Latest News

12May

Springs fitted

The stiffer springs are now fitted to the front and rear dampers. The fronts have gone up from 750 to 950lb/in, and the rears have gone up from 950 to 1150lb/in. I'll have to wait until Pembrey to see if that'll improve the resistance to the downforce thats being produced. I also tweaked the dashboard, to make both sets of shift-lights work, as I've only had the left hand lights working since it went back to RT for the repair last year, despite me trying to reinstate them previously, they're now working properly.

6May

Pi Progress

I'm making some progress now with the Pi Zero based G-Meter. I've had to define my own 4x8 pixel character set, so I can display text and words, and I've written a subroutine in Python to scroll the text from right to left. The Waveshare pHATs didnt work on the Zero, and I'm trying to get my money back. Instead I now have an Allo mini-Rainbow pHAT which worked straight out of the box with no configuration changes required.


Latest News

2May

Pi Data logger results from Aintree

I only managed to record one run at Aintree using the Pi data logger, I was switching the Pi on and pressing the Start button, but the USB stick only had data from the first practice run. It wasnt until I took the Pi out the car tonight to check it that I found the antenna had come loose. I'd not secured the connector using a spanner. Oops. Oh well, when I put it back in the car I'll make sure to tighten it properly, so for Pembrey I will catch all the suspension data.

30Apr

1st or maybe 2nd in class at the Aintree Sprint

On Friday the replacement mk2 front wing bracket arrived, courtesy of DJ Cars and Plays-Kool Motorsport. Nick and Luke Algar had CNC machined the parts for me, and so I built the front wing up on Friday afternoon, and the design certainly looked promising. On arriving at Aintree at 7am (2 1/4hrs towing) I nabbed the space next to Steve Miles' Van Diemen, and unloaded the car. Steve was changing his gear ratios, and was stuck trying to get the end case back on the gearbox. So I spent 20 mins with Steve, getting him sorted and the issue was simply one of misalignment. All the right gears, not necessarily in the right order. Steve Wilkinson used that on his commentary, descrbing his sequential gearbox as having the Eric Morecambe setup. Anyway, scrutineering went through very quickly, I received a free MSA sticker on my Simpson Hybrid FHR (thank you Chris) and first practice was soon on us. A beautiful sunny day at Aintree, despite rain all over the rest of the country. As I built the speed up, there was no front wing wobble, however when I pushed the car on the final straight, the wobble returned. Albeit at a much higher top speed.

In the paddock, I raised the front wing up, 10mm, as the mounts that DJ designed, gave me that option. On to the 2nd practice run, and again the wobble returned, but at an even higher top speed. Which was encouraging. So for the first timed run before lunch, I added further packing spacers to the front dampers to reduce the drop in ride height, and again, this improved things. And I ran a 42.90s, which was just 3/10ths off my PB from 2017. But I had little suspension travel left, so on the long lunch break, I raised the front suspension two turns of the turnbuckle on both sides, to give the car another 6mm of ride height.

The second timed run I ran a 42.91s, one hundredth slower, but, no wobble and with some suspension travel restored, I had nothing to lose for the third timed run. I lined up, and setting off recorded the quickest 64ft time all day with a 2.13s on cold tyres. I really pushed the car, took a little more speed in to the corners, and as I crossed the line at 146mph, no wobble, and I'd run a 42.61s lap, which was just 0.02s off my PB. And I was just 1s behind Steve Miles so that was also very pleasing. I was 1st in class too, as FTD winner John Graham took FTD in the Gould.

So it looks like we've found the cause and the solution to the front wing wobbles. The car is still too softly sprung at the front, and the front wing is being driven down in to the road. And to maintain its gap to the road, I shall have to fit 950lb/in springs to the front, and fit the 1150's to the rear. I'll do that before the next event which is at Pembrey in June, so plenty of time.

