My Kit Car!

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Well I'm building a car... It's a Stuart Taylor Locost, and should look something like the car below... It's going to have the engine out of a Honda PanEuropean ST1100 motorbike. This should give me about 120Bhp at the engine, with a car weighing 450-500kg (the bike weighed 300). This equates to a rather healthy 240-250Bhp/ton.


I've sourced the parts for the car from many places including.....
The first five are highlighted in bold for being generally top people, and for providing a truly excellent service. That's not to say the others were not though!

Stuart Taylor Racing
Merlin Motorsport
Randall motorsport
Kit Fit
Laser Engineering (CNC laser cutting)
Classic Car Accessories
Woolies
Staffordshire Vehicle Components
Holden
Rally Design
Europa Spares
Demon Tweeks
Cheshire Motorcycle Salvage
Euro Car Parts
Screw Fix
Machine Mart
Gear4Bikes.com
Premier Wiring
T.E. Motorcycle Spares
Namrick (bolts etc)
BSR aerotek (anodized fittings)
Ebay (UK)

My brother and I had hoped to build the car over a single week (the first week in July to be specific)... but things always take longer than planned.... We started the build in Stuart Taylor Motorsports garage. This had the advantage that airtools, mains power and advice were available. It had the disadvantage that it's not particularly close to my house... After the initial build, the car was moved into my lock-up garage, which I rent off the council. The disadvantage of the lock-up is that it has no electricity. All power (including that for lighting) comes from a 35Ah 12v car battery. There's no heating.....

I'm having some rather sexy rubber on each corner. Yokohama a539 on Minilite-type wheels to be specific.....

I was going to go for more radical race tyres but decided a race/road tyre was sufficient. I can always get some Minilites with 008s on later....

BUILD DIARY

3/7/02 Well, we're building away. Mostly me and my bro but Zena (my bro's gfriend) did sterling work on the Saturday with the panelling.... and to be fair is much better qualified to do the rest of the build than I am!

The build was slightly slowed down my Mr ST not letting us into the garage on Sunday. Fair enough, it is his garage. It's just a shame he changed his mind between us leaving on Saturday night and us turning up on Sunday morning. Oh well. Progress since has been steady, though everything appears to take twice as long as you think it is going to! At the end of Wednesday, here's what we've got.....

What you can't see is that all the brake plumbing is in place, the fuel tank is in and plumbed, and the rear suspension is almost sorted. The KitFit parts are excellent and all slotted together very nicely. Scariest moment came when I was drilling out the axles of the shocks and the drill jammed in place whilst locking itself on..... One catherine wheel drill in a stationary shock absorber. Luckily I moved out of the way....

04/07/02 Well we've got the suspension all sorted, the brakes are done, the steering is almost done. The steering column needed the lock taking off it without removing the stalk attachment points. Much hacksawing, angle grinding and filing was needed. Looks mighty fine now though.

05/07/02 I've done the back panel (which wasn't as bad as I thought) and attached the driver side GRP wheel arch. The wheel arch was harder than I thought it would be.... Still, looks okay now, though I might need some beading to hide some gaps...

08/07/02 I've done the left rear wheel arch and the scuttle/pedal box top ali sheeting. I forgot my camera though so no photos.... Beginning to look dangerously like a car though!

13/07/02 I've stripped down and installed the engine (which was a PITA).... Can't believe we didn't get more done.... but it's an important job to get right..... and it was very tricky. DJ had to remodel the gear linkage (very clever it is too). The engine is 1990 vintage BTW. The thing on top of the engine that looks like a dustbin is infact the air filter housing. In the finished car, we're going for something slightly more subtle....

I've finally got my diff to do recondition....

The driveshaft bolts came off easily. All except one, that is :) That came eventually after I ground the shaft flat and then used some pliers. One of the mounting bolts had sheared off flush. That required the use of my shiny new screw extractors....

But a can of hammerite later....

19/07/02 Installed the diff :) This is easier said than done because the diff I'm using is too big to go in from the top. To get it in, therefore, I had to put it in from underneath, slot the front mount in place, and then balance the diff on my knees (with my feet off the floor) to bolt the back mount onto the diff, securing it in place. Yes I did think of using the engine hoist but it was busy!! Luckily despite the lactic acid that rapidly built up, my knees didn't wobble enough to dislodge the diff. I'm not sure how much a diff weighs, but if it landed on your chest..... ouch!!

20/07/02 Measured up and provisionally chopped down the propshaft and helped Ian weld in the propshaft support bracket. I also changed the oil in the engine and installed some new spark plugs. I also made up a mounting bracket for the radiator fan and installed the fan.

23/07/02 Re-installed and remeasured the propshaft and cut it to final length. I also cut out the holes for the exhaust. I did this with a 2" ali hole cutter. The holes need to be enlarged using a 3" cutter to allow the clamp plates through, but doing it with the 2" first allowed me to see what final adjustments I needed.

25/07/02 Drilled out the holes in the GRP for the back lights, got my wheels and tyres and put them on, and prepared some of the aliminium drivetunnel panelling. Sadly I forgot the camera so I haven't yet got a picture of the car with the wheels and tyres on. The front wheels look massive!!
I also had a drive in the demo ST1100 car :) The clutch was rather vicious and set up too high for me but once going it was a buzz.... I even got it into second ;)
I also got the invoice for the majority of the build and updated the costing spreadsheet (see above).

03/08/02 Remembered the camera. Attached the rivetted section of the forward driveshaft tunnel. I also started doing the rivetting of the driveshaft panels. God, rivetting sure isn't... I wish I (or someone else) had done it all already! Installed the fuel pump and filter and attached up all the fuel line. Installed the steering wheel.

17/08/02 I installed the throttle cable (standard PanEuro type) and secure the coils to the footwell. I then finished the rivetting zzzZZZ. After that I took apart the old halfshafts and rebuilt them using the shortened shafts. I've taken these home to respray. I was hoping to install the sprayed units on the 20/8/02 but I've run out of Hammerite :( so it will have to wait until the 25/8/02

20/08/02 I installed the modified propshaft (which fitted perfectly) and finished the drivetunnel rivetting. At home, I finished spraying the modified halfshafts after a trip to B+Q for some more Hammerite.

24/08/02 I installed the sprayed up halfshafts, bolted on the horn and bolted the thermostat in place.

27/8/02 I made up the speedo bracket (which bolts onto the rear chassis member) and began installing the loom. I started attaching the fog light to the rear ali panel but ran out of time.....

03/09/02 I installed the speedo bracket, finished attaching the rear fog light, cut out the exhaust holes, attached the manifolds and placed the scuttle on the car ready for Saturday. Sadly, though I remembered the camera, the batteries were flat.........

07/09/02 I tightened up the manifold/engine nuts, cut down the manifolds and attached the exhausts and the support bobbins. I then attached the scuttle and got to work on the gear linkage. I installed the crank (which goes on the back of the passenger footwell plate) and installed the actual gear lever. I did the engine to crank rose-jointed connection and started work on the stick to crank rod. This requires a slight bend in it to get it over the propshaft support bracket.

10/09/02 I installed the gearstick actuating rod and adjusted all the rose joints. The mechanism was initially rather stiff because some of the rose joints were binding but some split washers and a gentle bit of metal bending soon had the mechanism smoother. It's still a bit stiff because of the short gearstick. It will be interesting to see if it becomes easier once everything has had a while to bed in etc.... I then sorted out the clutch. This required some welding (not bad for a first effort either) and some upside down drilling. All in all not a bad day (at least at the garage!). No picture because it doesn't actually look much different- though the top of the black dustbin airbox has disappeared. Apparently plan #9 involves a remote air filter.......

17/09/02 I attached the header tank to the bulkhead and recommenced work on the loom. The loom work is getting rather complicated. I was doing most of the high current stuff (solenoid, starter etc). It was a good thing I made up a test dash out of hardboard because it was way too small! A few minutes with a pen and we've got dash #2. I'm going to cut it out tonight and then make sure the size is right before doing anymore work on it. I had another drive in the demo car. The clutch has become much more gradual since the car was blasted round Donnington. This may be something to do with some of the clutch seizing during the time when the engine was lying dormant.

21/09/02 I filled the clutch and brake systems with hydraulic fluid and bled the clutch system. I also installed the rear brake pads. I then got to work on the loom. I was quickly able to finish enough of it to get the engine turning and after a quick trip to get some petrol, I was already to get the engine started. Sadly it wouldn't start... After much toiling it appeared I'd flooded the engine during an early attempt to start the engine when in gear. Eventually the beast roared into life :)

24/09/02 I bled the brakes, checked the engine still worked and got the car onto the floor. Unfortunately I hadn't put a tube onto the gearbox drain nipple and when I lowered the back of the car half of the engine oil drained all over the floor.... I then cleaned half a ton of iron filings out of the foot wells and generally had a clean up. I filled the diff with RedLine superthin diff oil.

29/09/02 IT WORKS!!!!! DJ and Zena came up (and down respectively) to help get the car ready for it's first run. DJ came up with the Volvo tow car so we could trailer it to my garage after its first run. We got various bits of radiator hose from the local auto shop to rig up a radiator cooling system as Demon Tweeks didn't have the Samco hoses I wanted. The end result was pretty good apart from a 30cm length of iron piping we had to use which I'm going to replace with ali tubing or normal radiator hose. DJ sorted out some rather drastic toe-in and camber on the back left whilst I did some soldering to connect up the radiator fan switch. None of the dials were connected at this point so I'd use the fan coming on as an indicator it was time to switch off the engine..... We filled the cooling system and it was time to see if it worked....

