Exhausted, completely knackered

After all the faffing around with the exhaust I put the old exhaust system back on again, feeling bad that that wasted a set of header seals which are some alarming price. Like that I could get the car ready to go to Silverstone. This was the annual club August bank holiday weekend meeting where all the formulae get a race, meaning that everyone gets just one race.

The weather was pretty awful in the week before the race, but as it got later in the week the forecast for the Saturday, when our race was, improved. On the Friday the weather was dreadful, absolutely pissing down and I was glad that I hadn’t booked a test session. When we got to Silverstone, after spending hours stuck in traffic jams in torrential rain, we were met by the news that Steve Malyon, one of this year’s new RGBers, was in hospital. He’d lost it on the Wellington straight, gone straight over the tarmac run-off which used to be a gravel trap before the GP boys complained, and hit the wall sideways. His seat had broken up with the upshot that he had whiplash and the medics were worried about the blood in his urine. (Latest news is that he’s going to be fine, although will miss a few races no doubt.)

So that was a bit unfortunate. But, paddock life goes on and we spent a nice evening celebrating Paul and Della’s 25th wedding anniversary in the paddock.

Come race day and the weather looked, as promised, good. Mind you, the weather bods were talking about the possibility of a shower later. What’s more, the track was soaking after the rain overnight. However, with luck it would be dryish for our practice. I was a bit concerned as I’d never really driven the J15 in anger in the wet.

Hmm, and I seemed to have very little grip. I obviously need more work on what to do when it’s wet. Actually, it’s becoming increasingly clear that I really need a lot more seat time in this car. Really, I shouldn’t be faffing around the engine. Oh well.

As it turned out I was 12th on the grid, 7th in class. With luck, though, the track would dry and I’d be able to be balls-out in the race itself.

And, indeed, the sun came out, the track dried and 5 minutes before they called our race it threw it down. So, I rushed to change a few things but, perhaps fatefully I think, elected to try putting the ARBs on full soft rather than disconnecting them.

In the assembly area it actually stopped raining but by now, of course, the track was absolutely soaked. On the green flag lap it was clear that it was very slippy. I was actually quite looking forward to this then, it’s interesting what can be achieved in such situations. I made a decent start and even passed Mat on the Wellington straight. At Luffield I headed for the outside where the grip usually is in the wet only to discover that the Silverstone relaid track has obviously ruined that and I ended up in the gravel trap! Rats, I hadn’t even managed a full lap…

Back home and after clearing out some of the gravel, although there’s still some there. I decided to get stuck into this exhaust. So, I took off all the bodywork, again, put the car up on stands, again, took off the old exhaust, again, and started cutting, measuring, tacking and generally faffing around until I had what’s in the photo on the right.

This though, as you can see if you look hard, is only tacked together. I now had to weld it. I’ve wanted one for a while so, in anticipation I’d bought myself a cheapish TIG set suitable for welding stainless without getting the sort of porous welds that would be a certainly if I MIGged it. I practiced lots and lots and lots until I was getting better at it and then set off to weld all those joints. That took ages but I eventually ended up with the collection of bits shown here. (And a silencer which I seem to have neglected to take a photo of.)

With that all done, and spending ages making sure all the joints were actually sealed up (which involved lots of water) I put the whole system on the car as in the next photo which is much the same as the first photo albeit from a different angle. If you look hard at the bottom right of this photo you can see the lambda bung that I also welded in.

With that done I’ve re-wrapped the exhaust and first tests show that it isn’t actually leaking and does reduce the noise output, at least to a certain extent.

Of course, what I really need to do now is to get the car mapped again. Problem is, there’s very little time. I must admit that I’m giving serious thought to skipping a race meeting to make a little more time. Especially because it’d be nice to get the car on an even keel before giving myself more work to do by racing it.

Final word, if you’re reading this roughly after I wrote it. Andy Bates, of AB Performance fame, made an appearance on Dragon’s Den on the Beeb last night. What’s more, he got some money out of them. He looked cleaner than I’ve ever seen him, but then usually he’s covered in oil… Well done Andy!

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