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Tips by our technical experts are published in our Newsletter.


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Throttle Cables by Mark Lefferts - January 2024 Newsletter
Throttle Cables by Mark Lefferts - January 2024 Newsletter

Throttle Cables by Mark Lefferts - January 2024 Newsletter

Welcome to the 2024 VSCCA season. For the first tech article this year, I’m going to cover throttle cables and the associated fittings, adjusters, etc.



Throttle cables are often ignored when restoring or prep- ping a car for racing. It is not unusual for cars in vintage racing to have throttle cables that are 10, or even 20 years old. Often the approach is to replace them when fraying is detected, or they break. When one breaks on track the sudden deceleration can have the effect of a “brake test” on the car behind. Last season one such unfortunate trailing car was forced off the track when taking avoiding action and into the Armco, resulting in considerable sheet metal damage.


Throttle cables should be replaced pro-actively. These days, when I replace throttle cables, I use cables that have a PTFE liner. These are self-lubricating and have almost no drag. I purchase these cables from Pegasus, they will make you just about any length and end combination you would ever need. These custom cables use a stainless-steel inner cable and can be purchased with 8-32, 10-32 and ¼-28 ends. You can also order them with no ends.


On applications that incorporate spherical rod ends, I purchase these from Pegasus as well. These spherical rod ends are specifically made for throttle cable applications and have a “Loose” fit. Standard spherical rod ends have too much drag between the ball and the liner. These loose fit rod ends have no drag and allow the ball to move freely.


For those of you who need to fabricate your own cables, you can turn to Barnett. Barnett caters to motorcycle applications; however, you can purchase the inner and outer cables in bulk. Barnett also sells cable adjusters and ends for just about any need you may have. When I was road racing motorcycles, I used to be a Barnett dealer. Today, I have to go to my local Honda dealer to place orders from Barnett, as they will not sell directly to the consumer.


Be careful when routing any of these cables, you don’t want them too close to heat and be sure to follow the manufacturers specs regarding the minimum radius. The last thing I would recommend is to order a spare, you will probably never need it but it’s there if you ever need one.


Safety first!

Accordion Widget
Trailer Accidents by Mark O’Day - July 2023 Newsletter
Trailer Accidents by Mark O’Day - July 2023 Newsletter

Trailer Accidents by Mark O’Day - July 2023 Newsletter

One of the most dangerous aspects of our hobby is dealing with the trailer, yet it probably is really an afterthought for most of us – coupling and decoupling, loading, unloading, securing the car.


We have all done it so many times we hardly think about it. Whether it is a large rig or a small, enclosed or open trailer for a single car, it matters not. If you have joined the club in the past 19 years, you may not be aware that a member, Charlie Gibson, who was the Event Chairman for the Lime Rock Historics, lost his life in a tragic accident after decoupling his trailer.


What has prompted me to write this is that at two of my last three Lime Rock events I have seen nasty trailer accidents take place with my immediate paddock neighbors; in the first instance it was someone relatively new to our events, in the second it was someone who has probably loaded and unloaded his trailer over 200 times. Fortunately, the first resulted in no injuries, the second resulted in some bruising but either one could have been so much worse. At the Fall Finale last year I watched as a car was being driven on the trailer that looked secure but wasn’t – the coupler was on the ball but not latched. As soon as the front wheels of the race car were on the trailer the coupler lifted off the ball and the trailer tongue was driven into the rear of the tow vehicle, causing considerable damage. At the recent Empire Cup, I heard blood curdling screams of “Help, help!” and found that the car next to me had rolled off the trailer and pinned the owner between the ramp wire, the ramp, and the car. One wheel of the race car was off the side of the ramp and the owner was partially trapped under the car. It took a jack to lift the car so as to extricate him.


Lastly, I will share an incident from several years ago in which your AC was the responsible party. I was unloading my car and thought the trailer was level and the car was in gear. Both were incorrect assumptions. Despite having slack in the front straps, as soon as I undid the second one my car started to roll back. My attempts to hold it back slowed it a bit but off it went. Fortunately, there were no cars or no one walking by the access road to be collected by my runaway car. It rolled across the road and came to a stop. The front wing did get a small chunk of sheet metal carved out as it scraped against the ramp wire. Now, if the ramp wire took a small chunk of sheet metal out of my car, imagine what it could do someone’s fingers, hand, or body. Back to the aforementioned incident, the trapped owner was so tightly pinned by the ramp wire you could see a clear indentation as it pressed against his chest. He was incredibly lucky not to have any lacerations or broken bones.


