Neil Fletcher Racing

The Rebuild - Part 1

Click here to go to The Rebuild - Part 2

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

After nearly 10 years of hard rallying and a few other forms of motorsport my Rally Mexico, JIJ9975 had taken quite a few hard knocks which you can see in Big Bangs or read about in the HAVOC Stories. This page is about my ongoing and very major rebuild of the car.

front.jpg (55614 bytes) After having sat outside for almost a year and a half, since December 1997, until the summer of 1999 the poor car had got into a very sad state.
front_2.jpg (48943 bytes) When I finally decided to "get the finger out" and repair her there was a lot of work needing done. 
reb_airsand.jpg (25904 bytes) We decided to start at the back and do the easy bit first. When Rebecca saw me removing loose paint and rust with the air sander she just had to have a go as well.
reb_helps.jpg (48302 bytes) Wet and dry sandpaper was a little bit easier to handle but it was still good fun.
laura_helps.jpg (37244 bytes) Of course anything Rebecca can do then Laura must try her hand at too.
double_help.jpg (48615 bytes) I'm not sure if this is what all the books mean when they refer to doing "Father and Daughter" things together but our girls just love to help Daddy.
back_fixed.jpg (32848 bytes) After a few weeks hard work the back, rear quarters and roof had started to look a lot better.
front_strip_1.jpg (70044 bytes) Now came the front and the only thing we could do was get out the Air Chisel and remove what was left of the wing etc.
front_strip_2.jpg (67203 bytes) I also removed the front panel, lower crossmember and the support panel between the crossmember and slam panel. Now for some serious work.
 innerwing_1.jpg (58305 bytes) After welding on a wing mounting rail and upper turret pan I got the inner wing and front of the car blasted so I could see what else needed repairing. Strengthening and repairs done when I originally built the car can be identified by the brazing and later work by the Mig welding. 
innerwing_2.jpg (27883 bytes) The turret area viewed from the rear shows some more of the original strengthening. The extra box iron and lower triangulation was a technique shown to me by an old Escort preparation expert. For really rough forest use he would have added this to both sides of each turret. I reckon this is one of the reasons why the front end of the car has stood up to all the knocks so well.
primed_1.jpg (47735 bytes) It was now early March and I was going to be spending most of my free time for the next three weeks organizing a Navigation Rally for my local Motor Club.
primed_2.jpg (58260 bytes) I gave the bare metal around the front of the car a coat of etch primer, to keep the rust at bay, before bringing her back to my own garage. Hopefully I'll get started to her again after the rally work is all cleared up.
innerwing_3.jpg (41870 bytes) Once the Rally work was out of the way I got back to finishing off the last of the welding under the wing.
innerwing_4.jpg (49406 bytes) The last of the strengthening and triangulation plates are now welded back on. This is how it looks.
innerwing_5.jpg (46244 bytes) Laura decides that she'll just give it a quick rub with the wire brush.
mexwing_1.jpg (64954 bytes) Next came the front wing itself. Drivers side Mexico front wings fetch around 175 each in the UK and I decided that it would make more sense to cut the flare off an old wing and weld it onto a standard one. After all with my luck I could hit the first tree, on the first corner, of the first stage, of the first rally after the rebuild.
mexwing_2.jpg (60639 bytes) So that's just what I did, I didn't even use a genuine Ford standard wing but a Veng one I had lying about. Here I've marked the bit that needs cut off it.
mexwing_3.jpg (39683 bytes) After that I used a few self tapping screws to hold it together and secured it and the front panel to the car to see how it would look.
mexwing_4.jpg (45293 bytes) Then a few spots of weld to hold the flare on, next I'll give it a little coat of fillers just to hide the join. I'm not going to be very fussy with it, it is only a Rally Car after all.
reb_helps_2.jpg (47998 bytes) Rebecca with the sandpaper again, this time she's rubbing down the fillers on our welded up Mexico front wing.
nsw.jpg (19350 bytes) At this time we decided it would be foolish to sort out the front and one wing without sorting out a few problems at the other side. This involved removing the Navigators side front wing, we tried not to damage it any further than was already done. 
nsw_1.jpg (69203 bytes) In one of our "Big Bangs" the back edge of the front wing had got pushed in behind the door. This meant that when my Navigator forced his door open it damaged both the door and the wing. Why did he not get out the drivers door, we couldn't open it as it was lying on the ground! Yes the car had crashed and was lying on her side.
nsw_2.jpg (76657 bytes) To fix the wing properly also meant removing the small mounting panel at its rear edge. This involved drilling out about 3 small spot welds and a little work with the angle grinder and a big hammer. The reason I took this panel off was to get behind it to use my dollies and hammer the wing back into shape.  
nsw_4.jpg (36465 bytes) After a little work it is starting to take shape again. In the Rally Car I try not to use "Isopon" or fillers unless I really have to. I will usually try and dolly a panel out and just paint it. If you put in loads of fillers, then the next time you crash it will just fall out again. Also saves weight, you see.
bulkhd.jpg (48849 bytes) Another area that needed fixed was around the hole where the fuse box used to be. If you look closely you will also see where the bulkhead has a slight kink between this plated hole and the gusset plate. The result of too many big yumps and the odd accident.

Rather than add any more to this page we have now started a new page titled The Rebuild - Part 2.

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