Neil Fletcher Racing

HAVOC Article No 8.

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Dear Mike,

    As promised at AVO National Day I'm letting you know about some of the rally preparation techniques and modifications that I have made to some of my Mark 1s over the years. Many of these modifications are really best suited to competition cars but some of them may also be of use to members trying to keep road cars going.

    Firstly I'd like to offer a few comments on a letter which appeared in the June 1996 copy of Havoc, it came from Steve Crossland and raised some interesting mechanical questions, some of which I have developed solutions for that may be a little bit different from Steve's but I hope they will still be of use to some members. One of the modifications that Steve had made was to his pedal box, I have also found that the nylon bushes on the spindles didn't last very long, especially the ones in the brake pedal - they take a lot of abuse particularly in my rally car. What I did was to get some brass bushes made up which were the same size as the original nylon or plastic ones and put these in instead and gave them a liberal coating of copper grease. These have been fitted to the pedal box of my rally car for about eight years now, and so far I’ve had no more trouble.

    As for the problem that Steve had with the nylon bush at the bottom of his gear stick, before getting a five speed Quaiffe I used to run a Bullet box, originally this also had a nylon bush just like the 2000 E box and I made a brass bush to replace it. My first attempt at this was not completely successful, as after a while the brass bush started to break up, I'm not sure if I just made it too good a fit the first time round as the gear shift was quite stiff after fitting it. For my second attempt I made the bush out of aluminium and gave it more clearance, I also made a groove around the lower part of it to take a circlip and prevent it coming back up out - this one was much more successful. Sometime after this I bought a second hand 2000 E type box which had no nylon bush whatsoever; the hole in the main selector rod was the same size roughly as the knob on the bottom of the gear stick and therefore there was no need for a bush. This was probably a genuine Ford part as it didn’t appear to be modified in any way. I have no idea what this box came out of except that it was similar to the Mexico one. Some of the club members who have access to various Ford parts books may be able to identify which car or gearbox this particular type of arrangement was fitted to. I’d be interested in any further information on this subject.

   Now on to the steering judder that Steve referred to, my rally car suffered a little from this under heavy braking. To remedy this my first move was to fit heavy duty rubbers throughout the front suspension ie both inner and outer TCA rubbers, steering rack mounting rubbers etc, next I fitted a double width anti-roll bar mounting kit - it has heavy duty rubbers fitted as standard. All these modifications certainly helped the feel of the front suspension but the steering still left a little to be desired. My next move was to remove the steering rack and completely overhaul it; this included setting the rack damper adjustment and the movement/play in the track rods.  While I was in the process of working on the steering rack I noticed that the nylon bush in the near side end of the rack was a bit worn, so once again I made a brass bush and fitted this instead. When I refitted the rack I also used a Gp4 steering rack joint and this along with all the other modifications made a great improvement to the steering. Once again I came across a steering rack some time later which had a steel bush fitted instead of the nylon one, this also appeared to be a genuine Ford part. I'm not sure which particular model of Ford this rack came out of but someone with a Ford parts book may be able to tell us if any Escort, Cortina etc was fitted with a rack including a steel bush. Of course it may be a case of these parts being fitted without any separate parts number or information being included in the parts books.

    Steve also mentioned having a lot of trouble with clutch judder, I must admit that this is not a problem any of my road or competition Escorts have ever suffered from - and that includes cars right from standard 1100s too RS16s. The only thing I would say is that I always use top quality clutches usually of the AP or Valeo competition or heavy duty variety.

    Just as a complete change of subject I've been reading with great interest various letters in recent issues of Havoc about what is happening to various shows, ie National Day etc becoming very much concourse based events. In the few years that I've been going across to National Day the number of run of the mill cars seems to have dwindled greatly and in some cases you now only get the really immaculate cars out. This seems to be especially noticeable as far as Twin Cams, RS16s and RS31s are concerned. I seem to remember a lot more of these cars out on a regular basis but now we only get a few and these mostly appear to be totally rebuilt examples that are vying for concourse honours and their owners seem to spend most of the day cleaning, polishing and touching up paintwork etc.

    Once or twice I have considered bringing my rally car across to National Day but there's no way I would bring a car that's as rough and ready as she is into such company, what with all the dirt and rust on it, some might just jump off and land on one of these concourse cars and that would never do. Don't get me wrong I like to look at these cars as much as the next person but not at the expense of everyone else bringing their cars to National Day. Another thing that I've noticed is that unless you’re into looking at and admiring cars there's very little else for the rest of the family to do. My wife, Carmel, absolutely refuses to come to any of these shows with me because of this. I'm sure that more wives, girlfriends and families would be willing to come along if there was something for them to do, even possibly just things to keep children amused. Maybe someone could organise things like Bouncy Castles and other fun games for children. What ever happened to the entertainment I remember reading reports of in Havoc? This seemed to include activities like Plug Changing, Tug-of-War, Welly Boot throwing etc. Was no one really interested in doing these things, or was it a case of no one was willing to organise them? I do know that in my own motor club it's always very hard to get someone to organise things. There are about 16 people on the committee but only about four of us are ever involved in organising events, the trouble is that these people can get disillusioned with having to do so much work organising and end up leaving the club. I can't say that I've noticed anything along these lines in the last couple of years, of course that's maybe because I spend too much time going through the autojumble and other parts or else I have my head stuck under a car bonnet commenting, "Surely that's not the proper offside radiator support panel for that age of car". Now I'm getting as bad as some of these concourse boys!

    Something which has caught on quite well over here has been Track Days or Test Days; both of the racetracks in Northern Ireland can be hired out on an individual or club basis. Some clubs hire them out and then charge members a small fee to have a go round the track in their own car. The normal fee to the members is usually about £20 or £30 each and for this you get as many runs as you like. On one particular occasion I got over 60 laps of the track done in the day and completely wore out a set of back tyres. What usually happens is that three or four cars are let out onto the track at about 30 second intervals and they then do either two or three laps, then they come in to the pits and another batch of cars is allowed out. Once you come in you are able to rejoin the queue as soon as you like. Early in the day you might have to wait 15 or 20 minutes to get back out but as the day wears on people move on to other things and then the queue gets a lot shorter and those real die-hards among us could get out on the track again within a few minutes of coming in. Needless to say I found it great fun and even found time to try different tyres and various suspension settings etc, I can't wait for the next one to come around.  I realise that National Day has been taking place at Stanford Hall for many years now but it may be worth considering the possibility of tying it up with something along the lines of a track day. Personally I feel that this may be a better way of catering for a greater cross-section of club members, as you could still organise the concourse events, the autojumble and whatever else you were thinking of running within the confines of what ever track or facility you might find available.  I hope that this gives some people a few ideas about what could be done at National Day to try and revive the flagging interest. No matter what type of event the club runs next year I'll look forward to seeing you there and maybe some time soon I'll get the opportunity to bring my rally car “across the water “(as we say about going to the mainland). In the meantime I'll try to drop you a line to let you know how my rallying has been going in the past year. Until then,

All the best.

Neil Fletcher.

XTW 377F - Twin Cam
FMX 800J - RS1600
JIJ 9975 – Mexico
FIA 6386 – Mexico
Membership No. 1472

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