For those interested, I thought I'd post a quick note on progress towards my first FF race - now confirmed as 7th April.
There has been much beavering in the garage. And when I say garage, I really mean workshop - it puts my crappy disorganised lock-up to absolute shame, and it's been an utter revalation how much night-and-day difference it makes on even simple jobs to have space, heating, proper tools, and near-military organisation of where things really are.
Back at the beginning of October, there wasn't much of a car as such. The engine was away being rebuilt, the body was off, the wheels, dampers and brakes were in various boxes and we started with a mostly naked chassis (especially daunting, as the chassis is tiny and really doesn't look like it adds up to much).
The first big job was getting the engine and gearbox in. It's an even bigger deal than it sounds, because it's stressed, and essentially joins the two halves of the car together.
That was about three weeks of faffing in the preparation - although the engine had been rebuilt, it was naked and hadn't been on this car before, so various mods were necessary for both the engine itself and locating all the ancilliaries. Anyway, by late November, we had a vaguely car-shaped thing that would actually make brum-brum noises.
Tim really is a first class mechanic. I have never in my life done such a major job and had the thing fire up first time. And he was completely non-plussed as if anything less would have been abject failure! Electrics had largely fallen to me (why do I always end up with electrics??), which was interesting, as a) I’ve never worked on Ford stuff before and b) this particular engine as seen multiple rounds of modification, so doesn’t follow any kind of standard wiring diagram (bits of 70’s Cortina, bits of 80’s Fiesta, plus a few bespoke aftermarket bits). Yet another area when the learning curve was steep.
Other trials and tribulations along the way have included the alignment of gearbox-to-chassis mounts (for which we've no make up a jig and stud solution to allow future 15-minute engine changes), and a slightly mis-shapen exhaust which seemed intent on gassing the driver (very difficult to reshape, when you have 4 branches tightly packed).
In between times, as well as working on the car, one of the big jobs has been fixing a bloody leak in the garage roof - another job that I've been in charge of (the glamorous life of a racing driver, eh?). That's taken several whole days of messing about with felt and bitumin, plus various other pots and potions. Most of which have largely failed. I hope my driving skills are better than my roofing skills.
Anyway, after the Chrismas break, during which Tim had been busy doing various bits like getting the suspension/hub/brakes all reassembled, we had a long list of fiddly stuff to get ticked off, like brake bleeding, basic geo (full geo still to be done, but we needed a basic set-up for steering alignment and bump steer adjustments etc), and fire exstiguisher plumbing.
So, this weekend, with most of the car now largely sorted, I've been focusing on comfort stuff. Which is important, because the car is tiny, and I'm not. To save me driving around looking like Noddy with my entire body poking out of the car, we've removed the seat altogther, and reshaped the balast tray to give me a bit more depth. And moved the steering wheel to give a bit more length (which has also involved re-orgainsing the dash so I don't accidently flick the ignition off whilst frantically mashing and sawing). So with a bare metal cockpit, I've been building up a series of bolsters out of expanding foam and making up pads by carving upholstry foam and encasing it in gaffer tape. Not quite the manly spanner twirling activities I'm previously imagined, but deeply satisfying nonetheless to end up with a snug, supportive and not-completely uncomfortable cockpit. Just a slight shame that nobody else can experience how "just right" it is!
So, bar doing the geo, wiring up a few nuts, and getting the remaining body pieces back on, we're now nearly ready to go. First testing in 16th Feb and I'm only going to get a maximum of 4x15 minute sessions of actual track time before I'm lining up for first practice/qualifying. And that's relying on Knockhill's infamously unpredictable weather to allow the two test days to actually run.
Its all getting quite close now, and the mixture of excitement and trepidation (not helped by watching the vids of last season's races and how much argy-bargy goes on) is definitely building. Roll on the 16th...
Apologies for the lack of pictures (hasn't been at the front of my mind), but here's a pic of the car from last season to remind what I'm talking about: