Neil Fletcher Racing

My Blog

This page will give details of what I'm doing at any particular time to the various Mk1 Escorts I own. I hope to update this page with little snapshots on a fairly regular basis, at least once a fortnight if not more frequently. Some of these stories may be moved to their own specific page at a later date.


The latest additions are at the top.

2012_1516_ginger_bread.jpg (90290 bytes) Dec 2012 And this Christmas for the first time a Gingerbread House was attempted and I thought it turned out just fantastic for a first go.
2012_1540_ginger_bread.jpg (112255 bytes) Dec 2012 One of the great things about our house is that I'm surrounded by 4 girls who just love to bake and I just love to eat the things they bake.
2012_1543_turbo.jpg (120295 bytes) Dec 2012 My Freelander is 15 years old with 300,000 miles on the engine when she "blew-up" with my wife. She was driving home from work one day when smoke etc started to pour out of her. Carmel pulled over to the side of the road and tried to turn the engine off but it just kept roaring it's head off. It was running on using it's own oil as fuel. At first I thought the problem was a blown Turbo, I pulled it apart and replaced seals, bearings etc but the problem turned out to be more serious.
Dec 2012 Our final event of the year was the Magherafelt Motor Club event around Davagh Forest. While Laura and I may not have been fastest on more than a couple of tests we were one of very few crews to "clean" the regularity sections and also one of the very few crews to collect no road penalties which left us winning the event outright.
2012_1433_rally_car_fire.jpg (141679 bytes) Nov 2012 Unfortunately at that next event Laura and I had what I think was our first "DNF" (did-not-finish) in about 5 years of doing Lanes Rallies on the Ballynahinch Autumn Lanes event. At the end of one of the tests we discovered that the carbs were on fire, possibly caused by a small fuel leak from the choke mechanism down onto the distributor. Luckily our fire extinguisher put it out without any problem.
rear_qtr_2012_1484.jpg (105865 bytes) Nov 2012 Little more than a week later I'm getting paint onto the rear quarter and I only have to screw all the parts back into that corner of the car.
rear_qtr_2012_1468.jpg (126620 bytes) Nov 2012 Over the next few days there was lots of effort put in to "beat-out" that corner and get it back into shape.
rear_qtr_2012_1446.jpg (115485 bytes) Nov 2012 At the Larne Motor Club event we rather overcooked it on a real tight hairpin and smacked hard into a stout Irish bank, with our next event only two weeks away I would need to get stuck into the repairs.
2012_1348_grannys_birthday.jpg (131816 bytes) Oct 2012 This time it was my mother's birthday, she would never let on what age she really was but with a little detective work my daughters found out and baked her a small cake.
2012_1239_nannys_birthday.jpg (92208 bytes) Sept 2012 While beach walking in Donegal my daughters insisted that I pose on top of this rather large rock in the middle of the beach.
2012_1260_nannys_birthday.jpg (202983 bytes) Sept 2012 Yet another birthday party, this time it was my mother-in-law's and the whole family rented a rather large house up in Donegal for a long weekend away.
2012_1212_zafira_starter.jpg (134991 bytes) Sept 2012 Well all the crap in the picture below turned out to be a destroyed commutator, I've never seen anything quite like this before in all my 40 odd years working at cars.
2012_1211_zafira_starter.jpg (214388 bytes) Sept 2012 The starter on my wife's Zafira gave up the ghost, when I opened it up all this crap fell out.
2012_1008_hen_pen.jpg (252689 bytes) Sept 2012 The run is finished and the hens are in, at one stage I thought of building a coup but decided I didn't really have the spare time so we bought one. These hens had better give plenty of eggs to pay for it all.
2012_992_hen_pen.jpg (205075 bytes) Sept 2012 Around this time our daughter Laura decides that she wants some hens, luckily we have plenty of spare ground out the back of our house to make a good chicken run.
2012_1126_carmels_birthday.jpg (113730 bytes) Sept 2012 Finally on her actual birthday, the 8th we had another party for her while we were over in Glasgow attending a nephew's wedding - and this was why I missed the postponed AVO Day 2012.
2012_1055_carmels_birthday.jpg (101925 bytes) Sept 2012 Then a few days later in early Sept our girls baked mum another cake and we had another smaller party for her - but the celebrations still weren't over.
2012_985_carmels_birthday.jpg (106148 bytes) Aug 2012 My wife's birthday isn't for a week or so yet but they had a party in work for her and some of the girls in work baked her this cake - she's a Theatre Sister who unfortunately is really a manager in an office nowadays rather than a real nurse that my wife wishes she still was.
2012_879_rebeccas_birthday.jpg (105426 bytes) Aug 2012 Our eldest girl Rebecca has just turned 18, where have all those years gone.
2012_802_stoned_wheel.jpg (82666 bytes) July 2012 This is one of the rear tyres of the rally car taken after the Queen's Motor Club's Lanes Rally, it was quite surprising that the tyre actually stayed up.
grinding_welds_2012 779.jpg (98880 bytes) July 2012 This shell was originally intended as a replacement shell for my rally car back in the late 90s but now that it was going to be a road car I decided that I really needed to tidy up some of the old repairs and grind down all the welds etc.
