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The next project ...


Shift Lights and Gear Indicator

For a couple of months now I've had a DataTool RevLight and DiGi sitting on my garage bench. Both are supplied by DataTool and although I'd seen them mentioned in the Yahoo BEC Group but hadn't heard of anyone who'd actually used them. The RevLight consists of a flexible PCB with a series of LEDs, 5 green, 3 yellow and 2 red, which connect to the tacho feed and are programmable to illuminate at different engine RPMs. The DiGi is a digital gear indicator - sounds like a bit of an unnecessary toy but the 'Blade gearbox ratios for 4th, 5th and 6th gears are very close and it's really difficult to keep track of which gear you're in. I often don't know whether I've reached top or not and reach for 7th. It works by comparing tacho pulses to spedo pulses, 'learning' the ratio between the two for each gear and displaying it on the LED. Both the DiGi and RevLight have self-adjusting brightness levels depending on ambient light so they aren't too bright at night.

RevLight and DiGi prior to installation (click for larger image)

First job was to remove the dash to get at the wiring loom. It felt different fiddling with the car today, no pressure at all really, I could leave bits of trim off, no deadlines. It didn't take long to identify the pulse wires for speedo and tacho and splice in a piggyback blade connector. Then found the spare auxiliary spur on the dash loom with an earth, permanent +12v and switched +12v and made up some leads from this. Each unit has a programming wire which you hold to earth to enter programming mode, so I stuck female bullet connectors on these and made up a fly lead with a big ring terminal on the end to connect to these. The DiGi also needs a feed from the neutral light indicator.

Within an hour or so I was ready to test them out. Programming the Revlight was fairly straightforward, and it all worked great. The Digi seemed fine too, recognised neutral OK and displayed '1' when placed into gear. So I temporarily fixed the dash and set of for a spin to set up the DiGi. You earth the control wire until you get a flashing 'P' in the display, then touch the wire to earth once for each gear, six in my case. Then wait till you get a flashing '0', engage first and drive in first gear till the display changes to a horizontal bar, then it's time to teach it second, and so on. All went well till 5th, which it refused to learn. Spent a rather frusytrating timne driving round for half an hour trying to set it up but never got past fourth.

Went back home, rechecked all the connections, replaced some of the terminal connections with soldered connections (Datatool say to solder all wires). Off I went again, but no joy. I decide to refit the dash etc. and ring DataTool - answering machine ... closed till the New Year. Ho hum ...

Post a message in the BEC group and get a reply from someone who tried to fit one to his 'Busa and got a simiar result. DataTool apparently told him he wasn't getting enough speedo pulses using a single pickup from the prop and he'd never got round to fitting more washers. So the next day it's off with the tunnel cover and fit large washers to the remaining 3 prop bolts and recalibrate the speedo. After doing all this take it out for a spin and although the speedo is functioning correctly the Digi still doesn't want to know, no better at all.

Ring DataTool when I'm back in work and speak to their DiGi guy who's very helpful. He wonders about my tacho feed. I explain that the RevLight works, but the LEDs are a bit 'flickery'. He suggests the tacho feed might be coming from the ignition coil and suggests I check it out and take a feed direct form the ECU if I can. I check the Haynes wiring diagram to identify the correct wire and sure enough it's a green/yellow wirte and it's been snipped off and insulated about 5cm from the ECU. A bit more soldering next as I run a wire from this across to the DiGi and RevLight, tidy all the wires up again and take it out for a test run. The RevLight is much better, the LEDs are quite solid now with no flicker, so I'm optimistic about the DiGi ... but after driving for over a mile in first without it ever 'learning' it I conclude that we still have a problem!

