Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Elkhart Lake Vintage Festival 2012 at Road America

Introducing the newest member of P and B Motorsports-Phil Koller, Official Team Photographer (Pay is the same as other team members – no discrimination!) (Joy Perry Photo)
Elkhart Lake Vintage Festival 2012 brought out a great contingent of Volvos. (L to R, Joe Brabender, Jeff Babcock, Alex Christopher, Todd Jongen, Jim Perry, Ray Freiwald) (Phil Koller Photo)
How do you spell relief? For us it was a weekend of almost perfect running in VSCDA's Elkhart Lake Vintage Festival. Or to use a play on baseball language, six runs, no dents, no errors, and nothing left on base. After a mighty long year of being frustrated by overheating and stumbling problems, we finally found ourselves with the Mobil 1 P1800 living up to its storied reputation.
You may have looked at the short video of the Friday Practice Session in which the doubts remained. But let’s back up a bit.
The timing issue discovered after the “Return to Road America Double Race Weekend” was solved the overheating but we were still experiencing a mid-range rpm stumble. We decided to look at the way we had the ignition set up. A call to MSD by erstwhile Crew Chief Buettner resulted in the rather interesting response “the car won’t run that way.”  A year ago we had removed the Crane igniter so the MSD was running on its own. That’s what elicited the comment. Well, sorry MSD, but it does run, but we will admit that maybe it was short sighted to remove that Crane.
While I was off attending to some duties in northern Wisconsin Dave Buettner hooked up a new MSD box, reinstalled the Crane, built up and installed a “new” Bosch JF-4 distributor I extracted from the Volvo 145 that had been purchased as a donor vehicle. And did a bit of in-shop tuning. I replaced the 4.56 rear end with the taller 4.1 more suitable for the 4+ mile Road America. I must admit I am feeling like I could change these rear axles with my eyes closed after a year of practice.
We headed for RA early on Thursday, set up, and went to tech in preparation for Friday’s start. On my way back from tech I got behind some slow moving vehicles going up the hill and the car stalled. And did not want to restart. A little embarrassing to say the least. Eventually it fired up, only to stall again. After waiting a couple of minutes it came to life again and I made my way back to the paddock with a little suspicion that all was not perfect, but I’d have to wait until morning to find out.
The Swedish Pavilion was packed with three P1800s (Alex Christopher, Ray Freiwald, and me), two Amazons (Jeff Babcock and Joe Brabender) and Todd Jongen’s 142.  Jeff’s 122 was touch and go but made it sans some of its usual ornamentation due to some bodywork that needed to be done. It was especially nice to see Todd, even if he was recovering from a freak accident in which he severed a tendon in his elbow when he slipped working on the B20 oil pan.  “They don’t look like they have sharp edges, but they sure as heck do!” It certainly did not affect Todd’s driving though – he was great all weekend.
Todd Jongen (David Farrington photo)
It was a very special weekend because of the many friends who came to be part of the action as well. Sue Farrington flew in from Rhode Island to become part of Team Farrington (and just maybe to spend a little time with her Chattanooga, TN-relocated hubby). Sue Christopher came all the way from Reno with Alex, and Colleen Brabender joined Joe and son Brandon. We were surprised when Bob Wilson, an 1800 owner Joy and I met at the early summer St. Louis Volvo Club of America National Meet came tooling in with his beautiful “Saint” from far northern Minnesota. Lornie Haugen from Tomahawk, WI brought his 245 and Scamp camper. And St. Louis organizer Glen McMillin came to see what all of this racing stuff was all about; here’s a portion of the message I got from him a couple days later: “Just wanted to say thank you again for letting me roam the paddock and covet all the well-prepared Volvos :-)  I've got to say, I had high expectations of the weekend, and those expectations were far exceeded.  It was fantastic to watch all the work going on to prepare the cars and then watch them represent Volvo well in the competition.  What a beautiful course.  I can only imagine the thrill you get by pushing that car around it :-)
 The first time an 1800 shows up at the Swedish Pavilion it is sure to attract a crowd of admirers, as did Bob Wilson’s (L to R: Bob Wilson, David Farrington, Todd Jongen, Doug Senk [leaning], Jim Blett
Brigitte Babcock threw her usual spectacular Pavilion Party, making sure everyone was well fueled

