Return of Bruce
Summit Point October 2014
After the Labor Day races where the newly rebuilt Crossle basically would not race due to fuel pressure issues, I hoped that I had found and corrected the cause. The October races, as begun last year, would attract a relatively big field of CF cars for a “Bonus Race.” Mark Walthew would be there in his recently acquired Crossle 35. With rain possibilities on Friday, we decided to skip test day. Sean was a no show for me.
My assigned paddock space was next to Sam XYZ (Names have been changed to protect the guilty), who had raced CF with us in the late 80’s. Sam is the new “Bruce.” Around 1988, Bruce latched on Sean and me and got invited to attend a race weekend at Summit. He brought along his wife and her two kids. He was a flake, his wife whiny (with good reason) and they were a BIG burden all weekend. (I’ll spare you the long list of annoying things.)
But before “Sam the new Bruce” let’s see if the Crossle ran. Short answer: NO. I thought that replacing the fuel pump, a plastic fuel pump switch (inadvertently left in the dash), and cycling several gallons of fuel thru the fuel cell to purge any debris would clear any obstructions. Symptoms remained the same: engine ran fine for the warmup laps, but as soon a race pace demands were placed on the system, fuel pressure would become erratic and severely lacking. (AIM data). I fiddled with it all day Saturday. The qualifying session at 0830 Saturday morning was in the wet. Without dry race pace, the engine sorta ran OK as I very slowly eased on the throttle and didn’t run up to anywhere near the redline. I did have one spin upon braking too abruptly for turn one but kept all four wheels on pavement. There were dozens of spins. Mark was parked in turn one with locked brakes. Mark would spend all day trying to solve the brake problem. It was late in the day that was rapidly getting quite cold before XXX suggested a cause (the newly installed brake master cylinder rods from Pegasus had mushroomed ends too large.)
I did get a couple of mildly “stumbling” laps in the morning race for a mid-pack time. I was surprised that I able to do that well considering the faltering engine. I knew my racing was done, but would run the Sunday morning race for a few laps just to get a race start in. We got Mark’s brake fix done just as darkness, cold and wind closed in. A warm dinner in town was much appreciated.
Sunday race was early. I had a good start and almost one lap before the fuel pressure issue ruined any racing. I came in at lap 3 and started the trailer load up process. Mark would stay for the afternoon “Bonus” race.
SAM! He latched on me first thing Saturday morning. He asked where I was staying. Cheap motel, I answered. He said he was sleeping in his trailer, but hoped it would not get too cold. (Overnight forecast was for frost.) Stupidly, foolishly I offered the spare bed in my room IF Sean did not show up. He jumped at it, saying even if Sean did show up; he had a sleeping bag for the floor. He wanted to talk about every memory he had from the 80’s and being around us. It was spooky the level of details he remembered, like what our old formula car racing group (NOT including him) had to eat at a cookout. (Thor: swordfish). His remembrances were never ending. As a roommate, he sucked, talking way too much and taking very long showers. Fortunately for Mark and I, he glammed on others for dinner companions. (Perhaps it was because we snuck off each night.) I won’t catalog a list of SAMisms, but ask Mark about sometime. Sam blew his engine (or was it sabotage ?) Sunday morning and oiled down the track from turn 2 thru 3 causing several spins.
After much analysis of data and such, I was still in the dark about the fuel pressure problem. Eric Langbein, who did the Honda conversion (mostly), suggested a VAPOR LOCK due to high temps under the engine cover. Hondas are susceptible to this in the Pro Series. I did not find this very likely, but set about disassembling my fuel plumbing to heat shield it. While at it, I also took my fuel cell apart. The foam was recent, but the bladder was original and 33 years (!) old. There was some very fine dust like particles in the filter which were likely from the bladder deterioration (same color as the bladder rubber), but not enough to block fuel flow.
While looking around on the XRP filter website, I found the warning not to place a filter more restrictive than 120 microns on the suction side of a high pressure fuel pump. Langbein had installed a 20 micron filter on the suction side. I called XRP tech support and they said any filter more restrictive than 100 microns would cause erratic and failing fuel pressure. Easy fix: move the filter near the fuel rail. Duh, who knew?
I will have to wait 3-4 weeks for the new fuel cell to arrive before getting the Crossle back together and finding a place (Langley Speedway) to test the fix. I am already hating the wait.