A Few Things…

Additional work has been completed since the suspension rebuild, none worthy of a single blog post, but here goes;

Front Springs

After I had replaced the rear springs as (see the previous post), It can only help to replace the front rusty, flaky ones too. I picked some 250lb  springs up from Protech then, it was a simple job; remove the retaining bolts – viciously cut off the old springs with an angle grinder, then slip on the new (shorter) springs and re-installing. The ride height was matched side to side but needs another look as the whole car seems a bit low.

After a couple of drives with the new springs – the car bucked around a little when on bumpy surfaces – so I clicked the dampers down one level all-around. 
MAP Sensor Damper
When completing the Ignition system a couple of years back, a Danst Engineering damper was added to smooth out the pulses created by the intake system and provide a good reading to the MAP sensor. I fitted it below the inlet manifold sort of hanging on the vacuum lines. Then after watching a youtube video from Japan about a Toyota AE86, and seeing a nice setup, I decided to copy it. Basically, the damper was moved to the edge of the cam cover fastened by p-clips and plumbed in with fresh silicone hoses.
Look, I’ve added an arrow to help you spot it!

More Wheels
When I got my current tyres fitted (Nankang NS2R), the man in the workshop noted that one rear wheel had hit something pretty hard and dented the OSR wheel rim (inside and out) – this presents itself as a rumble at higher speeds. 
This gave me an excuse to find more wheels (again) after waiting and watching I found some 13inch Minilite replicas (these cars are supposed to handle better on 13’s) I collected them and got them on – the car feels lighter on its toes and I think they look great!
I’ll probably go back to the 15inch wheels for another year or so to wear the tyres out, then get some new 13inch tyres and switch to these full time.

Winter Project – Rear Suspension Rebuild

Since first getting a look at the tired state of the rear suspension (Live Axle), I’ve really wanted to get in there and overhaul the lot including;

New Trailing arms and bushes
New coil springs (front ones too) – The dampers were replaced about 18 months ago.
Clean and paint the chassis and Panhard rod.

So with a bit of free time over the winter, I got to work.

I got the car lifted onto axle stands;

Removed rear wheels, Seats and Seatbelts, Boot Box and interior side panels.

I then had a go at removing all of the rear suspension bolts to release the components;

Removed Panhard rod and Rear Dampers (and the rear end of the top trailing arms).

Here I hit a problem ALL of remaining bolts were seized/rusted into their respective Metalastic bushes!

This called for drastic action – Getting in there with an angle grinder – armed with many cutting discs.

After tracking down and borrowing a nice powerful generator from a friend, I got to work, taking a whole day to remove the trailing arms. They ended up unserviceable.

It’s a good job that I already had a new set of arms ‘in stock’ fitted with poly bushes.

After removing these stubborn little critters – I could see the state of the chassis in its full glory – Urk!

The next 2 days spent in the garage were dedicated to cleaning/wire brushing everything I could get to, removing as much loose dirt/powder coat/rust as I could. It’s surprising how much can be scraped off – I had to sweep up the bits and muck plenty of times. At this time I also removed the original (150lb I’m told) rear springs and fitted (as is the trend) shorter 175lb rear springs – they at the very least look a lot better, and should cure the ‘bottoming out’ problem that happened sometimes.

Now that I could see where and what to paint, I gave all of the ‘dodgy’ areas their 1st coat of POR15 and went back to admire it the next day – it really feels like we are getting somewhere.

Over the Christmas break, I got some time to give the rear end another coat of POR15 and fit up the new poly-bushed rear trailing arms and re-painted (by my Mrs) Panhard rod – things were really starting to come together. The trickiest part of the operation was aligning the holes in the bushes with the openings in the brackets – this was solved using a tapered punch – as it was pushed into the bush through the brackets it (sort of) self-aligned.

This was all followed up with a good dose of Dinitrol to try to prevent the new nuts/bolts/bushes becoming one solid lump of rust. A few areas were also treated to additional silicone sealant – mainly around the gaps where the suspension brackets and seat belt mounts meet the inner aluminium panels.
So although I have spotted a small teething problem (the wiring connections to rear lights are temperamental) everything seems to work successfully.
The car has now moved again under its own power and is looking good for it.
Update: I replaced the rear light wiring plugs with some waterproof ones – had to run an extra earth wire to ensure a good connection, but all is well.

