Friday, September 21, 2012

2012 Lemons South Fall - Saturday

After a snarky remark at the driver's meeting got us an assured last place start, I started out in the car.

Jay: "Black flags will be shown at 9 and 12"
Me: "What should we do 'til then?"
Jay: "We'll be throwing the green right behind these guys.  Whoever wants to be first should line up behind them"

While circulating under yellow there was some slight wobble in the front. Brought it in and we had some looseness in the drivers side front wheel. Removing the wheel we thought the problem might be a bad upper ball joint.  It seemed minor enough, but we would want to fix it if we could get the parts. Not wanting to miss hours of racing in the interim, the wheel went back on and I got back on track.  The green had flown a couple of laps before, but the whole track was under yellow as cars failed under the first few applications of full throttle.

It was only a couple of laps later when I was brought in for a black flag.  Phil informed me that I had passed under yellow.  Our usual policy is to immediately own up when we're in the wrong (which is pretty much always), but I was incredulous since all I had done is circulate in a line at 30mph for two laps under a full course yellow.  Phil believed me and sent me back out, but the next two hours were spent stewing over how I could have possibly gotten the flag.  The only car passed during that period was one that had pulled off line and slowed down with (presumably) a mechanical problem.  Perhaps it got back in line somewhere behind me and made it look like a pass to the corner workers.

The rest of the stint went better, and Britton was to get in the car next.  Unfortunately I got directed away from the hot pits around a stalled car and had to do an extra lap to get back to the hot pit area.  Other than that, the driver switch and the rest of his stint went pretty smoothly.

We brought the car into the pits to switch out Britton for Leslie.  Going from a 6+ foot driver to a 5 foot driver is a pretty big adjustment.  We had decided earlier that the seat moved enough that we might have to adjust the length of the anti-submarine belts.

Dave got in for the next stint.  He had contact with the 411 car almost immediately.  They had been passing pretty aggressively with Leslie taking slower laps in the car.  Dave was a bit more reluctant to give up his line and it cost them both a trip to the penalty box.  This was our first "real" offence, so they let him stay in the car.

I went back in the car with around 2 hours left in the day.  Fuel was running out with about 20-30 minutes left.  We put Britton in the car to finish out session, but he brought it straight back to the pit with a bad wobble in what felt like the front right wheel.

Jacking the car up, the passenger side wheel felt fine.  The driver's side wheel, however, virtually came off in my hands.  When the wheel was removed we saw why.  The end of the axle had broken off and the hub was working it's way out of the spindle.  We needed a new axle and hub bearing.  I set to work removing the spindle assembly while Dave and Mark located parts.  They set off to Columbia, where there was an O'Reily's that had the bearing in stock and a Harbor Freight in case we needed to buy a press.

Knowing they were also running Honda's, I lugged the spindle over to the Terminally Confused camp for insight.  Craig immediately knew what needed doing and how to do it.  He advised that a large hammer should be able to get the bearing races out of the spindle.  No press required.

In practice it was a bit more difficult.  We spent the next couple of hours using NSF's vice to try and pound out the bearing.  The first hour was trying to remove the snap ring, which was now wedged in pretty tightly.  I was ready to give up and head to the Pull-a-Part in the morning for a complete spindle, but Dick Anderson wouldn't let me.  A longtime racer and engineer, he had come to the race to watch the Turbo Schnitzels and relax, but he couldn't resist a problem that needed solving.  We eventually freed the ring, but the outer race wouldn't budge.

Craig came to the rescue again when he related a mechanic's trick he had heard about: lay a bead of weld around the inside of the race and let the cooling metal pull the bearing in.  It worked like a charm.  Meanwhile Britton and Dave swapped out the axle.  Unable to get it onto the splines of the intermediate shaft, they realized that the inner cup spline count was different on the new axle.  We swapped the cups and used safety wire to keep the boots on.  Our repairs wrapped up, we took a break to drink a couple of beers and watch Speedycop's Merrimac and Monitor cars fight an epic battle using roman candles.

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