So far there's only been one dry day since getting the car legal, and that was Christmas Day when I went for a quick blast before the drinking started. We're now on Saturday 4th January, and it's an absolutely beautiful day, not a cloud in the sky, the roads are drying out, but it's bitterly cold. I decide to take the car for a spin. By now it's got over 500 miles on the clock, and I've changed the oil and filter and reckon I can stop being so careful with the engine. I wrap up and go out for a drive round the Gower. Since it's dry I decide to go out without my helmet, just woolly hat and the Oakleys. I get about a mile before my face is numb and I can't see for my eye's streaming 'cos of the cold air and turn back and stick the helmet on! Anyway, fabulous run, the car is awesome. Only detractors are the Digi flashing random numbers at me and some clutch slip ... more of that later!

Update - July 2003. Finally given up on the shift light and gear indicator. I've tried everything - I cannot get the revlight to work properly, I tried wiring it direct to the crank sensor wire but it was still all over the place. If that won't work then the Digi can't work either. I'll strip them out and put them down to experience I think.

The Clutch

Ever since my first trip out to SVA the clutch has slipped a bit, just when I upshift and get on the power very quickly, which you can do easily with these motors - the bike gearbox means you can upshift without using the clutch, and the sequential shift facilitates this. Now the engine's run in it's more noticable - I can get some slip just by planting the throttle in 2nd and 3rd. No great problem, I've no idea how old the clutch is, replacing the plates etc. won't be terribly expensinve and shouldn't take long. I post a message on the BEC group seeking recommendations. The consensus is that I should fit uprated springs, and most suggest uprated plates too.

One suggestion is a Barnett clutch kit from Bike Torque - £76 for a set of friction plates, £13 for springs, both plus VAT. Before buying them I decide to check out the local Honda dealer to compare. They are very helpful, and can offer a set of standard EBC plates for £36 and springs for £7 a set, or a set of EBC Kevlar plates with heavy duty springs for £64 plus VAT for the whole kit. I decide to go for that.

Finish work at 6pm Thursday 9th January and decide to head out to the garage to have a go at the clutch. I've also collected the steerng column today and want to fit that and my new steering wheel too. I stick the car up on stands again to make it a bit easier to work on, then drain the oil into a clean container to reuse it. It only takes a few minutes to disconnect the clutch cable and remove the engine casing. Fortunately the gasket stays intact so I can reuse it. There are five bolts holding the clutch pressure plate and springs in place and undoing them is a bit fiddly as the springs keep them under tension meaning I need to use the ratchet all the way, they won't turn by hand. Once that's off I weedle the plates out and take the whole lot inside to examine them. The Honda dealer had said I'd see the difference between the uprated springs and the standard ones, but they look identical. I suspected the existing clutch had probably bene uprated beforehand - the engine's had quite a bit of work being stage 3 tuned. The difference in length is about 3mm. The friction plates stacked up are also a few mm thinner than the replacements, but probably more importantly the friction material is quit hard and glazed looking. The plain steel plates are in good condition, no signs of warping and only one of them has any signs of bluing. Back in the garage I reassemble the clutch, smearing the new plates with oil. Next it's back on with the pressure plate and the five springs/bolts. I get them almost tightened and start going round them in a criss cross pattern. The lower of the five feels a bit odd, that unpleasant plasticky feeling when something's either not seated right or is about to shear. I'm only using a 1/4" drive ratchet with a handle no longer than 5 or 6" long so I'm confident I'm not over-tightening. PING!! Off it goes. The head shears off and the spring and washer go pinging across the garage floor. Bugger!!

It had all gone swimmingly well till then, only taken me just over an hour all together, but this'll slow me down! The bolts had sheared off inside the post, so there was nothing I could grab with pliers. Now it's not under tendion I should be able to get it out - hope so anyway, or a new clutch basket will be about £180 .

I decide I'll need to take the basket out to have a chance of getting the bolt out, so it's out with the impact driver to try to shift the clutch nut. I'm using the 12v one I got from Machine Mart for trackdays. After about 20 'whacks' I suspect I'm not getting anywhere - the shaft the clutch nut screws onto has a square section groove and the clutch nut is indented into this using a punch. When i rebuilt the engine I'd forgotten to order a new clutch nut, so have reused the old one. I have a close look and it's moved by a few mm. A few more whacks with the impact driver and it's off. I take the basket over to the bench and using a small screwdriver on the sheared face I see if the bolt will move. Forunately it turns freely and is easily removed. Phew! Feeling more cheerful now - the dealer almost certainly won't have them in stock but I'll order 5 new bolts and a new clutch nut tomorrow, they should only take a day or two ad it'll only be a few quid.

