Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Cut 'n' Shut (Pipe)

I read some similar blogs and I’m left in awe of what one guy in a shed often achieves. In many cases I have neither the skill nor the time to replicate these achievements, so it's unlikely that anyone will find much useful advice, for example, on how best to fabricate something here. What I have proved reasonably good at however is finding people who can do this stuff for me. I’ll prepare a list of useful links/contacts sometime soon. One good example is Chris Eva of Evalution Designs ( ) He’s made quite a few things for the car now (a catch tank is next) and is bloody brilliant at what he does.

You may remember me mentioning that the steering column clashed with the lower radiator pipe. I sent Chris the pipe and got him to yield his saw and welder. The result is below. Nicely notched with plenty of room for fluid to still flow. Job done, I’m sure.

I’d like to say a special thanks to Phil M from the Locostbuilders site for sending me the steering rack boots that I’d been searching high and low for – it’s very much appreciated.

Other parts supply issues: On the downside, I’m still trying to find someone to sew a zip in my boot cover; on the plus-side I think I should have my suspension spacers this week.

Right, must get back to the studying (yup, Year 2 of my MBA is underway!)


Monday, 29 September 2008

Surely not another update so soon?

So, I spent a few more hours working on the car today. The steering wheel buttons are all wired-in so it changes gear, which is nice. Neutral is a bit of a bitch to find, but the theory is that it might be a bit easier when the car is running. It’s a good job she’s wired to start in any gear just in case.

I’ve taken a couple more pictures of the surroundings.
It’s saying something when a car looks low and mean in this company, but I think ‘Gulfie’ looks the part!

The slightly blurry picture below is supposed to show the new brackets supporting the radiator and the front of the body tub.Anyway, two updates in two days; is that some sort of record?

Sunday, 28 September 2008

In good company...

The MNR has now moved to its new home. As you can see, it’s in good company. The car in front is a 2000 Nissan Primera Supertourer and the car to the left is Paul Radisich’s 1995 Valvoline Mondeo touring car. You might also be able to see the back end of the racing Caterham on the ramps in front.
I thought I had the cooling system finished when an eagle-eyed individual pointed out that the bolt on the steering column interfered with one of the hard pipes. I’m going to send the offending pipe off to be modified to solve this.

This will leave the suspension set-up as the last major job remaining. I’ve been advised to get some top-hat spacers made rather than use numerous washers so that’s the plan. There are still a few nagging problems. I can’t find any steering rack boots that fit my steel rack and I can’t find anyone to sew a zip in my boot cover. I’m getting tired of waiting to drive the car now and really want to get out in the thing in October.

I’ve been toying with the idea of going racing, either in the MNR or another car. However, I’m conscious that it may bankrupt me so I’m going to wait until 2010. So, it’s trackdays and some sprints for the MNR and me as originally planned.

I’ll take some decent photos (with a real camera rather than a phone) this week to show-off the radiator brackets and other small changes.


Saturday, 30 August 2008

The picture I promised...

I'm afraid that there's no real progress to report and nothing likely for a little while. :(


Monday, 4 August 2008

Exhaust? Tick. Rev-counter? Check. Oil leak? Dammit!

Good news: I have a fully fitted exhaust at long last! The exhaust has cost a fortune between ceramic coating, modifications and the original outlay. I’m just pleased to get it fitted. Once this was on, I was keen to put the car back together and briefly start the thing to get a feel for how noisy it is. The fuel tank was reconnected and filled from the jerry can. The scuttle was put in place and the Master Switch, Ignition/Starter, VR2 dash and SPA gauge all reconnected. Master on, ignition up. Fuel pump clicks until it’s happy and I then lift the ignition switch to its second position. The starter turns but it refuses to catch. This continued for a while until I sprayed carb cleaner down the inlets when it starts. I then realise that the fuel I’ve used is ancient. Oops.

