Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Great Success!

Its taken me a couple of days to come back down to Earth after a weekend filled with so much energy and excitement.

The Lose set modest goals in this our first ever Lemons race. Keep in mind this is the first wheel-to-wheel racing any of us have done.
Going into the weekend, our primary goals were the following:
1: Get everyone some seat time in the car
2: Don't wreck/blow the car
3: Have fun

Anything beyond those three was just a bonus. We only had one minor mechanical glitch (which ended up costing us a couple of hours and probably ~50 laps) which put us in 64th place. Apparently the previous owner had taken the valve covers off at some point, and in reinstalling them over-torqued the bolts. After a few temperature fluctuations they both cracked. This caused oil to seep out onto the exhaust during high-G cornering, and billowed blue smoke after each turn. We nursed it through the rest of Day 1, applied some JB-Weld overnight, and it held together for the rest of the weekend.

The rest of the car felt fantastic, if a bit soft at times. We have some budget room and some parts to sell before the next race, and we're hoping that will allow us enough cash to get some proper suspension components on there.

Thanks to everyone who came out to Willows and endured the weather, and to everyone following along at home. See you at the next race!

P.s. As people get their pics online, I'll post the links here.

Warren Day 1: http://www.flickr.com/photos/war2d2/sets/72157611813506565/
Warren Day 2: http://www.flickr.com/photos/war2d2/sets/72157611874319719/
Nicks Videos: http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=nickprecision&view=videos

Saturday, December 27, 2008


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Late Greats

Mon capitán rightly points out that we've been off the bloggy radar far too long. Please permit me to explain.

The Mustag spent the fall waiting for its shiftless keepers, a third
of the team, to find jobs and relocate. We ultimately kept our noses
above the rising tide of unemployment - but only to pour all that
money into Exhibit A for Detroit's bailout case.

Finally. Finally, in late November, Esposto got to shove the bane of
property values everywhere out of his garage and down the open road to
its new base in Alameda, CA. OK, Bay Farm Island. Whatever. Shut up.
Work resumed immediately or sometime thereafter, with the kind of
enthusiasm that can only be stoked by a looming deadline coupled with
rising expectations.

The expectations? Good God, man. We made Jalopnik. And how? On the strength of WST's opus and Beau's paint job. Meaning the spotlight was now upon the 6 actual, driving team members based on no
merits of our own. Drats.

Having something to prove, four of us took our egos to the First
Annual LeMons Scab-Enger
hunt to show 'em we at least knew our way
around a junkyard.

That backfired spectacularly. We won. We made Jalopnik again and
Autofiends to boot, and we took the goddamn pole. Now we can't sit
quietly in the back with our hoodies pulled down over our eyes. We
have to lead this charge of the crap brigade. How much Phil Collins do
you have to pump out the back to go faster?

Back to the grind.

What a hilarious pun. This is what I'll be remembered for when my car explodes.

Slackers, with a Plan

I'm fully aware that there exists only 11 days before the green flag drops and The Lose hasn't made a blog update in some time. Theres probably 3 main reasons for this.
1. Warren's manifesto is a hard act to follow. Much like any musical number directly following an AC/DC concert, there's absolutely no chance the delivery of anything I might sputter could look any better than a 9 year old child's essay extolling the features of a Red Rider BB Gun. I was simply Thunderstruck.
2. We're behind schedule, and its embarrassing that I'm ordering parts I vowed would have been installed and tested months ago
3. We're out of time. Seriously, I don't have free time to extol on the silly antics we're up to, because its all business now. Free weekends are a distant memory. Personal project cars (continue to) rust away in the driveway. Families are preparing for an absolute lack of effort on the part of my Christmas gifts. Its been a tough 4-5 weeks. But the end is in sight. December 28th, it will be over.

Heres a list of what we're still looking to accomplish before the race.
Install Seat
Install Harness
Relocate Battery
Build kill switch
Install fire supression system
Change fluids (again)
Mount tires (#1 set)
Cut exhaust (glasspacks!)
Remove AC, bypass smog pump
Install new front lower control arms, springs, and sway bar
Fabricate rear strut tower brace
Have sweet decals printed, and applied
Install sound system
Clean up wiring

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Its not so much Mission Statement as Manifesto

Here is the letter written by the esteemed wordsmith Warren G. Taylor (Ok, his middle initial isn't G. but it should be.) that got us accepted into the race. yes, its both silly and true.

