13 October 2021
Not much activity this week, I fixed the fusebox to the rearmost cross member of the chassis. Spent the rest of the day stripping down the old loom to get as many of the wires out. It's a slow process cutting out connectors and untangling wires. Needed to keep an eye out for a couple of connectors I will need (e.g. brake fluid reservoir). Sorted the wires into piles based on the main colour groups.
14 October 2021
Finished stripping the last part of the loom and sorting out the wires into colours. Drilled out the holes for the rear lights making the fog one slightly wider so I can sit it back to match the other light styles. I have a chrome trim ring I picked up at Beaulieu and I've ordered a rubber boot which I will cut to allow it to fit round the lens.
I started looking at the wires to decide how to go about making the loom and how to route the wires. Looking at the wires I have for the indicators the best option seems to be run the wires down each side of the car outside the chassis. I will either wrap the loom or mount some tubes to run the cables in. I worked on the indicator runs and roughly laid the wires in position using tie-wraps to secure them to the chassis. I had to joint it to reach to the back of the car. I twisted the wires together then crimped them with a bootlace ferrule and covered that in heat shrink. I intend to wire up the dash and have connectors to join the circuits to the body wiring. At the front and rear the lights will also have joints so I can remove the body without having to cut the loom.
Spent a bit of time reviewing my wiring diagrams, making changes for things like the starter switch, and the hazard switch I am using, corrected a couple of mistakes in my diagrams and added more detail for the gauges.
4 October 2021
Took the GRP dash panel off and used some of the dash offcuts to make pieces to fill the gaps at each end. Secured them in place with self-tapping and cut out the matting. Mixed up some resin and roughly pasted the mat in place. Once it is dry and the sections are held in position I will remove the screws and tidy it up before applying more layers of mat and resin.
5 October 2021
Removed the self tapping screws from the dash and added more layers of GRP. When it was dry, I trimmed and sanded the GRP to get it roughly to shape and remove high spots. Applied a few additional bits of mat and resin.
While the GRP was drying I inserted the last few riv-nuts for the gearbox tunnel and checked the fitting.
I looked at the positions for the ECU, battery and fusebox. I'm mounting the battery in a cage against the passenger firewall, suspended from the bulkhead supports. The gel battery I'm using can be mounted in any orientation so I am mounting it with the terminals on it's side. I cut some lengths of flat steel bar to bolt to the underside of the bulkhead, I drilled and bolted them in place. I offered up the cage and marked and drilled holes to bolt the cage to the steel bar. I elongated two holes to give me room to insert the battery to the cage when it is in place. Still have to finalise the fitting and then paint the steel bar. I am thinking about cutting off the retaining lip on the cage and adding a retaining strap that could be bolted to the cage, just to make access easier in the future.
8 October 2021
I've painted the cage supports to match the chassis and bolted them in place with the battery cage. I added some draught excluder inside the cage to stop the battery and the cage from rattling. I'm going to mount the ECU to the left of the battery on the firewall, I decided to glue a piece of wood to the inside of the firewall that I could screw the ECU on to, rather than drilling through the firewall. Found a suitable piece and painted it with primer and grey top coat.
Whilst I was waiting for the paint to dry I got back to the dash and finished sanding down the GRP I had added. It still needs a few low spots filling with some filler, but the shape is there. I drilled and mounted the riv-nuts to the new section of GRP and did a test fit with the aluminium part. I decided to fit all the hardware to the dash to make sure everything still fitted with the dash in position. I needed to trim back a bit of GRP to allow the mounting brackets for the speedometer to fit. I cut some pieces of wood to support the ends of the dash and screwed and glued them to the GRP. I need to figure out a way of securing the wood block to the chassis rail. My initial plan was to drill a hole through the chassis rail underneath and run a wood screw up and into the wood, but this will be hard to access with a screwdriver so I'm looking for another way.
I've refitted the body and the dash to recheck it all still fits (which it does) and to look at options for the fusebox location. It's going to be somewhere in the centre of the car but I want to still have good access to it. I'm still planning to cover the GRP dash panel in vinyl and want to anodise the aluminium panel but I want to finish like the fusebox position and the rest of the wiring first.
