Organized Chaos 3.1415926

(also to be known as "Mike's Dumbass Move"

After being cordially invited to participate in the LeMons race this July at CMP, we were stoked to get working on the LeMon. On the weekend of the 14-15 of June Rob, Jamie, Brian, Anthony (our new crew member, who still needs to post his own personal page on the site), and myself got together to work on the car. Fortuitously, Rob's daughter Susan happened to be flying down to visit, being that it was Father's Day weekend, so she stopped by to see the car and meet us with her mom. They brought lunch, too. Susan was going to be one of our crew members, but alas is settling on/moving into a new condo around the time we'll be sputtering around the race track so her ability o make it down for the race has come into question. She'll be missed, for sure, but it was nice of her to come down and meet us all and check out the disaster she so narrowly averted becoming a part of. Smart girl.

Brian's wife, Maria came by for a spell and brought along their newborn baby, Nathanial Marvin. Little Baby Nate, as I like to call him, is exceedingly cute and hopefully by the time the race comes along will have mastered the art of heel-toe downshifts and will then be able to fill in for Brian when we discover what a poor driver he is. However, keeping him (Nathanial, not Brian) in clean diapers could be an issue. Heck, the thought of driving in this race makes most of us want to crap our pants.

Unfortunately, we were so busy and raising such a rumpus that weekend that nobody, not even the intrepid captain Mike, took any pictures to document our hilarious attempts at re-engineering the Amazon. We did get some pictures of the work party the following weekend, so I'll post those here. I couldn't think of a cool number beginning with a "4" to name the 4th work party web page, anyway.

June 21: We continue the work of the prior weekend. This time, its just Brian, Rob, Anthony and myself.

Of course, Jamie is not there when I do have a camera, and is there when nobody brings a camera, so pictorial evidence of his involvement remains relegated to the first work gathering. Oh well. We will all attest to the fact that Jamie did work his butt off last weekend helping to install the new fuel tank, and also split the cost of the entry fees with Rob. (Actually, his wife wrote the check. I watched her.)

So, what have we been up to? Well, first the cooling system. We decided that the stock 4 blade stamped steel 12" diameter fan was woefully overtaxed for cooling the engine for twin 8 hour endurance sessions, so we went hunting for something better. We wanted to use a clutch fan, but the clearance between the engine and radiator is small, so we ended up fitting a plastic, 5 blade, 17" diameter fan off a Mercedes Benz 240D. 17" was a little too big, and interfered with the radiator hoses, so Rob trimmed an inch off of each blade (with German precision, of course) and also fitted the plastic fan shroud in a very ingenious manner. This consisted of drilling holes and using zippy ties, and also a piece of Home Depot galvanized steel strip.

This should move more air, and since it is lighter than the old steel fan, hopefully it will reduce drag on the engine AND reduce vibrations transmitted to the water pump. A water pump failure would not be a nice thing.

Here's a picture of the whole engine, so far:

And Brian's and Rob's crotches. Ew.

You may notice the air cleaners are off. One of our other projects is to install a cold air cowl intake, crafted carefully with scrap aluminum sheets and dryer venting. Pictures are forthcoming.

Last weekend and this, Jamie and Anthony worked hard on relocating the fuel tank to a safer location. The stock 122 fuel tank is mounted about 3" in front of the rear bumper, and the fuel fill came out directly over the rear bumper. This seemed like a very bad place to have a fuel tank and fill, just waiting for a Caprice to slam into it and create a massive fireball. One idea we had was to paint a large bulls-eye around the fuel fill, to draw attention to it in the hopes that people would refrain from hitting us. Then we realized that the other people racing in this thing were probably just as crazy and suicidal as we were. The appropriate course of action, then, was deemed to be relocation of the tank. The 122's fuel tank sits in a hole in the trunk; Jamie and Anthony lengthened that hole forward in the trunk, and mounted an 1800's fuel tank (which has a side inlet, instead of a rear inlet like the 122's) in the spot. Behind the fuel tank was filled in with more metal, and eventually some structural elements will be added for additional protection.

