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GT3 | Becker TrafficPro Install
A new page! Little bag from Ultima this morning with ally bracket for the ignition coil and neat little bracket for throttle cable - has a little rose joint and return spring. Spoke to Andy (again!) who's sending me an adaptor for the water temp sender and some body buffers. I'd also thought the ones at the rear were a bit thick and asked Andy if they ever cut them down. I'd guessed right again and he suggested leaving them at 3mm was about right.
Zipped round a couple of places at lunchtime - 12mm tensile bolts for engine mounts and some stainless 5mm buttonheads to replace the MSD box mounting screws, another belt from motor factors. Also spotted a Draper clutch alignment tool which it seemed daft not to buy at 8 quid. Back at the garage managed to fit the aircon belt (900mm length fits fine) and trimmed down the buffers - looks much better and requires less force to snap the catches shut on the rear canopy.
Two little packets in the post today - the Chevy phosphor bronze bush from Real Steel and the water temp sender adapter from Ultima and some body buffers for the bonnet. Following some advice in the forum the bush (along with the ally one with the needle roller) went into the freezer. The idea is to contract them as much as possible and apply some heat to the flywheel/crank to expand it.
I used my hot air gun to warm up the flywheel and crank, took a while because they're big lumps of metal! On my first attempt it still seemed really tight and I was very worried about getting it stuck part way in as I've no idea how I'd get it out! So I cheated and went round the edge with a fine file followed by some emery cloth. If it were being used as a bush I wouldn't have done that but it's actually only really being used to block off the hole and stop the needle roller dropping backwards into the cavity in the end of the crank. Then back in the freezer it went for a while. While I was waiting for it to chill out I fitted the water temp sender and the throttle cable mount.
The next attempt with the bush was successful and I managed to drive it all the way back till it was solid.
On to the needle roller next, and this was actually harder to get in. I was using a big socket and whacking it with my rubber deadblow hammer but it was going absolutely nowhere. I started to get a bit worried about it as it was stuck part way in. I decided the rubber hammer was the problem and that I needed to get a bit more serious with it! So out came the steel lump hammer, along with the safety specs since I was whacking a socket. This did the trick and I finally got it in.
Fitting the clutch friction and pressure plates was straightforward. After packing the needle roller with some grease I read the instructions for the clutch alignment tool - basically you align the clutch centrally on the pressure plate which is easy to do then use the tool to clamp the friction plate in place, then bolt is all up. Quick scamper into the house to check the torque wrench settings (25 ft lbs which works out at 34Nm which is what my wrench is calibrated in) and soon the job's done.
Next on the agenda was sorting out the wiring for the MSD ignition box. I'm in a bit of a quandry about this since the advice from well informed fellow builders is that the unfused supply is best taken direct from the battery rather than the alternator or starter. The factory say alternator or starter are fine, but recommend the alternator. The MSD instructions say to connect to the starter. I do have a length of think enough wire running down the sidepod but it ends in the front of the sidepod at the moment. I decide in the end that it'll make life much easier if I connect up to the starter, and that despite people being concerned about it the factory do have lots of experience. There are plenty of Ultimas out there connected up as recommended by the factory with no problems.
It's easier getting into the engine bay these days, just step over the fuel tank! The wiring's a bit fiddly, I need to strip the wires intended for the ignition coil from the loom as they now need to go to the MSD box, and I need to extend the permanent unfused supply wire - I do this by splicing and soldering a length in.
As I'm finishing this off and tying all the cables up my mates Trevor and Andy arrive to have a butchers - they've been following the build on the website but haven't seen it 'in the flesh' for some time. I think they liked it! They left with offers of help tomorrow if I need it with fitting the engine.
Yes, the engine should be going in tomorrow. Iunbolt the rear canopy ready to lift it off, and my next job is to move the Megablade and see how I'm going to attach the engine to the hoist. I've got a length of rope which should be up to the job - I borrowed it with the hoist and Alan uses it to lift his Rover V8s. The engine is bolted to a steel frame, which is in turn bolted to the pallet. I undo the bols holding the frame to the pallet and luckily they are the same size as the threaded holes in the end of the heads. So I tie it all up, lengthen the arm on the hoist as I can't get the hook over the engine and the first lift goes OK and I can pull the pallet out of the way. I turn the engine through 90º, lower it and retie so it'll be facing the right way. I then push the car forwards so there's room to stow the hoist and engine behind it for the night. Once it's lowered I decide I may as well stick some oil in. The instructions with the engine say 7 quarts, a quart I guess means 2 US pints at 16 fluid ounces each, i.e. 32 fluid ounces. This is just over a pint and a half in our money, just under a litre. Sure neough after the first 5 litres is in it's on the bottom line of the dipstick and 3 more funnels full has it up to the top.
Popped up to the motor factors to get some gearbox oil - Valvoline semi synthetic. Also got some more colling system overflow hose as I didn't have enough left for the overflow pipe from the expansion tank. 8 litres of antifreeze too.
After a bit of 'musical cars' I've made room to stick the Ultima rear canopy on the floor and have a bit of space around the engine. Once the engine's lifted clear of the ground I can undo the bolts holding it onto its frame and get the frame out of the way. First snag is that the adapter plate won't go over the clutch and starter ringassembly. Bugger! So, off with the clutch, and try again. Still can't get it on as there's a high spot at one point on the circumference of the flywheel a little blob of casting. I remove the flywheel bolts but it's a tight interference fit on the crankshaft so I can't get it off easily. 5 minutes later the high spot's filed off the flywheel and the adapter plate is on. Another 10 minutes and the clutch is back on. On to the engine mounts next, these just bolted straight on with the bolts and spring washers supplied with them.
Trev and Andy are coming round to help stick the engine in, and while I'm waiting I start to investigate the gearbox. Apparently I need to close a hole in the top vent which will become the drain plug. After checking with the build manual etc. I've identified which way is up, but the one plug that will be at the bottom doesn't look vented, just looks like a typical drain plug. I conclude that since I got the gearbox from Ultima maybe they've done it already. I'm still pondering where the breeather kit is going to attach when Trev and Andy arrive.