Friday morning I call in JT's Motorcycles and order 5 new bolts and a new clutch nut. Just over £11 and they reckon they should be in tomorrow. I won't be able to collect them until Monday as I'm off to the Autosport International Show tomorrow ...

Autosport International

Autosport is great, my youngest son came with me and had a ball ... so many toys! I was on a mission for the first couple of hours, wanted to visit a few stands before it got too busy. First one we came across was Radical, had a nose round the SR£ which is really nicely finished. I decided to try it for size and was surprised that I fitted in there OK. They also had a display of a new engine - two Suzuki GSXR Hayabusa blocks mated together in V configuration. Nice but expensive at £10-15,000!

Twin Suzuki Hayabusa blocks mated as V8 (click for larger image)

Next stop was the Westfield stand where after checking Mark Walker wasn't there (I suspected he might try to kill me!) I had a chat with Jon who sold me the kit in the first place. I had a nose around the XTR2 and had a chat about that. Not quite as slick as the Radical but of course about half the price! I'm already starting to think about my next project, and the XTR2 has been the obvious choice. Didn't get a pic of the one on the Westfield one but there was a nice graphic'd up XTR2 elsewhere in the show with amusing 'Driver' and 'Victim' on the seats!

Nice Westfield XTR2 - note Driver & Victim graphics on seats! (click for larger image)

Next stop was the Ultima stand. Yes, I know they aren't bike engined, and I know they're very expensive. But they're very nice. And I have been coveting from afar. The world's second fastest car, second only to the £700,000 Maclaren F1, and it's a kitcar. A very well designed one, but a kitcar nonetheless. All parts provided from Ultima, most are fabricated by them, designed for short block Chevy V8 power, 5.7 - 6.3 litres, 350 to 630 bhp depending on how much you want to spend. Even the low spec ones offer well over 400 ft lb of torque though and will comfortably outperform most other cars on road or track. And they're a bit more practical than an XTR2 with a roof etc.

Ultima GTR - gull wing doors and beautiful cockpit (click for larger image)Rear view of GTR with twin deck carbon wing (click for larger image)Front quarter view of GTR (click for larger image)

Chris and I had a chat with Richard Marlow and a nose around the cars. The finish and detailing is lovely, unlike any other kitcar I've seen. I feel a factory visit coming on ...

GTR cockpit from passenger side (click for larger image)Heeeeuuooooge wheels and AP brkaes (click for larger image)

Chris and I enjoyed the rest of the day, absolutely loads to see there. We checked out trailers at Brian James, Woodford and PRJ, and I bought an OMP intercom from Demon Tweeks. There was plenty of F1 stuff there, including a live interview with Davd Coulthard which pleased Chris and the F1 cars in grid formation.

David Coulthard (click for larger image)Ferrari and Williams on F1 grid (click for larger image)

There were quite a few other bike engined cars there, including this Coram and the ADR1000 (BMW K100 bike engine).

Coram Automotive debut (click for larger image)BMW bike engined ADR1000 (click for larger image)

Anyway, back to the clutch ... collected the bits on Monday morning, and it didn't take long to get it all refitted. The pedal feels much firmer and I'm confident it'll be sorted.

Quick Release Steering Wheel

When I first spoke to Westfield about the Megablade they suggested that once through SVA I could fit a smaller, 'D' shaped steering wheel and lengthen the steering column a bit to get more knee clearance. I've ordered a new 260mm diameter suede coloured whele and QR boss from Raceparts Direct just before New Year. They arrive on 3rd January and I'm surprised just how small the wheel is! Looks nice though.

