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Discussion Starter #641
The world's most excellent dipstick.

I had a small oil seep at the base of the dipstick tube. Rather than clamp it down tighter, I ditched it. It gives me an excuse to once again use one of my many used NASCAR titanium valves I have in stock. Remember how I used one as an accelerator stop?

I started by knurling the stem so the oil would cling, maybe making it easier to read.

Then I machined an aluminum cap to fit on the stem, with a nice little recess to seal against the end of the short rubber tube carried over from the original setup that comes off the upper pan's nipple. Press-fit on the stem, and sealed with JB-Weld. That cap's barrel is measured for an interference fit on the rubber tube. That tube is now hose-clamped in place instead of using the original medieval-looking shackle. I hope that fit is tight enough.

I could have threaded the aluminum nipple on the upper pan for a screw-on dipstick, and might do that in the future, but this was easier. I didn't want to deal with Al shavings falling in the sump. If this setup still seeps, I'll be angry, not too surprised, and reaching for another hose clamp.

Weight? Measure for good measure. Then I drilled holes at the perimeter for the retention spring. So the dipstick is actually .4 grams lighter than what's shown on the scale. But I forgot to include the stainless hose clamp that's securing the rubber tube onto the nipple.
:nerd:
I could have cut the valve head down smaller, but I wanted the full glory of Ti down there, and it serves as a heat-sink. The black coating on the valve is DLC (Diamond-Like Carbon). It's of no use in this application beyond bragging rights. Like this: How many titanium dipsticks have that DLC coating? None. There are no other DLC-coated titanium dipsticks in this solar system.
 

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Discussion Starter #646
Racing is exciting, and stressful. Visualizing the track before a race helps, but how does one achieve the relaxed, zen-filled mindset that allows optimum car control? For me, it doesn't happen on race day. i need to clear my mind in the days leading up to a race by enjoying a relaxing hobby that has nothing to do with racing. And I'm not talking about machining Ti bits. Well, that's not entirely accurate...

I enjoy fly fishing. We have abundant, picturesque settings to do so here in the Pacific Northwest. Like a lot of hobbies, fly fishing can get really tech-heavy and expensive. And no matter how good the gear is, it can always be made better with a dash of titanium. It's actually ideally suited to the fishing environment; light, strong, and corrosion resistant in a wet environment. I'm surprised by the dearth of it in the sport.

So, to be a better racer, I need to be a better fly fisherman. And I can only do so with the metal I love. Behold, the titanium fly reel handle:

1: Observe the raw materials, bronze is used to reduce friction as the core liner in contact with the stock stainless spindle screw. Stock grip shown.

2: Bronze is machined down and drilled to accept the spindle screw.

3: Machined the Ti handle, ribbed for grip.

4: Bits ready for assembly.

5: Pressed the bronze liner into the Ti handle.
 

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Discussion Starter #647
As if fly fishing wasn't already hard enough...

So here it is, pretty much done, and attached to an Orvis Battenkill Mid Arbor reel. But I found the ribbing to be a bit sharp and hard on the fingers. So I ground down the handle to a more pleasing shape. Interestingly, that reel is aluminum which is anodized to look like Ti. Nice to have a touch of the reel thing (see what I did there?).

The Chicken Littles out there (I've found a few in this megathread) will warn me that titanium isn't the best choice for handle material if you're fishing in the cold. But I don't. So it's not an issue.
 

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Discussion Starter #648
My new favorite track?

I raced last weekend at the Spokane Raceway Park. It's a 4 hour drive to dry side of Washington state, where it's 20 degrees hotter. Despite that, I had a great time.

I used to race motorcycles at the Spokane track up until 5 years ago, before the track changed management and was reconfigured for the better. Ironically, the motorcycle club felt the new configuration was less safe for bikes, so we no longer race motorcycles there anymore.

The old track had a too-long straight that it shared with the dragstrip, and there was a junkyard in the infield. It looked very much Mad Max. There's a picture below I lifted from the internet. The junkyard is that mess at T-7. Oh, and there's rattlesnakes, dirt devils, and tumbleweeds at that track. An Indian casino on one side, and a penitentiary on the other. We used to call it "racing in Spokanistan."

The new track layout adds a few turns at the end of the circuit, and rejoins the main straight almost halfway down from where it was entered originally. Much better for the smaller displacement "momentum cars" like ours. Picture is on the bottom.

