Technobabble garden sprayer wins twice!

Technobabble - The Garden Sprayer That Won 2 Championships

By Dave Coleman

Ten years ago, I moved into a hundred-year-old Victorian house in Orange, California. Splitting rent four ways, virtually the entire staff of Sport Compact Car moved in and started living the dream. Although the driveway was big enough for our fleet, the garage was a joke. Tiny, and littered with the landlord's crap, it was destined to be nothing but storage.

Among the landlord's crap, though, was a RoundUp garden sprayer, and that would turn out to be worth the sacrifice.

Fast forward to March, 2003. I was
on assignment, shadowing the pit crew of Pete Cunningham’s Sentra SE-R World Challenge car. The team turned out to have their shit together, so it was largely a thumb twiddling assignment for me. I spent a lot of time chatting with the crew about the differences between their SE-R, and the half-assed SE-R rally car I was campaigning.

Eyesore Racing SE-R Laughlin 2002In December that year, the head gasket of my SE-R had started acting badly at the clumsily named Ramada Express Hotel and Casino International Rally in Laughlin, Nevada (which was actually run on the Hualipai indian reservation on the edge of the Grand Canyon, 100 miles away in Arizona). This once-great event was a perfect balance of marathon and sprint, with lots of miles to cover, but enough competition to keep everyone pushing hard for the whole distance. We had been running strong through day 1, leading the 2WD field, but the temperature gauge was starting to warn of impending disaster. Checking the coolant bottle between stages revealed that it was empty, and the explosion of coolant when I fired it up with the radiator cap off revealed the unfortunate connection between combustion pressure and the cooling system. Thankfully, I crashed the car before I had chance to terminally overheat it.

If only there was a way to re-fill the coolant without having to wait for the engine to cool and the cooling system to de-pressurize... Talking over the leaky headgasket problem with one of the crew, we cooked up an idea to use a pressure bottle and air tool fittings to fill the system without dropping the pressure.

That garden sprayer in the garage was about to make itself very useful.
(that's a link, by the way.... You can click on it)

What the sprayer did for my next season of rally was nothing short of amazing. With the bottle strapped in the trunk, the SE-R, running a bone-stock cooling system with a leaky head gasket, managed to race through the full set of grueling Southern California summer rallies (unseasonable rain and cold weather helped). The poor engine drank nearly a gallon of water at the end of every stage, but it never got hot enough to self-destruct, and the coolant consumption rate never got worse. By the end of the season, we had won the California Rally Series 2WD championship, having run the entire season with a blown head gasket.

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Sunday, December 26, 2010 6:58 PM
Thats kinda funny. Ten years ago I was living with 4 other guys in something that was one step away from a flop house. I had my 200SX SE-R and a pile of Sports Compact Car magazines to keep me sane. I always wondered how you guys were living. Those were good days.
Monday, December 27, 2010 3:01 PM
My cousin once said, "Free can get you things money can't." It's stories like this that prove him right.
Monday, December 27, 2010 8:07 PM
@ badahab. Sounds just like my friend Blair, only in his case it was a 2000 NX (ITS/Street car) and three other car dorks... I crashed there every weekend I was in town for an Auto-X.

Good times.
Bob Holmes
Bob Holmeslink
Tuesday, December 28, 2010 1:25 PM
Still one of the best pit tools I've ever heard of. This idea alone is worth all the time I've spent here.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010 7:11 PM
@ Dorkspeed, That place was awesome for that!
Wednesday, December 29, 2010 11:55 AM
Man oh man if the garden sprayer keeps this up it will need to be in some sort of racing hall of fame.
Thursday, December 30, 2010 6:05 AM
Dave, any chance that you have a photo of the attachment at the radiator hose? That's a great idea. I remember seeing that on the car at Sonoma last spring but didn't know how you had it attached. Ghetto-fabulous! Good luck in Miami.
Dave Coleman
Dave Colemanlink
Monday, January 03, 2011 10:23 AM

Follow the link in the story that says "that garden sprayer was about to make itself very useful". That takes you to the original garden sprayer story. Page 2 has the picture you're looking for.
Monday, January 03, 2011 10:34 AM
Doh! Didn't even think that was a link, just a pretty orange boldface topic header. Thanks Dave.
Tuesday, January 04, 2011 9:43 AM
I love how so many can weigh in with our stories of car guy houses.

Mine was in Clairemont in San Diego from 2003-2005. There were 4 of us, all engineers in our senior, or first year post-college. The place was a total dive, but between the 4 of us, we had all the tools, garage space and knowledge needed to do almost everything...but rarely actually finished anything.

I was the offroad guy, with my 1st gen 4runner. Another roomate was the BMW guy with an old 2002tii and then a Mini S DD. Paul had, at one time, 3 DSMs of various states of build and completion. Graham had a Ghia convertible that was perpetually 2 weekend from being rebuilt and put back together. It ended up burning along with the shop it was in in the fires of 2003 (but that's another story...)

Re: your sprayer...definitely a genius idea that'll make it's way into all of my future LeMons cars.
Friday, January 14, 2011 9:51 AM
Note to self: if I survive the coming Apocalypse, head directly to Dave's house, where he has likely MacGuyvered enough things to replicate some semblance of our former civilization.

Are you related to the helicopter pilot in Mad Max?
Tuesday, February 01, 2011 12:54 PM
I love this site...that is all.
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