Monday, 6 May 2019

Stoneleigh once more

It's that time of year and the annual pilgrimage to Stoneleigh for the National kit car show.

This year, I met up with a few people from SKCC and we took an enjoyable run through Berkshire and Worcestershire. I had planned to make a video on the run but my cheap camera decided to not work (I may have to bite the bullet and buy a GoPro).

The show itself was as good as always and slightly busier than last year, despite the weather not being as good. As always, there were the usual rumours that this would be the last year of the show which, strangely, I heard a lot last year as well 😊

As magazine editor for the UK Kit Car club (aka RHOCAR), I was re-elected at the AGM which is always held at Stoneleigh. The club is doing quite well now,  membership up to 200 which is good news.

Because of the AGM, I didn't leave Stoneleigh until about 6.30pm but the run back was good fun - some great roads and not a huge amount of traffic at that time. I thought I was 'making progress', overtaking a few dawdlers, when a fire-breathing Holden V8 flew past me.

Ten minutes later, I noticed my voltmeter had dropped down to 11v  - not a good sign. As background, I've often had concerns around the wiring into my alternator because my battery light is always on which, in theory, means something is wrong. The night before Stoneleigh, I had been fiddling around with the wires and one came off the spade terminal! So I had re-crimped both plugs and they all seemed fine on the way up.

So, I pulled over to have a look and when I gently pulled the wires, they came out of the butt connector further up the line! With no crimper handy, I just twisted the wires together and, for the first time ever, I've used gaffer tape to get Zedster going 😊 - I didn't have any insulation tape to cover the join.

Early in my build, I posted a question on a forum about how best to join 2 wires; butt connectors or soldering. The responses stretched to 3 pages and the result was a 50/50 split. As my soldering skills are rubbish, I decided to use the butt connectors and I now wish I hadn't - this is the 3rd time I've had problems with dodgy electrical connections and my loom is dotted with butt connectors 😕

Anyway, got home of and, apart from the electrical problem, Zedster was superb; 250 miles in the day, about 70 of those at high motorway speeds - superb!

Track day in 2 weeks 😨

Monday, 22 April 2019

Back to steam power

Sometimes, you think a return to steam would be so much simpler - electrics are a PITA !

So, after my rewire of the aux panel, weird things have happened. First, the starter motor seems to be turning over very slowly, as if the battery is flat. Then, the motor seemed to stop disengaging, so after the engine started, it was being spun round with a high-pitched wail for a second or 2.

Then, the starter motor gave up totally! I took the dash all off again, rewired my immobiliser switch in the starter motor circuit and it seems to be ok now - I must have dislodged the wire connection while doing the distribution box.

Part of the rewire included a replacement USB socket which includes a voltmeter display. Since the rewire, that display has been fine but the voltage gauge in the dash has been under-reading. But when I plugged in a mobile phone, the volts gauge started working properly again!

Wouldn't have this problem with a boiler and tender.

Anyway, despite the weirdness, I couldn't miss out on the stunning weather this weekend and dragged myself out at an ungodly hour (6.30am) to meet up with the SKCC club for a run. I've been given a radio from a club member who emigrated, so I was able to listen in to the banter on the run - really makes a run out even more fun and very useful to be told about a horse rider round the corner, for example.

The run ended at a cafe at an old train station which, ironically, had steam engines!

A great turn out with about 10 kits, wonderful scenery and, thanks to the early hour, little traffic. As always, not a run for the faint-hearted and Zedster performed well, despite probably being the most standard car there and with me as a driver :-)


A great run and I'll have to keep an eye on the electrics over the next few days/weeks.

Friday, 5 April 2019

Back to the Garage

This is actually the first time I've done some proper garage work on Zedster in a few months - by 'proper', I mean unbolting major parts and getting into the hidden depths that don't normally see the light of day.

The wiring behind my aux panel was always a mess - I'd added a few switches over time and just spliced extra wires in to existing plugs (because most things behind the panel need a switched live from the ignition). It all worked but I always had the niggling feeling it could go wrong at any time.

So, time to use a distribution box - one positive and live in from the ignition and 6 separate positive and negative terminals for various switches - all neat and tidy (in theory).

The problem with wiring is that there is little to show for your efforts, so here's a before:

...and an after:

Dull, huh? Ok, yes but trust me, it will be much more reliable than the previous setup.

Annoyingly, one of the switches seems to have broken - it's only a switch, how can it stop working?! Cheap rubbish is why - problem is, I'm not sure where to get a decent quality one from.
UPDATE: actually, the switch was fine - it was a dodgy spade connection.

I also took my centre tunnel panels off to get to the speed sensor above the propshaft but it looks fine. I've been getting occasional sporadic readings on my speedo so I assumed the sensor had moved but no. Bit worrying - I hope it doesn't mean the sensor itself is failing?