2012_721_heater_bubble.jpg (62216 bytes) July 2012 By now we had Laura's car into the garage and even though this shell had been worked at now and again over many years there was still one or two minor repairs to sort like this one at the heater bubble.
konig_viva_2012 757.jpg (113098 bytes) July 2012 One of the reason that I was so interested was because of the engine, or more precisely the fuel injection that was fitted to it.  It was a Tecalemit Jackson setup, very similar to that one for my Twin Cam and it gave me a chance to see and photograph how it should all go together.
konig_viva_2012 752.jpg (110856 bytes) July 2012 During a family trip/day out to a country house outside Drogheda I came across this small car museum and one of the cars there was this Gabriel Koenig HB Viva. 


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June 2012 The annual trip to AVO Day that wasn't, I was driving down England on the Saturday afternoon when I got a phone call from Smudger to say that because of the rain and soft ground the show was cancelled. Luckily there was another show at Trentham Gardens, one of nicest cars at it was Roy Brown's Twin Cam - he had also come over from Northern Ireland for AVO Day. 
lauras_car_2012 701.jpg (134253 bytes) June 2012 My middle daughter Laura who is 15 and navigates for me has been pestering me about "her car" - it was round at the farm getting a little blasting done to one or two final areas so now it's time to get it back into the garage and prepare it for painting.
mot_prep_2012 545.jpg (122178 bytes) May 2012 It's hard to believe that another year has past and it's time for the rally car to be prepped for MoT again,  last year we had some reasonable results in the lanes rallies on old worn out tyres and in a bid to improve even more this year I invested in a full set of new tyres - no expense spared.
Olympus Photos 2012 002_mini_water_pump.jpg (133596 bytes) Jan 2012 And one of my first jobs of the year was fitting a new water pump in Grannie's Mini - at the time I thought that this was a bit of a nightmare job but later in the year I was to find out what a nightmare of a job really is,  see Dec 2012 for details.
Olympus Photos 2011 1579.JPG (73164 bytes) Sept 2011 Back from out holidays and I start a major garage project, the whole garage is cleared, the floor and walls are all repainted and then I start to put up the new shelves that I got when my place of work closed down last year.
Olympus Photos 2011 1490.JPG (167652 bytes) Aug 2011 On our way home from our holidays we stopped off to see the new memorial at the birthplace of my all time guitar hero - the late great Rory Gallagher.
Olympus Photos 2011 1431.JPG (172816 bytes) Aug 2011 At least the next time we went away it was a family holiday down to the Kerry/Dingle area of Southern Ireland. I'm not sure if this is really a good look but my girls insisted that I should at least try out the surf but a body board was enough for me.
Olympus Photos 2011 1312.JPG (138559 bytes) Aug 2011 Another "no-kids" weekend away, at this rate I'll never get all my projects finished.
Olympus Photos 2011 1108.JPG (115850 bytes) July 2011 Our local church at Tullylish has a small car show every year and there's always the odd Mk1 that turns up. This was a well know local rally car from the early 70s run by McCartan's Plant Hire.
Olympus Photos 2011 1076.JPG (277567 bytes) July 2011 Part of the pay-back for being allowed to go off on these trips to shows on the mainland etc is having to take my wife away on long weekends - just her and I, no kids.
Olympus Photos 2011 973.JPG (178610 bytes) June 2011 The annual trip over to AVO Day which would later turn out to be the last one held at Stanford Hall - for the foreseeable future anyway.
Olympus Photos 2011 972.JPG (98982 bytes) May 2011 Finally it was a good coat of water based metallic Mercedes Silver and then a coat of lacquer to give it a good shine. The finished job looked as good as new and then it was on with brand new tyres.
Olympus Photos 2011 926.JPG (64720 bytes) May 2011 Next job was some stoppers into the deeper marks and then a few coats of high build primer. This was sanded down with medium wet-n-dry then some more high build primer which was then sanded down with fine wet-n-dry.
Olympus Photos 2011 916.JPG (87847 bytes) May 2011 The alloys on the Freelander were getting into a bit of a state so each week I took the tyre off one. I started off blasting them and giving them a coat of etch primer.
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Olympus Photos 2011 043.JPG (115867 bytes) Jan 2011 And also in January daddy is another year older.
Olympus Photos 2011 026.JPG (116826 bytes) Jan 2011 This is the outer rim of that tractor wheel, it was in pretty poor shape so it was blasted and etch primer before lots of time was spent adding stoppers and high build primer and then hours of sanding before it was ready for painting.
Olympus Photos 2011 024.JPG (97344 bytes) Dec 2010 The Freelander has 275,000 miles on her and the starter solenoid is getting a bit iffy again, this is the second time in 12 years that I've had to take the copper contacts out and file them down. I think that next time I'll just have to buy new contacts.
Olympus Photos 2010 990.JPG (109586 bytes) Dec 2010 Lots of other bits of both the tractor and plough were also getting the full treatment of blasting, etch priming and painting etc.
Olympus Photos 2010 989.JPG (99705 bytes) Nov 2010 Meanwhile inside the garage I started to tractor wheels, blasting, painting and lots of rubbing down etc, this is an early solid centre. Hard to believe but this tractor dates from 1948.
Olympus Photos 2010 987.JPG (113820 bytes) Nov 2010 Much of this past summer had been spent concreting round the back of the garage and the drive down to the shed. I also made a plinth and large sump for washing the rally car, tractor and suchlike - the Freelander was the first to get the full treatment.
Olympus Photos 2010 1051.JPG (143556 bytes) Oct 2010 So it gets a nice new heavy duty axle, new springs and Vauxhall hubs to match my car transporter so that'll mean only one spare wheel will do for both trailers.
