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BSC History pages revampedI've spent a few evenings working on the BSC History site, and the reports are working really well now. Most pages have tables which have hyperlinks inside them, to drivers, or cars, or years, that allow you to drill right down in to the data and have a good poke around. I hope you can spare a few minutes to have a look round.
I've just received a Wera Tools Advent Calendar in the post; I won it in a competition organised by Motorsport UK. Thankyou to MSUK and Wera Tools. I'm looking forwards to opening it tomorrow.
Some more good news for me, I've had another contract extension through, to guarantee me some more work for the next 12 months, which will allow me to compete again for another season in the championship. I can continue to code, and work on Azure and AWS platforms, mostly in PHP and Python, as a DevSecOps engineer, which is what I love doing. Cant ask for more than that.
I've altered the Google Adsense advert placement and frequency settings, for the site, so you may see one or two more adverts, on pages as you navigate. I dont make a great deal of money from them, the revenue just about covers the web site hosting costs for the year. On youtube I'm a long way away from being monetised. I've almost reached 500 subscribers, but I'm light years off meeting the other requirements to qualify, such as getting 10 Million views of video's LOL
2024 calendar - 44 run offs!!!!After the awards presentation, the BSC calendar for 2024 was read out, and next year we have even more events! What total madness. We will have 22 days racing, which amounts to 44 run offs. And six of those dates are single day events. Cadwell, then Mallory Park the day after, and once again in June, and Lydden, Llandow and Castle Combe.
Some better news is that it sounds like we will be only dropping 25% of the rounds though, so for dropped scores anyone with a chance of winning the title will need to do the minimum of 33 run offs, or in other words, attend 17 days. Thats not good, that wont attract more people to enter the championship. It needs to be 30 rounds with best 24 to count, same as the BHC. Not only that, but we wont know who is in the lead until Knockhill in September!
There is a new sponsor for next year, which is Woodford Trailers. Good to see them on board.
There are going to be new classes for ModProd and Sports Libre, but again, what is the point if there are no class awards to be fought for? To counteract that, there is going to be a 'discount' scheme for anyone wanting to enter Sprint Leaders and the BSC, just to win a class award. But you may as well merge the two?
The Sprint Leaders awards was a tiresome affair, with awards given to several class winners where there was only one car registered in the class. Again, reintroduce the BSC class awards, and guess what, you'd have more than one car in each class so there would be bragging rights in winning the class! Where is the honour in winning an award for a class when there's no competition? I came first in the BARC-Midlands Championship class 5E, but as the only driver in that class, dont expect to get an award, which is how it should be. That's how most championships work, isn't it?
AwardsIt's the awards presentation on Sunday, where I collect my second place championship trophy. That's all I get though, nothing else, thats the issue with finishing runner up I suppose LOL, I was runner up in almost all the other categories too.
But what I did do was finish as the highest ever points scorer in the championship in one season, with 909 points. But does that win me an award? Er no, but there is an award for the highest points scorer, but that didnt go to me, as its the "highest counting scores" that determines the highest points scored, whatever that means. But every round is a counting round, and I went to every round.
¯\_(ツ)_/¯I've just ordered some more 3D prints, I'm going to try a printed PA12 nylon reluctance ring for the FTR gearbox, and a printed trigger disk for the front wheels. These will use steel dowels that push in to the printed rings, to provide the trigger for the induction sensors. I'll test them out on the bench before I fit them to the car. Delivery is two weeks.
Header tank removedI've removed the header tank, and immediately spotted an issue with it, which I've resolved. I'll keep an eye on it next year, to make sure it doesnt happen again. The tank is marked up and ready for modification, I'll take it over to Altiss this week. Once it returns, I'll give it a clean and a polish, and then modify the wiring to allow the sensor to be connected to the ECU.
I'm writing up a season review, with lessons learnt. Once I've finished it, I'll publish it on the web site. Some sobering lessons on what not to do at an event, like turning off traction control for example, that cost me a win at Pembrey. And using 6th gear at Blyton, which was clearly slower than using 5th, again another win thrown away and a potential 4 out of 4 run off wins in one weekend! What could have been eh! I only lost the championship by one win (9 vs 10), and one bonus point (2 vs 3), which was 2 points in total. I do remember having a conversation with Steve Miles earlier in the season saying it would come down to bonus points (for breaking class records). I was right.
