The Buckshot Approach

 Hold on, I'm out of writing juice.  Be right back...

Now, where was I...oh that's right: Nowhere.  I'd just begun.  Which is sort-of how we felt about our racing car up until this weekend.  But now, the fresh rear gears safely stowed away in their soon-to-be oil-bathed chunk, and the various Volvo pieces slowly migrating back to their rightful places (much like the famed Sparrows of Capistrano), our hopes are raised and the journey appears to have reached its apex, its zenith, a peak from which we may coast safely and swiftly down to the day of the Big Race.  And that's a good thing, since we now have LESS than one month to go before the prodigious event!

I'd better go easier on that writing juice. 

In our continuing strivings to make the Volvo just that next little inch (or, in Rob's case, millimeter) more competitive, we relocated the battery from a high tray in the aft engine compartment to the passenger side rear floor.  To make the electrons march, we needed longer cables, and I, of course, had just the thing: This Christmas-light-esque entanglement of wire. 

Gary sacrifices an old set of jumper cables, turning them into the main positive cable.  For extra current-carrying capacity, both the pository and negatory leads will be used to carry the plus-shaped electrons to the cutoff switch.  We hope all those loyal little guys won't be confused by the color of the wire they are traversing, and attempt to return to the battery via the same cable! (Incidentally, the two lengths of exhaust tubing crudely welded to the flat plates will partially comprise the new cold-air intake.  More on that at a later date...)

Gary and Rob, making connections like a Father and Son should.

One of the new rules for 2009 requires a safety cutoff switch, that can be used to isolate the battery and alternator (or, in our case, the generator) from the ignition.  I guess this is so that, if the car is upside down, sideways, on fire, and exploding, a brave individual can come over and flip the switch so that the engine isn't running anymore, thus surely making the whole situation thousands and thousands of times safer.  This individual will then clearly be awarded some sort of medal or award while the driver of the car, meanwhile, immolates in the carnage.

Rob sliced a little home in the cowl for the switch to live in, and a small hole though which the trip lever can be inserted.

While countless other cars boiled over and blew head gaskets last year in the Carolina heat, our Volvo gave us nary a lick of trouble, at least from the cooling system.  (OK, there was that one loose and leaking hose- easy fix)  But a quick inspection of the Amazon's radiator told us we were on borrowed time.

Um, how did _that_ get there? 

That's not coolant.  LeMons rules mandate the entire cooling system be flushed and refilled with 100% water so that "when your car pukes its guts, the other cars aren't sliding around on that stuff".  That puke in the pail above is discoloration from the bowels of the engine and radiator.  We took the radiator to a local shop to have it cleaned, pressure tested, and repaired.  Yes, this will strike against our budget, but hopefully not more than a couple or three Andrew-Jackson-emblazoned bills. 

This is a great shot, and I am very much proud to have thought of this idea.  While fabricating up the exhaust system, I had to make some adjustments to the dual-downpipe in order for everything to align passably.  Lacking a tubing bender but possessing a great amount of engineering and scientific knowledge (and a proven ability to backwoods-rig just about anything), I used the weight of the Honda and my own body to put the right amount of contour into the pipes.  It worked, um, really well, better than it truthfully should have.  The guys were all impressed, and showed it by not making fun of me nearly as hard nor as much as they typically do for, like, 20 minutes. 

The exit end of the exhaust.  Dual 3" pipes.  Twin turbo muffler.  Enough clamps to secure 3 exhausts.  I bet this setup gives us at least 40 additional horsepowers, (not to mention the additional jet thrust obtained by pointing the tips aft-ward) and will surely lead us straight into the winner's circle!

While the rest of us are constructing systems to enable various particles and gases to flow around and through the race car, Brian decided to try his knack at bodywork.  He'd already made great progress with straightening the Mercedes-induced dents I'd accumulated on the driver's side front wing, and today he moved over to the passenger side, where he'd managed some metallurgical redistribution a la an RX-7 during the last race.

Rob stands quietly in the rain, in awe of Brian's body working skills.

Fender secured, slide-hammer welded to the fender, and safety gloves properly donned...

(By the way, notice how great those new wheels look?)


(And those tires!  And look how _low_ the car sits now!) OF looks like it, um...used to.  But, no bondo for us.  After all, that adds _weight_.  Brian will finish banging out our dents, weld in some reinforcing cage like last time (which looked really cool and really, really mean) and touch up the flaked-off paint with whatever is left in that sure-to-still-be-fresh can of Rust-o-leum stowed away in my barn somewhere.

And then we'll fix the front bumper...

...and finish putting in the fuel cell...


OK, this is getting weird.