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.

Monday, 26 May 2008

She looks like a car!!

Well, almost! We've made a fair bit of visible progress today, trial mounting the scuttle, the bonnet, and the nosecone. This is more straightforward that it sounds...

The scuttle goes on first. It's quite easy to do - the pointy bits at the back of the scuttle meet with the crease line in the bodywork. There are just a couple of notches to make underneath the scuttle so it clears the bar holding the steering column mounts. This was then taped in place. Then the bonnet went on, with the shut lines to the scuttle nice and tight, and taped to the bodywork as well. This was difficult as our bonnet has sagged a fair bit in storage. A tip - store the bonnet upright on its end, not flat, so it doesn't sag under its own weight.

Next, there's a fair bit of excess GRP at the front of the main tub - we had to take off about 4 inches or so. To measure this out, we offered up the nosecone and looked to see how much was left to go. The nose went on and off about 20 times, to trim it gently without taking too much off it. It's not quite perfect, but for our first go fixing bodywork, it's not bad! We did find that the brackets we mounted at the front of the engine bay to support the bodywork were a bit too narrow (we used 35x20mm ali angle, with the 20mm side on top), and there's not enough overlap on the nosecone lip to drill a hole for a bolt. We need to change the bracket for some 35x35 angle to make sure we've got the room. With the nosecone in place, we can take off the bonnet and put it back whenever - we've taped it in for now to try and persuade it back to shape.

How long since we posted?

About two months!!

Well, in the last post I was confident that we'd have the engine ready to run by the May bank holiday. Doh! The silicon hoses we ordered (Red is a special order colour) actually didn't get ordered when we expected, so they only arrived last week. The good news is that with some trimming they all fit nicely, so my angle measuring must have been right!

So, what have we been up to since last time? We've bought and fitted an Odyssey battery, Claire making a great little braket to keep it in place at the back of the engine bay, making a start on cutting loads of holes in the bodywork (these are all cut now, I just need to tidy them up and make sure they're the same on both sides). We had to take off the brackets we made in last month's installment, as they were holding the body up too high, so we've just got the fronts on for now. These are actually bolted in place too - exciting!

We went for a track day at Llandow with Ron in his Spire GT-R - we bumped into TimC there, watching his mate in a Mk2 Escort spending most of a lap sideways was great! More problems with the gearchange on the Spire (I think this time we might have bent it) meant we were done by lunchtime. A nice little circuit though, and I've never seen so many 911 GT3 RSs in one place - someone turned up in a Carrera GT as well, mmmmmmmmm :)

Back into the garage, and we lifted the engine out so Ron could borrow the crane. We had to refit the front brake pipes as with it in the old position, the trigger wheel for the VR sensor would hit it. So, that was moved back along the chassis rail and the pipes out to the bodywork re-made. Lucky I made them slightly longer than I needed, as I kept forgetting to put the union on the pipe before I flared it!! Doh!

We also measured up where we wanted the throttle bodies to go and one of the guys at Ron's work welded them up for us (thanks Taff), they had a job getting them held at the right angle, but they look pretty good now. Just some work with the dremel and some paint and it's good to go. We also got some fuel tank filler tube the right size to mount the throttle bodies to the manifold.

Some trial fitting of the silicon hoses followed - some needed trimming (the bends were longer than I expected them to be), but the angles were all right, and it all fits in, even if it is a bit tight (but what hasn't been so far??). Claire made a bracket to hold in the brake fluid reservoir and we've got some flexi pipe to connect up the reservoir and the MCs.

Finally, we started to fit the bodywork. Claire painted the inside of all the panels (except the tub, as it's still mounted), in gloss black, and it transforms them I think. The scuttle went on without *too* much trouble, but the bonnet has sagged quite a lot where it's been sat for a long time. We've taped it in place for now, and it looks like it will fit eventually. Last night I started hacking lumps off the front of the tub to make the nose fit, so finishing that slightly more delicately is the first job for today.....

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

The end of the bank holiday....

And four days in the freezing cold garage! On the Monday, I tried my hand at arc welding (rubbish, but after reading a tutorial today I know what I was doing wrong), installing the throttle linkage whadjamacallits to the throttle bodies, and making the bodywork fit better at the front.

My experiments with welding didn't go especially well. I kept sticking the arc rod to the piece, but I've read up on it today, and I was striking it but then not moving th tip away! I didn't have the workspace set up well either, so I may have another go this weekend.

