Well, after diagnosing the transmission fluid leak that developed during our last start-up a couple weeks ago, a new longer transmission input shaft has cured the problem and everything is back together. Other issues, such as proper starter indexing to the crankshaft, head gasket sealing, reworked and powder coated oil pan and a few others were addressed during the down time waiting for the new input shaft.
Mike Kuhl, Don Bowman, ace crew man, Daryl Woods and computer expert, Reese, gathered at the shop yesterday morning for a final check of all mechanical and electrical systems before moving on to other items on our ever evolving check list. The objective was to start the engine, and check the clutch, transmission, rear-end, brakes and data recorder for proper performance. To the absolute delight of all present (including many of the folks that routinely spend time around Kuhl Klassics such as Jess "The Flea" Sturgeon and his entire crew), everything worked perfectly. After the engine cleared itself of the normal gunk that inevitably collects during a disassembly and rebuild, it ran like a Swiss watch on straight alcohol. After the initial fire-up, it didn't even require priming to light off instantly and cleanly.
If you're interested in watching a six minute video of the first and final fire-ups of the day, just click on the following link:
After I return from a family vacation in a couple weeks, the car should be pretty much ready to do a shake-down run just to make sure it'll pull away from the push truck and shift into high gear. Kuhl assures me that he and Daryl will be pleny busy in my absence, as they refine a few systems and make everything perfect. That's the only way Kuhl rolls!
With Bonneville Speed Week now just six weeks away, the final push toward completion of the project (including an all new trailer being built by Bowman and his crew up north) is on in earnest. That said, yesterday's progress was a huge step forward toward the goal of participation at this year's Speed Week event.
Last Saturday, the car was ready for another fire-up with all of the new whistles and bells installed and adjusted. All tanks, including water, transmission fluid and fuel were permanently mounted. The belly pans were on for good, and all the wiring was completed for the data recorder.
At exactly 11:00 am, Kuhl spun the engine over and lit 'er up. Well, to be honest it lit and died, but the problem was immediately traced to the fact that the fuel shut-off valve was still in the "off" position. Once the valve was turned to the "on" position, the engine ran like a Swiss watch. Other than the magneto being 4 degrees off, all systems appeared to be "go". Not a single drop of any fluid leaked anywhere, and it appeared that we were ready to put the body panels on the car and ready it out for a shake-down run.
Kuhl wanted to start the engine again, and instructed me that when he gave me the patented "nod", to hit the pneumatic shift button to shift the transmission from low to high gear. That all went very well until Kuhl shut the engine down, and we noticed that there was a transmission fluid leak under the car. Without taking the transmission out, there was no way to know exactly where the leak was coming from, and what the problem was.
The bottom line is that the rear belly pan had to come off again, and the fuel tank (and possibly the other tanks) will have to come out, the rear end will have to come out (again), and the transmission will have to be removed, disassembled and inspected. The good news is that we've had all of these items apart and back together so many times now that we can probably do it blindfolded.
As soon as the transmission leak has been identified and corrected, it'll be time to take the car somewhere to see if it'll pull away from the push truck and shift into high gear. The bad news is that our chosen facility at which to conduct this shake-down, Great Park in El Toro, is no longer available to us as the company that was running the driving school and sports car course had its lease expire on December 31st of last year, and no longer has access to the park. We'll be seeking another facility where we can accomplish our objectives as soon as possible.
I've attached three photos taken just prior to fire-up, and if you're interested in viewing a video of the fire-up, go to http://youtu.be/GCPUDsBu0OA. It's about 10 minutes long, so you may want to fast forward or stop playing.
As has been the case throughout this project, last Saturday was two steps forward and one back. That said, we're getting closer and closer all the time. Don Bowman is building an all new and improved trailer, which should be nearing completion in the near future. About the time we'll be needing it, all issues with the transmission should have been addressed and resolved and we'll update everyone again.
