Neil Fletcher Racing

JIJ9975 - Running Reports No3.

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April 2011 and the rally car needs an MoT before our first rally of the year round Dungannon.
Olympus Photos 2011 913.JPG (142547 bytes) What with us not having done any rallying since late year the rally car had lain all winter with no MoT, now there was a mad panic to get it sorted before our first rally in April. The night before the MoT I noticed a couple of small holes in the back box.
Olympus Photos 2011 912.JPG (128852 bytes) That wasn't really a major problem as I always keep loads of spares for the rally car so it was only a matter of going down to the shed and getting a spare. It was a slightly different shape so it needed the angle of the front little connector pipe changed but a few minutes with the angle grinder and Mig welder soon had that sorted.
Olympus Photos 2011 928.JPG (124457 bytes) For this rally I had a new navigator, Laura my middle daughter so for this reason I took it reasonably steady until she would get the hang of things - this "taking it easy" still didn't stop us sliding into one chicane in a mucky farmyard, I was lucky didn't smash this Cibie Oscar completely. Notice that the lens has been pushed completely back in at one side while it has popped out at the other.
Olympus Photos 2011 930.JPG (88099 bytes) And if you look at the back of it you wil see clearly how hard it was pushed back into the grille - which luckily wasn't really damaged either.
Olympus Photos 2011 931.JPG (115322 bytes) Some of the little spring clips which retain the lens had popped off but luckily they were still lying in the bottom of the casing and the only other thing I did was give the chrome ring a few light hammer blows to get it back into some sort of reasonable shape.
Olympus Photos 2011 918.JPG (133853 bytes) Another rally and we kiss a wall with my rear quarter - these things happen when you drive the way I do.
Olympus Photos 2011 921.JPG (82485 bytes) At least it only required a little while with the dollies and a skim of Isopon to sort it out - it just needs a couple of coats of paint now.
Olympus Photos 2011 923.JPG (93791 bytes) In the sideways smack the mounting screw of the rear light got sheared off, luckily we didn't loose the light unit altogether.
Olympus Photos 2011 925.JPG (126816 bytes) The remains of the stud gets drilled out then re-tapped a size bigger and I'll use a small bolt to hold it in place.
Olympus Photos 2011 927.JPG (119604 bytes) The smack on the wall was so hard it actually knocked the little reflector piece inside the light off it's peg but a little Araldite soon glues it back in place.
May 2011 and our next rally is at the Loughgall Festival of Motorsport, Laura my navigator is by now really getting the hang of things. First off we have some action photos, you can find lots more, of both ourselves and other competitors if you Click Here.
IMG 5757     IMG 6419     IMG 6424    IMG 6903   IMG 6911   IMG 6915  IMG 7258  
Olympus Photos 2011 933.JPG (129551 bytes) Loughgall turns out to be a rather fraught day for us with a number of minor problems. From this distance sitting on the plinth ready to get power washed she looks fine.
Olympus Photos 2011 934.JPG (141992 bytes) But a closer inspection shows where we slid into a short stubby branch of an apple tree, 9 months later I'm still finding bits of glass inside the car.
Olympus Photos 2011 951.JPG (80910 bytes) As if that wasn't enough the starter also gave up the ghost, it turned out to be the main power strap going down to the field windings that had broken off - just a case of being too long new so to speak.
Olympus Photos 2011 952.JPG (119976 bytes) Luckily starters are various pieces of the same are something that I keep a good supply of, even a broken starter can be a good supply of spare parts to rebuild another.
Olympus Photos 2011 919.JPG (104207 bytes) Just before going into the last 3.7 mile stage/section at Loughgall I noticed that there was a little steam coming out from under the bonnet, turned out that the header tank was starting to split but at least it held together until we got finished for the day.
