March 2015

27Mar

A very big thankyou to Fibre-Lyte for sending me two sheets of A4 sized, 1.5mm carbon sheet, that will replace the carbon/grp end plates on my rear wing. Fibre-lyte constructed my carbon dashboard inside the Fiesta, and I cant recommend them highly enouugh.
Carbon A4 x 1.5mm

24Mar

I went to Donington Park today for the BTCC launch. There were thousands of people there, and I even bumped in to Dave Moore (Mountune) but alas, never saw even a glimpse of any of the drivers. There was no pit lane walkabout either, so we just took to the grandstands and snapped away. The cars look and sound great this year. My favourites were the all black VW's, driven by Plato and co. Hope they leave them black.

BTCC Media Day, March 24, 2015

23Mar

I really enjoyed the Great Western Sprint on Saturday. Organised by Bristol Motor Club, it was well run, the weather and organisation were perfect, and despite the casualties, everyone seemed to be having fun. Setting off at 4:45am, I was making good time towing the Fiesta, and ignoring the Satnav that kept telling me the 'M5 Motorway is closed'. However as I approached M5 J9 uncannily I found that yes, it was closed afterall. Following overnight closures for resurfacing, the road was supposed to be re-opened at 6am, so with my schedule, I anticipated the Satnav telling me it was closed, because by the time I arrived, it would have been re-opened. Unfortunately, someone had spilt three lanes of diesel on the nice shiny M5, so the Police were out in force shoving everyone off, on to the A46, through Cheltenham, past GCHQ, and back on to the M5 at J11A. That added 30 mins to the journey, and by the time I reached Castle Combe it was 7:40am. I needn't have worried though, my paddock space was reserved, and I pulled in next to the giant Green and Yellow car transporter (Converted Bus) of Simon Bainbridge, car #26. No sign of the Darrian, car #27, and Simons new car was sick, so this looked like an easy first in class.

Scruntineering was interesting. My overalls were, according to the scrute, out of date, and if I wanted to run, I'd have to go in to the Merlin Motorsport shop, and buy a new pair! I asked why none of the scrutineers last year had warned me that they were going out of date in 2015, and that I didnt think he was right. So out came the blue book, and sure enough, they werent out of date at all. I didnt think overalls needed to be in-date, same as seat belts and seats. In sprinting of course, they're mandatory, but the age's are irrelevant. (I'm told on the QT that this will be changing in 2016). Better start saving.

Simon and John were hard at work diagnosing engine woes in the jaw droppingly beautiful SBR Crono V8, that literally had only just turned a wheel a few days before to make sure the clutch and brakes worked. Having travelled 300 miles to get to Combe, they were both tired, and determined to get the car started. I soon mucked in, and at lunch time, we managed to coax the 4.2 V8 Twin Turbo in to life, after changing the plugs gave her the sparks she so desperately needed. I had my laptop with me, so we even reverted the DTA S80 map to a version that they knew the car would run with, and it didnt make any difference. You could hear her firing, wanting to start, but there was just no impetus. I checked all the errors on the DTA, the throttle stops, the 5V sensor voltage, and the readings from the sensors, we even used the oscilloscope to check the crank sensor, everything looked fine. So we decided that the electronics and ECU were fine, and it had to be the plugs. John changed them all, and the engine burst in to life. I then reverted the ECU map back to the newest one that they had, which had modified throttle transients, and the engine again started, and Simon went out to do a practice run. He came back with a huge smile on his face, but there was an oil leak on one of the turbo feeds, so John repaired that, and at that point, they called it a day, as they simply didnt want a repeat of the fire at Mallory Park three years earlier.

Earlier in the morning, on the Practice Run, I was just ahead of the 6.0 Davrian, with a slow and cautious 166 seconds for the lap and 3/4. The track had just been resurfaced, and although it was far smoother than I remembered, the tarmac was very oily in places, and only the brave pushed hard on the first run.