When the car did catch I checked the rev counter. This was the only electrical part still unproven. What a result! It works a treat! I can now honestly say that my home-made wiring loom works in its entirety. Splendid. Just as I’m about to go and buy fresh fuel I notice the oil on the floor. I trace it to the join between the oil pressure sender and its feeder pipe. I must admit I cursed a little and then felt relieved that it was something simple. With the help of my brother, this all got tightened up and it leaks no more.

It was now too late to be starting the beast so I plugged in the Optimate charger and locked up, put the jerry can in the commuter and came inside to drink Becks. Still no sign of the camera charger but I will sort out some photos on the weekend.



Saturday, 26 July 2008

36 days until RAF Valley...

Decent progress. Unfortunately, I can’t find the battery charger for the camera to prove it. ‘Lenny the Lathe’ has been a huge help again; this time fabricating new brackets to mount the radiator and to support the front of the tub – if you remember, the old steel ones clashed with the suspension rockers. No such problem anymore and everything is aluminium so I must have saved at least 100 grams (Woop!)

Among my biggest worries was the cooling system because I couldn’t route the bottom hose with the radiator mounted as it was. The new brackets make this possible and I’ve forked out more cash for more silicon hoses to get the job done. Next on the worry list was/is the exhaust. I’ve got to be honest; the MNR exhaust is one of the least impressive parts of the kit. The tailpipe is nominally clamped to the silencer with the same U-clamp which supports the exhaust at the outlet end. It always struck me that this is a bit agricultural looking and has the potential to let the rest of the car down. I’ve already had the tip welded to the silencer and, having messed about with bike-style straps for longer than I care to think about, I’ve made arrangements to have a bracket welded-on by Charlie at . He’s got a great reputation with the guys on the Pistonheads South Wales forum and has been very helpful.

I’ve bought plenty of odds-and-sods to do various small jobs on the car. The contents of a small envelope from Demon Tweeks came to £50 - A bit upsetting but needs must. I’m just glad I stopped counting costs long ago! I need to tidy-up some of the holes in the GRP where they haven’t quite been big enough and moving parts have chipped the edge. Removing the scuttle has allowed me to ‘kill two birds with one stone’ and extend the hole for the steering column at the same time as cleaning up the aluminium. The perfectionist in me has also reared its head and I’ve replaced a switch cover that was tarnished with a new one before the car has even turned a wheel. Don’t even get me started on the way that one of those unturned wheels is already losing its lacquer…

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Rear arches back on...

Just a couple of pics.

Looking good:
And even:


P.s. Earache still bad but better.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Post holiday progress; or not…

I was planning on having a really good run at the car this week after a week away. Unfortunately I seem to have ‘swimmers ear’ or similar which is absolute bloody agony. Hence, I’ve only pottered about really as I’ve messed-up the only thing requiring any level of concentration. This was a 2nd attempt at an inspection cover (in a better aluminium which matched the scuttle) so I’ll now have to make a third.

I have done one of the jobs that I was dreading though. The rear arch protectors are a flexible carbon polymer. They aren’t self adhesive and I’d been wondering how to attach them. The supplier, Carbonmods, suggested double-sided tape and a mate suggested Velcro. Neither of these were a satisfactory solution for me. Instead I went onto eBay and bought some strong spray glue. After washing and drying both the arches and the protectors, I marked how I wanted to position them and covered the entire back of the protector. I then lined them up and stuck them on. I’m as relieved with the result as I am pleased. Once I’m happy that the glue has gone off I just need to remove any excess with nail polish remover.

Excuse the mess in the background - the skip is due Thursday!

This job was made easier by the fact that I’d already removed the arches to trim back the tub where it was fouling the springs. I didn’t want to take too much material off as the tub is a bit ‘wavy’ but I think I’ve cleared it enough now.
A final piece of exciting news is that the boot cover has arrived. I need to spend some time fixing this in place once my brain isn’t warped by pain killers. In the meantime, here’s a picture of it lying in situ. I’m very pleased with it – the orange piping is just enough to pick-up the Gulf theme.
I’ve booked my first trackday in the car – the 31st of August at RAF Valley on Anglesey. That gives me two months to complete everything. It should be a ‘doddle’ but I still need to sort out some problems like the radiator mounting so it will naturally be too close for comfort – that’s just the way the build has gone.

