November 7th

Shiny floorSo, with the season done a chap's thoughts move to making the damn car go a bit quicker. As usual, I've got lots of ideas as to what to do but some of them are rather expensive. However, in order to these things I'm going to be spending some time in the garage so the first thing is to have a huge tidy-up, something I've been meaning to do all year. The first part of this is to repaint the floor as a lot of the paint's fallen off and it's starting to get very dusty in the garage as a result. I'm pretty sure that the best thing to do would be to get some epoxy floor paint but that seems rather too much faffing about. So, I just bought some of the stuff that I bought last time I did it. If you follow that link you can see it takes you back to a pre-Fury time; May 2003 to be precise. That is, it's been over three years since I last did this so perhaps that's not so bad really.

Problem is, of course, that the garage is full of crap. So, I did what I remember doing that previous time. That is, I moved all the crap over to one side of the garage and then cleaned up and painted the other side. The end results is shown in the first photo here. As you can see, I've had to jack up one side of the car to get the wheels off the paint. Of course, this means the bit under the jack hasn't been painted which will have to be patched up later. The big problem with all this was that in jacking the car up (at the rear initially) the damn thing fell off the jack and I ended up with the jack holding the car up with the fuel tank. Needless to say this has put a fearful dent in the tank so I guess I'm probably going to have to buy a new one which is a bit of a bummer.

Leftover crapOf course, the problem with this whole process is that although that first photo looks very tidy, what you can't see is the pile of crap on the other side of the car. So, to make you feel better, the second photo here is the awful truth.

Yes, you're right, there's all sorts of stuff there including three pairs of skis, some wheel ramps that I never use and a disarmingly large quantity of metal offcuts.

So, I'm going to have to move much of this stuff back to the other side of the garage, although I might try and lose some of it. (Perhaps those ramps can go in the garden shed?)

So, what am I going to do to the car? Well, before I started this process I weighed the car and got a rather horrible number of 470kg for it. That does include a full (although now dented) fuel tank which probably accounts for 15kg of that. All the same that makes the car 455kg. Now, to get under the weight limit I'd have to weigh, complete with all my racing gear, about 75kg and that just isn't going to happen.

So, some element of weight reduction is at least a decent starting point. There's a couple of other issues that I'd like to address including:

Steering column
I've not been happy with this for ever. The problem is that the standard Sierra bearings are not really very good and the whole thing ends up a trifle sticky.
Regular readers will be aware of the continuing problems in this area that need to be addressed.
I've never been happy with the feel of the brakes in this car, nor am I happy with the HiSpec calipers. Problem is, most obvious upgrades also increase the weight.

So, thinking about all that leaves me with a to-do list that looks like the following. However, this isn't really a to-do list, rather a "think about doing" list.

Buy new wheels
For some time I've thought about buying some lighter wheels. Quite a lot of people use the Compomotive CXR wheels which are considerably lighter than the ones I've got. However, a single wheel probably costs more than four of the ones that I've got, and leaves me in a bit of a bind when it comes to changing tyres. However, it's got to be worth thinking about. First thing to do is probably to check what the weight saving actually is.
Buy new dampers
Similarly, the dampers I've got are rather heavy steel bodied AVOs. Quite a few people use the Protech dampers which are a good deal lighter. (Other people, though, insist that they're useless.) I find it hard to believe that they're that bad as the chap that designs and makes them is apparently the chap that used to design the AVO dampers. Again, I'll check the weight savings and talk to a couple of people. One additional complexity is that the Protechs are now available as double-adjustables. That is, separate adjustments for bump (wheel moving upwards) and rebound (wheel moving back down) damping. This is apparently a good idea, although I worry about having another 4 things to twiddle and confuse myself with. If you're wondering, normal single adjustable dampers have a fixed relationship between bump and rebound damping.
Replace steering column
I've seriously wondered about either getting a new Sierra column or actually making a column from seamless tubing and proper bearings. You can get very nice little universal joints that are specifically intended for such applications. Mind you, they can be about £50 each...

One of the problems with doing this though is that the current gearchange is mounted by clamping it around the outer part of the column. If I replaced the column with some tubing and some bearing blocks then there wouldn't be an outer to clamp anything to.

