I’ve been pondering how to reboot the blog. The problem I’m having is that after so many months of neglect the blog is very out of date. Whisper is not the car she once was. There is a lot to catch up on!
So this blog entry is intended to be a ‘catch-up’. I’ll be skimming over the deeper detail of how I achieved certain changes and bring you up to speed on what’s been done.
If you don’t know Whisper or me and only follow the blog then this is how she last looked, to you.
Back then she was a member of the Rebel Alliance (see nose badge). But since then things have changed.
She now sports a BGW (Big Gay Wing), Racing numbers on the doors, and if you look closely at the nose badge… Imperial Insignia! The journey to the Dark Side is complete…
There have also been some silly/geeky additions….. I’ll let a couple of videos do the talking…
That’s about it. You are now ‘up to date’……. Or are you?
After much deliberating I decided to risk £80 of my children’s inheritance on a Costco Trolley Jack.
How did that work out? Quite well actually!
I wasn’t a member of Costco but I discovered that as I am employed by her majesty’s government I am entitled to become a member for £30.
Agent 600, Licensed to buy cheap stuff!
Whether a twelve month membership to the shrine of discount purchasing was a good move is a debate for another day. Suitably armed with the card the Much Beloved and I strode forth to Trolley Jack acquisition success.
First observation, Don’t go try to buy this alone. It’s bloody heavy! Definitely a two man lift. In fact I think the Health & Safety man will insist you put out cones and wear a hi-vis as you load it onto your trolley! Also, what is it with the fixed rear wheels on Costco trolleys. They are SO annoying!
Assembly of the jack is very simple. Two bolts. One to join the two halves of the jack handle and one to attach the jack handle to the jack body.
Since the Jack had travelled a fair bit I opened the release valve and gently pumped the handle ten full strokes. (settle down at the back!). This is supposed to clear air bubbles or summon the genie or something. I wasn’t really paying attention.
Then it was off to the car to see if my jacking would become pain free.
The 9cm saddle height is a big bonus. It even fit’s under my GV lip, but only just. The downside is that the reach of the jack is rather short. If it were long enough to reach the diff from the rear or the subframe from the front then it would be the perfect jacking accessory. But it doesn’t, not by a long way.
The solution was to jack from the side. Lifting from the front corner of the sill. The reach is just enough to get to the front re-enforced section of chassis rail. I used this to get the side of the car high enough to get two axle stands under the car. One under each sill jacking point. I then repeated that process from the other side.
Thus the car had all four wheels off the ground but there wasn’t a great deal of room to work beneath. Enough room to get the jack to the diff and subframe though!
I moved the jack to the rear and was able to easily get the saddle under the differential and lift the car. With that end up to the third hole on my stands I repeated the process at the front. Jacking on the front subframe.
The only slight problem I found was that the front subframe was by this time at a bit of an angle and I wasn’t 100% happy that the saddle of the jack had enough grip. I proceeded with caution and the saddle didn’t slip out of place but it was a worry.
Getting the car down again was the reverse of the procedure to get it up. All in all I was very impressed with the jack. It certainly made life easier. I’ll come back to this review in 12 months and review it again.
Very low saddle height.
Very good maximum lift (54cm).
Good wheels, moves about easily.
Very heavy to lift.
Saddle can feel a little insecure.
Seems to need a bit more effort than my Clarke jack to push the jack handle down.
Slower than my Clarke. More jacking needed to get it up, by comparison (but not by much).
I can’t comment on longevity yet but the unit is very solidly built so I am quietly optimistic. For a low usage, home user, I would recommend this product. It ticks all the boxes you should need for light duties and with not many downsides.
Remember, Never go under a car that is supported only by a jack. Use good quality axle stands and make doubly sure the vehicle is solidly supported before venturing under it.
(When working under a car with the wheels still on it I take four spare wheels, in stacks of two, under with me so if the worst happens the car lands on them before it lands on me.)
I have wanted some TSI’s for a while. In fact probably ever since i first got the car and started thinking about what I wanted to change on her. There aren’t that many on the market to chose from and even fewer that are in stock anywhere. After some googling around I came across the Zest TSI’s. A seldom heard of, fairly rare, TSI from Japan. The search was on. It was whilst pestering Russell to make some Zest copies he mentioned he had a spare pair of TSI’s. I happened to be at his house one day looking at throttle bodies and eating his pizza so I grabbed them and had a look.
Turns out they were Zest TSI’s! Russell only wanted what he paid for them so some folding monies changed hands and I had some TSI’s. Plus I ate a lot of his pizza. A great deal for me!
First things first. Modify them! I just can’t leave things alone can I!
The indicators appear to be of motorbike or scooter descent. I wasn’t too happy with the earthing arrangement for them. Drilled a hole in the rear of the metal housing and tapped it for an M3 screw. Giving me a nice solid point to earth them with a crimp on eyelet.
