February 1999

The postmans been this morning, and all that arrived was the invoice for the spanner, so I rang DT and cancelled the order, demanding a full refund. I've since been out and bought a 1" AF spanner. Welded a lateral bar to the roll cage. It sits behind the drivers seat, runs across the width of the car, and connects both down-legs together. First time I've welded steel this thick, but I guessed the Voltage and wirefeed settings on the Miget, and got it spot on. Nice looking welds, even if I say so myself. I've used brackets to hold the bar on, so it can be removed if I decide to take the cage out for respraying. When I get back from work today, I'll have a go at making some removable door bars.

What a week. Despite making fantastic progress with the front suspension, its been one of those weeks when you really feel like taking up Dominos, or some other more restful pasttimes. Theres still no sign of the spanner, my shockers were only collected this morning, so I'm not going to get anything useful done this weekend. Thanks to everyone concerned for letting me down.

So I'm in at work on Sunday, installing a new NT server (P2-350 128MB 4GB), which will be a nice bit of double time. And Saturday? Well, I suppose I could try fitting the new steering rack, however, it didn't come with new ball joints, so I'll have to order some from the Ford garage in town. Found some wicked AVI's of that little yellow guy in the new Levi adverts. Kicking sound track. Flat Eric kicks ass..

Well, finally the spanner from Demon Tweeks has arrived. Only problem is that its a 10mm spanner, not a 1" AF. Now, if you think I'm a little bit upset, then you'd be wrong. I'M BLOODY ANGRY!! OK, so DT are now officially on my black list. I'm going to produce Vendor Ratings for the suppliers that I've used. A 100% rating means that they deliver exactly what you've ordered. A 0% rating means that they haven't delivered anything that you wanted. At the moment, Rally Design are 0% rated, and DT are about 80%. The Fiesta-Center are about the only ones that are 100% rated. And, the wife says that the steering rack arrived this morning, with bits poking out the from cardboard box. God knows what condition its in! I'll have to see if I need to return it when I get home tonight.

AVO have confirmed today that the sleeved nuts that I sent back, fit on some of their shocks, and on others they lock up, and can't be turned by hand. Its a problem with the thread on the stems on the top of the shock absorbers. They're collecting my struts from work tomorrow, and the threads will be re-cut to accept the sleeve nuts.

Hopefully I'll get them back for the weekend, with the nuts, so I can get on with some work.
Last night I removed the remaining strut top, and made loads of noise with the angle grinder.
This evening I finished cutting the chassis, and fitted and welded the new strut top in place. I spent about 15 minutes confirming its position, making sure it was aligned with the other top, before I welded it.

I'm waiting for TAS or AVO to send me some sleeve nuts that fit my shockers, before I can assemble the suspension on the near side, and then I'll get a good idea as to the cars ride height. Demon Tweeks called to say that the spanner hadn't been ordered, because a fax wasn't sent to the suppliers. Its been sent now. Ordered a new hi-ratio steering rack. The exisiting one is 16 years old.
Sent the TAS sleeve nuts to Nigel at AVO to see if he can get them to fit on some other shock absorbers. Spoke to TAS, and complained that they still dont fit my shocks, and apart from them being 'bemused' and 'no one else has had any problems' [Q)How many people actually buy bits for Mk1 XR2's these days?] they were going to see if it was a batch problem (my suggestion) and see about dispatching some more. Called Demon Tweeks again, as there's still no sign of my spanner ordered on the 8th of Feb. I think I'll put DT on my black list. No one there seems to have a clue as to whats going on. The annoying thing is that the money was debited from my account on the 8th. FRUSTRATING.... I'll remove the second strut top tonight, and weld the new top at the same position as the one on the offside.
Result! I've welded the strut top in the right place! My calculations were correct and the car is now sitting approx. 30mm lower on the near side. There is about 2" of piston showing, which means that the wheel can move up 2" before it hits the bump stop. Camber is looking like its going to be between 2 and 3 degrees -ve. Another result today is that the custom drive shafts that I bought have been made to exactly the right length! I've fitted the new one-piece driveshaft, together with the new drive hub, and the length of the shaft is perfect. The tri-lobe bearings lign up exactly with the output shaft on the gearbox. Top marks to Reco Prop. I'm making some progress at last. A down side of the new ride height, is that I cant get the trolley jack under the chassis rail any more. I'll have to push the front wheels on to planks to get the car high enough to jack up.
Tried purchasing a M12x1.25 tap. No luck. I was quoted £18.25 for the tap, so I've decided to reject the TAS nuts, and send them back to TAS on Monday.

