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31  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: TRACO Fans on: May 21, 2012, 09:55:13 PM
Hi Jon,

Correct, TRACO did not supply any headers.

One of the Headman Headers group (again at a loss for a name) spent many hours with us on the dyno designing the 4-2-1 headers.

The final product was a large improvement over other systems at that time. Mid range torque was up 20+% without affecting the high end.

TRACO did not officially recommend anyones header systems (that I was aware of).

Pigpen
32  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: TRACO Fans on: May 19, 2012, 03:57:19 PM
Jon & Robert,

Isky did supply some components to TRACO and those rocker clips were probably from him.

I did remember the spring company which produced all of our valve and other springs - Century Spring Co.

Pigpen
33  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: TRACO Fans on: May 19, 2012, 07:19:15 AM
Hi Jon,

I believe those were made by the same company that made our valve springs and I'm sorry but I don't remember their name.

We had a lot of problems with the original Chevy rocker arm design and applied a number of modifications to make them work, which are mentioned in articles here on the CRG forum. Roller rockers were the longterm solution.

Pigpen
34  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: TRACO Fans on: May 18, 2012, 03:30:33 PM
Hi Jon,

It was machined from either 1/4 or 3/8 inch thick stock (1/4 is sufficient), I think Narin (next door) machined them for us, it's just 5k or 6k Aluminum alloy round stock with holes, I can't remember if it had a register on the center rear, I don't think so.

The lower pulley was a factory part, welded I think, the vibrations would crack the metal around the mounting holes and then break apart the welds.

I don't have any TRACO items, I live with 3 women, my wife, a daughter and my 92 year old mother, you can only imagine what my garage is full of - LoL.

The pulley reinforcer is not critical at all, just a method to keep the thin metal pulley assy from vibrating or warping, I suspect that large diameter / thick fender washers under the bolts might work, or simply someones aftermarket pulley. Be sure whatever you use is round or equally balanced for rotation.

Today we have excellent Loctight products, back then they were just starting up their business, so most of the bolts on TRACO engines were cross drilled and wire wrapped, talk about time consuming.

Pigpen
35  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: TRACO Fans on: May 18, 2012, 06:55:57 AM
Hi Robert,

The lower pulley had a bad habit of warping under load from the belt, so that (as you found) Pulley Support Plate was added.

Before Chevy came out with the Stainless stamped head gaskets, some of the engines used studs for the heads, mainly those for long duration track races. After the Stainless stamped gaskets, all engines used bolts. Properly installed with Aluminum particle paint, those Stainless gaskets required a lot of prying to get the heads off after the bolts were out and all head gasket failures ceased. All heads were "Hot Torqued" after a Dyno warm up.

Studs were used on all the Chevy small block mains.

Pigpen
36  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: TRACO Fans on: May 17, 2012, 08:28:05 PM
Hi Chad,

Re: TRACO castings...

I'm sorry, I don't remember exactly who produced the cast Aluminum remote oil filter parts, that was set up before I started work there, but I think that it may have been the shop that produced the AMC 2x4-BRL mainfold for us, Don Narin's Speedway Patterns, that's just a guess.

Pigpen
37  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: TRACO Fans on: May 17, 2012, 08:15:36 PM
Hi all,

I'm getting the impression from some of the questions here on this forum and some other forums (especially AMC forums), that many people are not aware of TRACO's involvement with the Chevy and AMC factories. TRACO received a number of "gifts" from both factories, in return for testing and modification if necessary. Other racing groups and shops were also "gifted" in return for the same.

We received a couple of the first all Aluminum 427 Chevy blocks and heads, no cylinder linings, they used a special coating on the outside of the pistons, special rings and the cylinders were specially honed to leave the Silicon nodules from the special alloy, on the surface. The heads were fitted with Stelite valve seats which required an orbital valve seat grinder, and required a special coating in the water jackets to hold some heat in (kinda overused special there, but they really were).

A lot of people in the industry knew about the Aluminum Rat engines, but only a few knew about the Aluminum small blocks. The factory trusted TRACO to test things properly and supply all information back to them.

Trick rods, cranks, heads, cams and more, we performed a lot of side jobs for the factories. Picture an all aluminum 350 CID with a Flat Crank (180 Deg Opposed) and EFI mounted right above the intake valves.

The first group of AMC heads which had their cores "scratched" to permit larger valves, were accidentally ran through the factory assembly line before being caught, so there were 50 or so AMC stock engines with very expensive heads running around.

TRACO made a number of suggestions which the factories acted on, especially rod and crank treatment modifications, which led to significant reliability improvements.

I don't remember which Trans Am race it was after (or even which year), but when Penske's Cameros and Donahue won the majority of races one season, even though the Ford factory had pulled out all the stops and spared no expense, top drivers and dozens of spare engines each race... We were working the next day at the shop when a long limo pulled up in the alley out back, a young well dressed gentleman stepped up and over the chain which was draped across the large doorway at the rear, seriously pissing off Jim who was standing close by, as there was a "NO ADMITTANCE" sign attached to the chain, he walked up the shop isle like he owned the place and stated "I'm Edsel Ford II and I'm here to see just who managed to beat my Mustangs" (Edit: Oops, got his name wrong). Jim and Frank both had the biggest grins on their faces that I'd ever seen - LoL.

