Home of K-fab

The NEW Stadium Lites

As much as I enjoy desert racing, I really do miss Short Course Racing. It's a lot less travel, a lot less logistics and one hell of a good time. Show up at the track on Friday night, spend the weekend playing at a closed course track, gather up and go home on Sunday.

As many of you know, I raced in the Pace Off Road Series in 1998 & 1999. It was a national series that ran races all over the country, racing in venues like the Astro-Dome, Seattle's King Dome and such. I raced in a very heavily modified Honda Pilot and took second place overall both years. During those two years I watched the back end of a particular car kick my butt every time we lined up. This car was the Briggsbuilt Gen IV car. They were light years ahead of anything else on the track and I wanted one badly. Well, a 9 year wait has paid off. I found three of the original units a little while back and was able to purchase them - along with a ton of stuff that went with them.

Back on August 29th, I came across a thread on the MiniBuggy.net web site about the Briggsbuilt Generation IV cars. These little legends of Stadium Lite Racing show up every now and then on different web sites with questions about them. One of the members of the board said that he'd heard that they were for sale and that they were sitting in a "dog food factory" - AHA!! I knew where they might be and I knew who might know how to find them. I started making phone calls...
On the 30th, I got my phone call with a contact number - three cars were for sale!!! It wasn't long before I was talking to the owner of two of them. He informed me that his buddy had the third. By the time I was done talking to him, I had three cars coming to Ohio! I had finally gotten my grubby mitts on not one, but three of the five in existence. I now owned Gen IV cars - the baddest little Stadium Lites ever made. More calls were made and arrangements to get them picked up, shipped and delivered to me were made. I actually was going to own them - I couldn't believe it.

Here are a few pictures of the cars in action. I got these from the guy that sold me the cars:

Monday, September 19, 2007
Today they arrived.

Three Cars:
One is turn key - I need to charge the battery, add race fuel and coolant. (this one was Beau Brigg's car - Bob's son. We'll call it #1 for the time being.)
One is about 80% complete - the engine needs to be rebuilt, there are a couple panels that need to be re-installed. (this one was Rennie Awana's car - it's now known as #2)
One is about 40% complete - the chassis was being redone by the guy I purchased them from. It needs some TLC and I'm more than willing to oblige. It has no front end and is missing quite a few of the frame tubes. (This one was Bob Brigg's personal car and the rolling test bed for the design of the vehicles. The stuff that worked on Bob's car trickled down to the other two.)

The truck arrived about 10:15 this morning - a refer truck of all things. Fortunately for me, my neighbor Ken has a loading dock and a fork lift. Ken was VERY helpful and unloaded the stuff for me. He trucked six pallets of stuff over to my shop and helped me drag the three cars over also. THANK YOU KEN!!!

Six pallets of stuff:
One has rims and a box with suspension parts and axles
One has rims, tires and some jigs
One has rims, tires, an axle or two and some other stuff that I've not been able to get a good look at yet.
One has 16 containers stuffed with things. I can see hoses, a top end or two, gaskets, stickers, fuel tanks (teeny tiny!) and lots of other stuff
One has a tool box that's stuffed with things - from heims and suspension parts to shock bodies to clutch parts, to engine stuff
One has a pneumatic tire changer! - the seller threw this in "just because it was taking up space in his shop"!! SCORE!!!

The amount of things is amazing. I've only scratched the surface today. A quick count looks like 30+ tires, at least a dozen, if not more, rims, enough suspension parts for a couple more cars and who knows what else.

I pretty much spent the afternoon wandering around the cars drooling. 9 years of wanting and waiting and now here they sit in my shop!!!

The plan for the cars is to get them back up and running and ready to race;
Two of them will receive the new Yamaha 500 Phazer sled engines: 500cc, efi twins that make 80 hp and 62 ft-lbs of torque.
Two will remain as is for now (I want a runner to go play in). We'll get the two that are close to ready to run up and running - keep the two smoke power plants in them for the time being and I'll get the one that needs the most work switched over to the Yamaha powerplant.

The fuel tanks are tiny! They fit under the engine, above the rear skid plate. I'm guessing that they are about 1 gallon in capacity. The guy I bought them from said that the cars would run right at 10 minutes at the Glen Helen race track - that was it. There is a larger tank that came with the stuff. Guessing 3.5 - 4 gallons, unfortunately getting it plumbed in and part of the car may be more work than it's worth. The tanks are made by Fuel Safe and are bladder style fuel cells, complete with roll over valves. Two of them appear to still be usable for the time being and there were two more bladders that were junk - worn out and dry rotted.

The craftsmanship of the vehicles is impressive. Everything is TIG welded and the attention to detail is amazing. From what I understand, a lot of the parts were also made by Dan Roberto (RPM Trannies - same tranny I've been using in the Deztaz and the 10Dez). I believe he made the rear carriers, the front spindles, the front and rear hubs, the billet, quick change (two gear ratios available) transmissions, the steering racks and who knows what else.

The engines that came with them are very highly modified FL350 powerplants. They all have water cooling jackets around the jugs and the heads, the exhaust outlet is HUGE, and the engines appear to run PWC style carbs - pumpers. The seller tells me that the orange and white car's engine makes somewhere in the high 70 hp range, the camo-colored car's engine makes right around 80 hp and the one that needs all the work makes in the range of 85 hp. I have no clue what the displacement of these things is - under 500cc is all I know. The work done on them is just mind blowing.

The battery boxes are up front in the nose of the chassis, in front of the brake pedal and throttle pedal.
The brakes are two CNC master cylinders mounted in a killer bracket - all very sano and very well thought out.

I have yet to climb into one. Maybe tomorrow... I need to get some race fuel and pre-mix oil before I head to the shop!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Today I got the turn key car (#1) running. It took me about an hour and a half. First I had to add coolant and fuel and put a charge on the battery. I was pleased that it cranked right over and even tried to cough a couple times.

Because the engines are are a total loss ignition (no charging system), it took me a while to realize that I didn't have enough battery power to make a nice fat spark. (not messed w/total loss ignitions in a very long time) I just kept pumping fuel down into the bottom end... With the old Jet Skis, this was an easy fix - just flip the machine over, take out the spark plug and hit the starter button - all the stuff in the bottom end would purge out of the cylinders. Not as easy with a car. I had to get a good charge on the battery, clamp the fuel line, stick the spark plug in the head loosely, turn it over, make a mess, pull the plug, wipe up the mess, stick the plug in, repeat. I did this half a dozen times before the engine cleaned out.

After a bit of work, some good old fashion swearing and a charged battery, the little beastie came to life. I do love the way race fuel smells, but that's about all I like about the stuff... I forgot to mention that these are full race engines - so they drink 110+ octane. 2.5 gallons: $16.00 SCREW THAT... I want good ol' premium pump fuel from now on. Give me a four stroke!! It really made me realize how much I don't miss screwing with two strokes.

I've never had a chance to get in one of these, much less drive one. I didn't do it yesterday, as my leg was sore from all the work getting them unloaded and in my shop. I really was looking forward to my first drive.

Got the car fired up (Oh my God!! - the muffler needs packing!!!), climbed in and went out into the parking lot.

All I can say is WOW!!!

The seller said that this one (#1) was "the worst" as far as handling went. They had screwed around with the settings, but never got it right. They copied link lengths and such instead of taking camber/caster/toe measurements from the "good handling one" (#2 - Renee's). There's enough difference in the chassis that it made a difference in the handling... No matter how hard you try, there's always a difference and each vehicle has it's own personality.