We pushed it out to one end of the car park and started up the engine. It ran rather roughly because we haven't got a M18 bolt to plug the hole in the manifold normally used for a lambda sensor (for the SVA test). As a consequence it was back-firing and poping from the hole. But it ran nicely and didn't seem to get excesively hot. So... clutch down, select first gear and it jumps forward and stalls. Oops. Looks like I didn't bleed the clutch very well. Ten minutes later and we had a clutch. Bit worried about the brakes now but we decided to see what happened. Restart the engine, clutch down, select first gear, slowly bring up the clutch and away it rolled. Amazing! My fears about the brakes were vindicated as although they did something, it wasn't much!! With a standard rack and the huge Sierra steering wheel the steering is ridiculously light (one finger styly). Tracking wasn't too bad. All in all, huge smiles all round......

The day was quickly going and soon it would be our turn with the trailer. We needed to make up a brace for the engine mounting to stiffen up the whole thing. The standard unit was too big so a quick hacksaw and weld job and we were done. I tried welding it but my welding fundamentally sucks (the wire feed was way too high it appears) so DJ and then Ian (Mr Stuart Taylor Motorsport) finished it off. Job done! And the trailer arrived......

So we loaded it up into the Volvo and trailered it to the garage. There is developed some rather worrying interest from the local kids but was soon snuggly secure.

15/10/02 Update: I'm a busy boy working on the dashboard. This is much more complicated than I imagined it would be! Still, it will look good in the end (it better do!). I've found that you really need an adjustable hole cutter and a reaming bit to succesfully make a nice looking dash. You also need lots of wood to make practice dashes with as it is difficult to make accurate measurements from the scuttle when it is in place! Consequently you end up making five dashboards, each closer to how you actually want it....

The dash shown was dash #3- the final dash template. I did, however, decide that I didn't like the three switches to the left of the steering wheel. Consequently on the final (so far) dashboard, I've moved the middle switch to the right of the steering wheel below the starter button. The fog light (top) and the horn button (bottom) are moved closer together. I was going to make dash #4 anyway because I didn't have my adjustable hole cutter for dash #3 and consequently the dials where slightly out of alignment with each other (I'd jigsawed them out). Okay, so maybe no-one would notice but I'd know....
I modelled the dashboard loosely on the Caterham dash. I learnt that the dial and button placing is quite complicated. Just a few centimetres one way or the other can make the dash look right or completely wrong. I'm sure I'll decide it's the later once I've made it up with vinyl and foam....

I also bought a copy of the Single Vehicle Application manual so that I could check light heights etc to try and make sure that I'd pass the SVA test without problems. The manual can be bought from the stationary office the stationary office for 30 quid plus postage.

06/11/02 Not much done recently. Been doing much more exciting stuff away the garage.... Some soldering of wires, installed a few peripheral lamps etc. The main stumbling blocks are the dashboard (why did I make it so complicated!), and the bonnet (we're still not 100% sure about the air filter setup!!)..... I'm waiting for a big delivery of bits from Europa, Demon and Woolies. I've bought a quater tonneau from ST. I've got to measure and mark some holes for the rear roll bar supports and they get them cut-out...... I always thought all the little stuff would take a while....
I really must buy myself a digital camera... My bro's had to nick his one back from me so no pictures for a while!!

21/11/02 Well the build is slowing down for winter it appears!! I've got all the stuff for the dash and the interior trim work from Woolies. Pretty chuffed with it, though the wing piping I chose is quite stiff and I'm not sure it will go round the curves I want it to... perhaps it's time for real leather.... The stuff from Europa wasn't so succesful... The wing mirrors have a great big mould line running down them... Either I leave it and love it or find some different ones.... I'm temped to see how much it would cost to re-chrome them if I ground it off.... Annoying though.... I also got stung by the Europa catalogue listing both the 1" and 1 1/8" hose as having a 25mm internal diameter... Guess which I ordered when I wanted 25mm hose :( Oh well... teach me for working in metric....
I've decided that the steering wheel is too far to the right even on full adjustment to the left... I've going to drill some new holes in the metal work... I'll have to take it off and put it in the vice back at home... the mounting is definately too solid for my portable drill!

20/12/02 Well I've done the steering wheel changes but then things went into winter hibernation whilst I went on holiday.... Off to Salzburg to find out what really cold weather is like (-8degC). And I even managed to stay in one piece snow-boarding... So now the garage seems nice and warm and seeing as I've agreed to do a Sevens tour of Ireland in May, I've suddenly got some newly found enthusiasm for the build. Hopefully I'm going to be able to finally do the dash and the indicator extensions over the Christmas holidays....

06/01/03 Well I certainly never thought I'd be writing 2003 in the build diary!!!! The build continues.... who am I kidding- the car's in the garage and I'm having a big fat Christmas. I did doodle a dashboard layout and cut down some pipe to make the indicator stalks but at this rate the car's going to be my retirement hobby..... A post Christmas surge is required I think.... Just when temperatures are going sub-zero in the garage too :(
At least I'll soon be able to put the bonnet and nose-cone on..... (assuming of course the air box is ready).....
On a more positive note, I've decided which harnesses and seats I'm getting. The harnesses will be Sabelt 6-point quick release units in black, whilst the seats are going to be 15.5" Kirkey Drag Race seats with black vinyl (kwooor) covers..... I wasn't sure if they'd fit until I found someone on the net who'd put 15" Kirkey seats in a Locost. They said the 16" seats fitted at a pinch. In addition, they used slightly different seats which have thicker side walls than the seats I'm using....
I have finally got fed up with the lighting situation in the garage. One of the 16W 12v lights is not half as bright as the other. I suspect the transistor is knackered. Whatever reason, when there is lightening (or to that matter fireworks) nearby, it goes to full brightness for half a second.... induced voltages in the base terminal?? Whatever reason, one end of the garage is dismally dark and the other isn't much better despite the photon deflector devices (mirrors on the back of the garage door- though they help!)... Now I've got the big car battery to power the lights it's finally time to bannish the dinge. I see a trip to B+Q to buy three 8W 12V fluroscents is in order. I'll replace the dim light with a new one and place the two new ones at suitable places. If I can't get the dim one to lighten up (sic) I might keep it about on a long lead as a rough and ready inspection light..... I wish I could paint the walls and floor in the garage, I'm sure that would help....

09/01/03 Still looking for a good digital camera so no photos though I have taken some with a film camera. Once I've got the film processed I'll scan some photos in. Did more work on the indicator stalks. All the MDF bits are sanded smooth and are half way though being painted. The "kit" of bits all fits together very well. Infact, they all fit with such a good interference fit that they stay in place without any glue... Infact, I'll probably have to open up the holes to get the glue in!!!
It appears that I'm rather on my own with regards to the air box on the car. Mr ST has gone for twin Webers DCOE 40s instead of the bike carbs and has rather shot off in that direction. I'm planning on keeping the bike carbs (at least for the moment) so its B+D R+D time!! The prototype will probably be in aliminium with possibly a carbon fibre unit for keeps.... I'm planning on using a K+N universal tube filter. They're good up to 200+ Bhp so no chance of the carbs being strangled...
Lighting update! I swapped the tubes in the dim and bright 16W fluorsecents and they swapped light levels so I'm suspecting the tubes originally in the dim light. Quite why they both went dim I'm not sure... I hope it's not something wrong with that unit which kills tubes otherwise I've just killed another pair. The replacement tubes from Maplin had a completely different colour rating to the tubes I've got already. They actually have a slightly yellow/orange light like incandescent lamps, whereas the original tubes had a bluey hue. Still, when it's freezing in the garage (sadly strictly true) you don't hang around noticing these things!

12/01/03 Well the weekend was interesting if not *that* productive... DJ and I were trying to make up the wheel arch supports and bolt them in place. Unfortunately, the threads in the uprights were full of powder coat and the head on one of the bolts broke off. Doh! We tried drilling it out..... The battery in the 9.6v recharchable drill was as pathetic as ever- in the end we stuck a couple of wires directly onto the drill terminals and walloped 12v through it! It is still going strong without any sign of a problem. The drilling out of the bolt was going okay until I decided to try using the stud extractors. When we tried them earlier they wouldn't bite. Now the middle size one got half way into the bolt.... and broke... So then we had to drill through a rock solid extractor as well as the bolt. Amazingly, in the end we did it! It did take a while though....
Once we had done that we did manage to start on the wheel arches... Apparently some of the old ones fractured on the bend lines though I suspect this was due to metal fatigue from excessive adjustments. So the new ones are made up from 5mm steel. They sure aren't going to break. Even bending them's tricky. Big wallops with the big persuader called for....

