FSAE

V43 Auto-X 2017

After several months of designing, rebuilding, fabricating, and testing over the winter, the 2017 auto-x season had begun.  We needed class and number decals to compete and I had a vision for a long term graphics package for this car.  The current all Championship White color scheme and body shape always reminded me of the “Ambiguously Gay Duo” car so I want to add some graphics to break up the lines.  For now, we added some black vinyl wrap to the side pods and white vinyl numbers and class letters so I wouldn’t have to make new numbers in the future.  We also replaced the 9-year old Hoosiers with new Hoosiers.

NWR SCCA PRO-SOLO #1 Packwood WA – 2nd FTD out of 74 competitors

Great first event.  I was pretty rusty with the Pro-Solo starts but managed a 1.8 second 60′ time and took 2nd FTD (Fastest Time of the Day) behind Phil Leavens Honda Powered C-Mod Formula F.  Trever took 3rd FTD.  Kelsey and Ed drove V26.  Pretty cool seeing 4 drivers in FSAE cars at a local auto-x event.

NWR SCCA AUTO-X #2 Packwood WA – FTD out of 144 competitors

Second event was the day after the first event.  With more confidence in the car and driving more aggressively, I finished with FTD by almost 3 seconds over 2nd FTD Phil Leavens in the Honda powered C-Mod Formula F.  Trever finished 3rd FTD.  V43 was amazing.  Very twitchy and always wanting to rotate but also has a wonderful trail braking behavior.  Will take some time to adapt.

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NWR SCCA AUTO-X #3 Bremerton – FTD out of 159 competitors

Clutch line broke pulling up to the start lights so we scrambled as fast as we could to fix it.  I got one run in the morning session but missed a gate – basically forgot where the course went after the mad rush of fixing the car.  Ran in Time Only  in the afternoon and finished with FTD by 2 seconds followed by Trever with 2nd FTD and Phil Leavens C-Mod car with 3rd FTD.  Paul and Ed raced V26 with Paul earning 5th FTD.

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NWR SCCA PRO-SOLO #2 Packwood – 2nd FTD out of 50 competitors

V43 was still running well.  One issue we had been fighting is inside wheel spin.  This car uses a Torsen limited slip differential which works well until a wheel is unloaded.  When unloaded, the LSD behaves like an open differential and the unloaded wheel spins up while the other wheel does nothing.  This typically happens in tight corners during corner exit when on the power.  When it happens, the inside wheel lights up and the car doesn’t accelerate.  A bit frustrating to try and drive around it.  I was driving fairly well with some decent reaction times (.581, .557, .604, .611) and 1.8-1.9 second 60′ times and was running FTD for the first round.  I was up first for the second round and decided to disconnect the rear anti-roll bar to try and improve the inside wheel spin situation.  This was a very poor choice.  The car had massive understeer and front brake lock up.  In a Pro-Solo format, you don’t return to the pits until you complete all four runs so there was no time to change back.  I wasn’t able to improve my times from the morning session.  Once back in the pits for a driver change, we reconnected the Rear ARB and Trever was able to improve on both sides to take FTD and bump me to 2nd FTD by 0.077 seconds.  Ed in V26 finished with 3rd FTD.

Bit of a rookie move to make an unknown set-up change during a Pro-Solo event but on the other hand, we were trying to treat these local events as tests to improve driving and car set-up.  After this experience, we found some time to run some practice sessions and evaluate more significant set-up changes.

NWR SCCA PRO-SOLO #4 Packwood WA – FTD out of 118 competitors

At this point the car set-up is feeling quite good and I feel like my driving has improved.  Still getting inside wheel spin and the tires are at around 80 heat cycles and seem to be falling off a bit.  I set the FTD in the morning session and beat it by almost a second in the afternoon.  Trever had 2nd FTD in V43 and Ed 4th FTD in V26.

SCCA CHAMPIONSHIP TOUR Packwood – 1st Place FSAE

We were really hoping for other FSAE cars to show up for this event.  Where are OSU, UW, UBC, and WWU?  Last year’s National Championship winner in FSAE is a local.  This was the event I was looking forward to all year and Trever and I were the only entrants in FSAE.  Weather was looking perfect so we removed the rain tires from the spare wheels and mounted up a new set of Hoosiers but never ran them because we were only competing with each other.  In preparation for this event, we finished the black vinyl wrap on the tub and added a red pinstripe.  Car was looking sharp – less so after all the required decals for national events.