To make a bit more room for the legs of the hoist we wheel the back end of the car onto wooden blocks, and it wasn't long before the engine was dangling above the engine bay with Trev steadying it. As we lowered it down the aircon compressor was going to hit the chassis rail which was a bit worrying. I undid the adjusting bolt, removed the belt and swung it up as far as it would go which solved the problem temporarily. Next problem was that the engine was resting hard on the thin strip of wood I'd taped onto the cross member. Checking the build manual it says use a block about 5mm thick, so I replaced it with a cork tile which improved things enough to lower it further. It wasn't too difficult lowering it down onto the mounts, the only tricky bit was jiggling it about to get the bolts through the back of the mounts, but we got there.
The rear end of the sump was very close to the cross member, but I figured that we'd probably need to lift the rear of the engine to get the gearbox on.
Turning to the gearbox we can't work out the breather - none of the pics in the build manual look like my gearbox. I decide it doesn't matter for now, should be able to sort the breather out with the gearbox in. I leave the top drain/filler plug loosely tightened for now. Looking through my bags of bits there's a part labelled 'Correct size input tube' which puzzles us for a bit as we can't work out what it is or where it goes. No mention in the build manual. Then we spot it - it lives on the gearbox input shaft, held onto the gearbox by two cross headed screws. Funny thing is it looks identical to the one that's already one there. We can't really compare it properly without removing it but it looks like the new one is a slightly smaller diameter, meaning the old one wouldn't fit through the clutch fork. Now we hit another snag - can't undo the screws! After a bit of faffing about with different screwdrivers I decide to bite the bullet and we nip out to Machine Mart where £6.99 gets me a shiny impact driver. Within a couple of minutes of getting back the screws are out and the new tube is in place - sure enough the old one won't fit in the clutch fork.
Next job is the clutch fork itself - it needs to be held in place with an elastic band which turns out to be a bit trickier than it looks! With that in place we're ready to manhandle the gearbox in. It's darned heavy but with 3 of us it stood no chance! It slid on suprisingly easily, and the bell housing mated nicely against the adapter plate. Thought I'd get the nuts on the studs to hold it on and realise that the one at top left can't go on with the gearbox slid fully home, we'll need to pull it back a bit to get it on. It moves back easily at which point there's a light clang as the clutch fork drops out of place. So, out with the gearbox again, and redo the elastic band a bit more securely. Second time around the gearbox again slides in OK, we get the nuts on and are pretty pleased.
Then we reailse the plug I hadn't tightened is directly under the chassis rail! Only a few mm clearance above it too, so no chance of getting an allen key in there. This time we manage to slide the gearbox back without dislodging the clutch fork! I decide now would be a good time to get the oil in the gearbox, so it gets it 3.5 litres before we refit and tighten the plug and slide the gearbox home again.
The pivot shaft for the clutch fork is quite a tight fit, but Trev took it on himself to get his head down there inside the chassis to make sure the fork was lined up right - it can rotate round so its holes don't line up with the holes in the gearbox. Once it was lined up OK the shaft went in with a bit of very light persuasion from the rubber hammer. Trev comments that he wouldn't fancy trying to get it out again!
Next job is the gearbox cross member - this is the original Porsche item whihc needs to be turned upside down and fitted with some ally bushes. We get it onto the gearbox OK, but the bushes at each end of it are well out of alignment with the chassis lugs - about half an inch or so. To get the bolts in we'll need to move the engine and gearbox forward, and can't see any way of doing it. The first thought is that we've got something wrong, but after half an hour of head scratching and careful inspection we realise we haven't, the engine is firmly ensconced in its mounts and they dictate its location, with no real free play.
At this point Trv and Andy need to go, so after the goodbyes and thanks I decide that the nengien and gearbox are in the right place, and I may as well stick the lower bolts in through the gearbox and adapter plate. Trouble is they won't go as the sump is almost directly behind the adapter plate! Within a few seconds it's dawned on me that they're supposed to come through from the engine side. A few more seconds and I've realised I'll need to remove the gearbox again, remove the clutch and adapter plate, fit the bolts then refit clutch and gearbox. Not a happy bunny. I consider leaving it till the morning, but I know that it'll be going round in my head all night, so I bite the bullet and get on with it.
First job is removing the clutch fork pivot shaft ... but it wasn't too bad. With a long screw screwed into the end of it I grab this with the pliers and give it a good wiggle as I pull and it eventualy moves. Next I need some hepl to get the gearbox out and press gang the kids in - if they can support the rear of the gearbox I can do the bulk of the lifting. This works out OK.
I've done it a couple of times now so removing the clutch doesn't take long! The adapter plate is soon off and I double check which bolt goes in which side as the one on the starter motor side is longer than the other. With the bolts in place I can refit the adapter plate and clutch. That clutch tool is looking like increasingly good value at £7.99! Nip back into the house to get the kids again and pretty soon we have the gearbox back on. Clutch fork pivot in, then fit the nuts on the studs and bolts and the gearbox is securely fitted. I can't fit the rear cross member, but do manage to get the plate underneath which supports the gearbox.
I'm now completely knackered so a quick tidy, unhitch the engine from the hoist and wheel the cars back into palce to shut the doors.
Back in the house Jen's out for the evening so while I'm cooking the kids' evening meal (it's late but they understand!) I post a message in the forum about my woes. Couple of quick replies suggesting the sump clearance is a known issue and can be resolved either by using spacers under the engine mounts or fitting a shallower sump. The former sounds an easier bet! The spacers can also be used to move the engine forward - I see on Stig's site that he has had a different support brace made up for the back. I'm hopeful that I can solve the problems without taking the gearbox and/or engine out again, but I'll need to speak to the factory on Monday.
I'd been hoping that this morning would have been taken up connecting up hoses, filling cooling system etc., but it's not to be. I'm fairly confident I'll be able to solve the problems without resorting to taking the gearbox off again and certainly without lifting the engine right out of the chassis, but need to keep the engine as accessible as possible. Still plenty to do, anyway.
I decide to make a start on the doors. Firstly I want to look at trying to fit a central locking motor, secondly I never connected up the inside handles, thirdly the edges need filling/painting and fourthly when I fitted the passenger door handle I took a chip out of the gelcoat. The chip is hardly noticeable but I decided at the time I'd repair it, and I may as well get on with it today. First job is to take the handle off the passenger door whihc is quick enough. I then get the gelcoat kit form the loft - the factory supply a jar of gelcoat and a little bottle of catalyst. I've never played with gelcoat before, and it's a bit thicker than I think I expected. I mix a tiny amount and just using a match apply a small blob to my chip. While I've got it mixed there are some pinhole defects in the gelcoat of the passenger side wheel arch so they get a bit too after a wipe with some cellulose thinners.
