Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Progress towards SVA......

Well, the paperwork has gone off to be checked by Chris at MNR, we should have that back in a few days to send off to VOSA and DVLA to (hopefully) get the SVA booked for around the end of April. What else have we been up to? Well.....

Last week I'd removed the old bearings from the rear hubs, but couldn't get the outer races out - they're in there quite tight and we don't have a suitable range of punches or drifts to remove them, so they got dropped off at Ron's, who took them into work. He also had the wheel studs pressed into the front hubs, so now we've got all the necessary bits to put Ruby on her wheels.....

We've also been trimming - Claire has trimmed the other seat holes, so they're ready to go, she trimmed the edges of the back panel, and the bit of the body lip which is inside the cabin area.. We also received the new throttle and clutch cables - the throttle cable fits great around the engine bay, and we've gently cable-tied it in strategic places to keep it out of the spring coils, etc. We just need to drill the hole through the pedal, mount the pedal in its pivot, and that bit's done....

We also rough-fitted the clutch cable (we'd lost one of the half-nuts for the adjuster, so I went and got one the other lunchtime), and that now fits over the clutch fork - thanks SpeedyCables!

Next, we fitted the headlamp bar. We wanted to get all of the bodywork cutting out of the way, and the nose needs cutting to come up over the bar, so we thought this would be a good idea.... The bar itself was easy enough - measure up, drill a couple of holes, bolt through it into a rivnut... Did I mention my measuring can be rubbish? I didn't take into account the relative angles of the bodywork and the bar, so had to slot the holes in the bar slightly to make it fit, but it clamps down nice and tight...

With the bar fitted, we figured out where we needed to notch the nose. It took quite a few goes to get enough off to get the nose over the bar (I never want to take too much off at once), and we finally got it fitted nicely over the top. We had to use one of the rivnuts each side of the car which were previously used for the nose, for the bar, so once we'd bolted the nose up, it could move on its mounts - not good! So, we took it off again, drille some holes in the flange on each sie, transferred them to the body, put the nose back on again, tried to bolt them up..... and another problem! Because of the location of the radiator top hose, it was impossible to get our hands in and get a nut and bolt through on the passenger's side (The driver's was fine). So, we mixed up some resin and glued in a bolt from underneath, so that the nose would sit down on it, and we could just put a washer and nut on top.

Fail! The first attempt just wasn't stuck properly (not enough resin on the contact side of the washer), so the next night we mixed up some more, and this time used some glass fibre tissue to hold it in with (we put some big washers and a nut on top to make sure it stayed tight - we tested it tonight, had to modify one part of the nose flange slightly, as this was catching on the headlamp bar, but it now fits!

I also wired the headlamps into the loom - the loom had some nice bullet connectors on, but no matching parts on the headlamps or in the spares bag, so they had to get cut off, and I crimped some new insulated bullets on (I'd thought the cables would go through a grommet in the side of the bodywork), rather than use a multi-pin connector. Another fail! The crimps (or my crimpers) are rubbish, so they didn't stay insulated after the first attempt at putting them together and taking them apart again.. Then Claire twigged that we could route the cable through the same hole as the headlamp bar, so off came all the bullets and on went some multi-pin things we got from Car Builder Solutions (which are also much easier to crimp and heatshrink). Doing the multiplugs took me much less time than the bullets, I know which I'll use next time!

We've also found out that we need some spacers for the seat runners, to lift them over the chassis rails on the floor, I've ordered these from MNR and we're just waiting for them - we need the seats in to be able to mount the steering column at the right height, and then to cut the slot in the scuttle, so we can mount the scuttle properly, mount the fuseboxes and the header tank to the scuttle - they're keeping some of the jobs from happening! We want to get the seats in while the cars still up on stands, as it's easier to get underneath it for mounting them. Ron also sourced us some spacers for the lower harness mounts, so we can get those fitted at the same time....

