June 12th

Yeah, I'm late. I know...

Anyway, we left it at Brands having a decent race even after being forced to weld the chassis together in the paddock. Once I got home I had a single "free" weekend before going to Mallory. In fact the intention was to test at Mallory on the Wednesday morning and go back for the weekend race meeting. Although I survived Mallory on the last visit I was keen to make a better fist of it this time.

Anyway, back in the garage and it was time to take the front end of the car off so that I could do a better job of sorting the chassis. This photo shows the gussets that I welded in in the Brands paddock, not pretty but they obviously did the job. Mind you, I keep thinking of all the things that are wrong with the current chassis and wanting to do something radical about it. If I had the space and the time I'd completely re-design it so as to sort the suspension kinematics and to put some stiffness in places that the Fury hasn't got it. The real problem is that the Fury is based on a road-going car that actually has doors. This means that the side rails are really too low and as a consequence the suspension has to sit up on towers above the side rail rather than being properly triangulated into the chassis.

Oh well, pipedreams I suspect. I did wonder about just buying a new chassis from Fishers but the combination of the problems that Dan's had and the fact that the new owners of Fishers seem to be completely silent makes me a bit dubious about that.

Oh well, back in the land of reality I tidied up the job I'd done in the paddock and did essentially the same thing to the other side of the chassis. What's more, I then painted it! It's only hammerite and will therefore doubtless fall off soon but at least it looks a bit better at the moment.

In this photo you can see the ARB, by the way, going across the top of the picture.

With that done I put the front end of the car back together (I'd taken the rack and everything off) and got the car ready to go to Mallory for testing.

Before doing that, though, I replaced the rod-end bearings at the outer side of the lower front wishbones with something sturdier (and more expensive!) that I'd used before. If you've been paying attention you'll know that I've been having trouble with these bending, which if nothing else must be an indication of me driving the car rather harder than I used to. Hopefully, the new rod ends would be better than the older ones. They ought to for the price...

As part of the repairs I replaced some of the front brake lines. In particular the front right fixed line, which you can see in the photo above and was unceremoniously bent out of the way of the welding was remade completely.

Sp, come Tuesday evening we set off for Mallory. Being half-term Anthea was able to come with me and we got to Mallory at about 2am on the Wednesday morning so we parked outside the gate and went to sleep!

The objective for the test was to try and work out how to drive the circuit a bit quicker. When we raced then in March I put up a dismal performance, although I did get to see the chequered flag, with my FL being 54.88. From looking at the logs and other people's results I knew that I really should be down in the 51s.

However, it rained on Wednesday and most of the morning was wet. Not torrential but for most of the time I was around the 61 sec region. However, later on a dry line appeared and although there was still not an over-abundance of grip the FL was 52.14, and that was in a sequence of laps, all in the same dry period of about 10 laps, in the same region so I knew I was getting there, although there was still a lot to come. It was still very cold though on that day.

Looking at the logs later and it was clear where there was more time to come. Most obviously around Gerards where I was clearly steering the car with the throttle without being at maximum lateral acceleration. I resolved that when I went at the weekend then, weather permitting, I'd be flat around Gerards. What's more, I was intending to use the throttle monotonically. That is, once I'd pressed it down I wasn't allowed to back off at all. Could be exciting!

Come the weekend and it was roasting. We drove up on the Saturday afternoon and had an great impromptu barbecue in the paddock in the evening. Come the Sunday morning and we had a nice long relaxing preparation period, especially easy as the only thing I'd done to the car since testing was to put the race rubber on and wash it. Scrutineering was ok and then it was out for qualifying.

My problem with this at the moment is that the DL1 seems to be going through a bad phase and generating duff GPS data. This means that the lap timer is getting rather occasional accuracy. However, I pushed pretty hard at the beginning, although there was a real challenge in getting a lap in. This all got much more difficult after a Genesis put oil down all over the circuit. It always seems to be a Genesis that does this. In fact, it's always Steve's Genesis...:) After the oil had gone down I got astounding understeer at the hairpin. So much, in fact, that my first thought was that something had broken. Next time round and there was an obvious glisteny surface there. I don't understand why they let Steve go round and round and round without black flagging it. Oh well.

