Monday, 28 April 2008

More blasphemy ...

As I have a week off from work, and it was raining cats ‘n’ dogs today, I thought it a good idea to do some more measurements on the Duratec engine. Main target was to find out where the problems will arise. First thing to check was if it was possible to mount the strut brace across with the engine on top of the steering rack. Not really although the left hand side of the cam cover has room to spare;

If I can find a cover that has the same height on the RH side as on the LH side it won’t be problem. A quick browse on the internet came up with this rather nice and low cover for the Duratec engine. Of course this kind of stuff has its price!

Another problem area is the steering rack. Especially were the steering column joins the rack. If the engine is placed in the middle of the car it will clash with the lower steering column U-joint. This can be solved by placing the engine higher in the car, but will give problems with bonnet and (maybe) gearbox. And moving the steering rack is of course not done as it will alter the steering geometry and thus resulting in problems like bump steer. So I think the solution will be a combination of three options;

Placing the engine behind the steering rack and slightly off centre to the right;

Removing some excessive metal from the sump and the block (might even search for another sump);

To get it back as far as possible I do need to cut a few bits from the car. Most important one is the bracket for the bonnet catch. As the bonnet catch can’t be used with this engine that won’t be much of a problem. It might also be necessary to make a (small) recess in the bulkhead to create clearance for the water rail. Here the heater that sits directly behind the bulkhead might give some problems.

But the biggest challenge will probably be created by the enormous amount of room on both sides of the engine. What will be the best way to fabricate some decent engine mounts? Still some way to go before they’re ready.

As in the current situation it is impossible to place the engine correctly in the engine bay I have decided to start on another project. As I need to get rid of one of my body shells I think it will be a good idea to first use it as a jig, to determine where and how the engine can be placed, before I cut it up! I can remove material from the bulk head where needed making fitting a lot easier. So next job will be to put a sub frame, steering rack and heater in this shell and work from there;

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Dolly hunting

Travelled all across Belgium today with René, to Zealand Flanders to be precise, to inspect a 1977 Dolomite 1850. Due to too many problems the car had to go after 30 odd years with its owner.

The advert was rather promising in stating that it was a very solid car. But an unrestored 30 year old Dolomite, which has spent all it’s working life near the sea shore will predictably have a few rust spots. This car was no exception. But the good thing was, all the structural parts were in good condition. It also looked rather unmolested and reasonably well cared for. The bad news was that the boot floor was pretty bad. Also two doors will need new skins, the odd wheel arch needs replacing, a few rust spots on the wind screen pillar, and of course rust in the nose panel above the headlamps.

Judging by the state of the interior and the fact that the odometer read a bit over 74000 km, we presumed that the car probably covered 174.000 km. This was more or less confirmed by a rather lowish oil pressure of just over 2 bar when cold. There were no knocking noises from the crank shaft or any discernible play on the crank. So nothing to worry too much about.

To sum it up, the car was not worth the asking price, but we got an agreement over the price so another Dolly has joined RenĂ©’s fleet ...

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

186 Days ...

On October 20th last year I put the DHC away in the shed with the idea to use it during the winter, if the weather allowed. Today after 186 days I went back to the shed to take her out of hibernation. First thing I noticed was that it still has the 10CR stickers on ... oops. And a quick inspection revealed that nothing was really wrong. No oil slicks under the car, no sticky clutch and the brakes were still free (the joys of a dry shed :-) So after reconnecting the battery it started fairly quickly, although it ran a bit rough in the beginning. Time to put the hood down and enjoy the weather!

I thought it a good idea to take it over one of my favourite routes in the area. More so because I ran ‘t Kreng over the same stretch last Saturday, always interesting to compare the two. Most interesting bit is an almost 45 kilometre long stretch over very narrow country lanes. Despite the ditches being very deep and in some places very close to the road! Would make a very nice rally stage;

Last Saturday, halfway in this stretch it started to drizzle. This, combined with the muck that the farmers had left behind in places, made for a very slippery surface indeed. But it was good fun nevertheless. But not so today, it was dry so no problems. Just enjoyed the weather, with the odd huge dust cloud trailing behind the car.

It was again a revelation to experience how different both cars are. Saturday had been a rather strenuous drive, with heavy steering due to sticky rubber and quick rack. But also a slightly stiffer suspension set up. All making for rather sharp and predictable handling, aided greatly by the brakes.

Today was an easy cruise through the country. Light steering and comfy ride, but missing the confidence inspiring handling and brakes. Well you can’t have it all!