August 13th

There's a big hole thereI've been away for a while so it's now back to the grindstone in getting the car ready for the Silverstone weekend. Problem is, at the moment I'm kind of going backwards. I won't be going testing at Silverstone, I think I mentioned the lunatic prices, but I can at least drive the car around the paddock for a few minutes, as there's lots of it there.

Before we went away I did manage to get the engine out and took it over to Andy Bates at his new barn emporium out in the Suffolk countryside. This left this big hole in the front of the car which always looks more serious than it really is.

I'm hoping that if I phone Andy tomorrow he can give me a good time to get the engine back.

Gardening too!In the meantime it was on with other things. One thing that's on the list is to repack the exhaust which has been getting noticeably louder. So today I took the sidepod off and the exhaust off. I found quite a large quantity of grass hidden behind the silencer so it was probably a useful exercise anyway. As you can see, it's been getting quite hot, that grass.

The wadding in the exhaust was pretty much past its best so I've changed it and when I get the engine back I'll bolt the whole exhaust back into the car as I reckon it's probably best to do it that way around.

August 28th

New radiator ductingHmm, lots and lots to talk about but it all leads up to an unfortunately end result. Before getting on to that particular horror story, I did actually get the car back together, although not without some alarums and excursions.

Before the Silverstone weekend I sorted out various bits on the car including fitting a new radiator and making some, hopefully more effective, ducting for the radiator.

There was a problem though in that Andy confirmed that my gearbox was indeed pretty much knackered. Luckily he had just bought a smashed up RRX engine that including a close to pristine gearbox so that was transferred to my engine in toto.

So, once I got the engine back I set about refitting it. Things went OK until I got to refitting the various sensors. At that point I must have been eating too much spinach because I manage to mangle both the oil temperature and oil pressure fittings. Luckily, I managed to get the spare bits I needed in time to get the engine properly fitted.

The last thing to do before going off to Silverstone was to spend a while carefully checking the suspension alignment, which was bound to be out after having had to raise the car at Pembrey to avoid the problems that we had there with illegal ride height. Eventually, though, it was all sorted and we set off for the most boring race circuit in the country... Of course, the newly sorted engine had only had the benefit of driving the car from the garage onto the drive before this, so who knew what was going to happen?

At the circuit we had some of the garages so I took the chance to check the suspension again, as the Silverstone garages have super-duper floors, probably something to do with those Formula 1 chappies. Everything seemed to be OK so hopefully qualifying would be OK. The big problem was that I hadn't done any testing and I was concerned that I'd have trouble in the few laps that are RGB qualifying.

As it turned out I was entirely correct. I spent much of qualifying just failing to get to grips with the circuit. The only corner where I felt the car was vaguely hooked up was Copse and sure enough, when I looked at the logs, that was the only place where I'd beaten my previous time. It had been clear that I was going way slower than I could around the rest of the circuit so perhaps the race would be better. I must admit that I'm just not assertive enough in qualifying. I kept catching up with people and not ruining their lap by overtaking them into a corner but allowing other people to ruin my laps in just the same way.

Anyway, later on we lined up for the start and after the usual wait, we were off. I got a semi-good start but things went wrong when I caught Colin and he couldn't get 2nd gear, meaning I had to actually brake to avoid running into the back of him. This left me very slow into Copse. On the run into the corner there was a lot of tyre smoke around which I must admit that I mostly ignored.

I had thought that I was going to get past Neil C-B on the straight but I didn't manage it and I slotted in behind him in just about the ideal position as we went around the corner.

Unfortunately, as he moved around he revealed a nearly stationary David W who was sideways on to me. not quite sure what I thought at this point although I do remember a "I wonder which way he's going" aspect to it.

If you look at my hands on the wheel you'll see that I've steered to the right and, according to the logs, I've also braked slightly although not hard.

Unfortunately, it wasn't enough and I got closer and closer to David as he moved towards the side of the circuit and just left me with nowhere to go. You can see here that I'm already off the circuit and wondering what's going to happen.

