Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Scotland 2015 - Preparation

Preparation and now the countdown to the Scottish Highlands run:
Hotels are booked, time off work booked, route being finalised by other club members and I'm in the process of designing the group sticker/badge.

This year's badge style is along the lines of a band tour shirt:

The sticker only tells half the story, I'm starting in Maidstone so have another 942 ish miles on top to get to/from the start line. The group will build as we head north, meeting up at services local to each driver & we take a scenic diversion through the Lake District on the way.

Touch wood the car is running fine, should be just a fluids and pressures test then heading north.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

GBS Run Out

First excuse of the year for a run & back to GBS for their 2015 run out.

Headed north on Saturday, overnight stop in Retford in time to see the last 6 nations Rugby match at the The Galway Arms then met up for approx. 118 mile run on the Sunday. Finishing at a The Plough in Cropwell Butler for (in my case) steak pie and chips.

Tea and biscuits laid on at GBS, time for a chat and to digest the printed route plan:

The map shows only my round trip; the middle part between GBS and The Plough was the run itself - 14 cars and a fantastic convoluted route along A & B roads which certainly tested my driving.

A few pictures en-route courtesy of GBS

The Zero behaved itself - cooling not a problem, although the horn stopped working at some point (entirely possible it wasn't working all weekend, I think the only time I use it is to 'toot' goodbye at the end of meets)

Returned home about 9pm on the Sunday evening - best part of 500 miles all in ODO now showing 6,136 miles. Good shakedown for Scotland at the end of April which will be more like 1,400 miles in total including the north/south legs.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Oil Change

5,638 Miles Oil & Oil Filter change.

More an annual ritual than needing it; allowed another check on Oil quality/quantity coming out, no signs of water in it from the overheat.

All set for the summer now.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Helmet & Skirt

With Scotland 2014 being 'sun burn' weather and the other long trips over the last 18 months having the luck of the weather the law of averages means I am bound to encounter some bad weather this year...

Preparation for getting wet in the car and a little comfort on the long motorway runs to/from events will now consist V2 Sport crash helmet enhanced with this morning's project: a skirt to stop the wind whistling around my chin and neck. Designed purely for road use I am not trying to meet any track standards.

Out with the sewing machine: simple band of waxed cotton, hemmed, lined in the front and 10mm velcro on the top edge to attach to the helmet. The fabric doesn't stretch so I left the back open/velcro close to ease donning and removal:

Test fit seems to work:
..of course a little nod in the design to James Hunt, I don't have the long blonde hair to go with it anymore though :)

Acid test will be whether it flaps too much in use and how long the self adhesive velcro on the helmet stays in place.

Update - 50 mile test drive, so far so good - the skirt removes the 'air blade' effect at my chin. Success.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Timing belt change

Haynes recommends approx. 100k miles to renew the timing belt & elsewhere on the web I've seen recommendation of anywhere between 75-100k miles and 10 years whichever is sooner.

The car only has around 5,500 miles on the clock, but the engine was manufactured in 2004 - so, partly for the sake of  a challenge, I decided to replace the belt.

For reference - the one that came off had no signs of wear, no cracking when folded on itself etc & the idler and tensioner looked brand new.

I'll not describe the whole procedure, I used a Haynes 2004 Ford Focus manual for the main reference , a couple of youtube videos and some chatting on RhoCar before starting.

Things to consider on this process/learned checklist:
  • An impact wrench makes things much easier (possible even) - cam sprocket bolts are T55 torx
  • The cam sprocket holding tool I had was not designed to hold the crank pulley too (protruding lugs too large diameter)
  • The timing tools to lock the cam shaft & the crank are a must have
  • Cam sprockets and crankshaft sprocket are held on by friction/correct torque on their respective  bolts - no woodruff keys
  • The water pump pulley does have to come off because the middle cover plate has a torx bolt behind it.
  • The alternator bottom bracket has to come off to allow the belt middle cover to come off - fiddly due to lack of room even on the wider GT chassis
  • Never loosen anything with the timing cam lock or crank pin in place - any torque on them and things can bend/brake, but at the same time be conscious too much movement will cause damage to the valves.
  • Always turn the crank clockwise (see exception when turning back 1/4 of a rotation mid job)
  • The cam locking bar might not 'slide in' with the original belt in place - a little movement flex in the belt means it could be very tight to slide the bar in at this stage - in any event its not needed until later
Covers off reference shot - it was at this point I discovered I had no chance of getting the crank bolt out with a breaker bar and settled on impact wrench approach instead.

Intermediate stage - cylinder 1 @ TDC, intake valve just closed exhaust not opened yet - i.e. compression cycle. Double checked with a dowel(Paintbrush through the plug hole) & the cam locking bar offered up and visible at the back of the engine on the second shot.

Loosening the sprockets with the impact wrench, & spanner on the cam shaft flats. 
Cam lock bar & crank pin is removed. At this point I rotated the crank 1/4 of a turn anti-clockwise, thus if anything moved while loosening the sprocket bolts there is no force on the locking bar, and no chance of a valve hitting a piston.

Lots of steps not pictured (theres nothing to see), its a reasonably straightforward process, with crank turned clockwise against its timing pin and camshafts locked on their bar - pulleys & new belt back on, torqued then careful 2x turn of the engine by hand to ensure everything still lines up & the tension pulley in the same place, 2x manual turn again as a double check, then re-assembly and good to go!

Bottom belt cover

I had a plan re the bottom pulley which didn't quite pan out. I ran into issues tring to remove the crank/pulley nut (before I obtained an impact wrench, 115nm torque) so instead removed the bottom belt cover with the pulley in place. The intention was to reuse at least the top half of the cover - but in the end pretty much destroyed it during removal.