16/01/03 Well... I've almost finished the indicator stalks. Just got to drill some holes for the 3mm screws and bolts and attach them. I'm going to wait until I've got the nosecone on before gluing them all together. I might be able to chop the tubing down further- I don't want them any longer than totally necessary.
Whilst we were doing the wheel arches a slight problem came to light. The combination of the 7" headlights and the 14" wheels means that there is very limited steering available before the headlight and wheelarch touch. This is not so much of a problem with most Sevens as they either have 13" wheels or 5.5" headlights- or both! The best solution appears to be to raise the headlights up on stalks. This will also give the car a more traditional appearance- the ST headlight mounts give a more streamlined look. I genuinely prefer the Caterham bug-eyed look. Just as well really... I'm looking at getting some stalks turned up from aliminium section then probably either anodised black or powder coated. Sadly, when I put the headlights on the car I cut down the securing bolt. Because this has now got to go through the stalk, it's much too short. Luckily, Staffordshire Vehicle Accessories (who I bought the lights from) were able to supply me with spares for a very reasonable price!
I've written up a list of all the jobs remaining on the car. So far I've got to item 39. When one of the items is "build a dashboard" you start to get the idea that this build has a few hours to go yet. Added to that, a possible problem with work means I might not be getting six months off as planned. Suddenly, getting the car ready for May (Lynch the Leprachaun) is looking rather tricky....

20/01/03 Well it appears it is the fluorscent unit itself not just the tubes... The replacement tubes in the dim unit have now started to fail.... Hohum. I've got another 8W unit so I'll wire it up in place of the broken unit which is now running at about 25% brightness.
On the positive side of things, I've bought myself a digital camera so I can start putting some pictures on the website again.......

22/01/03 So back to the garage.... I've bent and cut down the wheel arches and drilled the holes for the front indicator bolts and nuts.... And I took along my shiny digital camera to take some pictures....

Dig the photon deflectors eh?
I really must sort out the ride height.. the low-rider locost look isn't one I want to keep...

30/01/03 Rollocks... looks like I'm doing another 6 months of training... Never listen to anyone whose advise you haven't paid for and never pay anyone for advise :)
So now the build is in "squeeze in a few hours after work" mode in order to get it finished for March... Still, at least this way I'll be around in the "hot" summer months with my car before going off round the world in the cold dreary winter months.... Work in the garage has been steady... I've made up some securing straps from aliminium for a few bits and pieces and put the rear-view mirror in place. I'm checking how much it's going to cost to get DemonTweeks to import some ProDrag seats from the US- Kirkey don't seem very keen on selling them direct... I've also started rounding the edges on the 5mm wheel arch supports... not sure if I need to for SVA and it's easier to do it now then after I've red-oxided and hammerited them...

04/02/03 All change.... So now I might be getting six months sebatical before doing 6 months more work... Still 20k down and away for the summer :( I just wish someone would tell me what is happening...... Still, time to get the car finished whilst they decide!

07/02/03 Doh... Well my first day of the 6 months off in the garage didn't go too well. My first mistake was connecting up the 12v battery which supplies the lights and the hifi back to front... 3 blown fluros (luckily the two 16w units had protection diodes in them so they were okay) and a toasty warm caput hifi...
I then set to work on the steering column. It wasn't protruding very far into the Escort clamp and I was worried it might come out when I was driving. Clamped into a vice a number of heavy blows with a hammer had no obvious effect but when I gave up and went to put it back in place it had moved by 5mm which was more than enough.... which was nice....
Then I filed down all the edges on the wheel arches in preparation for painting. Just when they were ready to be painted I decided to install them and see how they looked. Only problem is they look much too high off the tyre- I must go back to ST and have a look at his arches to see how much space they've got. I fear some radical re-working is going to be required. 5mm mild steel isn't known for it's reworking properties- perhaps a cut and weld might be in order.....
Having mucked that one up to conclusion I set to work on the bonnet (I was on a roll after all). After measuring twice and cutting once, I had a nice big hole in the bonnet. Trouble is, now the bonnet is almost in place (the edges still need sorting) I can see that there is going to be a major problem getting any kind of air filter under the scoop. It just doesn't add up... So I did my usual and sat in the car and thought.
Good thing I did, as I realised that I can't use a 16" Kirkey ProRace seat as Jeff (the bloke in the US who tried one in his Locost) put it in the driver side, which of course in the US is left hand side. Anyone familiar with the Locost will know that the shape of the diff causes the right hand side seating tunnel to be 1" narrower than the left... Good thing I didn't order the ProRace then.... In the end I've decided to do what I was going to do all along and go for the 15.5" Drag seat. It fits (probably), Demon have them (hopefully) and it's cheaper (definately)....

11/02/03 Well it looks like I wasted my time sitting and thinking!! Jeff has pointed out that apparantly the US chassis is narrowed for both the left and right cockpits (reason?) and he put the 16" seat in both the LHS and RHS positions.... So ProRace may be back on!!! Still need to sort out the wheel arches....
I cut the edges of the bonnet so it fits the recess in the scuttle and the nosecone. It doesn't fit very well though.... I hope it's fixable rather than dodgey GRP. I'm going to see Mr ST tommorow to see if he's got any handy hints. I wonder if hot air would help make the bonnet more flexible and therefore fit better....

12/02/03 Well I went to see Mr ST... And I've got me' bolts for the lambda sensor holes. And very nice they are too! I'm going to loctite them well in place though- they go on the underside of the exhaust. With all the vibrations and gas pressure etc, they're a good candidate for falling out and the car runs rough as rats without them. I may even but a couple of spares to keep in the car.... The GRP problem is apparantly solved by heating up the GRP with a hair drier (not much need for that in my place) or a hot air gun (more need but I still haven't got one).... Tricksy tricksy problems..... (sorry, went and saw Lord of the Rings again at the weekend)... Whatever the solution, I need it to run off 12v......
I've checked the wheel arches on the demo car and they are three finger breadths above the tyre surface. A quick check reveals that mine are only slightly higher- certainly tweekable. Vice and hammer time again then!!

13/02/03 Spent the day cutting the hole in my nosecone. I wanted to do a good job here as its a very visable part of the car and will hopefully be in lots of pictures... I drew the cut line with a marker pen and a suitable spacer (my index finger as it happens). I cut inside this line with a small circular cutting saw on my dremel and then using a minature sanding drum on half speed, slowly removed the excess. A quick sand to round the edges and job done. Took about three hours but the end result is a PROPER JOB!!! And no I haven't got lino in my garage, I did the cutting in my kitchen.... :) I then set to on the wire mesh. A couple of days in saline showed that the mesh isn't stainless so after cutting I've given it a couple of coats of Red Oxide primer. Tommorow I'm going to give it a couple of coats of black Hammerite. Then it's gluing on and final interior trimming (the exposed edges are razor sharp and even though it isn't a SVA problem I want to make it slightly safter- even if it's just a blob of epoxy on the cut ends).

I've found a slightly problem with the position of the scuttle. When I put it in place I did so from approximation- the plan being that I could put the bonnet in place and make any final adjustments with the nosecone position. Unfortunately, the nosecone position if rather fixed by the mounting points, which of course don't line up with the fixing points on the GRP. Luckily, I've invented a work-around with some bolt-on mounting point extensions. Not the most beautiful bits of design but they work and they're hidden away out of sight. Just got to get some steel from B+Q tommorow, make them up, hammerite them, bolt them and then set to fixing on the (by then) finished nosecone. At some point I might grind the edges and weld it all firmly in place...

15/02/03 Well I'm trying to get a good, durable finish on the grill. The red oxide primer went on okay but the hammerite is too thick and gloopy even when sprayed. In addition, it all seems a bit easy to scrape off- even the primer. I didn't degrease the mesh to begin with and I think maybe causing some of the problems.
I'm just deciding whether to buy some strainless mesh and leave it au naturel.... In the meantime I'm going to experiment on a scrap bit of mesh to see if I can get the primer to bond on better....
I think I've finally decided what to do about the seats! I have a sneaking feeling I'll fit in the 15" seat and all will be well. In either case, it will certainly do for the passenger side. So I'm going to order the 15" version with a vinyl cover. I'm going to see how well it fits the car and how well it fits me. If it turns out 15" is fine, I'll drop it into the drivers side. Either way, on the basis of my findings, I'll then order the second seat. This way of doing things gives two advantages. Firstly, I'll have at least one seat by the time of the SVA test. Secondly, I'll be able to directly compare and measure the tolerances. I may end up getting a 15.5" custom ProDrag seat made. If the tolerances are okay, I'll order the 16". It looks likely from my discussions with Jeff that it would fit but I think on balance it is too close to call from measurements alone!

16/02/03 Well I decided (with some encouragement) that I was wibbling and so despite all my reservations about epoxying on the mesh and having it hammerited rather than japaned or lacquered, I epoxied it in place anyway. The paint finish isn't A1 but from more than a foot away it looks good enough for me. After 10 miles it's going to be covered in crud anyway! So that's that job done.... Now for making up the fixing plates. It is admitedly yesterdays job but got delayed by wibbling...

18/02/03 Well the job was done! Sadly, I pushed the grill to see how well I'd stuck it on.... After the reglue I went to B+Q to get some angle ali to make up the nosecone mounts from. In my absense however, B+Q have got a whole load of mesh in, including ali and stainless. Doh! Just to add to my problems my digital camera has broken so no pictures for a while- hopefully the camera shop will get back to me soon- otherwise they'll be named and shammed!! Kirkey have got back to me with some UK importers of their seats who might be rather more willing to import the ProDrag seats than DT....

