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16  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: TRACO Fans on: June 22, 2012, 10:47:07 PM
Jon,

So there actually was a photo at TRACO with me in it and they even got my name right, dang was I really that young.

We (TRACO) used / tried some of the after market 4 bolt main caps, those with outside bolts on an angle seemed to work best, but the main web cracking problem was not solved until Chevy beefed up the block portion of the webs, so the after market 4 bolt caps were only partially successful.

It's too bad that the "300 Below" treatment was not available back then, that probably would have saved a lot of parts, especially blocks and heads.

http://www.300below.com/

Pigpen
17  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: TRACO Fans on: June 22, 2012, 03:25:28 PM
Robert,

In the 67' & 68' era, I had just started rebuilding (not building) engines, I was still mainly doing the heads.

I remember when the 4 bolt main block was introduced, it was needed badly as the 2 bolt main block was prone to cracking through the main webs. Also in that block chevy addressed a problem of cracking around the cylinders, through to the water jackets.

The earlier chevy rods were too weak and required a lot of massaging to last a race or two, the later (2.1 journal) rods were stronger. TRACO (when possible) used Carillo rods and Bartz used the 427 rods, both worked well.

I don't know of (or remember) a HP gain or loss related to the journal size, it stands to reason that friction and reciprocating weight would have an affect, but remember that TRACO minimized the reciprocating weight every way possible and used Hard Chrome plating on the bearing journals, which has about a 20% better slip coefficient.

As I remember it, TRACO always used the 4 bolt main block because it would take a lot more punishment, it's the old "You must finish to win" philosophy.

"In general, were you in search of these types of smaller horsepower gains?" Yes, but not if it significantly reduced the engine's reliability.

An engine's ability to "Breath" is a huge factor for HP, which is why modern engines have multi-valves per cylinder, requiring overhead cams. Large bore, short stroke, 4 or 5 valves per cylinder, direct port FI, individual cylinder timing and fuel control, allow some small 4 cylinder, normally aspirated engines to put out gobs of HP.

Pigpen
18  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: TRACO Fans on: June 21, 2012, 08:27:27 PM
Hi Jon,

I believe the tunnel was for a road over the track, I don't remember how long but wider than a pedestrian walkway.

The cement wall leading into the tunnel really had my attention, the car would drift towards that wall while Follmer shifted down, then straighten up and shoot through the tunnel.

I rode bikes for years (motorcycles) and tight turns with the peg scraping were common, but I'd never been in a car drifting at that speed before, I didn't think it was  possible. Somehow he was able to use the changing weight distribution of the car to gain sufficient traction at the last moment, for me, really scary stuff.

I was able to get in touch with George Bolthoff and pointed him towards this thread, perhaps he'll post as well.

Pigpen
19  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: TRACO Fans on: June 21, 2012, 12:27:31 PM
Hi Robert Barg,

At the time I got into that Javelin with Follmer, I was young and felt indestructible, I certainly wouldn't do it now. Follmer was highly agitated about the situation, arguing with Woods and some of the crew at the time, I think the laps were his way of coping with the problem.

Perhaps my "reverse camber" usage is not correct, the track at the right turn sloped from high right to low left in the direction of travel, so the outside of the turn was the low portion of the track.

I tried looking up the tracks you mentioned, pictures and videos of them, and could not find that turn into a tunnel, but it's forever burned into my memory so I know it exists or did exist at one point in time. It was a long time back, so perhaps changes have been made, it seemed like a really dangerous curve for a race track to me. It's possible that it was not a usual portion of the track, at the speed we were moving, I'm not sure if it was some form of pit or even an infield entrance off the track.

Pigpen
20  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: TRACO Fans on: June 20, 2012, 08:28:56 PM
Jon,

"That sounds like '72 to me. The Roy Woods thread has some '72 Javelin photos from the July 4, 1972
Trans-Am at Donnybrooke (Brainerd, MN) which is right around that timeframe you are talking about."


