Sunday 15 August 2010

So What Happened?.....

After 955 days in build and 465 days on the road my near 4 year affair with my Gardner Douglas 427 is over.

It was not an easy decision to come to and it took some time to finally decide. Even today as I sit here typing this and looking outside at the sun shining I miss it, I think I'll always miss it.... it really was one hell of a car.

It is more a testament to the years of effort by Andy Burrows in the design of the GD than it is to my own abilities, that a car building virgin managed to produce a car the likes of which neither myself or my friends had ever come close to experiencing before (a few of them probably don't want to ever experience that again!).

It would be a relatively straightforward task to put a large engine in a small(ish) car that went very fast in a straight line. It would perhaps be a little more difficult to produce a car that also went very fast round corners.

The GD consistently out-run and out-cornered everything on four wheels that it came across. It was thus only going to be a matter of time until I would have to part with my driving license. Of course self control is the answer, which is easy unless you have been born without the "discipline" gene! The same reason why I gave up Sports Bikes all those years ago.

My wife loved the car, she thought it was a beautiful masterpiece of automotive engineering......... she was just never that comfortable in it. Whilst for some the exposure to such a raw driving experience, with the associated vibration, noise, wind and blurring scenery would be reason enough to be alive, for others it would confirm all that was good about about our modern euro tin boxes in which we go about our business in relative anaesthesia from the driving experience.

At the outset of the build we had visions of long trips round Europe in the completed car. The unfortunate reality was that fuel costs and passenger comfort would have been a difficult issue to resolve.

I used the car quite a lot to go to work, but this was mainly to amuse myself by taking people out for a ride at lunchtime and scaring them. The rest of the time I would take it out for 1-2 hour blasts on my own.... sometimes scaring myself. We used to have some regional cobra club meets once a month with a decent drive out, but these sadly died a death due to lack of interest. This soon became the norm..... commuting or the odd solitary blast out once a week.

I felt almost if I was insulting the GD by not using it purposefully. I have never been a polisher or a garage exhibitionist. I like to use things, all my sports bikes got ridden through winter..... yup... ruined every single one of them! I just didn't seem to have enough opportunities to use the GD for anything more than a quick blast out now and again. It was in danger of becoming an under utilised garage ornament.

Everybody's circumstances and reasons are different, I had to conclude that my own were not perhaps exactly commensurate with cobra ownership. I now believe that I would be better off with a true GT type of car and such a style of car would be more suited to our aspirations.

As I cannot afford an Aston Martin or in deed a Maserati I may well have to get the tools out once more and begin another project. If only Andy would hurry up and get the GT or MSE into kit production!

I have thoroughly enjoyed the build of the GD and as professional engineer I have been able to thoroughly appreciate the thought and effort that has gone into the production of the GD 427. I have learnt many new skills, including how to cover your dog in expanding foam, how to set fire to things behind your back with a grinder, how to drill holes upside down in impossibly tight spaces.

I have enjoyed the "community" aspects of the project, helping other builders whether they be GD or other and I hope that I can continue to do so.

The blog will remain, not as a memorial but as a testament to what one man can achieve in a normal domestic garage, with a modest assortment tools, some common sense and a bit of patience. I hope in some way it may inspire others to take the plunge and fulfill their dreams.

I would like to thank Andy, Meena, Paul, Craig and Lester at GD firstly for the excellent product initially, and secondly for their never ending support and patience with my "stupid" questions.

I would also like to thank Ian and Jez at British American Engines for the fantastic engine that gave the GD its soul.

Finally, the previous post was entitled "Gone but not Forgotten....". Bizarrely an e-mail popped into my inbox a week or so ago containing this picture:
There's my old Car with Andy Burrows just about to take Andy Roe's Dad out for spin!

Quite a special photograph.

So whilst this particular story has come to end, another one begins........ for those who have not tired of my ramblings have a look here , it will be slow to start with.... I have a 955 day backlog of DIY to address!

Thanks for your interest over the years.


Tuesday 13 July 2010

Gone.....................but not forgotten.......

6:30am....... one last time to wake the neighbours up......

More later..............