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Over the two day event, I ended up in 1st place by 2.4 seconds.  These national events are lots of fun.  It was a real treat talking to the A-Mod and C-Mod drivers – great learning experience.  This was a big event with 267 competitors from all over North America.  The course was high speed and flowing.  Aero would have been a major benefit.

SCCA ProSolo Packwood – DNS

The following weekend was the ProSolo.  In ProSolo, the classes are lumped together and results are based on index.  The previous weekend had over 15 entries in A-Mod, B-Mod, and C-Mod which would all be competing in Race Tire Index 1 class with us.  With a set of fresh Hoosiers at the ready, we decided to run the morning session on the old tires to see if we are competitive enough to justify using the new tires.  Turns out only 4 other cars are entered in Race Tire 1 and all of them C-Mod.  With the tighter course, I think we could have been competitive with the C-Mod cars even with the index discrepancy if we ran fresh tires.  Trever was up first and running well on his first three runs.  Trever’s second left side run was .599 RT and a 1.775 60′ time which is amazing for a 2WD car.  On Trever’s second right side run, the car launched and the right rear suspension broke.  Fortunately, Trever instantly recognized something was wrong and coasted to a stop.  The upper rear A-arm spherical joint had sheared.  Because the push-rod snakes through the upper A-arm, it buckled when the spherical let loose.  We considered trying to fix it but we didn’t have spares and were a long way from home/fabrication equipment.  We ultimately packed up and drove home early.  I never got a single run.  Very disappointed but another learning experience and the repairs are fairly minor.  Once home, we discovered that the rod end that failed appeared to have been compromised for a long time (see cross section below).  Also, when the rear wheel launched forward, the CV joint was damaged when the tripod exited the cup.  The bearings in the joint were also chipped.

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I replaced the CV joint internals and smoothed out the cup edges with a die grinder.  I replaced all the suspect rod ends and fabricated a replacement push-rod along with a spare for the rear and a spare for the front pull-rods.

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VCMC Cup 7 Pitt Meadows – 2nd FTD

After fixing the damage from the failed rod end and a few months off, we competed with VCMC.  This was the first time we’ve run with VCMC and were impressed by the organization and crew.  Doesn’t hurt that this site is much closer to home.  Even raced against some A-Mod and C-Mod cars and finished the day with 2nd FTD behind John Haftner in his A-Mod car.  Mark Uhlmann and Phil Leavens in the Honda powered Formula F finished in 4th and 5th FTD behind Trever.  It took most of the day to shake the cobwebs out from the 2 months between events.  I ran 4 runs in a row all within .4 seconds and all in the 47 second range.  By the end of the day, I finally remembered how aggressive I need to be to really drop some time and finished with a 45.8.  I really liked the way these events are run and will definitely be back in 2018.  Hope to see some UBC FSAE cars as well.

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Sector One Design: sectoronedesign.com

Instagram: instagram.com/sectoronedesign/

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WWU Viking 43 Resurrection

Last winter, my friend Trever and I acquired an incomplete WWU Viking 43 Formula SAE racecar with the intent to rebuild and race it at SCCA Auto-X events.  V43 was originally designed and built for FSAE competition in 2008.  Check out this promotional video for details:

V43 uses a carbon fiber monocoque tub and tubular steel rear frame, pushrod/pullrod inboard dampers, and a Honda CRB600 F4i engine.  This is a fundamentally good car with intelligent design and execution.  It performed well at FSAE competition and was optimized over an extensive testing period (extensive for a volunteer student designed/built/raced in one year effort).  As received, the car was missing the ECU, intake system (intake manifold, T-body, restrictor, etc), fuel system, steering wheel, battery, jack bar, and several other components and systems.

Photo of Viking 43 from 2008

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First step was to get the car operational.  We decided to get the car running with the factory Honda intake/injection/ECU system and once running, test and fix the other vehicle systems.  To compete in FSAE or SCCA FSAE competition, the intake charge must pass through a 20mm restrictor.  This limits power to roughly 80-90 hp.  With the stock engine and intake system, the engine produces over 100 hp.  With a total car weight of approximately 450 lbs, this makes for a very fast vehicle.  After modifying a factory wire harness to work in the car, rebuilding the differential, rebuilding the oil pan, and plumbing a new fuel filler tube, fuel pump, and fuel filter, the cars maiden voyage was in the snow.  We still had V26 at the shop so we jumped into both cars and ran some laps down the driveway – the Hoosier Wets worked much better in the snow than the slicks.