If this thing is a pig as far as handling goes then I can't imagine what the "good handling" one is like! This thing drives like a slot car. It goes exactly where you point it, the rear end is completely controllable with the brake and/or throttle and it was flat amazing.
It does really nice donuts on asphalt.! It's extremely quick and it slides so controllably it's just grin from ear to ear. I felt like a WRC driver!!!

My buddy Chris (works in the same building that my shop is in) got to climb in and give it a try (his total time in a small single seater was in a stock Pilot late one night for about 4-5 minutes, so he's green as can be). He did a couple parking lot laps and came back with the same shit eating grin I've been wearing all day long. "This thing is cool! - it's no Pilot!" - Yup, couldn't agree more.

Our other buddy, Ben, came over after he was done at work. Put him in the turn key car and he did a few laps too - same result - we all have cheeks that hurt from smiling all day.
These two guys get to go race with me when the cars are ready; Chris gets to drive #1 and Ben gets #2.

Ben and I started working on car #2 tonight. We stripped it down; removed body panels, seat and Ben started on the top end. It needs a motor rebuild, it needs to have all the plumbing put back in, a few tabs welded back on, brake lines re-run and a few other minor things. I'm going to replace the seats with new ones that have head rests too. I happen to have two of them - they were originally going in the 10Dez.

Going through the boxes we found enough to make, I believe 3.5 engines, enough stuff to make 12 rear carriers, 4 complete rear carriers, 4 radiators, more clutch stuff, more jigs for??? carbs, heads, ignitions, pistons (YZ490 in assorted stock and oversized bores) - just an amazing amount of stuff.

We also came across a "jig piston" for engine setup. It showed me where and what to cut off the YZ pistons. I worked a new one over in the mill (shortened the skirts, put a window in the side) and Ben will assemble the engine tomorrow or Thursday. He's a very good mechanic - knows two smokes inside and out, so I'm confident in his work.

I'm going to work on #2 a little bit tomorrow and then start in on the other car (my race car - Bob's). Hopefully I'll have a roller by tomorrow night. I want to get the tubing that's been cut out (it was bent) back in and front end back on the car. It will make it much easier to move around.

Here are a couple small videos of Chris running around the parking lot in Car #1

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Fox Airs - interesting units. I've never messed with them before. My leg was hurting quite a bit, so I needed to do something that I could sit at a bench and work on. Since I had notes on the settings for the shocks and one of the drawers in the big tool box that came with the cars has a drawer full of shock bodies (five rears, two fronts) I decided to try my hand at making a rear - I also found a bunch of notes that had all the specs for the different cars.

The cars have modified airs on them - they have a large res on the rears and a pair of res's on the front. The shock is set up so that it's not an emulsion shock like a regular air - The "spring" is supplied by the nitrogen charge behind the piston in the res on these.

I followed the assembly instructions, but missed one key element: Don't forget to put the big o-ring between the bearing/seal and the end cap. If you don't, well... Exxon Valdez site on the work bench.

These are a very simple shock - easy to work on, easy to change valving in. The biggest issue with my particular setup is the res - I have to bleed all the air out of the res, set the oil level in the res, not the shock body, put it all together then bleed the air that gets trapped under the res piston after I put a light charge on the res. It makes a bit of a mess.

Since I wasn't sure just how well I got the seal done, I left the lightly charged shock standing in it's little build table (got some neat tools with the stuff) and I'll check on it tomorrow. If it's not leaking, I'll go back and re-check my oil level (I think I screwed up) bleed the shock again and then charge w/Nitrogen. We'll see how it works. If that one does well, I'll see if I have the parts to build another rear. The bearing/seals that I found are a bit on the worn side.

Speaking of going through the stuff - did Tire Inventory this morning. Egad!!! shocker FORTY TWO tires!!! BFG Radial T/A's, two sizes of BFG Trail Blazer's, a set of Mud Boggers on 12" rims - drilled to fit the rear hubs (can you say Dunes in Feb???). Some of the tires were already grooved, some were partially grooved, most bone stock. Three sets of loose front rims, 4 sets of mounted fronts, 4 sets of loose rears, 4 sets of mounted, six bent wheels (both front & rear) - need to find someone that can straighten them...

Also found two more front lower a-arms, a pair of spindles, the jig to make them (I think), tabs and parts for them, more rear axles, another set of rear carriers (three total sets now), the tabs and stuff for what looks like 6 more sets of them. The list is nuts.

Christmas came early this year!!!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Today I got car #2's front brakes plumbed back in, the belly pan and the fire wall back in. Ben got the engine back together and we've discovered that we're missing some AN fittings - I hope I can find my box of them - and then hope that they are the right size... (like that will happen - always ends up ONE short, ya know?)

The guy I'm buying my sled engines from called today saying that Phazer Engine #1 is done being pulled and that he plans on getting it shipped here in the next couple days (if I understood that correctly...) That one's headed into the "project car" - the one that needs all the TLC - first. I'll put the second Phazer engine in car #2 after I get the first one done and figured out.

Car #1 got the muffler packed. There was NOTHING in the canister other than a rattling perforated tube (that's usually wrapped in silencer wool). It's not much quieter - most the noise heard in the cockpit is coming through the expansion chamber's body.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

My sled engines arrived on Wednesday afternoon. I'd been out of town for most of the previous five days and was worn out, but I couldn't stand having the boxes in my garage last night - took them to the shop and opened them up.

My engine guy has blown me away - the packing job is AMAZING!!! Everything is perfectly protected and exactly as he described.- doh, just realized I didn't snap any pix...

Friday, September 28, 2007

Today I was able to hand off the majority of the work that was left over to Ben (the guy that'll be driving #2) and I started working on getting my chassis stripped down, the engine removed and started working on getting the frame rebuilt.

Ben was able to get #2 running - was a good day!! We spent the last hour or so of the day working on getting the suspension's shock charge set up for his weight. Just a few pounds of pressure change in the res's on the shocks made a large difference on the ride height.

I took a few pix of the engine that was in Bob's personal car. The amount of work that went into this thing is insane. I have no idea what the displacement is, what piston is used or, for that matter, much at all about it. I was told it makes about 85 hp!! The bottom end is based on an FL350 Odyssey - and I would tend to believe the jug may be one too. The head??? Who knows - I'm going to guess it's a totally custom made one off unit.

The engine has adjustable ignition, a water pump adapted to it, the output side has some sort of billet plate. It uses an MSD programmable ignition with twin spark plugs and the carb is some sort of watercraft unit.

I'll start getting the front end of my car built up tomorrow - should be able to get it finished by lunch. After that I'll go to the back end and start seeing what's going to be involved in putting the Phazer engine in.

Two parts are going to be tricky - the EFI is on the front of the engine - so I'm going to have to figure out a new airbox setup - which means make one. The same goes for the exhaust - it's a long setup that fits under the sled's seat. This would end up sticking out of the back of the car about 2'. I'd like to keep the stock exhaust system as much as possible - the muffler's a ten ton unit, though. We'll see as it goes along!

Sunday September 30, 2007

Yesterday I got the front suspension re-mounted; it took a lot more work than I expected.

The guy I bought the cars from had started the work, but the tabs and such were not cut to size yet, there were no upright frame bars for the rear of the front suspension to mount to - pretty much had the front upper mount, the upper shock mount and the front tab of the lower a-arm to work from.

Fortunately I was able to go and take measurements and such from the other two cars. Made life easier.

I got the bars and triangulation bracing installed, then went after the suspension mounts. It went well, just more work that I expected... Anyhow, the front end's back in place and ready for alignment.