To whom it may concern,

I have been enlisted, through threats, bribes, blackmail, and the bartering, crossroads-like, of one slightly under-utilized and threadbare soul, to entreat you, through the use of eloquent and mellifluous prose, to allow the entrance of one Team Huey Newis and The Lose into the hallowed and oil-stained halls of the LeMons. This is a Sisyphean task that I take to with neither joy nor relish; but like the man who has sat down to consume a jar of mayonnaise at one sitting, I will dree this grim weird one spoonful at a time.

While I cannot truthfully profess to be an expert on many things, the entrance into a race I've never seen, by a group who, to my knowledge, have limited their racing to the variety that occurs between the car and the darkened rest-stop men's room when that urge that Dare Not Speak Its Name hits, is something I can clearly lie about, and with gusto. My understanding, without having consulted either the LeMons handbook or the actual entrants into the race, is that there are three very important standards that must be met for entrance into the Hallowed Race, and I posit that all are not merely met by this crew, but bested in a manner befitting the knights of old. That is to say, they literally got on horseback and, at full gallop, drove a lance through the heart of the LeMons rulebook.

They are not very bright, and this is but one example of that fact. But I digress. As follows, the standards they bear, and their unique methods for upholding same:

The Theme: This LeMons standard is, at least to the members of the team, something that they have not knowingly ascribed to. I say "knowingly" because, as you've no doubt gathered by the name of the team, they have inadvertently stumbled, like Peter Sellers from "Being There", onto genius. To put it simply, these are not men of their own era. They, like the eponymous song lyric from a later age, have simply been born too slow. While the rest of the world has soldiered on, through Clinton and Bush presidencies, the rise and fall and Phoenix-like rise again of Britney Spears, and not one but two Silicon Valley booms, these brave few have refused to buckle to the whims of passing days; they have been steadfast, resilient, and, indeed, mocked. While we live in an era of suddenly plummeting DJI's and the possible dissolution of a Major American Automaker, they have stayed in the comforting, womb-like era of suddenly plummeting DJI's and the possible dissolution of a Major American Automaker. Their ties? As thin as a rail of coke on a hooker's ass in the '85 Mets' locker room. Their suits? Clad with shoulder pads that not only protect, but surround and enfold, much like your mother's thighs. Their jeans? Jordache, stonewashed, and matching their jackets. These are not merely pleasant anachronisms, but severely deluded and, frankly, frightening men. They claim to be music aficionados, but when they give prospective girlfriends mix tapes, they just consist of two sides of a 90-minute Memorex with nothing but a repeating loop of "In the Air Tonight" and "Karma Chameleon". To put it succinctly, in their minds they are nihilistic loners who are flouting the spirit of the competition by wearing their street clothes. Their minds are wrong.

The Team: Think back to the 80's. What was a common theme in the shows that you loved? Was it the constant, uncomfortable references to how you should tell an adult if the creepy old guy next door tried to touch your personal stick shift? Was it the repeated instances of the heroes testing a bag of white powder by sticking their finger in and tasting it, oblivious to the possibility that, at best, they were putting enough pure, uncut cocaine on their gums to light up downtown Miami, and at worst they had just eaten a tablespoon of finely powdered soap? Was it the profusion of nihilistic outcasts with, to say the least, odd living arrangements? Magnum in the guest house, Crockett living hobo-like on a marina with a pet alligator, Hannibal et al living like a pack of well-armed transients. Yes, these were all themes. But the force that drove these themes, that was the touchstone in a time of uncertainty, was The Team. Michael and KITT. Joe Penny and the guy with the mustache. The A-Team. The goddamn A-Team. Sweet Jesus, the word "team" is right there in the name. The Team was everything; if the team stuck together you were guaranteed success. Without the team? Failure. The Team was not built of characters, it was constructed of archetypes, individuals that were each born to a task that they were invariably called upon to do. And do it they did, with aplomb, with vigor, with style. Never were they expected to vary from the path that fate had sent them down. Was Face ever to pilot the get-away copter? Of course not. And neither was Hannibal called upon to woo the comely lass, or Murdoch to perform incredible feats of strength right before being poisoned by his closest friends, failing once again to resist the temptation of the sweet, sweet elixir that was a cold glass of milk. Were any of that to occur, it would lead to the unknown; and that way, as we all know, lies madness.

