Celebrating 21 years

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All ready for Combe

So with the car now finished, and ready for the first event, its time I stopped worrying about car-prep, and diagnosing faults (though I do enjoy doing that), and started focusing on my performance. So to that end, I'll be going over my notes from last year, watching some on-board footage, remembering the rise in performance as the year went on, and hopefully, I'll be in a good place when I line up for the first practice run. To that end, thats the last of the updates for now. Its time for some mental preparation.


Front wheel speed sensor fixed

The issue with the front left speed sensor was simply it had too large a gap to the trigger wheel, its meant to be < 2.5mm gap, but it was around 3mm so it worked some of the time. I've reduced the gap and its testing out OK now.


Speed sensor wiring

I've wired the rear sensors in to my X10 harness, and they both now work 100%, so no more issues there I hope. I'll see how it goes at Castle Combe, and may use connectors again, but if they work, I'll probably just leave them alone. Speaking of Combe, I've been told I will wear my championship number 9 on the car, so the entry list will be reissued in due course with the right numbering.


Combe finals

The entry list is out for Castle Combe Great Western Sprint, and the organisers have put me down as car 16, and Pete down as 15, even though we finished 9th and 11th in the BSC. We've both emailed the organisers to let them know their mistake. I wonder how that even happened?


Fault found

I've traced the wiring fault that caused the rear speed sensors to fail, its the 3 pin ITT mini-sureseal connectors which are playing up, so I'll remove them and wire the sensors directly in to my harness to the X10 expander, which will cure the issue permanently. The Driven Speed is set to the maximum speed from the rear axle, so that'll mean if a sensor does fail in the future, the axle still returns the driven speed, as I doubt both sensors would ever fail at the same time. I'll regularly check the ECU for errors from now on. I destroyed one sensor at Blyton when the CV bolts sheared, as the sensors are positioned just below the CV bolts, and the breakage meant the sensor was hit, shearing the end off.

I've also found the source of the oil leak on Wednesday, it was the Mygale oil level indicator, which is a threaded clear perspex cap that screws in to the side of the sump on the gearbox. It had split, and was allowing engine oil to escape, quite a bit in fact. Just as well it didnt fail on a sprint when I'd have been pulling some serious lateral G. Oil would have gone everywhere! I'll either replace it, or swap the oil level indicator out for a blanking plate, which would mean it wouldnt happen again. It took me half an hour to clean the oil up, it was all over the gearbox and the diffuser. At first I thought the catch tank had overflowed, but both the gearbox and oil bottles were in fact empty, which made me have another look for the cause of the leak.


Testing at Mallory

Testing went well, with a very wet but drying track, and just 3.5 hours, the time soon went by and I completed around 30 laps. Mechanically the car was perfect, with no issues. However, I've now got three wheel speed sensor faults, which hampered traction control testing, so I'll work on resolving those issues this week. Apart from that, it was great to get back behind the wheel again, and running on 3/4 power due to the lack of grip, the car performed really well, with huge grip from the Michelin tyres and the revised diffuser made a big difference. Brakes were good, the new clutch worked perfectly, the replaced suspension stood up to the tests, and the front wing just grounded out at 130mph, but thats because the Michelins are not as tall as the Pirelli's so the wing was running 10mm closer to the ground than was ideal. Not a issue. Shame I didnt get to sample the new supersofts, I'll have to leave that for Castle Combe in a fortnight.


ECU updates

I've spent many hours recently working through the launch and traction control settings on the ECU, learning what all the settings do and how they affect the performance of the car. I have changed many settings, to give me more control during launch, and with hopefully a far less explosive start. The launch control was set to switch off once 10mph had been reached, handing over to traction control, and instead now the launch will run up to 40mph, and I've reset the base engine speeds, the vehicle speed breakpoints, the spin target 1 map, and I've programmed in the dry and wet tyre sizes. I now need to fine tune the spin target map, to give me the level of wheelspin that I want during a lap, which will take quite some time. I'm almost ready for Wednesdays test session. The fuel tank is topped up, and I just need to recalibrate the gear position sensor and check the ECU is reading all the wheel speed sensors correctly.


