It’s been at the back of my mind to update my blog. Almost 7 months have passed. I was aware of the lapse but it was intentional. I decided to get my head down and just get the car done without stopping for pictures. A fair amount has happened in that time as I raced to try and get the car on the road before winter set in. It was a partial success. I did drive the car on the road in November. Winter usually kicks in around December and dumps snow. This means snow tyres are mandatory and I don’t have the funds for a second set of tyres. The interior was completed except for the header trim and everything prepared for the road worthiness test. I booked the car in for a dyno session to get the engine properly set up. I had temporary plates to be legal as the drive would be a 20km journey through commuting traffic. I wanted to get up very early to avoid congestion should the car disgrace itself on the way. i had no intention of being the subject of an early morning traffic radio report on the local stations. I drove to the petrol station the night before and filled up and prepared for an early start. At 4:30am I got up and by 5:00 I was ready to set off. I jumped in turned the key and nothing. It just turned and turned with no firing. Lots of popping and banging. I bet the neighbours loved that. I struggled for 6 hours with no success. In the end I admitted defeat and called the engine builder in the uk. He suggested it was running to rich and told me to disconnect the water temperature sensor and trick into thinking it was already warm. I did so and it fired off the button. I was so angry and elated at the same time. Off I went for the first drive!! At least I had succeeded in avoiding the traffic. It drove superbly. The engine was relatively smooth but I was taking it easy. The steering and suspension really are as good as any modern car which surprised me. Bear in mind I had never actually driven the car in the 9 years I’ve owned it. My “eye balled” steering adjustment was spot on. Well it felt spot on. It drives dead straight and feels good. I will get it done professionally soon. The electrics were a disaster though. The turn signals gave up half way there, the driver window blew a fuse in the down position, the speedo stopped from the outset, the temperature gauge gave up and the fuel gauge was reading back to front. Some work to do there. Luckily the weather was unusually mild so the window wasn’t an issue and the stereo had navigation with a speedo so I could tell how fast I was going. I got to the rolling road and with luck there was no afternoon bookings so the session went ahead. I arrived with around 140bhp and left a happy man with 210bhp and still some more to come. I have a standard filter in and the engine still needs to be run in properly. I will return for a second session and some more fine tuning. The tuner reckons 220bhp might be possible. I’m very happy with that. The return journey was trouble free apart from the electrical gremlins and the car felt a lot more eager to get down the road. It’s not mega fast (my daily has 325bhp) but it’s feels light and very willing. I don’t need this car to be the fastest car on the road. Just to keep up with GTIs and the likes. From that stand point it’s job done.
Over Christmas I got some time to start fixing the gremlins and for the last two weeks I ripped out the fuse box and replaced it with another new one. I did a bad job of fitting a new box and to be fair my knowledge was somewhat lacking. I have learned a lot in the interim and discovered many mistakes and found a few broken components. The electrics are all reliably working now except the water gauge which requires a new sender unit. There are two temperature sensors now, one for the ecu and one for the gauge. At least I know the water temperature is fine with the laptop plugged in. I will call the test centre next week to book a date for the test and hopefully this time it will be finally on the road. The finish line is virtually under my nose.
What’s still to do. Well not much. There’s an oil leak that needs attention, the alternator belt is too long and the suspension sits way too high. I’m not sure why but if it doesn’t settle then I will get some shorter springs. It looks ready to wade across a large lake never mind a flooded road. The summer is looking set, finally for some driving fun.
A couple of things done today. Finally fitted the pesky fuel breather hoses after ordering the wrong clamps twice. I found some smaller diameter hose also to neaten things up.
I fitted the bulkhead to chassis bolts a few weeks ago but was very dissatisfied with the outcome. The bolts were sitting at an angle and I had read somewhere that they loosen after a while as the wood on the bulkhead compresses. It seems this is an issue associated with the later Stevens Esprit but I added spacers as the set up is very similar. Some spacers ordered from eBay happened to be exactly the size I needed. Nice to get it right first time after the hose clamp debacle.
The engine bay parts are all painted and heat reflective material added. I’ve no idea if it is worth it or not but I had a load left over and ran out of black paint!! Fate seemed to determine that outcome and it did a very nice job I think.
The cooling fans are now wired up and connected to the ecu (I hope anyway-wiring is really not my forte)
Lastly the front spoiler is on. It makes a big difference to the front of the car. It’s starting to look complete now. Even after 8 years I remember the seized and snapped bolts that came off when removing the spoiler. I fitted some nice stainless rivnuts and stainless fittings this time. Hopefully I don’t need to remove anything again but the piece of mind is worth it.
Next job, refit the cam belt finally and see if it fires up!! I’m sure I’ve said this a few times already. I feel some head scratching coming up soon. Even though I have had the motor running, it was a while ago. Let’s see….