And finally, we've still got the problem with the exhaust - the new spacers arrived from Marc, but it still touches. We're just waiting to see if Marc or Chris have any other ideas before we take the hacksaw to the bodywork. I have sanded down the headers and collector to make them easier to slide on, and done the whole lot up with exhaust putty, so it should all come on and off as one piece now..

And finally finally, Ron's new engine now runs! There was a problem with the wiring for the fuel pump relay, which he's sorted out. It sounds really good, too! Some tidying up to do, then it should be ready for the next trackday...... :)

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

The snowy week off!

Well, we're back at work this week after a week working on the car.... well, trying to, anyway!

First off, we had to source some inlet rubbers to replace the hose we'd been using. A quick post on locostbuilders turned up a set from a great guy called Wyn, who promised to send them on next day for us, and rather than wanting any money, asked that we donate to a cancer charity instead. They arrived Wednesday (because of the snow in Wales they didn't get collected from the post office till Tuesday), and were just what we needed. We found that the clamps that came on them didn't quite lock onto the manifold liked we'd hoped, so we fitted some silicon hose clamps, which worked out great! The throttle bodies are completely solid on the manifold now, and there shouldn't be any air leaking!

While we were waiting for them, we decided to re-fit the body. This took way longer than we expected, as initially we couldn't get it lined up the way it was before on the trial fit. Then we had to add a load of rivnuts underneath the car to bolt the body up to, to keep it nice and tight. I'd also been sanding down the exhaust headers with the dremel, to make them a bit easier to get on the collector (before we had them on about 5mm) - this still needs some work though. We fitted the exhaust up after we'd received the rubbers, with the intention of running the engine, and found that the no. 4 exhaust headder and body were touching....... not good news! Fibreglass doesn't like getting too hot, so we needed to think of something......

Another post on locostbuilders, and another call to Ron, and we figured that we could use spacers on the headers, to move them out from the head, and hopefully clear the body, and / or cut a chunk out of the bodywork and glass in a stainless steel panel behind. So, we found a steel stockholder in Swindon, who cut up some plates for us, got a second set of exhaust gaskets, and went back to try... The steel plate was only 3mm, but once I'd drilled the shapes for the manifold studs and re-fitted the exhaust with them behind, it was a definite improvement, but not enough. Worse, although the no. 4 header wasn't touching, the no. 1 was! Chris at MNR agreed to make up some bigger plates for us, which we're waiting for, but we may need to cut the bodywork away, or ask MNR to bend the pipes. As we're trying to get everything done for the SVA, cutting the body may be the quickest option!

So, what else did we do with our week off? hmmmmmmm...... Oh yeah. Claire trimmed the harness holes in one of the seats (to stop the harnesses being rubbed on the fibreglass), cleaned the old rear hubs (they were soaked in a bucket of vinegar for a couple of days, before being scrubbed with a wire brush, rinsed and then baked for half an hour in the oven) - this was a much better result than we've ever had with the commercial rust removal products, and at 26p a litre, it's much much cheaper too! It did make the garage smell like a chip shop though....

Back to the bodywork, we fitted the nosecone (we had to re-make the ali brackets at the front for this), and it had to be notched to get around the radiator. This is where my sometimes less-than -accurate measuring and marking reared its head, and I took off a bit too much, so it left a visible gap at the back of the nosecone. After scratching our heads for a while, I suggested that we could rescue it by making a bigger cut, and filling the gap with wire mesh (we were going to use this for the front anyway). Not only would it look like we meant to do it, it would let some of the hot air from the rad and oil cooler escape, without going through the engine bay. The photo is of the half-cut holes. On Sunday we did all this glassing in, as well as a strengthening plate for inside the scuttle, which the header tank is going to be mounted to.

We finished clipping in the silicon hoses (which required us to fit the lower steering column), so they can't be rubbed on the chassis or anything moving, fitted the horn (a couple of times!), fitted the new water pump (the old one was still leaking, so we ordered a replacement from Burtons) - the alternator and everything had to come off *again*, made a start neatening up the wiring (shortening cables where necessary, and taping it all together), and fitting the bonnet catches - getting the shut lines right here was difficult, as the rivnuts hadn't gone into the chassis quite where I'd wanted them to - only a mm or 2 out, but that can make all the difference...

