Yellow Bullet Forums banner

21 - 40 of 124 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,658 Posts
When I was younger I "helped" on a local super comp guys car and another guy who helped would tell stories of when he was 12 or so his dad ran a fuel dragster and he would rebuild the engines in the back of their station wagon while his dad drove on their way to the next race. He always said how they never tore down the engine between rounds and that was when guys were real tuners so they ran the best they could without tearing shit up and make parts last. I cant remember his first name but his last name was Day and the team i "helped" on (i was a Gopher. Hey kid go for this, go for that) was in Junction City Kansas in the early to mid 90's.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,147 Posts
Discussion Starter #23
Thanks for the responses! I was thinking it was check on a few basics and if it looks OK, roll the dice again. Sounds like I wasn't too far off the mark, depending on who it was and what year it was. Sounds like not having unlimited parts and a big enough crew to tear everything down to the bare block between rounds made for some great racing!
 

·
Aviation Section
Joined
·
24,310 Posts
I learned a lot from the "Surfers" series of videos, another thing was the way to date a lot of the pictures that we see when there are not street cars in them for clues, the old "weed burner" headers all went away in mid-1964 to "Zoomies" thanks to The Greek breaking 200MPH with Zoomies on his car!

It was said that almost overnight everyone in Top Fuel had Zoomies and the Weedburners were in the scrap heap! Dave
 

·
Aviation Section
Joined
·
24,310 Posts
Thanks for the responses! I was thinking it was check on a few basics and if it looks OK, roll the dice again. Sounds like I wasn't too far off the mark, depending on who it was and what year it was. Sounds like not having unlimited parts and a big enough crew to tear everything down to the bare block between rounds made for some great racing!
Tom Jobe said they would buy 392 Chryslers from Donovan (only made for two years in 1957 and 1958 for $200.00!!!) and that the Mole got them from a east coast connection from rusted out New Yorkers and Imperials. They would strip as much as they could from the engines and leave the extra parts at the Mole's shop without him seeing and just take the block and heads.

They ran pistons of their own design that M/T made for them and changed them frequently to new designs as they learned. They were from Santa Monica so they ran Engle cams but those cams were just a direct copy of Howards cams. Ran alloy rods, did NO machining to the block or heads and did not port the heads but did run bigger valves. Tom said the Chrysler machining operations were superior to what GM was doing and was perfect.

Tom ran the pistons .400 down in the bore where the known hot set up was only .250 at the time, that is why he could run more Nitro load and it would live and run out the back so well! Guys that were there back in the day said when the Surfers started their car sounded like no other! Toward the end they were running the "can" and no one could figure out what they were doing!

Too bad the Surfers were only out there for about 2 years before they sold their whole operation and walked, all they kept was the custom scoop Jerry Baily made for their Hilborn which Tom still has.

No one knows where the original car is today but a replica has been constructed as was mentioned in the thread. If that real car still exists it would be "the car" to have at any cackle fest right up there with the G-B-P car!

Can anyone tell that I love this old Top Fuel stuff? I was only an east coaster and only read about it in the magazines, I wish I had been there to see it in person!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
48,027 Posts

The Snake checking his fuel percentage (nitro to methanol) using a hydrometer. The hydrometers were made of glass, which means they were breakable, which means I broke it the first time we ever tried to use it. Bought another one (they are not that cheap). It fell over in the pits and broke. We never bought a new one, we decided to build the engines so we could run straight nitro fuel right out of the can. Hydrometer breakage problems solved.

