April 2006

1 April 2006
Possibly the most difficult panel has now been fitted. That is the dash top panel, getting it to fit properly as there is a curve to it and it’s the one that is going to be seen the most especially by me. I had to make a template out of card to get the right curve as the panel bends around the corners of the frame and the sides aren’t parallel so the template ends up being a long sweeping curve. The template was transferred to my last large piece of 18G aluminium and cut out. Fitting it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be and I riveted along the top edge of the narrow tubes. The bonnet end was cut into fingers and then bent over and riveted in place and then the finished edge was “encouraged” into place with my nylon faced mallet.

The finished result especially when the bonnet is closed looks superb. I still need to trim the fibreglass bonnet so that it shuts clean onto the scuttle but that is a minor snag. To wards the rear of the scuttle I noticed that on the Riot demonstrator that they used a rubber edge trim on the dash surround but my steering wheel is too close to the scuttle to fit edge trim and I would catch my fingers when turning the wheel. I decided to bend the aluminium around the tube creating a nice radius curve. The problem was the aluminium rippled where it went around the inside radius of the curved ends on the dash and so I had to make cuts into it to make the aluminium lay flat. The problem is that it has made so sharp edges that will definitely fail the SVA so I’m planning to use split rubber hose over the edge which is then bonded into place which I think should look okay. Otherwise I may try to use some vinyl and foam to create a soft edge but I’ll have to see how I could make it work without it looking crappy.

The next panel to make up is the dashboard itself. Once a panel has been cut roughly to size I’m going to get a local sheet metal company to put a radius bend on it so it’s nice and smooth. I’ve also noticed that the steering boss is quite large and this will prevent the fitment of instruments behind the steering wheel. I’ve decided to use the ETB Digi-Dash unit instead which I’ll mount towards the centre of the dash. I’ll also need to mount it in a way so I’ll be able to see the display. This will mean constructing a spacer that sits at an angle so I will be able to read the LCD display.

I’m planning to put in some orders as I’ll need to get some trim for finishing around the cockpit. Also I’m going to need to order and fit some lights at the rear before the engine goes in. The next action will be, when I receive the parts that I have ordered from Sylva to get the brake system bled through and get the steering set right then I plan to turn the car around so I can work on getting the engine bay ready to fit the engine

7 April 2006
Been busy ordering stuff left right and centre. On ebay I have bought some mini style rear lights for the brakes and indicators, I paid £5.99 a pair for those and a pair of track rod covers for the SVA, these have now arrived but the parts from Sylva are yet to get here. Haven’t had time for the car today been busy undoing the mess left by my builders but plan to get on it tomorrow.

8 April 2006
This morning the parts from Sylva arrived. I ordered a set of the flexible brake lines, hand brake cables and the steering link. I also had Matt modify the NS engine mount for the 1.7L engine but will have to wait until I fit the engine to see if it fits.

First of all I fitted the flexible brake lines. I had left plenty of spare tube on the rigid lines so all I had to do was secure the brake lines in place and then cut down the tube and flared the ends before fitting them in place. No problems encountered here and all the lines are now tight and ready to bleed the system through which I will do tomorrow with help from my dad.

Next to go on was the steering link. I had to reset the steering column to the right position to get the length to fit the UJ. I needed to cut off about 20mm of the end so I had to go through the rigmarole of removing the column shroud etc but hopefully it will be the last time. Then it was a simple matter of tightening up the clamps. I have steering now… getting there.

I tried to fit the handbrake cables but gave up as I’ll need to remove the wheels the again enough access to hook the cables over the lugs. I read somewhere that on average springs are around 5% stronger than the person trying to manipulate them and that is true about the handbrake springs.

I started to to make the blanking panels to go over the access hole I cut. I started on the ones on the rear bulkhead. I fitted the NS panel and used M4 rivnuts and button screws. I’ll need to fit a gasket around the panel as the rivnut doesn’t sit flush on the bulkhead and there is a slight gap.