June 2011, with our next event not until the end of July I decide to pull the BDA out and give it a bit of a freshen up but before that I replace a damaged door.
Olympus Photos 2011 945.JPG (173750 bytes) If you followed the original build of this BDA a couple of years ago you know it was built with secondhand piston rings because new ones weren't available from Cosworth at the time. In the meantime I had managed to get some - so the engine was pulled out to fit these along with new bearings etc.
Olympus Photos 2011 947.JPG (86952 bytes) Going round the last stage at Loughgall the engine had been popping and banging badly, at the time I thought that it was just because she was overheating a little from the split radiator. It turns our she must have backfired through the carbs and blow one of the rubber "O" rings out of it seat.
Olympus Photos 2011 900.JPG (122627 bytes) This door first made an appearance back in March/April 2009 when I started to strip it down and put a new skin on it, it got painted sometime in 2010 and is now finally getting fitted to replace the one that was damaged way back in early 2007.
Olympus Photos 2011 899.JPG (62180 bytes) It took 2 years from the time of the accident until getting an old door to fix up and then another 2 years to actually get round to fitting the door. In actual fact the door was lying around the shed so long that it picked up a couple of minor scratches in the paintwork but now at long last I'm really going to fit it.
Olympus Photos 2011 902.JPG (99702 bytes) As you can see here it's a Mk2 Van door and when it was previously used on the rally car I had just used the Mk2 style door pull and door card etc.
Olympus Photos 2011 013.JPG (73921 bytes) But this time round I'm going to do the job properly and fit one of those little adaptor piece to take the normal Mk1 style pull.
Olympus Photos 2011 904.JPG (86337 bytes) I have an original Ford one that they would have supplied back in period but rather than use it I take a pattern from it and made my own from a piece of an old scrap door.
Olympus Photos 2011 909.JPG (114042 bytes) It's just a matter of pop riveting on the adaptor piece and then the Mk1 door pull just screws in place as normal - job done.
Olympus Photos 2011 910.JPG (112981 bytes) For quite a while I had a period Wingard door mirror fitted to this car but the truth is they aren't a great mirror for seeing anything in especially as because of the roll cage there was no interior mirror. When I originally bought the car in 83/84 it had a pair of these fitted.
Olympus Photos 2011 906.JPG (88481 bytes) They are a reasonable mirror and were fitted to many Fords of the mid 70's, interestingly this one has a 74 Capri part number so it's certainly a period mirror.
Olympus Photos 2011 907.JPG (128147 bytes) Interestingly the plastic bit that goes between mirror and door is a 76 Cortina part. I've also managed to buy a couple more of these mirrors, they're NOS and certainly a lot cheaper than old Wingards go for.
July 2011 - Our next event will be the Queen's MC Summer Lanes Rally.
Olympus Photos 2011 1102.JPG (113739 bytes) With our next event being in late July it was now time to crack on with rebuilding the BDA, the bores were going to get a light hone, then it would be new rings and bearings and get it built up.
Olympus Photos 2011 1107.JPG (134683 bytes) It didn't take long to get the bottom end sorted and built up - all very straightforward stuff.
Olympus Photos 2011 1111.JPG (130926 bytes) The top end goes together pretty quickly too, there's no need to spend a lot of time checking valve to piston clearances etc because all that was done last time and nothing has changed in that area.
Olympus Photos 2011 1114.JPG (141776 bytes) The engine is soon completely built up and ready to go back in the car.
Olympus Photos 2011 1115.JPG (110697 bytes) While screwing on the engine mounts one problem does show up, one of the bolts shears off rather easily long before the correct torque is reached.
Olympus Photos 2011 1117.JPG (70696 bytes) It looks like it's been cracked for quite a while and there had been very little holding it in place.
Olympus Photos 2011 1119.JPG (152529 bytes) Luckily an easy-out soon extracts the broken bit and I can continue on the fitting the engine back into the car.


