Tuesday, 28 January 2020

The Rebuild continues

I'm slowly rebuilding my entire car - every time I do one thing, I end up having to change/fix 2 others.

This time, it was the wipers - one of the springs on the wiper arm broke, so it wasn't pressing on the screen and thus not actually wiping. Nice easy fix, you say? Holy Cow....

So I order a new arm (actually 2, in case the other goes soon) - arrives in less than 24 hours from CBS (impressive). I trot off innocently to the garage, remove the old arm and...er...bugger, the rubber piece has broken:

Back to the laptop and I decide to order metal replacements rather than rubber - these take 2 days to come (I did order on a Sunday, so I can't blame them).

Once more, I wander off to the garage and I'll just plop these metal bits on...er....no, they are a slightly different shape to the rubber versions, so they need filing down. The first one takes a mere hour to get right - it's a small, awkward round shape, difficult to hold in a vice while I file it down.

The second one? Holy Mother of the Great One - I do not understand why this one was so tough but my file didn't even scratch it. They are chromed but I didn't think a chrome finish was that tough? I eventually had to get the Dremel out, hack off a piece, then use a sanding disc and finally I got some purchase with the file.

Unbelievable! A job that I thought would take 10 minutes took me about 3 hours!!


I didn't have the time to actually try them out, so I hope I haven't re-aligned them wrong - we shall see.

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Car wash

A short video of my commute home tonight in the remnants of Storm Brendon (?) - you'll get a brief glimpse of my new speedo if you look closely:


Sunday, 12 January 2020

Order is restored

So once again, as soon as I take the insulation tape off the wiring on the ignition plug, a wire drops out! No wonder my starting was flaky.

Amazing the difference a new soldering iron has - didn't take too long to solder a couple of wires up and one of them almost looks acceptable. Heat shrink and lots of insulation tape made what feels like a more secure connection.

And what a difference! Two cold starts have been almost instantaneous and my alternator seems to be generating slightly more charge? Is that really all down to a better electrical connection? I'll give it a few more runs before I can say it is all fixed.

Finally found a stretch of road for a 0-60 timed run - 7.28 secs. Not very impressive considering 750kg (with me) and 150 bhp gives a power-weight ratio of 200bhp/ton, same as the current Impreza or a C-class AMG Mercedes, which have 0-60 times of 5s. I think that is probably down to my Ford gearbox - I have to do 2 gear changes to get to 60 (might be able to do it with 1?) and the trusty old MT75 isn't a patch on a flappy paddle job in new cars. In theory, I have the GBS 'quickshift' but 'quick' is relative 😉

Next fix? While playing with the Emerald software, I noticed that pressing the throttle to its maximum only shows up as 75% as far as the ECU is concerned, so it looks like I could do with adjusting the cable.

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

Roller-coaster time again

So yes, I had pulled a wire out when putting the dash back in - doh!! All off again to re-clamp the wire into the plug.

I'm starting to regret my optimism a couple of posts ago about how to connect wires. I've had 2 issues since then where the wires connected using those spade terminals just haven't made a good connection. And now, my ignition wiring problem has returned!

My ignition wires use these same spade terminals I enthused  about a while back but, at the weekend, Zedster wouldn't start.

Now, there were 2 problems at play here; one was the fact that I think I have pulled yet another wire out of the switch on my aux panel that switched the ECU between maps, so the switch is effectively always in the 'off' position, which makes the ECU use my 'low emissions' map. This low emissions map does NOT have the recent cold start enrichment numbers that Emerald setup for me, so it wouldn't start. After rectifying this (by simply overriding the emissions map with the main, normal map), I then encountered the ignition wiring problem - it keeps losing connection and doesn't engage the starter motor. Only with some under-dash fiddling (ooh-err) will the motor engage and the engine start.

So, I've ordered a new soldering iron (my old one is about 20 years old and seems to only work in spurts) and I'm going to solder the damn ignition wires - hopefully, that will fix it like it has done for the speedo.

The speedo is working fine now, although it's not great at night - the needle is lit up and it has a little LCD screen that is lit up but the main dial doesn't seem to have any light on it and is very dark at night. And in a 20 mile run to check it out over the weekend, I couldn't find a single stretch of flat, straight, traffic-free road to test out the 0-60 timer function! The joys of SE England roads...

After the lows of my wiring issues, the roller-coaster that is kit car life has ratcheted up to the top of the Big Dipper (wow, epic metaphor!) - I have booked on to a week-long trip to the Italian Alps in June!!

It's with the SKCC club, something they do most years but the stars have never aligned to allow me to get involved in previous years. However, I've managed to sucker my wife into saying yes (I will regret this nearer the time as I get an earful over how selfish I am) and I should have just about enough holiday from work, so off we go!!

Obviously, early days yet and I need to ensure Zedster is in one piece come the time but I am VERY excited - always desperately wanted to go to the Alps. I am also booked on to the Wales trip again in September as well, so maybe my wife has a point...

Saturday, 4 January 2020

The circus is in town

I do feel like Zedster is a clown car sometimes... (and I guess that makes me a clown? Which is about right, I guess..).

