Dez was a killer engine - hey, who can complain about 185 - 190 hp in a 1300 lb. car? Not a lot of torque, but bang for the buck, a damn good power plant and the Cat engines served their purpose beautifully, but I knew that eventually I'd want to put something different in the Dez.

The power plant choices were limited to a point. I had three main options:
1) Switch to a Honda VTEC engine. ATV Racing's been putting them in Tazcars for a while now. As long as I stayed with the 1600, I'd be legal for Class 10 in Whiplash (where I'm gonna go to eventually) and in a couple of the SCORE and Best In The Desert classes. The Honda's a pain in the butt to install, though. Lots of mods to the engine are required, James (ATV Racing's Head Fabricator) also said that he wouldn't put his stamp of approval on it - he doesn't like the VTEC... I have to agree with him too - I've driven a couple VTEC powered cars and, well, the engine doesn't suit the car and I really don't think it would be a very good desert power plant. It delivers in an odd fashion - almost two stroke like, it vibrates relentlessly and it's noisy.
(5/14) I stand corrected - this is info is based off the bigger (2000 cc??) VTEC engine. The 1600 is a different animal, makes great hp and doesn't vibrate. Still a pain in the butt for installation compared to some of the other engines, though.

B) Put in a GM Echotech engine - I've not driven/ridden in an Echotech powered Tazcar, but everyone that drives one says it's THE power plant to have in a Sand Taz. Smooth, huge torque and it's a clean and neat install (James' favorite to do). Downside is that it's 2.2 liters. That knocks me out of Class 10 (limited to 1.6 liters) and the similar classes in SCORE and BITD.

III) Install a Yamaha RX1 Snowmobile engine. Ah, the no-brainer. The engine's dimensions are almost the same as the Arctic Cat engine - just a bit taller. Torque output is up something like 75% more than the Arctic Cat, but hp is down to the 140 - 145 range. I'll take the torque. It's also the same weight - or very close to - the Arctic Cat engine - that means little suspension work and probably doesn't mean I'd have to change out suspension springs. One can adapt the fuel injection system off the R1 bike - instant HP - supposed to be right at 160 and now I don't have to jet anymore!!! I've driven two RX1 powered cars - a turbo charged BEAST and one normally aspirated (140 hp) in one of Jay's Desert Dog Offroad Coyotes at the dunes and the car ripped. My highly calibrated and sensitive Butt Dyno informed me that the Coyote was probably quicker and faster than the Dez was with the Arctic Cat engine in the sand. With a gain of 15 hp, thanks to fuel injection, to offset the weight of the Dez and the increase in torque, I think the performance of the Dez with an RX1 engine will equal the Arctic Cat engine setup. (at least I have my fingers crossed).
The RX1 engine is 1000 cc, so I'm legal in the classes I want to run, it's a Yamaha, so it's about as reliable as ANYTHING out there (Yamaha's valve train is probably THE most reliable in the small bore engine world right now), it's flexible and has a broad torque spread, it gets good fuel economy and it just made sense.

No matter what direction I was headed with the power plant, I was going to have to pretty much rebuild the back of the Dez from the rear of the main roll hoop back. Leave the upper frame loop in and cut everything else out. The new engine would be installed in front of the tranny, instead of on top of it, so my center of gravity was lowered and moved forward a bit too - this will give me better front end bite and handling too. Jay had a spare RX1 engine at his shop, so getting my grubby paws on one was simple
"Hey Jay, I need that engine."
"Okay."
"Thanks."
I found I was on my way back to Ohio with a Deztaz, an RX1 sled engine, a fuel injection rail and all sorts of other goodies. Time for a new heart in the Dez.


