RACING REPORT JONNY KAY a-best forklift Team 48 at Charlotte County Speedway on 3/29/2009

We raced in the combined Super Late model race at Charlotte County Speedway in Punta Gorda Florida on 3/29/3009. The car was real fast, but a sight wobble coming out of turn four on our qualifying lap put Jonny 4th in qualifying. The track officials decided to invert the top ten cars, so we started in the 7th position. The car was working real well during the race and we moved all the way to second place behind Joe Winchell. Jonny Kay was right on Winchell’s bumper trying to pick his spot to get around him, when the caution flag came out with 9 laps to go. When the flag man gave the "one lap to go" green signal, I told Jonny (over the 2 way radios) to clean up the tires and get ready for the restart. Jonny snapped the throttle and jabbed the brake pedal several times (as we usually do) to clean off the tires and get a little heat back into them. Just then, Jonny came over the radio and said a control arm broke on the rear end and we were done for the night. Sure enough, when we got the car into the pits, the upper control arm of our three-link suspension had a broken rear Heim joint (a ball and socket joint used on aircraft and race applications for its strength and low resistance when pivoting). We were lucky it broke on the warm up lap and not during the race, or Jonny could have lost control of the car and wrecked. We are going to put the Heim joints on our normal maintenance / replacement schedule for the car. This $40 part probably cost us well over $3000. Hopefully we got our bad luck for the year out of the way.

 

 

 

 

  Jonny kay A-best Forklift car in tech inspection before the race on 3/29/2009

 

 

 

 

  Jonny Kay wearing one of our new Autobahn Performance Inc. shirts

 

 

 

 

Here you can see the broken Heim joint. Notice that the ball is still on the shaft for the upper control arm mount on the rear end. The Heim joint opened up and stretched due to the torque that was applied to it when it failed.

 

 

 

Dave Sears, Tami and Dan adjusting the tire stagger prior to qualifying

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hockey Hurricanes championship game

Jason Athanas’s  ice Hockey team the Hurricanes (formerly the Sharks) won their third playoff game in a row. This was the divisional championship game held  on March 15th, at Pines Ice Arena in Pembroke Pines, Florida. It was a hard fought game against the Chiefs. The Hurricanes won 3-2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BMW M62 timing cover weep hole leaking

 
 

We’ve seen this problem several times and it’s usually misdiagnosed or not repaired correctly. If you have a BMW model 740i, 740il, 540i, 745i, or 745il with the 4.4 liter V8 (M62) engine, and you have a coolant leak from a small weep hole in the front timing cover, be very careful that it’s not misdiagnosed as a water pump or valley cover problem.

What you probably have is a front timing cover to engine block coolant leak. BMW engineers were smart enough to know their design for sealing the water passage from the front timing cover to the engine block would probably not last forever, so they made provisions for a cavity to catch the coolant leak and eject it through a weep hole at the upper right corner of the timing cover. The cavity and weep whole keep the engine coolant from leaking into the engine oil that would probably lead to engine failure if not detected in time. The repair is quite labor intensive. Most manuals seem to estimate the repair time at around thirty hours.  Alldata repair information service shows the timing cover remove and replace time at 30.6 hours. There are also other labor operations that should be done at the same time as the timing cover; for example, replacing the valley block cover. The cover isn’t re-sealable and should be replaced. Part of the labor for the cover is overlapping (removing the intake manifold), but replacing the cover itself isn’t included in the front cover time.

From the factory, the timing cover has just a very light sealant on the surface where the coolant passes from the cover to the engine block. BMW now offers sealing strips to better seal this surface. The sealing strips are made of metal that’s laminated with a light coat of rubber-like sealant. We also use a small amount of sealant in the corners of the gaskets to ensure proper sealing.

Great care must be taken to ensure that the parts are thoroughly cleaned. At Autobahn Performance Inc. all technicians are instructed to clean parts with mineral spirits in a parts washer first, then all sealing surfaces are cleaned by sanding with 440 grit wet or dry sand paper in a figure eight pattern. At Autobahn we rarely use surface preparation pads or discs; they’re too aggressive (even the fine or soft rubber ones) and end up removing surface material and rounding off the edges of the surface. Also, with a perfectly ground flat sanding block, imperfections in the sealing surface can be easily seen and usually can be corrected or eliminated. Contrary to most technicians’ belief, it’s not much slower to prepare the surface by hand than it is to use a die grinder and high speed surface conditioning pads (“cookie monsters”, Scotchlock pads, or green and yellow 3M surface conditioning pads). The final cleaning step is to wash the parts in hot soapy water and then dry with a hot plate and compressed air. This step removes any contaminants or oils from the surface and allows the sealant to adhere to the surface properly.

M62 weep hole at top left of timing cover. Radiator fan throws coolant upwards and all around area, making the leak appear to come from other locations. The weep hole can be seen without any dissasembly (with small flashlight). Components removed for picture.

 

This picture shows the cavity tthat leads to the weep hole. Cavity is vented to atmosphere (at weep hole) and is not supposed to have any fluid in it unless the primary seals have failed.