Monday 3 May 2010

Stoneleigh 2010

Well, it was that Stoneleigh time of year again. However, rather than a simple day trip to the show, this was gonna be a three day trip taking in a mates 40th and another mates wedding as well. This explains the fitting of the soft top - so that my wife could travel in perfect warmth and dryness!! This was going to be the longest trip to date - 550 miles.

The hood did the job - just letting in a few dribbles where there is a gap between the hood bows (to allow folding) - easily solved by sticking a bit of rag above the centre of the screen between the bows - appears to be a common problem and fix. It was also surprising how effective the heater became now that the warm air couldn't escape from the cockpit.

Out of the 550 miles about 425 were cruising at 70 (1950 rpm), 75 were various speeds on local roads and 50 were hooning around taking mates for rides. If my calculations are correct then I appear to have got 19.1 mpg overall - better than I expected.

Due to a slight camera issue the only photo's I have are other peoples - so thanks to Andy, Steve & Tommy:

Becasue of the need to get to the wedding I couldn't stay as long as I would have liked, but still I got to meet up with some old friends and meet some new ones and I also had a resonable look around the show - nothing really caught my eye for a new build though!
The car looks a bit low to the ground, but that's due to the soft grass and a bootfull of tools - which wasn't really needed - apart from the fact that one of the bonnet hinge pins/bolts fell out on the way down. Easy enough to get a replacement cap head bolt at Stoneleigh, although I had to drop my the GD stand to ask Andy what size it was! (M10x45 just in case it happens to you)
So, quite a long trip in some pretty poor weather with no real problems to report, In fact my wife quite enjoyed it to my surprise. This possibly has paved the way for some European Touring???

Friday 23 April 2010

Finishing the Suspension Adustments

Got home a bit early today so took the Cob down to the local tyre place to put it on the 4 wheel laser alignment machine.

I had suspected the front camber adjustments had resulted in an unbalanced toe-out condition - wondered why it seemed to turn in quick! If you move the upper wishbone fulcrum in (reducing shim) to increase camber, this effectively causes the steering arm to move outwards increasing toe-out.

A quick check showed everything to be within a few minutes of where I wanted it camber wise - it was just the excessive toe out on the front to correct, the rears still being spot on.

I had them set the front to 7 minutes toe-in per side - Andy advised running a little more toe along with the increased camber. I was just about to post up the computer output from the laser aligner only to discover I appear to have goosed my scanner???

A bit of roundabout surfing on the way home revealed a marked improvement - despite pushing it quite hard it still felt solid as a rock due to the anti-roll bar and increased front camber. Also after driving down my favourite bump steer route I could not detect any adverse effects. It would be good to take the car on a track as there is no way on earth you can explore the limits of grip on the public highway!

Right...... time to leave the suspension alone now!

Wednesday 21 April 2010

Fitting the Sidescreens - Part 2

Time to mill down the leading edge of the sidescreens - acheived easilly with the Dremel Router attachement. You need to leave an "island" of lexan where the hinge goes:
The rubber seal needs to then be trimmed to fit round the hinge positions:
Which it does quite nicely:
It was then a simple matter to fit the bottom rubber and fix the sidescreen into position:I was quite pleased that the rubber on the leading edge gave a good seal - even over the step by the screen bow:

Time to peel off the protective film:Repeat for the other side and job done:Went for a test drive - nice and draught free -although it wasn't raining so I couldn't spot any leaks.

However......... it is bloody noisy with the hood up. So much so I think you would need earplugs for anything over 45 minutes!


Sunday 18 April 2010

Fitting the Sidescreens - Part 1

With the hood fitted it was time to tackle the sidescreens. I had got as far as fitting the "blank" drivers side screen:The next step was to pull down the protective coating so I could mark the various features of the hood on the outside of the screen:Then it was out with the trusty jigsaw - to cut Lexan neatly you need a variable speed jigsaw a turn it right down to around 500 strokes per minute and use a special plastics blade - this will give you a nice clean cut with no melting of the edge:And Voila!The next job was to position the catch and cut the hole out. The holes is not round - more like an oval with two straight sides. Time for a new Dremel attachment - a mini router:Job Done. I'll also need this to mill down the leading edge of the sidescreens. I have left a bigger gap between the sidescreen and windscreen frame than normal as I am going to fit a rubber seal. However the smaller rubber seals won't fit the 5mm thick Lexan. I'll need to reduce the thickness of the leading edge down to around 3mm. Then I can fit the leading edge and lower edge rubber seals and it should be job done!