Westfield can modify the column, but it seems a pain to send it back to them, won't be cheap either as it's so heavy. I speak to Mark Walker who says they generally use a sleeve with fishtailed ends to incorporate a bit more weld. I decide to take it on Monday up to Terry O'Hara, who welded my engine casings for me. He expresses some concern about welding a steering column, and says he wouldn't want to just weld it with a sleeve. He says he'll speak to the machine shop and see about pinning each end as well. I ring back on Thursday morning and it's done. They've not used an external sleeve but a bar which fits into the column and the QR slug, pinned and neatly welded. He's confident the only way it will separate is if the steel shaft shears off. At my request they've added about 4cm to the length of the column as well.

It only takes a couple of minutes to refit the column. I've already bolted the wheel onto the QR boss, and it looks lovely. Pity I can't take it out for a spin as the clutch is in bits ...

After the Autosport show when the clutch is finished I finished fitting this - all it needed was lining up straight which didn't take long. It really is tiny at 260mm, but does give much better clearance for legs. It now obscures the top of the speedo and tacho and the indicator repeaters, so I may well raise the column a bit more at some stage.

The steering column is now visible behind the wheel and I need to think of some way of making it look a bit better. Some black paint will be a start.

Suspension Geometry

The Monday afternoon after Autosport, after fitting new clutch in the morning, I pop up to Promax Motorsport to speak to them about setting up the suspension geometry. I'd spoken to Dilwyn last week, and wanted to arrange a day to bring it up. Promax are Evo specialists, but the guys there know their cars, are very friendly and I trust them. A couple of the mechanics hear the noise and come out to have a look. They haven't seen a bike engined car before and are interested. Dil says i can bring it back after lunch and they'll sort it.

After 2 hours on his back under the car sorting the camber Andy's going off Westfields fast! He's used to cars where you don't need to dismantle the suspension to alter the geometry! He gets there in the end though and we set it up with 0.75 degrees negative camber at the rear, 1.75 at the front and 1mm toe in front and rear.

On the way home the car feels much better, much more planted and stable, especially noticable when overtaking other cars. The new steering wheel feels pretty good too, and the clutch is perfect, no slip at all. The car's pretty sorted now, drives realy well, and I've been revving it to about 11,000 now without problems. It truly is an awesome little beast.


I've known all along that I'd need a tonneau - without it the car will fill with water on a wet trackday, ditto if I go anywhere I need to leave the car outside. The standard Westfield tonneau is designed to fit a standard car - no high back race seats and no RAC roll bar. I'd asked around about whether it would be better to just get a local vehicle trimmer to make one from scratch or modify the Westfield item. In the end I rang Westfield and after a barrage of questions ended up being put through to Simon, the factory trimmer! He was extremely helpful and said just lately they've been making a tonneau to fit around the standard RAC bar. He also said they aren't too difficult to fit, and after him giving me a quick tutorial I ordered one. Well pleased, especially since he's going to do it in the same navy vinyl as the seats and dash etc. I explained I have a trackday in a couple of weeks time so he said he'd try to get it out to me by a week Friday (today was Tuesday).

Popped home for lunch on Thursday to find a parcel from Westfield! Lovely looking navy tonneau with all the press studs etc. Unfortunately none of the 3 x 13mm peel rivets required, and I only had half a dozen left from the build. On Friday morning I popped up to Swansea Fasteners who looked at me as if I was a bit stupid when I asked for peel rivets ... back home and ring Westfield who say they'll get some out in the post.

Friday afternoon popped over to Bristol to collect a trailer - second hand Brian James Minno - but that's another story. As is the tale of fitting the Evo towbar ... Friday evening beer and wine with Jen, leading to hangover Saturday morning :(

After the hangover cleared I went out for a run - no, on foot, not in the car! Back in training again after a few lazy months. Need to get back into it, just over 4 months till Ironman Austria! Then it's out to the garage to make a start on the tonneau. It's a lovely day, so I get the car out onto the drive to work on it.