There must be some other stuff, but we're struggling to remember what it all is! It was a bit of a frustrating week, with the problems with the exhaust and re-fitting the body, and waiting for deliveries delayed by the snow. It certainly didn't help that it was about -2 in the garage each morning, we were wearing norgies, fleeces, walking socks and woolly hats all week!

The lights, seat runners and wheel studs finally arrived today (well, we had to go and collect them - you'd think this was the middle east, the way we coped with 4 inches of snow....), so we can get the seats fitted while it's high in the air, which means we can fit the steering column at the right height, which means we can cut the slot in the scuttle for it, which means we can permanently fit the scuttle (once we've also mounted the fuseboxes, relays and sorted out the wiring).... So, once the seats are fitted, it can go down on its wheels - that'll be another milestone..

So, as well as the work to finish the car, we need to start organising paperwork, to apply for the SVA. We're going to apply, and if we're nowhere near ready when the test comes around, cancel it and get our fee back, then go through the IVA. If we're ready but fail, we've got 6 months to have it re-tested under the old rules. If we're ready and pass, we can enjoy the whole summer hooning around in Ruby! We've not got anything to lose by trying it, so we're going to give it a go. We might be pleasantly surprised!! Watch this space for more updates, plus more photos (when we've finished some jobs and taken some)......

Sunday, 1 February 2009

She lives!!!

Is there still anyone reading this? Hopefully the updates will be a bit less sporadic for a while....

To carry on from the last post, we needed to fix the fuel leak from the fir tree on the fuel rail - some Dowty washers (washers with a rubber insert in the middle) sorted that out. After fitting those, we started the fuel pump again - and got a fuel leak down one of the injectors! After taking a look, it was clear that the 'o' rings were knackered - so it was off to the local bike shop for some - they ended up being more than the throttle bodies! After fitting them with some vaseline, they weren't leaking any more....

So, a couple of weeks ago, Ron came round as we reckoned we were ready to start the engine. I got him to check my wiring of the starter, I'd checked that the laptop could talk to the megasquirt and the jaw, and so off we set. Turning the key, and..... nothing. Not even turning. Tried again, Ron checked the starter solenoid connection, and noticed that one of the starter cables was getting hot - it turns out I'd wired it up wrong after all. No lasting damage done, and once we'd sorted it out, we were ready to go again.

So we turned the engine over (with the plugs out to build up some oil pressure), that all looked good, the oil warning light went out after about 30 seconds or so. So, we zipped the plugs back in again, connected everything up and went for it, and - nothing. Out came one of the plugs and we looked to see if we were getting a spark - nope! We looked at why it could be - out came the multimeter, we tested the Edis, coil pack feeds, earths, VR sensor, HT leads, the little adapter bits that join the HT leads to the coil pack (which needed cutting down), and couldn't come up with it. Back to the wiring diagrams, and Ron spotted a capacitor earthing the coil pack, which I'm sure I'd read somewhere wasn't needed. But, it was on the diagrams, so off we went to Maplins to get one.

While I soldered up the capacitor, Ron went back to the manuals - and suggested swapping the cables from the VR sensor over. We did that as well, and it sparked! By this time, the battery was getting a bit flat, so we called it a day and put the battery on charge overnight. The next day, Ron came over again, and with a nice charged battery, we tried again - and she started! It was a great feeling to know that the engine we'd had sat in the corner of the garage, taken apart and put back together over the space of 5 years, with a new head, wild cam and big valves, bike throttle bodies and an open-source ECU actually worked!

Ron remarked that it was a bit lumpy (no real surprise!) and asked if we'd checked the valve timings..... erm, nope! So, off with the rocker cover and time to play with the feeler gauges. We did this and it ran much better - with video on YouTube here. So, after 7 or so starts and long runs, we could see that: oil was leaking from the dipstick, water was leaking from the thermostat housing and the water pump, the cam belt needed tightening, at least one sticky injector, and the VR sensor needed rotating to prevent the cables getting wedged in the spring coils.

