A big change for
my plans in 2013. I had planned to race in the Classic Sports
Car Club Magnificent Sevens series this year, instead I have
changed my career and now work for the CSCC. This does mean that
I won't be able to race in the Magnificent Sevens series; it
would be a conflict of interest of course. I am very excited
about the change and am looking forward to working within
I'm proud that a
couple of my photos were published in the December 2012 issue of
Low Flying, the club magazine for the Lotus 7 club.
I took the photo
with my Canon S3is bridge camera on manual mode with a 6 second
exposure, sidelights on (LEDs hence the blue tinge), a graduated
filter and the car rolling forwards very slowly. Just a few
minutes previously the moon wasn't hidden by clouds and the shot
would have been that much better, sadly this was the moment the
batteries ran out and needed changing!
With the help of my
wife plus Philip and Paul from the Lotus Seven club we have got
the engine back in, this time with no injuries!
Here is the
protective heat blanket wrapped around the starter motor and
wiring, leading to a relay which greatly helps the starting, a
common modification (it looks tidier once put back together).
Once the fuel
was primed through the system (new fuel filter) and the engine
was turned over to bring the oil pressure up the new race
battery began to go flat. The intention is to return tomorrow
with a freshly charged battery and try again. I have booked in a
remap for the Emerald ECU with
FC Performance on
Tuesday, then I can see if the performance increase has been
worth the money and effort.
After speaking to
Emerald I realised I needed to change the btdc setting as well
as the trigger pattern for the engine to work with the new R500
lightweight flywheel. So, next day we tried to start up and it
fired into life immediately, it was good to drive the car again
after a break of a couple of months. I managed to put about 35
miles on the car before it had its remap, not driving too
carefully so as to bed in the piston rings and avoid glazing the
bores but not too hard as the fuelling was likely to be
Drove the Caterham
to Circuit Motors, where Leighton from FC Performance mapped the
car, only issue was oil in the coolant header tank which is
always a concern with the K series. After much checking we
continued with the map, getting a power figure between 140bhp
and 145 depending on revs and the power run and map selected.
Slight torque increase too, and all happening about 600rpm
higher which is better for track work and the close ratio box.
So, not a big increase but enough to notice and at least I would
now have a good strong engine that will take plenty of revs and
with just a change of cams and throttle bodies could see 180bhp,
but I'm not worried about that for now. The drive is noticeably
different particularly with the lightened flywheel; the revs
rise and fall so much more quickly and will take a bit of
adjustment to heel and toe smoothly again.
The worry about the
oil in the coolant header tank was traced to the jug that was
used to fill the car up with new coolant! Naming no names! The
coolant was flushed thoroughly and tested with fresh water and
no problems at all as you would expect from an engine built by
Dave Andrews. I decided it was time to replace the radiator as
the Caterham triple pass had a small weep from the core, which
appears pretty common among Caterhams own rads. I placed an
order for a new Radtec radiator, changed the mounting bobbins and lower
silicone hose and at last wired in the cooling fan to the
Emerald so I have both automatic and manual fan control now.
Thanks to Stu
Forshaw I have a new (used) spark plug cover which I resprayed
and fitted a Caterham Supersport badge too, much smarter than
the old Rover cover.
In March I found
myself stationary in traffic in Bath city centre when sadly I
felt a bump from behind. I had been tapped by a lorry. The
driver was very apologetic and we exchanged details. The damage
was light, with a broken fog light, number plate light and
slightly dented alloy skin, thankfully no damage at all to the
After asking for
advice from the Seven community I decided to take the car to the
Workshop. My insurance company, REIS were happy for me to do
this. I had time to fit in another informal FCCUK competition at
Curborough where the car gave me a FTD again, really good fun in
changeable conditions. I had fun driving a friends stripped out
Clio 172 reminding me how much fun they are for very little
money. I also got to drive
another friends 400BHP Mazda RX7 and set a good time, with the
owner booking me for instruction in July. After the day on track
we had a long detour to take the car to the Seven workshop in
Hertfordshire on a Sunday (excellent service).
Helped my friend
sell his Caterham and buy a lovely Lotus Elise SC. We gave it a
good shake down at Keevil, so we could both experience its
handling characteristics before a planned trip to Castle Combe
later in the year. It's a very good all round car, although in
standard form its handling is set up to understeer. I found I
had to really stand the car on its nose to get it to turn in
quickly without washing wide, and with no limited slip
differential it would spin an inside wheel if I got on the power
too quickly out of the hairpin.
