6/30/2017: Things I Learned Today

1. It is hard to believe that the year is already half over. This year has absolutely flown by, and I see no reason why it will slow down anytime soon.

2. The garage is prepped for the lift install on Wednesday. I did move stuff around to give the lift side of the garage a little more room in front of the lift, and I’m sure I’ll move stuff around again once the lift is installed.

3. I am going to Summit Point Main Circuit on Sunday for a TrackDaze event. This will be the second track day this year, and the first one on the Main Circuit in about 6 years, so I will be relearning the track. Since I need to relearn, I will be in the Blue group, and most likely will have an instructor for a session or two. I’ll finish the car prep on Saturday.

6/28/2017: Things I Learned Today

1. On Monday, I ordered a lift, from Greg Smith Equipment, on Monday, and so far, the transaction is going well. It is being shipped to a local freight depot by Old Dominion, and per their tracking system, it should arrive Thursday. I plan on picking it up on Wednesday, July 5th, and to assist in unloading and moving the pieces, I will be renting a small fork lift for the day.

2. I will be re-organizing the garage in prep for the lift install. Hopefully, the new layout will provide more room on the lift side of the garage.

6/25/2017: Things I Learned Today

1. I got photos of the telescope mount that I welded in use. Seeing something that I fixed in use gives me more satisfaction most things from the day job. I need to continue to learn how to weld items, get better at welding and do more of this type of thing.

2. I’m back on the west coast, and I will be flying home tomorrow. While I’m not a big fan of business travel, I do enjoy and use the various walking paths that are available in the area. The bay area does a nice job at provided paths for people to use, not only for pleasure, but commuting. I wish Northern Virginia was better at providing this type of access

3. The real bright spot of traveling to the San Jose area is a restaurant called Sumiya. This place has incredible and authentic Japanese food. I tried their green tea brulee, for desert, and it was fantastic.

4. I’m ready to order my four post lift, and if all goes well, I will order it while I’m at the San Jose airport waiting on my flight Monday morning.

6/07/2017: Things I Learned Today

1. One of my co-workers had a broken telescope mount that he needed welded, so he brought it in to see if I could help out. The piece is cast aluminum, and I have never welded cast aluminum before, so I told him I would give it a shot. I spent a little time watching YouTube videos on welding cast aluminum, and I basically learned that it can be a pain to weld, but cleanliness is key.

Once I got the broken half circle mount secured onto the welding table, I got a new grinding wheel and cleaned the area around the split and grooved out the crack slightly. I then used a new stainless wire brush and acetone to complete the cleaning of the broken piece. I also used a new scratch pad to clean the filler rod.

It took a couple tries to get the heat set correctly on the welder, but I did finally get a good setting to get the cleaning and melting at a happy place. What worked for me is that I did two passes over the crack area. The first pass laid down new filler material on each side of the crack; then, the second pass I could fill in the crack. I did small sections at a time, but I’m happy with the penetration; however, I wouldn’t win a prettiest weld competition.

He will try it out this weekend, but it will work just fine.

6/02/2017: June Already

I can’t believe it is already June…

The Memorial day weekend was a good one. I didn’t mind the rain as it gave me an excuse to veg out in the house a little, and I made up for it on a sunny Monday. The Sunday of the holiday weekend was spent with the “in law” side of the family with a cookout welcoming a nephew home from Afghanistan while serving in the Army. It was good to see him and all of the other folks. The Monday was a nice sunny day, so we got a lot of stuff done around the house. One of the highlights was that I got to use the torch setup. We have three metal kettles that we want to turn into planters, so I burned a drain hole in the bottom of the kettles, and there is a metal liner remnant from a decomm’ed well that stuck up above ground level that I torched off. It has been 25+ years since I used a torch, so for the first little bit, I was a little nervous, but it did not take too long to get comfortable with the torch again.

Yesterday was my birthday, so I have successfully made another trip around the sun pretty successfully. Here is to many more…

One of my co-workers has a little welding job for me to try out. He has a broken telescope mount which is made from cast aluminum. Everything I have read about cast aluminum is that it is a pain to weld, so this may not be the best “first” weld job for someone else, but I’ll give it a shot. Fortunately, the piece is relatively clean, so I should be able to get it prepped for TIGing with out too many issues.

5/26/2017: Lift Purchase Recon

I’ve been eyeing up buying a lift for the second bay in my new garage for awhile now, and I’m getting close to making a decision and pulling the trigger on the purchase. I’ve been fighting between a 2-post and 4-post lift, and each have their pros and cons, so I asked other car club members on which one they would buy if they could only have one lift, and my conclusion is that a 4-post lift with sliding jacks are the way to go.