Here's more of that wonderful item, Home Depot galvanized metal strapping! A rubber hose will be affixed to this fuel fill, which will then pass through a hole in the trunk, and have a removable cap for refueling. And yes, those gorgeous rust-out holes will be repaired. How a vehicle from Georgia got this much rust is a mystery. Perhaps it began life somewhere in the Northeast or perhaps the Pacific Northwest, where metal mites are a more prevalent species.

Meanwhile my main objective was to get the roll cage installed. Unfortunately, this is where I ran into some unfortunate luck. As I was Sawzall-ing the doors and sides of the car to fit the roll cage, the blade broke off the sawzall, sending me reeling backwards off-balance. My wrist came down on the inside of the door panel I'd just chopped away, and the freshly cut sheet metal took a chunk out of my wrist.

The door that cuts so deep:

The roll cage (note blood spatter on the padding):

After sending my team mates on a wild goose chase to locate my first aid kit, they gave up, doused my arm in 99% isopropyl alcohol, wrapped it in paper towel, and taped it with blue painter's tape. Unfortunately, I did not get pictures of all this, as I was bleeding and not really focused on documenting the tragedy. After I was bound up, I said, half-joking, "All right, let's get back to work", but the rest of the guys, in a rare display of compassion and concern, suggested that "this might be one of those times when you should go to see a doctor". So I let Brian drive me to the ER in Travelers Rest where the doctors proceeded to slice off the impromptu bandage, examine the wound, re-bandage it, and leave me laying in the examination room to see if I would pass out, die, or need amputation.

After about 20 minutes of Brian keeping me company I was getting bored and antsy, and the doctor finally came in and said I'd need stitches. Now, I've never had stitches before, and was somewhat proud of that fact, but he assured me it'd heal faster that way and besides, they get a commission of $100 per stitch and he had a BMW to pay off. So I asked him if they'd at least give me something to bite down on while they stitched me up, or a belt of whiskey or something. "This isn't the Civil War", he remarked. Apparently some Confederate soldier are, in fact, still fighting the War of Northern Aggression here in South Carolina, but as for me, I got a local anesthetic (probably worth another payment on that Bimmer in commissions), 10 stitches, a Tetanus shot, and instructions to have the stitches removed within 10 days time.

When Brian and I returned from the hospital, we found that Anthony and Rob had done quite a bit of work to the car. Its almost ready to test fire- it just needs an exhaust. I decided to take it easy for the rest of the day, though, so we deconvened and I went inside to have a glass, er, I mean, a bottle of wine and rest.

Oh, nearly forgot the tires! We have tires! Great tires! Hankook Ventus RS-2's, procured form Tirerack and mounted by Discount Tire in Taylors, SC. Interestingly, one of the guys, Stephen, who did the mounting asked me what they were for, and when I told him about the LeMons race, he smiled and said he _almost_ was going to race, his team had even gotten accepted, but they'd lost a driver to regained sanity and as such had only 3 drivers- the required minimum is 4. He wanted to race an Escort ZX2, which while not as interesting as a Volvo 122, is still a pretty quick car. If you can keep a gearbox in it. Ask Brian- he used to own one.

So here's the tires all mounted up and ready to go:

OK, so what's with the colors? This is actually pretty scientific stuff. Those two rims you see there are aluminum rims from a Mercedes 240D (yeah, we're really getting some help from that rusty old junkyard heap MB!). They will go on the front of the 122, to reduce unsprung weight and improve handling. The other 4 tires are painted different colors and are stamped steel wheels. Two of them, the Brown one and the Blue one, will be used on the rear of the car. Unsprung weight is not so much of an issue on a solid axle. The remaining two tires are also on steel rims and will be used as spares. They are Green and Red. They were chosen as spares because they required more weight to balance than the other two steel wheels.

This color coding system allows for easy tire ID, proper placement and rotation (the tires are directional) and the use of the following nomenclature:

    • Mr Brown

    • Mr Red

    • Mr Yellow

    • Mr Orange

    • Mr Blue

    • Mrs Green

I watched Reservoir Dogs the other night.

Green is a woman, since she is a very light and feminine shade of green. Mr Purple is on another job, with Mr Pink.

That's about all for this update. The car is about 75% done, we just need to finish the roll cage, install the cold air intake, install the seat and steering column, refasten the body panels, finish installing the suspension bushings and fuel filler, change the fluids and take care of about a dozen other little piddling things.

There's enough email links on this site. Here's another, though.