IMG 3694 IMG 3959 IMG 3963   IMG 4170 Lastly we have some action photos of the Queen's event, you can find lots more, of both ourselves and other competitors if you Click Here.


August 2011 - we don't have another event for a couple of months but I want to crack on now and rectify a couple of issues that showed up on our last event rather than leaving it to the last minute.
Olympus Photos 2011 1120.JPG (115282 bytes) Looks like I've been banned form the house and am having to camp out in the garage but no I'm actually warming up a TCA rubber in some water to make it softer and easier to fit.
Olympus Photos 2011 1123.JPG (86289 bytes) This one got destroyed after hitting a very large pothole on our last event so I'm fitting a new heavy duty replacement.
Olympus Photos 2011 1125.JPG (85615 bytes) When it's been warmed up it becomes slightly more pliable and you can use something blunt to push and lever it into place.
Olympus Photos 2011 1128.JPG (86605 bytes) A new washer and inner tube/spacer kit is also fitted as the others had got a bit bent with banging into that pothole.
Olympus Photos 2011 1141.JPG (91555 bytes) Another issue was a burst pipe down to the clutch slave cylinder, I had to drive the last two stages/sections without any clutch, that wasn't too difficult but the last couple of road section weren't so easy - sometimes you have to stop for other traffic.
Olympus Photos 2011 1144.JPG (113860 bytes) Luckily the burst was very near the end and there was enough extra pipe that I could just cut off that 1/2 inch and there would still be plenty to spare.
Olympus Photos 2011 1146.JPG (98076 bytes) After cutting and sliding the outer nit up the pipe the next job is to push the little olive over the plastic/ptfe pipe but inside the braided outer covering.
Olympus Photos 2011 1147.JPG (81628 bytes) Next up it's fitting the old union/banjo end.
Olympus Photos 2011 1148.JPG (138432 bytes) You'll notice that I have a couple of small bits of aluminum sheet fitted over the jaws of the vice so as not to damage the sealing surfaces of the union. Then the pipe is pushed onto the union.
Olympus Photos 2011 1149.JPG (100447 bytes) Now it's just a matter of tightening up the outer nut and the remade pipe is all ready to refit.
October 2011 - Larne MC October Lanes Rally.
Olympus Photos 2011 917.JPG (147015 bytes) Our next event is up in Larne and we have a reasonably trouble free day - well apart from sliding into a high kerb and damaging a rim and scrapping the tyre. The way I'm going I'll soon need to start looking for a few spare rims - if anyone has any slightly damaged but useable rims feel free to give me a shout.
November 2011 - BADMC Autumn Lanes Rally, firstly here are a couple of photos, for more of all the competitors Click Here.

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This rally saw us score another 13th Overall and 5th in class, - I think it's time we invested in good tyres for next year rather than running on old baldy tyres. Our only mishap was kissing a 40 gallon barrel full of water on the very last test of the day.
December 2011 - MADMC Tintmaster Navigational Lanes Rally.
  This rally was held on a very snowy and icy December day in the lanes round Davagh forest, it saw us score yet another 13th Overall, this has been our finishing position for the last 3 rallies in a row. Unfortunately we haven't been able to find any photos of this very snowy event.
It's bad enough when you break your own stuff, but when someone borrows stuff and leaves it back without saying anything it's even worse. A neighbour borrows my car transporter on a fairly regular basis, after one such occasion I happened to be walking up the yard and glanced over at the trailer and thought to myself that wheel looks a bit funny.
Further investigation revealed a broken axle. A number of years previously the other axle had cracked and I'd had to replace it. At that time I'd replaced the round tube with "Thick Wall" box section which was much stronger so I would be dooing the same thing with this one.
October 2012 - Larne Lanes Rally
This little dent was the result of rather too much exuberance with the handbrake while trying to negotiate a hairpin bend in a rather tight lane.
The rear quarter slammed into a rather stout Irish bank which was made up of great big stones. At the time we thought it was only a small dent and continued on, it was only while stopped a couple of tesrs later that we realised the full extent of the damage.
Our next event was only a couple of weeks away, the Magherafelt Lanes Rally so there would be a few late nights and some rather feverish work to get the car sorted again. As you can see in this photo the rear quarter has been pushed in quite a bit past the edge of the bootlid.
After removing the petrol tank in that cornered and the remnants of the tail light work could commence. Not having any access to a Port-a-power we resorted to the next best thing and chained the car to the wall of the shed with our old engine hoist.
The first job is to get the quarter pulled back out so that the bootlid can close back down into position. This was done by pulling with the engine hoist and at the same time placing a block of with the bigger of our two sledges. wood inside the rear quarter and hitting it none too lightly
It wasn't long before we had the quarter pulled out far enough that the bootlid would close properly. There was still a rather large dent to sort but at least we were getting things back into shape.
Unfortunately pulling the rear quarter back out had caused the join between the quarter and the back panel to open up, not helped by the amount of twisted and spilt metal there was in this area but that could be sorted later.
At this stage I changed from using the large sledge to a slightly smaller copper mallet to continue to beat the metal out to near it's original shape.
With the rear quarter back out to near it's proper shape it would soon be time to start the final delicate shaping with the bodywork hammers and dollies etc.
Before doing that the very top corner still needed a very slight pull to get a good shut line between it and the bootlid. To that end I made up this little bracket so that I could do the final little bit of pulling without causing any further damage. Thjis was the main rough work sorted and it was time to move the car to the garage for the more delicate final straightening etc.
Once into the garage the first job was to get the Mig welder out and repair all the split and torn metal around the tail light aperture, the corners of the hole all needed a little bit of welding.
With that done it was time to do some more shaping with the dollies etc, a sanding block was rubbed across the panel to show high and low areas and these were then dollied as required. This was repeated over and over again and with a bit of time and effort I was able to get the panel out to somewhere near the original shape.

