Monday, October 3, 2011

It's Loko time!

Since last winter, the mystery fleet has been sitting quietly, parked in archival storage, waiting for a new day. (Okay, I lie: they've been parked while we raced with the Pandamonium crew.) But now it's time. It's Shadow time! Here's the fleet, not dead but sleeping:
The Shadow is getting ready for the next 24 Hours of Lemons race, The Skankaway Anti-Toe-Fungal 500 at Infineon in a few weeks. Since it's basically perfect as-is, we just had a couple of things to do-- mostly, fix the overheating problems which plagued us last year at Buttonwillow.

Initial to-do list:
  • Replace radiator cap
  • Pull the thermostat (that sucker was just holding us back)
  • Pull the A/C
It had been a while since I'd driven the Shadow, so I'd forgotten the special brand of ultimate driving experience that it represents. During the short drive from storage to Jinnah's house, the driver's side window fell out.

(Not out, out - just kind of slipped forward in place, lodged sideways in a half-open position like the little triangular wing windows in the corners of old pickup trucks. Even the lady in the 80's LeBaron beside me was giving me the evil eye.)

As soon as we opened it up, Jinnah pointed out kindly that the radiator was leaking like a little sieve.

New to-do list:
  • New radiator
  • All that other stuff
Now a radiator swap is not rocket science, but then again, we are not rocket scientists. (Never mind the highly skilled, highly technical jobs; those are clearly a front.) I demonstrated this by throwing out all the stuff we'd pulled on Saturday before we drove home on Saturday night. 

I have made many tactical errors in my time, but this one was particularly rapidly repaid the next day, when, while fitting the new radiator, I noticed that it was kind of... jiggly.

We rapidly came to terms with the fact that there were a number of parts attached to the old radiator which we might actually need, among them some little rubber feet which seat the bottom posts into the holes on the frame.

At this point we probably should have just made some new mounts out of high-tech duct tape, but being true perfectionists, we decided that only the real thing would do. So, I did what any sensible person would do, and went back to the dumpster to recover the parts.

.... this goes about as well as you might expect. Forty-five minutes and a lot of half-empty fast food containers later, I recovered the last errant radiator mount from the bottom of a huge pile of shredded paper.


Comically small object:

I think we all learned a valuable lesson from this. (I learned that I should not throw away any parts before the job is done. Rob and Jinnah learned that letting my situational guilt play out usually leads to the funniest possible conclusion.)

Stray part recovered, the new radiator is in. It's all shiny and new, and between the radiator and the hoses, approximately doubles the value of the car. Now it will never overheat, so the engine is free to explode as God and Lee Iacocca intended.

Now that that new radiator is in, and all that other stuff is done as well, check out a selection of photographs:


Sexy race car interior:

Driver's side window:

Now that everything's all back together, we've quit while we're ahead. Just need to get some new tires, and grab a crapload of spare parts (this time that one is definitely going to happen), and we're ready to race. Hooray!