Saturday 30 June 2012

Taking A Brake

While sitting outside the pub last Weds, David T showed me pictures of a mod he'd made to his car, by co-incidence, I'd been looking at the same sort of thing only that afternoon.
When I built the car I fitted LED brake light bulbs on the basis that they light a fraction of a second quicker, thus giving the following car a fraction of a second longer to react, only after the car was on the road did I realise that as I'd used a hydraulic brake light switch which reacts to rising hydraulic pressure, not brake pedal movement, I'd lost that fraction of a second in system reaction time. A microswitch on the pedal was the answer & david's idea for accomplishing it was much neater than mine.

I set about making something on the Friday afternoon, bending an old offcut of aluminium such that the switch (from a long defunct washing machine) was a snug fit. Then bending the bottom into a pair of "feet" drilled for mounting. I soldered wires onto the tags as there wasn't room for spade connectors & the finished artical looked like this:-

Drilling the floor to mount it was not an easy thing, the footwell is pretty difficult to get two hands to, but in the end I got two decent holes, fitted clip-nuts to the bracket feet, bolted it up & sent the wrapped wired through a gromet in the firewall to connect up in parallel with the hydraulic switch - job done - Can't explain why the picyres sideways though.

Wednesday Night's Alright

Mid-week evening runs seem to be gaining popularity in the SKCC western fringes, this week David T posted up a suggestion but I was the only one able to join him. There being no time for research & route planning we decided to wing it & just point the cars vaguely at Pulborough & see if we found it. David T headed off first as he knew the road through Elstead – as it turned out so did I as I used to drive that way from Dunsfold to Farnborough, but I hadn’t put two & two together when we looked at the map.
I took over the lead as we crossed the A3 & we plunged south along one of the nicest roads in the area, unfortunately occupied by the last stragglers of rush hour & a learner or two, but the traffic thinned as we went along & there were some decent stretches to be enjoyed.

I’m increasingly baffled at “the older generation”. Driving through Petworth, a bloke best described as a “codger” waved his hand frantically at me, palm down, in the internationally accepted gesture for slow down, as I passed he shouted “SLOWLY!”, I double checked the speedo – 27mph & my speedo reads about 15% over. This is the third time I’ve been gesticulated at this way by old folk (OK, about ten-ish years older than me). I guess they see a fast car & assume it’s going fast? Who knows what goes on in the head of a geriatric.

So – slightly irritated we continued south eastish for Pulborough through increasingly deserted lanes. I arrived at one tee junction -nothing coming - pull out – check mirror to make sure David was following –milk tanker. In my defence, the junction was on a hill & a bend & the footage from the rear camera shows I wouldn’t have seen the tanker when I was at the give way sign, but the truck slowed our progress somewhat as the road climbed, dived & twisted through fields & copses. Eventually David T found a safe passing place & we were re-united, but on entering Pulborough town, I was negotiating a mini roundabout when I noticed hand signals from behind & realised we’d probably overshot our objective, so David led us a mile or so back out of town & down a lane to find an idyllic pub on a river bank with an old stone bridge.
Obviously this used to be the route of the road, but with increasing traffic, the middle-ages single-track stone bridge was a bit of a bottleneck, so a new one had been built, leaving the pub to nestle in its’ hollow. We chatted for ½ an hour or so over a drink, then mounted up & headed for home.
This was accomplished by setting the satnav for Liphook by the shortest route & it found a wonderful tree covered lane, but it was very dark & my lights are not well aimed. The camera footage from this section is just black, with occasional road signs flashing past, the rear camera picked up a similarly black scene, but with the flare from David’s lights leaping from side to side & top to bottom of the screen as the road rolled & twisted. I enjoyed this part of the journey, but all too soon we reached the A3 as intended just south of the tunnel. As is often the case at this time of the evening we were the only cars in the tunnel, so there may have been a certain amount of well judged shenanigans involving dropping into third & accelerating. Then we emerged in to the dark again & at the next junction we went our separate ways.

Thursday 21 June 2012


Not a post about anything specific, just rambling really.

I gave a lift to Daughter-the-Elder a few days ago, this was the first time she’d been in the Zetec Fury. I was very restrained & bimbled along – until we got to the long straight that goes past my house, then I dropped it into 2nd & stamped on the loud pedal. “Oh-my-god-oh-my-god-oh-my-god …… OH ……MY …….. GOD” she said in that way that teenagers do. Not sure if that’s good or not.

I also took the car out yester-eve in company with Mr Mango, a pleasant evening was had pootleing through country lanes & stopping for a swift half. The promised rain held off, & the last shreds of daylight were still hanging in the air as we parted company. Then it tipped with rain all night & into the morning – well it is mid-summer’s eve.

In other news, it’s Daughter-the-Elder’s first driving lesson this morning. She’s been driving a tractor around the farm where she does horsing for some time & more recently has been driving the family personnel-carrier around there & according to Mrs Blatter is pretty good, so hopefully the learning process won’t be too painful.

I’ve also been helping Neil of the ManCave, he was deliberating where to put the fuel pump on his Fury. Being a “live axle” car, his has very little chassis behind the seats & while mounting the tank itself isn’t a problem as it hangs from the boot floor, fitting a gravity fed pump could be. I drew up a possible solution he could make quite cheaply with all his marvellous toys & he seemed quite please with my musings.

