AuthorJosh

ManDoCar: Episode #1

I couldn’t bring myself to write a full article on how the car is getting on, so I decided to do something a little different: a podcast! Enjoy. All the relevant pictures are below as well as dingy chat!

We discuss painting, IVA preparation, driving at Snetterton, engineering learning, SpaceX hydraulic systems, faulty brake callipers, peak performance, why limited slip differentials rock, the Hoonigan donk, exhaust wrap, and lastly, engineering in a pandemic.

Dingy Chat

Pantone 333c Colour Chip

The Locost

New steering rack mount. Major surgery!
The chassis finally in a state to clean and paint. Spring 2020
Chassis all cleaned up and steering rack back in
Steering joint over the 10 degrees required for IVA
A very clean and red engine block
ARP Main Studs. Lovely.
Plastigauging a main cap
One of the old big end bearings. Not nice at all. These were new not long ago.
Inside of the drp sump pan.
New seat padding by JK Composites.
Bottom end back in the car.
The entirely wrong brake calliper slides …
… this is what they should look like
A freshly rebuilt and cleaned diff. Kaaz Limited Slip inside!
Auxiliary belt idler. Makes the engine much quieter.
Front lights! Looking great
Oil on plug #1. Not fouling, but not great. Need to do a proper break-in before any concern.
Hello!

Locost: A long due update

I have five unfinished articles sat in my inbox. Half technical, half updates. But I haven’t been able to bring myself to finish any of them. Free time to write is hard to come by these days, and I am very picky about what I choose to publish. However, it has been far too long without an update, and I owe you all some words and pictures. So here goes.

Dyno

This time last year I was gearing up for a trip to the dyno. I was going to get the car tuned and then head over to Castle Combe for a cold/wet trackday to round the year off.

My main motivation for putting the car on the rollers was that it hadn’t been running right. I knew something needing adjusting but I just couldn’t put my finger on it. So I decided to put it in the hands of a professional and get it sorted.

On paper, it went badly. Once loaded up on the dyno the car started coughing and wouldn’t run right. After checking a number of things Steve, the resident car doctor, decided to check the compression; just in case. Low and behold, low compression on cylinders #3 and #4. I was kicking myself for having not checked this moons ago, but I was also happy to have found out why the car wasn’t running right. I loaded her back on the trailer and took her home, happy in the knowledge that I would be able to fix the engine back to full health.

The Locost on the Dyno

Tear Down

I took the top-end off of the engine and checked the head and block for straightness. They were both at the top end of suzuki’s specification, especially between cylinders #3 and #4 (0.05mm), and after much pondering I decided to pull the engine to get both the head and blocked skimmed.

Locost Engine Mid Stripdown

Cylinder Head in need of “reflattening”

You can’t even see the dip, but it is thereWith the engine out and the head off I also thought it would also be a good time to check the bearings. They plasti-gauged fine but the surfaces were ruined. Too many years driving with a terrible sump design.

Given that the engine needed a full rebuild and the car was mostly stripped down during Christmas 2018 I had a lot to think about…

The Road to the Road

The car was the most apart it had been since I had first got it moving back in 2012 (was it really that long ago?!?). With life having changed so much in the last few years, the prospect of doing track-days looks less and less appealing. I want to be able to drive the car more often and share it with others.

I decided it was finally time to take the plunge and turn my little red race car into a road car. This was going to be no trivial task. The rule book (IVA Manual) is substantial and requires a large list of tests to be passed for the car to be road registered.

Worst book ever.

I knew there were a number of things that were going to need to be changed and a number of pieces of damaged structure and aesthetic that were going to have to be fixed. But, I am a stubborn old (youngish) fool who is always up for a big project.

I printed out a physical copy of the IVA Manual and marked down every element that needed to be changed, checked or installed. The to-do list is incredibly long, and it doesn’t even cover all the improvements I want to do to the car while it is stripped down. I knew it was going to take well over a year, maybe even two, to complete. But again: I am stubborn fool.

An example of some chassis damage. This rear floor was a moisture trap! Now replaced with a bolt on piece that is easy to clean.

Re-wiring

In my own opinion the original wiring loom was terrible. I continue to point out to people that I was learning to build a car while building this car; it shows. Knowing that I was going to have to install front and rear lights I decided that this was a good time to completely re-wire. All the old loom was stripped out, the old mountings cut out and an entirely blank canvas of aluminium  sheet mounted under the scuttle to attach things too.

New Under Dash

This also ticked off a number of IVA requirements. The loom cannot be accessible under the dash for “radius” reasons, so panelling in underneath was a good idea. It also looks nicer.

In all I managed to entirely re-wire the engine, wire in all the lights (including side repeaters etc) and make use of a set of Ford Puma driver controls including steering lock. I am very happy with the final result. Sadly I have no up to date pictures! These will have to suffice.

