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in the world of drag racing

Black Bar

The latest update as of January 15, 1999

You've all heard the old saying that goes "sometimes the best laid plans of mice and men". You know about 'Murphy's Law': "if anything can go wrong . . . it will!". Now for more home-spun "wisdom". "If Wilson's involved, then everything possible will go wrong, the costs will spiral out of control, the project will become so impossibly complicated that Einstein would be confused, but in the end, eventually, it will all come together and work . . . sort of"

The last phrase should be reworded to read: "It's gotta work, or else!" as the amount of money, time, effort, and literally, blood, sweat and tears tied up in putting together this new dragster has made it the project of a lifetime. How anyone can do this without losing their sanity, their credit rating and any pretense of a real life is totally beyond my comprehension. Yes, I know, people do it all the time, but they've got real money, real knowledge and don't have nearly as many items on their plate simultaneously as I seem to have accumulated. (This website being just one of them).

After a few "blasts" announcing the arrival of the blower, the crank and sundry other pieces in October and November, the news about our progress has been, well, pretty much non-existent. I'll attempt to explain why. To sum it up quickly, here is what we've accomplished in the last six weeks.

  •    Got the main caps off the block - that took a week
  •    Got the crank installed - it actually fits!
  •    Put the rods and pistons in - another success!
  •    Assembled the gear drive - oh, oh....
  •    Tried to install the crank hub - another oh, oh
  •    Tried to install the cam - oh my gawd!!
  •    Realized the oil pump we ordered 9 months hadn't arrived
  •    And this list could go on and on and on, but let's stop here

That doesn't sound like too many problems, does it? Looking back to the start of this project, I can see that I forgot to put one item at the very top of the first page... win the lottery before you even consider it. Too late for that now, so let's plug along and get it done... no matter what it takes.

My first inkling that things just weren't going to go as smoothly as first envisioned was over a year ago. Brad Hadman (chassis builder extraordinaire) kept putting back the completion date of the backhalf, new body, wings, etc.etc. job. Seems that some guy named Alan "Winston" Johnson ranked ahead of me in the pecking order. Yeah, okay, just get it done as soon as you can find the time. There went two months.

Then the "turn-key" BAE fathead engine deal evaporated in a cloud of (engine) smoke and we were sitting here with a new chassis, rearend and trans. No engine, no clutch and no idea what to do next. So, coining my new motto, "Why be Normal?" we decided to really go off the deep end and build a B-1 (wedge) engine. I can still remember my crewchief's words to this day: "piece of cake!". (Tom, every time we hit another roadblock, I'll just have to remind you of that statement)

Then we realized that the brand-new Lenco had the wrong gear ratios as the ever-evolving world of Top Alcohol racing saw (numerically) lower ratios being used almost every other week. We still haven't exchanged gearsets, as just like the latest computer gear, by the time we get them, they'll be last week's "trick of the week". At least the clutch technology hasn't changed too much in the past year, or has it? I've still got to call Crower and find out how far off base that last remark was. By the way, the clutch is the last (well almost anyway) "major" item to acquire.

Now back to the "list" from the past month. Later today I've got to phone Rodeck and ask why the RCD/TFX geardrive has about .030" backlash between the gears (should be about .003"). Then I've got to convince Tom that the crank hub should be .001" loose, instead of .003" tight. Norm Drazy spent over half an hour selling me on this concept yesterday, now all I have to do is sell it to Mr. Skeptical. Then we've got to persaude ISKY into exchanging our cam (brand-new, killer unit) for one that will actually work inside the wedge engine we're trying to build.

Yeah, but aren't all big-block wedge Chryslers and hemis interchangable? In a lot of areas, yes. Cranks, rods, pumps, pans, gear drives, mag drives, etc. BUT, even though the cam fits into the block perfectly, there is one rather major problem. Can you guess what it is? ........ Time's up!....

The Hemi engine has the following cylinder head pattern:
intake, exhaust, intake, exhaust, intake, exhaust, etc.etc.

While the Wedge (B-1) engine has a "slightly" different pattern:
exhaust, intake, intake, exhaust, exhaust, intake, intake, etc. etc.

Even though I was on the other side of the city when Tom found out the cam was for a hemi instead of a wedge, I swear I could feel the ground shake from the roar he emitted. Since it was 3 am. the neighbours must have heard and/or felt it too.

So, we've got 44 days left to make some sense of all this high priced gear, gather up the RIGHT pieces, assemble it and get it stuffed into the shipping container. I haven't even mentioned that we can't finish the head and block machine work until we've got the gear drive and cam "problem" fixed. After we clear that hurdle, we've still got to get the heads to fit the TFX block. I can almost guarantee that story will take up a page or two of "What's New" updates.

Just to complete tonight's story, let me give you a hint about our next attempt to "re-invent the wheel".... The intake manifold. Currently, the going rate for one for our "deal" is $2800-$3000 (U.S.) from (Rick) Santos or (Alan) Johnson. We can also wait until we land in Australia, and Ken Lowe will build one for $3000 (AUD) - considerably cheaper. But Tom, ever the optimist, has decided that he can build one for less than $1000 (CDN)... so that's the next project, once we get the short block sorted out.

If you ever get the notion to get involved in drag racing at this level, just give me a call and I'll suggest the name of a good psychiatrist. Trust me, you'll need one before you ever get near the starting line. More news as it happens (or doesn't happen) as the case may be. Stay tuned for the next segment of "As The (Degree) Wheel Turns"....

Black Bar
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