Plan now will be some ali floor just under the pulley to reduce chance of any debris ingress, + restore at least the top half of the bottom cover.

Test run

Just back from a test run down the motorway/back roads & everything seems to be fine!

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Prop-shaft UJ Greasing

First day into the garage this year, quick maintenance task:

Tunnel covers off and grease the prop-shaft UJs. The grease nipples are just about reachable from the top of the car but it needs a cone style grease gun end to get into the UJ cross.

While I was in there I made a visual check on the prop shaft/diff bolts and diff flange plate bolt - nothing has moved so all good.

Friday, 26 December 2014

Christmas Present - Pirelli Calendar

One of my Christmas presents was a vintage 1998 Pirelli calendar, cunningly selected so the days & dates will line up correctly in 2015.

Just in time for the new year and will add to the whole slightly retro 7 garage feel..

Its bad luck to open calendars before January though!

Flick Wiper

I found the most useful mode on the wipers is a single wipe; i.e. generally due to the screen size & type of weather a simple - push once for one wipe - is perfect to keep visibility clear;

This was the final circuit, double checked on RhoCar, Simon @ GBS and during build.
The switch over relay temporarily disconnects slow wipe from the park switch and over to 12v instead. A momentary push button to ground will energise the relay and wipe while pressed leaving the column stalk functionality to work as normal.

Reference shot of the wiper motor plug before any changes...

...and the relatively simple loom insertion into the blue (12v) and green (slow wipe) lines. The trailing black line goes to the momentary switch to earth.

The relay will tuck securely next to the wiper motor.

Update -
My stalks didn't have an appropriate momentary switch, so I went for the Aux panel: a push button installed under the existing DRL & Fog light buttons in a position I can find with gloves on and without looking - so should be ideal.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Wet Feet - windscreen run-off fix

I dont mind my top half getting wet, but wet feet and damp floor is not ideal.

I cut my bottom windscreen rubber slightly short, combine that with the oval adjustment holes for the windscreen mounts mean rain runs down the scuttle through the hole and drips on my feet.

I made some gaskets out of an off-cut of window rubber surround cut to size using the window uprights as templates. The holes in the rubber seal drilled 1mm smaller than the bolts & a lightly greased surface will hopefully make it watertight:

I should have cut the top edge simply straight; it will probably be ok though - any water build up in the middle of the triangle will just run out the side.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Brands Hatch - report

Just back from a long day at Brands Hatch...

Garage 18

Total Kitcar live was a one day track focused show, allowing anyone to signup and ride with the various marques present as a passenger.

I originally was attending as a static display example at the invitation of GBS, but the opportunity arose to also take the car around the track too; baptism of fire - wet track with no experience.

Garage 18 - The GBS racer was present, but on slicks and not going out; my motor an example of a road targeted customer build:

Some really nice Ford escorts adapted for racing next door, No idea what all the cars were, a good mixture, bike engined, replica, 3 wheeler, single seater, even an electric trike, but I don't think the wet conditions suited his vehicle.

Spent the morning chatting to KentZero from GBSOwnersclub and potential customers/interested parties including 2-3 people who had seen the blog and/or were in the process of looking at options or building their own cars.


Fantastic to get on Brands Hatch as a driver

The track session; starting with sign in, the nominal drivers instruction then 2-3 sighting laps following the safety car; all very well organised. Relaxed atmosphere since the focus was on showing off the various marques in action. Special note made during the briefing informing all drivers the most usual place  to spin is after Druids - which of course was phropetic!

My first outing at my own pace with my wife in in the passenger seat: was fine for the first corner; - Paddock hill bend looks steep as a spectator - but even steeper from inside the car with adverse camber, then straight line with a right kink up to Druids, and I think I was the first spinner! - a little too much right foot coming out of the corner, back end came around and a short detour sideways onto the grass!

Attempt to save it, steer into the corner - no luck - grass is more slippery than the damp track...

No Damage though - so a quick check, clean up and back out half a dozen times over the day with my wife and a some prospective/interested GBS customers. Cannot say I was quick around Druids, but could give it some speed around 70mph down the straights and sort-of getting the hang of Surtees and McLaren..

Paddock is cool in a fatalistic sort of way, needs setting up on the straight, and then trying to smoothly drive through it and get onto the uphill straight before running out of road width.

Lots of practice on the blue flags and letting faster cars past; hopefully I didn't get in the way too much.

In the background on this picture from TKC Magazine's Facebook pageDRLs nicely bright!

My dash camera has a built in GPS which can extract basic speed telemetary. The graph is speed vertical with time left to right. It shows each outing onto the track as a cluster of verticals, laps marked by the significant low points which is me taking it very easy through the Druid's hairpin.

The horizontal axis is not continuous between outings; i.e. we had significant breaks between the 5 drives around - avoiding the worst of the weather if nothing else.

Still in one piece and luckier than some - I was not the only spinner, and one unlucky Cobra replica ended up losing a headlight and re-modelling a wing as it spun on the start finish straight hitting the pit-wall resulting in a red flag for a while.

All in all a good day - 7.30 am start at the track, and good time to drive, wander and look at other cars and watch the general goings on. Mostly dry/damp but no real clear sky to let the track dry off and one total downpour for good measure.

The drive home felt so much more stable than the track; I think a mixture of dry conditions, instruction and setup check will help before venturing off the road again.

You've got to have a go though!

A few videos with more in-car shots to follow in due course.