Panel refitted

I refitted the repaired and resprayed panel behind the front suspension tonight, and its looking good. The nose is ready for collection, I'll pick it up on Saturday morning. The diffuser end plates have been replaced with deeper and longer ones, which I cut out from carbon sheet, by hand, which took an age but I did a neat job of course.


Going testing

I’ve booked a test session at Mallory Park next week, there was an offer of going to Blyton, but it’s a long drag of the trailer/race car, and to be honest I’m only looking to do some basic shakedown tests. The nose cone will be back on Thursday, and I need to affix it to the car. The front suspension panel just needs a coat of lacquer and that’s then ready for refitting this week. I’ll make sure the Kodak 360 degree camera is on the car for Mallory, so I can capture some decent in-car footage.



The rebuilt wheels will be ready next week, so I'll get the Ultrasoft tyres ordered from Triple M, and that will give me a set of ultra's and super's for this season. I'm going to see if I can get some testing at Mallory park, in March, but I'm waiting for the nose cone to come back as I cant run the car without that fitted. I'll run the super's at Mallory, to get used to their increased grip levels. I've got the Pirelli and Michelin tyre circumferences ready for the calibration changes next week. Chris from NMS is due to pop round one evening, to make changes to the setup.


30 days to go

Registration opened today for the #BSC. Its £80, so I've put my money down and registered for 2019. I dropped the remains of the two damaged wheels off at Force Racing, and Carl is going to build me replacement front and rear wheel, which could take two weeks as he's been waiting for delivery of rim sections.


31 days to go

I've entered the Liverpool Motorclub Aintree Sprint in June, which will be the first time I've been there as a BSC contender. I hope its a good turn out for the championship. Speaking of which there are 19 drivers entered at Castle Combe, and some new names to me, so its going to be a good scrap for the Top 12 positions. Championship Registration still isnt open yet, we're waiting for the MSUK to approve the regulations, and issue the permit number. With four weeks left, there's still plenty of time to get that done...


34 days to go

Sealed the diffuser floor where it joins the chassis floor beneath the gearbox. Sprayed the rear wing mounts again. Sorted some other areas where I wasnt happy with the routing of the chassis harness, where it ran down the chassis. Downloaded the fresh ECU data to see what the extra channels look like, and I can now see for instance, the paddles being operated as I changed gear. Very cool. Applied P38 filler to the front section of body work, so thats now ready to be wet'n'dried down to make it all smooth for spraying. Fitted the oil catch tank bottle and a new section of hose from the outlet on top of the gearbox. Sorted out the wiring for the lambda sensor. The loom is too long, so I have to bundle up the cable and cable tie it together, so it can rest in the gap above the front of the gearbox.


35 days to go

Replaced the 530mm front pushrod with the longer 550mm version. Refitted the exhaust with the recently welded on stainless end. Wrapped the front and rear wing end plates in yellow vinyl, and I've some more wrapping to do, I'm just waiting on Coalville Signs providing some more vinyl.

My VW Transporter van was serviced and MOT'd on Friday, and passed. The cam belt change is due this year, as the van has now reached 5yrs and 40,600miles, so I'll book it in during the summer for the work. I only did 3500 miles towing last year, so the mileage is being kept down to sensible levels.

5 weeks left until the Castle Combe sprint, and the list of remaining jobs is much smaller now. I've started spraying the rear wing brackets black, as I didnt like the bare aluminium look. This week I'll get the replacement Force wheels ordered, so I can get a set of Ultrasoft tyres fitted, and I'll seal the diffuser floor, do a couple of wiring mods I've been putting off, and start looking at the launch and traction control settings to see if we can improve on where the car was at the end of last year. I also need to recalibrate the gear position sensor, and finish off the damaged bodywork that sat behind the front suspension that took the brunt of the crash.

