Friday 25 January 2013

Electrical Power Re-established

The lightweight alternator installation is finished - well, finished apart from locking the adjustment bolts.

Today I ventured out into the only-just-above-freezing & wired it up. Of course this turned into a saga as my engineering oft does. When I built the car with the Lucas alternator I used some red wire I believed to be thick enough & ran it buried nicely inside the wiring loom. After a while & after a few alternator related problems, I suspected the wire was perhaps a little thin, so I added an additional wire - which made no apparent difference at all. Hence the long project of fitting a modern, more powerful & 2Kg lighter alternator.
Job one was to take the driver's side pod off as the battery & the cut-off switch I'd need to wire to are hidden in there. Then after a fair bit of wrestling, I removed both the existing wires, crimped & soldered one end of the new wire, gave it three layers of heat-shrink to strengthen the join, then hooked the new terminal over the wiring post & looked for a route back.

The obvious route took the cable close to the inlet manifold & throttle bodies, as I prefer the electricity & fuel to mix INSIDE the engine, I didn't like the look of this, so instead I ran the wire outwards & round the alternator, holing it on p-clips attached to the bolts that hold the alternator body together, then when well away from stuff, turned it rearwards to clip to the chassis. Next problemette was the cut off switch. This has ENORMOUS terminals (10mm post) & I had previously made my own connector by soldering all the wires into an 8mm copper pipe, wrapping copper plate round that to make a "tag" & drilling it 10mm. It's worked well, but I wanted something a little more elegant, so made a plate from 5mm aluminium drilled 10mm one end, & with two 6mm holes the other. I again crimped & soldered the alternator wire, the other wires (supplying the ignition switch & the fuse box) also got crimped & soldered into a new terminal, more heat-shrink, a 6mm bolt, nut & washer & we're done.

I left the second hole open in case I need a permanent live for something in the future, I'll insulate it before I put the pod back of course. So the last couple of wires are the blue one that feeds the "IGN" lamp & unlike the Lucas, this new alternator needs a switched live. Fortunately there was a spare one in the engine bay, not a foot from where I needed it. This used to supply the coil in the days when the beloved Crossflow was in the car, but had lain neglected & unloved since then. Now, with a new useful life in prospect, it got extended to reach the back of the alternator, & in company with it's new blue & red comrades was wrapped in split conduit, fitted to a shiny new connector & clipped into the alternator. I turned the key in the ignition - nothing. I turned the master switch on & tried again (doh!), two lights lit, I pushed the starter button, the engine fired instantly (the Crossflow may have been beloved, but it never started like this) & equally instantly both dash lights went out, the oil pressure hovering around 60psi, the volts a smidge below 14v - considerably better than the 12.75v the Lucas would make. So as it was really far too cold to be outside, I repaired to the house, leaving the last of the wire tidying for a warmer day.

Thursday 17 January 2013

Alternate Solution

So, Many months ago I bought a lightweight alternator for the car. The difficulty was then that it needed fitting to the engine in a place where there was no-where to mount it. I did some measuring & I did some computer moddling, & I cut some metal & now, I have a bracket that's almost ready to fit.

 The bracket's all aluminium alloy, very light & very very stiff - which it needs to be because the belt that'll drive it is about 150mm from the nearest attaching bolt.

I had it welded - unusual for me, I usually bolt things together, but in this case welding gave the stiffest solution. I still need to cut out some metal as there are areas where I could put lightening holes, but it's basically there.

It's been too cold of late to do a proper trial fit, but I did dry assemble everything in the kitchen, propped up on various utencils & a birthday candle holder, & it all looks good.

Hopefully I'll get a chance to fit it this weekend & wire it up, but with the weather forecast for tomorrow inclined towards the "deep & crisp & even", I'm afraid it's not looking good.

Still, as it is undeniably a thing of beauty, perhaps I'll put it in pride of place & just look at it. I'm sure my wife will understand.

Baby - It's Cold Outside

I mean, it's not been above zero C for almost a week & there's no sign of it de-frosting in the five day forcast. However, not to be deterred, I've been doing a few small jobs & made a big purchase.

The small jobs include fixing the stereo amp wiring, fitting a riv-nut into the auxiliary mirror (as I shall call it) & messing a little more with the alternator mount. The large purchase was four new tyres – Toyo Proxes R888 sounds a bit Mickey Mouse I know, but they are rated highly by those that use them.

Fixing the wiring means the stereo can go back in the car tomorrow, which in turn means the newly stiffened driver's seat can get put back in it's rightful place, I'm hoping to get the alternator fitted & running this weekend & if I can get the tyres fitted on the rims, that will be good too. BUT, the zafira's on it's sick bed & needs ministering to, so none of that might happen.

