The Lair.


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Julian.

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Breaking News

21 September 2006

This site is moving to a new location. All further updates will be hosted at http://www.the-lair.info

14 July 2006

Due to some very fortunate changes in luck it looks like I will finally get to do some racing this year. The first weekend in September will see me visiting the Brands Hatch circuit with the added novely of television coverage for the race. This is a real first for the LMA Eurosaloons series and hopefully sets a precedent for the next years season which promises to carry full coverage for the entire year. Three weeks later I will be in the driving seat again for the Oulton Park meet of this years calendar. A little under two months to go for the first event and the main focus at the moment is organising sponsorship - I already have support from three companies and looking for a fourth in order to ensure sufficient funding.

So far I have my usual support from Wolfdirect Racing and Anything Punto (previously TBP Salvage) but newly arrived is Digconn Systems.

20 June 2006

Nearly a year on from my last update and the only news I have is rather dull. This year's racing is in danger of not happening at all due to a whole range of problems. A disruptive change in employment and personal circumstances have meant that the budget for this year is non-existant. I still hope to race at a couple of meetings this year (most likely Anglesey and Oulton Park) but even that is uncertain.

The Dallara is making some progress but it is slow and only when time and money allows. Mostly it is reliant on the charity of the workshop and no doubt will cost me dearly before the project is at a stage where the car can be tested. The punto has seen a few outings thanks to the MSV marshal trackdays held in the off-season so not a complete waste of a year...as far as racing is concerned that is.

24 October 2005

Having survived the end of season party relatively unscathed it is now time to really concentrate on what is going to happen next year. Work on the new engine has been kicked into action again now that we don't have to worry about keeping the Punto going for a few months. After some serious brainstorming the final decision on whether to go wet or dry sump has been made and there are no excuses left for getting on with it. The top end is built and waiting to go, the block has been prepped, the pistons and rods are all in nice little boxes awaiting some assembly - it all comes down to the crank (still - I've been saying this for months) and unfortunately the choice of dry sump means a minor change (again).

12 October 2005

The last three races of the season are done - all at Rockingham spread over two weekends. The Punto proved itself on the track passing Porsche 924s with relative ease but not so good at bulldozing them out of the way.

BRSCC open saloons race report is here

Eurosaloons race report is here.

27 September 2005

A quick update on the Punto engine situation - the cam timing was way, way off. It seems piper had (for some unfathomable reason) but two timing marks on the cam wheel and Richard had selected the wrong one. Not only had the timing skipped a tooth (or two in the first race) but Richard had then used the wrong timing mark when setting it up again (effectively 3 teeth out). No big surprise then that the car wouldn't accelerate well but a huge surprise that it even ran!

The exhaust manifold is cracked as well which is playing havoc with the tuned header lengths.

The head goes off to be rebuilt today (with the aid of a new camshaft) and the exhaust is due to be repaired on Thursday. The whole lot goes off to the rolling road for a quick remap on Friday! All hands on deck!

26 September 2005

Another fine racing weekend - the Snetterton double header with a small excursion to watch the A1GP qualifying on Saturday (all from the luxury of the VIP marquee). Things are very, very close now on the championship points after a tough pair of races. Just 4 points behind Chris Brogden for 3rd overall in class D and with just one race left in the series (at which we are both racing) it is going to be a real fight - due to the performance differential between the two cars most likely one of attrition rather than direct challenge.

Race reports for Snetterton are here.

6 September 2005

I've deliberately kept from posting anything of late (for just over 4 months!) due to a basic lack of any tangible progress. Admittedly there should be a reports on races here but more on that later.

The X1/9 is still languishing in a workshop, I now have the front end panels but I am still waiting for any news on the panels I ordered. Getting a bit worried now as it has been a long while already and no response from the reseller... very frustrating.

The engine has made slow progress while the last few remaining parts are returned from the machine shop but it is very nearly there.

On the subject of racing - it hasn't been a total loss year. A flash of inspiration has had me using the currently redundant Punto FRC car that was previously piloted by Lee Melling. The car resides at the Wolf Direct workshops and was gathering dust. A little fettling saw it ready to use and we had a shakedown at Llandow where the car performed admirably although it did highlight limitations in the tyres and hubs (both were pretty much junk by the end of the day).

The first race was actually a double header at Brands and the report is here.

More fettling was needed for the second race outing at Mallory Park last weekend where things went a little more to plan. The report is here.

29 April 2005

Things are moving along again at last - with just under a week to go before I see some proof of the engine output (more delays) it looks like the build is getting back on track. The new side windows have arrived in the post and look far better than the old ones. Some of the body panels will be ordered next week (as soon as I am paid that is) while the moulds for the rest are being taken soon afterwards. This remains the last big hurdle in getting the car ready although it is by no means the only hurdle.