After a lengthy few
weeks wait whilst an assessor eventually agreed (thanks to Chris
and Jackie) that alloy could not be beaten out without
stretching, the rear skin was be replaced at Arch and sprayed by
TSK, with all other work being looked after by the Seven
Workshop. I have always known that our Seven is well loved but a
bit tatty in a couple of places. Well, the full extent of years of being
driven in all weathers was all too clear once the bodywork was
removed, although the photos make it look worse due to the
general dirt covering the tubes.
Chris suggested we
use the 'opportunity' to replace the two triangular side pieces
of bodywork that are mostly hidden under the leading edges of
the rear wheel arches. These wheel arch panels were both
corroded and also holed where rear wings had been mounted
incorrectly. In addition Chris tidied up the wiring, treated
the surface corrosion, removed the stubs of the spare wheel carrier,
fitted new arches, re-padded the fuel tank whilst it was out and
replaced the rear lights.
It was only when my
wife went to collect the car that the full extent of the work
taken place was apparent. Many parts had been painted or sealed
to prevent future corrosion, a bush replaced on the radius arm
where the bolt was seized and drilled out, new grommets where
the wiring exits the bodywork to the lights, sealing the boot
floor and many more little jobs that show evidence of
workmanship above what was asked and paid for.
It looks great, but
so plain now without all its track outline stickers. Still not
certain about the new Caterham logo, but I have the old one
which I could return to. I have kept the old skin which could
form some kind of artwork at some stage, if I'm allowed to keep
it in the house that is!
Two days after
getting the car back it was back in action with a fun trackday
at Castle Combe with friends celebrating a 70th birthday party.
Our friend Philip was celebrating in his new Lotus Elise SC. Our
Caterham performed brilliantly with best laps of 1:20 (looking
back at video) which was pretty good considering full screen,
lights and very very worn tyres. I was asked to drive and give
an opinion of a turbo charged MR2 roadster turbo producing
400BHP. I was very impressed, with recommendations limited to
pedal position and traction control settings; the bumps at Old
Paddock and Folly were producing quite violent fuel cuts losing
us time. Not sure what lap times were like, but they felt quick.
On cooler morning I
have noticed that the coolant temperature hasn't been getting up
to its usual 80c temperature, sticking around the 70 mark unless
driven in traffic, therefore have changed the coolant and the
thermostat, and it's now back to running at around 80c. I have
drilled a small hole (1.5mm) in the thermostat as before
After our article
about the Celica TRD Sports M was used in Pistonheads
here we were approached by a previous owner of the car who
missed it and wanted it back. A deal was done and we find
ourselves without a tow car. My wife and I had been looking at
Boxsters for some time, they really have become good value for
money so we started looking properly. We agreed to look for an
S, ideally a 2000 model for the cheaper road tax and without the
PSM stability control and not black or dark blue as they just
show the dirt and scratches too badly. We then discovered this
low mileage, two owner car at a specialist dealership in
Peterborough (TWG). After agreeing a price (subject to seeing
it) we bought train tickets, test drove it and took it home
there and then.
Slight disapointment to find that our fresh MOT
had an advisory for CV boots that turned out to be rather more
than a slight split, with 3 of the 4 cv boots were completely
gone, plus non functioning reverse lights and knackered wipers.
Still, nothing that we couldn't put right ourselves the
following couple of weekends.
It turned out to be
a bit of a job, mostly because the exhaust clamps were rusted
and seized so the angle grinder did a fair bit of work. We
booked a trackday at Keevil for both the Caterham and Boxster,
so as a precaution changed the Porsches brake fluid, coolant and
gearbox oil which was straightforward to do from underneath. The
Caterham had an oil change too.
Boxsters non functional reverse lights were just a simple switch replacement and some
new Bosch wipers and RainX have greatly improved visibility.
The trackday was
very enjoyable with friends in their Caterhams and Elise. Twice
we had heavy showers and both times the Boxster proved the
fastest car on track, despite having standard Michelins all
round. The grip was remarkable and whilst the balance certainly
favoured understeer, it was pretty fun and gave confidence to us
both. My friends Elise SC was sporting a different set of wheels
and tyres this time, and with the wider fronts the handling
balance was much sharper with a better initial turn in and less
understeer, more fun. The Caterham as always was superb once the surface dried,
only a suspected spigot bearing or clutch issue at the end of
the day clouded the experience. Engine out next week, what
fun! Still, had fun chasing my friends CSR260 up until that
Out of almost 100 trackdays this is only the second ever
mechanical issue experienced (the first being a broken weld on
an exhaust), I put that down to good maintenance and a bit of
mechanical sympathy with a slow warm up process and at least one
cool down lap after each session.
