Having given the broken off bracket a good clean yesterday to get rid of the crud off it I set to with the angle grinder and flapwheel to cut back the edges and clean the powder coating off it. I then cleaned up the chassis with a wire brush and got the bracket wedged back into position. I could then get it welded back on. Although my welding has definitely improved a bit the trouble is I don’t do it often enough to get very proficient. The wled looks crappy in a few places but along the two important edges I’m very happy with it and don’t see why it shouldn’t be OK. I was thinking of making a sort of inverted U shape piece to go over the bracket like a saddle to reinforce it but decided against in the end.
Once that was cleaned off I slapped some Hammerite on it and left it to dry. I was wondering what the alignment on the nearside upright bushes would be like but all I had to do was undo the bolts and push the new single one through without disturbing the sequence of washers etc. and the job was done in a few minutes. With the paint dry I got on with sticking the offside corner back together. This went slightly better than I expected and pretty soon the car had 4 wheels again. One of them wasn’t pointing in quite the right direction though so I then had to spend a couple of hours getting the alignment reset. Here’s a pic of the offending bracket with wishbone reattached.
Once that was sorted I could refit the fuel tank and refill it with fuel. With the battery and ECU reconnected I fired her up and was happily blipping the throttle to warm the engine until I realised I was standing in a pool of petrol Quickly switched off and realised it was just cos I had forgotten to refit the tank breather and FI swirl pot return. Doh …
Anyway, she’s now pretty much ready for Mallory next Sunday. Couple of little jobs I want to do but nothing that can’t wait.
Having been away for a week’s hols in Florida I came back today and despite being a bit jet-lagged decided to make a start on fixing the Fury. Andy Bates sent me some long hardened 1/2″ UNF bolts that he had in stock and after a bit of long-distance nagging via phone Chris at BGH Geartech sent my replacement upright out.
I whipped the rear tub off, jacked the rear up, got the wheels off and started to remove the offside brake caliper. You can see the rather inappropriate amount of camber from the pic on the right. Removing the caliper proved to be rather tricky because as soon as I tried to loosen the first bolt the whole suspension was flopping around! A quick inspection revealed that this was because the rear mounting point for the inboard end of the lower wishbone had broken completely off the chassis! So the observers who’d said it looked like the rear wheel was flopping round completely weren’t exaggerating at all. I’d assumed the broken upright was sort of flipping from a convex shape to a concave shape but it was clearly much more impressive than that Here’s a brief (and dimly lit) clip demonstrating the floppiness:
Here’s a pic of the inboard end of the lower wishbone swinging in the breeze. You can just about make out the bent bit of chassis tubing where it’s been ripped out.
The next pic shows the hole in the chassis tubing where the bracket once belonged. I guess the amount of movement allowed by the broken upright allowed it to place a lot of stress on the other wishbone mounting points eventually leading to failure. Although the wishbone mounting brackets themselves are pretty chunky my lightweight chassis is made of pretty thin tubing and of course any joint is only as strong as its weakest component.
Once I’d done a bit more dismantling I could inspect the damage a bit more closely. All the other suspension mounting points looked OK, of course if the wishbones had been bushed rather than rose jointed I suspect it would have been much worse. As it is it looks like I just need to clean up the edges of the hole and the mount bracket and weld it back on.
I then turned my attention to the new upright and the new long bolts Andy had sent. After a bit of cleaning up with a file I could get the bolt in the hole but then encountered another problem. The upright is essentially a more or less triangular piece of steel plate with 3 bushes welded at the top corner and each bottom corner. Sadly as you can see from this pic the lower bushes aren’t even terribly close to being aligned, not a problem when you’re using separate bolts but a problem when I want to use one long one. This took me the best part of half an hour with the vice and lump hammer. I’m still not confident the bolts are as long as I’d like but I was by now running out of time and had to abandon for the day. Plenty to get on with tomorrow …
After a long and uneventful journey I arrived at Snetterton just before 10pm. The weather on the way here had been fairly grotty with quite a lot of light rain and spray. After getting the car off the trailer and covering it up with a tarpaulin I retired with a beer.
