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  1. #201
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    That's awesome, I bet that's a pretty cool project to work on and it shows your products are #1. Congrats!


    The Hyundai E and L's are 2 quite different frames/size indeed, E I guess is their newer tiny "economy" model. L's will surely be quite a bit more robust though.

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    Thank you very much, but the really awesome part is having employees talented and motivated enough to count on, now that I no longer work on the floor. For example, women using pry bars and the next minute asking the installer to please verify the USB connection. I'm now several years past normal retirement age, but because of the people I work with, it is proving (so far, at least) to be the Golden Years.

    On the machine spec, I just wasn't paying attention. Our E is a very compact machine ("tiny" is a good description) that would eat 1.5Ø and smaller bar stock alive, and that's what I intended to use these for. However, the Z travel would have been used right to the max for drilling the parts and clearing the tailstock. While theoretically perfect from an efficiency standpoint, everybody here has encountered the problem of lacking a quarter-inch clearance here or there and having to modify a tool (or the machine). Somebody asked me, what if they discontinued the length of this solid carbide drill and we had to use a longer one? I now think my dumbass error will turn out to have been in the right direction.

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    Update on the NASCAR project: Testing of the prototype cars got through four tracks, Richmond, Phoenix, Homestead and Fontana before the next scheduled one at Atlanta had to be canceled because of the Kung Flu. Supposedly the hiatus imposed on the regular season—the last for the existing "Gen 6" car type—will not interfere with progress toward equipping the field with the new "Gen 7" cars for next season, which starts in February. There is a lot of pressure from the teams to order steering racks even though they cannot obtain their new chassis before mid-April at the very earliest. But we are not allowed to sell to any teams yet, except to the three OEMs (Ford, GM and Toyota) who get the first three chassis. This is bleeding us financially. So far this project has involved a lot of expense (and not just machines and tooling, but airfare and hotels) with no return yet. The rest of our clientèle is all barricaded against the virus, with their plants closed, both here and abroad.

    Luckily I cashed out my IRA just before the market crashed and so did my wife. I think we'll be able to make chips for the next two weeks before it becomes unpleasant decision time. My best to you all—stay healthy, wear masks and observe social distancing

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    Quote Originally Posted by Oldwrench View Post
    Update on the NASCAR project: Testing of the prototype cars got through four tracks, Richmond, Phoenix, Homestead and Fontana before the next scheduled one at Atlanta had to be canceled because of the Kung Flu. Supposedly the hiatus imposed on the regular season—the last for the existing "Gen 6" car type—will not interfere with progress toward equipping the field with the new "Gen 7" cars for next season, which starts in February. There is a lot of pressure from the teams to order steering racks even though they cannot obtain their new chassis before mid-April at the very earliest. But we are not allowed to sell to any teams yet, except to the three OEMs (Ford, GM and Toyota) who get the first three chassis. This is bleeding us financially. So far this project has involved a lot of expense (and not just machines and tooling, but airfare and hotels) with no return yet. The rest of our clientèle is all barricaded against the virus, with their plants closed, both here and abroad.

    Luckily I cashed out my IRA just before the market crashed and so did my wife. I think we'll be able to make chips for the next two weeks before it becomes unpleasant decision time. My best to you all—stay healthy, wear masks and observe social distancing
    You Damned careful dealing with NASCAR, Make sure all the i's are dotted and the T's are crossed and then make sure your shister er lawyer likes it too. Don't take anyone's word for what is going to happen. I used to make about half the refueling equipment for the teams in IMSA. You know, NASCAR's sports car division. Season ended, I made my usual call to find out about any rule changes, oh no all the same as before. So there I am full blast making hose ends, various fittings and 50 dead man valves for the pit wall tanks. A barrel valve, dead smooth inside, barrel turns on ball bearings, return via clock spring. I've been making a run of them every couple of years since '02.
    Teams LOVE them. Just before Daytona I find out another supplier paid for the right to be the official supplier of all the valves and all the other parts. All my stuff is now illegal, no one can use it so of course no one buys anything! Probably 60% of my business is gone and I have thousands of dollars invested in stuff that will end up at the scrapyard.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Oldwrench View Post
    Thank you. Yesterday we signed a 3-year contract as the exclusive supplier of power steering racks for the next generation of Cup cars, which will be mandatory starting with the '21 season. For those unaware, NASCAR has never permitted rack and pinion steering in Cup, Xfinity or Truck. They've had to use the Delphi steering box, which hasn't been in road automobiles for decades and makes for less than optimal geometry as well as sluggish steering response compared to other types of race cars (such as GT road racers or dirt Late Models). This completely new car involved a competitive process to determine who was best equipped from a capability and experience position to design and build their new steering (among all the other components, right down to the wheels).