I've booked a race!
First time in two years! I have signed up for the Birkett 6 hour
team endurance race on the historic Silverstone GP circuit. Much
as I would rather race with my own club the Classic Sports Car
Club, I'm not allowed to so have to look at events with rival
companies, in this instance the 750MC. I'm hoping to be part of
a team of CSCC Gold Arts Magnificent Sevens racers, but will
know more in the next couple of weeks.
Since buying the
Boxster we have no tow car (just the trailer), so I now have to
think about buying a shed of a tow car which will double as a
winter commuter. Whilst driving the Caterham to work has been
fun this summer I just don't fancy it come the winter. I'm not
sure we will have the budget for even the cheapest of tow cars
though, so may need to rely on the generosity of others and
borrow one for this race.
As always I'm going
to have to make do with old sets of tyres and hope it doesn't
rain as I have no wets! I will need to get the
extinguisher serviced again which is annoying as I've only had
one race since the last time.
With the help of
Paul Manning, his son Tim and Philip Coles we removed the engine
expecting to find clutch or spigot bearing issues. Sadly, there
were none, which pointed the finger at the differential or
gearbox. After removing the gearbox it was clear this was where
the problem lay.
I have cancelled the race next month, as budget just won't
allow the repair of the 'box as well. Next step is to take it to
a specialist for a strip down and work out what's wrong, as we
can't see any visible issue after taking the cover off, only
that the output shaft is now jammed.
The Boxster started
to make an annoying creaking noise from the rear suspension.
Searching on the forums this appears to be a common issue, with
many replacing their bottom wishbone aka coffin joint. Some
people however have tried injecting grease or WD40 into the dust
boot with success, providing it is caught early before wear or
slop can develop in the joint. As the joint appears to be dry
anyway we were happy to try WD40 and it worked instantly, no
creaking and with no damage to the dust boot except a tiny hole
in which to push the WD40 straw. Will see if this is a lasting
After a good chat on
the phone to Caterham gearbox expert Phil at Road and Race, we
drove the gearbox to him in Kent, should get an update on which
parts are required and what to refresh shortly.
After much thought,
and far too much time reading about old Porsches I have decided
to sell the Caterham, advert
not sure if I'm doing the right thing though!
The first owner
Damon Dance has kindy e-mailed me some original photos which
appear to be hanging on his wall. This is the first time that I
have discovered my car raced in 1996 (not 1997) and that it
raced with the number 77 that by coincidence is the same number
We enjoyed a few days away on the west coast of Wales, some
superb driving through the Elan Valley.
With another year
rolling by and heading towards Autumn, with no racing, and
having no tow car thoughts turned to changing the Caterham. For
many years I thought the Seven would be a car I would keep for
decades to come. However, I was increasingly finding that whilst
it is THE perfect car on the right road or track in the right
weather those times are few and far between in our country. The
summer of 2013 was almost too good! The holiday Beth and I took
to Cornwall was uncomfortably hot in the Caterham. The onset of
winter generally makes me a bit down, with less opportunity to
enjoy the car and it's worse now with no garage (just a car
port) and no electrics. All this got me to seriously thinking
about a replacement. Everyone has a short list in their heads,
but actually a Caterham is a very difficult car to replace. It
was almost pointless to find a quicker, more responsive car in
my budget, instead I would look for a car that would try to give
me a similar feeling of ownership that I could enjoy for more of
the year. The Boxster is an excellent car, it really is, but
lacks a little of the character I was looking for. A lack of
depreciation is important to me, ideally I would like a car that
I could spend money on and see some increase in value.
A car I just kept
coming back to is the Porsche 911, especially the older air
cooled models.911s have received a huge amount of press coverage
in 2013 in their 50th anniversary. This seems to have had an
influence on the their value, to the point that values of air
cooled Coupes were creeping out of my reach. Having decided that
now was the time to buy a 911 I wrote a detailed advert and then
shelved it to be sure I was doing the right thing.
