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Top Tips

As I've progressed during this build I've learnt quite a bit in terms of do's and don'ts and I hope that the info here will help budding builders - especially those who are taking the 'buy most of it' approach.

Engine Gearbox Steering Electrical Carb Guages Differential
Fuel Pedals Suspension Wheels & tyres Bodywork Racing only Axle

Engine

This one's down to budget really. Even with the tight regs. of the Locost series you can blow a grand easily on the engine alone. My suggestion would be a minimum of a rebore/skim and depending on their condition, replace valve guides. Get it balanced and check the weight of your flywheel. The regs. say a minimum weight of 10.5kg for the flywheel/clutch assembly - NOTE that's kg's NOT pounts! It equates to approx. 23.15lbs. X-flows came fitted with a right old mixture of flywheels ranging in weight from a whopping 26lbs to a sprightly 16.75lbs on the GT. This is odd 'cos a GT flywheel only weighs 7.6kg's so unless you've got a bloody heavy clutch you'll be underweight. Weird! Vegantune do an all in race engine for 1300 quid with backup by them at the meetings. It's not cheap but it's competitive and gives you some piece of mind. Mind you, not very satisfying knowing that you haven't a clue what's been done to it and do you really want to send it back to them when it goes wrong? I'd suggest finding a reputable local builder who'll do the work. You may even get a private job done and save yourself a few quid. You should reckon on about 1300 to 1500 quid.

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Gearbox

And today's class is..... remote linkages! Well, I looked into this alot and solutions varied from elongating the lever shaft to rose joints and custom mounts. By far the easiest (and in my opinion the best looking) is to follow my design. You'll need two old levers and mounting plates but they're easy enough to get from a scrappy. It's important to make sure that there's no lateral play where the linkage arms join the lever stems so be careful to choose a well matched bolt size to the hole you drill in the lever shaft. Use washers and lube on all mating surfaces and nip-up a nylock to just tight, then back off about 1/3rd of a turn. Sierra type 9 gearboxes are slightly longer and so may make it under the scuttle but this still makes it a fair old stretch to the lever. Some racers use a 5 speed box for a race car whilst you'll never get it into 5th the ratio's up to 4th suit some circuits better. 4-speed GT is a good choice but don't forget to check and match your diff ratio to suit the circuit. Oh, and no, I'm not telling you which suits which! ;)

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Steering

Hmmm... steering column downlink. This proved to be a right pain to sort out but only because of slow delivery. The UJ and spline joint are only available through one supplier allegedly so you're better off cutting off the top and bottom joints from the donors (assuming MKII rack and Sierra column - collapsable). The shaft in an MK chassis as approx 750mm long but it's well worth checking your own before ordering. Stuart Taylor can fabricate them for you.

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Electrical

Don't make the same mistake as me and just buy the cheapest battery kill switch! It needs to have seperate isolation for the ignition circuit as it's possible for the engine to run from the alternator even if the battery is shut down. You'll need an FIA approved jobbie. Burton Power do a good one for about 20 quid (ex. VAT) - part no. GE55. Starter systems are up to personal preference, but for the racer stylee which looks the dogs danglers as well as being bloody robust and above all safe, I used the Longacre switch from Demon Tweeks (part no. 4461 - 37.26 ex. VAT). Make sure you also get the wiring loom extension (4493 - 16.61 ex. VAT) which is very neat. If you've got a fibreglass scuttle (I'm fabricating a metal plate for all the instruments which will carry and earth for mine) you'll need to run an earth to this switch so that the light works the right way round. Make sure ALL connections are secure. Best bet is to solder EVERYTHING! Pay special attention to the ignition circuit and bolt the connections to the coil as spade terminals can work loose and fall off. Not good.

