The Wrong Sierra !!??!!.

or Some bits fit some bits don’t

 

To set the scene, my Robin Hood 2B is my first kit car but not the first kit car I have been involved in building. The story starts a few years ago when my mate Dave was bought the Haynes - Ron Champion book. Some time later his son turned up on my drive with a load of square tubing, and the Locost project started. Yes we completed it, it drives well and I thoroughly enjoy borrowing it, but it did not give me the bug to build one myself. Next came an offer of an MGB GT part restored. I turned it down, but Dave took up the challenge. It had been re-panelled and came with a Rover 3.5 V8. About the same time an old Montego that had been standing for 5 years was available ( A 2.0 litre “turbo” Montego ) – Yes we rotated it, move the distributor from one end of the cam shaft to the other ,stretched the MGB engine bay, amongst many mods., and a very quick MGB was born.

            This left a V8 in need of a home.

I had just inherited a small sum and amongst the chassis considered for the V8 was the RHE 2B. I talked this over with the RHE staff at Detling and although not quite a green light I wasn’t put off completely, and went away thinking – “everything’s based on Sierra, I’ll look around”. Well I did, I spoke to friends and relatives and colleagues at work and as it goes; one of the girls’ husband was a mechanic and had looked after her friends car for the last 100,000 miles. It was a 2.0 litre, quick and had no major problems except it was aged (G). So I arranged to purchase the same for £200, delivered.

I gave no thought to there being different Sierra engines, brakes etc. – All I needed was a Sierra!! I had made one decision; to go for Mild steel all round; as I knew I would have to cut and weld bits to modify fittings for the V8.

I got the Sierra delivered to home and left it standing on the drive and a few weeks later went off to Stoneliegh. No hesitation; straight up to the RHE stand, looked at Richard’s latest goody offerings and signed up for a Mild steel 2B with plus and extras. ---but then I had to wait till Sept 29 2001 to collect.

In the meantime I stripped the Sierra out and changed my mind on fitting the V8, I would use the 2.0 DOHC EFi. So I set about refurbishing it. Max rebore, new pistons (££££), rings, mains, pumps etc.. Cleaned, polished and painted.

29 Sept arrived. I had gone up in a hire van the night before with my son, got him up early ( hard for a teenager) and got to RHE for 8 a.m. ( I could have sworn that was the first pick up time! ).The staff arriving for work sent me round the back. I expected to see a queue – nada, no-one, empty road. So we sat around, wondering if we were in the right place until a man with a trailer pulled up behind me. So being first in the line we pulled into the yard and went to see Gina, who issued the paperwork and pointed us in the direction of an overloaded trolley. We duly checked and loaded all the bits into the back of the van and set off home.

 

 

The Start of the build.

 

With the chassis painted to stop any rust, we started construction. The Sierra rear sub-frame complete with rear disks went in smoothly, and next came the engine and gear box. Guess what, the back of the MT75 gear box would not go through the down pipes of the chassis! So we cut up the sides and half way through the pipes and turned them into a D section, welding in in-fill pieces and it slid through. The 2.0 DOHC engine sat nicely on the front mounts. Once the front wishbone suspension had been assembled and the car was on wheels it was obvious that only 2 inches of ground clearance under the sump was not going to be sufficient. Adapters made from steam pipe flanges with plates welded on were constructed to lift the engine mount about 2 inches. Of course the Gearbox mount was impossible in this position, but resolved easily by placing above the chassis angles. Oh - Oh- problem with the gear lever. The frame that carried the extension would not fit between the upper tube. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, hacksaw and angle grinder – just enough left to hold the lever mount. I now wish I had cut off some of the excess of the chassis angle, as in “when fitting a five speed box” - and most of the “strengthening” web - it would have made access to the Speedo cable so much easier when it went wrong. Unfortunately that item was covered on the Yahoo group after I had passed the point of no return.

A new prop shaft was ordered and fitted to complete the drive train. I had a 2B rolling chassis.

 

Being vertically challenged ( 5’5” with 28” leg , or so my Jeans tell me) I had found it impossible to reach the pedals in the RHE 2B demonstration car, so had already decided that modifications would be required. I had not realised just how drastic these mods. would be!! The flat plate onto which the normal servo mounting plate is attached, was removed completely and the whole pedal assembly moved back by several inches until the bulk head was straight. This then allowed a smaller brake servo than had come out of the “all disks” ( luckily not ABS as well) Sierra to be installed, missing the EFi plenum chamber by a quarter of an inch. The pedals had, as it always seems with Hoodz to be bent around to allow clearance and movement. I fought for weeks with the Rocaro seats to be able to fit them with front/rear and back adjustment. It seems easy to write an e-mail, just remove the centre section and re assemble with a few extra brackets. What a nightmare! And the damned things only just passed the SVA. Another ½ inch higher and everything would have been a waste of time. I took the centre section out and bolted a piece of angle onto the top of the sliders and used the original 2 seat back holes, so in reality had probably only dropped it by an inch or two. For the front I grew 2 strips to the only bolts available. The adjustable backs were not a problem. I just put the knobs in the centre of the car- there’s plenty of room.