Today I spent the latter part of the morning cutting out tabs, engine mounts, some odd things that were cut out, but not finished being cleaned up - generally going over my frame and prepping it for the new engine install. Once that was done, it was time to see just how big of a shoe horn I'm going to need to install this sweet little Phazer engine. - looks like I'm going to need a BIG shoe horn....

The engine sits down nice and low - it's really not that heavy either.

Even with my becoming un-bummed leg, I was able to hobble around and get the thing inserted into the chassis. I took it in through the right side window bars (twist, swear, twist, swear more, avoid pinching fingers, swear more) and then dropped it down to the floor of the chassis, climbed into the chassis and then swore more, twisted more and dropped it in place - well sort of in place...

I'm going to be able to use the Yamaha primary clutch and the 350 Oddy driven clutch that came on the car. I'm going to set it up with the stock Phazer drive belt - makes it easier this way.

After a bunch of tie-down work, I had the engine hanging more or less in place. Pull one tight, loosen one, pull another tight - it's sort of a little back and forth game to get it located in the chassis. Lots of sighting down the drive belt to make sure things were getting eyeball aligned in place was done.

The exhaust pipes end up running one on each side of the disc brake - this is just preliminary fit checking - I'll end up making a new header for the engine that runs the pipes up and over and away from the rotor.

The intake system's posing a larger issue - the throttle bodies end up hitting the main upper cross bar of the chassis. Looks like I'll be re-engineering this bar - put a bend or two in it so it goes up and over the TBs. Not only is this an issue, but the thing sticks into driver's compartment a bit. I need to see just how far tomorrow - put the seat in, check clearance and such. Hopefully I'll have about two or three inches between the TB and the back of the seat - I'll be able to make an aluminum airbox that draws from each side of the TB. The box will have to have the sensors that were in the stock box, so that will be easy enough to add as I build.

Front engine mounts won't be that big of a deal - they really don't do much other than hold the front end of the engine up and in position. The rear mounts will attach to the chassis and the tranny - these will be the ones that do most of the work holding the engine apart from the tranny as the clutches go to work. I'll probably have some pretty interesting looking mounts done by the time it's all in place. Swoopy, as James would say!

Air box will more than likely end up either beside me (behind/beside my seat, if you will) in the driver's compartment or up above the TBs - not sure.

I'll have to figure out where to put the oil tank - it's a dry sump system. It's not big, but there's not much room. I don't want to have to make a new one, but if it ends up being that way, oh well.

Fuel Tank - yeah.... This is going to be very interesting. It may end up under the engine, similar in position to the itty bitty tank that came in the car, but enlarged and working it's way up the front of the engine, behind the fire wall. I want to get at least a three gallon capacity - but that may be pushing it.
Exhaust System - uhm... Definitely going to have to build custom headers for it. I'd love to use the stock muffler - but the thing's a 20 lb beast. I may look into a couple of the motocross mufflers - FMF Q-Pipes. Instead of a two into one system, maybe a dual muffler setup. I want it to be quiet - even at the point of loosing a bit of HP. The Q-Pipes are US Forestry approved and are nice on the ears.
Radiator(s?) will either end up behind my head like in the Deztaz's or I may end up running a pair of the rads that came with the cars (very nice Fluidynes) located on the angled x-bracing above the engine. It will all depend on how much room is left. It's not going to be much - this is going to be one very tight fit.
I'll start on modding the cross brace (by cutting it out!) tomorrow, work on getting the engine set more solidly in place, stick the seat in and see what I have to work with. Getting the seat in is going to be a challenge all by itself. Taking the tiny, head restless Beard out was a challenge - sticking my Sparco (that was going in the Super Buggy) in may require some magic (and Sawzall work).

Here's the seat being test fitted for clearance. You can see that the main upper cross bar's going to be in the way. I believe I'll have enough room between the engine and seat back for the throttle bodies.

Friday, October 5, 2007

It's been one of those funky weeks - been doing a bunch of stuff, but at the same time, doesn't seem like I've accomplished squat. Go figure. I had to replace my old TIG welder and not only get a new one, but learn to TIG as I go along. - I was too stupid and green TIG welding to realize that the old welder I've had the past few years was defective. I thought that I was just TIGnoramous... I've done enough now that I was able to figure out that I had problems with the welder and that I am actually able to TIG weld. I discovered this a while back while making a set of ramps using ATV Racing's TIG welder. I needed a bit of help setting up the new machine, but fortunately for me, I know an extremely good welder and teacher - my buddy and co-driver in the desert, James. After a few over the phone lessons, I figured I was ready to tackle the engine mounts. The front one consists of quite a few smaller parts and trying to MIG them was going to leave some ugly blobs. It took me the better part of a day, but I'm pleased with the results.

The rear engine mount is a billet piece that bolts onto the RPM billet tranny. I took a lot of time making sure I got the clutches aligned, tacked the front engine mount in place and then started machining the rear mount. Unfortunately I was not able to use the stock Yamaha Phazer primary clutch. It's about 5/8" larger in diameter than the Power-Bloc clutch that came with the car and, because the secondary clutch (FL-350 Odyssey) is about an inch smaller in diameter than the Yamaha secondary, I was going to have issues with the primary clutch overdriving the secondary and not being able to get to full upshift. Since the Power-Bloc and the FL-350 work well together, I figured I'd go ahead and keep them together as a matched set. The Power-Bloc's a breeze to tune too. I'll probably end up loosing some tuning aspects of the primary that I would have with the Yamaha, but what the heck, I know the Power-Bloc well.

Both the front and rear engine mounts use the stock Phazer rear engine mounting bolt - it's one long sucker. I had to cut about 5" off each one to make them the correct length. I like the stock bolt because it's a carriage bolt - has a square under the head. It allows me to install it and not have to use two wrenches. I machined a square receiver in the engine mounts to hold the carriage bolt from spinning. It works really well.

I finished the right side rear engine mount this evening - sorry, no pix yet. Once I get this welded to the frame, the engine installation is complete. Next will be getting the throttle bodies installed, making a new cross bar that clears them, getting the oil tank, coolant system and wire harness installed. I am also going to have to make a fuel tank - this will be interesting, as I don't have a lot of room. I hope to end up with somewhere in the range of three gallons when it's done.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Took the cars to the track today - man, what a blast!!! I've forgotten just how much fun this type of vehicle is on a track.

I got in about 10 laps before the dust was too bad and then went back to the pits to fix the crotch strap on the car - it needed to be shortened about 10".

The thing handles amazingly. The power's fantastic too. The car just floats over the rough stuff like it's not there.

Jumps are killer - you don't feel it land. The only issue I have is that is seems like the rear shocks need quite a bit more rebound damping. The rear end wants to float upwards over just about any jump if you're not on the throttle fairly hard. This wasn't an issue over most jumps, but the little table top, that you have to slow down for, tended to buck the back up really badly.

The car also has no problems with casing or coming up short. There's a small double jump - probably 10' or so peak to peak - that I couldn't quite clear if I didn't get out of the corner before it just right (have the same issue on my CRF450). This little jump is a bit short on the take off side too, which doesn't help. The front wheels would just hit the top of the jump and then the rears would hit just below the top and sort of pogo the rear end a bit. It never got out of shape or hit hard or was scary - just sort of bounced a bit.

You drive these things with the rear end - fly into the corner, tag the brakes, get the slide initiated and then nail the throttle. They slide with fantastic precision and predictability. I never felt like the car wanted to spin out - drift wide on a couple corners, but never spin.

