Bruce’s VCR Restoration

Restoring the Valve Cover Bruce Meyers piloted in 2015

Valve Cover Racing first came to the Manx Club and the Dune Buggy community in 2015 at the annual “Manx on the Banx” event in Kill Devil Hills, NC.  The track was donated to Paul Mabin by the NJ AirCooled Society with a couple stock valve cover racers included.  

This first event had a lot of interest from folks in the Manx Club and over 20 custom racers were made to compete for the first Manx Club Valve Cover Racing Championship.  Bruce wanted to join in on the event, so one of the stock racers was donned in black duct tape, covered with Manx Club Stickers and a Yellow Buggy nose affixed to the front of the car for Bruce to pilot.  

The stock racer worked ok, but just wasn’t competitive in that race. The Champion in 2015 was Built and Raced by Tom Iacoboni – his racer chassis/wheels can be seen on that page in this site.  The Champion in 2016 was Built by Zarkov Industries and raced by Sue King-Zeller.  That style of racer can also be seen on the chassis/wheels page.

Fast forward to 2023, and the valve cover racer Bruce raced was found at the bottom of an old tool box kind of rusting away.  So to get ready for the 2023 Racing season, the car has gone through a restoration that would certainly make Bruce smile 🙂

This racer, with original patina, now re-engineered and highly competitive, will be available for anyone to use if they don’t have a racer or forgot to bring one to an event.

The Restoration (Before)

First things first, the old valve cover car needed to be inspected to the condition of any usable parts remaining.  The Manx Club stickers needed to be removed to be re-used if possible.  Then the duct tape needed to be removed….holy smokes, what a mess.  The residue left behind was almost a show stopper.  The tape needed to be pulled back initially to access the screws that affixed the chassis to the valve cover then removed with solvent to get to the base metal of the valve cover – the patina was a beautiful old bare metal color, no paint in any form.  This will be the base color for the final build.

Component Analysis

A good performing Valve Cover Racer has a couple common attributes – a solid chassis that is aligned to roll straight and true; and a good set of wheels (Any composition with free rolling low friction bearings).  This combination will always compete for a race win.   

This car had neither.  The chassis alignment was erratic.  Nothing in the design is really secured and fixed to ensure straight runs.  The axle/wheel combination was a simple screw inside a nylon sleeve held secure with upside-down mounted u-clamps (with no bearings).  The wheels are large washers fixed to the screw.  For the valve cover to move, the entire screw rolls inside the nylon sleeve.  The washers and screws are solidly attached as one component. 

The only item, except for the valve cover itself, that could be re-used in this setup was the primary “tunnel” – ¾” steel bar used as the base chassis.  The U-Shaped wire clamps on the metal bar were corroded as well and needed to be replaced.  Even the little screws that mount through the valve cover on the ends to secure the metal bar needed to be replaced.

Parts Needed for Restoration:

  1. Wheels, new wheels with bearings.  Skateboard Wheels, less than 52mm diameter, no more than 30mm wide to fit inside the Valve Cover for protection.  AMAZON Click Here:  $17 total includes Wheels and stock bearings.
  2. Qty. 2 U-Shaped wire clamps ¼” to secure Axle to metal bar.  Qty. 2 with nut 6-32 X 1/2″ screw and lock nut.  Home Depot Store – $5 total (qty. of 3 in a set)
  3. Axles:  Qty 2 Carriage Bolt, 5/16″ x 3.5″, 4 lock washers, 16 regular washers (smaller diameter to fit 5/16″ bolt), 2 nylon locking nuts.  Any Hardware store about $6 total
  4. UNIQUE Washers:  Qty 8, Skateboard wheel washers, still allowing the bearing to turn but the wheel to be secured.  AMAZON Click Here$5 total.

Total Parts cost for Restoration:  $32 

Small Diameter and Width Wheels/Bearings
U-Shaped ¼" Wire clamps
Carriage Bolts, Misc Hardware
Skateboard Wheel Washers for Bearings

The Restoration (After)

Removed all duct tape residue.  Used Goof Off to get the patina to as much of the bare metal as possible, used alcohol to clean and dry outside of valve cover.  Painted inside of valve cover flat black.

Once the metal bar “chassis” was sanded and painted flat black the assembly of the components is as follows:

Times 2, Carriage Bolt: – Flat Washer > Skateboard Washer > Wheel with Bearings > Skateboard Washer > 3 Flat Washers > 1 lock washer > U-Bolt > 1 lock washer > 3 Flat Washers > Skateboard Washer > Wheel with Bearings > Skateboard Washer > Flat Washer > Nylon Lock Nut

Got creative with some stickers and cut a small Manx Cat logo for the nose of a Dune Buggy vinyl transfer I had lying around.  Used an old Manx on the Banx sticker and cut out a rear MANX emblem, and re-used one of the original Manx Club stickers from the original racer from 2015 with spray adhesive to stick to outside of metal valve cover.

Attached chassis to valve cover on the ends with the 6-32 ½” bolts and lock nuts and did a test run.  

OPTIONAL but Recommended:  Stick-On Weights have been added to the inside of the Valve Cover body and this car is ready for test and tune sessions prior to the first race of the ACME Cup Season.  A box of weights can be purchased on AMAZON Click Here.  Use ½ oz or 1 oz stick on weights.  Just make sure you leave clearance for your wheels to roll without rubbing the inside of the Valve Cover.

3 lbs of stick on weights.
Assembled Chassis
Final Assembly, wheels straight

The Result on the Track

A straight running performer – This stock valve cover racer should compete for a lot of class wins and hopefully get an entry into the final bracket for each race of the 2023 Season.