Perhaps the place where The Team becomes most evident, where the archetypes are stripped of unnecessary encumbrances like "character development" and "acting", is in the realm of the cartoon. And among the cartoons, Voltron stood tall, for he was the mighty Defender of The Universe. That's right, sonny boy, The Universe. Not "The Kitchen" or "The Block Between 4th and 5th Streets" or even "Miami". The motherfucking Universe. How, you ask, could one group defend an territory that encompasses all known space? The answer is simple. The Team. They depended on The Team, for it was the life's blood of their mission statement. And, as with all good teams, the archetypes were clear. The Leader. The Byronic Cool Guy. The Ox-Like Man-Child. The Short Guy. The Chick The Loses Her Bikini Top With A Frequency That Seems Inappropriate For A Show Aimed At Pre-Teens. With a team thus assembled, there was no threat, no matter how great, no matter how terrifying, that they could not be beaten up by for 3 minutes while defending themselves with new, interesting, and completely useless weapons, until finally getting bored and cutting said threat in half with The Blazing Sword.
Team Huey Newis and The Lose is not a team thus constructed. There is no leader. There is no cool guy. Sadly, there's not a single one of them that would look good in a bikini.

It's five Pidges and a Hunk.

But they're here. And they're...well, they're here. My understanding is that that's all that's really required of them.

The Car: The 80's were a time of great turmoil. Saturday morning cartoons were telling us horror stories of families separated by the Berlin Wall, Robert Ludlum was assuring us that Mutually Assured Destruction was only moments away if Jason Bourne didn't get off his amnesiac ass and do something about it, and Bono still hadn't brokered a peace in Belfast. Cocaine use was rampant, Star Wars had only recently primed your childhood for being raped, and children were learning, through the combined propaganda of Ralph Macchio and Duke, that not only was "Knowing Half the Battle," but "Kicking Your Enemies in The Teeth" was the other half. Forged in this fiery foundry of fear was the car that was the car, as the man says, for its place and time. The 1985 Mustang GT 5.0. But not any Mustang 5.0--this is the last of the carburetor 5.0's, with all of 210HP and 270LB/FT of God's Own Torque, puking enough unburned hydrocarbon out its tailpipe so that if you were to order the convertible model, it would create a portable hole in the ozone layer above your car that would double your tan efficiency as you drove. When new, this was a car that burned rubber, loosened morals, and lubricated lasses.

The Lose's car is, sadly, no longer that car. The only thing it burns is oil, and the only thing it will loosen is the valve gear, most likely at an inopportune time. Unfortunately for that very valve gear, the only thing that will be well lubricated is whatever parking spot the car currently sits in. It is old. It is tired. And it is time for this old mare to be put out to pasture. But before that time, before the crushing teeth of an automotive purgatory await, this old girl has a final mission to accomplish. And who are we to deny the dying their final wish?

And so. Three standards, all well met. The only thing standing between this ragtag bunch of misfits and the glory of victory is the acceptance of this entry form, and the possibility that their car won't start. The second part is almost a given. Don't be like Sarah Jessica Parker's father in Girls Just Want To Have Fun. Don't be like Dean Rooney. Don't be like Principal Vernon. Don't be like...well, there's a lot of them. Don't be that guy. Pharaoh, let my people race.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Dont Start Believin'

With the due date for our race application days away and the menacing V8 running occasionally flawlessly, Team Mustag decided to tackle the most difficult step in this project. Spending money. After trading phone calls with Autopower in San Diego I learned they are behind on production for roll cages, and that ours would not be arriving until mid October. This confirms my belief that 90% of their job consists of sitting at the beach eating fish tacos. [Editor's Note: If anybody from Autopower is reading this please see my attached resume here]

With nothing to do we decided to at least get the car painted and pretty for the selection committee of the 24 Hours of LeMons. As we all know, a proper racing paint job is the most effective way to pick up cute girls show competitors that you mean business.

