Still having starter problems

22 07 2013

It seems that replacing the start button, and inserting a relay to handle the high current during start, hasn’t fixed the starting issues after all.  With those changes, I don’t think the issue is the starter current any more.  In addition, I’ve noticed that the solenoid does seem to be working, but sounds like it’s striking the flywheel, and not engaging the cranking stage.  If I push in the clutch, I can feel the strike through the pedal, which makes me believe this is the issue.  Since the solenoid doesn’t fully extend, the second motor stage (the actual cranking) doesn’t engage either, so you get a click each time you press the start button, but no cranking.  It sounds like the battery is dead, but I know that’s not the case.  I’m going to see if I can rotate the starter motor slightly to improve engagement, otherwise, it’s probably a wiring problem, which will *not* be fun to fix.


Trunk lid install

13 05 2013

I actually did this over the summer, but never posted about it. Well, better late than never.

Westfield provides an optional “locking boot lid” that I purchased with the kit. Unfortunately, it’s designed for the standard “roll bar”, which provides no real rollover protection at all. Since I opted for the (slight) additional saftey of the RAC-spec roll bar, I needed to make some substantial modifications to my boot lid. I’m following in JohnCh’s footsteps here, and my install is not substantially different from his except in a couple of areas.

The boot lid comes in two pieces (not including hardware); the frame, which bolts directly to the bodywork around the rear deck, and the lid itself.

Modifying the frame
JohnCh didn’t have this issue, because his Rollbar was a custom design, but the RAC-spec roll bar has additional diagonal bracing on the main hoop, which interferes with part of the lid frame. To accomodate this bracing, an oval hole needs to be cut in the lid frame. This hole takes a lot of measuring, attempting to fit, swearing, careful reshaping etc. to get it to fit. Once done, I made the hole slightly larger in order to be able to add some rubber trim to provide a slightly more finished look.

Modifying the lid
Because the RAC-spec roll bar has struts heading rearward through the boot, the lid needs to be cut in three, with only the center section ultimately being hinged. I tried to do the two sectional cuts with a jigsaw, which turned out to be a mistake, because my jigsaw decided not to cut in a straight line, which messed up the aesthetics of the sectioning pretty badly. To remedy this, my goal was to install some rubber weatherstripping along the seam, which would cover over the imperfections.

All in all, the result is pretty good, though I would have preferred not to have the rubber weatherstripping on the edges of the center section. Oh well, can’t win them all.

Cracked headlight bracket

15 08 2012

One of the headlight brackets failed last night. Looks like the weld on one side along the base failed due to incomplete penetration of the weld, which then led to a stress crack developing along the bend line at the front from road vibration. The other side is still fine. I’ll need to weld this up before I can get the car back on the road. Hopefully it won’t take too long – some beautiful days coming up.

Starter issues resolved

28 05 2012

I’ve been having some issues with starting the engine recently, either cranking slowly, or the starter solenoid just clicking, with no rotation. I decided to replace the starter motor, figuring that this was the problem; it was just old and tired. Lots of fiddling, wrenching, bloody knuckles and swearing later; No dice.

So I started noting all the components in the starter circuit chain, and doing a bit of searching the interwebz for ideas. I noticed that a few people had reported the push button on the Longacre panel I was using had been causing similar issues on their cars, including Miatas. Since I didn’t think the switch was carrying much current, it was unlikely to be that, but it was less than $10 for a new switch, so it was worth a shot. Lo, and behold, that fixed it. Turns out, according to one very technical article I found, that the push-button could be carrying up to 35 amps during initial actuation of the solenoid, so they can wear out. In any case, all running beautifully now, firing up on the first try every time. Just part of the fun of such a unique vehicle.

New Look

23 05 2012

Just a quick post of the new-look Westie. The new headlights really make a difference, IMO; I like it. They are plenty bright too, certainly no worse than the old bug-eyes.

