March 2011

Tuesday 29th March 2011
I have refitted the drivers side front suspension, having first removed and covered the axle-bar in 24mm adhesive heatshrink to keep it from rusting. I've spoken to Quaife about the selector cable, and the length I need is longer than the cable that they thought they'd sent me. Turns out they put a 84inch long cable in the crate with the gearbox, and I need it to be around 68inches long. I've dismantled the gear lever assembly, and removed the cable, and I need to post it back to Quaife to be swapped for a shorter one. And I've bought a 2nd hand lower rear gearbox steady bracket from a Mk6 Fiesta. I'm going to fix the gearbox in place properly this time, as my two rear steady bars aren't mounted low enough to prevent the engine/box from moving.
Sunday 27th March 2011
Measured the correct length of the gear shift cable, and it needs to be about 68 inches long in the Mk1 Fiesta. I'll call Quaife tomorrow to arrange for a shorter cable to be sent out. The one they've provided is 84 inches long, which is way too big for my little Fiesta. Karl in the States is looking in to producing me a replacement TCA and Tie Bar Bracket for the passenger side. We're also going to reinstate the brace bars that join the tie bar brackets to the TCA chassis mounting bracket, to triangulate the suspension. I had to cut the braces off both sides, as my Duratec Sump and Gearbox are different to the ones fitted in Karls Duratec Mk1 Fiesta, as his engine came from a different donor vehicle to mine, and there are subtle differences to the sumps and other parts underneath, which sat in the path of the brace bars on my Fiesta.

I need to raise the gear lever mechanism up, about 200mm. Does anyone know if ready-made brackets/risers exist to raise the height of the Quaife gear lever? Otherwise I'm going to have to make my own.
Sunday 20th March 2011
I've bolted the intermediate drive shaft back on, having repaired one of the threads in the Duratec block, that was damaged from previous attempts to fit one of the M10 bolts. I've also fitted the lower rear steady bar bracket, and the engine is ready again to be locked in place by the two steady bars. Good news on the Tie Bar front. Karl has been in touch, and it looks like I just need a new TCA with a different mounting point for the tie bar, and this will clear the end casing on the gearbox.

The front suspension has always been the cars Achilles heel. The fitment of a five speed box in the Mk1 was never on Fords mind, and the Tie Bar arrangement is a design dating back many decades.

Over the past 15 years, I've tried a kit from the Fiesta Centre, that wrecked the cars Castor, and as Dave Walker wrote, ended up with a 'Zig Zag Fiesta' (see the last ever CCC for Dave's workshop on my Fiesta).

We then tried a custom tubular steel setup (Rutland), with heims and a spherical bearing, but this setup proved too weak, and broke at Snetterton whilst I was being a hooligan on the kerbs, so that went in to the scrap bin.

This third Kustom Engineering iteration is the best attempt yet at solving the weaknesses with the setup, and has proven the best by a long chalk. Karls sold dozens of kits and the results are looking fantastic.

But the biggest issue for me, is getting full lock with the tie bar in situ. The steering rack already has lock limiter on it to prevent the rim from hitting the tie bar on full right lock, and I reckon phase four should be to completely do away with the TCA and Tie Bar, and go for the more modern setup as used on most FWD cars these days, with a simple wishbone arrangement. For now, I'll get the TCA modified to clear the gearbox, and sketch out the next generation. There's already a lot of interest on the various forums, for my latest idea, but yet again, I'm pioneering, but if it means keeping the Fiesta marque going for another decade, then thats not a bad legacy to leave now is it?

Something like this Focus OSF arm (for example), aft mounted, would suffice. Made from tubular steel, using the existing inboard TCA mount, and an additional 'weld on' bracket for the aft mount. Simples.

And my tyres on the Subaru, after 600 miles, still look like new. As I suspected, the dealership didn't spot the damage at the 36,000 mile service. I wonder what else they 'skip' during the service.
Saturday 19th March 2011
I made a lot of progress last night. I bolted the exhaust manifold back on the engine, and then I set about refitting the front suspension. As I suspected, the passenger side tie bar is now prevented from bolting to the front cross member, due to the length of the Quaife gearbox. I've emailed Karl at Kustomengineering for advice.