The Vintage Sports Car Driver Association-sanctioned ELVF is a great event. Milwaukee’s Comer’s Classic Automobiles is its primary sponsor. Colin Comer brought a new ground pounder that walked away from everyone in his class. Unfortunately (?), Cana Comer was not entered, as she is “working on [their] first offspring,” as she told me at Saturday night’s reception.

The event attracts many classic cars, on the track, in the paddocks, and in Elkhart Lake, the latter being the site of VSCDA’s “Gathering on the Green” of outstanding collector cars at the beautiful Osthoff Resort. Unfortunately, the rains came again and chased everyone away, us to the VSCDA Banquet.







Among the many notables was a beautiful ’51 Cunningham that took my mind right back to BJ Levy’s semi-fictionalized accounts of road racing’s early days.

And then there was also the eclectic

Beautiful location, beautiful automobiles. "On the Green" at the Osthoff (Lornie Haugen photo)
Racing legend Augie Pabst entertained the VSCDA crowd with stories of by-gone days, including his car- in-the-pool car stunt

But back to the main event ...

Halfway through the first practice lap I got my answer about how the car was going to behave when the engine started to lose power, misfire and just generally go south. I pulled into the hot pits, and … well, that’s what the previous post’s video showed. We had to be towed back to the paddock this time.
Diagnosis time once again, but now the engine refused to start, backfiring through the intake. We had suggestions from people with lots of experience, suggestions I just found too complex with the KISS principle fresh in my mind from the overheating debacle. Dave was out in Bonneville watching cars go very fast in a straight line on the salt. But as usual he was immediately available via cell phone. After I described the situation it took him all of ten seconds to say that the timing had jumped and the solution was to reinstall the original distributor. David Farrington and I set to work doing some soldering and had it done in 45 minutes. Hit the under-hood starter and, hot dog, we were back in business.
This has become an all too familiar view under our canopy. Fortunately this time is all worked out!
We ran Practice 2 in the rain, carefully, because it was pretty darn greasy out there, but the elation of pulling into the pits at the end of the session having run with everything firing on all fours, literally and figuratively was indescribable. And this time we had solved the disappearing wiper arm problem, permanently!
May not be show quality, but it ain’t goin’ anywhere
The rest of the weekend just kept getting better and better for us. By the time we were finished on Sunday I had turned three successive personal bests in the last three runs, with a 2:52.8 lap in the final session.  There were a lot of cars, and even with the improvement I still was only 4th in class. But no matter, we had a car that ran really well.

There is a lot of track time at VSCDA events, including two “cup races,” the Kimberly Cup for cars that typically run 3 minute lap times and over and the Sheldon Cup for those a little faster. Ray and Todd had outstanding runs in the Kimberly Cup finishing First and Second. Here are two short videos of that race with yours truly as the very amateur announcer.


Race Engineer Farrington is working on videos of the entire ELVF event, so stay tuned. This might have been the last run for us for the season. Nothing like ending up on a high note, so we can look forward to Road Atlanta and The Mitty next spring.
Jeff Babcock finally figures out how to run a jack! Farrington's changing tires again.


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Preview: Elkhart Lake Vintage Festival at Road America

Well folks, I need to get a more complete accounting to you all but we have published a short (2+) minute video showing how the weekend started off. As you watch it, remember that Race Engineer Farrington cannot hear much in the first place. Add to that the noise of cars going by and you will see only a partial indication of  my state of mind and sanity.