Replace dash and switchgear
Purely as a weight losing issue, I've been wondering about replacing much of the dash. I could perhaps use a carbon fibre panel to lose some weight and replace much of the switchgear with something chosen for lightness, which the current stuff wasn't really. I guess losing a lot of the LEDs would be useful too. I could also go against my prejudices and lose the mechanical instrumentation. The engine's already got a temperature sensor in it and I could buy an electrical oil pressure sensor. I could then run these into the DL1 and arrange for the temps to be displayed on the Palm display. It'd need calibrating though. Of course, the big advantage of doing this is that I would have the pressure and temperatures' logged. I'd keep the mechanical tacho though; I wouldn't want to drive with just the shift lights that some people do.

This actually isn't as big a job as it sounds as the dash just plugs in and is easily removeable.

Engine refresh
I'm trying to decide if it's worthwhile getting an engine refresh done or not. If I do, it's pretty easy and will just involve me taking the engine up to Andy for him to work his magic on it.
Something that frequent readers will know I've been banging on about before is using an airbox rather than the sausage filter that I've got at the moment. I think I'll have another go at this. However, I'll need to sort the carbs out. You may remember that I couldn't make it run properly on the other set of carbs that I've got. It I were to get this to work it'd be worth changing the bonnet to turn the curent scoop into just a bulge.

The other possibility on the airbox is to buy one of Andy Bates' special airboxes. This is a really clever device which goes completely around the carbs so that even the float chambers are inside it. Problem is, I'm not sure I want to spend the amount of money involved.

As mentioned, I'd like to do something about the front braking. Problem is, as I start thinking about it I start wondering if I really want to spend that amount of money. All the same, I'll think about it. At the same time I'd like to look into changing the front uprights for some aluminium ones so as to save a bit more weight. Problem is, these are pretty expensive too. Pretty though, and they'd go with the aluminium hubs that I've already got. I'm not sure that it save that much weight though.

I've also been toying with the idea of moving to discs at the rear. Not for any fundamental reason really but just because it's a pain fiddling around with all those springs that hold the shoes in place. The problem with rear discs is the handbrake mechanism as most racing calipers don't support handbrakes. I've wondered about one of two things here. The first is making some sort of transmission brake to be the handbrake. This is allowed because some roadcars have a transmission brake and hence it's MOT compliant. The other is using one of the Wilwood handbrake calipers which Dan's bought for his car. Problem with the latter is that I'm not totally sure that they'll fit inside 13" wheels. If nothing else, the first thing to do is to weigh this option, as it could well be that it would only add weight anyway.

If nothing else I'll completely take the car's suspension off so as to check everything. I may well change a few rosejoints in the process too. I've been wondering about getting some roller bearing front rockers too. While that's all off, I'd like to check the bump steer. I've never done this before and I wonder whether a poor setting could explain why I seem to have to flail the wheel around in corners. Mind you, I'm pretty sure that that happens as a consequence of the car sliding. At the same time it'd make sense to check the front castor angles.

I was wondering about making some spare suspension wishbones too. It'd make sense now I know that the ones I've got seem to work all right. I'll have to turn down some of the rosejoint mounting bushes again though.

Data logging
As well as the notes above about routing oil pressure and water temperature through the DL1, I'd like to run a line form the brake pressure switch into the DL1, so that I can see on the logs when I'm braking.
There's a few bits of the bodywork that need touching up slightly. I'll also buy a load more cellulose as apparently it's going to get harder to buy at the end of the year due to some stupid regulation about selling noxious substances. Seems stupid to me as apparently the thing you will still be able to buy is thinners, which is of course the noxious substance that's in cellulose paint. The rest of it's just the pigment, and that in pretty small quantities. Sigh...
Anti roll bar
I'm not sure about this one. Some people insist that a front ARB only worsens the Fury's handling, others reckon it makes a huge difference. There's also a fairly neat way of making an adjustable bar that fits between the two front rockers so doesn't actually add too much weight to the car. I'll have to think about this one some more.
Clutch cable
The clutch cable on my car is a huge heavy thing designed for operating a car clutch. I'm going to see about using something a bit smaller and neater. I was thinking that the best place to start might well be the standard Honda clutch cable as clearly that should fit the engine itself pretty neatly.
Handbrake cable
Depending on what I do about the rear brakes, the same sort of comment applies. That is, the existing handbrake cable is a huge heavy thing that really only gets used occasionally: for demonstrating to scrutineers that it works and for holding the car on the trailer while I put the first wheel strap on. Mind you, after the Silverstone crash the handbrake cable was the only thing left holding the rear wheel on!