The throttle bodies were much easier, with Ron having bent some small pieces of steel to fit betwen the throttle linkages. I had to shorten them by a couple of mm, but easy enough. Ron had bent them at just the right angle, with me having to just pack them out with a single washer to get them perfect. Now all four throttle bodies move together again, all completely close, all we need to do is the fuel rail (a card through th door this morning tells me that it was delivered while I was out), and the inlet manifold. I'm getting quite excited about being able to get the engine running again! We should be able to do that around the first bank holiday weekend in May, if everything turns up on time (and if I haven't forgotten anything!)

Next, the attention turned to the bodywork again. We'd had some replies from other guys on locostbuilders, including from Marc Nordon, indicating that we needed to pack up the front end. So, off to B & Q, along with half of Swindon - lucky we live close to it! - for some Ali angle. After some deliberation, we worked out how far up we needed to lift the body (we did this by measuring the side that naturaly sat further down, and basically filling that gap). With this support further up than the chassis was, we can now comfortably hold the bodywork in at the sides with tape, and squeeze the drivers' side bodywork down to it. There is still some stress there, but nothing like it was. We also took a bit more out of the bottom of the fibreglass, and this helped too.You can see the four new brackets in the photo, for once I fabricated something that Claire was entirely hapy with! Maybe I'm getting better at this after all..... :)

Like I said, we're aiming to get the engine running over the May bank holiday weekend. In between now and then, we're going to try and get the bodywork finished, it needs to come off again so we can fill back in any areas we've had to take out, and touch up those areas where we've had to take off the gelcoat. We also need to hoick the engine out again (last time this time) to do a couple of jobs around the engine bay - refitting the brake t-piece for one. Then the engine can go back in, and the body can go on, and we can get it on its wheels. I think we have everything we need up until that point - then we need some seats, harnesses, gauges, and lots more hard work!

On a final note, Ron sent me a link to JAW, a DIY wideband O2 controller kit, which works out quite a bit cheaper than buying an innovate LC-1. I'd welcome any comments from anyone who's used this, especially with megasquirt!

Monday, 24 March 2008

Some advice from locostbuilders (and Marc)

Quick post before we head into the garage for the day - advice from some of the other MNR builders on locostbuilders said that we'd need to support the bodywork at thr front, higher than the mounting points currently are. Marc confirmed that they had to do this on slightly older bits of bodywork. Also a possibility is flattening down the rivet that the bottom piece is catching on, and thinning the ali plate on the bottom there (two pieces overlap just under where the body pops out). Hopefully we can get this bit cracked today, and finish off the locating holes for the suspension. Then it can all come off again! :)

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Pink dust!

Well, this weekend has seen some dremel action in the garage. As I mentioned last post, we asked Ron to come over and lend us his hands to trial fit the body work. First off was to get the chassis down off trestles and onto axle stands. No worries. Next, the difficult bit.

We'd had some excellent extra tips from Redback Racing, MNRs agents in Australia, on how to get the body fitted. First, we offered up the tub and marked out where we needed to relieve bits to get the body around chassis tubes, etc. The body was probably on and off about a dozen times as we got it right. There are pictures of the process on the Picasa album. We did find that one side of the body is under a lot of tension when fitted properly, to the extent that it's started to crack when stressed into place. Coozer and Tim both seem to have had the same problem, and have added spacers to the bodywork mounting rail to help the bodywork out a bit. The pic to the right shows where this is starting to go.

On Saturday, we trolled down to Merlin again, to get a battery and some more fuel pro-clamps. The only problem was they didn't have either! We had decided on a Varley battery, because of their small size for their power, and the ability to mount them in any orientation except upside-down. And we wouldn't have to pay postage if we got one from Merlin. Apparently though, the UK importers sent their order off, with a requested date of 11/03/08, to the manufacturers in the States, who looked at the date, and presumed it was for delivery in November! So, there are very few in the UK, and the racing season is rapidly aproaching! Ehhhhcxcellent.....

So, once we were back, it was onto Ebay to find a different thing. We found an Odyssey battery, which I strongly suspect is the exact same battery as the Varley - same size weight, power, rough cost, different badge. Postage wasn't too bad on that either. We also ordered in the last week a header tank, HT leads, a header tank cap, some fuel rail, pro clamps, filler hoses for the water system, and I now think we've got everything that we need to start the engine either here or on its way shortly - hopefully we can get all that plumbed in and the engine running by the May bank holiday. Also yesterday we started on the holes for the top front wishbones, and stopped to figure out what to do about the stressy chassis.

