September 1st

Tube cut outI managed to squeeze out some time the other evening to start the chassis repairs. First thing was to clean up this area at the back of the passenger compartment so that I could well a bit of 1" square tube back in.

New tube in placeIt didn't take too long until it looked like this. Currently this tube is just butt welded into place. I shall add a couple of gussets, or something like that. to put a bit of strength back in when I next get back to the car.

Right now it's Friday evening and I'm hoping to have a real blitz on the car this weekend. If successful then there's chance that I can get the thing together for the Donington weekend. If not then I'll give up.

I've ordered various bits to fix the car with, such as a new sidepod and a new silencer. There's a reasonable chance that I'll get all these bits in time, although the silencer is going to be tight. I have to admit that I'm not looking forward to the hassle of sorting out the bodywork. All that rubbing down and filling is just such a pain.

September 3rd

OoopsI seem to have spent all weekend in the garage, but I have got somewhere though. Before I get on with it though, here's a photo that I just received of the car sitting in parc fermé at Silverstone just after the crash. It certainly looks pretty sorry for itself.

Thanks to Zena for the photo.

Anyway, back in the garage I got on with the rear end of the car and after the complete weekend I've got the complete chassis sorted out again. I've even painted it as you can tell from the photo. (For some reason Hammerite never looks right in photos. Although I need to do another coat, it looks better than that, honest.)

So, I now need to essentially start putting it back together and also sorting the bodywork. That last bit is probably going to take some time, but I suppose I could cheat a bit with some judicious sticker placement. Don't really like doing that though. Of course, I am going to end up making everthing heavier again.

As part of sorting the chassis I actually had to take the diff out which was the usual struggle. I keep worrying that the casing is cracked in some way, although it does seem to be OK. As part of taking the diff out, I had to remove the right hand driveshaft and when I did I was alarmed to find that the upright on that side was broken as well.

You can see the crack at the bottom of the upright in this photo.

The other side, the one with all the damage, looks like this. As you can see that looks like pretty much the same problem.

I've cracked uprights before. In fact in my race spares kit is one that I patched up with the welder and carry around with me. I'm wondering if this particular problem in fact wasn't due to the crash but was just a consequence of racing the thing.

If it was the latter I suppose it's not surprising as all the lateral load of the car goes through this and it could make the thing bend. If it did and there was to be a problem of cracking it would inevitably happen here as there such an obvious stress raiser in that mounting hole.

As a consequence of this I need to buy another upright from Martin. I think perhaps I'll see about welding an additional lump of steel on top of this region. Of course, the might just create another over-stressed region at the side of the patch...

Anyway, I can now start putting the rear of the car back together, although this problem will mean I have to leave it for a while to complete. I can also make a couple of new ally panels for the inside of the car and then get on with the bodywork. (Groan...)

September 13th

Well, as you can probably guess I've been in the garage for ages and had no time to update this site. However, as the next race meeting is coming up this weekend and it looks as though I might make it I guess I ought to at least put in some sort of appearance.

The photo shows what the car looks like now. Over the last couple of weeks I've:

  • Got two new non powder coated uprights from Martin and welded from extra stiffening into them to hopefully stop them cracking all the time.
  • Put the rear suspension back together, in the process discovering that the inner rosejoints on the rear lower wishbone were also bent. That makes four broken joints and two bent ones.
  • Sent off the old silencer to Tony Law and got back a new one made to the same pattern. I must admit that those people are stars, For a handmade silencer you actually pay less than a standard item.
  • Rebuilt the rear brakes with new linings.
  • Fitted a new sidepod around the new silencer with some new heat insulation inside it.
  • Patched up the bodywork with liberal amounts of resin, GRP and filler.
  • Resprayed the left hand side of the car
  • Refitted various bodywork fasteners.
  • Stuck a new race number and sponsorship sticker on. I carefully arranged these to cover up the worst of the repairs to the bodywork. (It looks a whole lot better in the photo than it does in real life!)
  • Bled the rear brakes and adjusted the ever so slightly mangled handbrake cable.

With all that done all (!) I've got left to do is to:

  • Refit the tunnel lower panel
  • Refit wheels
  • Put on the ground
  • Test the reverser
  • Refit the tunnel upper panels. (They're off so as to allow access to the reverser, which I had to take out as a consequence of taking the diff out.)
  • Spend more time than you would have thought possible re-aligning the suspension. Hopefully at this point I won't discover some horrible bend in the chassis as a whole that I haven't noticed.
  • Wash it and polish it. (I reckon race cars look a lot nicer if they're turned out nicely. I hate the thing being grubby.)

At least I think that's all I've got to do!

September 23rd

Well, I made it! Although, it's taken me a week to get around to writing this. I did all of the stuff in the list above and got all the tools packed up by about 10pm on the Friday evening before the race meeting at the weekend.

