October 17th

being taken apart againThe winter rebuild is now starting in earnest. I took the car off the trailer at the weekend and put it up on stands in the garage so that I can get at everything again. It's horrendously dirty on the underside and I'll need to see if I can get it all cleaned up somehow. Colin says that he cleans his engine by spraying it with paraffin and blasting it dry with an airline. He reckons that over a period of time it just gets cleaner and cleaner.

Sounds like a sensible idea, apart from the absense of any paraffin or a paraffin spray gun that is.

I took the bodywork off the car too; hence it's looking a bit naked here. Hopefully there'll be a whole load of new stuff to put on in a while. I have asked Fishers for the lead time but they don't seem to be talking to me at the moment.

One thing that I had thought about doing to the car is changing the dampers for some aluminium ones. I looked at the Protech ones and I asked them how much they weighed, the answer being just under a kg. I took off one of the steel-bodied Avo ones that I've got on the car and weighted it and it's about 1.8 kg. So, I could save just over 3 kg by changing them. However, at £85 each I'm not sure I can justify it.

Spare CDi moduleOne minor acquisition is this, which is a spare CDi (ECU, that is) for the engine. I got this from EBay for the gand sum of £13 which seems pretty good. It seems to work fine so I'll stick it in the spares box and keep it with me. I've always worried about this developing a fault as there's essentially nothing that you can do about it.

October 23rd

...and it's out againThis weekend I've basically been taking the car to bits. I took all the bodywork off and it's now stacked outside the back of the house along with a large collection of other bits of Fury bodywork. I've promised Anthea that I'll end up with just the one spare set of bodywork and work out some way of getting the rest of it to the dump. I'll probably find there's some landfill issue about dumping old bits of bodywork.

With all that out of the way I took the exhaust off. Rather distressingly the clamp between the headers and the silencer was rather loose. I must watch that as hot gases escaping inside the sidepod is not really very clever. I was wondering if when I get some new bodywork I can leave off the heat insulation inside the sidepod if I put enough air holes in there (regulations permitting of course.) If so that'd be another few grams saved.

Then I took the engine out. (He said casually as if it was no issue at all.) Actually, it is pretty easy apart from, as always, the propshaft bolts which always seems a real fiddle. One of my fellow racers has had real trouble with the prop shaft adapter coming loose all the time. Mine seems to be really solid which is good. Fairly surprising really as the torque setting for it is really rather slight. When I did it up I was amazed that it was so small. Seems to work all right though.

One of the jobs is going to be sorting out the engine mountings. The one nearest the camera has had to be fixed up a couple of times, as I've written about here. I think I'll work out whether I want to completely remake it or whether it just makes sense to inspect this one carefully and perhaps add a few new gussets. (And perhaps drill a few holes in the rather Forth Rail Bridge like ones that are there already.)

And this thing's out tooOne job for this coming week is to phone Andy Bates (a local 'blade engine builder chappie) and see about getting the engine to him. I spoke to him at Brands and he said he could strip the engine and then we could talk about what was needed to do to get it back to a decent condition. I'm actually quite chuffed that this engine has gone the whole season, in particular the clutch with which a lot of people seem to have real trouble. I suspect my inate mechanical sympathy (I'm an engineer...!) might be the root cause of this.

Next thing was to take the diff out. I've ordered the ATB internals for it (not cheap!) and they should arrive this week. I've also found a local gearbox specialist who says they can rebuild it fine.

It seemed much easier than I remember taking the diff out. Perhaps I've just got better at it? It's certainly a heavy lump of kit though, although apparently lighter than the Sierra replacement. I just just hope that this plan to stick with this ratio and ATB it is the right thing to do.

I've also ordered a collection of poly bushes for the suspension. They are the "universal" bushes that are on this page. Apparently, I can cut down the flange on the end of the bushes to make a suitable device that will fit in the side of the existing wishbone/chassis mounts.

It's all gone!As part of taking the diff out I took off all the rear suspension, as you can see here. I also tried to clean off a lot of the clag that had built up; it almost looks clean here. Mind you, I'm getting complaints from the rest of the house about the various solvents that I'm using to do this.

Once the bushes arrive shall start experimenting with how they fit. I suspect that, due to slight inaccuracies in the way the chassis's built, that I shall have to cut up each bush in an individual way for each particular location. Still, that shoudn't be too hard a job.

One worry is that I shall have to cut down the "brims" of the bushes rather drastically to fit properly. That's going to need considerable care and, probably, use of a fairly large hammer to get the things in.

