Silverstone shakedown

Silverstone came and went, and at the beginning of the day I was quietly confident with what I’d achieved.

Sighting laps, something felt odd with the car and I was getting a weird clunk under light brake applications. I remembered torquing the wheel nuts, so it can’t be that, or can it? 3 out 4. Drivers front wheel bolts were all finger tight, whoops.

With that sorted, I headed out for a single installation lap, came back in, all seemed fine. Thought the alternator/water pump belt might have been slipping, but couldn’t be sure. Went out for another lap or two, that confirmed things, it needed tightening. It’s a two man job, one person pushing down on the alternator while the other tightens the bolt to keep tension, not ideal, but a fairly straight forward job.

Another niggle sorted, Stace jumped in and we did a handful of laps so he could give me an idea of where I needed to place the car on track, useful.

Lucy had decided she’d like a lay in, which suited us both. Gave me an hour or so to iron out any creases with the car, and Lucy a steady start to the day. She wasn’t driving so didn’t need to be at the briefing, win win.

Went and collected her from the snoozebox, sorted her out with a wrist band, helmet and suggested we go out for a few laps, you know, just in case.

Strapped in, we headed out, and the car felt like it was going well, slightly down on boost, but apart from that all was OK. Temps were great, oil pressure fine, 4 or 5 laps in accelerating onto hangar straight something let go, a bit of a rattle and a poorly sounding engine later I coasted into the new pit complex and awaited a tow.

A first for me, I’ve never had to be recovered at a track day. Also a first for the tow strap I had fitted, but it went without hitch, and we were soon plonked back in the garage to figure out what had just happened.

The first thing that sprung to mind has cam timing, I was concerned the cambelt might have jumped a tooth, or something was a miss. But no, all the timing marks lined up just fine, figured I’d try and start it, and it fired straight into life, but running pretty roughly. At this point I was a little stuck, I removed the spark plugs, two looked fine, two were covered in what I thought was oil, but that turned out to be unburnt fuel, or so we think.

Feeling a little bit useless, friends started to show an interest, Nige was very busy with his own car, but took the time to have a quick look for me, and suggest things to try. Karan spent quite a lot of time helping me, and I learnt a lot just watching him and Matty try and diagnose the problem, and for that I’m very grateful.

Because, Northloop ^^

After some faffing it was clear we were getting both fuel and spark on all cylinders, but only firing on 1 & 2. 3 & 4 had gone completely awol and that was the end of my day. Lunch time we packed the car up, and just as the track went green for the afternoon we left the building so we could beat the traffic.

A concerned Uncle Benz called on my way home, and gave some advice on compression tests. I knew that Stace had one, so decided to carry out my first compression test when I got home, the results were as expected really.

Cyl 1 – 150
Cyl 2 – 150
Cyl 3 – 0
Cyl 4 – 0

General consensus is that the gasket has blown between 3 and 4, and that might have been caused through wrongly fitted head bolts, either not torqued to spec, or something fouling the bolt holes.

I intend to remove the head for a second time this coming Saturday, so we’ll see what is what after that.

Nige is keen I get it built back up and get over to Oulton park next Thursday, I’d love to do that. But there are a few things now I’d like to address, and it seems fitting to draw a line under this years track action to take care of them. I also struggle quite badly with anxiety, so the few days before Silverstone were really tough for me. I don’t really want a repeat of that so soon after, and I don’t think it would be fair on Lucy either, I turn into a stressy stranger when suffering.

The car will return next year though, keen to get the TF035 turbo rebuilt and fitted to see a little bit more power in an attempt to keep with Nige and some of the other quicker cars out there. Racing for the time being has well and truly taken a back seat, I simply don’t have the budget to do it, in the mean time I’ll get a good handle on the local circuits, and hopefully get out to Spa.

Will report back after Saturday with my findings, thanks again to all of those that have helped over the last few weeks, it really means a lot.


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