Firstly we would like to thank everybody for the messages and emails regarding the Santa Pod racing day out. We were back to normal in the current heat wave, trying to work over a hot engine in a hot garage on a hot day isn’t the best combination, but then again, ‘the best never rest’ as Adam would say.
We have a ’69 Mach1 into us for our Borgeson steering upgrade, and while we were at it a suspension replacement as the originals were a little shot.
The old fronts were removed along with the drums.
With the parts all out the way the steering box could be replaced much easier.
A little look around under the car we noted that the there was an issue with the gearbox mount. Due to an oil leak the rubber had perished and collapsed onto the cross member. Obviously this can’t be salvaged, and a new one is needed.
Under the hood a bit of Yogi magic was applied to the fuel line. Removing the old rubber pipe and replacing it with a custom made hard line. Not just aesthetically pleasing, but safer as well.
Drake performance shocks were fitted on the front corners.
The back of the car was going to be treated to a new set of springs and shocks. Old parts on the left, new spring mounted on the right.
The brakes are going back on as drums again for now. The rear set were a little corroded and partially seized. We will sort those out and a new brake kits on the front.
The new suspension will make this car feel like new again, and not bounce all over the road. Yogi will need to road test her, and then up to our GEO workshop for a bit of laser alignment.
We have found a great article about the the Ford GT40’s that we hadn’t seen before, so we thought we would share this one with you, A name you probably won’t recognise, but his engines are the benchmark around the world:
They were just a handful of engineers, huddled around the hulk of an engine late at night on Ford’s Dearborn campus. There was no panic, only perplexity, as they worked to determine which component was at fault for the breakdown this time. They had no way of knowing the engine they were developing would change racing history in the form of an epic win nearly 4,000 miles and a year away.
The year was 1965, and these were members of Ford’s high-performance engine development team, working intently to prepare a 427-cubic-inch big block race engine slated to power Ford’s GT40s in the demanding 24 Hours of Le Mans. Ford would be racing against Ferrari, and more was at stake than just a trophy. It was a grudge match, fueled by pride and passion. The competition was brought to the big screen last year in the film “Ford v Ferrari,” which focuses on the magnetic, volatile pairing of automotive designer Carroll Shelby, his British driver Ken Miles and the continuing development of the GT40 Mark II.
But before the flag even dropped and Miles took his mark, there was a group of enthusiastic Ford innovators led by a self-effacing engineer named Joe Macura. Macura, of Northville, Michigan, known as the “Father of the 427,” passed away recently at the age of 91.
“Joe and his team, these are our hidden heroes, and we need to recognize their accomplishments as well as the others,” says Jim Farley, COO of Ford Motor Company. “So much of racing isn’t glamorous; it’s arduous and it’s exacting, and it’s accomplished long before the flag drops.”
The feud between Ford and Ferrari is legendary. In 1963 Enzo Ferrari and Henry Ford II were set to make a deal – Ford would acquire the Italian automaker. Ford would earn racing credentials, and Ferrari would get the financial boost it needed. The two men had been friends for quite some time; in fact, the inspiration for the iconic Ford Thunderbird came from a 1952 Ferrari Barchetta given to Henry by Enzo.
But the deal fell through at the last minute – Enzo raised objections – and the negotiation breakdown left a sour taste in Ford’s mouth. The friendship deteriorated and Henry Ford II decided he wanted to win at Le Mans, long a Ferrari stronghold, with his own car. Ford set out to crush Ferrari. Building a car fast enough to beat Ferrari and tough enough to withstand the grueling 24 Hours of Le Mans became an obsession. But Ford didn’t win in 1964 or 1965, despite the millions of dollars it invested in the project, and Ferrari remained triumphant. So 1966 would absolutely be Ford’s year, Henry Ford II declared. And Macura and his team were assigned to make that happen.
Macura was an accomplished mechanical engineer who had come to Ford after nine years with General Motors. He was skilled at mechanical analysis and his expertise was immediately recognized by senior management. As manager of high-performance engine development, he had been successful with a number of improvements to the engine, but by 1964, he was about to take on his most intimidating project – modifying the engine to make it strong enough for long enough to beat Ferrari. It would be a whole new adventure in research and development – one that he was uniquely qualified for, recalls team member Hank Lenox.
“Joe was an outstanding engineer and leader,” says Lenox. “The reason the team was able to do all that we did was because of Joe, because he brought that feeling of calm and confidence to the team. When things went bad, he didn’t yell, he actually went slower and softer – not harsher. That’s the absolute key. If you bring calm to a team, you can work through your problems. You’re willing to take risks and move forward.”
And there were problems – plenty of them.
The complex engine was solid, but built for power, not long-term durability – especially not 24 demanding hours at Le Mans, where race rules required an engine be turned off every two hours for pit stops and driver changes. There were two potential major issues. Sealing issues between the engine block and heads created water and oil leakage with the head gasket, which resulted in high temperature and structural problems. The engine also had lubrication issues during high-speed operation. To resolve the cylinder head and cylinder block sealing problem, the internal engine water flow system was redesigned for a dry deck system. In a dry deck system, the water does not flow vertically from the block to the head but rather through the block, out the back and then back out through the head. The bores are sealed with stainless steel rings and the oil and steam holes are sealed with rubber “O” rings. This redesign completely resolved the issue.
To fix the lubrication issue, the team eventually switched to a dry sump system, where a reservoir of oil – remote from the engine – enabled accurate and consistent lubrication, allowing oil pressure to remain constant under extreme racing conditions such as acceleration, braking and strong cornering forces. Macura and the team then designed a unique laboratory simulation to test for durability, an innovation many credit with giving Ford the winning edge. They developed an “Indoor Laboratory Le Mans,” according to an SAE paper (670071) submitted. It was essentially the first chassis dynamometer, housed in the now legendary 17D cell in Ford’s engineering center. Without computerization to assist them, all of the work was configured empirically.
The dynamometer was programmed to simulate the same speeds, loads and times of the Le Mans circuit, allowing the team to test the powertrain for the stresses of the French classic. “That dyno cell ran 24/7,” recalls Lenox. “We never shut it off. There were a lot of long nights and weekends. But you know, we always had camaraderie – when it failed, we’d get together and see what happened and why. Based on the discussion and analysis led by Joe, a consensus was reached and a resolution plan was developed and executed. We were a team at work, and a team outside of work.”
After much trial and error, with just weeks to go before the race, the engine ran past 45 hours. The rest, as they say, is history.
At the 1966 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Henry Ford II and the rest of the world watched those GT40s race to a spectacular 1-2-3 finish, soundly beating the Italian P3s. It was the first time an American automaker had won at Le Mans.
Despite the long nights and the pressure, Lenox remembers those days fondly.
“I think of those get-togethers that we had in the engine build area,” he says. “Joe would be there with the rest of the team, and he’d lead the discussion and it was such a learning curve for me – working in an area like that, the education I got in six months, I wouldn’t have gotten in five years somewhere else. I’m biased, of course, but I firmly believe that without that engine in that car – and without Joe leading the team, we wouldn’t have won that race,” he says. “I don’t want to take anything away from anyone else – every role is important – but Joe’s leadership was absolutely crucial.”
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Thanks, that was one that we had to share.
The GT40’s at Le Mans; a great story that never tires from the retelling.
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You can’t tire of sticking one to Ferrari! 🤣