28 September 2021
Made up a round former to form the bottom edge of the dash, I used some left over 50mm drainpipe, sealed and filled with sand so I could hammer against it. I used a scrap piece of aluminium to practice hammer it over which worked quite well clamping the metal in my workmate and clamping the tube behind it. I had to clamp the dash panel to the side of my workbench as it wouldn't fit in the workmate and then a collection of bits of wood to keep the pipe pressed hard against the metal. I hammered the metal over using a plastic mallet, I checked it several times against the dash. The curve formed using the pipe didn't quite match the dash so I used a thick bit of dowel as a former to hammer against until I was happy. Next I reworked the document containing the dial, switch and lamp template, I added centre marks for all the items and refined the layouts a bit. Then I cut them out and arranged them on the dash. The space above the column where I want to have the speedo and tacho doesn't have a lot space to position the dials and still be able to see them clearly so I moved the warning lights to one side. Once I was happy with the layout I taped the patterns to the dash panel and marked the centres with a punch through the pattern. I then practised cutting out the 52mm and 80mm holes for the gauges, I cut them slightly undersise then used a file and flap wheel to enlarge them carefully.
29 September 2021
Pilot drilled all the holes in the dash so I could drill them out from the back. This is because the bend on the panel stopped me drilling from the front. I drilled out the dial holes with holesaws as I practised yesterday. The switches and warning lights were done with a step drill. The holes for the u-bolts were done with a drill. This all took quite a long time checking that I had the right sizre hole for each switch, light, or dial. Then I had to trim each one carefully using a combination of files and flap wheels. Finally I cleaned up the front and rear of the holes to remove any burrs. I test fitted everything in the dash panel and I'm pretty happy with the overall look and layout. It will need cleaning up and some sort of finish applied to the aluminium. I am thinking about a darl blue paint to complement the body, the rest of the fibre glass is going to be covered in vinyl material.
30 September 2021
I've done a bit of research and I'm going to look at anodising, which can be coloured. Back in the garage I stripped everything off the dash and added holes for the speedo trip/programming button and another toggle switch and guard for a map light. I cutout the GRP panel behind the aluminium panel and trimmed it so it didn't foul the switches and gauges. I drilled out the bracket I had previously made and attached it to bulkhead bracing with a bolt and riv-nut. I will pop-rivet the bracket to the dash top. I then turned my attention to the side brackets and found I had not planned the dash layout as well as I thought. The right hand switches fouled the planned bracket and worse there wasn't enough space behind for the ignition switch. I did a bit of thinking and I decided to make a different bracket that would attach to the bottom rolled edge of the panel. This wouldn't foul the indicator and horn switches. The ignition switch was still an issue, I realised I could put the ignition switch in the hole I had made for the speedo trip and the speedo trip button which is not very deep could go where the ignition switch had been. I made those changes and then clamped the dash in place ready to do the bracketing.
1 October 2021
Made up a bracket behind the ignition switch from a strip of aluminium bar and bolted it to the bottom edge of the dash and the dash support bracket. Made another bracket to support the dash next to the steering column, bolted onto the bracket around the column. In the centre I made a bracket to support the top of the dash, pop-riveted to the dash top so to avoid a protrusion on the top rubbing on the underside of the body when it is on. I bolted it to the bulkhead crossmember. I made up another bracket for the passenger side of the dash. I then added another bracket to support the GRP dash panel near the middle. I bolted it to the dash using a row of bolts to reflect the ones holding the dash panel in place, the back was bolted to the bulkhead cross member. The result of all these brackets is a solid dash that hopefully will not shake too much when the car is driven.
20 September 2021
More time shaping the dash facia so it fitted better to the curves. Did a bit of thinking about the dash layout. The toggle switches need to have guards for the IVA. I ordered some stainless steel u-bolts from a chandlers website as they were about a third of the price of the CBS ones. The U-bolts will need a bit of fettling, ordered some bespoke labels for the switches.
22 September 2021
I measured all the switches, lights and dials for their external dimensions and then drew them up full size in a drawing program and printed them off. I grouped them together as I thought they would be on the dash and cut the groups out. I then laid them out on the dash and stuck them in place with some tape. I'm pretty happy with the layout just a few things I want to tweak, possibly add another warning light for the main lights just for symmetry
23 September 2021
The u-bolts arrived today, I reworked the light switch layout to accommodate the u-bolts and worked out the spacing for the holes. I transferred the measurements to a piece of scrap aluminium so I could practise and see the layout of switches and u-bolts. I drilled out the holes for the u-bolts and the switches and did a trial fitting. Happy with the spacing but the u-bolts stuck out a bit far from the panel for my liking. I cut the the thread further up the legs of the u-bolts with a die and trimmed the length of them. By extending the thread it meant I have to add extra nuts to clamp it to the dash panel. Cutting the threads with the die was tricky as the other leg of the u-bolt got in the way of the die holder so I used a pair of mole grips. Once I had one that was correct I could use it as a template for the others. I didn't include the warning lights in my trial layout so I need to add them to make sure I am happy with the spacing.