Can't complain about the Zaf, we bought it new in 2002, it's taken everything we could throw at it, including towing a caravan up 1:4 gradients in Cornwall, & this is the FIRST thing that's ever gone wrong in 10 years & 90,000 miles.

So an active weekend of spannering in prospect then? Well - if it wasn't forecast to snow heavily ALL weekend, maybe.

Monday 14 January 2013

Mirror Mirror

I'll get this out of the way first - if you're squeamish, look away now. The various bits of sticky stuff holding my finger together have come off, revealing this:-
Doesn't look too bad does it? But look at the one on the right, the cut's from top to bottom, the cut is the shape & proportion of a trouser pocket - the red line you can see being the open end. Now look at the one on the left, see the little red mark on the finger nail? that's on the inside of the nail & marks the point where the blade stopped. I was EXTREMELY lucky the blade went right down the middle, & didn't affect the bone or the tendons.
Onto more palatable things I think. The car has a new gadget. Last year on the Rallye Des Jonquilles I struggled on the dual carriageways because with a passenger, the luggage has to go on the rack at the back of the car - which means the centre mirror is pretty useless - all I can see is the luggage. The passenger door mirror is always pretty useless, so my problem was seeing behind to pull out when on the "wrong" side of the road. This year I have a plan ....... and a gadget.
A member of the SKCC (thanks Rob) donated an old style bullet mirror & I've removed it's base & fitted a quick release, so it can be fitted to one of the soft top mountings on the screen arch, allowing me to see what's behind & to the left over the top of the luggage, it looks like this:-

A little odd maybe, but not stupidly so & it'll come off in seconds to fit the sort top - I won't need it so much in rain heavy enough to require the soft top, as I WILL NOT be pulling out to overtake anything. When the car's back on the road I'll decide if I want it on the driver's or passenger's side.
 On the subject of "back on the road", I have today collected the alternator mount from "Ashby Welding", one of those helpful small companies in tiny industrial units that I like so much. The bracket's been all welded up & just needs some cutting & filing to finish it off - photo's later with a little luck. Yesterday eve I fitted a stiffening tube to the driver's seat where it had cracked & pulled the amp as the wiring's gone a little smelly (OK, it always was a little smelly), so the only things left to do are putting all that back in & changing the engine mounts & it's ready. Hurrah!

Thursday 3 January 2013

2013 And All That

Christmas - Check
New Year - Check
My Birthday - Check

Time to think about plans for the new year. First I need to get the Fury back on the road (obviously this carries the highest possible priority) I also need to sort out a couple of faults with the tin-top & earn a crust. but slowly my attention is swinging round to this year's major blatts. I have three lined up at the moment.

The Rallye Des Jonquilles comes first & after last year's last minute entry in place of the MangoFury, this year i have my own entry (car No. 119) & will be navigated by an old school chum (that's not a chum what is ol'skool innit - it's someone I knew when I was at school). There's a lot more information (in French) & a rather good video here:-

Shortly after that is the club's road trip spread over four or five days, & after that is a run tentatively called "LEGEND III - The Three Peaks" which will involve seeing Snowdon, Scafell Pike & Ben Nevis over a couple of days.

Sounds fantastic.

Wednesday 2 January 2013


Where was I before Christmas? Due to inclement weather & festivities I got little done over the break. The main achievement was the upper bracket which now sits magnificently on the cylinder head & has allowed me to properly mount the alternator & measure the drive belt I will need.
The alternator's the slotty thing under the inlet tract.
That’s the good news – the bad news is that I sustained an injury while making up a TV-stand-on-wheels (long story). I wasn’t sure what happened initially, but the G.A.I.B. (Garage Accident Investigation Branch) has now established that the jigsaw blade snagged in the wood I was cutting & jumped. 1 1/2" from the cut line is a dent where the end of the jigsaw blade impacted & pogo-d, then another 1 1/2” further away, is another impact, another 1 1/2" away was my left index finger.

I cut myself a fair bit while working in the garage, normally it’s at most an inconvenience – this was different, so (while holding my finger together with the other hand) I shoved the work-mate to the end of the garage, shoved the Fury up to it, locked the door & called my wife to drive me to A&E – without asking too many questions, because picking her up from a feint while holding one hand with the other was not going to be an easy thing.

So, after three hours waiting & getting put back together I now have a large, unwieldy finger & no real chance of significant progress on the car until it’s at least mostly healed.