Ron took the VR sensor fitting to do something with that, and we made a start on the other stuff. The thermostat housing was easy, some blue hylomar on the joints, and bolted back up. The water pump was more involved, as it meant taking the alternator off to get to the bolts, but I managed it OK. To sort out the dipstick, we needed to modify the sump, as we thought the dipstick was cathing on the baffle plate. After taking out all of the sump bolts, it was being stubborn and not coming off. So, we introduced the rubber mallet. Still nothing doing, so we started trying to "jack" it off the bottom of the block with steel plates and bolts.... Eventually, after climbing under the car with a torch, I spotted the 2 bolts I'd missed. After they came out (with dogleg bends in them), the sump came off easily! To add insult to injury, one of the bolts we'd used to jack the sump then sheared off, and I had to drill it out!

So, with the sump off, we needed to nip to the scrapyard to get a cable connector for the VR sensor. While we were there, we had a poke about (as you do) and Claire turned up a Zetec dipstick - it looked about the right size, so we picked that up as well, and headed off to see Ron and Pauline (Claire's Mum and Dad), as they're not far from where the scrappy's is. Ron was trying to get his new ZX12-R engine started, so I stayed to help him for a few hours. It still wasn't running, and we decided that he either had a knackered ECU, or he'd missed something in the wiring somewhere...

Back at home, we tried the Zetec stick for size. The bung at the top needed turning down slightly as it was too fat, but then it fitted in the tube nicely. And, it fitted through the baffle plate with no modifications needed! Doh! So we cut it to length, and marked where the max oil level should be, and bolted the sump back up!

While I'd been busy thumping the sump around, Claire had been cleaning the injectors with a mixture of petrol and injector cleaner, with more injector cleaner in the tank. Next, it was onto the cam belt. We've got a vernier pulley fitted for the cam, so after figuring out that there wasn't enough slack to move the belt another tooth round the pulley, we took the peg out, and tightened the belt by moving the pulley. So far, so peachy. Putting it all back together again, and tightening the camshaft bolt, I hadn't tighted the jackshaft again, so when it got to the point the cam wanted to move, it did - and the crank didn't. This was bad enough, but I managed to convince myself that I either hadn't moved it enough to make a difference, or that I'd moved it back OK. This was much worse...

After we'd put everything back together, we tried starting it again. It sounded awful, seemed really difficult to turn, was blowing air out of the inlets, so we thought the cam timing was out. Ron listened on the phone and thought we might be right, so the next day, after reading up again on how to time up the cam, we started with it again.... Turning the crank past a certain point was really difficult, so we shone a torch down the bores - and spotted marks on each piston, which could only be there from a valve... So, back on the phone to Ron, we described the damage, and he reckoned we'd probably have got away with it. We measured the valve clearances to be sure, and they hadn't changed, so we had got away with it. Phew!

After more phone calls and some guesswork, we had the cam timed nicely against the crank again. This time we painted marks on the crank pully, block, cam pulley and cam cover, so we could easily see if we ever made the same mistake again! So, we turned the engine over - and it started again! It sounded a bit better than before as well....

The next evening, 5 minutes or so with the laptop, playing with the ignition timings, had it running even more nicely and was an encouraging step after all the mistakes I'd been making! We've got the next week off work to make some real progress on the car. The reason for the sudden acceleration is that VOSA are changing the SVA test rules, and calling it an IVA. In addition, it's going to cost almost £400 more to take an IVA. The last applications for the SVA test have to be in at the end of February, with the last test at the end of April (if you fail first time, you have 6 months to take a retest at the old standard, and for only 30 quid). With this in mind, we ordered a load of stuff, so we could fill the week.

