12/11/01 Now 53 hours into it, the project is starting to look like a car (well, to ME anyway)...
I'm alternating between working on the chassis and fitting the dry sump kit to the engine.
There have been a number of problems with the kit. From what I understand this is one of the first Megabusa kits in the US, it's one of the first left-hand-drive ones period. For a while I thought there was a problem with the suspension parts. Fortunately it turned out the problem was with my head and the way I was putting things together. Much easier to fix :) The suspension is really cool and is fully adjustable front and rear:
Some of the other issues which do seem to be real:
- Footwell panels were for right-hand-drive car (England sending new ones)
- Some brake components missing (Alamo sent out an update before I even requested)
- Steering column components incorrect (Alamo was already putting together a package when I asked about it)
- Rivets supplied were about 120 too few (probably having to do with much larger floorpan of the 'busa vs the standard kits)
- Some fasteners missing
- Drain plug hole in the dry sump has threads that don't match the plug
- Many sections of the manual specific to the 'busa are missing
I have brought up all the above with the distributor, Alamo Sportscars, who have been very prompt in replying and generally very supportive. Some of the stuff has to come from England, so I don't know how long that's going to take. Hopefully not TOO long. The pieces that are available from Texas should be arriving this week...
12/16/01 Test-fitting the engine and riveting some of the interior panels (now that the rivets have showed up)...
There is a problem with the fit of the engine mounts/cradles. I'm hoping that it's just something I'm doing wrong. There is no picture or instructions in the manual as to how the engine mount plates that bolt to the head interface to the top cradle/crossbrace. I've tried a few different ways, using up at least five hours in the process, but the only way the subassembly seems to fit together does not allow for a proper fit into of the whole thing into the frame. I'm wondering if the US engines have slight differences from the UK ones? For example the oil filter threads are different, so I am now awaiting response on how to procure a proper adapter for part of the dry sump system... The headers seem to fit nicely though :)
79 hours spent so far.... Doubtful that I'll be able to finish within the 100 suggested by the factory.
12/25/01 As the work progresses (89 hours so far), I'm able to clean up the garage somewhat. All the various boxes and bags are slowly getting emptied, their contents being assembled into something that more and more resembles a car....
The dry sump kit installation is almost complete - the setup is pretty neat, hopefully it will work.
The drivetrain installation is only partially done. I seem to be missing some more fasteners, and of course the fact that I still don't have the footwell panels means that I can't install pedals, engine, or basically anything else forward of the firewall. The waiting is a bummer... But the shifter and the reverse selector lever look and work pretty neat! Shifter came with nice MOMO shift knob.
12/26/01 Spent a couple of hours going through electricals and getting the hubs and components ready to be machined to fit the wheels...
Now I need to contact the machine shop recommended by a friend and find out what the cost will be and how long it would take.
01/17/02 Now that the footwell panels are in and I'm done with all the drilling and riveting, I finally got the engine in. It took two tries - first time I got everything drilled and mounted, then realized that the alternator cover was touching the frame. Out came all the bolts (9 of them), the whole assembly was moved 3/4" diagonally forward and to the right, new holes drilled, and bolts reinstalled. I used silicone sealant in the assembly to protect both the new and the old holes from corrosion. I also had to slightly modify the engine mounts to make everything fit. Most of the drivetrain is now in, although I'm still waiting for the hubs and rotors to be machined. All in all it's coming along. 109 hours so far. Looks like maybe another 30 hours to go...
01/22/02 A big day. Finally got the hubs back from machine shop...
After getting new bearing seals and some assembly, the hubs and rotors are on and the car for the first time in its life is resting on its own four wheels! Really starting to feel like progress. It took 118 hours to get to this point (not counting numerous e-mails and trips to various stores looking for everything from tools to fasteners). Looks like quite a bit more work is left, but I'm feeling pretty good about having it done before the Alfa track day at the end of March.
01/26/02 A few more tweaks to the braking system (including replacement of 2 fittings) and now that part is done - just needs to be filled with fluid. Spent around three hours setting up the suspension geometry using some string and a caliper...
The factory recommendations are for 1-2 degrees negative camber upfront and only 1/4 degree in the back. The tire manufacturer recommends 3 degrees negative for the tires. So I went for an initial setup that is the most negative camber that the suspension allows, which is 1.9 degrees rear and 2.4 degrees front. The Westfield spec also calls for a ride height of 113mm front and 133mm rear - I was only able to get about 125 front and 145 rear without the spring being loose in the shock on full extension. Something I'll tweak later, I suppose. That one is simple to adjust. The toe setting in the rear is recommended 4-6mm toe in, and I set it up for 5 which was easy enough. Upfront the spec calls for 1-1.5mm toe out, but I was not able to set it to anything less than 3mm toe out (perhaps due in part to running more camber than specified). I guess I'll try and see how these settings work out, and adjust it from there. This is going to be a major learning experience!
02/02/02 Some of the bodywork is finally out of the bedroom and on the car (not fully attached yet). Progress has been slow lately as I need to jump into the electricals and am waiting for some clarifications from Westfield. Other unresolved issues remain, such as steering intermediate shaft... But I am still hopeful to have everything complete before mid-March.