Speaking of bonus points, we're still not sure what rule changes if any are going to be made. One rumour was the bonus points would be removed, but the organisers dont appear to want to listen to the drivers, and with just one year left under the wing of the HSA, it may not even exist after 2024, with drivers frustrated by the lack of direction. The championship has lost SBD Motorsport as the title sponsor (Steve Broughton has sold the business and is taking retirement), so we dont even know what the branding will be next year. The BSC isnt alone with the uncertainty though. The BARC Connaught championship I ran in this year, in which I was first in class and finished 4th overall, still hasnt even published the official final list of winners! I finished first in the Goldfinch Trophy, but there is a question about eligibility for the award, which hasn't yet been verified. And it has a first prize of £100 which would be a nice reward for winning.
We dont know next years calendar yet, that'll probably be announced at the awards on the 19th. We know Cadwell was meant to be the first round again, with two visits to Mallory park, a full weekend at Knockhill in September (lets pray the weather is kinder this time), one Blyton, probably two Pembreys again, two Angleseys, two Lyddens, one Kirkistown, and again, before you know it, we have too many rounds and a huge percentage of dropped scores again, which makes it all a bit of a nonsense really. I'd like to see 30 rounds (two rounds per day, so thats 15 days of driving) and 25% dropped scores, which will make for a far more attractive championship for some.
For me, that'd be Anglesey (April), Blyton (May), Pembrey (June), Snetterton (June), Lydden (July), Kirkistown (August), Knockhill (September), and Anglesey (September) for the grand final. No more events in March or October when the weather is crap! That would give 15 days, or 30 rounds. Far more affordable.
The pressure sensor has arrivedThe Honeywell sensor has arrived from RS, complete with a pair of connectors/tails from Brands Hatch Performance, so I will remove the header tank and take it over to Altiss for modification to allow the sensor to be fitted.
I'm working on designing a pair of 3D printed louvres for the rear wing, to reduce the vortices generated, which will reduce the drag. I posted a 'how do I draw this' question on the Fusion 360 page on FB yesterday, with a picture of the louvres I was trying to model, and within an hour someone had drawn the 3D model and sent me the file! I'm now picking through the model to learn how they generated it, and I should have something I can get printed by the end of the week. The idea is to have a rectangular shape cut out of the rear wing end plates, and then have the 3D printed louvres slot in to the cut outs. They've basically draw a J shape, and used the rectangular pattern to produce a grid of them, which is essentially what I'm looking to do.
Engine coolant pressure sensorFollowing the issues at Anglesey, I'm going to modify the header tank to allow the fitment of a coolant pressure sensor, which will be interfaced to the ECU, and will allow it to record and monitor the coolant system, and potentially alert me to any future issues with sudden pressure drops. I have a couple of spare analogue inputs I can use, I'm going to repurpose the unused steering wheel angle sensor connecter, as that is a 3-wire with 5V and Ground, which is what the pressure sensor needs.
The ECU can either protect the engine by going in to Limp or Stop mode, depending on how the calibration is setup. It will also detect under and over pressure, so there's lot of options to play with. The ECU pressure sensor is already linearised for a 10bar pressure sensor, and fortunately I've found a suitable Honeywell 10 bar sensor on the RS website, which has been ordered. With discount it came to just £40.00
It needs a Delphi Metri-Pack 150 connector, which I've located on ebay, and I'll add a DT 3 pin connector to allow it to be plugged in to the spare steering wheel angle sensor connection, which is located at the front of the car.
The forty-eight-hour Area-Six EcoBoost engine rebuildThe issue that appeared at Anglesey on the Sunday morning, was the failure of the core plug that sits in the top of the cylinder head, between cylinders 2 and 3. We still dont know why it failed, other than the core plug was perforated due to corrosion. This is the same common failure that affects many EcoBoost engines, and is in part, down to not having a high enough concentration of anti-freeze/anti corrosion treatment in the cooling system. I think my luck simply ran out.