Early Saturday morning I rolled into town with Jay, Ben, and Ryan and met up with my friend Beau. There are countless amazing facts about Beau, but for now I'll list 3 that are currently relevant.
    Beau Reynolds...
  1. is funny as hell.
  2. is a capable drinker.
  3. works for an auto paint retailer.
Beau's initial response to our plan of using rattle-can spray paint was that we "were all stupid. " I had no effective counter to his argument (in fact its probably true) so we borrowed a professional paint gun from his work and colored the Mustag up nicely. Its hard to deny that the car is looking good now, I just hope its not too good. I certainly don't want to give off the impression that we know what we're doing here.

Nonetheless, enjoy the pics.

Friday, September 5, 2008

At Least the Brakes Work

Tonight's test run found some bugs:
1. The car stopped running.
2. See above.

Yeah. Bucked, shuddered and died beneath the streetlights of a lonely side road. No amount of pleading could get her back to life (artist's rendering below).

Only about a mile and a half to walk back to the garage. We returned with a truck, flashlights, and a can of starter juice. Bitchin' Mustag cranked under a jump - so hard I felt bad for the starter. Nothing. We confirmed fuel delivery, or a decent output from the accelerator pump anyway, which ought to be enough for fireworks. We sprayed a pint of raw ether down her throat. Nothing.

Looks like we're getting no spark. Awesome. Maybe even predictable in a car with a history of fouling plugs?

This crude cell shot depicts me pushing Mustag back to the garage with my truck while Ryan capably steers.

At least the brakes still work. And at least I know what I'm doing with my weekend.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Mustang Beer Theory

We put the hypothesis to the test, and the results appear to support our idea: the amount of beer required to wrench on the Mustang is a constant, regardless of the actual number of mechanics present.

That being said, we had quite a productive day yesterday. Earlier the week, a laboring UPS man brought our 40 pound package of back ordered brake rotors and pads to our door. We were surprised to get them as early as we did. Not wanting to waste an opportunity, we made replacing the rotors and bleeding the brakes the main focus of our day.

Jacks were jacked, wheels were removed, and scary looking rotors viewed with incredulity. We actually drove around on this? No wonder we couldn't stop. New rotors were compared to old, and much "hell yes!" was exclaimed. Removing the bolts holding the calipers on proved too much for Ben's hex head, and it snapped itself in half. A quick trip to Sears later, we had a replacement which worked fantastically.

There was grease everywhere, and the new rotor was soon being put on. However, it had an odd wobble to it. No matter how many times we took out the bearing and put it back in, the rotor just didn't feel like it was seating right. "Compare it to the old one" I suggested. Aha. Perhaps that other bearing and oil seal are important. Really, we know what we're doing. They're only brakes, right?

Now to get the old oil seal off. The best tool is certainly a motorcycle tire iron. It was built to withstand brute force attacks. With enough leverage, anything will shoot off and hit the ceiling. The next tire had us all getting as far away from the rotor as possible while still being within reach to leverage the seal off. After a few halfhearted attempts, Jay just cut it off to get the wheel bearing out.

The rotor seated right up with all the appropriate mounting hardware in place. The new brakepads installed easily. Repeat with the other front brake. This time it went much faster, due to either more experience or more beer, or both.

Now it was time to bleed the brakes. We started with the farthest from the master cylinder. I have never seen more disgusting brake fluid in my life. The bleeding went easily though and soon we had both rear brakes completed. We used way more dot4 than I thought we would, and we'll still need more for the fronts. Definitely going to need to bleed it again though before the race.

We tested the brake pedal, and it no longer goes completely to the floor! It feels so good now. It was getting late by this point and we were out of brake fluid, so we decided to save the fronts for another day. The car is coming along nicely though, and when we drive it again we'll be able to both go fast AND stop. Looking forward to that.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Meet our new team mascot

Pulling apart a dash is a lot of work. Even if you give zero regard to the eventual condition of said dash, its hard to pull out.
Ben and I spent the better part of a weekend hacking, prying, and sawing away at the monolith plastic/vinyl beast.