There are many considerations for trailer safety and I will not provide any check lists here but will share a few lessons learned. One is don’t make any as-sumptions – based on what you think, observe or assume you or somebody else may have done. Check for yourself that everything is ready for the next step. Another is chocking the wheels when the car is on the trailer. I now always chock the driver’s side front wheel with a long leash leading to the cockpit, thus preventing any movement while I undo the straps. Then I get in and with my foot on the brake, pull away the chock. In the event the car is not able to run (a not infrequent occurrence for many of us!) I always make sure someone is in the car to control it. Lastly, using “pool noodles” over the ramp wires look like a pretty good idea as a safety cushion .


Safety first!

Accordion Widget
Safety Wiring by Mark Lefferts - May 2023 Newsletter
Safety Wiring by Mark Lefferts - May 2023 Newsletter

Safety Wiring by Mark Lefferts - May 2023 Newsletter

Most of us either know how to safety wire a drain plug or have a mechanic that does. When you consider the consequences, not just to your drive line, but to the poor souls behind you as well as a lengthy track shut down, the subject remains a worthy topic. When you are making sure that your engine, gearbox, transaxle or differential plugs are wired, consider doing the same to your level plugs.



If you don’t already own “Prepare To Win” and/or “Nuts Bolts, Fasteners, and Plumbing” both by Carroll Smith, do your-self a favor and make the purchase. I’ve been using these books as a reference for many decades. Each of these books have sections on safety wiring as well as tons of other information directly related to what we do.


There are times when cars come through the tech line without wired plugs. When this happens, a hose clamp can be tightened around the plug and safety wire wrapped around the head and tied off. I use NORMA brand clamps when a plug can’t be properly drilled (hollow). The NORMA clamps off-set design allows one side of the clamp can be put against the head of the plug, allowing it to stay in place when tightening. The NORMA clamps also have a large face on the screw that will allow you to tighten safety wire around it. I have also added a photo that shows some of the clamps and tie-off tabs that I use on a regular basis. Clamps can also be used to safety wire oil filters from coming undone. If anyone has questions please ask, the wealth of knowledge within the VSCCA membership is vast.


Safety first!

Accordion Widget
Brake Fluid by Mark Lefferts - March 2023 Newsletter
Brake Fluid by Mark Lefferts - March 2023 Newsletter

Brake Fluid by Mark Lefferts - March 2023 Newsletter

This is the perfect time of the year to be thinking about prep work for the upcoming driving and race season. Do yourself a favor and make sure to look over your brake hydraulic system.



You should always bleed/flush the system to replace the old brake fluid. Several rounds of bleeding gets rid of any moisture in the old brake fluid. In my shop.


I stock three different brake fluids for three different applications.


  • For all street driven cars, I have always used Castrol brake fluid. It’s great quality however Castrol GT-LMA, which was renamed Castrol DOT4, was discontinued in 2021 (you might find some leftover stock in parts stores).
  • For almost all competition cars, I use AP Racing R1 (formerly called AP 551). AP R1 has a dry boiling point of 516 F and is compatible with magnesium brake cylinders.
  • The final brake fluid I use is Castrol SRF. SRF has a dry boiling point of 590 F. The only time I had to switch to SRF was with the Chevron B31 (yes, a non VSCCA car). We started out with AP R1 and boiled the brake fluid during a race at Lime Rock. We switched to Castrol SRF and never experienced the problem again.


All of the brake fluid manufacturers list “Dry” and “Wet” boiling points for their products. The dry number relates to fresh brake fluid (no moisture). The wet number relates to older fluid that has absorbed moisture. A great example of why it’s so important to keep fresh fluid in your system is as follows – AP R1 wet boiling point is 516 while its wet boiling point drops to 284 F.


One tip I’d like add is that when you are done bleeding the system, take the time to wipe up the spillage and wick up any left-over fluid from bleeders. You can’t possibly check for leaks if you haven’t done this. I run into this constantly during the tech inspection process. I equate choosing the right brake fluid in the same category as racing engine oil. If you ask the top 10 engine builders in the world what oil they use, you would get 10 different answers and they would all be correct. There are many great brake fluids out there, use what works for you and in your application.


Safety first!

