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Author Topic: TRACO Fans  (Read 32719 times)
Jon Mello
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« Reply #15 on: May 13, 2012, 10:16:24 AM »

Thanks again, Pigpen. If you have any photos from Traco or from the track that you'd care to share, I know we would love to see them.

I know I have seen pictures of Jim and Frank at the track such as at Sebring in '68 and many other events but I didn't know if you other
guys at the shop were tagging along or not.
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Jon Mello
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Pigpen
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« Reply #16 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
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MO
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« Reply #17 on: May 13, 2012, 12:34:38 PM »

Thanks for sharing your memories Pigpen. Please keep posting as you recall them. It's great to be able to put personal experiences with what we read.
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Bruce302
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« Reply #18 on: May 13, 2012, 03:08:43 PM »

I have a pair of Traco stamped heads, (angle plug) that also have "Slover Porting SV". I rang Charlie Slover a few years back and he told me that he supplied some heads to Traco when there was a supply shortage. Slovers did the heads for the Chaparral cars. maybe Jim Hall had a better parts line than some others.

Bruce.
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Pigpen
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« Reply #19 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
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vtfb68
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« Reply #20 on: May 14, 2012, 09:32:05 AM »

Thank everyone for all the input... Keep it coming, I love all this stuff. I always refered to that alley as THUNDER ALLY, still do when I drive by - my kids used to think I was nuts naming alleys.
   VT
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OCTARD
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« Reply #21 on: May 14, 2012, 10:53:54 PM »

Hello Pigpen,

Thanks so much for joining and contributing to this forum.

Can you tell us how TRACO made or otherwise sourced the degreed harmonic/torsional balancers like this Spring 1973 issue of Super Chevy shows?



All the best.

-Chad

« Last Edit: May 15, 2012, 12:07:11 AM by OCTARD » Logged
Pigpen
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« Reply #22 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
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OCTARD
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« Reply #23 on: May 15, 2012, 04:03:38 PM »

Outstanding feedback, Pigpen!  More detail than I could have expected... And it's neat to hear that you had enough faith in the factory part to begin with.

-Chad

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Pigpen
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« Reply #24 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.
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Jon Mello
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« Reply #25 on: May 17, 2012, 07:38:41 AM »

Thanks again for your input, Pigpen. I'm wondering what you remember about the intake manifolds. Were those sent out to get ported along with the heads or did you guys just do a port-match job at Traco? Did the manifolds get the Traco stamp like the block and heads did?
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Jon Mello
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Pigpen
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« Reply #26 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
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klvn8r
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« Reply #27 on: May 17, 2012, 05:04:15 PM »

How about that picture of the Roy Woods AMC engine in '72.  DEFINITELY a 'Traco' top on the AMC intake?  Was this cast "in house" or elsewhere?  .....any info there would be greatly appreciated!!!

klvn8r
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Pigpen
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« Reply #28 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
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OCTARD
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« Reply #29 on: May 17, 2012, 07:55:53 PM »

Hello Pigpen,

Would it be safe to assume that your TRACO remote oil filter mount and block mount adapters were also made by the folks who made your intake bits? 

Though perhaps varying a bit from the period TRACO pieces, these cast pieces from AVIAID are at least helpful to explain the bits I speak of.

If you do remember the vendor, I'd enjoy hearing their name.  I have another old race car that was built in the area, with some one-off castings.  Knowing who you folks used might be helpful in sparking the memory of some of the folks in my car's past.

Thanks again for sharing your insight and knowledge of TRACO.  I know that many on this forum, myself included, are very big fans of all that you folks produced and built.

-Chad
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