Hours into the work, and we almost had the dash free. I could pull the dash forward and see the finish line in sight. red paint! the fire wall! we're almost there!

After a few more hurried moments, I realized the insulation on the passenger side dash looked a little...off.
"Ben, confirm this for me. That.....stuff....right there. is that fur?"
"Oh man. Let me get the camera."

Well because yours truly is the only one with gloves, the honor of extracting our furry friend fell upon me. And it was gross. I could probably go into great detail on the texture, the rigidity, and other fun adjectives, but I'll spare you. It was gross.
How a squirrel ever managed to lodge itself so deep into the innards of the Mustag will forever be a mystery.

Pics are in the Mustag Gallery.

Serious Business

Oh, right. The less fun stuff. The dash, headliner and door panels came out this weekend, requiring way more tools than it should have. But one of them was a hacksaw, so we got that going for us. Pretty sure I got to work the mallet in too.

It's not as much fun as a burnout, but it's not that difficult to take things apart. And the weather took a break from the previous day's 110 to give us 80s and a nice breeze.

It was a solid work weekend with a lot done by the end. As soon as I get some juice in the camera and a vacuum in the car, I'll drop some better pics of the naked interior. The car is pretty badass with nothing but painted sheet metal to look at inside.

More to come; I'm gonna let King Weston detail the aftermarket insulation we had to deal with. Sucka.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Blowing the Carbon Out

Long overdue test drive tonight.

Against us:
*Fix-A-Flat is holding up the rear tires.
*Brake fluid is mostly water.
*Brake booster is shot.
*Seatbelts can't even restrain themselves.
*Starter seems to be on the blink again. She cranked a few times, but after that, much like your mother, she wouldn't turn over without a push.

For us:
*Headlights work.
*Car is fast as shit.

Also, the high idle seems to have smoothed itself out. Apart from the slight temperament, this could be a daily driver.

Results below.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Nobody light a match.

She runs.


Still, we have a car that keeps running, and without anybody's foot resting on the go pedal, which is an improvement. Last work weekend, the car made 1.5 laps around the block before falling into a mysterious coma, which I'm now comfortable blaming on fuel starvation.

As we had planned from the beginning, I cleaned and rebuilt the carb last week and managed to have almost no parts left over. In addition to the clean passages, new gaskets and more-or-less properly adjusted floats, it just looks better.

So it was a little disappointing when the starter didn't work. The lights dimmed, and video evidence shows a scary-huge arc somewhere around the battery (see pic), but nothing turned. It was late, and I was frustrated, so I folded. The next day, I whacked the hell out of the starter with a mallet and adjusted some body grounding. I'm not sure which one fixed it, but I know which one I prefer.

And it is definitely fixed, as the neighbors must know by now. After some sloppy idle mixture adjustments, the Mustag cranks right up and settles into a symphonic 1500 RPM idle. Once it warms up a bit and drops to a leisurely 1250, you can almost have a conversation if you keep your head low and don't breathe too much.

Spiders and squirrels used to live here, but it's back to the way a Ford product should be: hostile to life in general.

This motor is solid. It doesn't spit oil or coolant. It revs freely and very loudly. Confidence is high enough to begin looking at expensive safety gear. We are on the way.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Baby don't be so mean!

At last, the first real day of work. It feels nice to actually get something on the car done. Ben and I were up early in the AM to see about getting that decade-old gasoline out of the tank.
"No Problem." I say, "I've seen people siphon tanks all the time! We just need some hose"
After a quick trip to Lowes for some clear rubber tubing, its time to give it a pull.
What happens in the next couple hours or so is a little hazy, probably due in large part to the fact that I JUST INHALED BAD GASOLINE VAPOR. I do remember having to burp occasionally, and being very entertained at how my breath smelled like gasoline.
So after this little adventure, we cruise over to Kragen and find a siphon kit for the princely sum of 7 dollars. Now I feel really smart (and its not just the gas fumes talking).

