Monday, 1 January 2018

Wind deflector part 1

Yes, I am a wuss! Its official. The back draught of cold air and buffeting in the Cobra at this time of year especially (when it is cold) needs taming. I do have a beany hat and a scarf to help keep out the worst of the cold. But most importantly, my wife prefers her hair the right way round!

I researched the subject on the Internet, the Cobra Club Forum and read an article by Paul Hutton (which is really good) in the April 2017 publication of the Snake Torque magazine. From this research I reckoned that there was a way of cutting down the draught on my neck and my passenger's without detracting from the Cobra's lines. So here is what I have done.


First the four seat belt eye bolt anchorages were unscrewed from the roll hoops. The wind deflector will fit behind the seats and onto the face of the hoops. Masking tape was applied to the body on the cabin side of the roll hoops to prevent any marks.
Eye bolts removed and masking tape applied
The template was made of hardboard. Duct tape was used to hold the hardboard in place each time it was removed and refitted.
Duct tape on back to hold template
First, the hardboard was marked up to follow the body of the car, then cut with a jig saw. After the first cut, it took a bit of messing about to get the right gap all the way across at the bottom.
Hardboard with first line drawn
Once I had this sorted I marked up the top and sides. The deflector extends 50mm beyond each roll hoop towards the outside of the car.  If the deflector extends any further it will scoop up the air passing down the side of the car and channel it behind your head, defeating the whole thing!

Then I marked up a slope - from the top middle of each roll hoop to the outside (about 75mm down from the top), before marking rounded corners. The top corners were a 75mm radius and the bottom corners a 25mm radius (hope this will be ok for the hood or hardtop I get). The template was then cut with a jig saw and planed to get smooth edges. Next I marked the eye bolt holes using a hammer against the hardboard and the mounting hole. The centre was then marked and drilled using a 6mm bit. After checking the holes were in the right place, I drilled them out to 22mm using a step drill. The hole needs to be big enough to clear the shoulder of the eye bolt.
Template cut and eye bolt holes drilled
Finally I put the eye bolts in place finger tight to check they were clear of the hole sides.

Final template with eye bolts in place
I have allowed a 5mm gap between the deflector and the body. This will allow the pressure inside the cabin to be equalised.


Laminated glass - this option was beyond my capabilities to work with. It would need to be laminated to avoid it shattering if hit by a stone. Glass is expensive, not easy to cut or drill and is also quite heavy. So this was ruled out.

Perspex - easy to cut and drill. Cheap to buy and widely available. Loses transparency over time, can warp when exposed to UV light and can break in to large shards if hit by a stone. So this too was not an option for an open sports car with no top.

Acrylic sheet - easy to cut and drill. Stable dimensionally, to UV light and stays clear. It has greater break resistance than glass. On impact it breaks in to relatively large pieces, rather than small pieces or shards. Withstands large changes in temperature. Lightweight. Better transparency than glass. Expensive and harder to source.

Solid polycarbonate - similar properties and strength to acrylic sheet. Easier to source and less expensive than Acrylic.

So polycarbonate it was. I have ordered 8mm thick which by all accounts is about right. Any thinner and I risked it vibrating or flexing at speed. Any thicker and it is over doing things. The size of the polycarbonate sheet ordered is 1220mm x 360mm. Prices seem to vary quite alot over time (oil prices?), but Century Plastics in Sheffield seemed to have the best price at around £30 including VAT and carriage and their service is great.

My next post will be cutting, drilling and fitting the deflector.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017


Photos of the car - November 2017. Too cold to go out ..... brrrrrr
Front near side
Front off side
Rear near side
Rear off side
Only 1504 miles, so far!
Engine bay

Friday, 29 September 2017

Safer underdash trays

I have never been happy with the sheet steel under dash trays in the GD. In an accident they could be like a blade to the legs or body, stiff and sharp. Ouch!
Metal under dash tray
So, I have decided to replaced them with hardboard, which should give a bit on impact as it is a less stiff material and is more compliant. But hopefully I will never need to test this out.