24 September 2021
Finished modifying all the u-bolts for the switches. My switch labels arrived so I put a few on my test piece and they look really good. I need to get the aluminium fascia trimmed and fitted to the dash panel so I can finalise the dash mounting. Before I cut the hole in the aluminium for the steering column I wanted to make up the trim for the steering column that will hide the column where the steering lock and column switch used to be. A lwngth of 50mm drainpipe was cut and then a slit was cut down it's length with a dremel. I then removed a strip from the edge of the slit so I could close it up and make a tight fit round the column. The top of the column tapers so I made the cut wider at one end. After a bit of trimming I was happy with the fit I applied some strong glue to the edge and used some jubilee clips to hold the gap closed. I may paint ot or leave it black. Whilst I was waiting for the glue to dry I made up a bracket to secure the top of the dash to the scuttle frame from a piece of flat bar steel, heated and bent to fit.
25 September 2021
Cut out the slot where the column needs to go in the Aluminium panel with a jigsaw and after a bit of dressing with a file and sanding block it fitted nicely. Then I cut down the ends of the panel so I had the appropriate length. I masked up the panel and marked out where I wanted to place the holes that will secure the aluminium to the fibreglass and drilled them out with a 4.5mm drill. I'm using M4 dome headed bolts and rivnuts in the fibreglass. I cleaned up the back of the holes and then back on the car carefully lined up the fasica and clamped it in position. Then I drill 3 holes using the holes in the aluminium plate as a guide, so I could fix the plate into position. Then I took the dash of and drilled out my 3 reference holes and put the rivnuts in them. I then screwed it into place and drilled the remainder of the holes using the holes in the aluminium as my guide. I then removed the aluminium plate and drilled all the holes out to size and put the rivnuts in. I added a bit of glue in each hole before adding the rivnut to make sure it stays in place, the fiber glass is quite thick and so the rivnuts don't fully compress. Cleaned up all the excess glue and then attached the aluminium fascia using all the screws to check every thing lined up, which thankfully it did.
7 September 2021
I went over to see Soondra who has finished his build and also has a VVT engine. I wanted to have a look to see if there was anything radically different with his body position, compared to mine. The main difference was his front mounts were a good bit higher than mine, but I think the whole car was sitting lower on the suspension than mine, but not really low, there was plenty of space between the top of the wheel and the arch. Had a good look round and really good chat about his car and the build experience. We went out for a drive, what great fun, it really feels so different to the MX5 – the experience is so like an old style car, took me back to owning an AH Sprite, the handling and response is so good.
Back at home I made a start on finalising the rear mounts, I have bought some rubber jack pads which I modified with my router so they could sit on top of the existing mounts (replacing the multiple sheets of rubber on there at the moment. I also shaved the original mount so the top was at an angle to roughly match the underside of the body shell where it touched. The jack pad then sits at the same angle when it is sat on top.
10 September 2021
I finished modifying the rear left hand mount. Just need to glue it into place on the underside of the bodyshell but I will do that later when I don't need to keep lifting the body off. I did a trial with my bargain hinges using some wood but due to the hinge angle they won't work for the doors. I had another look and think about the dash position, I'm also planning how the battery and fusebox will be positioned, the panelling around the cockpit and the rear lights. There seems to be a lot of things that I could be getting on with but I don't seem to be doing any of them! After lots of provaricating I ordered some external mini hinges, there's no real alternative available (that I could find). I also ordered an Odyssey battery and cage, I plan to mount the battery on the front bulkhead with the fusebox, it will be up off the floor and with an access panel either from the top or through the dash.
11 September 2021
Rewrote my list of upcoming tasks and then promptly got on with doing something not on the list. lifted the body off and rolled the chassis out. Removed the ignition switch and column stalk from the column. I will change the dash position a bit more so it lines up with the wheel and now the column is clear I will move it a bit closer to the steering wheel. Got on with completing the fixings for the transmission tunnel. I want to be able to remove this so I've used M4 rivnuts and dome headed bolts. Couldn't get the long levers of my rivnut gun into the corner so I've ordered a smaller pistol style one to use for those. I also put rivnuts and bolts in to hold the section that is around the gear lever. Measured up for the aluminium to panel the chassis side and placed an order for that.
