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Berck
Berck Reader
7/17/23 3:49 p.m.

I'm sorry.  This is rough.  Some thoughts that have been clunking around in my head all weekend.

I know hardly anyone in rally (and no one on the east coast other than you GRM folk), and it hit pretty hard for me, even.  I've spent the whole weekend working hard to prepare my car ready for Rally Colorado this next weekend, and it feels weird.  Working so hard to get ready to go do this thing that I can confidently say that I don't want to die doing.  I haven't even done it enough to say I love doing it.

A fellow Formula Vee racer died a couple weeks ago in a karting accident.   Putting more stickers honoring more dead fellow racers on my racecar is starting to feel... hollow?  insufficient? 

We've come so far in terms of safety in motorsport that I think it's easy to lose sight of the real risks.  I don't know that it's true that we know the dangers--I know enough to say that I don't think I have a good understanding of what the risks are at our level.  I race an open-wheel formula car, I fly airplanes, I ride a motorcycle on the street, and I'm trying to rally.  I have a pretty good idea that flying light airplanes is relatively safe (especially given that I'm in control of the biggest risks), and a similarly good idea that riding a motorcycle on the street is very unsafe (especially given that I'm not in control of the biggest risks).  I don't have a good feel about the motorsports I'm involved in.  An open-wheeled formula car built in 1968 probably isn't the safest vehicle.  It doesn't have a proper front roll hoop, I sit on a sheet of aluminum, and it's really easy to get an open-wheeled car to roll if you tangle with the car next to you.  I've crashed in three of my last four races, none of the incidents were my fault, and it's unclear that I could have avoided them shy of not racing hard.

Rally seems to have an entirely different set of risks, some of which are maybe mitigated by better safety equipment.  Of course, I'm cheap, so I have an old car with a grandfathered cage that doesn't meant current safety standards.  I have exactly zero information about how less safe this makes my car.  It's also an ancient slow car, but I'm sure it goes plenty fast enough to kill me.  And the co-driver thing is an even different question.  I don't think I'm willing to cede that much control.  I'm pretty sure that even if I could talk myself into it that I'd make a terrible co-driver.

I don't want to die motorsporting.  But I'm obviously comfortable picking something on the risk/reward curve that involves more risk than sitting on my couch, but probably less than base jumping.  I accept that injury and death is a possibility, but I don't think any of us would go do it if we thought it were a *likely* possibility.

Anyway, I doubt that any of this helps, but I wanted to let you know that you've made some points that resounded with me, at least.  "Press on Regardless" sounds like a terrible thing to say, here.  But also, "Press on with reasonably-considered risk/reward calculations," doesn't have the right ring to it.

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
7/17/23 7:22 p.m.

In reply to Berck :

I had been thinking a lot about it. Maybe too much.  I also don't like the pat little shrug of "well, they died doing what they loved".  I would much rather people think and say "well, they lived doing what they loved".

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
7/18/23 12:02 a.m.

grr. I just wrote a long rambling bunch of replies that promptly deleted themselves when I hit "Post." Since it's late and I don't want to rewrite them all, I'll just say that we can remember Erin, or Al Dantes, or Ken Block in whatever way suits us and makes us feel better. None of them care how they're remembered, whether they're in heaven, reincarnated as a turkey, in some other afterlife, or simply gone. Whomever they were in life, and whatever they were doing in death (Something they loved, or something mundane), I doubt their souls care. I'll remember Erin as a friend with great musical taste, fun to hang out with for brunch or drinks, hilarious to chat with, who loved animals and gardening, witty and sarcastic....and also someone who occasionally did rally.  

In the end, various wise people have said "remember the dead, but take care of the living," and my thoughts have kind of moved on to TJ, to my friends who arrived on-scene at the crash, and to her husband and hope they're holding up well. 

 

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
7/19/23 6:53 p.m.

I almost have no inclination to keep talking about rally at the moment, or work on the car, but the best distraction from things is....a distraction. I spent the weekend down with my family doing some work on their new place, and took the boat out. A quiet weekend for reflection.

