Saturday, 3 February 2007

Frustration is an unfinished house....

  • The good news: The paint is dry and the kit is in the garage.
  • The bad news: Work can't start until the house is finished.
It's set to be a week of slow progress while the house is sorted before I can really get stuck into the build. In the mean time, I'll write a bit about the "concept" (overstating it a bit) for the car and also what I've done in preparation.

The BIG idea
The idea has always to build something quick by keeping it simple and therefore hopefully light. That said, I haven't gone all-out for the lightest possible components. Value for money is a big driver. For example, my diff is the heavier lobro-type with viscous LSD and my front uprights and brakes are Cortina originals rather than Raceleda aluminium items. All being well, these components can be swapped at a point in the future to try to see what benefit they give me.

What I am doing is trying not to use anything that I really don't need. As a result, the car's not having a handbrake - just a hydraulic line-lock for occasional use e.g. on a trailer. Similarly, I'm having the bare minimum in terms of lights - hopefully just one bright high level brake light, Also, the loom's been stripped back to the bare minimum and also simplified as much as possible for reliability and to aid fault finding. Wise Man once say: Simple = Reliable. There's no clutch switch, tip-over wotsit or similar here.

Components - general ramblings

I've been collecting bits for ages and from all sorts of places. EBay yielded some freshly reconditioned Cortina uprights/hubs as a start point and it's all gone downhill from there.

The engine was purchased from a guy who races Jedi single seaters. It's supposedly done less than 1000 miles but I'll never know for sure. Looking back, I may have been a bit rash but the engine looks mint and already has all of the modifications done (sump baffle, drilled oil cooler bolt etc) to bolt it straight in. The price was OK, so we just live in hope now. I did end up having to buy a second loom and correct ECU since the one that the guy sold me was off a Fazer. A term meaning frequent masturbater springs to mind. I only have a dodgy photo of the engine but I'll post it anyway.

You'll notice that there's a strange cylinder hanging off the gear shift arm on the motor. This is the actuator for a Kliktronic gear shifter. The guys who built my original MK used one on their next build and I decided I wanted one too. I bought it off a guy on who had sold his bike engined MK and bought a Jedi single seater. How's that for coincidence?

Wheels are teeny 6"x13" Minators (when they turn-up) and these will be mated with some part worn slicks at least to start with. Cheap and light again.

The 3.62:1 LSD was free from a guy who races a Sierra in the Welsh Sports & Saloons Championship (thanks Ken!) and will be perfect for the hills but pretty rubbish for Brands Hatch. I'll invest in a 2nd longer geared one eventually. This and many other parts have been cleaned up using a combination of electrolysis (see Locostbuilders for more info,) petrol and Hammerite (should have bought shares!) Most of the bits are now shiny and clean. I just have the steering column to do.

I've splashed-out on my seat. I probably should have gone cheap and light again, but instead saw something I really fancied and went for it (same can be said about Julia.) It's an Intatrim Endeavour narrow version. It's surprisingly light, comfortable and should look fan-bloomin-tastic in the car.

In terms of instruments, I've gone for a Veypor VR2 to monitor speed, revs, gear etc and a SPA dual gauge to look after oil pressure and water temperature.

I've stopped keeping track of what everything has cost - I think it'll be easier that way!

Bye for now.


Friday, 2 February 2007

And so we begin...

Well here we are. 1st post having just returned from collecting my MNR Vortx Kit. Some pics from today are intermingled with the tosh I've written thus far.
So where to begin?
Let's get the dull stuff out of the way. I'm 27 and from Cardiff. I've recently bought a house (with a garage!) with my incredibly patient and beautiful girlfriend Julia. I work as a Planning Manager in the food industry. I am totally car mad - I have been since I was about 16.

I've owned all sorts of cars from Peugeot GTis and Ex-rally Novas to an imported Mazda MX-5. A couple of years ago, I fulfilled a dream and bought my first (ready built) bike engined kit car. The car, an MK Indy with a Honda CBR1000 engine, was the king of bling. Big wheels, all black, chrome and polished aluminium. If an american rapper owned a 7 it probably wouldn't look too different! It was a great car, it still looks lovely. However, I got bitten by the trackday bug and suddenly realised that big wheels, showy chrome and carpet were no longer what I wanted.

The car was sold (eventually - Tip No.1 NEVER expect to get what you paid for a kit/kit car back when you sell) and the search began for it's leaner, meaner replacement. After narrowing the search down to Raw Striker, Procomp LA Gold and MNR Vortx I opted for the latter. Reasons are numerous but in summary, it was (in my eyes at least) better value, better quality and crucially easier to put together. This is my first build after all.

I haven't scrimped on the spec - I've gone for the RT+ kit with inboard dampers. I nearly went for the top-of-the range Super but determined that I'm not a good enough 'wheel-man' to reap the benefits. I've also strayed from the norm in terms of my roll-bar, scuttle panel, fuel tank and button operated gearshift to name a few. Chris and Marc @ MNR were extremely helpful (Tip No.2 Just ask!) The car is to be powered by a last-in-the-line carb-fed Yamaha R1 engine (5JJ for those in the know.)
I've been collecting parts for about 12 months and placed my order in September. This means that most of the stuff is ready to go which should mean that the build is a relatively quick one. It also helps that the car isn't being built for road use so I can leave a load of stuff off. It has two primary uses:
  1. Get me around as many UK racetracks on trackdays as possible.
  2. Give me my first motorsport experience in the forms of Sprints and Hillclimbs.

I hope that this blog is of some use to someone - I'll do my best to keep it updated.

As it stands, the kit is still in the van waiting for the paint to dry in my new garage (I'm not kidding.) Should be good-to-go by the morning.