19/02/03 Proper job!! Good day (and evening) in the garage. Can't believe the main lighting battery lasted all that time... managed to use up three lots of NiMH for the headlamp.... I made up the nosecone mounts from some nice ali angle (easily strong enough, lighter and rustproof) and installed them. Unfortunately my planned method for mounting the mounting points (!) was not good because the setscrews clashed with the GRP. Luckily in my box of tricks I found some countersunk bolts which I used instead. A quick file job on the GRP and one installed nosecone- still got to sort out the lower mounting point- need the axle stands for that and they were in the flat. Then I set to measuring and epoxying the indicator stalks. They're all made up and just need screwing onto the chassis.
I then had a look at the place where the airbox needed to go. The fuel line and throttle cable were in the way but a few minutes with the pliers had the fuel lines inverted out of the way. The original PanEuro throttle cable was too short to re-route out of the way. I had a bike brake cable and outer which was the right length after trimming. However, it didn't have the fittings that the original unit had which I'd use to connect it to the loud pedal. I managed to remove the fittings from the original cable and fit them on the bike cable... Job done. Unfortunately when I tried to put the cable collet back on I stripped the thread on the grub screw so I've got to get an alternative.... All this work, however, made loads of space where the airbox can go... perhaps it is possible after all....
Tommorows jobs are to go to B+Q to pick up some bits... Then go to the garage and put the lower nosecone fixation in place and screw the indicators in place.... Then I need to get to work on finishing the wheel arches.
The digital camera went back to the shop today... hopefully it will be replaced fairly promptly 'cos the car is looking mightly fly with the nosecone on!

20/02/03 Well I've ordered the seat.... Randall Motor Sport are importing one for me... and the price is good too.... Unfortunately, my MP3 player still hasn't arrived from Amazon. That's nine parcels via First Class Royal Mail that haven't arrived. Strangely, recorded delivery parcels do ;(
Annoyingly, Royal Mail will only investigate if there is "a clear pattern forming" and they don't consider 9 parcels in 18 months a pattern.... Also annoyingly, Amazon insist on waiting ten working days before sending another one just in case the parcel is "lost". Well I suppose it is lost- lost into someone elses house.....

21/02/03 Oh dear... all ready for a good long day in the garage when Little Miss Micra decides not to start. I think she knows I was unfaithful and looking at pictures of a 10k FTO last night.... Seems to want to start on middle throttle but can't. And of course all the tools are in the garage. Cranking well with the lighting battery as a boost battery.. Got fuel (? getting to the engine), no electrical fault showing on the dash.... Giving it a couple of hours to recharge the boost battery and let everything settle.... Then I'm going to try changing the fuel filter (or at least taking the top hose off to make sure fuels getting pumped through it)... I suspect it's a fuel problem though I may well be wrong!!

24/02/03 Well I'm not sure what it was, but something I did fixed it. I replaced the fuel filter and sprayed some WD40 on the coil contacts and sparks and it fired up....
I decided that I wasn't happy with the shut lines (almost wrote shit lines) between the nosecone, bonnet and scuttle. I installed the scuttle long before I'd even seen the nosecone and it appears I put it too far backwards. I installed the nosecone as far back as possible (using the special mount plates I made) to compensate but there was still a 4mm gap at both the nosecone/bonnet and bonnet/scuttle contacts. I had decided to make this a 8mm defect at the bonnet/scuttle interface and fill the gap at the other end with some rubber piping... However, after a long hard think I decided that that was going to be too ugly and radical surgery was required.
The only option left was to move the scuttle. Trouble is the firewall/footwell is bent up at 90 degrees and rivets onto the back of the scuttle so to move the scuttle I'd have to move the firewall. Trouble with that is there is now 4 tonnes of stuff rivetted/bolted/screwed/glued to it. It also means drilling out lots of rivets, somehow filling the holes that result, and then drilling 30 more holes for rivets and doing all the riveting by hand. I didn't fancy that options.
In the end I cut along the 90 degree bend in the ali firewall/footwell, cut 8mm off the horizontal piece left and using a piece of 25*25*1.5mm ali section rivetted it back together again. Not the prettiest from the inside (not that bad though), but it does leave the outside looking as it should without drilling yet more holes in the chassis....

25/02/03 More time in the garage. Spent a little while fixing the front indicators in place. Then I jacked up the car onto axle stands to have a look at fixing the nosecone in place and attaching the gearbox oil overflow pipe. Not much room under the drivetunnel for the catch tank- might have to have a rethink on that. I was going to attach the nosecone but decided to have a quick read of the PanEuro Haynes to check where all the pipes to the catch tank come from. Couldn't work that out but did notice that there are rather a large number of nipples that are attached to something in the manual but aren't on my engine! Not sure if I like the idea of open drain nipples or sub-filter breath pipes... Only trouble is I haven't got all the bits from the filter top etc so it's difficult to work out what should go where. The Haynes manual is slightly helpful but it's taking a while for the mists of uncertainty to clear!!! And then I've got to work out how to do it on my car with new bits!!! Oh joy...
So then I got a bit fed up and as soon as the sun went down the garage became freezing so I legged it home for a cuppa... There's always tommorow.....
No news on the digital camera yet. Hopefully I'll get it back by the end of the week by which time the wheel arches should be on. I'm planning on getting the dash done by this time next week....

27/02/03 Well I've secured the nosecone in place. Lots of filing and measuring required upside down!! Then I riveted the cable from the speedo sensor in place. I've got to get some wires to extend the cable and run it alongside the loom in the drivetunnel... that can be tommorow's job. I set to trying to finally sort out the wheel arches. I rebent the arms and guess what- they still don't fit.... On my list of PITA jobs to be done, the arches are well in the lead, well above making my own dashboard and even designing and building the airbox.... I'm never ever building a car with wheel arches again (unless they're pre-bent!)...... Maybe tommorow will give me new enthusiasm. I know the car will look so nice with them on.... Still no news on the digital camera :(

28/02/03 Well it's the last day of February and the build continues. Unfortunately, when I was building yesterday I managed to get a fleck of iron in my eye (despite wearing safety glasses), so I spent a couple of hours today in Eye Casualty. The fragment removal was quick though it's scratched my cornea a fair bit so I'm on the antibiotic ointment.....
On the positive side of things, I went to my old practice to deliver some work and my digital camera was waiting for me there! The fact that I specifically asked the camera place to deliver it to my home address is incidental! At least now I can get some updated pictures....
I'm holding off the arches for a bit- the next job is the dashboard! Hopefully, I'll get a couple of hours in later today. My first job is to cut the dash to shape. I'm going to take a little time this time. Step by step, softly softly etc. Hopefully that way dashboard #5 will be the last.....

02/03/03 Yet another month starts..... Well I had a very nice weekend away doing lots of fun stuff but no building..... I've got a huge list of tasks for the next few days though... should be busy...
My hopes of attaching my GPS module to my personal desktop assistant (Palm Pilot to you and me) seemed to have taken a set-back. A very informative website seemed to suggest that the serial port on the Visor Handspring isn't fully implemented. In fact this is cobblers. I've checked the Handspring technical datasheets and the serial port is fully specd but uses TTL levels rather than RS-232 specification voltage levels. Now normally this means a MAX232 chip. However, the GPS unit also uses TTL so it's a straight connection. I'll still need a MAX232 for connecting the GPS unit to laptops.... All I need to do know is get a serial cable which is surprisingly difficult as everyone has gone over to USB hotsynching and springboard modules... Still, I've found the pin-out of the connecter and if I get a USB hotsynch cable I can swap wires over (assuming I can get in it) to wire it to the serial connectors.... In theory!!! Big day in the garage tommorow with some new pictures too....

03/03/03 Spooky date! Anyway... In the garage I did some work on the dashboard. It's all cut out and awaiting final adjustments. Then I can cut out all the instrument holes and cover it. But that's for tommorow... Trouble with doing the dashboard is I constantly need to refer to the scuttle shape, which of course means I need to be in the garage.... So no jigsaw or dremel to work with! Oh well, keeps me warm in the cold weather! Does make everything take so long though....

The replacement MP3 player arrived at last. I think I know why the parcels keep on going missing. The posty can't fit them through the letter box so sticks them in the porch. Trouble is we've had people round here going through the bins for bank details (my flatmate found them at it) so parcels in porches are easy pickings....

04/03/03 Did lots of work on the dashboard... it's all the right shape now and I've cut out all the holes. It appears that although solvent free contact adhesive doesn't eat foam, it doesn't stick to it particularly either! B+Q is now closed so I've got to go TM for some spray adhesive. I've got to go anyway for some poxy resin to glue the retaining countersunk bolts in (the heads of which I've filed into rectangles so they are secured better).
Cutting out the holes with the adjustable hole cutter was exciting. As soon as it's cut the hole there's nothing to keep it spinning in a circle so it tends to fly around a bit. There was sadly some damage to the actual dash when this happened but nothing that isn't fixable. I think I need to get a pillar drill if I'm going to do anymore :)
The blooming grill has fallen off yet again. I'm quite surprised the epoxy fractured like it did- I don't remember hitting it or anything... Oh well. I've got to take the nosecone off in a few weeks anyway to finish the radiator hoses. When I do I'll glass a MDF mount into the nose and clamp the grill onto that.... Or I might just stick the grill on with Sikaflex like everyone says I should!!!
Tommorow I have the fun jobs of finishing of the dash and working out the electrics. The diagram for the loom sure won't get a Crystal Mark!! Also I'm using donor stalks rather than dashboard switches so I've got to work that out as well. I got it worked out in my head a few months back but since then the mists have descended and it doesn't make any sense to me now- certainly not enough to commit solder to wire......