14 September 2021
Working on positioning the dash, positioned the body on the chassis and bolted it down. Used various pieces of wood to determine how far out from the frame mounts I needed to position the dash as I wanted it a bit closer to the wheel now the lock and column stalk are gone. I needed to trim the hole for the steering column a bit to improve the alignment with the steering wheel. Once I was happy with that I used more wooden blocks to fix the vertical position to minimise the gap between the body and the dash. This required removing the body several times as I tried pieces of wood and trimmed the dash. I'm thinking about fixing the wood to the dash with GRP and then using that as the bracket to fix it to he chassis, needs more thought though.
16 September 2021
I've been thinking more about the dash layout and also looking through Mike Longstaff's photo's. I really like the idea of making an aluminium facia panel to mount the dials and switches on. Not only will it look good, I can mount it with screws and I can get to the wiring behind the instruments once the body and dash are on. Also I want to extend the side of the dash out further into space under the body. I traced the outline of the dash onto some wallpaper taped to the dash and then cut that out and transferred it to some aluminium. I roughly cut out the shape with a a jigsaw and then refined it with a flap wheel and a file. Getting an accurate template was difficult so a lot of the shaping was done by trial and error. I had allowed for this by making sure there was plenty of spare material when I cut out the shape. It's not finished yet but so far I'm quite pleased with the result.
Not much more action this week as it is time to get ready for Goodwood Revival, my favourite weekend of the year. A few gratuitous photos will be added.
1 September 2020
More trial and error on fitting the body. Trial fitted the dash panel as that is also affected by the body positioning. Modified the frame so I could lift the body with the steering column in place. Put the steering column in place and then lifted the body and marked up where the hole for the steering column needed to be. A few refits of the body and further trimming and had something close to the final fit. Then I placed the body back on, aligned it with the marks and inserted the additional rubber pads to lift the body. I did some more measuring to make sure things were equal side to side – both for height and center on the chassis. The bonnet now just touches the VVT so I think with the spacer on the chassis I should be OK. Hoping to go down and see Soondra's Replicar as he has a VVT engine and has got it to fit with the standard bonnet. Also speaking to Andy and enquired about getting the new bonnet that has a bulge in case it doesn't work out.
2 September 2021
Spent some time refining the dash fit, it wouldn't come as far back as I wanted on the column as it was hitting the ignition switch plug so I took the dash off and cut another little hole for that. Pretty happy now with the dash and body fit, the dash will need to stand off the chassis brackets about 25mm which I have some square tube that will do nicely. Spent more time with moving the body about slightly to try and even things up as much as I can. It won't ever be perfect due to handmade nature of the bodyshell so I'm having to try and turn down my obsession with alignment. It's tricky as the bodyshell is very easy to knock out of position.
3 September 2021
Enough prevaricating, today I would drill the holes for the front mounts and also get the middle one in place. I spent time going round and remeasuring the wheel arch to tyre gaps and the over hang of the arches to the wheel hub centres. Adjusted some of my alignment marks on the bodyshell then rolled the car out of the garage. Checked all the alignments again then clamped the front mounting points and the rear valance to the body shell. Marked up the position of the two front holes, by finding a the best compromise between coming through the mount somewhere towards the middle, and keeping the top holes looking reasonably equal, I put masking tape down to mark and drill the holes, starting with a 3mm drill and then going up in stages to 9mm, I will be using M8 bolts and I don't want the bolt to be stressing the hole edge, just using the clamping force. I put a thin rubber washer under the washer to protect the fibre glass, there is a 2mm piece of rubber between the bodyshell and the bracket.
I moved to the central brackets that need to be positioned once the body shell position is finalised. I glued some thin rubber sheet to the top of the brackets prior to drilling. AS I had spent so much time positioning the body I wanted it in place while I attached the brackets which made it more difficult than it might be. I had to lightly clamp the offside using a piece of wood to space it off the bulkhead chassis rail as it was naturally a little higher than the nearside, I clamped the nearside similarly so that the body was held in it's final position and spaced evenly off the bulkhead rail. I marked and drilled a pilot hole in the bracket and then holding the bracket in position used a centre punch to mark the chassis where it needed to be drilled. Then I drilled the same pilot hole in the chassis and then checked the bracket was in the right place using the drill bit. Then I enlarged the hole out to 8mm in the bracket and the chassis rail. Then I could bolt it onto the chassis which was fiddly with the body in the way. I repeated this on the nearside. Once I was happy with the bracket position I pilot drilled and then drilled them out to 9mm the same as the front brackets. Then I removed all the masking tape and placed bolts through the body and the bracket and tightened them up, I was then able to remove the clamps. Pleased with how solid the front of the bodyshell is now. I am waiting for some rubber blocks to build up the rear mounts and I will need to shape them to fit the body contours. I also checked the bonnet clearance over the VVT and it is just touching the bonnet but only just. I reckon with the spacers I plan to insert that will drop the body enough to make the clearance. I also spoke to Andy and I can get one of his new bonnets with a bulge if I need to.
