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LeMons Ranchero Update: Better Breathing, Sparking and Sliding

ranchero project car

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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24 Hours of LeMons Pens “A Visit from a Guy Who Looks Suspiciously like Phil” to Warm our Gear Oil Soaked Hearts

murilee claus

We get so much garbage PR mail at the Hooniverse inbox, but the announcements from The 24 Hours of LeMons are pure gold. Ironic, given that the series is dedicated to garbage. Anyway, they’ve topped themselves once again with the latest reminder about signing up for January’s Sonoma race (which reminds me…).

Anyway, here’s the first of several paragraphs; click through for the rest.

‘Twas the Sat. before Christmas, when signups were due,
For LeMons Sonoma, that cold-ass venue.
Chanukah was over, the menorah unlit,
No flaggers were stirring, nor one Tech eejit.
All the hoopties were idle, dismantled in sheds,
And the drivers they dawdl’d, and took to their beds.
But those apps were still due the 19th of December,
As spams bugged them again and again to remember…

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Los Huevos Rancheros Beats Top Gear, “Wins” Class F “Victory” at 24 Hours of LeMons

los huevos rancheros 24 hours of lemons hooniverse

We won LeMons! Ok, well, we won our class at LeMons. That class being Class F, consisting entirely of us and Top Gear USA. Our 108 laps to their 79, despite their crew of at least two professional drivers and support staff of like 40 people.

Of course, it very nearly wasn’t so. The short version is we battled baffling fuel starvation issues most of Friday and Saturday only to hit the track and immediately be black flagged off for a massive fuel leak. Four laps total end of Saturday. Sunday we tortoised their hare, cranking out lap after pathetically slow lap. A minor hiccup with the clutch and shifter linkages put us at risk for about 20 minutes, but we sorted it and finished out the day.

Personally, I want to thank everyone on our team for their efforts and their patience through all the struggles. Jeff, Ryan, Graham and Ted, we couldn’t have done this without something (or many things) each of you did. More importantly, a huge thanks to my wife Daisy for not only putting up with the escalating costs in time and money this misadventure brought, but supporting us with food and drinks and other hospitality. Best. Wife. Ever.

Hit the jump for a few details…

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24 Hours of LeMons Arse-Freeze-Apalooza: Ferkel and Miata go BOOM!

Just watch the video.

In my highly unprofessional opinion this was unavoidable. The Porsche driver could not have seen that Miata stopped there. Not over that hill, not with those cars in the way. Sucks.

Tim’s team is having issues. They are predominantly fuel issues; fuel starvation and fuel leaks, which may or may not be related. They completed four laps.

Aftermath of the video after the jump.

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Taking A Maiden Voyage Aboard The SS Hoonchero

YouTube Preview Image

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

Wrench Scramble 2015: Witty Title about a Battery Box

battery relocation box

For those of us with good-but-not-great fabrication skills, 1/8″ X 1.5″ Ell channel steel is wonderful stuff. Thick enough to weld without blowing out, thin enough to weld with even the most mediocre of welders. With a halfway decent intuition of solid mechanics, you can sturdy built boxes, frames, etc. Case-in-point: LeMons grade battery box and hold-down. Follow along for a simple kinda-tutorial for keeping these joules in place…

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Wrench Scramble 2015: Two out of Four Ain’t Bad

carburetor adapter

Have you ever met someone with extensive knowledge of the minor engineering changes made within a model or brand? Someone who can say “oh, this is an early ’82 car, so you need the EA44517 starter, not the -524″ or “don’t get the Moog part for that bushing, their book is wrong”? You know how they know that? Because at least one time a thing that was supposed to fit, didn’t.

I’m becoming such a guy with this build…

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Wrench Scramble 2015: Don’t Do Cage Me In

24 hours of lemons roll cage ranchero

LeMons is all about cutting corners, be it in build quality or literally in driving technique. I’ll admit that the cage I put in The Uberbird was very much My First Rollcage® grade fabrication, likely to help in the event of a big crash, but not something you really really trust. Which, of course, defeats the whole purpose.

After seeing a Volvo P1800 take a K-rail to the driver’s door at last year’s Thunderhill with an unscathed driver inside, I knew who I wanted to make my cage. John, Grant and crew, at Evil Genius Racing in Sacramento didn’t just slap some tubes in there and call it a day. They added an extra lower-rear bar connecting the back of the hoop that tied into transmission tunnel, some of the last remaining good original metal in the car. The floor plates are all double or triple oversize to met spec, but it was necessary to distribute load and tie into something solid. It’s built from 1.75″ tubing, which is over-spec for the weight of the car, but again, this thing can use all the stiffness it can get. To quote John “there’s just no car to weld to!”

Was it cheap? No. However, the difference between this (arguably the best possible cage I could get) and a cheaper shop or DIY option is really only a few hundred bucks. For all the cash spent to construct a car, why skimp there?

Wrench Scramble 2015: You Know it’s LeMons When…

Transmission Mount

When you score a good deal on a heavy-duty transmission with the rare bellhousing and clutch configuration you need, you put up with it’s non-matching stubby tailshaft. When you have a transmission with a non-matching stubby tailshaft, you find yourself having to add about 9″ of length compensation between the existing transmission mount and the mounting pad on the transmission itself. This is a feat easily (?) accomplished with rectangular tube from the remnants rack and a few bolts from the bucket.

DIY transmission mount (2)DIY transmission mount (3)DIY transmission mount (1)

Yes, it all bolts up and yes, it gets the job done.