05/03/03 Well I spent the day working on the dashboard. I've decided against the deeply padded look. Quite handy really because the foam's a faff to work with. I've epoxied in the securing bolts and once they're secure I'll set to covering it in the vinyl.
I've spent a fair while trying to decode the wiring loom. The Sierra stalk bit is easy. The Loco loom is less clear. One thing I've found is that only the full beam headlight is switched by a relay. The side and main beams are done by the switches themselves. Not a problem with toggle switches but I'm using the stalk switches which would likely be overloaded. At best they'ld arc alot and break after a few months or years. So I've got to hack the ST loom to add another relay....
The hazard / indicator circuit is less obvious. Still trying to get my mind round that one. Once I think I know how it works I'll make some hypotheses to test in the garage tommorow. I made some for the headlight circuit and they proved okay so this system appears to work.... Now where can I get another relay mount from....
In fact I went back after writing all that. The sidelamps and instrument lighting circuit is also not on a relay. I was initially okay with this but the more I think about it the more I worry... Okay so stalks aren't expensive but then adding another relay costs a few quid and takes 10 minutes max... so I'm going to do that.

06/03/03 Well I've got my shopping list for Car Craft at Stoneleigh on Saturday (including lots of relays!). I'm going to get the wing mirrors (hopefully), a new rivetter (the old one finally sucumbed), some rear reflectors, 3 4-pin relays... lots of lovely stuff... I'm sure I'll think of lots of other stuff before I get to the show (hopefully- rather than after I've left!).
I've decided that I'm not keen on the plain vinyl look either- good thing I procrastinated eh? I'm going to get some thinner foam from Woolies at Stoneleigh- better ring them to make sure they're bringing some....

07/03/03 I've strengthened the dashboard as the bottom part was too flexible even when bolted to the scuttle. I did this by adding a nice bit of wood :) .... this also allows me to bolt on sub-dashes and SVA friendly vinyl'd half-dowels. Okay so wood ain't hi-tech but it works.
I've been reading the Sierra wiring diagram again and it appears that the stalk switches actually take alot more current than I thought they would. Certainly running the sidelamps with them shouldn't be a problem so I'm no longer going to use relays there. I'm still going to switch the dipped lamps via a relay (the headlamps are Halogen so pull a fair bit of ampage)
I've worked out the hazard circuit. I was quite surprised to find that the Sierra stalks pass the entire circuit current. At over 150W that's well over 10A. A good thing too really, I was looking at relaying the circuit and it meant adding 4 more relays or completely re-wiring the loom for flasher relays with more contacts.
It gets a bit complicated because the stalks come in two halves, the left hand side has the indicator stalk and hazard switch (and associated terminals) whilst the right hand side has the lighting stalks and windscreen wiper stalk (and associated terminals). Now the terminals on the back of the sides are numbered. Unfortunately, some numbers appear on both the left hand and right hand side terminals!! A bit confusing really.... I'll try and make it clear....
For anyone that's interested... the contacts between the stalks and the loom are as follows:

(s prefix is stalk terminal)
(NB- all stalk terminals are behind the left hand side stalk half)
If you want to make sense of this rather than just doing it I'd recommend getting hold of the Haynes manual for the car the stalks came from and studying the wiring diagrams.

From: To:
sR green/red
sL green/white
s49A s49
s54 green/brown
s30 green/pink

On the Sierra stalks, the hazard warning switch has a bulb inside it. On the Sierra loom this flashes when the hazard warning lights are on. With the connections as above, this no longer happens. As long as there are dashboard indicator lamps then all is well (the SVA manual says the indicator telltales can be used as the hazard telltale).
I did work out a circuit which allowed the lamp to flash too but it requires the addition of a 5-terminal switchover relay. The connections for that are as follows:

(s prefix is stalk terminal, r prefix is relay terminal, N/C is no connection)
(NB- all stalk terminals are behind the left hand side stalk half)

From: To:
sR green/red
sL green/white
s30 blk
s54 N/C
s49 r85
s49a r30
r87 green/pink
r87a green/brown

The black wire will need to be either spliced into a black wire on the loom or it could be stripped and bolted to an earthing point on the chassis.
Adding this relay doesn't do away with the need for the hazard and indicator relays as previously for the Locost loom.

Now to get really complicated.... The headlight wiring. This is complicated the lighting stalk is on the right hand side stalks but the fog light is controlled by pulling back or pushing the indicator stalk (on the left hand side). This means wires have to go from one side to the other......
First job is to pull the terminal plugs out of the 5-terminal relay plug (as supplied with the loom). If they won't come out just chop them near the plug and solder/crimp on some new spade plugs.
We replace the 5-terminal with 2 4-terminal relays.
(r= relay terminal, Rs= right stalk terminal, Ls= left stalk terminal)

Relay 1 [low beam]
From: To:
r85 Blue wire
r86 Rs56
r30 Blue wire
r85 Blue/Red wire

Relay 2 [High beam / Fog]
From: To:
r85 Blue wire
r86 Ls56a
r30 Blue wire
r85 Blue/White wire

So that's the relays sorted... next comes all the wiring at the stalk end....
Okay... here we go....

From: To:
Rs58 Brown wire + Blue wire
Rs30 Red wire
RsW Black wire
Rs56 Relay1_r86 (as above) and Ls56
Ls15 Black wire
Ls56a Relay2_r86 (as above)

Proper job! The usual disclaimers applies...... I did find the following link on the Robin Hood loverz website and it looked handy to begin with for the wipers. After much testing however, it looks like the ST and the RH loom are different so it's no use whatsoever. In fact, if anything it just complicates things.... Hohum...
I've done more work on the dashboard in the garage. It fits very nicely and the bolt fixation works just fine. Unfortunately the whole scuttle is still rather flexible so the dashboard can be pushed backwards a few mm- the scuttle bends upwards in the middle. I don't think that making the dash anymore solid is going to change this- the actual dash bends very minimally. I think the answer will be to put a small brace from the firewall to the dash. I'll make a little ali bracket from some right angle ali. Should stiffen the whole thing nicely.....

12/03/03 Well I'm back from a very long weekend down in London. I went down via the Stafford kit car show where I picked up loads of bits for the build. I got a new rivetter (the old one finally died), a tap/die kit, some relays, some rear reflectors, some connectors for the side indicator repeators, wing mirrors and (rather unexpectidly) a windscreen wiper kit.... Oh, and some thinner foam, some more P-clips and some SVA friendly bolt head covers.... Whilst I was down in London I did my homework- making the dashboard. It's all ready to install now, though I'm going to make the entire loom attach and dettach via a multi-way connector so I'm going to do that before putting the dash in place.... It looks pretty good though- there should be a photo once it is in place....
Tommorow I'm doing huge amount of work on the car. I'm charging up the battery well tonight because I'm going to be wielding the soldering iron in anger tommorow....

14/03/03 Work continues apace. I'm still working on the electrics and p-clipping the loom into place. Whilst I was working on the p-clipping I noticed that I'd actually managed to mix up the wires going to the rear fog light and number place illuminator. Luckily I realised before I p-clipped the loom in place so it was just a matter of wielding the soldering iron. Tommorow I hope to get the work on the stalks finished. I did make a few modifications to the wiring as I went along- I've changed the above wiring tables to suit.

16/03/03 I'm still working on the electrics.... I've soldered new wires onto the stalk terminals and heat-shrinked some tubing onto them to make them look tidier. Now I've got the fun job of wiring it all up. This is where good lighting and a mains soldering iron would be useful..... Hohum....
Well I think it's done. The headlights work just fine. Initially I was rather confused as to why the rear running lights and number plate light wouldn't work. All the other wires were okay but the red wire seemed to have a continuity problem! After a little headscratching I worked out what the problem is- there are three possible places on the loom to connect the number plate light. All have two red wires (with bullet connectors) going into the double barrel type connector. I'd chopped the unwanted ones off and vinyl taped them to the loom. Of course in doing this I'd disrupted the circuit. Doh!
The hazard lights work okay but the flasher relay doesn't seem to want to work properly. I'm hoping that this is because I killed it with my early tests where there was (unknown to me) an indicator wire shorting to earth. Certainly the flasher relay isn't behaiving as I'd expect it to. Either this means that they don't (bad news- the wiring is wrong) or they do but the one I've got it now defunct. I've done the stalk wiring for the windscreen motor to so that's just plug and play when I decide to add it.
I've found that I routed the back end of the loom incorrectly. This means that the left indicator wire is on the right hand side of the vehicle and vice versa! Double doh... The thought of taking up the loom and re-routing it is too much. As everything else is symmetrical I see a couple of extension wires appearing. Okay, a bit of a bodge but hey.....
Tommorow therefore, I've just got to buy a new flasher relay, do a few tests to check it works as I think it does and install it. Hopefully then all will be well. I'll also take along the wiper motor to check that it's all connected up okay. Then I can work out what connector I'm using to connect the dash to the loom with. I was going to use some multi-way connectors that Maplins used to do but they seem to be taking anything useful out of the catalogue......

