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The EVOLVOlution of a 144 Race Car - Part 3
by Club member Stuart Innes (Australia)

Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3

 

Preparation for the 2003 Aroca 6HR
Eastern Creek Raceway, West Sydney, NSW, Australia

Most of 2003 had been a very quiet year race wise but it was now time to get the 144R ready for the 6 Hour race at Eastern Creek raceway, (this is a team event similar to a relay race where each car races to a nominated time that is divided into 6hrs and this gives you in theory how many laps you would do, if you go faster than your nominated lap time you loose the lap and time of the six hours, each car does about 1 1/2 hrs each for a 4 car team at each cars nominated lap time which will vary from car to car eg. mine was 2.05 minutes a lap, some were faster some slower in the teams.)  but there was a problem left to solve from last year (2002). Why were the back brakes getting so hot when they hadn't in previous years and why was I down on power ?

A compression test on the engine revealed no. 4 cylinder had a problem, this turned out to be a broken piston flange between top and middle piston ring's, something I had not heard of before but non the less easily fixed. Out came the motor and a full strip down, visual and mechanical inspection was done. The bearings where still good as they should be (they hadnít done a lot of kilometres). A new set of pistons was installed as there was no damage to the bore, original Mahle type pistons where used as they are readily available and good quality. The cam showed no signs of wear which was a good thing as it was made from a fresh blank shaft 2 years earlier, nothing radical here its only one stage up from the B20E "D" cam , in this event reliability is the key to finishing as many cars have problems with the heat, last year we had track temp of 50 degrees Celsius, yes 50 Celsius and ambient of 42 degrees so you see the high stressed engines tend to have problems later in the day, the old B20 with a few mild modifications prove to be very reliable and fun. This year I did 37 laps straight in 1hr 45 minutes.

For more information on Eastern Creek Raceway check this site out  www.eastern-creek-raceway.com

Last year showed up a problem with the back brakes being very hot and a lack of tyre traction and increase in lap times, as I had welded the differential up myself 6 years earlier I thought it had broken. Inspection proved this to be true but as you read later in this story not the cause of my problem. Limited slip differentials are expensive A$1800, welding rods that last 6yrs A$6.00, a Unitec Chrome gear welding rod was used and gave good service. OK, problem solved so I thought, got another diff and welded it up put it back in (this was in July '03 , AROCA is 1 and 2 Nov 03 but there was a super sprint on in August that I could enter to try out the car and see if everything was OK. Entered the Super Sprint in August, raced the 144R and came away with a broken differential again and very hot rear brakes, whatís going on here?

I took the car back to the garage and stripped the diff back out again, sure enough the welds had just  broken again, luckily I put the car back on the trailer when I did as no damage was done but the cause was yet to be identified, started with the brake lines and bled them back from the bleeder nipples at the callipers back to the chassis connection and this is where the cause of the problem turned up, I had bled new brake fluid through the lines every year but had not experienced any line failures so the old brake lines where still on the car, they had perished inside the rubber hose that goes from the chassis down to the differential and caused the lines to become blocked and locked up the callipers so bad that it was forcing the welds to break in the diff and cooked the callipers and brakes .

At least I found this out before the race and not at it, that's the advantage of going to a Super sprint before your major race event of the year, which the 6HR is for our club and team. Next job was an easy one, rebuild the back brakes, with help from A-Class Parts and Service in Revesby, Sydney I was able to get some new rebuilt callipers and brand new rubber hoses, steel lines flushed out and ready to reassemble the carís rear brakes.

The 144R was ready to go again and so I decided to spend the money ($500) on a Dyno tune this year to set it up in its best reliable state of engine tune. The SU HIF6's have proved to be an excellent and economical carburettor for this level of racing remembering that the whole idea in building the 144R was that it was a no prize money event race car, all paid out of the back pocket, ouch !, lol.

Various different tune-up position where tried until we settled on a compromise between power and torque, unfortunately the power was down but the torque was great for an old B20, the 144R is also entered in hill-climbs so with less power but greater torque it made up for it, eventually it came out at only 69kW of power, not great but 291Nm of torque good enough to do the job until I build a more modified engine, which will of course cost a lot more money than this all Volvo parts engine job.