Stripped and ready to get started. I discovered that the main chassis tube (1.5 x .095 chromoly) was broken almost all the way around during the tear down. The crack went all the way around the tube, but the ends of the crack were about 1/4" apart. The trailing arm mounting tab was broken in two along the crack. I don't know when the thing broke, but it's been a while judging by the discoloration around the crack. I welded the crack up then welded a plate over the crack. I don't think it will let go again. The Wire Nightmare! How do you adapt a bike's fuel injection system and electronics to a sled engine? Play with LOTS of wires! That's how. I pulled the onboard fire extinguisher off and put the ECU for the fuel injection in it's place. Nice, dry, out of the way and easy to get to.
A new engine gets a new dash! Update the drive train, update the inside too. Powder coated and looking good. Instrument panel straight off the R1 bike. Full functions, error reporting, feedback - trick unit. I even have a neutral light now. Closer view of the instrument layout. Co-driver's switches. New switch layout - easier for both driver and passenger to reach, better fuse setup also.
Getting the wire harnesses laid out and cleaned up. Each harness got labeled for ease of chasing problems. The old engine compartment. The old tranny location - laid down horizontally, driven clutch down low. Put your Arctic Cat here I jigged the tranny's output shaft off the main cage so I knew where to build the new rear chassis.
Close up of the tranny locating jig Side view of the tranny jigged up. The old lower, rear frame rails. These poor tubes have been broken, repaired, cut, welded, modified too many times. Tranny just supported by the jig - everything else is gone. Test fitting the RX1 engine and tranny. Another test fit view.
The new front engine cradle. More test fitting. Engine was supported with tie-downs while I got everything figured out. Open driven clutch - making sure it didn't hit anything and helping with alignment. The new lower rear chassis & skid plate - tranny area. The new RX1 engine cradle.
Exhaust side and tranny close-up. Clutches and tranny input shaft support. Driven clutch and support. Input shaft support - the tube slides over the stub in the picture to the right. The stub doubles as an engine mount and tranny support mount. Input shaft support slides on over the input shaft and the engine mount/stub.
Belt and clutch guard in place. RX1 oil tank fits inside the frame (tightly) and in roughly the same location in relation to the engine as in the sled. Makes all the plumbing work nice and easy. Billet intake manifold. The sled carbs are spaced slightly different than the bike's throttle bodies. Jay has this piece made. Throttle bodies installed and test fitted against the airbox. The main section of the airbox. This part sits above the fuel tank and behind the fire wall. The rear half of the air box. This is the filter section. I'm using a Ford E-450 air filter. Large, easy to get, and K&N makes a direct replacement. I like K&N filters for final filtration, but I depend on Uni Foam filters for initial air cleaning.
Side view of the rear half. This will have two large diameter inlets and two Uni foam filters inside of it attached to the inlets. I'm going to filter the air from the inside of the Uni filters. The box doesn't have one side or the inlets installed yet. The airbox in it's home. It's a tight fit, but it works well. The box in the picture on the left fits into the hold on the left side of this airbox. The Ford filter is held between the two boxes and will seal the filtered air from the incoming air. Rear half installed. Notice how the filter fits between the two pieces. Front view of the airbox in position. Test fit of the airbox, the back half of the airbox and the throttle bodies. Test fitting the Uni pre-filters
Air intake tubes will attach to these two bosses. The Uni-filters attach to them too - they'll act as pre-filters The paper E-450 air filter installed in the main air box Test fitting the whole thing in place Top view of the test fit Test fitting of the velocity stacks. Still need some grinding for clearance and fitment.
I have newfound respect for another aspect of fabrication - The Header. Fortunately, a buddy of mine used to be a fabricator for the Momo Ferrari race team! I purchased raw components from SPD The tubing is all 304 Stainless. .049" wall. The Y-collectors are little works of art. Cool stuff. Once we get the system done, I'll probably send it off and have it HPC coated. Not sure the muffler's gonna work... I'll find out soon enough.
Finished to the Tri-Y section The Headers - Done! Close up Exhaust - almost finished, just tacked in. Side View. Team Clutch - No more broken towers.
One Velocity Stack, courtesy K-fab's Shop Four Velocity Stacks Top View. The center throttle bodies are spaced closer together. Some CNC Fun - Rim Centers Back Side Front Side

