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Skye's Journal: Building the "Ultimate Club Car" for "Not Toooo Much Money"
Check out Kevin's 240 as well. Yer going down Hawkinson!!!

F4 Rallysport > Skye's Rally Journal > 2004
September 26, 2004

JVAB coil-overs with 41mm inserts

Quite a productive weekend, even though I was a bit hung over on Sunday! First, I cut and ground away notches for the sleeves for the transmission mount, then John welded on the sleeves. Drilled a few more holes in the 1" aluminum plate that offsets the cossie T5 mount forward a few inches, and bolted the assembly to the transmission. It worked out rather well, and provides enough clearance to the speedo drive too. After than it was simply a matter of offering up the anodized crossmember and drilling a couple of holes for the through bolts. Transmission mounting done!

John had finished milling the bushes for the GpA tops on the dampers, so I went ahead and installed the front suspension which looks quite lovely. The springs are even offset to clear the wheels. Unfortunately my 17/65 tires on ET40 rims have serious clearance issues. 15/65 tires on ET33 rims (Saab specials) clear fine, so it looks like I might want to run smaller tires on the front. The 15/65 sure are a hell of a lot lighter, but that complicates the spare tire situation a little. I'll still need some wheel spacers and longer studs too, but might as well wait until the cossie 2wd knuckles arrive on the boat. Anyway, the Ford factory team used smaller wheels up front, so it's something to consider. No idea what the rears are going to be like.

With the transmission firmly secured, I did the final markings for the engine mount through bolts, and slotted out the holes with the air-powered die grinder (oh what fun). Then, with the jack supporting the engine, John welded fat washers onto both sides of the chassis rail mounts. After the car's on the ground, we'll pull the "mockup" block and transmission, finish welding all the way around the washers, clean and paint, and install my rebuilt engine. Here's a view from under the car of the complete drivetrain mounting system - Built JVAB Tough (tm).

September 22, 2004

Last weekend I jacked up the bare block and bolted on the engine mounts and lowered it back in; the mount holes on the chassis rail mounts need to be ovaled out a bit, and then weld a washer on. All the measuring and planning worked out quite well though, the back of the transmission is only about 1cm from center. A long screwdriver and a bit of prying on the edges of the mounts will fix that. I designed the adapter plate for the transmission mount as well, built it out of a 1" thick piece of aluminum which bolts at a 90° angle to two 6" pieces of 1.25" square stock welded together. John's sawing and welding the sleeves for the rubber mounts onto the square stock at the machinist's today, then the whole assemble slides into the transmission crossmember we already fabricated. Once the transmission's in place I'll make the final markings for the engine and that's all done, ready for the whole drivetrain to be put in.

The air freight arrived with the remaining suspension goodies last night, so I went out and started final assembly on that. Looks like the spherical bearings for the top mounts took up a bit of the slop we were worried about when they were pressed into the tops, and after packing with grease they seem ok. So today John's also turning the top bushing to fit over the GpA top mounts on the dampers. I picked out a couple of nice springs from the collection, and everything will be ready to bolt up on the front suspension shortly!

The rear suspension is a bit more problematic. The dampers we have don't fit the stock XR trailing arm. John has found me some GpA reinforced trailing arms, rose-jointed and everything for adjustable toe, but they're over in the UK. Need to figure out air costs on that. The 2wd cos front knuckles are on the way already though, via slow boat. They may or may not arrive before I leave for NZ on Oct 27. Which means the brakes might not get done before then. The other big tasks remaining are wiring, which I already did a bunch of work on waaaay back, converting to hydraulic clutch, and plumbing the engine cooling and lubrication. And, of course, working out all the gremlins, leaks, etc that will inevitably spring up once the car's running.

But, if I can get it on the ground, and maybe get the engine fired up before I leave, that will be a major accomplishment. It's just so annoying that I'm not going to get to drive it for a whole year and a half now that it's almost done! Perhaps I can find a rally school in New Zealand that will give me seat time in exchange for working odd jobs. I have to say my fabrication skills have become pretty good over these last 2 years!

September 6, 2004

Saab 900 Radiator and Cossie intercooler Finished building the custom aluminum padded mount for the Saab 900 radiator and Sierra Cosworth intercooler which has nice metal end tanks so hopefully it won't crack like the stock Cossie 3dr radiator. The mount brackets at the top of the Saab radiator had to be fabricated and welded on at the extremes of the radiator width to bolt up to the bottom of the intercooler, another advantage of a metal radiator.

