Sunday, 18 March 2018

Torque A Good Game

The stock AW11 torque mounts are famously weak. Not even strong enough to withstand road driving if you've put in a seriously powerful motor. We are certainly going to need to beef ours up quite a bit, even though we'll be sticking with the 4AGE. A 20-30G 'bump' in the road is certainly not uncommon in forest rallys.

I designed a little 'kit' for the front one and had the pieces lazer-cut to save us some time with the fabrication. here's how I did it.

First I drilled out the spot welds on the bottom and the sides, cut off the lower tab, re-welded the mount to the chassis to prevent it from moving and then ground it flush. Then did the same to the tabs on the side. I made sure I cut the sides of the mount back far enough so can slide a 3mm plate in behind it.

I've designed the main plate by very carefully measuring the spacing of the bolt holes on the existing mount. The bolt holes in the new plate are 10mm and the OE mounting bolts are M10 so this should make it center itself quite nicely as there is no room for it to move around the bolts. this will also help to center the captive nuts behind the additional holes.  The next job is bolt it in place. I had to chop a corner off it as there is a bump in the cross member where it meets floor pan. You can just about see I've used a 10mm drill to mark a perfect center for each of the new bolt holes on the cross member. Ignore the line of holes in the middle of the plate, they're for spot welds later on. Once this is done, I could unbolt the plate and add the captive nuts using a bolt to center them. Finally, using a hole cutter and the centers marked on the cross member,  I cut holes for the captive nut to sit in.

I bolted the plate back up and put a good run of weld all the way around the outer edge as well as filling in the spot-weld holes. The two smaller plates could then be slid into position behind the factory mount and welded into place. Those slits you can see are for the little triangular buttresses to slot into. Once they were done that's the chassis side complete.

Onto the engine side. The holes in these parts are 12mm to allow for wiggle room when installing the engine. Ours was very rusty so it needed a bit of a clean up with the angle grinder and the removal of the old rubber core. We have some sweet Woodsport Poly mounts to replace them with so I just butchered it out with a hole cutter, a hacksaw and a chisel.
To get everything lined up I bolted the stock mount into position making sure it was centered over the bolt holes. I then clamped the 'wings' into position, again, making sure they were perfectly centered. Once I was happy I tacked them into place. 
This could then be welded up properly on the bench. I used a straight edge to set the wings level to one another as they have a habit of bending down slightly as the tacks cool. It's really nice to able to put some juice into the welder and get stuck into some nice thick, clean steel after all that frustratingly contaminated seam welding.

You can see I've had stop short to leave enough room for the washers to seat on one side of the buttresses. I Should have thought about this when I designed it and moved them inward a little but other than this little over-sight and the bump in the floor-pan on the chassis side I'm really pleased with how this turned out. Once this has been powder-coated and has the PU core in it it's going to look epic.

I'm sure some of you will be thinking this is using a hammer to break an egg but from what I hear there is no such thing as too strong on a rally car. Like I say, it's not the torque from the puny 4AGE were trying to combat here, it's the fact that in a major crash or a massive bump the engine can briefly weigh in excess of 20-30 times what it normally would. This has also totally future proofed us with regards to hairy engine swaps in the years to come.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Better Seam Than Heard

It's taken a while but we finally finished the seam welding the other day.

What a truly miserable task, compounded yet further by the huge number of body panels MrT saw fit  to use to build such a small car. You know it's going to be shitty work when you have a respirator mask, ear-defenders, goggles, cap, hood up and your welding gauntlets on. There's nothing skillful or thought involving about it you just need to have clear vision of how much better off the shell will be when it's done and belligerently move from one seem to the next until there's none left.

The rule of thumb is you only need to do everything between the suspension turrets but we also did the foremost bulkhead too.

First job is to get a knot-wheel on the angle grinder and get all the easy access stuff off. minutes and minutes of that special kind of drone that only an angle grinder can make as you get peppered with high velocity spikey bits of metal and gross semi-melted seam sealer

Then get your blowtorch and soften up all the stuff in the nooks and crannys at either end of the seam as you pick it out with a screwdriver/paint scraper. Smokey but it just feels like a woefully slow and inefficient way to to do it after the knot-wheel.

