Neil Fletcher Racing

The Rebuild - Part 3

Putting it all back together.

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After working at the car for nearly 3 years, The Rebuild is getting to the best part. When you start to put it all back together you can at last see the fruits of your labours so to speak.

Click on any of the images below for a larger photo.

plating.jpg (72366 bytes) There were lots of little bits that got blasted and then zinc plated, this is just a small selection of them.

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Almost every bit of the car was getting blasted or cleaned and plated as above, or painted like these bits here.
wiring_1.jpg (36931 bytes) The engine bay wiring loom needed a lot of work. Many extra wires had been added over the years and in some cases these had just been tie-wrapped to the main loom. I started by removing all the old loom tape and tidying up the wires.
wiring_2.jpg (40825 bytes) I put the loom in place within the engine bay to check that the wires would all reach their respective components. When I was happy with that, I taped the wires together every few inches.
wiring_3.jpg (34124 bytes) Then I started to re-wrap the entire engine bay loom. As an example of all the extra wiring, you will notice that I have 4 relays on the inner wing whereas a standard Mexico has only one. My other main problem is that the loom is now so thick that the standard loom clips wont go over it.
interior_1.jpg (135686 bytes) Next up was the interior loom and even this has been extensively modified. Many years ago I made this centre console in ally sheet to hold the extra switches, fuse boxes etc. Before I put it back in I thought about painting it in wrinkle finish but I decided it would be too much bother to remove all the switches and wiring, so I left well alone.
rear_susp.jpg (33141 bytes) With most of the dash sorted, I turned my attention to the suspension etc. First up was fitting the 5-linked Baby Atlas Axle. This may only be an old rally car but every part that was even slightly rusty was blasted and painted or plated.
r_tops.jpg (41950 bytes) A really lucky find at a local Autojumble was a pair of Roller Tops still in the Ford boxes. The guy selling them said the part number on the box was a Mk2 Cortina part and he was looking £15 each for them. My mate who was with me nearly choked when I talked the guy down to £25 for the pair.
struts.jpg (30159 bytes) My adjustable front Bilstiens are the more unusual short tarmac version. Along with the new Roller Tops, I fitted a new pair of inserts at the very reasonable price of £95 each from Peter Lloyd Rallying. The Bilstein casings and the springs etc were just blasted and painted.
struts_2.jpg (24615 bytes) The struts were then fitted to the shell, I still need to get my hubs etc blasted and plated and then fit the brake calipers. Note the Tank Tape on the struts and the rubber pipe on the steering track rods, there is grease under these to protect the exposed threads on both.
pd_box.jpg (24853 bytes) Next came the adjustable bias pedal box, it was completely dismantled and various bits blasted etc. I fitted new rubbers to both the brake master cylinders but the clutch master was worn badly and needed to be replaced with a second hand item. Some of you may spot that my pedal box is not actually a Mexico based one, it is the Twin Cam/RS1600 version, identifiable by the much longer accelerator pedal.
pd_box_1.jpg (44785 bytes) When using an adjustable bias pedal box you need extra reservoirs for the extra cylinders. The one on the left is the original late Mexico type one, I think it is just moved slightly from its original position. The other two then feed the two brake cylinders.
rad_1.jpg (51100 bytes) Next up was my big header radiator, my original one which I had got re-cored about 15 years ago was past its best so I decided to keep it for a spare and make up a new one. I managed to find a busted Mk1 Cortina big header rad, (short type) in a scrap yard. The guy wouldn't take any money for it as he was going to throw it away. I took it to my local radiator specialist and he put a tall 3 core matrix in it. I then had to make up my own side mounts to suit the Mexico.
rad_2.jpg (33770 bytes) Each side was made from 2 pieces of steel. They were cut and shaped to suit both the rad and the rad supports in the car. I have the slam panel of the shell cut away slightly as per Twinks and RS1600s to allow more clearance for the slightly thicker 3 core rad. A standard rad has only 2 cores.
rad_3.jpg (42523 bytes) The side pieces are now all made up and ready to be fitted to the rad. I will drill the mounting holes after the sides are fitted to the rad. I then took all the bits back to Brownlow Radiators and they soldered it all together and painted it.

rad.jpg (120716 bytes)