Running Repairs – Fuel Pump and Rear Brake Overhaul

While travelling to and taking part in a parade lap at The Silverstone Classic this summer I had a couple of odd incidents.

  • While passing travelling across country, the car cut out and coasted to a stop – restarting after maybe 20 seconds.
  • While on the parade lap at Silverstone the fuel pump (just behind my seat) went crazy – knocking and clattering away.

Knowing that I already had a spare fuel pump ‘in stock’ I decided that would be a good 1st step towards fixing the issue.

The job was a simple one, but included removal and refitting of the drivers seat to gain good access to the retaining bolts.

Before;

After;

Since replacing the pump, the car has had zero problems – and I’m considering it fixed. In fact, the car feels like runs even better, especially at mid-high revs, maybe the old pump had been on its way out for a while.
I also took some time to pay attention to the rear brakes, the handbrake was more-or-less ineffective and, when attempting to bleed the rear brakes at the time of wishbone replacement, I could not undo the bleed nipple.
This turned out pretty time consuming, but easy. I replaced both rear wheel cylinders for the drum brakes and took some care to adjust the (supposedly automatically adjusting) handbrake.
I then re-bled the entire braking system.
The result of this is.
  • The handbrake works without pulling it up to the sky.
  • The car is much more stable under braking.

Upon removal, the old wheel cylinders felt as if notches were worn into the bore, and, my guess is – doing nothing in particular.

Wide Track…

So, at the back end of last summer while taking a trip out for a coffee I managed to slide my car into the kerb.

The damage was limited to;

Scratched LHF Wheel
Misshapen LHF Lower Ball Joint
Misshapen LHF Lower Wishbone plate

Updated: Slight bend in left steering rack track rod

To remedy this;

Wheel scratch covered with touch-in paint
Lower ball joint replaced
Lower Wishbone removed and Plate Straightened with a big hammer

This did not feel like final repair, so I started looking at getting a Wide Track kit to fit in place of the current front suspension.

Now, there are a few manufacturers of these kits, but just before Christmas, in the WSCC magazine, there was an Ad declaring that the Genuine Westfield Wide Track Kit was at a special price to members.

I called and placed an order immediately.

The Kit took a short while to arrive while the factory was switching to a new supplier. But when it did, wow, nice quality.

I soon got around to bolting the bits together that didn’t need a car nearby. This included new upper and lower ball joints (obtained from an online parts shop)
Then, the on the firsts reasonable day of the year, the car was brought around to my house for this transplant (it’s on those concrete slabs to get enough space to slide the jack under).
Removing the old units proved pretty simple, the only sticky parts being the ball joints sticking into the hub. 11mm of thread was cut from the steering track rods to allow the rack extensions to fit tightly and give enough tracking adjustment.
The biggest struggle was fitting the new Westfield poly-bushes into the new wishbones centrally, a few tries were needed per bush. Update: I’ve since learnt that one should clear some of the powder coat inside the bush housings.
Anyway, after whole day of working including a brake bleed, and setting the camber to 1.5 degrees,  this was the result. Update: The camber has since been reset and tracking set – the brake bleed was front brakes only, as the rear bleed nipple was seized.
After this year’s MOT test, I’m planning to re-check the tightness of everything and re-check the tracking and camber.

Battery Isolator…

Note: Posted directly from my phone – hope it looks okay!

I found this winter that my battery – when left for a period of about 5 weeks would go dead flat.
Now, don’t think that I would purposely abandon my little car for 5 weeks it was a combination of a trip to New York that ran over, then a drunken accident during pre-Christmas drinks, followed by a business trip.
Anyway the battery was dead flat not accepting a charge. The battery was one that was picked up  in the summer from Halfords. So I returned it and they handed me a new one.
To prevent failure of the new one I, after reading a few blog posts and forum entries I decided upon a battery isolator from www.autoelectricsupplies.co.uk To make it a nice Job I also measured up and cot a couple of new battery cables.
I chose to place the isolator on the negative side of the battery circuit. Mainly because the positive side has to deal with some serious amps during start up and this may cause a bit of a melt.
There was already a conveniently placed hole in the scuttle for the new device – in one of the redundant ex-heater hose holes. So it was a very simple job of removing the battery and then drilling 2 additional holes to pass screws through for attachment.
I then fitted the new cables and viola.