So the speedo wiring was fine - it just seems like the spade terminals I tried to use to connect the wires weren't good enough. I ended up soldering them instead (my soldering skills are horrendous, lumpy and yuck) and it seems to now be working BUT half my aux panel is now dead!

Either I've blown a fuse or I've knocked off a wire when putting the dash back in - jees! And one of the fluorescent strips in my garage has blown, so half my garage is in darkness.

Well, at least the speedo works (for now)....

Sunday, 29 December 2019

Show me the speed!

So, my original Smiths speedo hasn't been working properly for a while (OK up to 40mph, then won't go back to zero and so you end up showing as doing 140mph, with the odometer going up in unison). So time for a new speedo...

I decided I wanted a GPS controlled speedo which means 2 options; a £50 Chinese item or a £250 unit from someone more trustworthy (there is honestly nothing in between) . Normally, I'd go the cheap route but the cheap ones don't have a trip meter and I use that all the time because I can't trust my fuel gauge. So the expensive option it had to be... Speedhut in the US do an infinitely customisable unit, so that's what I went for.

It arrived a few weeks ago and wasn't quite right; the blue of the dial was much darker than their website showed, making the silver numbers not very legible. But I couldn't be bothered to wait weeks sending it back, so it will do:

It does feel very good quality, solid and well made. Fitting it was fairly simple; first, remove the old dial and widen the hole slightly:

The wiring should have been simple (but see later) - 12v ignition, earth, dial illumination and a permanent live feed for the unit to store GPS data so it gets a quick signal the next time you start up. The permanent live was a simple wire direct to the positive terminal of the battery and I decided to reuse the plug from the old Smiths dial - I had the original wiring diagram it came with, so it should have been simple - snip the 3 wires out of the plug I needed (for some reason, it has about 7 wires, most of which aren't used), fit terminals and job done.

I've recently rewired my dash to make it easily removable with plugs for all the wires - the problem here was the GPS receiver has to go on top of the scuttle and I couldn't easily make a plug for the special coax cable it uses to connect to the dial. So I had to fit the unit so that it comes away with the dash, rather than being permanently attached to the scuttle. This required a little bit of jiggery-pokery - first a slot in the ally that the dash bolts to:

Then a piece of steel 3Md to the scuttle (because the magnetic GPS receiver can't stick to the ally scuttle) :

And now the GPS receiver attaches to that and its cable slots behind the dash - visible but not too horrendous and means the whole dash can come away:

Sadly, on a test drive, the darn thing didn't work, I think because I used the wires from the old Smiths wiring plug for the power and I guess the generic wiring diagram is incorrect (green wire for the +12v did seem a bit weird now I think about it). So I need to redo the wiring using my known 12v ignition terminals. I'm pretty sure the dial itself is fine because the illumination does work, so it's just the main power.

Hopefully have it working next time and I can play with the built-in 0-60 timer 😉

Sunday, 1 December 2019

Wiring archaeology

So everything was going swimmingly UNTIL Zedster wouldn't start. Ever since Emerald kindly updated my map to improve the cold starting, Zedster has started almost first time. But then, with no warning, the starter motor began acting like it was on it's last legs, turning at half-speed as if the battery was almost flat (it wasn't).

Now, I have has issues with my ignition wiring before and I have tried to improve it. When trying to crank it, I could feel the wires warming up, suggesting a short circuit or loose connection.

Also, my screen washers and LED strip had stopped working, so time to dig into some wires. I took off the dash and a wire dropped out - so that explained the washer motor not working. I've recently added 2 new wires in here; one from the oil pressure sensor and the other a live feed to my DRLs. These wires were simply run from point A to point B so I couldn't actually take the dash all the way off. So, time to sort that out - cut the wires and made up a plug so that, in future, I could just unplug the wires.

I've decided the best way to do plugs is to use these things:

Unlike the other crimp type, these get a much better grip on the wires; the rear arms grip the plastic and then the smaller arms at the front grip the bare copper - much firmer than the single metal tube that you have to try crush to grip both plastic and copper at the same time.

I should really have re-done all the plugs I could this way but, to be honest, there are so many it would take me ages. For now, I just re-did the wire for the washer motor that had dropped off, as well as all the new plugs I mentioned earlier.

My LED strip has died (the wiring is, amazingly, fine) but fortunately, it came as a pack of two (for about £3) and the other one works, so swapped them over.

On the main ignition wires, I think my problem was I had tried to fit 4 (!) neutral wires into one crimped plug! What was I thinking...?! As soon as I pulled the insulation tape off, these wires dropped out the plug!

I couldn't find any ready-made plug-like thing that could make 4 wires into one, so I did it the manual way; 2 wires into a butt connector, repeat for the other 2 and then merge those 2 wires into another butt connector and finally we have one wire into the ignition plug, instead of 4 - like this:

(I could take a photo but you can't really tell what's happening with that).

I don't know if this is an an acceptable method but, once all connected up, Zedster started up immediately, so it seems to be working (for now).

I've left the dash unbolted as I'm hoping to get my new speedo this week, so it will all have to come out again to install that.