Too bad the Cossie radiator has the dumb plastic end tanks with the mounts built in like the stock XR radiator, so if you have the slightest knock it cracks the tanks and you lose all your fluid. If you look at the "crack" picture above that's exactly what happened. The Saab radiator is a bit smaller than the Sierra Cosworth radiator, but it's got much higher fin density than the stock XR radiator, which should be plenty for our needs. Plus, the Saab's twin fans (tested) push a hell of a lot of air. The fans will run normally off the thermoswitch under normal conditions, but there will also be a switch which hard-wires the fans on all the time during special stages, so a sensor failure can't cause overheating.

Engine mounts are done! Now I can pull out the bare "mockup" block and put in the engine and weld up the T5 transmission crossmember adapter. The T5's gearshift is quite a bit more forward than the stock Type9, so some cutting and a shift lever with a kick in it (Mustang, etc) will need to be sourced.

June 26, 2004

Fuel Pumps and Filter Assembly Finished removable dual fuel pumps (Walbro) and filter (Bosch) in spare tire well, and made all the hoses between the pumps, filter and fuel cell feed, return and vent lines. Dual redundant pumps, just like GrpA factory cars.

Sourced M12 and M14 to AN-6 unions, so I can use cheapo VW/Audi OEM Bosch fuel filters. Cheap = more likely to replace more often. Same filter used in Audi 5000 Turbo, so should flow plenty. $12 vs $80+ for "race filters".

Made a cover for the fuel pumps to isolate the fuel system and provide a mounting area for the spare wheel. Of course the wheel still needs to be tied down with some belt. Mmm, those rally Compomotives sure make me tingly all over.

Prototyped the hydraulic handbrake although the lever ratio will probably need adjusting, so the mount for the clevis is just lightly tacked on. All brake plumbing is now done, except for hoses from MC fluid resevoirs.

June 13, 2004

Running Front Brake Lines Been doing lots of work on the car, just haven't had time to update the website. So many things done, can't remember half of them. Last weekend I made some tie-down straps for the fuel cell and started wiring up the Saab in-tank pump. Today I ran the front and rear brake lines, I think I did a rather nice job. AN-3 and hard lines everywhere, 90 deg steel bulkhead fittings in the wheel arches for maximum protection from rocks. Fitted the modified (longer) clevises for the balance bar assembly, I think it's going to have enough pedal travel; if not, we can always weld a nut on the end of the clevis to extend it a little further. Painted the throttle pedal Dove Grey like all the others, and bolted the OMP pedals on to see how it would all fit. We've got most of the caliper, rotor and hat decisions made, so it will be time to cough up some dough for that soon. Next up is the hydraulic handbrake and running a couple of long lines down the top of the tunnel and all the brake hard lines will be done! Need a few more fittings for the fuel lines, can make up the hoses for those shortly.

Threw in a spare 3dr headlight and my grille just to see how it looks (answer: pretty damn fine) - oh yeah and to see where we can put the monster oil cooler as well. Remote oil filter heads have also arrived...

May 16, 2004

Was feeling kind of lazy this weekend (guess I'm allowed) so just puttered around a bit and didn't get too much done. Worked on the fuel lines a bit, terminating them at the old fuse box hole. Cut and flared the ends of the fuel lines, and installed swivel fittings. Cut out the old slam panel X-brace for the cossie grille. Repainted a couple of rusty spots.

Put my helmet on and threw the Corbeau seat in with the seat rails to check clearance. Pretty tight... going to have to bolt the side-mount adapters directly to the adjuster rails with no side plate, and pad the side roof bar where i hit my helmet all the time. Steering and pedal distances seem pretty good.

Made a nice electrical test rig with a 10A resettable breaker for checking my custom wiring loom. Messed around with the fuel pumps, mocking up where to put things and the outlet fittings options. Did some research on cheaper replacements for the XR4Ti fuel pump, as it costs about $250 and mine's toast, so I need two.

May 9, 2004

Bending the fuel lines Things are progressing at a rapid and steady rate now. Fabricated the seat rails and the rails for converting my Corbeau Forza's from bottom to side mount, just the slotted side adjustment plates left to do on those. Need to do a test fit with my helmet to verify roof clearance won't be a problem. Only had to drill (4 * (16 + 2 + 4)) = 88 holes! Thank goodness for the drill press.

Worked some more on the wiring loom to the back of the car, cut up the corrugated loom tubing and T fittings and fed it through the panels to see how it would all line up - very nice. Then I got to work bending the fuel lines which are 3/8" steel brake line, so are rated for a zillion psi. The order for the remaning fittings, flexible hose and bulkhead fittings is in progress, so that can be finished off and we can start constructing the pump and filter assemblies.

Nearly done fabricating the dual master pedal assemblies, JVAB fabricated some aluminum bushes for locating the pedals securely with no slop at all. However after I test fit the assembly it was clear the brake pedal was sitting much to low at rest. Some quick comparison to John's Sierra and the GrpA Sapphire showed the master rod length and bush location in the pedal arm were the same, and so logically we compared the clevis length, sure enough it was nearly 1cm shorter which explained the pedal height difference. We're simply going to machine some spare clevises to mate with our hefty balance bars and all should be well.