First I marked lines on the existing trays to show how far they went between the cross braces and dashboard. This material needs to be removed from the new pieces. The two steel trays were then removed and used as templates on the hardboard. The shapes were drawn round in pencil, including the heater duct vent and 12v power outlet. Then the new trays were cut to this line, not forgetting to remove the strip that goes between the dashboard and cross brace. The fixing holes were drilled and the edges rubbed down with sand paper.
New under dash tray cut out from sheet
Each new tray is located by two thin metal tabs (see photo below), which I had fabricated. These tabs are bolted to the tray, then locate between the cross brace and the dashboard. After reconnecting the heater ducts and the 12v power outlet, the trays are then fixed in place with two screws at the front.
Tray fitted. Note the fitted tab,12v outlet and heater duct nozzle 
The trays could be painted if required, but I have decided not to do this. The change is simple and would have been a cheaper alternative to the laser cut steel trays! Also it should be much safer too.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Running repairs

Sun visor

There was a rattle, but at first I couldn't work out where it came from. Then I found it was from a sun visor. A grub screw on one of the visors had worked loose and fallen out. I couldn't find the screw, so had to buy an M4 x 5mm replacement grub screw from eBay (4 for £1.18).
Apologies for the poor photo. Little grub screw can be seen here
Cooling fan mounting

Two of the four fan mounts had broken after only 1,200 miles, as I previously reported. So I ordered a new fixing kit from Car Builder Solutions for £12 plus postage of £4.20. When I received the parts, the old mountings were removed by undoing the caphead bolts from the rivnuts, which held the fan in place.
Fan mounting point and rivnut can be seen here
The new mountings were then fixed in place.
New mounting fixed with a dab of nut lock
Coolant pipe fixing

I had damaged the jubilee clip which secured the hose from the thermostat to the radiator by tightening it too much. So the coolant leaked from the hose. A sticky mess! A replacement W4 stainless steel clip was bought from eBay for just £1.05. The hose did not have to be removed to do this. The jubilee clip was simply fully loosened, then fixed over the hose (after removing the old clip). Then tightened.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Car Show

There was a Classic Car Show just down the road at Burley in Wharfedale, so I decided to take the Cobra.
My Cobra at the Burley in Wharfedale Classic Car Show
A great show with over 200 other petrolhead's pride and joys. And it was free to show and to come in to look at some mouth watering cars. Look out for the 2018 date in February (the show will be in August).

Friday, 11 August 2017

Leaky Cobra and broken fan mount

Coolant leak

I have had a coolant leak for some time from the thermostat housing. Unfortunately there is no drain point in the system, so a hose needs to be disconnected. Messy!

First I drained down the system and removed the thermostat housing. This was cleaned up where it mated to the block. Next I applied Hylomar blue sealant to the mating surfaces. After a bit of fiddling I got the thermostat and housing back in place, bolted up and filled ......... but it still leaked. So I repeated the process. It leaked again! So a glass of wine was called for.

After relaxing a bit, I thought of three reasons why this may be happening - the thermostat was not being correctly aligned, the bolts were too long and not allowing the housing to be nipped up or both.

So the next day I checked the bolts and sure enough one was not going in to the block far enough. The bolt was shortened a little to allow it to screw in fully.

Next I fit the rubber thermostat gasket in to the housing, using sealant in the recess where the rubber gasket sits. Then I put two tie wraps through the top of the thermostat and threaded these through the housing. I located the thermostat in place, making sure that the pressure release thingy was in the correct place (there is a recess in the rubber seal). Next I fixed the tie wraps around a bolt to secure the thermostat in the right place and so that it could not be moved whilst fixing. Sealant was applied yet again to the clean mating surface, before the housing was offered up and bolted in place. The tie wraps were removed, the hose reconnected and the jubilee clip tightened. The system was then re-filled gradually, making sure that no air was trapped (tip - get the front of the car higher than the back). Success!
Thermostat housing re-fitted
Radiator fan

Whilst messing about stopping the leak above, I noticed that two of the fan fixings on the driver's side had broken after only 1,200 miles!
Broken fan fixing. Tie wrap can now be seen below it.
What I should have done was to fit tie wraps as well to help stop the mountings moving. I have ordered new fan fixings to replace the broken ones. Guess that is the problem of such a big fan.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Damper set up

Andy at GD will set up your new GD suspension at no additional cost. My car is a Euro so should only need the dampers setting, as the rest is set as part of the rolling chassis build. The car drives well now, but does 'float' a little over crests in the road and also feels a little unstable particularly at speed on the motorway, which does not instil total confidence when pushing on. The dampers (or shockers) control oscillation of the springs and keep the tyres in contact with the road. So this is what I needed to sort out to address the minor handling issues.

