Sunday, 8 November 2009

Engine Starting - the full story

I couldn't resist posting something last Sunday immediately after I got the engine started. Here is the full story...

With Mike up for the weekend and taking his full guidance we went through starting step by step.

First we connected up all the electrics apart from control wire to the starter motor. This included removing the aftermarket immobilizer that had been fitted to the Mazda. I didn't want starting problems caused by a faulty immobilizer!

We removed the HT leads from the plugs. Some water had got into the holes where the plugs go so we spent some time cleaning it all out with bits of rag around the end of screwdrivers. We had a problem trying to remove the spark plugs. The socket in my socket set was too large! It seems technology has moved on since I got my socket set in the late '80s; newer spark plugs have a smaller diameter. I popped round to a neighbour’s to borrow his. Mike was a bit embarrassed that he hadn’t thought to check the plugs as soon as we got the engine into the garage (i.e., about 18 months ago). Fortunately all that water hadn’t caused any corrosion, and the plugs came out easily.

With the spark plugs removed we connected the battery and turned the key to the position that turns on the ignition. The "Not Charging" light came on and we could hear the fuel pump running.

Next stage was to disconnect the rear loom connector (so the fuel pump wouldn't keep running) and connect the start motor control connection. We turned the key all the way round to the position to start the engine. This time the engine turned over. We only did this for a moment, as we realised the plug leads weren’t connected to anything, and it’s not a good idea to run the ignition system like this.

Stage 3 was to connect the spark plugs and earth them, with them lined up on the top of the engine:

We turned the engine over, and this time got a nice set of flashing lights from the spark plugs (and it's not even Christmas!).

We re-connected the rear loom and the starter motor and put a couple of litres of fuel in the fuel tank. We turned the ignition on, and this time the fuel pump ran briefly. Then we turned the engine over until the oil pressure warning light went out. We wondered if the fuel was feeding correctly, and then realised that we could smell the fuel vapour from the spark plug holes. So that was obviously working OK!

Final stage. We put new spark plugs in and re-connected the HT leads. Moment of truth, we tried the key and the engine fired 1st time. A cloud of black smoke was emitted from the exhaust, although less than I'd expected. The idle was a little low so it stalled after a few seconds. We tried again, revving a few time and ran it for a short time before turning off. It sounded really good. It was raining outside and the garage was getting full of fumes so we left it there.

I was amazed that after 18 months, a change of chassis and all my messing around with wiring it started at all, let alone at the first attempt.

Expansion tank

The expansion tank has 2 connections on it. The main connection at the bottom and a side smaller connection on the top side:

The main connection attaches to an adaptor then to a long "L" shaped piece of pipework supplied in the completion kit. I was confused about exactly where is should route but I found these 2 pictures in the pictures from Westfield's own build:

I could see they had a slight bend on the lower section that I didn't. Initially I'd thought it had to going to the round the carbon canister bracket but after seeing these pictures I realised it didn't. After a bit of bending:

I was able to make it fit.

There was also the matter of the top small connector on the expansion tank and the top connector on the radiator. There was some debate on various forums about if they need to be connected or blanked off. The general consensus was they needed to be connected but I discussed with Simon and Mark while I was at Westfield. The result was confirmation it does need to be connected but they don't provide anything. I got a couple of meters of 8mm fuel pipe off eBay. The only problem is there isn't a lot of spare room inside the nose for clearance. There wasn't a clear picture from Westfield's own build picture but here is the closest they had.

You can just see the small 8mm pipe from the top of the radiator and it has been cable tied to the larger coolant pipe:

and on this one you can just see the pipe looping off the top of the radiator:

Mine looks a bit more messy due to all the wiring.
You can see the pipe from the top of the expansion tank and the L shaped pipe running along the edge of the aluminum panel:

here is a close up of the tank, you can see the adaptor:

and here is the connection off the top of the radiator:

Exhaust - 2nd fitting

I had a problem with the exhaust that it was about 25mm out at the rear mounting (see post "Exhaust - trial fitting" dated 22nd September). I took the connecting section with me to Westfield when I was going for the bodywork and asked them if they could do anything with it. They bolted it to a wall, heated it up and bent it round a little.

Back on the car Mike had a go at re-fitting. At first it seemed to still be out but by wriggling it up and down he was able to get it to match up exactly. Now I'm not sure if they actually did anything at Westfield or if by rotating the various parts you can get it to line up.

