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Wednesday 9th July

OK, it's been a long time! I've been away a lot working and just got back last night from Austria having taken part in Ironman Austria on Sunday. Finisherd in one piece and have just about recovered from all the post race beers!

I've got a couple of days off before I go back to work nerxt week and can't wait to get stuck into the build. Before I get going again on the Ultima though I have to strip the Megablade engine so I can order the parts to fix it. I managed to get the engine out before I went away and by lunchtime it's done. The 3rd gear cog on the countershaft had lost a chunk out of its rim including 2 of the teeth. Everything else looks OK so I'll nip down to the Honda dealer in the morning and order a replacement.

Anyway, back to the Ultima. First job is to fit the alloy box sections to the inner cockpit floor skin. This is fairly straightforward and after a check that it all fits OK it's out with the sealant and in it goes.

Cockpit double skin completed (click for larger image)Further view of cockpit floor (click for larger image)

Next is the battery tray which is easy enough if a little fiddly due to the trimming it needs to fit round the chassis members. Once it's in I'm mhappy as it looks nice and neat.

Battery tray completed (click for larger image)Battery tray from front (click for larger image)Battery tray from right hand side (click for larger image)

That's the panelling done now so it's out with the spanners at last. Running out of time now so I decide to give the master cylinders a coat of silver Hammerite. They're already finished in some form of paint but the finish isn't terribly good and a nice even silver colour will look better. That done it's time to tidy up and crack open a beer and light the barbecue.

Thursday 10th July

Before starting work on the Ultima this morning I have a couple of errands to do - first of all ordering the new 3rd gear. It's just under 70 quid plus VAT, and I'll need a couple of replacement circlips as well as a replacement cluth nut as this has a locking flange which gets punched into a recess on the shaft meaning it needs replacing every time it's removed. While I'm there I spot a couple of other goodies - a nice plastic oil filter wrench which fits onto the filter like a socket and takes a 1/2" square drive bit. Also a nice tubeless puncture repair kit - in the Megablade if I'm on a run I take a can of tyreweld, but I'm aware that if I use it the tyre is likely to be scrap. This kit has a set of plugs with a skewer type tool and some glue for plugging a puncture. Also 3 CO2 cylinders and and adapter to reinflate the tyre. This will be ideal for the Ultima too and at 17 quid seems a good buy. Off then to Machine Mart to get a drill press vice. I'll need this to hold the gear linkage UJs while to drill them for the roll pins. Also call in ATS and order 4 new Goodyear Eagle F1s for the Evo. The current set have done 17,000 miles which is amazing given my driving and the fact that the initial set of Yokos on it when new lasted just 3,500 miles! I've always reckoned there was a straight trade off between grip (especially in the wet) and tyre wear but the F1s have proved me wrong and have been a really good set of tyres. I've done 3 wet trackdays in them where I learned they really could be trusted to hang on in the wet!

The pedals are all neatly packaged together with all their fittings. I spend a while familiarising myself with the parts and where they go. Quick check of CJ's site to check which holes to fit them in as I remember from reading it before that the manual recommendation to use the middle hole for each is wrong! It also takes me a while to work out how I'm going to mount the master cylinder pushrods onto the brake bias bar since the pushrods don't turn in the cylinder (unlike the clutch m/c). With the pedal loosely in position it turns out that it's possible to rotate the entire master cylinder before it reaches the mounting studs. Once I've worked it all out I apply sealant to the clutch m/c and fit that first. This is pretty simple and doesn't take too long. I'd expected the bush to be longer than the width of the pedal but it isn't, so you can't just tighten up the nyloc nut on the pivot bolt, you need to get it just right.

Next is the brake pedal and its master cylinders. I've made sure the m/c pushrods aren't screwed fully into the alloy bits on the end of the bias bar firstly to make sure they don't foul and secondly to make sure I get full travel on the whole thing. Fitting the pivot bolt is a doddle. The accelerator pedal is next and once it's fitted I dig out the cable. Had a bit of trouble working out which way round it goes - one end of the cable has a fitted clevis, the other a removable/adjustable clevis. The factory CD seems to show the fitted end at the pedal end while CJ and James both seem to have it the other way round. Firstly the adjustable clevis won't fit onto the pedal without filing the pedal down and secondly I figure than once the car's built it'll be easier getting to the engine end than going head first down the footwell! So I'll fit it the factory way. After drilling the chassis rail and fitting the substantial aluminium plate for the cable stop I drill the chassis rail above for the cable to pass through it - this needs grommets which aren't supplied and I don't have any the right size. I'll call in the motor factors later and have a look.