    I haven't been able to talk about it until now. A few weeks ago at the test at Richmond, NASCAR put a picture of the test car on their Facebook page, so secrecy is obviously no longer in effect except for the actual technical details. Anyway, we knew making that volume of parts without inconveniencing any of our existing clients was going to necessitate some additional production equipment, hence the recent New Machine Days.
    I sure hope that contract is ironclad if you are spending all that money on equipment. Believe me the good old boys could not care less about you or your business.

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    Quote Originally Posted by moonlight machine View Post
    I sure hope that contract is ironclad if you are spending all that money on equipment. Believe me the good old boys could not care less about you or your business.
    Well, I am aware of the borderline corruption existing up until recently. I had plenty of experience with the good ol' boys who were in charge between 1996 and recently, and of course I learned not to trust anybody's word. When they started charging an "evaluation fee" to examine anything you came up with and wanted to sell to the teams, I just quit caring about it—along with a few other manufacturers who had reliable customers and didn't need the hassle.

    Then when Brian France was removed and Jim took over there was a MAJOR housecleaning. In fact, the first communication I got from the new regime actually began with "No fees are to be charged by NASCAR in connection with any proposal," I guess to keep the recipient from automatically deleting it. Anyway, the scumbags all got broomed. And without discussing specifics, I can read a contract and I know how to redline and revise. I am completely satisfied. "Acts of God" such as the Wuhan flu and government countermeasures are clearly outside the terms and it is just something to wait out. The last word is that introduction of the new car will be delayed. I'm not happy but there are companies a lot less happy, whom I suspect might be facing ruin. We'll get by until the ship comes in. At least we can make gears about six times quicker than before. And I won't have to go thru any airports for a while.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Oldwrench View Post
    Well, I am aware of the borderline corruption existing up until recently. I had plenty of experience with the good ol' boys who were in charge between 1996 and recently, and of course I learned not to trust anybody's word. When they started charging an "evaluation fee" to examine anything you came up with and wanted to sell to the teams, I just quit caring about it—along with a few other manufacturers who had reliable customers and didn't need the hassle.

    Then when Brian France was removed and Jim took over there was a MAJOR housecleaning. In fact, the first communication I got from the new regime actually began with "No fees are to be charged by NASCAR in connection with any proposal," I guess to keep the recipient from automatically deleting it. Anyway, the scumbags all got broomed. And without discussing specifics, I can read a contract and I know how to redline and revise. I am completely satisfied. "Acts of God" such as the Wuhan flu and government countermeasures are clearly outside the terms and it is just something to wait out. The last word is that introduction of the new car will be delayed. I'm not happy but there are companies a lot less happy, whom I suspect might be facing ruin. We'll get by until the ship comes in. At least we can make gears about six times quicker than before. And I won't have to go thru any airports for a while.
    I'm sure you know that any of the big teams could take your rack and copy it with no problem. Gibbs is going to make all the chassis, anyone of them could decide they want a piece of the pie. Penske, Gibbs, Hendrick, and Roush Industries Probably own about 500 CNC machines between them with plenty of machinists and engineers. And more importantly they have enough lawyers and cash to squish you like a bug.
    When Matt Kenseth won the NASCAR championship in 2003 he used a refueling dry break Made by Red Head Valves, some design and all the flow testing was done by Dan Jones, my now deceased partner, I made test and prototype parts for the project. By making a better product within a year or so Red Head had most of the market for new probes and receivers and servicing used ones. Then after about 10 years or so Nascar decided to go to single point refueling, no catch can or guy to hold it during pit stops. Red Head, Dan and I made and tested a single point dry break valve that worked great. Another company and some payola got NASCAR approval of the valve that leaked massive amounts of fuel at every stop. In the end with NASCAR approval teams used the parts of the receiver and probe that showed and made the rest themselves. And Red Head lost the entire market. I know plenty more but I have said all I am going to.

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    I think the key to making products is continuous innovation.

    Shit happens. It's what you do about it when it does (or how well you anticipate that) that makes the difference.

    No point bitching about Nascar. It happens everywhere in every industry.

    I've had products ripped off. Even a brand of mine got trademarked by a competitor. That stuff is kind of exciting, like battle strategy you know?

    What I absolutely despise is when I fail to be the innovator or miss a detail that could have made the difference for a product to lead the market.