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Carb

Right, see that single choke thingy sat upon your engine? See that bin over there? OK, drop it in! I'm 'reliably' told that to be even remotely competitive you'll need to drive like a man possessed.. err... I mean you'll need to get hold of a twin-choke downdraft carb as fitted to the Ghia and GT MKII's. Locost regs. state that you can have Venturi's no bigger than 23mm and 24mm. I had a bit of bother tracking one down but here's a few suggestions:

  1. Find a donor X-flow from a Mk2 Escort Ghia or GT or the 1300HC engine. They all came with a twin-choke downdraft carb.
  2. Carb Exchange (Tel: 01525 371369) in Leighton Buzzard who could do a fully rebuilt carb to the approved spec minus the choke flaps (you'd be chucking them anyway, right?)for 95 plus VAT.
  3. Look under the bonnets of Volvo 340s around 1985 vintage. They have 32/32 webers with 23 and 24 chokes.
  4. Ring round all your local tuning shops. They will have spent the 80's taking off 32 webers and sticking on twin 40's. That's what he did and struck gold first call - he got it for 20 quid!

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Fuel

Unleaded or leaded? Well, I use LRP or where available, leaded. If you go for unleaded you'll have to retard your ignition timing which will reduce your power slightly. You will also need to have hardened seats machined into the head which will of course cost a few quid (about 75+VAT actually). Filler caps got me confused (for no reason) to start with. I use a Monza cap which can be bought anywhere. Tank designs vary with the Stuart Taylor ones having a cap built in. The MK tank has a stub neck with a 2" external diameter. To add a filler you'll need a length of fuel hose (about 100mm will do) two Jubilee clips, the Mocal Alloy Spigot (or collar) which is inserted onto the other end of the hose, clipped and the Monza cap screwed on. You'll also need a non-return valve in the tank vent (to stop fuel pissing out if you're upside down which is DEFINITELY a good idea - especially if you're smoking a fag) this is availble from Demon Tweeks for about a tenner. To fit this, I fabricated a steel pipe with a fuel line take-off on the side. This sits in the middle of the main filler pipe and is secured with jubilee clips. The braided fuel line runs up the rollbar hoop to the fresh air above the topmost point of the tank to stop syphoning. Don't forget an in-line fuel filter too or a better bet is a fuel regulator (make sure you get a regulator which is matched to the engine requirements as they're factory set). Ditch the old mechanical fuel pump as it saps power (although they're pretty damn reliable) and replace with a quality electric pump. Pacet do a range to suit any application.

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Guages

These took me ages to decide upon. I missed out at Stoneleigh which would have certainly been cheapest place to buy them, but eventually settled on the Eclipse range from Demon Tweeks. To avoid alot of farting about, make sure you get all senders/connectors at the time of ordering. As a bare minimum you'll need a Speedo (regs. say the car must be capable of passing an MOT so this becomes necessary - don't forget to order the sender!), Tacho, Oil pressure and Water temperature guages. Mechanical (capillary) guages are preferable as they're more accurate. There are LOADS of guages out there. I'd have loved a Stack system but it's loads of money - one for Caterham owners I reckon ;) Racetech are great, but it's hard to get a matching Speedo/Tacho for reasonable money (although Merlin Motorsport seem very reasonable). The Eclipse range are stylish, modern and 'allegedly' accurate and robust. To avoid wiring an earth to each guage I you can fabricate a scuttle plate in metal which makes removing them all easy and provides a blanket earth for all the instruments. Mine is of ally however which means that I had to run an earth line to each guage.