Plenty of time....


Exhaust tested

I ran the engine yesterday, and on the overrun the exhaust now spits flames. Not sure if its done that before and I just didnt notice it, but it looks cool all the same. Another box ticked. I've started repairing the damaged section of body work that sat behind the front suspension, and I hope to have that finished this week. The longer 550mm pushrods are painted black, and one will replace the 530mm pushrod on the front to give the rod ends more tube to screw in to. I've removed the exhaust pipe to get it welded. This week the T5 van needs servicing and MOT'ing, so I'll fetch it out of storage on Thursday, and re-fit the rear seats to avoid an advisory.


Brake pipe shortened

Not the best progress this week, but I have sourced a 3" stainless tip for the exhaust, which will need welding. I've trimmed the bodywork that sits next to the pipe, so it wont get burnt. I spoke to Simon McBeath regarding the exhaust exit and the impact on the rear wing, and he says he doesnt think it'll have any impact on performance. I've shortened the brake hose for the off side rear caliper, and the hose now sits on the outside of the bottom arm, rather than travelling up and over the top arm, which saves even more weight. I've also tidied various bits of wiring, and fitted Ti strips to the front wing end plates, to offer then some protection should they strike the ground.


Nose done

The red ex-Sutton nose is trimmed to fit over the front wing, and it will be dropped off at Faircharm for spraying. It is a far lighter nose than the one it replaces. Much thinner GRP, so that saves some more weight. I've trimmed the side pod which covers the exhaust pipe, to give some clearance and protect the pod from possible heat damage. The foam seat is now back in, the covers behind the driver are all replaced, and fastened securely. The firewall needs fitting back in, which I'll do asap. I swapped the shoulder belts over so the hologram is now on the opposite side, as a few scrutineers had commented it needed to be the on the opposite side. My entry for the Castle Combe sprint has been accepted, though the BSC registrations are still not open, its not deterring the BSC drivers from entering events from the sound of things.


7 weeks to go

We've now passed the 7 weeks milestone, and the Castle Combe sprint in March is rapidly approaching, and the entry fee was £165. The Anglesey Sprint entry opened yesterday, so I entered their weekend event in April, which cost an eye watering £250, but hopefully this year I'll be racing on the Sunday, if I can avoid hitting the barriers again.

The modified exhaust is back from Altiss, as are the 550mm long pushrods. These will need spraying, and I'll replace the 530mm pushrod on the near side front so the rod ends screw in 10mm further which will make it safer to drive on. The exhaust now points up and outwards, so the gas is no longer flowing directly over the bottom wishbone. I'm still waiting for a another length of 3" pipe, with a flared end, that will then be added to the pipe to extend it further upwards. As soon as it arrives I'll return the pipes to Altiss to have them welded.

Exhaust repositioned

Other jobs remaining: Cut the nose cone so it fits over the front wing; paint the nose cone black; repair the body work that sits behind the near side front suspension, and refit; change the calibration for the front tyre sizes, which are taller than the Avons they replace; recalibrate the gear position sensor; reroute the offside rear brake hose to run on the lower suspension arm; fit protection to the front wing end plates.


Triple M visit

I took the car over to Triple M on Sunday for the suspension alignment, and after four hours, with the car sitting on a set of Pirelli PZero tyres, it was all done. The first step was to measure the ride height of the front wing with the Avon's fitted, which was 72mm. Then the Pirelli Supersoft tyres were swapped for the Avons, and the car was aligned, corner weighted etc, while sat on the Pirellis. The fronts are now 10mm taller than the Avons, so the ride height needed adjusting accordingly. The front wing remained 72mm off the deck, while Alan made some changes to the front wishbone I'd replaced, and restored some missing camber from the offside rear. All in all, the car looks more agressive on the Pirelli's, with camber angles tweaked to make sure the tyres will be running at their optimum angle. With me sat in the car, without the engine cover, bonnet and nose cone, the car weighed in at 535Kg (I'm 95kg) so the car with fuel onboard, was around 440Kg, which is an improvement of some 5.0Kg compared to 2018. The new tyres are lighter, I've fitted a lighter flywheel/clutch, and I've removed the data logger & potentiometers, and quite a few other parts which all add up to a good saving.