Anyway, I’m off to wince some more from the ear-related pain!


Monday, 16 June 2008

The Garage is tidy…

... and ready for action.

The exams are over, and finally I can try to make some progress. The boot cover template is as good as I can get it and ready to ship.
The carbon back panel is riveted on.
I need some material to make some brackets and replace some mild steel bar in the pedal box. I was about to buy some from an eBay seller and amended a measurement by 5mm on 2mm thick Ali plate. The guy wanted an additional £5.50 so I told him where to stick it. So, I need to try to get to my local metals place sometime in office hours.

I put the nose back on today as I’d forgotten what the car looked like ‘complete.’ I thought while it was all together, I’d have a look at the carbon canards to see where they’d go and also put the stripe in place to see what it will all look like. Sellotape is a wonderful thing.
Now, my latest concern: If you look at the above photograph, the lower wishbone is almost parallel to the floor and the steering arms can only be described as diagonal. This spells one thing, bump-steer. The problem is, there is absolutely no way that the steering rack can move. Hmmm… will require some thought; likely by someone with more expertise than me.

A couple of pretty random photos to finish for the evening: Good night.


Sunday, 8 June 2008

Too close for comfort...

I’m deep into revision for my last exam of the year at the end of the week but I have managed a few hours in the garage… all of which have been a bit concerning.

I’ve put the front suspension back together and have found two problems:

  1. I’ve had Lenny turn my bolts too short – totally my fault; not the end of the world but annoying.
  2. More worryingly, once it was all back together I found that the rocker actually clashed with the bracket that Steve had riveted to the chassis to support the body. I’ve always wondered if they should be on the outside if the chassis and this would appear to be the case. There was nothing about this ‘development’ in the manual so it’s not a great shock. The only way that I could attach the brackets on the outside of the chassis is if I removed the main tub – this is not going to happen so I’ll need to fabricate some different brackets. It’s incredible how tight things are around the front shocks. I’ve already mentioned that the lower mount are too close together; I now find that I have about 3-4mm only of clearance between rocker and chassis. I’ve leapt up and down on the front suspension and nothing touches with the aforementioned brackets removed but it’s a bit closer than I’d ideally like.

I’ve also had a quick look at the rear suspension and found that the springs touch the body in their current position. This means that I’ve got to space the wishbones and or dampers differently. Again, not the end of the world but an annoyance none the less, and another job for the list.
I have managed to complete something off the list. I bought some skateboard grip tape from an eBay seller and have since removed the pedals and applied it. You can also see in the photo my original and replacement accelerator pedals. I positioned the pivot too far to the right so wasn’t able to heel and toe. I contacted Grant at Optimum Balance Products who I guessed made the pedal box and commissioned a one-off replacement. Not surprisingly, he questioned what I needed a couple of times as it does look suitable for a club-foot. Still, it does the job nicely. Lenny’s done a great job on my new load spreading seat spacers. New (top) and old can be seen here:
I’ve also almost got the template for the boot cover spot-on. One more and I’ll have it done.
I have had a bit of encouraging news this week. Local MNR owners Ed and Jon (thoroughly nice blokes as it happens) took their car to Muzz Race to get the suspension set-up after I suggested that I would be taking mine there. It sounds like Steff did a great job which is the first bit of good news. The second is that their car weighed 486kgs with a fair amount of fuel on board. I’d expect their car to be quite a bit heavier than mine so I may yet get to 450ish kgs which would be fab!

Anyway, bed beckons – Ciao.