11 April 2005

Another long stretch with not much to say - mostly as there has been very little progress. Illness both at my end at for both sets of mechanics working on the project ground everything to a halt for nearly all of March. The shell has been scheduled for relocation to the engine workshop for fitting but every attempt has been scuttled by complicating factors (not least of all is that I still don't have a replacement trailer - really must sort that out).

On the upside I now have nice shiny new adjustable top mounts on the car along with the rest of the suspension. The shell itself has been painted in a rather military looking grey that should help to keep glare down in the cabin and make nasty fluid leaks easier to trace.

The engine still hasn't been built but the test engine has - it goes on the bench dyno this week so we should have some initial figures as our baseline by next weekend and more importantly a base map for the proper engine.

Getting back to the site though I have been working hard behind the scenes to create a more automated approach to the results table. While it is visible here on the site it isn't quite ready yet but with a bit more hard work the service will be available to those who are interested. If you are interested just contact me at julian@the-lair.demon.co.uk

1 January 2005

The new year has arrived and it is high time I posted an update. Sadly there isn't too much to say, things are progressing and the shell (less bodywork) is 99% there and even more stripped out than can be seen in the last photos. Everything ground to a halt in December but I hope to see everything up and moving along again soon. The biggest issue has been the pedal box and it's relationship with the steering column, instead of the simple bolt in process that had been envisaged the steering column has forced some significant fabrication work in order to mount the pedals. All done now but it set the project back by a few weeks.

The engine is another matter, everything ground to a halt in November due to some technical problems with the old block. A pair of alternatives were supplied and in theory that should now longer be an issue. All of the internals have arrived and were sat waiting in boxes for assembly last time I checked. Some of the final details of the specification are coming out but I won't post anything up until I am 100% sure to avoid confusion (my own as much as anyone else).

Still waiting for the final approved regulations for 2005 but the draft regulations are very promising in terms of changes that affect me. The minimum weight has been dropped by 75kg and the ability to run proper rear wings (so that the ex-touring cars are not overly penalised) means I can finally balance up the lift/downforce dynamics and create a much more stable car.

Now for the bad news. First of all the Explorer blew a gearbox oil seal *and* seems to have broken the transfer box and while now usable is not particularly comfortable. Repairs aren't cheap (cheaper than replacing the car though) so my budget is wearing thin already. If that wasn't enough my BJT trailer was stolen in early December leaving me effectively stranded and with yet an even bigger dent in my budget. Not a good starting place for this year but I've had worse and overcome!

So Happy New Year to everyone (except for the unmentionables who stole my trailer) and all the best for the year ahead.

4 October 2004

The new cage has been installed and work begins anew on the shell to prepare it fully. A new engine build has been comissioned that should see the full quotient of power that the original spec called for. All in all - everything is coming together nicely (for now).

  

3 September 2004

Took a visit to the workshop yesterday to take in the state of play (and grab a few photos - to be uploaded later). The primary structure is in good condition throughout the car although it did take some serious patching to get there, the rear of the car looks the business though with very little material left beyond the chassis rails. I delivered the new wings to the workshop at the same time but it looks like they may not be usable since the mounting lip at the top of all four pieces has been removed which means nothing to mount them onto (something I hadn't spotted when I removed them from the donor car all those years ago).

The bad news though is that the shell is pretty rotten in places - while the sills are in good condition the floor itself is not with evidence of serious perforation around the edges. Thankfully the floor is to be chopped out and replaced so this is not in itself a big deal but it just goes to show how tricky it is to find a good shell...

   

The shell will be carted off to Rollcentre in just over a week's time - just as soon as the trailer is straightened up (again)

19 August 2004

I've had the call from the workshop telling me that the new shell is all ready to go, some nasty repair jobs have been found and re-fixed and it is now in A1 condition - if you ignore the fact that much of the metal is gone and pretty much just the core chassis members remain.

The appointment for the rollcage fitting has been arranged and confirmed although it is 4 weeks away.

To keep myself amused though I have booked a track day at Anglesey in late October, possibly pushing my luck a bit with the weather but who knows.... The Griffith will be getting a bit of punishment but I suspect I will be spending more time out with other people providing some guidance or making the most of the Caterham that I've hired for half a day.

12 August 2004

The past few weeks have been quietly frantic, I have collected a new shell and delivered it to the workshop. In the past couple of days the unnecessary bodywork has been removed and the rest of the car stripped down (it was 99% done when I collected it). I'm currently trying to get a build session scheduled with one of the rollcage experts so that the shell can be finished. There is still a long way to go but already the new car is taking shape.

Rather ironically the owners club vinyls turned up yesterday - a bit of a shame that they were a month too late but I'm sure I can find space for them on the new car

26 July 2004

It looks like my racing season is over for the year - the front of the car has been wiped out and compounded with the damage accumulated over the last two years it looks like a new shell is in order. The real shame is that this is the first time in two years that the car has actually run properly without mechanical problems. The cooling system was working fine, the electrics were working fine, the only glitch was that the wet wheels were fouling the arches very slightly (they must be about 1/2" bigger diameter than the slicks).

Full race report is here.