Pedals nearly completed (click for larger image)Master cylinders fitted - nice even colour due to 2 coats coat of silver Hammerite (click for larger image)Pedals and throttle cable stop from above (click for larger image)

Tiem to fit the steering rack and column. The column is a custom alloy 2.5 turn rack which I think is made by Titan. It doesn't take long to get it loosely in place. The steering column bushes press into place easily enough with a bit of washing up liquid and it's time to see if the hole in the bulkhead really is in the right place! Sure enough it's spot on, but getting the pinch bolts in is very difficult as they're a very tight fit. I end up running an 8mm drill through the holes then dressing the column with a fine round file to allow the bolt through. This work fine for most of them, but the one which goes onto the steering rack needs opening up a bit more as the splined shaft is a much harder metal than the column. By rotating the rack within its mounts the column lines up dead centre in the bulkhead hole and I can tighten it all up.

Bushes pressed in ready for steering column (click for larger image)Steering rack loosely fitted ready for steering column (click for larger image)Steering column fitted (click for larger image)View of steering rack with column fitted - 2.5 turns lock to lock (click for larger image)

Next up is the gear linkage. This has caused me some trepidation as it looks quite complex, fiddly and is clearly fairly critical. It's made up of three steel tubular shafts joined with small universal joints which rotates and slides back and fore through rose joints to give the gear shifts. As both CJ and James have found the plating on the shafts means they won't fit in either the rose joints or the UJs. I start with some wire wool but soon realise I need ot get more aggressive than that! So it's out with the 240 grade and 400 grade wet and dry, followed by the liquid metal polish. It takes me a good couple of hours getting each bit to fit. The UJs just need to slide on comfortably so you can tweak the position OK, but where the shafts go through the rose joints is much more critical and these areas get plenty of the metal polish to get a mirror finish. It's soon time to go in and have a shower and some food.

Friday 11th July

Up early this morning as one of the kids has been ill in the night and once woken at 4.15 I can't get back to sleep so I'm up at 4.30. Bit of a funny day today as although I'm on annual leave I have a meeting I need to go to at lunchtime in mid Wales. Consolation is that firstly the road between Llandovery and Builth Wells is probably my favourite stretch of road and it'll get me brownie points and mean I can recover some time next week. I also have plenty of email and other work to catch up on, and by the time I've done this and read the messages in the Pistonheads Forum from while I was away it's 8 o'clock and high time I was out in the garage!

I can now finish off the gear linkage. All the UJs need drilling but first I set to the bits that slide through the rose joints again with the metal polish to make sure it all works freely. In my last shopping spree at Machine Mart I bought a nice little drill press which hasn't been used yet. Once I'm happy with all the UJs and the polished bits it's time to attack the first one. This turns out to be easier than I expected - I haven't used a drill press before and am hugely impressed by the ease with which it goes through the UJs and shafts. By 10.30 I've got them all done and fitted although I haven't fitted all the roll pins in case I need to take it out again. At the front of the linkage the lower rose joint is in as far as it will go to keep the shaft as close to the cockpit side as possible while the upper one is well out (just over 45mm) to allow plenty of clearance for the UJ when the gear lever is pulled in towards the cockpit otherwise it'll be banging on the aluminium panel. I had to ring the factory to check which way round the gear lever goes - it has a kink and the ends are of unequal length. I reckon the shorter end should go into the UJ but it isn't at all clear form the manual and a call to Andy at the factory confirms this. I suspend the rear end from the chassis to stop it clattering around and clear up.

Front end of gear linkage fitted (click for larger image)Gear linkage emerging from cockpit into engine bay (click for larger image)further gear linkage universal joint within engine bay (click for larger image)

On the way to my meeting I call in the motor factors and get a couple of grommets and some grease for the suspension bushes. The drive is great, the Evo absolutely loves the road up towards and past Sugar Loaf Mountain, and these tyres are shortly for the great tyre graveyard in the sky so they get no mercy :-)

I'm home just about 4pm and within minutes the grommets are fitted but I leave the acable for now as I reckon it'll just get in the way - it's the longest accelerator cable I've ever seen!

