Crew Report - 1 Jan 11

January 01, 2011 at 7:34 PM

As I reported last month, Blue Thunder II is in the wintertime conditional inspection, modification and update mode. Doing a valve job and T-bar clearance inspection is going a little beyond the scope of CFR 43 appendix D, but we are interested in establishing service limits as well as a trouble-free 2011 season.


Excluding the engine problems Papa-51, George Giboney and I have had, the majority of engine problems have been misalignment of the roller lifter and the cam lobe. The latest RFI spec on the clearance between the T-bar and the cam follower flat is .003". When we checked V12022, the clearance was from .010" to .022". RFI has some T-bar bushings and a procedure for bringing that clearance within the new specifications, which we used.

The RFI procedure for the T-bar modification is not very difficult but very time consuming insomuch as the upper and lower intake plenums must be removed to access the lifter valley. I estimate it takes thirty-five man hours to go from a running engine to a running engine.


We did a vacuum test on the valves and about five of the intakes had a little bit of a leakage, so we decided to do a cleanup valve job on the heads. The Work was done at A + Automotive of Reno where they cleaned everything, lapped the valves, tested the spring pressure and took .006" off the head face to true them up.

This photo shows the gasket preparation just before the head went on.


 A custom I would like to become more consistent, is to highlight one of the Blue Thunder sponsors each report. In this report I would like to give special thanks to Rick Gold, owner of ERC, who has been supporting this team for many years. Located in San Lorenzo, California, Engine Research Company (ERC) has operated for 36 years and is a producer of custom specialty fuels.

As well as the "in stock" blends they carry, ERC has often been asked to produce custom blends meeting some very unique application specific requirements. They started out doing blends of this type and, over the years, ERC has done application specific custom fuels for everything from model airplanes, to classic vintage sports cars, to superbikes, to Reno Air Racers, to NHRA pro-stock cars. Additionally, they have provided consulting on fuels and combustion dynamics to literally a "who's who" of car manufacturers, major fuel companies, sanctioning bodies, professional engine builders, and independent racers. ERC is a resource for all who need special fuels or special help with fuel related questions or problems.

The Blue Thunder Air Racing Team uses the ERC 110K fuel which is 115.5 octane and releases about 1000 BTUs per pound over the aviation 100LL. If you want more performance from your TM, or any internal combustion engine, contact Rick Gold at ercracingfuels(at)

I have a little space left so let me include the Blue Thunder appearance schedule for 2011.

June 10 – 11 Golden West

June 16 – 18 Pylon School

July 6-10: Arlington Fly-In

July 25-31: EAA AirVenture

September 14 – 18: Reno Air Races

October 20 – 22: Copperstate

The Blue Crew, along with Jan and I wish everyone a happy Valentine’s Day and we are looking forward to seeing everyone at the eleventh annual Thunderstorm in September.

Thanks for your continued support.

John Parker

Tags: Conditional Inspection Schedule Papa-51 Engine Research Company
Category: Crew Reports

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