First job is to remove the aeroscreen as I need to fit some press studs to the top of the scuttle. This doesn't take more than 15 minutes or so.

Removing aeroscreen to fit tonneau (click for larger image)Aeroscreen removed ready for tonneau (click for larger image)

The next step is to fit a press stud base either side of the midline on the scuttle. My car's a bit different to a standard SEiW as it has the mirror mounted here on the aeroscreen support. Consequently if I follow the build manual the studs will be too close together and too awkward to fasten. So I space them about 2" either side of the midline. I drilled 3.2mm holes about 15mm away from the edge of the scuttle, I needed to keep them cles as the tonneau seems quite tight to me and if I place them too far forward I suspect it might be a bit too tight. First problem encountered is when I pop rivet the first base on. It's very loose - on inspection it's because the pop rivet bit is quite broad and the press stud base is quite recessed. Drill it out and try again. After a bit of head scratching I find a small nut and slide it over the pop rivet shank before sliding the gun on. This sort of works, but the nut isn't a tight fit on the pop rivet so it's deformed the aluminium bit of the rivet a bit. The next cunning plan involves raiding the model car bits. I find a small washer which just slides on the shank of the rivet and just fits inside the press stud base. This does the trick nicely. I haven't got a special tool for fitting the press studs to the tonneau so I make a hollow in a big block of wood which is roughly the right shape and stick a bit of the foam padding tape to it. This works nicely as an anvil to rivet the thing together. Used the bench grinder on a 6" nail to splay the press stud shaft out.

Once these two are fitted you gradually work outwards, fitting one at the edge of the scuttle, then one at the bottom, followed by one on the body just behind the scuttle. This is quite laborious as it involves removing the tonneau each time to fit the press stud. Then I move onto the ones just in front of the roll bar, followed by the pair just to the bottom rear of the 'door' recess. So far so good, it looks like it fiots pretty well. The lower front part on the driver's side which seems to drop down a bit lower than on the other side. I have to make a decision whether to keep the stud in the right place on the bosy, about 15mm from the edge, or keep it at the edge of the tonneau which will mean the stud being a couple of centimetres lower. I decide to keep it in place on the body and fit the stud a bit further from the edge of the tonneau. The car will spend more time with the tonneau off than on. Another tricky area is around the roll bar on the passenger side. This is where the harness eyebolt is very close to the diagonal roll bar brace. There isn't room to slide the tonneau in with the edging strip on, so I unpick a bit of it and cut through the edging. It goes on fine now and the modification is hidden by the roll bar.

Next I move onto the rear section which is pretty straghtforward. And hey presto, it's done. Probably took me about 4 hours altogether, but I'm really pleased with the result.

Press stud bases all fitted, aeroscreen back on (click for larger image)Press studs at rear of body (click for larger image)Tonneau fitted - passenger side (click for larger image)

Tonneau fitted - driver side (click for larger image)Tonneau fitting round RAC roll bar (click for larger image)Tonneau from rear - centre press stud has come undone! (click for larger image)

Tonneau fitting round RAC roll bar passenger side (click for larger image)View of car with tonneau fitted (click for larger image)View of car with tonneau fitted (click for larger image)

The Trailer

At the Autosport show I looked at a few trailers - Brian James were there, Woodford and PRG. To be honest they were all much of a muchness, all seemed high quality. The Brian James Minno seems to be the one to have as it'll fit through the garage doors (allegedly!), but they're a bit pricey. By the time you start comparing similar spec though the difference in prices narrows a bit.

A week or two later and one of the guys in the Westfield Forum posts a for sale notice for his Minno - he's buying a fully enclosed race shuttle type thingy. After an exchange of emails a sale is agreed, it works out a saving of about £350 on a new one, and this one's less than a year old. Minor problem is that he's in Nottingham, and needs the trailer till mid-February to take his car for a new manifold. Oh yes, and I haven't got a towbar ...

