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Let it Snow!

posted in JoMo's Musings by Last Ditch Racing


Happy Holidays everyone! :-) A few rally related and random musings from Triple Caution Farm.

A question we're often asked is when does our rally season start and end. Usually the last event we do is the Tall Pines Rally in Ontario around Thanksgiving. The first rally of 2009 for us will be the Team O'Neil Rally in New Hampshire. So that gives us a huge 8 weeks of, "off season," time! ;-)

The Team O'Neil rally will interesting. Last year, it was glare ice in most places. This year, studs are allowed for all car, which might make things a bit more interesting. Despite the allowance, we might not run studs at all. I've talked to my friend Dave Mirra, and he's hoping to make it up for a repeat appearance at the event. Dave is getting quicker every time he gets in the car, and I'm sure we'll be seeing him in the top 5 at National events shortly.

While preparing T-4 for Rally Jamaica, I removed the headers to repair a crack around a flange. Looking up into the exhaust ports of the heads(easy to do on a Subaru), I could see quite a bit of oil leaking out from both valve stems of one cylinder. This might explain the bit of oily smoke we see when we fire the car up initially.

With about 6 weeks to go until the Team O'Neil Rally, and only 4 weeks between O'Neil's and 100 Acre Wood in Missouri, it was decided that we should pull the engine now and figure out whether or not we have a valve guide issue, valve stem seal issue or broken piston ring. Maybe we have all three! ;-)

Engine came out easily, and Bronson and I took our time. We've pulled Subaru engines enough to know which step comes before the next, so it was methodical, almost white collar, work. Engine on the stand, we'll do a cylinder leakdown test and compression test. While the heads are off, we'll replace the timing belt and tensioner. Perhaps we'll replace the water pump and oil pump as preventitive measures.

We're going to work on a couple of projects that have been waiting for the engine to be on the stand. The first will be rotating the turbo. We have issues with clearance between the intake manifold and our turbo intake hose. Rotating the turbo inlet towards the passenger side makes it easier and more efficient to change a turbo at a short service. It also means a shorter intake tract for the air intake to the turbo. Of course, each project creates another dozen reciprocal projects. Rotating the turbo means that we'll need to fabricate a new oil return line off the bottom of the turbo and figure out how to get the turbo outlet hooked up to the top mount intercooler. Oh yeah, we'll need to fabricate a new exhaust! Luckily, we've seen others' solutions to the problems and will work to incorporate those.

Tires are probably the most important piece of gear for winter/snow/ice competition. We've had enough seat time in the snow and time on our different tires to know what works and what the limitations are. None of our competition tires can be studded(with the exception of O'Neil's), so in the tire bin we have: Michelin X-Ice's, Blizzaks, Hakka C-2's, Yokohama tractionized ice tires and Yokohama AO-34 snow/ice rally tires.

While O'Neil's will be snow and ice, Missouri could be any kind of condition, so we'll have to take cold weather gravel tires in addition to a few of everything else! The 100 Acre Wood Rally in Missouri is a tow of about 2.5 days for us from Maine. With three days on event, we'll be away from home for about 8-10 days.

Random musings: I was in Home Depot a couple of weeks ago and was in the plumbing section. An employee was talking with a couple of youngish guys and then hollered to an older employee down the isle. "Hey Jimmy, these guys need help building a beer bong!" Jimmy then preceded to ask them why they had the fittings they did, and when the young lads couldn't answer him, he expressed a bit of exasperation and got them all the correct parts to make their partying all it could be.

In cycling class at the gym the other day, the trainer said to the class while we were doing a standing climb that, "The seat should be inquisitve, but not intrusive." I couldn't agree more! :-)

Snow! Yes, it's snowing here in Maine at present. We're expected to get 3-4" today. Not much, but the first snow cover we get transforms the landscape and makes everything look clean and magical. The snow also dampens the ambient noises that sometimes intrude, seemingly causing me to seem a bit more introspective.

Happy Holidays to all of you from all of us here on the team! We'll be taking pictures of the car work and posting them when we're able. :-)

Cheers! John

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