race

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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J32 V6 Engine Swap

I’ve been considering an engine swap for a while.  The F20C/F22C is an absolutely amazing engine; engaging to drive and responds well to forced induction.  On top of all that, it’s pretty cheap to operate and can take track punishment for a long time and when it fails, rebuilding is easy and inexpensive.  All that being said, the original intent to supercharge my S2000 was to give it the power needed to run with the fastest cars on track.  With the stock engine I was stuck behind them in the corners and unable to pass on the straights.  The supercharger changed that.  Of course, now there are lots of 500-600 hp cars on the track that still walk away on the straights but I guess that’s the ever evolving progress of technology.  I am actually really happy with the current speed of the car and have no desire to have higher top speeds.  140 mph through turn 1 at Pacific Raceways is scary enough.

I really enjoy the instant response of a naturally aspirated car or supercharged car.  My daily drivers are a 2015 WRX and a 2001 Dodge RAM Turbo Diesel 24V.  I’m not against turbos at all but I really don’t like them for track use.  Turbo lag, throttle response, heat, etc all add up to frustration for me.  For the racing I’ve been doing lately, the classes are power-to-weight based and my small displacement high revving 4-cylinder makes a very peaky power curve.  Adding a Rotrex supercharger bumps the whole curve up but still only makes peak hp in a very limited rpm window which means 95% of the time, I’m not operating at peak power.  The top cars in these classes are detuning the engines to create a flat hp curve in the operating range using throttle by wire mapping, inlet restrictors, or programmed wastegates.  To get a flat hp curve, you really need a positive displacement supercharger, turbo, or bigger engine displacement.  For me, a larger naturally aspirated engine seems like the best choice for optimal throttle response, minimal complexity/maximal reliability, minimal heat, etc.

An LS swap makes a lot of sense.  It’s been done many times, the motors are powerful, light, and compact.  For the track, these motors have more power than I want/need.  This would require a new and heavy transmission and differential to handle the increased torque.  To get to my ideal hp/wt ratio, I’d need to detune the engine quite a bit so now I’m dragging around a bunch of heavy components to support a detuned engine.  Also, there are some clearance issues including firewall and steering rack.  I’d rather not relocate the steering rack and any modifications to the subframe results in penalties under the race class I run in (treated as a tube frame chassis).
The J-series V6 from Honda is the option I’m pursuing.  I’m starting with a J32A2 from a 2001-2003 TL Type-S and will likely swap in a crankshaft from the MDX 3.7 and 3.5 rods and pistons at some point to create a 3.6 liter high compression motor.  No replacement for displacement – as they say.  Some of the advantages include the ability to use the S2000 transmission (which is one of my favorites ever) and differential which has been reinforced to handle increased power.  I can also use my existing Exedy Hyper Single clutch.  This means stock axles and prop shaft can be used as well.  The engine is very compact and has no interference issues other than the oil filter which can be solved with a remote mounted oil filter.  Ultimately, I’m hoping for around 325 whp and lots more torque than I currently have with the supercharged F22C.  I think the weight will come within 20-30 lbs of the current engine/supercharger/intercooler.  The torque and lack of revs will change the character of the car for sure.  I’m keeping my SC’d F22C in case I don’t love the J-swap.

This will be a slow project as I’m currently rebuilding a Formula SAE car which I plan to race in 2017.  The FSAE car will be priority, however, I’m pretty excited for this swap project so I’ll be working on it fairly often.  There will be lots of learning, fabrication, and likely a few mistakes along the way.  This is still a fairly rare swap and not well documented so lots of this project will require custom solutions.  You can also follow the progress on Instagram: @sectoronedesign

Here are some progress pictures so far:

Lots of “Honda Power” in the shop at the moment

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Adapter Plate and engine mounts needed some modifications to fit:

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Picked up a magnesium intake manifold from a 2009 TL SH-AWD

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Much lighter than the J32A2 aluminum intake manifold and with larger T-body opening:

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Spokane County Raceway

My cousin recently purchased a Mustang GT and took it to his local track.  He sent me some pictures and an invitation to join him at the next track day.  Seemed like a great opportunity to learn a new track and visit with family.  The weather was beautiful and it was looking like a perfect day.  A few drivers warned me about some humps on the back straight so I asked a driver that I recognized from some NASA events if I could follow him for a few laps to see the line.  Spokane County Raceway is a fairly simple 2.25 mile track as it’s relatively flat and has only 10 turns.  There is a slightly blind crest on the back stretch but otherwise visibility is pretty good.  It has an interesting mix of very high speeds and some very low speed corners and I was using every gear but first.  I started off very conservatively as there was no rush in going full tilt and the runoff areas are not forgiving, plus I wanted to stay behind the M3 for a few laps until I felt confident in the line before giving it the full beans.  First lap was warming up the tires and seeing the track for the first time.  Second lap was a bit faster but still finding turn-in locations.  Started pushing a little harder on the third lap (still turning in much too early for T3) but felt a slight hesitation accelerating out of a corner.  I didn’t see any smoke and it seemed to run OK but I slowed down and noticed that the oil pressure seemed a bit low.  I coasted around the track for a lap and when I pulled off, the car died.  In the pits I pulled the plugs and #4 was black and wet.  The others looked perfect.  I figured the most likely cause was broken rings or ring lands.  In hindsight, I have been noticing a bit more blow by accumulation recently.  Not something I was going to fix at the track so I spent the rest of the day hanging out with family and did get a ride in my cousins Mustang which was super fun.  I then packed up and drove home.  It was a long 800 mile round trip for 2.5 laps!

There was an interesting mix of cars and a bunch of very friendly drivers.  I’m looking forward to making it back to Spokane.  I ran a high 1:39 on lap 2 (while coasting in several areas) and would really like to see what time I could run after learning the track and pushing it.

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I reviewed the data and found that the oil pressure started slowly dropping on lap three.  Blue trace is oil pressure from Lap 2 and Pink traces is oil pressure from Lap 3.  Knock voltage looked pretty normal until the middle of lap three where there was some very high readings.  Could be detonation due to the increased blow by gasses or it could be picking up the sound of the now-loose main bearings.  I didn’t see any significant knock prior to the failure.

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Once home, I pulled the oil pan and found a lot of bearing material.  I just had the pan off recently and there were no signs bearing material so it must have been a very fast catastrophic failure.  This explains the low oil pressure but didn’t explain the hesitation and fouled plug so I pulled the motor and removed the head.  Looks like broken rings and a very scored #4 cylinder.

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