3/31/06
The Dez's RX1 install is on a bit of a hold for the moment...
I had to order a gasket that was missing from the engine and want to get it installed before I get any further into the project. It goes on the case cover that the output shaft comes out of. I can't see tearing a bunch of installed stuff - airbox, throttle bodies, clutches - back off after installing it all. Right now, that stuff is just loosely bolted in place, so it will be a fairly easy project.
I'm to the point of finishing the holes for the velocity stacks, probably adding one more air box support and then starting to button everything up. I still have fasteners to tighten, brakes to bleed, bodywork and seats and such to install, but all in all, I'm betting that once I get the gasket, it's a day or two to have the Dez up and running and ready for testing and tuning.
Check back here in a couple weeks and hopefully I'll have a finished Deztaz. I'll make it a point to video the first fire up of the engine, as I've had a couple requests (well, unless it's a total bust, then I'm not gonna share!)

5/1/06
After a full month of being pulled away from the Dez, I'm back at work on it.
The past 30 days have been hectic. I've been stuck in the middle of a large K-fab50's project; building four bikes, 18 wheels and other miscellaneous 50 parts, helping get another shop setup and last weekend (4/22) I managed to break my left wrist (again). The ground won. Damn. I was going to the motocross track the following day, too. It was supposed to be the first (local) ride of the year, now that's five weeks down the line. I'm still waiting on the swelling to go down so I can get a cast put on it. Great...


The Quasimodo Wrist
Sumptin's Wrong Here...

Poor X-ray scan; you can't see the chips on the end of the ulna (upper long fore-arm bone), but check the calcium build up from it being broken a few years back.

Another view. Once again, bad scan and you can't see the cracks in the head of the radius (bigger of the two arm bones). You can't see how badly my little finger was broken either - but it was nice to actually have verification - I broke it really badly too!!!

You can see the chips floating by the ulna in this pic - they're right in the top of the joint of my wrist and fore-arm.

Anyhow, yesterday (Sunday, 4/30) I finally found some time to get into the shop and start finishing up the Dez. I'd decided that, even though the airbox wasn't finished, it was time to see if the RX1 was going to fire up.
Final stuff was done - lines hose clamped, fluids inserted, wire harnesses checked. All seemed in order. Time to give it a try and see if the engine was going to come to life.

Turn the key, lights on the dash blink, fuel pump starts up and it's time to hit the magic button. The engine cranks over nice and quickly and there's the sound of an engine sort of trying to do something - pop, pop, pop. Little blue flames are coming out of the throttle bodies in no particular order. Hmm...

Unfortunately, I was constrained by time and I had to quit early - plus the battery was on the weak side - it's been sitting for the past four months: time for a charge. I'll try tomorrow.

Last night, laying there in bed it struck me. The engine was firing, but not correctly - as if the spark timing was off a bit. Aha! I know the problem! The RX1 engine is a reverse cylinder setup - the intake is on the front side, the exhaust is on the rear. Bikes are just the opposite. My wire harness for the ignition coils was on backwards! Cylinder 1 on a bike is Cylinder 4 on the sled. TADA!!

This morning I headed down and swapped the plugs around: 1 to 4, 2 to 3. Walked back up to the driver's area, turned the key and hit the magic button.
Here are the results!!!
The rattling sound you hear at the beginning of the video is a wrench, a pair of pliers and half a dozen Dzus fasteners floating around on the aluminum belly pan. Had me worried at first, but once I picked everything up, well, you hear the results.

The engine revs instantly. The primary clutch isn't installed at the moment, so there's no mass on the crankshaft. Nothing to slow down the rev up or rev down. The engine's also quite lean off the bottom end (why it's sluggish on response and back fires). I'm sure this has multiple factors effecting it. Broken air pressure sensor on the throttle body assembly, no air filters or velocity stacks, non-stock exhaust. I didn't have the Power Commander hooked up yet either, so there's not any way to adjust this out yet. - that's an easy fix, though - two quick plug ins and play with the buttons.