5 September 2021
Been thinking about my dashboard, looking at some of the other built replicar photo's as well as going through my archive photo's of 50's racers. I think I am going to ditch the Mazda ignition switch and column stalk and move them on to dash mounted switches. It will clean up the steering column area, by moving all the controls on to the dash. For the IVA I will need to fit an immobiliser because I will not have a steering lock. It's not possible to easily access the back of the dash without removing the body, so I am planning to make a removable panel for the dash front that will hold all the instruments, switches and warning lights. I plan to cut out a large section of the dash front and make up an aluminium panel that will screw in its place. Took a trip down to the Beaulieu Autojumble in search of inspiration and parts. I picked up some Morris Minor bonnet hinges that I think I can use for the doors, dash switches, small round dash/map lights, retro reflectors, trim ring for the fog light. They will all need a bit of cleaning up but hopefully will give a nice period look.
6 September 2021
Cleaned and tested the switches, the nice thing with the old Lucas 3 position switches is that they can be wired up in a number of different way, so they can be used as on/off/on for indicator or off/on/on for sidelight/headlight.
Had a session trying dash layouts using Fusion360 with an approximation of the dash shape I've drawn. Trying to fit the switches inside the IVA exempt area to the right and left of the steering wheel which would mean I can fit them without having guards around them. Also updated my wiring diagrams to reflect the change of switch positions, need to add circuits for heated seats and the map lights.
25 August 2021
Undid a few wires and rerouted them so they weren't draped over the top of the chassis, removed the fuel filler and generally checked over the chassis in preparation with putting the body on. I checked how the dash hump aligns with the steering column and I think I need to bend the bottom bracket to move it towards the centre of the car a bit. A few friends came round to give me a hand with lifting the body on. Dropping it on was simple, I spent a bit of time shifting it around to even out the gaps between the wheels and arches and to even it up side to side. With the front and rear brackets as I put them on, the front sits quite high in comparison to the rear and looks all wrong, but the bonnet clears the VVT. Taking out the front brackets drops the front and gives a decent stance but then the bonnet hits the top of the engine and would need a big bulge to clear it. I posted a few pictures online and a number of suggestions were given for making changes.
26 August 2021
Did a bit of measuring and playing around with bodyshell heights. With the front brackets back on the car and the rear bodywork raised by about 40mm, the front to rear stance seems about right but is too high. The bonnet clears the engine quite nicely and with a 30-40mm drop in suspension I think would be about right, but that's quite drop in suspension height and I'm not sure how that will affect the geometry. The rear bulkhead panels are just about big enough to close the gap to the body so I don't want to lift it more than that. Spacing the chassis from the subframe might be a a way to lower the engine and reverse the geometry changes when I drop the suspension. I need to check the dash positioning relative to the body and see how much gap there is with the body as it is now, the steering column needs to come out before I can do that. If it's too high then spacing the chassis could give me the clearance and I might not need to raise it as much. Chassis ground clearance on my standard shocks is 180mm front, 190mm rear, compared to my TVR which is 140 front, 145 rear; a 40mm suspension drop would bring the Replicar to about the same height, I don't think I want to be any lower than that. As it is now, the rear arch gap is 90mm and the front is 75mm; I want the front and rear arch gap about the same or with the rear maybe 5mm bigger than the front.
27 August 2021
Started building a frame that I can lift use to the body off and on the chassis as I need. I removed the steering column and the gearstick so they didn't get in the way. I cut some lengths of timber so they would fit down the side of the car and built up the ends so they supported the wings. I added some very firm foam that I had lying around to cushion the ends and form to the shape of the bodyshell. Then I cut some timber to run across the car and join the two pieces down the side. Need to get some long bolts to fasten everything together.
