Sunday 25 November 2012

More Exhausting

If any of you watched the YouTube videos, you may have noticed a heavy knocking when the car is moving slowly. It's the exhaust tip hitting the pod as as it exits. The exhaust runs through the nearside pod, which keeps it tidy & hidden, but is a git-of-a-thing to engineer nicely. Anyway, since the Zetec went in it's rattled. Time to do something about it. The solution was a couple of rubber mounts attaching the tail pipe to the side impact frame, easy enough to sort, but in getting it all tied down nicely, it's moved a little, added to which there's a tell-tale burn - rub on the inside of the pod with a matching crack on the outside, so the rear of the silencer is touching the pod as well. 

The Tray
Moving the silencer isn’t really ideal as wherever I put it, it’ll louse up the run of the pipe past the side impact protection. I decided drastic action was required & decided to attempt a fairing in the side of the pod. But what to mould it on? It had to be a female mould (fibreglass component on the inside), I could spend ages carving wood or foam, but my eyes fell upon a semi-disposable food tray we bought for some event or other. It’s aluminium foil, but thicker than kitchen foil. I started working it into a dome with my fingernail– resulting in a smooth polished nail the TV ads would be proud of. I finished off the shape with a teaspoon (yes really) & gave it a coat of furniture wax.
The Tray With A Bulge
Then to the garage, I made up some gel-coat (using the prised kitchen scales - shhh) & laid that on the wax, a little heat to cure it, then a couple of layers of chopped strand. So far it was all going quite well, no failure to cure, no bright yellow sticky hands, it was strange.

After a little more heat, my patience gave out - as it will on these occasions &I peeled off the foil tray, & because my new fairing was still “green” (flexible) I duct-taped it to the side pod, to take the shape. So far it looked good, but my fingers were firmly crossed.

The very next day, I did some more podding. The fairing had fully cured, so I washed the wax off & marked out the pod where the fairing needed to go. I decided on a butt joint where the fairing is trimmed to the same shape as the hole, dropped in & laminated on the inside, this is the easiest to finish nicely as there's little filling, but by far the hardest to cut as the fit has to be pretty close. So I marked where the fairing needed to go, cut the hole, covered the fairing in masking tape & offered it up from the inside, marked the shape, trimmed it & trimmed it only a little more, then superglued it in place & finally bonded it in.

 Phew - sounds easy doesn't it? Doesn’t look half bad though I say it myself, & it fits pretty well, hopefully it may even provide enough clearance. In the last picture you can see the extra “filler” resin needs a lot of cleaning up, but it shouldn’t be too bad, most of the time this area’s covered in mud anyway.

So the fairing's bonded in place, there's a little yellow gel / resin run into the gap (less that 1/2mm at it's widest) & I just need to cut that back & polish & it's all done. Well, except I need a new exit plate for the tail pipe. But it's nearly all done.

Monday 19 November 2012

Christmas Present

V1 Machined Bracket
This year's Christmas present to me is a shiny new lightweight alternator. Not very exciting in itself, but it does give the opportunity for a little engineering - which is a good thing. The new alternator is about 1/2 the size of the venerable Lucas ACR unit that's been on the car since I built it, but all you get is the alternator - no brackets or adjuster & even the pulley's wrong, being the old style single Vee. So I started drawing up a machined bracket, but the cost of having one made, or alternatively the time to make one in Neil's man cave were both prohibitive, although it would've been a pretty thing.
V2 Two Piece Extruded Bracket
 So, back to the drawing board terminal, I did a little Ebay engineering & found some alloy extrusion, with  little thought I came up with a cunning plan to use 1 1/2" x 1 1/2" channel to make a beam, with a shorter piece of 2" x 2" extrusion turned through 90 deg to make the lugs that would mount the alternator. It's not as nice to look at as v1, but at less than a 1/4 of the price, it has it's merits. With the design more or less finalised, I looked at pulleys. The alternator is unusual in having a 15mm shaft, most are 17mm, so that limited my options, then there was the size. The alternator has a "red line" at 18,000 RPM, so I did some sums & with the Zetec having a red line at 7,000 RPM, I needed a pulley no larger than 60mm dia. A company called Brise had a selection, but with prices around £70 they were a non-starter, Burton were offering a steel "Cosworth" pulley at £30, but someone on the SKCC forum suggested a Co. called "Woods" who's catalogue boasted hundreds of pulleys, but only 3 in the right size range. An e-mail to them got prices in the £8 - £10 range - much better.

