06/09/03 After washing the car (it needed a bath, having antifreeze sprayed all over the place at the last track day) I put it up on the lift and tackled the next issue - removing the oil line restrictor. Basically the restrictor is there to redirect oil flow through stock oil cooler but provide an emergency path should the cooler get clogged. Westfield cooler setup uses a sandwich plate hookup instead of the standard routing - and so all the oil has to go through the restrictor resulting in a massive pressure drop. It's a simple task to remove it - IF you know it needs to be done.
Of course Westfield doesn't bother to tell you about this in the instructions, and I found this out when buying the TTS dry sump for the dp1 (by the way TTS dry sump is far superior to Westfield-supplied one and cheaper too - anyone building a 'busa-powered Westie should skip the factory option and go TTS. No, I don't get commission, it's just my honest opinion). The picture below illustrates the main thing wrong with the Westfield setup - it protrudes a full inch below the floorpan whereas the TTS item would be flush. I haven't scraped it yet, but I haven't driven the car that much either and I'm quite mindful of this 'feature' when I do - certainly had a couple opportunities for scrapes already. The other issue is belt-driven pump - I like the TTS direct drive much better.
Another related Westfield gem - the dry sump kit came with a Crosland 659 filter (not sold in this country). I had e-mailed Westfield asking about the source of it. No reply. So I called them, twice. Both times they told me they use a standard Suzuki filter. To be sure I ordered one from them, making certain to tell everyone I have their dry sump and sandwich plate oil cooler hookup, expressing a concern that the Crosland looked different than the stock item. Sure enough, they shipped me a stock Suzuki part. Which doesn't come close to fitting...
Different size, different threads. So I searched the web for a while, eventually finding that the Crosland is the same as Fram PH2874, supposedly. Sure hope I can find one somewhere in this country (parts store was closed today). I do love this car, at least on the track, but can't say the same about its manufacturer. Things to take note of if I ever end up competing with them....
06/10/03 Went to CarQuest and they were able to find a cross for the Crosland 659 (their P/N 85335 in case someone needs it). The CQ filter is larger in diameter and I was concerned that it might not clear the frame rail when installing it, but it does - by about 1/16 of an inch.
The bigger filter is a benefit in terms of capacity and lower pressure drop. Fired up the motor and I now have oil pressure! Full 4 bar at idle instead of previous 1 bar. So this part is taken care of. I wonder how much damage was caused by running the way it was? Only 500 miles so far (not much for a year, is it?) but most of it was on the track. Fortunately none of the low-pressure moments were at high load - pressure would rise with RPM and only drop really low at idle. So with luck the motor might survive for a while...
Other remaining Westie items:
- Replace outboard CV joint boots (really dread this one since rear suspension has to come apart)
- Find a reliable solution to blocking off unused heater hose fitting to prevent coolant showers.
- Get some foam or baffling inside the fuel tank - at 1/2 tank or below I get fuel starvation in sustained turns and the fuel gauge goes completely nuts from the gasoline sloshing around.
- Improve the catchtank setup for reversing box oil (although it kinda works now). Probably change the oil in the box to a thinner one, too.
- Wire up the seat heaters
- Come up with a radiator shroud to improve cooling. Test the thermal switch for the radiator fan - it didn't seem to be turning the fan on the last time I drove the car.
07/29/03 Finally got around to replacing the CV joint boots. Not a particularly pleasant task. I couldn't figure out how to take apart the outer joints, so decided to just disassemble the inboard tripod-style joints instead. Much easier, except it meant I had to remove those boots as well. Nevertheless got everything removed, re-greased and then reinstalled. Except for the boot clamps. The boots that Westfield sent to me are different than original (good thing, actually, because they appear much sturdier). The boot clamps supplied were wrong size. Surprise. So I went to buy some at a parts store, for both inboard and outboard joints. No such luck - most stores don't carry them, and ones that do only have limited sizes. At least I got the metal bands on the large diameters of the boots. The small diameters that sit on the driveshafts got heavy duty nylon zip ties for now.
Whatever the case, it's better than what I had on there up till now. I think I'll drive it like this a few miles to see if there's any grease coming out. If not it might be good, otherwise I'll have to try and find proper size small metal bands. Can't imagine there being that much pressure on those spots. The old boots were pretty far gone, despite my earlier efforts to salvage them...
After only 500 miles it's pretty pathetic. My advice to anyone building a Westie is to put the zip ties in the boot valleys BEFORE the boots split. What happens is that the flimsy outer boots (originally designed to give more angle for front-drive applications) end up inflating from centrifugal force at high speeds and hitting the suspension upright. The replacement ones are shorter and have much thicker and stiffer rubber. Fortunately due to limited mileage and good-weather-only running there didn't seem to be any contamination, and the jonts themselves still had plenty of grease left in them.