Hmm, quite a lot of stuff there. What do you bet I only do half of it?

November 16th

Well, I finally finished the great tidyup and paint and the garage is now super clean and tidy. Only problem is that, being autumn, there are leaves blowing in around the door and I know from past experience that it's going to be brass monkey's in here soon. So, I think I'll do what I meant to do last year and buy some draught excluder for around the garage door.

As you can see I've also put the car up on stands and taken off the tub. This is of course now blocking off a great chunk of the garage.

The next thing to do is to take all the suspension off as I want to look at all the rosejoints and check the chassis and wishbones carefully for cracking.

But first, I need to have a look at the fuel tank that was mentioned above as getting a bit nadgered. I siphoned the fuel out of it and took it out of the chassis. It is indeed rather bodged around. In fact, the top side of it has been shoved so hard into the chassis that the filler neck is bent and I can't get the filler cap off anymore. Also, if you look at the photo, you can see that as well as the bent in the bottom the whole thing has bulged out everywhere. Definitely knackered.

So, the easiest way to fix this is just to buy a new one. However, I've had this notion for a while about moving the tank into a separate compartment at the front of the passenger side of the car. Essentially, I don't like the tank hanging out the back where other people can drive into it. However, that could easily turn out to be too much faffing around. I'll have a think about it, and probably then just buy a new one.

As part of the start of taking the suspension off I took off the brake calipers, as seen here. Amazingly, all of the bleed nipples just worked without shearing off or anything unpleasant. I've been avoiding bleeding the front brakes all season as I was concerned about this happening again.

So, I need to decide what to do about these. I could just keep them but I have this permanent uncomfortable feeling about them. The obvious alternative is these which are about the same weight at about 900g a caliper. Problem is, there's a myriad measurements that would have to be taken, as well as decisions about the precise type of rotor and so on. It all makes my head hurt...

November 27th

Well, on the weekend just gone I managed to get back into the garage and get one a bit more with the rebuild. Actually, at the moment I'm really still just taking the car to bits. A while ago I decided I wanted to strip all the suspension off the car to inspect everything carefully.

I'd taken the front suspension off a while ago so now I removed that at the rear. One of the things that I'm thinking about changing are the dampers and it's a good job that I am because I discovered this one here, not surprisingly at the rear left, where the top mounting is bent over, resumably as a consequence of the Silverstone crash. To be fair, it doesn't seem to have bent the damper rod itself, just the mounting. However, this makes me feel rather better about ordering some new ones.

So, over the last few days I've been talking to the nice people at Protech and today I ordered some new ones. I did wonder about ordering their double adjustable ones but eventually decided not to as they're more than twice the price and somewhat heavier than the single adjustable ones. The new ones will have spherical bearings at the top and bottom so I can get rid of that nasty bungy bush that's at the top of the damper in the photo.

After taking the suspension all to bits I set to and had a big clean up here too. Apart from all the bent bits it's back looking pretty good. Once I've checked everything, and got the new dampers, I'll put it all back together again. While I'm at it I'm probably going to make some slightly different suspension bits. In particular, a couple of the rosejoints on the rear upper wishbones have to be screwed a tiny bit too far out of the bushes for my liking. So, I'll probably remake those wishbones at least. I also keep thinking about making a couple of spares.

Carrying on with taking the thing to bits, I took the dash off. I'm planning on completely remaking the dash with the objective of making it a lot simpler. Now that I've got the Palm dash working properly I'm planning on shrinking the instrumentation to the tacho, the Palm and a bit oil pressure light. I'll be able to monitor the temperatures and pressures on the Palm but I'll probably write some code to make the thing flash, or something, to warn about problems.

As part and parcel of that I ordered a couple of sensors from ETB with which to monitor oil temperature and pressure with inside the DL1. (I can use the temp sensor that's actually built into the engine to do the water temperature. The chap at ETB was very helpful, although he did try and sell me a DigiDash, and he provided some useful calibration information for the sensors which I'll have to program into the Palm and the DL1 analysis software.