Here is the rebuild rad all ready to be fitted. I now have what is in effect a brand new tall 3 core big header rad all for the price of £105 and a little work. Not bad I thought.
eng_1.jpg (44615 bytes) Everyone has their own method for putting in the engine and gearbox - here is a brief run down on my method which I find is quite handy even working on my own. This method is particularly useful if like me you use a World Cup Crosmember. The first thing I do is lower the gearbox into place. I don't bolt it in, but I leave it sitting on a couple of blocks 2 or 3 inches lower than its normal position, the tail of the box is slightly lower so the nose points up. The rags stuffed round the bellhousing are there to hold it roughly in place.
eng_2.jpg (59061 bytes) You may have noticed in the photo above that the engine crossmember is not bolted to the chassis rails, in actual fact it is sitting about 5 inches below the chassis rails, this makes it an awful lot easier to put in the engine and box. To achieve this all you have to do is unbolt the steering column and the bolts holding the crossmember in place then push it down as far as it will go. It will still be held in place by the anti-rollbar and the TCA's.
eng_3.jpg (49841 bytes) Next the engine is lowered into position. Lower it down to mate with the gearbox and bolt them together. Once they are bolted together you can raise the gearbox and bolt its crossmember in position. Next bolt the engine mounts to both the engine and crossmember. Once that is done you can hoist the engine along with the crossmember backup into its proper position and screw the bolts up into the chassis rails.
door_6.jpg (50060 bytes) At the same time as fitting the engine etc, I was also preparing the doors, boot and bonnet. Back in “The Rebuild 2” I had done some repair work to the navigator’s door. When I started to paint the door, I discovered a few small spots where I was getting some sort of reaction with old paint etc. After sanding down these areas I gave the door a coat of paint sealer, which was a decidedly strange brown colour ;-)
door_7.jpg (39634 bytes) I was now able to give the door a few coats of high build primer with no further problems.
d_door_1.jpg (44662 bytes) While the navigator's door had been fixable the driver's door was just too far gone to be repairable. I picked this door from my stock of second hand ones, contrary to local rumour I did not take one of the doors of my Daytona Yellow Mexico, it really was a spare door that came with a lot of other Escort spares in a swap deal for Cooper S parts many years ago.
d_door_2.jpg (55883 bytes) As you can see the bottom of the door was a little rusty, but at least there were no holes in it and a good going over with the blaster would soon clean this up.
d_door_3.jpg (54233 bytes) You may have noticed in the photo above that this is actually a door from an early Mk2 Van or Estate. A close look at the door handle mechanism shows the plate that Ford supplied to convert the door to accept the Mk1 type handle etc.
d_door_4.jpg (63625 bytes) After the problems that I had with paint reaction on the other door I decided to take this one back to bare metal before doing any painting. Using Nitromors I removed the first coat of Daytona Yellow, to reveal a coat of Grey Primer. I removed this to reveal another coat of Yellow, then more primer, then more Yellow etc etc. It looked as if the door had been sprayed on 5 separate occasions. When I did eventually get down to the original Ford primer there were one or two small areas of Isopon where the door had obviously had a ding or two in its time.
door_8.jpg (46632 bytes) Once I had the doors and bootlid etc prepared it was back into my spray booth to give them a coat of Sebring Red, and in the case of the bonnet a coat of Matt Black.
eng_4.jpg (126637 bytes) In the meantime I had gotten the last of the engine ancillaries fitted and was able to start the engine. As it turned out I had to remove the engine again because of a blown head gasket and also a strange noise coming from the area of the clutch, there was a mad panic to get these problems sorted in the last few days before our first event.
otr.jpg (61160 bytes) And finally after all this feverish activity, Saturday 10th May 2003 dawned. The first time the car had moved under her own power for over four years, and she was going to get a baptism of fire. Less that four hours after tightening the final screw we were heading off for our first competitive event in quite a long time.
event_1.jpg (44941 bytes) The Drumhorc Hills Hillclimb, an event taking place on a closed public road only 2 miles from my own house. Everything went reasonably well considering there was no time to set the car up properly. There was only one minor off into the straw bales on the second run up the hill.
int_1.jpg (101191 bytes)

With our next planned outing being over a month away, AVO day in June, I was able to take it easy for a while. There were still plenty of minor jobs to do but the pressure of meeting the deadline for the hillclimb was past.

int_2.jpg (84522 bytes) There rest of the Navigators equipment, like tripmeter, clocks, intercom etc was finally installed as well as finishing off the wiring to various switches etc. Door locks, door cards, badges and many other small items were also fitted.
int_3.jpg (91868 bytes) There were still quite a few items to fit :- door bars to the rollcage, fire extinguishers, sump guard, mechanical handbrake mechanism – essential for the MOT and a few other minor items. But these would wait, there were more important preparations to make for our trip over to the mainland and AVO National Day.
Check back soon for the next installment.

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