So far this weekend, we've trimmed the edges of the seats, played a bit with the engine tuning, and realised that the fuel hose we've been using to mount the throttle bodies to the manifold haven't been clamping (it's reinforced with spiral steel), so had to try and find some matching bike rubbers, painted the backs of the seats, mounted the fan to the radiator, figured out that the alternator wasn't charging (I hadn't wired it in properly!), temporarily wired in the rev counter and fuel gauge, put grippy tape on the pedals, mounted the electric speedo adapter to the gearbox, wrapped the loom which goes under the exhaust with thermowrap stuff, and added more bits to the shopping list! Tomorrow the exhaust is going to come off to be mounted up properly, and the body is going to go on (probably not for the last time), so we can get on with body stuff while we're waiting for the inlet rubbers (there's not really any point in tuning the engine without them).

Will try and post more updates as the week goes on. Time for sleep soon I think!

Sunday, 7 December 2008

A progress update!

After some months, finally we've managed to get back to the garage (and laptop), and make some progress on the car, and put an update on here.

So, in the last few months, what have we been up to? We went away to get married, went to the Renault world series day, went to Normandy to visit the D-day beaches and museums, and some work on Ruby. Like:

Fitted the alternator into its bracket, complete with the VR sensor bracket and alternator belt - which involved fitting the alternator to its bracket and fitting it to the engine about 600 times, cutting a gap in the VR sensor bracket to allow the belt through, and get the VR sensor lined up to where the trigger wheel would go, and took us about all weekend!

We cut the distributor into pieces as we don't need that any more, this was much easier than expected! 10 minutes with a hacksaw, then cut out a circle of ally to top it off, and a bit of chemical metal to hold it down. We had to do this as a) we don't need a dizzy any more b) the dizzy wouldn't fit under the throttle bodies and c) you need the bottom shaft of the dizzy to run the oil pump!

We made a bracket for the coil pack at the back of the engine, and chewed up quite a few dremel cutting discs doing it, and fitted the HT leads nice and neatly to the coil pack..

Sorting out the inlet manifold came next, adding chemical metal to the lumps and bumps, then smoothing them out with file / sandpaper. While the chemical metal was out, we also filled in the holes in the throttle bodies left when we removed the secondary throttle spindle. The throttle bodies are fitted to the inlet manifold with fuel filler hose and clamped tight.

We figured out where the megasquirt would be going (under the scuttle, so we can get to the serial port and it's out of the weather), and fitted it, along with the JAW we got from one of the guys on locostbuilders, and the EDIS unit, on the top of the scuttle panel under the bonnet, so it's close to the coil pack.

Next, we started with the wiring. This started on paper, with me figuring out the conncetions between the EDIS, megasquirt, Jaw and the main loom. then, with a load of terminal blocks, we started connecting stuff together, to then test what works and easily troubleshoot and fix any problems that come up....

Finally, this weekend we had the trigger wheel drilled to fit on the crank pulley, which we've done (we had to wiggle the holes about a bit to get it to fit), then carry on with the wiring (fitting all the earth straps and earthing points on the chassis). Next, we started to test the electrics.....

after wiring up the ignition plug, we fitted the fuse for the fuel pump, wired up the battery, and turned the key..... Nothing happened! turned the key to the ignition stop and the fuel pump started! Obviously we've got the ignition switch wired in wrong, but the pump does work! Letting it build up the pressure to the throttle bodies, fuel started leaking out of the joints into the fuel rail itself - the hoses are fitted OK, but the fir tree fittings aren't sealing properly - they got up to 2 bar before letting the fuel out - a copper washer should sort that out. It's nice to know that the rest of the fittings are good!

Next up is to fix the ignition switch wiring, then carry on testing the electricals, before starting the engine..... maybe not next weekend, as we're off to the Race of Champions at Wembley. I'd like Ron to check over my wiring before we blow anything up as well!

Thursday, 4 December 2008

A quick update

Hi to everyone who looks at the blog every now and again - just a quick update to say that we have been working hard on Ruby recently - getting the engine ready to be started. Finalising the coolant system, wiring, mounting the alternator and VR sensor and making it all fit around the suspension, fitting the oil cooling system, coil pack, cutting the dizzy, adding a wideband lambda in, finishing the throttle body arrangements and inlet manifold, and making a start on a new engine loom - hopefully we'll be able to try and start the engine this weekend. Pics and a full update to follow......