I'm sure it was either New England or up state New York. I returned home the afternoon of July 4th from some track, then got the call from Woods, so I was at the track with them on July 5th. There was no one else at the track but Woods, Follmer & crew, I didn't even see any track personnel. It was a few months later when Woods made me the offer to set up his shop, I wish I could remember dates, but...

If anyone knows how to get in touch with George Bolthoff, "Skipper", I'd like to contact him and reminisce the old TRACO days, we were pretty tight back then. We both lived in the San Fernando Valley, so after work we'd ride / race our bikes (motorcycles) through the canyons to get home, flat out, peg to peg turns, lots of fun.

Pigpen
21  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: TRACO Fans on: June 19, 2012, 10:35:17 AM
During my time working for TRACO I (like many others I’m sure) wondered what it would be like to drive a car on a track, I never did, but I was chauffeured around a few tracks by a couple drivers, at lower (non-racing) speeds, interesting but not the same.

One weekend in July (?? Year), I returned home to CA from some track just in time to light fireworks for the kids in the driveway, when Roy Woods called and said they were having problems with both Javelin engines at a track in New England, where they had rented practice time for a day or two, he said I needed to come and sort it out immediately as it was costing him a lot of $$, so I jumped on the first available midnight special.

Both engines were missing as if sabotaged, so I disassembled the ignition systems and the carbs, checking everything and replacing some components, nothing was wrong. George Follmer was Roy Woods co-driver then and he was really upset that the engines were causing problems, more so because I could not find the problem after a few hours searching. Follmer insisted that I ride the track with him and experience the problem first hand, so I donned a helmet and wormed my way into the role cage where the passenger seat would normally be. The engine was missing, just as it had been all day, not really any different than I could hear from the pit area, but I guess it made Follmer feel better.

Two laps, one of the regular pit crew mentioned that he broke the track speed record on both laps, which he may have said just to make me feel “better”. I remember his driving skills, amazing to watch, amazing what he could make that car do. I also remember a few of the really sharp turns and how scared I was seeing them coming up at those speeds, but one particular turn, a reverse camber right turn which ended in a short concrete tunnel (I say short as we were through it in no time flat), is forever burned in my memory, I was sure we were dead, twice, when I saw that tunnel wall coming up, absolutely no doubt.

When I exited the car, I’m sure I was “Green”. I had a new “Very high” respect for drivers and their extraordinary skills; I also knew that I’d never be a track driver.

The laps did have a good affect, they woke me up, as I hadn’t slept for a day or so. Being able to think for a minute or two I finally realized the common denominator for the problem; With a Chamois in a funnel and a few gas cans, we removed the water from the gas tanks of both cars, they had both been filled there at the track when they first pulled in. We removed about 10% (by volume) of water, which I would have thought impossible for an engine to run on.

So to all you drivers; I salute you and I’m truly impressed with your capabilities, now when I watch a race, I have a much better feel for what’s involved.

Pigpen
22  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: TRACO Fans on: June 17, 2012, 07:52:42 PM
Thank you for the Fathers Day wishes, I think I appreciate my (now grown) children more because of my traveling time.

I was offered a job with Roy Woods racing when he first set up with Kastner, a salary I found impossible to refuse to set up and run an engine shop for him. Jim and Frank understood, or at least wished me good luck, so I spent the next number of months putting in long hours to get the shop set up and their engines built up. I had a run in with someone they hired, a past acquaintance whom I had been warned was strictly self serving (no names). I had built up an Offy and had it on the Dyno to run in for 30 mins at minimal load before tearing it down for inspection, something I was told was required for new / first time run Offys, this person, who had the respect / friendship of Kastner, took over the Dyno and over my objections ran the engine up to 9000 RPM and full load, at which point it failed. He convinced Kastner that the engine was put together poorly and Woods believed the two of them, so I left, seeing that I was fighting a losing battle.

I returned to TRACO and asked for my job back, explaining what had occurred, both Jim and Frank reminded me that they had warned me about this person Kastner had hired and I think felt sorry for the situation, anyway they gave me another chance. I worked as previous for 3 or 4 months, but found that I could no longer support my family and the house I had purchased with the salary from Woods, so I told everyone that I needed to find other work and left on a pretty sour note.