Water logged spark plugs!
After refilling the coolant system with water, squeezing the top hose revealed where the problem stemmed from. It was the core plug in the top of the cylinder head.
Once we'd found the source of the leak, the coolant was drained, and we made sure all the water surrounding the plugs was removed, and my good friend Ian Medcalf used some two part quick setting epoxy to bond a 5 pence piece in to the top of the core plug, and that cured the leak, allowing me to take my second timed run at the end of the batch. The issue we then discovered on that run, was a chronic misfire under hard throttle, which may have been down to the plugs being fully immersed in the water from the leaking core plug. We took the plugs out and dried them, but sadly the organisers canned the last run at Anglesey, so I never had a chance to see if we'd fixed the issue by drying the plugs out.
The core plug had two holes in it!
With the trip to Knockhill just six days away, I really had no option other than taking the engine out on Monday, and getting it over to Ian Howell at Area Six for a tear down on Monday evening. At 10:30am after running an inconclusive compression test, I started to take the car apart to allow the engine to be removed, and I finished by about 4pm, and loaded the engine in to the van.
I got to Ian's for around 7:00pm, and 45 minutes later the head was off and we could see the tops of the piston and the cylinder liners. There was no obvious damage, nothing to indicate a head gasket failure. So the plan was for Ian to disassemble the engine, get the block and the head skimmed, and hone the cylinders, and rebuild the engine, in 48 hours with new bearings, and new standard injectors. So I left him to it.
Ian dismantling the engine at Area-Six HQ
Looking through the data from the runs on Sunday, there was nothing untoward aside from a spike in water temperature on the first timed run, when I'd come back to the paddock and there was steam coming out of the engine cover. So maybe it was just bad luck that the core plug had failed?
On Tuesday, while the engine was away, I ordered engine oil from Opie Oils, an oil filter from Halfords, a set of ARP Flywheel bolts and Ford COPS from SBD, and I bought 4 litres of antifreeze from Halfords, plus a length of 5mm water hose for the header tank.
Ian rang me on Wednesday evening to say that the engine was 95% built, and would be ready 10am Thursday morning. So I left Leicester at 9am on Thursday, to arrive for 10am, and we loaded the engine in to the van for the return trip.
Ian showed me the bearing shells from the crankshaft, which were all replaced, and they had the exact same wear he'd seen on other engines, so there was nothing to be concerned about. The head and block were both skimmed a total of 4 thou, to ensure they werent warped by running the engine briefly with insufficient coolant. The head gasket looked ok, and the piston rings were all fine, the replacement cylinder liners were all confirmed as ok, so the tear down was pretty inconclusive.
Engine safely home, ready for installation.
On Thursday afternoon I began the reinstallation. And after six hours the engine was refitted, with the flywheel, clutch and gearbox attached. All I had left to do was fill the engine with oil, connect all the water pipes up and fill the coolant system, and prime the engine for oil pressure.
Engine, and gearbox, with the plumbing waiting to be completed. Never undestimate the amount of jubilee clips and cable ties required for installing an EcoBoost in to a Formula Ford!
On Friday morning, after filling with oil and water, I span the engine over without any plugs fitted, and the oil pressure quickly rose to 2.1bar. I then fitted the plugs and cops, and pushed the start button, and the engine started instantly, with 3.1bar of oil pressure. :D
Note: One thing Ian had spotted was the coolant around cylinders 1 and 2 didnt look like it was flowing as well as cylinders 3 and 4, due to the thick pink deposits in the head and water jacket, and as the engine wasnt running a thermostat, the coolant might not be flowing as well as it should be. He recommended fitting a thermostat with the centre removed, to slow the rate of the water flow down, to ensure that it flowed fully around all the cylinders. I will make that modification over the winter.
I have to give a really big thank you to Ian at Area-six, for turning the engine around in just 48 hours, that is incredible service.
Reluctance rings for the Empire Evo 2I've just sent off the CAD file for a pair of laser cut reluctance rings to be manufactured for an Empire EVO 2. These are 20 teeth, are made from 6mm mild steel, and are designed to push fit over the output cup. Once we've proven the fitment, I can supply them to other Empire owners.