Right now I'm going to get back down to the shop and start working on finishing it up. It's time to get this beastie running and in the dirt again - Summer's on the way and there's a race in Mexico on June 17th. I plan on being there!

Just a quick update:
Today, the Dez moved under it's own power. WOO HOO!!!

Got the thing pieced together, airbox stuff more or less finalized and decided it was time to see if it actually moved and worked. - It does!

I'm really pleased with the amount of muffling the airbox does for the intake noise. The Dez now sounds like a "louder" sport bike. Not obnoxious like it used to be.

The fuel mapping's way off down low - very lean and it's popping and backfiring badly, but up on top, it seems like it's better.

My brakes are sketchy at the moment - need to redo the flares on the line ends, so I didn't do anything much to go fast - I can't stop very well, so I'm not gonna go out and hurt myself (did that already with the damn wrist...)

Clutching - who knows. Gotta get the brakes working, then start playing with different maps to see what I can do for the FI and then I'll get to the clutches.

I'm making headway though. (finally)

Time for testing, testing and more testing - I see a lot of it in my future.

If the Dez ends up being quiet enough, I think I'm gonna look into seeing what's involved in making it street legal.

I think it's windshield w/wipers, blinkers, which are already more or less in the wire harness, DOT lights high/low beam setup - once again, wire harness is already equipped. I already have a horn, brake and tail lights, mirrors, seat belts plus street legal tires. Could be easier than I think.

That should get me in loads of trouble!!

5/14/06
WOW!!!

I got the Dez all buttoned up on Thursday (5/11) afternoon. With the exception of a few very minor details, it was finished and ready to roll. Just for grins, I did half a dozen laps inside the (new) K-fab facility (smooth concrete floor), sort of checking stuff out. It was working great and as I came around a corner, it suddenly died - like it ran out of fuel. What the??? I spent the next couple hours scratching my head, trying to figure out what could be the problem. Had I killed the new engine? I didn't see how - I wasn't running it that hard. The dash wasn't giving me any fault codes either.

It had spark. It was getting air. As I turned the key on and off, cycling the fuel pump, I was able to see that the fuel filter wasn't flowing any gasoline - ah, something's wrong with the fuel pickup. I unscrewed the pickup line from the top of the fuel cell, took the antenna off the Dez (hey, it was convenient and fit the bill) and ran it down into the pickup bung. I figured that the pickup line mush have fallen off. Wrong. I could feel the antenna work its way down through the tube and then it hit something. I gave the antenna a bit of a jab and I could feel the antenna breech the problem. I now had a clear line. I'm still not quite sure what it was, but I'm thinking it's the screen on the end of the line. The new pump produces major suction and if there was any crap in the screen, it would have produced enough resistance to suck the screen up. When I tried to pull the antenna back, well, it didn't come. It has a small tip on the end and this tip had proceeded to stick on the end of the line. DOH!!! I few tugs while twisting and I was finally able to retrieve the antenna. Whew.

The Dez fired right up and boy was I happy. Time for a couple more laps inside the shop and then it was time to go outside and play in the parking lot.

The Police don't seem to like the Dez doing parking lot laps...

I came out of the shop's garage door (fairly sideways, tires smoking) and then made made two or three nice tight donuts. The torque the engine produces is amazing compared to the old Arctic Cat. The Dez always lit the tires up fairly easily, but now it seems effortless. I straightened it up, got on the go pedal and jetted to the end of the lot, watching the tach - only 9,500 rpm - darn. The engine makes peak HP at 10,500 - gonna require a lot of drive clutch tuning. Get to the end of the parking lot, nail the brakes and tag the wheel to the right and pull off a perfect 180 degree snap spin (the Dez actually has working rear brakes again!!!). This is where I messed up. The Dez slid a bit farther than I meant to and it dropped the rear wheels out into the street. As I get on the throttle to head to the shop, I see red and blue lights moving towards me very quickly; Johnny Law (who happened to be sitting across the street) is now in hot pursuit. What was really cool was that I could actually hear his siren - that would have NEVER been the case with the old two smoke buzz bomb.