Then I looked at Ebay again & found a small engineering company selling a 53mm pulley with a titanium nut for £19 - SOLD. 53mm gives an alternator RPM at the engine red line of just over 17,000 RPM, so just within limits. I've ordered the extrusion as well, so some parcels should be coming my way - we LIKE parcels

Tuesday 13 November 2012

Remembrance Day Blatt

In 2012 Armistice Day & Remembrance Day coincided, which made it a bit special.

Last year the SKCC attended the Remembrance Day service in the little village of Pulborough. There was no reason, other than Pulborough appeared to “do it right” & had enough parking. When it was suggested that the SKCC show it’s appreciation of those who gave by rocking up in noisy, brightly coloured cars & effectively gate-crashing someone else’s solemn moment, there was understandably a certain amount of scepticism that the effort would be appreciated. However, the SKCC was not to be cowed by such negativity & duly rocked up.

The effort was very much appreciated but the small number of Pulboroughrians in attendance, so this year it happened again & I joined in.

The sky when I left home was clear, one of those times when although the moon is new, you can just make out it’s full circle, Venus was very bright just to the left. I had forgotten to pick up my gloves from the wardrobe, but found an old pair of ski gloves in the utility room. Oh boy was I glad I did as I motored along the M25 – at 70 – with the roof down.

The SKCC met initially at dawn in temperatures only just above freezing. After the arrival of a couple of new members, looking somewhat stunned that folks would choose to drive open cars in these conditions and then the usual chat, banter & downright insults, a dozen engines fired & we headed off into the dawn.
Conditions under tyre were best described as “variable”, which made utter concentration a pre-requisite, my blatt-cam mounted high on the roll bar records the application of a little opposite lock on a few occasions. I can’t say I’m confident at that sort of thing, but I kept the car out of the hedges, so I guess that’s good enough.

But we were in for a treat. As the sun came up, it sent crisp new light through the roadside trees, barring the early mist with brilliant white & pale shade, igniting the autumnal colours remaining on the trees & flickering at the edge of vision. Not a cloud was there in the brilliant azure sky.

Ahem.  <butch voice on>   Wevver wus ‘kin good wern it  <butch voice off>

One of our number suffered a little unreliability, one of the new starters was having a problem or two with his straight six Spartan. To be fair it was a recent purchase & needed a little “fettling” to be fully serviceable, but top marks for pitching up & top marks also for nursing it to the breakfast stop. But I’m getting ahead of my tale. It’s normal for the long chain of inappropriate cars to become broken up, as overtaking manoeuvres & junctions disrupt the continuity, but today, unusually, the band of blatters kept re-forming. A number of times I was driving with nothing in sight ahead, only to roll up at a junction behind a clump of Sevens impatiently waiting for the lights to change.

So it was that for once we arrived at “the Chalet” pretty much together & bang on schedule at 09:00, which inevitably made for something of a queue at the counter. But as usual the excellent – though not entirely healthy – breakfast arrived within minutes of ordering. More banter, more prodding of the new-comer’s cars. Then we headed off in formation for Pulborough.
If anything the morning was now even more spectacular (fear not, I won’t be going all lyrical again) as the sun rose over hedge height the light & the colours were pretty special. We managed to stay more-or-less together & arrived, again bang on time at 10:45 at the church, rumbling as quietly as possible up the rough track. It was a slightly bizarre sight, gathered around the memorial were a few military types in full dress uniform & extremely well spoken & well dressed locals, stepping elegantly out of Range Rovers & Mercedes, then there were the scruffy oiks of the SKCC, dressed like ninja Michelin men, scrambling from the insides of GRP tubs. Were the locals phased? Were they upset? Not a bit of it. I heard a couple of very smart ladies say “look at all the bright cars – aren’t they lovely – they were here last year you know”.

