Friday 30th January 2004
I had quite a journey home on Wednesday evening, caught up in the blizzard that struck the UK. I was travelling along the M40 north bound, at around 5:30pm when of all of a sudden there was the most amazing snow storm, complete with thunder and lightning. The motorway was quickly covered, white lines and cats eyes obliterated, and complete chaos broke out. Forced to crawl along at 15MPH, I sought refuge at the Oxford services, and waited an hour for all the idiots to sort themselves out. Once I resumed at 7pm I was able to drive at 60 MPH quite safely. So long as you don't do anything sudden, or make any sharp movements with the steering, you've actually got significantly more grip than you expect. The A43 was incredible, packed snow and ice everywhere, but thankfully the outside lane was clear so I could make some decent progress. Nothing worse than getting stuck behind someone terrified of snow. I even witnessed the driver of a brand new Honda S2000 lose it behind me as we rejoined the M1 from the A43. He did a perfect 360° spin, from the 1st lane right across to the 3rd lane, where he duly whacked the centre reservation with his nose, and bounced off, right in the path of all the oncoming traffic. He must have crapped himself. So much for rear wheel drive then. My Ford Focus hire car never let me down, not a single moment where I lost traction. Simply superb. The Audi Quattro however is a total handful in the ice. I dont seem to get any grip at all, and just end up with all four wheels spinning when I take off, making little or no progress out of junctions. Snow chains are required for next time methinks. Or narrower tyres.
The rear axle is now being modified to give me adjustable camber/toe. And a new rear anti-roll bar is being fabricated from scratch. The XR2 anti-roll bar is only 14mm thick, and doesn't really do anything other than add weight to the car. So this year, I should finally have the car handling properly, which will hopefully make a significant difference to my lap times.
Pictures of the new front suspension are shown below. First picture shows both the new Track Control Arms bolted to their corresponding tie bars, the 2nd picture shows the pin mounted in a spherical bearing, which is inserted in the bottom of the hub carrier. Picture 3 shows the underside of the same bearing. Picture 4 shows the inboard end of the TCA with the rod end and bushes ready to be installed on the car. The 5th picture shows the bar that mounts on the front chassis rail, in into which the tie bars are bolted. The raised section is set to clear the engine cradle. The TCA's are adjustable in length, and so are the tie bars. So I can adjust the caster and camber quite easily. I need to buy some 12.9 grade bolts to connect the rod ends on the TCA's to the chassis, and some shorter bolts to mount the new tie bar (picture 5) to the chassis rail. The kit weighs considerably less than the original tie bars and brackets (picture 6).
Tuesday 27th January 2004
New front suspension has arrived. Powder coated and ready to fit straight on to the car. I'll trial fit it in the next few nights, to make sure all the holes are aligned etc, and then take photo's etc for the website.
Sunday 25th January 2004
I won the Tony Higgins award at the Midland Speed Championship awards ceremony last night. The award is presented to the owner of the best prepared car in the championship, and I'm really delighted and honoured to have received it. Tony Higgins was tragically killed in 2002, and the award is a tribute to his meticulous car preparation. I actually met Tony at my first sprint, at the Silverstone Stowe event in August 2002, and I remember at the time seeing his car, and remarking on how clean it was. This is the first year the award has been presented, and I get to keep it for 11 months, and I have a replica which I can keep permanently. In honour of Tony, I will endeavour to keep my car looking at her best at all the events and photo shoots I attend during 2004. I also won a huge trophy for coming 1st in class in the Sports Libre class, so in all there was quite a haul of silverware on our table. Lets hope I can repeat the success in 2004.
Wednesday 21st January 2004
Updated the Stop Press page with some more magazine covers from magazines we've appeared in with the Fiesta. Going to be seeking new sponsorship soon so I need to get the page looking as good as possible.
Monday 19th January 2004
Bought the replacement sprocket bolts, and camshaft oil seals from Ford today. Cost was £12.42. The bolts were £1.20 each, and the gaskets £4.30.
Sunday 18th January 2004
In the quest for even more power, I've made a start on the Zetec-E engine in the Fiesta. I'm fitting the Piper Cams supplied BP270 camshafts. I had a problem unfastening the bolts that locate the sprockets to the camshafts, so I've resorted to removing the cams without taking the sprockets off, which is not the normal practice. However, I'm using Piper Cams supplied vernier pulleys on the new cams, so I didn't really need to remove the original sprockets. I did fabricate a tool to lock the cams in place, to allow the sprocket bolts to be undone, using a pair of redundant window winder mechanisms. But this didn't help. Even with the wife holding the cams in place with the tool, and me using an extension bar on the tommy bar, the bolts just wont undo. All we ended up doing was rotating the cam. I do need to remove the sprockets, so I'll just clamp them in the vice and use some brute force to get them off.
