Sunday, 9 December 2012

RacingFIVE revisted - the search is on

I'm now actively looking for another MX-5 to turn into the reincarnation of the RacingFIVE.  Ideally, I want a Mk1 1.8 with a torsen diff but I'll consider any 1.8 (Mk1 or Mk2), pre-96 1.6 and MOT fails or non-runners.  Budget is tight - no more than £500..  I might travel a fair distance  for the right deal.

If you know of anything, leave me a message.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Bye Bye Saxo

The Saxo being collected by its new owner
Sorry about the lack of posts over the past few months.  I had lost some enthusiasm for racing and for blogging for various reasons, including buying an old Merc 280se which meant I could never find the time to write anything.  The RacingSaxo had been frustrating me all season, firstly with oil leaks and when I finally cured those, the gearbox started jumping out of gear.  This really hacked me off as it had put a real dent in my championship aspirations.  So, I decided I would sell up and have a re-think.  That was back in August and after some half-hearted attempts to advertise it, I finally handed over the keys for a wedge of dosh today.

So, this leaves me racing car-less at the moment and thinking what I should do.  Budget is very tight but I really need something reliable that will need the minimum of tinkering in between events.  And since my garage is now full of an old Merc, it's going to have to sit outside all year round.

Maybe, just maybe, I'll get another MX-5 and join what I hear is going to be a fairly big class of MX-5s on the Scottish Hills next year........

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Untitled, originally uploaded by kevham.

The old Merc reached a landmark mileage this week.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

It's a long way to Wigan

I'm nearly ready for my longest trip of the year down to Three Sisters circuit near Wigan in Lancashire for round 4 of the Brockbanks Solicitors Cross Border Speed Championship on Sunday.  I have put the stock ECU back on, cleaned up the car and finally got round to re-fitting the cold air induction kit.

It's a long way and the weather forecast is grim but I'm looking forward to the banter and competition after over a month out.  I'm hoping to pick up some more valuable championship points as I'm currently leading Class R1 and incredibly, I appear to be sitting 3rd overall after 3 events.

Three Sisters is a technical little kart circuit and I'm hoping my previous experience there will give me the edge over my championship competition.  Hopefully my new tyres might help too.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Next event - Three Sisters Sprint - 5 August

I've had my entry confirmed for the Three Sisters Sprint near Wigan on 5 August.  It's a couple of years since I was there but its a cracking wee kart circuit much like Teesside so provided the weather is kind to us, it should be a good day out.

I'm don't think I'll have the new ECU running as I haven't yet got it working but I have at least installed the software and got it configured ready for starting up.  I just need to calibrate the throttle sensor and then it should fire up.  Then I have to choose between getting and installing a wideband lambda sensor and mapping on-road or paying for a mapping session on a rolling road.....

Monday, 9 July 2012

Time for an update

It's been a while since I posted here. I did try but I had some technical glitches with my smartphone and I rarely get the old laptop out these days.  That and I've been busy with my family and my new car purchase - a 1983 Mercedes S class!

Anyway, back to the racing car.  The oil leak seems to have been fixed (hooray) and I've had it out at Teesside and Barbon since my last post.  Both outings were great competitive days with great craic from the Wigton Motor Club guys.  I managed to bag some worthwhile championship points from both events although didn't manage to get any trophys at either.

Barbon was particularly interesting in terms of the weather.  There were times when it looked like the whole event was going to be abandoned and that is exactly what happened, albeit after I had my four runs.  My last run was comical - I must have forgotten to shut the tailgate properly and managed to do the whole run with the tailgate acting as a massive air brake!

The Barbon Paddock

Barbon timed run results

I've bought some new tyres - I opted for Maxsport RB5 principally on the basis of cost.  They should last me a couple of seasons.

Finally, I've fitted a new programmable ECU but have done nothing about getting it up and running, never mind mapping it.  It will probably have to come off again before my next event.

Talking of which, I had planned on doing Kames at the end of July but I had to curtail my family holiday last week due to chickenpox and I've re-scheduled it for the Kames weekend - sometimes family comes before racing.