Next we're really into the serious bits of the build and I lug the box with the wishbones down from the garage attic. They all look very nicely made and are of course much more substantial than those on the Westy. First job is to stick all the bushes in which was easier than expected as they aren't a desperatley tight fit. I use plenty of grease with these and I'm soon in a gooey mess! I also clean out the threads for the rose joint on the rear upper wishbones and the upper ball joint at the front and hit a snag. The filed groove in the thread trick works fine for the rears but not so well for the fronts. On closer inspection I realise the tube isn't threaded all the way thought. On even closer inspection I realise that it definitely should be, as I can't get the ball joint anywhere near far enough in. Of course by this time it's 4.45pm and the factory phone is on the answering machine :-( Oh well, nothing I can do about it as I don't have an 18mm tap and I'm not likely to be able to scrounge one. I fit the front wishbones anyway and make a start on one of the rears. It turns out the factory have left out the 2 18mm locknuts for the upper front ball joints too. Also while they very helpfully supply solid ride height struts to stick in in place of the shocks, there are no bolts for these. Whilst it's reassuring that the folks at the factory are human these little niggles are irritating, and of course they always happen at the start of a weekend when you plan lots of building!

Front wishbones fitted - uppers need to come off again as not threaded all way through :-( (click for larger image)
Soon it's time to call it a day - we're off out tonight with my friend Mike and his wife Gill. Mike was one of the intrepid band of three of us who did the Ironman last weekend. We're off out for a couple of beers followed by a local fish restaurant.

Saturday 12th July

First thing today is finishing off the rear wishbones. These go according to plan, and I suppose the next job is uprights. I can't really make a start on the front uprights yet until I sort out the thread problem.

Right hand side rear wishbones ready to fit upright (click for larger image)

At 9.30 I start ringing round - our local fastener supplier does have 18mm taps but they're pricey. I'm not sure whether it's metric coarse or fine - the coars tap is £18 plus VAT, the fine one £25 plus VAT! Next call is the factory - not sure if there'll be anyone there but I speak to Ted and he's horrified and promises to send replacement wishbones out on Monday morning. Can't say fairer than that, I've got plenty to be getting on with in the meantime.

My 'Blade gearbox parts are in too so I have a trip out to go and collect them.

Back in the garage I lug the box containing the rear uprights downstairs. These, like everything else, are neatly packaged and clearly labelled left and right. First of all a bit of time looking at all the bits and getting it clear in my head. The upper rose joint and lower bush are soon bolted and the upright is in position. The toe link adjuster is a nice bit of kit - a threaded hex bar with a rose joint in each end, one of which has a left hand thread. Thus turning the hex bar will shorten or lengthen the link to adjust the rear toe-in. The manual says 10mm must be lopped off each rose joint and I'm not looking forward to this. I was thinking of using a cutting disk on the Wizard as I have no decent hacksaw blades. I decide to try the junior hacksaw first and in fact it's much easier than I expected and only takes a minute each. File the end nice and smooth and flat then use the bench grinder to chamfer the end. Pretty soon this is fitted and the upright's done.

Left hand side rear upright fitted (click for larger image)View of rear upright from behind (click for larger image)

Back up in the loft I dig out the rear disks, calipers and the brake kit parts box. I'd already opened the disks up to have a gander. They're absolutely huge (12.5 inches diameter) drilled vented disks and look like a very serious bit of kit. Very heavy too! The calipers are AP Racing 4 pot and in contrast are much lighter than they look! The calipers come with a really nice anodised alloy billet fixing bracket. The parts box has a set of Mintex racing pads, two bottles of brake fluid and a tube of Loctite. The handbrake calipers are made by Brembo and come with nice shiny alloy brackets. Again I spend a while familiarising myself with the parts before trying to fit anything.

I try a dry run first without the loctite and all looks OK. I nearly confused myself as the manual talks about shimming the caliper away from the upright, but on checking that's in the bit referring to the Ford brake setup. This all goes smoothly apart from one glitch. While torquing up the caliper bolts there's no torque given for the handbrake caliper, so I decide to tighten to the same torque as the AP cliper. Bad move as I strip the thread on one of the nuts! I replace it with one from the other side for now, these look like slightly thinner than standard 10mm nyloc nuts, I'll have a look around later for a replacement.

Lovely billet mounting brackets for AP caliper (left) and Brembo handbrake caliper (right) (click for larger image)Disk showing Brembo handbrake caliper (click for larger image)Disk showing lovely AP Racing caliper - much lighter than it looks (unlike the disk rotor!) (click for larger image)

Left hand rear corner showing inner aspect of disk/calipers (click for larger image)Outside view of disk/caliper (click for larger image)

After a bit of time taking some pictures it's time to clear up as I've promised to take youngest son surfing. It's a glorious day and I suspected there would be no surf, but the surfline says it's over 2 feet and clean so better get the car loaded up!

