Finishing touches… NASA American Iron Javelin update

With the exhaust done I was down to the last few items on my list…

1. Finalize the scale/alignment
2. Make extensions for the front spoiler and make it easily removable
3. Put vents in the hood for air extraction
4. Make an upper grill area block off panel to help manage air through the radiator

For the alignment, I borrowed Jeff’s scales and Don came up and spent the day with me scaling the car and setting the caster, camber and toe. In jacking the car up with the new springs I found out the rear springs flop around in full droop and don’t always (never) seat correctly when you lower the car. So we took a break from scaling to pull the spring caps out, drill them for safety wire and then wired the spring to the cap and the cap to the shock. Took a little bit of time but saved us more time by eliminating the need to check and re-seat the springs every time I jack up the car… Still have the problem in the front (on the drivers side only). Don says they make something called “tender” springs for this situation. I’ll have to look into that and see if I want to add them to the mix. I also took a few minutes to make my own platforms so we could roll the car onto and off of the scales. I found that a 2×4 plus a piece of 3/4″ MDF matched the height of the scales perfectly. So I made 4 platforms. Each platform is two 2×4 pieces with a MDF piece screwed into the 2x4s. Worked great. We also leveled the floor before we started. Floor was pretty level but was a little low at the passenger rear tire. We used a couple of pieces of sheet metal to level it out. After a bunch of scaling we settled on this:

LF 910 858 RF
LR 746 690 RR Total weight with driver, full tank and cool shirt cooler full of water: 3204 lbs

For the alignment we dialed in -2* camber (with wheels straight). That’s just under -3* camber with the steering wheel 90* left or right. Total toe out is 1/8″. We didn’t measure caster.

Spoiler extensions: This was my second trip to this particular rodeo. I had first made some plexi extensions back in 2012. I got the template from Mike Camicia off his awesome Sonoco Javelin clone street car. I ran them at Buttonwillow but the car was still way off the ground and I didn’t go any faster with them on. I ended up pulling them off for the actual race. Those plexi extensions ended up being too short so I didn’t want to re-use them. I thought about going to the plastics store and getting more plexi but decided to pirate some 1/8″ aluminum panel that came on Madd Matt, the road race Matador I got recently (inner door panels). So I used the old plexi extension as a template but made them both longer and wider. I sized them so that the peak was only about 2″ off the ground when attached to the stock fiberglass spoiler. What made this project so time consuming was that with those extensions on I would never be able to get the car on the trailer. So I needed to make the stock fiberglass spoiler with the extensions attached all easily removable. I had really hoped to come up with a solution that would require no tools to mount/unmount. In the end, that didn’t happen. I used aluminum angle to make some support arms on the backside of the spoiler extensions that attached to the lower radiator support with some hitch pins. I also welded a couple of “receivers” on the bumper support arms and riveted some aluminum “tabs” on the top of the spoiler. This let me feed the spoiler tabs into the receivers to hold the weight. Then I could reach under the spoiler and attach the support arms. I also installed a body spring on each side of the spoiler that normally is screwed to the bottom edge of the fender. Lastly I cut the lower block off panel into two pieces that had overlap and used a dzus to connect the two. I was pretty happy with this. I could put the spoiler on/off with just a screw driver for the dzus. But unfortunately the extensions where just not rigid enough. If I pushed on it with my had there was quite a bit of deflection. In the end I had to also add 3 struts from the extensions to the bottom of the front bumper. That sucked because now I need a couple of wrenches. But it still takes less than five minutes to get it on/off and pushing HARD with my hand produced no movement.

Next up was hood vents. The first year I ran the car I heard repeatedly that I was “flying the nose” and that you could see the hood really lifting on the straights. Corey Webber told me to block off the grill area, which I did. But there was still a lot of lift. I needed some way for air to escape. Initially I thought, I have a cowl induction hood… doesn’t the air just pass out the back of the hood? Then Don explained to me that usually there was not a clear path for the air. I looked closer at my fiberglass hood and saw that there was structure blocking air from leaving. The cowl only had a path to the plenum over the air cleaner. So I looked around and finally found some vents that I liked. I spent a while trying to figure out where to place them. I even considered flipping them upside down and mounting them from the underside of the hood but scrapped that Idea. I was about to start cutting on my first placement when I realized I should double check that the cuts wouldn’t hit any of the hood frame structure. I took a look and realized that I’d be cutting into some support pieces underneath. So I shifted the placement to an area where I would be able to cut only the top skin layer and not hit anything else. Once I triple checked everything I got my hole saw and cut a hole in each corner. Then I took my air body saw and connected the holes. Finally I drilled all the holes for the rivets and riveted in place. While working on this project I realized my wheel wells are vented to the engine compartment via the shock towers, which I never blocked up. I think this is a good thing. Air in the wheel wells goes into the engine compartment and NOW is able to exit out the vents. That’s the theory anyway. Hopefully it works.

Last item was to block off gap between the grill block off and the radiator support. I had made the main piece a couple of years ago but never ran it. I’ve seen some people do what looks like a single piece to block off the whole area. I didn’t have enough aluminum to try that. And I already had the main center piece. I decided to make a piece for each side that would fill in the corners and allow me to attach my center piece to. This was my first time using dzus fasteners. I went to Jeff’s and got to use his box brake to make the corner pieces I needed. I riveted them in place and then installed dzus fasteners to make the main panel easy to install/remove. Job done.

So that’s it. It’s time to schedule a test day and get back out there!

1974 Javelin-road race, Suspension

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