I might re-cover my tunnel panels - it's worn through on one edge and I've got lots of vinyl left over from when I did my armrest.

Sunday, 31 March 2019


This is almost funny, if it wasn't so painful and annoying...

So 4 weeks ago, while walking the dog on a steep path, I slipped, went over on my ankle and basically mangled every muscle in my clutch leg. Nothing broken but a week on crutches and the last 3 weeks hobbling around like a geriatric meaning no driving.

Finally, around the middle of last week, my leg was strong enough to handle Zedster's clutch and I did a couple of days into work. Then, Friday, Zedster wouldn't start at all - my 'seemed a good idea at the time' immobiliser - a switch in the starter motor circuit - lost a wire (I think).

So, after 4 weeks of biological immobilisation, I'm now electrically immobilised!!

I'm going to take the opportunity to tidy up the wiring behind the aux panel - as I've added switches, I've just daisy-chained the wiring so I'm going to add in a small distribution panel to make it more reliable.

I also need to check my speed sensor on the propshaft - my speedo keeps freezing, which suggests the sensor may have vibrated away from its accurate position 2mm above the propshaft bolts.

Sunday, 17 February 2019

Brakes would be nice

On a drive out a few weekends ago, while trying to get past a couple of cyclists on a bend (yeah, my fault), a car came round the corner towards me. I panicked trying to get to the brake pedal and my foot got briefly caught under the pedal, pulling it up. To my horror, the pedal stayed up in the air and I had no brakes! Fortunately,  I was going slow and I was able to come to a stop using the handbrake.

When I got the pedal box opened up, I could see that the pedal had been able to travel so far the wrong way, that the rod that goes into the brake cylinder had come right out, hence no brakes.

This weekend , I finally got round to making up a basic pedal stop for the brake pedal so that I wouldn't be able to lift it up the wrong way again. It's not the greatest piece of mechanical engineering, just a piece of ally bent into a sort of U-shape and attached to the top of the brake pedal but it should do the job.

I think I am losing a bit of coolant from the temp sensor in the top of the thermostat but it's only a little and I don't want to try tighten the sensor too much because if I strip the plastic thread in the thermostat, it's going to be a pain to replace. Just means I have to top up the coolant every month or so - not too much of a hardship.

The brake judder I mentioned last time isn't the brakes - I think it's just the steering column shaking. All the bolts seem tight - I think it's just the fact it's a long length of metal which is only supported at each end which is why it vibrates under heavy braking. But I'll check with the experts on the forum...

Update: Went to a tyre place and got the wheels re-balanced - they were MILES out!! Vibration now hugely improved although not gone totally. I've ordered a dial gauge to check the discs as well.

Saturday, 2 February 2019

New year, new challenges

First post of the year? Wow, I've been slacking...

I've found myself commuting to work in Zedster almost every day now, partly because my bike still needs a new front tyre and partly because I just enjoy it. My commute is only 10 miles on country roads and it takes 5 miles before the engine warms up and I get any heat but it's no colder than my bike and warmer for the last 5 miles, so no problem.

The armrest fitted last month is awesome - stops a huge draught I used to get and prevents any water splashing up - genius!

Exciting news - I've booked my first track day! Through CKC  magazine  (I got a subscription for my birthday), I'm going to Llandow circuit near Cardiff in May. Only £95 and only kit cars, so no nutters in jazzed up Corsa's to worry about. Hugely excited - let's hope I don't break Zedster.

I do need to sort out some brake judder I've got, before the track day. I'll start with a trip to Kwik Fit to check the wheels are balanced right - it might be that simple (I doubt it but  anyway...).

Saturday, 29 December 2018

A Call to Arms

Continuing with the upgrades, next up are armrests. I was inspired by seeing some Caterham armrests - not only do they act as straps to hold the door against the side of the car, they also prevent water splashing up into the cabin.

So, first up was some measurements transferred to a sheet of 1.5mm ally (sorry, pretty rubbish picture):

The strange shape is because my drivers side door has a bulge for my elbow. This was then cutout and bent into shape, using a combination of Black and Decker workmate and plain old bending by hand (quite surprised it worked so well):


Then a layer of foam to protect my delicate elbow:

...and vinyl applied with contact adhesive:


A set of M3 stainless steel bolts (hopefully won't go rusty and look crud) with countersunk cups, through the door material and into the flange on the armrest and job done:


Not been out to test them yet but looks great, doors feel firm and they lift up easily enough.

I also replaced the side mirrors with some funky (read 'tiny') numbers:

I've also got a new gear knob and USB sockets to fit...all good fun...

Happy New Year to you all!