Bluetooth success

2 05 2012

I had been having problems with getting the Bluetooth–>Serial converter to connect to the ECU. Given the many other issues I’d been having in general with the ECU programming, I hadn’t tried to fix it in a while. Last night, I finally got it working.

Turns out that the cheapo $20 BT module I picked up on ebay has one significant limitation; you have to pre-configure it, via an AT terminal, with the exact baud rate, stop and parity bit settings to use for the serial port. Most commercial units (which generally cost $100+) will manage this dynamically, so if the PC that’s connecting over bluetooth says it wants a 9600 or 115200 baud modem with one stop bit, no parity, it will gladly oblige. All I had to do was keep stepping through the baud rates until I found the one the Hydra software likes to use (38400 baud, as it turns out). So now, no more serial cable. Well, at least as long as the hacked-together converter lasts, anyway.

Exhaust finished, and new headlights

23 04 2012

More time off work this week, and made some great progress on the Westie. I’ve finished welding up the exhaust, and mounted everything. I also finished and painted my headlight mounts, and put the new headlights on the car. I think it all looks awesome, but then I’m slightly biased. I also moved the gearbox mounts slightly to eliminate (hopefully) the interference between the handbrake mount and the driveshaft in hard right turns.

I decided I needed new tubine outlet studs to mount the new downpipe, so I bought some (very fancy) inconel studs and stage 8 locking hardware. Probably massive overkill, but I wanted to do this once, and do it right. With the O2 bungs and V-band flange fitted to the downpipe, I mounted that, then measured everything for the exhaust. Now it’s all mounted, I think it looks pretty great. I’m very happy with the finished look.

Headlights and mounts
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a big fan of the bug-eye headlights that are stock on the Westfield (and on the original 7 designs). I wanted something a bit more aggressive and/or different, so I went with these twin-dominator headlights. The mounts themselves, I fabricated out of 16ga. steel sheet and welded together. A bit of grinding on the welds, and… well, they’re not the prettiest thing in the world, but they are quite rigid and seem to be doing the job I wanted them for.

Exhaust update

6 04 2012

I’ve made some progress on my new exhaust; I’ve finished welding up the downpipe. The geometry on this was fairly complex, so it took a while to do, but here it is. Now the bad news – it warped very slightly while I was welding it – the flange is warped by approx 0.04″, which will make a good seal against the turbine outlet more difficult, and the very end of the downpipe sits about 1/4″ further forward than I had planned, so I’ll need to extend the hole slightly to ensure I don’t melt the bodywork. Nonetheless, once I get all that sorted out, it will almost certainly do the trick.

Bluetooth update and some more projects

16 03 2012

The Bluetooth–>serial converter is not working as I’d hoped, so I need to do a lot of troubleshooting with it. Most of the pieces for the exhaust are cut and ready to weld, but my welding skills are still not good enough for me to start welding the pieces together.

I left a few of the winter projects off my list when I first posted, so here they are:

  • Brackets for new headlights
    I’m planning to replace the stock 5.5″ headlights with twin 3.5″ motorcycle headlights like these, but in order for those to fit, I need to fabricate a new mounting bracket. My first attempt didn’t work out, because the 1/8″ aluminum L had too much flex and the headlights wobbled around like crazy. My next version will be some welded 16GA steel brackets, which I’m going to attempt to make this weekend. This will actually be my first real welding project, since it’s a lot cheaper to replace/rework mild steel sheet than stainless steel tube.
  • Move the Manual Boost Controller feed line
    Omn my last dyno day, we noticed the boost dropping quite quickly from around 10PSI to ~6.5PSI by 6000 RPM. This has a detrimental effect on power levels, so I’ll be moving the pressure line feed to just before the throttle body in order to (hopefully) provide a more stable boost level. This should (fingers crossed) be good for ~20bhp.

Exhaust parts

31 12 2011

Received all the parts for my new exhaust I’m going to build. Before I can make any headway, though, I need to learn how to weld. In order to start that, I wired up a 240volt outlet for the welder, and gave it a go. Let’s just say practice will hopefully make perfect, or at least better.