I didn't really want to take the car to the factory, as it is a 2.5 hour drive each way and I have no weather gear to combat the vaguaries of the British summer. A quick call to Andy and he explained the way to adjust the dampers and that it should correct the issues above. The dampers are set using just one knob for both the compression and rebound. If I made a pigs ear out of it, there is no real harm done as it can be corrected!

Andy knows the feel of the cars and the changes needed to correct the symptoms. It also depend on the weight of the driver, passenger and junk/tools etc carried in the boot (if a lot of weight in the boot you may need more clicks at the rear). He suggested that damper settings of around 4-6 clicks clockwise are likely to be about right, but that I may need to amend this to my preference. No change is required to the spring rates or toe. However, for the track more clicks may be required e.g 12/13!

The first job is to set the ride height. Mine is set to clear local speed bumps (see a previous post).

Collar for ride adjustment can be seen here
This is achieved by adjusting the collars up (using a C spanner) at the bottom of the springs.
The lower the car the less it will roll in corners (lowers the centre of gravity) and the better it will handle, but the car is more likely to come into contact with speed humps (legal limit for a speed bump on a public road is 4" I think) or raised road surfaces/metalwork - so you have been warned!

Next I needed to back off all four dampers fully (they were set to 5 clicks at the factory) - turning the knurled knob fully anti-clockwise, so that the knob will not turn any further (don't force it). You should be able to do this with the wheels on. The knobs are at the bottom of the dampers - on the inside at the front and on the leading edge at the rear.
Front nearside damper knurled knob (faces away from wheel)

Rear nearside damper knob (faces front of car)
Then turn the knob, say 6 clicks clockwise (which is one full rotation of the knob). For road use/touring you do not want the car to be too stiff or it will be uncomfortable and thump over every road imperfection. I set mine to 6 clicks. With 7 clicks it handled well but was a tad too hard. If you have a roll bar fitted the setting is likely to vary

Now the good bit. Once adjusted, test the car on your favourite road 😆. If it is not quite right, further adjustments can be made. Extra clicks will firm up the dampers, backing it off will reduce the damping effect. Note, this is not the spring rate, but the speed at which the dampers move and allow the car to roll in corners, control the car over undulations and dive (or not) under braking.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Wet passenger legs!

We had a drop of rain on the North York Moors Cobra Club run. If we went fast enough the rain went over the top of us, unfortunately I had not sealed the windscreen stanchions properly and it dripped in to the passenger foot well. Not too bad as it was on to the passenger's legs and not mine!
Gap down side of stanchion let water in

In addition the rubber seal of the windscreen had a kink in it, so GD had supplied a new one without the fault.
Kink can be seen in photo above
So I had to remove the screen. This is a time consuming job, as you need to remove the sun visors, mirrors, wind wings, centre bracket, before unscrewing and lifting out. But a tip, remove the passenger under dash tray and one of the bigger gauges on the dashboard. Now you can get your hand in to remove the nuts holding in the central screen bracket. This is a lot easier than removing the whole dash!

Whilst the screen was off I re-did the drivers side stanchion sealing. The escutcheons needed removing to do this job properly. The new rubber seal went on easier with some Vaseline to aid sliding in to the channel on the under side of the windscreen.
Stanchion re-sealed
New rubber seal without the kink!
So, hopefully dry legs now. Not that it goes out in the rain .... well it is not planned anyway!

Monday, 7 August 2017

North York Moors Cobra Club run

North York Moors

Arranged by Mike Hammond, the North York Moors Cobra Club run was superb.

Cobras outside hotel on Saturday morning

Not sure what a gathering of Cobras is called
We only did the Saturday, bailing out at Malton. A great hit with a fabulous turn out of Cobras and members/partners. It was amazing going through the towns and villages, a long line of Cobras really turned the heads and the cameras came out too.

I thought that I had "done" the area, but Mike had chosen some great sweeping roads with tremendous scenery that we had not seen before. The only negative was a shower, and the Cobra doesn't do rain, but go quick enough and the rain goes over you. Except I found a leak, or rather Carol did, in the passenger foot well. So a job to do next. Hopefully next year Mike will sort the weather too!

My car back fired frequently on the over run and made the sheep jump, so Noel Hirst Christened it the 'sheep banger'. Not sure that was a compliment! I will ask Dave from Canems to look at the ECU settings.