With no Simon, Ian Hall and I lined up to do our first Timed runs, and I improved by nine seconds, and Ian improved by 30! He ran a 137.04, and I ran 157.47s Crikey, Ian was clearly sandbagging in practice. Thats a big gap for me to try and make up.

Simon's practice run after lunch, netted him a 151.61s, so I really tried my hardest in T2, and I shaved another 4seconds off my time to run a 153.56s, and Ian didnt record a time, so his T1 time of 137.04s gave him 1st in class, I was 16.52s behind with my 153.56, and Simon, having not recorded a Timed run, wasnt classed as a finisher. So second in class, and an impossible gap to close. I was quite happy.

Simon's class record for Combe is 125seconds. In his previous car, the Yellow 4.2T Audi TT, he would have been almost 30 seconds faster than me over the lap and 3/4. That just shows the canyon sized gaps between cars that fall in to Sports Libre. But I didn't mind the competition. I'm normally only competing with myself anyway, and I thought the Fiesta performed very well on Saturday, considering my last time out was Prescott in June 2014. I was running a lower rev limit than before, of 7400rpm, as the engine is now four seasons old, and I really dont want it self destructing on me. This gave me a slightly lower top speed of 114 MPH, but when you consider the 16 second gap, revving the engine harder wasnt really going to make up that deficit anyway. I'd rather save the engine, than worry about a couple of mph. I did raise the rev limit by 100rpm for my last run, which made a fraction of a difference to my time, and I also adjusted the angle of the rear wing, from horizontal for the first run, one step higher for the 2nd, and finally the highest position for the 3rd and final run, and it felt a lot steadier at the rear with the wing set to maximum, and made no difference to the top speed.

The Joesracing.com GoPro mount performed excellently, with zero vibration on the footage. The Datalogger caught all of the runs, though yet again it did its trick of writing a RT040101 folder on the SD card, which luckily contained the fastest run, so nothing lost there. I'm going to relocate the DL1 to the floor, near the ECU, so its easier for me to reach. One thing I did notice on Saturday was just how hot the floor of the car was, where the exhaust system runs beneath, it was too hot to bear my hand on, so I may put some more heat shield underneath, to keep the heat from penetrating the cabin.

The 330D tow car is brilliant. I averaged 31mpg there and back, and she cruised at a steady 60mph and never batted an eyelid on some of the steeper climbs on the motorways.

A good day out with friends, just what Sprinting is all about.





Castle Combe Sprint, March 22, 2015

13Mar

I have an entry for Castle Combe (21st March). I'm car 28, and share the class with the SBR Crono V8 of Simon Bainbridge (4200T V8) and Ian Halls 5995cc Davrian. I set off 30s in front on Simon, and I reckon, I'll probably get caught over the space of two laps. I'll be trying hard not to, and if I am caught, Simon gets another run. Lets see what happens next weekend.

On my last visit to Combe, I was there in 2013 at the Forge Track Day, I had the DL1 datalogger running, as I learnt the circuit on my first outing. The analysis shows that my fastest lap (fourth ever lap) was 1m23.18 and my fastest theoretical lap was 1m21.92 so that gives me a good yardstick for the event next weekend.

Bert (Darren Silver) is also in, car 73 in his Mk1 Fiesta, and there are two other Fiesta's on the entry list, car 72 and car 58. Not a bad turnout.

The electric water pump has been delivered, so now I need to start planning on where to fit it and how to plumb it in.

