December 1st

Following some correspondence elsewhere, and some perusal of the Haynes Mondeo manual (the Mondeo has a Zetec you see) I think I'm getting to understand the issue of why the cooling doesn't work properly. The problem is, as I suspected, that the thermostat bypass, to which the lower of the two pipes in this photo is connected, connects straight into the radiator top hose. The top hose is the other of the pipes in the photo, you can see the join in the alloy pipes in the bottom right hand corner.

The effect of this is that water circulates round here, into the radiator and back into the block even when the thermostat is closed. This means the cooling is only limited by the slightly smaller size of the bypass hose, and not by the thermostat being closed. As far as I can see, on the Mondeo installation water from the thermostat bypass goes straight back into the block via the bottom hose. That is, it misses out the radiator. Doing it this way should mean that the engine warms up quicker, as close to nothing is going through the radiator. What's more the temperature should be controlled by the thermostat, which I'm pretty sure is not the case at the moment.

So the issue is, how can the bypass be routed into the bottom hose? it might be possible to connect up an auxiliary pipe into the pipe from the heater matrix, which also goes into the bottom hose. This pipe can be seen at the top of the photo. The spare hole in the top hose pipework would also have to be blocked somehow. The only problem I can think of with doing something like this is that the water volumes and temperatures might cause the whole thing to oscillate. That is, it would heat up until the thermostat opened which would cause such an increase in cooling such that everything goes cold and the thermostat closes again. And so on and so on.

One obvious conclusion, however, is that--to quote someone else on this issue--"Westfield don't know their plumbing from their elbows". Somewhat depressing really.

Of course, all this implies losing more antifreeze all over the floor again, sigh.

December 5th

Today I drained the water out again. I managed to catch it all this time, so there wasn't more antifreeze over the floor. I then modified the cooling pipework. The thermostat bypass was re-routed into the bottom hose. I did this by putting a tee joint (made with the aid of some plumbing copper fittings) into the heater outlet hose which goes into the bottom hose and is quite close to the thermostat.

You can just see the new hose in this picture, just by the red battery cable.

The redundant connection into the top hose was blanked off with the aid of a small bit of hose and another piece of copper pipe, this time flattened, folded and soldered closed.

After much checking I re-filled the cooling system and then started up the engine. Feeling the pipes as it warmed up it was obvious that the top hose was now staying cold, although hot water was going around the bottom hose connection into the water pump. After a while the thermostat opened and the top hose got suddenly hot. All of this seems fine, as does the fact that I took the car out for a drive--on what must have been the coldest night to far in the year--and the temperature stayed at about 90° even though I had removed the cardboard in the radiator.

The one fly in the ointment is that the radiator cooling fan doesn't seem to be operating properly. It seems as though it can only just keep the temperature constant, not actually cool it. I can't admit to understanding this at the moment but will investigate some more. Given that the thermostat is designed to open at 88°, which is almost exactly what appears on the gauge, and the cooling fan always seemed to come on, before, at an indicated 85° or so, then there would seem to be something slightly awry. As I'm sure it can't be good for long term wear (and certainly efficiency) having the engine run cool then I think I'll have a go at this. I'll try and find another connector though, as otherwise I'll have to take the nose cone off again. groan...

December 7th

I've been wondering why Westfield use the additional fan switch in the radiator on the ducted nose cars. The standard Ford switch is in the thermostat housing--you can see it just to the right of the oil filler in the photo above. I had to lengthen the wiring to reach the switch in the radiator, you may remember, and I'm wondering about, temporarily at least, shortening it again and trying the "normal" one. It can't do any harm (can it?) and surely the Ford supplied sensor and thermostat are designed to work together.

December 13th

I took the car to Terry Nightingale's today to have the suspension looked at. This was all rather interesting. Up to now I've felt that there were two suspension issues that needed looking at, as well as a general feeling that it ought to be done. One was that the rear end seemed to steer somewhat over bumps and a rather unpleasant feeling under hard acceleration in the wet, as if the rear wheels would prefer to go sideways. The other issue is that there seems to be rather a lot of understeer, caused by the front end not turning in properly. I rather hoped that setting the tracking properly would fix the first issue. I had no idea about the second one, or even if it was just me being picky.

Anyway, I left the car with them for the morning. This was after a long chat to Terry about things Westfield. He says that he has a larger stock of Westfields than you can see anywhere. He certainly had about 20 cars in his place today. He actually reckons to build up his stock during the winter as come spring he can't get enough of them. I mentioned the problems that I was having with the cooling and he showed me a Zetec engined car that had the Raceline water rail conversion kit, which is an alloy casting that moves the thermostat around the side of the engine and allows more straightforward plumbing. The installation I looked at certainly looked rather nice.

After an hour Terry phoned to say that they couldn't get the front ride height low enough. I had noticed that this was an issue and was waiting for the springs to sag. Terry reckons that Westfield have changed the damper that they use, but not changed the spring, with the end result that you can't get the spring platform down to a sensible place. He said that the effect of this would probably be too much understeer, due to the weight transferring rearwards at the wrong moment. Surprisingly enough (not!) they did their own springs, a pair of which would cost £45. They are apparently a slightly higher rate than the Westfield ones but, as they are a bit shorter they would allow the ride height to be adjusted properly. So, succumbing to the expert sell, I agreed.

Driving back home was interesting. Unfortunately it was p**ing down so couldn't try too hard. However, there were several obvious effects:

  • The rear end seems to have lost the squirming under hard acceleration.
  • The rear bump steer seems to have gone away entirely.
  • The front end turn-in has been improved amazingly, to the extent that at first I was just moving the wheel too far to get the movement I needed. I tried pushing it really hard around a roundabout, a situation where I had got serious understeer before (of the understeering-into-the-bushes-given-half-a-chance variety) and was rewarded with a rather easy to control drift. (Remember that it was wet, before you think I can drive at speeds to get a four wheel drift on normal roads.)

So, at least on first acquaintance, this counts as a huge success, and £135 well spent. (Plus VAT, plus the £45 for the springs.)

Actually, the most interesting bit of the day was chatting to Terry's mechanic, who has done lots of race work. He was happily name-dropping about what Derek Bell had said about the Porsche 956 on the Mulsanne, and I was lapping it all up...

The engine cooling issue, by the way, is still interesting. It really does now run at the right temperature, but the fan spends most of its time running. Rather oddly, if you just let the car idle, when the fan starts up you can feel lots of hot air coming from the radiator. As the water cools the air from the radiator goes almost cold, even though the sensor is directly in the front radiator. The only explanation for this I can think of is that the thermostat has closed which means that nothing is going down the top hose. This could mean that the sensor is being warmed by water convecting upwards in the radiator from the bottom hose, which is still warm because of water flowing around the thermostat bypass. All of this would seem to say that it would be a very sensible idea to try the other fan switch. I think I'll do so this weekend. I'll try and get another connector first though, so I don't have to take the nose cone off.

December 24th

I hadn't driven the car for over a week, so Tom and went out delivering Xmas cards in it. Luckily the rain held off. However, the roads were very greasy which meant I couldn't try too hard. However, the suspension modifications really do seem to be paying off, the car feels much more together and predictable. This was useful today as the road conditions really didn't favour a high-powered, rear wheel drive car with no tricks like ABS and the like. At least it seems to slide to a stop with all four wheels locked in a straight line.

The cooling still seems OK too. Although the fan does spend to much time on when the car is sitting on the drive, I'm not sure the same is true when the engine's running faster, possibly because the water pump is sucking harder.

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