So, today, we went out to take another look at the twisting and cut out the v shapes at the rear, that give the rear wishbones room to move. Marc's instructions were pretty clear on this, and with a cutoff disc and sander attachment for the dremel, we got those done without too much fuss. This didn't have an effect on the twisty front, so we tried locostbuilders for some help. Tim and Coozer have both had the same problem, and fixed it by supporting the front end higher up. Looks like we need some steel box or Ali angle to lift the front end up. This would give some extra clearance for the oil filler cap, which pretty much touches the underside of the bonnet at the moment.

Also on the to-do list is to make the inlet manifold - Ron's lent me his arc welder, so I'm going to have a play with that and try to tack the tubes onto the fitting plate. Then the welder who's done a load of Ron's car so far is going to pitch in and finish it off for me. I've never done arc before (I've only done oxy-acetelene a few times, while I was at college over 10 years ago), so that's going to be fun! with some old bits of steel I'll see what I'm capable of. My practical skills have been getting much better over the last few years, so I think I'll be OK. If not, Ron will come back over and tack it on there.... :)

That's it for now, another bank holiday tomorrow, so hopefully we'll get a bit more done. Finally, a pic of the driveshafts we mentioned last week....

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Some more work done...

But not a lot. Every little helps though....

We're getting to the point now, where we're having to decide where things will go in relation to the bodywork. As we only have a vague idea of how all the bodywork goes together so far, we need to get it fitted to check it all out. So (hopefully), next weekend Ron will come over and give us a hand with the fitting, so we've an idea where the battery, header tank, coil pack, ECU, EDIS unit will fit...... :-o

We've also been ordering stuff - we've ordered Red Samco coolant hoses, with some alloy joiners to go with them, fuel rail for the throttle bodies, vacuum tube for the throttle bodies and decent hose clips. Amazing how all this stuff adds up! Got a new tool as well - a right-angled attachment for the dremel. I've not had a chnce to try it yet, but it looks cool.. We need this to make up the throttle spindle extensions for the throttle bodies. We spaced the bodies themselves out on some studding, with ally sleeves to hold them the correct distance apart, now we just need to extend the throttle spindle. And the fuel rail. And the injector loom. And mount them on the new manifold.... Not too much work, but on the bright side, my measuring (and Ron's cutting) were spot on!

Finally, we've also been battling with CV boots this weekend. We cleaned up the old driveshafts, and we'd bought some new boots with the kit, so off came the old ones, then a bit of head-scratching about how the joints come off. It turns out that these nice one-use metal covers (that we'd just spent 45 minutes cleaning) need to be cut off and replaced. Surprise, surprise, there weren't any in the kit. Off round the motorspares places we go, and no-one has any. The last place we tried didn't know what we were talking about, but they did have a large conical tool for stretching cv boots over. So, today, after 3 hours, much swearing and CV grease messiness, the driveshafts are complete with their new boots and have been painted a nice sparkly hammerite black.

Will put some more pics on showing progress, but we haven't really taken any yet! :)

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Very quick post

Just to link to the photo album. I've commented on all 200-odd pictures charting the progress of Ruby since May 07.

You can get to the picasa album here - I'll aim to keep it up to date, as doing it all from scratch was a bit much!


Sunday, 9 March 2008

Shiny bits!

Well, yesterday was a first - a day in the garage where we didn't have to go out and buy tools or nuts and bolts!

In the last post I mentioned that we had been out to get the fuel flexis and clamps to fit out the car with. Now, it was time to mount it all up (wel, the rear end at least). We had ordered a spacing kit for the throttle bodies at the end of Jan, and it still hasn't arrived, so we're going to do it ourselves instead (when I say we, I mainly mean Ron).

So, out we went with the drill and rivetter. We bought a right-angled drill from Screwfix the other week, and it's been brilliant, one of those tools you never thing you'll need till you get one! We started of with the flexi from the tank to the pump. Usefully, we mounted the pump on the opposite side of the chassis from the tank (thinking back, we did this because we were taking the loom the other way around the tank and wanted to keep them apart), so this meant we had to take the fuel flexi all the way across the back of the car, under the tank. Plenty of driling and rivetting, nothing very exciting.