Harewood Hillclimb

The following day I took Russell Naude up to Harewood in the Cobra to see the racing and some old rivals of mine. Good to see real racers on the hill and in the paddock. Cars ranged from Austin Healey 3000s, through Caterhams, Subarus, Peugeot 205s, Minis, Elises to a multitude of single seater race cars. One of my old rivals, Dave Banner, took fastest time of the day in his OMS.

There was also an event for the Fueled Society, with some nice custom cars on display. Good crowds and a great way to end the weekend.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Just topped 1000 miles!

The Cobra is now ready for its first oil change after 1000 miles. I needed to do this before the Northern Cobra Club North York Moors Run at the weekend.

Almost 5 litres of  Mobil 1 and a new K&N filter from CarPartsForLess were used. The new filter, an HP 1007, has a 'nut' fitted to aid removal, however it is a little longer, but when fitted it is still above the lower extremity of the exhaust so should be ok.

The front of the car needed jacking up to get at the oil drain plug and the filter. A plastic carrier bag helped to catch the filter and the oil from the filter and an oil drain can caught the old oil.

The new filter rubber ring was coated with engine oil and the filter was partly filled before it was fitted to help with the process. After pouring the new oil in to the engine, it was allowed to settle before checking the level with the dipstick. When it looked to be at the correct level, the engine was run for a few minutes to circulate the oil, before finally topping up.

Job done!

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Cobras go to North East

Mark Turnbull had invited me up to his house in Sunderland. Keith Akerman joined me. So two Cobras travelled from Yorkshire to County Durham to see another Cobra being built. What a fabulous day we picked  - wall to wall sun!

First we got to Marks and kicked tyres. Looked at his grey Gardner Douglas 427 Cobra. Admired his four post lift. And compared notes on how we had gone about building our cars.
Another Cobra being created
After we were Cobra'd out we went up to Tyneside to see his new home. Well the building site that will become the Turnbull's new residences. Mark's family have also got a number of these apartments too! He is doing some consultancy on the building, including moving quite a number of staircases to free up the main views of the Tyne. Rather him than me.
A couple of the staircases
Just look at that view!
Then Mark took us back to Sunderland and bought us fish and chips. At this point Keith's car decided to run out of fuel. Luckily he had a can in the boot. Petrol in tank, fish and chips in a carrier, we made our way to Roker marina. After boarding Mark's vessel (he is a record holder in the North Sea - caught the biggest shark ever caught here!) at the marina, we settled in to lunch. Yummy!
Captain Turnbull. What better place to eat fish and chips.
After food, we returned to Mark's house where friends and family descended on the Cobras. A bit more tyre kicking, mickey taking and photos, before it was time to leave for home.

Traffic jam at Chez Turnbull with Keith's Cobra
Not wanting to run out of fuel, we filled up at a nearby filling station. A nice lady in a Merc Pergoda let us out in to the traffic (it was Michelle, Mark's wife - she had managed to evade us during the day).

The two Cobras drove impeccably and got us home safely, despite heavy traffic and some suspect driving from others (including a Porsche driver who obviously had something to prove to himself).

Saturday, 20 May 2017

GD open day at new factory

I met some great folk at the new GD factory in Grantham on Saturday. Some I had met before, others I had talked to or corresponded with, others were totally new to me and some had used this blog. Loads of people attended. What a nice group, with the same or a similar interests.

The weather was good in the morning, but it chucked it down in the afternoon. I had checked out the forecast for the journey and had decided that the tin top was a much safer bet. And a good choice this turned out to be. Some lucky folk had demo runs in the sun, whilst others got soaked, not that this spoiled the day - at least for me!

The day had been organised by Meena and Andy at GD, with a lot of help from Sue and Larry of ClubGD. Staff and family had been roped in to help and those who attended were met by a mouth watering selection of pastries, biscuits and drinks. Just what was needed after the long journeys.

Here are a few photos from the day.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

New wheel!

Well I have finally got round to getting a slightly bigger steering wheel. I have gone for a 14" (previously a 13") premium grade leather traditional style, with nicely polished and radiused edged spokes. The wheel is flat, rather than semi-dished and has a slightly thicker rim and was bought from Scarborough Racing Developments.

The only issue was that it was a 9 hole fixing and the previous wheel was a 6 hole fitting. The advice was to temporarily fix the wheel with 3 bolts through the holes that still lined up, then drill the remaining 6 holes through the boss. The steering wheel was then fixed with the 9 countersunk fixings screws, washers and nylocs provided, putting the central circular ring supplied in place. An easy upgrade!
New steering wheel fixed