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    Quote Originally Posted by moonlight machine View Post
    I'm sure you know that any of the big teams could take your rack and copy it with no problem.
    Where to start? First, anybody can copy anything, especially less complex items. A rack and pinion gearset is almost medieval in its simplicity but copying a power steering is a whole other level of resource commitment. Over the years it's been tried by several well-funded outfits around the world and we have defeated them all because they cannot do it economically.


    Gibbs is going to make all the chassis
    NOPE. None of the existing teams who currently build their own cars will have any input into the Next Gen other than buying and assembling parts. The chassis contract was won by Technique, an Indy outfit you probably haven't heard of. They are setting up the production facility right in Mooresville.


    ..anyone of them could decide they want a piece of the pie. Penske, Gibbs, Hendrick, and Roush Industries Probably own about 500 CNC machines between them with plenty of machinists and engineers. And more importantly they have enough lawyers and cash to squish you like a bug.
    Believe me, I can understand your anger because of what happened to you, but those you mention are a long, long way from being the unstoppable Goliaths of popular imagination. The fact is that all those organizations are funded by sponsors, not by earnings. Not to take anything away from the guys who work there, but in the job shop market their machine shops would have a difficult time staying in business. Also, the sponsors provide the bulk of their machine tools.

    The whole point of the redesigned single-sourced race car is to reduce payroll. This is at the direct instigation of the owners group. Without the sponsorship funding stream their racing operations are not fiscally sustainable, and that funding stream is disappearing. This will remove an awful lot of overhead and will permit the survival of NASCAR. Along with that, it will transform the car from a 1960s platform into something technically contemporary.

    Unfortunately the overhead removal will mean a lot of toolboxes being pushed down the street, and a few real estate signs...

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    Effective this morning the debut of the Next Gen car is pushed back a year, to 2022. Can't say if all the affected companies will still be answering their phones a year from now, but we will simply return to our normal pace and put parts on the shelf. Meh, we were doing fine before this, so no worries...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Oldwrench View Post
    Effective this morning the debut of the Next Gen car is pushed back a year, to 2022. Can't say if all the affected companies will still be answering their phones a year from now, but we will simply return to our normal pace and put parts on the shelf. Meh, we were doing fine before this, so no worries...
    The outfit that is going from a 7-11 sized retail store in Indy to being the official chassis builder for NASCAR in one fell swoop is probably thanking their lucky stars. Have they ever built a chassis? How about a few hundred the first year? What could possibly go wrong?

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    Quote Originally Posted by moonlight machine View Post
    The outfit that is going from a 7-11 sized retail store in Indy to being the official chassis builder for NASCAR in one fell swoop is probably thanking their lucky stars. Have they ever built a chassis? How about a few hundred the first year? What could possibly go wrong?
    For those interested, the following is common knowledge and I can talk about it:

    The selection process for the suppliers involved not only the usual detailed proposal, but an actual oral presentation at the NASCAR R&D Center in front of engineers representing Ford, Toyota and GM and the major teams.

    The chassis was designed by Dallara, who doesn't exactly need any buildup from me. What they came up with actually out-NASCARed NASCAR for robustness, which I don't think anybody expected. RCR has fabricated the prototypes in their shop, and they have provided the crew at the tracks to support the tests.

    The production of a Cup chassis doesn't differ in principle from when I built dirt cars in the early 80s: mostly rigid, accurate fixturing to guarantee repeatability. What is different today is the repeatability of the bending and the prepping of the joints, all CNC controlled and rendered practically error-proof through laser-cut tabs and slots. Even though the teams currently have their own fab shops, the chassis have for years been built from a prebent, laser-cut kit from a single source. Also for years the tubing has been centerless ground to get the wall from .095+ down to the NASCAR rulebook minimum of .090 (I shit you not). Anyway, Technique's chassis operation in Mooresville is being overseen by a guy whose entire career has been spent doing exactly that. I can't tell you who but they sure as hell aren't going to have any problems.

    Although NASCAR's original timeline for the project (which was on schedule right up to the minute, BTW) got buggered by the virus shutdown just like the rest of professional sports, I would expect most of the Next Gen suppliers are going to continue making their respective parts. Although the car's début is nominally to be put off for a year, that won't affect development activity by the teams, who will pound on doors to obtain chassis and parts to work with. JMO, but I expect limited permission to sell chassis and components will be given well before 12 months have expired.

    As I said, I understand your anger at the previous management; I have friends who had experiences similar to yours that obviously I can't talk about.

