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Old 04-25-2017, 03:31 PM   #1
TheNovaMan
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Default Nitro engines back in the day

Back in the days of front engine dragsters, what was the common between-round maintenance for nitro motors?
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Old 04-25-2017, 05:02 PM   #2
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Default Re: Nitro engines back in the day

Good question

I don't know much about the cars that ran nitro back then but I do recall seeing pictures of these cars with their engines pulled part way down with pit areas no different than what the current local weekend warrior has today. No big pit crews, no big fancy trailers and the 2 or 3 people associated with the car usually were wearing greasy white T-shirts and Levis.
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Old 04-25-2017, 05:21 PM   #3
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Default Re: Nitro engines back in the day

Front engines covered a lot of time.


In the early days on gas, a guy would own a junkyard or have access to one. They'd pull every late model engine like whatever they were running & fill it full of cement, take the intake & cam out & stuff it in the trailer.

They had a good cam/lifters & blower setup. They'd make a pass & if it blew up they'd swap longblocks. Guys would have 2 or 3 in the trailer.


Later on as it got more "professional", they would look at the plugs & pull the pan to ck the bearings... If everything looked good they'd button it up.... If not they'd replace the engine if they had one.

LOTSA guys didn't & I saw some crazy repairs on wounded shit get run. Some of it hauled ass too.
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Old 04-25-2017, 06:07 PM   #4
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Default Re: Nitro engines back in the day

No first hand experience, but this is what I have heard as well.

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Front engines covered a lot of time.


In the early days on gas, a guy would own a junkyard or have access to one. They'd pull every late model engine like whatever they were running & fill it full of cement, take the intake & cam out & stuff it in the trailer.

They had a good cam/lifters & blower setup. They'd make a pass & if it blew up they'd swap longblocks. Guys would have 2 or 3 in the trailer.


Later on as it got more "professional", they would look at the plugs & pull the pan to ck the bearings... If everything looked good they'd button it up.... If not they'd replace the engine if they had one.

LOTSA guys didn't & I saw some crazy repairs on wounded shit get run. Some of it hauled ass too.
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Old 04-25-2017, 07:06 PM   #5
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Default Re: Nitro engines back in the day

I also know some budget guys would pick through guys wounded shit and turn around and beat them with it....
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Old 04-25-2017, 07:57 PM   #6
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Default Re: Nitro engines back in the day

Not a FED but
In 68, I crewed on JJ’s funny car. Oil change every round & run the valves if nothing hurt. Tire pressure, wipe down body. that’s all I remember happening. We were using a ramp truck, no room for too many extras. Had tires on a rack in front of the car. More than once I saw guys pull a plug wire on a damaged cylinder, remove the rockers, stuff the hole with a can or whatever was available & run it. Sometimes they got lucky & won too! We had spare pistons, rods, bearings, blower, I can’t remember if we had heads, probably did. If that didn’t do it, the guys who didn’t go rounds would jump in to help us go rounds with every part they had- even a complete engine from their own car. I don’t see much of that anymore. Those days were fun.

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Old 04-25-2017, 08:11 PM   #7
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Default Re: Nitro engines back in the day

1959-1969 circa I would say pulling valve covers, adjusting-checking the valves, changing-inspecting spark plugs, changing the oil.. sometimes at the track.. These were the days of iron blocks and heads, 6-71 blowers, single vertex mags, and smaller pumps. even though the pumps were ahead of there time back then, the single vertex could'nt burn enough fuel to take advantage of the volume at the time. Again these were the days when a 354-392 Chrysler may have had stock block, maybe some 4-bolt caps or a girdle. stock cranks, heads, rocker arms and shafts, a set of Forged True pistons, some Dons "boxed" rods or early Ansen alumn. rods, and a Howard-Engle or Isky flat tappet cam, wet-sump with modified stock or totally stock oil pans, a pete jackson gear drive and a Hilborn 4-port with maybe 4 #47 nozzeles, later 8 in hat. Circa early 1970s Donovan block in 72, KB billet cranks came first and then late hemi blocks by mid 70's with bigger pumps more fuel volume, and Super-Mags, pulling the heads was starting to get mandatory, burnt pistons, etc. some between round rings and bearings. by the mid to late 1970's KB'a JP-1's, Milodons. etc. TF/FC pulling down the bottom end was getting common if it was a bad run, lots of teams only if real bad dropped cylinders or lean outs, backfires. 1980's up full on tear down between rounds.

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Old 04-25-2017, 09:39 PM   #8
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Default Re: Nitro engines back in the day

Big Daddy said it would go to hell when they let them start tearing into everything between rounds. Sure enough, he was right.
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Old 04-26-2017, 01:49 PM   #9
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Default Re: Nitro engines back in the day

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Good question

I don't know much about the cars that ran nitro back then but I do recall seeing pictures of these cars with their engines pulled part way down with pit areas no different than what the current local weekend warrior has today. No big pit crews, no big fancy trailers and the 2 or 3 people associated with the car usually were wearing greasy white T-shirts and Levis.
Yep. Or some sort of racing or team Tees. Every pic I saw of my uncle with his 77? Corvette nitro funny car or fuel dragster had him and 1 or 2 other guys always working on the car. I don't remember ever asking him specifically who went or what all they did. Haven't spoken to him in a few years and back then, I wasn't as into racing as I am now. So I've got all kinds of stuff I'd like to talk with him about. These days, he travels the world by sailboat and doesn't have Internet access very often, so I'm still waiting to hear back from him.
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Old 04-26-2017, 02:18 PM   #10
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Default Re: Nitro engines back in the day

Here's one pic I found. They're not doing much, though.


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Old 04-27-2017, 08:41 PM   #11
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Default Re: Nitro engines back in the day

Probably tokin' ^^^^ LOL
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Old 04-27-2017, 08:58 PM   #12
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Default Re: Nitro engines back in the day

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Probably tokin' ^^^^ LOL
..... on a number and diggin' on the radio.
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Old 04-28-2017, 12:14 PM   #13
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Default Re: Nitro engines back in the day

Watch the 29 part video that Bill Pitts did on the Surfers, EXCELLENT!

It will take awhile but it is riveting! Especially if you are old school like me and used to read about these happenings in the magazines.

What you can take away from this is unless they broke an exhaust rocker, hydrauliced the motor, and put the blower in orbit they did hardly nothing between rounds! Then they would leave that race win, lose, or draw and sometimes drive to another one that night or the very next day and this was before there were the network of freeways that there are on in Cali!

One of the episodes tells of them kicking a rod out and windowing a block, they were still in the show, it was at night, and whole teams came to their pit (including Jim Brisitte and Ed Donovan) put the car on it's side and did some trickery to get to the next round!!

Bill did an excellent job of putting this together and it is a "must see"!


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Old 04-28-2017, 12:23 PM   #14
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Default Re: Nitro engines back in the day

The Surfers series was excellent. It ended kind of abruptly though, thought I read somewhere about an illness. There has been a ton of controversy about the Pat Foster recreation of the Surfers car. Anyone have the whole story?
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Old 04-30-2017, 11:21 PM   #15
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..... on a number and diggin' on the radio.
Sometime in the 90s, he was head mechanic for the Miss Budweiser unlimited hydroplane, also. I forgot all about that until last night when someone else brought it up.
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