Monday, April 24, 2006

Testing, Testing, Testing

After working the items that needed fixing, and fighting of the flu from hell, we were ready to test the Jet Nightmare for our friends south of the border. A call here, an email there, a short 6 hour drive and our friends are in Phoenix.

Sometimes directions don't always translate well. When you say to turn at a particular sign, it might help to say how big the sign is. They might be looking for a billboard size sign, when in reality it is a small street sign. Enough said.

We brought out both the Jet Nightmare and the Invader out to Speedworld in Surprise Arizona. A nostalga group was holding a car show and cacklefest to raise money for a charity, and they were more than happy to add to jet dragsters to their program.

We arrived and set up out of the way, and prepared both cars. Tech came and inspected both cars with no problems. My dad was driving the Jet Nightmare and I was driving the Invader. Singles only, but that way I could check over the Jet Nightmare for any problems. We both attend the drivers meeting and waited for our turn.

The call came for us and we waited in the staging lanes. The short wait turned into an hour and a half as a bracket car dumped all his oil in the right lane from the starting line to about 80 feet. The track had everyone of their track support personnel scrubing, mopping, and cleaning like a madman!

After the track was cleaned, and a group of dragsters went down, it was our turn. My dad was wedged into the cockpit of the car with a shoehorn! The normal driver is about 5' 6" and 150 lbs, where He is 5' 9" and a little more than 150!! With some of the controls in different places, He had to fully concentrate on the correct procedure to ensure safety of the run.

The car was setup with a stock afterburner setting, and was lit. She came up to idle smooth and cool! Scheduled the afterburner and WOW, she had a huge fireball!! Everything worked good except for the run. Being wedged in there, he had trouble holding down the switch for the burner and was on-off-on going down the track. Still running a mid 6 second pass, we were satisfied of the repairs.

Now here is where it gets good. Coming back up into the staging lanes, the 13 second bracket cars were upset. They did not want to run after the jets, and said they would go home if we ran again! Well, we told them where they could go, but the promoter felt a little different and apologized but said we could not make another pass.

So we loaded the two cars up and were done. Still wanting to test the Invader, we made arraignments to test the following Friday at Firebird. They allowed us to come in early and make a pass prior to their Friday night drags.

Well, Friday come around and again we prep the Invader, get suited up, brought out to the line, I say hit it. And nothing. She does not spin over, not a chatter, squeak, grind, NOTHING! We pull back to the trailer and start checking the start pack. One of the four batteries we use to spool over the starter had shorted out internally! We were done again, with not testing!

So as of today, four brand new batteries, a short trip out to the airport, a new testing session begain. One more time of prep, suit up, strapped in, and hit it!

Guess what! She started in 9 seconds, super cool, and spit fire! All is good again, and the Invader is ready for the Jet Jam at Firebird in two weeks!!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

El Cunadito

After trying to slow down, it did not work! Our friends from south of the border still needed some help. With the old man out in California playing Tom Cruise, and me and the rest of the team trying to actually work at our REAL jobs, the southern guys had to make a road trip.

Time for us to do some after hours troubleshooting and repair! The first day (night after work) was spent going over the problems they are having, and getting all the part numbers for the repairs needed. The second day (during lunch) was spent tracking down some of the hard parts to get, hoping that we could get them in a reasonable amount of time.

The third day was mocking up some of the new parts, so we can fabricate the needed items for mounting. And many, many hours of wire tracing, inspecting, and troubleshooting of all the electrical systems.

Then it is time for some rest.....not really. Although we are on hold for some parts, the fabricating still goes on. Rerouting of some line and electrical, pressure checks, spray patterns flowed, and endless list of punch items for us to look at.

So much for the rest! At least my dad is back from his "Location" to help with the stuff. All this work and we have not even really messed with the Invader too much this off season.

The driver of the car's nickname is "El Cunadito", being the inquizitive person I am, I tried to look it up on the 'net. Thinking that this would be like "Macho" or "Huge Balls" or "Insane", I could not find the definition any where. So I call one of my spanish speaking friends, and he laughs and says "It's Brother in Law." ???? Ok??? Well there you have it, not "Ace" or "Killer" or anything like that, just "Brother in Law"

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Time Management

After colliding with things, stuff breaks off....

Getting back into the swing of things, all heck broke loose. We were getting ready for the Concours in the Desert car show and we get a call. A friend in Mexico is having trouble and needs to be repaired by the 1st of April. Getting photos of the damage and assessing what needs to be done, arranging to work on it here or go down to Mexico, and at the same time find another jet to run with him.

Well we get the parts needed to fix it and send down my dad to fix it. After my friends down in Mexico lose my dad for a little while all is good! Repair one problem, solve another, and trouble shoot a third. All while I get back to work, and start the prep for the car show.

Craig and I work on the car, work on the trailer, work on the artwork for the new 2006 t-shirts, and design and layout the new hero cards. All this in a week, while I work full time, and the wife works full time on the cookies. (see previous entry)

Saturday, my dad returns from his trip to Mexico after learning some Spanish. At least he won't starve when there next time. Thank God for leche and donas!!

Later Saturday night, I start to feel bad! I can't pee!! After sitting in the ER for four hours, the triage nurse tells me, it most likely kidney stones and I have a few more hours to wait until I even get into a room for the doctor to check me out. Forget that! I head home, take some pain meds and go to sleep.

4 am... knife in the side... knife in the back... blood coming out where it shouldn't... this time a different ER. Checked in, examined, cat scan, meds prescribed, and kicked out in 4 hours. Time to pee in a strainer, and look for gold.

Monday & Tuesday nothing more but mild pain, but I can pee again. In the mean time, get the word from the artist designing the t-shirts that she can even start on it until the end of April. Forget that, I need them now! Calls trying to find an artist willing to work some what fast took two days!

Also proofed the hero card art work and told it would be ready by Friday. Competition Commercial Printing did an awesome job, quick and on time! (Even Bob Gilbertson had them do a rush job, art work in by 9 am, 10,000 out by 4 pm, overnited!!) Check them out at .

Go back to work on Wednesday, leave early in pain, 3 am Thursday panned 2 small nuggets of gold. Thursday & Friday recuperated!

Thursday, my dad goes and helps a friend out for the week in LA. Working on a movie set running a jet track dryer, hanging out with the cast getting paid. What a way to spend seven or eight days!

Friday, the team took the Invader out to the Peoria Sports Complex for the local news television spots. They put the truck and trailer into position for the show and went home.

Saturday, I spent the day keeping America safe, pulling a drill weekend out at the Air National Guard. While I was busy with your freedoms, the team (My brother Chris and his wife Cheri) set up the display. Unloaded the Invader, set up the awning, set up the simulators, and answered questions. The rest of the team showed up a little later (My wife & kids, my mom, and Philip Boucher) to help out.

As a side note, I want to publicly state that I messed up!! In the haste, read above and below, I left off Philip's bio on the hero cards. I will remedy that on the next printing, I swear!!

After I was done with work, I raced out just in time to receive the Racing & High Performance award for the show. Mind you, I did nothing at the event, and all the credit goes to my brother Chris, Cheri, Deborah (my loving wife) and my mom Sandy. Also we received a hand made plate complete with the Invader Logo painted on it.

With all of that completed, I am looking forward to forty hours of relaxing time at work to rest up for the coming season!!!