Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

Pit Stop Racing

A custom-built low-profile C-Head churnless BoonJon, race-prepped and awaiting the call to start engines.

A custom-built low-profile C-Head churnless BoonJon, race-prepped and awaiting the call to start engines.

A NASCAR racing team known as the Wood Brothers, begun in 1950 and still existing today, made waves in the 1960s and 1970s by altering the ordinary pit stop into its own competitive event. Early NASCAR races were generally short, maybe 100 miles. About the only reason to come into the pit was to repair crash damage or change a flat tire. The latter was accomplished with a bumper jack and a star wrench, and could take a minute to do at full steam. A close race would be lost, but oh well. So pit stops were simply fate or bad luck – except for the Southern 500 in Darlington, which also debuted in 1950. There, enough pit stops were needed that they could skew the finishing results a heap. Smokey Yunick is credited with being the first to toss his bumper jack for a hydraulic floor jack in the mid-fifties, probably because he was already using them in his truck shop. By the time the new Daytona 500 track weighed in in 1959, Ingersol Rand had a rep on hand to hawk pneumatic lug wrenches the following year, and they went over like a keg of rum at a prison camp.

The occasional claim that the Wood Brothers “invented the pit stop” is about as valid as the sloppy journalism behind the claim that Henry Ford invented the assembly line. That a faster pit stop could alter a car’s finishing position was accepted doctrine. That faster pit stops were good was also obvious. What the Wood Brothers did was to evolve into pit stop fanatics, taking to heart the fact that average speed could potentially be just as effective in boosting finishing position as somehow making the car go faster, and trimming back on seconds lost in the pits seemed easier and less expensive to do.  So, they began experimenting with equipment and procedures to cut time out of the process, the result being that they quickly began a string of dominating wins that didn’t stop for two or three decades. While other teams began to copy how they handled their pit stops, the Wood Brothers stayed relentless in finding new ways to chop off seconds. The process became a carefully rehearsed choreography by what amounts to professional athletes. Today, pit stops are considered to be as competitive as speed on the track, as far as finishing position goes. What used to take a minute for one tire now takes anywhere between 5-16 seconds to refuel and change four tires.

As one crew chief said, “A typical pit stop requires changing four tires and filling the car with 22 gallons of racing fuel. In order to do that, we use IR Thunderguns to remove 20 lugnuts, pull off four hot 75-pound Goodyear Eagles, slam four new Eagles onto the hubs and reinstall 20 lugnuts while a guy empties two 11-gallon cans of fuel weighing 100 pounds apiece into the fuel cell. Our challenge is to accomplish this task in 14 seconds or less. If you lose 1/10th of a second in a pit stop, you lose two places on the racetrack. If you lose 2/10ths, that’s 60 feet on the racetrack and you’re out of the lead draft. That can cost you a race and a championship.”

Crazy, huh? Well, in that spirit, I decided to address a problem with the C-Head quasi-composting toilet stowage in the Intrepid. That is, that although the unit is secured from side to side, it is free to slide front-to-back inside its storage cabinet. Considering the contents, that’s a potentially non-optimal situation. Its vertical fit is too tight to allow it to tip over, but the same HDPE sheet that allows it to slide in and out of the cabinet so effortlessly also encourages its slide up and down the slot. Putting the toilet back in is an uncertain thing, needing a good eye to make sure it’s straight and won’t interfere with the closing of the cabinet doors. From that point it relies on other stored stuff being kept around it to stay more or less in position.

The genesis of speed. Painter's tape is used as a template to mark the desired position of the racing toilet. With idler wheels placed, axle locations are marked and it's time to break out the power drill.

The genesis of speed. Painter’s tape is used as a template to mark the desired position of the racing toilet. With idler wheels placed, axle locations are marked and it’s time to break out the power drill. Inside the cabinet, layers of cardboard form a raised platform.