The front section (you can just see the darker area where they heated it up):

the whole exhaust:

and the rear mounting, now the rubber bush isn't bent:

It had to come off again after trying the engine for the bodywork fitting.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Steering column

I fitted the newly welded mid-section and it was perfect. I had to slightly widen the standard hole they specify in the manual. I re-used the boot that came off the Mazda steering column. Here are a couple of pictures with the hole widened and the bolt holes drilled for the boot (with masking tape):

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Friday, 30 October 2009

Bodywork collection

Martin picked me up at 6:30 and off we went to Westfield. We'd collected the trailer the night before so it was straight down the M6 and arrived in Kingswinsford just before 8:30.

First stop was the Beefeater just round the corner from the Westfield factory:

for the all you can eat breakfast for £7.95. (All low calorie of course.)

Arrived at the factory just after 9am. The bodywork hadn't been delivered (they make/store it at a separate factory a short drive away) so that gave me chance to drop in to see Gavin in Parts (and give him a box of biscuits - you never know when you need a friend in Parts) and spend some time with Simon & Mark in technical (another box of biscuits) to talk over a few items I wasn't sure about. I'd taken a USB stick with me so Simon copied all the pictures they took during their build as well as the latest version of the manual.

The bodywork had arrived so loaded the main tub on the trailer and all the other parts (bonnet, scuttle, fillet, nose and arches) into the back of Martin's cars (wrapped in large quantities of blankets and bubble wrap.

Off we went back home, stopping off at Congleton Propshafts on the way to collect the modified steering column mid-section.

And here are all the parts safely back home:
The 8'x 5' trailer was okay for the relatively short (~80 miles) I had to travel but I wouldn't have liked to go a long way. Even with the wooden cross struts, the tub is very flexible and I was very pleased to get home.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Steering column

More steering column problems...

The upper part is taken from the Mazda. Previously I've posted some comments about the fact the mounting bracket was welded in the wrong place so Westfield had to fabricate a new bracket for me. Then neither of the U bolts they provided fitted to my satisfaction so I ended up fabricating a new U bar to hold it in place.

The lower section that connects to the steering rack is a new Westfield part. There is a bracket that holds it in place. You can just see the top of the bracket here (it's temporarily G clamped in place):

The mid section is taken from the Mazda then modified. The existing UJ is removed and a new one welded on. This was done for me by Westfield when I collected the completion kit.

It was too short by about 20mm. I wondered if the Mazda column was telescopic and could be pulled out but this was not the case. I also checked to see if the column had "collapsed". There are a couple of plastic white o[pins in the mountings that break off if in a crash to allow the column to collapse but these were still intact.

My options were to send back to Westfield for modification (which they said they would do) or get done locally. I had an extra UJ in the completion kit so after some thought I rang Westfield and asked if they could send me just the spline end section. By replacing the UJ by a spline and using the double ended UJ I could make it fit and it had the bonus that I could feed the mid-section through the hole in the panel without having to enlarge (the hole the manual tells you to cut is too small to fit the UJs through) and I could re-use the Mazda boot to cover the hole.

Here are all the parts. On the left is the lower section that connects to the rack. On the upper right is the double ended UJ and the short splined section sent to me by Westfield. Below on the right is the modified mid-section that is too short:

and a close up of the UJs:

I rang Congleton Propshafts who had shortened the propshaft the 2nd time around and they said they could do it. So off I went to Congleton.

Battery & battery tray

I had to decide what battery to get and so what system to use for the battery tray. The battery that had come with the MX-5 had been commandeered by my father-in-law for his caravan motor mover (I think that was a fair price for dismantling the MX-5 on his driveway over several months!)

The kit comes with a long thin aluminium tray for the battery supplied from Westfield:

Here are all the components for the battery tray that come out of the MX-5:

and here is how they fit together (with help from my James Bond DVD collection). The far side hook clips onto a slot in the bodywork on the side of the MX-5. I used the "L" shaped bracket from the picture above to hold it in place. It's "real" use is to hold the tray in place:

I took both trays down to the local Halfords and checked out the batteries available.
The "official" replacement battery for my MX-5 NA model was a 400 Amp battery. They recommended a 360 Amp battery for the NB 1.6 models which was £10 cheaper. The only battery I could find to fit the Westfield tray was 265 Amp which I felt was too low.

So I settled for the 360 Amp battery and using the MX-5 tray.

Diff bolt tightening

Getting at the diff mounting bolts was quite tricky. In most cases I couldn't get access with the torque wrench so I had to use ring/open spanners and judgement for the torque. I tested how tight they should have been on one of the other suspension bolts I'd been able to do with the torque wrench so I had a good idea how much to tighten up.