On to the central locking motor next - this turns out to be very tricky. The internal lever on the lock mechanism which locks it moves up and down in a vertical plane, consequently the solenoid needs to be positioned either above or below it. Trouble is the lock is roughly in the middle of the back of the door, and there isn't room either above or below to fit the solenoid. I had a go at fabricating a piece of the thick wire supplied with it but gave up in the end. I may return to it at a later date - I suspect a small bellcrank mechanism would offer the best chance.
There are several holes in the rear edges of the doors where they've been filed away - where the two skins have been joined is all very neat to start with but as you file material away you get gaps and holes. Some plastic padding soon take scare of it. I move on to the driver's door next and have to remove the hardware to connect the plastic rod that connects the external lock to the locking lever on the latch. This is all a bit fiddly, and access is very restricted. Once that's done I have a look at the wire that's used to connect the internal handle to the lock. Ultima supply a single length of control cable wire with a nipple on each end. I cut this in half and thread one end through the hole in the lock mechanism, and pull it through until the nipple stops it. I then thread a cable terminal (the brass type with 2 screws) onto the wire, thread the other end through the hole in the handle and loop the wire back through the terminal and tighten the screws. Job done and it works great. I'd been worried that it would need quite a bit of tension but there's plenty of throw on the handle and it's no problem.
Next onto the door edges. This fibreglasss painting is a pain - I've found a problem with the mirrors in that the paint 'beads' on the dark fibreglass joints. I'm hoping a thicker layer of primer will help, so once the filler on the doors is sanded down I mask them up and spray them with grey primer.
Next job is fitting some body buffers on the front of the car to keep the panels from being in contact. Trimming the rear ones down once fitted was tricky so I decide to trim these down to 3mm before fitting them. As I'm about to trim the last one I dedcide to check out the profile of the bonnet edge, and sure enough the rear return is recessed so the buffers would be better full thickness! Doh! The thin ones are just right for the horizontal shutline behind the front wheel, and sure enough the ful thickness buffer is perfect for the top corner of the bonnet. Fortunately rubber glues very well with superglue, so I quickly restore one of the trimmed buffers to its full thickness and the other side's soon done.
I decide to have a look at the wiring for the col etc. next. The wires from the MSD unit to the distributor are just about the right length, but the ones for the coil won't reach, so I splice some more wire in using soldered joints, tape it all up and crimp/solder ring terminals on the ends. I'll need to get some of the spiral wrap for these cable as it'll be quite warm round here near the exhaust headers.
I decide to check out how the starter motor will go, and it won't! It impinges on the lower chassis rail. I saw that CJ had the same problem, and that the fix was simple, just remove the end plate (3 allen screws), rotate it and replace. Once that's done fitting the starter motor is a doddle although I don't do up the nuts as I want to leave that till I'm confident the gearbox is staying on.
I decide I may as well stick the ignition coil on - this goes on a nice 3mm ally bracket the factory sent me via some rubber bushes, the plate is then held by 2 of the engine/gearbox adaptor plate bolts. The job is very straightforward and doesn't take long.
I'm just clearing up when a couple more friends arrive to have a look. One of them, Martin, has built a couple of cars in his past and has been keen to have a look at both the Ultima and the Megablade. I point out the problems with engine/gearbox placement and he reckons there should be enough give in the rubber bushes on the gearbox cross member to get the bolts in. We'd obviously considered this yesterday but had decided the 8mm or so we needed to gain was too much. Martin suggests prying the bush from underneath with a big screwdriver and sure enough I can fairly easily get it across far enough to line up the top with the hole in the lug. Martin pops the bolt in and it goes in OK until it hits the bottom lug. This is more tricky, but I can get a screwdriver blade in between the bush and the lug and push the bush over for Martin to tap the bolt through. With one side done I'm more confident. The other side is harder, but we get that one in. This makes me much happier since it means the only problem I need to overcome now is the engine height, and even without any adaptor plates I reckon this could be done by placing some spacing washers between the engine mounts and the engine.
Will I get it going today or won't I ...
Very early start on my day job today to clear some time for later. Rang the factory in the morning and spoke to Andy who clearly wasn't surprised about the sump clearance and aircon compressor clearance, but was more puzzled by the fore/aft problem. He said they just use a strip of rubber on the cross member rather than a piece of wood as described in the build manual. We checked on engine mount sizes etc. and concluded my engine's in the right place, the gearbox length is just one of those things with that particular variant it seems. The gearbox filler/drain issues were expected (just wish they'd tell you these things beforehand!) and my assumptions about where to fit the breather kit were corrrect.
Andy suggested using some washers under the top engine mount bolts to lift the engine slightly, and said that if this doesn't resolve the aircon compressor problem he can supply a tab to extend the adjustment arm to lift it further up and fit a longer belt. I also interrogated him about a load of other more minor issues that were on my list, mainly SVA related.
The cunning plan was to truss the engine up on the hoist again and see if I could lift it enough to get at the bolts without undoing the gearbox supports at the back. The two top bolts are easy enough to get at, but the bottom one of the 3 sits underneath the plate part of the chassis mount. This didn't work out and I lowered it again to undo the gearbox supports. By lifting the engine and supporting the gearbox on the trolley jack and lowering I was able to get easy access. I stuck 3 washers under each bolt, giving a total thickness of 6mm, I reckoned this would translate to 3-4mm at the back of the sump which would be enough. Lowered the engine down but couldn't get it to drop right down onto the engine mounts - my washers were pushing the mounts inwards as well as upwards, and I realised this was why Andy had said to put the washers under the top bolts. Doh! Only took a few more minutes to lift it again, slacken off the bolts and remove the bottom ones before retightening and trying again. All the manoevering was much more difficult on my own - much easier when one person lowers the engine and another guides it into position. This time I was successful and it wasn't long before I'd refitted the 12mm bolts holding the engine onto the chassis and refittted the gearbox supports.
Now feeling pleased and more confident I'll be getting the engine running soon. Time to start on all the connections etc. First one to fit is the fuel line. The last segment was removed after sticking a length of electrical tape around it where the fitting needed to go. Slice through it with the cutting disk, wrap it with tape and push the fitting on. Soon tightened and in place. Marked and measured for a couple of p-clips and rivetted it in place.