Sunday 13th July

Fitting the right side rear upright and calipers was much easier and quicker than the first mainly as I knew more about what I was doing! I decided to file a 10mm nyloc nut down to the same thickness as the one I stripped as I was worried there might not be enough thread on the bolt otherwise. As it turned out it would have been fine but at least they look the same now (but only visible if you remove the disk!). I also found some bushes the garage that I could use with some spare wheel nuts to hold the disks more firmly in place.

With that done the next job until I get the front wishbones is the cooling system, but that will need to wait as I need to get the 'Blade engine sorted out. The rest of the afternoon was taken up with other things (including a total clutch failure in my wife's VW Golf and waiting for the AA to tow us home!) till The evening was spent fixing the 'Blade gearbox - reassembling the countershaft with its new 3rd gear and sticking the crankcase back together. By 9pm it was looking more like an engine again, but I seemed to have a box of neutrals. I decided to sleep on it and have a look in the morning.

Monday 14th July

First thing was to start undoing the bolts to re-split the crankcase, but when I turned it over I realised I could access the selector drum and forks through the bottom of the casings. All was OK after all, just hadn't fitted the selector cam properly. By lunchtime the whole thing was refilled with oil and ready to slap back in the car once the kids are home from school to help lift it. At about 65kg it's pretty light for a combined engine/gearbox!

Once that was out of the way the bench was clear again and I could get to grips with the cooling system. First job was to carry it all down - 2 big alloy pre-formed pipes which run down each side of the chassis, one huge (and very heavy!) radiator plus all the fixings etc.

I first of all tried a dry run with the radiator to see exactly where it goes and where the triangular side panels for the radiator bay need to go. These close the gaps at the side and increase the flow of air through the radiator rather than around it. I hadn't rivetted the rad floor pan in as I knew these need fitting. With the rad in it looks like they'll just butt neatly against the diagonal side rails, and using some masking tape and a try square I concoct a cunning plan to make sure I can use the holes I've already drilled in the rad bay floor and chassis rail. Basically I stuck a wide strip of masking tape on, marked the position of the holes on it, then put the alloy plate in situ and drew round its outline, then removed the tape and stuck it on the alloy. Hey, presto, the holes to be drilled are marked. Once skin pinned in position I then mark the position of the diagonal rail and measure/drill for rivets along there. Once I'm happy with them I deburr the edges, round the corners and fix them with sealant and rivets. Getting down to my last few rivets now ...

Rad pan prior to fitting side panel - note scratch from drill bit breaking! (click for larger image)Part 1 of cunning plan involves masking tape and square (click for larger image)... then place side panel in position and mark round its border (click for larger image)

... and reapply masking tape, remove panel, mark and drill holes (click for larger image)et voila! Holes correctly positioned (click for larger image)Side panel and radiator in position (click for larger image)

With the side panels in place I can now start on the radiator. first drill the 'ears' and check for fit on the bobbins, then sort out the alloy brackets which hold the twin fans onto the radiator surface. This is fairly straightforward but needs the usual care and attention to make sure all the rivets are spaced tidily. Also to make sure the drill doesn't go into the radiator core! Once they're all done it's time to fit the radiator in position.

Radiator and fans. (click for larger image)Radiator and fans from above (click for larger image)

I don't really want to fit the long cooling pipes until I can fit them to the radiator, and it seems I haven't got the silicon hoses - on checking they're a seperate item from the cooling module and weren't ordered with my first batch of bits.

The pile of boxes is definitely dwindling now - once I've got the front wishbones, calipers and disks etc. on I can move onto the brake and clutch lines. The other bits I've got waiting upstairs are the handbrake lever/cable, air con kit, wiring loom and fuel tanks. Not a vast amount to do really before I'm ready to start thinking about the bodywork. Unfortunately that won't be ready for another 8 weeks or so, and I suspect I may well be sitting twiddling thumbs by then!