Although it rained for quite a lot of the night it was dry when I woke up although still pretty cloudy and of course cold. I got signed up, gave the car a wash and got my last few preparations sorted. Scrutineering was at 10.30 so I had plenty of time and the scrute didn’t find anything untoward. The All Comers qualy was at 11.40 and by then the track had dried out. I took the first couple of laps steady and once I was happy the car was fine started to push a bit harder. I didn’t look at any lap times till about the 6th lap when I saw I’d already gone faster than the last trip here with a sub 1:23 lap. Hardly surprising really, I was seeing over 130mph on the speedo just before braking for the Esses. I only really got one clear quicker lap in at 1:21.12, just half a second behind Colin Chapman but over 2 seconds quicker than my last visit here.
I did also find I had plenty of time down the Revett Straight to keep an eye on the lambda which was showing 13.5 at wide open throttle in 6th gear throughout the upper rev range.
I then had plenty of time to do a spanner check. I also switched back to the map I’d used at Silverstone last year since clearly the current map was well within the safety zone.
The All Comers race wasn’t till 4pm. By then the wind had picked up a bit and it felt really cold, still dry though. I got a good start but had to back off a bit as the guy in front of me moved across towards Colin and I really didn’t want to get tangled up in any first corner incidents. This then meant Judi was all over the back of me and had a look up the inside into Sear. It took me a couple of laps to get anywhere near the morning’s lap times, by which time Colin was well away from me. Almost every corner I got to the apex and just knew I could have gone in quicker.
After a few laps Judi had disappeared from my mirrors and the rest of the race was pretty lonely. The car was fine, the lambda was fine, never more than 13.6-13.7. I was a bit frustrated with myself though for not going quicker. Need to take some brave pills in the morning …
Still, looking on the bright side, the car’s done everything I’ve asked it today with almost zero mechanical issues – a couple of drive shaft bolts needed tightening but that’s been it. It’s handling fine too, it feels pretty balanced, maybe the rear end’s feeling a bit loose once the tyres are hot but it’s not snappy or anything. The weather’s cold but dry and the forecast’s OK for tomorrow. It’s been really nice meeting up with old friends again, there’s much more to this than just the racing.
Sunday morning was a bit of a leisurely start as those of us who’d raced Saturday were already scrutineered. Things got a bit more exciting when I went to get the car warmed up and it was completely dead. I’d left the kill switch on overnight which just powers the dash and it had flattened the battery. It started straight away with my booster pack and I left her at a fast idle until it was time to go to the assembly area.
Qualifying was great, I was in the middle of quite a train with Phil Alcock, James Walker, James Foley. I did manage to improve my pace round Riches (the first corner) and was gaining on James between Riches and Sear, I was also clearly significantly faster down the Revett Straight. I then lost a bit of ground round the Bomb Hole and Coram. I was very pleased when I looked at the dash and saw I’d gone under 1:20, so over a second quicker than Saturday.
Here’s the DigiDash plot of my fastest lap overlaid with last March’s fastest lap, it’s clear I was carrying more speed through all the corners this time. Interestingly top speed down the Revett straight is the same at 135mph, and I was puzzled why I was slower round the second apex of the Esses till I watched the video where it looks like I had to slow more than I wanted because of James and Colin in front of me.
The car needed nothing more than a bit of checking over and some fuel. It was a bit strange having a long wait for the race without having to carry out major mechanical work! It had clouded over as we went to assembly and sure enough as we went to the grid there were a few spots of rain.
When the lights went out I got a good start but had to back out cos someone else had stalled. By the time we got to the first corner it was definitely raining, Austen had got in front of me and was pretty sideways coming out of Riches. I could see him sliding turning into Sear too so I backed off and kept tight to the apex. Austen then lost his car taking Colin with him and once I was sure he’d stopped and wasn’t going to spear back across the track I got my foot on the gas and headed off down the Revett Straight. This of course was the scene of the disaster last March when Aaron Wright spun in front of me.
It was pretty slippery, also the track was quite variable with some bits worse than others. I decided to be pretty conservative, as did the others. On lap 2 Tony Gaunt went spearing off at Riches and seemed to be in very close proximity to the barrier. About 4 laps in I hit the brakes at the end of the Revett Straight and the car was all over the place. Despite modulating the brakes I couldn’t get it under control to turn in and ended up going straight on and onto the dirt. I got it into first gear and waited till a few cars went by then rejoined. It had felt like one of the front brakes had failed so I took it pretty gently but at the Russell chicane it felt reasonable, so I carried on. The car was generally pretty squirrelly but I put it down to the conditions. It improved as the track dried for a while then it rained again and we were sliding about all over the place again. With a couple of laps to go I lost it again at the Esses, I was all over the place every time out of Russell with no rear end grip at all.
I survived to the end and we all got called into the scrutineering bay. One of the scrutineers came over and wanted to get my bodywork off. He pointed at my offside rear wheel which was at quit a jaunty little angle! I’d estimate it had about 10 degrees of negative camber which made everything a bit clearer! Austen’s dad came over and said every time I came round Russell the wheel was flapping about and looked quite alarming. James Foley who’d passed me with just over a lap to go said the same, I think he’d been quite worried about being behind me. Derek had seen it too along the Revett as he lapped me and wondered if he should have signalled to me but wasn’t sure what he could signal!
Here’s the edited vid, the trousers went brown at about 3 minutes:
I finished 13th out of 20 starters but there was a high attrition rate – Tony Gaunt crashed out, Mark Sammland was parked up near the start of the Revett Straight , Matt Green blew his engine (having blown one up in the morning and spent 4 hours sticking a spare in!), Dan Bromilow went off at Riches and couldn’t get his engine going again and Rob Grant didn’t finish.
I actually went home pretty happy. I know the upright had bent and spoilt the race to some extent, but the car had otherwise behaved really well all weekend and I’d actually finished 2 races. More importantly I think I’ve made a bit of progress in getting a bit more pace – loads of improving still to do but progress is progress and I’ve gained almost three and a half seconds since I was here last March. All the car needs is a replacement upright, the reason I was running with the repaired on is cos BGH Geartech didn’t have any and were waiting for some to be fabricated so I’ll get on the phone and nag them a bit.
Sunday morning saw some motorhome preparation action – at Llandow on Saturday I couldn’t get the water heater to work and was worried that the hard frosts had damaged it despite me winterising it. A quick check over and I remembered that it doesn’t work unless the cover’s taken off the flue. Doh! After that it was just a case of cleaning everything up and checking what needed restocking in there.
Monday evening I printed off my pre-race checklist and got everything on there ticked off, including checking all the prop and diff bolts etc. I also took the silencer off and checked the packing which seemed fine which I was a bit surprised about as it did 4 or 5 sessions at Silverstone and 5 on Saturday. I also had a sudden thought and checked the date on my fire extinguisher to find it needed servicing in September 09! I’ll see if I can get that done locally, I do know a fire safety place as they also for some reason sell scuba diving gear.
The only other semi-essential job I hadn’t got round to was sorting out my front anti-roll bar. The little aluminium blocks I use to connect the bar to the wishbone via small rose joints keep breaking, they split where the slot has been cut to allow the bolt to clamp them onto the end of the bar. I had an ill formed cunning plan involving similar aluminium blocks but this time with a tapped hole perpendicular to the hole the bar goes through allowing me to simply lock the block onto the bar with a screw as shown in this pic. They’re pretty rough at the moment but when i have more time I can tidy them up and chop a bit of the excess meat off them.
