Sunday, August 19, 2007

Wrench for Hire?

It was always a family joke, or more less an understanding (actually the entire racing community knew) that my dads mechanical genes were not passed onto me. Lets just say people where not beating down my doors to wrench for them. I remember vividly thrashing one spring...actually the thrashing of race cars was an annual VanderWaal Racing tradition. Some families attended church during the holidays, others cut down the family christmas tree...our family loved to assemble race cars at the 11th hour! It was usually two solid weeks of working on the race cars. We would finally fire them up the night before the first race weekend, make sure everything was working properly or close enough, put the cars in the trailer, get to bed around 1am and then drive to the track the following morning at 6am. No testing...straight to qualifying and then racing. Probably not the ideal race preparation, but it was an adventure. Sorry, I digress...back to thrashing to get the race cars engines together...I was actually helping with the assembly instead of relegated to senior parts washing, food gopher or janitor duties...my job was to install the valves so my dad and brother could do the more important part of setting the tolerances of them. The installation of the valves included two little valve lashings, which were the size of your little fingernail and slippery. There should have been a disclaimer on the package on how difficult these things were to hold onto. In any case one of the little buggers slipped from my hand, fell through an oil chamber, past the camshaft and somewhere into a cylinder, oil pan or ?? I can't describe how many emotions went racing through my mind at that time, but fear, rage and embarrassment where definitely at the top of the list. I sat there motionless like Ralphie in the Christmas Story when the lug nuts go flying from his hand..."Fuuuuudge", although I didn't say fudge either! I can't remember exactly what happened next, but I'm pretty sure I ran out of the shop cursing, spitting and crying, yes I said crying (can't a man cry sometimes). The best case scenario would have been the lashing fell into the oil pan...oh no, not so lucky. It was missing somewhere in the motor and the fear of turning the motor over and having the lashing scratch a cylinder wall or crush in the crankshaft was too risky. Instead we had to take the entire motor apart until we found the lashing sitting in on top of one of the pistons in a cylinder. Needless to say my wrenching abilities were not called upon too often, however, my part cleaning and janitorial skills increased immensely.

This past weekend, I dug my old Simpson wrench apron out of storage and worked on my mountain bike. It was fun to work on the bike and although quite a bit simpler than working on race car engines the tolerances for many of the parts are tighter and the bolts smaller...eek!
Reliving the glory days!
I spent several (successful)hours getting the red rocket ready for next weekend E100 race in Park City. Oh yea, I also spent a few moments cleaning her...I still have the touch! :)

What a beauty!!!!

I am definitely not worthy of riding this bike...way to pretty for me.

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