But, since I have a job, came home today to get back to the office (tomorrow) and figured I'd finish up the project that was paused by this lousy weekend.

I think where I left off I had plated the strut towers. 

Cut some old bushings in half

Welded them to the ends of some 1" steel tube I had sitting around

Cut some more steel plate and did some welding and mocking up and such

Came out with this:

So most strut bars just bolt on to keep things in place, but due to the need to have them in a particular place they don't really have much actual tension on them - mostly just the clamping force of the bolts. This one I want to be able to pretension to a small degree. Not sure that will help anything, but hell, why not.  So, after a bit of shopping on ebay and mcmaster, I have some left/right thread end caps and a turnbuckle bolt.

And the strut bar, chopped (and with my fire system mount brackets welded on)

Long story short, it's all put together and painted (though I admittedly slacked on cleaning up the welds because...well, mostly because I'm out of flap wheels for my grinder at the moment haha...will go back and do it later. 

add-ons for the fire nozzles and bracket for the throttle cable

everything painted, seam sealed, and installed, basically. So, there is my littleproject made mostly of scrap metal/tubing and $30 worth of parts.

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
8/20/23 9:46 p.m.

So just a quick catch-up:

There was a rallycross a couple weeks ago, so a good test for the car with the fixed engine, etc. Long story short it did well, engine feels great, car generally feels great as well.  It was an, as-usual, strong MR group but I'm clearly a bit rusty after not driving this car in anger for a while. Finished 5th, but only 1 second out of third, thanks to some sloppy early runs. The top 2 were Nick in the M3 and Eric Eisele in the e30, who more or less ran away from everyone so it was mostly a battle for 3rd. But it doesn't really matter this year, since I'm out of the points for any kind of season championship, so mostly just having fun and working on my driving. In this one, the goal was to make sure the car worked, the engine and cooling was good (was idling at 190* between runs, so that's good), and I didn't forget to tighten any bolts. So mission accomplished

Oh, it was really, really dusty...

Which did make for some cool pics (this one's mine)

Side note: I don't know why I haven't had one of these little 6x4 walmart personal pop-ups for rallyx before this year. Makes life so much better, for so cheap.

What else.....well, been spending some time doing minor stuff on the DD GTI, the sequoia and some upcoming Raider projects (and did take it wheeling last weekend, so that was fun)

And this weekend there was a large gathering at the Nonack place for Chris's birthday, and of course some car stuff was involved (or at least, some cars). So you may recognize some of these from elsewhere on GRM....along with my 924S

 

Justjim75
Justjim75 SuperDork
8/21/23 9:24 a.m.

Which Sequoia do you like more?

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
8/21/23 10:28 p.m.

In reply to Justjim75 :

I mean, the 2010 is superior is pretty much every tangible way: far more power, infinitely better brakes, much beefier suspension components, better ergonomics (for the most part), tons and tons of front seat storage/cupholders/cubbies/twin gloveboxes, better A/C, better ride and handling, better at towing, better towing gearing, etc. 

The old 2005, I'd say: It was cooler....less a soccer-mom vehicle (at least stock for stock).....probably better offroad thanks to the solid rear axle (though I don't do much offroad with this and the 2010 is quite capable as well); rear seats removed give a totally flat cargo deck (for the 2010 you saw I had to build a platform since the floor is not even close to flat). And, it felt/drove a lot smaller (probably because it was 1000lbs lighter).  The 2005 felt like a "vintage truck" almost....the interior was dated even when it was new in 2001 and many features felt like an afterthought or add-on. The lack of center console size, cupholders, etc always annoyed me. The new one you could put a bowling ball in the center console (seriously) and have a bunch of drinks, plus cubbies for the tow controller, GMRS radio, etc. It's a well thought-out interior with literally everything you could want up front in a big SUV. 

The 2005 I would have kept but for all the rust, but it certainly would have gotten some upgrades - especially brakes. It had lousy brakes, sized for 4Runner and undersized for its weight (especially when towing).