You can watch it here:

It is therefore resolved that the KISS principle will be followed more completely. One only needed to watch Ray Friewald and his calmly dealing with the crank pulley issues that he had this same weekend.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

“Keep it Simple, Stupid” Leads to Blackhawk Succes

There’s a very basic message in figuring out what is going wrong in a vintage race car. Actually, probably more than one. And it follows the KISS principle: “Keep it Simple, Stupid.”
In April we installed a brand new engine and have had nothing but overheating problems since day one. Head gaskets have been blamed. Compression ratio has been blamed. But what really was the fault was something so simple that it is really embarrassing to even tell the world in this blog: the darn timing was way to far advanced! The result was excessively high combustion chamber pressures under racing conditions, i.e. RPMs in the sustained 6000-7000 range.
Not to look like complete idiots, we had timed the engine, but had done that at about 3000 RPM and never checked to see what it was like at much higher, when the distributor was fully advanced. When we finally put a timing light on it – prior to pulling the head once again while the car was at Competition Specialists -- lo and behold we found it at least 10 degrees beyond what it should have been.
Steve Blom nearly turned ashen when he saw where we were. He was rightfully concerned that the bearings had taken such a beating that we could be in deep doo-doo. So I changed the oil and we cut open the filter and found – GASP! – no evidence of bearing flaking.
Once the timing was where it should be all that was left to do was a test before the next race. But where? Our buddy Denny Lamers from Lamer Racing suggested we try the local ½ mile circle track, Wisconsin International Raceway. A quick call found the track available for a very nominal fee, so Crew Chief Dave Buettner and I spend a couple hours playing NASCAR.



Not exactly the high banks of Daytona, but it sure was handy ...

.. and those concrete walls are awfully close! (Dave Buettner photos)
The outstanding news is that the car ran a constant 160 degrees. I must say I have no desire to get on that half mile oval with other cars, because we’re accustomed to run-offs and not concrete walls that are at the edge of the asphalt, nor turns that come up so quickly that the wheel always seems to be cranked left. But the day was a success and we packed up thinking we had the issue solved and were ready to go racing again.
I made a quick decision to register for Midwestern Councils’ Race 7 on Sunday, 26 August. Dave and I climbed into the truck at 4:50 a.m. for the 2:47 drive to South Beloit, IL. (When I mentioned tent camping Dave’s response was, “Uh, been there, done that, had enough.”)
We returned Sunday night, soaked and happy, despite a slight catastrophe with the EZ Up. The real test, under real racing conditions was an unmitigated success.

“EZ Up does not warrant under conditions of rain or wind”
I got drivin’ in the rain experience for sure. And the field was plenty small as a lot of folks decided to sit this one out. Rain tires and suspension adjustments kept us going in the right direction for the most part, albeit at somewhat of a snail’s pace compared to dry conditions. I saw about 95 mph one time down the front straight but spent a lot of time easy on the brakes and off the dry line. It was fun. And we even came home with some metal.
In fact I was leading the race for the first half but superior driving experience and a better car overtook me and we ended up second.
There is still a slight stumbling issue in the 4800-5200 RPM range, but we think perhaps that’s an electrical issue, so we’re going to work on that. But the bottom line is that the car is now more ready for Road America and the Elkhart Lake Vintage Festival than it has been all year.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Midwestern Council Double Race Weekend-Return to Road America

