Think you know a lot about Big Daddy Don Garlits?
I’ll bet you you don’t. The Swamp Rat Spotter’s guide tells you about each of the 50+ Swamp Rats Big Daddy had/has, in history and photos. Every one of them.
I’ll bet you you don’t. The Swamp Rat Spotter’s guide tells you about each of the 50+ Swamp Rats Big Daddy had/has, in history and photos. Every one of them.
I’ve added the NSS races for NMCA, TDRA and HRR at MoparWeb dot com. If you have a favorite race you want to add to the calendar – it is super easy.
Life is so much better with a Screamin’ Woody! Get yours now!
Since the motor in the wagon had been untested, I first put the Texas Thug on the Lift of the stacker trailer, and the Screamin’ Woody under it. If the wagon couldn’t make the call, then I would have raced the Thug. 1100 miles is too far to go with an untested car unless you have a backup.
So Deb and I; Smiff and Wesson (our Toy Schnauzers); and our two new 9-week old Black Lab puppies – Ole Black Bettie and Billie Sue left Sunday early and got as far as the NASA rest area in Mississippi. Monday night we arrived at the track, and spent the night outside the gate. Tuesday we got onto the track and set up the pits.
Wednesday you could rent the track for $250, which I did and got three hits in. The first run, off the trailer was a very slow 10.1, breaking up a little as I crossed the line. I turn up the fuel pressure a little and made a 9.89 pass without breaking up. I and a couple Buds started looking around to see what was wrong – and found the timing was set at 30 degrees. Set it to 36 and I went up for a third hit. The car wouldn’t start, despite my volt gauge saying 17 volts. I got towed back to the pits and thrashed on the car – swapping the newer pair of 16V batteries from the Thug to the wagon. It was a time consuming process as the wagon was set up wrong – having the batteries hidden behind the weight boxes. It took about 2 hours before I could get back in line just as last call was made. I managed a 9.69 @ 139MPH.
Thursday, there was another Test & Tune, but I didn’t take part in it, as I felt my car was where I needed it. I instead spent the day polishing the car, cleaning up the trailer and playing with puppies.
Friday we were given a time trial and two Qualifying hits. On the Time Trial I was feeling pretty confident when I did my burnout and staged. When the lights went Yellow I launched, and then the car fell flat on its face. I pulled to the wall and looked at oil pressure, it was good so I looked in mirror. I saw no smoke nor did I see a trail of liquid, so I continued idling along the wall. I had no accelerator response and looked at fuel pressure and it was a steady 3psi (when I run 7psi) – so I continued to move up track, trying to get off without the tow of shame. At about the 660′ the fuel pressure went to 1 and I shut the car off. The track’s 4-wheeler with a slick roller pushed me off the track. I tried to start the car, it started, I had fuel pressure, and I drove back to my pit.
In my pit I checked all electrical connections. I couldn’t find any loose connections, or duplicate the problem.
The next run was the first Qualifying. I loaded up with a ton of weight. The car launched with a Monster Wheel Stand and ran great until a few feet before the finish line, where it broke up just before I lifted. Below is the time slip.
As was making the turn off the track, I noticed my fuel pressure was a steady 3psi. I pulled over, shut the car off, restarted and was back to my 7psi.
Back in the pits I changed the fuel regulator, thinking I had some scumotes in it, which would backwash when I turned off power.
In the early evening I loaded up the maximum weight, as I was too fast in the first Qualifying. In the Staging Lanes, I showed 0 Fuel Pressure when I started the car to move into the Burnout Box. I shut car off and restarted and I was good. That weight had me doing a giant wheelstand and the car ran good down the track.
Done for the night, but obviously having an issue still, I changed the relay switch and disassembled the new filters to inspect and clean. They looked as clean as a whistle, so I doubt they were the issue.
This is where I need to give a shout out to Fuelab. In 2013, the year before I won the Championship, they sponsored me with product. I’ve used about every brand of fuel system and Fuelab was the best I’ve ever used. After winning the Championship I had a couple of bad years because of health, motor problems, and both of my in-laws (who we were taking care of) dying. You have to win to keep sponsors, and understandably, I lost the few I had, including Fuelab. That said, I bought and continued to use Fuelab rather than seeking sponsorship elsewhere. So while I was having these Fuel issues, Josh was following me on Facebook and reached out to offer any help he could give – and I really appreciate that. While I’m now convinced that my problem was the electric relay, Josh has invited me to send my regulator and fuel pump to him for testing – just make sure. I’ve just bought a spare as I’ve always (until the last few years) carried a spare – regardless of brand.