They both get poor MPGs, pretty similar to each other. 

Justjim75
Justjim75 SuperDork
8/22/23 12:00 a.m.

Thank you

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
9/1/23 9:26 p.m.

Speaking of the Sequoia.....with STPR coming up I'm going to crew for Nonacks and whomever else. Here's a kicker, I have to bring my crazy and badly-behaved (sometimes) dog with me sinc emy wife and kids will be at the beach and I have him for 2 weeks. He's not much of a traveler, nor a camper. The rally crew has a huge house with like 8 ro 10 teams (?) staying there, plus several dogs.....which doesn't bode well for sleeping well for either me or him if there's a lot of activity or not a lot of space (I'm 47....it's harder these days to just "sleep anywhere" lol).

Luckily, I came across a local guy on FB marketplace selling an ARB "Room" - which is basically an 8x8 tent that attaches to an ARB (or Ironman, like mine) awning. So picked it up and the plan is to use the Sequoia as my own "airbnb" out in the yard of the bigger house, for me and the dog to crash out if the party is going all night (which is possible with some of these guys).

In any case, it's pretty neat - easy to setup even alone, tons of space, and seems pretty well-built with some nifty features. I also have a low camping cot to go in it, so hopefully the setup will bve acceptable to the dog. He seems a bit tentative, but went inside....

my 15-year old inside...lots of headroom

So we'll see how it goes with the dog, but should be great for camping out at 2-day rallycrosses and stuff like that. 

java230
java230 PowerDork
9/7/23 5:13 p.m.

I have one of those as well, pretty slick, and the canvas holds heat really well.

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
9/23/23 10:56 p.m.

After a weekend of hanging around rally, and seeing some other friends headed down to Boone Forest Rally, got motivated to get some stuff done on the car that's been a long time coming: electrical crap. I hate doing electrical crap. I'm not very good at electrical crap. But over the past couple years I've had a few issues with the aux lightings, electric fan, and other stuff - ironically, mostly the newer stuff that isn't from 1985 (that stuff still all works fine it seems). 

So I previously built a cheap fuse box that promptly melted some stuff inside of it. Not sure if it was just because it was cheap stuff, or user error (or both), but figured it's time to do it right. Some of you may have caught my thread in OT about fuse boxes, but even with some good advice, not sure I'm confident in my doing it correctly - plus materials for a decent one were a good bit for what I need.

Then I found this company that sells nice Eaton pre-built 5-relay/10-fuse boxes for $150. Figured worth a try, they seem legit. The box arrived yesterday. I mean, "off-road" is good, right?

Actually, yes. Opened it up and the box is built nicely, with a convenient mounting bracket, and comes with very long wire leads of high-quality wire (way better than the Amazon crap I ususally use) - I think they're 8-foot leads for signal and load for the relays (18ga and 12ga respectively) plus another non-relayed/fused wires (16ga). So that should suit my purposes perfectly.  Also came with a bag of spare fuses, crimps, and a good amoutn of pre-cut high-quality adhesive shrinkwrap. All in all, really pleased with the quality. I priced most of this stuff out myself and woudl have been $100 more just for materials, or so. 

So after some amount of planning, decided to tear all the old stuff out. 10+ years of add-on wiring, haphazard inline fuses and relays, shotty crimps, and crappy wire:

All in all, a lot of ugly crap

First off, decided to mount it inside the cabin. Keeps stuff cleaner, makes most of the wiring easier, and allows quick fuse changes in the rare event that may be needed. Settled on a good spot and bent the mount bracket a bit to "wrap around" the dash bar. Attached with one bolt and some 3M tape

Also did some major cleanup of all the wiring I have to keep for rally purposes - communications cables, our RallySafe GPS setup/mount, USB cables for GoPros and other stuff, etc. That part of the dash has made me wince for years, so sloppy and shoddy. 

