Sunday, 12 December 2010

Two steps forwards, one step back...

Well, it's not been that bad I suppose but sometimes it does feel like two steps forwards and one step back!

What with Alex's karting, work and general "stuff" about the house, I didn't get out to work on Project 160 until mid-November. And then the early snow and desperately low temperatures meant that Driveway Motors didn't get much done! But looking at it now in mid December, the car is stripped out, the roll cage is due to arrive tomorrow and the cut out/ignition system has been rewired to comply with MSA rules.

I' looking forward to the cage arriving, even though to finance it I had to wave goodbye to my trusty trailer. Bit of a sad moment, we've done a lot of miles together, but the trailer didn't take the Porker that well anyway, so it had to go -and I couldn't afford the cage without selling it!

So that's several steps forward, but what about the steps back?

Step 1 - in the extreme cold I snapped off the driver's door handle. Quick cri de couer on the forum and one was found for a really good price. Fitted it in the extreme cold last week, really difficult to adjust with numb fingers and now the door opens easier than ever. Re-sult! Out of desperation comes...well I dunno really but something good I suppose.

Step 2 - stripping out excess wiring, it was meant to be just the remote micro switches, but all of a sudden it won't start. You idiot! Got a bit careless with the wire clippers did you? Out comes the Haynes, a bit of testing tracks it down to a failed fuel relay and not anything I'd done. Phew. Wow! Aren't they expensive? Hit the 924 forum again and within a couple of hours I've found a guaranteed one for less than half price. Thanks Chancenellie!

So as we approach Christmas and a few days off work, where are we? Will try to get the cage in over the break. Have disabled the steering lock as per MSA rules, remote switch panel and starter button fitted (it looks s-o-o cool), isolator switch in place, just waiting for some big cables for the battery earth strap and it'll be fully race legal. Once cage is fitted I need seat and FIA extinguisher and we're ready to test! Looking for FIA spec kit so I can race in Europe, so it's a bit more expensive.

Speaking of the finances, where are we? Well, everything has been paid for so far by a bit of horse trading and eBay which mean Project 160 has still only cost - well £160 which can't be bad. Spares from the car, swapsies, and flogging the trailer have even raised enough money to start building up a modest spares package. Major purchases now are seat and extinguisher (on Santa's list), windscreen and respray. The decision has been made to save money by not modifying the car at all, even down to pop up headlights and electric windows...should garner some interest anyway.

Once we've got it running and a basic test, I'll think about stuff for the 360 like fuelling kit and possibly a few mods to the car, although I'm planning to make places through famed German reliability rather than speed. There are a couple of people in the frame for sharing the drive and costs it actually looks like we'll make it in some form or other :-)

Thursday, 21 October 2010

This is the 360!

Quick post to show what it is I'm trying to build the car for. If you're quick you can see me standing in the pit lane, but there's loads of pics of the racing with Team Mont Blanc MG Montego :-)

Progress at the moment? Slow, gradually stripping the interior. BUT - the door opens and shuts properly now! Amazing what a difference that makes to it being a viable car. Had a few thoughts on re-fuelling system, need to run them past a scrutineer before going too far.

It's been slow, been spending time working on Alex's kart as well. Hoping he can test that next week, preparatory to first race meeting in early December. Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Injecting a bit of excitement

Next milestone...running on 4 cylinders!

I left the car sounding definitely 3-ish, thought it was a plug lead. Hit eBay - replacement coil 99p :-) replacement dizzy with new cap and leads (leads alone range from £40 - £80 on fleabay) just £5.00 :-) Just to be on the safe side I've bought another one for a mighty £14.99.

Quiet at work today, so I take a POETS. Change leads, coil, cap. New plugs (bit of a bummer, had to pay full price for those at the local motor factors), jump in full of anticipation......nothing. Battery dud. Blast. Seems like the alternator isn't alternating. Disappointment. Stick it on charge and have a cup of tea.

Finally it turns over and drags itself into life...3 cylinders. Blast again! Realise I've left a lead off (prat), switch off, refit lead, wait for battery to charge. 3 cylinders. Bugger. Actually it must have been running on two previously, it definitely sounds better than it did before I fixed the electrics.

More tea. Haynes manual. There's a good spark, there's good compression, it must be fuel. Wow, it's easy to test an injector, they're only a push-fit. Hang on, why mess around with testing, what's that big boxy thing with pipey bits coming off it that was in the boot? A spare injection unit with injectors.

11mm spanner, swap the pipes, push the injector in the hole, turn the key...3 FOUR! IT'S RUNNING ON FOUR! Woo-hoo!

Remember this date. Wednesday 6th October 2010 - Project 160 is definitely up-and-running. Next stop the 360! Well, perhaps not next stop, but we're definitely closer.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Moving On

We left the story with our hero contemplating the meaning of life, the universe and non-starting Porsches while going about his daily business and wondering if the phrase "bitten off more than he can chew" is a truism...

A couple of days after I got the car home, I was prodding around under the bonnet and it was running of sorts, then it stopped. No more go. I carefully shut the door (hah! "Slammed" maybe a better word!) and worked out how to start flogging bits off it...