Another wire brushing, this time with the smaller, softer one in the hand-drill. this gets deeper into the seam than the knot wheel and also gets the paint off really well. Cup brushes and end brushes also come in really handy for the tough spots. By now it should be looking pretty good. Any last little bits can be finished off by hand with the screwdriver and the scraper.

Finally a wipe with a old microfiber and some clutch cleaner.

We're not going to fully seam weld the whole thing, just the suspension turrets and pick-ups. Everything else will be 25mm 'stitch' welded. That is to say a 25mm runs of weld, spaced by 25mm of unwelded seam.

It looks a lot smarter if you take the time to mark it out. I used the width of a steel ruler and a Sharpie. Make nice big marks as they get sooted over as you weld your way towards them. This is where you realize that the last 20 minutes of misery 'cleaning' the seam was only marginally more productive than punching your self in the face. In fairness the interior seems weren't too bad but the exterior one were loaded with sealer really deep into the seam so trying to lay nice clean weld beads is near impossible.

Crappy welds produce lots of spatter so inside the wheel arches was the worst. It's massively frustrating because your welds are so contaminated and you're just getting huge globs of spatter raining down on you and getting under your clothes.

Another brush with the drill before the primer and then onto the next one.

We also fully welded the joins in the sills and the roof. The only kind of accident that really worries me is broadsiding a tree. I fully appreciate that if that happens at speed your in big trouble but if these seams fail the whole car will split open. Luckily they cleaned up really well and they were some of the best runs I laid down.

In other news. I've stripped the engine down and sent it off for a pro measure up. It could use a re-bore but it's going to have to do without. A set of 0.5mm oversize pistons are north of £400. What it will be getting is:

Head skim: 10 thou
Deck skim: 4 though
Performance big end shells
Performance main shells
Thrust washers
Bronze exhaust valve guides. The originals were worn out

I also plan to do a my own very mild porting job on the head. Just to remove the casting flash and tidy up any misalignment between the casting and the factory machining of the head. Maybe a bit of a polish.

We will also be getting all the stock internals lightened and balanced as well as the cam-pulleys, fly wheel and clutch cover. So we should have one of the sweetest running stock-trim 4ages out there. The total cost of all the engine work so far is £830.

We're toying with the idea of a thinner head gasket and maybe some mild/fast road cams so if anybody has any advise in that regard it would be gratefully received. The stock injectors and ECU need to be able to cope though as we don't have the budget to upgrade them. If we can get to 150-160BHP that would be a massive win.

And we picked up a sweet AE86 tubular manifold on Ebay for peanuts. Made by BTB exhausts these things usually go for mega bucks but we picked it up for £50 as they were clearing old stock!

The plan is route the exhaust over the gearbox and into the boot (the battery will be in the frunk) to give us as much ground clearance as possible . As you can see with some relatively minor surgery this little beauty is absolutely perfect.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Stand And Deliver

To say the last few months have has been a bit of a rollercoaster would be masterpiece of understatement.

Unfortunately Mikey (my brother and partner on this project) and I lost our mum a month or so ago after a very short sickness with brain cancer. As soon as we knew it was it worst-case-scenario the whole project went on stop and nobody has really looked at the car until last week.

However, the other, much happier reason for no car-action is little Isaac arrived about three weeks ago. My bro's first kid and definitely something to smile about after such a tough few months for everyone. It's a real shame our mum couldn't hang in there long enough to meet him but he did arrive Just in time to see Elfyn win the Wales rally GB. That has to be a good omen for the little guy.

Speaking of the WRGB, I put 20 quid on Elfyn for the outright win on the Thursday before the event which netted a tidy £160 for the Motorsport coffers. My dad has donated some of his premium bond cash and we sold a few bits like the wheels my bro polished up so we now have about fifteen hundred quid to keep us going for the time being.