This would be my second visit Donington, the first one having been the time of my first big smash. That one had involved getting a complete new front end for the chassis so perhaps I got off lightly in this latest escapade. I have to admit that I'm pretty fed off with bending the chassis though. Hence I've decided to stop doing it.

Anyway, we left for Donington very early on the Saturday morning as the plan was to spend the day trying to talk people who had gone to the kit car show that they'd like to take up racing. I didn't actually get to the show itself as I spent all day on the stand, apart from having to give some of the drivers' briefings for the track day sessions that were running at the same time. This was a sort of quid pro quo from us RGBers for the free stand on the infield.

Mind you, I watched some of the people that I'd been briefing once they'd been let out on the track and it reminded me why I got fed up doing track days; I've rarely seen such awful driving.

Once Sunday dawned it was time for our track time. After the madness of scrutineering (it was ridiculously busy) I went out for qualifying. My intention was to take it easy for a few laps to see how the car went. The answer was it seemed to be fine. After about 5 fairly sedate laps I decided to push it a bit. Shortly after I was zooming down through the Craner Curves with the intention of getting past Mark into the Old Hairpin. Then I saw a waved yellow and an oil flag across the gravel trap the other side of the bend. (Donington has huge amounts of run off, so the marshalls posts are miles off.) I tried to brake before I passed Mark, as passing under a yellow is a big no-no, and everything locked up on what I guess was the oil on the track. Ooops.

Still I carried on. Problem was, every corner was slippier than a really slippy thing. Later on it turned out that Steve in one of the Genesis cars had had an engine problem and dumped oil around most of the lap.

However, it rapidly became apparent that pressing on wasn't really sensible as I wouldn't get any better times and I was just running the risk of sticking it in a gravel trap somewhere. Or worse. So, I retired to the paddock. That left me a measly 29th out of 24. Mind you, I wasn't too hacked off as I really, really didn't want to bend the car. What's more, I reckon, even after this weekend, that I've spent about 45 minutes on the Donington circuit which just isn't enough for me to learn the circuit. I just haven't had time to even work out simple things like gears, let alone the fine details of braking points and so on. All the same, I as looking forward to the races.

Come the race and we moved onto the grid and held us there for ages. I've since heard that they put out a start delayed board but I was just about unsighted from the starter and didn't see it. Once the lights did go out there was a huge jam down into Redgate which I did my level best to stay out of trouble in. Luckily we got round OK and as the field spread out I got into a battle with Neil and Martin that essentially went on for the whole race. As I was still really learning the circuit this was fun. I discovered that you could make all sort of interesting passes into McLeans and Coppice. Problem was, I seemed to be having trouble getting outdragged on the straight from Coppice down towards the pits.

As has often been the case this season my oil temperature was heading skywards. I'm really not sure why this is. I guess the mostly likely reason is that as a result of panelling in under the engine everything's getting more toasty. However, it's not the case that everyone else has the same problem. I've actually ended up wondering of my oil cooler wasn't working properly and, as there's a disagreement as to whether you need one at all, I've spent some of today taking it off. Doubtess as a consequence I'll melt the engine at Snetterton.

Oh well, back in the race I finally managed to get ahead of both Neil and Martin and set off after Mark. However, a lap later I arrived at Redgate and completely screwed it up with the result that I stuffed it, pretty firmly, into the gravel trap. I tried to get out but when the marshall came up and shouted "I think you've buried it mate" I realised that I was going to watch the rest of the race from the banking. I therefore had a ringside view when Henry parked his car in the trap a lap or so later.

Once the chequered flag was out I get towed out of the trap. That wasn't easy though as the car was just heading downwards all the time. Eventually they actually pulled me backwards which worked rather better. I drove most of the way back to the paddock on the grass to avoid spreading too much gravel on the track. Once back in the paddock the inside of the engine compartment looked like my own personal Zen garden. There was a layer of gravel about 3" deep in there, as you can see on the photo.

Still, a consequence of making the panelling removeable meant that getting rid of it all wasn't too huge a problem, although it left a lot of rubble in the paddock.

With that all cleared, it was time for the second race. To be honest, although I was one place further up in this race it was pretty much a rerun of the first one. The only problem was that about 10 minutes into the race we came across Mike and Paul parked in a rather dangerous couple of places at McLeans and they red-flagged the race. As we'd been going for 10 minutes the race was completely stopped there and we were ushered back into the paddock.

So, from a results point of view not really very successful. However, the car did go OK and it's not bent. I really need to work out how to do more testing at places like Donington though. I guess what I really need is some way of being able to make the car a lot quieter for a track day. Dunno how though.

Last race of the season is at Snetterton this coming weekend. After that, I'm in a team entered into the Birkett relay race at Silverstone in a few weeks. Assuming all that goes OK, it'll be back to rebuilding the car for the new year. I haven't decided yet what I might be doing to it though. I do keep wondering about changing the engine and going into class B, if only for something different to do.

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