Tuesday 15th July

Rang Ultima today to order the silicon hoses. Spoke to Andy about body delivery and although he said he'd have a look it basically depended on how many people ordered in a given timeframe, which I expected really. However he rang me back 20 minutes later to say that my kit would be ready on 21st August, but they might be able to sort it out sooner. Spoke to him again later and arranged delivery for Friday 8th August! I decided I only want to pay for one delivery so I spent a bit of time on the phone ordering everything else I'll need to complete the car apart from the engine. There were a few bits I reckon I could maybe source elsewhere a bit cheaper - for example the 6 point harnesses, race battery etc. but I decided a while ago that to get the same quality I wasn't likely to save much and would gaina lot of hassle.

Also chivvied about the wishbones - basically Ted had been off sick and no-one else knew about them. Andy'll send some out tomorrow.

No work on the Ultima today, got a bit more work on the Megablade though - refitting propshaft, gear shift, wiring and all the engine mounting cradle bolts. A couple more hours should see it done.

Thursday 17th July

Still not got the Megablade sorted - starts and runs fine but oil pressure low. Spent a bit of time this evening on the Ultima - fitted the handbrake lever. Fitted some grommets on the holes in the rear bulkhead, slid the cables through and attached it all up. The two cables are entirely independent - the cable on the Megablade is all in one and is looped round a semicircular bit on the handbrake lever mechanism. I had trouble getting the tension right on the Westy but no such problems with this one.

Handbrake lever. (click for larger image)

Friday 18th July

Andy rang from the factory this morning to say they've looked at the wishbones I sent back and reckons they seem the same as all the others in the stores so he's going to send these back to me. I initially felt like a right plonker! After I'd put the phone down I checked out the build manual and sure enough their picture of the front upright assembly definitely shows the upper ball joint thread coming right through the wishbone. Ditto on CJ's site - I don't want to put the build manual pic online for copyright reasons but I'm sure CJ won't mind me linking to his:

CJs front upright - note end of upper ball joint visible through threaded tube on wishbone [Click for larger image]

You can see that the upper ball joint thread comes all the way through the tube in the top wishbone. So I rang Andy back. He was puzzled, he couldn't get a build CD up in front of him at the time, but said he'd have a look but not to worry, if there was any problem with them they could sort it in the factory when it goes back to them for a checkover.

Spent some time in the garage this evening, but on the 'Blade. I've checked out the oil pump and pressure relief valve and tried a new filter and have come to the conclusion the fault must lie with the oil pressure sender unit. I'll order a new one on Monday.

I did manage to get the right hand side coolant pipe polished up though.

Saturday 19th July

Worked the morning and got a bit of gardening done in the early pert of the afternoon before going to play in the garage! Can't really do anything with the Westy today so I can concentrate on the Ultima.

The coolant pipes are the first bits to get my attention. I dig out a 45° silicon hose for the connection to the rad on the right hand side and cut a 400mm length from the straight length suppplied for the left. Then it's a case of fitting them on and trying to get the pipes in the right positions to mark and drill the aluminium P clamps. I know the position of the pipes is fairly important - if they're a bit too high they'll foul the luggage containers, and I don't have those yet. So all I can do is try to get them sitting as low as I can. I'll be adding some sealant later where they nestle in the corner of the outrigger tubes, but I'll leave that until I'm confident they're positioned correctly.

Once the ally pipes are fitted I run the length of 8mm rubber hose for the rad overflow. I need some plastic cable ties but only seem to have white ones, which'll never do! I'm surprised none are supplied in the kit. (in fact they are, I'll find them tomorrow!). So I nip out and get a couple of packs of ties from B&Q and tie the hose to the left hand coolant pipe.

I'll be needing to fit the brake lines soon, but can't really do that until the front uprights are fitted. So I've decided I'll fit them today without the front wishbones. These are actually a bit simpler than the rears as there's no fiddling about with bushes, handbrake caliper or toe link adjusters. I used a bit of thin rope to hold them in position until the wishbones arrive. Also fit the rubber boots to the steering rack and fit the track rod end. That all done it's time for a general tidy again - I've got bits of boxes and bubble wrap everywhere!

Sunday 20th July

Brake and clutch lines today. I decide to connect all the lines up first and get them roughly in position before doing any clipping. All are clearly labelled according to the diagram in the build manual so identifying the right parts is a doddle. I decide to clip the clutch line first, and have trouble with the plastic P clips provided - they just seem too small. They're 3/16" and although I can just about get them on they're trying to pull off the rivet. Not terribly happy, I check the parts list and sure enough that's the size that's listed with the clutch cable. It takes a while working my way to the back of the engine bay but in the end I'm happy I've got a nice neat run. It would have been easier if I'd done it before fitting the coolant pipes but it's not really a problem.