In my last post the car was still parked up at my Dad's place in north wales after coming back from Harry Hockley to get the cage measured up. It's now back down at my place in Cornwall. I've finally got around to painting the garage floor and hanging all the spanners up, so the garage is looking a bit more organised than it was and we can now crack on in earnest with all the seam welding and getting the cage installed properly.

A quick scan of the internet will tell you that before seam welding any car chassis it is prudent to make sure it's straight by setting it in a jig or at the very least setting it out on level stands. It will be so stiff once the seam welding and cage install are completed any deviation from true will be welded into it for life.

With this in mind I set about making some adjustable axle stand by augmenting all the old Halfords ones I had lying around. This is what I came up with

Pretty simple really, I cut a small section of steel tube (I'm not to sure on OD off the top of my head but as luck would have it it was perfect fit inside the tubular part of the stand) and welded a M20 nut and washer to the end of it, tapped it into the axle stand until it was proud by about 5-8mm then welded it in place around the top of the stand. I then cut a 400mm section of M20 bar and welded another nut and washer together. Threaded the bar into the stand and then threaded the second nut down to the top of the tube (barely finger tight) and welded it in place.

after that I removed the M20 bar and set another nut to precisely 60mm from the top of the thread using a combi-square and welded it in place before threading on one more nut to act as a lock-nut.

Now, assuming the chassis was twisted (were only really looking for torsional distortion here) it would would fail to rest on the stands on opposite front and rear corners and rock across the other two. So the stands would need to be fixed to the floor so the shell could then be pulled down onto the ones it was failing to meet with turn-buckles. That's what the length of box section across the bottom is for, It allows a little bit of lateral wiggle room to line the stand up underneath the suspension pick-up's but it's actually bolted through to a steel 'RawBolt' in the concrete floor.

Finally I made some little caps to allow the threads to turn once the car was in place. Very simple, just an inch or so of 25mm channel welded to an inch or so of 25mm tube.

You will also notice in this shot the spirit level that I zip-clipped in place for the sake of the photos. Since the captive nuts on the thread are all precisely the same distance from the top of the thread we can use these to set the level. the car was jacked up in stages to get all the stands lined up correctly and get the shell high enough (had to put two 4 inch thick roof beam off-cuts under the jack for the final lift) to lift it off the stands when they were at full extension. The level was then set and the car lowered before a final level check and fine adjustment with the weight on.

The level would detect anything more than about an eighth of a turn on the thread which I believe is a 1.5mm pitch so i'm happy that this a massively accurate way of doing it. The level front-to-back is largely irrelevant, like I say, were only trying to eliminate torsional distortion.

As it turns out the old girl was spot on. Well, near enough. It's touching all four stands without the need for turnbuckles but there is definitely more weight across the OSF/NSR diagonal that the other one. So for the purposes of putting a cage into a straight and true shell it's good to go, but if you were being really picky you could say it's not 'stressed' evenly. I've had a think about how this would affect the car, and if there was any ability to flex left in the shell once the cage is in, despite the fact the the shell is dead straight on level ground, it would have more resistance to torsional deflection around one direction of corner and less around the other as it is already 'pre-loaded' with a certain amount of stress across one diagonal.

The bottom line is you would have to be Ari fricken Vatanen to notice it in the handling and if you could prevent the shell from twisting completely it wouldn't even matter.

So this is where were at now

Nice and high and looking like a proper project in the making

As we say in Cornish surfing circles, I'm absolutely frothing to get stuck in to this now.

The next task is start burning out the remaining seam sealer with a blow torch. It'll be miserable work but I couldn't care less I just want spend some time on it.

Roll up

Here's a few shots of the roll cage as it is at the moment. As I have said previously we asked Harry hockley Motorsport to to prepare all the the bars that would require bending so all we had to do was cut and notch all the straight ones, weld the whole thing together and install it as per the blue book. For those of you familiar with the blue book you will notice it is the type of cage with three main hoops (1 transverse and 2 longitudinal) as opposed to two transverse joined by roof bars.