As if that weren't enough, we also worked on fabricating a mount to relocate the alternator from above the PS pump on the right-hand side to the bottom of the engine on the left, which as John says, will eliminate approximately 2,000 miles of intercooler tubing, which is always a good thing. We're also giving some thought to what's available in hats, rotors and calipers for starting on the brakes soon. And bugging the rear beam fab boys to get a move on.

Pat Richard

Big congratulations as well to BC's very own Patrick Richard who has as of this weekend, won 4 out of 4 of this year's SCCA ProRally Championship in a Group N car no less! Pat's the best rally driver to come out of North America in quite some time (perhaps of all time), and since the European "hired guns" aren't driving this year due to the manufacturers all pulling out of the series, his star is shining bright. The Rim of the World rally requires a calculated drive as not to break the car, and he judged it just right. Hopefully he will find enough sponsorship money to change his plan (to win Group N) and contest all the ProRally events this year - no doubt he has an excellent chance at the overall driver's championship this year with these great results. Go Pat!! His driving career has been a big inspiration for me, I hope to be at his level someday...

May 2, 2004

Dual Master Pedal Assembly Drew up a false floor template for the driver's side today, which will be covered with grip tape, and covers the cage foot plate and reinforcement strut. After the false floor is riveted into place, the dead pedal will be mounted to the far left. Here's a tip, kids: make sure to use aluminium that you can actually BEND.

Then we started on test fitting the dual brake master cylinders. After honing out the pedal sleeve (warped slightly during welding), we tested the fit of the balance bar and realized I had to slot the road locating brackets another few mm, as well as measure the gaps for fabricating aluminum pivot spacers. Note the brain juice on top of the false floor material, required for this level of fabrication. With the dual masters (0.700 front, 0.750 rear just like the factory) and the balance bar, a high degree of adjustability is available. Check out the Wilwood Brakes catalogue under "Pedal Assemblies" for balance bar settings information. Here you can see the effect of moving the balance bar spherical bearing under pedal load from full left to full right. Notice the change in balance (hence the name) of force applied to the front vs rear MCs. John will get the balance rod turned down and threaded right up to the circlips by the spherical bearing in the next few days, so I will have the maximum adjustment range. We also need to weld on a nut for a simple pedal stop. I think the final product is quite impressive! Now to muck around with the clutch (converting to hydraulic instead of the stock XR4Ti cable clutch) and the go-fast pedal.

Finally, did a bit more work on cutting up the rear wiring loom and started feeding it into my Waytek split corrugated loom tubing. The installation is going to be beeeyoootiful, and easy to maintain and modify in the future.

May 1, 2004

Compomotive TH and Michelin tires Finished building the pedal boxes and welded on the centering tabs for the dual master rod supports. Chopped out a section from the brake pedal and welded in the tube for the balance bar's spherical bearing, and a small tab for the return spring. Cut up a couple of backing plates for running the bolts bolts through the stock pedals and mounting my nice OMP pedals. Finally, primed and painted all the pedal bits to prevent rust. Of course a little brake fluid spill and it will all be a mess, but at least it will be nice when I install it!

Super-glued the cracks in the bi-wing I got a while back, and installed that. Cleaned the overspray off the side mirrors and windshield and touched up a few spots on the cage where we gouged the paint during the dash modifications, dark grey in the line of sight.

Also hauled all the rims and tires to my house, to take in to get mounted up next week. No point in balancing them of course, considering the speed and frequency of bashing into holes and rocks out on the stages. Also stopping by the JVAB garage today were Scott and Kevin working on their respective cars. The weather is wonderful, and I have an inspirational work environment!

Apr 29, 2004

New 2.3L Turbo Head Back from a short holiday, time to really knuckle down and get the car finished by the target date of June 1st in time for Dryad/Shitepoke. Working on it on weekends, after work when I can, all the time I can spare.

Installed the interior door panels and cut away a bit to clear the door bars. Finished sealing the roof vent and cleaned all the overspray off the Lexan windows (Autosol metal polish works well without damaging the plastic) to make the car a little prettier. Layed out the stock wiring loom and started chopping it up. Cleaned up the replacement 2.3L turbo head (after dropping the engine off the stand and nearly crushing my leg last month), ready to install.

Last night we cut up and bent the metal for fabricating the GrpA pedal boxes, using John's original 909x Ford Motosports part as our guide. Laid out some duckets on 6x used Compomotive TH 15x7 wheels. Rear beam fab seems to be stalled, hope that starts progressing again soon.