Clutch line down right hand side of chassis. (click for larger image)Clutch line. (click for larger image)Clutch line in engine bay. (click for larger image)

The first bit of brake pipes to fix is on the front bulkhead. Again I know that positioning is critical here - you can't put them very low or they'll foul the steering column, and if they're a bit too high they'll be in the way when the front of the cockpit needs to be rivetted along the top of the bulkhead. The build CD has a good photo of this area, and I spend quite a while studying it. What they do is run the front left brake line close to the steering column, then for that stretch the rear brake hose is clipped on top of it rather than to the side of it, and held in place with a cable tie. I also want the exit of both pipes around the left wishbone just right so there's no fouling, this seems more important than getting them looking pretty absolutely level and parallel on the bulkhead.

Front bulkhead and hoses - note rear brake hose away from bulkhead to clear steering column. (click for larger image)Further view of hoses. (click for larger image)View showing coolant pipe, clutch and brake lines. Note missing lock nut from track rod. (click for larger image)

Once they're done I can clip the rear brake hose down the side of the chassis with the positive battery lead. This is one hefty cable! I haven't got a battery yet so can't position the end of it accurately, but it's not too tight a fit in the clips so I'll be able to slide it through and adjust the length of it when it's clipped in position. I work my way to the back of the car with frequent checks to the build CD photos to get the position of the brake hose right in the engine bay. I realise I'm going to run out of clips, so I have a rummage in the boxes upstairs and find a bag with a load more clips, grommets, cable ties etc! Bugger! In there is a pack of 1/4" clips which seem to fit the clutch line just perfectly! So last job of the day is drilling out some rivets and reclipping the clutch line with the correct clips which will then free up some of the 3/16" clips for the rear brake hose. Then it's off to take eldest son for a round of golf.

Battery cable and rear brake hose. (click for larger image)Battery cable and brake line down left side of chassis. (click for larger image)Rear brake line in engine bay. (click for larger image)

Monday 21st July

I've got as far as I can with ther ear brake line because the enxt bit is to fix the 4 way connector which splits the rear brake line to each caliper and houses the brake light switch. The bolts onto the chassis just in front of the rear wheel, and I presume the factory use a rivnut to bolt it to. I don't have a rivnut tool, so did contemplate just drilling and tapping the chassis, but figured the tube wall is a bit too thin. I remember seeing a rivnut kit in Swansea Fasteners last time I was there, so I nipped over there to find they only had one in stock and they sold it on Saturday! It was £60 + VAT anyway which is a bit much for something I'll only use a couple of times. I know Merlin Motorsport at Castle Combe sell them for £30 + VAT, but I've heard the cheaper ones don't tend to live very long. I had vague recollections of reading how to crimp rivnuts without a tool and a quick search of the Westfield Forum soon finds a couple of threads and leads me to Steppenwolf's page on the subject - cheers Steve! So I decide to just order some rivnuts from Merlin. I've also been looking through the parts lists and have come to the conclusion that the parts I found (like the 1/4" P clips for the clutch line etc.) are actuallly provided for fitting the wiring loom so I'm likely to run out of those later. Merlin sell all that sort of stuff as well so I order some more of those too.

The wishbones arrived back too, and once I get out to the garage in the evening they're the first job. Still only threaded halfway through, but on fitting the ball joint screws all the way in! I have been a plonker after all! It turns out that it's not the tube itself that's threaded but a steel threaded insert whihc is in the tube. The end of it must have been clogged with powder coat and I obviously hadn't forced it hard enough to clear the last bit as I thought I was at the end of the thread! With the wishbones refitted I can torque up the ball joints. I can't get a socket on properly, so remove the steering arm from the upright which allows easy access. These things can be a bugger as the taper can turn in its housing and it's impossible to hold other than just clamping them together. As it turns out all 4 just tightened up easily, and I soon have the steering arms back on with some Loctite on the bolt threads again. I still haven't tightened the track rod ball joints, I've got the wheels pointing roughly straight ahead but I'll have a go at aligning it all up once I've got the wheels on.

Right hand front corner completed (click for larger image)Don't those brakes look nice? (click for larger image)

Tuesday 22nd July

The bits arrived today from Merlin - excellent service! So I managed to find time to nip out and fit the 4 way connector. Steve's tip about the rivnuts worked a treat, only problem was that the thread in a rivnut doesn't start flush with the surface of the outer face (it can't or you wouldn't be able to set it) and the factory supplied 6mm stainless cap screw was a bit short. Fortunately I had some SS screws left over from my Megablade build and one was just right. I then finished clipping the front to rear line and connected up the left and right hoses before my time ran out.