So, I didn't really have a good idea what the time was. The lap time said 52.7 but I knew that had been rather late in the session and I thought I'd gone better at the beginning. When the results came out I'd got a 51.5 and was 9th on the track, 4th in class C. So, that was quite good. In fact, I was chuffed. In fact, Tom was there for the day with Alex, his girlfriend, and he was quite astounded.

Come the race and I was in a slightly alarming position on the grid, mainly because I could see the front which is fairly unusual for me. It looked a bit empty on the front row which I later found our was because Rob's HiSpec front calipers had dumped all the fluid on the run round to the grid because the seals in the bridge piece had failed. As this seems to be a fairly frequent failure mode of these calipers he was pretty hacked off later.

When the light went out I managed a fairly good run and nearly made it up the inside of Colin D into Gerards but didn't brake as late as him. I continue to have a real problem with going into the first corner hard enough really. Mind you, it seems best not to bend things. Hmmm...

Then it settled down a bit and I run in a small train which, for heaven's sake, was actually the lead train although I didn't realise it at the time. There were three class C boys, Paul (B), James (A), Colin (B) and me.

The problem was James who was basically getting in the way. This is a rather astounding thing to say as he's a 'busa engined class A car. However, I was having to run 3rd rather than 4th through the Esses because he was so slow there, but with the 'busa I just couldn't make up ground. Eventually Colin got past James at the Esses and I was up with James. In my mirror I could see Mike Field approaching. For the first time ever I'd out-qualified Mike and he was somewhat stirred up about it! I knew I had to get past James to be able to have a chance as I'd be bound to cock it up with James in front and Mike behind.

Problem is, I was all over James in places like Gerards (I tried going round the outside on one lap and nearly made it) but couldn't quite get there.

Then I was right up the back of him going through the Esses and he moved a little wide or so I thought, into the hairpin. I shoved the car into the gap, he didn't see me and turned in on me. The next bit was a bit alarming as the front of my car leapt right up in the air. I now think that my left front actually hit his right rear and rode up over it. (Having first, of course, smashed up two sets of bodywork.) Looking at the data logs later and it's clear that I realised he hadn't seen me as I came off the brakes and then hit them really hard again. Obviously not enough though.

Then most of the field went past and I trundled along. The car felt fine, although the steering was a fraction displaced. There was a vibration though and I thought it was sensible to pull in as I really didn't want anything breaking half way round Gerards. Once back in the paddock I went to find James to apologise. He was very good about it which was nice. I don't think it was entirely my fault as he did leave the door open. However, it was at least 60% me. What's more, we both got called to see the clerk which is the first time this has ever happened to me! However, he was very good about it and was clearly impressed that I'd already discussed it with James.

So, I completed a whole 8 laps, although one of those was a 51.8 which was fairly decent really. The fastest class C lap of the whole race was 51.08 so I'm definitely getting there.

Looking at the car in the paddock and it didn't seem to bad really. The front of the bonnet had suffered some damage but nothing too serious. The left front wheel looked a bit awry but I now think that was because it was parked at an angle.

So, after a few days sitting around I've managed to get a better look at the car. I still can't see any serious damage. However, a bit of the chassis is slightly bent in that one of the plates across the front of the car is slightly bent, as you can see in the photo. However, I just pushed that back into place. Once I've got it back on the ground, though, I'll pay particular attention to the alignment in case something is really mangled.

As for the bonnet it really isn't too bad. I've patched it up with some carbon/glass woven rovings, as in the photo, and I'll doubtless have to do a bit of filling and rubbing down on the outside. I might actually take the opportunity to respray the front of the bonnet as it's pretty pebble-dashed. I could probably make the paint adhere a bit better by using some horrible epoxy primer but I think I'll just keep it simple.

One of the problems that I have spotted with the chassis, though, is that those expensive rod end bearings have bent again! So, I was clearly going to have to do something serious about that and after some thought decided that I'd do the same as Dan has done for his racer. That is, I'd buy some rod ends that have 5/8" stubs, instead of the current 1/2" ones. Luckily, you can get rod ends that have 5/8" stubs but with the existing 1/2" bearing hole.

However, those rod ends will clearly not fit into the current lower front wishbones so I'm going to have to make some more. I've got one of them done, as in the photo. One advantage of doing this is that I can do a slightly better job of the bracket to which the ARB downlink bolts. The existing ones were welded on in situ and I can do these before the wishbones are painted.