30 August 2021
Finished building the frame and also got the hoist mounted on the rafters. Tested it was strong enough by lifting my engine hoist! It was tricky getting the balance of the bodyshell on the frame but with the help of my engine balance bar and adjusting the ropes I got it working. I set about aligning the body shell on the shell. I started by measuring the distance from the top edge of the wheel rim out to the wheelarch, I used a spirit level to get a vertical line and a ruler on the wheel rim. Once they were equal each side I put some tape on the front edge of the bonnet opening and on the front chassis rail and marked a line on each using a set square on the chassis rail. I repeated the measuring at the back and used a piece of tape on the top of the rear bulkhead and on the top edge of the boot opening. I then checked the gaps between the front and rear of the wheel arches to the tyres, when I was happy they were approximately equal I put some tape on the front bulkhead rail and the sides of the bonnet opening and made marks on both with a set square. It's quire tricky positioning the body as it only takes a tiny movement to make a big difference and the shell seemed to move every time I touched it.
I checked the gaps above the tyres to the wheel arch to make sure they were even front to back and side to side. The front needs to be the same or slightly smaller than the rears to get the stance I want. I added packing to the rear body mounts to achieve this. I checked that the chassis sat level left to right at the front and rear and also the bodyshell with a very long spirit level. I put the bonnet in place to see if it fouled on the VVT – I could look under the shell from inside the cockpit with a torch and it looks good. I plan to repeat this by placing an action camera in there so I can video the gap. It looks OK but pretty tight so I think a 10mm spacer between the chassis and subframe will give me a bit of wiggle room.
31 August 2021
More checking and trying different arrangements of spacers for the body. put a video camera on top of the engine so I could video the clearance to the bonnet, there is clearance but not much. I think spacers between the front subframe and the chassis is the way to go, waiting for some steel to arrive for that. With the 40mm blocks on the rear pads there is about a 20mm gap between the rear body shell and the rear outrigger. Ideally the bodyshell should rest on the rear outrigger plate, I could bend it slightly, I think I need to try and drop the rear a bit, while still clearing the bonnet. Had a chat with Andy at ANC and decided to do some more fiddling about. Checked the position of the dash relative to the bodyshell, there's not much room for movements side to side so that means the steering column needs to move to the left a bit. Tried to bend the column bracket to achieve this with only minimal success, it mostly ended up twisting the upper mounting plate so I will need to live with the alignment as it is I think.
I checked the rear light to floor measurement as that is a requirement for the IVA and some builders have had issues, . The minimum is 350mm from the floor to the bottom of the lens, mine is at 400mm so the planned suspension drop I have should be OK. I've got some rubber blocks on order to cut up and finalise the rear height.
I made a mistake when building the frame as I can't lift the frame with the steering column in place so will need to modify it, shouldn't be too hard to do.
10 August 2021
Took a few days off to collect my thoughts. I rechecked the exhaust and there was a small bit of blowing at the downpipe joint so I took the exhaust off cleaned it up, cleaned the O2 sensor as well and put it back together. No noticeable difference.
So purely out of desperation I decided to redo the timing and see if I could make any difference that way. I stripped down my spare engine to see what that timing looked like but to me it looked like it was aligned off a tooth. I stripped down my engine and checked the VVT unit was locked and correctly aligned as per the Mazda workshop manual (which it was). I redid the timing and this time I aligned the sprocket teeth with the top edge of the alignment mark with the engine at TDC. Reassembled everything again and started it up, that certainly made it run smoother and didn't seem to be misfiring like it was. I had to adjust the throttle stop to about 3%TPS to get it to idle. I ran the engine up to temperature and then tried to clear the soot out by running it at about 3000 RPM which certainly got it nice and hot, maybe a bit too hot, as the soot caught fire! Turned off the engine before my bin was melted. I'll have a look tomorrow at the spark plugs and see what condition they are in.
11 August 2021
Pulled the plugs out again and they are still black with soot. I suspect this is a result of the base map supplied with the Canems ECU. Picked up a very lightly used exhaust centre section (without silencer) and rear box locally for £40. The MX5 2.5 exhaust rear box doesn't seem to easily fit in the rear space so I will need to come up with another solution, I'm reluctant to spend over £300 for the Jetex box while I'm not working. I can either resell the back box or keep it and cut the angles off to use with another box.
18 August 2021
Took the Mazda wheels off and bolted the new wheels on, I needed 4 2.5mm washers between the front wheels and the hubs to clear the sports brake calipers on my donor. On the rear I just needed 1 washer. Really pleased how they look, had a quick look at how the spinners will fit, I will need to make up some sort of spacer so they clear the nuts but until I get the correct spacers in place I can't finalise that.