I then started to fit the OS panel and on the second rivnut the mandrel in the rivnut tool snapped. Drat. I’ll plan to get another one or maybe two or three. Can’t do anymore for now so I’ll wait until the brakes have been bled through and I can then get the car turned around so I can work on the back end.

10 April 2006
I’ve had to take a bit of a backward step. I just wanted to check the alignment between the engine cover and the rear wings before I committed myself to fitting the rear lights, just to make sure that everything lined up properly. Result, it was miles out the engine cover just didn’t fit properly. I decided that I had to get this right before I went any further. To get the wings off I had to remove all the trim plates I had made by drilling out the rivets. At first I thought I could just jiggle the wings around a bit and make the engine cover fit right, but instead I had to go a bit further than that. The only gap that was right was by the rear bulkhead so I set that as my datum and removed the fixing screws on the mounting points to the rear of the car leaving only the top screws holding the wings in place.

In the end I had to remake the mounting brackets as they were simply in the wrong place and needed moving further outwards and I had to file a small amount off the underside of the NS wing to make it fit square. I also had to file away some of the glass fibre around the roll bar supports as well to allow the wings to stand more upright.

In the picture you can see that the shut lines are pretty much there. All I need to do is trim a bit off the bottom of the engine cover so it will sit square on the rear cross member.

11 April 2006
Now I have got the body work straight I had to carry on re-fitting the trim plates and making up new ones as well for the NS wing. Fortunately the OS wing didn’t need any modifications around where the roll bar support tube passes through the wing so the trim panel just riveted straight back on. On the NS wing I had to re-drill the holes for the roll bar support tube as I had modified the wing slightly but fortunately I was drilling into virgin fibreglass and not just enlarging the old holes which would have made riveting a nightmare. The remaining trim panels were fabricated using the computer drawn templates and fitted successfully. The pictures below show the trim panels in all their glory.

Next I cut off the excess glass fibre on the edge of the engine cover. I did this by climbing into the engine bay and closing the cover on me and then used a marker pen to find the edge I required. When I trimmed it I erred on the side of caution and left enough material so I could file it down for a perfect fit. Besides I’m going to have to trim out a sizeable amount to clear the exhaust manifold anyway so I’ll be able to get it to fit perfectly.


14 April 2006
It’s always the simplest jobs that cause the most agro. Whilst I had the rear wheels off the re-fit the rear wings it seemed like a good idea fit the cables in place. The NS cable fitted first time no issues. The OS cable proved to be a major pain. I just couldn’t seem to get it hooked over the lug. I took the caliper off the the disc thinking that it would be easier off the car. What I didn’t realise that was now the system is pressurised every time you activate the the hand brake lug it jacks the piston out of the bore! I still didn’t have the cable fitted and now had a fully extended piston, arrrggghhhh!!! I had to take the caliper off the car to screw the piston back in and the process managed to piss brake fluid everywhere and unfortunately draining my bled through brake system. Once I had got the piston back in and by clamping the caliper in my workmate I was able to prevent the piston from being pushed out whilst I attached the cable which after all my huffing and puffing earlier fitted in less than 10 seconds, unbelievable. After that I bolted it back on the car and hooked up all the lines again easy. A 10 second job taking one and half hours, always the way.

In the process of fitting the hand brake cable onto the caliper and with a combination of all the brake fluid going everywhere it took off most of the yellow paint on the caliper which I’m going to have to redo. I’ve also got a Gunson EEZI BLEED on order which so I’ve been told is better for bleeding the brake system through as pumping the pedal can put small air bubbles in the system which can be a pain to get out. This would probably explain why the pedal felt a bit spongy after last Sunday’s brake bleeding evolution.

15 April 2006
Now the wings are square to the engine cover I decided to fit the lights. I’ve bought some land rover style rear lights got them for a good price on eBay so I’ve decided to fit a brake/tail light and an indicator as well. I started by masking the wings off so I had a surface to draw on and set the distance so the lamp sits in the centre of the panel. I used a spirit level to get the vertical line plumb and then measured out the position of the lights and the hole needed to fit them.