What the overhead view doesn't show is the undulating back stretch, where the rises are a bit blind and the car gets kinda light when cresting the small hills. Really fun. And there are 5 hard braking zones as opposed to Pacific Raceway's 3-3.5. That's a big deal because I make a lot of gains on the British cars in the braking zones. Alfa brakes are a weapon. Also, I use all five gears on this track. Lots of fun! Too bad it's so far away.
 

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Discussion Starter #649
I got to Spokane kind of late on Friday night. I had planned on camping at the track like I did in the old days. I used to enjoy that, and wanted to relive it. Well, it had been long enough since my last visit there, I couldn't find the track entry in the dark. There are no signs like at most tracks in the civilized world (Spokanistan!). Also, my GPS was directing me to a closed gate on the backside of the track that looked like it hadn't been used in years.

I was too tired to investigate further, especially while hauling a large enclosed trailer, so I punted and made camp at the Indian casino across the street from the track. I'd have better luck finding the track in the light of day after some rest. So I slept (sort of) in the back seat of my truck. I won't lie, it kind of sucked.

When I finally did find the track entry, I found that almost all of the paddock space was taken. Good for the race club, bad for me. So I found this lovely secluded spot away from the main paddock to make camp. Conveniently close to a pair of rarely used Honey Buckets. Pretty sure I was upwind of them.

Compared to sleeping in the back of the truck in a noisy parking lot, that $20 tent and the air mattress inside it was like staying at the Four Seasons. Not really. Nope, not at all. Next time I'm getting a real room with a real bed, and running water. No more sponge baths for Dr. Nader!
 

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Discussion Starter #650
Spiders in the bush

As I put more of myself into the car over the years, Ti bits and whatnot, it becomes less replaceable. That's part of the reason I preferred to sleep in the truck at the casino instead of getting a room and leaving the rig in the parking lot unattended. I've read more than one account of race trailers getting stolen out of hotel parking lots.

So I feel less and less comfortable leaving my car in the trailer at it's off-site storage area (where the dog loves to play). I decided to keep the car at home. It seems happier here.

When I raced in Spokane in the 90 degree heat, all I had to do all weekend was add a little water to the coolant reservoir and adjust tire pressures. Clearing out my motorcycle shed to make space for the race car is the least I can do for it, bless its little heart.
 

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Discussion Starter #651
Shed dweller

Before, and after. Took some pretty long ramps (12') to get the car with its low ground clearance into the shed. What you don't see are how those 2x12 boards are braced from below with 2x4 studs. Otherwise they would have snapped in half under the car's weight.

Now, most of the bikes live in the garage and basement. Still have room beside the car for the primary race Honda and maybe the race KTM.
 

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Discussion Starter #652
Anyone else like motorcycles? Specifically, MX and dual sports? More specifically, supermoto?

I've recently grown obsessed with KTM SMRs. Fifty-something H.P., and 250 lbs soaking wet. But it's the instant torque of a single cylinder "thumper" engine, like a large electric motor, that truly bends the laws of physics. Initially lulled by the casual upright seating position of a tame standard bike, it shocks you with violent acceleration; grabs you by the neck and gruffly shows you unwanted wheelies in the first three gears before you've gotten a feel for the throttle. But it's not just power and fury. The lightness of the bike leads to natural flickability in turns. The soft and long traveling suspension quell road surface irregularities that would normally upset a sportbike. And they crash well. Drop them, slide them, whatever, you just pick them back up and keep going. Not so with the sportbike. Especially my old Ducati. Ask me how I know.

I liked (feared?) my street-legal 525 SMR so much, I got a track-dedicated 560 SMR, in white fenders. This is the race KTM that will share space with the race Spider. It's my M.O.: If I like the street version of a vehicle enough, and I can afford it, I'll get a race version to exploit. And abuse. And modify. And maybe sprinkle with titanium.
 

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Discussion Starter #653
Not a lot to report on the car; no big changes as things are going well and I'm enjoying the car's performance so far in this race season. Our big Historics race over the Fourth of July was hot as Hades, almost 100 degrees (F), which is quite unusual for us here in the Pacific Northwest. Car ran proportionately hotter, just under or around 212 degrees at full tilt. Hopefully no more days like that. Car still ran like a champ.