How long can one chase a problem and not find the solution? This is not rocket science! Nothing as complex as landing Curiosity on Mars. But it might as well be.
The 2012 season has been plagued with overheating issues that just will not go away. And the August 11-12 “Midwestern Council Double Race Weekend” was no exception.
In preparation for the “Return to Road America” event I had put the Sellholm transmission back in the car (nothing amiss after hearing all sorts of noise coming from it in Portland) and installed the more favorable 4.1 new limited slip differential rear end. I ran it Thursday night on the lift and there was way too much noise. Dave Buettner and I decided that two alternatives would be more prudent than running (and possibly runining) it: 1) skip the event, or 2) put the 4.56 back in. So Friday morning at 7:30 I was out in the shop doing the rear axle transplant yet again, only to have the same noise with the 4.56! So, I did a little test drive and the noise was gone.
Lesson: Don’t run the drive line on the lift and expect it to sound like what it would on the road.
Competition Specialists also trued the head because we were pushing water into the catch tank in Portland. I checked the block to make sure its surface was flat, and got some very expensive Cometic head gaskets to see if we could not seal this darn thing up.
Saturday morning dawned 54o and beautiful. We were the first group out at 8:30. The rest of the Swedish Pavilion included Jeff Babcock (122, No. 122), Alex Christopher (1800, No. 92), Ray Freiwald (1800, No. 93) and cousin Mark School (Saab Sonnet). Support staff included Doug and Mike Senk, and Britanny Maule.  
The field is a lot smaller than the “major” events, but there were still more than 30 cars in our Group
I had also changed back to 195 main jets in the Weber carbs. That proved to be a big mistake. The car ran about as poorly as one could imagine. Felt like I was dragging an anchor on the bottom of a new flowage. Alex walked up after the run and said he wanted to confirm what I knew – the car “sounded like crap.” And it got hot.
I went down to 175 main jets and retorqued the head. In the 11:30 race the running problem was solved but not the overheating.  So I had the afternoon to think about it and confer with Crew Chief Buettner by phone, who was visiting son Mike and family in Phoenix. We decided that we would not remove the head because now it is time to let our friends at Competition Specialists have a go at solving this long-standing issue.
I refilled the system with water, started the car with the radiator cap off and watched the water rise and eventually come out of the expansion tank. Ray and I discovered that the top return port in the top of the radiator coming from the expansion tank was plugged. We removed the radiator, cleaned out that port, took off the water pump to make sure it had no issues, and reinstalled.
“Joy, just move the thing-a ma-jig a little bit and I think we'll have it" (Phil Koller photo and caption. Car number had to be changed because a car that was NOT there has the permanent number "1." Go figure.)
Logic would suggest that if water from the expansion tank could not return to the radiator the water would end up out of the system and in the catch tank. That removes a couple quarts of water from the cooling system and … overheating results! Took the car for a ride around the perimeter roads of Road America and the temp never went above 160. Hot diggity dog, we’re in business!
Midwestern Council had its Saturday evening event at Elkhart Lake’s iconic racing watering hole, Siebkins Resort. It was a gorgeous evening, and the Swedish Pavilion crowd had a great time on the deck. Ray Freiwald even had his annual bottle of beer. (Seriously!) We were joined by Dennis Birkholtz, who is babying his Sonnet until the Elkhart Lake Vintage Festival but who had served as a corner worker all day.

Fun at Siebkins. Left to right: Trevor School, Trevor’s fiancĂ© Andrea, Jeff Babcock, Alex Christopher, Ray Freiwald, Dennis Birkholtz, Mark School, Doug Senk and Joy Perry. Missing: Sally Enfield and Buddy Palumbo. Maybe they’re down at the lake ...

We get to see this once a year! (But that "Lite" stuff is hardly real beer, Ray.)
As I crawled into the tent I was genuinely excited to think I had the problems solved and really looked forward to our qualifying run on Sunday morning. But as I came out of Turn 14 I smelled water and the rear wheels slipped in something greasy. I looked down to see the temperature spiking and knew that we were back to old tricks started in May. Sure enough, we had lost a freeze plug.
They don’t run so well with gaping holes like this.
As soon as the car cooled down we were back at work taking off the carbs and intake manifold. The stock of 45 mm freeze plugs was located and we pounded one in place. That was followed by JB Weld, and all that was left was left was to wait until our last race of the weekend came around at 12:55.
Things started off well. Alex, Ray and I had a great time running together for several laps. Coming out of the carousel I overtook Alex, as did Ray.  But then the temperature started rising again and I had to call it quits. Alex was experiencing power loss and some ugly noises coming from his engine.
Nice sight – three 1800s running together. (Phil Koller photo)
So that was our weekend. You might call it a bust. But things could always be worse …
Jeff’s weekend disappointment – the driver’s right wall out of the carousel took its toll when Jeff lost traction on exit
Post Script: Often big problems have simple causes and solutions. On Tuesday Dave Buettner and I determined that the timing was way too far advanced at racing rpm’s, causing excessive cylinder pressures, and overheating. That’s been corrected and I am now hoping for a little circle track test time in order to push the car. Stay tuned …