The two buddies that were with me then took the cars out for a little jaunt - both came back with Perma Grins. I'd planned on getting some video of them but forgot my video camera. loser Left it on the table beside the door of the shop - had set it out to take it and walked away. Duh. I guess I was pretty excited about getting to the track.

Unfortunately the person that owns the land (is a dick - always has been, so this isn't a surprise) that the track's built on got all twisted - went after Mike, the guy that runs the track "There are NO FOUR WHEELERS ALLOWED ON THE TRACK!" Mike tried to tell him that they weren't quads - the owner of the place threatened that if we ran the cars again, Mike would loose his lease for the MX track. Mike was pretty upset with the dick's stance, but I said no problem - don't want to cause any issues for Mike - he was nice enough to let me bring the cars out.

What is cool is that Mike's talking about taking over another track - and said that I could build a Stadium Lite track if I wanted to!! Uhm, YEAH!!! The place is about 100 acres and has three motocross tracks on it already - a big track, a supercrossish track and a pee wee track. There used to be an actual supercross track, but it was too intense and nobody rode it - this is where the lite track would go. I'm really hoping Mike tells the dick that he's gone - he's been wanting to move for quite some time now.

Before the Dick shut us down, Mike had asked me to take the car around the big track (the one I broke my leg on nine weeks ago today) after the motocross races were finished. I was stoked about it and had three double jumps already in mind for clearing. I wasn't going to push it (too much), as I'm still just getting the feeling for the cars, but the big track would have been a blast. Oh well.

I'll wait until Mike leaves this place and goes to the other track and then I'll go make a banzai run and get kicked out. What the hell, right?

I worked on car #3 today too. Got the engine mounts welded in and started messing with getting the EFI and the seat in to see just how much room I was going to end up with. It's not going to be too bad. It'll be tight, but there's room. The seat will back up right against the airbox, which will just clear the velocity stacks from the sled airbox.

I also started messing with the wire harness - egad - lots of wires! I stripped all the electrical tape and all the protective covers that the harness is in and then started laying out the wires and attaching them to each sensor or connection.

I'm going to have a full day's worth of work (if not two) just figuring out what wires will have to be lengthened, which ones can be shortened and such. I'll start with the gauges up front and work to the back, making each wire the correct length and grouping the different looms so that it's a clean install.

Tomorrow I want to start working on the airbox and then figure out the fuel tank - it will come up right under the airbox.

I also have to figure out where the oil tank's going to go. I'll probably end up making one instead of using the one that came with the engine - I'd love to use it, but it's size and where it needs to go may make it a bit of an issue. I guess I'll see here soon.

Monday, October 8, 2007

I started out the day by working on the wire harness - decided to see just what I was going to be getting into. I stripped all the covering and tape off the loom and then started plugging things in. Man, what a mess!! In the sled, the controls and gauges sit behind the engine. In the car, well, it's completely different. Not only are the gauges and controls in front of the engine, but they're about five feet farther away too. I'm going to have to do like I did on the old Deztaz when I installed the RX1 engine in it and redo the entire harness. Oh what fun. Fortunately my buddy Ben is a Porsche mechanic and happens to have a used Boxter loom hiding under his tool box at work. That should have all the wires, colors and lengths, that I need for adaptation. After looking at the mess of wires, I decided it was going to be something to tackle after I get everything else installed. The system has sensors for everything and some of the components, such as the oil tank, need to be in place before I run wires to them.

I pulled the wire harness off the car, put it in a pile in front of my desk and started folding up a pizza box for a mock up air box. I had the seat installed and sat in it and pushed it as far forwards as I could and still be comfortable and have room to drive. It made for just enough room so that the back of the seat cleared the velocity stacks from the sled's airbox.

At first I wasn't quite sure how I was going to go about filtration - probably do something on the sides of the box, but what? I considered making a couple of plates that held Uni-Filter foam over the ends of the box and then it hit me - use K&Ns on the ends wrapped in Uni-foam. It will keep the airbox quieter than open ends, it should feed enough air in and it should be pretty easy to set up.

I got the pizza box mock up figured out, transferred it to 1/16" thick aluminum and then started shearing and bending. By the end of the evening I had a box with open ends. It looked like it was going to work.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Today I worked on the airbox. Pretty much nothing else to say other than I'm getting better at TIG welding, working with aluminum and I'm pretty pleased with the results. I had to cut the right side of the box down about 1.5" so the filter would fit and I machined up a pair of filter mounts. Once that was done, I formed the ends, welded everything together and at the end of the day I had a finished box. All in all, a good day's work. It also looks like I've found where the fuel tank's going to go - right behind the driver's seat, under the airbox. I'm hoping for a tank size of about 4 gallons. That should keep me running for quite a while. From what I understand, this little Phazer engine's quite fuel efficient.

After the fuel tank, I'll start to work on the oil tank - it may actually end up being part of the fuel tank - would be nice to have one less item to try to mount.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Other than a hole for a sensor and a return line setup, the fuel tank's finished. I cut, ground, welded and formed for the better part of two days.

Since I'm using the stock fuel pump from the Phazer, I had to design the tank to put the fuel pickup in the same location, relative to the fuel tank's bottom as it would be in the sled. This meant putting the pickup down fairly low and on a forty five degree angle. It made it sort of nice, though, as it allowed me to put the fuel level sensor in the tank too. I machined a couple of plates for these two pieces that would end up getting welded to the tank.

I pretty much winged the tank - figured out what would fit, cut the plate, welded it in place. Cut another, weld away. After a bunch of this I had a tank! I'm getting better at TIG welding aluminum - just wish I could keep from touching the tungsten tip into the work. That makes a mess and is a pain in the butt. By the time I was done, the tank dropped in right where I planned. Well, more or less. I had to trim the two back corners out and weld caps on them, but after that the fit was great. I fabbed up supports and machined a couple mounting spuds and welded them in place. The tank, other than the couple things mentioned above, is done. I still have to put the filler neck in too - not sure where it's going to go yet.

The next thing to work on was where to put the oil tank. The stock Phazer tank has everything needed - in, out, vent, oil level and fill. May as well see if I can find a place for it. I had an idea, but first I had to put the main cross brace bar back in. I bent a new tube up to clear the throttle bodies, welded it in and sure enough - the perfect spot for the oil tank. It sits tucked in behind and to the left of the seat. Weld in three tabs and tada, the tank's mounted. That was almost too easy. Something's bound to be wrong, but I have yet to figure out what it is.

Next is the cooling system. I ordered the plumbing today and plan on using one of the radiators that came with the cars. We did a comparison of the area of the radiator against a couple street bikes - 650cc four cylinder and 800cc four cylinder, along with a couple motocross bikes and I believe that the radiator that I have should be sufficient for the little Phazer power plant. If not, I'll just have to get a bigger one I guess. I'll get the thing plumbed out this week. I'll probably start working on the wire harness this week too. That's gonna be fun.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

IT LIVES!!! - sort of.

While waiting on plumbing and exhaust supplies I decided to tackle the electrical system. I've done this sort of work once before - on the old Deztaz when I put the Yamaha RX1 engine in it. It's not fun. It's tedious, pain staking, slow and a pain in the butt. Start out by removing all the covering, electrical tape and anything that holds the stock harness together. Next it's figure out where each component resides or will be moved to. Then it's lay out a concept loom placing items where they fit, followed by mounting elements like the relays, ECU, fuse box and regulator/rectifier. Finally I start cutting and splicing, extending, shortening, zip tying and cleaning up the harness. Each cut or splice is soldered together and shrink wrapped to make sure I don't have any issues with bad connections or contamination. Once I was happy with the layout, I wrapped the harness up in electrical tape. Three days of work, but well worth it.