We ambled to the memorial looking not unlike a bunch of naughty schoolboys in the headmaster’s office, the conversation & guffaws died away & the vicar began reading the list of the fallen, the repetition of surnames bringing home some families particular tragedy. Then a bugle rang out for the last post, & after two minutes silence, distant guns sounded, wreaths were laid – one by the SKCC’s own veteran & we retired respectfully.

Then a VERY posh lady tottered up to us & gushed “You were here last year weren’t you, how wonderful ………… who are you?” our leader modestly answered “we’re just a car club” & we turned to go.

Once again starters whined (or graunched in my case) & engines crackled. We said our goodbyes & went our separate ways.
Quite a moving event & another great blatt.


Tuesday 6 November 2012

Yellow Submarine

The plan was simple - the best plans always are. 1/2 doz blokes with open cars meet up in the early early morning, go for a drive through some scenery & eat a hearty breakfast by the coast. Nice.

The first thing to go wrong was the weather, the Met Office was forecasting three spots of rain, the most there can be apparently, but in a wide circle, outside our area-of-interest. The next problem got me up at 04:20 with shocking heartburn, but it seemed dry at least - until I sat down with a hot drink, then the precipitation alarm - otherwise known as the conservatory roof - thundered into life. I decided I'd cancel. Then I decided I fancied taking the car out, & it wouldn't keep up this level of deluge for long. I went back to bed, but still couldn't sleep, so at about 06:30 I set off for the meet point - having changed my mind back & forth at least another five times.

It was raining, so I swapped the deflectors for the full side windows, put up the roof & headed out onto the dark. Pretty quickly I realised what I was up against & just how good modern cars are in inclement weather. The Fury was reasonably watertight in kit car terms - from the rain at least. The real problem was seeing & heading in the direction I was seeing.

Aquaplaning is a scary thing & the darkness & long bonnet meant there was very little indication of large areas of standing water until the steering went light & the brakes didn't work anymore. As you can imagine, I kept the speed down & was 15 mins late at the rendezvous. So having filled the car up with fuel & still the others hadn't arrived I assumed (wrongly) that they'd left. So I deleted a few waypoints from the route - intending to intercept them before the breakfast venue, fired up the Zetec & headed off - slowly.

The gloom was lifting by now, but the hammering rain meant that large pools of standing water were indistinguishable from tarmac. I rumbled along a dual carriageway being overtaken by small hatchbacks & 4x4s, I was sure I could feel them smirking. Still being indecisive I turned round & changed my route several more times before giving up & plotting a course directly for the café.

The satnav had warned me it was on a gravel track, so when it directed me along a narrow unmettalled alley at the end of a residential road I was not concerned (except for my sump) & rumbled right to the end - where I found NO café & NO space to turn round. Reversing the Fury with a five point harness is a challenge normally, with the hood up, the side screens misted & the mirrors covered in rain, it was an impossibility, so I managed a 15 point turn & arrived back at the end of the alley, only to see a large sign saying "BLUEBIRD CAFÉ THIS WAY" pointing along the ADJACENT gravel track. A casual observer may have noticed my usual good humour failing at this point.

The new track led to a large gravel car park, at least I expect it was gravel. The parts of it that were visible above the water-level were gravel. I negotiated my way along a relatively dry(ish) bit, before being forced to take the plunge with some of the wider pools & arrived nose first at the café wall. Then - thinking ahead for once, I turned the car round to point down-hill. That way the water ran to the front of the foot-wells so it could be mopped out. The café was nice & the full house breakfast was warm & large, just what I needed. As I sat there eating the rain lashed at the window & ran down it at 45deg - and two joggers went past.

I sent a text to one of the SKCC:- "I'm at the café - where are you", the answer came back "surely you're joking". Having eaten, drunk, admired the view of the sea & taken as many serviettes as was seemly, I sallied forth. After mopping the floors, I once again attempted to navigate the wild waters of the carpark.