17/03/03 Well it turns out the flasher relay wasn't working properly because I wasn't pulling enough current to get it flashing. Once I added the side repeaters it worked just fine. Infact, the first relay I had worked alot better than the replacement relay I bought from the local auto shop (cost me a whopping 5.50 and all!!). Oh well.

20/03/03 Well I've sorted out the wiper electrics and I think I've sorted out how to do the wheel arches and the airbox. I've yet to do them but it's a start..... I worked out why the wiper electrics were causing a short. It's amazing what these car batteries will stand and still work! Good thing too really.....
So the looms mostly done. Just waiting for my connectors to arrive so I can do the dashboard bit. I started trimming the footwells as well. Better now than when the dash is in place.
The motor I bought turns out to be a 2-speed mini windscreen motor without an intermitent setting but with a park function. I finally worked out the connections (see below). This gives normal and fast settings with park. To add the intermitent function I'm making up a little circuit with a 556 IC and a relay. Should cost all of one pound fifty (though the box will probably cost the same again!). Might add that after SVA so that it's not quite so obvious what my intention is.....
The airbox design is quite smooth if I say so myself. Unfortunately it either requires me to learn ali brazing or find someone locally to do ali/ali TIG welding. I'm toying with the idea of brazing though in reality I'll probably just find someone to TIG it up for me. Tommorow I'm going to properly draw out the design- at the moment its purely in synapse form..... I'll need my vice in my flat for the actual build... and I've just moved it back into the garage... will have to wait until after I've finished bending the wheel arch supports....

Just in case anyone wants it, here's the stalk/loom connections for the windscreen wiper / washer. Please note that this is for a Stuart Taylor loom, a Sierra stalk and a mini washer motor (which has 75664J 14W 12v 50 02) stamped on the back. Others may be different!!!

At the washer end the connections are:

Pin Number Loom colour Stalk terminal
1 Black n/a
2 Brown/Green Rs53B
3 Blue/Green Rs53
4 Red/Green RsB1
5 Green n/a

The remaining connections at the stalk end are....

From: To:
Rs53C Green/Black wire (provides washer pump supply)
Rs54 Green wire

The intermitent wiper function works as follows. A wire is taken off the junction of RsB1 and the Red/Green loom wire- this goes to the N/C terminal of a relay. The common goes to RsB2. The N/O contact is connected to 12V. Rs53-2 (only on when intermitent is selected) is used to power a 556 (dual 555 astable/monostable). The first 555 is used in variable astable mode (the wiper speed is therefore adjustable). The second 555 is used as a monostable to provide a pulse to the relay. This switches the motor from park to normal speed. This pulse needs to be long enough to get past the park position. This is probably in the region of 1/4 second. When the design is finished I'll publish it here. I recognise the fact that there are lots of similar designs out there already!

22/03/03 God I hate wheel arches!!! I think I've finally got it right. Plan C turned out to be worse than plan B. It turns out that plan A was actually pretty damn good, it just needed some lateral adjustment. So I know I've said this before but I think I've finally sorted it. The airbox thing is definately sorted. I've CAD designed most of it. Can't wait for my Techno Weld ali brazing rods to arrive. I've got a nice Propane burner from B+Q. Should be hot enough. If it's not, there's a different gas cylinder which burns even hotter which I could get. The techno weld online manual seems to suggest the plain propane should be enough, even for the big welds... Hehehe... I've also bought an angle grinder so I can to work on the airbox- it needs some serious surgery. Should take about an hour with the grinder and then a couple of hours to finish and dress it..... Got to find myself some clay somewhere to hold the bits whilst welding (cool idea for little parts eh?)... If only I was doing this down in London..... garden clay :)

23/03/03 Well of course it always takes longer than thought.... This was partially due to my method. I had to skim 1cm off the top of the airbox, remove the central divide and cut out one of the ends walls. Removing the wall was easy with my jigsaw (metal blade). The central divide and skim job however, were a bit messy. Now an engineer would probably use a mill. A rich man would take the piece to an engineer. A sensible man would use the jigsaw to chop off the top of the box and drill out the central divide followed by some hand filing. Unfortunately, I decide to do it all with my nice new angle grinder. It was certainly quick- the pot metal is very soft. It was rather noisy though and my kitchen (oh yes!) now has a super fine covering of aliminium everywhere. I was tempted to leave it as I know I'm doing some more ali work later in the week.... but I gave in and thoroughly cleaned the kitchen. I think I'll do the next ali work outside.....

27/03/03 Well I've sent off for the SVA application form... just waiting for it to arrive so I can apply for 3-4 weeks time. Still no ETA on the seats :( but I have been able to get hold of Premier Wiring to order the stuff to make up the dash wiring harness. The wheel arches are bent into shape, red oxide primered and given a couple of top coats. I gave up on Hammerite and have used Plastikote Super Spray Paint (Satin Black) from B+Q. I must say that combination has resulted in the best powder-coat-esque appearance I've seen. So I'm chuffed with that- we'll see how durable it is....
I went to the scrappy today and got my handbrake and brake fluid resevoir sensors off some old and rather denuded Ford Escorts (actually the resevoirs I got off some Omegas but they're basically Escorts). I think I've worked out how I'm going to mount the handbrake. The exact position is partially dependant upon the final seat position.... Hohum...
I'm still waiting for the Techno Weld rods to arrive so now further progress on the airbox. The car generally, however, is gradually coming together though and there are still jobs that I can do whilst I wait for the bits and pieces to arrive. I'm sure there will still be a last minute rush though!!!

01/04/03 The build continues... Still waiting for the Techno Weld bits, and the seat, and the bits from Premier Wiring, and the bits from Demon Tweeks.... In the meantime I've designed an intermitent windscreen wiper controller. I've made up my first PCB with press'n'peel (very good it is too) and I'm just about to shoot off to Maplins to get the bits to make it....

02/04/03 Well I'm still waiting for the bits and pieces... I sure hope the posty ghost hasn't appeared again!!
I tried some ali repair rods from B+Q but they were rubbish. They melted about 20deg before the ali itself melted.... Jobs a bad'un.... I've designed a rivetted version. Not as sexy but if the Techno Weld rods are anything similar it's going to be near impossible to do it how I was planning... Oh well, the airflow will be the same just less pimping value....
I've also been looking at various carb trumpets to see if I can mod some to use in the airbox. The airflow will be better than if I cut down the rubber units supplied on the bike.

09/04/03 Whilst waiting for my Techno Weld rods to arrive I've been experimenting with epoxy bonds on aliminium. I cut some matchstick sized strips of 3mm ali sheet and epoxy glued them (Araldite standard) onto some ali sheet so that half the stick was over the edge of the sheet. After 24 hours curing (room temp) I clamped the sheet in the workbench so that it was lying horizontally with the "matchsticks" lying on the underside. I attached some string to the stick at the sheet edge and hung empty water bottles off the other end. I then gradually filled them with water until the epoxy bond broke. I had two sticks- one I simply epoxied in place, the other I filed the sheet and stick surfaces first.
The amount of sheet flexion was quite dramatic as the water bottles filled up. The first (control) stick dehised at a quite impressive 6.2kg. The filed stick debonded at 9.24kg. This was all from a contact area of 28.5mmSq per stick..... If the Techno Weld stuff arrives in time I'm going to test that too... Otherwise I might be epoxying the airbox up.....
The first wiper design got scratched. I realised that the addition of some diodes could render the second 555 part of the 556 redundant (the diodes in the R/C pairing allow a duty cycle of <50%). In addition, the design had to be modified- it was basically working as planned- however, when first switched on it did the delay first before the first wipe. Not so handy. The attempted modification required off-copper soldering and wire/leg solder joints. Not exactly long term. In the end I cut my losses and made up a 555 PCB. All looks good so far....
I've ordered some super cool full radius 1 1/2" SU trumpets. They unfortunately need to be cut down and some mounting clamp plates attached to them (which I've CAD designed). Once that's done, however, I'm going to have super smooth airflow from the filter to the carbs. In addition I've worked out and designed the airbox itself. Including the connecting chamber to the Honda airbox part and the capacity of that bit itself, the total capacity from filter to carb is going to be well in excess of 11 litres.... Proper job!! Somehow it doesn't seem that big but I've measured it and calculated it three times. Probably to do with the old thing that if you increase all the dimensions by 25% you double the capacity....
I've installed the wheel arch supports and just need to some final adjustments and fitting to the wheel arches themselves. My seat should be arriving the end of this week and hopefully the parcel from Premier Wiring should arrive soon (it wasn't lost in the post- the dispatch from the company was delayed).... So I should get the dash and seat in place by beginning of next week....

10/04/03 Well I've finally finished the electronics. I had to go to Maplins twice today as well. The first time was for some resistors and bits. Unfortunately I had the relay surge protection diode back to front so the relay coil energising supply was going straight to neutral via the diode. Doh! So the 555 got very hot and stopped working. So I had to go again for some 555s (bought a couple extra too "just in case"). But in fact everything worked as planned, so I'm off to the garage in a bit to install it.