Olympus Photos 2010 1049.JPG (146236 bytes) Oct 2010 My old 6 x 4 builders trailer was bought secondhand in 1976 or so, the axle was made with Morris Minor hubs and suchlike and was well past it's best.
Olympus Photos 2010 977.JPG (120219 bytes) Sept 2010 Laura, my middle daughter is doing a school project on farming etc so we visit the Farmer's Market in Banbridge but it's rather a wild and wet day with hardly a sinner to be seen.
Olympus Photos 2010 800.JPG (127289 bytes) Sept 2010 My ploughing is not the best and later I find out why, a broken mounting on the plough - that'll get fixed when I get round to restoring the plough which is well down a long list of projects.
Olympus Photos 2010 730.JPG (164831 bytes) Sept 2010 Back home and I get the plough out to to sort out the area that I call the back garden.
Olympus Photos 2010 935.JPG (162386 bytes) August 2010 The next family trip is ten days in Lanzarote but my girls found it extremely hot and spent much of the time in the pool.
Olympus Photos 2010 677.JPG (145571 bytes) August 2010 Early August and we have a family trip to the Ulster Folk Museum where we visit the old one room school that my mother attended back in the 1930's when she was a kid.
Olympus Photos 2010 543.JPG (200538 bytes) August 2010 This is just another bit of a tractor that I bought for spares - Carmel was not too happy about more scrap starting to appear about the house.
Olympus Photos 2010 497.JPG (187325 bytes) July 2010 This was my Grandfather's "Wee Grey Fergie" which I'm hoping to restore over the next few years but at the moment I just want to get it going so I can plough the back garden and make it ready for sowing-out.
Olympus Photos 2010 462.JPG (170549 bytes) July 2010 This year I wasn't competing at the Loughgall Festival of Motorsport but I did go along to watch. One of the more interesting cars on display was this ex-Monte Escort as rebuilt by the Montegomerys.
Olympus Photos 2010 419.JPG (169064 bytes) June 2010 And my yearly trip to AVO Day, I'll hopefully get more of my photos uploaded in a few days.
Olympus Photos 2010 393.JPG (149061 bytes) May 2010 The good spring weather persuaded Carmel that rather than messing in the garage at old Escorts etc I should be spending all this free time sorting out the back garden which was still full of piles of soil etc since building my shed a few years ago. Andrea, my youngest had great fun trying out the mini digger which I had hired out for a few days.
Olympus Photos 2010 260.JPG (155317 bytes) March 2010 The next six weeks were spent repairing the old Mini, it needed a few panels, sills etc, a new rear subframe, suspension bushes and brake parts etc. Compared to a Mk1 Escort the panels cost peanuts and everything is available off the shelf - it almost persuaded me to sell all the Escort stuff and get into Minis again.
Olympus Photos 2010 200.JPG (131218 bytes) February 2010 My sister tried to persuade my mother to trade her old Mini in for a Nissan Micra under the scrapage scheme but mother was having none of it as she's driven nothing but Minis from 1959. Mum said "sure now that Neil has all this time on his hands he can fix up my old Mini".
Olympus Photos 2010 134.JPG (129490 bytes) January 2010 Meanwhile I was still working away at building up a crossflow engine, unfortunately all projects were put on hold for a while as at the end on January, the day after my 52nd birthday in fact, the American firm that I worked for (the old Hughes Tool Company) announced that it was pulling out of Belfast after 55 years and we were all being made redundant. 
Olympus Photos 2010 064.JPG (109675 bytes) January 2010 Carmel, my wife complained that her diesel Zafira was getting hard to start in the cold weather, I tested the glow plugs with a digital meter and found a faulty one which I replaced but a week or two later the car was worse than ever. On further investigation I found that the wiring to the glow plug relay was shorting out against the inner wing, she was lucky the car hadn't gone on fire.
30th Dec 09 101.JPG (109872 bytes) December 2009 A little while with some heat, a hammer and the mig welder I at last had a useable sump - good job I didn't throw it out all those years ago.
30th Dec 09 094.JPG (145651 bytes) December 2009 This one had been lying unused in the back of my garage since an engine blow-up many years ago, now with the current prices it was suddenly worth fixing it up.
30th Dec 09 093.JPG (121745 bytes) December 2009 I needed a big wing sump for my new 1660 engine, it used to be that you could pick them up for peanuts but the last couple I've seen on eBay have gone for about 150.
10th Nov 2009 022.JPG (104406 bytes) December 2009 I have now removed the back panel on Project Mexico so that it can be replaced with the proper one, this will also give me a chance to fix the bootfloor properly see details at EIJ 5885 Year 3.
2nd Nov 2009 309.JPG (50516 bytes) November 2009 There was nothing obviously wrong with it but it just wasn't letting the spark through. UPDATE - this was to happen twice more in 2010 with new rotor arms that would be OK for one rally or so and then fail, I still haven't got to the bottom of why?
18th Sept 2009 030.JPG (100759 bytes) November 2009 At a non-championship rally in Omagh the BDA in the rally car starts to run badly and then finally gives up the ghost with no spark. It turns out to be a faulty rotor arm and it was a new Lucas one which had only done a few rallies.
18th Sept 2009 016.JPG (106287 bytes) October 2009 A new Lumenition system was obtained, more details on the complete fitting procedure are given in Running Reports No2.