Monday, 21 July 2008

It's been another of those breaks....

Where we haven't really got much done on the car. We seem to have been doing loads of other stuff, I'm just not sure what. Certainly we went to Bruntingthorpe a couple of weeks ago with Ron's car - it was a kind of a mini-show weekend that didn't really live up to its billing. It was the weekend of the British GP, and the crowds weren't great. It hammered down with rain first thing, which didn't help. Ron also had a gearbox failure on his Blackbird engine, which meant we didn't really get any track time in either.

This weekend just gone, we met up with some of the other MNR owners in North Yorkshire, a bit of a trek for us, but it was good to put some faces to names, as most of them we only know through locostbuilders. There weren't any spare seats on the run out around the dales, so we took ourselves off around the moors for a few hours and found a nice pub for lunch. We met George again, who was picking up his kit when we came to order - I didnt' recognise him as he was sick when we met him first time (and we were quite excited). He's been keeping up with the blog and progress, and it was a bit weird, feeling like we've been internet-stalked. Good luck with the rest of your build George! :)

It has given us a bit of a wake-up about how much we have left to do, and so while watching the GP yesterday (well done to Lewis for a great drive!) we set about figuring out a list of which jobs we have left to do. There's quite a few! We also put time estimates against them. Hopefully being a bit more organised will help out a bit, as when we have a free evening, we can go out and just do the next job on the list.

The first big thing is going to be getting the engine running. We've a few jobs left around this, so we need to crack on with them. Once the engine is running, we can fit the bodywork completely and then build the suspension up! then put it on its wheels..... :)

We've done a few small jobs recently, we've been working on the routing for the coolant pipes, and angled the oil cooler back slightly, to make sure the pipes didn't foul on the rad. We've done the brake MC to resevoir piping and made a bracket for the res. Ron also looked at the cooling pipes where we'd placed them in, and didn't like a high-point we'd built into it - after pulling them apart and putting them back together again, he couldn't come up with a better way of doing it, without the pipes having to have cut-outs for the steering arms! The high point is in the bottom hose, so I'll put the fill from the header tank here, and any air which collects can vent back up to the header. The top of the system is already vented.

That's enough of an update for now, hopefully more to come soon (with some work actually completed!!)

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

It doesn't look like a car any more....

For a little while, anyway. We took the main tub off to paint the inside in black once all the suspension holes had been finished off. While it's off, there have been a few jobs to do to the interior.

First off was to mount the rear panel. This isn't too difficult, but it needed a lot of trimming to make it fit - it took all afternoon to get it right! once it was done, we secured it with rivnuts, to make sure we can remove it easily-ish if we need to. Claire trimmed some foam to put along the chassis bars to stop it rattling too much, it just needs some silkaflex along the top rail, we don't want any foam visible there.

We also trimmed up the Ali panel which is visible under the scuttle. The finish wasn't great on the bare panel (I'm much better at metalwork now!) so we wanted it covered. Some more foam with some leatherette and spray glue gives it a softer finish.

On Sunday we decided to mount the oil cooler- we had to make up a bracket to make it fit, and make sure that the pipes we had made up at Merlin fit (they do! We're getting better at this...). Some Ali strip, a couple of rivnuts and some nuts and bolts had the cooler in place. We've also mounted all of the radiator hoses now, as they run close to each other in some places, and we need to make sure it all fits together.

Finally for this update, last night we started on the other water pipes. We cut and fitted the pipe between the water pump and the manifold, this is black braid rather than steel (to do it all in steel would have been hideously pricey!), and figured out that we had the right bits to do the rest, and roughly where they're all going to go. Another job for the weekend! We need to glass an ali plate into the scuttle to mount the header tank against, fit the interior panels, refit the bodywork properly, and carry on plumbing the engine
... Not all this weekend, we're off to the Renault World Series on Saturday, which should be fun...

As usual, more piccies in the picasa album here.