Wednesday 23rd July

Not a lot done tonight, but did get the rear brake hoses clipped into place. Fairly straightforward. Had to look carefully at the build manual to see how the pipes are clipped to the chassis lugs by the upper wishbones. It looks like the factory use a cable tie with a small rubber grommet, and indeed when I try it it works well.

The boss is out tonight so when I come in I decide to call American Speed in the States. I've decided to order the engine from them because firstly it's easy, secondly they're recommended by the Ultima factory and finally other owners seem happy with theirs. I did speak to Real Steel in the UK who were helpful to a point, but fairly negative about wringing >400bhp out of a small block Chevy. Also about finding an old block to avoid a catalytic convertor. Sounded like the price was going to be similar - I guess the uprated parts used are ten a penny in the States, ditto older blocks. Also the American Speed engines come fully dressed - all the ancillaries like alternator, engine mounts etc., and nice polished rocker covers.

Which one did I go for? The 383 cubic inch 450bhp option. Should be fun!

Monday 28th July

Yep, no work on the Ult for the last few days. Been getting the Megablade sorted out - all the gory details are over on its own site but basically I got it back together, added catch tank and timing strut and went to West Wales on Sunday for my first ever competitive event, the Llys y Fran hill climb.

Made a start on the aircon kit this evening. Identified most of the parts (and there are quite a lot of them), and spent some time looking round CJ's build site as this is frankly an area where the factory manual is almost no use at all! (a lie - I found the pics next day!) There are a couple of pics tucked away in an 'extras' folder on the CD, but if another builder hadn't pointed it out to me I'd never have found it! First job is to mark and drill the blower mounting tray to rivet to the chassis. Tricky as it rests on top of oblique chassis tubes. Next is the lower vent/control panel which bolts to that and fixes to the dash tube. I've decided I'll fix it with rivnuts as CJ did, and ge tthe holes drilled. I decide to go for 5mm bolts for this as I want to keep holes in this tube as small as possible, but I have no 5mm bolts long enough to 'set' the rivnuts, so I'm stuck until I can get some of those.

Tuesday 29th July

Just an hour or so out there tonight which was enough to fit the rivnuts, check the two panels go into place OK, which they did, then bond/rivet the blower mounting tray in place. Then Jen was banging on the kitchen window, so in I went.

Wednesday 29th July

Jen's out tonight so I can play for longer :-) First job is setting the rivnuts, Steve's method does work but having 3 hands would make it easier! In the end I used some gaffa tape to hold the larger nut next to the rivnut in place. I've kept thinking of getting a bivnut tool, but the decent ones are ove r£60 plus VAT and it really isn't worth it for the few I need to set. Once these are in the control panel needs getting ready, so it needs its bits fitting to it. There's a small plastic panel for the two control pots/knobs and the 2 directional vents which will blow air into the footwell. It takes me a little while to work out how to take the faces with tehe directional flaps off - I'm keen to to break them! The holes need a bit of fettling for them to fit, and I shave off a couple of plastic lugs that'll get in the way with a stanley knife. CJ fixed his to the plate with some self tappers but none are provided and I haven't got any small enough so I use some pop rivets which work well. Again a bit of fettling is needed for the plastic panel, but it's soon on and the control post fitted - one for fan speed the other for temperature.

Once this is done the panel can be fitted onto the blower mounting tray and the dash rail. Next up is the blower unit itself. It's not very clear exactly how you're supposed to position this - I've now found the pics in the build manual (they're listed under the final body fit section) which are reasonable informative but there's no text and I'm mindful of the fact that there isn't much room under the bodywork around here so I presume that the blower needs to go as far backwards as it can whilst still being able to get the flexible hose/duct from the unit to the footwell vents. Tohelp getting it fit nicely I bend down the upright return at the front of the mounting tray forwards a bit so the round fan bodies fit in a bit better. Once I'm happy with the position I make a card tempate of the end of the blower unit to identify where I should drill for the fixing bolt either side (this goes into a captive nut which slides in an oblique slot so the positioning is important). I manage to get the positioning OK, so next I fit some adhesive foam tape (left over from the Westy build) and fit this to the blower tray where the front edge and the lower edge of the fans will fit onto it. Soon the blower unit is bolted in.