Accordion Widget
Track Spares by Mark Lefferts - January 2023 Newsletter
Track Spares by Mark Lefferts - January 2023 Newsletter

Track Spares by Mark Lefferts - January 2023 Newsletter

My previous articles for the newsletters have been based around safety and race prep. This time I’ll share something that I hope you will find helpful as well. This article will focus on “Track Spares”.



When I started as an apprentice in 1978, one of the first responsibilities I was given was to inventory and pack spares for the cars my father and his crew were providing track support for. They gave me a list of basic spares and I have expanded on those lists for over four and a half decades. Somewhere between a complete spare car and nothing is going to be the right answer for each member.


I’ve built up my track spares list using experience and common sense. For instance, for wheels I carry an extra valve core, wheel weights, tubes, tire lube and even a Borrani spoke and nipple kit. For fuel systems, I carry a spare pump, pressure regulator, 10-micron filter, throttle linkage components, and a large assortment of Weber parts. When packing spare pumps and regulators, I install new fittings ahead of time so the replacement of a component will go more quickly. Ignition system spares are done with the same approach, coil, points, condenser, car, rotor, pick-up, ignition box with a quick disconnect plug, etc. Spare spark plugs are a great idea as well, including a set that is pregapped with the ends pushed into a short section of a heater hose for protection. In the same box with the spare plugs is a small tube of dielectric grease, never-seize and a feeler gauge with the gap written on each box. I always have a spares bin for each car, however, I also carry a huge selection of fasteners, clamps, fuel line, coolant hoses, chemicals, etc.


Even though I carry tons of parts, from time to time, I must go over to one of the other shop owners or members and borrow something. I’ve also been able to help out dozens of members each year. Never hesitate to ask for help when you need it. In the VSCCA we are all surrounded by an amazing amount of talent and experience, always willing to help. No matter what your problem may be in the paddock, we have all been there.


Safety first!

Accordion Widget
Safety Considerations by Mark Lefferts - July 2022 Newsletter
Safety Considerations by Mark Lefferts - July 2022 Newsletter

Safety Considerations by Mark Lefferts - July 2022 Newsletter

I was half-way through my next tech article when it was time to leave for our Thompson Race weekend. I had no track support customer to take care of, so all I had to do was run the VSCCA tech line and assist with the VRG tech inspection. There are quite a few differences as far a tech standard between the two clubs, mainly safety equipment.



At Thompson, these difference most likely saved a life. As many of you may have heard, there was a terrible accident at the end of the main straight towards the end of the test day. One of the VRG entrants in a Shelby Mustang had some sort of mechanical failure at top speed, hit the outside retaining wall, rolled and caught on fire. The driver had very serious injuries but managed to crawl out of the damaged, burning car. So how did he survive? The driver had three layers of Nomex as well as a Hans device and a roll bar. The driver had also practiced exiting the car in a hurry after an incident.


So, what do we learn from this terrible accident? First of all, I'm not in favor of adopting all of the VRG tech standards. The VSCCA has had an incredible safety record since 1957, without man­dating roll bars, fire systems and fuel cells. That being said our drivers/owners should seriously think about incorporating some of these change as we go forward, even if they are not mandat­ed.


Where possible, consider installing a fuel cell (my father installed them in the tail sections of Grand Prix Bugattis). And for those cars that already have a fuel cell, replacing the bladder as per the manufacturer's recommendations. Three cars that have come into my shop for the first time had leaking bladders. Many of our cars have room for a fire system as well as a hand-held (l would recommend both). For those that already have a fire system, when was the last time the cable of solenoid system batteries were changed? Five cars that came into my shop for the first time had non-functioning solenoid operated fire systems with leaking batteries. I have been applying non-skid adhesive paper to the floors of our cars, as well a a short section of aluminum I-beam on the floor so the driver can push against it with their feet when exiting the car.


When I had the opportunity to start driving one of the Stanguellini Ju­niors a few years ago, the first thing I did was to figure out how I was going to get out in a hurry if l had to. Gravity helped get me down into the seat, but it wasn't going to help get me out. I realized that I could get out much faster by grabbing the windscreen on my way out. It would break but in an emergency, who cares? Give this some thought, practice your exit and come up with a plan. Look your car over carefully, or have someone do it for you, consider improving your safety equipment or updating the equipment you already have. Not all of these improvements are going to be applicable to all of our cars but most will be.


Safety first!