The old loom. Oh dear. And out of focus as well.

New fusebox and under dash routing

One from the archives. Shows how much neater the wiring is now!

Lights

As mentioned, the car was going to need appropriately placed front and rear lights. These needed mounting correctly, so I had to buy new rear arches and fabricate front light mounts.

Front Lights and Indicators

New Rear Lights including Number Plate

3D Printed Light Mounts

And The Rest

I have been squirrelling away completing the rest of the rear loom, re-making fuel lines, cleaning up the tunnel, welding in new loom mounts, creating a custom handbrake system, completely replacing the rear diff mount and, just today, welding in the mounts for the mirrors.

The to-do list is still substantial and honestly I think I have another year to go. It will be the tale end of 2020 before I can think about putting this thing in front of the DVLA.

I still have an engine to rebuild and get running again, but I won’ tackle that until everything is done on the chassis and it is stripped down ready to receive said engine. One thing at a time and it’ll be on the road soon enough!

 

 

3D Printing: Improved Inlet Trumpets

Nothing quite gets the internet clickidy-clicks like a 3D printing article! In the following post I use 3D printing to fix something that wasn’t really broken.

The OLD Design

I have never been happy with the original mountings for the inlet trumpets on the Locost. Its quite common to use silicone hose to align everything within a retro-fit throttle body system and sadly mine was no different. This design can lead to miss-alignment between the trumpets and the throttles, potential shrouding of the inlet path and variations in inlet length; cylinder to cylinder.

This is the kind of stuff that keeps me up at night and it needed to be improved.

The original setup used a nice carbon fiber backing  plate to mount the airfilter too. This was as soft as a chocolate tea pot, and four aluminum trumpets were glued-in with black polyurethane sealant. It never failed, it was light and did its job okay; but it wasn’t perfect.

I wanted a new design that would allow me to interchange different length trumpets, for testing on the dyno, and ensure the trumpets would inline with the inlet tract. So I turned to CAD to see what I could conjure up…

The NEW Design

Engine tuning is highly sensitive to inlet path length (read one of the best articles in the world if you want to know more), and I wanted to ensure that this variable remained static/constant. This being the case, It was important that the aluminium inlet trumpets were held up tight to the throttle bodies and positioned concentrically.

I started by measuring the GSXR throttle bodies that currently sit on the engine and then 3D printed some prototypes. The first design to nail down was the backing plate mounts. These would make the transition from the round throttle bodied to the flat air filter backing plate and essentially hold the whole lot to the engine.

I settled on a design that pushed onto the throttle bodies and over a useful cast-in ridge. This then clamped down with a jubilee clip. As a rule of thumb, jubilee clips aren’t super sexy, but when combined with dark grey plastic parts they can look utilitarian and purposeful.

I did try a version that held on using the friction supplied by an M4 bolts. This was a terrible idea. Plastic parts are not strong in tension and it would simply bend the mount when being tightened down.

The final design looked like this.

From here I had a nice flat surface to work. I carried across the jubilee clip compression-based design over to the trumpet side, as it worked so well on the throttle body side. This also allows quick release of the trumpets for switching to different lengths.

Its hard to see in the following CAD drawing, but the whole lot is sealed together with rubber nitrile o-rings. There is an o-ring between the backing plate and the throttle body mount, and an o-ring between the throttle body mount and the throttle body itself. These are super easy to design in, reusable and reliable.

 

Then is was simply a case of printing out eight the separate parts and cutting out the backing plate. The inner prints took approximately 3hrs each to make and the outer 2hrs each.

As always, hit go and come back later. These were made is standard PLA and, as they are on the cold side of the engine, I have no qualms about it.

The whole lot was finished off with some pretty aluminium mounting bolts for the air filter.

This setup is definitely heavier than the previous, but its far more stout and should allow for some fun experimentation on the dyno.

 

 

 

Locost: Dry Sump, Part 1/2

I have been considering building a dry sump for a long time, in fact, ever since I started building the the car. However they are a fairly complicated piece of kit, and I have therefore shied away from them until now. Fortunately I changed my mind due to the data I collected at Snetterton and having access to a decent Turret Mill at my new job. Lets get into this.

What is a Dry Sump?

Up until now I have run a Wet Sump on the Locost. In a Wet Sump system oil passes down into the oil pan under gravity and is fed back into the oil pump via a static pickup. Under longitudinal and lateral acceleration this pickup can become uncovered, leading to oil starvation and heartbreak.

A Dry Sump deals with this problem by running an extra pump attached to the engine; a Vacuum Pump. This moves oil from the sump pan to an external tank, which is tall and thin, and much less susceptible to oil starvation. An external oil pump, or the original internal pump, is then fed from this tank; supplying oil to the engines bearings and moving parts.