My new headlamp bowls (see an earlier post) had built in sidelight bulbs which as yet were not connected to anything. Fitting the TSI’s would mean losing the Indicator/sidelight units. So the sidelights in the headlamp bowls would need connecting up to maintain legality. In order to do that without affecting the cars original wiring at all I used to T10 bulb bases. The original indicator bulbs are T10 so by wiring the new sidelights into a T10 base it is plug and play with no changes to the original loom.
With that done I wanted to repeat the trick with the indicator units. But they don’t use T10 bulbs they use traditional bayonet units. Some creativity was required. I took two spare bayonet bulbs and with a bit of a wiggle and a spot of jiggling removed the glass part. Then I cleaned out the metal bases. This gave me a base to solder to. Once the wiring was connected I could fill the base with hotmelt glue, embedding a scrap of acrylic in it to create a handle to ease installation and removal. Job done.
With all that prep work done it was the work of but a moment and four screws to fit them to the car.
Of course I couldn’t bear to have the cam cover not on the car for long. It had to be fitted as soon as possible. A trip to the breakfast club as Shelsley Walsh was planned for the weekend a few days after the cam cover had been completed. So it just had to go on.
I had applied a test decal (the red triangle) to the cam cover and it had lasted a good three weeks without melting or catching fire or anything horrid like that. A good sign that all would be well.
Removing a cam cover is fairly simple. Remove the strut brace (already done in that first picture). Unclip and move to one side the wiring around the coil pack/CAS. Remove the breather pipes. Unbolt the cam cover and remove. Try to remember that the cam cover will have oil in it and don’t drop that oil all over your front bumper like I did. Oooops.
Everything looked good under the cam cover. The cams are in good condition and the cam belt, whilst not new, is in good condition. The oil isn’t too wonderful though. It’s not horrible but it is dark enough to warrant a change before it becomes nasty. Another little job onto the list then. Refitting the cam cover is an easy job after the mating surfaces had been cleaned and a little bit of silicone sealant was applied to the transition points where the cam ends curve upwards on the head. I wasn’t shy of changing gloves. I went through about seven pairs to make sure I was working as clean as possible around the fresh paint.
So that’s that then. The time spent thinking about the cam cover was much much greater than the time it took to get it done. I’m very lucky to have such talented friends (who are prepared to forgive my lunacy).
I’ve had a little project in mind for a while now. Something to brighten up the engine bay. Something with Hello Kitties on it (of course). A nicely painted cam cover seemed like the obvious choice. So it had to be pink or white. It had to have the cam cover lettering removed and it had to have Hello Kitty on it because I am so JDM Y0!
I acquired a spare cam cover and began pondering how to achieve my goals. Whilst pondering I mentioned my musings to my mate Sean. Unbeknown to me Sean had recently moved down the line at his workplace into the spray booths. Very handy! Whilst picking his brain on my ridiculous ideas he volunteered to take on the whole job! Epic winning!
I handed him an oily cam cover and off he went. He took lots of pics as he went so I’ll mainly let them do the talking.
While the top coat was being sprayed I was busy creating the JDM goodness to sprinkle on the top. A three colour layered decal sheet.
Then I handed the cover back to Sean and nervously waited. Would the decals react with the paint? Would the whole thing go horribly wrong?
Need not have worried. The cam cover returned the next day and OH MY GOSH. What have I done 🙂
I owe Sean a crate of beer I think! Cheers again mate. Stunning 🙂
Next up…… Fitting the ridiculous cam cover!
A couple of weekends ago we headed down south to visit my parents. We have got this journey sorted now. We used to have to rely on a Tom-Tom set to avoid motorways that took us a slightly strange route past Coventry. I now have my own, nicely memorized, version of the route that takes in some nice villages and scenery. Certainly much more pleasant than the M6 and the M1. Even though it takes twice as long it is so much nicer that we now consider it the easier route.
We arrived at the family estate and Dad had moved into the second parking space. He hasn’t parked there since I was a kid living at home with a stupidly noisy Spitfire 1500. So Whisper got parked in what is now my Dad’s space, which was my space when I was a kid.
Whisper looked very at home there. Daft I suppose but I thought they looked really cool parked together. We had a lovely visit and as darkness fell we wrapped up in our many layers to hoon back up the A5 with the roof down. Traveling through Wolverton the engine gave a little stutter. Seemed to die just for a moment. Very odd. We crossed out fingers it was a one off. We made it to the A5. The nice dark, unlit, part of it. Miles from civilization. Engine died completely. Left it in gear and set about picking a spot by the side of the road to coast to. As we were coasting she fired back into life. At this point were were hoping the problem would not worsen and we could make it home. Alas it was not to be. In the sanctuary of a petrol station I pulled in and checked under bonnet for anything obviously loose or faulty. Unfortunately it wasn’t going to be that easy. When we reached Towcester the engine died once but came back almost immediately. I noticed this time that the rev counter went schizoid just before and during the engine cutting out. I turned to the much beloved and said
“The cam shaft angle sensor is failing. I’m not sure we can get home but I’ll nurse it along as best I can”
She replied that she wasn’t at all worried. She knew I could fix it.