Editor's note: The injured driver is Mark Gunsales, who is the VRG event chair for Thom son and has been a terrific partner in managing the event with Steve Morici. Mark suffered a number of broken bone and is recuperating well. The VSCCA sent him a get well case of his favorite IPA

Accordion Widget
Fuel Cells by Mark Lefferts - May 2022 Newsletter
Fuel Cells by Mark Lefferts - May 2022 Newsletter

Fuel Cells by Mark Lefferts - May 2022 Newsletter

This article will cover several portions of the fuel system that will help vintage racers keep their cars safer as well as more reliable. I’ll focus on fuel cells and what has worked for me and why.


Several times we have had to have custom nylon bladders made for specific applications such as cars with monocoque tubs. Most of the cars that I work on in my shop get the ATL (Aero-Tec-Labs) nylon or molded hard rubber bladders. These bladders can be

run with aluminum or steel containers and in some applications without a container. In many cases, they don’t need to be special ordered. I only use the cells that meet the FIA-FT3 standards.


Even though the VSCCA doesn’t require fuel cells most other sanctioning bodies do, so the FIA-FT3 specs will solve that problem. There are several reasons that I prefer hard rubber. The first reason is that if you purchase your race fuel from storage tanks (I try not to) there is the high probability that at some point you will get some rust in your cell.


Every two years I clean the internal portion of the bladder and the hard rubber bladders make this easier. At this point you can also replace the foam if you see any in your filter of at the bottom of the bladder. In the front engine formula juniors I install a 5 gallon hard rubber bladder that is not meant to be in a container. These small vertical tanks are designed with the pickup at the bottom, rear of the bladder. Because it’s hard rubber, I call ATL and have them pull the bladder from their warehouse prior to being drilled for AN-6 pick-up fittings. I have the bladder converted to a top pickup so that if the car is hit in the rear, the fittings aren’t the first things to be broken. The hard rubber will also allow the conversion to a fuel pressure regulator that uses a return line. This can be added by drilling and adding an AN bulkhead fitting.


The molded hard rubber bladders are safe for all fuels including brands that may have some alcohol and can even handle methanol. I have ATL SF110 foam used when I order a bladder new. This foam (charcoal colored), is an extra cost, however it handles all gas and alcohol fuel without any breakdown. The last reason I prefer hard rubber bladders is that I can inspect the location and length of the fuel pickup hose before I ever put it in the car. For instance, we took a new customer to “Spring Sprints” a few years back and spent the weekend troubleshooting a fuel problem. We had installed a new bladder, however the pickup hose was trapped by the foam and was near the top of the bladder instead of the bottom rear. Since this unpleasant experience, I now remove the fill plate on every new bladder and check the location of the pick-up hose. Since then, I have found another pickup hose that was 4” too short.


I plumb most cars with AN-6 hose and a 10 micron fuel filter. Use the largest bodied filter housing/element you can fit safely in your car as the 10 micron filters clog more quickly (by design). If your car uses Weber carburetors, the 10 micron element is a big help keeping small passageways (like pump jets) clear.


Safety first!

Accordion Widget
Fuel Tanks by Mark Lefferts - March 2022 Newsletter
Fuel Tanks by Mark Lefferts - March 2022 Newsletter

Fuel Tanks by Mark Lefferts - March 2022 Newsletter

This article will cover gas tanks.



For starters, we may be the only club that allows cars to compete with gas tanks as well as fuel cells. I hear more complaints from members of other clubs regarding this subject than any other. Our safety record speaks for itself, and the attitude of our drivers is the main reason for this.


If you are one of our competitors that’s still using a gas tank, please keep safety in mind. When was the last time your gas tank was removed, cleaned and inspected? I have taken many photos of what comes out of an old gas tank, simply because a picture speaks a thousand words. In many cases, I have taken many cups of rust and sediment out of an old tank. The rust doesn’t just appear, it is coming from the inside of your tank. Over the decades the tank is getting thinner and thinner. What I recommend is that you remove your gas tank and inspect the condition. If you are not comfortable doing this, there are many radiator repair shops that will do this cleaning and inspection for you. The tank should be cleaned and can also be chemically sealed if it passes inspection. If you have a hard time finding a good shop to do this, call me and I’ll refer you to the one we use.


If the tank has an integral vent tube, make sure it stays clear during this process. We had a Moretti in the shop a few years ago that would start and run, but only for about 100 feet. It turned out that the tank had been resealed and the vent was missing. The filler neck had been replaced, it originally incorporated the vent tube and the replacement had none. I opened the gas cap to make sure it had gas in it and heard the noise from the vacuum that had been created.