18th Sept 2009 007.JPG (112776 bytes) October 2009 Sometime ago my old Piranha electronic ignition system had given up the ghost, for some time the BDA had been running on points etc but now was time for a change.
14th Oct 2009 038.JPG (114143 bytes) October 2009 A few months ago on eBay I managed to pick up a rebuilt 1660 short motor for very humble money, 173 + carraige, at that price it was just too good to miss. I decided to look out one of my old big valve heads to build up an engine - I'm not really sure what I'll be doing with it yet.
14th Oct 2009 036.JPG (116107 bytes) October 2009 AThe next little mod to the rally car was to convert my period Lucas 25ACR alternator to works type spec with external rectifier etc, more details soon.
14th Oct 2009 030.JPG (135747 bytes) September 2009 A couple of weeks hard work and the power steering is all sorted, it's a great job down the tight twisty lanes and classic trial events that we do - the other guys in my local motor club say it's just my old age showing.
14th Sept 2009 051.JPG (116746 bytes) September 2009 A rather major project was undertaken, that of fitting Corsa power steering to the rally car - rather than spending 600 plus on some of the kits available I did it myself for less than 100 - full step by step details in Running Reports No2.
14th August 2009 031.JPG (84723 bytes) August 2009 Some bodywork gets done to the rally car, the rear quarter had been damaged in a "racing incident" quite some time ago, more details in Running Reports No2.
14th August 2009 009.JPG (129137 bytes) July 2009 The car was booked onto the rolling road in August to get the new carbs on the BDA set properly, preparations including welding in a union to take a lambda sensor. On the rolling road the car show 128 BHP at the rear wheels, around 165 at the flywheel which was quite good for a self built BDA.
27th July 09 005.JPG (77760 bytes) July 2009 There were a number of small jobs that I hadn't really had time to do in the rush of getting the BDA ready for AVO Day, more details are given in Running Reports No1.
2nd july 2009 129.JPG (104669 bytes) June 2009 While I was over at AVO Day I stopped off with John and Rita Wilcox and dropped off another BDA head which required some work - this would be for my next project, more details to follow at a later date.
MyaAvodayJune2009101.jpg (144930 bytes) June 2009 AVO Day was the fist outing for the car with the new engine fitted, it was literally started for the first time just two n ights before and the total mileage so far consisted of driving it out of the garage and onto and off the trailer.
13th June 2009 004.JPG (133360 bytes) June 2009 All my spare time over the next few weeks is spent building up a 1700 BDA - full details of the build process are given in Running Reports No1.
13th May 2009 007.JPG (128551 bytes) May 2009 And that more interesting project is............. a BDA engine for the rally car - oh happy days. This is one of my old BDAs which was last used in the rally car maybe 12 or 15 years ago.
6th May 2009 222.JPG (97857 bytes) May 2009 At last the skin is on the door and I'm doing a trial fit but then the door gets forgotten about as a more interesting project takes over.
27th May 2009 068.JPG (108588 bytes) May 2009 Andrea, my youngest daughter has some fun taking a few photos of me while I try to fit and adjust the new handbrake cable.
27th May 2009 073.JPG (116912 bytes) May 2009 And it's the time of year when my road car, the Freelander gets Mot'd. During the test the guy had to really pull the handbrake extremely hard to get a decent reading on the rollers - they very next day one of the handbrake cables breaks on me.
6th May 2009 161.JPG (115024 bytes) April 2009 Another rally and another repair, I discover a small leak in one of the soldered joints in our big header rad which luckily enough just needs resoldered.
1st Jan 2009 039.JPG (101531 bytes) April 2009 What with Rebecca and I being out every other Friday night rallying and all the other minor repairs to the rally car progress on the door has been rather slow but at least I've got it dismantled and the outer skim off.
6th May 2009 110.JPG (119008 bytes) March 2009 A few days later I discover that the inner end of the track rod had also got damaged and needs to be replaced - more details can be found in Running Reports No1.
3rd March 2009 039.JPG (117886 bytes) March 2009 During a rally round the shores of Lough Neagh we hit a massive hole in the road, it almost pulls the front wheel off the car, an investigation the next days shows a destroyed TCA rubber.
Wash car 4th Feb 09 058.JPG (107435 bytes) February 2009 Well OK, I'll admit it, I'm really only washing all the mud off that accumulates after a Friday nights rallying.
4th Feb 2009 074.JPG (117500 bytes) February 2009 Being a bit of a closet buftie I spent many Saturday afternoons during the wintertime polishing and cleaning the rally car.
1st Jan 2009 029.JPG (88531 bytes) January 2009 The rally car still has a damaged door from an accident way back in early 2007, this one is an old door which was taken off in 2003 so I'm going to reskin it and then replace the one that's currently on her - see Rebuild 4.
22nd Dec 08 011.JPG (83593 bytes) December 2008 An early Christmas present to myself is a new Mig welder, my old SIP welder gave up the ghost a few months ago - well I guess it didn't owe me much as I had bought it secondhand back in 1988. This last month or so I've been using a friend's modern SIP but the build quality seems to have gone downhill in the last 20 odd years. After looking round at a few welders I eventually settled on a Portamig 185, partly because the lowest power settings on it are quite a bit lower than most and it also has 12 power settings whereas many have only 4 or 6 and it's British made.
26th Nov 08 287.JPG (76869 bytes) December 2008 A start has been made on replacing the middle and front chassis legs. For more details see EIJ 5885 Year 2.