I could have continued in the racing industry, but I was tired and fairly disillusioned. I worked part time and went back to school, ending up with degrees in engineering  for mechanical (primary) & optical (secondary). I went to work for a small optical emission spectrometer company there in LA, which was later sold to Baird Atomic and they offered me a position on the East Coast. I ended up as Service Manager for the America's, North and South, then they sold out to Thermo Instruments, at which point I left. I ended up doing R&D design work for J.E.O.L. (Japan Electro Optical Laboratories) before retiring. During my carrear I designed, built sold and serviced; Optical Emission equipment, Ion Beam Spectrometers, MASER satelite focusing systems, Abrams tank optical sighting systems and more, earning four patents. I traveled much of our little planet with over a million miles on Pan AM, unfortunately before the mileage incentives. I was offered a position at MIT Lincoln Labs working on the Airborne Laser system, but I found retirement far too enticing, so now I play the stock market (day trading) and lots of computer games.

I enjoyed my work, but always looked back to my TRACO days with fond memories, there's something about the sound of a well tuned, high performance engine that gets in one's blood.
23  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: TRACO Fans on: June 16, 2012, 02:17:54 PM
Robert,

Forgotten is the last thing I worry about, Fathers Day tomorrow and I have 4 children (grown) plus 5 grandchildren, even my parents are still alive at 93 and 92 years, so I have few moments to feel alone.

Happy Fathers Day to all of you so blessed !

This forum has brought back some good time memories, thank you all for putting up with an old farts reminiscing.

As I mentioned in a previous thread, Lockerman was the one Head Porter I remember during the time I had charge of the heads. If I remember right, Eddie Hansen took over after me and I honestly don't know who was used to port the heads. After a year or so of engine building, I started traveling to the various tracks, trouble shooting and basically just being there in case something happened where I would be needed. Jim and Frank were getting pretty tired after all the long hours they had invested, so Stewart (Van Dyne) and Eddie took on the major duties at the shop, also Gordon Chance came back for awhile to help out.

For a period of time, I must have traveled to practically every track in the USA and some in Canada, it's all a big blur, I can't even remember track names or States. My children grew up and I missed most of it, I regret that allot. When I wasn't traveling, I was in the shop building or rebuilding engines, 60 to 70 hour weeks were about all I knew.

Pigpen
24  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: TRACO Fans on: June 04, 2012, 09:32:35 PM
Jon,

That 830 CFM Holly sounds about right, gear driven mechanical secondaries, dbl pump and designed for off road.

I don't remember "turkey-herder", I think we referred to them as designed for marine usage, where there was constant bouncing and jarring. The floats were made of rubber or some plastic and there were factory modifications inside the float chambers to reduce sloshing.

At one time, way back or early on, an engine was used to comparatively test a few equal (same model / mods) Holly carbs, the results showed a very minimal difference between them, suggesting that if there were any performance restriction, it was not due to an individual carb.

Pigpen
25  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: TRACO Fans on: June 03, 2012, 06:54:46 PM
Robert,

I just reread your question about the manifold and what carbs were used, sorry I missed that.

The original top plate supplied by Chevy was set up for 4x2-Brls, which we never had or used.

The top plate we had cast was for 2x4-Brls and as I remember the same carbs we used on most everything. I don't remember model numbers but they were either 800 or 850 CFM, geared so that all butterflys opened simultaneously and inwardly (front and rear opposite directions).

TRACO supplied a particular model of Holly 4-Brl carb for just about all uses, it had marine type floats, the choke horn machined off and some polishing in the throats. I think that earlier models were 800 CFM and later 850 CFM.

We didn't use Webers on any of the "Plenum" style manifolds, at least none that I remember.

There was also a dual 1,000 CFM Holly carb manifold we tested, used on Chevy 427's, I don't remember what the engine(s) were set up for. Someone else produced those manifolds and had done their homework to equal out the flow characteristics.

Reliable Mechanical then Electronic Fuel Injection came along and replaced most of the dual carb setups, eventually even the Webers (where possible).

