Sunday, 23 September 2007

It's flipping tight in here!


I said last week that Marc must have had fun building a chassis around our Pinto engine. hahaha - if only we'd have given him all the bits that bolt onto it! A piece of advice for everyone not yet building a car - if the manufacturer asks you for your engine to make the chassis with - give them everything! Carbs / fuel injection, alternator, starter, gearbox, everything you can think of!

The reason? After fitting the engine last week, we started to bolt bits to it this weekend. We went to mount the alternator, and - it didn't fit. Not by a very long chalk. And at this point we hadn't even put the steering column in. Hmmmm. The problem was that the Ford alternator is a) fecking huge and b) has a fecking huge bracket, and c) the pulley wanted to be exactly where one of the chassis tubes goes...

So, after some head scratching and phone calls to Ron, Claire's dad, we strike upon the idea of seeing if we can steal the alternator out of his dead Honda Blackbird engine. So we toddle over to theirs to find out that it's fairly tightly integrated with the engine, being driven directly off the crankshaft. Bugger. So, onto locostbuilders and Ebay to see what we could find out. After some investigation, we found that some Daihatsus come fitted with a 93mm alternator. Usefully, the lugs are directly opposed, meaning it can be mounted vertically, which makes life easier. Ron happened to have some 90mm cardboard tube handy (?) so we tested out where it could go in true Blue Peter fashion. Even better news is, we reckon its a go-er, so I just need to keep my eye out for one now!

Definitely, if you're going to build a car, give the manufacturer everything that bolts to the engine!! We also tested how much clearance we have under the bonnet, and it's pretty tight over the top of the cam sprocket. That should be fine though. Touch wood.

So, what else did we do this weekend? I fitted the throttle pedal bracket - well, almost - as I realised that I'd given Ron back his Rivnut tool, and needed it. Usefully, Sunday opening hours meant I couldn't get one. Bugger again. It's ready to go in once I have the tool though. Apart from that, the engine came out, as we weren't going to have enough room at the front to time up the crank / cam. We also need to move the front brake t-piece to give a bit more clearance down there, but we need the rivnut tool for that as well.

We've also ordered a few bits from Burtons - a TDC finder (as we painted over the markings I made on the block when we took it apart - doh!) and fitted the head without marking it up again. The tool wasn't too expensive, but the adapter to fit a 14mm spark plug hole was! We also got some adapters to fit the coil pack, and be able to put standard distributer-type leads on them. Something useful from Halfords! :)

This week, hopefully we can get the engine timed up, the brake t-piece moved and the front pipes re-made, and the engine back in. We then need the alternator and oil cooler to be able to figure out where the brackets / pipe runs, etc., need to go. Ron's taken the trigger wheel away with him to get the centre turned out on a lathe, so we can mount it on the crank pulley. There's so much to do, but we need all the bits together to be able to do it - it's costing a fortune at the moment!!

I'll stick another update on later in the week, we'll see if we manage it!!

Thursday, 20 September 2007

Two posts in one week!

Well, we've been back in the garage. The engine has mostly gone back together and made it into the car. Marc's work must have been cut out making the engine and box fit into the car - some of the clearances are a bit fag-paper like!

The engine needed the new head fitting, the new clutch put together, and all bolting to the gearbox. This was the first clutch we'd done, but with the Haynes manual and the clutch alignment tool, it didn't take too long.

The easiest bit of the day was getting the engine and box into the car and mounted, though I have got a nice bruise on my forearm to show for it! One of the engine mounts only needed a minor adjustment - one of the boltholes in the steel plate that the mounts sit on was too close to the chassis tube to get a nut on the other side of it, so it needed adjusting slightly. The nuts are just plain for now, as I have a feeling the engine might be out again at some point when we realise we've missed something out!!

Next we checked the exhaust fitting - this was fairly easy to figure out with 4 branches coming off the head and through a 4-into-1 collector. Nice and easy, except for me getting one of the branches stuck in the collector :) I reckon the easiest way to fit them all is into the collector first in any case, as then you've got some wiggle room...

After trying the exhaust, we decided to give the carbs a go. We'd bought a nice set of twin webers, linked, set up for a standard 2 litre pinto and on a manifold, last winter before we'd even decided on a car. So, we offered them up to the manifold, and...... clunk. As you can see from the photo above, the inlet side is quite close to the chassis rails - too close. Marc didn't have the webers with the engine, so didn't know quite how big they were - and they're pretty big. There's about 5-6mm clashing on the bottom of the carb (and that would make it an "interference fit"), so there was a bit of head-scratching.

We decided that we didn't want to lift the engine. Though it's not an all-out racer, it is going to be used for the odd trackday, so I didn't want to lift the centre of gravity. Claire didn't want anything poking out of the top of the bonnet. So, we started looking at bike carbs and a megajolt system. Then, we decided to go the whole hog, and decided on bike throttle bodies and a megasquirt system. We decided this on Monday evening. It's now Thursday, the bike injection system (GSXR1000) has already arrived, the V3 megasquirt is a couple of days away, and the trigger wheel and Ford EDIS components will be here tomorrow. The new injection pump should be here by Monday... And I've got a massive manual about fuel injection and ignition to read.... :)

This weekend, I'm getting a polo rad to fit, so we can work out the plumbing runs required. I wanted to do this pretty much as soon as the engine was in, as we've decided to use red Samco hoses in the engine bay, to match the car colour, and they're a 3 - 4 week special order. I'm also going to try and get the cambelt on and the engine timed up properly, and the driveshafts cleaned and fitted with new boots. If time allows I may also figure out where the bearing carriers fit, as I found them in a box last weekend, and they could do with a clean.... :)

The final picture shows how close it is to the front - we may have to find somewhere else for that brake pipe termination...... details, details. Finally, I've changed the settings on the blog to allow public comments. Please feel free to give me feedback on how we're getting on....