After getting the harness done, I figured it was time to wrap up some of the smaller attention to detail things:
I got the airbox finished - installed the final sensor in it and tightened it to the throttle bodies.
I finished the fuel tank - made and installed the filler neck, installed the return line, mounted the fuel pump and pressure tested it for leaks. Also got all the fuel lines and plumbing run and installed.
Finished the plumbing from the engine to the oil tank. I'd turned the engine over a couple times while checking my electrical work - didn't realize this would pump what oil (didn't think about it actually) was in the bottom end into the dry sump tank, so when I pulled one of the lines to install a hose clamp I managed to make a nice little oil slick on the floor. Duh.

After all this work, I had to give it a try. I had to see if things were going to work. I added a couple gallons of gasoline to the fuel tank, put in a couple quarts of oil in the tank and turned the ignition key to the on position. The dash lit up and I heard one of the relays click. Turned the key a bit more and the engine turned over. No fire, though. I also didn't hear the fuel pump doing anything. Odd.

I started chasing issues. No power to the pump. The pump should run for a minute and then shut off. A check with a voltmeter verified no power to the pump. The red/blue wire wasn't energizing. Back to the wire diagram. After about 10 minutes I was able to figure out that I'd switched the battery and the starter leads on the starter solenoid. The battery energizes the little solenoid and I had the leads backwards. I switched them, turned the key and the pump started buzzing. Cool. Turn the key again, the engine turned over and then popped a couple times. Even better! Then it fired up. Poppity, poppity, poppity. I shut it down after about 5-7 seconds of running. I didn't have any sort of exhaust on it - not even the short headers, so I didn't want to burn up the valves.

I installed the short header pipes and then installed the main exhaust tubing, but no muffler. Hit the key and vroom. The engine fired right up. I had a couple dummy lights flashing - not enough oil, no coolant temp (because there is no coolant in it). The engine idled up to about 2K and purred. I hit the throttle and it seems to be going into "limp" mode. Probably because the system's not finished yet, but none the less, the engine runs.

Next is the cooling system. Before I run the engine anymore, I want it to be able to cool itself. A hot engine is not going to last and I don't want to hurt this one. I'll get the cooling system finished up and then get the exhaust system built. I can see the end of the tunnel on this install. All that will be left is a few chassis fixes. Test drive should happen late next week if all goes well!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Today's been a good one. The car's getting really close to being done.

The cooling system's done: Radiator's mounted, all the lines have been installed and it's not leaking anywhere that I can find. I still have to wire in the fan, but other than that, the system's finished. One less thing to do!

Next I started chasing down the engine gremlin. The thing fires right up but acts like it's on a limp mode or a rev limiting mode. It will run up to about four grand and then it just seems to bump between 4 & 4.5K rpm. I was getting a yellow light on the dash and the Drive indication light was blinking. Something wasn't right, but I wasn't sure what to look for nor where to start. I started out by checking all my connections - all good. Then it was time to pull out the ohm meter and start chasing the harness against the diagram. Spent the better part of the day checking different systems and harness areas. As far as I could tell, I'd done everything correctly. I even pulled out the wire loom from the other engine, stripped all the wrapping off of it and plugged it. This one acted exactly like the harness that was in the car.

I had a feeling it had something to do with the yellow warning light and the flashing D light. Rev limit, flashing light. Somehow they were tied together.

I was able to find the diagnostics display in the dash and everything said it was good. I read a bunch of the service manual and discovered that the yellow warning light was nothing more than telling me that I'm on reserve. Cool. I couldn't find squat about the flashing D light though. I finally decided it was time to call the guy I bought the engines from.

"Hey Phil, is the D light supposed to flash?"
"No, it's supposed to be steady." This is what I thought too. This meant that the ECU (computer) wasn't realizing the sled was in drive. After more discussion with Phil, I figured it out: There are a pair of leads that go to the reverse/forward selecting switch on the sled. These leads go to ground when activated, thus telling the sled which direction it's headed. I grounded the D lead and started the engine up. As usual, it fired right up and then came the test - I bumped the throttle and the engine ripped to about 9K. Surprised the hell out of me how quickly it revved up too. I'd found my gremlin and kicked it's butt!

I don't have the muffler on the end of the headers right now - it's a bit on the loud side. I did place the muffler at the end of the pipe and it's amazingly quiet. I'm torn as to whether to use the stocker (big and heavy and quiet) or a pair of FMF Q-Pipe mufflers. These are motocross bike mufflers that stay under 96db and are nice and light. A pair of them wouldn't weigh half what the stock sled muffler weighs. I don't know how the engine would respond to a twin pipe system either. It's a two into one setup right now, but the Phazer engine is based on the YZF250 motocross bike and they have a single pipe on a single cylinder. This is just two of the motocross jugs together, so why wouldn't it work? Tomorrow I'm going to start with the big ugly muffler first. I think I can make the majority of the system in a style that will let me convert to the pair of mufflers later on down the line. I really don't like the excess weight of the Phazer muffler, but it's really quiet and I'm all about making my stuff as ear pleasing as possible. The less people you piss off with noise, the better.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Today was a good one. The exhaust system's finished so that means that the majority of the Phazer Engine Install is done! There are a couple small things to finish up to complete the install, but they're really pretty minor:
Fuel filler hose, neck and roll over valve.
Throttle cable.
Tail light and brake light install and wiring
Speedometer pickup installation

The exhaust system was not easy. The stock sled headers are 20.5 inches in length from the manifold flange to the collector. I was able to get 15.5" of header made. There just wasn't any more room. Hopefully this won't kill my low end too terribly much - then again, the engine doesn't do a lot until you get it revved up, so it will probably be just fine. The section after the collector on the stock sled exhaust system is about 9 inches long and I was able to make mine about 6 inches. So overall I'm missing about 8 inches of exhaust system. Oh well - not much I can do.

TIG welding stainless is not as easy as everyone says - I actually prefer welding .125 aluminum over this .049 304. I started out yesterday on the system. First I did a couple tubes out of the header flanges and then it was time to attempt to figure out where things go. It was pretty much just wing it and keep measuring. By the time I was done, I had probably eight hours of fabbing in the system. I also had to modify the stock Phazer muffler. The thing's held in place with a pair of rubber donuts that are captured in a couple of cool little flanges. I had to relocate these on the muffler. Cutting them off was a mess. Still, it was worth all the effort. The car starts right up and sounds wonderful - it's nice and quiet. I don't think it's as loud as a high performance street bike.

Once I finished the exhaust, it was time to start working on a couple other things in the back of the machine. One thing that had me worried about the car was that I couldn't get it to shift into reverse. Forward and neutral, no problem, but it it acted like there was some sort of stop that prevented it from going into reverse. Since I have one of the billet RPM trannies I decided that it would be a good idea to open it up and see just what was inside and how it worked. The box is remarkably like the regular cast box that I've been running in the Dez and 10Dez. But the cool thing is that this billet box has a cover that you remove and it allows a quick change of the ratio. It takes just a few minutes to do it too. This gave me the confidence to go ahead and open up the tranny that was in the car.

I pulled the cover off the car's tranny - everything looked good with the exception of a bit of gear wear on the edges of the teeth where they slide into each other when you shift from forward to reverse. Still, there was nothing wrong with the gear sets - heck the old Deztaz had much more wear and damage more than once and it never missed a beat. One thing that I did notice about the tranny in this car versus the box I had on the bench was that there were different covers and plates on the outside of the box. The shifting fork was also totally different. It was pretty obvious that I was working on the very first RPM Billet Quick Change Tranny - the prototype if you will.