Next, cutting out the holes, usual thing here drill lots of little holes, break out the waste piece and then file the aperture to size. At the same time create lots of glass fibre dust and itchy hands. I found that on measuring the OS lights sit about 5mm higher on the panel than on the NS but they are level between the respective lights it’s the wings that are different heights. I’d rather have level lights than have on the squint lights but on the same area of panel, each side.

Now it’s a simple manner of fitting the lights I’ve fitted the indicator at the top and the stop tail at the bottom, this seems the most common configuration on the roads, does it matter? For the time being I’ve just coiled up the leads and tucked them up out of the way. I’ll have to get a battery from somewhere so I can test all the items as I fit them.

I’m not too sure where to go next with the build. I think an evening will be spent making up a new to do list and what to start next.

18 April 2006
My EEZI BLEED turned up from eBay. I wasted no time in bleeding the brakes again and another litre of fresh fluid was pushed through. The first time I used a bit to much pressure and fluid leaked out of the cap and all over the floor, bugger. Second and more successful time the pressure was dropped down to about 10psi and this worked much better. I managed to get all the little bubbles out of the calipers and once I had pumped the pedal down a few times to get the pads to contact the discs and then bled it again to get the last of the air out I was ready to try the pedal for feel.

I was was a bit dismayed to find it felt the same as before but a little bit less spongy. I got out of the car and used a piece of wood to push the pedal down whilst I pushed the car forward. I was surprised to see how much more progressive the brakes worked. With the pedal pushed as far down as I could and bearing in mind this is by hand I could not push the car forward at all. I then wedged the piece of wood in place a-la Hollywood and really gave the car a good hard push and all the wheels locked and I was pushing the tyres over the floor. Confidence restored I’m happy that it’s going to work properly when I next get my dad to give me push.

No list drawn up yet of to-do jobs, will tackle that tomorrow night.

24 April 2006
Over the weekend I came to a conclusion, I am bored with panelling, yes it is official. I fitted the two in-fill panels between the bulkhead and the outside edge of the chassis. My intention is to use angled aluminium covered with vinyl to make capping pieces to hide the rough edge where the side panels were formed over the edge of the chassis. That a job for later for now here are the pictures of the panels in place.

Deciding that I had had enough with panels I have been looking at the engine. I started by stripping the wiring looms off the engine to see what does what. It’s amazing that the engine ran at all as the Ford loom is so rough. Where wires had been joined together by what looks like a press to mash the conductors together and then covered with gaffer tape, ugh. With the loom separated I could see what I had got. All the standard sensors were there ie water/intake air temperature, crank sensor and a throttle position sensor. I’ve also got a cam phase sensor which I could use if I was firing the injectors sequentially but I won’t use that as I’ll be batch firing the injectors (I’ve been reading about engine management). My engine also has the variable intake cam as well and I found something very interesting about that too. Engines like the Honda VTEC use two different cam profiles that are engaged at higher rpm which gives a more aggressive profile and more power whilst still allowing the engine to be driveable on a less aggressive cam at lower rpm. The Ford system simply advances the can giving more duration and was designed to make the engine more efficient at higher rpm not more powerful. Some tuners have found that having the variable cam actually knocks off the power at higher rpm and have disabled it instead, giving more power without it, interesting mmm.

On the subject of ECU’s I was originally going to use an Emerald or equivalent ECU but I’ve been reading with great interest about the MegaSquirt ECU which will run the engine not only for a better price but allows the engine to be efficiently mapped without a rolling road plus being a “built by enthusiasts” device allows more scope on learning how ECU tuning works. Lot’s of people have been using them already with a great deal of success. More on the MegaSquirt to follow.

Next on the tools to acquire list will be an engine crane so I can see about getting the engine in place and possible a mig welder as some modification to the engine mount maybe required. It looks like to get the engine in I might have to remove the drivers side rear wing, again, which would require me to remove all the trim plates again…. Damn.