So TRACO was a privately owned and operated business, but the inside circle of the racing industry back then was very tight, there was a lot of shared "back scratching" going on behind the scenes.

Pigpen
38  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: TRACO Fans on: May 17, 2012, 06:59:24 PM
Hi klvn8r,

OG69Z messaged me about that manifold and I answered him with it's history, I mentioned that you asked about it also and asked him to post my answer here if he would, to save me writing it all again, as I didn't save a copy in my outbox, you know how us forum newbs are, takes 50 posts to figure things out - LoL.

The short answer is that it was cast to TRACO specs by an outside source, the design was predicated on what we learned testing and modifying a Chevy 2x4-BRL in-line factory prototype manifold.

Pigpen
39  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: TRACO Fans on: May 17, 2012, 12:47:48 PM
Hi Jon,

It depended on the manifold's use. Just about all of the manifolds were port matched, there was one Edelbrock design, the "Torquer" which was purposefully not port matched, it was used on some street design engines.

The Weber and FI manifolds were polished as well, but tests showed that polishing manifolds where the carb was the restrictor, was useless. The runners were cleaned up some but not polished.

For single 4-BL carbs, the size of the plenum under the carb is more important than polished runners. I don't remember the numbers, but plenum size versus runner length helps determine the engines torque curve, also the area around the top of the carb is very important. Most TRACO 4-BL carbs had the "Choke Horn" machined off to increase the space / area for air intake.

Usually the manifolds were sent out for work, but I do remember a couple were done in house, perhaps just a rush thing.

Pigpen
40  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: TRACO Fans on: May 15, 2012, 09:55:27 PM
Not all Chevy dampeners were designed as well. We built two 454 CID engines for a 40 foot "cigarette" boat Penske entered in a race out of Marina Del Rey, CA. Lots of torque to the props. About 30 mins into the race, the dampener on one engine exploded, luckily no one got hurt. The 454 CID dampener is not equally thick around its diameter, it's used as part of the balance weight for the crankshaft. Even though Edelbrock had balanced it mounted to the crankshaft, it couldn't withstand the harmonics. From then on TRACO stayed away from 454 Chevys.
41  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: TRACO Fans on: May 15, 2012, 10:54:55 AM
Hi Chad,

That's one job none of us could ever forget - LoL.

After a quick lathe job to clean up and make the outer surface round, the dampeners were mounted on a turntable on a Bridgeport vertical mill. A tool was ground and used like a shaping tool to cut each line, one at a time, simply puling the handle to bring the spindle down (not rotating), the mill was not on. It could have been done on a drill press stand as well, but the mill had easy to adjust stops, adjusted for line length.

When finished, the dampeners were held in a vise and hand stamped, hand sanded, cleaned, painted and hand rubbed with paint sticks.

A very time consuming job, but the result really looked great / professional and was a sort of TRACO trademark.

We all did them, as with just about all the required jobs, everyone shared the load. I remember having a sore arm for a day after cutting a group of 10 or so dampeners.

Pigpen
42  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: TRACO Fans on: May 13, 2012, 08:40:40 PM
Hi Bruce,

I remember that we started using the angle plug heads after they were available for some time. I mainly remember them used on the IROC engines, I think because they tested better at lower compression ratios, but I wasn't directly involved in any such tests.

The IROC engines were somewhat de-tuned from their normal TRACO CID equivalent, the whole concept was to test the drivers on as equal a basis as possible, so each engine was tuned to a pre-specified power output all were as close to the same as we could produce them.

I also remember Jim and Frank complaining some about the deal they had made concerning the IROC engines, not a lot of profit (if any), mainly just kept up a steady cash flow for the shop, but as was the TRACO way, those engines were treated exactly the same as all TRACO engines, no corners cut, always the best possible workmanship.

Different subject - Reading through some of the articles posted here about TRACO parts and assembly procedures, I didn't find one very important item; The factory crank shafts were very good, but after about 1967 all TRACO cranks had the bearing journals highly polished and flash hard Chromed, about a 0.0002 inch coating. That made a big difference in bearing life.

Pigpen
43  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: TRACO Fans on: May 13, 2012, 11:53:57 AM
The book "Race Man" is well done, kudos to Gordon, I got a copy a few weeks back, which is what led me to this forum in a round about way (the Google way).

One of my few photos at tracks or TRACO is in Race Man on page 136, at least the back of head and Gordon almost spelled my name right - LoL

I was young and figured (still do) that I owed Jim and Frank more than I could ever repay for all they taught me, so I worked my butt off from the shadows, both at the shop and at the tracks, very rarely being in front of a camera. I was not in the business for fame, that truly belonged to Jim and Frank and they deserved a lot more than they got.