A quick search of the Lancer Register Forum and I find there's a company who make towing brackets for Evo VII's. I call Watling Engineers and they say I'll have it within 10 days or so. Not too bad at £220 including VAT and delivery I thought. They also assure me it's easy enough to fit ...

Sure enough the towbar arrives the next week, and sure enough it's easy enough. Did it in an evening, took about 3 hours altogether, the main part of which was actually removing the bumper assembly. Very pleased with the result as the actual bracket the towball attaches to is removable, so without that on you can hardly see it's got a towbar fitted. A trip to the local caravan centre gets me a towball and wiring harness for £15, and I order some wiring, terminals and shrink sleeving from Vehicle Wiring Products. The next weekend I spend another happy 3 hours out in the garage connecting the wiring up. Not too tricky, soldered them all in and taped it all up to look pretty and according to the multimeter and the wiring diagram it should work!

A week before the trailer's due to be ready and the vendor says he's travelling to Bristol to see his daughter, and he's prepared to bring the trailer with him. I arrange to meet him at the M5 services at Gordano the next Friday afternoon. Got there 10 minutes before him, parked up in a quiet bit of the car park so we had room to swap the trailer over. Quick exchange of money, he hitches the trailer up and we check the lights. Way hay! They all work! He spends another 10 minutes encouraging me that I really should have a go at the Westfield Speed Series, then I'm off on my way.

My first experience towing is pretty easy, the Evo hardly notices the extra weight, and it all seems stable enough.

Sunday 23rd February - get back in from my bike ride and decide to try the Westfield on its trailer. The previous owner's car was car engined, and will have been heavier than my Megablade, so I put it up onto the trailer against the wheel chocks and try weighing the nose. Hmm, about 50 kilos, but I'm a bit concerned that the towball is pretty low as the Evo is fairly low slung. I unbolt the wheel chocks and move them forward about 4" and the nose is now heavier, which should keep it nice and stable. Next work out how to fit the tie downs which doesn't take too long then it's off up the road to check it out.

Trial run loading Westy onto trailer (click for larger image)Trailer hooked up to sensible towing vehicle :-) (click for larger image)


Wednesday 26th March - work related conference in the Saunton Sands hotel in Devon. Since I now have a tonneau I decided I fancied doing the trip in the Megablade. The journey down was OK, just fairly cold. Kept it within a few mph of the legal limit on the motorway and fairly steady on the A361 form the M5 to Barnstaple partly because of traffic and there are a fair few speed cameras. A few spots of rain but I didn't get wet.

The journey home was a different kettle of fish. The weather forecast was bad and it did turn out bad! Started raining just as I was sticking my grip bag into the passenger footwell to leave and became quite heavy by the time I reached the M5. The motorway was pretty scary due to lack of visibility. I expect it would have been fairly poor in a standard tin top, but in the Megablade with a full face helmet it was diabolical! I left the tonneau fastened on the passenger side to try to keep the seat dry, and was constantly worried it would blow off as it was quite a strong cross wind on the M5. It was fine though and I needn't have worried. The M4 just got wetter and wetter and the last 40 miles became even scarier as the car kept aquaplaning. Yokohama A032s are great in the dry but not good in standing water!

Got home in the end though, cold, very wet despite the Frank Thomas all in one bike waterproof, but pleased to have done my first longish haul journey in the car. It really performed very well over the 350+ miles, with no issues at all. Got all the way home on a single tank too - 35mpg!

FIA cutoff Switch and Starter Button

Saturday 1st March. Ordered some more stuff from Vehicle Wiring Products earlier in the week - an FIA battery isolation switch, a starter button and some wiring for the cutoff switch. These arrived while I was in Devon, so I was up fairly early Saturday to catch up on email/snail mail then off out into the garage.

First job was taking the dash off and drilling holes for the switches. I nipped out to Swansea Fasteners for some 6mm stainless button head screws to fix the FIA switch and thought I'd ask about a stepped cone drill to do the holes in the aluminium. £42 plus VAT just for one! I didn't bother with that and nipped round the corner to Machine Mart and bought their set of 3 for £30 plus VAT.

