Well, I’ve been getting the car ready for the 2012 hill climb season which I had hoped would have started by now. This has proved more challenging than in previous years as we are planning to do a bit of touring in France as well as some hillclimbs, both over there and in the UK. Its only when you contemplate touring in what has become a bespoke competition car that you start to realise how uncomfortable this could be.
For a start I’ve refitted the windscreen in place of the aeroscreen as driving public roads like this is plain madness. Wearing a crash helmet would be a minimum and I don’t think I would be able to persuade my wife to wear one. Another problem is the full roll cage which makes the car a sod to get in and out of and precludes the use of any form of wet weather gear. We’ve toured before without a hood and it wasn’t at all nice – okay when you’re moving, but stuck in traffic…………..! I’m reasonably happy to compete at Saint Goueno with the FIA rollover bar fitted, so that should make it a bit easier, and the weather gear will fit over it. Mind you, it takes so long to fit its often stopped raining by the time its on. Best thing is usually to stop and sit it out under a brolly until it stops!
Then there is the gearbox noise. Fabulous gearbox with excellent ratios, even though first is a bit long at 2.04:1. But it is incredibly noisy until you get into fourth due to the straight-cut gears. We do wear intercom headsets so we can communicate without screaming at each other and can hear the TomTom instructions, but even so the noise can get pretty wearing after a while. I do have plans to build a new gearbox with helical-cut gears and have procured a standard Ford Type 9 box for modification. SPC offer a helical gear set which have reasonable ratios but they’re currently out of stock. If they get some in by early May I’ll see whether there’s time to build and test and get it installed before we’re due to set off on May 23rd.
Other projects have included some electronics to detect the selected gear from the position of the gearstick, to work with the MBE ECU traction and launch control software. I’ve built a couple of working prototypes that show promise but haven’t had time to test them for real yet. I’ve also built an electronic indicator controller which, instead of the usual two-way and central-off toggle switch on the dash, uses a couple of steering wheel mounted buttons. The electronics causes the flashers to time-out after 20 seconds if you haven’t already cancelled them by pressing either button. I’ve also added a self-cancelling device which kills them after you’ve turned the wheel past a certain point and back again. Seems to work rather well but needs road testing to ensure that the wheel angle sensor is optimised for cancelling angle. The circuitry is discrete ICs and would be done better (and has been) using a programmable microcontroller but this is a bit beyond my competence at the moment so I’ll stick to what I know will work for the time being.
But before we do much more the car has to be MoT’d so I’m trying to spot a dry day in the next week or so when I can get to the MoT station in the dry.