14/04/03 Well in the end I gave up on techno-welding the airbox. I used it to good effect in making up an ali handbrake mount but the airbox didn't have any easy jigging or temporary rivetting points and it's easier to use epoxy with some superglue spot welds rather than trying to hold two bits of metal together at 350degC. In addition, if the piece involves multiple techno-welds there is a tendancy for the first ones to melt when you make the second. For the handbrake mount, however, where there are ample temporary rivet points it's great stuff
I repeated the above experiments but with techno welded matchstick size bits of ali. I gave up at 20kg as I was getting worried about the forces being unleashed when the bond finally gave. Certainly the bond was impressively strong and I'm sure the handbrake mount should hold together well...
I spent a fair while doing the dashboard loom. I'm using some multiway connectors at the back of the dash so the whole things is easy to take off and put back on again. It does mean a bit of a solder session though.... I've done the dash side, now just need to repeat the job on the car side. I could have just crimped all the terminals but I like to solder them aswell for extra insurance. I also wanted to label all the terminals- better now than trying to reverse engineer the connections some time in the future... I couldn't resist firing up the instrument illumination just to see what it will look like :).... Oh well, time to sleep, big day TM... did consider an all-night build session but decided against it....

22/04/03 Well in the end, the big day wasn't that big. My battery died pretty quickly. I managed to do one out of the three scuttle mounted harnesses. This has got all the dashboard lights and switches working. I've still got to do the instument signal harness and the high power harness. I need to redo the dashboard bit of the high power harness (only 3 wires) as I used standard hook-up wire (1A rating) instead of the high power (30A) stuff. I think I'd let out the magic smoke if I used the dash as it is.... Stupid error I know.... so busy working out what goes to where I didn't work out what current was being passed...
I've got the date for the SVA.... 08/05/03... A bit close to the Ireland trip so I better make sure it passes first time... They included an ammendment sheet with the test date confirmation explaining that temporary fixings (or anything deemed to be) are no longer acceptable. They specificially mention pipe lagging and insulating tape...

30/04/03 Well its the end of April. SVA is rapidly approaching and although the car is coming together I'm a little bit wary about getting it done in time. I spent most of today working on the airbox. I think it needs another half day on it TM and then it should be finished... (the airbox that is!!)... I'll post a picture of the finished shiny article. I had to add some bracing as I was worried about the caterlevered weight from the top epoxy bond. A bit of ali bracket and some T-beam off the unused rear engine mount points stiffened the whole thing up nicely...

22/05/03 Well I have been busy!! SVA has come and gone and Lynch the Leprecauhn is now complete. I've yet to fully write up the SVA (which I failed...) but here's a few pictures from LTL...

So what did the car fail the SVA on?

  • Interior projections
  • Exterior projections
  • Lighting
  • Emissions
  • Brake systems
  • Seats
  • Mirrors
  • Vehicle construction
  • Speedometer

    Not much then ;)
    Luckily most of the things are quick to remedy......

    26/05/03 Well I've been busy in the garage again... There's a nice long list of jobs to do on the wall now. It's quite long! I've decided that I'm going to build only if there's nothing better doing or if the weather's rubbish. As much as I want to get the car finished for summer, I don't want to spend the whole summer in the garage and then still only get it done in time for the rain!!! Also I quite fancy going travelling in my six months off travelling!!! The speedo came off today so I can try and get that working. I also had a bit of a think about how I can stiffen up the headlights. Unfortunately my battery charger has died so until I get a new one there's no building after dark and I'm unable to check if the battery in the car is just really flat or not accepting a charge.... I left the car running today for half an hour and although the multimeter said it was getting a 3A charge, it didn't seem to want to do anything when I stopped it and immediately tried starting it again. I've found that I attached my accumulator excitor wire to a sub-optimal place. This wire takes 3A and I've used an unswitched positive feed. The battery isolator still cuts that but it does mean you have to use the isolator to avoid the battery going flat. The wire is hidden under the airbox but I've got to take that to local TIG man to get him to weld it up so I can get to it then. I was going to go for stronger epoxy but I fear it will giveway at some point so I'm going for the belts-and-braces approach.
    The headlight stiffening works by running a plate back from the headlight / raiser interface to the rear of the top wishbone mounting bolt. I'm looking at making it from 2mm steel plate and some steel tube. I was going to make the whole thing out of 3mm steel but its unecessary weight and has too many sharp edges!! I might have to make up a jig for the MIGing....

    07/06/03 Well I've had a good fiddle and the speedo definately doesn't work. I'm going to get the speedo dial replaced. When I get the new one I'm going to test it at home before installing it in the car. I may try running the pickup off the diff bolts again. However, I suspect that the lobro bolts aren't big enough / ferrous as when I was testing in the car I put an oscilloscope across the sensor terminals and got a poor signal. I wonder whether the propshaft / diff bolts would give a better reading. There's even the nice unused handbrake chassis member to hang a mount off. The handbrake mount BTW is unused because I've gone for an arrangement where the handbrake is attached to the left hand side of the drivetunnel rather than sitting on top of it.
    I've had an idea about the airbox. I don't think I can TIG it (there's a whole load of silicon gunk on the inside of the box- it will be difficult to remove without totally taking it apart....). The bond always gave way because the epoxy came unstuck from the aliminium. The plan is to properly abrade the surface, thoroughly degrease it, then drill some holes from underneath and put rivets through. They don't actually go into anything, but gives the epoxy something to hold onto.. There's not enough space for a L-piece otherwise I'd do that. Well, not from ali angle, the epoxy will act as a L-piece.....

    10/06/03 Well... I'm off to Thailand for a month on vacation. The car can wait I've decided! I have been looking at the airbox and even with the above modifications I think there is an intrinsic flaw. At the end of the day I want something I have total confidence in. It's no good getting an extra 5Bhp off a super smooth airbox if I'm afraid to use that extra power in case the airbox breaks. I think I'm going to make up a simple adaptor for some flexible hosing and have a firewall mounted air filter. Even if the power is slightly down, better to have a car on the roads then a very powerful car stuck in the garage....
    I've run into a few problems with the tin top. All in all, I think the Locost is going to lie stagnant for a little while. The first job I want to get sorted is sorting out the battery problems. At least then it will run under its own power rather than requiring a jump start all the time... I'm sending back the speedo to Rally Design. Hopefully, they'll send a new one quickly so I can cross that off the list too....
    The headlight mount strengthening is going to require a bit of careful jig making and welding. Once done though, it should that particular problem once and for all....

    04/08/03 Well tempus has well and truly fugited... I've designed all the bits I need to make to get the car through SVA and all that is left is to make them. The 57mm throat air filter is going to be attached to the firewall and a Honda airbox => 57mm tubing adaptor made from Carbon Fibre. The airbox is the priority. The seatbelt mount adaptor and headlight wobble eliminator aren't needed for the MOT and that's the first job (I'm going to get them to look at the hydrocarbon problem and take the car to the garage the long way to try and sort out the brakes....). The plan is to make up some formers from ply, then cut the shape out of polystyrene foam and form the CF on top of that. The PU foam is then gouged out and petrol used to dissolve any remaining foam, hopefully leaving a perfectly formed, smooth(ish) CF funnel....
    The target for finishing the car has slipped yet further... I've got until the 08/11/03 for a SVA retest at the cheap rate.... Hopefully I'll have it finished by then!!!!

    28/08/03 Well the build continues.... I was off-line for a while due to a pants spam blockers which killed my firewall (and hence my 'net connection). I've done the seatbelt mount adaptors and I've installed a 12v fag lighter socket and ignition light to the car. Unfortunately the ignition light confirms that the battery isn't being charged.... I've tried checking all the wiring but it seems okay... I've replaced the regulator/rectifier with a new unit but no joy... So now I'm debugging the alternator. Only trouble is, everything so far looks okay... Doesn't help things that to remove the alternator you have to empty the engine and gain access via the sump.....

    29/08/03 Well my new SVA friendly very stalk mirrors have arrived. They're off a Honda cub 70 and they're brilliant! They're cheap (7 quid per pair- they are so cheap I thought that 7 quid was for one- so I've accidentally got 4!!!!) and the mirror is convex and the stalks are long and angled so the mirrors will show above the wheel arches.... Proper job!!!

    30/08/03 Well I've put the new mirrors on and I've sorted out the seatbelt raisers. The raisers need longer bolts but otherwise they're all good... I've found out why the charge circuit wasn't working. I looked at the alternator output with my oscilloscope and I was getting a nice waveform off it. I rechecked all the wires and all was okay. I ran the engine with a voltmeter across the battery and it remained at 12ish volts. When I shorted out the ignition light, it immediately rose to 14volts. So I'm working on the principle that the resistance of the ignition light (a non Honda part) is too great, and preventing the rotor from being excited.... I'm going to replace it with a potentiometer to find out what is the min resistance at which it will charge and then get a lamp of that resistance. It might turn out to be quite a high current one....

    10/09/03 Well I've finally got the pictures from the SVA test... and doesn't the car look sweet... Can't wait to get it finished... Working on the airbox at the moment..... The mixture definately needs some work on it- I ran the engine up today and was getting 20cm flames out of one of the exhausts!!!

    19/01/04 Well..... work is as slow as ever.... Still loads of work to do.... But- it's getting warmer and my desire to get the car finished for nice weather is increasing...... I've worked out how to do everything except for the headlamp support brackets which need complicated 3d jigging that I'm still trying to get my head round... Otherwise it's just getting motivation together to go to the garage when it's cold, dark and damp in there......

