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Update History

July 22nd, 2008

Team spirit...

Matt, having quit his job last week, spent the day working on graphics for the car and coming up with team uniforms. We also added some reading material to the rear bumper to keep the cars that are lapping us amused.

July 19th, 2008

It's Alive!

We spent today locking down the rest of the required work on the Caddy... and drinking beer. The only thing missing now are the graphics!

July 15th, 2008

It's Alive!

Well, after a few false alarms we finally dropped the Caddy off the jackstands (literally- dropped) today and took it out for the first drive since work began. Jason, Mark and Matt all took turns driving around the neighborhood to get an idea of where we stood on the whole project. The ground was wet and the new tires weren't scuffed in so it was a slippery trek. The braking system works great, in fact, it was stopping better than the Wrangler we were using as a chase vehicle, which lead to at least one 'oh s#@$' moment for the driver of the Jeep. After the car was thoroughly warmed up (read: beat on), Jason took some readings from the cooling system with an infrared thermometer and found everything to be operating better than expected. Everyone that drove it felt strongly that, after an alignment and some suspension tweaks, the Caddy will be ready for track duty. While the car is fairly quiet outside, we also felt that hearing protection for the driver will be a must. If you can imagine sitting inside of an oil drum while a bunch of first graders bang on the outside with ball peen hammers, that's what it sounds like to drive the car.

July 12th, 2008

So close...

Today we installed the remaining roll-cage and seatbelt hardware. We ran the car for awhile and noticed some oil (or ATF, there is some debate) mixing with the water in the cooling system creating a disgusting peanut butter-colored sludge. It is known the Caddy consumes oil, it is also known that it wasn't burning much of the oil it was eating, since the exhaust is never smoky. We have no idea how much is being fed in during operation, since the cooling system depressurizes when we remove the radiator cap to inspect it dropping the pressure differential between the oil and cooling systems. This would allow more oil to vent into the cooling system. It could also be 'legacy sludge' that built up from a very small leak a long time ago and is still being knocked out of the lines. Nobody has the time or willpower left at this point replace a head gasket, so as long as only a small amount of oil is going into the cooling system and not vice-versa, we should be okay (crossing fingers). We will continue flushing the system to get as much oil out as we can.

July 10th, 2008

Connor Kevit Photography, Inc...

Zack's brother, Connor, paid TCMC a visit last Saturday to check out the progress. He proceeded to artistically document the activities which we just got around to posting today.

July 7th, 2008

Injury Extravaganza!

Whenever we get more than five minutes into a workday it seems like there is always someone bleeding on the car. We've been documenting the carnage when we remember to pull out the camera and now you get to see it! Some of the injuries have been funny (like the molten drop of metal that burnt Matt's crotch), some of have been painful (like the molten drop of metal that burnt Matt's crotch) and all have been benign (like the molten drop of that metal burnt Matt's crotch).

July 5th and 6th, 2008

'Murica Day Plus One... and Two...

We finally finished up the rollcage! Mark was able to rustle up some six point harnesses for free and get them sized and mounted in the cage. We ended up having some extra bars from the installation so we added a few extra reinforcing braces. The neighbors five year old daughter made us prince and princess crowns which we proudly wore throughout the day!

July 3rd, 2008

We invent video! Then blow things up...

We finally finished up the rollcage! Mark was able to rustle up some six point harnesses for free and get them sized and mounted in the cage. We ended up having some extra bars from the installation so we added a few extra reinforcing braces. The neighbors five year old daughter made us prince and princess crowns which we proudly wore throughout the day!

June 29th, 2008

Hoodpins and hardlines...

On Sunday, Matt and Jason finished the installation of the new hardlines for the braking system. The lesson we learned from this process was: leave the AdvanceAutoparts tools at AdvanceAutoparts, and use Craftsman to begin with. There was some frustration with a few couplings we sourced at AdvanceAutoparts; basically we flared all the lines only to find out they sold us two different types of hardware. Jason cut and bent steel plates to reinforce the rusting floor boards at the front of the car. The A-pillar mounts will eventually be bolted directly to these plates. We are still on-budget with all of the major purchases taken care of and have $420 left in the bank.

June 28th, 2008

The rolling cage never gathers rust...

We got some really important things taken care of on Saturday. The rollcage components came in, and we began fitting up the components in the car. Since we don't have the tubing notcher in yet, it was limited to the main hoop. While it took most of the day to get it situated in the car and welded up, it was a big step in the right direction, since the main hoop is the keystone of the rollcage. The only bad news on the roll cage is that the angle measurement for the A-pillar tubes was incorrect; the angle we measured was 33 from horizontal, not from vertical, so the bend should have been 57 from vertical. There may be a graphic designer talking trash to some engineers about that one, at least until he drills into the fuel tank (or something) accidentally. Its not a big deal though, there is enough flexibility in the system to allow us to move the bars into position. Eric removed all of the trunk hardware and Matt installed hood pins to hold it in place. There's a lot more to do, but all of the parts are on order.

June 26th, 2008

Holy catalyst, Batman!

The other day, when removing the exhaust system, we almost took the whole thing to the dump. It wouldn't fit into Jason's Jeep and it was too late to cut up, so we forgot about it. Talk about a lucky break, turns out catalytic converters that contain platinum are going for between $100 and $250 on Ebay since the price of platinum went through the roof. So we cut the cat off at the flanges and threw it up on Ebay, this might just pay for some sweet suspension upgrades (dump-truck springs anyone?).

June 25th, 2008

Happy FedEx Day!

Tonight we took some photos of the items we are hoping to put up on Ebay. Also the new tires came in along with the rollbar padding, the window net and the racing seat. We couldn't resist mounting the seat right away. After the neighbors finished eating dinner outside we went to work and had new mounts built in about an hour. It sits well and is a lot nicer than the blow molded plastic alternatives.