Once we make sure the tank is dry (or as dry as we can get), we throw 5 gallons of fresh Shell 87 Octane into the tank and try to fire the engine. We hook the jumpers up (yes again, we'll buy a battery when we're god damned good and ready!) and give it a turn. The motor turns over. and over. and over. So I pull out the keys, and the starter keeps on turning. After some confusing looks from the rest of the team "Hey dumbass, stop trying to start the car" We realize the starter solenoid is stuck on, and so we have to yank the battery cables off to finally shut it down.

Back at Kragen again, new starter solenoid in hand, we decide to go ahead and clean up the spark plugs to try and get it started. This whole time Andrew and I are busy ripping the interior out of the car and chucking it into the lawn(Not my lawn). While it looked like menial work, it was probably the most fun part of this project I've had yet.

Finally, we have most of the interior out and we're ready to start it again. This time? The melodious 5.0L V8 rumbles to life! Ben takes Andrew around the block, and proceeds to attempt our first (of many I'm sure) smoky burnouts.
Whatever bonus points he lost in the 'lack of smoke' factor, Ben more then made up for in 'Almost wreck into Eamon's Focus'. After some more shenanagins, the motor dies, and we roll it into the garage and just call it a weekend.

Hopefully we can get the carb rebuilt before the next big work weekend, and then get the motor to a place where we feel comfortable that it won't instantly rattle apart as soon as it hits redline.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Who brought tools?

This marks the first time the Mustag Bay Area team has been able to see the pony live and in the flesh. I must say, the 80's mustangs are probably one of the ugliest to ever roll out of Detroit (Except the 70's Mustang II's).
We would like to thank Cal State University - Chico for being considerate enough to schedule their graduation in line with our project start date and a 3 day weekend. They sure are swell.

After gathering 5/6ths of the team (where's Andrew?), we quickly solved the first major obstacle of this build. "What kind of beer do we want?"
After celebrating our first problem's resolution, we set about to clean the car up and get it ready for the first crank. A quick trip to Autozone and we had a couple gallons of Shell Rotella to change the engine oil.
Unfortunately, years of sitting left the original oil filter completely stuck, so some ingenuity with a phillips-head screwdriver was needed to get it loose. After we drained the oil, it was time to crank it and see what kind of condition our Mustag was truly in.

click. Dead Battery. Oh well, we planned to replace that all along, so out come the jumper cables to find out if the starter solenoid really was dead. It turns out that it cranked over fine, but there was a fuel delivery problem. Actually, there was a fuel leak, and we were inadvertently dumping gasoline all over the driveway. Hi-larious.
Note the cigarette in Ben's hand as we do this. You can tell intelligence is our greatest asset.

That should be it for this weekend. We'll tackle the fuel leak and drain the gas tank next time.

Field of Dreams

Shortly after the Altamont 2008 24 Hours of LeMons, I received this little craigslist gem in my inbox.
"1985 5.0 Mustang - $500"

Oh god, this is perfect.
After sending multiple emails into the void, we finally hear back from the seller. Apparently, it had been sitting in his field in the middle of Butte county for at least 5 years, and did not currently run. The seller thinks there might be some electrical gremlins, and knows it will never pass smog in its current state.
All of these problems are a veritable shopping list for a prospective LeMons racer.
  • Lost Title
  • Can't Smog
  • Bored Owner
  • Questionable Street-worthiness

Yes. This should do nicely.
We can probably even get him to knock the price down a bit to give us some breathing room for some Junkyard Special suspension components.

Later that weekend, we send the Chico team to go pick her up. Jay rented a trailer and hooked it up to the Rolling Red State to go bring the Mustag home. (Incidentally, this would be the last masculine act Jay would ever perform, as he's now moved to San Francisco and traded his truck in for a Saab.)


First Post!

We're all really excited to get the team sorted out and underway.

In the future we hope to use this page as a tool to document our journey towards absolute embarrassment to both the racing community, and society as a whole.

Additionally, we're hoping that if we trick prove to the LeMons judges that we're too stupid to effectively cheat, they won't crush the 'Bitchin Mustag'