It was now time for body filler, on the rally car I use as little of this as possible, just enough to make a reasonable repair. I always think that if you put in too much depth it will only crack and fall out the next time the rear quarter gets a bang and that looks even worse.
With the fillers and stoppers etc rubbed down it was time for a couple of coats of acid etch primer.
Then I sprayed on 3 or 4 coats of high build primer which goes on really thick and covers up many of the smaller blemishes and sanding marks etc.
The next morning once it had hardened properly this was was then flatting down with wet-n-dry to give a good smooth surface for painting.
There was still one or two minor imperfections but as this was a rally car I wasn't all that concerned with a 100% finish but all in all it was very good considering.
My darling wife does complain a little about the fact that there's so many Mk1 Escort projects in the garage that she can't get her road car in there during the winter time - luckily the rally car is only in for a "short stay".
Our local motor factors had recently changed their paint system from the one that they'd had for years, on opening the tin of paint that I'd got from them I thought they'd given me the wrong colour.
But once it was stirred with my trusty steel rule it looked to be at least a reasonable match for what was already on the car.
I sprayed on a couple of coats of colour, now she's really looking the part again. With just a couple of days to go to our next event we're very nearly ready.
The petrol tank that resides in that corner has been bashed up a couple of times now but as it's not leaking or anything I decide to leave well alone. It may hold a few less litres of fuel than it originally did but with twin tanks fitted fuel capacity is not a major issue.
The tank is fitted as is the tail light etc so we're all ready for our event up in Davagh Forest this weekend. The rear quarter may be a slightly different shade to the boot lid and quite a bit shinier but I'm sure it'll not belong before I have the shine rubbed off in some hedge or other. ;-)
November 2012 - Magherafelt Lanes Rally
Video That weekend Laura and I headed off to compete in the Magherafelt Lanes Rally. On the way to the rally and while coming into the small village of Stewartstown our trailer suddenly lurched to a halt, on investigation it turned out that a U-bolt on one of the trailer axles had broken and was allowing the axle to move about and jam against the bed of the trailer. There was nothing for it but to unload the rally car, abandon the Freelander and trailer and drive the rally car the remaining 20 miles or so to the event. With no trailer to take the car home if we had any trouble we decided that we would just take it easy during the event and have a good fun day with no attempt at a good result as such. Unfortunately as the guy counted 5-4-3-2-1 on the startline of the first test all that was forgotten about and we "went for it" as usual. At the end of a hard fought day on the gravel tracks and lanes of Davagh Forest we were quite surprised and pleased to learn that we had ended up winning the rally by 3 seconds.  


Check back soon for the next installment.

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