20 tooth reluctance ring
I drew the output cup in Fusion 360, and rendered it, which took several attempts to get the lighting right, before I was happy with the image.
Graham Porrett was supplied with a pair of FTR reluctance rings last Saturday, for his Mygale EcoBoost, and hopefully he'll find them better than the six bolts that the GT101 sensors are currently setup to use. You need to really run traction sensors inboard, not outboard where they are susceptible to stone and water damage.
Latest Speedscene articleI've just written an article for Speedscene, which has been submitted today. Its about the heave spring that I designed and manufactured for the Mygale.
A preview can be found here: Giving the Mygale chassis a helping hand
Its a modification thats totally transformed the handling; I even won FTD on its debut, I cant really wish for better than that. One driver even questioned if I'd copied the design off another car, or had help producing the parts, which I took as a compliment :D
If you are in need of a heave spring, or any other design work, please get in touch.
AwardsThese are all the FTD trophies I won in 2023, my most succesful year ever. I won nine run offs, and I finished second in the championship, with two new class records.
Impossible taskI have to console myself that the rain affected sprint on Saturday made it an impossible task to win the championship. Even had I won the first run off, that would have given the championship to Goulding on the tie-break as we'd both be on the same score. And then on the next and final run, the heavens opened when everyone sat queuing on slicks, and had to wait for a timing issue to be sorted, meaning they were all driving on a rain soaked track on slicks. And I'm not going to destroy the car even trying to win on slicks in the wet, because only a win would have done.
The rain at Knockhill the weekend before, really put paid to my challenge; that and the guest appearance by Alex Summers at Anglesey, taking a valuable win away from me on the Saturday; and then core plug blowing on the Sunday leading to a misfire; I just ran out of luck.
Next year I'll have to start off as I mean to go on, and secure the lead at the start, and maintain it.
Second place overallWell it wasnt the ending to the season that I wanted, after another rain affected event. We had one practice run, on an almost fully dry track following the overnight rain, and I topped the timing sheets. However the first timed run was then ruined by a rain shower when I was waiting to start my run, and I'd increased both wing angles just as a precuation, and sure enough I had to struggle around in the rain on slicks despite the extra downforce I'd added.
Then it came down to 0.18s on the only dry timed run (T2 Run Off 1) where I finished 2nd to Pete, and that was enough to give him a 2 point advantage in the standings. Pete almost ran out of fuel half way around, and his car stuttered in several places! It was so close.
An hour later, with rain due for the final timed run, I was never going to win the run off and get the class record in the wet, to draw level again on points, so I put the car away. And sure enough, as the remaining drivers drove to the pit lane, on slicks for the final run off, the rain came down, and only four drivers even completed the course, which was won by Steve Broughton in the DJ.
Pete was running a set of fresh Pirelli tyres at the event, with a very fine herringbone pattern cut in to them, which apparently helped generate heat; I've seen the pattern before, I cant remember where, possibly on some development tyres that Triple M were testing with; but it was a good investment, as I simply didnt have the grip on the chicanes to exploit. I dread to think what they cost.
I've had a great year, I've just been very unlucky with the weather, and finished second too many times in the wet to quicker drivers. The core plug failure at Anglesey didnt do me any favours, but we certainly tried to turn it around, it was a shame I didnt get the result I wanted.
At least I've improved every year, and the car has been developed in to a run off winning car, and potentially a championship winning car too.
This is my T2 Run Off 1 run, the only timed run in the dry at Combe, where I finished 2nd. I was running higher downforce than the previous year, simply because of the risk of rain.
Event detailsThere is free entry to spectators at Castle Combe on Saturday, with free parking.
Live timing from the event can be found here: https://www.tsl-timing.com/event/234181
And if you cant make the event in person, a live video stream will be provided by Speed on Screen, with commentary and timing. Click the image below to go to the Youtube stream.