The 2 vertical bolts were east to get at with ring spanners from the tunnel side:

underneath the rear one was accessible with the socket set, the front one I use another ring spanner. You can also see the bottom horizontal bolt:

The top horizontal bolt:

Front suspension bolt tightening

Tightened up all the chassis end bolts for the front suspension. Front bottom:

back top and bottom:

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

A collegue starts building...

A colleague from work has just started his build of a Westfield. He's gone for a complete new kit:
- SEIW Sport
- 2.0 litre Zetec with Throttle body upgrade (~170bhp)
- FW Bodywork front and rear

You can see the progress here.

I sold him my chassis stands and lent him the pipe bender.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Fuel tank earth strap

Part of the new IVA regulations say that you must have the fuel tank earthed. I believe the new tanks that Westfield send out have an earth connection but mine being just pre-IVA didn't. The solution I used was to attach an earthing strap to the fuel outlet. The strap is the type used to earth household water pipes and I picked mine up from the local hardware shop:

Rear suspension bolt tightening

All through the build manual it says not to tighten up the bolts as these will be done during set-up stage. This makes perfeect sense as I've lost count of the number of times I've had to take something off to get at something else. Having said that with the body coming in a couple of weeks and most things on the chassis, I decided it was the time to torque up some of the bolts. I did all the ones on the chassis end of the suspension. These would be difficult (impossible in some cases) to get to after the body was on. Also, they are not involved with the set-up.

The 3 bolts that hold the upper diff bracket & upper wishbones:

The 2 bolts on the inside of the lower wishbones:

Air filter ducting

Westfield don't provide anything to connect the air filter to the plenum pipe so I got some ducting from Euroaspares:

I measured the diameter of the air filter outlet at 70mm so I got the 69mm dia ducting. I might have been better going for the 76mm as it went on but only after a struggle. The plenum chamber inlet is slightly smaller. I originally intended cutting off the end of the rubber connecting pipe as a spacer (although oval it's circumference looked to be the same as the air flow outlet) but with the ducting being on the small side I couldn't get it to fit.

Instead I wrapped tape to increase the diameter. I re-used the same clamps to fit it as used on the MX-5.

Here it is in place, although I might make it a bit shorter:

Monday, 5 October 2009

Engine oil

Changed the oil filter:

Replaced the washer and torqued the sump plug (which is easy to get at):

Transmission oil

Filling the transmission wasn't as easy as the diff. The drain plug was easy to get at (being at the bottom!). I replaced the washer and torqued up.

The fill plug is slightly difficult to get to. As the car was on the floor I tried from the front. I removed a bracket I'd meant to take off earlier (can't remember what it was for on the MX-5 but I remember at the time thinking it woudn't be needed on the Westfield):

Even without the bracket you can't really get at the plug:

So I resorted to putting the car on the axle stands and attacking from below. Even so you can't get a socket on as there's not enough gap between the transmission and the panel of the footwell.

My tip of the day is slacken off the plug while the engine is out of the car! It was really tight. I resorted to hitting the end of a spanner with a lump hammer to get off. Once off it looked like some tape or threadlock had been used to fix it in place.

Diff oil

Filling the diff wasn't too difficult as there is easy access to both the drain and fill plugs. I replaced the washer on the drain plug.

The fill plug is clearly visible. The edge of the drain plug is just visible at the bottom of the diff:


Time to start filling up the car with various fluids. I got onto and order a job lot including the various bits need for servicing:

I also popped into my local Machine Mart and picked up an oil filling/extraction pump. The diff and transmission fill points are in difficult places to get to. I could have used a funnel with pipe but I didn't have one and I wasn't sure if I could get to the transmission from above so it might not have been possible to use a funnel.

Bodywork ordered

Phoned Westfield and ordered the bodywork. For some totally known reason that is only clear to Westfield themselves, the bodywork is actually part of the starter kit but they recommend you don't collect it until you need it unless you have a good place to store it (which I don't).

A couple of days later I got the confirmation letter through saying it will be ready between the 28th and 30th Oct (about 5 weeks lead time).

I'll need to sort out a trailer so I can pick it up.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Exhaust - trial fitting

Tried the exhaust. It was about 25mm off at the rear end. I was able to pull it round but there is more strain on the rubber bushing than I'd like. I'll either have to make a longer spacer bracket at the rear or try to end the joining pipe from the exhaust manifold to the stock exhaust.