Monday, March 23, 2015

Paint and more

So, since the last post, what has been going on? My plan had been to paint the car by hand, using flag silver paint from tools direct. I began by prepping the chassis, which took ages, mainly because of the large amount of light surface rust that had accumulated over the years. In some places, the only thing to do was to apply Jenolite as it was impossible to get into some of the angles with sandpaper. I began painting the engine bay and quickly discovered that the finish using the silver paint I had bought was disappointing to say the least. After a lot of angst, I eventually reverted to rattle cans to spray the chassis. I used the Wickes equivalent of Smoothrite and initially I was really pleased with the results. However, after a while, I noticed that when I touched the chassis, I was finding a silver residue on my fingers. Whether this was a result of the temperature whilst I sprayed, I don't know. Fortunately I had an old can of clear lacquer in the garage. First tests were not encouraging, but I eventually found that if I applied it in very light coats, the results were good. However, by this time, I had run out of lacquer......
Parallel to this activity, I was quite busy at work and also managed to bring back a decent dose of 'air conditioning flu' which wiped me out whenever I had a day free! However, with the paint nearing completion, my mind was turning to the final build up. The brake master cylinder that I had been using was donated by a kind locostbuilder and was of unknown condition. When I went to strip it, I found that it was completely seized and rusted up. A new one was bought from Huddersfield Mini Spares for the princely sum of £39.99! Also of concern at the front of the car was the steering link. The Sierra link that I had used a rubber disc as a vibration damper. When I designed the rack geometry, I incorporated some offsets to allow impact resistance, however, this meant that the rubber disc was rotating at an angle, acting like a universal joint. I wasn't happy with this and so looked at the options. To buy a new triangular link UJ, splined shaft and 'Group 4' UJ was going to cost the best part of £100! The Sierra downlink that I had was a '2 piece' version and I discovered that there was also a single piece variant. Also, in my stock of useful bits, I had a TR7 steering shaft with the correct splined UJ on the end. The shaft itself was slightly bent, so no real use. I also had some offcuts of CDS tube left over from making the rear wishbones. Having bought a single piece down link, I cut it down to length, along with the TR7 link and made a sleeve from the CDS tube. I welded this at the ends, but also drilled to to allow me to plug weld alone the shaft for extra safety. Whilst doing this, I was very conscious of the heat damaging the UJs. As I welded, the UJ was resting on a water soaked sponge and wrapped in water soaked blue roll. Clearly mixing water and electricity is not ideal, so if you choose to copy me, BEWARE!!!!!!! However, I survived and, most importantly, so did the UJs! All they need now is a clean up and a coat of paint!!
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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Like Buses

So, no updates for months, then 2 in a day! I wanted to break the blog down into subject areas to make it easier to read, rather than 1 enormous post. Thats my excuse and I'm sticking to it!! Once I had made the front brake hose brackets, I then turned my attention to the raft of the small jobs that needed fixing. I started at the front and worked backwards attaching various brackets, the catches for the fuel tank cover and the tubes for the brake cables where they travel through the rear bulkhead. I then stripped the chassis entirely and raised it to a good working height in the garage.
With a fresh gas cylinder from Easi Weld, I then moved from front to back completing any tacked joints and grinding out and re-welding some that I wasn't happy with. There are still a few that could be better, but it is impossible to remove the old welds so I shall have to leave these in as a demonstration of how my welding has improved..... At this point, seasonal festivities took over and there was a break of a few weeks. Once I got back though, it was down to the onerous task of removing the inevitable surface rust and preparing for paint. I had some 'Baufix' paint from Aldi that I planned to use - it advertised itself as straight to metal. When I bought it I thought it was silver, but in fact it was silver-grey, so I planned to use it for the floor and bulkheads only. The floor had previously been primed and painted and the Baufix paint went on well, leaving a nice finish.
However, on the unpainted bulkhead, it was a pig! Too little and it didn't cover properly, a little heavier and it ran!! The end result probably won't be too visible but I may yet sand it back and start again!
This caused me to rethink my plan to brush paint the entire chassis - my feeling had been that spray cans would be too wasteful. However, a trip to Wickes led me to the purchase of some cans of their smooth rite equivalent at a bargain £8 a can! First efforts with it are encouraging - photos to follow!