Onto the cooling system next. The top hose was a doddle - just cut the Samco silicon hose to length and fit it with the jubilee clips. The bottom hose was a bit more complex with an aluminium elbow, a silicon elbow and a tapered silicon adapter piece. A bit of water with some fairy liquid makes the bits fit together easily. These were soon in place and I could move onto the heater hoses. I'd checked with Andy who confirmed that the top heater hose should go to the manifold, the other one onto the water pump. This fitted in with what I thought - the heater control valve was expecting water flowing from front to back (I know because even though I don't remember I made a note of it in the web diary!). These didn't take long, just one p-clip required and all looks neat and tidy.
On to some electrical connections next. The alternator is easy enough, and while I'm there I connect up the water temp sender. Next some spiral wrap for the ignition and oil pressure sender wires, then connect up the throttle cable.
The starter motor is next, and this presents a problem - the battery lead is too short by about a foot! This is very disappointing, particularly since I meticulously followed the routing shown in the build manual. I definitely don't have too much spare at the battery end, and can't see any shorter routing I can take across the engine bay. The only solution will be to get another lead and bolt them together with plenty of insulation. I nip out on a hunt - the first motor factors I call at has none, the second one has a black lead a foot long which will do temporarily. This is soon bolted in place and attached, I also solder/crimp a ring terminal on the wire supplying the ignition unit.
Nearly there now. I lug the exhaust system down from the loft and unpack the headers, fixing bolts and the manifold gaskets. I decide to start on the left hand side and hit another snag - the dipstick is in the way! I can't work out how to move it, if I can rotate it through 180º it'll come out underneath the header. I can't easily move it but a quick call to Gail confirms that it's just a push fit in the block and I should be able to turn it with grips. Despite the fact that all my wiggling has failed to budge it a bit it turns easily enough. The manifold fits on OK although one of the bolts was a bit of a pig on the right hand header, the hole in the header wasn't exactly lined up with the hole in the manifold. I ended up having to remove all the other bolts again and fit that one first. Also access to these bolts is very restricted. Fitting the headers took much longer than expected!
Trev and Andy are going to come round at about 7.30 so as soon as I've eaten I nip out with a jerry can to get some petrol. The rest of the exhaust system is soon fitted temporarily (I'll need to take it off again to fit the drive shafts).
As Trev and Andy arrive all that needs to be done is fill the cooling system and stick the petrol in. The cooling system takes all 8 litres of antifreeze I bought as well as about 10 litres of water. I stick about a gallon of fuel in the right hand tank, the rest in the left. I want different amounts in them so I can make sure my dash fuel tank changeover switch is the right way round.
With this done it's time to turn it over. I leave the HT lead from coil to distributor off to get a bit of oil round the engine and depsite having been on charge for a couple of hours the battery isn't terrible keen to turn the engine over very quickly. I refit the HT lead and try again and although it turns it's not very quick and there are no signs of life. We check and realise the gearbox is in gear, but sticking it in neutral doesn't make enough of a difference.
Back to some simple checking next, we confirm there's fuel at the carb, and check there's a spark. Both fine. We try again but no joy. Out with the jump leads next and the trusty Evo is brought up to the garage and connected up. It's easy to set a fast tickover at 2k by just switching the antilag on! The starter sounds much more convincing this time and the engine bursts into life for a couple of seconds. I can't reach the starter button and the throttle linkage at the same time so I hop into the car and use my right foot at the same time as the starter and we have a running engine.
I'd been worried it might have been a bit of an anticlimax, but needn't have. It's really smooth, very quick throttle response and once it's warmed up a bit a lovely rumbly burbling idle. Revving it to 4k sounds absolutely glorious.
One minor snag is that none of the instruments are working, and I realise it's because I wired them all round the same, and needed to swap the wires round on the voltmeter. Last job of the night is sorting out the water temperature gauge, oil pressure gauge and fuel gauge. This is really fiddly, but I manage to get it done and am pleased that the fuel switch is the right way round.
Quick clearup and in for a shower - I absolutely stick of fumes! But I'm a very happy man!
Bad week for car building, this! Still, mustn't complain, need to earn pennies to buy toys ... Managed an hour or so this evening, decided to tackle a drive shaft. Had to remove the exhaust system first, and unpack the drive shafts from their 'GKN Motorsport' boxes. The ends are covered in gooey, sticky, black grease, and there's a polythene bag with all the allen bolts and washers in there. They're labelled left and right and the screws in each end are different sizes so you can't get the shaft on the wrong way round.
They're heavy things and quite awkward to fit as the rubber boot gets in the way on the end that bolts to the upright. Took me most of the hour just to get the one on, then torqued up the bolts to 40Nm. Spring washers are supplied but I don't trust them on their own and use some threadlock as well.
didn't do any building today, but filled in and sent off my SVA application form. These go to the VOSA Office in Swansea just round the corner from my surgery, once checked they are then sent out to the test station you've chosen. I rang the test station in Llantrisant and their wait is about 2 weeks, so I thought I'd better get the form off. I'll leave it till Monday then ring Llantrisant and arrange the appointment on the phone for a day when I can fit it around work.
Most Ultima builders get their SVA done by the factory, when they avail themselves of the day's labour included in the kit cost to check the car over. I've decided to do it myself. Firstly there's the delay - the factory's very busy, and the wait at the Nottingham station is about 4 weeks. Secondly there's a not insignificant charge involved in getting the factory to submit it for you - I'm not saying it's an unreasonable fee but it's a factor. Thirdly there's the distance - I'm about 180 miles from the factory and for them to trailer it up and back would cost several hundred pounds. If I were to hire/borrow a trailer it would still cost me 2 days of my time plus the petrol etc. I reckon I'm saving getting on for £1,000 by submitting myself at the local station, even if it has to go back a couple of times it's less time, money and hassle than transporting the car up to Leicestershire. The fourth factor is that I've already done it before and don't have any particular anxieties about it.
Managed to get the other drive shaft fitted this evening. Made life a bit easier for myself by jacking the wheels off the ground so the wheel and shaft could be rotated. Couldn't resist giving the engine a quick blast - sounds even more awesome with no silencers on!