Now the Racewear Roadshow season was winding down, and I finally got to spend a day on the 924. In the interim I'd acquired a Haynes manual, and under the heading "What to do if it won't start" was a full page of "test this, test that, mumble, mumble, resistances, mumble mumble". Far too complicated for me! All I knew was that there was no spark, so it was back to basics with the only thing I could do: fit a new coil out of my Midget spares box. Lo and behold - it started! Can't say it roared into life, it was still only running on 3, but it sounded a lot better. Revitalised, I swung myself underneath the trailer to see what it was like...hmm, thought these early 924s were supposed to rust? This one hasn't, compared to a Midget it's like new!

Managed to prise open the back to see what treasure it contained...spare front seats, spare back seat, loads of goodies. Quick photo later and the back seat is on fleaBay last! A little bit of luck. The email I received was quite clear "If you've got the front seats they're worth money to VW camper van drivers." It exhorted me to join the Porsche 924 Owners' Club which was a snip at £ I did, and learned more from the Forum in one evening than I already knew about the cars (OK, not hard!)

Now the car was empty, running on nearly 4 cylinders, it was the moment of truth, time to get the car off the trailer. Start it up, it was such a tight fit I didn't need to steer, but all of a sudden there we were! Sat on the road in a Porsche - well it was rude not to....

...3 laps of the Crescent later and:


Woo hoo.

Get the front seats on fleabay. And some other bits - turns out that funny box thingy was an original tunnel-mounted cassette box, worth £46 to a chap in Cyprus. Before I knew it, I'd made a profit on the THAT'S the way to go racing :-)

Oh, the engine's got good compression, doesn't leak oil and I've tracked the mis-fire down to a duff plug lead. There's a new coil and set of leads on the "must buy" list, but we're good to go - Project 160 for the 360 is up-and-running! And you know what? Judging by the queue of people banging on my door there's a lot of interest in sharing the car. At this rate I'll be out of a drive but in profit :-)

Monday, 27 September 2010

Let's begin!

It started at the inaugural 360MRC 6 Hour Race at Snetterton in August 2010. I was sharing a drive in the Team Mont Blanc MG Montego, and man was it fun! This car was basically standard, it cost a pittance to build, and at the end it was running strongly enough to win the up to 2-litre class! I'd raced the Monty in a sprint race at Silverstone, and while it was fun there was no hint that the car would be suitable for a 6 hour race. But boy did it deliver :-)

For 2011 there was going to be no repeat, because the Monty was up for sale - and I love endurance racing so I needed to find something to build.

Actually, it started a long time before August 2010, probably in 1981 when I first entered a sprint in an MG Midget. Over the years I'd developed the car - it was a totally original, "only one new head and two new handles" - to 1380cc spec running in the FISC championship around Europe: Nordschleife, Spa, Dijon, Zandvoort, culminating at Monza in 2007. Check out the video:

Early 2010 for various reasons I sold the Midget, so by summer I was champing at the bit looking for a replacement. The criteria were simple: RWD, 2-litre or more, front engined, preferably pre-'81 to qualify for the Eifelrennen at the Nordschleife, and now it had to be a GT or saloon car for "The 360". I had already considered and discarded MGBGT (been there, done that), Rover SD1 (likewise, also too hard to find) and Capri (too expensive) when the idea of Porsche 924 popped into my mind.

Two days and a couple of beers later I hit eBay. Another couple of beers later and one was mine, for the princely sum of £160 - and "Project 160 for the 360" was born! When I sobered up I reflected on what I'd done: I know nothing about 924s, ANY Porsche for £160 is bound to be a shed, and how the hell would it fit on my MG Midget-sized trailer to get it back from Maidstone to Wiltshire?

Thanks to the timely intervention of long time racing buddy and all-round good egg MG David, owner of the now-famous Montego, the car came back to Wokingham where we had to load it onto my ever-so-slightly-undersized trailer. Running on, ooh, must have been two cylinders and with binding brakes, my first EVER drive of a Porsche between the trailers was traumatic. With the Porker now jammed onto the trailer I set off on the 100-mile homeward drive. First 924 problem exhibited itself as soon as we left the 30mph limit...with the car's 50/50 balance there was no weight on the tow hitch so above 38mph the trailer swayed. Alarmingly.

Discretion was the better part of valour, we came off the M4 after one junction. I stopped and tried to adjust the car on the trailer. It was jammed so tight I had to use the ratchet on a tie down strap like a winch to pull it forwards - still, it was never going to fall off, was it!

It was better, we could now tow at 50mph before the dreaded sway so a peaceful, if slow, drive back to Devizes ensued. We crawled into bed at midnight, and in the morning the true horror of what I'd done began to sink in...
It didn't run, it had a brown driver's door which didn't open properly, it had been over-sprayed in matt black, it had a smashed windscreen where the last owner had clashed with a gypsy family, the inside smelt like a wet labrador...and the bloody thing was stuck on my trailer.

I hadn't got any time for a few weeks, I was working every weekend on the Racewear Roadshow, so I sighed and left the car in the drive until I next got a few days off...