With those hardy pioneers of early NASCAR in mind, I decided that I could potentially trim seconds off my own pit stops by providing some type of alignment slot inside the cabinet. This alignment device would render a careful insertion unnecessary, and lock the toilet in place regardless of the presence or absence of other items around it. So, I could use small wood sticks, strips of plastic, bumpers, you name it. I managed to locate some idler wheels that would do the job, and not immediately scuff the faux-wood finish on the sides of the unit. They needed a 1/2″ diameter bolt as an axle, but this overkill at least made finding compatible hardware very easy. I of course don’t own a 1/2″ drill bit, so my Dremel was pressed into service to enlarge the 3/8″ hole that I could drill.

From camp setup to breakdown and being ready to go off-roading, you may well be looking at the fastest portable toilet stowage systems in camping.

From arrival to departure and being ready to go off-roading, you may well be looking at the fastest portable toilet stowage system in the United States.

The toilet body is a rectangle with a long tapered leading edge, so I wound up locating my wheels two along the sides, and two along the tapered nose to act as guides that aim it straight in and keep it that way when the cabinet door is closed. The happy end result is a rather heavy toilet that is still very easy to deploy and stow, without any real attention needing to be paid to it. No careful alignment, no straps, no lockdowns. Put it in, close the doors. Care to time me?


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14 thoughts on “Pit Stop Racing

  1. Now where is my stopwatch when I need it!!

    Phenomenally Perfected Portage Pace, of a Privy, Perfectly Placed!!

    • I think if I were standing near you while you were saying that aloud with emphasis, I’d need an umbrella. 😉

      • Lol. Are you suggesting I might sputter? 😉

        I do enjoy it when your nonsensical side wanders out for a bit, you are so good at it! I even learn fascinating, albeit, esoteric, tidbits about history. Always informative, between all the chuckles! 🙂

  2. I really admire the tie in, motor car racing to an everyday function that actually can be a touch unpleasant. …If things don’t go well.

    We’ll done!

    When are you going out with the new rig?

    • Thank you, Rob! I like making ridiculous links between things.

      I was going to tell you that a test camp might take place in a week, but a big problem cropped up with the bedding today which may take a couple of weeks to fix. To me the bedding has a lot more impact than a poor night’s sleep, so it must be resolved. Also, the Outback Smart Harvest solar controller for the ground panels barfed yesterday, possibly with a firmware issue, so that needs to be addressed as well. None of this would be a problem except that daily highs continue to revolve around both sides of 90, so the calendar has significance: move or die.

  3. Linda Sand on said:

    I love it! Perfect stowage is important in a movable house. As well as providing quick access in times of emergency. Looks to me like you nailed it.

  4. nicely executed! I was thinking that something like this was needed when you did your first privy cupboard post.

    Good luck with the problem solving, in the heat. I had thought that I might want an extra step or 2 or a ladder up to the overcab. I’ll be interested to see how smoothly the midnight potty breaks go.

    Next week I have to commit $ to supplies for my winter/ desert wind proof shelter. The designs have been changing daily in my head for the past week.

    • Yep, the midnight ride of Paul Revere is one of the prime reasons why a test camp or two prior to departure is a good idea. In the case of the FWC, the surfaces above the forward water tank serve as the step-up. A ladder would not serve well there, though a collapsing step meant for RV entry might help. I’ll hopefully be able to check out the choreography needed to slither in and out of the bed area before long.

      Having to commit bucks to an approach that hasn’t yet gelled is a bit unsettling, isn’t it? Especially when the supply is limited.

      • Ming on said:

        I call it my laziness, I’m lazy about building things more than once, which includes all the running back and forth between home and the supplies depot. No need for the waste in energy, supplies, and money. So, at some point in my tinkering career, I developed the habit of designing and using things in my head before any or it saw physical shape. Many things never got built that way, and I get to spend many hours staring blankly into space. Who, me, eccentric? Nah.

        • No way! Though, more than one person in my own life didn’t view that kind of activity as work, like I was goofing off daydreaming all day instead of doing “work”, like it was a scam to somehow get a paycheck anyway. I’ve never heard it termed a tinkering career, but it do apply!

  5. So what’s next, a few a racing stripes down the sides? You at least need a number. I first thought of the famous #3, but after further thought, perhaps numbers 1&2 would be more appropriate. 🙂

    As always, thanks for sharing.

  6. Pingback: Fascination | Strolling Amok

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