Another thing I've done is bought a new GPS receiver for the DL1 to see if I can sort the problems that I'm getting. Obviously, I'll have to go to a race circuit but the new receiver seems, at first sight, to work much better than the previous one. I know from past experience that the DL1's GPS just about works in the garage with the door closed. Trying the same thing with the new receiver was dramatically better. It locked on to the satellites much quicker, and was actually producing pretty accurate readings even though it was inside. Hence, I've got great hopes that it will improve things.

As you know I've been having problems with the studs turning in the front wheel hubs. Although they're all right at the moment I sort of feel that it's bound to happen again. So, I've bought some new hubs, as shown, from HiSpec. I'm reluctant to buy HiSpec stuff because they're so difficult to deal with but it really did seem that they had the best product here, mainly because the bearing cap screws on rather than pushes in. My experience of the push on ones is that they part company from the car pretty rapidly. I hope the screw-on ones will be better.

Along with the hubs I've got some new bearings which is comforting as I've been thinking for a while that the bearings might need replacing one day.

Pretty, aren't they?

June 18th

I finally managed to finish making the new lower front wishbones and here they are. Those little tabs that stick out are for connection to the ARB. I must admit that the jig I made ages ago for these wishbones doesn't help in positioning the tabs and they have to be separately measured. Hopefully I won't have to do that too often.

Once I'd finished making these I started wondering if there was problem due to the fact that the larger rod ends stick out a bit further. It's possible that there isn't enough adjustment to get the wheel camber properly adjusted. Hmmm...

However, for now I'll just put it all back together and see if I can get the camber right. If I can't, I'll have to cut out the 5/8" inserts (right on the top of the photo) and reweld them in a little further in (down in the photo).

After this photo I repainted the parts and, while the paint was drying, moved back to the bodywork.

You should remember that the bonnet was slightly dinged by the coming together at Mallory. I'd patched up the inside with the rovings and resin. On the outside I put in a couple of small areas of filler and rubbed it all down. I have to admit to doing all this really quickly as I "rubbed it down" with the aid of an angle grinder equipped with a flap disc. Not as good as 5 hours with wet and dry but a lot, lot, easier and not too bad a finish really. After all, it's a race car!

One thing I did want to do was to respray the front end. You can see from the photo the amount of chipping that there is in the paint, although interestingly the primer underneath seems to be mostly OK. That is, the chips are all grey rather than pale yellow gelcoat.

So, I got stuck in with primer, spray gun, tack rags, etc., and got the front end looking like this. I've also replaced the headlamps which were getting seriously nadgered from all the stones. In fact, once I'd taken off the tape that was in the lamps the glass covers mostly fell to pieces. That'll be why the tape was needed then!

Of course, although I bought some new headlamps I hadn't bought any new indicators and when I took the covers off those they were all smashed up too. Well, one of them wasn't so bad but when I trying to refit it I dropped it and broke it. Doooh. So, I need to buy a couple more of them...

With all that done it was time to get back to the suspension as the paint was dry! However, when taking off the old left front lower wishbone I found this. The camera's not focussed in the correct place, preferring the oil pressure sender, behind. However, the point is that the mounting has been bent backwards and cracked the plate that it's mounted on. In a way this is a bit of a relief as I'd been trying to work out why the steering was pushed over a bit after the accident. This small amount of displacement would probably explain things.

So, I shoved the mounting back into position and rewelded the chassis. I then added a little gusset to try and strengthen it up a bit. And then added yet more red paint!

Finally, for the weekend, I started fitting this which is a fancy aluminium radiator.

I'm still having problems with overheating, or at least temperature that are too high so I've decided to go for broke and buy a more serious radiator. This is it and I hope it does something. It came from Rally Design and cost about £220 as opposed to about £80 for the VW radiator that's normally here. It's noticeably a more serious item than the VW one but does weigh about 1kg more than the VW one which is a shame. I suspect that there's more water in it too...

Still, it's worth trying at least and I'll get it fitted in time for the upcoming test and race at Cadwell. The only problem is that it doesn't quite fit! However, I think I can make some little brackets fairly easily, hopefully in such a way that it doesn't affect how the old radiator fits. It'd be nice to be able to use that as a spare, at least, should a stone damage this one.

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