To cut along story short the race went very well for the old 144, all I did all weekend was fill it with Avgas (Octane 100) and race it, never had to put a spanner to it all weekend, my times where not as fast as 2001 (2.00 minutes) best this year was 2.04 min but I put a lot of this down to lack of racing throughout the year, the driver getting older, lol and tyres that are 5yrs old and becoming very hard (in Australia a Dunlop slick costs A$325 each).

After the qualifying on Saturday things where looking Ok, we had lost the 740 Turbo which had problems with a brand new engine unfortunately, we still had the 142 of Gareth Trudgeon and Braham Tindale, Kevin Elliott's 1971 Group S P1800E and my 144R ( LINK to photos ) and also Morgan Club Super sprint 23/08/03 ) which after years of self funded development was starting to show good reliability and fun, isn't that what its all about anyway?

We had our team meeting Saturday afternoon and set each car and drivers times that could be divided into the 6hrs to best advantage for a team of old 140 Volvo's that run mid pack and work out who was starting and backing up in the pit garage should anything happen. Decision was this, I would start the race at 10am and stay out for as long as Team manager decided, this turned out to be 1hr 45min & 37 funtastic laps, then let next driver, Braham Tindale go next 1hr 30min, Kevin in the gold P1800 then Gareth in the 142s.

The start is always a nervous affair with the run to the first left hand sweeping corner packing everyone in, some pushing and shoving took place up front but I had decided earlier to let a couple next to me past so that I could keep an eye on them and their driving, this proved to be a wise move as some drivers where getting a bit over exuberant and pushing things to the limit on some corners. By about 11am the heat had settled in and everyone was driver respectfully of each other, as there is no prize money in this event it is purely for the enjoyment on all the different club level people to race against each other. The event is run very professionally by the AROCA people and is a credit to their hard work. Unfortunately all good things must come to an end and after 37 adrenaline rushing laps the team manager indicated over the pit wall that he wanted me to come in so the next car 142s could go out, I would like to have indicated to him something and stayed out but manners didn't allow so I did as I was told and came in, bugger, the laps all went so quickly .

Next Braham went out and recorded some of his best laps around Eastern Creek but broke 9 which put us back in the results, still things are looking good for 2004 event as the faster you go the more laps you do. The 142 was running much better after some spark plug problems the day before and was now our fastest car with a lap in traffic of 2min 03sec, by now the temperature was up to 29-30 Degree's Celsius but the wind had picked up as Kevin went out in the P1800E doing good consistent lap times, then all of a sudden we had a dust storm as Australia has been having a 2 yr drought, with little or no rain west Sydney is very dusting and has water restrictions in place. Straight after the dust storm we had a hail storm of small ice balls pelting the cars as they where racing around the track, this brought out the Safety Car for about 10 laps while teams changed cars and wet weather tyres as the rain came next for about 2 hours. Kevin came in after his stint around the track and we had moved back up the race results again to be mid field.

Gareth went out next, see photo's, following the Safety car as some drivers went off the track and had accidents in the wet weather, unfortunately this was also our bad luck as the 142 rounded turn 4, an off camber down hill then back up hill right-hander  the back of the 142 stepped out and went off track, once this happened the 142 spun and hit the wall damaging the front left and then bouncing the car across the front grill area, thankfully our driver is Ok and the 142 will be repaired ready for 2004.

Kevin went out again as I still had slick on my car and the P1800 already had wet weather tyres on so to save time team manager sent Kevin back out to finish the race. Although we didn't get the result we where looking for a lot more was learnt to take with us to the 2004  racing season and next years AROCA 6HR. Team 38 our other team of 140's and PV544 had some mechanical problems  with broken head gaskets and a gearbox mount breaking during the end part of the race .

We all had fun and went there as a team and will be back next year to tackle this great race.

Stuart Innes
  

Australia

Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3

140 series Links:
Stuart Innes Volvo Motorsport photo pages
Volvo Car Club NSW, Australia
Volvo Adventures 140 Series

Swedish 140 Club


 

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