Spanner checkNo issues found last night, other than I only have a few litres of 102RON fuel left after filling the fuel tank, so I've had to order another couple of barrels of the good stuff from Sunoco. If I had a rerun at Combe, it would get very close to using all the fuel, and I didnt want to take that chance. I also nipped up the lower radiator hose jubilee clip, since there was a tiny weep of antifreeze on the radiator. Apart from that, there is nothing left to do other than give her a clean, and a wipe down with WD40 to restore the shine, and load her up on Friday for the journey.
Installation videoA timelapse from Thursday afternoon, re-installing the engine.
Knockhill-under-waterI did everything I could to get the car to Knockhill, and with the rebuilt engine installed and working, I drove the socks off the car, and finished 2nd to Simon Bainbridge in the first run off in the wet.
We missed the slot for the first practice run, as the track was deemed too unsafe for single seaters. At 11am we then did back to back practice and the first timed run. I carefully drove around for the practice, the first time I'd driven the car since the engine had been installed. Back in the pits I jumped out to have a quick visual inspection, and I couldnt see anything amiss. So I then got back in the car, and lined up for timed run 1, and I drove even faster, giving the engine a chance to bed in.
Then following further very heavy rain, the event was halted whilst the circuit maintenance team looked for a portable water pump, to try and remove the water. It was far too deep for single seaters to drive through.
Once that had been resolved, we did our first run off, and I drove quicker than I thought I could, and found I was first, beating Goulding and Miles. But when Simon Bainbridge crossed the line, I learnt I was 2nd overall, and the chance of another run off win had gone. I had three chances remaining.
We then did a third timed run, and I was on CAL1 which gave the engine full power, and she felt much quicker, and pulled very strong in every gear. This engine is far happier following the refresh.
During that run, Goulding and Robb were both given reruns due to timing issues, and they both capitalised on the warm tyres, going some 5 seconds faster than their first attempts.
Just before 5pm, when we were due to do our fourth and final timed run, the heavens opened again, and the race that was taking part was red flagged, and the meeting then abandoned. Because of that, the third timed run was classed as the run off, but Stewart Robb was fastest anyway, so neither of us scored any points during the weekend.
Taking the positives, I am still within one point of the championship leader, and with the car repaired, and running perfectly, I can go to Castle Combe with the intent of winning. My Pirelli tyres were rested on Sunday, and they are all cleaned and ready to go.
Simon from Sitech arranged for a brand new Bosch fuel pressure senor to be brought to the circuit on Saturday, and I have to thank him for the service he provided.
And a huge thankyou must go to Ian at Area 6 Developments, for building the engine in 48hours. Incredible service. If you need an EcoBoost engine rebuilding, he's highly recommended.
Fuel pressure sensor failureI filled the gearbox sump with 5.0 litres of oil, fitted the oil filter, filled the radiator with antifreeze, and after achieving 2bar oil pressure on the starter motor, I fitted the plugs and COPs, and I started the engine, which burst in to life on the first push of the button. And she purred. Over the next hour, I repeated the engine starts and stops, allowing the engine to reach temperature, checking for leaks, with no issues; and then I left the garage for an hour.
When I came back, after cable tying a few more cables, I started the engine, and it coughed and spluttered and black smoke was coming out the exhaust! What on earth had gone wrong? I spent an hour diagnosing the issue, I removed the ECU and blew the plug out with compressed air; I replaced the lambda sensor and tried again, and it still ran rough; I then noticed on the data that the GDI fuel pressure signal was wandering around all over the place with the engine stopped. So I unplugged all the sensors, and still the pressure signal was wandering around; I then removed the connector from the wiring loom, and replaced it with a spare, but it didnt cure the issue. So having exhausted all possibilities, it had to be the sensor had failed. So I called Ian again at Area 6, and he had a spare, so I made the 2 hour round trip on Friday afternoon to collect it, fitted it, and the engine started straight away, with no issues! How unlucky, for the sensor to fail. I was so lucky I found the problem before I made the trip to Scotland.
dip1 (Bar) should be a steady 75bar at tickover; as you can see, its anything but steady.
Engine reinstalledI collected the rebuilt engine this morning from Ian at Area six. 6 hours later it is installed, and awaiting fluids and sparks and it should run. Thats tomorrow mornings job. The engine has new crank and conrod shells, core plugs, the bores have been honed, etc. It also has new fuel injectors, and I've new plugs and cops waiting to be fitted.