1st Nov 08 293.JPG (118169 bytes) November 2008 And I have started to the front panel etc.
17th Oct 08 011.JPG (106494 bytes) October 2008 Next up it's the drivers Inner Wing which is getting the full treatment. For more details see EIJ 5885.
30th Aug 08 026.jpg (152500 bytes) October 2008 And I move back to the driver's side, firstly fitting a new sill, being a Hadrian sill I had to fit the little recessed piece first.
21st Sept 08 008.JPG (176862 bytes) September 2008 And two weeks later at North Armagh it's the mounting bolts for the alternator, luckily we still manage to finish both events and Rebecca still holds a slender lead in her class of the N.I. Navigation Rally Championship.
17th Sept 08 014.JPG (154427 bytes) September 2008 Speaking of break, that's exactly what I do over the next couple of events, firstly it's the gearstick at a Dungannon event.
3rd Sept 08 001.jpg (166346 bytes) September 2008 With our rally season about to restart I spend some time ready my rally car after the long summer break.
26th Aug 08 067.jpg (77931 bytes) August 2008 The new Inner Wing Top is now fitted along with a new H/D Top Plate, next up will be all the panels under the wing. 
7th Aug 08 002.jpg (93921 bytes) August 2008 Next up I move to the front end of the car, most of the panels here will need replaced or at least repaired. Here I am cutting out the old wing top, I'm going to be fitting a new ex-pressed Panel's item.
eij_5th_Aug_08_018.jpg (136246 bytes) August 2008 All four floor pans and one sill are now fitted.
eij_28Th_July_08_013.jpg (111741 bytes) July 2008 With the shell back at my own garage I can continue on by fitting the outer sill etc to the passenger side.
eij_27th_July_08_039.jpg (138237 bytes) July 2008 After a lay off of over 3 months I finally get back to working on EIJ 5885, I take her round to the farm to blast some more areas of the shell before continuing with the repairs.
avo_15th_June_08_066.jpg (235192 bytes) June 2008 The next day is AVO Day 2008 at Stanford Hall
suttons_15th_June_08_056.jpg (159063 bytes) June 2008 Tim, the "Events & PR" guy of the AVO club organizes a visit to the Historic Motorsport Museum and Workshops. It is particularly appreciated by those of us who live "across the water" and don't get to many club meets. 
mex_3rd_June_08_005.jpg (136157 bytes) May 2008 Time to weld on the wings to the Daytona Mexico project, it's really being kept here so we can take reference measurements when I start to replace the Inner Wing Tops on EIJ 5885.
laws_28th_May_08_320.jpg (159220 bytes) May 2008 And a bit of a gathering at Laurence's house to see his new shed and growing collection of tasty Mk1's.
zafira_28th_May_08_344.jpg (145449 bytes) April 2008 Carmel has been passing remarks about the colour of her car for months now, nothing for it but for us all to get stuck in with the T-cut, it's amazing the difference it makes and by the time we're finished everyone thinks she has a new car.
eij_28th_May_08_176.jpg (142611 bytes) April 2008 By the start of April I'm doing a trial fit on the driver's side floor pans of EIJ 5885, unfortunately this project now takes a bit of a "back seat" or a while - 3 months in fact before I start to it again.
stoneleigh_08_015.jpg (174143 bytes) March 2008 With Race/Retro at Stoneleigh being the same weekend as Donington Spares Day it gave us the chance to see some great rally cars and kill two birds with one stone so to speak. 
rebecca_28th_May_08_222.jpg (217076 bytes) March 2008 Rebecca, my 13 year old daughter and Navigator is no longer a "Beginner", from the start of this year she has been competing in the "Novice" class of the Northern Ireland Championship. With 4 events gone she has won her class 3 times and leads her class in the championship.
jij_08_051.jpg (177515 bytes) March 2008 The wipers on our rally car give some trouble on a particularly wet night spent rallying round Cookstown. The motor needs some repairs but half the wiring behind the dash along with the steering etc need moved before I can get the wiper motor out.
eij_08_127.jpg (124011 bytes) February 2008 Finally I get round to welding in the passenger floor pans to EIJ 5885
08_037.jpg (97180 bytes) January 2008 By now I'm starting to trial fit the floor pans and make patches to mate up with the bulkhead etc.
paris_07_1312.jpg (159471 bytes) December 2007 Just before Christmas I take my wife Carmel off to Paris for a long weekend break - an early Christmas present for her, once there I reveal the real reason behind the trip, Springsteen is playing at "The Bercy". 
eij_07_1404.jpg (224176 bytes) December 2007 At the same time the pile of twisted scrap metal on the floor gets bigger and bigger.
eij_07_1254.jpg (127009 bytes) December 2007 Work on EIJ 5885 is coming along slowly, the complete floor down one side has now been cut out.
hdlight_07_1252.jpg (134659 bytes) November 2007 After a particularly wet Night Rally where we had lots of floods to contend with I discover that one of the headlights has half filled with water, a closer look reveals that the silvering is starting to dull down quite a bit - it'll soon be time to invest in a new set. 
eij_07_1208.jpg (181214 bytes) November 2007 Work has now started on EIJ 5885, the floor pans are the first of many items to get replaced.
eij_07_1201.jpg (344606 bytes) October 2007 The latest addition to the "Fletcher Mk1 Collection" is this 1973 Sebring Red Mexico - it's a complete restoration project and more details can be found at EIJ 5885.