If I keep chipping away at the task list, it should all get done in time. Gotta stay focused, we're on the home stretch!!

Mar 1, 2004

Fuel cell ordered! "Fuel Safe", FIA Approved, 15 gallons, with a sender for the Ford gauge, lots of 3/8" fuel line is waiting, and also lots of 3/16th for brakes. 2 1/2" screw filler, 3/8" pick up, vent, and return. Steel cans.

Feb 29, 2004

Windshield & headlights Another productive weekend!

Flipped the car on the side and drilled out the many, many spot welds on the rear spring seats, which won't be needed, then the remaining bits and pieces left from when I removed (via sawzall) the old headlight mounts. I fabricated a couple of plates to close up and reinforce the bottom of the engine mounts a little more, then John welded them in and welded in the Cossie 3dr headlight mounts. Now the strike plate is very solid, and I can chop out the US spec X brace for the Cossie grille.

One of the main goals of the weekend was gluing the windshield in finally!! To finish the weatherproofing, I ran a bead of silicone caulk all around all the Lexan windows, the roof vent and the patch panel I made for the battery tray area. Finally we cleaned up all the new welds and slapped on another coat of white paint. White is a great colour for a rally car, since you're welding and fixing panels pretty often, and its very easy to retouch and repaint without the hassle of colour matching.

As if that wasn't enough, then we pulled out an old nasty XR dash John had stashed away and cut it up as a sample dash for fitting my nice felt covered console around the cage. Here's probably the last picture of the stripped interior showing the whole cage, as we add more and more creature comforts.

I guess we'll see if there are any leaks now, the next time it rains. I'm sure I won't have to wait too long. The days are getting longer which will speed up the work considerably! I'm getting really psyched now.

Feb 22, 2004

Paint DONE Last coat of paint is on now, its shiny all over and looks really nice (check it out from the back, looks pretty nice with the bi-wing and lights eh?) Before the windsheild goes in I masked and bombed the A-pillars a nice dark grey so the line of sight doesn't have anything distracting (especially for night events). Also glued in the hood louvres with some silicone, we'll see how well that adheres. I also put the windshield wiper motor and linkage back in place, easy things that makes you feel like you're making progress. We were going to install the windshield too, but the glue goop doesn't have a long shelf life I guess, because it refused to come out of the tube. Maybe for the best since we didn't have the right applicator anyway, it's awful stuff and probably would have made a huge mess.

Also helped a little on developing the prototype for the GrpA replica rear beam which is coming along nicely. It bolts to the chassis at either end and the trailing arms slot in nicely, now the diff mounts and connectors that go up through the body to meet with stays from the rear towers have to be made up. Its gonna be beeeetchin!

Dug the engine out of the crate, took of the plastic wrap and discovered its had water getting into it somehow - great. Put it up on an engine stand and took off the pan, nice big rusty puddle at the bottom. Installed the uprated high-volume oil pump, and cleaned things out as best I could, at that point we knew we had to pull the head again and see if any rust has formed in the cylinders.. so to make matters even worse, while I was wheeling the engine stand into the shop it tipped over on the slope, cut a huge gouge in my hand and leg and landed heavily on the concrete. Broke the cam pulley and thought I got off lucky then I noticed the cam tower was cracked. So now the head is garbage. Great. Well it could have been worse I guess, it could have broken my freaking leg and I could have needed stitches in my hand. I'd rather the engine get smashed than me... but its just more bad luck and $$ to spend that I could do without.

Now, where the heck is my transmission that was supposed to have come back from the rebuild last week? Got to call Hanlon first thing tomorrow morning.

Feb 13, 2004

Valentine's Day - no working on cars for me this weekend!

Feb 8, 2004

Got loads done today - It's starting to REALLY look like a car now! Of course it still doesn't have any suspension installed, but that's coming soon.

  • Adjusted rear hatch fit
  • Installed hatch latch and lock
  • Removed motorized regulators and windows from doors
  • Installed manual crank regulators and windows
  • Installed side mirrors
  • Installed door handles, seals, trim, etc
  • Tested heater blower motor, removed AC junk from blower box
  • Installed heater blower and heater core
  • Started fab/design work for replica GrpA rear beam

Windshield has arrived, that's getting installed this week as well. If its dry enough, an extra coat of paint will go down too, the guy that did the previous paint job didn't get enough paint and its very thin in many places, especially the interior. If its not glossy it will be impossible to clean once it gets dirty! I had to giggle maniacally once I could open and close the doors and wind the windows up and down. When you close the doors they make the most satisfying thump, very solid even though its still just a shell in a rotisserie.

Feb 1, 2004
Finished cutting and installing the Lexan windows today. Should keep the rain out and let the insides dry out a bit.

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