23 August 2021
Didn't do much on the car last week as I needed to do a fluid change on the TVR ready for a weekend of hard driving at Millbrook Proving Ground.
Got the front and rear body mount brackets drilled and on the car. Added some foam on the front mounts (cut from a yoga mat), glued on with hot glue for now. The rear mounts I modified an engine mount so one side was rubber and used the other end to bolt it to the bracket. This is just a starting position and I plan to add additional layers of rubber to achieve the desired body position. Next I will round up some volunteers to help me with the first fitting of the body.
2 August 2021
Picked up the wheels from being painted, and they look great. I've had them painted in a matt silver which I think echos the old Dunlop racing alloys quite well. Tyres are ordered and I will get them fitted on Wednesday. In the garage I started going round and tightening up all the suspension bolts (with the car lowered on to its wheels.
3 August 2021
Completed going round the suspension bolts. Found a problem with my rear anti roll bar links that wouldn't tighten (both sides which is strange). Not quite sure why, I think the threads have stripped which will be annoying as they were brand new. At the moment I'm stuck with the drop links attached to the bar, the nuts turn but don't loosen so I will have to figure out to remove them. Hopefully it is just the thread in the nut which is gone so if I can remove them without damaging the links, new nuts should sort things out.
4 August 2021
Got the tyres fitted to my wheels and I think they will look great on the car. Did a quick test fit but the will need some spacers as the backs of the wheels rub on the brake caliper. Could not get the nuts to come off the drop link so resorted to cutting them off and ordering some new ones. Got to work reconnecting the engine so I could start it up again and double check the oil leak is fixed. Reconnected everything again and started it up but it was running really rough. Spent a lot of time trying to figure out what had changed but didn't get very far.
5 August 2021
Back to basics to check things over. Compression test was good 180-190psi on all cylinders. Spark plugs were very sooty so there is a fueling problem of some sort. Cleaned and gapped them. Spoke to John and we decided the idle control valve is suspect. I've ordered a tested second hand one but I did bench test applying 12v to the pins and it opened and closed as I believe it should. I tried running without the idle control valve (so it is closed) but that didn't help the engine when on part throttle. I checked for sparks on all the spark plugs which seemed fine. In the end I decided that the only thing that I'd changed since starting it up last time was that I had removed the timing belt when I changed the crank seal. Tomorrows job then is to check that I have timed the engine correctly. Drained the coolant and removed the radiator in preparation.
6 August 2021
Stripped down the front of the engine to check the timing alignment and everything looked fine, double and triple checked the alignment including checking the cam lobes are in the correct position in replation to the cam sprockets. I pulled the top off the plenum and checked the wiring to the injectors and also checked for fuel leak (I powered up the ECU which primed the system). No issues found. Pulled the O2 sensor from the exhaust and that was very sooty too. I did a bench test on it (check for voltage output when heated with a propane torch). Initially it was very slow to respond until the soot burned off after which it seemed to work as expected, so I reinstalled it. Reassembled the engine and did some more checking of the coils and spark plugs but could not find anything out of specification. I restarted the engine and initially it seemed to be working correctly and seemed to be idle roughly and would accelerate but still not as smooth as it should. Then the engine wouldn't start at all. The LED on the front of the ECU started to flash red which is an error condition. And I could hear the relay in the loom clicking on and off. According to the manual it could be any number of things from interference to wiring or earth issues. After turning the ignition on and off a few times I could not get it to power up at all and even my oil light would not light up. Something really confusing is going on, possibly there is a problem with the wiring loom but I'm not sure what it could be, and what has caused it to fail. I think I will have to go back to basics on the wiring and maybe pull some of it out and check my work again. Time to pack up and have a glass of wine I think.
7 August 2021
Spent some time checking connections and cables and found the main battery cable that was bolted to the rear chassis had an open circuit. More probing found that cable itself was fine and even through to the bolt going through the ring terminal was good, there was a break somewhere between that and the rest of the chassis. I couldn't understand how, but I unbolted it made sure it was clean and that there was some shiny metal in the bolt hole and reattached it. Initial testing showed a good solid connection from the battery to the rest of the chassis earth points and the engine. I was able to turn the engine over on the starter but then it stopped again and measuring the resistance there was again a high resistance in the same place. After trying various things I made up a completely new battery earth wire with some thicker cable and ran it from the battery directly on to the engine block. That seemed to fix the electrical problem and I have been able to start the engine but it is still not running right. Hopefully I can speak to Dave at Canems next week and see if he can help me decipher the output from the ECU and point me towards a likely problem.