Tack welded the strut top in what I'm hoping is the right position. I've only welded it in three places, so if its not right, I can remove the welds and reposition it. Installed the engine and gearbox, and built the new front suspension on the offside front, using the new bottom ball joints that arrived yesterday. Today (Sunday) I'm going to lower the car to the ground to see what the ride height is like with the weight of the engine and gearbox (and the rest of the car) resting on the new shocker. It should be sitting 30 mm lower than previous.
Check the picture gallery for some digital photos of the new strut and top.
Ordered two front lower ball joints from the Fiesta Center. Spoke to AVO again, wrt the front shocks. Nigel recommended welding the TAS front strut tops in the same position as the originals as the new shocks are actually 1" shorter in the body, and this will lower the car by 1", which is about ideal. There is a further reduction in length by 0.75", due to the new top mount system, so if I drop the strut tops by 0.75", then I shouldnt be far off the optimum height.
Converted the web site to use Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). Looking good!
According to AVO, the shocks are supposed to be 1" shorter in the body, and 1" shorter in the piston. Giving a reduction in length of 2".
More problems. The new AVO shocks are 2.75" shorter than the original shockers. That means I've got to mount the new strut tops a lot lower than the original ones. Bonus is that I end up with more -ve camber, because the top mount is lower. Problem is, how much lower do I mount the new top? Not 2.75", as the springs I'm going to run are 350-400lb, which means that the springs aren't going to be very compressed with the cars weight resting on them. Anyone got any ideas?
Been making some changes to the website, since discovering that it didn't work too well with Netscape 4.5. Modified the menu bar on the left, so it no longer uses java applet, but instead it now uses javascript. Spare nuts arrived from TAS, but these don�t fit either. The threads aren't cut properly all the way through the nut. I'll get a 12x1.25 tap this morning, and do it myself. No sign of the spanner from DT yet. Had a great hire car yesterday, a Honda Civic 1.4 16V. It revved to 7000, (85 in third) and handled superbly. My next project maybe to get hold of one of the Type-R Civics, as by all accounts they're amazing to drive.
Drilled out the spare TAS(UK) strut top nuts with a 13mm drill, and fitted to the AVO shocks. I can now measure the overall length of the strut with the spherical bearing in place, so this weekend I can weld the strut top in the right position. Added my page to the FordUnleashed web site. Check it out.
You just wouldn't believe the problems I've had trying to get a spanner to fit the nuts that fit in to the top of the spherical bearings. Even TAS(UK) didn't know what size spanner I needed. It turns out that its a 1" (AF). None of the places I tried yesterday even sell imperial spanners! So the whole car is based on metric threads, and I've got to buy an imperial spanner! I ordered one from Demon Tweeks in the end. Both AVO and TAS(UK) say that the threads used are 12x1.25mm pitch. I ordered two new nuts from TAS(UK), cos I buggered the last ones. They'd better fit this time.
I'm trying to build the front suspension units up this week, so I can measure their overall length when the spherical bearing top mounts are fitted, but I cant get the two nuts from TAS(UK) to fit the threaded tops of the AVO shockers. I've phoned AVO and they claim the threads are M12. I've tapped the two nuts out to M12, but now they're definitely the wrong thread. I'll either drill them out, and use a nylock nut to hold them in place, or I may call TAS(UK) to make me some more, but get them to find out what the threads are and to do the job properly.
I've found a broker that deals in Competition Car Insurace, and I've taken out a policy that covers the car against fire, theft, malicious damage, and cost £150. It sounds a lot of money, but its only 41p a day, and at least I now know that I've got cover.