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LeMons Ranchero Update: Better Breathing, Sparking and Sliding

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When we last left the Ranchero, we’d finished up Arse-Freeze-a-Palooza “victorious” in class F against Top Gear USA. (By the way, how long do we think it’ll take them to get that episode on the air? Surely one of their legion of regular viewers will let us know). We’re all set on the fuel issues that held us back, so for February’s Sears Pointless we’re seeing what we can do to wring a few more ponies out of our 200ci straight six. After all, we spent most of our running time posting laps on par with the Corona and the Geo-on-520-treadwear-Primewell-tires for bottom-three lap times.

The to-do list for this past weekend:

  • Replace crapped-out leaf spring shackle mounts with sliders (then trim fenders to accommodate lower stance)
  • Swap in a 2-barrel carburetor (and adapter and build a linkage from scratch)
  • Fix exhaust leaks (then just give up and install a header)
  • Swap in Duraspark electronic ignition and higher-voltage coil (despite not having all the wiring to do so)

Click through to see how it went…

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Hooniverse Asks Bonus: Help Me Wire our Wipers

falcon two speed wiper wiringWe’re back in action, working on our (Class F winning!) 1962 Ranchero LeMons racer. We’re diving into a huge to-do list (more on that later), but could use a hand setting up some simple wiring for a newly acquired electric wiper motor. This is a two-speed unit, wired as you see above. Click here for a full-resolution version of the circuit diagram. Unfortunately, all we have is the motor and immediately attached wiring, but no factory switches or squirter stuff.

Based on what you see above, how should we wire a simple single “on” switch to run in low? It’s not clear to me what’s actual power and what are weird loop-backs to help with the squirter circuit. Bonus points: how to wire a triple-throw switch for high/low/off operation?

Just as a bonus, here’s the latest on the car: last weekend we took care of a number of leftovers from the first race: finally painting the whole cage, changing the oil, cleaning up janky gauge wiring, etc. The biggest upgrade was installing a wideband O2 sensor for future tuning and carb debugging utility. Still to-do are swapping in a non-fogged windshield, the two-barrel carb, electronic ignition and repairing the broken shackle mount (more on that in a different post). According to The Internet, this motor will bolt up right in place of our dead vacuum motor and the linkages all just work.

Justy Little Project Car: The joy of a good machine shop, and a rogue Nissan Axxess


I don’t understand it. Even though I live near the birthplace of speed and some kind of important race track, engine machine shops are hard to come by. I drove 40 minutes one way to the machine shop when I rebuilt my WRX’s engine, and they even had to send the crankshaft out to another shop to get serviced because its journals were too small for their machines. My co-workers at a car magazine at the time had no suggestions.

I expected triple the hassles when rebuilding an abandonware 3-cylinder, but shortly before I tore my Justy’s engine down, I managed to find a more local shop. A friend stumbled across a pamphlet of theirs that listed a bunch of services and standard prices. When I saw lightening and balancing, crank knifing, and head work services all at attainable prices, visions of a high-revving, high-compression, 100-horsepower Uber-Justy danced in my head.

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HoonTruck: Let There Be Brakes!

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It was time for HoonTruck to go under a larger knife then I could supply. A few fixes were in order, the holidays were approaching, and [insert excuse C here], so I wasn’t up to the myriad tasks at hand. On the docket for my ’65 F100? Address the driveshaft, upgrade the braking situation, secure the radiator with something beyond zipties, and dive into the electrical situation.

So to help mitigate and undertake those needed fixes, I turned to Friend of Hooniverse Rick Radcliffe. The car went out to his Norco High School shop… and here’s where we stand so far.

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Project Miata: New Year, New Garage, New Challenges and Opportunities

Miata in the new garage

Do you ever miss an old friend who you haven’t spoken to in a long time? That’s how I’ve felt about my Miata for the past two months. Every time I drive that car, my hands have a wonderful chat with the steering wheel and shifter. I can’t help but smile as pedal meets floor. For weeks, we had a blast together flying across the Howard Frankland Bridge to St Petersburg, Florida, for Monday night classes; but then one night, my old friend developed a cough.  … Continue Reading

Operation “SAVE THE PEUGEOT” (Part 2)


When I left off last time we had just nursed my Wife’s beloved Peugeot 306 home having recovered from the scrap line at the back of a faceless body repair centre in an Ipswich industrial complex.

I say nursed it home, in reality it drove absolutely no differently post accident to how it did before; except that the brake pad warning light was illuminated and there was a distinct tang of lining material in the air. Hmm, something else to add to the repair list…. Anyway, read on for the next thrilling instalment of Operation SAVE THE PEUGEOT.

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HCOTY Nominee: The 60 Euro Volkswagen Polo Classic ’86


The Mazda MX-5 I bought early in 2015 injected me with a new-found passion for rear-wheel-drive, introduced open-top daily driving into my life and took me to Nordkapp, the northernmost point in mainland Europe that’s reachable by car. It proved itself to be an immensely great buy for very little money, and there’s no doubt it’s my personal favourite car of 2015.

It’s not my Hooniversal Car of the Year, though. The 60 Euro Polo is. It works, finally!

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Operation “SAVE THE PEUGEOT”: Part 1


My wife has only ever owned one car, she’s had it for ten years. In that time it has been a paragon of virtue. It’s taken her everywhere, provided us with shelter in times of need (literally, when our tent was blown to oblivion during a Cornish vacation). You may have read about it four years ago when it took us on an epic trans-European road trip. It’s become famous (or infamous) among her circle of friends, referred to variously as The Donkey, Baked Beenie, The Heinz Baked Bean Tin, The Old Pug and probably many more less complementary tags besides.

Yet, at this precise moment in time, it’s life hangs in the balance. Take the jump to join me as I fight to keep Donkey off the scrapheap.

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Taking A Maiden Voyage Aboard The SS Hoonchero

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Editor Tim has been prepping this Ford Ranchero for a run at LeMons a while now. The home stretch has been entered, and there’s still a million little things that need to fall into place before the car/truck can hit the track. After some all-night thrash sessions, the team has managed to get the thing running, driving, shifting, and stopping. That’s right, all three pedals work, the shifter works, and the wheels turn, which is made abundantly clear in this short video. They’re so proud of themselves for getting that crapheap magnificent piece of automotive engineering working again. The Hoonchero does its best Wallflowers impression, driving it home with one headlight, no Cinderella. Now it’s time to take the Raunchero ice racing in Alaska… No, wait, that’s a different *new media* property. Anyway, see ya at Arse-Freeze!

[Video: Tim Odell]

Wrench Scramble 2015: It’s ALIVE! LeMons Domination is but 13 Trillion Little To-Dos Away

If you recall, this car fired (and actually drove) earlier this year. However, the oil pan had a stripped plug and the exhaust manifold was so warped you could see fire through the gap between it an the head. Also the carb was leaking gas right above said exhaust manifold. It was cheaper to find a whole new setup than replace the individual parts. So after re-assembling the head, rebuilding the carb, replacing the fuel pump and starter and doing a bit of tuning, it fires right up. That burble is courtesy of about 18 inches of leftover exhaust pipe.

Funny story: when cranking endlessly to get the thing to start, we noticed the throttle rod linkage was sparking and getting hot. WTF? Turns out in re-EVERYTHING-ing, we forgot to hook up an engine-to-chassis ground. With no driveshaft in place, there’s nothing but rubber mounts between the starter and chassis ground. Well, nothing but the throttle linkage. Thus, we were pumping a couple hundred amps through a series of clipped-together metal bits.

But hey, it runs (idles and revs) with no major issues.

With that out of the way, the to-do list as of tonight is… … Continue Reading