The shifting mechanism seemed just fine. There wasn't anything wrong with it that I could find, but still it wouldn't go into reverse. I started looking farther back into the recess where the shifter fork slid and there it was - of all things, the oil filler cap had been screwed in about one turn too far and the fork would just rub up against the bottom of the cap and stop moving. It was a clearance issue of about .030". Amazing that it's that close on tolerance. I removed the filler cap and the tranny dropped nice and smoothly into neutral. One more gremlin down!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

This little car RIPS! It smokes the tires with ease and I've left unsightly black streaks all over my parking lot.

Over the past week I've been lax about updating this page, but I've been busy working away on the car. Everything from the main roll cage hoop back was finished by last Thursday. I got the belly pan been made and installed, worked on plumbing and bleeding the brakes, did a small amount of wiring, modified/built the dash, shortened the throttle cable and started trying to get the body panels mounted.

On Friday the Four Stroke Gen IV Stadium Lite came to life! The engine fired right up and the machine was finished enough for a first test run. There was a problem with the clutching. It was way off. The engine instantly went to the limiter (12,350 rpm) but when the clutching didn't work quite right. Still, it worked well enough that it made the car move - WOO HOO! Loads of wheel spin. I do believe this thing is going to be quite wicked once I get the clutching dialed in. That's something that will take more time. Interestingly enough, when ATV Racing first put the Eco-Tech engine in the Tazcars they started out with primary clutching similar to what they'd been doing with the VTEC Honda setup. The engine went straight to the rev limit (mind you, that's about 2 grand down from the VTEC) and would just crawl along through the parking lot. The larger amount of torque along with the lower clutch rotational speed pretty much required a fully different setup on the drive train. I'm seeing almost exactly the same symptoms with this present setup.

I did have an issue with the engine being too rich off idle - flooded it trying to start it on Saturday. I wasn't sure what was up with that. It started very easily before I put the muffler on and then it started acting a bit unhappy. I'm thinking that there's a chance that the limited low rpm start/stop type of running I've done to it over the past few days just made the engine mad. I had to make a couple phone calls and find out.

My thinking on the fouling issue was spot on. I wasn't letting it get warm enough, I didn't run the engine hard at all - just zip up through the rev range along with short stints of idle and such. Now that I've run the engine under a load and put a little time on it, it fires right up and purrs. This is one cool little powerplant. I believe that I'll be very happy with it in the car.

On Sunday I started working on the clutching: The setup that the car came with had the Power-Bloc primary clutch with only 7 washers in each of the three pucks. This seemed extremely light to me, as a 400 Pilot (race engine) with a Power-Bloc usually runs 10 to 11 washers and when I was racing the Pilot w/a CR500 top end, I usually ran 12 to 13 washers depending on conditions. The amount of washers goes up in relation to the torque output of the engine. My first change in clutching was to add 4 washers to each puck bringing the total up to 11. It's a drastic change right off the bat, but it should tell me if I'm heading in the correct direction. Makes me wonder just how much torque the two strokes made. When I'd rev the engine up, it appeared that I wasn't getting full upshift. The belt wasn't coming all the way out as the engine hit the rev limiter. Odd - it should have no issues as it fully upshifted while on the two stroke engine.

I went through four different states of tuning on the primary clutch. Added weights, discovered that the clutch was set up for a wider belt that I was using, removed what I thought was a stop ring (thinking it was limiting the closing ability of the clutch), and then finally figured out that I needed to machine .125" off the inside of a sleeve so it would allow the clutch to fully upshift. Once I got that figured out, I belt movement from one point to the other. I'm finally learning to pay attention to the little details. I've been doing this stuff long enough...

The driven clutch: I believe it's an FL-350 (Odyssey) unit, at least it was in the beginning. It may be quite modified as it appears to have had some machine work done on it. I am totally green to the FL-350 clutch. This is the first time I've ever dealt with them. Fortunately there is a box full of springs and many notes that came with the cars. Hopefully I'll be able to use the info and parts and get things working correctly. I'd been advised by a very knowledgeable sled guy (the guy that sold me the engine) that I'd need to release some of the spring torque pressure on the secondary. Easy enough in idea, but a pain in the butt to get done in real life. The clutch was set up with a 20 lb pull (rotational pull before the sliding sheave starts to move), so I went radical and dropped it to 10 lbs.

With this clutch tuning the primary engages about 6,000 rpm. This seems pretty good for the engine. It seems to go to the rev limiter fairly quickly, but I'm not sure if it's a clutching issue or if it's just the little engine overpowering the tires' ability to maintain traction. I can haze them with the flick of my foot against the go pedal. Now that I have clutching that works I'll pull out the old Aaen Clutch Tuning Bible and start reading about how to go about getting the most of my tuning. It will take more time, but that's fine by me and will be well worth the results. I really need to see if I can take the car out to a local motocross track and do some testing in the dirt with some different tires.

Bodywork - interesting. There's about 1/3rd of the right side missing - the main panel's been cut in two and I have no clue where the front half is. Left side is missing a few key sections also. Looks like I'll be making panels. In the pile of stuff that came with the cars I found a box with some flat aluminum plates in it. I wasn't sure what they were at first but now I have discovered another small treasure; Nose pieces and front body panels. A couple of them are bent and almost ready for installation, a few of them are rough cut and need to be finished up. Still it's a set of panels I don't have to make from scratch. I got three sheets of aluminum in yesterday and started working on the fire wall this morning. Hopefully I'll get the fire wall finished up tomorrow and then start going after the bodywork. While I have the seat out and the body panels that came with the car (what there are of them) off, I've been welding in tabs for securing lines and wires. I'll try to get some pictures tomorrow.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Finally getting the bodywork done. It's been an interesting challenge and I've enjoyed it quite a bit. Firewall wasn't bad. I'm getting better at welding the thinner aluminum. The panels were a bit more of a challenge. I have right at six hours in just the main right side panel. I've taken Dzus buttons in and out probably a hundred times. It was snip, check, snip, check. Slow and steady. Once I got one panel done it was pretty easy to copy the other one and then trim it to fit the left side of the car. Only took about two and a half hours.

Tuesday, November 7, 2007

The body panels are finished. The wiring's finished, the rear tail/brake light's installed and the car's finished except for nerf bars and paint. Paint's coming soon. I also mounted the in-car camera that I have for my desert racing. May as well make it usable in everything I can.

One thing I decided to change was the steering wheel. The car steer with almost no effort what so ever. I'm used to fighting the steering with a 15" wheel - which is the same as in this car. I decided it was time to go ahead and change out for a smaller, more trick unit. I kept the quick release hub from the old Sweet wheel and made an adapter for the new wheel. I had fun getting a bit creative - it's magnesium. With the new steering wheel, I couldn't leave the dash alone and aluminum looking - a quick layer of carbon fiber made it look a lot nicer.

I got a phone call from my buddy Jay this week - he's headed to the Dunes for Thanksgiving weekend - the largest weekend of the year at the Dunes. I've never managed to be there during this weekend. I'm heading out west! The Gen IV car's going with me too. Since I'm still down and out for riding a bike, I figure this will be the perfect vehicle for the Dunes. Small, light, fun and safe. They say the weekend's crazy - too many people, so I want to be tucked inside a nice chromoly cage.