I pulled back up to the K-fab building with the black and white in hot pursuit (I think he thought I was gonna run), hopped out of the Dez (with a HUGE grin on my face) and said "What's up???"

Got the full spotlight in the face, "stay right there and don't move" treatment. 20 questions and five minutes later, I have a nice little yellow piece of paper - fortunately, just a reckless operation and no registration warning. - Hell, I was in full control the whole time!!!

What was great about it all was that when Johnny Law was done playing Police Man, he says "Wow, that thing's got some power." - and then wanted to know all about the Dez. He also followed it up with "If you're going to do testing like that again, check around and make sure none of us (police) are around to witness it!" - The Miami Township Police Department is about two blocks from the shop.

The new RX1 power plant has HUGE potential.

The fuel injection's not mapped out very well yet (the Dynojet Power Commander will allow this) and the clutching's not right yet either, but already the Dez has way more low end and launch potential that the old AC setup did. Top end? Don't know - but it should be equal or faster than the old setup. (engine's only hitting 9500 right now, so there's another 2K worth of revs I'm not getting yet)

I'm jazzed about it and when I get to Phoenix next month, I'll throw it on a chassis dyno and get everything dialed in. Jay told me he'd make reservations at the place that has the dyno for the first part of June.

I can't wait!!!

One thing that I'm finding amazing about this new setup is how quiet it is. Never before have I been able to hear anything other than the engine. The old Cat engine was obnoxiously loud. Everything about it was noisy. This new setup is amazingly quiet. The airbox muffles the intake sounds beautifully and the muffler seems to do it's job wonderfully. I have heard that too much back pressure from the muffler can add excess heat. I don't have enough time to know yet. I'm sure the dyno runs will show anything like that.

7/13/06

After almost four weeks, I'm finally home. I went out west the beginning of June, got home this past Thursday. Unfortunately, I spent the first four days in Phoenix repairing some damage I did to the car just before I left (dork move on my part in my yard, of all places.... Dumb Arse!!).

Took it to a dyno on the west side of Phoenix. We were able to tune the major hicups out of the FI, but it's still pretty far off. I can't get over 9500 RPM in the desert yet. We were able to pull all the way to 11K on the dyno, but it was an issue with trying to get the dyno to think that the car was in "a" gear, not a CVT setup. We never did get the dyno tuned to the car to mimic the real world. Still, it was worth the time and effort and taught me quite a bit.

The dyno was a pretty cool setup - it was actually two large "boxes" that the rear hubs mounted to, via adaptors. Remove the rear wheels, install the adaptors, plug 'em into the boxes and do pulls.

When we finally started getting a load, that sort of worked, it was wild - the rear of the car would squat down due to the torque, just as if it was in the dirt. Got my attention the first time it did it - thought the thing was coming loose or something. WHY AM I SINKING?????

Dyno guy said that he figured the engine was putting out right in the 145 - 150ish HP range. He based this from experience with his dyno and lots of runs (we probably did 20).

The dyno graphing didn't show it because the CVT setup was constantly trying to upshift and the dyno wanted a direct drive (gear) to correctly measure output.

Only issue that we had during the dyno pulls (besides not getting the load on the dyno correct) was that I'd overpacked the CV boots on one axle and once a bit of heat built up, well, they both decided to let go and spray CV lube all over the car, the room, the walls and dyno. CV lube has to be one of the nastiest greases around - think thick, black anti-sieze. One little pea sized glob will stain everything in a 10 mile radius and I spread at least 8 oz of the stuff everywhere... I spent the better part of an hour cleaning the dyno room. That sucked.