A trackday was
booked at Keevil in September with friends, the result of this
can be seen below
A real shame to have
broken the car, but considering it has completed at least 50
trackdays and races in my ownership this is only the second time
it has broken on track (the first was a broken weld on the
exhaust). I removed the engine and gearbox and delivered the
'box to Phil at Road and Race. Phil quickly diagnosed the
problem as a broken tooth on the main shaft, apparently and
issue he has seen before on these early race boxes. Whilst the
gearbox was stripped he also replaced two worn syncro sets and
collets as well as a new main shaft of a later design as a
Despite still loving
the Caterham it was the right time to place the advert
mentioning that the new potential advert would be welcome to
assist in putting the engine and gearbox back in the car as a
way of them learning the car. After a good bit of interest this
is what happened, and a sale was agreed subject to a drive and
flat floor set up.
After two long days
of work, 'Colin' was driven away by the new owner Danny, who is
a real enthusiast. Danny owns a tidy 1400 Caterham and having
caught the bug for trackdays, he did the sensible thing and
bought my car which was of course a very good specification.
I did get quite upset seeing 'my' car drive away, but I had to
convince myself it is the right thing to do at this stage, and I
had the promise that should the car go up for sale in the future
I would have first refusal. It was odd to see the car without
its race stickers and track outlines.
Whilst I was
tracking down a replacement, which was not easy, a bit of
maintenance was required on the Boxster, when the drivers side
electric window stopped working. Every time the doors are opened
on the Boxster the window drops a cm. This presumably
accelerates wear, so a replacement regulator was sourced on ebay
at a fraction of the cost of a genuine Porsche part. It took a
few hours to fit and annoyingly has resulted in the airbag light
staying on, which our OBD2 devices can't reset, so it will have
to go to a Porsche main dealer at some stage to be reset.
The start of a new
chapter, 'Colin' the Caterham has sold, and I have bought a new
car for road and track - a Porsche 911 3.2 Carrera Coupe, a car
I have wanted for some years now. A very long day driving to
North Yorkshire and back, but a big smile on my face! More
information on the 911 page, under Cars.
A list was made
detailing work that was needed to get the 911 to a better
standard. This included -
that wouldn't read above 58mph
Brake calipers that were sticking
Various cosmetic work including both front wings
A poor gearchange, particularly when selecting 1st gear
Main beam that would come on at random when the lights were on
dipped beam (not good!)
An occasional 'screech' suspected to be a bearing, if not the
Coming just a week
after buying 'Percy Senior' aka Percy the Porsche 911, I've
bought another car, this time one which won't be gracing these
pages very often. It's a winter commuting hack on winter tyres,
ideal for our drive to work through muddy lanes, bought from my
boss at the CSCC.
Meet 'Peggy' the
Peugeot 206 -
Having replaced the
911s drivers side
rear caliper which was the worst of the four we drove the car to
Rob at Racing Restorations in Worcester to assess the bodywork.
A very worthwhile couple of hours with Rob giving great advice
and talking us through the priorities as well as examples of
their work. I was very pleased that everything he found was as
we had identified ourselves when first viewing the car, with
only one exception - the headlight bowl.
headlight bowl is replaced with the front wing so it's not a
concern. It does go to show how badly these cars can corrode
down to poor design where dirt builds up plus no wheel arch
liners. The 911 (now named Percy Senior by my wife) is booked in
with Racing Restorations in mid January, after I finish working
at the Autosport show.
Next job was to
replace the passenger side rear caliper.
Much better, I could
feel the difference when driving.
The speedo had two
faults - it had stopped recording mileage and also it wouldn't
show a speed above 58mph (a problem for a sports car). Searching
online and in the excellent 101 projects book it appears to a be
a common problem, where teeth on one of the cogs become brittle
and break off.
A new cog priced at
24 Euros from an Austrian company plus removing the old broken
bits fixed both problems.
I changed the oil
and filter on the Boxster, the mileage had really added up in
the past few months, and I want to get into a routine of
changing both far earlier than is due.
It's something I
have always done, believing that fresh oil is extremely
important, plus some reports suggest that fresh oil is likely to
prolong the IMS bearing life should the seal fail prematurely.
It felt good to
change the oil (Shell 10w40) and oil filter and air filter, this
time on the 911, the night before the drive to Teddington for a
Pistonheads meet, where my 911 was one of 100 assembled to help
finish the 50th anniversary of the 911. It was good to meet up
with other owners and to see a number of other Guards Red
Carreras (mine is on the left).
