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.

The Master-Plan

In this post I’ll try and explain a little about the general direction we’re heading in with the car.

We could probably just fit a six point cage into a pretty standard car, pop some tires on it and get going. That would certainly get us out there with very little outlay. However, to stand any chance of making it more than a few miles into the first stage there is quite a significant amount of modification required.

We have massively prioritized reliability over performance when it comes to modifications. Mainly because, initially, the largest reductions in stage time will come from driver improvement due to solid spells of seat time. And secondly, adding power traditionally quickly turns into a money spending competition and funds are tight to say the least. Power is nothing without control as they say. In fact, too much power probably makes you slower if you’re a bit of a novice.

That being said, there are certainly a few things that can be done to improve performance that don’t cost the earth, also improve reliability, and don’t necessarily involve adding BHP. That is to say we’ll certainly be concentrating more on the weight side of the power-to-weight ratio when it comes to performance. Saving weight is certainly cheaper to start with, plus you get the added bonus of better handling, which you don’t get by increasing power.

Just to quickly put things into context, I bought the car as a non-runner based on the assertion it was just the fuel pump that had packed up. To cut a long story short the guy was dead right, I fitted the new pump and after 15 years stood, it fired up first time. However, I was struck by what an absolute nightmare it was removing the fuel tank, particularly dealing with the enormous amount of tubes and pipes of varying diameters that all bottleneck into the back of the tunnel. The other thing that struck me was how convoluted the induction pipework was due to the fact the the throttle butterfly faces the passenger side of the car but the cold air scoop in on the drivers side.

It is also worth mentioning that we are adding a lot of weight to the back of the car. The standard transmission is going to be replaced by the E51 Supercharger box and shafts (already purchased thanks to Paul at woodsport and Mk1 Chris), massively heavier than the original equipment but by far the cheapest way to beef up the transmission and get a completely essential LSD into it.

Then I had what alcoholics refer to as a moment of clarity! What if we cut the tank in half, kept the front half and moved the fuel filler to the frunk? Sounds drastic but there are loads of up-sides.

A 40-50% smaller tank would be more than enough to get us around most of the events we’ll be competing in at first and dropping only the required amount of fuel into a smaller tank will all but eliminate fuel surge, saving us weight on carrying around fuel we don’t really need. It also concentrates the mass of the fuel more forward on the car and another 5kgs of steel (towards the back) goes straight in the bin. Not only that, but coupled with a delete of the evap system and a rethink of the heater, the number of pipes in the tunnel has been brought down to a manageable level. We would need an external pump and swirl pot but this would probably have been a wise idea anyway.

And it doesn’t stop there! Send the battery up the front too and they way is now clear to add an air scoop on the passenger side, just like the drivers side. With that in place it’s a pretty straightforward plumbing job to get some ambient temp air into the engine without having to go all the way around the boot. This then frees up the drivers side scoop for a proper oil cooler so we can do away with the OE one that just heats the water up.

Taken as a package these mods should go some way to shifting some weight back to the front of the car and will all but completely tidy up the engine bay top and bottom making life a lot easier in the service park.

Aside from the suspension which will require a post of it’s own the only other major headache hurting the suitability of the car is the position of the exhaust. We’ll need every millimeter of ground clearance we can get our hands on and the exhaust sticks out a good 2-3 inches lower than anything else on the car. This is a big problem as it’s totally murdering our ground clearance and re-routing it is going to require a serious amount of thinking and almost certainly a custom manifold. The only upside is the passenger side of the engine bay will be almost completely clear so we could potentially send the exhaust that way and through the rear bulkhead into the boot.

So that’s about it. In other news, We’ve already fitted the passenger side scoop and started the tank mods so stand by for some pics of that and we’ve also just had the car back from Harry Hockley motorport in mid-wales. They have measured, cut and bent all the bars that needed bending for the roll cage so all we have to do is cut and notch the straight ones and weld the whole thing together. Way cheaper than a full custom cage fit but way easier than trying to measure up and do the bends ourselves.

And finally my brother did a supermarket sweep of Tweeks and Ebay to get everything the blue book says the car needs to be eligible. Seats, Harnesses, fuel sampler, Fire extinguishers, numbers, mudflaps, the lot. So once the fabrication stage is complete we’ve got everything we need.

Long post, sorry. I’ll have some pic’s in them from now on I promise

Strip Club

Other than that have trimmed all the fat off the wiring loom. Off the top of my head I think I chopped 7.5 KG out of the main passenger compartment, engine bay and frunk looms . Well worth doing. Not to mention both the door looms. Pretty straightforward really, when you pull the interior out, label absolutely everything you unplug with masking tape as you go along. Once the interior is completely stripped chop any wires associated with unnecessary systems out all the way back to source. Trace them through block connectors and junction boxes if you can. The wiring diagrams in the BGB and some others i found on the internet were really useful but not 100% correct (99.9%) for my car. I basically completely deleted (relays, fuses, the lot) every circuit except:

Power source
Turn signal & Lights
Back up Lights
Combi Meter
Stop lights
Radiator fan (I trimmed this to run on one relay, one fuse and only power one fan I have a diagram of what i did if anyone would like to see it. It’s was a bit tricky because the air-con fan has fail safe relay that means it runs constantly if certain conditions aren’t met.)

That fans assembly weighs an unbelievable amount so being able to replace the two OE ones with one powerful lightweight one will save us a ton of weight at one of the farthest points from the center of gravity.

Also, my car, as i’m sure yours does, had all the wiring in place for systems it was never fitted with like Auto transmission and cruise control. I’m sure most of you guys with track crs have done this already but there is a lot weight to be save by spending a few evening picking that loom apart.

Other than that I’ve chipped out all the sound deadening (9KG’s i think).

Stage Rallying stipulates a six point roll cage, as opposed to four for circuit racing so by the time the cage is in, along with numerous other mod’s to beef up the chassis and transmission we’ll be adding a lot of weight to the car. Therefore I’ve been totally ruthless about saving weight wherever else we can. The AW11 is heavier than most of the cars in it’s class to every little helps.

I’ll run down the list of intended modifactions and the reasoning behind them in the next post.

In The Begining........

So I've got the car!

1989 Mica blue sunroof. 100k miles One thousand pounds paid.

I Know I this post should probably be in projects but i can seem to start a thread in that forum for some reason. any help with that would be greatly appreciated.

Picked it up from an old boy paignton, he was 85 and has owned the car since 1998. However it's been stored since 2003 when his angry soon be ex-wife threw all his car keys away.

He decided he needed to do something with it so he got a new set of keys and locks installed and intended to put it back on the road. It refused to start though and he received a diagnosis of a goosed fuel pump.  He started the job himself but realized he was way to old to be shimmying around under cars and put it up for sale for a grand as a non runner.

He wasn't budging on price so I had to give him his grand and take punt on it or leave it there. Other than the alleged fuel pump failure it's totally rock solid. He had it on a hydraulic scissor lift so I got to have a really good look around underneath. Both the rear arches are shot but there is no structural or chassis rot whatsoever, under the front boot looks like it's never been opened and the barring a scruffy gearknob and gaiter the interior is near mint. There is a small ding on the passenger door and another on the headlamp otherwise the bodywork and paint is lovely.

Loads of history and receipts too, she was still going to Toyota for services (and valets!) at 68K. it even came with an old MR2 drivers club membership book.

The new fuel pump arrived today so I'll get that fitted tomorrow and she if she fires up.