Although I have built a complicated baffled and gated Wet Sump the car still experiences a slow drop off in oil pressure in long right hand corners. I felt it was finally time to take the leap and fix this once and for all with a Dry Sump System.

If you still have no idea what I am on about, my previous post covering the build of my Wet Sump is a good place to start  (link).

What are the Benefits?

  • Depending on the oil tank used, it allows constant cornering at a lateral acceleration of up to 5g.
  • Instead of the crank case being under positive pressure, due to combustion blow by, it can be designed to be under constant vacuum. This helps to…
    • Reduce Windage, increasing engine efficiency at high speeds.
    • Improve the in-cylinder octane level, as less oil passes by the rings into the combustion chamber.

The Build

As a Design Engineer I’m trying to do more… Design, when it comes to the Locost. So instead of jumping straight in and cutting metal on day #1, I drew up what the system was going to look like and got an idea of the layout. Packaging in the Locost is TIGHT, so this wasn’t ever going to be easy.

This is the space I had to work with. The ignition trigger wheel was already there and potentially in the way, and there wasn’t enough room to fit a pump on the passenger side of the bay (the alternator was in the way!) and the pump needed to be positioned to avoid the chassis rail and steering column. Oh, and retain a place for the ignition trigger sensor…
This was my initial design. I already had a Pace CD2000 Pump that I had bought many moons ago for such an occasion and I modified it into a two-stage vacuum pump, with no pressure stage. I then used some calipers to measure and get it into cad. This allowed me put a drive gear on the front of the “engine” (well sump flange and front pulley) and work out the beginnings of the new oil pan.

After many evenings and iterations it looked something like above. I had decided to use silicone hose for the oil routing between the sump and pump, as it gave many more options in terms of packaging. This mean’t I had to run steel tubing out of the pan.

I then finalised the design of the drive-hub and gear. It indexes onto the lower cam-drive and is driven through the five M6 bolts that hold onto the front pulley.

With the component designs sorted I could finally start cutting steel. I had a spare standard sump on one of my engines, so I used that as a donor flange. When I built the baffled sump I made my own flange and… it wasn’t as good as the pressed Suzuki item. All the small details really help to seal the gasket to the block and I was happy to carry them over. I marked the sump 25mm down from the flange and attacked it with the grinder.

At this point I got my own lathe to help move the project along; achieving a massive life goal in the process! Its only a little Sieg SC3, but it is super useful for making little top hats and smallish components. The drive hub for example.

I was able to go from bar-stock to component in one afternoon. I had made my own digital read out for the top slide which made boring accurate depths super easy.

The final features were then machined on the mill. A slot to clear the crank keyway, the five M6 bolt holes and the five M4 gear mounting threads.

This was what I thought would be the hardest part of the project, but once I used the right equipment to make the components it was actually really straightforward.

At this point I could properly place the vacuum pump in the real world, choose a belt length, and finish the oil-pan.

What I don’t have is pictures of the countless hours I spent trying to seal the sump for leaks. I used water and air to find pin-holes and just kept welding, grinding, checking and repeating.  Side note: I need to get a TIG welder…

I also added some bolt-in mesh within the sump to protect the outlets. You’ll noticed that I ended up moving one of the oil outlets relative to the CAD. It actually ended up far tighter and better packaged in real life.

Having made the oil-pan, pump-mount and drive, there were a few small components that needed to be made before I could install the pan. One of these was a bung for the original oil pickup in the engine. This was essentially a large top hat, bolted in place, allowing the use of the original pickup seal.

Following this I could finally install the whole lot in the car.

In the final part I will cover the installation of the oil tank and oil lines, and then find out if it actually works!

Locost: The Six Week Dash

It been a while since I last posted on OgilvieRacing. Life has been pretty hectic for the family since the end of February, and sadly there has not been a whole lot of time for toy cars. In fact the rest of this year is likely to be a quiet one, as I will be changing jobs and location.

I would like to do a track day at Castle Combe before the end of the year, and I will be sure to fill you in on that and the reliability upgrades I have planned for the Locost. However, I promised a run down of the build up to Snetterton, and that’s what your going to get.

Here are some of the many mini-projects that got completed in a time period I like to call: The Six Week Dash.

Rear Arches and Lighting

Having molded two rear light pods out of fibreglass (see here for details), I made cutting templates from the cad drawings and made the required holes in the rear arches. The pods’ were then clamped in place and fibreglassed from the back, which would then allow me to blend them in from the front.

Given that the rear lights were now positioned correctly I could run the loom from the centre console back to the lights. I 3D Printed a little switch panel which mounted to the tunnel and gave me quick access to my light controls without cluttering my vision while driving. It was very satisfying to have the brake lights come on when pressing the brake pedal and seeing the dashboard light-up when the side lights were on.