Back home the next bit was to choose where to take the wires to the switch from. One option was just to run a pair of wires all the way from the battery, but I didn't fancy having such a long run of cable. I followed the +ve supply back from the battery in the loom across the engine bay, but didn't want to go delving round in the tunnel under the scuttle from underneath the car, so I unwrapped the loom just in front of the scuttle plate and snipped the wire. I then ran a pair of 6mm wires (Same as the original) back under the scuttle and having marked one to identify it as the one to connect to the battery end I soldered the ends onto the cut ends and insulated the joints with shrink wrap sleeve then some electrical tape and made the loom good again with the tape. The terminals on the switch are quite big, and although I'd ordered some large ring terminals they weren't big enough so I stripped about 10cm of wire back, twisted it then wound it round itself to form a loop. I then took some time applying solder to make sure it couldn't come unravelled.The side which fed the loom then also gained a short length to connect it to the pair of terminals which were closed when the switch was turned off. This would earth the loom and hence the alternator via the supplied resistor to prevent engine run on.

The third pair of terminals would prvoide the ignition interrupt. The easiest way to do this would have just been to connect these to the wires coming from the ignition switch, but I didn't want the whole of the car's electrical supply going through these smaller terminals so I found the wire which supplied the ECU and ignition coils and cut into that just in front of the scuttle plate. All the wires were then tidied up with electrical tape and some tie wraps.

That all seemed to be OK so I moved onto the starter button. No real excuse for putting this on there, I just fancied having one! Mind you, since putting the new clutch in I do stall the car sometimes and it's a bit fiddly reaching under the dash, so this will be easier. This was very straightforward, I just cut into the ignition supply and the starter solenoid feed coming from the ignition switch. I wired it in parallel so the ignition key would function as normal in addition to the starter button.

Quick test and all seemed well. Tidy the wires up and refit the dash. Just as I was tightening the last few screws I thought I could smell something ... like something hot. Undid the ECU plate, reached under and sure enough the resistor was really hot! I disconnected it quickly and used the multimeter to check it all out. All seemed fine so I concluded that I'd just pushed all the dash harness up and had pressed the resistor onto an earth connection. I sorted the wires out and put it all back and no problems this time. Here are a couple of pics of the switches:

Dash showing FIA cutoff switch and starter button (click for larger image)

Carb Synchronisation

Monday 3rd March. My brother Andy had been down for the weekend and had brought a set of vacuum gauges with him. The car runs well but sometimes gets bogged down at around 4,000 rpm if I'm a bit heavy footed in the higher gears. This won't be a problem on track but does happen on the road. I changed the plugs the other day and they look a nice healthy coffee colour, so I suspect the mixture's about right. I'm hoping balancing the carbs might improve things a bit.

First part of this job is to get the engine warmed up, then remove the air filter and the baseplate so I can get at the throttle adjusting screws between the carbs. Andy's set is pretty ancient, and comes with 4 adapters which screw into the manifold by each carburettor. Two of them are fairly long and I can't get them in as they're fouling the starter motor and mounting lugs etc. I nip out to M&P to get some shorter ones. Cylinders 2 to 4 are no problem but even the shorter one won't go on cylinder 1, there isn't enough room. So I cut the stub off the end that the hose attaches to and drill the stub out to refit the brass tube once I've shortened it. It's a nice snug fit and I just seal it with some superglue. Fits nicely now - you can see the shortened one to the left:

Vacuum gauge adapters in place (click for larger image)

By the time the gauges are all attached the engine has cooled down a bit,so I leave it idling for a bit to get back up to temperature. The readings aren't a million miles out, but they can certainly be improved on. I've no experience of this before so don't know how significant the differences are - 1 and 2 are about the same but 3 is a bit higher and 4 is quite low:

Vacuum readings before adjustment (click for larger image)