The Dunes means night time driving - it's a blast. This means that the Gen IV car needs a bit of illumination ability. I happen to have a set of HID lights that are on the old Dez. I made a nice, neat little light bar and now the Gen IV has some serious light ability. This is going to be fun!

Just to make sure the car's working correctly and that the lights work, I had to do a little test drive this evening:

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Paint is done! I finished the bodywork this week and then Chris and I spent the next couple of days scheming our paint scheme. I was able to get the aluminum panels prepped and ready to paint by Friday afternoon. Saturday was a loooong one. I spent 18 hours at my shop working. Painting took about 14 of them. I believe the end result is worth the effort. We'll be doing one of the other cars similarly in purple a bit later.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

What can I say - I'm very impressed with my Gen IV. The little car just flat rips.

I headed out to Phoenix on the 17th in preparation for the Thanksgiving Weekend at Glamis. I've always heard about the crowd, the mass of people and the madness that accompanies Turkey Day at the dunes, but I've never been able to participate up until this year. I wasn't disappointed.

I spent the weekend running around the dunes in the car. It never missed a beat. The engine is amazing. The thing is extremely responsive, has enough power to make me go as fast as I want and covers the bases beautifully. I'm really happy with the Phazer powerplant in the car.

I did have a few issues, but nothing that kept the car from being used.
First was that the car said it was hot - the little idiot icon on the dash would flash at me on occasion. What was odd about it was that the radiator never felt that hot, the engine itself never felt or smelt hot and the car never lost any power. It's one thing I need to look into and/or address when I get back to Ohio. Another issue is the clutching. I'm still not getting full upshift. There's probably another 10 to 15 mph hidden in the clutches - and right now the car tops out about 65 to 70 (this is based on running against something with a speedo, not GPS, so it's more or less a guestimate). The shocks weren't dialed in for the dunes. The rebound was way too fast and the ride height was too low. Fortunately I had already made plans on this one. I spent most of the Turkeyday afternoon building a second set of rear shocks (and covering myself and the back of my van in oil). I stiffened the rebound and increased the nitrogen pressure and from what I can tell, pretty much nailed it for the dunes. The car worked a lot better.

The last problem wasn't really a problem as much as it was a screw up. I managed to roll the car on the Saturday afternoon. I'm still not positive as to what I hit, but all indications say it was a buried root on the face of the little jump that I was attacking. I got it on video, from my point of view. Besides my pride, the only damage was a crunched up roof a wiped out light bar and one destroyed light.

Night time running was a blast. The lights worked great and I probably enjoyed this stuff more than the day time running. I didn't do a lot of duning at night, but instead played around in the flatter sections that have the little dips, rises, bushes and such. It's more like running through the desert and it's a blast.

Here are three video clips that I got.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Went playing in the desert the last two days. Wednesday I went out to the area we refer to as Happy Valley - I know the area very well, so it's a lot of fun. Thursday I went back to Four Peaks - where I rolled the old Deztaz off the side of the hill. Didn't have any issues, like the last time I was there and had a blast.

Happy Valley Desert Dashes

Four Peaks Running

Monday, December 3, 2007

The little Gen IV car passed it's first test with flying colors.

I pulled all the body panels off and went over the car with a fine toothed comb the last couple of days. I had to make a new belly pan (large desert rock was the demise of the last one.), but other than that, everything looks fantastic.

I have a couple small issues:

System says it's hot, yet I'm not seeing any signs of things being so. Never lost any power, no hot smells, no funky exhaust colors - I'm thinking it's right there on the edge of "hot" so I'm going to increase the radiator's size by roughly 6" in width. I'm also going to change my hose from -10 to -12, which is closer in size to the sled's coolant lines. There's a really good chance that because I'm using smaller diameter hose, I'm speeding up the flow rate of the coolant and it's not getting a chance to transfer the heat in the radiator as needed. The larger diam line will slow the flow down and, along with more radiator surface area, increase the heat transfer out into the atmosphere.

I'm also getting error code 42 (speedo sensor issues). I'm not worried that much about having the speedo read correctly as I am about getting the code and the corresponding flashing dash light to go away. Right now the sensor's just zip tied to the caliper and it pisses off the system that the sensor's not seeing a pulse. The sled speedo pickup is right off the drive wheels for the track. It reads a 15 tooth gear (pulser for the pickup) on a 7.466" diameter drive wheel setup. It ends up being something like 1 pulse for each 1.56" of movement. I'm running a 22.25" diameter wheel with a 10:1 transmission and to get my speedo calibrated correctly, I need to have a 4.5 tooth pulser. Great, how am I supposed to do .5 teeth??? banghead - I'll cheat and just run 5 pulses/rev for the pickup. It's going to read fast, but ah, who cares. I don't look at the speedo when I'm driving anyhow. There's way too much more stuff to pay attention to than a couple of numbers flashing on the dash.

I also need to disable the "D" indicator on the dash - at least when I turn on the lights. I was fairly distracted by the flashing yellow warning light (because of the speedo) and the steady, BRIGHT green D at night. I want the yellow warning light to stay active, as it goes on when the fuel level gets down to the last bar. I'll be able to either just eliminate the D light or throw in a relay that deactivates it when I turn on the lights. No worries, just being picky.

I learn something about the machine every time I take it out. The last two weeks was a killer testing/proving for the car and I can't express how happy I am with it and it's performance.

Car #2's Engine Transplant

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Car #2's transformation to the four stroke world began tonight.

Ben (the guy that's going to drive it) and I started stripping #2 tonight - removed all the electronics, wires, fuel tank, engine, cooling, seat and such.

Tomorrow I'll start in with the sawzall, removing tabs, a couple of cross bars and what ever else needs to go away.

This car (and #3 when it's time) will be a bit different than mine. Since I'm short, I was able to push the seat forward about 4" so I had clearance for the intake system. I was able to use the velocity stacks that came in the stock Phazer sled's airbox. Being that the guys that will drive the other two cars (and other people, for that matter) are quite a bit taller than my short arse, well, I have to keep the seat in it's "stock position" - up against the current fire wall.

I'm going to end up having to roll the top of the engine back a bit more than I did on the first car (now that I've done one exhaust, I can see where I can make up some room that I wasn't able to gauge during the first build) and I probably won't be able to retain the stock velocity stacks. The airbox will end up being quite a bit thinner in profile. I'll dimple the face of the air box over the bores of the throttle bodies - sort of act like a velocity stack, if you will.

Fuel tank's are going to be interesting too. Mine's quite large - guessing somewhere around 5 gallons. I was able to run a LONG way out in the dunes (which suck fuel down like it's going out of style), so dropping down to 3 or 4 gallons capacity will be more than sufficient for racing and playing around in the trails. The little Phazer powerplant gets really good fuel economy. - heck in the desert I went probably close to 80 miles and didn't used a half a tank.

I will also make sure I put baffles in the tanks for the next two cars. Dummy me built the current tank thinking about bracing and once I got the basic box done I realized it was fine and didn't need any internal bracing - but it sure did need a baffle up near the fuel pickup. I went blank, never considered that and will live with a car that surges a bit in right hand corners once the tank gets down to the last two bars on the fuel gauge level. (eventually, I'll cut the tank open and add a baffle, but not now - too much other stuff to do.)

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Car #2 has been prepped. Today I removed the main upper cross brace in the roll cage so I'll have clearance for the throttle bodies (did the same on my car) and to my surprise, the lower front engine mount tube was 1" x .049 and FLEXED!!! I was able to move it at least 1/16" if not closer to 1/8" just by pulling on it. Out that came too.