The stiffer front wing mount definitely contributed to solving the problem, so a big thank you to DJ Cars and to Plays-Kool for the machining. With the stiffer front springs, I'll be able to run some flap angle, because all of the above was experienced with zero flap, therefore in order to actually run front downforce, the car needed far stiffer springs than standard, and opportunities to go testing, which unfortunatly, in Feb and March, the reliable British weather prevented. At least we had a sunny day at Aintree, and time to try a few things out until we cured the problem. A big thank you to Liverpool Motorclub for putting on such a well organised event. I'm going back this year, with front downforce, where I'll have another go at beating my PB.


26Apr

Ready for Aintree

All the jobs are complete, and I'm ready and raring to go to Aintree. 42.59s is my PB I need to beat, and I'll try my best with the new wings, and chassis setup. I've entered the Abingdon Carnival Sprint on June 9th, and the Snetterton weekend sprint on the 23rd/24th of June, which is another two rounds of the BSC.

24Apr

Diff refitted

I refitted the differential last night, and filled the box with 3L of Royal Purple gearbox oil. It wasnt easy to get the diff back in with the offside drive shaft in situ, so I ended up removing that, then when the diff was securely back inside the box, both driveshafts were refitted, and everything tightened up and checked over. With both rear wheels off the ground, now when I spin one wheel the opposite wheel turns in the same direction, which shows the preload is correct.

Next job is to drain and refill the fuel tank, so I know I've 5L in the tank for Aintree, and have a go at sitting in the car wearing the Simpson Hybrid FHR, to make sure that I can still do my belts up.

Pete took FTD at the Borough 19 Hethel Sprint on Sunday, in sunny conditions. He's recorded peak lateral G's of -2.76 and + 2.66 for the first time, which is impressive. The aero package on his car is clearly working well.

22Apr

New Pi project begins

I've started the next Pi project, which is a G-Meter with visual indicator for the race car. The page can be found here

19Apr

Diff done

The diff is back from MBR, it needed a shim 2 thou thicker to bring the pre-load back, and it cost me £80 for the labour, so not bad really for the expertise that Mark has. So nearly ready for Aintree on the 28th, where I'll be car #98 up against John Graham #99, and I've also put my entry in for the Pembrey Summer Sprint in June, no time to relax. The side and doors inside the van are now fully soundproofed and insulated, so the next trip out that requires a sleep inside, it should be more comfortable.

10Apr

Diff maintenance

The diff is removed from the gearbox. It was really only a 10 minute job, but it took an hour to suck all the gearbox oil out of the box, to avoid it leaking when I removed the diff cover. The oil came out very clean, with no metal fragments inside the bottom of the box, and there is little wear on the CWP, so I'm sure the gearbox will take more torque than the 261ft/lb I've been putting through it for the past 12 months.

09Apr

Diff maintenance

The Hewland limited slip diff needs to be sent away for a service, as it no longer has the same pre-load as it did when it was first fitted. The way to test for pre-load is to raise the rear wheels off the ground, and rotating one wheel should make the opposite wheel turn in the same direction. My diff doesnt do that, so its going to be removed and sent down to Mark Bailey for him to check. The latest DJ design for the Mygale front wing bracket is also currently being CNC machined, and I should have it back in time for Aintree on the 28th April. As I didnt get above 100MPH at Croft, I'm still not sure if the modified wing bracket cured the problem, so I'm wholly relying on the CNC bracket to cure the oscillations.

I'm three events in to the 2018 season, and even though I managed to scrape 2 British Sprint points at Castle Combe, I didnt enjoy the day, nor Rockingham the day after, and Croft was a complete waste of time due to the weather, and I'm not where I wanted to be pace wise, due to the testing in Feb and March having been snowed off, so all in all its quite a disappointing start to the year. At Aintree I will be winding the downforce on, gradually, until I'm more comfortable with the feel of the car, and at the very least I need to set a new PB. My target is to get under the 40 second barrier, closer to John Graham's Gould which easily circulates in the low 37's. But front downforce is what's still lacking, and I know the wings will totally transform the car once I've ironed out the annoying niggles.