Feeling confident that I had my problem fixed, I put the car away for the night. Saturday morning Q3 was very early and a cold 45 degrees. I had the maximum weight in the car and the weather station said I’d be a 1/4 second too fast. The car didn’t pick up the wheels as high as Normal, but sounded and felt good going down the track. However, the time skip told a different story with me a 1/4 second too slow and a horrible 60′.
Back in the pits, the timing was rechecked and fine. Everything I could think of was checked, and I couldn’t find a problem. I wrote it off as being one of those unexplainable mystery runs – like tire spinning.
Saturday night was my final qualify hit. Again the launch sucked, as did my time slip and 60′.
Back in the pit, Doug Duell sprayed foaming window cleaner on each of my header tubes as the car ran, and found #8 hole dead. I replaced the wire, retested and found that it now had fire in the hole.
My crappy #11 Qualifying matched me up with Barry Dorn in the first round. I was convinced that the car was fixed, but again it was so cold that I was bagging a 1/2 second faster than my index. He too was fast as he was the last qualifier, because of breaking out on all four Qualifying passes. My strategy was to figure out if I wanted the Stripe or give it away when I got there. However, the car ran like it was stuck in mud, off more than 1/2 second too slow. As I was loading the car onto the trailer, we again sprayed foaming window cleaner on the header tubes and now #4 hole was dead.
We loaded up and was off the track by noon – driving about 600 miles to spend the night at a sketchy Walmart in Mississippi. Monday we finished the final 500 miles arriving home in the early evening. Tuesday, the car was unloaded and valve covers removed. It was found that the intake rocker number 4 backed off and the push rod went between the rockers – tearing push rod and rockers up. I ordered a new pair of rockers
While it would have been nice to have had things go smoother for first race of the year, this is both a new (rebuilt from ground up last year) car and motor. These things happen when you don’t have time to test locally.
The new motor is in the Screamin’ Woody and I took it for a blast down my nasty rural road. Appears to be fine, but I didn’t take it above 4500 RPM as we’ve had a lot of rain and the 35mph road is pretty rough. Changed the preload a little to help it launch straighter – but haven’t test that. I’ll come to Bradenton a day early and try to work out the wrinkles.
Back at the shop I put it on the rack. Changed the breakin oil for racing oil, cleaned the underside, and found a crimp in the fuel line making a 90 degree turn – so it was cut out and replaced with a couple 45 degree hose ends and a m/m fitting. Polished the wheels, put it back on the ground to clean under the hood, interior and exterior.
She’s ready to go into the Stacker when I finish out-fitting it.
Because the Screamin’ Woody will be untested before the race in Bradenton, FL in early March, I’m gonna throw the Thug on the Lift as a backup, in case there’s an issue with the Screamin’ Woody. So it too had its oil changed, wheels polished and a through detailing.
In the above photo, you see Grandson #2 – Jake. He and his twin sister Elwood spent a few days with Deb and I, as their mother was having a medical procedure. Jake spent a 1/2 day in the shop learning a little about tools and cars.
He naturally wanted to grab a seat (including back seat) in the three cars in Shop 1 – where most of the work is done. Afterwards, he learned how to mark a 1/2″ impact wrench holster level on the Stacker door, drill through one panel while stopping before going through the outside skin, and riveting the holster on the door.
As I was trying to show him how to mount and wire up a 9000# winch in the Stacker, I found that a 5-year-old boy’s 1st tool-time (keep in mind I have two sons and three handy daughters – so this isn’t my first rodeo) has limited patience. To get him to stop rummaging through the tool drawers in the Stacker, I used the “Ole Tape Measure Trick” and had him measure some stuff.
After he got bored of that, he decided Tool-Time was over and decided to play on the playground I built in front of my house a couple of years ago.
So speaking of the new Stacker, I need to finish out-fitting it so I can load the cars up. Check a couple of previous posts to update yourself where I’d gotten by mid last month. Most is done, but the winch (to get the cars in and out of the trailer) was not.
When I ordered the Stacker built to what I’ve learned about trailers over the years, I had them build an in-floor compartment for a winch with 1/2″ platting. There’s a door that covers it to make for a flat floor. I test fitted the winch and drilled some 1/2″ holes through the plate. The winch was then mounted by bolting in from the under the trailer, using Grade 8 hardware.
Once bolted in, it became obvious that Intech didn’t make the well deep enough for the relay box that sits on top. I took it apart to remove the mount, and the only place it would fit was in back of the winch – only if I removed the lower mounting rod off the winch.