Next we had to figure out the pump to the copper line, and the return line as well. We figured out a route for them to meet, and then took them along a chassis rail together (P-clips turned with the centres towards each other, and one rivet through both). It all looks quite neat, I must be getting better at it!

Finally, we just had to mount the tank breather valve. This is a one-way valve to allow air into the tank as the pump sucks fuel out of it, but not let fuel out if you tip the car upside down. This was a bit awkward, as the pipe from the tank is 10mm, and the tail on the valve is about 6mm! Thsi meant we had to use an inline reducer and two bits of flexi. It's mounted to the rear stay out of the way.

We also (had a productive day, didn't we?) trial-mounted the new alternator bracket Ron made for us. It fits nicely, and the alternator fits in well, even with the front exhaust manifold fitted, we just need to find a shorter belt, and work out the mounting for the alternator top mount it can be adjusted to tension the belt. There's not an awful lot of clearance (we can make a little extra by taking out a chunk of strengthening gusset from the chassis), so we need to get the belt as short as possible. Next we need to figure out the mounting points for the VR sensor, and the runs for the water hoses. It all gets a bit tight in there!

More updates and piccies to come soon!

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Something's happened to the car!!

We've managed to spend some time in the garage, we measured up the car for the flexible fuel hoses we'd need - we were going to run flexis through the tunnel, until Ron mentioned a post on locostbuilders about how long they last! We decided to keep the copper pipe through the tunnel and add another for a return line. So, we re-measured, then it was off to Merlin motorsport in Chippenham to hand over some dough for some flexi hoses and clamps, a fuel pressure regulator and gauge. We then decided to have some dinner and watch the Rugby (we'd have been better off in the garage!)....

The next day we were off to Screfix for some more rivets (I thought we had enough - oops!), and then remember how to flare copper pipes and use our new pipe bending tool. Next we cut off the rear bit of the old copper pipe and flared the end, so the join sits just inside the tunnel. We then decided to move the loom up off the floor of the tunnel, so we could lay the new copper in its place - this keeps the leccy away from the fuel lines....

The photos aren't brilliant, but you get the idea. It was a bit of a painstaking job to bend the pipe to fit through the tunnel and rivet it in pace, especially as we left the engine and box in place... :)

This week we also ordered and received an oil cooler and thermostatic sandwich plate - we wanted to fit it all from the start, as it would be more difficult to organise once the car was running. More to come after this weekend, when we should have put in the flexi fuel lines, the pressure regulator, and (hopefully) made up a bracket for the oil cooler, to measure up for the flexi oil lines. More money down at Merlin's next week!!

More next time!

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Well, it's been a busy time

Though not on the car! I can't believe that the last post was in September - some work's been done on the car since then, but not a lot! :(

The engine was timed up, after a couple of hours searching for the cam specs online - thanks again to Ron for his help with that. The alternator arrived and Ron's started making the bracket up to fit (he's an engineer, with access to all sorts of useful stuff like lathes and bits of scrap metal, and I work in IT, I'm not copping out, honest!). As we mentioned in a previous post, we also went with bike throttle bodies, the megasquirt injection & ignition system, and we've got all the bits for this (except I think we still need a fuel pressure regulator - on the GSXR it's built into the fuel pump in the tank).

We're also making an inlet manifold for the throttle bodies - I'm going to buy a spacer kit to make them the right width for the pinto, and the manifold itself is going to be made from a fairly chunky steel plate and CDS tube - the inlet ports are 1.5" and the tb's are 1.75", which matches the inside and outside ODs of the tube. Cut at an angle it should do the job nicely.

We've been busy with a lot of stuff over the winter - we're getting married in September so there's a fair bit of organising there, we managed an actual holiday in November (went on a plane and everything!), and Claire had a car accident in December (she wasn't injured thankfully, but it wrote off the M3), so we had to spend some time looking for a replacement (we ended up with a 99 BMW 540 - mmmmmm V8, I wonder if that'll fit in an MNR), and helping Ron out with some bits on his car. On a track day last September, we found that the laminova oil cooler wasn't quite up to the job - after about 3 laps of castle combe, the oil temp was reading about 130! Ron's modified the bodywork to fit in a larger air cooler, and also fitted new Hi-spec calipers to the rear - there just wasn't enough rear braking with the old setup.

So, it's on with the show. Once the garage has had a bit of a tidy, it'll be back to it, trying to get the inlet finished off so we can move on to the next bits.

hopefully there'll be more to report (and more piccies) very soon!