Less successful were my attempts at wallpapering. I’m usually a strictly devil’s loo roll (woodchip) type of guy, but Daughter-the-Elder wanted a gaudy flowery confection as a “feature wall”. OK, no problem up to that point, but of course being female, she has an innate ability with no fore-knowledge whatsoever to pick the most difficult, most expensive option available, seemingly without even trying. So the feature wall HAD to be the one with the window & radiator, the paper HAD to be about the most expensive there was, the pattern repeat HAD to be such that I just needed two rolls after Mrs Blatter had bought the last one available with a certain batch number & don’t get me started on the paste that didn’t stick, or Daughter –the-Elder ruining half my painting equipment by not running it under a tap when she’d finished.

But the Prozac is still working & I remained calm (ish).

Tuesday 19 June 2012

Olympic Blat

Father’s Day & up with the lark, I headed east into the rising sun to a youth time haunt – Box hill, where due to the imminent arrival of some Olympic cyclists the speed humps have been removed & the surface replaced. This is a good thing.

But I had a task or two to to perform before all that. The Southern Kit Car Club has a photo competition which involves photographing the kit cars in front of stuff, one of the categories this year being "silly names". I already submitted a photo of the Fury under the village sign for Wetwang, in the Fens somewhere, but I wanted to collect the best Guildford had to offer too, so there were photos of the car poised at the entrance to "Jeffries Passage" parked up "Fays Passage" & at the end of "Porridge Pot Alley", then I set off.

It had meant an early start to avoid the cyclists, but worthwhile for the sunshine & fresh dawn air. There were a few brightly coloured two wheelists about, but none on the actual ZigZag road while I was there. The more observant will have realised that these picures all cunningly avoid showing the still rather patched up front of my car. If you're interested in fast moving foliage, or particularly bored, there's a video here:-

So, having done my civic duty & helped out with the resurfacing by leaving a little rubber of my own on the road, I went to see my dad, then my Brother.

The Fury went very well, with none of the electrical ills that have plauged it recently, so replacing all the alternator's ingredients seems to have done the trick. Which is more than can be said for Mrs Blatter's car whose driver side window stuck down, requiring me to spend three hours stripping it down & re-building it.

Tuesday 5 June 2012

Milling & Turning

Bit of a long story, but on the last blatt I had the headlights on for the first time in ages, & being dark, I noticed the battery light glowing slightly. The following day I got the car out to go to work, the light was full on - so there was a problem. The Fury was grumpily consigned to the garage.

Attempts to diagnose it's ills through the medium of Google unearthed the usual array of half truths & entirely unrelated tosh, except for a couple of items buried deep in forums, one was a guy who'd had his alternator overheat due to insufficient wire capacity, another was a guy who'd cooked the alternator by over-speeding it.

In time honoured fashion, it was time to " 'av the back off it" which revealed the following scene of horror:-
Lucas alternator aficionados will immediately notice the three wires from the main windings are not soldered to the tags. They were when I last looked. So yes - a fair bet it's been pretty toasty in there. Without much hope I re-soldered them & joy of joys it worked! dash light went out & everything. I decided to try both the fixes & ran a wire from the second connector to the starter motor so all the current wasn't going through just one connector. Then I looked at pulleys.
My research had revealed that an 18ACR alternator should spin at 12,000 RPM max. The engine pulley was 130mm dia, the alt pulley was 55mm. So the alt. was spinning about 2 1/2 times as fast as the engine, so at the 7k rpm redline, that's erm - 17,500. In fact the alt was all out of puff at a pedestrian 4,800 engine rpm. I had assumed it to be OK as the pulley is off a Zetec Mondeo, but either they have a much smaller crank pulley, or they're rated to much higher RPM. It looked like the ideal was 73mm dia, & several websites were keen to sell me a bespoke, lovingly crafted piece of aluminium alloy for upwards of £80 - thanks, but no, I like to save lbs, but I also like to save £s. I did find a guy selling something that was almost what I wanted on e-bay for a more reasonable £25, but he didn't respond to my e-mail. So for the princely sum of £12, I purchased a steel "item" from a boatyard, which was the right diameter - but weighed in at a hefty 565g.

What to do? An e-mail to the esteemed Neil (he of the "ManCave" noted previously in this tome) arranged to put it on his lathe & remove some of the pulley's girth.

This morning I popped over because he'd "be in the garage working on the car" & we set to. Cutter access proved to be an issue, so the milling machine was called into play. Neil had just taken delivery of a rotating table, which as luck (for me) would have it, was just the right size for the pulley, so Neil got to grips with it & cut eight lightening holes in the pulley web. The experimenting with ways of working & setting up the table was great fun, but rather time consuming & I have to admit that by the time the pulley was finished, all Neil's play time was used up & not a thing had been done to his car. I'll pay him back in time when there's something on his car I can help with.


The pulley is now a svelte 380g. There was talk in the Cave about balancing & the possibility of using the accelerometer in an iPhone to check for balance, but being a simple soul, I went home & rolled it along the kitchen worktop. When it came to rest I marked the lowest point I rolled it again in the same place, it stopped 1/4 turn out, on the third roll it stopped just over a 1/4 turn the other way, & the forth roll stopped somewhere around 1/2 a turn off (ish), so I think it's a balanced as it needs to be - anyway, alternator bearings are cheap.

So tomorrow I'll pick up the new drive belt & get it all on the car, but this evening finds me woman free, so I sit here eating pizza while typing & drinking red wine from a tumbler - hurrah!! (fear not dear reader I am NOT dressed in only a vest & Y-fronts - I'm not that blokey).

Saturday 2 June 2012

Strangeness Abounds

It appears that the repairs to the car have been approved - I say "appears" because the letter from the assessor is written in an obscure dialect of English known only to the motor trade. The maths doesn't seem to follow the normal conventions either, I handed the guy a print of a spreadsheet with all the costs on & the letter has an itemised list which is almost - but not quite entirely different.

As it's now the diamond jubilee bank holiday, I'll sort everything out next week.