January 7th

Well, time's still marching on and I seem to be progressing very slowly. Every time I come out of the garage I seem to have done something that's a very small part of the overall build. In fact, I'm seriously starting to think that I won't make the first race... :(

Still, on with the diary.

First thing is that I've sorted out how to do the clutch and throttle cable connections. I've made up a collection of adapter-y thingies, mostly made out of bolts with holes drilled down the length of them. (No car builder should be without a pillar drill. Obviously, a lathe would be nice but the drill's a necessity.)

You can see the locator for the clutch cable here (I had some red Hammerite around) with a small length of the cable outer plonked into it. Some time in the next few days I'll make up the proper clutch cable. I'll also install the throttle cable. Mind you, I went to Halfords the other day to buy a new mountain bike brake cable (very good for 'blade throttle cables) only to find that they didn't have any. I'll probably order something from Wiggle instead... Hmm, actually, as I write that I think I might have some Wiggley things already. Of course, finding them may be rather tricky.

And then I struck a problem.

I decided that it was time to put the rear suspension all together. In the past the driveshafts don't seem to have fitted wonderfully well so I thought I'd take a lot of care and make sure that everything was adjusted properly. (The problem with all the rodends is that there's so many adjustments that you can confuse yourself quite easily.

So, after half a day spent carefully tweaking wishbones about until I was absolutely certain that things were in the right place I put the driveshafts in. The left one fitted fine. However the right one still didn't fit quite right. The problem is that the outer CV joint (on the right of the photo) is from a drum-braked Sierra and it's a so-called tripode joint. (There's a sort of tripod thing inside the joint.) Also in there is a spring that keeps the joint positioned in the longest possible orientation. (Due to the shaft length changin as the suspension goes up and down the shafts have to be able to plunge in and out slightly.

That spring, on the left driveshaft, sits at it's longest possible position all the time, probably apart from small movements in the shaft. However, on the right driveshaft you have to compress the spring to even get the hub bolted in. That clearly isn't right as with it in that place the tripod in the Freelander CV joint (on the left of the photo) is permanently rammed up against the end of the channels inside the joint casing.

After much measuring it was obvious why this is all the case in that the right hand driveshaft is longer than the left. You can see this, even allowing for the parallax, in the photo.

So, I had wondered in any case about getting some new driveshafts made as mine were nasty composite ones, essentially made out of half a Sierra driveshaft and half a Freelander driveshaft welded together with a big heavy sleeve as in the photo. I found a chap, via Andy Bates, who knows about such things and I can get some new shafts from him easily. All I need is some new Sierra CV joints as I can't reuse the existing ones as you have to destroy them to get them off the shafts. (You literally have to saw that baked-bean can thing apart, at which point it goes Sproingggg..... and the springs and rollers and various other bits and pieces fly all over the garage.)

But, you can't get the joints any more. You can get the complete driveshafts but, of course, you can't get the joints off a new driveshaft for the reason noted above. This is therefore a bit of a catch 22 situation. I think I'll have a chat to the driveshaft chap (Jonny Weston-Taylor) before doing anything else. Unfortunately, he's gone skiing for a week...:( At this rate I can see I'll just put the originals back. The problem with doing that is that I've found out that the tripod in the right hand Freelander joint isn't actually attached properly. The left hand one has a circlip in the expected place. However, the one on the right has no circlip (there isn't even a circlip groove in the right place) and some animal has made a failed attempt at locating the tripod by peening the end of the shaft. Of course, all that's happened is that it hasn't worked. It's probably a good job that that springs locating things...

So, perhaps things would be better at the front, and so it turned out. I managed to get all the front suspension reattached and refitted. In the process I changed the bearings in the hubs (the ones in the right hand hub had clearly suffered from being overheated). I also did something I'd been meaning to do for a while and welded a brace between pairs of the wheel studs. This should mean that I don't get problems with the studs turning in the hubs which has been a perennial worry.