There was the inevitable sickening crunch and fountain of GRP fragments. I executed a rapid 360° spin towards the left and ground to a halt with the car obvious scraping along the ground. I have to admit that I shouted a rude word rather loudly...

Still, I was OK and I clambered out and spoke to the medics who seemed happy to take my assurances that I felt fine. My car was hoisted onto a recovery truck by the roll cage and I could look at a bit of the damage. Both left wheels were akimbo and the rear one was only held on by the handbrake cable.

Once into parc fermé and I could look at the damage rather more carefully. In summary, the damage appeared to be:

  • A broken rosejoint in the front left suspension meant that the wheel had moved backwards and smashed the front of the sidepod.
  • The whole left side of the car was scraped seriously, getting worse towards the rear. In fact, the rear half of the sidepod was essentially missing.
  • The silencer had been flattened, complete with the new wadding, and had in fact been punched through the ally panel side of the car.
  • The rear left drive shaft had been ripped in two, tearing the inner CV joint apart in the process.
  • The rear left upright was broken.
  • All three rosejoints holding the left rear upright on had sheared, as had the brake hose.
  • The lower wishbone had been rotated rearwards and in the process had pushed into the diff carrier twisting this part of the chassis seriously.


Broken front suspensionBack home I left the car on the trailer for a day while I sulked. However, today I made a start on looking at the damage. I replaced the broken front rosejoint which meant it was a lot easier to get the car off the trailer. You should be able to see both bits of the rosejoint in this photo.

After that, it was time to look rather harder at the carnage at the rear of the car. The bodywork doesn't really bear looking at as it was still looking OK before this race and it's now very second hand. Problem is, fixing it will increase the weight and, as usual, the Fisher bodywork is showing the lamentable manufacturing quality. For example, it's clear from looking at the bits that rather than properly consolidating matting into the corners of the mould they've put in gelcoat and pushed a filler of filler in on top of it. This probably explains why the gelcoat hasn't really adhered to the matting that is there, that and the fact that the matting's just about not seen any resin which isn't quite the point.

I really can't get my head around this. The mechanical bits of the car are pretty well done but the bodywork is of appalling quality.

Anyway, with the front suspension "fixed" I could lift up the rear of the car and put it up on stands in the garage.

I took off the silencer and put it in the junk pile as it really isn't recoverable on account of being mostly flat. With that I cleaned up the sidepanel of the car. There's a lower chassis tube here that's a bit flattened, but I think it should be OK to bash it back into shape and add some additional strengthening.

The biggest problem is the diff carrier which is very mangled. It was clear that this bit was just going to have to be cut out and this is the wishbone attached to the lump that I took out. That tubing on the right isn't supposed to be that sort of spiral shape, as it's supposed to be 2" x 1" box section. As you can see, my home made wishbones have done the normal job of staying completely rigid and mangling the chassis that they're attached to.

I'm hoping through all this that the diff itself is OK. It's clear that it's taken quite a load but I can't see any cracks in the casing so with luck we're ok. After cutting all that rubbish out, and having a big clean up, the rear of the car looks like this. The plan at the moment is to make sure that the diff's lined up properly and then to reconstruct the diff carrier and the various support tubes in situ. That way I should be able to get all the mountings to line up properly.

What you can't see in this photo is that one of the top diff mountings, the one that can just be seen attached to the nearmost topside of the diff, is also slightly bent and has pulled away from the chassis slightly. I think it'll be possible to fix that using a big hammer, a small gusset and a big welder. However, we'll see.

So, hopefully tomorrow I can start sourcing the various extra bits that I'll need to put the car back together. I did wonder about doing various improvements while I had it in pieces, but I think I've decided that that's a daft idea and I'll leave that for any winter rebuild that I decide to do.

It seems likely that I'm going to miss the donington race though so I'll probably phone up tomorrow and cancel my entry for those races. A shame though as I'd really like a chance to do Donington properly but perhaps this isn't the time. Especially as I'll really need some track time before the next race to make sure the sodding thing works properly again.

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