The photo here shows the top of the steering column, with the paddle shift clamped around the body of the old Sierra column. The more I think about it, I'd like to complete redo the steering on the car. In fact, at the moment, I'm thinking that I might well buy a brand new rack as they're fairly cheap and the existing one has been bashed around a bit. In addition to that I'll aim to make a new column, probably just out of two bits of seamless tubing with a snazzy little universal joint between them.

I'll have to get some sort of bearings for the upper column to run in and the idea here is to try and work out some way to get some self-aligning bearings to fit. These are tolerant of a certain amount of mis-alignment and I suspect would be important to make the thing not snag at all. The other problem is that the paddle shift is currently held by clamping it around the outside of the column. The new one wouldn't have such a place and I'll need to arrange some other way of holding it in place. Hopefully this whole arrangement can be done in a rather simpler, and lighter, way than the current arrangement which is those great lumps of steel in the photo.

By the way, if you look on the gearchange lever on the far side of that photo you can just about see where the aluminium has been polished by my driving gloves. I dread to think how many times I've had to change gear to do that.

One of the other things I'm thinking about is replacing some of the aluminium panels with composite panels of some form, purely as a weight reducing exercise. For example, the vertical one here at the back of the car holds up the rear deck. When I made this I had spent ages trying to work out the optimum way of doing this, and struggling with the totally unsuitable bit of GRP that Fisher's provide as part of the bodywork. I ended up with this and discovered late in the day that it was really in the wrong place, hence those little boxes which mean the harness mounting eyes are accessible.

In retrospect this should all be done with a vertical sheet of some sort of composite (probably epoxy/carbon fibre/kevlar/etc) construction which is placed behind those little boxes.

So, I'm in the process of investigating what sort of material to use. You can buy flat carbon fibre/epoxy sheets but they're very expensive. Mind you, a lot of that is because the raw materials are so expensive and if they're made out of pre-preg (the strongest stuff, essentially carbon fibre fabric that's pre-impregnated with resiny stuff and needs vacuum consolidating and heating up to make the final part) then even more expensive. However, I have been wondering about having a go at making some flat panels using just a wet layup technique.

I have made some actual progress on the subject of brakes! After much faffing around I finally decided to give the Wilwood kit a go. After looking at what to get I realised that I could just buy a kit for a Mk II Escort and it should fit my upright. So, that's what I did. Here it is fitted to one of the front uprights.

The discs are solid, as they were before. However, this time they're a little thicker (10mm rather than 8mm) which should hopefully mean they're a bit more robust. Of course, that means the discs are heavier too but I'd reallly like to try and get the brakes on the car to a situation where I can feel them a bit more.

One big advantage of these calipers is that they're radially mounted rather than lug mounted. This essentially means you have to use a chunk of aluminium to mount them, as shown here. (In this case it came in the kit though.)

The big advantage of this is that it's more flexible with respect to where the caliper is positioned. In the case of these brakes that means that the disc can be comfortably positioned away from the trackrod end which means that the problems that I've always had of the rubber boots on the TRE rubbing away on the disc will go away.

I had thought that I'd found a better way of avoiding that issue though, in that RaceLeda sell a steering conversion kit that replaces the TRE with some fabricated parts and a small rosejoint. These look pretty neat and I tried to order some from Rally Design. However, they got back to me saying that their suppliers were denying making them. I had a bit of a hunt around and discovered that RaceLeda have been taken over by MN Racing, the people who do the Vortx car. They do show the aforesaid devices on their webpage (you can find it yourselves, I'm not going to give them the benefit of a link). However, on talking to them I'm essentially being given the run around. I really don't see why I should have to chase a supplier to buy something from them, it ought to be the other way round. There's a possibility that they actually do answer my phone calls or emails but I suspect not. So, I guess I'll probably be putting the car back together with new TREs. At least the repositioned discs will mean they're not ground away, although they're still nasty old clunky ball joints.

Finally, I'm still planning on getting the engine up to Andy for him to have a look at it. So, I took it out again yesterday. (I think the Fury is now officially the car that I've taken the engine out of most often.) Over the next few days I'll arrange to get this up to Andy and talk to him about what can be done with it to get it into decent condition for next season.

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