Got a bit more done today. Started off by fitting the clutch master cylinder whihc was a doddle, just two bolts. I was a bit worried the braided hose wouldn't reach but it was perfect. I'll need to get the hydraulic fluid in soon.
Next job was replacing the short starter lead extension for a red one. Once done I taped up the connection and p-clipped the cable to the chassis using some rivet washers under the clips to space it away from the chassis to be on the safe side. Also wrapped some of the plastic spiral wrap round he clutch hose as it runs just inder the +12V post on the starter.
Connected up the speedo cable next - Andy had told me which way round the wires go, and the terminals were soon crimped and soldered on.
By now the rear end of the chassis is looking pretty disgusting, covered in greasy fingermarks. 10 minutes with some Autoglym resin polish and it's looking much better. The throttle cable has just been cable tied to the chassis so far, so I marked out and drilled for 4 rivets and p-clipped it in place.
Time to fit the gear shaft next. This needs shortening, abut to get the right length the lever which bolts onto the gearbox shaft needs drilling for its bolt. Fortunately the shaft is a shaft rather than a rod (i.e. hollow all the way through) so I expect tapping it for the 1/2" UNF fitting shouldn't be too difficut. I decide there's a risk that the first few turns of thread may end up a bit munged and decide to cut the shaft over length, tap it then cut it down to length. Unfortunately the hole is a bit too small for the 1/2" tap, and I don't have a suitable drill to open it out. I use a tap the next size down first which makes it just about doable. The vice soft jaws are unable to hold it tight enough and I end up having to clamp it in the normal jaws. Tapping it is a bit of a struggle but is eventually accomplished, and I can trial fit it. The length is fine, but without fitting the final roll pin I can't really test the shift properly, I think it needs the engine running and clutch in to give it a real chance.
I give the end a rub down to remove the the scratch marks from the vice, clean it with some thinners, then give it a spray with the silver hammerite.
I decide to tackle the gearbox breather next - I've been putting this off! In the end it only takes about half an hour - simply remove the 2 small inspection covers I'm going to use, run the 8mm drill through followed by the 3/8" tap and refit. Position the little tank, mark and drill for rivets, fix it on and connect up. Looks really nice.
While in town the other day I bought some new spanners - I've got loads of metric ones but am short of AF ones, and all the stuff associated with the engine is AF. I use my shiny new 3/8" AF spanner to go round the manifild bolts giving them all a little tweak.
Last job of the day is to drill and tap the holes in the rear of the chassis for the exhaust mounting brackets. I'd been confused by these, couldn't see how they were fixed to the chassis, but Andy confirmed they just drill and tap the tubing. Drilled the hole to 6.5mm then ran the 8mm tap through and the job was done. I won't refit the exhaist system till I've bled the clutch.
Another weekend ... hoping to get the beastie more or less mechanically finished today. I now have a to do list which is on one side of A4 and should see the car complete.
First job is to bleed the clutch. This should be a doddle as one of the Easibleed caps fits the clutch master cylinder so some pressure from the front tyre pushes the fluid through the system. 4 half litre bottles of DOT 5.1 fluid came with the kit which should be enough for brakes and clutch. Connect up, stick the bleed tubing on the bleed nipple and hey presto, fluid spurting out all over the place! The one way valve in the bleed tube had decided to become a no way valve and as a consequence popped the junction between the rubber and plastic bits of the pipe! Once that was sorted it was quickly bled and the floor cleaned up and I could hop in and try it out. Seems to be working fine, quite heavy though.
With that done it's time for the brakes, and unfortunately there's no cap that fits the brake fluid reservoir in the Easibleed kit, so I'll need some help. Each caliper has two bleed nipples, so the wheels need to come off. The driver's side has the longest plumbing run so that one's bled first, followed by the passenger side. I then redo the driver's side in case there were any bubbles lurking around the T piece where the pipe splits. David does the honours with the brake pedal, and while he's in there I get him to give the clutch a pump or two while I shine a torch to check it's actuating the clutch which it is.
The front was complicated a bit by the fact that I'd omitted to tighten the connections on each side of the T piece. Doh! Tighten them up and a quick cleanup and the front's soon bled giving a nice firm pedal. Only just started the 3rd of the 4 bottles of fluid too.
The gear linkage shaft doesn't take long to fit - the main thing is to get the thing screwed onto the rear shift lever just the right amount getting the cockpit lever in the right position from a fore/aft point of view. The lateral positioning can be tweaked later by loosening the locknut at the rear. Once I'm happy with it I tap the final roll pin in place and give it a try. Still can't select anything other than what I think is 3rd and 4th, but I'm hoping with the engine running and the clutch in it'll be OK.
Time now to refit the exhaust system, this all goes on nicely and it then gets a quick polish to get all the greasy fingermarks off those lovely stainless silencers.
I'm ready to check the gears out now, so instead of resting the rear wheels on blocks I jack it up and rest the rear of the chassis on axle stands so the wheels are free to rotate. Hop into the cockpit, start her up, depress the clutch and yes indeed we do seem to have more than two gears! I run through the gearbox to confirm I can get all 5 gears plus reverse. Before lowering the car back onto its wheels I adjust each handbrake cable so it's almost dragging on the wheel as I remember the SVA inspectors were a bit picky about excess travel on the handbrake lever, although if I remember correctly it was an 'advice' item rather than a pass/fail.
The aircon compressor is the last think I want to sort out before lowering the car - I still don't have a belt on there and haven't connected up the hoses yet. Andy at the factory sent me a tab to extend the adjustment arm to use a longer belt and thus bring the compressor up and away from the chassis rail. However I realise there's a problem in that this then brings it very close to the cooling hose. Since the engine was lifted there's a bit more clearance there anyway and I may get away with something like a 925mm belt. I'll try to sort that out later, for now I just tighten it in position away from the chassis.
It takes me a little time to find the O rings for the hose connections - they were 'put somewhere safe' when I assembled the aircon system back in July. Routing the hoses takes a little time since there are a few different options. Both can potentially impinge on the gearshift linkage shaft if I'm not careful and access to get in there to drill for p-clips is going to be tricky now. I was a bit worried about the hose from the front of the car all along as it's impossible to tell how much length you need in the engine bay till the engine is in place. I eventually come up with a layout that seems to work and tighten the connections.