The effect of fitting these bushes should be to sharpen up the handling as it's removing a lot of the compliance from the suspension. It should also mean that I can just tighten up the suspension while the car's off the ground. One of the problems with the metalastic bushes is that you have to be careful to only tighten everything up with the car's on the ground. As the suspension movement with such bushes is achieved by twisting the rubber insert in the bush around then you need to get the suspension centralised before starting to move the suspension. If nothing else twisting these rubber bits around takes work which should be being used to make the car go faster. Probably not really a measurable amount though.

The poly bushes should be a halfway house before going fully rosejointed. This is a lot more expensive as it would need new wishbones as well as the joints themselves. However, I'm thinking that I will change the top outer connection to a rosejoint. (I think it's possible.) This is the one that's used to adjust the camber and I actually need a bit more adjustment on it.

October 28th

ATB diffNothing really's happened, but there is a couple of things to mention. One is that the diff arrived from Quaife in double quick time. Now I just need to take this and the Freelander diff along to the people I spoke to last week to get the two put together.

One, well sort of two-ish really, polybushNext up was some more stuff arriving. In this case a whole pile of poly bushes. This rather washed out photo is of just one of them. The idea is to cut the stainless rod to the right length and also trim down the top-hat of the bush itself so that it will fit in the mounting flange. Apparently, so I'm told, this will leave me a polyurethane washer that I can use at the other end of the bush, thereby making this lot here replace two metalastic bushes. I remain to be convinced, to be honest, but we'll see. I will need to make up some sort of jig to cut the bushes as square as possible.

October 30th

Constructed bush, yeuch...Well, I said up there I remained to be convinced about the bushes and after a day or so faffing around with them that's still the case.

It is possible to make these things fit. The problem is that to do so you have to ram them very firmly into the housing in the wishbone. This has the effect of tightening up the hole in the middle of the bush which then has to be reamed out somehow. The end result of doing this might be all right in some circumstances but I wasn't convinced, to be honest. As I was working on this I kept thinking about Henry Royce's dictum that rubber was not an engineering material. I was becoming convinced that he would have said the same about polyurethane.

Eventually, I decided that I was never going to be happy with this. So, I put the original metalastic bush back in this particular housing. The leaves me wondering what to do about it. There seem to be several choices:

  1. Just go back to how the car was. After all, it did go. However, one of the reasons for starting all this is that I never felt that the suspension felt the way it really should in terms of sharpness and predicatability. Of course, there could be lots of other effects but getting rid of the rubber in the suspension seemed like a good idea.
  2. Leave in the metalastic bushes but use some polyurethane washers to control fore and aft movement of the suspension. This was done on the front suspension of my Dax and the designer of that car was quite insistent that it had a huge effect. (The polyurethane used, though, was much harder than the stuff I've just been fiddling with.
  3. Just bite the bullet and buy some rose-jointable wishbones and do it properly. Obviously this is the most expensive option but I'm wondering why I don't just do it.

There's also a half-way house solution of just rose-jointing the front suspension and leaving the rear until the piggy bank's full again.

Cage disappearedSo, having ground to a halt with that it was back to other things. As I've said I want to see about getting some of the weight out of the whole cage thing so I took the cage off the car.

I then weighed the cage which comes in at 19kg. I'm hoping that I can lose about 4-5kg of this by making the whole thing a bit lower and removing the left hand side-impact support bar. I suspect it'll be nearer to 3kg though.

Left hand side impact protection turretThe other thing that's related to the cage issue is the left hand side impact protection. One of the reasons for taking the cage off was to that I could get access to all of this.

The plan is just to cut this off. I will, though, have to pay attention to a couple of other things. Firstly the front cage mounting is integrated into the side impact stuff and I'll need to beef that up a bit. In fact, the front leg of the Fisher cage bolts on by two bolts which is specifically not allowed by the Blue Book which mandates three fixing points at each leg. Hence, I'll weld a bit of a piece of thick plate on here so that I can fit in another mounting hole. (Your answer is as good as mine as to why the supposed race cage does not conform to the Blue Book.)

The other problem is the rear mounting for the silencer. This hangs off the rear lower diagonal which you can just see underneath the apex of the turret in the photo above. With the majority of the turret cut away this support is going to be waving in the breeze a bit and I'll have to come up with some way of strengthening it slightly, probably with another bit of plate welded in somewhere.

MOuntings removedFinally, I took the engine mountings off the engine so that I can take it off to Andy Bates, the engine builder. (I really ought to phone him to organise this.)

While the engine's away, or at least out of the car, I can put some time into beefing up the main mounting so that I don't suffer the problems with it that I've had this year.

 next page