 I left the car for around 10 days isolated and it worked fine. 

At the same time I replaced a leaking coolant t-piece that had an annoying drip with a new one hand made by an eBay seller. It’s such a nice looking thing that it’s a shame it’s buried in the bottom hose.

Many Things…

Many things happened to my car over the summer…

The trouble is finding the time to post updates here between spanner sessions.

Of the things I can remember;

The alternator came loose on the way to Le Mans the car ran fine all of the way there and back but the light would flicker on and off.

I discovered a bolt missing between the alternator bracket and front engine cover that was soon remedied.

I got myself a bargain of a new exhaust from the Westfield factory.

I fitted some little canard fins onto the nosecone a’la Caterham, 2 pop rivets per side.
I got a set of very nice second hand doors from a club member, it was a simple task to swap the hinges over.

Then came ‘Throttle Cable-Gate’…
While taking a friend out for a ‘demonstration run’ the throttle cable snapped at the pedal end.
I looked into what could be done, and settled on a packet of ten inner cables from eBay and some go-kart throttle cable end parts.
I soon had the car working again, but the pedal felt a bit squishy, so I re-worked the pedal end and fitted another inner cable.
This soon snapped at the carburettor end… grrrr…
I made up another cable this time filing the barrel on the carb end to a super smooth easy fit into the mechanism on the carburettor. Its been okay so far. Fingers crossed.
In a fit of ‘oooh they look nice’ I picked up another set of wheels, this time the ubiquitous Pro-Race 1.2s with Yokohama neova AD08R rubber (super grippy).
Anyway, back soon with more antics…

Dashboard…

I’d had a constant annoyance with the dashboard, whereby the covering had come loose at the base and lost its stickiness.

So with whole day free, I set about re-doing the covering.
In preparation I ordered some 3M Di-Noc Carbon fibre, isopropyl Alcohol, Primer and a sheet of wet lay carbon fibre to fill any holes or ‘make a feature’
Removing the dash, I labelled every wire or plug to assist in re-assembly.
I noticed that the hazard switch wiring had been extended to allow it to be fitted behind the steering wheel. This lash-up was removed and the switch is to be moved to its old school position on the left side of the dash.
Process;
Peel off the Vinyl
Soak the spongy residue with tar and glue remover
Wipe it off
Soak it again
Wipe it off
… Repeat
After removal of all the spongy stuff, a blast with sand paper got the panel all nice and shiny.
I decided upon a few modifications;
1. USB Socket
2. Move the hazard switch to a place where the normal loom ends
3. Blank off the old hazard switch hole, and the heater switch hole.
For the USB socket I tool my Dremel (Archie) and opened out a round hole that was already there – pretty straightforward.
To cut the hole for the hazard with move, I popped some masking tape onto the area beside the 3 gauges in the middle of the dash and drew out the shape, then chopped out along the lines with the Archie.
For the switch blanks, I cut 2 oblong bits of carbon, about 20mm longer than the hole they are to blank.
I then checked that the USB socket and switch fitted in their new holes and washed the dash with isopropyl alcohol. 
I rolled out the 3M covering and laid the panel onto it to roughly cut the shape, peeled off the backing, and dropped the panel down onto it.
I then just worked all of the bubbles out and cut darts into the vinyl where any curves or holes are.
Securing the most acute bits with a layer of primer.
The switch blanks were then riveted into place and edged with Araldite to make sure of security.
Here’s the result;
I love it – please excuse the washing up.
The re-install process was simple with all of the labelled plugs/wires.

Engine Rattle, Seat Height, Floor Mats…

Engine Rattle

There was an intermittent rattle from the front of the engine which I thought was cured by replacing the water pump – no such luck.