While this setup is the most expensive option, it provides the most versatility with the ability to be used as a storage\parking lift along with the option to be used as a working lift with the sliding jacks. My friends also have had good luck with the equipment from Greg Smith , so I will be looking to purchase from them, which includes free shipping to a shipping depot. I will take their free shipping option, and pick the equipment up at a depot which will save a lot of time and travel expenses (tolls and gas).

I need to figure out my schedule on when this purchase will best fit my calendar, so I can pick it up and assemble within a reasonable time frame. I will probably take a couple days off of work to get it done in a timely manner and limit my garage down time.

5/24/2017: Post Track Day Check

I had a little time yesterday to pull the wheels off of the Ricer and do a once over. I try to do a post track day inspection (I guess this goes back to my USAF Crew Chief days of doing post flight inspections) to make sure everything survived as expected, and it looks like the car did well with no issues.

I did pay attention to tire wear, and to my surprise, the inside portion of the front tire got the most wear. I was expecting to see more wear on the outside due to the pushing properties of front wheel drive. I may pull some camber out for the next track day to see if I can even out the contact patch.

The rear tires, which are pretty much along for the ride, looked pretty good on wear with the camber set to -2.2 degrees. I will leave the rear camber alone for now, and only tweak the front camber. I will post the camber readings pre and post adjustment when I get around to making the adjustment.

I am running Hawk Blue pads up front, and they did well with plenty of pad left for a couple more track days. The rotors also still look good, so they are good to go for now; however, I will buy an extra set of pads and front rotors to have handy for when they are needed.

I also reviewed my in car camera footage, and there were two items I noticed:

1. I could gain a few seconds on braking later before the turns. I’ll let myself slide a little on this one since this was my first outing in a couple years, but I bet I left 3-5 seconds on the track with the earlier braking.

2. I ran a lap time of 1:52 to 1:53 in the last session. This is pretty decent for the track, and I knocked about 6 seconds off from my first session.

5/23/2017: Things I Learned Today

1. The track day event I attended on Sunday was the most fun I had in the Ricer since I got the GSR engine installed. I’m looking forward to the next track day which will be a TrackDaze event on Summit Point Main Circuit. Summit Point Main is definitely geared towards the higher horse power cars due to the straights.

2. I got my torch setup completed, and it is working. The last piece was to get the correct size nipple\nut to connect the regulator to the bottle. I stopped by my local welding shop – Robert’s Oxygen, and they had the pieces for $9. I got a couple small items that I need to cut, so I will be able to provide updates once I’m done cutting.

3. I need to check over the Ricer to make sure everything survived the track day as expected and to think about any improvements that I can make.

5/22/2017: TrackDaze @ Shenadoah Circuit

It was a successful track day with the TrackDaze group at the Summit Point Shenandoah circuit. It was a well ran day, and the schedule was maintained through the day. It was helpful that there were no major issues on track, so each run group got their full track time. We had (4) 30 minutes sessions, so I got more tack time than any other event which I ran before.

Here is a two lap video:
5-21-17–Shenandoah Circuit

5/20/2017: HPDE Prep

I’m going to attend a TrackDaze track day tomorrow, so I finished up prepping the car and loading the truck for the day. The prep for the car is pretty straight forward, nd I would consider it common sense. I checked all of the fluids, brake rotors, brake pads (non-stock pads. You need to upgrade the pads for a full track day), and a general chassis look over to check all bolts are tight.

Since the Ricer is only used for track days and autocrossing, I know all of my fluids are good and not old\dirty. I took the car for a quick spin around the neighborhood, to get the engine up to temp, and ensured that there are no leaks that need attention. Once all of that was complete, I deemed the car ready for the day and got it loaded on the tow dolly.

Besides the car, I have a short check list for items that I need to take with me. This list includes a torque wrench, assortment of tools, extra fluids, Windex, paper towels, rags, gloves, jack, jack stands, fold up chair, helmet and extra clothes. That about sums it up, and everyone is different on their list, so make a list and add\subtract as needed.

I also carry a folder with the track day information packet. The TrackDaze packet includes the schedule, tech inspection form and guidelines. One item that changes between organizations is the requirement for long sleeve shirts while on track. TrackDaze and SCCA require long sleeve shirts, but other do not. Make sure you know the rules and bring appropriate clothes.

While most tracks have a cafeteria, I make a habit of taking food and snacks to get through the day. I also carry a bunch of water to stay hydrated through the day, especially on a hot day. Fortunately, tomorrow should be in the low 70s, so it should be a very pleasant day on and around the track.

I hope to post pictures and\or videos of the day on Monday.