Sunday, 25 May 2008

About time I posted…

It’s been nearly 6 months! How time flies! Well, I’ve been working pretty hard on all fronts hence I haven’t updated the blog. The car has moved on, mostly thanks to Steve but it’s been home for a while now. Steve and I agreed that there would be a few jobs left to finish, and most of them are still to be done. We left it like that because Steve found himself having to rectify so many jobs that we simply should not have had to worry about. This ate-up time and Steve had made commitments to other people so it was only fair that the car came back. Kit Cars eh? Part of the purpose of this post is to force me to make a list of what’s left to do so I can start to tick these off.

Before I get to that, I’ll try to explain what stage the car is at. By the time Steve returned the car, it actually looked virtually complete.

In reality, the suspension is all loose awaiting professional set-up and there are a few jobs to complete and a few remedial jobs for me to do also. Even if Pininfarina had been completing the build, I’d have wanted to amend something so this isn’t a slight on anyone.

The car is in many more pieces now than it was when I got it back. Most of this was to try and get things clean – the aluminium in particular needed some TLC – I’m about half way there with the Autosol. Hence, the seats and harness are out. The radiator is also off and the exhaust has been off but is now back together. The exhaust came off so I could get the cut-out as I like it. The radiator had to come off because in its original position I couldn’t fit the lower hose. The most substantive parts to be removed were the front shocks. The lower bracket isn’t ‘right’ and hence in standard form the two shocks wouldn’t fit together. By taking a little meat off the lower body Steve got them to fit, but I worried that in compression the adjuster knobs would clash. Hence, they had to come off again and get turned around. This meant that the other side of the shock body needed shaving as well. Not ideal!

So, what’s left to do? Jobs to complete 25/05/08

Engine and Ancillaries
Fit thicker foam on fuel tank straps.
Fit new o-ring in filler cap – it seems to have swollen.
Buy and fit hose tail for one-way valve connected to tank.
Consider if I’m going to change the fuel pump mount.
Wire-up steering buttons for Kliktronic shifter.
Get new radiator mounts made from Ali.
Fit radiator and associated hoses.
Fill with fluids.
Replace nasty screws holding-down airbox.
Get tailpipe welded to silencer.

Suspension and Brakes
Drill-out rivets securing brake line from M/Cylinder to Line Lock and have damaged fitting replaced.
Refit brake line
Replace front shocks and tighten all nuts not needed for suspension set-up.
Turn one rear shock around and tighten.
Fill brake fluid and bleed.
Set brake balance bar.
Get suspension corner weighted and set-up by Steff @ Muzz Race.

Bodywork and Interior.
Collect load spreading seat spacers from Lenny.
Clean all Ali. Refit seats and harnesses.
Tidy cut-outs in nosecone.
Refit quick release catches.
Re-make scuttle inspection covers in plain rather than machined ali.
Fit mirrors.
Apply stickers (having ordered pseudo-race number backgrounds.)
Rivet carbon back panel back on.
Paint Ali brackets for rear arches.
Run silicone sealant around chassis tubes to prevent water ingress.
Attach carbon CSR arches with polyurethane sealant.
Attach carbon canards to nosecone.
Attach carbon rear arch protectors.
Apply non-slip tape to pedals.
Clean engine.
Complete template for rear boot cover and get it made by Milson – fit poppers, and then cover.

Yikes – more than I thought. I have my final exam of the year in 3 weeks, after which I will really get stuck in.

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Body On...

I did promise a picture with the tub on and here it is:

It's actually starting to resemble a car!

My uprights/hubs etc are still AWOL in the post. Marc @ MNR has kindly sourced some replacement uprights which he'll machine and send across to Steve. I've been ordering all the other bits to build-up the uprights. One upgrade that I am going to make is a move to aluminium hubs - assuming the guy selling them gets back to me. It won't make a lot of difference with my heavy calipers but it seems daft to buy one set with a view to changing them next winter.

Keeping the blog up to date is making a nice change from all the revision I'm doing for my exams next week.

'Til next time, cheers