Also be aware that you can consider removing your original tank and preserving it. An exact replacement can be purchased or made if not available. You can also have one of the fuel cell companies install a bladder into you original or replacement tank, this may provide the best of both worlds.


The last thing to consider is how the tank is mounted. If you do the math and consider that a gallon of gas weighs about six pounds, a properly mounted tank is extremely important. If your tank uses straps to hold it in place, make sure they are in good shape as well and don’t use any padding that may absorb moisture.


Please remember, safety first!

Accordion Widget
Spindles and Bearings by Mark Lefferts - January 2022 Newsletter
Spindles and Bearings by Mark Lefferts - January 2022 Newsletter

Spindles and Bearings by Mark Lefferts - January 2022 Newsletter

This tech article will cover the spindles and wheel bearings.



I’ll start off with the spindles, one of the parts that should receive the most care on the entire car. When you think about what we put the spindles through, it’s no surprise that they break from time to time. In my shop, we remove the spindles for crack testing at the end of each season (or after the car has had a rough off-track excursion). There are several methods that can be used to crack test, I rely on Magnaflux. The paint should be removed from the spindle to allow the inspector to see the entire spindle. Once the spindle and king-pin have passed crack testing, we take a close look at the king-pin to bushing fit. If there is any play, the bushing (and sometimes the king-pins) should be replaced. Of course, it’s easier to feel the wear in the kin-pins/bushings while the wheel is still on the car.


The wheel bearing to spindle fit should also be checked. If the inner race of either the inner or outer wheel bearings have excessive play, it’s time for a new spindle if possible. Many of the English built race cars are using early Triumph vertical links with trunions. These vertical links have removable spindles that are held in by a taper and a lock nut. These spindles are available from many sources, however since I don’t know where they’re made and what they’re made of, I buy mine from GMT.


When it comes to front wheel bearings, for the cup and cone type (tapered) I try to stick with Timken when possible. Some of the older Italian cars originally used R.I.V. brand, these have become harder to find over the years. I have had to come up with Timken replacements for the R.I.V. bearings, however the assembled width is slightly wider. In this case I have had thinner spindle washers made as well as having to machine the castellated spindle nuts to make up for the extra width.


If the bearing races become slightly loose in the hubs, Loctite makes several different types of retaining compound that can be used. When you are setting up the tapered bearings, great care must be taken to make sure they are not set up too tight. Make sure that you aren’t using the slots in the castellated nuts to determine your settings on the tapered wheel bearings, one slot may be too loose and the next slot may be too tight. In most cases the correct feel will require the back face of the nuts to be reduced in width. I have a thick glass plate with a sheet of sandpaper taped to it. I use a small amount of cutting oil on the sandpaper, then press the back side of the castellated nut in a circular motion to remove a slight amount of material from the back face of the nut. With a little patience, the correct set-up for the tapered style bearings can be achieved and the cotter-pin will still line up with the nut.


Many years ago, when we started running vintage cars with disc brakes, we realized that due to the heat being generated we had to change the type of wheel bearing grease we were using. We solved the problem by switching to “Red Line” CV-2 grease. We have run the CV-2 grease in everything from formula juniors to the Chevron B31 without any problems.


Safety first!


Accordion Widget
Tech Inspection Sheets by Mark Lefferts July 2021 Newsletter
Tech Inspection Sheets by Mark Lefferts July 2021 Newsletter

Tech Inspection Sheets by Mark Lefferts July 2021 Newsletter

In this article, I want to cover basic and specific race prep check lists.



As you all know, the VSCCA has the Technical Inspection Sheet available to download from our website. In a perfect world, each entrant (or their mechanic) would go through the inspection sheet and check all the boxes as the car was being race prepped. Based on what our team sees in the tech line at the track, it would be safe to say that this isn’t happening with every entrant. If you are race prepping your own car, this inspection sheet is the last line of defense prior to going through our tech line and putting your car on the track. Approximately 25% of the tech inspection sheets that are handed to me in our tech line in the paddock don’t have any markings under the “ENTRANT OK” column.