That seems to be it for the engine bay for now so I lower the car onto its wheels again and decide I may as well check out the clutch action. Handbrake on, make sure it's in neutral, clutch in to be safe and fire her up again. The engine noise really is addictive! The whole chassis rolls to the right when you give the loud pedal a quick blip too, very gratifying! Into first gear and I discover the clutch action is pretty quick as the car lurches forwards a coupe of feet - it's fairly smooth but not helped by the fact that it's pretty heavy and I'm just sitting on the floorpan. Into reverse and I edge it back again, bit smoother this time. I think I'll soon get used to it.
The only remaining bit to do in the engine bay is to refit the roll bars. I give the Stanley knife a quick hone to sharpen the tip and cut out the carpet where it's covering the inside of the holes in the rear bulkhead. Up in the loft I grab the pair of roll bars and realise it's really getting quite empty up there, juts the screen, the seats and the box with the polycarbonate side windows and headlight covers in. I'd labelled the left hand bar with a bit of masking tape, and it fits into place nicely. Soon the right one is fitted. A quick session with the resin polish soon has the rear of the car looking spick and span.
Now I've got a functional gear lever I decide I may as well fit the gear knob. This is a plain round polished alloy item, and I soon find it doesn't fit on the lever! The hole in it isn't big enough, and at about 12mm it's already bigger than my biggest drill. Bugger! I'll need to think about that tomorrow.
Spent the morning out wth the bike club - Club Hillclimb Championship. I haven't been out on the bike for about 4 weeks I think. The 2 mile climb didn't hurt much. Honest.
I wanted to make some progress on the doors and mirrors today. I've been hampered by the paint 'beading' on the black stuff in the joints in the GRP. It's been a right pain to get around it, the beading happens even after wiping over with cellulose thinners. I've ended up using grey primer applied fairly thickly via a brush. Still a few defects in the door edges so first job was to fill those with some plastic padding. Then gave the primer on the mirrors a quick rub down followed by a coat of red paint. Still a slight beading problem but I got over it by giving a very light 'dusting' from slightly longer than normal range, this seemed to do the trick.
While that was drying I p-clipped the aircon hose in the engine bay. I'd also been thinking about the gear knob and wondered if I could get around the problem by tapping both parts. The 1/2" UNF tap was just bigger than the hole in the knob, and the die looked ike it would just about go on the shaft. Tapping the knob was easy, it's soft ally and the tap wasn't cutting very deep. The shaft was more tricky - I ended up tightening the centre of the 3 screws in the holder which opens the split in the die making it a bit bigger. Once I'd run it down far enough I could then loosen the screw and run it down again. Job done and very nice it looks too. I came to the conclusion the gear lever was a bit too far to the left and I wanted it a bit closer to the cockpit side, so slackened the locknut on the rear of the linkage, turned it a bit and retightened.
After rubbing down the filler I kept going back and adding layers of primer - again it was trying to bead in places (despite having wiped with thinners), but dusting it on from range dealt with this. I also added a couple more coats to the mirrors - the finish is terrible, I hate using aerosols, but once it's dry it can be cut back and I'm confident the end result will be fine.
I also rubbed down the gelcoat I added last week and cut it back with some T-cut. This has worked fine and will be a fine solution for stonechips - I'm sure the Ult will get plenty of those!
Couple of things to tidy in the front compartment - the brake pipes needed clipping back and the windscreen washer bottle refixing. I've decided to move it a bit lower, the rivnut tool will now make this a much easier job. Moving it lower down gets it into brake line territory, so I spaced it out from the bulkhead on 3 washers which worked fine. Once it's fitted the tubing is cut to length and the job's done.
By this time the primer's dry so the masking tape comes off the outside of the doors and I rub back the primer to uncover the edge of the gelcoat. I then start applying layers of red paint to the door edges. Again very thin layers from a distance and it's soon covered OK and I can move a bit closer and build a bit more thickness.
In the engine bay there are a couple more things to tidy up before refitting the canopy. The aircon hose needs a p-clip, which doesn't take long, and the wire to the aircon compressor clutch needs fitting. This has a female blade terminal while the wire on the compressor has a male bullet. I snip the latter off and solder/crimp a blade terminal on, connect up and cable tie the wire to the chassis. The wire to the electric choke also needs attention, for some reason this is way too short and will only reach by running it straight up over the cylinder head to the carb. A length of green wire is soon spliced in and cable tied along the bulkhead then up along the fuel line to the carb. I vaguely recall messages in the forum saying to ditch the electric choke but for now I'll leave it on until I know the car a bit better.
Add a couple more coats of red paint to doors ...
I get David to give me a hand putting the rear canopy back on which is a bit easier now since the car's about 3 feet lower now it's on its wheels. Only takes a couple of minutes to bolt it up and refix the gas struts. Another job now makes itself obvious, I need to cut out recesses in the front edge of the canopy where it sits over the roll bars. A cardboard template makes marking the recesses out fairly easy, and I cut them out with the coping saw then fettle with the sanding drum. After covering the engine with a blanket to protect it from all the dust of course!
By now the door paintwork is dry and looking much better so I strip off all the masking tape. A huge improvement, although there's plenty of overspray! This isn't a problem on fibreglass though, it just wipes off with some cellulose thinners. I refit the latch to the passenger door next which is a bit fiddly as I used washers inside the door to pack this latch away from the striker bolt a bit. Once it's done I spend a bit more time generally cleaning the door up. The inside skin is in black gelcoat and the finish on it wasn't terribly good even before I started cutting away at the doors. I give a section a quick rub with some T-cut and am amazed at how easily it polishes up. Within 10 minutes the door is transformed and looking more or less finished. There are a few areas where they'll need the black surface rubbing back with wet and dry to get rid of some scratches and of course the red paintwork will need cutting back once it's hardened off - probably leave that till next weekend.
Just before going in I remember I haven't connected up the rear canopy loom, which I'll need to do to check the brake lights are working. Unfortunately when refitting the canopy I've left the chassis side of the connection dangling down and it's now trapped between chassis and canopy! I can't squeeze it through the gap so need to undo the bolt at the left hand side, lift the canopy, free the connector and refit the bolt. Once it's done the connector is clipped together and I hop in the car to check out the brake light. Works fine ... excellent.