Heading up a hill out of Towcester the engine died and this time didn’t restart. I coasted to the side and started preparing to call the breakdown services. Before it came to that tho I decided to let her rest for a minute then retry. One minute later, first turn of the key, off we went! I was pretty sure by his time that we were going to finish this journey on a flat bed.
We made it as far as Weedon Beck.
See that hill, steeper than it looks you know. We spluttered to a halt and there was no reviving her. I jumped out and set about pushing the car up the hill towards the left turn. She would be safer there. Thankfully the road is nice and wide so all the other cars could drive past quite easily whilst their drivers shook their fists at me for daring to inconvenience them (I wish I was joking about that). Then I glanced behind and a Blue MX5 appeared. Whilst pushing with all I had left and trying not to throw up a lung I wondered if some solidarity might kick in. To my dismay the MX5 pulled out and overtook.
But then he turned left. Spun round in a junction, parked up and the driver came over to help push. If he hadn’t come to our assistance we would never have made it to the safety of the left turn. I was physically exhausted and we were only half way to the junction. I didn’t get any contact details for the chap. I assured him we’d be ok as we had breakdown cover. He waited a while I got my breath back. I thanked him and off he went. Talk about restoring faith in humanity. Absolutely brilliant! So to my unknown savior, thank you again!
Safely parked up I phoned my bank. My breakdown cover is a freebie on my bank account and I didn’t appear to have the direct number for breakdown services on my phone. I do now! I got through to the Indian call center and asked for the number for breakdown services.
“One moment please, Sir”
I waited for a moment or two. Then my phone beeped. **Battery Low** Ohhhhh poop!
“Hi, are you there? I am really sorry to rush you but please could you hurry. My phone battery is about to go flat”
“Please do not shout at me Sir. I am looking up the number”.
At no point had I raised my voice.
“I’m not shouting. but please hurry”
“If you shout at me again I shall terminate the call Sir.”
So I just bit my tongue and crossed my fingers.
“Connecting you now Sir”
He had transferred me to the breakdown call center. First thing I did was ask them for their number so that we could save it on the Much Beloved’s phone. Then began the task of explaining to the lady who didn’t speak a great deal of English where we were.
Here’s what I knew. We were parked by a street sign that told me the road was called ‘Harmans Way’. I didn’t know I was in Weedon Beck but I knew that 300 yards ago I had turned off the A5 onto the A45 and the last town on the A5 was Towcester.
“What town are you in?”
“I’m sorry I don’t know. I have just turned off the A5 after Towcester, onto the A45 and I’m now on a road off of the A45 called Harmans Way”
“Spelt P. A…..”
“What? No, H. A. R….”
“So what town are you in?”
“I’m sorry, I don’t know”
“You don’t know where you are. We cant come to you if you wont tell us where you are Sir.”
Eventually she gave up trying to understand why I had the audacity to expect her sitting at a desk with access to maps and the internet and heat and lighting to find me from that description and said “Someone will be there in an hour, Goodbye”.
Yeah, I didn’t have great hopes! Why base a UK breakdown assistance call center in Bangalore? How is that ever going to help poor buggers like me stood freezing by the roadside in the middle of the night with a broken car?
Five minutes later the phone rings. The first English speaker of the night.
“Hi, breakdown company here. Are you in Towecester?”
“Not quite. That’s the last town I remember before we turned left off the A5 onto the A45 and now we are on Harmans Way”
“Oh! You are in Weedon Beck!”
“Yes. Don’t worry we will be there within the hour. Is it going to be repairable?”
“Nope the cam angle sensor has gone”
“Oh dear. That’s a flatbed job then. Ok I’ll get you one sent out”
Fourtyfive minutes later
Flat bed! Yay. The driver was pretty good. He wanted to put straps round my front lower wishbones and drag her onto the flatbed. I refused and told him I would like it towed on by the two rear tow eyes and he would need some blocks of wood under the front wheels unless he fancied writing off my two hundred quid front aero mods. He happily agreed to this plan and ten minutes later we were safely loaded ready to head home.
That’s the look of a very tired and cold Much Beloved who was soon after this photo snuggled in the back of the cab under a blanket fast asleep. The Driver and I commenced setting the world to rights and off we went. He didn’t care much which way we went but I suggested he head to the motorway. We don’t use it but country roads are more a Roadster thing than a lorry thing. Heading toward the M1 Northbound we hit a closed road. Options were turn back or turn left towards Daventry.
“Country roads then?” I said to the driver.
“Yeah why not. Will be an adventure”
Cut from the proper cloth this bloke was. He turned the Tom-Tom off and Cerb-Cerb took over.
A couple of hours later we arrived at the homestead.
Weedon Beck to Birmingham on country roads in a flatbed lorry limited to 50mph. It’s a good job the recovery driver could hold a decent conversation! It was quite a fun little adventure in the end. We fell into bed at 3:30am and had no trouble getting to sleep.
Whisper stood in disgrace, facing the wrong way on the driveway, for the next few days. I am lucky I can walk to work. After a suitable period of her sitting in the naughty corner. I broke out the LED diagnostic test kit and spanners to set to diagnosing what I already knew. A faulty Cam Angle Sensor.