Most of the cars that come through our tech line are really well prepared, including many that are taken care of by their owners. I’d really like to get all the cars brought up to the same standards and believe it’s an important and realistic goal. The VSCCA tech sheet provides a well thought out list of items to be checked. What I’ve been doing for decades is to make up a specific list for each car that I take to the track, as there are so many variables. I break the inspection list into sections and each winds up being about 3-4 pages. The headings for each section look something like this:


Wheels & Tires

Braking system

Clutch system

Fuel system

Exhaust system

Steering

Suspension

Engine

Drive-line

Cooling system

Electrical system

Safety equipment


I use a highlighter to mark the items that I’ve checked, this way if you are interrupted you know just where you left off. There’s no rocket science involved here, it’s a simple system that works and it will keep you and your car safer, something that we all want.


Editor’s Note: While we can always change the plugs, adjust the timing or other boilerplate prep work the weekend before the next event the best time to go through the checklist for items that might need repair is immediately after the event you just ran. As this writer has discovered, finding a broken spoke or a loose wheel bearing the weekend before an event leads to a frantic, few days of prep or possible cancelation of your entry. Additionally, it’s always a good idea to keep spares for those types of fixes on hand.


Safety First!


Accordion Widget
Braking Systems by Mark Lefferts Part 2 - May 2021 Newsletter
Braking Systems by Mark Lefferts Part 2 - May 2021 Newsletter

Braking Systems by Mark Lefferts Part 2 - May 2021 Newsletter

This is the second part of the tech article started in the last newsletter.



Most members understand the basics, so I’ll touch base on some of the many parts of the braking system that are often overlooked. I’ll start with a problem that I run into on a regular basis with a car that comes to me for the first time. Many of the sports and racing cars that we run in the VSCCA have banjo fittings and banjo bolts incorporated into the brake hydraulic systems. By now, most of the banjo bolts and many of the banjo fittings have been in service far too long. When you consider that the condition of the sealing surface (where the crush washer goes) has to be just about perfect in order to keep the system sealed, many of these components are no longer able to do their job. I replace the banjo bolts on every job that I do for several reasons, including the fact that they are made from steel and the sealing surfaces rust under the head. The banjo bolts are also hollow (by design) and therefore much weaker than a standard bolt. This leads right into the next item, the crush

washer. I have found that many of the copper crush washers supplied today are too thick and hard to crush properly, especially when you are tightening a hollow banjo bolt. Almost without exception, I use soft aluminum crush washers for this exact reason. The aluminum crush washer requires far less torque to do its job than a thick copper version. There have been a few times that I had to use copper crush washers and when I do, I choose thin ones. The same careful inspection has to be done on any other sealing surface, including wheel cylinders, master cylinders as well as calipers. If you don’t have a smooth surface for the crush washer to seal against, you will run into problems.


In some cases when a new brake component isn’t available, we have made a simple drill jig and re-machined the sealing surface using a piloted counterbore. As with most topics, this isn’t the only way of doing something the right way, however it’s what I’ve learned and put to use for the last 43 years with no hydraulic failures.


Safety first!

Accordion Widget
Braking Systems by Mark Lefferts Part 1 - March 2021 Newsletter
Braking Systems by Mark Lefferts Part 1 - March 2021 Newsletter

Braking Systems by Mark Lefferts Part 1 - March 2021 Newsletter

The subject of braking systems is far too broad a subject to cover in one short article. For this tech article, I’m going to cover brake cylinders, including master and wheel cylinders.


I see the portions of sports and racing cars that many owners never have to look at, the parts that are located under the brake drums, floorboards, etc. I’ve been working in this profession for almost 43 years and most of the cars that come through my shop for the first time have seized, leaking or seized and leaking brake cylinders. There’s no reason for this to happen, not ever.


Whether you realize it or not, there are more solutions to all of these brake hydraulic problems than ever before. As an apprentice in the late 1970’s, I would get handed a master or wheel cylinder and sent to both of the local auto parts stores. Calling was useless, the unsuspecting parts counter-person would start the conversation by asking “what does it fit”. If the local stores didn’t have what I needed, I would be sent as far away as Long Island (from CT) to a parts store that had been in business forever and my father had worked for in his much younger days. The owners would let me go back into their parts room and start opening boxes in an effort to match up parts. Now we have the internet, brake hydraulic cylinder sleeving and rebuilding services and an ever improving supply of newly manufactured parts.


