April 9th

For some time--I've probably mentioned it before--I have wondered about fitting some wind deflectors. You commonly see these on Cobra replicas; they are small side-extensions to the windscreen that deflect the wind around the occupants without using a full sidescreen. There were a collection of sources of such things mentioned in the Westfield club magazine a while ago and I decided to order some.

They came from somebody who actually has a business manufacturing plastics components and are slightly unusual in that they are full-length, being about twice the "height" of the windscreen itself. The producer reckons that this is necessary due to the absence of a door which seems a fairly sensible argument.

They seem to be well designed and manufactured, out of 4mm polycarbonate, I think. They are fitted with the aid of an additional set of sidescreen hinges, which I had bought a while ago anyway for just this sort of thing. The design makes them essentially clip in with the mirror base providing some tension to hold everything secure. The photo here shows the car with the deflectors fitted. The only problem with this is that as they are completely transparent plastic they are rather hard to see in the photo!

Driving with them on is great, although you feel much more exposed. They wouldn't be good at continuous high speed due to the amount of backwash but they will be great in real sunshine, should we ever get any of it.

April 16th

As I've mentioned before, I've wanted to remove the runners from the driver's seat for some time so that I sit slightly lower in the car. I did this today, making a couple of brackets to bolt the seat directly to the floor. The existing runners are rivetted to the base of the seat, using some giant size rivets which I had to drill out.

The end result is much better, I can see better through the sidescreens and I'm a bit more out of the wind. However, the fly in the ointment is, as I thought, the tonneau cover which is just impossible to close with the seat in this position.

I drove the car like this for a while, but eventually decided that I really need the tonneau cover when I leave the car for a while so I reluctantly reinstalled the runners. However, I will see about getting the tonneau cover modified. I'm not at all sure that can do this myself, as the material is very robust and will need some skillful handling.

April 23rd

If you've been paying attention, you will be aware of the messing about with the cooling system. Having driven it for a while with the modified pipework it still seems to be working fine, with one slight problem, which I really don't understand. The engine certainly heats up quickly enough and is successfully cooled, althoug it remains to be seen what happens when the weather gets really warm. The problem remains, as mentioned before, that the cooling fan never seems to go off once on. It seems as though the "turn-off" temperature of the fan switch (which is mounted in the radiator) is set so low that the fan never thinks things have cooled down enough. This is presumably some sort of consequence of the engine staying closer to what it thinks is the correct temperature, although I can't quite work out the mechanism.

This is all quite possibly due to the various temperature settings. The thermostat in the engine is supposedly set to 88°C. In other words, the operating temperature of the engine should be a bit above this temperature as that's the point when cooling water is allowed into the main cooling circuit. However, according to the Westfield parts list, as supplied with the original modules, the fan switch is set for 77° to 85°. According to the temperature gauge, the engine sits just below 90° but once the fan comes on it stays on. The obvious solution is another fan switch, although I'm not sure how to get one. However, in order to test this I'm going to do what someone else suggested and just install an ordinary switch to allow the fan to be disabled. This will at least demonstrate that the fan switch is indeed what needs to be modified. I seem to remember that the fan switch came in a small Ford box, so with luck they can supply one for a different temperature.

April 24th

Well, I did install such a switch, although it's just dangling below the dash at the moment as I'm not sure I want to make it a permanent installation. Certainly, with the fan switched off if you maintain enough speed (which seems to be anything above 10mph) the engine temperature sits at 88°. So, I probably need to start hunting for another fan switch.

April 29th

As my driving of the Westfield gets more spirited, I start to see slight deficiencies in the ride and handling. One of these is that the car rolls too much. Consequently, I went off down to see Terry Nighingale to ask him about whether fitting an anti-roll bar was a good idea. As they are fitted as standard to the Speedsport, the upmarket version of my car, then I was not surprised when he agreed that it would be a good idea. So, I parted with £175 and took one home. This was a bar for the front. They are also available for the rear but Terry thought that it was a good idea to do things in steps.

The bar fits onto some mountings that fit to the forward bolts of the upper front wishbones. Of course getting at this involves taking the nose cone off, which involves:

  • draining the coolant
  • disconnecting four coolant pipes
  • disconnecting the front indicators
  • disconnecting the fan
  • disconnecting the fan switch
  • unbolting the nose cone.

This is all rather tedious. As usual I was thinking that it must surely be possible to mount the radiator in some way that the nose cone can be taken off without all this palaver.

It's rather odd to see the front of the chassis again...

April 30th

After taking off the nose cone I pressed on with fitting the ARB. This fits through two blocks which are hung from the wishbone bolts, using some longer bolts. A small bracket attaches to the lower wishbone which is articulated onto the ARB using a small threaded rod (a bit like a track rod end) with a baby rose joint on each end. It's all rather pretty really, at least the four rose joints goes some way to explaining the price.

This photo is a bit washed out but you can see the mounting block (that is, the most washed out bit!) and you can see the little threaded rod behind the track rod.

It was really quite easy to fit, except that I was unsure how stiff to set it up. You can adjust the stiffness by moving the point at which the rod contacts the bar forward or back, changing the mechanical advantage on twisting the torsion bar that is the centre of the bar itself. I really tried to get it as soft was possible for the initial setup.

After that it was all back together again. This entailed refilling the cooling system and hoping (which is what I am doing at this very moment) that it doesn't spring a leak overnight!

With the nose cone back on, which is a bit tricky as a bit of GRP needs to be removed to avoid fouling the bar, then you can see the bar peeping out like in this photo.

Then it was time for the road test. Actually, it was time to wait for the rain to stop before the road test. When it did stop I went for a rush about. It was interesting to see how much the handling had changed. The overall effect has been very positive. It's made it a lot more neutral; I went zooming around a large roundabout several times and it was fascinating how much less roll there now was, and how by moving the throttle slightly the handling could be moved between oversteer and understeer, presumably because the throttle movement was just changing the slip angle of the rear tyres.

What's more, it doesn't seem to have degraded the ride by very much, if at all. All told, a very worthwhile upgrade.

After all that I washed and, for the first time in its existence, polished the car. The intention is for a bunch of us to drive up to the big kit-car show at Stoneleigh tomorrow. Of course, if it chucks it down then all the washing is in vain...

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