At this point, approximately a week and half into the ‘Dash, the rear arches were put aside. I had really hoped I would have the time to clean them up a little before Snetterton, and the process of adding epoxy-filler to blend in the light pods would make them far stronger and less likely to break.

I decided to dig deep in the final two weeks, staying up late and popping home in my lunch breaks to get these blended in and painted in primer. It was worth it because they ended up taking a hammering around the track.

 

Front Arch Brackets

Most trackdays do not allow “Open Wheelers”. This is to stop people bringing single seaters and full on race cars to what is mean’t to be a fun day out. Subsequently you must run some form of wheel arches on all four wheels; so getting the front arches mounted to the car was super-high-priority.

These turned out to be deceptively complicated components to create. I started by making brackets that mounted to the front upright caliper bolts and tie-rod bolt, to give somewhere to weld tubes too. This required a little artistic flair.

The left and right versions of these were made. I then positioned the arches on the wheels, with their own bracket-strips already attached and cut and shaped tubes to join the two together.

There was a lot that could go wrong , and positioning the arches laterally and radially on the wheels was difficult; nothing wanted to stay still! In hindsight I probably should have made some form of quick-wooden jig for this, but ultimately the final mounts turned out straight enough. I even think they look good. I cut away a lot of unneeded material and ended up using only two mounting points; the top caliper bolt and the tie-rod bolt.

These pictures still don’t do justice to just how much work these mounts took to make…

The Bane Of My Life Sump

I’m trying to remember how many times this sump went in and out of the car, but due to some form of post-traumatic stress (or my terrible memory) I can’t recall. It was at-least three times. I really struggled to get this to seal to the block correctly and after leaving it for a while and having a proper think, the problem was obvious.

I placed the sump on the relatively flat floor of the workshop and it was clear that it was bowed. If the front of the sump was going to seal, the rear wouldn’t, and vice versa. The rear flange was especially bad. At some point I must have welded it without bolting it down block (doh!).

So, as time was starting to get tight (week four of six) I decided I would do the correct thing and hammer the hell out of it until it was flat. I cut, ground, re-welded, added gussets, and did whatever was required to get this to keep its shape. In the end it was good enough for use with a cork gasket and hasn’t leaked since.

I’m very proud of this piece of kit and it performed well on track, however I think I will eventually install a dry sump for total peace of mind.

Data Logger

This has probably been one of the most enjoyable projects I have ever undertaken. I worked as an Analysis Engineer for two years and have really grown to appreciate data, sensors and processing; so to take that experience and apply it to the Locost was greatly enjoyable.

In my previous Snetterton post I referred to the data log for each of my runs on track. It gave me a another level of understanding of what the car was doing and how the engine was performing. As I add more sensors and systems to the car this is going to become invaluable.

The logger was probably not super high priority, but I snuck in an hour here and there throughout the ‘Dash to make sure I got this on the car; I just enjoyed building it so much. As you can see, this required some Micro-Controller Programming, 3D Printing and Electronic Design; pure engineering bliss.

Tyres

I made sure I got a new set of tyres for the Locost, as the Yokohama A539s were getting on a bit and were as hard as glass. Also having just blasted them with a ton of UV when welding the Front Arch Brackets they weren’t in a good way.

I ordered a set of Nankang NS2R’s and had them fitted by a local tyre shop. Again, this required lots of running around in lunch breaks and burning the candle at both ends.

Thermostat

Having only ever driven the car in short sprint-like events it had no real need for a thermostat. Now that it was going to be doing far higher speeds, for longer periods of time, it needed much better thermal management; so it was important to make sure one was installed.

I installed an in-line thermostat in the top hose leading to the radiator; which was probably the easiest job on this list. I like the look of it, however I will eventually weld it into the top rail to get rid of one of the flexi-hoses and clean up the installation. Oh, and I will match the clamps, blergh!

Rear Cover

With only two days to go until Snetterton, it was getting rather tight to get the car finished. My brother had arrived and was working on installing the passenger seat, which thankfully gave me the time and space to focus on cutting and installing the rear panel. This turned out to be no small job.

I had budgeted the Saturday to cut the three carbon panels to shape, bolt them in place and add the quarter turn fasteners to the centre. However the carbon fibre blank had tapered sides, so absolutely nothing lined up with the car. Once the two sides were done it took a substantial amount of measuring and fettling to get the centre section correct.

Also fitting this around the seat belts and fuel filler, in a neat and tight fashion, was time consuming. In the end it took me a day and a half, leaving us just enough time to load up the car and get some sleep.

 

Conclusion

I was fairly broken after doing all of the above, and I have appreciated a short break from the workshop. The Locost has come a long way in the last twelve months and I’m proud of what I have achieved so far. In-fact, almost exactly a year ago I rolled it out into the sun in full light-weight AutoSolo trim, to get the engine up to temperature and give it one last blip before pulling it apart.

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