Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Fiat 128ski, getting to the heart of the matter.

Control arm pin.
With the body/ chassis at the paint shop, I have turned my attentions to the 1300 cc motor and Colotti gearbox. Again, the old man did lots of special things and every time I start to rebuild or if I need to replace something, I become aware of how custom everything on this car is. I first notice this on the suspension control arm. The tapered pin/ ball joint, isn't. It's a spherical aircraft bearing with a custom machined insert, with a tapered end. Well one of them is bent and needs to be replaced, so some time on my lathe, and I think I can fix that. (My brother told me he slid the car off track and we think this is how it became bent.)

The engine however is a different matter, my father had all of these advanced techniques used on the parts, techniques that I have no way of doing, and finding companies willing to take on this "tiny" passion project can sometimes be challenging. Like, the Titanium flywheel; It has the clutch contact surface flame sprayed with either Tungsten Carbide, or Titanium Carbide.
Carbide coating on titanium flywheel
 (Weight with ring gear, 7 lbs 5 oz.)
The people I talk to about redoing this, think I'm some enthusiast trying to make his street car "cool" and they act like I really don't know what I'm asking for. Or the suspension; it was hard chrome plated by an aerospace coatings shop in Connecticut. The hard chrome place here looked at me like I was crazy to ask them to do this to "car parts".
In my Google search for companies here in California who do tungsten carbide flame spray (also known as plasma spray), I came across a patent application to patent this idea of hard coating the flywheels wear area. It's from 1995, 20 years after this car was built. Like many of the things on this car, no one was doing these things in the 1970's.
In addition to getting the flywheel resurfaced, I'm hoping for some insight on why it cracked and chipped.

This was a clutch.
The clutch or whats left of it is a little more straight forward. I think it was a Tilton Formula Ford clutch and the fellow who did the original engine work, thinks he has one. If not, they are pretty standard fare.

The Colotti gear box seems OK. The only thing I know I need is a different final drive ratio. I saw a complete Colotti transmission for sale on eBay a few months ago and they wanted $4500 for it. I really didn't want to spend that much on something I wasn't sure I needed or was correct for the car. But then I looked up what a new one costs from Colotti, I think it was,$14,500. I probably should have found the money to buy it.

I have pulled all of the support bits off the motor, like the water pump, belt tensioners, oil pump, coolant system, and they all seem in great shape, other than some cleaning. There was a little electrolysis on the thermostat housing, and the aluminum was fairly pitted, but again, Midwest / Bayless comes to the rescue with a new unit at a reasonable price. The Fiat water pump was good to go, so I cleaned it and put it back on.

In 1976, Dad used a new product from Loctite, called "Gasket Eliminator". He had a Loctite salesman at his Aerospace shop, who dropped of a sample box, a small red plastic tackle box with samples of all the Loctite line of products. I think I still have some of the original sample bottles at my effects shop. To try and keep this "as built" I ordered some Loctite 515 and used that on the water pump & Cosworth oil pump.
The Cosworth sump pump looked like new inside and after taking it apart and cleaning it, I was putting it back on when I noticed a small crack in the "outlet" port. So, off it comes and I'll clean it and weld it up. These Cosworth pumps where used on many cars including Lotus and Formula Fords, which is where I think this one came from. It's a 5 port pump and I have been looking for a plumbing diagram of what all these ports where used for! Oh and "new" ones are $700 -$900, so I will be extra careful with my welding.

The distributor was made by Accel or MSD ignition products. Started in 1970 by some engineers working on projects at the White sands missile range, MSD, was the first to sell Multiple Spark Discharge systems. This unit, they custom made in 1976 for the Fiat, from an 8 cylinder dragster distributor, It's one of a kind. They are now owned by Holly, and the "Support tech" I talked to seemed completely disinterested in the history of this unit, in fact as I was explaining the history and uniqueness of the unit, I wondered if I had been disconnected, since he didn't comment. I asked if they had any way of testing the unit, and said they have no and they really only have a few things for their current line. Given that it was working fine when the car was last driven, I'm hoping, that like old telephones, the electronics are robust and it will work fine. But until I fire up the motor, I won't know for sure.
Original-foreground, Copy-background
Copies & Silicone mold

One other item I had to make, and it is something I am very familiar with, is making plasic parts. In this case, a replacement air vent for the "C" post. There are three vents on each side of the car that allow air to flow out of the cabin. These are not really needed on the race car, but where left in for there look. Well two of them where cracked due to age. So I made a RTV silicone mold and cast up replacements.
Oh, and my drivers suit and helmet came it. "Clothes make the man", so it will be nice the wear these in addition to my mechanics overalls.
Less Beer, more exerciser.

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