My truck, however, is another story. It overheated its transmission fluid in stop-and-go traffic in that heat, especially while backing the trailer into position for the race weekend. Pissed the fluid all over the paddock. Embarrassing and worrisome. I'm just lucky this didn't happen while I was towing over the Continental Divide (and further loaded with a 2K lb. camper in the bed) in the middle of nowhere on my way to Road America a few years ago. Long story short, my F-350 now sports a heavy-duty transmission.

Here's a rare picture from that weekend that captures myself and a couple of similarly-prepped Giuliettas in the background. Red and yellow. These guys are my paisanos.
 

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Discussion Starter #654
Hey, who you callin' a goat?!

I'm signed up for the Columbia River Classic race in Portland on Sept. 5&6. In case anyone's in the neighborhood and wants to stop by and say hi.

I neglected to mention that part of the reason there isn't much to report on the car's development is because I'm a bit preoccupied with this new addition to my racing family. The KTM. I've raced it just once so far, and the 560 SMR is a ridiculous, beastly riot. Love it! So it deserves this livery, which comes naturally to a bike that's already half orange from the factory.

My wife's an equestrian, and she told me once that sometimes a goat is placed the same stall as a high-strung race horse to keep it company; to provide a calming effect on the nervous horse. I think that might be what's going on here. But I'm not saying which is which. Don't want to hurt anyone's feelings here (they're both temperamental).
 

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Discussion Starter #655
The Portland Pipe

I'm planning to race at Portland International Raceway (PIR) next week. It's a smooth, relatively safe, well-kept track without elevation or many braking zones. And some from Seattle consider it boring. I've raced it numerous times on the bikes, and only a couple times in a car (over a decade ago). I find that it's fast with good flow, and appreciate that it turns right instead of left like most of the tracks out west. Allows for symmetric wear on the tires.

PIR is owned by the county, and is designated as some kind of park. So it has strict noise restrictions. I was once black-flagged on one of my louder little Honda racebikes for noise, and had to do a quick trackside modification to the exhaust to lower the decibels.

My car, despite the shortened exhaust and side-dump megaphone, isn't THAT loud, because it still has the Magnaflow muffler in place. But just in case, I fabbed up an exhaust diverter that points the noise down and to the right, away from the spectator side (and noise microphones) at right-turning tracks. My current exhaust points out the driver's side, which is obviously infield on left-turning tracks.

I was halfway through this project before I realized that PIR allows two noise variances per year, each for a vintage car racing event, including the race next weekend. But I finished it anyway, and call it the "Portland Pipe," jut in case.

Like usual, these are all scrap bits of metal. The flange used to be an old Harbor Freight loading ramp for an old motorcycle trailer I longer have. And the curved pipe was salvaged from my old exhaust. Remember, I never throw anything away. This project gave me a chance to mess around with my plasma cutter, which is kinda fun.
 

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Discussion Starter #656
Traveling down the only road I've ever known.

Well, I made it down to Portland. This was a bit of an achievement for me, because I've been wrestling with problems with my truck. Two heavy duty transmissions, and a rebuilt axle shaft later, I'm traveling again.

I promised myself last time at Spokane that I wouldn't camp out at the track evermore. But here I go again. In fact, while setting up the tent, that song by Whitesnake was playing in my mind.

At least I'm not near the Porta potty's this time.
 

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Discussion Starter #659
The pleasure was mine, Neil. I was also happy to meet Stuart M, as well.

Saturday was off and on rain, but our sessions were dry and I got the hang of the course by the end of the day. There was a field of almost 35 cars, and only 3 of us were Alfas. Two of which were Duettos. The GTV blew a head gasket on Saturday.

My race weekend as well fizzled out, because of weather. My tires are nearly slicks now, and I wasn't prepared with rain tires. I was tiptoeing around the track (when I wasn't sliding), and decided it just wasn't worth it. I packed up for home before the final race of the day. I wasn't the only one; lots of attrition on Sunday.

Wasn't just the lack of rain tires that damped the weekend; I forgot my own rain clothing, and my cheap tent has holes in it that leaked water in the night. You'd think that a resident of the Northwest would know better and be prepared for these things.

By the way, this tent camping at the track, especially in the rain, is really for the birds. I re-promised myself not to do this again.
 

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