January 1999

Fitted the new wheel bearings to the front hubs. Finally processed the films from the Prodrive factory visit. I'll see if I can do some scanning over the weekend (didn't have the digital camera when I went to Prodrive.) Found a great picture of the Zetec engine sitting in the engine bay. And another of the front engine mount
Bought two new front wheel bearing kits from the Ford dealer. I've been making drawings of the front strut tops, so I can work out how to get them both in exactly the same place when I weld them on. Should I lean them back, which will change the caster angle? What caster angle should I go for? +ve or -ve? I'm not really going to have that much adjustment to play with, as the eccentric tops adjust the camber and caster as the alloy top is rotated.

Imaging looking at the front of the car, and imagine a vertical line through each of the front wheels. The camber angle is the angle which the front wheels lean away from the vertical line. Race cars normally have lots of -ve camber, and the wheels look like they're leaning in at the top.

Now Imagine looking down on to the top of the suspension strut. The caster angle is the angle which the strut top leans towards the front or rear of the car. From the side of the car, this angle isn't visible, until the wheel is removed. Then the suspension strut can be seen, usually leaning backwards on a race car.

See a diagram of caster and camber angles

Caster is very important for going round corners. So is camber. As lock is applied to the front wheels, the footprint of the tyre changes. You want a flat area of the tyre touching the road, for optimum grip. As the car turns, weight is transferred to the wheel on the outside of the car, the suspension compresses, and the geometry of the front wheel changes. Its all very dynamic, but with fine tuning, your car can be made to be a great handling car.

I'm going to see if I can find a web site with any details on suspension geometry.

I've fitted one of the new strut tops. Its like the bloke at TAS said, "you just cut the old ones out, and fit the new ones". Quite simple really, though I'm sure that Beccy didn't like the major surgery I was attempting. Sure looked brutal, and I wore my new cutting disk down to half its original size. Check the picture gallery for photos of the work. Now I've got to concentrate on removing the other side, and I've got to get the positions of the new strut tops spot on when I weld them in place, otherwise the geometry of the front suspension will never be the same for both sides. I need to worry about the inset, and height of the tops. If I don't inset them enough, then I'll be no better off than I was with the original tops. The adjustable eccentric platforms obviously allow me to inset the front struts, but if I don't position the strut tops correctly, then I'll only end up with more +ve camber adjustment. And if I don't get the height of the tops correct, the adjustable spring platforms will be wound up to the stops, and I'll have no ride height adjustment.

My buddy James Wolstenholme's letter has been published in Max Power. I mentioned to him about using the Nitrous Oxide from St.Ivel squirty cream for boosting power, and he concocted a wind-up letter for their wally column. And they've printed it. Result.
Look, its too blooming cold outside at the moment to even contemplate fitting those strut tops. I've been playing Zelda 64 to keep myself occupied. Oh, and I've started to design the dashboard and wiring for the car, so I am doing something useful.
Went to the Autosports International show at the NEC in Birmingham. A bit of a rip-off ! £28 for two people, just to look round a load of trade stands. Check out the photos of the new Focus WRC on my Stop Press page.