Sunday, June 8, 2008

Getting Closer

Over the last two weeks I have been able to put a few hours in on the car. As you saw in the last posting we received the rebuilt carb, so it was the next logical step to get this car on track to race in October. Last weekend I was able to remove the old carb, get rid of the emission stuff, remove the intake manifold, and loosen the exhaust system parts. I found I needed to replace the intake manifold gasket, carb gasket and order a few block off plates for the emissions stuff I was taking off. In addition the exhaust bolts that hold the muffler section were too corroded and the rest of the exhaust couldn't be removed until the muffler section was taken out. I tried for about 36 seconds to cut the pipes with a hacksaw before giving up and making a trip to my grandpa's garage. Enter Mr. Sawzall today: exhaust cut and removed in two shakes of a lambs tail (apparently that's fast). I love that thing! There must have been 60 pounds of exhaust pipes under there!

After the quick task of removing the exhaust system I spent a while trying to put back together the pieces of motor I tore apart last weekend. You can see the difference in the new carb without all the emissions crap and the old one. It's about half the size and weight of the old carburetor. My challenge now becomes to block all the vacuum lines that aren't needed anymore and reconnect the lines that are still needed to the correct places. You have to remember, this car was built at the height of emissions complexity and being that the rotary isn't know for being the most emissions friendly of motors, Mazda had to add so much in the way of actuators, vacuum lines, valves, and other madness just to get the car to pass the emissions standards of 1980.
It's my job to take all that crap out for two reasons: One, we want the car to be as simple as possible. That way if something goes wrong at the track (which it always does) hopefully we can locate and fix the problem in decent time. Second, we want the car to run as efficiently as possible and make the most power. Over the 28 years that have passed since this beauty rolled off the assembly line all the vacuum lines, rubber diaphragms in the actuators, and various other parts and pieces have been eroding away in the elements. Vacuum lines crack and leak, diaphragms become hardened and don't work as designed. All this leads to poor performance and potential problems during the race. We want to get all this stuff removed and get down to the simplest version of this engine that we can.

While I have been working on the carburetor and related parts I have noticed that we seem to have a new problem. The fuel pump no longer seems to want to do it's job. It used to be really loud and pump the carb full of gas within seconds of turning the key on, now I get nothing. Further diagnosis is needed in this area, but it is safe to say the car won't be running till we get that problem resolved.

As of now the manifold is reinstalled, carb is in the car, the header is installed, and the vacuum lines are still a mess. I need to do some research is week and figure out what goes where and what goes in the dumpster. Then its on to the fuel problem. Just for grins I tired to start the car using some carb cleaner, but to no avail. My guess is there are far too many lines that need to be plugged or reattached before it will even run for a second or two.

On a different note, we are starting to acquire members of our race team for the October 24 Hours of Lemons. So far we have myself, Ian Armstrong, Jeff "the hotfoot", and Mike Morten. It's looking like we will have the 6 drivers we need plus a few crew members coming down to the race with us in October. We will all be contributing to the car in both monetary terms, time spent wrenching or retrieving beers for those who are wrenching.

We are getting closer, but there is still a long ways to go.