Clutching engages right at 4500 - which appears to be pretty good. Originally I wanted a lower engagement speed, but for now, this may just work.

I wasn't able to get many high speed runs it - there's no place to fully open the car up where I test. I did see just under 75 a couple times and the thing still has lots of room for more speed. Engine was running about 9200 or so during the runs.

I put somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 miles on the car and only had one problem - tranny rubbed through a hose clamp, hose clamp quit holding on, coolant decided to leave the system.

During my last run, we (had a co-driver with me) got about 15 miles up the Four Peaks Mountain Road near Fountain Hills, AZ, and the temperature gauge slowly started to rise from it's normal running temps of anywhere from 170ish to about 200, depending on how hard I was using the go-pedal.

When it got to 240, the little red light on the dash came on. We stopped and discovered the lack of coolant and the hose clamp issue. Fortunately I was able to fix it on the spot. Man was I glad the tool kit had spares! The only thing we had, liquid wise, was 1.5 quarts of Orange Gatoraide and 1 quart of Blue Gatoriade.

Half full radiator of Gatoraide holds the temp to right at 210!! (I guess our bodies are not the only things that like electrolytes!)

Made it back to my truck w/no issues. (whew)

When we got home, we ran at least 10 gallons of water through the system to flush the Gatoraide out. I still need to put coolant back in - wanna fix the rub issue first.

The power delivery of the engine is great. Smoooooooooth and strong across the board - will only get better as I get the FI tuned in. - I do need to add some fuel right in the 5K range at full off throttle - I get a nice backfire pop every time it goes through that rev range when I'm off the throttle.

My main focus and goal for the first few runs were to just make sure the powerplant install worked. - Gotta say, so far, so good - really good, in fact. Other than the hose clamp rub, I have absolutely no other issues (yet).

My belt looks great - says that I got the alignment correct. YEA!!!

I'm sort of bummed that I didn't get more seat time - but getting up at 4:00 a.m., to be out in the desert by 5:00 a.m. to beat the heat was a biatch. By 9:30, it was usually close to 100F and stopping/starting/getting in/out, doing tuning and such just got too hot.

Now that I'm back in Ohio, I'll find a place that I can go out and do long runs over a smooth area. This will allow me to sit the computer in the co-dog's seat and let me tune on the fly.

Sorry, but I didn't get any video or audio of the car running. I was too busy working on other aspects.

When I find my place to do my tuning, I'll work on getting in-car video and try to get them posted on my web pages. I know of a motocross track close by that will let me run the car on it, so that will be a good test of how my FI tuning goes, along with a great place to take videos. The track has three big doubles and a couple smaller rhythm sections that are a blast!!!

10/28/06

Well, the old Dez is a ripper again. It's about time, eh?? Only started this crazy ride back in March...

I've worked on the car on and off since near the beginning of the year. I've had some issues, some breaks (my wrist, CV joint at Highland Lakes Motocross track), no time, yada, yada. I finally got out west this month to work on the New Deztaz and it also meant that I was going to get to dial in the old Dez.

Of course NOTHING ever goes to plan. I went out on Saturday and did a little testing on both the clutching (less weight) and fuel injection (richer everywhere). I could see some change, but not a lot. Sunday morning with a friend of mine that has one of Desert Dog Off Road's Coyotes. He wanted to do some clutch testing and jetting, and since he's running the same drive train (RX1 engine - carbureted, 8:1 RPM tranny) I figured what he learned clutching would adapt to what I'm doing. I changed weights on the primary clutch again and went for a run. The Dez would come right up to 9,000 rpm, then it would fall flat. It also seemed quite hot. I did a plug check - YIKES, they were shiny white. Waaaaayyyy too lean. No problem, pull out the trust old laptop, plug it into the Power Commander and change the fuel mapping - uh, wait... where in the world is my USB cable? A crap! I'd forgotten it. Oh well, while Phil does his jetting, I'll just go out for a quick rip. I left the pit area and the back of the Dez felt funny - like I'd just broken another CV. WTF?? I turned around and went back to the pits. Phil was running towards me saying "STOP" - I could already see the left rear tire doing a weird dance in the mirror. Turns out that the carrier bearings decided to do a really good Elvis impression and leave the building. I was done for the day.

