Thursday, 30 November 2017

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