Thursday, 13 September 2007

We're back!!

Well, the last few months has been pretty hectic. The July storms resulted in my tintop being written off - water got into the cabin as well as the engine, so the insurance company wrote it off. So, had to spend time sorting out the insurance company, a car so I could get to work, and we decided to replace Claire's car as well.

The blog wasn't really up to date at the last post, so I'm going to try and show where we're at right now....

After the MCs at the front, we tackled the top ali panel, which has the MNR Chassis number stamped on it. This was a pretty tricky job. Because of the lovely round tube chassis, you need to be precise where you mark and drill your holes. Because of the fairly complex structure around that part of the car, it's also difficult to get this odd shaped bit of ali into place to mark it. It has to be bent in the middle to get it into place, then you need to try and bend it back again to make it flat.
You can see from this picture the shape of the ali piece. There was a fair bit of cursing at this stage (mostly from Claire to me), as the panel had moved slightly as I was clamping it up. It's not the neatest job ever, but it's going to be under the bodywork at some point, so hopefully it won't be too visible.

Next up was to fit the diff. This was fun... :) The car's on trestles, so is quite a long way off the floor. Diffs are heavy. So it was with much heath robinsonism that we made a platform (out of toolboxes and Haynes manuals, mostly) to sit the diff on, while we spaced out the diff with nuts and washers so it was sat centrally in the tunnel.

To help with this, we also trial-fitted the propshaft, and to figure that was in the right place, we needed the gearbox as well. Thankfully it was already disconnected from the engine, so on it went. I could see where Marc had had to take a chunk out of the bellhousing to fit into the tunnel, and it's pretty much fag-paper clearances against the bulkhead when it's in. That's gonna be fun when it's all bolted to the engine again!!

At this point, we were kind of getting near-ish to thinking about fitting the bodywork. Before getting that far, I wanted to trial-fit the front suspension, as I wanted to figure out how the pushrod bits work, and I wanted to find out about any possible problems before we got anywhere near the body tub, as that needs to be cut to fit around the suspension pickups. The first bit of that was to fit the inboard suspension coilover shocks. Tricky!! As you might imagine, they're quite stiff. With some persuasion (and a crowbar) they were bolted in place. You can see the first one here...

With them both in place, we started on the front wishbones. Here we came across a snagette. Or maybe a whole snag. One of the wishbones didn't fit! Out came the vernier calipers, and true enough, one set of the top mounts was 3mm further apart than the other. This being the first car I've built, I was pretty worried about bending the bracket to make it fit, and worse luck, it was over the week Marc was off for his wedding! We found other things to do till I could get hold of Marc again. He said that it wasn't a massive problem - the jig for making the chassis needs some movement on the pickups to compensate for the heating during welding. He said that bending the brackets slightly to push the wishbones in would suffice - when bolting them up, it would tighten against the polybush. Phew!

The rears went in with no trouble. The uprights haven't been on yet, as they all have to come off to fit the bodywork, but I've had a play with them and figured out how they fit, so I don't think they'll present a problem.

Next up was the fuel tank fitting. This wasn't too drastic, some superglue and foam strips from the local craft shop, some rivnuts and then some washers and nuts. I like the easy jobs :) We also had a Racetech fuel level sender (I decided I liked the racetech analogue gauges, they remind me of aircraft ones), which went in without a struggle. We found that the best way of getting the swarf out of the tank again was to put the vacuum nozzle into the filler hole, put our fingers over the rest and shake it. We also mounted the fuel pump at this stage, but the fuel hose we had knocking around the garage wasn't marked - this is needed for the dreaded SVA, so we need to get some more.

We've also started to put the engine back together. It came apart for an inspection, so after being given a clean bill of health by Ron, it was cleaned inside and out, painted (outside only) in VHT silver, and left in a corner of the garage.... We spotted a tuned head with a 285 cam on Ebay, and it was not far from my work, so we went for it. 100 quid turned out to be pretty good - the guy had bought it to go onto his westie about 7 years ago but never fitted. It still had the waxoyl all over it. It had been kept wrapped and dry and looked pretty good (we were also struggling to get the sparks out of the original head...), and that's now been bolted and torqued down onto the block.

This weekend, hopefully, the engine, new clutch and the gearbox are going to be assembled and mounted up. Then we need to figure out where the exhaust manifold comes out, as we need to make a hole in the body for that, and then trial-fit the body and see if / where we need to cut holes in the bonnet for the twin webers and their filters.

One of the locostbuilders fraternity (Sonja from Sydney, who races a VortX), has promised some pictures of the necessary holes in the body. They should help no end in the fitting!

That was a mammoth post. I'm knackered now - I'll have to keep it more up to date in the future!!