The following series of pictures shows some of the work involved in the camshaft replacement process. Best do one camshaft at a time, so you don't get the parts mixed up. I need to establish where the vernier pulley should sit, to show 0° on the vernier, which is why I need to remove the original sprockets. I also need to drill the ends of the cams to allow fitment of a small dowel pin, which will lock the vernier in position. Ford also recommends replacing the sprocket bolts if they're disturbed.
- Remove the spark plug leads, plugs, and camshaft cover.
- With the car in gear, and the plugs removed, rock the car backwards/forwards until the pistons #1 and #4 are at TDC, and the slots in the ends of the camshafts are horizontal, and above the level of the end of the cylinder head. This means that the cam shafts are under no strain. None of the valves are currently held open, which makes for an easier removal and refitting procedure. We will manually dial the camshafts back in to their correct timing positions at the end of the procedure.
- Slacken the toothed belt tensioner and remove the timing belt.
- Lock the camshaft, undo the sprocket bolt, and remove the sprocket.
- Undo the camshaft bearing caps, and place in a safe place. They are numbered from 1 to 4, and must go back in their original locations when refitted. The cap nearest the sprockets, also houses a oil seal, and this should be replaced whenever the cams are mechanically disturbed.
- Remove the camshaft and store in a safe place.
- Liberally coat the cam bearing surfaces with clean engine oil
- Replace the camshaft with the new item.
- Replace the bearing caps in the same order they were removed (#1 nearest the cam sprocket)
- Fit the new camshaft oil seal in the end cap
- Either re-fit the original sprocket, or the replacement vernier pulley.
I've made some video clips from the events through the 2003 season. They're in Windows Movie format (.WMV) and are available for download below. File sizes are shown along side each clip.
Aintree 28th June 2003 411KB
Harewood 13th July 2003 Practice 1813KB
Harewood 13th July 2003 Competitive 1537KB
Curborough 20th July 2003 Practice 1664KB
Curborough 20th July 2003 Competitive 1510KB
3 Sisters 10th August 2003 Practice 1963KB
3 Sisters 10th August 2003 Practice 2 1919KB
Harewood 24th August 2003 Practice 1497KB
Harewood 24th August 2003 Practice 2 1485KB
Harewood 24th August 2003 Competitive 1462KB
Loton Park 31st August 2003 Competitive 741KB
Wednesday 14th January 2004
Finished the Exeter trial unscathed on Sunday. Failed to climb just two of the hills, Simms and Wooston Steep. Just not enough grip, on either of them. Didn't rain, so we stayed dry, the weather was quite fair to us really. We're claiming a Bronze award, like we did on the Edinburgh trial in October 2003. Next event in the Liege is the Lands End Trial in April, Easter weekend in fact. We're hoping for a Silver award.
I'm in this months Performance Ford (Feb '04) magazine. A great article showing the grudge match between myself and Dave Moore with his Mk2 XR2. They called it a draw, shame it wasn't dry as I'd have been much quicker. There'll be other opportunities to kick ass later in the year.
Saturday 3rd January 2004
Its the Exeter Trial next weekend (10th January 2004), and I'm competing in my first event of the year, in the Liege again on the Motor Cycle Club of Gt Britain Exeter trial. Should be cold, very cold. We set off from Popham airfield on Friday evening, and travel through the night, finishing in Torquay on Saturday afternoon. Lots of mods have been made to the Liege, including a replacement engine, so we should have a bit more power for some of the steeper hills this time.
More changes to the website, a new events page for 2003, showing pictures of my trophies from last year, and its where all the event reports have been moved to. 2003 Event news. I'm trying to decide on what events to take part in this year. I'd like to go to the Nurburgring to take on some M3's and Cosworths, and I'd like to do 10 events in the Midland Speed and Nottingham Sports Car championships. Just need to set some dates and start badgering event secretaries for copies of regs.
Friday 2nd January 2004
Updated most of the website today. Lots of trivial changes, but still a couple of hours work. Only 90'ish days to go to the first event (April) and the front suspension is now developing. Bits are ordered, and the tie bars have been fabricated. Still loads to do though, so I'm now concentrating on sourcing parts (ie new cylinder head, wheels etc).