Here's the right front upright ready to be bolted on the car. Of course, not much of this is original. The uprights the same, as is the hub. The rest, though (bearings, disc, brake caliper) is all brand new. Hence the pleasing shinyness... :)

I also tarted up the left hand side with new bearings and a new disc and refitted the complete front end of the suspension.

However, the fly in the ointment is the lack of any steering. If you remember the steering wheel was floating around not attached to anything.

I've not sorted this. First of all I made a "roof" for the pedal box and used to weld some little tabs to to support the front bearing. I then made a new support for the rear bearing, as in the photo. This is actually just attached to "stalks" sticking up from the chassis, as was the original Fisher one. I'm not totally sure that I'll leave it like this, without also tieing it to the front of the chassis. However, it seems pretty sturdy at the moment, and the column is pretty butch too. So, perhaps it'll be all right as it is.

The next job was going to be to attach the propshaft. I was due to pick this up from Bailey Morris today but apparently there's been a problem and I won't be able to get it until tomorrow. That should mean a bunch of stuff arrives tomorrow as I'm also going down to Fishers to get my new bodywork. It remains to be seen whether the quality is as abysmal as always. I'm also not totally sure where I'm going to put it... Having the bodywork will be a good thing as I really need to fit the scuttle part of the tub to the chassis, as quite a few bits and pieces (battery, starter relay, ECU, etc) really need to sit on the scuttle. Mind you, I did wonder about making a scuttle out of aluminium as the GRP one always seems to get all bashed up. However, that really does seem to be unnecessarily making work so I'll probably not bother.

January 13th

Coo, less than a week since the last update! Mind you, I've been nagged into doing it really. (That means you, Jones! Stop fidgeting at the back...)

Well, thanks to all the people who mailed and suggested things about the driveshafts. In retrospect I suspect that I could just have put it back together as it was. However, the more I thought about the tripod in the inner joint being firmly rammed up against the inside of the cup the less happy I was about it. So, I've completely stripped the shaft that's the proper length and sent it off to the people that I've been chatting to about this. (Stanwood Performance Engines in Doncaster.) With any luck I'll able to pick up the new shafts on one of my frequent trips up to York in the next couple of weeks.

I've also been spending a lot of money. Most importantly, I've got the new bodywork which seems to be the same rather poor product that it always was. The problem with getting clear gel coat is that the imperfections, especially bubbles under the gel, are much easier to see. It has occured to me, though, that I really ought to take some measures to prevent star-cracking this time, as the previous sets of bodywork have suffered badly from this, not surprising really considering the numerous trips across gravel at one time or another.

On the same day that I got the bodywork I also went over to Bailey Morris to get my new propshaft. This fits perfectly and the only thing I need to do is to fabricate a support for the centre bearing. I've decided to do this slightly differently this time, the construction I made before was more like a rail bridge than anything else.

Hence the new supports, as shown here. These are made from some bits of 2x1 box with a 3mm plate welded across the end with a captive M10 nut welded to the inside. In the photo here they're just resting on the support plate but I've since welded them in. I'll also cut some of the support plate away as it's not all necessary. I welded this plate in between the little ledges that come with the chassis when I had the chassis upside down as I found before that there really needed to be more steel down here.

Next thing was the gearchange. After this is done I can do the bit more painting that I need to do to the chassis.

For interest, this is what the gearchange intermediate shaft looked like after I pulled it off the fire damaged chassis.

And this is what it looked like after I'd replaced the bearing rod, used some new bearings, some new fasteners and cleaned up the ally components with a wire brush.

That's pretty much a model of what I've done to the rest of the car really. The expensive bits are all new and I've reused a few unimportant bits. Sigh...

With that bit all cleaned up I mounted it on top of the pedal box and tested it out with the existing gearchange rods. Everything seemed to work fine, although I'll replace the rods anyway and I've ordered a new gearchange lever to go on the engine itself.

