How far have we got prepping Rich's baby?

Update: 1st December 2008 -Stripping!

This is a round-up of work we did between October and December. The log of the rebuild will be a bit more detailed.

This was Gertie the day after we collected her. Very bright paintwork. Pretty much ready to race to FISC regs as it had been Ian Johnson's car up till 2005.

Stripping

Having weighed the car at 640kgs we started the strip down process to lose 60kgs and make sure the years of oil grime aren't hiding any nasty surprises.

Back Off

With nothing left bolted to the chassis, the angle-grinder, cutting discs and plasma cutter make short work of the back end of the car

Back-off

This big lump of steel will be replaced by a light-weight fibreglass panel which will be bonded to the chassis.

Light back

The panels are dummy fit first while we fabricate the brackets, they won'r be fully fit till much later.

Light front

Replacing the FISC-spec fibreglass wings and bonnet with a single -piece front sheds another 10kgs!

Update: 15th December 2008 - Sandblasted

Having got eveything off the chassis it was sent off to be sandblasted.
As with most cars of this vintage it has had a few patches and running repairs over the years. The sandblasting removes the paint, grime and rust that could be hiding weak points. It also helps to shed weight from the car by removing kilos of paint and grime from all over the chassis.

Primer

Bare metal can oxidise quickly so a protective layer of etch primer is sprayed on first. It will help the paint key to chassis well later.

Primer

With it all stripped bare, a few thin bits come to light and some patching is required around the front chassis legs and the rear bumpstops, both of which seem to have taken some punishment.

With the chassis upside-down we cut the front box section floor off and welded in a couple of cross braces before re-plating it. By doing this it strengthens the member up and gives a strong jacking point - normally they will collapse from repeated jacking.

new box member

Because the car had been hit from behind at least once in the past, the rear 6 inches of the bootfloor were beyond saving and we made up a new panel to weld in.

knackered boot floor

Update: 22nd December 2008 - The rebuild begins

The chassis has now been painted up in a nice dove grey colour. Big thanks have to go to Alan who crawled out of bed with flu to get it done! We use this colour on our race car chassis because it shows up cracks. On a black chassis with lots of seam sealer you have no way of knowing if your welds have gone after making heavy contact with another car/barrier.

Repaired bootfloor

Here you can see the repair section at the back edge of the boot floor. It's continously welded on the bottom to make sure debris/ water can't be driven into the join but just stitched across the inside face. From this angle its clear how mis-shapen the panel was.

Welded closure panel

So the bare chassis is finally ready to have bits bolted back on. We're cleaning up and replacing/reconditioning as we go.

Pretty in... Grey

First bits back on is the front suspension. Matt-the-tea-boy did most of the work, thank you Matt! Note the nice silver colour of the wishbones - doesn't make them work any better but at least its obvious which bits we've cleaned up.

Front suspension!

So the front's back together but the eagle-eyed will spot the 11/16 anti-roll bar and the slightly sorry looking dampers, both still need to be replaced before this is going near a track.

Nearly ready

Next week is Christmas but we might get the big brakes fitted as John has machined the mounting brackets for the radial calipers and turned up some beautiful adapters for the Capri turbo discs (X-drilled, vented AND grooved!).

Update: 6th January 2009 - Front Brakes

We've been using the Wilwood 4-pot calipers on C23s since 2005 so they were the obvious choice for an upgrade to the Midget. After long consultation with the 'big-book-of-brake-discs' and a lot of measuring we decided there was room to fit the cross-drilled, grooved and vented discs for a Capri turbo. 245mm diameter (just under 10").

Big Rotor

Vented rotors add a fair bit of width to the total installation (below) but we designed it to get a set of 13x5 KN minators on - although its pretty snug!

Venting Rotor

Here you can just see the nice alloy carrier for the caliper and the heads of the allen bolts used to secure the rotor. Both the carrier and the rotor adapter were designed and manufactured in-house.

Alloy carrier

Next installment should include some pictures of the modified pedal box with twin brake master cylinders. Hopefully.

Update: 13th January 2009 - rear Suspension Part 1

Just a quick entry to show the new anti-tramp top-link install.

Top Link

Update: 1st March 2009 - Big Update

I was reminded by several people last weekend that I had been neglecting the updates on this bit of the site. In part this was because I hadn't been able to spend as much time working on the midget as I'd hoped to due to a combination of bad weather, bad health, birthdays and anniversaries all co-inciding.

However, John has been hard at work and I've managed a couple of weekends and the car is looking more... car like.

The rear suspension has got an anti-roll bar, long Panard rod and alloy spacer blocks.

Panard rod

New slave cylinders and shoes, the drums cleaned up well.

Drums

The dash went back in with an extra strengthening strap in the centre to make sure it doesn't vibrate. The top screws are quick release bevel mounts.

Dash

The fire extinguisher and battery now live in the passenger footwell to try and balance the weight in the car. The battery doesn't do much balancing though at just 2.7kg! In this picture you can see the driver's emergency handle and the rear brake line-lock both mounted on the transmission tunnel.

Battery

We made a new pedal box to fit in the original hole but taking three master cylinders to give split circuit brakes. The bias is remote adjustable should we need it

New Pedal box

John has done a load of work on the engine - including strapping the centre main bearing. It all looked OK inside, glaze bust, set of rings, new bottom end bearings and we will see how it performs. The only real surprise was the 11.5:1 compression ratio being a tad higher than we were expecting.

So thats the engine and box installed with the prototype Mamba flywheel and clutch assembly.

Engine in

New wheels! The steel wellers weren't as round as they should have been and these are so shiny :)

Bling wheels

I waited till after JB had already fitted the manifolds before deciding we should wrap the exhaust - he must have been in a good mood because here it is wrapped and ready to back on.

LCB Exhaust Manifold

Getting the front panel mounted with good gaps was hard work but it makes such a big difference to have the doors opening and closing and the front lined up. Looks like a real car again.

Gertie lives

And the windows all fit, might need to take the protective film off before we go anywhere though.

Windows

So plenty of progress but still a way to go with some wiring, bonding and painting to do, plus getting it running right.

I'll get some photos of the clutch and flywheel up next week.

Update: 22nd March 2009 - Paint,Doors, Windows, Tyres

After last update we stripped the car back ready to have the back bonded on and the colour paint sprayed. It's back now, with the front to follow in the week. Looking good in Damask Red. The seat and new Willans Harness are a snug fit in the little cabin space. Note the extra doorbar for protection inside the skinny fibreglass doors.

With doors, windows and hardtop installed the car looks almost complete.

Unfortunately, the people supplying the differential have let us down so we haven't been able to set the clutch up yet. The new pedalbox contains an integral adjustable clutch stop to prevent it going over-centre.

Update: 27th April 2009 - Testing

In the last two weeks we've had the car out twice for testing. The first time was a basic shakedown on private tarmac skidpan. The car performed really well even on a greasy surface but the size of the area meant just short squirts of power and brakes.

The second time was a full test day at Castle Combe. Weather was lovely but the engine (which seemed perfect a week before) wouldn't run cleanly at part throttle. We struggled to get to the 105dB limit and then, after a new exhaust box, the car was almost undriveable with the engine running rough on anything but full throttle. We spent a couple of hours looking at possible problems including swapping the whole ignition system out but without success. Primary suspect is a carb problem. Very disappointing. On the brightside the car felt very solid on the track for the 1 lap it got.

Update: A rolling road session confirmed a carb problem which is now fixed. Watch this space.