Upright Citizen

So, months have passed once more between posts. However, aside from the inevitable break over christians, for once it is not due to a lack of activity, merely inattentiveness on my part. Note to self, must try harder. Following the progress made on the rear of the car, I wanted to finish the bracketry at the front, particularly the bracket for the flexible brake pipes. The pipes themselves were another bargain, this time courtesy of a fellow Locostbuilder, and were brand new (supplied by Russ Bosst of Furore Cars originally). I had assembled the driver side upright, hub and caliper many months previously but had never got around to the passenger side. The components were supplied by a company called Ellistons, who have long since disappeared, and were fully reconditioned. The problem arose when I came to fit the caliber to the upright - it wouldn't! It was impossible to get the caliper mounts onto the lugs as the pad holders fouled on the disk.
At first, it seemed that the calipers themselves might be at fault as when I compared the two, they looked different. However, they were bagged, sealed with a QC label and I couldn't work out how they could be 'incorrect'. I had an offer of buying some other callipers, again from a fellow locostbuilder, but before parting with cash, I decided to check everything. I took some photos of the uprights and compared them to technical drawings from the web using 'onion skinning' - overlaying the photos. I then took 'accurate' measurements from my upright and my suspicions were confirmed. The spindle on the drivers side upright had an inclination of 0.3 degrees. The opposite one was 1.1 degree - not a lot but enough to make the caliper not fit.
I began the search for a replacement. Some of the prices were outrageous!! On the way, I spoke to Stuart Mills of MEV who, as well as suggesting I heat it whereupon it would relax back to shape, said that he had heard that Stock Car drivers bent some uprights to get better cornering. I also spoke to Anthony from Autotune, who said that he had had a batch where one side was bent also. Mystery solved!! Anyway, I eventually sourced a new upright via a cortina enthusiasts website. I was feeling rather forlorn as my 'bent' one was beautifully powder coated, and I was left with this:
However, nothing that a little elbow grease, straight to rust primer and metal paint wouldn't cure! (Photo to follow)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Rear brakes

One of the disadvantages of using the VW rear calliper is that the port for the flexi-hose points rearwards.As this would clash with the driveshaft, and leave a convoluted path for the brake lines to follow, I set about solving this today. Eventually the solution was quite simple, inspired by the cortina brake bracket! I made a small aluminium bracket from some parts salvaged from a scrap bin.
This is attached to the calliper using one of the screws already present. I then made a section of solid pipe from the calliper to the bracket. The flex bolts to the other side and then runs forward along the suspension arm. Simples! All I need now is a small pipe bender to make the job a bit neater!

The final lap

How did so much time pass between posts? The answer is that whilst progress has been made, it's been a little bit here and there. At the time it didn't seem enough to report, but looking back now, progress has been significant! So, starting at the front! I have made brackets for the brake pipes, the nose cone and number plate. Installed hinges and a catch on the petrol compartment. I expended a lot of effort trying to extend my indicators in order to meet the IVA requirement for distance from the edge of the car, not helped by the fact that the rear track is slightly greater than the front. In the end, I had to conclude that indicators mounted on the top of the wings is the only way ahead. IVA was causing me some concerns regarding the handbrake - having copied the Ariel Atom location on the outside chassis rail, it became vulnerable to the exterior projections test!! I have now installed a rail to prevent the dreaded sphere getting too close!!! I have also re made the brackets that hold the lower support frame in place - they were never neat enough or strong enough! Finally, I have been dabbling with bodywork. I had long made some small parts from sheet aluminium that gave shape to the car - single curvature panels, not hand beaten!!! These would always be considered lethal by the man from the ministry so I planned to reproduce them in fibreglass. I chanced upon an Internet posting where casting tape was used as a lo cost alternative to fibreglass. A quick search on e bay landed me 20 rolls for about £20! Initial attempts were less than successful, but I discovered that if, after the initial water based set, I coated the parts in fibreglass resin, the results were quite good. However, a fair amount of filling and sanding was needed to get a decent finish. Then, in a Wal Mart in the US, I found some woven fibreglass cloth. Much less messy than CSM and a smoother top finish. As a trial, I coated one of the aluminium parts in resin and then laid the cloth up on it. The results were very pleasing with a near perfect finish! The next step was to mould the bike screen that I bought ages ago. Getting a clean release was going to be a problem as I thought it likely that the resin would bond well to the polycarbonate. As a result, I coated the inside with brown packing tape as a release agent. The results were fantastic - some high build primer and a bit of sanding will be needed to finish it, but that is all!!
Finally, I have been dabbling with bodywork. I had long made some small parts from sheet aluminium that gave shape to the car - single curvature panels, not hand beaten!!! These would always be considered lethal by the man from the ministry so I planned to reproduce them in fibreglass. I chanced upon an Internet posting where casting tape was used as a lo cost alternative to fibreglass. A quick search on e bay landed me 20 rolls for about £20! Initial attempts were less than successful, but I discovered that if, after the initial water based set, I coated the parts in fibreglass resin, the results were quite good. However, a fair amount of filling and sanding was needed to get a decent finish. Then, in a Wal Mart in the US, I found some woven fibreglass cloth. Much less messy than CSM and a smoother top finish. As a trial, I coated one of the aluminium parts in resin and then laid the cloth up on it. The results were very pleasing with a near perfect finish! The next step was to mould the bike screen that I bought ages ago. Getting a clean release was going to be a problem as I thought it likely that the resin would bond well to the polycarbonate. As a result, I coated the inside with brown packing tape as a release agent. The results were fantastic - some high build primer and a bit of sanding will be needed to finish it, but that is all!! So, now the chassis has been stripped. I will soon start to tidy up any unsightly welds, fully weld any tacked on brackets before cleaning the chassis ready to paint. Not quite the final straight, but certainly the final lap is in sight!!!

