2019 ended as a bit of a damp squib, whatever that is, and hence we were looking forward to 2020. As everyone knows by now, that turned out to be a very bad idea. I think there’s a good chance the most of 2021 will go the same way as well, especially for those of us that are now marooned in Tier 4. (Hopefully that expression won’t mean much in a few year’s time.)
As you can probably tell, I wrote that a while ago and we’re now in the depths of the mysterious catacombs of lockdown#3. However, there is a glimmer of light in that lots of vaccinations are happening, some of them administered by me!, and perhaps as we get into the summer things will look better.
Racing did happen in 2020 but for various reasons, mostly connected with being a more mature member of the racing paddock, I decided to give the year a miss. I did decide, though, to do something I’ve been meaning to do for a while and do some major work on the car. Specifically, I’ve been aware for a while that the bodywork is just too big. I did think about various cut and shut attempts but eventually decided to just get stuck in and make a new buck and so on. That is, it’s back to what I did about 7 years ago. It was also a really stupid idea. I’ve put untold hours into the car and I strongly suspect it’s not going to make too much difference. Hopefully, when I get the car on the ground (it’s parked on stands at the moment) I’ll realise that it does actually look smaller.
I adopted a similar approach to last time, and a similar overall design. I just tried to get the thing to sit down and tighter onto the chassis. In an ideal world, I’d also redesign the chassis but I didn’t feel like doing that as well. Perhaps in retrospect I should have done.
To give you a bit of an idea, here’s the buck back in January 2020. That seems an age ago now. Because the bodywork is tighter on the chassis than the old one I had to include various bulges to avoid thumping into the suspension as you can possibly see.
Making a buck is hard work and making moulds from it is also time consuming and, at times, exhausting. (The moulds are really heavy.) Next, of course, I had to made some bodywork. I actually made two complete sets; one of GRP and one of CFRP. You pretty much have to make the earlier glass one so as to make the moulds for the ends of the various panels. One thing that’s quite pleasing is that whereas there are actually 9 separate parts to the older bodywork (not including the spoiler) there are only 4 for the new bodywork. This is mainly because I don’t have the separate removable panels in the front and rear and I managed to make the sides and the tops in a single piece for each side.
Here’s one of the early GRP mouldings, immediately after coming out of the mould which is why it looks a bit odd:
The new bodywork is much tighter on the chassis than the old. One issue here was the exhaust system. The tail pipe on the old version went over the rear suspension as in the next photo.
This was fine with the old bodywork but would now go straight through the new bodywork which is much closer to the suspension. You can see this in the photo above; that weird bulge is to clear the rear pushrod which would otherwise, also, have to go above the bodywork.
I spent some time looking at this and eventually decided that I needed to thread the exhaust essentially through the suspension. I did try to find a way of fitting the silencer in with the exhaust exiting on the side but it just wasn’t possible, without making lots of changes to the exhaust headers, to fit in a decent sized silencer.
To cut a long story short I eventually bought various silencer components from Merlin and welded up a new system as in the photo below.
As you can perhaps tell in that photo, the tail pipe doesn’t actually go anywhere yet. I did subsequently exit it through the floor but now I’ve put the car on the floor I don’t think there’s enough ground clearance. I think I’ll have to carry on threading it through the suspension and out the rear of the car.
And, somewhat later, that’s exactly what I did as here:
I spent some time wondering what colour the new car should be. At one point I thought it was going to be stealthy black (hence the black GRP above) but eventually decided that all my cars had been red or yellow so I was going to stick it it. After buying a quantity of red paint, I’ve learnt my lesson about vinyl wrapping as in don’t, and set about squirting lots of it about the garage having first sequestered the car itself on the drive.
Eventually, it looked like this, or at least it did after I’d put the bodywork back on the car and refitted a zillion catches. You can see the bulge in the front bodywork necessitated by the front suspension and also the lump in front of the driver so I don’t have to have such an ugly windscreen.
I actually bought some yellow vinyl with the intention of adding stylish yellow bits. However, I eventually decided that I like it like this. Mind you, as soon as it’s been pebble dashed on a race circuit then I might change my mind. Subsequent to that photo, I’ve added the race numbers and refitted the tonneau which is my way of avoiding the worst of the crap that appears when using an open trailer. I do keep wondering about getting a cover for my trailer. Problem is, it’d look even more horrible parked in front of the house than it does at the moment.
Here it is with the numbers and the tonneau. Note that the car looks little odd here because it’s actually sitting on chassis stands so the wheels are drooping to their maximum extent.
As I had loads of time before racing could start, or I could go out of the house, I finally got around to refitting the rear inner wheelarches I made a while ago. This involved a lot of cutting and shutting as the new bodywork is a lot lower.
Finally, at least for now, I could finally fit the new seat harness I needed. New because the previous one is now time expired. (Anyone like to comment on the fact that race harnesses expire after a few years and road car harnesses, made in exactly the same manner and which get much more use, merely have to be inspected for wear at MOT time?)
I had to wait ages to get the new harnesses because it’s a German product and some utter idiots decided to separate the UK from its major trading partners in order, I guess, to impoverish me and my children.
Now we’re down to waiting to see if and when racing can start. After all this work I’ll need to do some serious testing. I hope there’s time, and a place, to do that. Before that, though, I’m going to spend a while checking over all the race spares and then doing a complete bolt check which will take ages as it always does.