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Portland Historics 2012

On January 1, 2012, 1800ES buddy Dean Koehler received a message from me that said “What kind of drugs are you guys on out there?” Dean had just informed me that the local Portland Volvo group “PDX Volvos” was going to help bring us from northeastern WI us to Portland 6 months hence. Well … the 36th Annual Portland Historics are history and we were really privileged to be part of it thanks to Dean and buddies’ generosity. I start this post then by saying a special thank you to Dean Koehler, Ian Crisp, Colin Roberts and Peter Eulau.
 Lolo Pass, at the Montana-Idaho border -- that Titan really hauls
2137.5 miles, Wisconsin door to Oregon door -- just a short jaunt
PDX is the Portland International Airport FAA designator. Nearby is the 1.97 mile Portland International Raceway (PIR). Owned by the City of Portland, the sound meter located at the Start/Finish line is piped directly to City Hall, and that ain’t good. HMSA took a novel (and controversial) approach to this little problem by moving the start line to just before Turn 1! It worked but oh, were the spectators treated to some interesting starts.
12 turns, many tight, with lots of drifting opportunity
In many respects PIR was the event made for us because our crew, absent Dave Buettner, consisted of regulars David Farrington who flew out from Rhode Island and Joy Perry, plus Volvo gurus Cameron (Cam) Louvre (Portland) and Phil Singher (Whidbey Island, Washington). We’re blessed to have really knowledgeable high quality help at home. Here we had the best of the best in vintage Volvo expertise in one place at one time. Our Chief Transportation Coordinator also flew out from Milwaukee. Moreover, another major sponsor, Mike Dudek of iRoll Motors was able to drive up from Central California to join the fun.
Enough Vintage Volvo brain-trust to undertake any task. Back to Front: Dean Koehler, Sam Seward, Colin Roberts, Mike Dudek, Jayne Koehler, Ray Shutrop, Phil Singher (in hat), Cameron Louvre, Joy Perry, Jim Perry, David Farrington.
Phil Singher (L) and Mike Dudek. All of us Volvo guys have long locks, or at least wish we did.

