What's New What's Old What's New - March 28, 1999 What's New - March 25, 1999 What's New - March 23, 1999 What's New - March 14, 1999 What's New - March 13, 1999 What's New - March 6, 1999 E-MAIL to NORTHERN THUNDER Home Page  

in the world of drag racing

Black Bar

The latest update as of March 5, 1999

There's not really time to do an "update" today, other than to announce that contrary to popular (at least some people were hoping so) misconception, we aren't dead yet, we aren't giving up and going away quietly into cyberspace, never to be seen or heard from again, but we are currently experiencing some "technical difficulties". No, not with the website or the computer, but with that never-ending construction job of a new race car. You know the one, the car I've been talking and writing about for eighteen months now, the one that never seems to be finished, always running into problems, no pictures of it, etc. etc.

Well it really does exist, just in case you were wondering. And it really will be finished, in fact, very soon, as our shipping date to Australia is coming up quicker than we'd like. On the other hand though, it really can't come soon enough, as after all the aggro and the sweat, toil, money, more money and you guessed it, even more money, the construction phase is almost over. Then we start the destruction phase, don't we? No, I'm pretty sure we'll pass on that and just go straight to the head of the class in Top Alcohol downunder. Yeah, and I'm waiting for the Easter Bunny to lay a golden egg on my pillow one day soon too.

Seriously though, the only news today is a rather lengthy e-mail message I sent to Ken Lowe earlier this week that pretty much explains what has been happening (or not happening as the case may be) and where we go from here. Hang in there and you should see some further updates over the weekend.


Oh man, things just seem to keep going from bad to worse. If it wasn't for all the positive energy flowing from people like you and Tom (Mohan).... I'd be ready to say "the heck with it" and take a very long break. And after I made a couple of phone calls today, I feel even dumber and more useless than ever.

Crower: The money has been sitting in the bank for nearly three months (to pay for the clutch) and I've just been sitting back thinking all I have to do is call them up and "bingo".. here's your clutch. WRONG! "Lemme take your name and phone number and we'll call you when you get to the top of the backorder list..... We're completely out of discs and floaters right now and it looks like four weeks until we can throw something together...."

Then I try to order the blower belts (2000mm long X 8mm) and Terry Morrow at Walt's (Austin) tells me that's a rubber belt and won't live at all and that they only run a 1792mm long belt with their Whipplecharged "Chevy", so we must have measured the length incorrectly. But the manifold won't even be tacked together until next week and the block is still at the machine shop, so we can't mock it up and check the length again.

Block at the machine shop??? A brand-new block at the machine shop??? Yeah, I blew it there too; wrong bolt pattern for the B-1 heads, so we've had to fill in the area where the top row of studs go down into the valley and then drill and tap the area for 1/2" studs to fit the heads. Then we realize that the other two rows of stud holes are tapped for 9/16" and we've already reamed the B-1's out to 1/2" and are more than nervous about trying to enlarge them another 60-thou or so.

And on and on it goes. Yeah I know, a wise man in a far-away land once suggested to me: "Buy a (BAE) fathead and you can order everything off the shelf and be a player right away...." Despite all of the problems we've encountered and still have to discover and overcome with this wedge "idea" (aka: insanity?) we still feel like we're going in the right direction, for a lot of reasons. Some of which are the old "be a leader, not a follower" thinking and Tom's comfort level with wedge's and the cost to buy and maintain all the stuff. Plus I guess, our egoes that have convinced us that we can "re-invent" the wheel. Eventually. Maybe.

Other "minor" problems: The gear drive doesn't fit properly; between 15 and 20 thou clearance between the gears. The "trick" PSI / MSD crank hub to work with the MSD crank-trigger doesn't fit either; it's too loose and "Uncle" Norm suggested we put it on with a ton of red loctite and that it'll be fine. I'm not kidding, that's what he suggested. The hub fit .001" LOOSE, so we'll just hone yours a little and use it instead. Of course the crank has double keyways and your hub has one, but that's just another little wrinkle to iron out. Oh yeah, did I mention that MSD scrapped all their crank-trigger stuff and won't sell us the pickups until they work the bugs out of it. "Within the next month, or two, or three...."

Positive news: Hey, you knew there had to be some sunlight among all these dark clouds. The oil pump finally arrived -- eleven months after I paid for it. (No, don't even ask....) The exchange gear set from Lenco arrived -- now we've got a (censored) first gear ratio. The replacement cam from Isky arrived and fits and works. The heads are almost finished and the manifolds (two of 'em) will be finished by the end of next week.

Almost forgot: The compression ratio -- before we milled the heads a "bunch" worked out to..... 10.175.... Oh boy, big power, eh? Tom figures we can get to about 11.25 after the milling. (LATE UPDATE: The final figure: 11.125) Seems that Arias made the valve notches too deep... Geez, this merry-go-round of "fun" is making me dizzy. I think I'd better get off now and sit down for a while.

Just one more bit of (bad) news before I go bang my head against a wall. The ship that we'd planned to put the container on (Hanjin Elizabeth) had a small problem on its last voyage; kicked the rods out and almost crashed into Vancouver Island, so they've put it in drydock and leased some Greek registered piece of floating scrap metal to replace it temporarily. No f&@#ing way my car is going on that ship, so we either have to ship a week earlier or a week later.

And since the clutch won't be here until April 1st -- oh,oh, that's April Fool's Day -- and we really want to have the whole assembly balanced by our "sponsors" High-Performance Engines, we'll probably have to wait until April 4th to ship the container. That means it won't arrive before the May 8th meeting and probably not be delivered to Oxenford until about the 15th. And that doesn't leave much time before the Winternationals, does it?

Whew, enough noise for one message, eh? Not so silent today am I? Wish I could join in on the chat session with Brewie (Mark Brew) tonight, but as the scoreboard says: 38 consecutive graveyard shifts... and counting.

By the way, I've been working on the Ken Lowe Race Cars on-line catalogue for a week or so now... and it should be finished in another year or two. Just kidding, but man, you have a lot of stuff in it, and it's going to take a while to put it all together. I've pretty much got the format worked out, but there's so much information to input that I can't even see the whole picture yet. Speaking of which, to really do it justice, I'm going to have to take a bunch of pics of your products to add to the on-line version. Guess I'll just have to drop in soon and take a look at everything, won't I?

Don't worry about me being silent lately, things are just so darn busy that it's hard to find much time for writing, but we are still very much looking forward to getting away from this bloody awful weather and enjoying ourselves downunder... ASAP. More news as it happens. Let's see if the next installment can be nothing but good news.

Bob "Still there" Wilson
Northern Thunder - Top Alcohol Dragster
(The "UN-hemi" - Why Be Normal?)

Black Bar
More news as it happens, and if you wish to provide us with any news or information to upgrade or correct any errors at this site: