After a busy week mostly spent in Croydon it was good to get back to the car on Friday. The rad ducts on the BDN are beautifully made and very light GRP mouldings that duct the air from the ‘nostrils’ in the bonnet through the radiators in each sidepod and then exhaust the hot air into the channel between the rear wheel arch and the engine cover. They’re sealed around the rad ensuring extremely good flow of air through the rads, hence needing to actually tape up one rad when I went to the rolling road last year. However when I fitted the new nearside duct after the Snetterton crash I didn’t trim quite enough off the rear edge of the duct meaning that it projected a bit too far forward. Apart from looking a bit unsightly it meant the edges of the duct were visible and contactable by the VOSA man’s sphere of doom. So my first job on Friday morning was to remove said duct, remove the retaining brackets and trim a centimetre or so off the rear edge. I then refitted it and rebonded the brackets onto it with PU sealant.
The sealant of course took ages to go off in the near freezing temperatures. I then removed the offside sidepod to make a start on fitting the side impact protection bars. After my crash at Snetterton it was clear that I’d been quite lucky not to have a broken leg and Ian immediately started thinking about how the footwell could be reinforced. It’s a weak area on any car due to the lack of clearance between the front wheel and the chassis. I think Ian considered a few options, including a composite aluminium honeycomb but decided in the end on a length of aluminium square box section. Very simple but a surprisingly easy bolt-on fixing via one of the 10mm bulkhead bolts at the front (as shown in the pic to the right) and an 8mm bolt at the rear that required a rivnut in the chassis tube. My rivnut gun won’t do 8mm nuts so I used a bit of steel bar and an 8mm bolt and nut as described here.
The box section sits immediately below the front rad duct and is barely visible even without the sidepod on. Here’s a pic of the rear end of it bolted onto the chassis rail. On Saturday I set about trimming the sidepods to fit around the new additions – this took a bit more time than I’d anticipated as the aluminium box section in places runs along the line of the lower curve of the sidepod and needed quite a few trial fittings before I was happy. As a consequence I only got the offside one done.
The nearside one of course didn’t take quite so long and once I was happy with it I refitted both sidepods. I hadn’t been completely happy with the new mirror and decided it could do to be a bit higher so I turned an aluminium mount to raise it by an inch or so. And that was that for another weekend.
I rang to rearrange the test and the first date I could fit it in with the inspector was the afternoon on Friday 2nd March. The weekend before this I set up the front wheel alignment using my trusty aluminium angles and string box. Although the general recommendation on the Locostbuilders forum was for some toe out to achieve some self-centring Ian advised that because of the geometry and kingpin angle on my car a bit of toe in would be better. Along with the reversed steering arms to reduce the Ackerman angle and the new wishbones I’m hoping to have solved that little problem but haven’t really got room to test it out.
The trusty motorhome is three years old in the first week of March so it needed its first MOT. I booked it into the local Halfords as my local garage couldn’t get it into their bay. After waiting for a while I was informed that it had failed with a loose CV joint boot and a brake light bulb not working. The guy was writing out the paperwork when the manager came along and said he’d get their guy to stick a new clip on the CV boot and slap a new bulb in and pass it. Well chuffed, even more chuffed when it turned out they had a deal on MOTs at £27.50
At the IVA there had been a slight imbalance between the left and right front brakes, not enough to be an issue for the test but I wasn’t terribly happy with it. I decided the only reasons it could be were glazed pads on one side, a contaminated disk or a bit of air in one side. So I cleaned up the pads on some emery cloth, cleaned up the disks with brake cleaner and re-bled the front brakes.
With that the car’s ready bar slapping the seats back in, reprogramming the DigiDash (so the mph display is always visible) and temporarily fixing the headlight covers back on (so I can easily adjust them at the test centre). Although I’m hopeful the car will pass it’s not the end of the world if it doesn’t. The season’s getting close though so I’ll need to get the car back into race trim at the weekend anyway, you get 6 months grace after each fail to resubmit so I can retry in a longer gap in the middle of the season. I’ve got a trackday booked at Anglesey on Sunday 11th March along with a bit of instruction. Following Colin’s testing at Mallory (Tim Grey diagnosed it as having too much front downforce compared to the rear) I’ve been in discussion with Colin and both Ian and Brian Baldwin, clearly my car doesn’t seem to have as much imbalance as Colin’s (possibly due to Colin’s having a full cage) but the plan is to keep the splitter as high as possible to minimise front downforce.