Thursday 15 April 2010

Hood Fitted!

Being under strict instructions to free up the dining room table it was time to crack on. I finished glueing and trimming the returns and had to come up with a means of sealing the hood against the body???

During the trial fitting of the hood It was clear that the gap between the hood and the body was pretty small and uniform. So I decided to use domestic "p" shaped draught excluder (in a double row). May seem an odd choice but the beauty of it is that it is very soft and compresses very easily (unlike the majority of automotive seals) - it also sticks like you know what to a blanket!
The only problem is that it only comes in brown or white:
The colour is not really an issue as the gap is so small you can't see it.

With the new hood pivot fitted it was time to fit the hood..... sheeeeesh - it needed some pulling to get the hood bows on - and that's not too easy either - need to learn the knack. After breaking a couple of fingers and plenty of effin' & Jeffin it was on:
Pretty pleased with it overall - it was a bit harder to tension and fit the hood bows than I expected but that's probably down to lack of practice . I'm gonna leave it up for a few days now for everything to settle into place.
Now I can get on with the sidescreens.

Tuesday 13 April 2010

Not Fitting the Hood - Boat Stuff Instead

Whilst I'm waiting for a replacement Hood Frame Pivot from GD I took the opportunity to get some stuff done on the boat.

The original marine muffler was shot - it was in fact in several pieces!! So I designed a new one and we had it made up in stainless by a local guy. So this left the simple task of fitting it:
It is more than just a big tube with four smaller tubes coming off it - each outlet is via a water siphon inside the main tube.

The boat has had its GRP polished up and the trailer is being sprayed to match:
Most of the re-upholstery has been done and just needs putting back in the boat. A replacement air cleaner needs to be fitted (I have a spare Edelbrock one which should fit on the Holley carb if I can find some 1/4" studding. There are some bits and pieces of electrics that need tidying:The battery is out and is currently connected to my Optimate - the plan is to put it in the water on Saturday and see if it starts - the boat not the battery! - assuming it all gets put back together in time.
That'll be another day spent not fitting the hood!

Sunday 11 April 2010

Fitting the Hood - Part 6

Time to see if it fits:

Well the simple answer is it doesn't! - whilst trying to fit the hood bows one of the hoop pivot knuckles snapped! - very peculiar?
So I'll have to get on to GD for a replacement. So I took the hoops out which allowed me to fit up the hood bows with no tension and mark out for driling the holes for the fivets to fix the hood bow catches:
Felling a bit dis-heartend I turned my attention to the sidescreesns. I got two pieces of Lexan polycarbonate off e-Bay for a reaonable price. After a bit of measuring and trimming I fixed the first one into place to see how it looks:
It obviously needs to be trimmed down - but I need the hood fitted to transfer the required shape onto the Lexan. I'm departing a little from the GD method by fitting a rubber seal between the sidescreen and the screen pillar. More on that later.... it might be a faff too far??

Saturday 10 April 2010

Fitting the Hood - Part 5

The hood has now taken up residence in the dining room ready for glueing the returns and trimming (I forgot to take enough photos, probably due to being high on evo-stick fumes, so I've included a couple from the build manual):
I tackled the rear section first which was relatively straightforward just requiring the hood material to be mitred around the corners:

So this leaves the hood bows at the front to do. Here you need to trim the hood material to clear the fixing lugs on the hood bows like this:

The hood material is bonded to the inner face of the front edge and the underside of the top face. I sprayed both the hood material and the hood bows for a good bond:

The surplus material can be trimmed off once the glue has had a while to cure:
This just leaves the two corners to be returned, glued and trimmed:So time to leave everything to cure a bit more overnight before a trial fit tomorrow to fit the hood bow catches and start to figure out the sidescreens:

Tuesday 6 April 2010

Back on The Road

Having just recieved my new tax disc I decided to take an extra days Easter holiday to get the car back on the road. I had become distracted with fitting the hood and with not a lot of spare time I never finished off the odd jobs that were outstanding.