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Differential

There's alot of confusion about diff identification but there's four easy ways to find out. Firstly, the ratio is marked on a tag which is bolted to one of the axle studs - fine as long as it's intact! Two, there is a code on the donor vehicle VIN plate which translates to the following:

Escort Mk1, up to August 1970

  • A = 3.777:1 Heavy duty
  • B = 4.125:1 Heavy duty
  • C = 4.444:1 Heavy duty
  • D = 3.900:1 Heavy duty
  • 2 = 3.900:1 Not heavy duty
  • 4 = 4.125:1 Not heavy duty
  • 5 = 4.444:1 Not heavy duty
  • 9 = 3.777:1 Not heavy duty

Escort Mk1, August 1970 on, and Escort Mk2

  • A = 3.545:1
  • B = 3.777:1
  • C = 3.889:1
  • D = 4.125:1
  • E = 4.444:1
  • N = 4.4111:1

That's all well and good providing you've got the donor vehicle and know it to be the original diff. Thirdly, mark a wheel position and count the number of propshaft revolutions to make one complete turn of the rear wheel - you need to rotate BOTH wheels together and it's a pain to get completely right. So finally, the last and most accurate way of doing it is to take the diff out and divide the number of crownwheel teeth by that on the pinion.

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Pedals

The best piece of advice I can give you is to toss the old pedal box in the the skip and buy a replacement from Stuart Taylor or Locost Limited. The quality of the ST box is a bit pony but once cleaned up it really works a treat. Floor mounted pedals are a LOT less trouble and are far less likely to foul the steering column. It's a bit heavier on the wallet, but go for a bias box. It's a lot easier to install at the start than to retrofit.

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Suspension

This isn't documented very well in 'the book' so I thought I'd shed some light on the shocks which are legal for the series. Regs. state that they must be steel bodied and have no more than one adjustment. With this in mind, AVO Pro Race are the jobbies you'll need. With an MK chassis, you'll need 2x12" with 300lb springs on the front and 2x13" with 150lbs on the rear. I use 1.9" internal diameter springs and shocks as the 2.25's are quite a bit more money. Demon Tweeks stock numbers are PA120/085 (12") and PA130/090 for the dampers. The PA number denotes rubber bushes as opposed to spherical bearings in the mounts. Cost with springs is about 340 quid a set (ex. VAT).

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Wheels and tyres

Well tyres are easy!. Although most of the pics. on this site show my Locost sporting Yokahama A032R's they're not legal for the race series. You'll need Yoko A520's or 509's of either 185/60x13 or 175x60x13. Wheels are almost exclusively the Ford Laser RS alloys which can be found on Crapi's - oops - I mean Capri's! Wheel nuts can be a pain in the arse to find. Until the car was almost finished I managed with 5 nuts!! A complete set can be acquired from Demon Tweeks for 32 quid (ex. VAT). They're called 'Ghia' nuts and have chamfered washers.

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Bodywork

Hmmm... best piece of advice I can give - get someone else to do it ;) Only kidding. The body is pretty simple to do, just make sure you get the right guage of ally for the series - 16swg for chassis, 18swg for floor and panels. It's worth hiring out a 'nibbler' for a jigsaw for the best results. How people use tin-snips is beyond me! It's almost impossible to cut anything more than 2" long neatly. Easiest option is to buy laser cut pre-folded items although be careful that they will fit your chassis if it is from a different supplier.

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Axles

Main points to not here are getting the geometry absolutely right and be careful to centre the brackets properly. Fail to do this and you might end up with a car which runs up the road like a crab! The axle tubes are pretty strong but be careful not to burn weld holes through them. Once you've got a tube, get yourself some spare halfshafts as these can (and do) break.

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Racing only

Miscellaneous really. Don't forget the oil catch tank (Burton Power do a good'un). Remember to remove the valve on top of the old crankcase breather thingy as it won't work with the tank. Some scrutineers will insist on you having a breather from the rocker cover too. Simplest way is to replace the MK2 Escort cap with one from a later Fiesta which has a handy pipe take off on it. Just run a tube from this to your catchtank.

Fire extinguisher. You don't need a plumbed in system, just a handheld job will do although it must meet MSA approval. Secure it somewhere in the passenger footwell where it can be grabbed in an emergency.

Handbrake. If you're going racing and not taking many passengers then mount the handbrake in the passenger space. It's alot neater than putting it on the driveline tunnel and won't foul your arm when changing gear.

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