07Apr

Van mods

The VW Kombi van I've bought to tow the trailer, and to live in on the weekends away, is receiving some Silent Coat 40 sound deadening. Once its all done inside, the light grey panels will be treated to some Veltrim, and additional insulation will be added to the cavities to make the van a bit warmer on the colder nights. I'm just getting all the parts together for the hookup kit, so I'll have mains electricity inside the van when there is a hookup point available. I used the van for the first time to drive up to Croft, and its a very capable vehicle, certainly made for an easy journey, and sleeping inside the van was more comfortable than trying to sleep inside the trailer.

05Apr

Pi Data logger results

The datalogger worked really well on Monday, I used it for both practice runs, and the GPS coordinates that it recorded are very accurate. I use Excel to import the data that the Pi creates, and I have written Visual Basic macros to analyse the data and produce the trackmaps. The hardware costs around £130, and that gives GPS logging at 10Hz, and 8 ADC channels, of which I'm just recording 4 channels for the time being, for the four potentiometers.

Once the data is analysed, Excel can export the data in CSV format, and the CSV file can them be imported in to LifeView alongside the data captured by the ECU, to display the four potentiometer traces.



03Apr

British Sprint Round 2 Croft Easter Sprint abandoned

The weather beat everyone at Croft Circuit yesterday, with forecase of sleet, snow and heavy rain, not many of us thought that the event would run its course, and after the 2nd practice, in very dangerous conditions, the organisers took the correct decision in my view, to abandon the meeting. I couldnt see where I was driving, I couldnt avoid the puddles and rivers running across the track, and I didnt have the appetite to bin it in practice just to show everyone how brave I was. The conditions were almost as bad as that sprint at Barkston Heath in 2006 in the Fiesta, where we were literally skating around on the surface water.

Besides that, the car felt really great on the new springs, and the front wing didnt oscillate at up to 96mph, its just a shame it wasnt dry so I could try and go even quicker. The Raspberry Pi datalogger was installed for this event and it worked perfectly. I'll publish the results later this week.

So no points awarded, 300 mile round trip completed, two more laps driving in the rain under my belt, the Michelin wets were very grippy, it was just a shame the rain didnt stop to allow the track to drain. My next event is the Aintree Sprint on April 28th.






31Mar

Croft Preparation

I have changed the springs on the car. The 750lb/inch that were on the rear are now on the front axle. And the rear is now using 950lb/in, with four turns of preload. More packing spacers have arrived, so I can pack the rear dampers out to stop the car from grounding out at the rear at Croft. The folded DJ front wing bracket has been strengthened again, so it should not allow the front wing to wobble. And DJ have provided me with CAD drawings in Step and IGS format, so I can get the new bracket CNC machined. I've removed the wire ropes from the rear wing, and replaced the outer ropes with aluminium bar, to keep the diffuser pressed down, as the wire ropes were allowing it to float too much.

I've collected a VW T32 Transorter Kombi 4Motion LWB, which will be the tow barge from now on. The van is 3 years old, and with the 2.0D engine and 6 speed gearbox, should be a better base to carry all the spares around in, and I should be able to sleep in it, rather than sleep in the trailer, which is an awful experience.

Video's from Combe and Rockingham are below. I've added telemetry, and you can see I took Avon Rise at 152MPH at Combe, despite the lack of front downforce, and the floor dragging its arse on the tarmac.







25Mar

BARC Rockingham

The following day, we all trekked over to Rockingham Circuit, and after heavy overnight rain, the track was very damp and extremely greasy for P1 first practice, resulting in many spins. My P2 time of 70.4s was 1.5s quicker than my 2017 PB, putting me 4th overall before the break for lunch. But the following T1 run resulted in me almost leaving the circuit on Steel Straight, following a lot of understeer out of Pif Paf, and I had to hit the brakes to keep the car on the track. 71s was quite disappointing. I then went slower again with a 73 on T2, again, the understeer was causing me to struggle round the corners the harder I tried, but I ended up 2nd in class, and 8th overall with a new PB, so again, not too shabby. Not the day I was hoping for though. The challenge now is to get the front wing bracket beefed up prior to Croft on Easter Monday, and in the mean time, talk to DJ about a replacement bracket.