Next thing was to sort the handbrake. In the past I've had a problem with there not being enough mechanical leverage in the system, at least with the new rear calipers. So, this time I've changed things slightly using a small pulley on the compensator which should mean a 2:1 mechanical advantage on the lever. I have to admit that I largely pinched the idea for this from Dan...

Hopefully I'll assemble it tomorrow and I'll take some photos so you can see what I'm banging on about!

With all that done I took everything off again and painted the chassis again! With any luck this'll be the last of the POR-15 that I use.

January 20th

This is the little 2:1 handbrake compensator that I knocked up. The red thing has the handbrake cables attached to it and has a little pulley (made from a small ball bearing unit) that the cable from the handbrake lever runs around. The other end of that cable is attached to the chassis.

First impressions are that this approach works fine, although I'll remake the red bit when I get a moment as it's unnecessarily heavy at the moment. Inevitably, though, it's going to need some careful adjustment of the various cables.

Best news this week was that I went and picked up my new driveshafts on Friday. As I also got two new boot kits for the Sierra ends of the driveshafts last week I was all set to make up the new shafts. The new driveshafts are a work of art and are also shiny which is always a bonus.

However, while removing the old tripodes from the old shafts I did something stupid and managed to drop one of them on the floor. Not too bad you might think, apart from the fact that one of the roundy-roundy bits (I wonder what they're called?) got knocked off and about 2000 little needle rollers also came out. you can see the rollers just under the aforesaid RR bit in the photo.

There then followed an hour of grovelling on the floor looking for all the bits and a tense half hour of reassembly, which took me back to assembling bike bottom brackets when I was a kid. However, I did eventually get it back together, as you can see.

Which left me with a shaft like this. Apparently, the tripodes on the shaft as essentially those from the driveshaft from a 2litre drum braked Sierra. Miraculously the inner tripode fits the Freelander bearing cup at the diff end.

And here's the shafts all together. The Sierra "bean cans" at the left hand end are supplied as part of the kit for new boots, as they're peened on and haver to be destroyed to remove them from the joint. Well, you can be careful but they're not really happy about it.

You'll note that the Freelander end bearing cups are not in this photo. This is because I now know how to assemble the inner joints properly.

When I first built the car it took about two days, literally, of joggling and swearing and praying and pleading to get the inner ends of the driveshafts to go into the diff. This is because there's a little spring clip around the end of the shaft and it's hard to persuade it to squash in properly. worse, you can't really bash the other end of the shaft because the spring in the Sierra joints absorbes all the hammering.

Fitting the new shafts, as seen in the photo took me about a 10 minutes because I now know what to do. If you leave off the main part of the shaft then it's easy to fit the bearing cup as you can tap it in with soft-headed hammer easily. Then, as the Freelander joint is only attached by the boot really as there just isn't room for it to fall to pieces, you can easily shove the joint in and attach it all with some clips around the boots. After inserting some moly grease, of course, to lubricate the joint.

All this means that all four corners of the car are now assembled. I could even, if I fitted the reservoir, fill and test the brakes...

Another small job was refitting the oil pressure sensor and switch. Curiously, I found the the previous sensor, although looking fine, was completely short-circuit. As a consequence I'm now slightly concerned that my DL1, or the little bit of electronics that I've got attached to it, might be a bit unhappy with life so I'm going to have to check it out in the next day or so.

On the right of this photo, you can see a lump of chassis tubing that's standing in for the spring and damper. This means that I can get a first cut at setting up the suspension with the car still up on stands.

Finally for today, I refitted the reversing system. In the process I remade the little adjuster platform that I use (the red bit) and the lever (the bit of aluminium sticking up in the foreground). The latter saves a bit of weight and isn't so ugly.

It's because of things like this that I'm taking so long to rebuild the car, I've realised. That is, I'm not happy just rebuilding it as was, I'm making thousands of small improvements. Whether these are really worth it is anyone's guess...

January 31st

I think I've made reasonable progress over the last week or so. In some ways, as you'll see, the car is now looking a bit more like a car.

