The trip to this years Speedweek actually started seven years ago back in 2009; the first time that I visited Lake Gairdner. Myself and a mate had tried to get out there a few years before in 2007, but rain and bad track conditions had meant that the event was cancelled in both 2007 and 2008. In 2009 we rented a cottage in Kimba and commuted the 2 hours or so out to the lake every day. From the first moment on the lake I was hooked, it's completely inspiring to be there, stuck in the middle of nowhere, in one of the most surreal places you'll ever visit. Real grass roots stuff, not a corporate cash cow, but blokes like you and me, making stuff in their sheds that they drag from wherever on a journey that includes two or three hours over unsealed roads. Even as a spectator the commitment required to get there is immense.
The 1600 single port build that I have been working on is using a Mikuni carburetor. These are normally found on Harley Davidsons and are fitted with filter covers. Whilst there's a lot of different bling style jewelry air filter cover available (Harley owners generally seem to be some of the worst for bling) this was no good for the 1600S/P build. What I really wanted was a nice velocity stack to finish things off.
The one part of the oval project that has given me the the most challenges is the 915 gearbox conversion. Most people that opt to go down the Porsche 5 speed route use the much easier to fit 901 gearbox from the Porsche 914 / 912. Whilst not as strong as the later 915 box it shares the VW mountings, uses a cable pull style clutch and is much simpler to install. I opted to go with the 915 as the 901 was not suitable for the power of the big Type 4 that I had planned to hook up to it, plus I did not like the dogleg shift pattern of the 901.
I recently attended a local SATA meeting. The SATA (or South Australian Timing Association as they are also known) are a small group of racers who have got together to promote and create South Australian land speed racing events. They have successfully held a few test and tune days both at Tailem Bend and at Waikerie Airstrip and have planned another next month. The next Test and Tune event is on November 8th at Waikerie. Only three weeks away.
Whilst there is absolutely no way that I will get the engine finished in time, there is a chance that I could get the car finished and install another engine in it. at least this would allow me to do a shakedown and make sure that the gearbox is working properly.
Speedweek 2016 is at the end of February which is not really too far away. Whilst there's not too much to do on the Oval there's still heaps when I take into account how little time I actually get to concentrate on one project. In addition to Speedweek it looks like the SATA are putting together a speed trial at Waikerie. This will be open to SATA members and SATA / SCTA compatible cars and bikes. This is great news and is exactly what I was hoping for except that the meet is to be held on November 18th which leaves just a shade over a month to get everything together. Now of course I'm not going to kid myself that I can make it happen, but if I put another engine in that I happen to have already built and laying around the garage I recon I might be in with a chance of at least doing some shakedown testing on the car itself.
Its been a fair while since I've had the time to sit down and put a progress report together, in fact the last post I made was back in January. This is mostly due to being flat out working on the car getting it ready for Speedweek. Well Speedweek has come and gone and despite putting in the hard yards in I did not get to compete. I had set myself the goal of getting everything together with engine in and running by no later than the end of February. I figured that this way I would still be able to do some tuning and get out to the lake with a relatively good chance of making it through the week with no major dramas. Unfortunately, I did not get it together by the deadline. I was very close and could have pushed to get it done but this was the exact situation I sought to avoid when I set myself the February deadline. There's nothing like a rushed build to promote silly mistakes and expensive failures.
I've been pretty busy over the past few weeks trying to get the shell and running gear finished so that I can make a start on building the engine. The body is pretty straight and only needs a few small patches welded in but having cut out the rear floor (for a variety of reasons) I needed to make up some interior panelling. After some deliberation I decided to go with aluminium panelling simply as it is easier to work with and requires no finishing. I had originally wanted to make the panelling and door trims out of reclaimed corrugated fence panels - the stuff you would typically see on a 100 year old Aussie property - just like the stuff I replaced on my house a few years back and retained for exactly this purpose but decided that the time that it would take to iron out the corrugations was time I did not have so aluminium won the day.
After last weekends progress and also receiving my 74mm DPR crank in the post this week I was amped to get back out into the man cave and spend a little more spanner time on the oval. The DPR crank is an awesome bit of work. It's a stock 36hp crank that is welded and offset ground to give the extra stroke. It also has counterweights added and is heat treated to stress relieve the crank after the welding process. The end result is a very affordable 74mm crank.
A chance meeting has netted me with a bunch of 36 horse parts. I popped out to buy a number plate bracket for the Type 34 and ended up coming home with a bunch of 36 horse stuff. This has nudged me to change direction with my plans for speed week and look to build a 36hp power plant instead of the planned 50 horse - literally a change in heart. Having been an avid follower and support of the 36 Horsepower Challenge for a number of years its probably fitting that I enter at least once. So with a selection of 36HP parts now at my disposal it has given me a chance to take a look at whats possible with these early engines.
Nick Bentley's Badass Rat Oval
Nick Bentleys 56 rat oval is a regular part of the South Australian scene and can often be spotted at events and meets. Sporting perfect patina, a big Type 4 power plant, all round disc brakes and a close ratio box not only does it look badass, it's lots of fun to drive too. Here's a bit more about the man and the rat straight from the horses mouth...
Been meaning to post some pics up of the garage since it's near completion for some time now, so thought I might as well add a blog post to put down what has been going on.
The past week has been pretty busy, I've had to re-enter a massive amount of info to catch up with my book keeping which was all on the laptop that was stolen, and this still isn't going to be finished in time to submit my BAS. Yes I know I should be entering receipts and reconciling bank balances and not typing a blog, as I have about an hour left in which to submit it, but to tell you the truth, I've simply had enough - it can wait - my brain was hurting.
It's amazing how much data you accumulate / use on a day to day basis, this is probably far in excess of normaility for me as I generate pages and pages of code for both my work and stuff like Vdubber. Some of this stuff I have now recovered / re-entered, but some I have simply decided to do without - a bit like a spring clean. Unfortunately, my accounts did not fall into this category.
I've spent a bit of time over the past week or so updating the site code to fix up some bugs and annoying aspects, and have also paid someone to install some modifications - this is a first for me - as i usually loathe to pay someone for anything that I can easily do myself, but time is precious and so it seemed like the most cost effective way to do it, plus a little investment in the website is a good thing.
The biggest news this week is that the oval is now in it's new home. It arrived yesterday after a weeks journey from Caboolture, just north of Brisbane, down to Adelaide where it's now waiting to be turned into a salt flat racer.
The first jobs on the agenda are to sort out some kind of clear coat to fix the paint from rusting thorugh any more - The Adelaide weather can be a little wet at times, and the nice sub burned and faded paint would soon turn into a furry mess. The patina will be staying!! I also need to sort out a beam adjuster and some moon discs before i will be sending it out to get the roll cage welded in
Next is to assess the state of the floor pan - the battery tray looked to be a little rusty although not too bad, I need to find out what panel work (if any) will be required to make the car safe, this will also determine if I need to split the pan. My original idea was to split the pan, restore the chassis but leave the body the same, but I might have a change of heart and just fix it up as it is. The idea with this car is that it is supposed to be a budget racer, plus I don't relly need yet another another money pit in which to pour cash.
So the initial objective is to get it prepped, whout going overboard.
Pics to follow....