    10/10/05 Well doesn't time fly!!! The car has been slowly worked on since the last update. The airbox was made up from carbon fibre (sprayed silver to match the cut down Honda pot metal part). My bro and I drew the funky Honda airbox outlet on one end the some polystyrene and a circle on the other. Then I carved the rough shape of the airbox, sanded it smooth, covered it in Carbon Fibre and let it set. Then my bro carved out the polystyrene, disolved out any remnants with petrol and voila. I then glass fibred the mounting place on with chopped strand mat and sprayed it silver. The air filter is bolted through it's rubber top to the bulkhead- the rubber top allows movement, preventing vibrations travelling up to the airbox and cracking it.... .....

    ....and the wobbly headlights were sorted by making support brackets. I got round the complicated 3d jigging by buying a Mig welder and auto mask off Ebay and welding in situ... I got some tabbed washers laser cut from mild steel- one goes under the headlight unit, the other behind the furthest back front top suspension bolt. I cut some 8mm steel tube between them and with a little help from my bro welded the tube in place. Then a whole load of grinding and tidying later, I sprayed it all black and job's a good'un. I also sprayed the headlight raisers black after priming them with acid etch spray from Halfords....

    It's back.......................

    The carbs still need adjusting but I think I can do that at MOT time at the same time that I adjust the headlights..... Hopefully it will just be a simple case of adjusting the idle screws.

    The lack of brakes I traced down to a HUGE amount of air in the rear brakes- I can't actually remember if I bled them in the rush to SVA....... The rear master cylinder was so soft that even with the bias bar fully adjusted towards the front MC, applying pressure on the brake pedal preferentially depressed the soft rear brake rather than working on the front brake... Hence total lack of brakes. After a quick Easibleed @ 20Psi the pedal was much stiffer.

    The interior projections were sorted by padding the tunnel top and covering in leatherette, hand sewing 8m of piping using the same leatherette (took bloody ages!) and then clamping the piping between the tunnel top and the tunnel top top(!)
    Next job is to sort out the speedo- in the end I've used the reed relay from the bike speedo on one of the front wheels via a potential divider to give 2.5v into the speedometer. Initially I wasn't getting enough signal pulses per revolution even with the speedo on maximum sensitivity. However, I hope to solve this by glueing more than one magnet onto the wheel.... Next speedo I use will be magnet based not an induction system....

    For SVA purposes you need low brake fluid level sensors. I've got Girling master cylinders with built in reservoirs. The caps for these do not have sensors built in. However, luckily, Ford sensors fit. I got a couple off a scrappy but couldn't get them to work- I took them apart and found the internal contacts were all rusted up.... Trying to get new ones was not straightforward because the Ford parts dealers wanted to know what car it was for (? VIN number!!). In the end I blagged some saying it was for a 1600i Orion (that was what I knicked one of the ones from the scrappy off so I knew they fitted). For the record the Ford part number is 6174635 (or at least it is through www.edwardsford.co.uk!!!)...

    Aaaaaaaaaaaaahh. The speedo saga goes on. Despite rigging up an eight magnet system (luckily I had the sense to check to see if it worked before gluing all the magnets on) the bloody thing still doesn't work. It obviously needs more than 8 signals per wheel revolution as even at double voltage and the sensitivity wound up fully I was only reading 22mph @ 49Hz which should have been 30mph.
    So plan D is sending the speedo back. If it still doesn't work I'm scrapping the speedo and tacho and going for some reasonably similar Greengauges ones (even though it's a rather hefty hit on the wallet).

    I'm also foolishly planning ahead for fitting the supercharger. A. Graham Bell's book "Forced Induction Performance Tuning" is quite detailed regarding various setups. It even says what size throttle body to go for on various power engines. Only trouble is the table doesn't go down as far as 160Bhp (my target output). However, a bit of number crunching shows that in essence, for supercharged engines, it's basically between 9.5-10mm square of butterfly area for each Bhp. Which nicely equates to a throttle body of 45mm... Which happens to be the size of the 1.4L Puma... Ebay here we come....

    08/02/06 Update! Bought the throttle body of a Rover25- it's a 48mm body so should be good for slightly more than 160Bhp. The other advantage is that the K-series engine is used in lots of kits so ECU units like Emerald, Omex etc will be designed to interface with it. Only downside is that it's fitted with a restrictor to prevent the butterfly from opening fully.... but we'll soon remove that!
    On the speedometer point of view, I've found that the Racetech / AST speedometer is rather pants (though I must say Merlin Motorsport were brilliant for getting it checked for no cost despite the unit being more than a year old). Although the sensitivity of the speedometer can be adjusted, the odometer requires a fixed ratio- which equates to 883Hz @ 100mph. This means that the speedo and odometer are totally seperate. It also means (unfortunately) that running the speedo sensor off the Lobro joints doesn't work because the speedo wouldn't get enough trigger pulses.
    In the end I designed some trigger wheels on Cad which are clamped in place with the Lobro bolts. I'm getting these laser cut from 2mm mild steel and I made a sensor carrier which bolts to the differential- this was good practice on the welding and after adding some braces is very strong. Now I'm just waiting for the trigger wheel to arrive so I can test it.
    The only disadvantage of the new setup is that if I ever change the wheel size or tyre type I'll have to get a new trigger wheel made or accept an inaccurate speedometer.

    I've also ordered the second seat from Randall Motorsport, who are once again importing it for me. And their price is amazingly good- I looked at buying it direct from Kirkey and importing it with DHL etc, and it worked out very expensive!!

    01/03/06 Well the laser CNC trigger wheels arrived from Laser Engineering Ltd along with a whole load of goodies from Namrick. The trigger wheels were promptly degreased, wire-wooled and sprayed up. Here's them in their naked state. I've also sprayed up the speedometer sensor mount which I should have a picture of soon....

    07/03/06 Well, as promised here it is! All sprayed. Unfortunately it's difficult to get a view from a single vantage point of the trigger wheel in situ, the sensor mount and the sensor bracket all at the same time.... The gold threaded bit is the sensor, which bolts onto a sensor carrier which is welded onto the bottom of the black bar running vertically in the picture- this bolts onto the differential carrier and a spare mounting bolt on the differential unit. The trigger wheel bolts onto the back of the Lobro differential joint.... Clever stuff...
    I jacked the back of the car up on axle stands, fired her up and watch as the speedo lifted to 70mph. Which was worrying because I was in first.... or so I thought. After not being able to find neutral and worringly finding that shifting into second made the speedometer read lower, I realised that I had my gear shifting back to front- hence going from 5th to 4th on the shift and not suprisingly being unable to find neutral between them!! Doh! Worked just fine when I got my brain in gear!! I suppose its not suprising that I had some clonking noises coming from the diff on lifting up the clutch. 0-70mph in about 0.2 seconds!

    06/10/06 SVA test number 2.... PASSED! Edmonton SVA did me proud. Now I just need to get in contact with DVLA and get some plates made up. Dead chuffed :)

    22/10/6 Local DVLA are being annoying and insisting on a Vehicle Inspection... Unfortunately the DVLA inspector is away for 2 weeks on holiday so it looks like its going to be at least that long before I'm on the road....

    02/11/06 Had the vehicle inspection today. Waste of space. Bloke confirmed my chassis number was what I'd said it was, and what was already showing on the MAC (so it had obviously been checked already)... I confirmed that all the bits were from different vehicles and I hadn't got any V5s or receipts / invoices. Upon which he pronounced that I'd get an age related plate based upon the date on the chassis plate (2003). Which is rather worrying because I won't have a chance in hell of getting through the MOT if I'm given that plate. It's also worrying because its a ridiculous idea- after all I made that chassis plate (and the date) up. If I'd known I would have put 1990!!! Still, he also thought that all chassis numbers had to have 17 digits in them, and wondered if it would be registered as PLV or still as a motorbike (oh dear!!).... Annoyingly, I'm now having to wait for the latest pronouncement from the DVLA. If I don't get my number plate within three weeks Adrian Flux are going to cancel my insurance so the DVLA have about two weeks before I start getting really annoyed with them. Why don't they just give me the Q plate the car is obviously going to get, take my money for the tax and be done with it.... Grrrrrrrrr.... :(

    On the other hand, this all gives me time to put in the second seat, sort out the handbrake, install the quick release harnesses etc etc.... Unfortunately, I need a whole load of washers, bolts, steel rod etc and B+Q are doing there usual trick of not getting any bits in until all the other parts in the store have been sold. So they've got lots of M4 washers but no M6, M8, M10.... You would have thought that they'd notice that they're always selling out of these washers and order more of them.... Hohum....

    15/11/06 Just went down to Caterham spare parts to get a new screen to replace the old cracked screen. Finally looks like my complaints have got through to the DVLA who have decided to pull their finger out of their bottoms... Looks like a Q plate, 148 for tax and registration fee (like I said all along)...

    21/11/06 Finally for my registration number so plates, tax disc holder and its time to hit the road!! Pictures coming up soon....

    29/11/06 Well the car is on the road... I still need to sort out the tracking, and the speedo sensor keeps on coming loose from the mount, resulting in a loss of speedo function. Nothing a big spanner can't sort out :) I've known all along that the ST1100 alternator was pretty poor pre-96 (only 28A max). When idling, the car uses more energy than it makes (and that's without lights, fan etc etc). I've checked over the alternator and regulator and they're both fine.... Rev the engine and it starts charging. I'll just have to not sit with the engine idling of too long!!!

    Later......

    Questions?? E-mail me @ btbromilow@lineone.net