I was helped by last weekend's fettle-fest. I was descended on by a bunch of cam7ers who did stuff to my car for me! Many, many thanks to Dan, Zena, Adrian and Jonathan who all did sterling work. The only problem was the compressor seemed to be going practically the whole day as we were all using the airline.

So, all sorts of things got done, both before during and after the fettlefest.

Adrian made a sensible point, I think, in that it was nice to finish a complete system. So, he pushed me into fitting the brake fluid reservoir. Well, he fitted it, to be fair... We then filled and bled the brake system. There were a couple of minor leaks but it looks OK now. I'll probably bleed the system again, just to make sure all the air is really out of it but it looks good at the moment.

Before that, I'd finished off the transmission system. I'd been waiting for a new proper kosher Honda output sprocket bolt which finally arrived from Lings and I fitted the propshaft properly. The photo above shows a special tool I made (ok, it's a length of steel with a couple of holes drilled in it, that allowed me to hold the propshaft adapter still while I torqued up the central bolt. I can't imagine why I didn't do it this way before.

First time I spent ages jamming screwdrivers in things so as to try and wedge the adapter still against the engine.Something else that came from Lings was a new proper kosher Honda gearbox actuator lever. With this I made up a new couple of rods for the gearchange, annealed them and fitted the gearchange properly.

While we were all rushing around the car, Dan finished off most of the plumbing for the cooling system. He even cleaned up the thermostat housing from the old engine so I've now got 2 spare thermostats!

This photo was actually taken after some of the activity described below. I'll tell you how I know in a minute.

While Dan was sorting the cooling system, Adrian and I got stuck into the panelling inside the car. This is a horrible job and it was nice to have someone else around to share it with! As you can see, we've got the two tunnel side panels done. The only panels left to do now are the tunnel top, which should be fairly easy and the rear bulkhead, which looks like being an absolute pig to do.

Not sure you can tell in this photo, but the panel on the passenger side of the car is actually attached with a myriad rivnuts and little M4 bolts. That means I can take the panel off if needed. It's not exactly a quick job though.

After all that, and the reason I was really glad of some help, we started messing around the bodywork. To do this you really need to be able to put all the bodywork in situ and hold it down with gaffer tape as that's the only way you can really see what's going on.

One obvious problem with this photo is the position of the front wheels. It was clear that I had a huge amount, Dan said it was "biblical", of positive camber on the front wheels, hence the fact that they wouldn't fit under the bodywork at all.

After some thought it was clear that I'd mounted the front rockers incorrectlly. So, I moved them to the inner mounting holes, as you can see in the photo of the cooling pipes above.

Since that photo above I've finished attaching the sidepods, which is again really tedious and I've done far too often. With that done I had the rear tub rigidly held down to the sidepods and I could cut away the scuttle so that I'd have removeable bodywork again.

This is slightly alarming to do as you have to cut around the scuttle section itself, as shown by the masking tape in this photo.

However, once that was done it all seemed to work. Of course, without the tub the scuttle's very flimsy so the next thing will be to stiffen it up a bit.

A while ago I ordered a custom tank from Allyfab. As far as I can make out this is just a single guy but he's a whizz with a TIG welder.

What I did was draw up the tank I wanted using a CAD package (but I suspect I could have used the back of an envelope) and send it off to Bryn at Allyfab. He then quoted me a stupidly small amount of money, as in less than the previous tank I used which didn't really fit properly, and after a couple of weeks the tank arrived.

I fitted it this evening and here it is. Unlike the old tank it's properly inside the chassis frame at the rear.

I'm really, really impressed with Allyfab. Not only did he quote a good price, and deliver when he said, but the quality of the workmanship is superb. All the welds look like the "stack of tilted pennies" that all the books say you should get when TIGging aluminium.

What's more, it's got this sump on the bottom which I hope might have some advantages for fuel surge. What you can't tell is that it's also foam-filled.

With that done, and the scuttle on, where I'm planning on mounting the fuel pump, then I'm on course to finish the fuel system this weekend.

 next page