12Mar

Spent a good couple of days working on my Dad's Mk2 Escort. It's for sale, to make way for a newer project car, and although it was recently tuned on the rolling road, it wouldnt tickover. After starting the engine with the choke, it would hunt on part throttle, and would stall all too easily. The best place to start diagnosing a problem like this is to check for air leaks. Straight away we found a split rubber vacuum hose on the distributor, which we replaced, but the engine still wouldnt tickover. Then we removed the oil breather hose from the manifold, and routed that in to a catch tank, blocking off the intake on the manifold, and again, no change. So I did a google on diagnosing problems with the 32/36 DGV Weber carburettor, and the first article I found was the most useful. The approach is to adjust the idle mixture, rather than the idle speed (throttle stop). So we went back to the Escort after lunch, and the first step mentioned was to establish how far out the idle mixture screw was already adjusted. To my surprise I found it was wound fully in to the carb. Hmm? I then undid it the 2 turns as recommended by the article, and tried the engine again, and it started straight away and ticked over perfectly. I gradually tried to close the screw by a quarter of a turn, to lean the mixture out, but the tickover went all lumpy again. So the screw is at the 2 turns position, and thats where it'll stay. The guide mentioned to have the screw between 1.5 and 2 turns undone, but it seemed happiest at 2 turns. We then went on an hours drive, and the character of the Escort was completely changed. Very smooth, pulls well, easy to drive at very low rpm and throttle. She is a different car altogether. If you are in the market for a Mk2 1600 Sport, please get in touch.

I'm at a loose end at the moment, I was given a weeks notice on Monday, so I'm working out my notice at home and searching for new contracts. Whilst I've got the time off, I've wired in two pairs of main sockets on the garage walls. The garage only had a twin socket, right at the back of the garage, which made it quite difficult to run anything from the mains without having extensions leads trailing everywhere. So I bought some back boxes, sockets, 2.5mm twin and 1.5mm earth, some 16mm plastic trunking, and earth sleeve, and wired it all in today. The sockets all go back to the fuse box inside the garage door, and its a neat job, looks as good as the wiring that the electricians did when I bought the place. Now I can plug up to 8 devices in at the same time, which is highly unlikely, but with four sockets each side of the car, I wont be struggling for power any more.

The Joesracing roll cage GoPro mounts turned up on Tuesday (Thanks to Fiesta42 for the swift delivery) and I've tried them in the car, and they fit perfectly. I've just go to decide where to fit them for the best video. Castle Combe is ten days away, and I should find out any day now if I have an entry. I hope so, as my friend Bert (Orbital Motorsport) is going to be competing in his Mk1 Fiesta too, so it'd be great to get them both parked side by side in the paddock.

08Mar

Tested the removable tow bar and electrics out today, went out for half an hour, with the trailer on the back, and was very impressed with the pulling power of the beemer. Averaged around 32mpg over 20 miles, and the oil temperature never rose above 100C. I tried climbing Nanpantan hill in Loughborough, which is very steep, and the MPG guage on the dashboard was on the ends stops, so < 4MPG at a steady pace. Just as well the motorways arent on the same types of gradients as that hill. Very impressed though. And reversing with the auto box is also far easier than it was with the Subaru. Mind you, the juddering clutch on that car hardly helped. So first time towing with an auto, and I was pretty pleased.

I've bought a 2nd hand Davis Craig EWP80 pump for the Fiesta. This will be wired in to replace the mechanical pump when I change the radiator for a smaller one. I dont have any room in front of the engine to position the pump, until I reduce the radiator size.

03Mar

Changed the wheels for the OZ Superlegerra's with the Kumho treaded super softs, as the Dunlop slicks are far too hard for a cold spring morning, especially if it rains. I've fitted the new TPI wheel spacers on the front axle, the rear already had them on, hence the stance was so wide with the split rims (it barely fitted on the trailer such was the width). And I've cleaned the engine and given the old girl a bit of a polish too.

I'm drawing up the design of a replacement radiator. The one I designed previously is far bigger than it needs to be, and the new one will save around 4Kg in weight once its installed. I'll double check the dimensions and get the order off to Radtec.

Went to Mallory Park on Sunday for their Open Day. Free to get in, and a few nice cars to look at. We walked park of the circuit, and after an hour in the bitterly cold wind, decided to come home. Its a great track, and only 20 minutes from my home, so very easy to drive to.
Mallory Park March 2015