Anglesey videoBoy did it rain a lot on Saturday. I dont mind the proper wet, its a good leveller. I was 2nd which gained me 1 point towards my championship total, as it allowed me to drop my final 3rd place score. So all things considered, even with the engine issues, it was actually a very succesful weekend, considering Alex Summers won all four run offs.
Anglesey success and failureSaturday, it rained (this is going to be brief) and I managed to get a second place and close the gap to the leader to just one point. The car was perfect all day. Although I did get very wet, sat in the queue with no umbrella. I was 3rd in the first run off, and 2nd in the second run off, beaten by Alex Summers on both occasions.
Sunday, was awful. The first practice went well, it was on wets, despite the dry forecast, the rain had started at 8:30am and rained for at least an hour, to make the track nice and tricky. On the first timed run at around 10:30am, I went faster, but the engine misfired, and when I got back to the paddock there was steam coming out the engine cover! I was joined by Ian Medcalfe (the owner of the Fiat 500 Sports Libre car) who thank goodness knows more than a thing or two about cars, helped me take the engine cover off to find the issue was a core plug in the cylinder head had corroded through in two places, and coolant was leaking out the top of the head. The rain had stopped and Ian and I worked furiously to fix the issue to allow me to continue to participate.
To cut a very long story short, we had to repair the core plug, using 15 minute epoxy and a 5p piece, after draining the radiator and drying everything out. The plug plugs were all sat in hot coolant, and we did everything we could to dry them and the COPs out, refill the radiator, replace all the covers and loom connections we'd had to remove to get access to the plugs, start the engine, which still ran perfectly at tickover with no smoke, and get out for the end of the T2 run. We took around 3.5 hours to do all of this, it was very stressful. As the repairs were progressing, I had sought permission from Graham Tetley, the Clerk of the Course, to perform my T2 run at the end of the batch or the start of the T3 batch, which was granted, only if we could repair the car in time.
Whilst Ian was putting everything back on the engine, I changed to slicks and adjusted the wings, and got ready for my run off run. With ten minutes remaining, I managed to drive up to the starting line and wait 10 minutes for the T2 run to take place.
As the last car, I set off, and after the 2nd corner, when I pulled 3rd and 4th gear, the misfire returned. So I drove around cautiously, and recorded a time.
We then, during the delayed lunch break, took the covers off and all the plastic covers to gain access to the plugs. We removed them, and they all looked ok, so we refitted them, and blew any moisture out we could find, and reassembled the parts, to do the T3 third timed run.
Before I jumped in the car, I remembered I had turned the air bottle off, to allow removal of the air pressure regulator to gain access to the back of the head, and when I turned the air back on, I could hear air escaping, so I turned the engine off, turned off the air bottle, removed the engine cover again, and found the leak, all while the rest of the BSC drivers drove to the line for the T3 qualifying run.
I pushed the nylon pipes back in to the fittings to cure it, refitted the engine cover, turned the air back on again, and got back in to drive to the line. I had to drive past the Caterhams that had also lined up, and pushed my way in to the queue to line up behind Ian Rowlance, who was one car behind Alex Summers. I took my T3 run, and found the misfire was still present, and limped around to record a time. We then had about an hour and a half to try again to fix the misfire. Was it the head gasket that had blown? We really didnt know.
While working on the car, the organisers announced there would be no fourth timed run due to the circuit curfew, so I didnt know if we'd cured the issue. I packed up, thanked Ian for his assistance, and set off for the 3.5 hour journey home.
On Monday, I read the BSC reports on the HSA site, and learned that I had been classed as DNS, for the first run off, and DNS for the second! DNS? I didnt miss either run off. So I spoke to the coordinator, showed evidence that I had taken part in the 1st and 2nd run offs, and they said it was all sorted and my runs were both counted, and scores towards the Britannia and Celtic trophies are reinstated. Neither run off made any difference to my BSC score, as I hadnt won either of them.
Then 30 minutes later I was told that the decision had been reversed, with no explanation.