Next I fit the flexible duct into position - this is tight but easy enough, and after coiling the temperature sending wire around the right hand duct I use some cable ties to fix at each end of the ducts.

Thursday 31st July

Next job is the hoses. I'm afraid here the factory manual is not much more use than the proverbial chocolate fireguard! There are 4 aircon hoses with pre-fitted fixtures and a length of water hose. Fortunately again CJ's not only done the legwork before me but produced a nice diagram on his site showing the schematic layout of the hoses. However, mine seem to differ a bit from his, but using a combination of his diagram, the factory pics and the parts list I think I've got it worked out. CJ used some PTFE tape, but it looks to me as if the actual unions seals are achieved with the O rings supplied, and there's no need for a seal in the actual thread itself. I can see no evidence of PTFE in the factory pics either.

Once I've worked out which pipe goes where It doesn't take long to fit them, and I move onto the water hoses on the other side, which are a doddle. The chassis is looking quite different now - nowhere near as bare as it was!

Aircon blower unit and water hoses installed (click for larger image)Aircon blower uni cockpit side showing footwell vents (click for larger image)Aircon control panel under dash - think I'll turn those rear set screws round so the nuts are on top! (click for larger image)

Aircon hoses connected onto blower unit. (click for larger image)Blower unit held down with 2 cable ties. Black wire rivetted to ally tray. (click for larger image)

I think about fixing the water pipes down the sides of the chassis, but decide this will be best left till I've got the luggage containers fitted. The accelerator cable can go in now though as this runs down the right side of the chassis with the aircon hoses. This is one long cable! I decide it needs some lubrication, but am a bit worried that because of its length I need to be a bit careful what I use - grease may actually gum it up. I tihnk about just liberally oiling it but decide that won't really do as it probably won't hang around for long. I have a nice tub of lithium grease which I use for my bike cables, it's thinner and less gummy than my other greases, so the inner gets a smear of this along its length as it goes in. The hole for the little pin which holds the clevis onto the accelerator pedal needs opening out a bit which is a bit awkward but succumbs to a little rat tail file.

Quite a few hoses and cables now dangling in engine bay! (click for larger image)Throtle cable now fitted (click for larger image)

I had the fuel tanks included in my initial order, but to be honest they can't be fitted yet. I can do the painting etc. though, and a trial fit to see where they go. These look beautifully made! CJ painted his all over, the factory manual says to paint them where they aren't visible, I presume this is the underside and the ends which will be facing along the sidepod. I set to work masking them and clean them off with some meths ready for spraying. I then check out the paint I was going to use which is some Tetrosyl underbody sealant - I bought this when I fitted the towbar to the Evo. When I take the cap off the tin however I realise that the stuff is still tacky, and start to have second thoughts. A quick email to CJ asking him what he used. True to form he took ages to reply - 15 minutes ;-) !! He used stone chip paint, not underbody sealant. I'll go shopping tomorrow.

So I abandon the tanks and grab the wiring loom. It's my half day today and it's now about 3pm. I have to go out this evening as I'm providing medical cover at Pembrey circuit - my bike club is the organising club for tonight's round of the series of Thursday evening races and first aid cover is a requirement. I need plenty of space for this so I take it into the kitchen with it's noce open expanse of cushion floor. I print off the wiring intructions and cut up the list of terminal numbers/functions to use as labels. I soon find a starting point and set to work. There are a couple of discrepancies between the wiring diagram and reality, but most are resolved by logic (the terminals all come off the loom sequentially) or by exclusion. Basically a couple of wires are different colours - green instead of light green, that sort of thing. There are a couple I can't resolve however, so I'll need to ring the factory tomorrow for some advice. The loom again is a quality item, all the wrapping is very neat and it includes spurs for start button, cigar lighter, manual rad fan switch and radio. I plan to use all these possibly with the exception of the radio although I might think about that as I do plan some long journeys in the car. Housing the head unit is likely to be the main problem, although speaker location could also be a problem. Plan B involves using a Walkman. Our tea is ready when I'm about 3/4 of the way throguh and Jen is (quite justificably!) not amused by the display of automotive spaghetti which has taken over the kitchen. I get it finished off and dash off to Pembrey a bit late.

Fuel tanks masked ready for spraying. (click for larger image)Anyone for spaghetti? Wiring loom all labelled up. (click for larger image)

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