I’ve been thinking about the engine. At Silverstone last August after I’d made the new airbox it was like driving a different car – loads more power and I was hitting the limiter going through the gears which didn’t happen previously. Of course that meant I started overtaking people who normally lapped me and ended in tears At my abortive trip to PDQ in September Nick there had not got chance to do any mapping but had noticed that the map I’d uploaded to the Power Commander had quite a few negative numbers in it and warned me to reduce them a bit until I could map it. The map was one I’d downloaded and I think was for a stock bike, the negative numbers mean that the map actually fuels the engine slightly less than the stock ECU map, and without knowing the air:fuel ratio there’s a risk it’s running a bit lean. This of course will give good power till the engine goes pop. So after that I did edit the map to richen it up a bit and frankly I think I can feel the difference. I don’t really have time to get back to PDQ any time soon and it’s another 350 mile round trip, so over the winter I’ve been thinking about fitting a wideband lambda sensor so I can see for myself what sort of state the engine’s running in. I bit the bullet on Tuesday and rang Demon Tweeks again and ordered the Stack kit which includes a Bosch sensor and controller and dash gauge. It does also include an output for a logger for if/when I upgrade my dash. I figure that it’ll at least enable me to check that I’m not running the engine dangerously lean and I can maybe tweak the map back towards what it was before and regain a bit more top end.
Wednesday was a bit of a hiccup preparation-wise. Meeting in London meant leaving the house very early, I left London at 3.30pm to get back to a meeting in Swansea, left that at 9.15pm, got home, tried to get an hour’s kip then off to an overnight shift at 11.30. Finished that at 8am then off to surgery for the day. After that I slept for 9 hours then went out to the garage The stuff came from Demon Tweeks on Wednesday – the lambda kit, some more race numbers and a couple of packs of exhaust packing. The lambda kit was pretty straightforward to fit, I already have a boss in the manifold collector so just unscrewed the bung and screwed the sensor in, couple of riveted clips to fix the cable and that end was done. 20 minutes with the stepped drill and dremel saw the gauge fitted to the dash then another 20 minutes saw it all connected up – fortunately I already had a spare ignition switched 12v supply behind the dash.
With it all connected up I switched the ignition on and checked it was displaying the little dashes that meant it was heating itself up. I fired the engine up and was pleased to see it working great. As you can see from the pic it displays the air-fuel ratio in the centre to one decimal place and the little bar graph of coloured LEDs give a nice at-a-glance display – obviously yellow is rich, it goes red if it gets lean. It was idling while pretty cold when the pic was taken. It has a function to store the peak reading with a wire to control it – the instructions show a switch connected to throttle linkage to actuate it at wide open throttle but I’ve just go it earthed at present so it just records the peak since it was switched on. You can reset this at any time via one of the buttons on the gauge. Overall I’m very pleased and look forward to seeing just how useful it is. It also has a pair of wires to connect it to a datalogger, you can also configure the end-points for both the bar graph display and the logger output to narrow the range down if you want.
I also managed to pick up the fire extinguisher yesterday. It cost £11.95 + VAT and now has a nice new sticker saying it needs a complete service in 3 years. The guy said it’ll need to go back to the manufacturer for that unfortunately as it includes refilling it. So all that’s left to do is refit the extinguisher, slap my race numbers on and get everything loaded up for the trek to Snetterton this afternoon – I rang the club earlier in the week and am booked into the All Comers race on Saturday.
Having got home from work at twenty past midnight my alarm wasn’t terribly welcome at 6.30 this morning But I had lots to do – I had a load of car juggling to do, get the motorhome ready, get the Fury onto the trailer, pack all my tools etc. and get my helmet etc. together. With the cars rearranged I nipped to Tesco to fill the motorhome with diesel and fill my 2 jerry cans with unleaded. All seemed to be going well until I came to get the Fury out of the garage to find the nearside front wheel fouling the arch. I was initially a bit puzzled but decided it was probably just a low ride height – in addition to sticking weaker springs on the front springs are an inch shorter. I decided to just wind up the platforms when I got there.