Whenever I get a replacement brake cylinder (even newly manufactured) I disassemble them and inspect the pistons, bores and seals. I have found that many of the manufacturers don’t use enough assembly lubricant, so I use some brake assembly grease on the bores and internal parts. “Penrite” and “Tilton” both make brake assembly grease that I like and use. The aluminum cylinder bores are more forgiving when sitting on the shelf than the cast iron ones. I often have to use a very fine grit “Flex-Hone” to clean up cast iron bores, even on cylinders made in just the last few years. In the case of new-old-stock brake cylinders, a far more intensive approach must be taken. Unless you can purchase a rebuild kit made in the modern era, I stay away from the new-old stock cylinders. The rubber seals are far too old to be put into service. If you can’t locate a new rebuild kit, there are several subcontractors that will rebuild the cylinders for you. When matching up components by eye, don’t be fooled by the fact that a brake cylinder looks identical on the outside, manufacturers often use the same castings for several different bore sizes. Always bring your caliper.


I’ll cover more on brake systems in future tech articles.


Safety first!


Accordion Widget
Fire Extinguishers by Mark Lefferts - January 2021 Newsletter
Fire Extinguishers by Mark Lefferts - January 2021 Newsletter

Fire Extinguishers by Mark Lefferts - January 2021 Newsletter

I'd like to cover a part of your car that probably hasn't been looked at for a while, your fire system.



The VSCCA requires a handheld fire extinguisher to be mounted securely and within the reach of the driver. We also require a sticker on the body pointing to the loca­tion of the fire extinguisher or activation handle or button. If you are using a handheld fire extinguisher, there's not a lot to making sure it's safe to use. Check the gauge and make sure that the mounting bracket is fastened properly.


If you are running a fire system in your car, there is more to check. Almost all fire system bottles have an expiration date on them as well as a gauge. Please don't wait until “Spring Sprints" to find out that your gauge reads low and you should always check the date on the bottle. If your fire system bottle doesn't have an expiration date and you can't remember the last time you changed it, it's time. If your fire system uses a separate battery to operate it, make sure you install a new one on a regular basis. Follow the instructions that came with your fire system and perform a system check and arm the system as part of your buckle-up procedure. You should also remove the battery after each event. I've had many cars come into my shop with the old battery still in place, along with a lot of corrosion. If you are using a "Tee" handle cable operated system, install the safety pin into the bottle and make sure the ca­ble hasn't rusted inside the outer cable. Make sure the cable gets lubricated and moves freely before installing it back into the head of the fire bottle. I recommend leaving the pin out of the bottle, except when servicing the cable. The chance that the pin may be left in the head of the bottle is too great. You can use the safety pin that goes through the "Tee" handle to avoid an accidental discharge. I remove the pin from the "Tee" handle during the buckle-up procedure, whether I'm driving or helping someone buckle-up. My own opinion is that if you need to activate the sys­tem in an emergency, pulling the pin out with your driving gloves on could be a problem. Another area that should be checked is the soft aluminum fire system distribution tubing. Look closely to make sure that there are no cracks in the tubing from vibration or rubs from making contact with another object.


I think that if you have the room, having a handheld extinguisher, as well as a fire system would be highly recommended. As always, if you're not sure, ask your mechanic or one of the VSCCA tech inspectors for guidance. Our inspectors have many decades of experience and are always willing to help.


Safety first!

Accordion Widget
What Tech Inspectors are Looking for by Mark Lefferts - June 2020 Newsletter
What Tech Inspectors are Looking for by Mark Lefferts - June 2020 Newsletter

What Tech Inspectors are Looking for by Mark Lefferts - June 2020 Newsletter

By the time early May comes around each year, most of us have already been on the track at least once. This year is different to say the least. We have two extra months this year, so it's the perfect opportunity to spend some extra time prepping your car for the 2020 season.


It didn't take me much time to come up with a topic for this addition to the newsletter. One problem that came up during the 2019 racing season was the large number of active fuel leaks discovered during Tech inspection. I went over last years' batch of tech sheets and counted over 20 leaks around the engine compartment area. Most of the leaks were around the fuel line connections to the carburetors, pumps and pres­sure regulators.


Although we can't have any fuel leaks, the problem with many of our cars is that they have non cross- flow cylinder heads. With the exhaust header/manifold right under the carburetors. Many vintage sports and race cars are running fuel systems that incorporate banjos and banjo bolts. Depending on the type of carburetors that your car uses, careful attention has to be paid to the choice of sealing washers used in conjunction with the banjos and banjo bolts. Although there are many different types of washers available, I have almost always used soft aluminum crush washers for fuel systems. Many of the copper washers on the market are much too thick and when used against an aluminum or pot metal carburetor they don't crush and the threads in the carburetor body winds up getting stripped. I'm not a fan of fiber washers either, however there are some applications that require them. When I use a fiber washer, I smear a very light coat ofHylomar (blue) sealer on the sealing surfaces. There are some fuel pumps and pressure regulators that have female pipe thread ports in them. A light coat of Loctite Teflon paste (#567) on the threads, will assure that you will have no problems with leaks in those areas.