I believe it's going to allow me to drop the engine down a tad more and rotate the top of it back some more, thus giving me more room for the air box behind the seat.

I'm having to redo both clutches for a narrower belt (had to do the same on my car). Rear one is done, I'll get the front done tomorrow and then start focusing on getting the engine located so the clutches are aligned.

I'm keeping an hour log on this one - curious just how much time it will take.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Let the tedious work begin!

The first thing I did yesterday was to get the clutches finished up so I can work on belt alignment. I will probably make a jig off my car's clutches as the belt on it looks brand new and shows absolutely no signs of wear - I got lucky and nailed the setup.

After getting the clutches done, it was time to start the process of locating the engine in the engine bay. Pull out half a dozen tie downs, hang stuff all over the car and start trying to get the powerplant in it's happy spot.

Being that I can't move the seat forward, I actually did something sort of smart and bent a little strip of aluminum to signify the location of the fire wall on the front edge of the roll cage's main hoop. "Stay away from here" sort of thing.

I hung the engine and discovered that if it's going to go in so that things fit correctly I was going to have to cut off a fairly large tab on the bottom of the cases. Of course one of them positioned itself right over the lower frame rail. banghead There are a pair of them and they look like they're some sort of positioning boss in the sled (guess).

The new engine position (as opposed to the old engine position I did in my first transplant) lowers the engine about an inch and rotates the top of the engine back about four inches. This points the exhaust ports more directly at the top of the tranny, but now that I have a clue as to how tight the exhaust gets bent, I'll have clearance for everything with no issues - in fact, I believe it's going to allow me to lengthen the pipes about four inches - which will be good, as my last system was about eight inches shorter than stock.

I'll try to do a similar mounting system on this install as I did the last, but the front mounts will be a bit taller and the mount that attaches to the transmission will be different. I'm thinking that I may use the space between the two rear tabs and a boss on the side of the tranny that was used for the last engine's mount. That will get decided as I go along, though. Nothing's concrete until I actually get to the point that I'm making the mounts.

After getting the engine in place within a quarter inch or so of where it's supposed to live, I was able to figure out where the lower cross bar that I cut out was going to be re-installed. No 1x.049 tubing, though. I upped it to 1.25 x .063. That should be more than sufficient - doesn't flex a bit like the piece I cut out.

Tomorrow I'll get the clutches aligned perfectly and then start building the front engine mount. Once I get that in, the rear one is pretty much just cut & fit so the engine leans up against the tranny and is supported correctly. Not sure if I'll do a billet mount on the back one like I did on the first install or if I'll do steel - as I said, it all depends on how the front one goes in.

The setup looks like I'll be able to fit a fuel tank in similar to the itty bitty tank that came with the car, but with a larger section that comes up in front of the new lower cross bar - more or less similar to the tank in my car. Capacity isn't going to be as much, but that's fine - these little Phazer engines seem to get great fuel economy.

The air box is going to be interesting too - not sure where I'll put the filter(s?) yet. That's one of those things that will work itself out as I get along with this project.

The oil tank will go in the same spot as in my car, more than likely.

I also contacted Fluidyne about the radiators. I think I need a slightly larger unit in the cars; want to go about five inches wider. The radiators that came with the cars are marked with a serial number "Briggs Built-04". I talked to one of the tech guys and discovered that Fluidyne no longer does custom radiators! banghead Fortunately he was able to give me the name of a couple other places that do still make custom units. Looks like I'll be contacting Ron Davis Radiator and Cooled By Ice on Monday.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Got the engine mounted today. Man it's tedious work.

Because I got lucky and got the clutch alignment on my first conversion perfect, I had a good guide. I took all the measurements and offsets off that car and transfered it to this one.

The front engine mount's a bit different than my first setup. It's taller and is three individual pieces that aren't tied together. The pull on the engine and the way it loads everything puts this mount in tension, so it's not going anywhere.

The rear mount is done the same way as last, but the aluminum engine to tranny mount is a lot smaller and neater. The right rear mount is pretty much the same setup as the other car's.

It looks like I'll have enough room between the fire wall and the throttle bodies. It's tight, but I think it's going to work. The same with the exhaust - it's lower and closer to the tranny and probably the rotor, but it should work well.

I made a second set of parts for the third car's conversion - when ever that ends up being...

Sunday, December 30, 2007

I've done a lot since the last update. The car's been started and is just about ready to start getting the attention to detail things done. I have one issue that I'm dealing with at present, though.

When I started working on the install, I put a small piece of paper towel in the pickup line spud on the bottom of the engine to avoid dripping oil all over the place. A couple nights ago a Ben helped me put the hoses to the oil res on and didn't realize that there was a stopper in the one line and I forgot about it.

I started the engine. It fired right up but had a small funky knock (probably the geo-rotor in the oil pump eating the paper towel) coming from the engine. I shut it down, checked everything I could figure to check, tightened the primary clutch and started it up again - no knock, but the engine would still only run about 10 seconds and then shut down. Hmmm... Funky. I fired it up a couple more times and started paying attention to everything I could imagine might cause a problem. I also took notice of the dash instead of just turning the key off when the engine quit. There it was, the dash was flashing a couple of codes numbers at me: 81 - Hand Grip Warmers. Yeah, I'm aware of that, but not sure why this one's flaggin the grips while my other engine, which has the same wire harness setup, isn't. Along with code 81 it's flashing code 30 - NO OIL PRESSURE!!! Aha! I'm onto something.

First thing - make sure the sensor's plugged in. I can just get my hand to the sensor - nope, not plugged on. Cool. I pushed it on and still got the code. Hmm... Pushed it on harder "click" - snapped in place now. Start 'er up, still got the code. WTF??? Well, time to pull the manual and see what to do next - pressure check! That may work. I pulled the oil pressure check plug by the left exhaust pipe and discovered that I wasn't getting oil to the system - or very, very little. I also found that the oil put in the engine was now all in the oil res and it was spitting out the excess into the airbox. So the pump's pumping back out, but it's not drawing anything in.

Time to pull all the lines, the oil pan and start searching for the problem. The filter in the bottom of the res is spotless - no blockage in the lines, res or such - it's in the engine.
I pulled the intake line and put my finger over it with the engine running - an oil pump usually pulls a pretty good vacuum, but this one barely did anything.
It would appear that the rag was ingested by the oil pump (It's not in the pump that I can see) and has passed it on into the oil galleys. Fortunately it's a paper towel, so it won't do any damage.

Now that everyone's updated on the project, I'll explain the pix below:

Air box build:
Since this and the next car's coversion need room for taller drivers, I'm having to set the engine farther back in the chassis and deal with not being able to move the seat forward. This required a smaller air box. First build of the box didn't give me room for the seat - I was off by about an inch. No biggie, just cut the invading section out of the box and make it smaller.

Since the box ended up being thinner than the air filter intakes I had to make adaptors. That was an interesting challenge. The happy little pieces started out as flat 1/16th stock. I made a delrin dollie to beat and bend the material around and worked the plate into nice, smooth intake adaptors.

Next was the fuel tank:
This one has baffles! It's quite a bit smaller than the tank in the first car, but since that gets such great range and economy, I don't think loosing a couple of gallons is going to make much of a difference other than in some place like the Dunes.

Oil Reservoir & Fire Wall:

The Wiring Nightmare:
Actually the wire harness went quite quickly. I had a clue what I was doing this time. I can't figure out why this system is telling me that I have an issue with the hand grip warmers - the other car's never said a thing about them. There's no difference that I can find between the two either.

Exhaust & Cooling in place:

Return Home