Sorry, no pics this time. I had to write this little entry for potentially others with oil pressure issues. My engine has been motionless for about 3 years and I know that priming the engine before firing it up again is the wise thing to do. With the cam belt disconnected and a nut welded to an old distributor (kindly sent to me from Mike at Lotusbits-mine is a distributorless system normally) I got my trusty Bosch drill out and attached a socket and adapter to it. I spun it up and low and behold, nothing. Not a single psi of pressure. Not to panic. I changed only one thing which was the pressure gauge and the housing that the fitting for the gauge goes into. I swapped my new electrical gauge back to the mechanical one including the housing as I knew it all worked albeit with a few minor leaks. Still nothing. It’s late in the workshop and my drill has been spinning dutifully but with a fair bit of noise and a little bit of smoke I might add. It’s struggling I have to say and in need of a rest. Much like myself but without the smoke! Smoking ain’t cool remember kids!! Anyway after that little public announcement, I set 22:30 as the limit so as not to really annoy the neighbours. Having read a thread on the lotus forums, a light bulb moment came to me. The thread mentioned drawing in air. I removed the old distributor I was using to spin the oil pump and checked the seal. It was so old that it actually broke into numerous pieces when it fell to the floor upon removal. Bear in mind it’s supposed to be flexible rubber!! New seal in place and I spun it up again. This time I got about 10psi!! Progress!! But way short of the 50psi on a healthy engine. It’s 22:35 at this point and so I gave up for the night as I was out of ideas. Now I know these engine are a little stubborn when it comes to building pressure but this is definitely not stubbornness. Clearly there is an issue. Light bulb moment number 2 came to me just before counting the sheep. I checked YouTube for a running Esprit engine and time for another palm to face moment. The video showed the motor running in an anti-clockwise direction. I was spinning the pump in the wrong direction. Idiot. It’s too late to go and have another go. I’m tired, the neighbours curtains are twitching and the wife would not be pleased I’m sure. At least I am hopeful again and with that I can get a decent nights sleep. Back to it tomorrow when the trusty drill will be well rested. It will need to be because it will doing some more warp factor 9 but in reverse this time!! Beam me up Scotty. It’s time to count those sheep…..zzzzzz
Edit: small update. Proper tool for the drill has arrived, been fitted and the pump spun up in the correct direction. Exactly 50psi showing on the gauge. Relief, palm withdrawn from face and finally an early night…. zzzzzz again
I wish I had loads to say about how the car is almost done but it would be a big fat lie. The truth is, work and family have consumed all my spare time and any motivation when the time is available. In short, I’m constantly knackered and the little free time I get I want to devote to the kids. Which is not nearly enough as it is!! Ok, excuses out of the way. I have done some bits and bobs. The interior is complete. I’m happier with it now although I let the standards slip on the seats. Too many creases but they are more than fine. I just want to drive the car!! I got new wheels and went through the process of re-drilling the rear hubs and ordered a new set of alloy hubs from Lotusbits. The rears were easy and my good friend Nick came up trumps again and had a close friend of his drill them “properly” on a lathe. I had a go myself with my cheap press drill but they were not straight by any means. Luckily I was drilling them for m12 bolts and I then switched to press in studs which required a 14mm hole. Any misalignment was removed with he bigger hole on the lathe! Phew!! The fronts have still not arrived though. I ordered them sometime last century it seems. Not that I’m in a hurry so i haven’t pressed them for a delivery date.
The fuel system is complete. I think in my last post I talked about driving the car out. Well the fuel hoses were another debacle of my own making. I ordered all the parts, assembled most of it, realised there was something not quite right called Lotusbits for advice (their stuff takes a while to arrive but Mike is always on hand to answer technical questions. I can’t fault him there). Mike reminded me that i was trying to fit rubber hoses and he had recommended PTFE hoses. Hand, face, slap. Oops. It was so long ago that I had that conversation that it had totally slipped my mind. Fuel hoses attempt number two. A theme running here. Ahem. Anyway, correct fittings and hoses ordered, arrived and mostly fitted. Some wires for the ecu to connect and the all important flammable liquid to add and it should be driving out of the garage under its own steam.
I have added a new tool to my workshop in the way of a 3D printer. So far I have made some spacers for the rear bumper from ABS and one Centre cap for the new rims. All in all I am very impressed with the performance considering the paltry 250€ that I paid for it. I saw recently on a Facebook page regarding my fiesta that someone had described a part they had for sale as “not cheap Chinese rubbish”. I work for a Chinese car manufacturer and the printer is Chinese. I can say that those days are long in the past. Cheap yes, rubbish, most definitely not. As I said, I made some spacers for the rear bumper. I converted the bumpers from S3 to S2 bumpers. The fronts were straightforward it the rear was a pig. All the mounting holes were in the wrong place and the rear valance I have just discovered is different. Mine is painted to match the car. Another palm to face slapping moment. I will need a new valance and will have to have it painted again. Where will it ever end!! Onwards…… again….