26 April 2006
I know I said no more panels, but I couldn’t help myself. I decided to fit the front mudguards a nice simple task to keep me amused in the evening. The wings had to be notched to clear the mudguard support tubes. The flat metal strips at the top needed a bit of bending so the mudguards would sit at the same height above the wheels on either side. I also set the mudguards in position by measuring from the inside edge of the mudguard to the floor and got that the same height on both sides. I decided a while ago that I wasn’t going to screw the mudguards on I was going to bond them. I bought some automotive adhesive and applied a thick bead to the tops of the brackets and then repositioned the mudguards. The glue gives me a little while to position them before it sets which should take about 24 hours. The fixing also remains slightly flexible so should handle vibration in use. I just made sure that before any bonding took place that I had cleaned the support and the inside with alcohol to remove any grease that might impair the performance on the glue.

I was also looking in the engine bay and noticed something. Another “Doh” moment as well. I left a bolt the wrong way around and fitted the outside panel meaning the bolt won’t come out of its bracket.

As you can see it will be impossible to remove the only way I can see to remove it will be to cut it out, possible with a grinder, hopefully I can do it without damaging too much around it. I’m certainly not going to remove the outside panel.

29 April 2006
I didn’t mean for it to happen it just did. I fitted the engine. Well almost.

I needed to check a few things first The OS engine mount wouldn’t clear the brake line I had fitted so it meant a little bit of relocating. I drilled out the rivets holding the P clips in place and moved the line to the underside of the chassis tube and re-clipped it in that position, now the engine mount won’t foul the brake line.

Next I had to remove the the engine mount bolt that I had left in the wrong way. That was easy to remove. I bolted it up with an old nyloc nut so it couldn’t turn or move and using my angle grinder cut the old bolt out. Access was better that I thought and I managed to complete the evolution without damaging anything around it. Problem solved.

Since I had my engine crane which along with a MIG welder I had bought the other day I thought I would just try the engine out for size. I became apparent that I would need to remove both of the rear wing as access with them is tight and it’s easier to remove them for the time being than to risk damaging them, so they came off and were stowed away for safe keeping. Now I could see what I was doing I got the engine crane and engine ready to lower the engine in place.

Getting the engine in position was fairly easy it was getting it to line up with the engine mounts that was a problem. I started with the gear box mount as access is easier. The first problem was the extra mount that bolts to the rear edge of the gear box. It was too long and fouled on the gear box housing so for the time being I cut that off with the view of welding it back in place when everything is lined up again. It took a bit of jiggery with a trolley jack to lift one side of the engine up to level it whilst using the crane to support the weight of the engine but I was able to bolt the mount to the engine using the original studs which will be replaced with M12 bolts when I can get some, hopefully Tuesday. By the way that was the easy mount done.

It quickly became apparent that the OS engine mount wasn’t going to fit so I got the engine as level as I could and chocked it up on wood so I could take the crane away and see what I needed to do.

The engine mount Sylva supplied is for the 1.25 – 1.6 engine the 1.7 engine is different on account of the variable cam mechanism. I sent Matt templates and pictures of the new engine mount so he could make me a new one, thinking it would just be a simple bracket change. This is how the modified engine mount looks.

The first problem that I could see was I thing Matt has got my template upside down and where the strengthening fillet he has welded in is where the mount bolts to the engine, so I ground that out and tried again, no joy. I think the 1.7L engine is slightly longer than the 1.6 so the engine mount actually fouls on the engine mount tube itself. I completely removed the bracket altogether so all I was left with was the tube itself so I could see where I need to go from there.

I don’t really want to modify the engines mount at all, since if I get it wrong I would have to replace the whole head and I simply don’t want that at all. Nor do I want to move the gearbox mount as this sets the distance for the drive shafts and besides this mount is “constant” for any engine as the gearbox is the same it’s the engine which is slightly bigger. Any modification has to be done to the car engine mount tube. My idea at the moment is to cut out the section of tube that fouls on the engines mount isn’t that much and is less than the width of the tube. I would then weld a fillet into that to make the tube whole again and hopefully restore any strength lost in the cutting. Then a new engine mount flange will have to be re-cut and whilst the tube is bolted in place and the flange bolted to the engine I would then tack weld in place before removing from the car and then fully weld up. I’m really glad I bought that welder now.