Even then, I only had about 1/2″ clearance from the now neatly rolled spool. Since we all know this will be the last time the spool will be neat – that wasn’t going to work. I removed the relay and rolled under the trailer with it and a mount I had made from aluminum bar stock. After tearing out a clump of hair caught in the creeper’s wheel, I remembered that now that my hair is again Long – that I have to have hoodie up when on a creeper.
I then drilled a 2″ hole through the 1/2″ plate, almost breaking my wrist many times when the broch stopped moving but my big Dewalt drill still wanted to turn.
It would only be Natural that after taking two shots of mounting the relay box under the trailer that the cables to the winch would all be 1″ too short. So work stopped on the winch while I placed an order for 4Ga copper cable butt connectors and a couple options on 2″ hole grommets.
However, there was other work to be done.
Like a couple door baskets, disposable glove holder, magnetic bars for wrenches, and a couple Velcro straps to hold a yoga mat for me to lay on when under the car.
Mounted power tools, batteries and charger on bench splash board, and an oil pan holder on the wall under the oil rack. I should have the Stacker finished and the cars loaded in by the end of next week.
If you’ve been following along, you’ll know that I have a 25 year old aluminum trailer I’m making new again. A few posts back I showed how the inside and outside was stripped and painted, new LED tail and marker lights, reflective Red/White/Blue stripes, Texas Flag painted on door, and about half of the out-fitting done. Since then:
I cut a 1″ square 3/16″ steel plate into four 6″x6″ plates, punched 1/2″ holes in them, primed and painted White to match the trailer. They’ll be backing plates to the Puck lock, to spread the stress on the inside and outside of the door, inside and outside of the trailer. I’ll be mounting the Puck lock next week.
At the rear of the trailer I mounted a jack pouch, spare tire, and blower on the curb side. On the street side – I mounted a strap holder with a cut down yoga mat as a wall protector. A broom holder and a holder for my director’s chair – in the black bag. Also hung a couple cord holders. I mounted some small D-Rings for bungee cords – to keep stuff from flopping or falling onto my car – as this is a very narrow trailer. I also secured the basket holding the jacks with bungee cords and D-Rings. That’s for in case the car gets too close winching out and I need to get them out of the way. The plan is to be able to quickly get to the spare, two bottle jacks and tire spinner by just opening the rear door – and not having to climb over stuff. I have much experience with flats as I drive fast, for long periods of time, on hot southern roads.
Moving to the front curbside of the trailer, I have a door cabinet with drop down table top, wrench/oil rack, fire bottle holder and a disposable glove holder on the door. On the side of the cabinet, I have rubber hands to hold the Weather station pole that extends above the trailer. Outside the door I have a White Board to leave and receive messages when I’m not in my pit. Inside next to the door is a strap rack with a yoga mat protector.
On the front street side:
I have hangers for my power tools, racks for papers and my log book, double helmet rack with stereo under and speakers to the side, a couple magnetic bars and some hand tools mounted. I still have to wire in two batteries, an inverter, a charger, the roof fan, the stereo, a pair of charging lugs and other incidentals. I also need a cover for the radio and plumb for compressed air receptacles under door and rear of trailer.
The gas sending unit in tank was swapped so the gas gauge now works. The shifter was hitting the steering wheel in 1st and second, so a spacer was made to fix that. The retro tach still doesn’t work, so I need to deal with that. The car was cleaned up.
I dug up three old 15″ Mopar wheels for the front, and spare. I took them down to Discount for my bud Gregg to dismount the rotted tires. They were cleaned up, prepped and I hit with rust colored primer. Next week I’ll play around with cream paint and primer to make look rusty like the back wheels and then take to Discount for some new Goodrich T/As to get mounted. Then the car is done.
The Gear Vendors overdrive is in the car, just waiting for the Driveshaft from Victory. It arrived yesterday, and that car should be back on the road next week.
The engine and Transmission was pulled.
All of the under hood parts were pulled.
Under the hood will get cleaned, wire brushed and scuffed before receiving a fresh coat of urethane to match the exterior. The engine will cleaned resealed and painted – as will the transmission. Then gets stabbed back in. The AC compressor cleaned and painted. The wiring cleaned – maybe replaced if I can find new authentic. Power steering pump replaced, hard lines either made to look new or replaced. I want under the hood to look as new as the exterior.
So I think that catches me up on the shop reporting. Next report in about two weeks.
Engine has been reassembled with a new crank, a new rod, New roller lifters. The fresh motor was stabbed in yesterday and will get fired up and tuned next week.
Photos obviously in reverse order.