24Mar

BSC Round 1

The first round of the British Sprint Championship was a visit to a wet, and very overcast Castle Combe circuit in Wiltshire on Saturday, and it proved to be a very challenging day. I’d never driven the car there before, and with it being the fastest circuit in the championship, it wasn’t a place to be testing the car at. Regrettably, that’s what I ended up doing.

With all the snow over the winter, I’d missed two opportunities to test the new aero package, and after yet more snow over the previous weekend, the third attempt at going testing, was moved to last Thursday, just two days before the first event. On only my first test lap at Blyton, the front wing bracket was found to be not rigid enough, allowing the wing to windmill/oscillate at around 90mph, causing the front wing end plates to strike the floor, which needed a hard press of the brakes to bring the speed down to stop the oscillations. After making several adjustments to wing angles, the problem was not going away, just getting worse, so after just 7 laps I packed up and headed home. I was particularly annoyed as the day also involved professional coaching, which I’d also missed out on.

On Friday, a pair of diagonal aluminium braces were TiG welded to the inside of the front wing bracket to try and strengthen it. And then on Saturday, the first (and only) practice run at a very wet Combe, I fitted the DJ front wing back on the car, but after reaching 100mph the wing was found to again oscillate, so I completed the practice run slowly and returned to the pits. Fortunately I’d taken the original Mygale front wing and brackets to Combe, so I quickly fitted them back on the car, ready for the first timed runs. The new wet tyres inspired no confidence either, they needed quite a few more laps before the release agent would disappear, and the grip would come in.

On to T1, and on a damp but drying track, and again on new slick tyres, naturally the car was unbalanced, due to the standard front wing and DJ rear wing on the car. So I drove around at speed and recorded a rather slow 139s run. On to T2, and I really had the hammer down, and ran 130.44s, which was very pleasing. However, the car was reported to be producing huge showers of sparks from underneath, so I added the rest of the packing spacers to the rear dampers to arrest the reduction in ride height due to the new rear wing producing more downforce than I’d experienced before, and I found I’d qualified 9th in the Top 12 run offs. Excellent.

On to the two Top 12 run offs, and I ran a 133s banker on my first run, and then a 131s on my second, to finish a disappointing 11th, however, considering the understeer, and ride height issues, it was a bonus to salvage 2 points. The car was still running too low, and the skid blocks underneath made for a spectacular shower of sparks as the car approached Avon rise at 151mph, so much so that someone commented it looked to be on fire.

So after the first round of the championship, I’m sat 11th in the points tables, and the next championship round is at the Croft Circuit on Easter Monday. The manufacturer of the wings is going to fix the front wing bracket, but whether they can do it in time for Easter Monday, remains to be seen. So I may have to struggle round with the standard wing on the front, but the pressure is on to score more points and hopefully climb a few places up the rankings.

I did finish 4th in class, ahead of Pete, and recorded points in the HSA and BSC championships, so it wasnt as bad a start to the season as it could have been. I should have been a lot higher up in the BSC run-offs results, Graeme Harden beat me yet again with his 1000cc Jedi, but again, salvaging a few points was a bonus.

Putting the car together at Combe last weekend #fordperformance #formulaford #mygale #ecoboost #ford #mountune #turbotechnics #revo #blackracecar #carsofinstagram #speed #racecar #motorsport #motorracing #follow #instalike #me #britishsprintchampionship

A post shared by Graham Blackwell (@zetecinsidedotcom) on


18Mar

The snow strikes again

Yep, more heavy snow the day before we're meant to be testing at Blyton, and its not looking great weatherwise at the moment. But all is not lost, as I'm due to be at Blyton again on Thursday, so I will still get an opportunity to set the car up prior to Castle Combe at the weekend.