June 23rd, 2008

The roll cage hookup...

Great news about the rollcage today. We had a few days of uncertainty surrounding the whole project because we could not find a reasonably-priced rollcage that could be sourced in time for LeMons - South. It looks like the folks at Chassis Engineering are going to be able to custom-bend us a full roll cage for around $300, shipped from Florida in only TWO days! We sent over our technical drawings for the cage and they were able to generate a quote really quickly. All and all it was much easier than we were anticipating.

June 21st, 2008

Some serious progress...

Jason and Matt changed the transmission fluid, filter and installed a new gasket. There's a lot clutch-pack material on the bottom of the pan, but the fluid was probably last changed during the New Kids on the Block 'Farewell Tour'. Eric changed the oil and filter. We also solved the exhaust problem by cutting the entire system off just before the cat. We were able to then mount the new muffler in the void left by the cat, and installed a downturn to direct the exhaust rearward. The exhaust sounds great, but should still pass tech without a problem. Jason and Matt found the source of the brake system's pressure loss: the brake system. All of it. The lines from the firewall forward are in terrible shape, so we went to work bending and double flanging new lines to be spliced in.

June 15th, 2008

What a mess...

Today was messy. Between baked on engine grease and oil filled coolant sludge there wasn't a presentable person left in the group. We've pretty much run out of basic prep work, so its time to order parts!

June 8th, 2008

Caddy disassembly begins...

Saturday we had our first team meeting and started the tear down on the car. It was a solid 98 degrees outside with a side of humidity that was greater than the bottom of a swimming pool. We got most of the interior out without too much trouble and drank a case of HighLife in the process. We are hoping to sell a bunch of parts off the DeVille on Ebay so we labled everything that came out of the car in good condition for resale. Not sure what the market is like for used Caddy parts, but its better than nothing. We ordered a factory service manual off Ebay and bought a new performance muffler that will hopefully keep the fuzz off our backs.

June 6th, 2008

Proof of Awesome: Arlington County Hates Our Car...

It's a proven fact: a car's awesomeness is inversely proportional to the amount of time you can drive it on public roads before getting pulled over by the cops. In the Caddy's case that is a grand total 6 minutes of mufflerless fun. Within a minute of our ten block drive over to the secret workshop we were already being tailed by a cop car. Taking it easy on the gas to keep the noise to a minimum, the officer lost interest and mercifully turned away. However our luck was short-lived; no more than two minutes later we passed an oncoming cop, who pulled U-Turn full of purpose and began tailing us. It was at this point we realized the title was still sitting on a countertop eight blocks away. The Arlington County cop was friendly about the ridiculousness of our racer-wannabe story and issued us a warning.

June 5th, 2008

The Caddy comes home...

We picked up the Cadillac today and filled out the paper work transferring ownership. Here's our first drive synopsis of the car: it rocks. The muffler fell off sometime back, so its essentially running straight pipes, as you would expect from an American V8 with no sound suppression; it sounds like sex. It idles smooth, and burbles like a muscle car. Its a shame we'll have to put new mufflers on it because of the track's 91db sound limit. We drove it for a while WOT down the highway, pegging the brakes a few times on the way home to shake her down a little bit. The transmission shifts perfectly and the engine pulls very strong through the first two gears, actually shockingly fast considering it only has 200hp and is the size of a boat. The top gears seem to be all overdrive so acceleration really tapers off over 50mph, which is fine for our purposes. The brakes actually have excellent feel and the ABS system still works (for whatever that is worth). We were smiling the entire ride home, lamenting somewhat the Caddy's impending doom.

As good as the car seems there are a few issues that will require some creativity to resolve. The alignment is shot, we mean scary screwed, though doesn't look like anything is bent in the suspension or steering system. Our best guess is that the out of balance tires coupled with crappy road conditions in DC conspired to vibrate any semblance of dead center steering into oblivion. A set of tires and a bo-bo garage alignment will go a long way to remedy this problem. We are going to need to take a look at the wheel bearings at some point as well. Now onto the hard stuff; the suspension. The springs are wayyyyy too soft for track use and the shocks dampening abilities are gone, at this point the shocks are just there to keep the springs from getting lonely. Finding cheap parts will be tough, but if we can figure out a way of tightening the ride up we will have a serious track machine on our hands.

June 3rd, 2008

TCMC Website launched today!

Well, here it goes, live as it gets! Now, for sponsorship...

June 1st, 2008

The Cadillac is Go!

After talking with the dealership's finance guru we made some headway on purchasing the car. It looks like there's a way to still transfer the ownership without getting the dealer involved. We're going to try to take delivery of the car next week and start tearing it all down.

May 28th, 2008

Checking out a potential vehicle...

We just received word that someone we know just traded her 1991 Cadillac DeVille into a dealership as part of a new car deal. Zack and Matt went down to the dealer to check it out. The car is in really good shape mechanically and it has the revised V8 that GM put out in '91. The tires are shot and the exhaust fell off(!) so it won't pass VA inspection anymore. Surprisingly it 'only' weighs in at 3500lbs, we figure we can knock at least 300lbs off that figure when we strip the interior. Other than super soft shocks and springs, it doesn't look like there is much that will stop this thing from being a decent endurance racer. The best part? She only wanted $400 for it, so its well below the $500 limit for LeMons. Now the bad part, she already sold the car to the dealer, who can't legally sell us the car since it won't pass VA state inspection, d'oh! We'll see what we can finagle.

May 24th, 2008

We're in!

We just received word from Jay Lamm and The Corporate Machine Corporation is in for LeMons South! Now, to work out the details...

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