Getting there. Drilled a new grommet hole in the firewall and used a nice grommet pinched off a Miata years ago lol

After about 8-10 hours of tediuos work (wiring under the dash is way less comfortable in a caged car with fixed seats....), testing wtih multimeters, and trying my best to do decent splices, here it is. Still a lot of wires, but it's more organized that it may first look 

And also cleared up the sloppy area in the old battery tray, which had odd-length wires, single relays, and inline fuses everywhere for years. Much nicer now, though could use some paint haha...

But most importantly, everything seems to work correctly - fan, all the different LED bars, and I also rewired the aftermarket heater into the box since it was running its power directly through the dash switch before (!! wtf did I do that for?).  Also wired up a few other accessores on the fused non-relay circuits. And I have one full relay/fuse circuit as spare, which I just tucked behind for future use if needed (the green coiled wire).

So, pretty happy to have that done. A few other little projects to do, but it's nice to have the car back in the garage and able to work on it on a VERY rainy weekend.

 

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
9/27/23 10:05 p.m.

Earlier this year I cracked the third e30 washer fluid reservoir. It's a neat design but the little tab at the bottom eventually cracks on them and causes a leak that's almost impossible to repair (I've tried multiple methods). No surprise since these things are 30+ years old. They sell new ones, but they're like $120, which seems a bit excessive for a water tank. 

I've used the cheap Amazon ones with other vehicles but they're pretty flimsy and the pumps are pretty weak. So after looking around I found the US Plastics catalog and found one that would suit my purposes and comes with a (presumably) nicer pump that's made in Italy, not China. For $35 figured it's worth a try. 

And then I ordered the wrong one. Whatver, let's make this work. 

Here's the tank/pump, which has side-mounting tabs for mouting to firewall or side of engine bay or whatever. All things I don't have available in this car....

I wanted to mount it in the old battery tray, so it's not up in the nose of the car as much (and that space is mostly empty now that the wiring is cleaned up). After test fitting in the location it was touching the hood when closed. So some clearancing (similar to what I did for the M42/M50 wiring loom previously.

Checking clearance with a boroscope haha....yep, got a few mm now

Long story short, fabbed up some brackets out of scrap metal and it's mounted up. Need to run the wiring and tubing, but should work out well

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
10/2/23 9:26 p.m.

Seems like maybe the Sequoia should have its own thread, but too late for that so I'll continue mixing it up in here.

So I carry a lot of stuff, especially when doing race support/rally towing, where the whole truck is full of gear - to say nothing of if other people are riding with me. I also like the option of doing some camping, and my gear is true "car camping" stuff - bulky....not backpacking camping stuff haha. As noted before, I have the ARB Room, which takes up an entire foot locker, or I can camp inside the truck, but that means moving all the other crap outside.

So this is a 6000lb truck. Just gonna put more crap on the roof, since it doesn't much affect ride/handling/MPGs anyhow at this point. Last post documented the rack mounts, now here's what's going on it. On the Raider I use the Monoprice "Pure Outdoor" boxes.

They're really good quality, strong as hell, and about half the price of Pelican stuff (though Pelican latches are way better). I had one of the smaller Monoprice boxes around and that one will be used for "wet" gear - my water tank hose and tarp, wet clothes, muddy stuff, and/or stinky trash in small amounts. Nothing in it needs to stay out of the weather, basically. But I want it to drain and have some airflow, so out with the drill...

drain holes in the corners

vent holes in the sides

​Meanwhile, wanted a larger box. I have a future idea for something interesting to carry up there, but more on that if I actually build it. In the interim, will be a good place to stash recovery gear and other stuff I don't use often that doesn't need to be inside the truck. I looked around at the Monoprice boxes, but the big ones (like on the Raider) have low latches that would likely hit the side of the rack due to tight space. So after some searching, found a good deal on a Pelican Vault 730, which is the second-longest rifle box they sell, I think. Measurements are about what I want, so pulled the trigger on "more than I'd generally spend on storage."