After dealing with the CV boots I reduced the front toe-out a bit more, redid the heater hose block-off so that it should now (hopefully) stay on, and took the beast out for a 30-mile test run. All seems to be working, knock on wood. I got it up to about 90 mph in a couple spots and there doesn't seem to be any grease coming out of the CVs. The real test will be on the track though, which is where the old ones failed. The adjusted toe seems to be working well with the car being much more stable under braking. Turn-in is a bit less immediate, but that may be a good thing. Also figured out that a particularly annoying high-frequency buzz is coming from the parking brake handle. It is quite loud to be heard in such a noisy environment, but at least it's nothing to worry about. And finally while my oil system modifications work great when the motor is cold, once it heats up the idle pressure still drops below 1 bar (17psi). From what I've read and heard from a number of sources this is normal for a bike motor, however. So overall it seems the beast should be track-ready. Next track outing is on August 20th, so if the weather is favorable the Westie gets to go to that one.
08/29/03 Well, the main news is that I've decided to sell the Westie. I've learned what I wanted from it, and the dp1 is now starting to demand both space and money. So the Westfield is for sale. E-mail me if you are interested. The bad move on my part was to put a 'for sale' sign on it at the Lotus track day.
I should have known the car would not like it. In fact I did. And so of course two laps into the first session I come into the chicane and end up sliding all over the place in a cloud of smoke. It took a few more turns to figure out that I was leaking oil like crazy (just in case I stayed off the racing line, which helped just a tad). Then I stopped. It took a good half hour to clean up the oil (and a bill for $56 for the cleanup). After which I got towed back to the pits. Turns out it was just a loose fitting on the oil line connecting the head to the block. Didn't run with any power or RPM in this condition so hopefully the motor is OK. Borrowed tools and a gallon of oil and was able to drive home. Contemplated getting the Elise off the lift but ended up bringing back the Mini instead (see the Mini page). So Westie's track day was over before it really started. Oh well, at least no damage done.
The track day itself, coinciding with the west coast Lotus convention, attracted a lot of neat machinery - including a 1965 Indy car.
Quite a few Elise variants showed up. At one time there were 6, and mine wasn't even there. Also a whole lot of other Loti, from Elans, Sevens and Formula Fords to V8 Esprits.
A particularly interesting car was a very fast race Europa with a Cosworth BDA motor and what must be the world's most radical cold air intake, using up the entire passenger space.
The Westie is now back in the garage. It will get a thorough cleaning and a checkup on all fittings and hoses. This is quite a learning experience. I think I will put alignment marks on critical bolts so that I can tell if they've moved just by visual inspection. It is common practice in aircraft and I think the Westie could benefit greatly from it. Yes, it's still for sale....
03/02/04 With the track season coming up and the main serious would-be buyer vanishing I decided to do some prep work on the Westie, just in case I want to track it again. With that in mind the first thing was to replace the 75W gear oil in the reversing box with Redline synthetic ATF. Hopefully the lighter lubricant will keep the box from heating up and reduce or eliminate the spillage problems. The box is pretty much straight-through in forward mode and doesn't really rely on lubricant too heavily. Next, while I have the dash open, is to add some C-clips so that the dash can be removed and installed without reaching all the way behind it with a wrench to get to the retaining nuts. Of course the clips need to be trimmed a bit so that will take a while. Also drained the dry sump catch tank and was surprised to find a bit of oil in there. Guess it's doing its job. Next is checkig all the critical bolts and painting alignment marks on them for easy visual inspection. With the weather improving and gravel being slowly removed from the roads I might actually take it out for a run in a week or so. There is a remote possibility of running the Westie at the March 13th Alfa club track day but I'm generally not planning on it. We'll see.
03/11/04 Finally put the C-clips in the dash and went to drive around a bit due to great weather. The Westie certainly is a fun machine, but demanding. Especially in traffic, due to very sensitive clutch. I took it on the freeway for a bit and upon later inspection after it was back up on the lift was gratified to see that there was very little lubricant spillage from the reversing box. Of course the real test would be on the track, but so far so good. Knock on wood. Depending on how it goes Saturday I might actually run it for half a day...
In the meantime, couldn't resist taking some pics next to the other two cars in my all-British stable (click on the pic with the Elise for a larger version).
Funny part is the Elise and the Westie COMBINED weigh almost exactly the same as the Mini