    My career in NASCAR is pretty simple; I got in before all the licensing nonsense. One day I got a call from NASCAR wanting to know who was using our safety steering column OR the quick release, neither of which were "approved." I just started reeling off car numbers: the 24, the 20, the 40, the 42, the 18, and on and on. When the recitation got to around twenty-five cars the guy said, "OK, OK, I'll check on this." He called back half an hour later to tell me our equipment was approved for Cup competition. I guess somebody realized they couldn't send home most of the starting field. So we had a virtual monopoly that lasted almost 20 years, until the teams had become bloated enough that they started bringing parts manufacturing in-house to justify all their job slots. By the time they discovered they weren't able to make all those parts as cheaply as their vendors had, their costs had become unsustainable. Meanwhile a lot of manufacturers had cultivated other markets and had quit taking calls from the teams.

    A race car made up of single-source parts offered a solution for both team owners and parts manufacturers in that costs would be contractually fixed—whence the Gen 7 (now "Next Gen") race car. I don't know who among the owners group decided they couldn't afford to convert their operation by Daytona '21 but apparently somebody did, otherwise the program probably wouldn't have been delayed. Whoever it was failed to consider that now they will have to piece together their Gen 6 cars for another season (who would want to invest in yet more brand-new obsolete equipment that they're already trying to sell?) and I expect that once that sinks in with everybody we may see yet another revision of the début schedule.

    Anyway, for those who care, that's the word as of this morning. None of the above is gossip, and none is unauthorized. I remain cautiously optimistic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Oldwrench View Post
    For those interested, the following is common knowledge and I can talk about it:

    The selection process for the suppliers involved not only the usual detailed proposal, but an actual oral presentation at the NASCAR R&D Center in front of engineers representing Ford, Toyota and GM and the major teams.

    The chassis was designed by Dallara, who doesn't exactly need any buildup from me. What they came up with actually out-NASCARed NASCAR for robustness, which I don't think anybody expected. RCR has fabricated the prototypes in their shop, and they have provided the crew at the tracks to support the tests.

    The production of a Cup chassis doesn't differ in principle from when I built dirt cars in the early 80s: mostly rigid, accurate fixturing to guarantee repeatability. What is different today is the repeatability of the bending and the prepping of the joints, all CNC controlled and rendered practically error-proof through laser-cut tabs and slots. Even though the teams currently have their own fab shops, the chassis have for years been built from a prebent, laser-cut kit from a single source. Also for years the tubing has been centerless ground to get the wall from .095+ down to the NASCAR rulebook minimum of .090 (I shit you not). Anyway, Technique's chassis operation in Mooresville is being overseen by a guy whose entire career has been spent doing exactly that. I can't tell you who but they sure as hell aren't going to have any problems.

    Although NASCAR's original timeline for the project (which was on schedule right up to the minute, BTW) got buggered by the virus shutdown just like the rest of professional sports, I would expect most of the Next Gen suppliers are going to continue making their respective parts. Although the car's début is nominally to be put off for a year, that won't affect development activity by the teams, who will pound on doors to obtain chassis and parts to work with. JMO, but I expect limited permission to sell chassis and components will be given well before 12 months have expired.

    As I said, I understand your anger at the previous management; I have friends who had experiences similar to yours that obviously I can't talk about.

    My career in NASCAR is pretty simple; I got in before all the licensing nonsense. One day I got a call from NASCAR wanting to know who was using our safety steering column OR the quick release, neither of which were "approved." I just started reeling off car numbers: the 24, the 20, the 40, the 42, the 18, and on and on. When the recitation got to around twenty-five cars the guy said, "OK, OK, I'll check on this." He called back half an hour later to tell me our equipment was approved for Cup competition. I guess somebody realized they couldn't send home most of the starting field. So we had a virtual monopoly that lasted almost 20 years, until the teams had become bloated enough that they started bringing parts manufacturing in-house to justify all their job slots. By the time they discovered they weren't able to make all those parts as cheaply as their vendors had, their costs had become unsustainable. Meanwhile a lot of manufacturers had cultivated other markets and had quit taking calls from the teams.

    A race car made up of single-source parts offered a solution for both team owners and parts manufacturers in that costs would be contractually fixed—whence the Gen 7 (now "Next Gen") race car. I don't know who among the owners group decided they couldn't afford to convert their operation by Daytona '21 but apparently somebody did, otherwise the program probably wouldn't have been delayed. Whoever it was failed to consider that now they will have to piece together their Gen 6 cars for another season (who would want to invest in yet more brand-new obsolete equipment that they're already trying to sell?) and I expect that once that sinks in with everybody we may see yet another revision of the début schedule.