1218_mot.jpg (74266 bytes) October 2007 There is no back bumper on my rally car to hide the normal number plate light behind, so I decided to do what Ford did with many of the works cars and fit a Lucas light as fitted to many British classic cars of the 60's and we went for the proper metal one rather than the modern plastic repro item.
1214_mot.jpg (109399 bytes) October 2007 These included no number plate light, sliding joints in the exhaust, non E-marked rally tyres, etc. Ah well nothing for it but sort them out and take her back again in a couple of weeks.
1213_mot.jpg (110550 bytes) October 2007 The car was due for her yearly MoT test in October, I wasn't overly surprised when she failed, but I was shocked to be given a list of no less than 9 failure points. I'd never had more than 3 or 4 with any car before. At least 3 of them were minor things that other MoT Testers had turned a blind eye to for the past 20 years.
1065_paint.jpg (151070 bytes) September 2007 The top coats of paint finally went on leaving a few days to screw everything back together before our next event. Unfortunately we ending up missing the event anyway as Rebecca had to go into hospital for a minor operation.
1064_primer.jpg (117311 bytes) September 2007 The next week or so saw plenty of sandpapering etc before finally getting a couple of coats of primer onto the car.
front_07_1005.jpg (141386 bytes) End August 2007 There's only 2 weeks to go before our next event and the wing and front panel are finally welded on. Now I can start to prepare for paint etc.
front_07_991.jpg (129633 bytes) Late August 2007 With all the edges finally cleaned up I can get round to doing a trial fit on the wing and front panel. I find that these repro front wings which were made a few years ago are not as good "fit wise" as the ones which were available in the late 70's  and 80's.
front_07_1001.jpg (158911 bytes) Late August 2007 The radiator and oil cooler etc are finally removed and I finish off removing the final bits of the old wing and front panel. As well as cleaning up the edges I give them a coat of primer.
front_07_989.jpg (132488 bytes) Late August 2007 The RS lip is welded on with a spot of weld every couple of inches.
front_07_985.jpg (117954 bytes) Mid August 2007 I cleaned the paint off the inner edges which will be overlapped and welded, I then repainted them with weld-thro primer. I normally just use etch primer but my local motor factors had given me this to try out.
new_wing_07_984.jpg (117334 bytes) Mid August 2007 With doing other work and taking holidays etc it has been a while since we got any work done on the rally car. With only 4 weeks to go before our season restarts in mid September we finally get round the preparing the wing and lip for welding etc.
mini_digger_07_801.jpg (153011 bytes) Early August 2007 With more work still to be done on the storm drains down the back garden, I hired out a Mini Digger for the weekend. It was the best fun I've had in a long time and was certainly 100 well spent.
shed_bbq_07_777.jpg (118895 bytes) Late July 2007 With the floor of the shed finally all painted the "Grand Opening Barn Dance and Bar-b-que" took place on the 28th July. It did mean moving out some cars and other bits and pieces to make room for the tables, bar and dance floor.
carmel_07_721.jpg (141745 bytes) Mid July 2007 No, it's my wife making use of one of my AVO boiler suits while she paints the fence in preparation for the "Grand Opening" of the shed.
carmel_07_723.jpg (130454 bytes) Mid July 2007 Is this the "Tea Lady" at the AVO factory making tea for the early shift on the "Merry-go-round."
hole_07_690.jpg (118770 bytes) Early July 2007 A few months ago I discovered a bit of a problem with the pit in my garage. It was flooding and the false floor was rotting from underneath. I had to get a digger in to dig a massive hole outside the garage to try and sort out the storm drains. To give you an idea of the size of the hole, the pipe you see coming out under the wall is my new drain pipe from the bottom of the pit and that's about 7 feet deep.
door_07_726.jpg (110106 bytes) Early July 2007 With the door post needing some repair and welding I needed a way to stop hot sparks from the grinder and welder doing any damage to the seats etc. I cut up an old piece of floor covering and stuck it in the door opening with masking tape.
loughgall_off_07_676.jpg (108833 bytes) Late June 2007 The most of the front panel and wing have been removed, just the edges etc to tidy up. I think I now need to remove the engine etc to do proper repairs - more work.
loughgall_off_07_664.jpg (111340 bytes) Late June 2007 When you see how much the headlight bowl is twisted out of shape it's surprising that the headlight itself was undamaged in the accident.
loughgall_off_07_663.jpg (84776 bytes) Mid June 2007 Once back from AVO Day I get her into the garage and get stuck into the repairs. There's no real hurry as we're not competing again until the end of August but it's surprising how quickly the time will fly in.
jij9975_07_610.jpg (96778 bytes) Mid June 2007 The annual trek to AVO Day, Carmel, my wife, is surprised, no shocked to hear that I'm taking the smashed up rally car to the show. Unfortunately we didn't win any prizes in the Concourse de Elegance!
loughgall_07_655.jpg (95748 bytes) Early June 2007 Competing in the Festival of Motorsport at Loughgall, I once again manage to toss it into the scenery, luckily it's the same side as last time but we'll definately have to change that wing and front panel now.
yellow_mex_463.jpg (48020 bytes) June 2007 The involves the use of a solid lump of copper. Something like the head of a copper mallet, or in my case the insert which has fallen out of an old mallet. This is held behind the hole you are trying to fill up, tight against the metal. 