In preparation for the trip we had some [re]work done on the Sellholm transmission and changed to a higher ratio differential more suited for a shorter track. So we decided to test out the car in the Thursday practice session. Halfway through the first lap there was a big bang below my feet. Before Phil ever got to the track we had transmission problems again. Up on jack stands, I could not get the car to go through the gears. So it did not take long for Cam to get his hands dirty removing the Sellholm. 
Once again upon opening the top of the tranny we could see nothing wrong. A little consultation with Crew Chief Dave back in Wisconsin convinced us that it was highly unlikely that the tranny was going to heal itself. Phil arrived and he and Cam installed the spare Volvo stock M47 that I had wisely included in the spares. Phil replaced the old pressure plate and found the pilot bearing loose in his hand. A quick call to  Peter Eulau brought him to the track with a retainer ring in hand to replace that one MIA.
We were ready to go for Friday! Race Engineer David was working furiously on getting the data acquisition up and running again so we had so performance data to look at.
The Historics were definitely a fun run, as the large Group 6 was not broken into classes.  A small block Chevron V8 made most of us look like we were standing still. A Datsun 240Z was the only car in the field to even remotely keep up with him. There were also some very fast Lotus 7’s.
Friday was a day of becoming accustomed to the track. There is virtually no elevation change, but the turns are quite tight and the chicane is an adventure in itself. The crowd sits at the chicane watching for things to happen.
The grid workers were fun. This woman had a reason for the pink wig – celebrating the end of breast cancer chemotherapy, and with a great outlook (David Farrington photo)
Phil did a fair amount of experimenting with jetting and emulsion tubes to see if we could get rid of the stumble that has plagued us all season. Still we were definitely in the back of the pack after the first qualifying session.
In Saturday’s Qualifying Race the water temperature went up, and the overflow bottle filled to the extent that water was spraying on the windshield going through the chicane. And speaking of the chicane, well, I’ll lead you on and suggest that you look at the video to see the excitement that took place there!
Time to change head gaskets. When the head came off there were definite signs of a leak – minor but perceptible. So we went with a Cometic head gasket to replace the Elring.  That solved the issue and our times continued to improve.
Surgical team at work (Dean Koehler photo)
The Portland Historics includes a nice show of vintage street cars. PDX Volvos was one of a number of clubs at the event. The car that attracted more attention than any of the other good lookin’ Volvos was Daria Loi’s Duett. Daria is Cam’s spouse. What a classic! Open the hood and you find a beautiful power plant. Open the doors and you see a beautiful interior complete with heated seats! Look at the body and you wonder how long ago it came out of the barn. When they were talking restoration Daria decided she liked it that way.
Daria’s Duett. Has a nice ring to it, no? (That's Phil's Amazon in the background) 
Don’t mess with this lady at a stoplight!
Daria Loi trys out Mobil 1 for fitment. At about 5’1” we’ll need to add blocks to the pedals!
And the same goes for Jayne Koehler (taking a break with the Chief Torque Wrencher, Joy Perry)
Alas, while Daria got the attention, Jayne Koehler took home the trophy as Best of Corral among the Volvos.
 Jayne’s ’72 1800E took the prize (Dean Koehler photos)
This beautiful 142 was an IPD experimental car at one time
Sunday started out with a “heat race” that was so darn short that it took me more time to get dressed in preparation for it than to run it. Sort of left me shaking my head wondering why we had bothered. The feature for Group 6 was the last race of the day to complete the weekend, and it was a good one for us. Even though we were once again bumping up against the danger zone of water temperature we were able to complete the race with a dandy drag to the finish line between us and a nice Porsche and a Volvo-powered Marcos. For several laps late in the race I was able to hold them off until the Porsche squeezed by coming out of the back straight and into Turn 7. As we headed to the finish line it was the Porsche, me and the Marcos, and it seemed our Mobil 1 was running out of steam even under full throttle – or maybe it was that we were too full of steam -- and the Marco pulled alongside. Take a look at the video for the excitement!
Mobil 1 leading the Porsche and Marcos, at least temporarily (David Farrington photo)
This little three week road trip was outstanding. Not only did we have a great time on the track we met some wonderful Volvophiles and got to see some great country both out and back. We burned about 478 gallons of fuel in the Nissan pulling the windbreak, er, car trailer. Had it not been for PDX Volvos I don’t think we could have done it.
Home after three weeks, 4792 mile, 478 gallon road trip

Complete video will be posted soon. In the meantime, here's a teaser:

Next up, Double Race Weekend at Road America.