The new ECU

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Oil leaks r us

Ever since I took the cam covers off the Saxo,  I have struggled with oil leaking.  It came to a head last weekend at the autoSolo in Penrith when it was like the Torry Canyon oil disaster.
So,  I bought a set of new style camcovers off a guy on a Saxo forum but rather predictably,  these have yet to materialise.
That left me with the task of trying to re seal the cover again which I did yesterday (hence the photo).
Initial testing this morning showed no significant leaks so fingers crossed it holds out at Teesside tomorrow.
This event was a humdinger last year and with a big entry in my class,  it could be good again.
More on that later.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Kames Sprint 20 May

Kames Sprint, originally uploaded by Paterson Photo.
Great shot of the Flaming Saxo at Kames on Sunday, taken by young photographer Scott Paterson. He's captured a real sense of speed and movement in this. See more on his flickr page.

The event itself was great fun - the weather was as good as you could get with fair skies and a decent temperature.   I was up against some serious competition from the north of England in the form of James Kerr in his Peugeot 205 and Dave West in his Peugeot 106.   James recently broke the class record at Harewood and was on fire on his first visit to Kames with a 95 sec run.

I was happy with my time and reassured that there is a lot more to come.  On my last run, I managed a 99.79 and that was with the car jumping out of third on the entry to paddock bend which cost me a good second or so.  If I can string a decent run together, I know I'll get a 97 sec.

 In the end, I managed to grab a third in class and set a personal best time (in the Saxo) of 99.61 sec.

I was plagued with oil leak problems all day though.  The rocker covers are still not sealed and the sump return pipe kept popping out.  A chat with Dave in the Pug 106 revealed he had taken numerous attempts to seal his rocker covers so its obviously a common failing.

There was some great banter with some of the Wigton Motor Club guys who had come up for the day including Ronnie MacGregor in his banana S2000, Dave Wiggins in his loverly Pub 205 Rallye and it was great to see Dave Exton back out in yet another MR-2.  That particular car did spend a lot of time overheating but I'm sure Dave will get it sorted out in time for Barbon.

Next event is an AutoSOLO at Penrith on Sunday.  Should be a laugh.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Getting ready for Kames

The other night I decided I'd better try and fix the rocker cover oil leak in preparation for Kames this coming Sunday. I took my time stripping off all the old gasket material and cleaned the mating faces thoroughly with degreaser before putting a bead of Loctite black silicone on. When I did the second cover, the tube burst and made a hell of a mess - good job I was wearing gloves! I haven't tested it yet (I am so lazy) but it can't be any worse than it was. I still have to fix the water leak from the bodged hose but that's no more than a minor irritation to be honest. The Saxo hasn't even been off the trailer since the last outing in April so it will be interesting to see how I get on. I really should get my finger out. The event itself is a bit of an extra for me. I decided to focus on the Brockbanks Cross Border Speed Championship run by Wigton Motor Club this year. Sunday's event is not part of that but there a few guys from the Wigton club coming up so it seemed like a good idea to get some practice. Upcoming events after Sunday are an AutoSOLO at Penrith on 27 May, Teesside Sprint on 4 June and Barbon Hillclimb on 16 June. I might also sneak in a trip to Forrestburn on the following weekend.....

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Next events - Kames and Teesside

I've sent off my entries for my next two events - Kames on the 20th May and Teesside Autodrome, Middlesburgh on the 4 June. In between, I might be doing a wee AutoSolo down at Penrith just to get some seat time with the Saxo. I got my times for the April event at Kames and as I thought, I was pretty slow until the last run when I did a (just) sub-100 sec run. Looking back, there were quite a few mistakes on that run so I think a low 98 sec run is perfectly feasible for me and with a bit more time in the car, I should be able to get into the 97s and maybe 96s. On paper, the car is as fast as the VX220 was and I managed 96 sec runs with that. On the car front, I haven't even taken the Saxo off the trailer as I've been focussed on getting my old Volvo barge through its MOT. That took a bit more effort than I had hoped but it's now done so I can get on to thinking about fixing the oil and water leaks on the Saxo.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Kames Season Opener - 15 April 2012

I had my first dry outing in the Flaming Saxo today and it turned out to be strange sort of day for a number of reasons. First off, there were no times published as we went through the event. This is very frustrating as you have no idea how well you are doing against the competition. So despite there being a big class entry (around 10), there wasn't much banter about the times. It also means I have no idea what times I posted as I left before the final results were published.