So what you see is how we received it back from HHM. With the three main hoops and the roof bar tacked in place. We will now need to add the X to the main hoop along with the harness bars, a single door bar on each side, the dash bar, single back-stays and single front stays to the top of the turrets. we will also Gusset the cage to the A and B pillars and weld in the foot and counter plates. I don't think we'll bother X'ing the back-stays but never know.

we've been well impressed by HHM. They massively know their onions, Martin couldn't have been more helpful, not just regarding the cage but with loads of other stuff too and the quality of the work is absolutely first class. the cage is such a tight fit to the shell it's outrageous! This has saved us a fortune over a full custom cage fit (at least £1500) and by the time it's finished it will certainly be up there with best cages in any AW11.

Scoop - part 2

A lot of discussion but not too much work done lately.

the car is currently parked up at my folks place back in N wales after coming back from Harry Hockley a month or so ago. Last weekend we managed to get the rear arch and new air scoop finished and primed. I also got chance to break out the decent camera and get some smarter shots which I will try to do with more frequency from now on.

Just a touch more filler. It's amazing how bad stuff looks when you see it with fresh eyes.

Still parked on the trailer all the garage space is maxed out up here

You can see where the filler has 'blown out' into the wing at the top of the wheel arch. This is due to me getting greedy with the tacks when welding in the new arch, causing the panel to buckle. Rookie error but it's been a long time since I welded anything this thin. Another point worth noting for anyone else attempting to fit an extra scoop would be to do the scoop and arch repairs as different jobs. removing all that steel at the same time allows everything to move around way too much and lose it's shape. Get the arch ready for filler then do the scoop.

and finally the primer. really pleased with this it's going look absolutely stock by the time the paint is finished. Black with TRD red and white stripes if anybody is interested.

fill up the Sunroof next

Extra Scoop

Here’s how we fitted the air scoop into the passenger side.

Firstly I asked Neil from to roughly chop an apperture and grille out of one his scrappers and leave at least an inch of good steel all the way around the aperture. Then, using a ruler as a straight edge and a sharp punch I marked nice straight edges onto it and carefully trimmed it up with the angle grinder. If I could do it again I would leave as much as I could on it without including the body lines.

Then I cut a square out of an old cardboard folder and taped it to the back. The missus is well into crafty stuff so there is no shortage of razor sharp scalpel knives in our house. It’s well worth getting one or put a spanking new blade in your stanley. I trimmed all the way around the edge until the card was exactly the same size as the steel then used the knife to release it from the tape rather than pull it off.

Using the distances from the body lines to the aperture (inside edge of the card square) I positioned it in exactly the same place as the one on the opposite side and carefully taped it in position making sure it was perfectly flat and hadn’t distorted.

After that it was time to get the stanley and cut the card out again using enough pressure to leave a nice deep scratch in the paint.

And then it’s cutting time! I was a bit skeptical about how well it would work once all the error margins had added up but it was pretty close to perfect.

You obviously have to flip the new aperture upside down to place it on the opposite side of the car so it’s fortunate that the curve running vertically through the panel is a constant radius. If it was egg shaped this job would be a lot trickier.

I toyed with the idea of boxing the whole lot in but I wasn’t convinced all that extra steel would really pay for itself in terms of extra power. It would certainly help prevent water and dirt ingress into the sill but there are lighter ways to do this with expanding foams and the like.

Then came tacking it in and grinding it back, my dad and bro came down for the weekend to give me a hand with the wheel arch and sill repairs which meant i wasn’t so on top of taking photo’s but it looked like this when we were finished.

We also added a little ram style scoop into the inner wing and welded up the old filler neck hole. The hole in this is the same diameter as the throttle body so we can duct some tubing straight onto the back of it

We got it most of the way there there by the time they had to go but they were dropping it off at Harry Hockley on the way home so the time came when we had to just get some primer on it and call it a day. We’ll finish it off once we get it back down.

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We also managed to cut the polycarb rear and quarter windows but no pics of them yet. The rear one will need cutting to allow for the roll cage back stays so I’ll get some pics while we’re doing that. Oh, and I almost forgot to say we decided on an eight point cage in the end. Does anybody know of any other AW11’s with eight point cages?, it would be nice to see some pic’s of how they tackled the front stays.