I then removed the front hub carrier from the passenger side, and swapped the axle bar for the shorter one that I bought last year. I have sleeved the new axlebar with adhesive heatshrink, to prevent it from turning rusty, and the heatshrink gives it a far better and longer lasting finish. I then heatshrank the axle bar I took off, and this will be swapped with the one from the drivers side. If you remember I bought two axle bars the same length, and the shorter one will now allow me to reduce the track of the passenger side, which I've now done by reducing the length of the track control arm. None of this really helps with the clearance issue, but no amount of adjustment would prevent the gearbox from hitting the tie-bar.

And finally, I removed the Mk6 gear linkage mechanism, and I've sat the Quaife gear lever where I think it fits best. I'll have to sit in the chair and try it out before drilling any mounting holes. Forward/Aft movement is only around an inch each way.

Thursday 17th March 2011
Help! I need a copy of the MSA Homologation Certificate for the Safety Devices roll cage in my Mk1 Fiesta. If I can avoid having to pay £20 to the MSA for a copy, I'll happily take a photocopy or scanned PDF version if anyone has one. I cant compete this year without a certificate, and it must be on the MSA headed letter paper to make it acceptable by the scrutineers.
Tuesday 15th March 2011
Spoke to Ken Tucker at Cooper Tire and Rubber Lid today about my damaged Avon ZV5 tyre. He suggested that I send the tyre back to them for inspection, and possible compensation if the tyre is found to be faulty. From my description he said it could be what is called 'Rim Crush' which is essentially pot hole damage. Regarding the damage being present at the service last week, I'm not going to take this any further with Heritage Leicester. They've lost my business. My concern now is how well they put the car back together when the clutch/flywheels were changed three times last year! Maybe worth getting the car inspected by the local garage that looks after my Audi, as I trust them 100% with everything they do.
Monday 14th March 2011
The Fiesta now has the alternator refitted and wired in, after I sprayed the mounting brackets and fitted it all back together again carefully. The fuel lines, oil lines, and hydraulic clutch are also reconnected, and I've found that the Quaife gear selector shift cable is about 23" too long, and I'm now in conversation with Quaife to find a way to either reduce the length of the cable, or have them supply another shorter one.

I made the trip over to the Subaru dealer, with the damaged tyre, to ask how they inspect tyres during a service, and was told that they simply measure the tread depth in three places across the tyre. The technician who worked on my car came out to look at the tyre, and flatly refused to accept that the damage was present last Tuesday at the service, and therefore, it had occured on my 300 mile business trip the following Thursday.

Therefore, their theory goes that I must have hit a pot hole, or suffered some other suspension damage on the trip, and despite fact that I didn't smell burning rubber, or feel the car pulling hard to the left, or hear anything rubbing, the hole and sidewall damage was my fault, and was not present at the time of the service.

So I took the tyre home, and am now considering my options. First of all, if the suspension was damaged on Thursday, I have had no corrective action taken, so the suspension must still be damaged, and therefore, a) the new tyres are going to wear down to the wire the next time I drive it on the motorway (tomorrow), and b) if I get the tracking checked, it will show that one wheel or both wheels are hugely out of alignment. If neither a nor b are in fact correct, then the damage to the tyre must have occured over several thousand miles, and would have been present at the service last week. I shall keep you posted.

One thing to note is that the damage to the tyre is not around the entire circumference. One half of the tyre is badly worn, with a hole in it, the other half of the tyre is almost perfect, which kind of disproves their theory that the tracking was out, as surely the whole of the inside edge would be worn if that were the case?

It could be that the misalignment only occurs when I'm driving the car, ie there is play in the suspension that does not affect the alignment when the vehicle is stationary, therefore, this would not be picked up during a tracking check. That could be very difficult to pin down. But wouldn't you expect the dealer to want to investigate the cause of the fault?
Sunday 13th March 2011
The Subaru passenger side front tyre was looking rather flat when I clocked it on Saturday morning, having just returned home after getting the Audi MoT'd. So I pumped the Scooby tyre up, and ran my hands around the surface of the tyre, checking for foreign objects that could have caused the tyre to deflate, and I stabbed my fingers on some sharp bits of metal wire that were protruding from the inside edge of the tyre. So I turned the wheel to full right lock, and had a quick visual inspection of the tyre, and low and behold spotted more wire sticking out, indicating that the tyre had worn very badly. I went to National Tyres, who changed the drivers side first, and then removed the passenger side front wheel. And I was shocked to find the following damage to the tyre.

