Finally good news!!

We are in the test driving phase and there are still no leaks, it’s a glorious day at Slate Racing. So far the truck drives a bit sluggish and we haven’t discovered the cause yet. It is a hummer after all with a 0-60 time of 2.3 minutes so we can’t expect too much but it is a race so figuring that out is on the to do list.

The truck got seatbelts as well and it’s finally starting to look like a race cockpit. —he typed cock—hahahah.

The lights on the top made it look like a wienee mobile so we reached out to our friends at Mod Mafia and they found us a roof rack at an affordable price. Add some new Piaa lights, some traction ramps and it’s finally looking mean again.

Picking up the roof rack did come with our typical delays. Just a couple miles from our destination and we hear the familiar sound of a flat tire. It was Jack’s fault, he was the driver.

Of course there was no spare with us but luckily Jack has a great family and his wife came to get us. We went back to the house, got TWO spares and threw em in another truck and headed back to change the tire. The next morning we built the spare tire mount.

The new helmets and uniforms have arrived! You just know there is gonna be a fashion show, brace yourself.

He almost looks like he knows what he’s doing in that kitchen!

Hurricane Nicholas is on the way, let’s hope we stay dry and don’t have to rely on the hummer’s snorkle….

Rear steering

We installed the most amazing thing on the Hummer, Rear wheel steering!! Our sponsor sent us their new self centering system and let me tell you, it’s incredible how strong it is.

The engineering that went into this is awesome, it’s literally a bolt on accessory that uses the existing holes and steering components.

It can’t get much simpler, bolt it in place, put new tie rod ends on the end of the existing tie rod assembly, hook up the hydraulic lines and you’re done underneath.

When we opened the box everyone in the shop was stunned by how strong the unit looked. It looks like it belongs on a hummer just by the beefiness of it. Is beefiness a word?

We used a lift to do the install but this could easily be done on your back in a driveway, the whole unit weighs in at about 60 lbs. four mounting bolts hold the hydraulic ram and bracket to the truck, the holes line up exactly. Ours is mounted in front of the differential and they also offer it for behind the differential depending on your truck.

The power comes from an electric hydraulic pump and motor which operates from a simple push button on a remote at the driver seat. You hold down the left button to turn left and right to turn right. Let go of the button and it returns to center. So simple even Mike can do it!

So here we go. We removed 4 of the 6 bolts from the crossmember in front of the rear differential. We then simply lifted up the whole new rear steering assembly and inserted new bolts that were a little bit longer on the bottom. The top bolts look like a nightmare to remove so we just used the old ones. The nuts went on the top just fine and we added a spot weld on each just to be sure they wouldn’t back off since it was close. Figuring out the bolt length and going back and forth to the hardware store was the hardest part of the install.

Next we removed the rear radius rods and replaced them with right hand thread tie rod ends which go into the new hydraulic ram brackets. We weren’t sure how they nicely would fit looking at it, but like everything else it just went in perfectly. Finally we screwed the hoses into the ports on the ram, ram them up through the floor to the pump and we are done underneath.

Back to the top, we mounted our pump in the rear but you can put it anywhere you like. Yuck we have to run more wires. Side note we have used 600’ of new wire so far in this crazy race build. WTF!?! 600 feet? Damn. Finally we routed the remote control to the motor up front and it’s done. Total install time was half a day with a lot of sitting around wishing we had the box of wine open already.

Driving down the road is about 10% different than what we are used to. It’s hard to describe, but as you take tight corners from one street to another it almost seems to drift… but with traction. It’s caused by the rear wheels turning a tiny bit on their own. That was only if we took the corner like a teenager drives. Normal old man driving was pretty much the same as before we did the install.

Showing off we can do the “crab walk” which is a term we hate but since GM named it I guess we are stuck with that unless anyone can come up with something better. Our vote is for the 2am drunk hooker walk but somehow we doubt that will catch on as well.

We really look forward to testing the durability at higher speeds and jumps off road but we just had to get this out there to tell you all about it. It’s just another awesome way to make the Hummer even more cool to show off.

It’s alive!

In goes a seat, not bolted down of course and we are off down the road. Success, we made it back to the shop! As we breathe a sigh of relief we shut it down confident and happy.

Hey what’s that oil drip coming from under there? Turns out it’s the valve covers. What we didn’t know was that even though they make valve cover gaskets for this engine it’s a cardinal rule to never use them. A lot of scrapped knuckles and Mike has the covers off. They are cleaned up and new silicone is applied. As they are reinstalled a lot of the silicone gets smeared around but we are confident it will succeed. The next day we start it up again and after the shut off we peer under.

Uggg. Here come the oil drips again. The heartache and sorrow follows as the decision to remove the body once more is agreed upon. at this point Mike can remove a body in about 90 minutes, at least we have that bonus. The valve covers are once again removed and super cleaned this time. More cleaning ensues as this really needs to be the latest time. New silicone is applied and with several threats made in the direction of the hummer being left in Albuquerque so we can collect insurance for a stolen vehicle, we wait another night for the proper cure time.