Work continues on the Kuhl-Olson-Bowman A / Blown Fuel Rear Engine Modified Roadster. Last Saturday, we put the car on our new digital scales. With the understanding that there were no front body panels, rear body, water, fuel or driver (not to mention a few other items), we just wanted to get a preliminary reading on how close we might be to the front / rear, and side / side weights. We were encouraged that the car is pretty well balanced from front to rear, but that we'll need to tweak the suspension to get the proper side to side balance. Very soon, we'll put the car together complete with everything but fuel, and begin adjusting suspension and ballast to arrive at the desired weight distribution.
As with most Saturdays, we enjoyed the company of Kuhl tenant / long time dragster racer / friend and good guy Jess "The Flea" Sturgeon who can be seen helping "the Kuhl one" brainstorm his next move. Or perhaps Kuhl was just trying to remember what he did the day before LOL.
The next major objective is to fire the engine again with all the changes that have been made to make sure all systems function properly. Then we plan on taking the car out to Great Park in Orange County to do a fire-up, push start and transmission shift. August Speed Week isn't that far away.
Now that Kuhl has completed all of his engine and supercharger projects, my SFI work load is starting to subside and our ace crew member, Daryl Woods, is on the mend following his recent surgery, progress should start to pick up at a rapid rate.
It's been a while since we've prepared a progress report on the Kuhl-Olson-Bowman Bonneville roadster. Suffice to say that things like the holidays, the NHRA WINTERNATIONALS, a very heavy workload at SFI and other issues conspired to slow progress to some extent, however lots of projects have been completed over the past couple months. That said, there's been quite a bit of "two steps forward, one step back" as changes continue to be made that require disassembling what Kuhl refers to as our "giant Chinese puzzle", and then reassembling it.
The swap over to the new MSD 44 amp magneto looked like a pretty easy deal until we tried to fit the roadster body on the car, and determined that there was an "interference fit" between the magneto cap and the body. This required ordering a one-inch shorter magneto drive from Mike Dunn (no, not the former driver and TV commentator, but the master machinist), which arrived a couple weeks ago. That wasn't the end of the agony, though, as the magneto now had an "interference fit" with the supercharger manifold and supercharger drive idler bracket. Off came everything from the top of the engine again for the necessary machine work.
The next step forward occurred when Kuhl obtained one of his 8-71 superchargers from an old customer, and decided to swap it out for our 6-71 in order to have access to more boost when and if needed. More fitment issues presented themselves as a corner of the new supercharger case needed to be trimmed in order to clear the magneto, and some linkages and the puke tank needed to be moved around. Those items completed, the top of the engine is now back to full functional status, and only some electrical work involving the MSD controller and coil and its relationship to the data recorder need to be accomplished. Once that's done, and a few minor revisions have been made to the fuel tank, it'll be time to put some "fire in the hole" again.
I've spent considerable time getting fitted into the driver's compartment, including adjusting the restraint system for the tightest possible fit. In most cars this would be a five minute job, but in our "Chinese puzzle", it took the better part of two days. We finally got it "spot on" yesterday, and in full suit, shoes, helmet, head & neck restraint and gloves, I did a successful "bail out", which is a requirement in SCTA / BNI tech inspection. This car is a very tight fit, and a bitch to get out of, but it's not impossible. I suspect that if the car were on fire, I'd be able to cut my exit time considerably.
Our most recent acquisition was a set of computerized digital scales, with which we'll be able to help balance the car properly from front to back and side to side. In the next week or two, our plan is to put the car completely together including all fluids and driver, and to set the desired suspension heights and then scale the car. We'll then know where and how much ballast we'll need to install to achieve the desired balance.