Andy had warned me that it's fiddly balancing them out, which turned out to be true! As you adjust one the other readings all change a bit. Mr. Haynes said to use cylinder number 3 as the reference point, and after about 10 minutes of very gentle tweaking with blips of the throttle to settle them after each adjustment I was happy with the result:

Vacuum readings after balancing (click for larger image)

Gearbox Repair

It took me a while to get this sorted - really busy time fo year for me - working away quite a bit as well as my triathlon training. Also away in Austria for best part of a week when I did Ironman Austria. Oh yes, and a minor distraction in the form of the Ultima kit lurking in the garage!

Anyway, it took me longer than expected to get the engine out of the chassis, mainly cos it's a pain unclipping all the various bits of wiring. Once out I got it onto the bench and eventually got round to stripping it down. this was pretty easy, and it soon became apparent what had happened. The third gear cog on the countershaft had shed 2 of its teeth. Everything else looked OK.

Bits of shrapnel from sump - 2 teeth and one splinter (click for larger image)You can cealry see the missing segment from 3rd gear (click for larger image)

And here's the offending 3rd gear cog removed (click for larger image)View of other side of 3rd gear (click for larger image)

I'd had various advice, including that the gearboxes are computer assembled and the bits are individually matched to mate up the fine tolerances. This advice suggested it was better to get an entire replacement gearbox. I decided I wasn't entirely convinced - this bike engine is 11 years old, and I reckon they just pulled the parts out of a bin and slapped 'em in! I very much doubt they actually went to the trouble of measuring the tolerances of every cog etc. I may be wrong, but the stakes aren't all that high even if I am and it's much easier to just replace the broken part.

The Honda dealer get the part in the day after I order it, and with a replacement clutch nut and some circlips is't about £80.

Stripping and reassembling the countershaft isn't too bad and doesn't take long. I must remember to buy some proper circlip pliers if I ever do this again though!

Countershaft dissembled ready for new gear (click for larger image)Countershaft reassembled ready to go back into engine (click for larger image)
I get the shafts back in, clean the old sealant off the crankcases and get it back together. I run into a problem while refitting the gear change cam. I seem to be having trouble getting the gearshift to work and in the end decide I may have to re-separate teh crankcase halves. Anyway, it's late so I give up and go to bed feeling a bit despondent.

Next day I turn the engine round to start removing some of the bolts again and realise I can access the gear selectors etc. from underneath without any trouble. Don't know what I'd been doing the night before but it all looks fine and after reassembling the gear shit cam etc. all is OK. The engine goes back together pretty uneventfully, and is soon connected up again. I spin it up without the plugs in to get some oil round it, replace the plugs and it fires up fine. Terrible noise as one of the exhaust gaskets isn't seated properly! Get that sorted and try again to find that the oil pressure is very low. Only going to 1 bar and not ising when I rev the engine. First thought is that the oil pump drive might not be connected properly behind the clutch. Or it could be a sticking oil pressure relief valve. Or possibly the sender. Bugger.

After sleeping on it I wonder if it cold be the filter. I've used a Champion one from Halfords. I go and getone from the Honda dealer - no better. I take off the sender to make sure the hole isn't blocked and it isn't. I'm now resigned to dropping the oil out again and removing the sump to investigate. This doesn't actually take too long and from underneath I can ascertain that the oil pump is definitely connected fine. Also have a look at the oil pressure relief valve which seems fine. Attention starts to focus on the oil pressure sender. I ring Westifeld, a replacement VDO sender will cost about £50, but I can't see any way round it. It arrives the next day and bingo! Oil pressure fine. I remember later that the car's still under warranty, so I'll ring Westfield and try to get a refund of the £50.

Once I've got everything else back on I take the car out for a road test and all seems fine. Third gear is now indistinguishable from the others, the whine is gone. Today's Friday - it now looks as if with a lot fo work I can get the car sorted to do the hillclimb at Llys y Fran on Sunday.

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