I do know that my first couple of runs were quite slow - I am still getting the feel for this car having only done a few runs at Kames and 4 runs at Harewood. My third run ended with a spin at the hairpin down to basic driver error. My final run was a bit quicker and I think I nipped under the 100 second mark but until I get confirmation, I don't actually know!

The Saxo ran well but is still dripping oil from various places (mainly rocker covers). This is no more that a slight weep but it really bugs me so I will have to fix it properly. My tyres are on their last legs so I'll need to find some cash for new ones.

On the upside, it was great to catch up with the other guys in the paddock, especially the Wigton crew. Particularly nice to see Dave Exton doing a bit of marshalling on the start line.

Next event is likely to be Kames in late May. Maybe my new ECU will be here by then.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

4 days to go

First event of 2012 is looming (this Sunday) and I still have a pile of jobs to sort out.

I still have to fix the bottom radiator hose which was a real pig to get off due to the very restricted access at the rear of the engine. Finding a replacement has been troublesome too. The secondhand one I bought was the wrong one (they changed the angle of the connector pipe in about 2001) and the new one I bought for a 106 Gti is too short (106s must be shorter). So, a bodge will be needed before Sunday.

Two hoses - one fits, one doesn't

I still have the blowing exhaust to fix, road tax to get and a timing strut to make so I'm going to be busy this week.

On the positive side, the entry for Sunday's event at Kames is very healthy - I think I counted around 80 entries which is fantastic. There are 10 in my class alone which will make for some great competition - something I've missed in the last year or two. On paper, I should be quite competitive although there is a very quick Toyota Starlet that is capable of sub-96 secs which I won't manage. I'm aiming to get a time of around 98 secs if the weather is kind.

Friday, 30 March 2012

MOT sorted

I just heard that the Saxo passed its MOT today so that's one thing sorted. I'll be going to pick it up tomorrow. Camseals are sorted and a few other wee bits and bobs done too.

I also picked up a nice secondhand Sparco suit in fairly inoffensive black, FIA 8856-2000 standard and it fits perfect! Just need to sell the oversized suit I bought back in February.

First event entry is in - Kames on 15 April - a round of the Lowland Speed Championship and the Cross Border Speed Championship. I decided not to enter the Guyson championships this year as funds are very tight and I'll be concentrating on the Cross Border Championship.

I'll be taking the Saxo down to Kames this Sunday for a wee shakedown test to see how everything is bearing up. MOT man said it could do with new pads (not sure whether front or rear yet) so I might need to sort that out. Also, the idle still isn't quite right (never was) but no point in fixing that until the new ECU is here, fitted and mapped. On that front, I expect some news in the next couple of weeks.....

Saturday, 24 March 2012


A while since I posted. I've been a bit preoccupied with some other stuff going on but here is the latest on the racingSaxo anyway.

I fired it up and it ran like a dog - wouldn't idle and seemed to be misfiring. I thought I'd try and get the OBD2 reader to tell me what was up but after a couple of nights fiddling with various connectors and software, I decided I didn't have the facility to get my laptop to communicate in French.

So, I decided to take the car to my mates garage where the MOT was to be done anyway. In the meantime, there was the small matter of the racingMetro which had been languishing on the trailer since October. That had to be moved so I could get the Saxo on. I decided I was just going to scrap it and be done but an aborted run to the scrappies (it was shut), saw me bring it back. I was about to take it down again when a bloke from my office decided he would buy it so I duly delivered it to him. The old K series fired up first time and sounded fantastic. Hey ho.

So, MOT day came and I got the Saxo on the trailer. I had to sit with the throttle open to keep it running and after about 10 mins it was sounding a wee bit better. However, when I opened the bonnet, it was covered in fresh oil from the blasted camseals! So much for my mechanical skills!

Dejected, I phoned my mate and told him the car wasn't ready for an MOT but I would bring it in anyway. After 10 mins going through the known issues with him, I left it with him.

It's still there. The good news is it doesn't need much to pass the MOT. Provided we can get it running right. The CO is through the roof. Something tells me I might have got the timing belt a tooth out (sigh).......

More news next week.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Back to earth


The Saxo is back on the ground. I finally fixed the exhaust and put all the bodywork back together tonight.

Next step is to refill the coolant, hook up the battery and fire it up. Then there is the small matter of refitting the bonnet. Fingers crossed it all goes smoothly.

