#14 days to Snetterton
The shortened steering column is now fitted, and the steering wheel has been re-aligned using the steering wheel angle signal from the ECU. I've lots more room now to hold and turn the wheel. I've removed the gear cable bracket from the cockpit area, as that was digging in to my right leg at Croft and it is of course, no longer required since I've changed to paddle shift.
I'm just in the process of replacing the two microswitches in the paddles with IP67 water proof versions, and there's a few minor jobs to attend to prior to Snetterton on May 13th/14th.
Still no sign of the replacement front and rear wings from DJ Engineering. They're trying their best to get them manufactured for me, but its taking longer than I hoped. I'd really like them fitted for Snetterton, but it depends how difficult the front wing is to attach to the crash box on the car. You know how long these seemingly simple jobs take. The rear wing should bolt straight on, as they're attaching the mounting brackets based on the FTR gearbox dimensions. But the front wing might be tricky to sort, as the standard front wing mounts directly underneath the crash box, but DJ wings tend to incorporate side mounts.
The steering column has been shortened by 25mm and the new slug that came with the boss I bought from DT is now welded in to the end of the column tube, expertly done by www.altiss.com
My next event is the Snetterton 100, which is on the 13/14th May, and forms two rounds of the BSC. After that I'm at Pembrey for the weekend on June 3rd/4th, which will be my first time there.
I bought a device off the Internet, that was meant to help me push my trailer back in to its parking spot at the caravan storage centre, more easily, a bit of a labour saving device. Despite being beautifully made, it didnt ease the movement, and I've asked for a refund, which by law I am entitled to under the Distance Selling Regulations, but lets just say, the sellers arent cooperating. Right now, I'm not going to mention their brand, as I'm waiting for them to agree to provide the 100% refund. They're only offering 75% which is unacceptable. But I will name names if they dont cooperate, so lets hope for them that it doesnt come to that, as with 10,000 hits a day, I really dont think they want the exposure I can create. I'll get in touch with trading standards and draft a letter, and if they still dont want to give me a full refund, we'll start turning the screws.
A very good day at Croft. Everything worked perfectly, the launch brought my 64ft times down to consistent 2.1-2.2s, and the paddle shift was a revelation. The new wheels made the car so much more stable, I just need the new aero now, so I can get all the power down on the corners.
My best time, of 80.03s was set on the second of my two Top 12 Runoffs, that I qualified for in 11th place, and I was 14s faster than last year, which is a massive improvement.
I'm still not flat everywhere where I wanted to be, but I'm a damn site faster than 2016, and I reached 139MPH on the approach to Tower on my 1st and 2nd timed runs. Thats the quickest I've even been in a race car.
I've weighed the car and it comes in at 453Kg (dry) on the Rimstock rims and wet tyres. The Force rims and slicks reduces the weight by around 3Kg when fitted, so dry, the car is pretty much bang on 450Kg. I'm quite happy with that. Removal of the Diolin side impact boards took 16kg of weight out of the car, and with the removal of the extinguisher system, mirrors, gear shift cable and other alternator parts, the addition of the X10 expander, and the pneumatic paddle system, has put some weight back on, so 450Kg isnt that bad considering. I noticed that the corner weights are out, so I'll set the chassis up at Croft using their flat garage floors.
#4 days to go, and I’m really looking forward to Croft on Monday. It will be the first time I’ve driven the car with the paddle gear change system, and I’ll also have the audible warning buzzer connected inside my crash helmet, which will prompt me when to change gear. The prompts have been optimised according to the gear selected and the torque/bhp trace from the dyno plot, so for each gear, the change point is optimised to drop the engine revs at peak torque each time. So rather than relying on the change lights from the dash, I’ll be concentrating on the buzzer making a noise. I just hope I can hear it, and at the same time, that it’s not too loud. I’ll also have the Force Racing rims fitted all round, with fresh rubber on the front axle.
I've repaired the damaged diffuser, which touched the floor at Rockingham after two of the mounts pulled through. I've a lot of small jobs left to do to be ready for Monday, but I'm sure I'll cram them all in over the Easter weekend.
This is a diagram of the pneumatic paddle setup that I've installed. I've used Geartronics supplied FTR actuator, mounting bracket, a 2 way valve block and their 3500psi regulator. The air bottle I've used is an Empire UL carbon 0.8L paintball bottle, from Just Paintball, and it weighs just 790g. The steering wheel paddles are from Ascher-Racing, in Austria, and are actually race simulator paddles, though there is no reason why they wouldnt be suitable for real racing.
I have now removed the bowden gear change cable, and lever plus strain gauge, and I'll weigh these to see how much weight I've saved.
Well, the paddles worked first time, all my wiring was 100%, and we spent a good 7 hours working on the car, updating the firmware, and changing settings for launch and traction control. Very pleased with the outcome.
The engine now has a raised tickover and some other tweaks to see if we can cure the issue where the engine stalls when moving and then stopping in the paddock. We've enabled stack shift, which is a feature that allows me to shift down several gears whilst still accelerating, and when I reach the corner where the preselected gear is, and brake, the gears will automatically downshift to the gear I originally selected. This will take some practice to ensure its working first. The gear change from 1-2 is now automatic, so I dont need to worry anout reaction times to grab 2nd gear, as the ECU will change up automatically. Plus we spent a good hour or so adjusting the launch control settings, which we tested in the car park, and the system seems to be working properly now.
#12 days to go to the Croft Easter sprint. The entries have now closed, and there are 15 BSC contenders entered, and class 5E has me and five other V8's in the class. This is going to be a tall order.
Pete broke his gearbox in the sister car on Sunday. A layshaft bearing collapsed and the needle rollers from the bearing fell inside the gearbox casing and made their way in to most of the gears. Its looking like an expensive repair bill. Pete said the oil had turned black after the rolling road session but he ignored the warning sign and filled it back up with fresh oil. He managed to do four laps at Rockingham without any issues, but at Hethel on Sunday, after a 146mph run, it blew a hole in the end casing, and lunched itself. Expensive lesson. I've checked the oil in my gearbox and its the same colour it went in, ie clean, so I'll just have to keep an eye on it and see if the colour changes after each event.
I've replaced the steering wheel quick release boss, and the wheel now feels firmer, with no more side to side wobble. The wheel boss that came with the car was pretty worn, and I dont want the wheel coming off halfway round a lap. I've also removed the rear ARB as it wasnt connected, and thats saved another 929g of weight off the car.
I used 4l of fuel at Rockingham over the four 1.58mile laps. I make that 7.2mpg, which isnt bad I suppose.