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A few additional modifications would be required before competing.  To build a seat, we used two-part expandable foam poured into a heavy garbage bag and let it form around the seated driver.  We ended up making a seat base and a left and right upper seat insert.  Despite a 5-6″ height difference in drivers, the seat and controls work for both.  The shifter is mounted to the left side of the driver for the most direct cable routing.  Feels a bit odd but pretty easy to use as it’s sequential.  I manually machined a spacer for the steering wheel as my hands would hit the shifter when turning.  This makes the cockpit very cramped for me as I’m 6’2″ with long arms but lock-to-lock is minimal so I can manage.  I also modified the clutch and accelerator pedal to optimize both cable travel and cable orientation.  A lift bar is required per rules and was missing so I tig welded one up and formed a stainless steel chain guard also required by the rules.

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We sourced new sprockets based on clearance and the gearing from V26 which worked well for auto-x speeds.  2nd gear is used the majority of the time with 1st and 3rd used in spurts depending on track layout.

Car was aligned and corner balanced.  At this point, we joined the WWU FSAE Team in a test session at a local airport.  Car ran great for the most part after bedding in some new brake pads.  The steering rack kept coming loose which required some fastener modifications while there for a temporary fix.

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To address the intake restrictor rules, I initially designed a new intake plenum for use with the factory injector bosses and an AT-Power throttle body with integrated 20 mm restrictor.

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My plan was to 3D print the intake plenum in two parts with a bolted flange interface.  After seeing the very expensive quotes for the printed part, I opted to fabricate something similar using part of the factory airbox modified with a carbon fiber transition.  I cut the airbox top and bottom in half and welded in some plastic walls.  I then turned some wood on the lathe to match the restrictor diffuser taper on the AT-Power T-body.  Clay was used to sculpt the transition.  Carbon/epoxy was hand laid and vacuum bagged.  Once the shape was cured, the wood/clay was removed and the carbon top was bonded to the plastic airbox top.  Not pretty but effective.  I also created an epoxy cradle for the steering rack to distribute the side loads into the chassis rather than bend/stretch the rack bolts.

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We planned to use the factory ECU along with a Power Commander for the first several events.  I designed a TPS sensor adaptor that allows the factory Honda TPS sensor to be used on the AT-Power T-Body.  We used a chassis dyno to run loaded pulls and fine tune the Air Fuel Ratio.

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At this point, we completed over 70 tasks.  Some were minor details and some required significant design and fabrication.  Next up, we go racing!

Sector One Design: https://sectoronedesign.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sectoronedesign/

FSAE Returns

I guess Formula SAE / Formula Student never left but it’s been many years since I’ve been involved.  That changed this summer when I brought Western Washington University’s Viking 26 FSAE racecar into my shop (Thanks Paul!) and, along with the help of several original teammates, rebuilt it to running condition.  In the fall, we raced it at a Pacific NW Porsche Club auto-x in pouring rain.  This car was originally designed and raced in 1995 and also competed in 1996 when I joined the team as a freshman.  It is a very unique car with lots of unconventional designs and construction.  It was also very light, powerful, and successful.  V26 placed 4th at FSAE Michigan in 1995 and 22nd in 1996 (thanks to a blown motor during the endurance event – would have placed top 5).  Some notable features of V26 are the 6″ filament wound carbon tube chassis, turbocharged fuel injected CBR600 engine, spool rear end (no differential), and suspension geometry designed to promote jacking to enable rotation with the spool.  The car also used 10″ wheels, inside-out front disk brakes, and dual floating inboard rear brake rotors.

Here’s V26 20 years after it last competed:

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Some welding work on the fuel tank:

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Here are some videos from this fall:

The car is a handful to drive with a hard hitting turbo and locked rear end (especially in wet conditions on 8 year old Hoosier Wets or 20 year old Hoosier Slicks).  It’s surprisingly easy to slide around but once you get too sideways it comes around fast.

Here are some pictures of Viking 26 (from 1996) and Viking 28 (1998) along with some of the original team members.

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More FSAE projects in the shop.  News to follow…

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