Our dual Chevy engine fuel dragster had two 327 Chevy small blocks (the 350 Chevy small blocks had not been introduced by GM yet). We bored it a little (.030") and stroked it a lot, enough to get 364 cubic inches out of it. Blocks and heads were standard cast iron pieces (there were no aftermarket aluminum stuff for these engines in the early 1960's). We "boxed" the stock rods and used good bolts. We filled the water passages in the block with cement, (to stiffen up the block) left about 1/2" of space under the deck for water. Billet cranks did not exist, the stock Chevy cranks were forged and we used the "weld" process to increase the stroke. We used bigger valves and Chet Herbert's nastiest roller cam. Injection was by Hilborn, ignition by Vertex Magneto. We modified the stock stamped steel rocker arms to make them a little stronger (this was before aluminum rocker arms) and that was about it. We filled the heads and the top 1/2" of the block with water (no circulation pump). We ran the engines on Herbert's engine dyno and they pushed out just a tick under 1000 HP each. After three or four dyno pulls, the heads developed cracks between the intake and exhaust valves, which allowed the water to enter the combustion chamber. We solved that problem in typical hot rodder fashion, we never ran water in the engines again, either on the dyno or on the track. We ran them dry and yes, by the end of a 1/4 mile run, the engines were HOT. In fact, they were so hot that the engines did not want to shut off by killing the ignition, they just kept on running until the tank ran out of fuel. We solved that problem (nitro is expensive, $5 a gallon at the time) by installing a little shut off valve between the tank and the pump. The driver got out of the car, shut off the valve and the engines came to a stop.

I'm 78 years old and I can still remember every minute of the fun we had with that digger. Our best time was 227 mph at Lions which at that time made us the fastest twin engine dragster in the nation because most of the rest of them were running gasoline.
 

·
Aviation Section
Joined
·
24,310 Posts
Neat! Thanks for that and the other posts George! Dave
 

·
Aviation Section
Joined
·
24,310 Posts
George,

Tom also mentioned more then once at the Beach (Lions) the car would not start because of the cool, moisture ladened air that was coming in at night and they had to DNQ and leave! The Nitro load they were running was not happy! Dave
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
48,027 Posts
George,

Tom also mentioned more then once at the Beach (Lions) the car would not start because of the cool, moisture ladened air that was coming in at night and they had to DNQ and leave! The Nitro load they were running was not happy! Dave
I believe that the Surfers ran a higher percentage than most everyone else in their Chrysler. The thing is that as you went up in the percentage, you had to compensate somewhere else. The cylinder pressure inside the combustion chamber with nitro is tremendous, and the more nitro load (higher percentage), the more cylinder pressure. The norm for most dragsters was about 85%. If you wanted to run 90% or even higher, you had to figure out how to keep the cylinder pressure from destroying the engine. You could change pulleys on a supercharged car and reduce the boost, or you could use a camshaft with more overlap (the longer the duration with both the intake and exhaust valves open, the more cylinder pressure you could bleed off). Or you could pull timing out of the engine. Everything was a trade-off and once you got to a "formula" that worked for your combination, you usually stuck with it.

The "beach" (Lions) was almost always damp in the evenings. We ran on Saturday with qualifying during the day and eliminations beginning around sundown. As the damp air (fog) rolled in, things changed. The gas powered dragsters usually picked up a little. But the damp air caused problems on the track for the fuel cars and it was easier to overpower the track. As the rounds went on (we used to have 32 and 64 car top fuel fields at Lions) and the time got later, we had to pull some power out to keep traction on the top end. The combination you qualified with was not usually the combination your ended the evening with. Lions was a very tricky track to race on...
 

·
Aviation Section
Joined
·
24,310 Posts
They did run more load at the end then anyone. Tom stated in the series that when he and Skinner first built the motor they used a known combination of the pistons .250 in the hole and the Engle/Howards cam. Because he was in college he had studied Nitro years before and learned some things that the average hot rodder would not know. Tom and Skinner did not play follow the leader, they made their own way which makes them very interesting to me.

They got their digger working, put some laps on it, and Tom started using his own theories on piston design and he put all the pistons he dreamed up at .400 in the hole and started increasing the load. He would have new pistons made every week at M/T of his own design, he had his 4 holes and he gave Mickey the other 4 holes to design whatever he liked, they would check them every week and take what worked and trash what did not. He eventually got to "running the can" and that is why the Surfers sounded like no other in the pits and on the track. That was another part of their mind game they played every week. No Hydrometers and they put blue food dye in the Nitro to get everyone talking!

After they beat everyone at the March Meet they were finally taken seriously! Dave
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
48,027 Posts

The staging lanes at Lions on a Saturday. This was one of those 64 car Top Fuel meets. What you see here are at least eight lanes of T/F dragsters, for as far as the eye can see, getting ready for the first qualifying round. 80+ cars would show up to try and make the 64 car field. Today, there are not this many Top Fuel dragsters in the entire world as what are in this photo...
 