In about five minutes, you can check the fuel system for an active leak. It's going to add to enjoyment of your race weekend if you don't have to go through a repair and a re-check during your tech inspection process, so take the time to check for leaks before you put the car on (or in) the trailer.


Safety first!


Accordion Widget
Sound Limits and Muffling by JR Mitchell - March 2020 Newsletter
Sound Limits and Muffling by JR Mitchell - March 2020 Newsletter

Sound Limits and Muffling by JR Mitchell - March 2020 Newsletter

Like most of you, I was first attracted to racing by the noise and the spectacle. The spectacle remains, but rules on sound levels have changed dramatically.


We have lived with sound limits at Lime Rock for our Spring Sprints and Fall Finale for some time and now Tamworth as well. Lime Rock has an 82db limit that is now strictly enforced due to continuing legal pressures. The configuration of the track in a natural bowl is a problem as are the guardrails on the straight; they amplify rather than dissipate the sound.Additionally, atmospheric variations present more variables, specifically temperature, humidity and wind speed.


VSCCA Directors JR Mitchell and Bill Gelles recently met with Skip Barber and Steve Sewell and, for its’ part, Lime Rock is committed to developing a consistent and equitable way to do measurements going forward. The more stringent enforcement, however, dictates we take another look at how we reduce sound levels at the circuit.


Our cars in general are more difficult to quiet as most of them are higher revving small displacement motors or big honking V-8s. It’s all still a bit of a black art and these days even a new car with stock exhaust can fail the test. For starters, the exhaust system should be in good order with no cracks, holes or voids. A stock iron exhaust manifold is easier to keep quiet but again, most of us have fit tubular headers and free flow exhaust pipes. For most large displacement lower revving motors, a good quality glasspack or “turbo” muffler at least the same diameter as the rest of the system should suffice. Higher revving motors will require a little more serious solution. We have tried various “Su-pertrapp” systems with mixed results. The straight plate type will typically be too restricted by the time the noise level is down to acceptable levels. The type with a glasspack and larger plates has been acceptable at times but again is usually too restrictive when legal. The custom stainless mufflers from Coast Fabrication or Burns Stainless usually work, are rebuildable and durable. We have also used “Quiet Power” mufflers and while they are bulky and heavy they work quite well with no noticeable drop in power. A less expensive way has been to acquire used high-per-formance motorcycle mufflers on line (GSX-R and similar) which on very small high revving motors has been successful.


Again, all this is negated if the system as a whole has leaks or loose joints. Using air filters seem to help. I am not sure if high temp coating or header wrap helps but my opinion is they can’t hurt. If you are close but not quite there, an exhaust extension with a 90- degree bend pointed down can help diffuse the level of sound. In any event, the era of jamming some steel wool up the exhaust held in with wire is over (it catches fire anyway). As we gain information as to what works, it would be great to share it on the club web site or Facebook page.


Safety first!

Accordion Widget
Protecting your trailer - January 2020 Newsletter
Protecting your trailer - January 2020 Newsletter

Protecting your trailer - January 2020 Newsletter

The November issue of Victory Lane had a terrific article written by a poor fellow who, on a long two-day tow to a race, came out of his low budget-hotel in the morning only to find his entire rig gone - tow car, enclosed trailer and race car. It is well worth a read and we have posted it on the VSCCA website.


I'll pose some key questions for you here. Suppose you found yourself in the same situation, whether at home or more notably on the road. Would you have immediate access to good photos for your tow car and/ or trailer to show police and to post on social media? Your race car, most likely, but your tow car and trailer? How about VIN numbers and license plate? They are probably in the glove box of your tow car and a file drawer at home but if you are on the road and whole rig disappears do you have that information with you to provide the police immediately.


If you really want to go the extra step for peace of mind there are now matchbox-size GPS tracking devices that you can hide in your trailer that will notify your cell phone if any movement is detected. Then you can always chain the tandem wheels of trailer together ... Stopping short of that, from anywhere from no cost to a small investment, you can be better prepared should you ever find yourself in the shoes of the unfortunate vintage racer from Oregon.


Safety first!