Sunday, 25 March 2012

How do you know if an elephant's been in your fridge?

A weekend spent mostly lying upside down where the driver's seat should be with my head under the dashboard has resulted in all the wiring and plumbing under there being completed. It has also resulted in the somewhat unusual phenomenon of footprints on the roll cage!

Both fire extinguisher and battery are now fully fitted and I've tested all of the wiring that I can at this stage. The good news is that it all works! There were a few minor things wrong but they were soon sorted out. Specifically;

The headlight flash didn't work due to two terminals on the switch being the wrong way round. Easily resolved though took some head scratching to figure it out. Now I know why I spent so long drawing up that circuit diagram.

The indicator relay was suffering the same problem (reversed connections).

The oil pressure warning light had a loose bulb.

I didn't think that was at all bad for the first test of a completely custom built wiring loom. There are a few things I can't test as I haven't fitted them yet but still a nice result so far.

Here are a couple of pictures of the new dash in situ.

The fuel pumps and filter have been refitted in the boot ready for the tank to be plumbed in. I decided to make a better mounting for the tank than the odd bits of bracketry I had before so that's on hold until I can get hold of some aluminium box and angle to do some fabrication work.

This weekend I started by fitting the front lighting to the bonnet and quarter valences. The sidelight/indicator units fitted easily and so did the left hand headlamp but when I fitted the right hand headlamp it was obviously sitting at an angle and the cowl wouldn't fit over it either. After a lot of measuring I re-drilled the mountings so it would sit straight and also moved it over about 2mm. Such are the joys of working with a glass fibre bonnet.

After that the cowl still didn't fit and there followed a lot of fitting, dismantling, measuring, refitting, fabrication of spacers, dismantling again and so on. After a disproportionate amount of effort though it all eventually went together properly and everything lines up so it actually looks quite good.

I only stripped one thread in each of the cast alloy cowls too. They really are a poor design.

So that actually completed all the main work I had planned to do before the end of this month. Today however, with assistance from my dad we assembled the engine and gearbox and lifted it into the car.

I didn't really know whether it would fit as the new gearbox has never actually been in the car yet so I didn't know what problems we might encounter.

In the end the gearbox went in easily. There was a problem however and it certainly wasn't one I had anticipated...

Either my engine has shrunk whilst it's been sitting around the garage or there's something wrong with the mounting points onto the suspension turrets! One engine mount fits easily but the other is an inch short...

Here are some close-up photos of the problem.

After I took these pictures I noticed that the engine was also not sitting straight in the car. Unbolting the right hand mounting and bolting in the left hand one allowed the engine to sit vertical and nicely central in the engine bay and also central to the hole in the bulkhead but of course the one inch gap is now on the other side.

That leads me to believe that the problem might be somewhere around the right hand mounting but I can't see anything that's not where it should be. I've also done some measuring and as far as I can tell the suspension turrets are where they should be with the top wishbone mounting bolts equally spaced either side of the centre line.

We tried two different sets of engine mounts. One brand new and the other being the set that were on the engine previously. The back of the gearbox isn't fastened to anything and is free to move around so that can't be pulling anything out of line.

As far as I know there's only one type of suspension turret but I may be wrong there. Is it possible the turret from a different car has got in there during the rebuild? If you have any ideas, please feel free to leave comments below. Right now I'm out of ideas.

We both stared at this problem for quite a while and in the end we both gave up. I made a temporary bracket to hold the engine in position so that we could at least release it from the engine crane. I also started work on making a mounting bracket for the back of the new gearbox.

At least with the engine (roughly) in position I can get on with taking the measurements for the remainder of the wiring loom and I can also look at working out how things like the gearbox speed sender are going to fit. The gearbox seems quite close to the chassis at that point.

So several things sorted out but a new problem to deal with. Odd how these things come from the most unexpected directions sometimes.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

The twit factor

In an attempt to enter the 21st century this blog now has a connection to Twitter!

I'll get one of those "follow" buttons on here eventually but in the meantime if you are suitable twitter-equipped you can look for @mikd43.

Apparently it's the future...

In more practical news, the race car now has the battery box and fire extinguisher trial fitted. I'm just waiting for a few bits and pieces I have on order before I can complete fitting these and lay in the plumbing for the extinguisher.

The fuse box is also fitted. On the electrical side the next step will be to install the dashboard and start testing the wiring. In the photograph below the fuse box is still only loosely fitted in case it has to come out again whilst I'm testing.

While all this work has been going on on the race car the road going Spitfire hasn't been forgotten. I am reliably informed that the bodywork on that car is finally complete and it will be moving to the paint shop next week.

That means I need to wind up work on the race car in order to clear the garage for when the other car comes back. The plan at the moment is to complete all the ongoing electrical work but if there is still time I'd like to offer up the engine and gear box assembly to see whether any major work is going to be required to get that to fit. If so I can plan that whilst I get on with reassembling the other car.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Riveting stuff!

I was in danger of grinding to a halt with the work on the race car last weekend but thanks to the loan of a compressor and an air powered riveter (thanks Paul!) things have moved forward a little.

Not the most exiting action-packed photographs here but you can see what I've been up to. Here's the new wiring harness installed running down the centre of the car.

You can just see part of the connection point under the dash where the various sections of harness plug together. At the rear the main battery feed cable splits off to where the battery will be located behind the driver's seat. The rest of the harness runs into the left rear wing to pass through to the boot.

The coiled black cable in the second photograph is for the electrically operated fire extinguisher which will mount in that space eventually.

Unfortunately I discovered that I'd forgotten to buy the necessary terminals to connect the rear lights so they are now on order and I'll be able to finish this section of the wiring once I have them.

I've also ordered the battery along with its housing box and the fire extinguisher system so the next job will be to fit those.