There was a briefing scheduled just before 10am with the first track session starting at 10 and it was always a bit of an ask. David and I arrived a minute or two after 10 and everyone was in the briefing. I didn’t want to go in part way through so I got the trailer off the car, jacked it up and wound the spring platforms up. I’d spent a bit of time cleaning and greasing them so I was able to just turn them by hand. About 10.20 they all came out of the briefing and John, the chief marshal there called me over. He did a quick briefing for myself and another late arriver, he knows I’ve been there a few times before and I hadn’t expected arriving late to be a problem. They were starting off with 2 sessions, and the fast group was going out first, so I got back to the car and stuck some air in the tyres and got ready to go out. By the time I got out there were only about 4 or 5 cars on the circuit so plenty of space to get up to speed.
The car felt great. When you’ve not driven one of these for a while you forget how lively they are, how good a bike engine sounds at 10k+ rpm etc.The only minor hiccup was that the gear indicator wasn’t working properly as I’d forgotten to tell the dash it had a 3.14 diff not a 3.38. The car felt noticeably softer, I seemed to have much better feel for what it was doing. Although there will of course be a significant psychological element to this I have in fact reduced the springs by about 12% so you’d expect to notice it really. My main goal was simply to do a shakedown, check everything was working properly. Within a couple of laps I was up to speed and really enjoying it.
Between sessions I did a bit of checking but mostly some cleaning! Correcting the dash for the diff ratio took only a minute and the speedo and gear indicator worked flawlessly after that. I hadn’t had time to clean the car and it was still covered in grime from Silverstone. The wheel didn’t seem to be fouling any more and although I must have put the corner weights out it felt fine under braking. Llandow’s not a very good place to test that though, the finish straight is incredibly bumpy and I decided to back off early and take it easy – it’s a hard braking zone from about 110mph in 5th down to 2nd gear. After 3 sessions John announced that it was now open pit so we could come and go as we pleased. There were probably about 20 cars there altogether but it was always quiet on the track.
By lunchtime I’d done 5 good sessions entirely without incident so I decided it was mission accomplished and stuck her on the trailer and headed back. So she’s now in the garage cleaner than when I left this morning and good to go. I’ll do a bit of prop/diff bolt checking during the week and have a look at the corner weights again but that’s all she needs
I couldn’t do any lap timing but from my video I think I was doing around 47 seconds. I can’t remember what I’ve done there before but am confident it was slower than that. Here’s one of the traffic free laps:
I was going to make an early start this morning but it was -4° so I bottled out and sorted out my race suit instead. I’d been planning to send it away to have it dry cleaned and to have the velcro on the belt and collar replaced as all the hooks had fallen off the old stuff. In the end the company I spoke to said it was OK to stick them in the washing machine so that’s what I did. I managed to buy some fireproof velcro as well so this morning I spent an hour unpicking the old stuff and sewing some new velcro on.
By 10 o’clock I decided it would be tolerable in the garage so off I went outside. I go the front shock refitted then replaced the brake fluid and bled all the brakes. After that I stripped, cleaned and regreased the front hubs and bearings.
After lunch I got the wheels back on and lowered her onto the ground and set up my string box around the car to check all the wheel alignments. I was now confident of getting the car ready so rang Llandow and booked onto tomorrow’s trackday. The front wheels were fine for both toe and camber but the rears unsurprisingly weren’t. It then took me a couple of hours to get the rear end sorted, I wanted just a couple of millimetres of toe-in and about 1.5° of camber. Once I was happy I could tighten up all the rose joint lock nuts etc, stick the wheels back on and tighten the hub nuts.