yellow_mex_461.jpg (52146 bytes) June 2007 After much thought I decide to try and weld up all these tiny holes. I use a technique which was taught to me by one of the welders in my work, well they are professionals after all.
yellow_mex_455.jpg (57210 bytes) June 2007 The shell is now upside down again and we are working at the boot floor. For some unknown reason there were quite a few tiny holes in this area, some little more than a pin hole, others were the diameter of a pencil or bigger.
yellow_mex_426.jpg (74337 bytes) May 2007 It took a couple of evenings of careful drilling, welding etc before the front panel eventually gets welded on, the wings were removed again to make it a little easier.
yellow_mex_430.jpg (46915 bytes) May 2007 In the area which would be hidden behind the Grille I once again drilled holes in the front panel and welded from the front side.
yellow_mex_429.jpg (33642 bytes) May 2007 Other areas called for holes to be drilled, here the holes are drilled in the lower crossmember and the welding is done from the rear, it takes practice to get just the right amount of weld penetration etc.
yellow_mex_427.jpg (48117 bytes) May 2007 The weld holes along this edge were easy to make with the punch part of my Joddler, now I just have to try and keep the plug welds neat and tidy.
yellow_mex_422.jpg (52300 bytes) May 2007 It's not really obvious but I had to set a piece into this end of the slam panel, the L shaped hole still needs a little work with a small file to get it to the right shape - notice once again this is the wing which we repaired much further down this page, at that time it was Sebring Red in colour!
yellow_mex_420.jpg (67765 bytes) May 2007 Once I'm happy with the fit of all these panels, I start to weld on the front panel.
mex_shell_416.jpg (78209 bytes) May 2007 I have owned this car for about 23 years and this is the first time that I've had a bonnet fitted to it, when I bought the car the bonnet was inside the shell. The wings etc are now ready for a trial fit. First they are screwed on with self tapers etc until everything lines up reasonably well. 
mex_wing_417.jpg (43484 bytes) April 2007 At long last we get back to working at the Yellow Mexico again. This is a wing that we started to work on about 2 years ago, somewhere down near the bottom of this page. I had to replace the section in round the headlight.
floor_paint_07_102.jpg (75404 bytes) Late March 2007 Then I start and clear the other side of the shed ready for painting over the Easter Holidays. My blue 1300 is only in here until the good weather comes along.
shed_fill_up_07_099.jpg (113580 bytes) Late March 2007 Three weeks later the paint has had time to dry and I can move the first car in. No that tatty old Escort isn't towing the Freelander :-) The car has no brakes and it's quite steep down to the shed, I don't want the car to take off down the hill otherwise it wouldn't stop until it is about two fields away. 
floor_paint_07_101.jpg (55993 bytes) Early March 2007 I finally get round to painting the floor of the shed, it helps keep the dust down and means any oil leaks from old cars are easy to clean up.
rally_off_063.jpg (79868 bytes) February 2007 With the car into the garage I discovered that the wing was so badly stretched that it was almost impossible to get it back into shape. I had to make a cut from the bottom almost up to the headlight aperture just to get it straightened. Once straightened the two sides of the cut ended up overlapping each other by almost an inch. The car will be a bit narrower at the front for a while, at least until we get a new front panel fitted.
rally_off_061.jpg (94475 bytes) February 2007 To make matters worse we had another event lined up for the following Friday night and it was one I really wanted to do. Repairs started the following day with the front wing being winched back out even before the car came off the trailer.
rally_off_059.jpg (89630 bytes) February 2007 With the front wing catching the bank a mighty thump the car slewed sideways and smacked a very large H-iron gatepost, it was one of those occasions when it might have been better to go straight off into the muddy field, unfortunately with a rear wheel drive car we would never have been able to reverse back up out of the mud - we would have needed a tow.
rally_off_058.jpg (105012 bytes) February 2007 We came out over a blind crest at rather high speed, what appeared to be the road going straight was actually a downhill gateway into a muddy field, the road went sharp left. Without even thinking the handbrake was ripped on and we very nearly made it, unfortunately my front wing caught the bank.
rally_off_057.jpg (89774 bytes) February 2007 What a sorry sight, Rebecca experiences her first "big off" on a Northern Ireland Championship event in the lanes round Omagh. A bigger problem than the damage to the car, was the fact that her glasses flew off, we had to stop down the road a bit and eventually found them in a rear footwell, she then managed to navigate us on to yet another class win! 
rebecca _1.jpg (96891 bytes) September 2006 Rebecca navigates me to a class win on her first proper rally. She has taken to navigating like a duck to water, over the next few months she turns out to be practically unbeatable in the beginners class with 6 class wins out of 8 starts. 
yellow_mex_1598.jpg (90216 bytes) September 2006 Progress with our latest project is very slow. If much more rubbish gets thrown in below the shell we wont be able to turn it on the spit.
rallying_1375.jpg (85701 bytes) August 2006 My eldest daughter, 12 year old Rebecca is sitting at my computer one night when an e-mail from the chairman of my local motor club arrives. It's about a Rallyschool we are going to run. Rebecca reads it and enquires "What's a Rallyschool", when I explain, she announces - much to her mothers disgust that she wants to go. Here she is ready to set off on her first practice event.
