Archive for February, 2016

Still Here!

February 24, 2016

I know that the blog hasn’t been updated in a really long time, but I wanted to check in and let folks know I still have the dragster, even though progress on it has been glacial. But it plugs along. I’ve picked up the Schnieder cam and lifters, had Hilborn rebuild the 150-A fuel pump, and a few other do-dads.

Also since I last posted, the dragster came home from Michael’s shop for awhile, but it was just counterproductive to make much progress on it when it’s stuffed in a 1 car garage with a bunch of other mechanical stuff. If I had an hour or two to work on it, I’d spend a half hour unloading the contents of the garage out on to the driveway to make space to work on the dragster, knowing that I’d have to load it all back in. Nevermind, advertising to the world the stuff  I had in my garage, which made me uncomfortable.

So last fall I was able to set the car up permanently in friend and de facto dragster partner Don’s shop. Don was the one who helped me get the engine, and has been a big supporter of me plugging along on this after Mark died. He lives a ways from me, but it means that when I go to work on the car I’m getting a full day in.

I was also able to pick up two key components to the whole combo:

vintage dragster trailer made for 150" wheelbase or shorter digger

vintage dragster trailer made for 150″ wheelbase or shorter digger

 

First was a trailer for the dragster. In the previous times we’d moved the dragster on borrowed or rented trailers, it was an ordeal. The car just sits too low. Getting it up to the shop this last time involved my jack and every spare chunk of wood laying around my house to get it up onto the bed of the trailer my friend Don uses to move his tractor around, and I still managed to ding up the bottom of the side plates of the aluminum body. This just wasn’t going to work.

I’d known about this trailer for awhile, but when it was first up for sale, I didn’t have the funds. Then when I did have the funds, owner Rocky Phillips (of Eagle Field Drags and Evil Twin dragster fame) wasn’t sure if he wanted to sell after all. After a couple of months thinking about it, he contacted me and said it was mine if I wanted it. The perfect thing is, it’s made for a slingshot dragster so the ramp angle is very shallow, and it’s made for a short car – which I think is a big reason it didn’t sell when he had it for sale the first time. A dragster with a 150″ wheel base is the longest it will take. Rocinante has a 136″ wheelbase. Perfect! My pal Keith and I drove down to Fresno a few Saturdays ago to pick it up, and then drop it off up at Don’s. So the dragster and trailer are stored on the same premises. At some point, I will need to take the siding off and replace the wood underneath, but that’s perhaps for later this year, or next year.

The other key component I picked up is this:

1961 Studebaker Lark Regal wagon, V8 3 speed with overdrive

1961 Studebaker Lark Regal wagon, V8 3 speed with overdrive

I’ve only had a ’87 Toyota pickup with a 22r 4-banger in it as my only 4 wheeled vehicle. It has been a great truck and I will still keep it, but it’s not made for towing a dragster. I decided a few years ago that I wanted a Studebaker wagon. The problem is, they aren’t all that common with the V8 in it, which is what I needed in order to justify owning one. If I bought the one with the 6 cylinder in it, I’d have two vehicles that couldn’t tow a dragster with. So this one fell outta the sky, and I had to move on it. I’m in the process of sourcing a hitch setup for it, then it will be good to go.

Early next month the dragster will get towed to my buddy Mike Smith’s shop California Hot Rods to have a new aluminum seat and cockpit controls fabricated, so there will be real progress on the dragster. Between now and then I need to box and shorten a stock SBC oil pan so the front doesn’t drag and get hung up while trying to load/unload and run down the track. I’ll post photos when that is done.

Thanks for tuning in! Overall this should shape up to be a good year for progress on the dragster!