The Pi3 datalogger is ready to be installed. I've added the connector to the Pi3 to allow it to connect to the loom I've made that joins it to the four potentiometers. I know the capture software I've written works, and I'm hoping to see some suspension movement data after I've driven with it fitted. I'll post the results when I have them.

I now have a second set of Force Racing wheels, in 8.5" and 10.5" widths, and the new slicks will be fitted to these. The wets will go on last years wheels, once I've finished testing at Blyton on Thursday.

12Mar

Combe Finals

The final instructions came out today for the Castle Combe sprint, and I'm car #16 in class E4 Racing Cars over 2000cc, which has 7 cars in total, and of the 24 registered BSC contenders, 22 are out at Combe, the first round of the championship. Its going to be quite a fight for a Top 12 place thats for sure. In E4 we have reigning 2017 champion Heather Calder, and former multiple champion Colin Calder in their shared Gould V8, John Graham (Gould V8), Terry Holmes and Graham Porret (Lola V8), and me and Pete Goulding (EcoBoost) so our little 1600T engines are going to have to work very hard to make any kind of impact on the class. Aside from E4, there will be Piers Thynne making his debut in D2 Sport Libre in a Radical SR8, and it'll be interesting to see how Simon Bainbridge gets on with his 4200T Audi Chronos against Piers. Class E1 Racing Cars up to 1100cc has 4 BSC entries, with the shared Force TA of Chris Bennett and Chris Jones, plus Martin Pickles, Graeme Harden and new boy Nick Houston in their Jedi's. Then in E2 Racing Cars over 1100cc upto 1600cc, we have new boy Steve Brown with his JKS JR01, veteran Bill Gouldthorpe sharing his SBD OMS 1600 with Carole Torkington, and then in E3 Racing Cars 1600-2000cc, we have Steve Miles (Van Diemen), and Steve Broughton and Matt Hillam sharing their heavily modified SBD Dallara, having received substantial aero upgrades by John Hansell over the winter. All in all, thats a lot of people trying to qualify, so lets hope the weather holds out and the event runs smoothly.

Noticeable by his absense is Jeff Wiltshire, his new Zeus EVO2 MR1500T is still awaiting a ROPS certificate. He is hoping to be out at Croft in April, if all the paperwork goes through.

The full entry list can be downloaded here

Here is a posting from my Zetecinside Motorsport Facebook page. Dont forget to like the page to get updates on Facebook.

9Mar

Wets

I bought a set of Michelin tyres during the week, a set of wets, in P310 compound, in F3 sizes, which will be fitted to the Force rims when they arrive. These will be used in place of the 6 year old Dunlop wets that came with the car, so thats another set of tyres to lug around with me, and hopefully my last. They were a good price, and were fresh in 2017, at about a third of the cost of brand new tyres, it just shows its worth keeping an eye on the Race Cars Direct website for a bargain.

I've fitted 3mm Tufnol Whale strips to the underside of the front wing end plates, to prevent them from grounding out and wearing the carbon away. I've stuck them on with a few spots of Sikaflex, which should keep them from falling off, but still allow me to replace them quite easily. I bought the plastic from Direct Plastics. They will even supply the material cut to shape, so I ordered the smallest sheet size, and they cut it in to 25mms strips for me.

I've finished the diffuser off, by adding a new pair of carbon end plates, to lower the sides of the diffuser closer to the ground. They are also stuck on using Sikaflex with a few M4x6mm screws to prevent them from falling off. I'll be testing at Blyton on March the 19th, with Pete, and this will be the first time both cars will be together in 2018, prior to the Castle Combe and Rockingham Sprints on the 24th and 25th. I've also got a coaching session on the 22nd at Blyton, with Triple M motorsport, that should teach me a few tricks of the trade so I can improve my times. And I'm spending time on rfactor2 on the PC, practicing the Castle Combe track, to help me learn the right lines for a single seater.
Finally this is a short video of the engine warming up last weekend.