I did get to go for a ride in Phil's Coyote - and then I got to give him a ride. I think he enjoyed it - I sure did!!!The Coyote's a killer car and I did a little write up on it. Click here if you're interested on my thoughs about the car.

Fortunately for me, Jay happened to have a new bearing carrier at his shop (Desert Dog Off Road), so when we stopped by on Sunday morning to pick up a bike and go riding, I got the parts I needed to fix the Dez up again.

Monday morning, bright and early, I was up and working on the car. By noon, I was back out at Happy Valley without a broken Dez. I played with the FI mapping (more fuel up top) and wow - something was correct! The engine was now hitting 10,500, but dropping back to about 9,500. A bit more messing with the mapping and moved the weights on the clutch arms again - I think I have it really close now! The engine will peak at 11,000 rpm and it lives in the 9,500 - 10,500 range. She's a ripper! This power plant is impressive. Throttle response is instant, the clutching seems to be close (I think it's still upshifting a bit too soon, which means next time I'm out west, I need to play with the driven clutch a bit) and the car's a blast to drive.

I went out four times last week. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings and then I took James out on Wednesday night. The car worked great for every run and I never had any issues. It still backfires a bit when I let off, but that's just more computer playing to get that to go away.

Night Driving: What an experience!! I've only been out three or four times at night - a couple in the desert, a couple in the dunes. It's all new to me. It was James' first time too. Boy things look different.

We discovered one major thing tonight: Three BIG HID lights are NOT ENOUGH!!! - I understand why you see 6 to 8 lights on top of a race car and two to three down low.

When we first left the pit area, the lights were too high - couldn't see what was coming up until I got on the brakes. I lowered them a bit and then they were pointing good for the tight stuff where the nose stayed lower.
On high speed runs and the lights were pointed too low - chassis would start to run more flat in stance and the lights would start pointing down closer to the car - not good - they needed to point out. Dust was another issue all together. You think it's hard to see thru during the day? Try it at night where the lights on top of the car light up all the little particles floating around your head and face. It's scary! That's what the lower level lights will be good for. I only scared James one time - high speed run, where I knew the area and he didn't. Once we got moving, the car leveled out and we started outdriving the lights. James held up a hand and gave me the "This is fast enough" motion. No problem. I don't want to scare anyone (other than Phil?).

I think we'll add at least two more HID's to the light bar - and have them either point a bit lower and move the other three up a bit or vise-versa. James seemed to see (or not see?) the same thing I was, so we're on the same page - which is a good place for a driver and co-driver to be. We're going to make the next light bar adjustable from the inside - probably use a Morse cable and another shift lever to move the whole assembly fore and aft. That will be James' job. We'll also run a pair of lower mounted (front bumper level) lights. I have a couple 8" Pro-comps that I should have put on before we left the pits.

All in all, this was a great test to show us what we'll need on the SCORE racer. Eventually, we'll get to run in the dark - I wanna be prepared...

Anyhow, I managed to get about 40 minutes or so of video on Tuesday and Wednesday. The old Sony was stuck back on it's perch between the seats and I had my helmet cam mounted on the side of the car. Helemt cam video sucks, so I've not messed with it, but the old Sony did it's job nicely (although I need to stabilize the camera a bit - it's mount's worn out, so the camera rocks left and right more than it used to).
Here are seven short clips. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7. Enjoy them!

The Dez is still out in Phoenix. I left it there this time. Not sure when I'll get back out to play in it more. More than likely, it won't be until our annual February Dune Trip.

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10/28/06