Tuesday 28 December 2010

Alloy Steering Rack Mount Upgrade

Sat 12th Nov 2010 - Work time = 3hr ... Build Time to IVA = 252hrs ... Post IVA Work Time = 27hrs

I noticed when checking over the car after the rally that one of the rubber spacers on the steering rack mounts was slightly misaligned.  There also seemed some "play" in the rack when you moved the steering wheel with the car stationery ... that is the rack moved slightly from left to right as you moved the wheel.  As I had to remove one of the mounts to replace the rubber spacer I figured it would upgrade the pressed steel mounts with alloy ones which are a bit more sturdy.
They were a bit fiddly to fit ... not a lot of elbow room and a lot of bruised knuckles!  Definitely worth the trouble though ... the rack is now rock solid when you turn the steering wheel.  Didn't get a chance to drive the car after this so can't tell whether the steering feel whilst moving is any more direct.

New Mud Flaps Fitted

Sat 5th Nov 2010 - Work time = 1hr ... Build Time to IVA = 252hrs ... Post IVA Work Time = 24hrs

I managed to damage one of the front mud flaps on the return back from Corsica.  It somehow got wrapped up inside the wheel arch and rubbed against the wheel.
Ordered some new mud flap material off of eBay ... this time I got slightly thicker 4mm material that isn't as flexible and hopefully won't get caught between the wheel and arch again.
A fairly simple job to cut to size and refit. No photos to show as it looks identical to how it was before !

Friday 29 October 2010

Italia - Corse Rally - Oct 3-8th 2010

Just returned from competing in the Guild of Motor Endurance Rally - Italia - Corse 2010.  This years event started in San Remo on the French/Italian border and Days 2-6 were on Corsica.

We set off at 6am on Fri 1st Oct to catch the 07:50 Eurotunnel. 

Parked up ready for the Shuttle ...

Our route plan was to get to Gap for an overnight stop, a quick 600 miles blat down the French autoroutes.  We had arranged to meet up with our Team Mates in their TVR Griffin.  The journey down was pretty uneventful apart from our Sat Nav deciding to challenge us with some strange route decisions.  Net result we got separated from the TVR and arrived at the hotel in the dark.

I had planned a 150 mile route across the Alps on the Saturday to take in some of the more windy roads including the Col de Turini.  It was a great drive and served a good warm up for the Rally.  

Photo opportunity with the TVR

Fantastic scenery en route to San Remo

We arrived at the Rally Start Hotel in San Remo about 4pm ... ready for scrutineering ... which we passed without incident. 

Drivers briefing took place later that evening.  Just to explain the format of the rally ...

Each day is broken up into a number of timed stages (about 70 for the whole rally).  Each car leaves the start of a stage at minute intervals.  Navigation is by way of tulip maps with distances ... these are very brief and not explicit so navigation is a key requirement.  Each car must reach the Timing Control at the end of the stage at an exact minute.  If you are early you are penalised ... if you are late you are penalised.  The car with the lowest points wins.  Each stage is timed to an average speed of 40 - 60 kph.  This doesn't sound that fast but when you have to build in fuel stops and other traffic it often requires some very spirited driving!

Day 1 - San Remo to Savona
With number 14 on the car our start time was 08:14.  Route distance today ... 445km with 8hr 52mins of scheduled driving.  Our destination ... via a convoluted route across some windy mountain roads was to be the port of Savona for our overnight ferry to Corsica.

The day started well except for Paul, my co-driver suffering a little with travel sickness.  This meant an earlier than planned driver change (we planned to  share the driving and navigation between us for the whole rally).  The small fuel tank in the FW Body (less than 5 gallons) also meant more frequent fuel stops.  We mistimed a morning fuel stop and were late at a timing control.  The next stage was a short one and we couldn't make up the time so were late at that one too.  Net result 9 penalty points ... aarghh! ... need better fuel planning on next days.

Lunch stop day 1
There was a couple of bad route map directions on our final stage of the day as we neared the port.  Along with most other cars we arrived late to the final control but due to the route error no-one received any penalty points so we ended the day with 9 points.

After a pizza and a few beers with the other crews to relive the first day we boarded the overnight ferry for Corsica.  It started raining a we waited in line to drive aboard!

Day 2 - Bastia Port to Porticcio (Hotel Base)
312kms - 6hr 52mins driving

We were woken at 6am ready for the 7am arrival.  A quick breakfast on board and a chance to see Corsica for the first time as it gradually got light.  Not much to see though ... the mountains were shrouded in mist ... not a good sign!