10 July 2021
I remembered that a friend had dropped off his collection of cleco fasteners ages ago, I dug them out and used them to fasten the gear lever surround to the front gearbox cover. They made the job of aligning things so much easier. Then I started looking at the rear tunnel section but thought I should fix the lower rear panels in place first. So trimmed the 3 panels and fitted them with Cleco fasteners too. Managed to get all 3 panels in place almost ready to rivet on. I need to drill holes in the rear panels to allow the handbrake cables through and I want to have some grommets around them to seal the cabin. I also need to figure out a way to seal under the gearbox tunnel to prevent spray and dirt coming in to the cabin that way. Also need more 2-4mm drills I'm getting through a fair number drilling all these holes.
12 July 2021
Did some trial fitting of the upper bulkhead panels. They need to be trimmed/fitted after the bodyshell is in place but they overlap the lower sections so I wanted to get them in position with some locating holes drilled. Got them positioned, and secured with Cleco's, the bends needed adjusting and a bit of trimming was done at the edges so the panels were sat flat to the chassis.
14 July 2021
Made up a template for the panel that will seal between the transmission cover and the chassis. Made up a plate and then spent a lot of time trimming and bending it to fit. It will need some sort of rubber seal to fully close the gap but happy with the result. I pop riveted it in position and sealed with Tiger seal. I looked at the handbrake cables where they pass through the rear bulkhead I drilled a couple of 25mm holes in the centre panel to fit some bulkhead grommets I have and they seem to fit quite nicely. Also took the oil pressure sensor off and sealed the threads with thread-lock which should stop the leaks (hopefully).
16 July 2021 I've decided to get on with positioning the bodywork so I can start to position everything around it. I've sent the wheels I bought to be repainted in matt silver and once they are back I will get the tyres fitted. In the meantime I've ordered an electric winch that I will hang up on the joist and use to raise and lower the body as needed while I am getting everything lined up. My plan is to get some friends to help lift the body on the chassis and roughly locate it then figure out how to support the shell so I can lift it up and down with the winch. My current solution of boards through wheel arches won't work anymore. I'll probably need to build some sort of frame. It will probably be a week or 2 before the wheels are ready to fit so I will get the electrics for the engine connected again and check if I've managed to fix the oil leak, and hopefully there aren't any more.
27 July 2021
I've not been able to work on the car very much the last week or so. Despite being off work, I've been doing some part time work and DIY jobs around the garden. The winch has arrived and I've bought some wood to make a lifting frame and to help mount the winch. In the meantime I've started working on getting the seat mounts sorted so I can drive the chassis up and down the drive. The MX5 runners need modifying so they can be mounted flat which I did by carefully bending the ends in my vice. One corner couldn't be easily bent due to the way it is formed. I made a cut with my angle grinder to allow it to be bent. I also had to trim the locating dowels and the ends of one of the runners so I could get a socket on the bolt. I need to mount the seats further back so I can get a nice driving positions so the runners can't bolt directly to the lateral chassis rails. I've cut some 5mm flat bar that the runners can bolt to and then the bars will bolt to the lengthwise chassis rails, inside the runners. I also cut some 40mm sq sections of the bar and drilled an 18mm hole in them so they could sit on the raised locating holes on the runners. The holes in the runners are just over 14mm so I've ordered M14 HT bolts and nuts to attach the runners to the bars. Wheels haven't come back yet so I need to chase those up.
30 July 2021
Got into the garage and finished off the drivers seat mounting, happy how they've worked out. The mounting plates need trimming, shaping and painting to make them look tidy. I've used M10 bolts through the bars and chassis rails to secure the seats to the car. Now just need to do the same on the passenger side. Wheels are due to be picked up on Monday so need to source some tyres next week. I'm going to buy Avon ZV7 in 205/60-R15 which is about 7mm smaller in diameter than the 195/65-15 originally designed for the kit. The Avons are also relatively quiet, which I think will be important with an open top car like this.
1 August 2021
Cleaned up the edges of the bars for the drivers seat mounting and then painted them with etch primer and satin black paint. Made up the mounting pieces for the passenger side and drilled those. They are ready to paint once the drivers side ones have dried overnight. Cleaned up and polished the steering wheel so I can get that mounted properly. Need to tidy up the little covers for the spokes and refit those. The horn push supplied with the boss kit does have the same wiring connector for the wire that is in the boss. Looking online it seems they are all like that so I will need to make those fit together. I'll also need to fix up something for the slip ring on the back of the boss.