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Blackhawk Classic 2012

I’ve been delaying this blog post about the 20th Annual Blackhawk Classic at Blackhawk Farms Raceway in South Beloit, Illinois. Time to catch up as Chief Torque Wrencher Joy is behind the wheel of the rig as we head for Portland, Oregon. Just a little 2000+ mile road trip.
We got down to Blackhawk on Thursday night, June 15 to join the Swedish Pavilion with Ray Freiwald, Jeff Babcock. Alex Christopher, Joe Brabender, and our Swedish cousins (Saab) from Appleton Mark and Dennis.  Practice started the next morning, but I deferred until the afternoon session in favor of some relaxation in the morning.
Swedish Pavilion
Joe was on his inaugural trip with a freshly built motor, completed just a day or so before, replacing the one that shed metal out of the carbs last fall. And you may recall that Alex got intimate with the wall in the Kink last fall at Road America; his car was destroyed. Not to be discouraged, Alex tested and bought Dale Schmidt’s  “No. 3” 1800. I teased him that his new number (13) was appropriate.
Alex’s new ride, joined by Ray’s No. 93
Blachawk Farms Raceway has undergone some really nice improvement since last year. The pavilion has been completely replaced with a fully enclosed lower left and a covered but open viewing area above it. Makes for a great spectator place.  There is a dispute going on between the owner and the asphalt contractor about an unacceptable repaving job in Turn 1.
View from the second story of the pavilion. Group 2 was crowed to say the least.
The Blackhawk Classic is a fund-raiser for the Shriners. Here they do their version of a fly-by.
Absent Crew Chief Dave Buettner and Race Engineer  David Farrington, Babcock crew stalwart Doug Senk agreed to help us out over the weekend. Little did he know what he was getting into. Neither did we.
Doug Senk in his hippy attire checking over the Babcock car
At 1 o’clock I pulled out for my first run. Turns out it was my only run, and an abbreviated one at that. All the gauge readings looked great, but coming out of Turn 7 in Lap 2 a major clunk came from the drive train. I stuck the clutch in and it went away. Let it out and returned so I immediately headed for the pits.
We put the car up on jack stands and could see nothing obvious. Ray took the stethoscope while I went through the gears, determining that something was amiss in the transmission.  So Doug and I crawled under and spent a couple hours pulling it out.
This was a scene I was hoping to avoid for a change
Opened the cover and lo and behold no fluid! What the heck? But there was no damage visible, either internally or externally. After considerable head scratching and discussion by everyone who ventured by, we decided to fill ‘er up and put it back in. Since the cover was off it made sense to pour the two quarts of 85W-140 right in the top, on the table in the trailer. Which processed to cover the table with 85W-140.
When I took the Energy Suspension mount off the back of the transmission it was obvious that we did have a problem. My mother used to say that some people had more holes in their head than they started with, and that was the case here to. A bolt in the 5th gear housing had punched its way through the back of the M47 case. Ugly.
Uh, that’s not an original configuration!
Doug’s son Mike and Mike’s girlfriend Brittany  were with us too. Mike piped up that he had a spare M47 back home, in Muskego. The decision was made that Mike and Brittany would take a road trip in our Prius to get it, so off they went. Maybe the weekend was not totally done yet.

Message for Mike Senk: Brittany is a real "keeper!"
When I was messing around I turned one of the rear wheels backwards and it came to a sudden and very definitive stop. That was not a good sign, so I asked Doug to take the cover off the differential for a look-see. When he drained the fluid he saw there were metal shavings in it, but was unable to get the cover off because I have a stabilizer mount welded to the top. No amount of his struggling could get it off.
We all sat back for a while and I decided to have a go at it. When the cover came off it was more than obvious that we were not going to be back on the track for the weekend.
Damn!

 And here’s where it came from
I stayed through Saturday to enjoy watching the boys play, and witnessing the attrition take place. First Alex lost 3rd and 4th gears and had to retire, then Jeff’s oil pressure dropped to 10# at idle, although it was a reasonable 60 at higher rpm’s. Everyone once in a while we all make a somewhat sensible decision, realizing that our desire to be on the track should take second place to the possibility of blowing something up and spending $$$$$$$$$. Jeff called it a weekend. (In the end it was a simple pressure relief valve in the oil pump that caused the problem.)
Brittany and Blossom Babcock
Jeff in his stressed out demeanor ...

... while Mike and Doug change brake pads moments before race car. (Jeff Babcock photo)

After sticking around for Bridgette Babcock’s famous gourmet track dinner I packed things up and headed home so I could get a start on repairs immediately on Sunday. The transmission went back to Pat Flynn at Automatic Rebuilding on Monday morning and they had it done by Wednesday, no charge. Thank you Automatic Rebuilding!
Nice photo shoot opportunity for the boys. Christopher, Freiwald and Babcock

Fellow VSA member John Tuteur stopped by to hob-knob with the gang and visit the race dogs. Shooting Starr's Teasel (Perry) needs a T shirt, but not a 122! 

I went to the P and B Motorsports Parts Department to source a new axle with a welded differential. That’s pretty much the long and the short of it. We’re on our way for the Portland Adventure!
Stay tuned …