With just over five months left until Bonneville Speed Week, one could easily conclude that we've got all the time in the world to get everything finished and sorted out, but experience has taught us that we can't afford to slack off one bit as time flies and before you know it the deadline has arrived. Kuhl has one engine project to finish for a customer, and two superchargers to build, and then he's stated that it'll be 100% Bonneville car until we're ready to head for the salt. Our ace crew man, Daryl Woods, underwent some recent major surgery, but should be back to 100% in the near future and will be key to our ability to get everything done in time.
We'll endeavor to keep you posted on our further progress in the weeks and months ahead.
Well, even though K-O-B Team 7707 didn't make it to the salt flats this year, progress continues to be made. When it became obvious that the World Finals event was out of the question for this year, we undertook a number of upgrades that we'd anticipated doing next year. That included the acquisition and installation of a "killer" MSD 44 Amp magneto, controller and coil. Clearance problems required the removal of everything on the engine from the long block up, due to the fact that the intake manifold and supercharger had to be machined to make room for the larger magneto. The good news is that it's all been done, and the engine is completely back together again.
Kuhl was finally able to get the transmission shifter air bottle and associated equipment back from our friend, Mike Thermos at Nitrous Supply, and it's now permanently mounted and plumbed.
The biggest progress was getting the tank mounting brackets fabricated by Squeek White back from the powder coaters, and bolted into the car. The water and lubricant tanks are now all fitted, and only need to be plumbed. To say that Squeek did a superb job on these, and several other brackets he made for us would be a major understatement.
Well, we missed the USFRA World of Speed event this month, but thanks to the great fabrication work of our good friend, Squeak White, we were able to pick the car up from his shop this afternoon and get it back to Kuhl Klassics. Now we can get on with all of the items on our "To-Do" list, of which there are far too many. The 100+ degree weather didn't help the geezers involved in the loading process, but we survived and got everything back and ready to unload in spite of our advance ages and feeble bodies.
Squeak did an outstanding job of mounting the water tank, ATF / Rear-End Gear Lube tank and puke tank, electrical lube pumps and fabricating the dual parachute release cable dash mount and roll cage shroud. The shroud is already on its way to "Painter Phil" Whetstone for a coat of K-O-B red, and we'll get after the necessary plumbing and wiring.
I'd like to say that we're going to be at the SCTA-BNI World Finals event early next month, but it would be a long-shot at best. There's still lots of work to be done on the trailer, and more than enough "five-minute jobs" on the car itself. Realistically, some local shake-down runs before the end of the year and next year's Speed Week would seem to be much more likely at this point.
Attached are a few photos of the car and trailer, and I'll post more of the various fabrication items that Squeak did such a nice job on as soon as we get the body off.
Disappointed, but not discouraged...
The latest on the K-O-B Racing progress is that the engine short-block is 100% complete and assembled. Once Kuhl receives the rocker arms he's ordered next week, he can finish assembling the cylinder heads, and mount the blower. There's still some work to be done on the fuel system, but it won't present any problems.
Yesterday, we stuffed the engine, flywheel, bellhousing and transmission in the car for mock-up purposes to facilitate fabrication of the exhaust headers, fuel tank, linkages, etc. Once those items have been finished we can pop the engine back out, trim and powder coat the bellhousing, install the clutch and drop the engine back in the car for good.
Major projects will include finishing the seat and seat supports, pour-in-place seat inserts (one for me and one for Don Bowman), driver restraint system (including new anchor brackets), exhaust headers, body modifications (to accommodate the headers and the new 2nd parachute attachment brackets), bodywork and paint. In spite of the great progress we've made, it'll still be a major thrash to be ready for Speed Week in August. We'll definitely be ramping up our efforts in the coming weeks.
Don is waiting for the leaf springs to finish construction of our open trailer which will make transporting the car around to the various fabrication shops much easier. He and I are collecting all our necessary safety equipment, including new SFI Spec 3.2A/20 firesuits, gloves, shoes, arm restraints and helmets. We already have our Safety Solution head & neck restraints, so we should be in great shape come August.
We'll post our next progress report as soon as there's anything of substance to report.