I've booked the MOT for a couple of weeks time and I have a new ECU on order.....

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Nearly there with the Saxo

Another couple of hours work in the garage over the past week has seen me fit the cam idler and tensioner pulleys, refit the cam sprockets and get the new cambelt on and tensioned. To tension the cambelt, I used the 8mm square bar from the door handle of the utility room - worked a treat!


I've also refitted the radiator, front crossmember, fan and ECU so its starting to look like a car again.


I'm hoping it won't take long to get the front end back on so I can get the rear raised and sort the back end of the exhaust out. Then I'll be re-filling the coolant and firing it up.

Looking ahead, I've got a programmable ECU on order which will allow me to make the most of the cams and pave the way for some head work and individual throttle bodies....

Saturday, 18 February 2012

The refurb continues

Ok, I've been catching a few hours here and there in the garage to do work on the Saxo over the last month. Things are coming along slowly.

First off, the manifold is now fitted but I'm having trouble with the gearshift fouling on the cat pipe. It just makes a clanking noise when changing into second but I'm concerned that when the exhaust heats up it will be more of a problem.



I also got hold of a new alternator. It took me a while to figure out how the tensioner system worked but I got there in the end. This will save having to recharge the battery during events.


I re-painted the rocker covers and got some shiny new bolts to fit them. Just to tidy things up a bit and make the engine bay look a bit more presentable (always helps at scrutineering!).


Today, I spent the whole day doing more jobs. I started by splicing in a new speed sensor connector. This is a three wire connector that plugs in to the speed sensor on the gearbox. It drives the speedo and also feeds back to the ECU. The signal wire had burnt out (I think related to the launch control system the last owner had) so I had to splice into the loom. So, out came the soldering iron and heat shrink - hopefully it will now work but I won't know until I can get the car on the road.

Next, I set about on the cam seals. These were the main source of oil leakage. I started by taking the cambelt off.


Then the cam sprockets came off and revealed the state of the seals. Seeing this, I was not at all surprised that they leaked.


It came out very easily and then I popped the new seal in. Not sure how far in its meant to go - hopefully I've got it right.


Next up, I'll be fitting the new cambelt tensioner and idler pulley before tackling the cambelt.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Manifolds and engine mounts

Ok, the replacement eBay manifold arrived yesterday and it's looking good. It has a different collector pattern to the old one (which I believe is a Janspeed) - the new one goes down to two pipes much further up which frees up a bit of space to clear the oil filter. I'm not sure of the make of the new manifold but I think it might be a Raceland. It's certainly stainless steel and it weighs a bit less than the old one (a bonus).

Here's the two manifolds side by side (new one on the left):


And on the engine - old one first:



And the new one (note the clearance to the oil filter):



I've ordered up a new fitting kit with wire gasket and I'll get some new studs and hopefully get some time to fit it by next weekend.

My thoughts have turned to engine mounts. I had hoped to upgrade the mounts to reduce movement but on inspection, the drivers side mount is a basic small capacity mount. This makes sense since the car is built on a 1.1 litre shell. To change to a competition mount will probably require fabricating a new inner wing section. So, I'll leave that for now and just replace the mount with a new one (or maybe look at 205 mounts......) The gearbox mount can be easily replaced and the rear lower mount has already been polybushed so that's easy.

Drivers side mount:


Gearbox mount:


Of course, all of this is just a diversion from doing the cam seals. I've rechecked the cams and flywheel are locked at TDC and found I had it wrong first time round. I'm still a bit nervous about this bit.....

Friday, 6 January 2012

Work on the RacingSaxo begins

Happy New Year !

I've taken advantage of some time off work to make a start on fixing the niggles on the Saxo. The main items that need sorting are the exhaust manifold which fouls on the oil filter, the cam seals which leak and a few bits and bobs to get through the MOT.

I started by taking a photo of the engine bay as it was to help me put it all back together:

Then I decided access would be much easier if I took the bonner and the front of the car off.


It would be even easier if the radiator was out of the way so It came out too and then the manifold just slipped off no problem at all.


The old Janspeed manifold is well bent and bashed on the bottom. I hope the replacement I've ordered off eBay is a better fit.


So, that's it all ready for the new manifold to be bolted in to place. I just need to decide whether to splash out and get it ceramic coated to keep the engine bay temps down.....

Next up, the cam seals.