January 16th

It's the last year of the millennium (a bit of a mathematical pedant, me) and the updates to this site have slowed down dramatically for two reasons really. Firstly, it's been too cold to go in the garage and things have been very busy at work--the delights of running your own company. Secondly, the roads have been very slippy and driving the Westfield is a somewhat tippy-toe experience, although as a consequence my opposite-locking is getting slicker.

After some use, I'm pretty unconvinced about the Toyo tyres provided with the bits by Westfield. However, it's rather hard to conduct any back-to-back tests here without paying a lot of money for at least 2, and probably 4, new tyres.

The engine seems to be easing up a bit (the car's done about 1100 miles now) and everything's getting faster. What is also apparent is the huge handling capabilities of the car, even though the level of grip recently has been dire. I'm looking forward to some drier roads in future months.

I'm still planning on trying to move the pedals, but I haven't really figured out how to to do it yet. There seem to be several possibilities:

  • I could get some new pedal levers fabricated. At the moment the pedals bend towards the driver, if you see what I mean, and it would seem possible to make them at least straight, or bend the other way. (The photo here is looking down on the top of the pedals, and you can see how much they are set up like this.)
  • Move the lever fulcrums. The obvious problem with this is accessibility, although I could probably make some plates up that bolted into position and gave the desired effect. I could do with knowing how to weld though, I keep promising myself to go on a welding course at one of the local village colleges.
  • Move the seat back. This would only be possible with a different seat. Many sevenesque cars just have cushions on the bottom and back of the passenger compartment. This actually works rather well and in the Westifield would probably give a lot more legroom. Problem is, the seats are rather comfortable and they suit the car nicely as they are at the moment.

Now the weather's getting better I will sort one of these soon.

The cooling system's still working OK. I had an email from someone who had spoken to Westfield about this cooling issue. They told him that they had tried all sorts of things and ended up with the current arrangement. Apparently, they think that the radiator should just be blanked in the winter. To me, this is not a piece of engineering, it's a complete bodge as the standard plumbing entirely negates the effect of the engine thermostat which is used by the engine manufacturers to provide an efficient environment for fuel consumption. What the Westfiled plumbing essentially does is delegate all the job of termperature control to a switch in the radiator and slowly acting radiator fan. Whatever, I will stick with it as it is and see if things get worse in the summer. I can easily revert to the standard arrangement if needed.

One issue with the car is the fuel consumption. I'm currently getting about 22mpg, although I think this is hugely effected by driving conditions. It is reputed that the key to getting much better consumption out of a Webered Zetec engine is to go to 3D ignition mapping. (There's an article here about this.) In the standard setup the ignition advance is not affected by throttle opening in any way. This sounds rather primitive really. Most old distributor based systems have a vacuum pipe to change the ignition setting depending on the throttle opening and this modern ECU system has nothing equivalent. Westfield do sell the Weber Alpha kit to add a position sensor to the end of the carburettor throttle spindle, and a map for the box itself. I think I'll investigate this soon.

January 28th

Time for a bit more rambling, it's amazing how good these various displacement activities seem when one has some real work to do.

I have found out that Tiger Racing, the people who produce the Tiger Super 6 seven-alike and are quite close to me, have starting distributing the Weber Alpha bits. So, I sent them an email about the 3D stuff and, after a bit of chat about what was actually needed, they (or rather Jim Dudley who's the boss man) have gone off to find out a price. He seems to be taking a long time about it though.

Apart from that, precious little has happened, although I keep thinking about warm summer's days. The problem is, I'm also champing at the bit to go skiing which is a necessarily cold weather activity which is making me confused.

I've been driving the Westfield a fair amount, I'm actually up to 1200 miles now, but the conditions have never been wonderful. So far, the overall impressions are really that it's great fun to drive, with as yet unexplored areas of handling and road-holding. Although, as I've said, the latter is limited by rear-end adhesion at the moment. I find that my speed in the car is actually limited by visibility. There are three problem areas:

  • I tend to look through a bit of the screen that is uncleared by the wipers. At this time of year you have to use the washers/wipers often and although the rest of the screen is cleared this bit at the top right of the screen usually comes off worse due to all the cack being thrown at it by the wipers.
  • The rear view mirror is huge and just to the left of my eye-line. This means that when going round bends I tend to want to see through where the mirror is. I tried moving it to the bottom of the screen but I couldn't move it to a position where I could see out of the rear of the car like that. I think I'll by another, smaller, mirror and try that.
  • The top part of the sidescreens is exactly in line with my eyes. That is, this is the same problem but the other side. There's nothing I can do here other than running without the screens, which is essentially impossible without a rather bizarre amount of weather protection.

What would fix all of these things would be to lower the seat slightly, by taking it off the runners as mentioned before. That's obviously the next area of experimentation, as long as I can get someone to promise to modify the tonneau cover for me.

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