With the car safely home following a very windy journey back from Gainsborough, the focus is now on bodywork, exhaust pipe angles, and a fair few other things. As I've entered the Bristol Motor Club Castle Combe sprint in March, I've approx 8 weeks left to get everything finished off, and thats including doing some testing if the weather holds out.


Diffuser improvements

The diffuser fits so much better than before, and with a set of 15mm wide aluminium stays joining the floor to the bellhousing bolts, I can lift it right up so it sits perfectly in-line with the Mygale floor. I removed the red heavy duty 175A Anderson connector and excess battery cable from the end of the section that allows the jump start battery to be plugged in. This took almost 400g off the car. I've replaced the connector with a smaller grey 50A Anderson plug, and using the hydraulic crimp tool I bought off ebay, there is no more need to solder the connections, which used a lot of energy to get them hot enough for the solder to melt. The crimp tool works really well, and can excert a claimed 10T of pressure on the crimps. Thanks to Simon Boulter for the suggestion. A few more evenings this week, and the diffuser will be finished, and the car is then off to Triple M on Sunday for its setup and weigh-in.
50A Anderson connector


Clutch bite point tested

I ran the engine today, and with rear of the car raised off the floor, and the rear wheels fitted, I tried the operation of the clutch, and the bite point feels really good on the clutch pedal. So the pedal stop is working, and I'll have to wait and see when we go testing if the clutch feels ok as I actually pull away from the line.

After fetching my van from storage, and collecting the diffuser from the rear of the van, I set about modifying the diffuser to give me more ground clearance. So I've removed the central section out of the diffuser, where it sat underneath the chassis below the engine. I'd fitted a plywood plank to protect the underside of the car, but this created a step for the air to pass underneath, and meant unnecessarily raising the rear of the car to clear the diffuser floor. With the section removed, the diffuser now matches the shape of the chassis, so I can fit the diffuser again without needing to fit the plank. This mod has also saved about 1.75Kg in plywood, and nuts and bolts, and I just need to attach the diffuser now so it sits higher up, level with the chassis floor.

Modified diffuser


Chassis setup booked

I'm booked in at Triple M later in January for the chassis alignment, and a set of Pirelli tyres. I've downloaded the data from the ECU following the engine run yesterday, and there are dozens more channels available now to diagnose things like engine knock, speed sensor faults, paddle up/down, etc etc. Lots more opportunities to diagnose any issues on events now. Very happy.
New channels
cyl01KnockIgnRtd (25Hz) Unit(Angle, Degrees)
cyl02KnockIgnRtd (25Hz) Unit(Angle, Degrees)
cyl03KnockIgnRtd (25Hz) Unit(Angle, Degrees)
cyl04KnockIgnRtd (25Hz) Unit(Angle, Degrees)
drivenSpeed (25Hz) Unit(MPH)
flSpeedSpikeCount (2Hz)
flSpeedV (10Hz) Unit(Volts)
frSpeedSpikeCount (2Hz)
frSpeedV (10Hz) Unit(Volts)
gearCutDogKickCount (No samples)
gearCutFailCount (No samples)
gearDownShiftOutput (On or Off)
gearUpShiftOutput (On or Off)
gearShiftDecision (Status)
gearShiftDirection (Up or Down)
gearShiftState (Status)
gearShiftOutput (On or Off)
knockControlActive (Idle or Active)
knockShutdownCylinder (Cylinder number 0..12)
launchRPM (10Hz) Unit(rpm)
launchSwitch (On or Off)
paddleSwitch (None, Down, Up or Both)
paddleSwitchV (1Hz) Unit(Volts)
preIgnShutdownCylinder (Cylinder 0..12)
radarSpeed (10Hz) Unit(mph)
radarSpeedSpikeCount (2Hz)
rlSpeedSpikeCount (2Hz)
rlSpeedV (10Hz) Unit(Volts)
rrSpeedSpikeCount (2Hz)
rrSpeedV (10Hz) Unit(Volts)
radarSpeed (10Hz)
tcSpinErr (50Hz) Unit(%)
tcSpinTarg (50Hz) Unit(%)
tcTrq (50Hz) Unit(%)
wg3MapErrPct (25Hz) Unit (%)
wgBaseDuty1 (25Hz) Unit(%)
wgFinalDuty1 (25Hz) Unit(%)
wgIgnRtd1 (25Hz) Unit(Angle,Degrees)
wgIgnDuty1 (25Hz) Unit(%)
wgMapErr[0]) (25Hz) Unit(Pressure,Millibar)
wgMapTarg1 (25Hz) Unit(Pressure,Millibar)