The morning has come, the valve covers are torqued and here comes the body once again. You would think that the third time would be even easier, that’s why you don’t get to do the thinking. The front body mount on the drivers side has decided to take a day off from reality and after 6 hours of attempting to get it right the day is over and so is the week.

Over the weekend Mike successfully and finally gets the mount finished and it’s time to start again. Wait, forgot one thing. Not everything went as planned actually.

While the body was off we discovered that one of the bolt holes for the valve cover actually cracked and a chunk of the hole with half the threads was missing. Mike came up with a solution of genius and the top secret fix worked thankfully.

Now it’s time to start again, the engine is shut down and it’s about damn time, no oil leaks!

The same can’t be said for fuel. Two injectors were cross threaded. Not a horrible disaster but just more delays as we wait for parts to arrive. All fixed and finally we are breathing with relief.

We did have a few more issues with timing and another tiny fuel leak but confidence is confirmed and the major stress seems to be going away.

Test driving finally! Put some miles on it and we made it back to the shop! Ya know how they say one bolt can cause the whole space shuttle to crash? Well we had that one bolt. Mike parks and a few mins later a 8” pool of oil is on the ground. Thinking it was his welded bolt he finally admits defeat.

A few phone calls later and new heads and valve covers are on the way. Everything arrives fast and all hands came to help out. Within a couple days the body once again comes off and on and the heads are back on. Here comes the frustrating part. Since we had the original problem of oil leaking we decided to use spreader bars on the valve covers to ensure a good seal. To use those you of course need to use a little bit longer bolt to seat everything.

As we got the bolts together for this final assembly, Mike noticed one bolt was a little bit longer than the others. It turns out that bolt never put pressure down on the valve cover and that is what caused the leak. One bolt was responsible for new heads and a week and a half of work and blood. Yes there was blood involved.

After the last disaster with the roof we decided to try a different method. We used more straps this time and a more balanced lifting process. Still a lot of utterings of get a hammer and just push it harder and it finally rested neatly and evenly. The hood which was a big worry went on like it belonged there. No issues with height from the body lift or anything, like butter!

Disaster again, we step on the brake and the turn signal indicators light up inside. Not a single light works outside including the headlights. A lot of tinkering and new wires and two days later all the lights except the dome lights are nice and sparkly.

Everyone says ya can’t make a race truck pretty. Well we managed to get all the interior trim pieces back in and it still looks beautiful. Except for the ugly unnecessary roll cage, Mike still hates it. Just in time to make our deadline and we are set.

Oh and we added a rear steering system. Stay tuned for that news next!

What a world…

Finally the engine is complete with the new parts like a new turbo and a brand new high output alternator donated by one of our sponsors, JS Alternators.

It’s a little old and ugly
Nice pretty new one from

We got all the strong people we could fine and both of us pushed and heaved the hummer over to the next bay to put the body back on.

Time to hook up wires and all kinds of fluid lines all over the place. Shifter linkage, bleeding brakes and so many other little things were attended to as well.

Finally it’s time to turn the key and after a lot of cranking, noodle scratching, and finding the wire we forgot to hook up, it roared to life. It also leaked coolant somewhere. Here we go with flashlights in search of the mystery.

Well there is water coming out of the exhaust manifold stud. First attempt, get a new stud, nope that didn’t fix it. Next, let’s wrap some Teflon tape around the threads. What a surprise that didn’t work either. Ok, how bout we fill the hole with rtv and then put the bolt in with Teflon tape too. Still the leak persisted. Well damn hell, off comes the body again to get a better inspection.

It seems that when we had to drill out an exhaust manifold stud a month or so ago we drilled a bit too far to the side and hit a water pathway. After a lot of grumbling and options are considered, welding the hole is deemed to be the solution that was not agreed upon by all.

The weld goes good and seems to have fixed the leak for now. How shall it fare when it runs again remains to be seen.

The roll cage

It has been a long build getting the hummer all torn apart and put back together. It’s finally almost done and just in time. The deadline goalie set for ourselves is August 1 and we just barely made it! We would tell ya everything here but nobody wants to read that much so we shall split it into several posts so we can keep more updates flowing.

So much has happened over the last month and a half. Just when we thought we were all back together disaster kept hitting us hard. While the body was off it was so much easier to build the roll cage that is required for the race.

Mike is constantly complaining since a hummer already has a more than adequate roll over protection system, but rules are rules so we have to make one to very specific methods.

It all starts with measuring and bending the tubing. Since we don’t have a hydraulic bender we are blessed by Josh and a 6’ extension on the bender handle. Don’t let the guy on YouTube fool you, bending 2” DOM tubing is not that easy.

After the pieces are bent comes the challenge of fitting them all together. I can’t say much positive about the tools or customer service at Harbor Freight but they do make a tubing notch vise that makes perfect cuts a breeze. If you’re building a roll cage I highly recommend that little gem for sure.

We cut about 30 notches in our tubing which is about 1/8 thick. The Milwaukee hole saw performed like a champ and never went dull which is utterly amazing.

After a few days of bending, throwing it in the trash pile, and re-bending and we have a completed roll cage.

We hired Troy’s Welding in Porter Texas to come and do the final welds and gussets. One of the nicest guys I’ve met in Houston he triple welded everything.