Not a lot done today, but finished off the mirrors. These have been masked and the joint line on the rear edge of the 'stem' painted. I wanted a good covering, and have built up quite a few layers. This has a pretty awful finish, and a marked 'step' around the edge of the masking tape. Overall they look a mess, although the colour match seems pretty good. First job is to flatten the paint off with some 600 grit wet and dry used wet with a bit of washing up liquid in it. Got rid of all the excess paint with this before moving on to the 1200 'grit' wet and dry - I use the word 'grit' but in honesty it's like rubbing a wet lettuce leaf over it! After the wet and dry lots of work with the T-cut. This takes quite a while, the main problem is that although the paint is quite soft and polishes back very easily the gelcoat is hard and takes much more effort. You need to be careful you don't take all the paint off trying to restore the finish on the gelcoat. In the end I was completely satisfied with the result and the mirror looks great. The same procedure is repeated for the other mirror.
The trailing edges of the doors are OK and I'll polish them up and clean off the excess paint later in the week. The leading edges need sorting out next - not as big a job as there's a shorter length to paint, no holes to fill and in any case it's nowhere near as visible as the trailing edge which will be highly visible when the door's opened. First they need masking, then I can start on the layers of paint. These are built up over a couple of hours and that's about it for the day.
The passenger door paintwork is finished but the driver's door needs a couple more layers. These get applied whle I get on with this evening's other main job - calibrating the speedo. With the Smith's speedo this is done with an array of 10 dip switches inside the rear of tht instrument. Getting the speedo out and back in again is a real pain, well over an hour and loads of scratches on the hands to show for it. The factory have given me the figure of 7800 to program in, and this is in line with my spreadsheet calculations, although I've only estimated the wheel rolling circumference.
Got back mid afternoon from a trip to London, then nipped out to the motor factors for another aircon belt - got a 914mm one to try this time. Also got another 20 litres of Optimax in the jerry can.
Today's job is to look at the mirrors. The passenger one works fine but the driver's side doesn't seem to - it moves side to side but won't go up and down. First I solder/crimp terminals on both wires, then refit the motor to the driver's side mirror. Both can now be temporarily connected to find out what's going wrong. I double check the wiring which is fine, although when I'd first connected up I'd assumed that the wire with no insulation on its terminal was the earth which turned out to be wrong! Next I swap round the wiring for the left and right mirrors - now the driver's mirror is fine but the passenger one will only go side to side. This tells me the wiring's fine, it must be the switch. Took the switch out - it's a Ford item with a part number on the back so I should be able to get one locally anyway if needs be. It's easy enough to take it apart and dismantle it. There's a small PCB in there and sure enough one of the tracks has a small gap in it. I've presumably burnt it out when I first connected up. After a bit of head scratching I try to bridge the gap with solder but this doesn't work and starts melting the board! Plan B involves a short length of a couple of strands of copper wire and more judicious use of the soldering iron. This works a treat and the switch is soon reassembled and connected up - great, now both mirrors can move in all planes.
Next job is to drill the holes for the driver's side mirror. Drill the forward hole, fit the screw then using the spirit level to make sure the face of the mirror is vertical I can mark the line to indicate where the second hole will go. Check both screws will go in OK, countersink the forward one so the screw will sit flush with the inner surface then drill the hole inbetween for the wires.
The mirrors can't be fitted yet as they overlap the recess where the edge of the polycarbonate window will sit. So next job will be fitting the windows then. Trip up to the loft and come down with the two moulded polycarbonate windows and a pair of helicopter vents. I'll fit the vents before fitting the glazing. On trial fitting the window seems to fit the aperture perfectly with no need for any fettling.
The factory say to cut an 82mm hole, and obviously you need to be careful not to crack the polycarbonate. My hole cutters stop well before 82mm, and looking on the Machine Mart website they don't sell an 82mm hole saw either, so I may need to improvise. The first part of the operation is to decide where the vent is going to go, and I want it in the bottom front corner, equidistant from the bottom and the front of the pane. This area gets covered with masking tape, mark the centre of the hole then using compasses I mark an 82mm circle. To cut the hole I use my trusty Wizard, initially with the rotary file/cutting bit cutting a line about 1-2mm inside my circle. This works well, the high RPM of the drill reducing the risk of cracking. Once this is done I use the sanding drum to smooth out and slightly enlarge the hole. I end up with a nice smoothly finished hole in the polycarbonate. Next bit is getting the helicopter vent in - the vent is circular with a flange around half of it, the whole thing can rotate in the hole and can be tilted to allow air entry. Trouble is the flange is about 5mm bigger than the hole, and has small tabs on each end which extend by a few mm more, meaning the thing has to be sprung quite a bit to get it in. I'm due back in the house for dinner now anyway so I'll post a query on the forum and think about it overnight.
After thinking about it it's pretty obvious that if the hole is the right size the vent must flex enough to go in. I filed a bit off one of the tabs to make life a little easier, warmed the vent in some hot water and prised it in. Same for the other side and they're done.
Back to the mirrors next - time to fit the glass. First fixed the ally backplate to the motor using some countersunk self tappers, then used self-adhesive velcro to fix the glass to this.
Time now to make a start on the windscreen. First stage is to clean the GRP round the aperture then apply masking tape accurately around the outside edge of the recess. This takes a little time, especially around the curves at the lower rear corners. Once this is done it's time to bring the screen down and rest it in place, then apply masking tape around this. Once the tape is on you can go round with a sharp blade trimming it to exactly the right line. With this done it's time to look at packing it out with some rubber blocks - I cut strips from a thin rubber mat. This is where the problems started - with the front and rear of the screen packed so they're flush with the GRP the lower edge to each side of the middle is sitting out a bit from the GRP. I decide to leave this till I can get some more advice.
The side screens are next, and the first job here is to chamfer off the inside edge of the aperture so it isn't a sharp edge at SVA. Once this is done I mask around the inside of the pane, tape it in place and draw around the aperture from the inside to give me a line to mask to paint the outside edge. With this done I can apply tape to match the line on the outside, remove the tape from the inside and reapply tape on the inside in the correct position using the tape on the outside as a guide. Managed to mask one side screen before it was time to go in.