 Now my donor Sierra had an adjustable steering column – so I fitted the whole mechanism! – wrong !! Mr SVA tested it in its normal (top) position – even I can’t get my legs in with a standard Sierra steering wheel fitted and the column down---. But he doesn’t need to get in, just shines his light down the foot well with a jemmy in his hand and makes noises. “That’s too close”, “that could foul” – it turned out to be an easy fix, an extra washer on the cross shaft.

I was glad, it’s not easy using a file down the foot well.

The fuel system. The 2.0 DOHC EFi uses a lot of juice, all at high pressure. I had bought a 40 litre stainless tank, with the studs welded on. The tank unit from the Ford tank – bigger than standard, wouldn’t fit – Ha Ha!. The petrol pump was part of the out pipe, a return pipe and the fuel gauge sender, two electrical plugs on the top - all in one unit. Panic not, thought I. I’ll make a new one. External fuel pump £100. Big filter £20, pipes brazed into smaller plate, electrical socket transferred, fuel gauge sender affixed, and squeezed into the hole. Its all fine except the gauge is highly inaccurate. No swirl pot – I’ll just keep it fairly full, unless a kindly someone offers me an external pot. No the real challenge with the fuel was getting the filler to seal onto the tank . I used the bottom of the original filler pipe into a new seal ring and it just wasn’t enough. I stuck the whole thing in place with “davids” tank repair stuff, lots of it, big fillets wherever I could get the spatula or my fingers. All this the night before my SVA test, Upside down, inside the boot cover with a nearly FULL tank of petrol ( FULL as requested by the SVA –that’s how I found the leak), breathing 50% fumes and whatever the repair stuff gave off. What a headache I had.

The Loom.

The problem with using an EFi engine is all the extra sensors and wires. I could not buy the RHE 2B loom, it would not have done me any good. Why should mine be any different. It’s not. It’s just that my Sierra has an ECU and fuse box fitted on the loom in positions that are an impossibility for a kit car. Something had to go. I laid it out around the engine, made the obvious connections, unwrapped vast lengths back to bare cables and with metres of shrink wrap and an overheated soldering iron, made the thing fit, many relays and fuses going by the wayside – I really didn’t need them. That old Sierra had everything except air con (and the wiring for that was in the loom too!).

All the wiring for the rear of the car is now routed down the inside of a side tube. A hole behind the dash is the entry point and it comes out neatly above the rear wheel arch, all in cable protector. I didn’t dare put it down the tunnel, the prop shaft is high and the gear box wide.

Brakes are always an emotive issue. I am of the firm belief that stopping is more important than going. So was quite happy to have the Sierra with discs all round – don’t tell me - the 2B was designed for drums. Well even though the discussion groups covered over-braking and compensators and ABS – I stuck to my guns. The original Sierra stopped OK. The compensator obviously needed a lot of force and from its mount angle a real nose dive to activate, so I didn’t need it, ABS, I hadn’t got and pads are a lot easier to change than shoes. I could always get some down-rated pads if it proved too vicious. It isn’t, the brakes are smooth and progressive. The only problems were with the mechanicals of the hand brake. I started by mounting this in the “standard” RHE position, but until I got the drivers seat bolted down and the 4 point harness on, I had not realised that I had to be a Gorilla. There was no way I was going to be able to get within a foot of the handle. So another re-engineer was required. Straighten the mounts on the Sierra hand brake, extend the front mount using some heavy angle iron, bend rear mount to floor angle and extend the actuating pivot below the floor line. Nice, I can reach it. Cables beneath the floor to the rear brakes in the normal fashion, rear seat angle as a stop for the outers- Oops, keyholes made as per video, but no-one said about making them off centre, otherwise the cables do not pull straight, and they bind. One wheel locks up nicely, the other is still free to rotate. Another piece of scrap steel !

Still not happy, one wheel still locks before the other – underseal on the cable as it goes round the half moon – it has to be able to slip freely (lots of grease).

Well the body’s on the side panels with their curves and kinks, Rear wing made up, unluckily ¼” too narrow to cover the 195x15 tyres. Bits cut off, bits added, in-fills manufactured, sharp edges removed and covered in trim, bonnet assembled and modified rear pivot points. Cut out for the now too high EFi Plenum chamber. Hole filled with a homemade, fibreglass “shape”, moulded from a roasting tin. Have a look when we meet; you may be surprised.

It’s only the second body mod required. The other being that the exhaust pipe exit is on the other side of the car to the Pinto design.

 

Well, after 17 months with much help from Dave, the car is finished and after a very thorough SVA, is on the road. My first real outing a very courageous (why should 105 miles be a worry ??) trip to the Detling show from Newbury. The black and red ( I haven’t found a name yet) beast is nearly run in, only minor issues need sorting to keep it on the road ( It wouldn’t be a Hood if it didn’t). Now I get to make it “better”.

 

See you at the shows.

 

 

Graham ( Sept 2001, 2B, wishbone, plus pack, DOHC, mild steel,)   Thatcham, Berks