    Anyway, for those who care, that's the word as of this morning. None of the above is gossip, and none is unauthorized. I remain cautiously optimistic.
    It does not surprise me that the new car will be a Dalara, everyone knows they are the only people in the world that can design a race car. They sure did not give a rats ass when they outlawed the Red Head valve refueling dry breaks that about 95% of the field was using. I am glad your stuff did not suffer the same fate.

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    When are you going to get a power rack in Indy Cars? For many years
    Indy Cars have changed the pinion between road, street courses and speedways. Can this be done on your rack? How does your rack sense steering input so it knows when and how much power assist is required? Do you use an engine driven hydraulic pump?

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    Quote Originally Posted by moonlight machine View Post
    When are you going to get a power rack in Indy Cars? For many years
    Indy Cars have changed the pinion between road, street courses and speedways. Can this be done on your rack? How does your rack sense steering input so it knows when and how much power assist is required? Do you use an engine driven hydraulic pump?
    Between 1983 and 2008 our flagship product was a short-track rack that had interchangeable pinions, fourteen of 'em to be exact. The eccentrics required to accommodate that interchangeability metastasized into a manufacturing nightmare so we redesigned the casting for production in a 5-axis machining center, with the bore centers specific to each ratio, which eliminated the array of eccentrics. Now the bearings are still in eccentrics, but with a very small offset, just enough to provide a lash adjustment.

    All our rack types sense input through an open-center concentric valve which is spring-loaded by means of a torsion bar. All automotive hydraulic power steering uses that arrangement (which is directly analog) except that ours are interchangeable and have an external directional bias adjustment. An F1 system is different in that it has a closed-center valve with an electric sensor controlling Moog solenoid valves. The rack itself is tiny with a very short travel—nothing like a fullsize automotive steering. If Indy cars were to adopt power assist they would use that style of rack.

    The type CF used in the Next Gen Cup car requires an engine-driven pump. Electric pumps have the undesirable characteristic of stalling down under load, like any DC motor, so their flow is inverse to pressure. What that means is, they will respond initially to a vigorous steering input but cannot sustain it over a very long stroke or through a reversal of direction such as an S-bend. ZF supposedly has one that will provide a sustained 12l/min (or about 3 GPM) but there is not one more watt of electric power available on a Cup car so proposals for electric steering of any type were not even considered.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Oldwrench View Post
    Between 1983 and 2008 our flagship product was a short-track rack that had interchangeable pinions, fourteen of 'em to be exact. The eccentrics required to accommodate that interchangeability metastasized into a manufacturing nightmare so we redesigned the casting for production in a 5-axis machining center, with the bore centers specific to each ratio, which eliminated the array of eccentrics. Now the bearings are still in eccentrics, but with a very small offset, just enough to provide a lash adjustment.

    All our rack types sense input through an open-center concentric valve which is spring-loaded by means of a torsion bar. All automotive hydraulic power steering uses that arrangement (which is directly analog) except that ours are interchangeable and have an external directional bias adjustment. An F1 system is different in that it has a closed-center valve with an electric sensor controlling Moog solenoid valves. The rack itself is tiny with a very short travel—nothing like a fullsize automotive steering. If Indy cars were to adopt power assist they would use that style of rack.

    The type CF used in the Next Gen Cup car requires an engine-driven pump. Electric pumps have the undesirable characteristic of stalling down under load, like any DC motor, so their flow is inverse to pressure. What that means is, they will respond initially to a vigorous steering input but cannot sustain it over a very long stroke or through a reversal of direction such as an S-bend. ZF supposedly has one that will provide a sustained 12l/min (or about 3 GPM) but there is not one more watt of electric power available on a Cup car so proposals for electric steering of any type were not even considered.
    Indy Cars would use a 6 tooth pinion on speedways and a 9 tooth on road / street courses. 1 eccentric pinion carrier worked for both pinions. A German sports car I used to make some odds and ends for had ZF power steering that kept failing so I asked the engineer what the deal was. The steering was controlled by a pot driven by a gear on the steering column. I about shit myself when I saw it. They had a plastic gear held on the column by a gob of the German equivalent of JB weld! The engineer said that was the factory approved method! When the gear would fall off there was nothing to drive the pot and no power assist. I said I can improve on this, took the column and gear to my shop and made them aluminum gears with a split thin wall round bit sticking out one side of the gear. Then I made a split pinch ring to clamp it to the shaft. I made 6 sets of parts for the team. Couple of weeks later I made 24 more sets of parts that went to Germany.

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