 

 

Front covers removed. 4 timing chains visible 

 

Autobahn Performance disassembles parts into divided bins for organization

 

 

Zymo aqueous based enzyme cleaning machine on left. Safety clean mineral spirits machine on right

Repair Information Seminar / Class for Mercedes

 
For half of the day on Friday and for most of the weekend, Malte Dau, Lucas Cerotti and Jason Athanas of Autobahn Performance Inc. attended a repair information seminar. Over 90 hours of total committed time! The seminar was presented by Marty Vellozzi of LMV Industries. It was a very informative class that was attended by many Mercedes specialty shops from around the state of Florida (and other states). Surprisingly, none of our local northeast Broward competitors was present   The Seminar’s main topics were diagnosing and repairing problems on modern Mercedes vehicles including: the onboard communication bus system (various C.A.N. systems); understanding and properly reading electronic troubleshooting diagrams and repair manuals; and other recent repair issues. It was great to interact and learn from the instructor and the other shops that attended (our competition).
 
Jason has been attending the LMV seminar yearly for over 5 years; two times were in New Orleans when the seminar was not offered in this state. Malte has attended the seminar several times and has always benefitted from the experience. It was Lucas’ first experience with the class and he was impressed. Lucas has considerable training through Mercedes at their training facilities in Texas and Jacksonville. He said that this class was much better at actually indicating areas of common problems and what it took to find and correct the problems.  He mentioned that in contrast, the factory instructors just seemed to pump out a bunch of information with no interaction with the students. 
 
Autobahn Performance Inc’s philosophy has always been to repair a customer’s vehicle in the fastest way possible and with the least number of parts. This keeps the repair cost down and the customer happy and returning for regular service and maintenance. This seminar will help us diagnose and repair a vehicle quicker and with more accuracy. The investment in this seminar with three technitians demonstrates Autobahn’s commitment to training and education that will save our customers money and aggravation and keep them returning to Autobahn Performance Inc. far into the future. 
 
Autobahn would like to thank Marty, Reiner Whittich, and Bob Beckman for organizing and creating the seminar and the support systems that keep us informed and up to date with the latest technology, information, parts, equipment, and tools that keep us on the leading edge of automotive service and repair. With their help we are far superior to dealership service and repair and are equipped to handle repairs well into the future.    

1954 MG Midget TF engine problems

1954 MG TF on the lift for service at Autobahn Performance Inc. in Ft. Lauderdale Florida
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
   
We have a great customer who brought his MG TF in for an oil service. We and the customer observed that the engine wasn’t running perfectly. The engine had very little operating time on it as the vehicle was just restored (although the restoration took approximately eight years and the engine was the fist thing done). We assumed it was just going to need a new set of spark plugs and some basic adjustments. While replacing the spark plugs we noticed a considerable amount of oil in the number two cylinder. We did a compression test and found the compression to be low. We then did a cylinder leakdown test to find the percentage of leakage and to pinpoint whether it was a piston ring / cylinder wall problem or if it was a valve / valve guide problem. I was surprised to see water splash from the radiator cap when we tried to do the cylinder leakage test. The engine had a definite leak between the cooling system and the combustion chamber on cylinders 2 and 3.
 
The cylinder head would need to be removed to diagnose the leak, but we also still had the oil consumption problem; hopefully they were related. The customer gave us the go-ahead and we removed the cylinder head. "Now where did I put those old Whitworth wrenches?" We got the head off and were surprised to find it was from a 1250cc motor not the 1500cc that this vehicle was supposed to have. It had banana shaped coolant passages and was supposed to have round ones. The banana shaped passages were also corroded right up to the fire ring of the head gasket. This is where the coolant problem was coming from. Also the cylinder head gasket appeared to have been installed dry. (We usually apply two light coats of spray Permatex High Tack to help with sealing.)
 
The block was the correct 1500cc and was bored .060" oversize. The pistons still looked new but the cylinder wall finish was shiny and chattered looking. After considerable searching we and the owner of the vehicle located the correct cylinder head and had it rebuilt. We reinstalled the cylinder head on the motor and tried running it. The motor ran great at first but then began to misfire on cylinder 2 again. David "Gus" Taylor pulled the spark plug out and it was covered with oil. We weren’t surprised but were hoping that the valve guides were the cause of the oil consumption. We didn’t disassemble the old cylinder head, as we knew the new one would be in rebuilt condition. We had checked the piston rings by adding some mineral spirits to each cylinder and it held for a decent amount of time without flowing right past the piston rings. Any one of the rings can seal the fluid from flowing down the cylinder walls but it takes all three rings to keep the compression in the chamber and excess oil off of the cylinder walls.
 
We were going to have to remove the engine and disassemble it to examine the piston rings and piston to cylinder wall clearance. We explained this to the customer and had already warned him that the engine could also have a bottom end oiling problem. We got the go-ahead to pull the motor and inspect it. Here are some of the pictures of the car and the engine up to this point. We should know in the next day or two why the engine was burning oil.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
At Autobahn Performance we take every precaution not to mark or scratch a vehicle. It should leave cleaner and in better condition than when it arrived.
 
 
 
Notice the oil on the tops of the pistons and tape, along with lots of care on the fender lip to protect the paint from chips