Charlies Oil Pans had been making the fabricated oil pan to fit the Screamin’ Woody, my 60 Plymouth wagon. Charlies went out of business and when I contacted Stef’s, they said 2 months and $1000 to make one. Milodon made a off the shelf that. fits, but no windage tray for a 4.50″ stroke.
I found that 440 Source makes a pretty good looking 7-quart fabricated aluminum pan that fits, and there’s a windage tray for strokes up to.4.501″. It only cost about $225 for both and looks to be pretty high quality.
Hopefully the crank comes back from machine shop this week and engine can start to go back together. Need to cut a hole for the external oil pump and swinging pickup.
With the Screamin’ Woody finally reassembled after a two year tear down from the Texas Whale and rebuild to the Screamin’ Woody, it was time to take it to the track. Normally I’d take it to San Antonio Raceway, a 1/4 Mile track about 200 miles away), but I was really Jonesing after missing Norwalk and Joliet, and the Indy race was coming up.
SHRA had an 1/8-Mile NSS Race in Denton (350 miles) on the 14th. While further and only 1/8 mile, it would help support NSS Racing (which is weak in the South) in Texas and give me competition practice. So I loaded up on Friday night and left for Denton early on Saturday morning. I arrived at the track at 1 pm, unloaded and got ready for the driver’s meeting at 3 pm. It was 98 degrees at 3 pm.
First Qualifying was at 4 pm. I launched the car but it didn’t pick up the front wheels (like it use to) and carry the front end, but worst the that, the motor started to break up so I shifted. It quickly started to break up again – so I shifted again. It didn’t break up crossing the line, so I made a mental note that had to be in the 6000-6500 rpm range. Back in the pits, I only had time to cool the car down, put a charger on it, log the run, change tire pressure, and adjust the 5 point harness – which needed a foot taken out of the shoulder length.
At 5 pm, just as I was finished with harness and we were called for last qualifying. I told myself that this pass I’d stare at the tach to figure out at what RPM it was breaking up. I dropped the slick’s pressure a 1/2 pound, launched at 2000 RPM, and starred at the tach. It started to breakup at 6300, and I shifted immediately. Again it broke up at 6300 and I shifted to third. I don’t have that time slip, but the 60′ improved slightly to low 1.38 and ET was 6.34.
Back at my pit, I got car ready for first round of Eliminations and did some Basic looking around to figure out why it was breaking up, and couldn’t see it. I had declared the 6.25 Index, and was hoping it might get cooler and I’d find the problem. It didn’t get cooler (95 degrees at 6 pm) and I didn’t find the problem – so I set my shift light at 6200 (normally 7200-7300 on a 572-13 head motor) and dropped the slicks another 1/2 pound psi.
I was racing a slower car who would leave 3/4 second ahead of me. I was convinced that there was no way I could run the number (6.25), and would have to cut a great light for any chance. I got my wish with a .005 light, but my inexperience with the 1/8 mile stripe cost me when I took too much Stripe with a 6.248 ET on a 6.25 Index, or 2/1000 of a second too quick. My 60′ was a little better with a high 1.37. The car did not break up with me shifting at 6200.
So I loaded up and was heading south by 7:30 pm, arriving back at the shop at 1 am Sunday. Other than the breaking up and launching with left front higher than right front, I was relatively happy with how the car performed, considering everything being new. On Monday, I backed the car out of the trailer, replaced the Distributor Cap and Rotor (both of which looked new), check all of my wiring to the plugs, and all wiring going to the MSD 7AL2 ignition box. I noticed that the box had 7000 rpm pills in it, and remembered reading that the pills (working by having their Ohms read and converted to a Maximum Limit of RPM allowed) can be off by as much as 10%, which 700 RPM, which subtracted from 7000 = 6300. I changed them out to 8000 RPM pills, which really should have been there in the first place. I put the car back in the trailer, and loaded spare parts consisting of a spare ignition box, spare distributor, spare set of plugs, and new set of wires.
Tuesday at 4 am I left my shop in Beasley, TX and arrived at my bud Doug Duell’s Mother’s house (Southern Indiana) at 6 pm. I dropped the truck and trailer there. Doug and Anne took me to dinner and put me up for the night. In the morning Doug took me to look at the new house that he’s building, and then to his dealership for me to look at the Palisades Limited, which I’m interested in a pair for Deb and I. At 9 am he took the lead with his motorhome and stacker, as I followed him in my dually and trailer. We had a little delay due to a Turbo issue on his coach. We got on the track at about 5, and I was at the hotel by 6.