Trouble with a build diary is that it's all well and good when things are going full steam ahead and trouble free. Not so good when things go wrong. No real suggestions form the forum as the other guys who've been discussing screen fitting haven't got to that stage yet. Main thoughts are using the rubber blocks to position it. I decide to have a fairly systematic bash at this, and eventually come to a compromise - with the 'nose' of the screen a little below the level of the GRP the bits that were previously floating outside and above the GRP are quite a bit closer, and I decide firstly thay I don't see that I have any alternatives and secondly that by the time I apply a fillet of sealant around the joint it won't look far off. It takes quite a while cleaning the screen, masking it and applying a strip of the black glass primer supplied with the sealant kit. Then applying the plastic/paint primer to the GRP of the aperture. Once both were dry time to apply the sealant and fit it. To cut a long story sort I ended up cracking the screen. Feeling absolutely gutted I had to pull it off and spend the next hour or so cleaning all the sealant off with petrol. Very tenacious stuff indeed, but I got there in the end without either sealant or petrol ending up where it wasn't wanted.
Didn't really know what to do next, but figured it was better to clear up, get my head together and get on with something constructive rather than sit and mope! So I made a start on masking up and painting the edges of the sidescreens and headlight covers. This was where I found out that normal masking tape is no good for this! The glass primer is solvent based and very volatile. It sneaks under the edge of masking tape quite easily! So I abandoned that job too! It also doesn't cover as well as I expected and it's really difficult to cover in one go, and when you add another coat it dissolves the first one and can still leave streaks showing through. Also reckon it'll be tricky getting a really good finish on the inside, which does matter as the idea is that the black borders overlap the GRP a little.
Still determined to do something constructive I set about fitting the harnesses and seats. The holes for the seats are already drilled, I just needed to measure and drill the holes in the floor for the crotch straps supplied with the 6 point harnesses. Just managed to get the seats in before it was time to go in. Couldn't resist getting the car outside the garage under its own steam for the first time. With youngest son watching my clearance at each side through the doorway I edged the car out without too much difficulty. Down to the bottom of the drive and a 3 point turn made difficult without mirrors but helped somewhat by being able to stick my head out through the window! Second time around the gear lever seemed to shift and I couldn't get reverse - the lock nut at the rear end of the gear linkage obviouslty wasn't tight enough. This took only a couple of minutes to sort out and I could get the car back into the garage having at least driven it a few yards.
Had a chat with my brother in the evening who had a couple of suggestions for getting a better finish on the polycarbonate bits, along with a bit of moral support.
I wasn't looking forward to ringing the factory but it had to be done. Partly feeling annoyed because I don't see what I can have done wrong for the screen not to be a good fit, but mainly just feeling plain stupid. The really great news is that they're out of stock of screens and can't get any in for another 4 weeks. Ho hum.
After ringing Brown Brothers I call in there to get some more windscreen sealant - their kit with glass primer etc. is a very reasonable £20 + VAT. They also have some lining tape which at 6mm wide should be really good for masking the screens off, it should go round the curves really well. I've also ordered some masking tape and paint from a model suppliers I've used before. Tamiya make great models and modelling equipment, and Andy reckons their masking tape is the best he's used - really sharp edges, good for complex curves and resticks well when you want to adjust it. They also make special polycarboate paint for painting the clear polycarbonate body shells of radio control cars, so I also order a can of the aerosol paint and a jar of the brush on paint. I can try these out on the bits of polycarbonate I cut out for the helicopter vents.
In the evening I fit the mirrors - they can easily be slackened off to fit the windows. When I try using them I realise the mirror glass should be the blue side out as the other side magnifies everything making them useless! Once reversed (easy with the velcro) I can actually make out what's behind the car! I needed to test them out up and down the drive a couple of times of course. Found out that setting off in 3rd doesn't actually feel much different to first gear! Reversing it into the garage is still pretty scary, and I still need help as although you can see the rear flanks of the car the mirrors are inboard of the outer edge of the car (if that makes sense).
I'm recovering from the events of the weekend. They say every cloud has a silver lining. If the screen hadn't cracked the joint around it wouldn't have been perfect, as it is now I'm delayed but I'm sure I can get the bodywork a better fit round the screen. It also means I have plenty of time for all the finishing off bits and pieces.
Little activity today - just finished fitting the harnesses. Fairly straightforward really, I've got the standard Ultima 6 point harnesses. They're plain black Willans 2" harnesses, I did think of going for a different brand and some colour, but preferred to stick with the understated interior look - black seats and harnesses, matching black alcontara dash and the white standard Ultima dials. All down to personal preference really. Once they're fitted I test out the harnesses in the driver's seat. I need to lengthen the crotch straps a bit, but with that done doing them up is easy enough. I'm certainly glad I went with 6 point - I've got 4 point harnesses in the Westy, and even with the lap belt done up tight as you can get it you still feel you can slide underneath the belt a bit. The Ultima seats are quite raked, so this would be more of a risk with 4 pointers. Absolutely no way that'll happen with the 6 pointers though, even with the belts done up just snug rather than tight you're very closely secured! You don't need to move anyway, the cockpit is very snug with everything in easy reach.
Made a start on the polycarbonate bits - the headlamp cover I'd painted with the plastic primer got cleaned up, the paint was easy enough to flake off with a plastic ruler, then a bit of acetone to remove the residual bits followed by glass cleaner and it's ready to be masked.
Got back in the early hours from a week in Lanzarote, hence lack of activity on here. Just before I went I rang the SVA station in Llantrisant and arranged an appointment on November 17th. I'm hoping I can get a windscreen by then, if not I can defer the appointment. Also had a delivery from Ultima - my wing. This looks really nice, although there's a bit of an issue with the fixings on one side which I think can be sorted. Also in the package was the decal set for the front, rear and sides of the car.
The battery had run down while I was away - in addition to the drain from the alarm I have a feeling my battery charger isn't doing a very good job. It only seems to be putting out about 12.5 volts and I think the battery's expecting higher than that. May need to invest in a new one.
Spent quite a while on a good tidy in the garage as it had got quite cluttered before my holiday. The only other job I got on with was adjusting the ride height. At present the car's sitting pretty low and I want to get it a bit higher until after the SVA. With the front clip lifted access to the front shocks is easy, and using a pair of C spanners I can unlock the twin rings on the shocks. With the clip lowered (can't get the jack under with it up) I can then jack the front up to relieve the pressure on the springs and wind the adjusters up the shock finger tight then another turn or so with the C spanner. Lower the car, tighten the locking rings and the height is now about 130mm at the front, factory recommended is 110mm. Repeat at the rear and the height there is now 170mm, recommended 160mm.
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