I was on TV once, can't remember which track. I was standing over the hood of the Matador waiting for the engine start in the track line up, I looked up to see Mark (Donahue) with a huge ear to ear grin and while I was wondering if my fly was down or something, someone bumped into me from behind knocking me onto the hood of the car, I figured it was one of the other crew chiefs screwing around so I jumped up with a few choice words and turned around to find that I was face to face with a mountain of muscle and a TV camera. Granatelli was walking around with Mohammad Ali (Cassius Clay) and Ali had jokingly nudged me, I stood there dumb founded for a moment then we shook, I shook his fingers and he shook my arm, his hands and arms were huge. We bantered a minute or two about how the Matador was going to win this one, then they moved on, later I was told that it was broadcast on national TV, all except for my few choice words.

Whenever I was at a track with the Penske crews, I worked in and around the pits as an extra, usually passing drinks to the drivers and hosing down the radiator to cool the engine during the pit stop, so there are a lot of pictures of me out there, I just don't know where.

Kirby "To the victor go the spoils" Guyer (the TRACO office manager), once yelled out "Pigpen" to me in the Daytona infield, over a megaphone, and that was the only weekend when my moniker was known garage to garage. Richard (Petty) and Penske even walked over to ask "PIGPEN?Huh".

Pigpen
44  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: TRACO Fans on: May 13, 2012, 07:53:09 AM
I think I've heard the name Slover, to be honest I'm not sure, could have been around the time I left TRACO.

Like any workplace / shop, some employees were friendly, others mainly out for themselves. I was friendly with everyone, or tried to be, Bolthoff and I got along very well. The group was tight for Jim and Frank (TRACO), not necessarily for each other, but if it came down to it, we had each others backs and would do anything to assist. There were a lot of employees not mentioned in most articles, like me; Jonesy, Jack, Larry & more, besides the names I've seen in articles and mentioned here.

I spent many of my weekends at various tracks around the country, not the best thing for my marriage / family. In between the hours at the shop and the hours at the tracks, I had a minimal family life. Most of the time I spent at tracks was for Penske, with the Cameros, Javelins and then Matadors. I've been to so many tracks I can't even remember, they all sort of blur together.

Pigpen
45  Model Specific Discussions / Trans-Am Camaros / Re: TRACO Fans on: May 12, 2012, 09:58:10 PM
Hi Jon,

I've been spending a little time reading through the forum, lots of information and lots of posts here.

Remembering back on the exact years is tough, but I started at TRACO shortly before Al Bartz left, so around 1963 to 1964. I was there when "Skipper", George Bolthoff started, in about 1965. I had little experience so I offered to do whatever they required, Frank Coon handed me a push broom and asked if I knew how to use it, I started sweeping the floor and he immediately said "let me show you how to do it properly", which he then did, after that I learned "the proper way" to do everything that Jim and Frank could teach a punk kid. I left TRACO for a year to set up Roy Woods engine shop, then returned and finally left for good in the early 70's. The last engines I built were for the Penske AMC Matador NASCAR project and the IROC chevys. Over that time frame I probably built and rebuilt 400+ Chevys, 75+ AMC's, a few dozen Fords, a few Pontiac's, a few Ferrari V-12's and countless sets of Chevy heads.

After I was there for a few months, the person building the heads left (he was named Willy I think) and I took over the job, after many months of training that is. I built the heads for a few years, along with other work as needed, always learning. Walking down the isle to the bathroom one day, covered in Cast Iron dust from grinding valve seats, Walter Howell "Davy Crocket" made some cutting remark about my appearance as I passed by his assembly area where he was oiling the cylinders on a block he'd just cleaned, so I walked up to him and jumped up in place once, the Cast Iron dust from my shop coat covered the area in a black cloud, the entire shop fell silent waiting for the punch, he stood there for a moment staring at his freshly cleaned and oiled block, now covered in dust, then pointed at me and yelled "PIGPEN", then everyone in the building laughingly yelled it as well, so it stuck.

To my knowledge, Lockerman's was the only Port and Polish shop that TRACO used, he was fast and did a very good job. We selected the new head castings, did some machining in the chambers, then scribed over blue die the outlines of the ports. Lockerman usually picked up a lot of 10 to 30 heads at a time and more would be ready when he delivered them. I never saw anyone at TRACO attempt to Port and Polish heads.

Edit: Missed the part about "Hot Rod Alley". That term was coined before I started there, TRACO, Hilborn, Narin , Iskenderian and probably more were located there. Across the alley was a large dirt parking lot for Hughes Aircraft, caused some problems for us when the wind blew, so we used it as a dumping ground for all our used oil, lots of oil, sort of cheap asphalt. I pitied the Hughes workers getting into their cars with all that mess.

Sorry if I'm rambling on some, it's been a lot of years and millions of miles on multiple continents ago, a lifetime ago, so I'm proding the old grey matter a lot.

Pigpen
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