Anyhow, it's just as nice as we all know Pelicans are, and the high-mounted latches have plenty of clearance for where I want to put it.  Long story short, both got bolted to the roof (can be removed in about 20 seconds with my small impact, if I want to strap them on the Raider for a trip in that rig). So here's some pics, since this isn't all that exciting to write about lol

The "wet" box

all on

So that's the little project for "more storage." Should be useful, and wanted to spend a few bucks to reward myself for paying off the DD GTI finally. 

95maxrider
95maxrider Reader
10/3/23 7:43 a.m.

Cleaning up and redoing messy wiring sure is annoying as hell, but it's so rewarding when you're done!

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
10/3/23 8:01 p.m.
95maxrider said:

Cleaning up and redoing messy wiring sure is annoying as hell, but it's so rewarding when you're done!

fact

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
11/5/23 8:49 p.m.

 

The car is buttoned up in the garage for the winter, so here's a quick 2023 season recap:

After winning the 2022 WDCR rallycross championship by a hair, I knew I'd have to come out full-speed to be able to compete this year at rallycross, but it was not to be. After a few early-season mechanical/electrical issues at rallycross resulting in mid-pack finishes, Jim and I headed out to Bristol Forest Rally, which is an outstanding event with some very fun, but VERY rough stages, plus our first tarmac stages (note the wheels!)

We usually do well in the rougher rallies, since they slow down the fast cars more than this old BMW, but that wasn't this case at Bristol - where the radiator bracket broke loose and impaled the radiator into the power steering pump, overheating the engine, cracking the head, and ending our rally (three of the four e30s entered DNF'd on the same stage, it was that rough).

That kicked off a rapid attempt to find an affordable M50 head, which I initially got from Ozgur Simsek, but that one turned out to be a non-VANOS head that I couldn't use. A week later one popped up and I picked it up literally in an old powerplant warehouse in southern Virginia a few hours from me.

It was decked and dipped a decade ago and forgotten on a shelf, apparently. So over the next couple weeks I pulled the engine, rebuilt the top end, and dropped it back in the car.

In the meantime with no car to drive I co-drove the Dirty Industries e30 at a rallycross (we managed to break the driveshaft that hadn't been bolted on tightly), and the next rallycross I borrowed another e30, this time in the lower Prepared RWD class, and somehow drove it to a win over reigning PR national championship Shawn Roberts (almost certainly a one-time occurrance!). By then I had the car back together, but at this point out of the running for the WDCR rallycross title I was just happy the newly-built engine worked flawlessly - though my driving was a bit sloppy resulting in a couple finishes off the podium.

For the season finale, car felt great and all eyes were on Nick Drymalski in his M3 and Eric Eisele in his e30 battling for the championship with winner-takes all. As it turns out, I beat out both of them (by 8/10ths of a second) and at least got some consolation on winning an event in my own class this season. All in all, an uneven year with the car issues probably leading to some inconsistent driving - and it doesn't help that the WDCR MR class is *the* best in the country top-to-bottom, with five different former class champs competing this year and several others running just as fast. Overall, through another season plus a very rough Bristol Forest Rally, my self-assembled Bilstein Gravel (Mk2 Ford Econobox) suspension setup held up great, as did all my Condor Speed Shop parts. Aside from the engine and electrical issues, the car felt good and looking forward to taking on 2024 with better luck out of the gate, perhaps!

irish44j (Forum Supporter)
irish44j (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
12/29/23 11:14 p.m.

Well, it's been a while. I haven't touched the car since the last post other than to put the roof rack on so I can pile stuff on it over the winter in my garage. Normally I'd do a year-end wrap-up at this point, but this year was memorable for all the wrong reasons - DNF at Bristol (hey, it happens and we still had fun), lousy rallycross season in terms of finishes (though two wins, but off the season podium for the first time in a decade), and most of all the loss of my good friend Erin in a rally crash. So all in all, I'd just as well leave it at that, and move along to 2024, which will hopefully be better. Hope you all have a good New Year's, and see you on the other side. 

PS - since he never posts, I will note that Jim put up three finishes navigating for Kevin Brolin, including a podium at NEFR - so that's a positive. 

 

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