Engine Runs

After purging the dry sump tank of oil, and filling the gearbox sump tank with 4l of new 10W60, the engine starts and runs with no issues. The tickover when cold is quite lumpy due to the lighter flywheel but that can be sorted easily.


Brakes bled

The brakes all bled ok, with no leaks, and the clutch is also bled. I've added a spacer to the clutch pedal stop to prevent the clutch slave from extending too far in to the clutch, and it all seems to be working OK


ECU refitted

The ECU is fitted back in the car, and the dashboard is showing the usual readings from sensors on the engine, so it all looks good so far. I started on bleeding the brakes, front and rear, and this will need a willing assistant to push the pedal, so I'll wait until the weekend when my volunteer is available. I've filled the new engine oil filter with oil, and I'll start filling the engine sump ready for running the engine again. The clutch still needs testing, but I'm confident it'll all be OK.

No Autosport show for me this year, I'm giving it a break as work is ramping up and I need to be on-site rather than drooling over race cars. To be honest, there's been a decline in the number of exhibitors over the past few years, and last years show was disappointing, especially when you consider the cost of getting in, and parking.


Fire (almost)

I bought a 5V USB power supply from eBay before Christmas, in fact I bought two, as they were about £3.50 each, and I needed a power supply for the T5.1 to charge a GPS tracking device off the van's battery. So I rigged one up on the garage bench, to check the current consumption, and make sure it didnt drain the battery when loaded by the GPS tracker. Afer a few days of checking the battery voltage, I went out to disconnect the USB charger from the car battery, and noticed that the wires feeding in to the base of the USB charger had burnt through! It was clear that the device had malfunctioned internally, as the potting compound had also melted. That was a lucky escape, as I hadnt fused the charger, it was just connected directly across the batteries terminals.

As these chargers are basic in their construction, rather than chance buying another one that might also fail, I've got hold of some 7805 regulators, and heatsinks, from RS, and made my own, reusing the USB outlets from the burnt out USB charger. The 5V regulator and heatsink cost around £1.00, and after 15 mins of soldering and heatsinking, I can happily say that I now trust my USB charger far more than the cheap one I bought off eBay, and the spare charger (I bought 2) will definitely be going in the bin.

I know these are popular devices. I've seen people use them on competition cars to provide 5V USB power for GoPro's and other USB powered devices. But all I can say is, please add an inline fuse to the device, or make sure you run it off another fused supply. The current draw is minimal, so just a 1A fuse would provide more than adequate protection incase of another short-circuit failure inside the modules themselves. I was lucky!



The rear suspension has been altered now for medium anti-squat as per the Mygale User manual. It was set to maximum, which suits lower powered cars, so we're going to try the medium settings to see if the car is any different when accelerating out of slow corners.

Anti-squat changed