The Engine Cometh…

19 07 2012

With the decision made to do Miglias the biggest problem was always going to be the engine. Migs are serious racing cars and a ‘bitza’ homebuilt engine just wouldn’t cut it at all. I had plenty of parts to build a very good 1380 Hillclimber but the spec of a Miglia is very different and I knew I really needed to start from scratch.

I’d noticed a complete engine and gearbox on ebay a while back and didn’t have the funds to buy it at the time. It was being sold by current front runner Rupert Deeth and was an ex Mike Jackson engine complete with dog box, diff and everything needed ready to drop in. I thought it was long gone so was pleased to see it pop up on ebay again about a month later. I sent Rupert a note asking if he would sell it outside of ebay and if so how much, he said a price, I said another, we met in the middle and the deal was done.

The new addition…

A few days later I found myself driving to Cambridge to pick up the engine. Rupert seems like a nice chap with loads of enthusiasm for his racing. Like me he was away from the sport for a long time and has had to start from scratch again. He has been leading races this year and I’m sure it won’t be long before he wins his first race.

A quick check over of the engine and the engine was in the back of the car along with a few slick tyres and a Weber Alpha ECU, and I was on the long journey back to Bristol.

So there we have it, an engine ready to drop in. It makes total sense really; I can’t afford to go to Swiftune, SH or Vickers to get an engine, and with the best will in the world there are plenty of secrets that would take me several seasons to learn. This way I have a unit ready to go with the right gearing and to current Miglia spec.

But, the main headache is going to be what engine management to use. It came with an ex Mike Jackson Weber Alpha PI038 ECU (apparently all ready and set up for my engine) and some amplifiers, but the loom had been cut up and so was unusable. A decent loom will cost me a few hundred quid and I don’t know for sure that the ECU is working yet… Add to that the Weber Alpha software is only available through their approved rolling roads and you can see my quandry.

Weber Alpha ECU and amplifiers. Not really sure what the thing on the bottom left is, maybe a regulator for an alternator? Not great with electrics me…

I think as funds are low my best bet is to send the ECU to Weber to check, and if all is ok I will need to get a loom made and then go to one of their approved rolling roads – probably Aldon Automotive, unless I think of a better idea. I have done more u-turns than a Tory government so far so you never know… 🙂

Miglia Full Steam Ahead

19 07 2012

Apologies as it’s been a while since the last blog, but that’s not to say nothing has happened… First of all we went to watch the Miglias and se7ens at Brands Hatch to do a bit of fact finding and see the cars close up.

It was on Clare’s birthday weekend so I told her I was taking her away for a couple of days in the Kent countryside and had booked a B&B. Technically this was correct I suppose.

It was the innaugural Brands Mini Festival and as well as the Migs and 7’s there were loads of historic Cooper S racers from all over Europe as well as an invitation race for some pretty modified Minis. We got there ready for the first race and plonked our chairs down at Clearways to watch the action. It was fantastic racing all weekend and it was good to see a lot of old faces from when i raced mini7 all those years ago. It didn’t even rain!

A few running repairs being carried out on Bob Humphreys Vickers Miglia

Peter Baldwin continued his great form this year and had a win and a second. Paul Thompson won the other race. This year in the Miglias they are allowing ‘invitation’ cars to run alongside the main class and there were a few racing at Brands, and far from being outclassed they were running well with the regulars! As a spectator it made for great entertainment, although I’m not sure they were expected to be that quick… The midfield racing was where it was all happening with great battles for Pocock, Cowan, Sims and lots of others. No such thing as a dull Miglia race it seems.

Andy Harrison’s 1275 Cooper S, co-driven by celebrity TV chef James Martin

As for the car itself I’ve been slowly fixing the bodywork. There were a few love-scuffs from the last time it raced so I’ve been filling, sanding and primering. It’s surprising how long this takes and I have to admit it’s my least favourite job on a race car. I spoke to Altered Image Coachworks who originally sprayed the car and they were very helpful telling me exactly what paint was used and even the colour code. The plan is to keep it in the same silver and use Chris Prior Graphics to add colour with one of his special designs.

Project Miglia – still a long way to go…

I’ve also acquired a new fuel tank as the one I had for Hillclimbing will now be too small for the longer Miglia races. The new tank is one of the drag racing fuel cells. Gordon Pocock has one in his superb Miglia so I’m sure it’s good enough for me! The annoying thing is that it has a ‘sump’ that sits lower than the main body of the tank bottom, so I am going to have to cut a hole in the carbon fibre boot floor and fabricate a ‘trough’ (for want of a better word!) so it can sit flat…

Other recent purchases have been a pair of bumpers and a grille off ebay, but the biggest purchase of all is just round the corner 😉