AVO_Day_06_827.jpg (100592 bytes) June 2006 The annual trip to AVO Day, as I get older the day seems to fly in quicker every year, roll on 2008 when there will hopefully be another whole weekend event for us to attend. 
yellow_mex_791.jpg (77757 bytes) Easter 2006 I get the shell up onto the new updated spit. This one is an improved version of the original, more details will be given on the following page "The Spit".
yellow_mex_765.jpg (71251 bytes) Spring 2006 I finally get Project Mexico round from my mothers house to my own garage, I built myself this little A-frame so I could move the shell about with just the back axle in it.
plaster_1885.jpg (73990 bytes) October 2005 By now the walls are nearly all plastered, the door frames should come soon and then we can get the floor in.
roof_1838.jpg (92622 bytes) Late September 2005 Finally the roof arrives, four of us spent two days putting the whole thing on. I haven't worked as hard in years as I've worked over the last few months, working my normal nightshift, then helping the builders during  the day, before grabbing a few hours in bed in the early evening.
roller_1867.jpg (74184 bytes) September 2005 Next up was to hire a vibrating roller to really pack the floor down before putting in the concrete floor.
shovel_1748.jpg (1345615 bytes) Late August 2005 Unfortunately there was still some proper work to be done with the "wrong" end of a long tail shovel.
stones_1758.jpg (1410864 bytes) Late August 2005 Otherwise known as "skid steer frontloaders" because you skid the wheels to steer them, this was the best fun I had had in a long time.
bobcat_1763.jpg (116609 bytes) Late August 2005 During the following week I got 25 ton of stones delivered, these would be used to fill up both the floor and around the outside of the shed. The only practical way to move that amount of stones was to hire a Bobcat for the weekend.
pipe_1785.jpg (836750 bytes) August 2005 Delivery of the roof would take about three weeks, in the meantime I started to put in the pipework for the drains etc. Andrea thought it was great fun helping daddy. You can also see our Labrador pup, Tess.
walls_1765.jpg (90996 bytes) Early August 2005 And the block work is finally finished and the rest of the steelwork for the roof goes on. At last we can take exact measurements and order the roof panels.
shed_1677.jpg (98492 bytes) Late July 2005 Another few feet have been added to some of the walls and we have also started to put in the steel beams and wooden joists to support the loft. July is normally holiday time in Northern Ireland but the two guys working at my shed are only taking a couple of days so hopefully the block work should soon be finished.
blue_car_1652.jpg (99355 bytes) Mid July 2005 I have finally got my little blue run-about out for its first run of the year. Laura, her cousin Hanna and I got it out of the garage one evening, we gave it a quick wash and took it for a run. It needs a couple of minor things done to get it ready for MoT.
wing_999.jpg (65161 bytes) July 2005 This drivers side one was OK apart from the wing mounting part. I cut the old damaged bit off and added new metal right down this edge. Here I am at the stage of added little spot welds to hold it all together.
wing_993.jpg (86364 bytes) July 2005 I haven't been able to get round to my mums to work at the shell of the Yellow Mex, but I have got a little done. When I removed her front wings many months ago they were not really re-useable for a road car so I decided to try and sort out a better pair from my stock of second-hand ones. I didn't think it was really worth putting a pair of new my ones on a road car.
wheel_bearing_961.jpg (93499 bytes) July 2005 While the builders have been working at the shed I have spent most of my time helping them or running about organizing stuff. This has meant that I've had almost no time to work at any of my cars. During my last event with the rallycar back in late May she developed a noise from the back axle, I removed the nearside halfshaft to check the bearing. She is still sitting like this almost 2 months later. I'll need to get it sorted soon as she's due for MoT in a few weeks.
the_walls_1533.jpg (70660 bytes) Early July 2005 With the floor now brought up to near its proper level with stones, and walls going up you now get a better idea of what size the shed will be. It should hold 9 cars with ease, or more if I make frames to double stack the spare shells ;-)  
blockwork_1483.jpg (114087 bytes) Late June 2005 While I was over at AVO Day my builders started to the blockwork and after a week the walls were up to head height.
steelwork_1200.jpg (91655 bytes) June 2005 Another 3 weeks later the steel work for the middle section of the shed is now up and we are ready to start the block work.
foundations_944.jpg (120187 bytes) Late May 2005 After weeks of poor weather we finally get the foundations dug and in!
Whoops 962.jpg (71147 bytes) May 2005 I ran out of time and didn't get her painted but at least I got most of the dent hammered out.
Whoops_876.jpg (82516 bytes) April 2005 With my next event being the Drumhorc Hillclimb in early May, I had to get the front corner tidied a little.
Whoops_810.jpg (81205 bytes) Whoops On Friday 8th April we went to Dungannon for a Night Navigation Rally, in one of the later sections I came round a tight right-hander a little too hard and popped a front wheel over a low bank. The wheel dropped over the bank and it took a few minutes to free her, luckily we still finished third in class which made up for this little off.
652.jpg (69823 bytes) Easter 2005 I have been talking about building a "Classic Vehicle Store" for over a year now. It took a while to get planning permission etc sorted. Over the Easter holidays we finally got a digger moved in.
216.jpg (90595 bytes) Spring 2005 During the winter I decided it was time to start another project so my old Daytona Yellow Mexico was pulled out of the barn where she had sat this last 20 odd years. After welding on a couple of sills and a floor pan or two I got down to doing some blasting to try a see what other work the shell needed. My intention is that this car, once finished, should be a regular use car rather than a show car etc. Sometime in the future I shall start a page dedicated to this rebuild.

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