We were now lying in 8th place so started at 8:08.  It started raining just as soon as we started ... made for a very challenging first few stages.  

Stage 1 started from the port and resulting in the need to navigate lots of traffic as we exited the port and town area.  Traffic and towns means slow progress resulting in the need for quicker (read very fast) driving later in the stage to catch up.  A combination of wet and unfamiliar roads and never having driven the car in anger in the wet, meant we had a very "interesting" time!

Lunch at just after 1pm ... still raining ... a quick rest ... another fuel stop and what was soon to become our stable lunch diet ... Pringles, Mars bars and energy drinks!

The afternoon was fairly uneventful ... all fuel stops as planned with no delays and on time at all controls.  The car, however was starting to show that it had been driven a bit ....

Our fellow competitors were suffering slightly more than we were ...

MGB GT with some exhaust clearance issues ...
compounded after falling off the jack! 
Francie Clarkson (aka Mrs Jeremy Clarkson) with
some alternator issues

Porsche 356 after it's mid morning gearbox rebuild!

Day 3 - Porticcio (Hotel) back to Porticcio (Hotel) via Porto and Cargese
466Kms - 10hrs 3mins driving time

Start time today 8:05 ... we had climbed to 5th place overall.  The sun was shining today but was low in the sky in the morning so climbing up the mountain roads we had issues with the bight sun in our eyes.  This made for some interesting braking moments on some hairpins!

Some great driving roads in the morning meant we could catch up some time and take a break waiting for the clock to tick down so that we could enter our time controls on time.  Others had the same "issues" ...

... but we also had time to take in some scenery.

We finished the day on the same points and still lying in 5th but we had gained some ground on the some of the cars in front.  Francie Clarkson had picked up 6pts during a spot scrutineering check when her brake lights weren't working. 

Back at the hotel after Day 3

Day 4 - Porticcio (Hotel) back to Porticcio (Hotel) via Bonifacio
427Kms - 8hrs 49mins driving time

Still in 5th place on 9pts ... only 3pts behind the car in front (Francie).  However our TVR team mates still have a clean sheet with zero points ... all the drive for!

A busy morning drive culminating in the lunch stop at the port of Porticcio.  We only just made the lunch time control ... there was an extra optional route around the castle in the port.  These optional roads are not labelled in the route book ... you are meant to find them from the extract of the map shown in the route book.  They are intended to add extra time and distance and therefore challenge you on timing for the rest of the stage.  Penalty for not doing the extra route is 10 pts so we didn't really have an option but to do them. On this same stage our TVR crew were struck down with TVR reliability when their fan relay failed.  Some quick rewiring meant they just managed to get in on time and keep their clean sheet.

The afternoon drive back to the hotel included some great roads (again!).  Sun shine all the way too.  The only looming issue was news of a Port Strike in Marseilles ... this was restricting fuel supplies to the island.  The result of this was that petrol stations were starting to ration fuel ... limiting fill ups to €30-35.  This wasn't an issue for us ... we struggled to fit in more that €25 of fuel in a fill up.  A bigger issue was that some garages were not allowing filling of jerry cans ... we were totally reliant on our two jerry cans to provide sufficient range.  May need to resort to syphoning fuel back from the tank into the jerries!

Despite all this we finished the day with no additional penalty points ... unlike our competitors in front ... we had climbed to 3rd place!

Day 5 - Porticcio (Hotel) back to Porticcio (Hotel) via Casevecchie
474Kms - 9hrs 33mins driving time

Another sunny day and some great driving roads (common theme here!) early on.  Halfway through the morning we were confronted with a closed road on our route.  There was an FIA Historic Rally going on at the same time as ours ... they had closed one of road as it was an official rally stage.  Some hasty phone calls from our rally marshall and it was confirmed that we needed to make our own way to the time control.  All crews spread their maps of Corsica out and started to work out where we were and where we needed to go ... not an easy task as our on route books rarely contained road number directions.  

A few minutes later we were confident we knew where we had to get to ... the route there was a major detour but we had no allowance for this ... still needed to get there on time!  5 or 6 of us set off together ... Paul was driving and I was navigating as we followed Francie at the head of the line.  It required some spirited driving and all was well until we came across some major roadworks due to a landslide.

The delay added at least another 10 minutes to our already stretched schedule.  It now required some "very spirited" driving!  We reached the control with 2 minutes to spare ... Doh! .. in our hast to get there on time we actually arrived early ... 10 penalty points!  It was a minor consolation that most of our fellow competitors did the same thing.