It may not be the prettiest weld in the world but we can now be hit by a freight train and after we push the broken pieces of train out of the way we will be able to continue racing.

Upgrading the fan

every Hummer owner knows the battle with cooling and today we will be adding the new better duramax fan. The new Duramax fan is larger than stock which means you have to trim it down. Our solution which didn’t work the best was to clamp a grinder onto the frame and then slowly rotate the fan to make the cuts as even as possible.

Learn from our mistakes. While this seemed like a great idea, and we still think it is, you need a better cutting blade than we used. The thin blade normally used to cut metal did go through the plastic but it also got all gummed up and proved very slow and annoying. The cuts were even but we had to still go back with a razor knife and trim off a lot of melted plastic.

Rebuilding The Turbo

How many people get to see what the inside of their turbo looks like? it all starts with a YouTube video about how to disassemble you turbo. Of course we didn’t figure we needed the video so there goes jack just taking out bolts all over the place! Finally after all kinds of theories he broke down and watched the video and success, we have it apart! Well dang that thing looks nasty!

Only $29 and a rebuild kit from amazon arrives and all the tiny screws and things are replaced and then BOOM, a new turbo!

disclaimer: the turbo looks new because we gave up trying to figure out how to get this one little snap ring back in correctly and just ended up getting a new one, that’s why it looks so pretty. Some of us know when to give up, however, then we have Mike on the team…

There’s no way that can be welded, it’ too thin. Well for a new one costing $289 Mike will find a way! Many tiny welds later and a lot of patience, success!

A lot has been happening

Many things have developed finally we got the heads off of the engine.

A few of the bolts from the exhaust manifold were broken off from the last time Mike was into the engine. Well, they never got replaced due to the fact that Mike was replacing the head gaskets in the wi yet in Upstate NY where it was about 35 degrees inside the garage. A lot of things get the theory of “it’ll be fine, it’s a hummer” when it’s 35 degrees. Haha

So since they were rusted into the heads and broken off we tried without success to weld a nut on them and then get em out. Ultimately drilling them out and using an extraction tool was the solution. By the way, the cheap extraction tool at Home Depot sucks and only worked for one out of the three we had broken off. The rest called for precise drilling and a lot of patience.

With the heads finally off we got a look at the cylinders and everything seems ok, no cracks in the block so we win! Woo hoo!!

New studs are installed and it’s ready to go back together! All went well there and everything was torqued down smoothly. Manifolds and intake are all back on and we are ready for the next exciting moment! The valve covers gave us a bit of surprise as the old gaskets had actually warped somehow and you can see in the picture how they weren’t even sealed with anything except some etc that fit into the gaps. The only thing we could figure was that they were over tightened and that pushed the gasket out of place maybe??

More and more assembly of little things led us to the injectors. With the high cost of new ones we decided to just clean the current ones. That was definitely the way to go. With zero experience and YouTube as our guide everything came apart and went back together smoothly.

It was a big ordeal of tiny parts everywhere. Don’t panic, when we did the final assembly it was a much cleaner work area.

Next we will attempt to rebuild the turbo and weld something that everyone says can’t be welded.

Just another day of repairs

We discovered the air hose on the compressor leaks and we have to go get a new fitting for the end. But wait, that store is too far away and even though we will go there later, we will most likely forget to buy it. The solution, always keep a tool attached to it so it can’t leak at the fitting.

It’s time to take out the transfer case and switch it with the brand new one we got. We disconnected front driveshaft and of course lost one of the strap nuts. Undid all the nuts in the transfer case only to discover that genius engineering was used in the construction. The very bottom bolt necessitates removing the transmission mount so you can barely squeeze a wrench in there. Jack crawls under and starts loosening it and then Mike thinks, “hmmm maybe I should put one of the top nuts back on for safety.”  A min later the bottom nut is off and the transfer case shifts right towards Jack’s waiting melon. Bonus points for remembering to put that top nut back on, woo hoo!! Easily pulled out transfer case and set the new one in place. Today’s injury is sponsored by Homer Simpson as mike lifted up the new case all by himself and is now suffering from back pain. 

 Switching the tailpiece on the transfer case. We changed it to the stronger case however the tailpieces differ a bit.   Our team member Chris sent us a new tail piece with the fitting for the speedometer but we need to take the tone ring out of the old case.  Pretty easy job we hope.  We split open the case and of course oil is all over the floor.  Used up the last of the kitty litter so add that to the shopping list.  

Washed out the differential that was full of aluminum shavings, stared at the engine and thought about the timing chain…..   lol.

Everything is off the engine now except the front timing cover.   It’s covered in old oil and gunk so there has to be a bad gasket there. I guess since we have gone this far we might as well take the rest of the front cover off and give it a closer look. The problem however is that to take it off you have to remove the injection pump. Now this isn’t a huge issue except if anything moves then we will have to reset the timing which is a huge nightmare seeing how it’s all electronic and we don’t have the computer. 

Luckily everything came off and went back together with no movement, woo hoo!  Now it’s time to rearrange the garage so we recruit all the family and push the hummer out and then back into another bay and it’s time for dinner and bed. Mmmmm bed. 

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