Now running out of time (as I’m working this evening) I got the car outside and got David to sit in it to measure the corner weights. After a bit of tweaking I was happy with that and got her back into the garage and refitted the bodywork. The harnesses need refitting in the morning and I need to pack my stuff up but the car’s otherwise ready to go
The stuff from Demon Tweeks arrived on Tuesday morning. Everyone moans about them but to be honest I’ve had nothing but good service from them, whenever I’ve rung they’ve been very helpful, the stuff has arrived the next day and with the 10% club membership discount they’re cheaper than the alternatives for most of the dedicated motorsport stuff. I also had an email from the MSA to say my licence is on its way back to me. Since I only sent my application last Thursday that’s pretty good too.
At the end of the season I wasn’t sure how I was going to cope with 5 months without a race weekend but as time went by I started to feel a bit can’t be bothered, especially when it was just too cold to be in the garage. Other priorities started to take over until the first race started to loom. But now I’m starting to feel enthusiastic again and am really looking forward to the Snetterton weekend. Some of the guys are testing at Snett this Friday but it’s simply too far for me, 300 miles and at least 6-7 hours in the motorhome. There is however a trackday at Llandow on Saturday and seeing as that’s only 40 minutes away and for the princely sum of £80 it would be rude not to unless the weather’s awful or I hit some unforeseen snag with the car.
Tuesday evening saw the propshaft refitted – plenty of loctite on the nuts and all marked with paint. I also fitted the new mirror.
On Wednesday I received confirmation that the club have received my entry. It turns out the All Comers race is on the Saturday, which makes a bit more of a weekend of it which is good given the distance. You can usually get into the All Comers quite late (usually on the day in fact) so I’ll wait till I’m confident the car’s sorted (i.e. after Llandow if I go) before entering. I also sorted out the motorhome insurance – I haven’t looked at the motorhome since Christmas when it was press-ganged into providing accommodation for some of the family visiting. So far as I know it doesn’t need much doing to it apart from a spring clean and restocking of cupboards. I also knocked the plastic wheel arch trim off while manoeuvring it and that needs a bit of tidying up and refitting.
Wednesday evening got the reverse motor refitted – it’s got some fairly serious duty bracketry so as a rather futile gesture I’ve drilled some holes in it. The whole lot could do with some paint but it’s a bit of a thrash dissembling it all and I couldn’t be bothered. Once that was refitted I could refit the tunnel panels. Next job was swapping the springs on the front suspension. A bit of a PITA job but with the assistance of my trusty Lidl luggage straps I managed to compress the springs. With the springs off I could give the bodies a good clean and some lubrication then reassemble with the 200lb springs.
Right, I’m back in the groove now Yesterday morning I sent off my application for the RGB series, there’s a rather nice single form on which you can enter all the races so that’s what I’ve done. I also rang Demon Tweeks and ordered a couple of bits and pieces – a new tinted visor (the last one was iridium which looked nice and worked well but ended up horribly pock-marked quite quickly as the stone chips damaged the surface coating). Also another pair of nomex socks as using a single pair for a whole weekend of testing and racing turned out not to be a terribly good thing! And a replacement mirror – this will be the third of the nice curved Longacre mirrors, the first one cracked spontaneously and the second one when the guy at PDQ caught it when climbing into the car on the dyno last year. Not cheap at £17 but a real godsend.
I also rang Fisher but still no sign of the new uprights – apparently they had a batch made up by their fabricators that were all out of alignment so they’re waiting for more. They sounded reasonably confident of getting them within the next week or so but I’m not too worried about running with the repaired one at Snett.
In the evening I made a bit more progress. I swapped the rigid rear towing eye for the Schroth strap I used previously as the Blue Book now prohibits bits sticking out of the bodywork. I painted up the bolts on the diff and drive shafts then it was time to refit the fuel tank.
Refitting the fuel tank didn’t take long and pretty soon it was connected up and the rear end was back together apart from fitting the return and vent hoses back onto the tank.