·
Aviation Section
Joined
·
24,310 Posts

The staging lanes at Lions on a Saturday. This was one of those 64 car Top Fuel meets. What you see here are at least eight lanes of T/F dragsters, for as far as the eye can see, getting ready for the first qualifying round. 80+ cars would show up to try and make the 64 car field. Today, there are not this many Top Fuel dragsters in the entire world as what are in this photo...
I see two 1967 or newer Ford pick-ups in the foreground to date that picture so it is at least 1967 or later. I wish I had been on the left coast to have been a part of that. That would have been something to see!

Dave
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
48,027 Posts
They did run more load at the end then anyone. Tom stated in the series that when he and Skinner first built the motor they used a known combination of the pistons .250 in the hole and the Engle/Howards cam. Because he was in college he had studied Nitro years before and learned some things that the average hot rodder would not know. Tom and Skinner did not play follow the leader, they made their own way which makes them very interesting to me.

They got their digger working, put some laps on it, and Tom started using his own theories on piston design and he put all the pistons he dreamed up at .400 in the hole and started increasing the load. He would have new pistons made every week at M/T of his own design, he had his 4 holes and he gave Mickey the other 4 holes to design whatever he liked, they would check them every week and take what worked and trash what did not. He eventually got to "running the can" and that is why the Surfers sounded like no other in the pits and on the track. That was another part of their mind game they played every week. No Hydrometers and they put blue food dye in the Nitro to get everyone talking!

After they beat everyone at the March Meet they were finally taken seriously! Dave
I can tell you that these guys were fun to be around. Playfull as hell in the pits, riding bicycles and skate boards in the pits. To the extent possible, they did everything on the cheap, including using off the shelf Wix oil filters from Pep Boys. They used shim gaskets between the supercharger and the intake manifold, and a specific Gilmer blower belt, so they did not need to use (or buy) a tensioner pulley. Their push car was a '55 Chevy with a straight-6 engine, and they toured the county carrying everything they needed in the trunk of the car, including the tool box.

There was a time when all you needed in order to own and race a T/F dragster was being smart. Being super rich did not come into play until later in the game. Today, it's not always possible to even get a 16-car field at NHRA National Events, and only 4 or 5 car owners own all the teams.
 

·
Aviation Section
Joined
·
24,310 Posts
That was another way they dated the pictures of the Surfmobile, did it have weedburners or zoomies and did it have the idler pulley or not. They only ran the idler at first as part of their "known" combination and then Jobe and Skinner went off on their own tangent and did what they wanted to do after they had a baseline on the car. Dave
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
48,027 Posts
That was another way they dated the pictures of the Surfmobile, did it have weedburners or zoomies and did it have the idler pulley or not. They only ran the idler at first as part of their "known" combination and then Jobe and Skinner went off on their own tangent and did what they wanted to do after they had a baseline on the car. Dave

18-wheelers are for hauling freight. The Surfers hauled ass. There is nothing on this car that did not have to be there, and most of it was home made. The wing over the front end was carved out of wood...
 

·
Aviation Section
Joined
·
24,310 Posts

18-wheelers are for hauling freight. The Surfers hauled ass. There is nothing on this car that did not have to be there, and most of it was home made. The wing over the front end was carved out of wood...
Because of the Douglas plant that was in Santa Monica at the time there was a design school there that a guy named Jerry Bailey went to that supported the aircraft industry and he on his own made the scoop for the Hilborn and cast it in aluminum and gave it to the team. They only had a yellow rattle can of spray paint at the Red Apple Hotel where they kept the car and Skinners Mom managed and that is why it is yellow!

Bailey actually made several for the car because every time they broke an exhaust rocker arm they launched the blower and ruined the scoop. Tom still has the last scoop that was on the car and he kept it when the car was sold. Dave
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
15,063 Posts
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"!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5tx-ntJEXw

Dave
I'm on #22, great stuff. Thanks for the post!
 
21 - 40 of 124 Posts
Top