Bl**dy Computers!

14 10 2014

Firing up an engine first time would not normally be a problem with a distributor, but on this engine I have decided to try out engine management which is a first for me. Some time ago I acquired an MBE 956 ECU which is used by quite a few of the miglia runners. The 956 is quite old, and this was to be the source of our problems. As mentioned in a previous chapter we had a bespoke wiring loom made by GP Systems so we were nearly there yes? Nope. For a start the ECU had assigned itself a password which we needed to crack. Also the sensor/trigger was in a different position with the SH setup as opposed to the Swiftune setup the ECU had previously run with. And then there was the software…

The 956 runs an old piece of Easimap software not readily available. You can download later versions from the SBD website but these do not give you full functionality with some of the old stuff. It also runs off of an old Windows version but I got over this by buying an old laptop from a carboot sale for a fiver! After a few conversations with my old mate John Richards at JPR Tuning of Yate we hatched a plan to hack the pin code, reset the trigger/sensor settings and load one of the 2 miglia ignition maps I had acquired.

So I wheeled the car in to JPR Tuning and plugged it in to John’s computer. We managed to hack the pin, and then reset the trigger/sensor setting. However we were struggling with configuring a map which is when we realised the software version was wrong. But we did manage to manually build a map which allowed us to start the car up for the first time. It was fantastic to hear it running at last after all the effort that has gone in to it. That initial startup always gives me a real shot in the arm to crack on and get it all finished. We decided to come back when we have the Easimap 4.5 software, which by the way John has now sourced.

The other big step forward is aesthetic. It was always the plan to get the car clothed in vinyl graphics, but I wanted to do something a little bit different to the norm. I have been impressed with the work of Chris Prior for a long time. He has been responsible for the graphics on countless Autograss, short oval and circuit cars for a number of years so he was the man for the job. He is from a racing family having grown up with dad Les racing quick minis and Chris himself is now one of the top Legends drivers on the short ovals.

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Initial draft designs

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Chris’s mock up Picture                                           The finished article

After a quick chat via good old Facebook to discuss colours etc I sent an email with what I wanted, wording, sizes etc. Chris then went away and came up with some designs which he super-imposed on to an existing photo of the mini for my approval.  I was very happy with it so he went on and printed the vinyl graphics and it wasn’t long before he came to the garage to apply them. It took about 3 hours to fit them all. There was lots of scalpel and heat-gun action until finally we could stand back and admire the handywork. I am over the moon with what he has done. The whole service Chris provided was first class, from the initial consultancy, through the design process, and the fitting. The price was great too!

If you are looking for someone to do your race car graphics I’d look no further. You can find him on Facebook under ‘Chris Prior Graphics’ or ring him on 0771 8088968.

So with the car looking like that it was nice to be asked by the mini7 Racing Club to put it on their stand at the Miniworld Action day at Castle Combe. We were blessed with some nice late summer weather which brought out the crowds, and there was a lot of interest in all the cars on show. As well as mine there was Kevin O’Shea’s S class Mini7, Julian Proctor’s Mini7 and Ashley Davies’ Mini7.

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Early Saturday morning balloon ascent                 Setting up the stand

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It was really nice to meet old and new friends and drum up interest in mini7’s product. It really is a brilliant club. It’s second time around for me as a racing member but a lot of the old faces are still there.

The club has been pushing over the last couple of years to drum up interest and the signs are good it is starting to pay off. In the mini7’s we have 1993 champion Tina Cooper returning, 1992 runner up Graham Penn joining the mix again, Mighty Mini frontrunner Charlie Budd joining us, and our series sponsor A Series Spares are also building a car. I know of a few others who are looking for cars to buy. And in the miglia class there is me, Matt Kane who bought Endaf Owens’ car, and Rob Davis to name but 3. I could be wrong but I can feel that the club is on the up for next season.