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The latest update as of March 10, 2001

So what happened to that promised Friday night update, Bob? I'm not sure if any of the news and pictures of the weather on the east coast of Australia yesterday have been shown on North American news shows, but to say the least, it was absolutely brutal. The heaveist rain I've ever experienced, combined with non-stop thunder and lightning. Every time the rain slowed down to a dull roar and we thought there might be a chance to roll the car outside for a startup... the rain would come back heavier than ever.

As it was, we weren't quite ready to start the beast until well past sundown. Starting at 8:00 am with a short list (about 12 items) of tasks to complete before we could light it up, the day zipped by without the list getting much shorter. The brake bleeding, Lenco filling, rocker arm adjusting were no problem. Sorting out the setup parameters for the Racepak computer was another issue -- one that still isn't fully done -- at this writing. Then we came to setting the initial timing on the engine.

And that's where things ground to a halt. When I first started racing, I bought a complete, ready to run race car with all the spare parts, equipment and a trailer.... including an offset drive 24 volt starter. I've gotten nearly 20 years of faithful service out of it, without ever having a problem, but it may have finally come to the end of its life as my starter.

After spending nearly two hours trying to get a consistent flash out of the new timing light, and making several phone calls to people with any experience with an MSD 44 amp magneto, we came to the conclusion that we didn't have enough cranking speed. With three brand new Odyssey 800 amp batteries sitting under the bench, the decision was made to get busy and wire them up. But would the old starter like being hit with the extra voltage? What about that old Childs & Albert 36V unit that Ken has in his shop?

Thirty minutes later, we're ready to try again, with that big old C&A starter installed. Think it'll work? "Hit the button Bob and we'll find out." Vrooooommmm.... If I hadn't been the one standing there hanging onto the beast, I wouldn't have believed how fast that starter spun the engine. The tacho hit nearly 1000 rpm, the oil pressure was instantly at 130 lbs., and the howl from inside the blower was absolutely eery. Looks like we've got a player.

By now the clock was past 7:00 pm, the rain was still coming down in sheets, the lightning was flashing all around us and regrettably, we had to make the call to stand down until today. As I sit in Dave's (my host) kitchen typing out this report at 8:00 am, the skies are heavily overcast, but no rain has fallen for the past few hours. Maybe this will be the day.

All that remains to be done this morning is put fuel in the tank, re-lube the blower, re-install the rocker arms (with nearly 400 lbs. of seat pressure, they can't be left on, even overnight -- unless I want to be buying valve springs by the gross). The crew is aiming to be down at the shop by noon and if the weather holds, Australia will be hearing their first Northern Thunder in just a few more hours. What a long, strange trip this has been, indeed. Stay tuned.

Our next report is scheduled for tomorrow, with pictures and a full report on the first startup. Now after all this time, you just can't turn away and not come back for that one, can you? See you then. And to all the racers back home in Canada, have fun at the first test'n'tune of the season at Mission Raceway. With the latest weather reports from Vancouver, I'm almost jealous.

Black Bar
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