This is the same tyre that I was advised to change because the tread depth was between 2.5 and 3mm, at the service last Tuesday! No mention of holes in the carcass, or wires sticking out!

I've had a very lucky escape. It could easily have popped on the trip to Somerset on Thursday, or on any number of previous trips, as that damage clearly didn't occur in the 300 miles I've driven since the service.

Needless to say, I've kept the tyre, and I shall be visiting the dealership tomorrow for an explanation.

Tuesday 8th March 2011
I stand corrected on the Subaru brakes front. The dealer had the front caliper off, and even after 36,000miles the front pads are still 50% worn. The noise I'm hearing is from the front disks, that have pad marks on them, from where the brake pads rust on to the surface when the car is left parked. So apologies, its nothing to do with the dealer. Its my driving style! They were impressed that I was still on the original pads though, even after 36,000miles.

I did spot that there was an inch long scratch in the paintwork above the NSR wheel arch, and the dealer is getting their mobile paint man to call me regarding the repair. Must have happened when it was at the dealers, as I scraped the ice of the windows this morning, and would have spotted the white scratch this morning.

Right, back on to the Fiesta now. Yesterday (Monday) I removed the engine and gearbox, which took around 5 hours of stripping the car down. ie removing the radiator, oil lines, exhaust manifold and system, front suspension and driveshafts, engine steady bars, header tank, M-Sport mounts, and alternator. The engine came out quite quickly once I'd done all the hard work before hand. Mk1 and Mk2 Escort owners have it easy, not like Fiesta owners who have to take half the car off to drop the engine and gearbox out.

Anyway, today (Tuesday) I split the engine and box, and weighed the two gearboxes, and was quite surprised to find the Quaife box 4.5Kg heavier. And that was with some oil left inside the standard gearbox. The Quaife box has an LSD fitted which could account for some of the weight difference.

I swapped the clutch slave cylinders over, so the newer one off the IB5 box is now on the Quaife box (better the devil you know), and once that was swapped over, I bolted the Quaife gearbox back on the Duratec. I then set about making a new brake pipe for the engine bay, as the one that feeds the NSF brake caliper ran directly behind the exhaust manifold, and I didn't want the oil boiling, so I've made a new pipe to run above the steering rack, against the bulkhead, which is far enough from the manifold to worry about.

The engine was then lifted up in to the shell, and is now in situ using the M-Sport mounts. There is more room around the end of the Quaife box than there was with the IB5+. But the Quaife box is around 5-10mm longer than the IB5+, so there may be a tie bar clearance issue with the NSF suspension. I'll soon find out when I bolt the suspension back on again. I'll leave that task for a few days time.

Saturday 5th March 2011
I've Mon-Weds off next week, which will allow me time to get in to the garage to swap the gearboxes over. To keep costs down, I'm not going to disturb the ST clutch or flywheel, and these can easily be changed later in the year.

The Legacy appears to have run out of front brakes. There's an awful noise from the front when I brake hard, and the cars in for its 36,000 mile service on Tuesday, so they'll get a chance to inspect them when its on the ramps. What is a concern, is that looking back through the past two service sheets, at 12,000miles they wrote that both front pads were 50% worn, at the 27,000 mile service, they didn't replace them, and here we are with 35,700 miles, they've worn down to nothing. Surely the dealer should have inspected them at 27,000 miles, and just changed the pads. Its not like I'd have told them not to, if they'd advised that they needed changing and wouldn't last until the next service interval. Heritage Leicester strikes again! Or it could of course just be sticking front calipers, either way, its going to need some investigation as to why they're worn down to nothing, and how the dealership could miss something as safety critical as front brake pad wear.

The Audi, 14 years old this year, is still going strong. She's in for a new cambelt on Monday, and some other work, to get her through the MOT. Both NSF and OSF top rear suspension arms are worn, and the NSF front outer CV boot needs changing. I had the OSF one done at the service on Weds, but the MOT station spotted that NSF is also split.

My contract at Thales has been extended for another 6 months, taking me to the end of August. Thank goodness. Fuel prices are getting ridiculous in the UK, averaging around £80 to fill the Legacy with diesel, and I wont be able to afford to take the Fiesta anywhere, without a steady income.

I've bought an LG 66cm (26LD350) HDTV for the bedroom, and hooked up the PS3 to it, using an HDMI cable, and I must say the difference in picture quality when playing GT5 is just amazing. The CRT down stairs is on borrowed time....