Pigpen
26  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: TRACO Fans on: May 25, 2012, 08:19:47 PM
Hi Robert,

Concerning that Chevy in-line dual 4-BL.

I think that I remember the first configuration on that manifold was 4x2-BL's, but we had another top plate cast for the 2x4-BL set up. I don't remember all the reasoning behind the set up, but I remember many hours gluing in runners and testing cyl temperatures on the dyno. Where those manifolds ended up, I have no idea, perhaps in a Chevy factory trash bin, as the Cross Ram design was superior.

On occasion, one of us (TRACO employees) would have a need to ferret out some part up in the mezzanine storage area, and we'd accidentally run across some very strange goodies, that manifold was found just that way and when Jim & Frank saw it, they remembered that Chevy had asked them to evaluate it some time previously.

Pigpen
27  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: TRACO Fans on: May 25, 2012, 06:58:17 PM
TRACO (Jim & Frank) didn't actually become famous because of Chevys or for that matter AMCs.

Yes the Javlin engines put out a little more than the same CID Chevys, but the early AMC track engines could not stand the corners without starving the oil pickup, so there were many not so spectacular blown engines.

There's a lot to be said about the compact design of the small block Chevy, the design facilitated oil return flow from the upper portion of the engine to the oil pan, and there were not a lot of places for the oil to get trapped.

Small block Fords and AMC's had a lot more room in the lifter valley and around the crank, so oil tended to get trapped. The ultimate answer for the AMC's was to run "Dry Sump".

Another interesting difference was the Cyl Head design, Chevy heads had better flow characteristics and required less valve lift than the AMC's, so Chevy cams took far less punishment.

For the bottom end though, the AMC's were very strong through the main bearing area, where Chevys were prone to main web cracking.

Each engine has goods and bads, the trick is enough power and lasting through the entire race.

Pigpen
28  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: TRACO Fans on: May 25, 2012, 10:51:22 AM
Hi Jon,

If that's the test I remember with Cantwell there, they were testing the full car exhaust systems, not just the "Open Headers" that TRACO normally used on the dyno.
29  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: TRACO Fans on: May 24, 2012, 09:45:39 AM
Yep, 40 years is too long to remember HP stats, at least for me. The only thing I'm sure of is that the AMC engines put out a little more than the Chevys.

TRACO preferred the "Red Line" at 7200 I believe, but 7800 was more to most drivers liking.

I remember we worked on (rebuilt) a couple of 302 Fords and they were fairly comparable to the AMC's.

The Offys were spectacular on the dyno, separated by the cam cover, the exhaust was white hot and the intake frosting up so quickly that you could see the build up over a few seconds time frame. It was difficult with that old "Water Brake" dyno, as weights had to be added to the scale, a guessing game at first, and the Offys put out so much power that the water would steam off in the condenser faster than it was being replenished. Close to 1,000 HP at 10,000 RPM, using Nitro-Methane. It was scary being close by when running high RPM (for me anyway).

Pigpen
30  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: TRACO Fans on: May 23, 2012, 08:48:04 PM
Hi Robert,

I'm sorry but it's been way too long for me to remember the torque curves for TRACO's T/A engines (or any for that matter), but 475-490 HP was a good number for the Chevys, on TRACO's dyno. We did occasionally rebuild engines originally built by some of the competition, and their Dyno HP was no better than ours, usually a little worse, some quite a bit worse. The AMC T/A engines were a little better, around 510-520 on the Dyno.

I know that some would question it, but TRACO engines were built the same for all customers. The only exceptions were special items that some customer got hold of, but all in all, Penske's engines from TRACO were duplicates of his competitors, those built by TRACO.

Penske did have some "pull" with the Chevy factory for Aluminum blocks and heads, not for T/A racing.

For the T/A series, Penske ran 2 cars, each with 3 engines; 1 in the car, 1 on the truck as backup and 1 being rebuilt at the shop, this was the same for both Camero and Javlin.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I don't personally have any photos, looking back now I wish I had, but I was young and dumb, with never a thought of the faaaaaaar future when I might actually enjoy reminiscing.

Pigpen
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