After reading a few forums etc, it was suggested that it could be a failing cam belt tensioner or idler.

I already had a spare cam belt, tensioner and idler in stock so I went for it.

Getting to the belt was straight forward and there are many  youtube videos outlining how to do it.

Then came a stumbling block, I couldn’t undo the front crankshaft pulley retaining nut – it was very very tight.

Still i did notice that the cam belt was in good condition and not too old, so finding that the tensioner was very loose in operation I replaced that and the idler.

I used the crank locking tool and camshaft tool to ensure that nothing moved while these parts were slipped in.

Everything was then re-assembeld and I happy to say the noise has gone.

Cam belt replacement is now on the ‘winter upgrade’ list.

Seat Height

I have (since the second day of ownership) more-or-less fitted in the car. I only realised how much I still donot fit by going to the Caterham South Grand Opening and trying on a Caterham SV.

The difference was staggering – it fitted like a glove – some of this was because of the lovely modern composite seats, but it was mainly because I was low down behind the screen giving better visibility and more knee room

So, I was on a mission to get the seat, and therefore myself lower in the car.

I contemplated throwing a lot of money at Tillet Racing Seats, but after a lot forum surfing found that the 1st option is to remove the drivers seat, take the runners off, take the carpet out… And bolt the thing right to the floor.

I got myself some new mounting bolts with gigantic washers and went at it – it was a simple job and the I now fit a lot better. The view feels almost as low as in the Caterham though the seat is not as comfortable as theirs. I love it though.

Floor Mats

When I removed the carpets to lower the seat I thew them away.

I though that it would be fine (and a bit racy) to have bare aluminium which I might paint black. This was not the case, the main issue being that bare aluminium is a bit slippy and this can cause a fool-slippage issue at inopportune times.

So while at Stoneleigh, I picked up some rubber floor covering.

Today I went about fitting this stuff;

Firstly paper templates were made with the help of some (lots of) masking tape.

These were then laid over the rubber covering and cut around with a sharp knife.

Then after a test fit, giving the alloy floor a good clean, and a coat of aerosol carpet adhesive then carefully fitting the rubber, this is the result.
It looks great.

Cooling System…

Even though I’ve not posted here so much, I have been busy with the car;

The complex cooling system – the myriad of pipes and hoses was never a pleasing sight under the bonnet.

My answer to this was to get hold of a RetroFord water rail and simplify the system.

The job was simple really, the old parts came off easily, including the thermostat housing, then the new parts built up and fitted with ease.

The only slightly tricky area is where an outlet from the new housing passes through the coil pack mounting – to be sure of no contact, the coil mount was loosened and lifted about 1-2mm then re-tightened. This gave JUST enough space to pass a hose for the header tank.

The sensors supplied with the rail fitted perfectly and allowed me to switch back to an automatic cooling fan – which when tested worked so well.

While apart I took the opportunity to fit a new water pump, this was a breeze, but I did find that the threads in the water pump housing are not very good so was careful in tightening.

I have one of these housings, but its a pretty ‘deep’ part on the front of the engine and best suited to ‘winter upgrade’ or leave it alone its not leaking’.

Update: I have since drilled 3 little holes in the thermostat – it prevents air-locking and allows a little bypass.

Wheels and Brakes…

This weekend I fitted some new wheels (14inch Revolution Alloys) that I saw for sale on the WSCC forum.

I got a set of 5 with good Toyo CF1 tyres for £300 delivered from Edinburgh.

At first try they would not fit, as they have an unusual wheel nut design, whereby the nuts have a shank very nearly the thickness of the wheel and fit through a machined hole in the rim.

The trouble was, the wheel bolts had a splined shank section, this prevented the wheels tightening fully.

This was overcome by adding a 5mm wheel spacer to each corner – the bolts now tighten down perfectly.

Next was the front brake pads and discs, I picked up some EBC Greenstuff Pads, and EBC Turbogroved Discs.

These went on pretty simply, the only thing to look out for is the flexible brake hose routing to ensure that it is not pulled when on full lock.

Anyway the difference is staggering, the car stops so much better – directional stability under braking was improved further still by adding 2 clicks front and 1 click rear on the dampers.