So with the hood safely tucked up in the spare bedroom awaiting trimming and bonding of the edges I bled the front brakes - and managed to get a little bit more air out of the NSF calliper. I checked the revised suspension settings with the wheels back on. Finished checking all the suspension fasteners, checked / adjusted the front wheel bearings and then it was time to start.

I realised that the engine hadn't been started for 3 and a half months!!! so five pumps on the throttle (after priming the fuel bowls in the carb - I use the "start" position on the Key to provide a fuel pump over-ride for this very reason) pushed the button and it roared back into life with no fuss.

Went for a quick blast and it was like being re-united with an old friend. I then started to feel a bit guilty about the 3 months worth of finger marks and dust so it was time for a wash and vacuum:
If the forecast is OK tomorrow morning then I may well go to work in it and get the tracking checked at lunchtime - the OSF will be toeing out a little I suspect after the camber alterations I made.

Friday 2 April 2010

Fitting the Hood - Part 4

Today's the day..... Glue Day!!

I was up early to get the heater on in the Garage - it was 4 degrees this morning. I had left the hood in the bathroom overnight as this is the warmest room of the house. After an hour or so the garage was up to a toasty 20 degrees.

I draped the hood into position and placed an electric fan heater on the transmission tunnel to warm he hood up some more:
The first task was to manoeuvre the hood into position - taking care to ensure it was lined up equally against the marks on the hood bows. This involved a bit of mucking around taping and un-taping the hood to the windscreen and getting a feel for the tension at the back of the hood when pulling it:
Eventually we were ready to start. Following the advice from Paul at GD I sprayed evostick onto the first 6 inches of each GRP moulding. You only need to spray the glue to the GRP - once you let it tack off it gets a very good hold onto the hood lining:
I left the glue for 5 minutes and pulled the hood taught and affixed it to the moulding - lining up the chalk centre-line with the middle of the gap:
A good measure of the correct tension is when the window surround trim is within 5mm of the GRP section at the centre of the car:You can then work the hood material round to each door shut and check everything is symmetrical. In my case it was, give or take a couple of mill, so I sprayed the remainder of the GRP, tensioned and bonded the rest of the hood. For ease as I was working on my own I split each of the remaining sections into 2 more manageable chunks:

The above photo was half way round the one side. The following photo is after all the back section has been glued. You will see a few creases developing on the rear quarters (partly due to the tape on the screen slipping!) - but these will pull out once the final tension is applied to the front. I had some dinner to let the glue go off a bit before tackling the front - doesn't take long as the garage was getting quite warm by now!!

I removed the tape from the front and re-tensioned the hood to get all the creases out - this was easy as the hood was quite soft by now. I taped the hood back down to the screen and marked the taped where it passed over the top edge of the hood bow - this would let me know how far to pull for the correct tension when gluing.

I then removed the tape from one half of the screen and sprayed the evostick on the front face of the hood bow - don't glue the top face as this is not the natural line of the hood:

And then simply repeat for the other side. After which I went mad with the Duck Tape just to take the pressure off the freshly bonded glue joint:

And there we have it:

I am quite pleased with the shape and lines of the hood and the absence of wrinkles! The hood ended up about 5mm off centre over the screen but I didn't think it was worth un-gluing - particulalry not just to end up with it 5mm out the other way!

It also looks quite good from the inside:

After about an hour I loosened the hood bows and let the front part of the hood hang to relieve the stress on all the glued joints. I'm away for the rest of the Easter weekend so this will give the joints plenty of time to cure before I start the process of trimming / tidying the edges. (Since doing this I've now removed the entire hood and put it on the spared bed so the glue can cure without any extreme changes in temerature).Top Tip for fitting the Hood....... do it in the middle of an August heatwave - not when there's frost outside - it'll save you a fortune on your electricity bill!