Making straight for home, I was now presented with a new hazard. Being much lighter (the morning - not me, I was much heavier) I could easily see the standing water, but so could the abundant 4x4s which seemed intent on submerging the fury, Time & again I had torrents of muddy water running UP the windscreen just after something had gone the other way. Also the water was no longer standing but going off on journeys of it's own, on several occasions I was following the turbid surface of what was presumably a road by looking for the regularly spaced "wakes" coming off the cats-eyes. I navigated these areas with a lot of throttle & very little speed. But to the Fury's credit, the engine never missed a beat, & the electric heated screen stayed clear in spite of the car filling with steam finding it's way in from the exhaust pod.

Finally I was on the home straight, but approaching Guildford, the traffic came to a halt, then moved a little, then a little more. After a while the cause became clear, a deep flood from kerb to kerb meant the cars were restricted to tidal flow. I inched forward with the engine racing & predictably a gaggle of 4x4s came the other way at 30 sending white (& brown) water cascading up the screen & slamming into the side windows. Nice.

I got home safe enough & pretty dry except for my turn-ups which had made a sterling effort to soak up the water in the foot wells, but I still managed to get another pint out of each.

Hopefully the car will have dried out by the next time I see it on Thursday. I'll have to give it a good coat-of-looking-at to see if it's come to any harm.

The video from this adventure is here should you ever decide that "Titanic" wasn't enough watery disaster movie for you.

Thursday 1 November 2012

At Last

Finally got out on another blat - just a short one round western Surrey.
The last two attempts were thwarted, firstly by the car refusing to start - my own fault, I'd been adjusting the headlights, which needed them on for quite a while, then to check the battery was OK I started the engine, then satisfied, I left it for a week & went to Chester. Of course starting the engine had used the last of the battery. The second fail was my own decision as my wife was tending to the damned 'orse, so I chose to stay at home to provide some parental attention for daughter the younger - & indeed we had a reasonably pleasant morning getting her homework sorted & suchlikes.

So, back at the point. It was to be a short, very local & roughly Africa shaped blat, Newlands back to Newlands, only 58 miles.


The meet time was set for 07:00, I set off from home & arrived at the departure gate thinking "surely that's not SNOW??" GB was already there & within a few minutes three other blatters had rolled up - without exception, as they dismounted they said "surely that's not SNOW??". It was, only a very light flurry or two & certainly nothing to stop us heading out. But at his time on the last morning of British Summer Time it was still DARK, the sky had begun to lighten, but basically it was DARK. So we rolled down the long hill in loose formation, testing the tarmac for grip & wetness. The first stop was the lights on the A246. Five fast cars, an empty dual carriageway, traffic lights on red. This was only ever going to go one way. After the opportunity to "arrange the cars in speed order", we took to the lanes, I was running second at this point, I don't like leading because I ALWAYS mis-read the sat-nav. But when the lead car went straight on when my route pointed left, I ended up leading anyway - briefly - because after about three miles I did exactly the same thing, dumping myself back to the tail-gunner position.

There were the usual SKCC "events", we rounded a fast corner, to find a Tractor cutting a hedge & COMPLETELY blocking the road - at 07:30 on a dark Saturday morning, but by dint of quick reactions & good brakes, disaster was averted & I reversed back round the corner with hazards a flashing in case anyone else should happen along, the tractor driver kindly pulled over & off we went waving our thanks.
Apart from another Sat-nav induced formation turn around (on the map above you can see it to the north of "Madagascar") we had a good blat. Very little traffic, good (if bumpy at times) roads, but VERY cold. Unusually we all managed to keep together in a group, & arrived to park up in formation back at Newlands just as the food shack was opening - Hurrah. As this is very much an outdoors type establishment, there are no plates or cutlery, so I indulged in cheeseburger & chips, with the largest coffee they could manage - I wasn't thirsty, I wanted it as a makeshift hot water bottle.
 As we stood about bantering about the run & being disparaging about almost anyone who wasn't there (as you do) some of the gentlemen of the Surrey Constabulary - having quaffed their hot beverages - ambled past, nodded at the roofless & mostly screenless cars & said "bit cold for that isn't it?" "No" I answered, shuffling into the watery early sun, "at seven o'clock this morning it was quite cold for this, now it's quite pleasant."
To prove the point I took the Fury up the A3 to my brother's house in the afternoon, so that counts as a good day in my book.