I arrived at the track at 9 am, paid my entry, got car out of trailer, established credentials, got my chassis certified, teched the car in, and made it ready for the first 1/4 mile hit since being built. We checked the car’s timing, I charged up the dual 16v batteries, created a new weather station database for the car, and at about 1 pm (this is Thursday now) they called us for the first time trial. The car had an unimpressive 9.99 and 1.38 short time. Worse yet was that there was oil all over the front of the car, and another racer told me that I dropped a part at the line. I opened the hood and found the AN-12 Screw on plug for the oil filler was missing. I went to the starting line, and it was in the trash can, mangled an unusable. I couldn’t figure out how it could make six 360 degree turns and blow off – but it did. This would become understood later. I bought another fitting, screwed it on, and used electrical tape stretch around cap & bung to hold it on. I spent the next hour wiping the car down underneath of all of the oil. When called for next time trial, and after my burnout – I was backed up and off the track with them saying I was leaking oil.
I went back to the pits and spent three hours under the car wiping up oil and trying to figure out where three mystery leaks were coming from. I finally got under the car with it running and only then did I see weeping from the oil pan gasket — which the engine builder had used grey Permatex to make. Many of the oil pan nuts were loose – and I snugged them down. Just as I was lowering the car — the track announced a clean up session for those who didn’t get two test hits — and I hustled off to it.
After I came out out of the burnout area I had all of the track people looking under the car for any drip. They cleared me and I pre-staged, Staged and took off. All was going well until the 1000′ when I looked in the mirror just as the car started smoking. I immediately pulled over and off the track’s first exit. Off the track I found I was leaking oil all around the oil pan. It was late and I was both worn out from working all day in the heat and sore to where my back and shoulder were killing me. I was going to throw in the towel for the day and try to deal with it in the morning — but Jeff Frees talked me into dealing with it that night.
Long story short, Doug Duell drove the car onto Jeff’s lift, Jeff and his crew started to tear the car apart, I drove to an all night auto parts store in Indianapolis for a couple of gaskets, and I was back at the motel by midnight. I was back at the track at 6:30 the next morning to clean up the car and make ready for the First Qualifying at 8:30 AM. I took it for a ride to blow off any extra oil that I might have missed off the car, and gave it a final check. All looked good.
So they call us for the first qualifying hit — and that’s when we noticed that oil was under the car again. Again to make a long story short, my vacuum gauge in the car wasn’t working and Jeff came over with a manual vacuum gauge to take a reading and adjust in more vacuum to slow the leak, so I could make the pass. That’s when we got the puzzling gauge reading of positive pressure instead of vacuum. It was too late to make a hit — so I got out of my racing suit and headed over to the car to disconnect the vacuum pump for Q2. While Brent Wheeler and I were looking at what was needed to disconnect — we both, at the same time, realized the hoses had been installed backwards. While both hoses were the wrong length to be properly swapped around — they did fit for a temporary fix. I did that and made it in time for the second Qualifying — which appeared to be good — albeit slower than expected.
The next round was the first round of class eliminations for FX. There was a couple grand on the line — including $1600 in side bets to the winner. I was matched up against Dan Cook, who was the faster car by 1/4 second. Car felt good on that pass, and I saw the Win Light for me – but when I picked up the time slip I found that I’d run a 9.9 on a 9.75 Index and only won because Dan had a really bad light. Worst yet, after I picked up the ticket — I started hearing a noise that sounded like valve train clatter. I still had oil pressure but the motor didn’t sound right. In the pits, dozen’s of people were coming by to give their opinion and advice. After the valve covers came off and on three times — I was done and parked the car in the trailer.
I returned to the track the next day to be a spectator and attend that evening’s Dave Duell Classic Dinner. I left the track at about 10 pm with my truck and trailer, got a little sleep and left the motel at 4 am. I arrived at my shop (1125 miles later) at 11 pm.
In the shop, we first thought that the noise was from a couple of rockers rubbing on the valve cover. The valve covers were clearanced and we still could hear the noise/ With a stethoscope it sounded like it was coming from under the valley pan – lifters suspected. When the lid to the valve cover was removed, it was noticed that pools of race gas had formed in the damned off areas. A witness mark showed that the levels were as high as 3/4″ before draining through the bolts holes into the motor. Draining the oil found a lot of gas in the oil, which only had two runs on it. A shop rag dipped into the oil more closely exploded than burned when a match was put to it. It was decided to pull the motor. There are some issues. A puzzling one is that the rods and crank bearing surfaces appear to have been contaminated and have specs on them. We’re assuming from the race gas. So that’s where we’re at with the wagon as I write this.