Thursday, May 02, 2013

It's only a bracket to you, but its progress to me!

Well, what a busy year so far! An unexpected promotion in my new job rapidly stunted progress, couples with freezing weather that meant even if I had time, I couldn't face the garage! However, lots of mental effort has been expended! For ages I have being keeping an eye out for a suitable cover for the back of my Fiat Coupe rear lights. I wanted a nice streamlined pod look, but couldn't find anything to match! Then I realised that a large drinks bottle was exactly the right size! A bit of trimming and it's a perfect fit! I have trialled some paint and so far it had given it a durable finish, so good news there! The other problem that had been bugging me was how to locate the air filter. I picked up a k&n from eBay and hoped to use it with the standard intake trunking. Trouble is it is getting really tight round that end of the car and it was really difficult to find a decent spot. Eventually, as ever I have had to compromise and it has ended up a bit closer to the wheel than I would like, and in the path of the hot air from the radiator fan. I think maybe some shielding to prevent water ingress and direct the hot,sit away might be needed! Anyway, I made a bracket for it and welded it on, so all is secure! I also mocked up the radiator hosing to route it around the trunking - hope it all works!!! A second day of minor progress too! I had spent a while planning where to put the side repeaters. My preferred location, in the angle between the upper chassis rail and the diagonal, by the drivers knees, did not meet the IVA visibility limits. After much thought, I have discovered that there is a very generous limit on how far from the front of the vehicle they can go, so I have put them at the back - just held on with a magnetic clamp here!!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Happy New Year!

Well, doesn't time fly? It has been a busy holiday season with family visiting us over both Christmas and New Year. So what progress has been made?
Well, in order to progress, I had to get the car back onto four wheels, which took a surprisingly long time. I was then able to wheel it out of the garage and take a couple of morale improving pictures whilst it was sunny! The Classic Bike Show was on at Newark so I took the opportunity to go as the show was closing in order to catch the Digital Speedos Stand. I bought a Koso DB02R with the extra light housing. The reason for this is because it comes with a mechanical drive that connects to the Fiesta speedo drive, thus removing the need for magnets and sensors - my Fiesta is an early pre-electronic speedo model. In theory, the light unit should be plug and play.
                                                                              It comes with 8 warning light spaces and a dozen symbols so that you can mix and match.
 The downside is that it is essentially a motorbike unit so there is no rear fog symbol and no brake failure symbol, both IVA requirements. As it has been too cold to get in the garage, I got some inkjet printer clear acetate (thanks Mum!) and downloaded a free vector graphics programme from the internet; I then spent an afternoon creating the symbols that I wanted, within a hexagon so that they match the Koso ones.
   


 I imported these into a Pages document and scaled them to the correct size, then hit print. The first run was a disaster but after a while playing with printer settings, I got some pleasing results. Mounting the Koso unit was quite easy. The Sierra column has a threaded moulding where the column stalks bolt on. I am mounting the Fiesta stalks through this and so have made a small aluminium bracket to hold the speedo, using the bike fittings provided. The downside of this is that the unit sits where the Fiesta hazard switch goes. it also isn't quite central so I think i will probably remake it!

I then spent a day or so playing with the hazard switch from the original Rover trying to work out how to make it work properly. Eventually I found a dual pole toggle switch given to me ages ago and have come up with a circuit that uses this instead, albeit with some diodes, as suggested to me on Locostbuilders!