header photo

Overdue posting

So where did I leave off. At the Jet Jam and Monster Truck event at Firebird Raceway, the Invader had a problem on the second pass. She would not go over 50 percent, and after talking will some specialist in the aviation world, we decided to replace the fuel pump.

The old pump was removed, the new pump mated to the fuel control, and installed back on the Invader. A few days later we were able to take her out and test fire for leaks. But leaks would have been the least of our troubles.

With all the lines, fittings, and systems fueled and bled, we were ready to fire up. My dad was strapped in, Craig was starting, and I was working the air and on leak check. At the call to hit it, Craig engaged the starter, at 6% my dad hit the ignitors and with the throttle still off, she lit. She lit hot and fast! While holding the throttle in the off position, Al reached over to the emergency shut off, but it was too late. In a matter of two seconds, the exhaust gas temperature reached over 1000* C and the hot section shelled out. It was toast!

After letting the engine cool, and cleaning up the blade debris from the ground, we loaded the Invader up and headed home. It was a long, quite, 3 mile drive back.

The next day, we unloaded the car and pulled the afterburner off to see how bad it really was. It was a total loss of the hot section. We discussed the problems and what our options were. After looking at all the data, it was a fuel control failure. We had a few factory fresh overhauled stock fuel controls to use, so we had all the parts to replace but did we have enough time?

It was a busy time for all of us. In the coming days, I was super busy, my son had a schedule operation, we had a fully paid non-refundable vacation, and a possible trip for work all before our next race. Craig was also fully tasked with the moving into his new home.

A game plan was fabricated and a lot fell on my dad, to organize, order, and located shops to outsource some work we just can't do.

As it so typically happens, it all came down to the day before the race. Here is the work that went into making the race. We had to remove the damaged engine out of the Invader, Inspect the afterburner and manifold for damage, get a new engine prepped to install, prep included installing a new balanced hot section, new gearbox, deconfiguring all lines from aircraft to race car, installing into the race car.

One hold up was getting the hot section balanced, when things spin in the area of 19,000 rpm, you really want a good balance on those parts. Your local machine shop does not have the ablitiy to do this, also you need to disassemble parts off the hot section that do not rotate with it. It requires special tools to do this, and we had to locate or fabricate the tools to do this.

So when Saturday of the Firebird Raceway's Jets vs. Funny Cars came around we were finally finished. We showed up early to test fire the car to make sure everything was ok.

Again, same positions, Al in the car, Craig on the starter, and me on leak check. The Invader started fine, checked for leaks - none, sat at idle and watched the temperature - normal, brought it up to 70 % and tested the afterburner - normal, brought up to 90% and the bleed doors shut, and slowly brought up to launch rpm and she started to slide. My dad shut her down and a collective sigh of relief was felt.

That night we were only scheduled to make one pass against Al Arriaga's Blu-by-u with Joe Zaccaro driving for Al. Trying to be a little concervative on the first pass on the engine, I slowly brought her up to the launch rpm. Sliding into the staging beams and trying to hold, at the last second it slipped through and I left. Joe was right behind me, shutting off at the lights and the chutes opened I coasted around the corner to a stop way past we have ever stopped. With no timeslip for the run, but stayed out infront of Joe, the Invader was on a pretty good pass. (Last time when I stopped in this area, it was a 5.61 291 pass, and it was 104* when we ran this time. The shutdown at Firebird curves into a road course.)

Overall we were very happy with the outcome. A slight screach was heard but not sure if it was us or Joe. The Invader was loaded up, and taken home.

Monday, I was off to Florida for a conference for work. With that being said, I hooked up with my friends, Chris & Elaine Larsen and their son Andrew. They run the Miss-Ta-Fire jet dragster, and just finishing the Emery Riddle University sponsored jet dragster. Went out to dinner and came back to their house to talk. Talk to a jet guy (or gal) is to do this over working on something. This being the case on the brand new, and freshly painted engine for the new car. Alot of talking and some working until it was time to go.

On Wednesday, I met them out at the Fantasy of Flight, where Chris & Elaine were doing a display, talk, and a fire up for the ACE camp aviation kids. They gave the kids a ton of avaition information and how to apply it not only in avaition. Chris gave the kids his take from almost 20 years in the avaition industry, while Elaine explained how the jet dragster drove and felt. She also spoke of how I was racing her at Texas Raceway in August, and the only veiw I would see is her tail pipe and flame. I can understand her wanting to get the kids pump up at the Fantasy of Flight, but it was not the Fantasy of Jet Cars!!

After returning home on Friday night, it was a long night of Girls Scouts Skating party, and getting ready for Saturday Nights After 9 event, Midnight Run 2.

Saturday night came, and we were out at Speedworld Raceway for After 9's Midnight Run 2 event. The gates opened at 10 pm, and first round for us was at 11:45 pm. We put some more fuel into the system, to eliminate any possible screach, and wow the fire was huge! With the lower idle and more fuel, the reflection in front of me was enormous! Again being cautious, I only launched at about 97%, with the temperature at 11:45 pm was 108*, she ran a 6.20. Not too bad!

Second and final run was at 2:10 am, and boy was I tired. Just like the first pass but I brought her up higher on the launch rpm, and at 104* she ran a 6.00. The crowds were crazy and I was tired! We loaded up, and I headed home. I pulled in at 5:00 am and hit the sack!

Finally some good luck!

So everyone in Texas, see you soon. And for you know who, tell me what color my flame IS!

Go Back