The early afternoon was without incident ... some more great roads ... some more "energetic" driving.  The optional "off route book" section in the afternoon was a particular challenge.  A quick sprint of 6-8Kms up a road, collect the passage control stamp and back down again to rejoin the route book route.  The only issue, we were driving fast to make up the time to complete the extra route and our fellow competitors were doing the same.  All well and good with us running in 3rd or 4th up the road but on the way down were our fellow competitors coming towards us ... it made for an interesting few minutes on a very narrow road!

The last stage of the day also through a challenge.  The route book referenced a village bypass that was incomplete when they did the recce.  We had travelled the same road on Day 2 and taken the bypass and missed a section of the route but saved some time.  The question was do we do the same again today or follow the route as instructed?  Navigators decision (me at the time) was follow the route.  As we entered the village we spotted one of our controls ... those that followed the bypass missed the control and were awarded 10 pts.  A great result for us as it cancelled out some of the indiscretion earlier in the day!


Day 6 - Porticcio (Hotel) back to Porticcio (Hotel) via Bocgnano
318Kms - 6hrs 24mins driving time

We started the last day in 4th place 3pts behind Francie, who was close behind "Toni and Guy" in their Lotus Elise (not really Toni and Guy ... nicknamed for their hairdresser car) with the TVR boys still in the lead.

Another beautiful morning with, yes you guessed it, some great driving roads, with scenery to match.  We didn't get off to a great start though ... Paul missing a roundabout in the route book within five minutes of leaving the hotel! 

Our strategy for the day ... overtake the 3 cars in front of us as quickly as possible on each stage in he hope they would make a route navigation error or get delayed.  We figured if we followed them we would have any opportunity to beat them.  A great strategy that required some very energetic driving ... catching up 4 mins on the TVR boys.  Overtaking Francie was fairly easier ... we pre agreed with her that if we rolled p behind with lights blazing we wanted to pass!  The TVR was also fairly straightforward ... they were taking things easy to make sure they didn't break anything or miss any directions.  Catching the Elise was a bit more of a challenge ... they were as quick as we were and as soon as we caught them they turned up the wick a little more.  We had some great fun though!

The net result of our full-on morning meant we reached lunch with no additional penalties.  Unfortunately those ahead of us were on time too! 

It was a short run in the afternoon but still allowed some time to meet up and enjoy the view on our final day.

There was a final twist near the end of the day.  On the penultimate stage we got news that our TVR team mates were stranded at the roadside behind us.  A rear shock absorber had broken ... they missed the time control on that stage and the last one :-(

The last stage was a fairly short stage which didn't allow us any latitude for error ... we made it with 1 minute to spare.

The Finish
After 2,443kms (1,527miles) and 49hours 49mins rally driving time we had finished. 

"Toni and Guy" in the Elise had finished 1st with Francie & Clare in their Caterham in 2nd.  

We ended up 3rd overall and 1st in our Class (2000cc and above).

Despite some gruelling conditions and some very hard driving the Westfield didn't miss a beat through the whole week.  I was justifiably very proud of our driving and navigational achievement but above all my mechanical skills.  Not bad going for a car built in my garage!

It was then just a matter of an overnight ferry back to Toulon in France and a mere 700miles run back to Calais.  This was pretty uneventful ... 7 fuel stops and 10hrs 15mins ... you gotta love the French autoroutes ... but not a patch on the fantastic roads in Corsica! :-))

Saturday 11 September 2010

Half Hood Fitted

Sat 11th Sept 2010 - Work time = 3hr ... Build Time to IVA = 252hrs ... Post IVA Work Time = 23hrs
Early on in the build I had identified that I didn't want a full hood.  I had seen reference to the "half hood" from SoftBitsForSevens (http://www.softbitsforsevens.co.uk/) on the WSCC Forum which seemed just what I wanted. 
A telephone call to the company revealed that I needed to order a plastic channel from WF that fits across the top of the windscreen and send this onto them.  They estimated delivery would take about 3 weeks.  In the end it took a lot longer and I had to chase the them a couple of times so I was very relieved when the hood arrived yesterday.  It all came with a cylinder shaped bag that attaches to the roll bar and sits behind the rear seats ... all very neat.
Nick from softbits had previously talked me through the fitting instructions (the hood didn't come with any!).
First job to fit poppers to the front to clip on the poppers on the windscreen.  All the appropriate tools were supplied to fit these so this was fairly straightforward.
The tie down straps at the back were not so straightforward.  They mount on the lower bolt on the roll bar stays.  The instructions given were to enlarge the holes where stays go through he bodywork and feed the straps through there adjacent to the rear stay bar.  I looked at this but it meant removing the rear stays and to do that I would have to undo the whole roll bar.
After the customary head scratching moment I opted to route the straps between the boot liner and the bodywork.  I cut out a little of the fibre glass to allow some space for the strap.  The really difficult bit was putting the strap through bolts on the stay mounts.  Easy to get the bolts out ... not so easy to get them back in.  I ended up having to loosen the main roll bar bolts to allow some movement the get the stay bolts back in.

