Project Frankenmiata - The Ultimate Coolant Re-Route
by Dave Coleman
Our Frankenmiata makes almost double the stock power output, and can endurance race in 100+ degree weather with the coolant temp staying under 200 degrees. In more civilized weather, it often stays below 180. There's some magic in our cooling system that I'm going to reveal now for the first time. Of course, this is the first time because I've been too lazy to do it before, not because it's some big secret. Still, it sounds more impactful when I use that "first time" line, doesn't it?
Project Frankenmiata: Failure is ALWAYS an Option
Wanna see what happens when an engine eats a screw? Wanna know how to fix a head gasket with JB weld? Wanna know what a Mexican Dodge Stratus and a U.S. Subaru WRX have in common? Ever wondered if an engine with a thrown rod can still be driven? Start reading.
Project Frankenmiata: Salvaging The Chassis
Like every good story (assuming Star Wars is every good story), this one started in the middle, ran through to what seemed like a pretty satisfying end, disappeared for a while, and is now starting back up at the beginning. Confused? That's how we like it.
Well over a year ago I put this little "coming soon" lie up next to this story in the Frankenmiata geek hub. And then I pretty much forgot about it. You can thank the persistent nagging of our fine reader 8695Beaters for getting me off my ass to finally explain where this car came from.
Frankenmiata: Dyno Secrets Revealed For The First Time!
Secrets? What Secrets? How about the secret to how we found 45 hp completely by accident? Or the secret to how we made 20 lb-ft of torque for $8.32?
Technobabble: The Garden Sprayer That Won 2 Championships
By Dave Coleman
That free garden sprayer still travels with me to every race, and topping off the coolant with it is a standard part of every Eyesore Racing pit stop. The procedure is simple. Just pump it up to 20 or 25 psi before the stop, then plug it into the radiator hose when the car arrives and open the valve. The 20-psi water in the bottle flows into the 12-psi cooling system, blowing the relief valve on the radiator cap.
Technobabble: Help Us Help You Avoid Tetanus!
The typical new tire introduction goes like this: The new Pazoosy Jaberwoky XR 745 Ultra R Super Star uses triple-inverted diagonal ply Inconel belts and a directional, asymmetrical tread pattern to optimize wet and dry grip, minimize road noise, increase your fuel economy and magnify your sex appeal. The sad truth is that neither the author, nor the PR team that fed him that line of technospew has any idea what triple-inverted diagonal ply Inconel belts are or what they do.
The secrets of the the FrankenMiata's handling have been hidden for too long. Time to reveal everything. How we stiffened the springs without lowering the car; how we used bumpstops for free travel; how we stiffened the sway bars, and knew how much to do it; and where we set the alignment. All without spending a penny.
The 24 Hours of LeMons is recognized as many things. Incredibly stupid. Safer than OxyContin. A flagrant waste of natural resources. Yes, yes, and yes, but to us, it is also a festival of junkyard engineering. Ever wondered how a Geo Metro would perform with a CBR 900 engine? Ever wondered if you could build a mid-engine, 8-cylinder Can-Am car out of a couple of Vanagons? Ever fantasized about building a mid-engine racecar out of a 1971 Honda Z600, a first-gen RX-7 and a Motorcycle? All this can be found at LeMons, and all of it deserves a closer look.
The engine used in this project was freebuilt from no less than four junk engines. Freebuilding is like rebuilding, but without all the stuff that costs money. Ignore all your instincts to think long term, and focus only on what is absolutely necessary to make the engine perform the task at hand -- surviving 14 hours of abuse before exploding. Labor cost, it should be noted, is not considered in LeMons accounting, a fact that can lead to countless lost weekends and the absolute destruction of any social life. You have been warned.
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