On the way back
Beth and I dropped in to Keevil where Motorsport Events were
holding their last event of the year. I wanted to take the 911
out on track for a quick session just to give me an idea of what
its handling was like. It is the first 911 i've driven on track,
and the rain started coming down, so I didn't want to go too
mad. The gear change is poor (another job) so I was slow and
deliberate with my shifting. I enjoyed lifting off when turning
in and feeling the back end come round slightly to help tighten
the line before applying the power and being impressed with the
traction. My first impressions were of a similar handling feel
to the Boxster, only with lift off oversteer. I really enjoyed
the experience, although the brake pedal went to the floor at
the second attempt to go out. I hadn't had chance to flush fresh
dot5.1 fluid through the front calipers due to lack of time, so
it was to be expected. Once cooled down the brake pedal returned
for the drive home = a good day.
interior fan had become increasingly noisy, eventually only
working intermittently. Having removed it from the car it was
very easy to see the problem. The 'Hamster Wheel' was missing a
blade and the band was split and scuffed. I can only guess that
at some stage in the past someone has dropped a tool in the fan
when changing the pollen filter above it. A new fan is over £300
from Porsche, but a bit of research showed that it was a common
VW/Audi part used in the VW Golf and Lupo among others. I
sourced a known working fan from a yr 2000 Mk4 Golf GTi and paid
a whopping £18 for it from ebay. It was nearly identical, only
having a different connector - whilst these are available at
extra cost it was far simpler fitting two insulated female spade
connectors. The fan works perfectly again and is quieter than
Whilst on a roll
with fans the fresh air fan on the 911 made a horrible screech
from time to time, normally when on the lowest speed. During my
Christmas break out it came for a good clean (no pollen filters
on this age car) and oiling of the end bearings. The brushes and
commutator are in good order so it should keep going for a good
few years yet.
Removing the fresh
air pipework is the best and really only way to get to the backs
of the gauges and wiring, so I wired in a fused lead from the
fuse board through a grommet in the firewall to power the DL1
datalogger and Dash3 that I used to use in the Caterham. Not
wanting to make the classic Porsche appear too modern I have
hidden the DL1 in the centre console (where the tape storage
used to be) and the Dash3 screen is velcro'd to the underside of
the ashtray, both can be removed with no damage. The fan is now
lovely and quiet.
To cure the common
problem of main beam coming on when dipped beam is selected I
bought a good replacement switch from ebay. More research on the
excellent Pelican and Impact Bumpers forums showed that the
fault occurs due to the switch carrying the full headlight
current, instead of a relay being used. Dirty and slightly bent
contacts can create a short circuit. A newer switch together
with a J West relay kit from Pelican Parts should stop the
problem returning, as well as a reported increase in headlight
performance. I will report back on this when the parts arrive
from the States.
I removed the
steering wheel to get better access to the rev counter feed
wire. More web browsing revealed instructions for bending the
switch contact slightly (red arrow in picture) which appears to
have worked for a number of 911 owners, so I gave this a tray
and am pleased to report it works, no more main beam stuck on by
mistake. I will keep the ebay purchased switch as a spare for
now, and will fit the relay kit.
Whilst having time
on my hands over Christmas I replaced the interior festoon bulbs
with LEDs and cleaned up the drivers door switch so it earths
properly. The result is a brighter interior that doesn't draw
much current. The only downside is a slightly modern blue tinge
to the light which I'm not so keen on. I may change these at
some stage for a 'warm white' version.
Keeping busy I
tackled the vague gear change issue. I had previously ordered a
set of gear linkage bushes and started taking apart the
interior. All was going well until I tried to press out the
shift coupler pin and broke the casting, BUGGER! That was £90
wasted, still, the new shift coupler had new bushes already
A few hours
work and everything was cleaned and correctly adjusted. A quick
drive to warm the transmission showed an improved already,
although first gear is still reluctant to be selected when
moving. I got the car back home and onto my new Machine Mart
wide ramps for a gearbox oil change. Judging by the difficulty
in removing the gearbox filler and sump plugs I don't think the
oil has been changed for a while. Still, all done, although a
subsequent drive doesn't feel any different. The bushes are a
good improvement and I found an original rubber gear surround
underneath the vinyl one, I prefer the retro look.
That's it for
2013, a good year, even if no racing took place. Still, a great
new job means I had arranged plenty of racing for other people
with the CSCC, changed both cars and enjoyed some great