The struggle was worth it though. I'm pleased with the results as when the hood is not on the straps can be left tucked away in the boot rather than sitting on the top of the bodywork.

The weather today wasn't too good with some light rain.  So it was a good opportunity to test the car with the hood on.  First problem was getting in the car.  It's bad enough without the restriction imposed by a roof.  After a bit of limbering up and five minutes of yoga I managed to fold myself enough to squeeze in.  Getting out was just as difficult ... certainly not a getaway car!

Driving with the hood on was very good though.  Visibility is not restricted at all and even without a heater it was nice and cosy.  Very pleased with the results and quality of the hood ... well recommended!

Sandra has been calling the car Tigger for the past few months.  She bought me a Tigger decal to put on the car.  Here it is in all it's glory!

Oil Change and New Steering Wheel

Sun 5th Sept 2010 - Work time = 2hr ... Build Time to IVA = 252hrs ... Post IVA Work Time = 26hrs
With 620 miles on the clock it was time for an oil change.

A slight issue with the oil filter ... the one I got from Halfords was the wrong one ... the thread size was a little loose.  Managed to get the correct one from a local motor factors.

After a bit of research I opted for Castrol GTX Magnatec Fully Synthetic 5w/30 I wasn't sure what the oil capacity was so I ended up getting a 4 litre can plus another 1 litre.  Turns out I needed about 4.5 litres to fill it half way between the fill marks on the dipstick.

I ordered a new steering wheel earlier in the week.  Slightly smaller than the old one and "D" shaped.  This allows a little more room for getting in an out.  It's also suede covered so nice and soft!  I needed a new steering boss as well.  Ebay to the rescue with a Mountney boss that had the requisite 70mm PCD hole configuration.  Here's the new wheel fitted.

Saturday 4 September 2010

Brantz and Intercom Fixed

Sat 4th Sept 2010 - Work time = 6hr ... Build Time to IVA = 252hrs ... Post IVA Work Time = 24hrs
After a phone call earlier in the week I isolated the issue with the Brantz not incrementing at slow speeds.  The speedo sensor was not providing enough voltage change as it passed the driveshaft bolts.  Solution was to fit a separate Brantz supplied sensor.
I fabricated another bracket to mount the sensor near the existing speedo sensor. 

It was then a case of routing and securing the cable along the transmission tunnel.  This was an especially fiddly job lying under the car with very little room to tighten the cable ties.  It's certainly much easier to fit all this stuff during the build up phase rather than when everything is finished!

A quick test and all seemed OK.  A later test drive confirmed this ... just need to calibrate properly now.

Last weekend I tested the intercom with Henry ... or more precisely Henry played his iPod through it!  All was working OK except there was electrical interference that increased as the revs increased.

A few quick questions to Mr Google and I narrowed down a solution from eBay ... a little cylinder thingy that claimed it suppressed radio interference.  I ordered one (another £8.99 on the build cost!).

It arrived earlier in the week.  I temporarily connected it and started the engine ... no interference ... it worked.  The cylinder was a little larger than I had anticipated so I had to mount it under the rear-most transmission top panel.  A couple of jubilee clips and some duck tape to protect it ... job done!

With just over 600 miles on the clock now ... next job an oil change!

Time for a Wash ... and a Photo Session

Sun 29 Aug 2010 - Work time = 2hr ... Build Time to IVA = 252hrs ... Post IVA Work Time = 18hrs
After all the driving in the rain it started looking a little dirty.  After washing the other two cars in the household I started on the Westfield.  It's only a small car but it's a bit fiddly to wash.  It's a challenge not to drench the cockpit ... more practice needed!
With the car nice and clean I went for a quick drive and found a good location for some proper photo's of the finished car.