Managed to find a whole day clear to prepare the car for its forthcoming MOT and also sort out a few spots of corrosion on the chassis, where the powder coat had been chipped off. One other thing I did was check the ride height and springs and damper lengths, as I'm planning to fit some stiffer springs to my Nitron NTR dampers. As the car is set up at the moment, the front of the chassis is 121mm from the ground and the rear 135mm. The rear is a bit low to be honest. Set up like this, the sump clearance is a whole 53mm! About 15mm clearance over a typical cats-eye.
|The rear springs are currently rated at 130lb. As installed they are compressed to 130mm and the length between mounting bolt centres is 270mm at rest. The plan is to move the current 180lb front springs to this rear position. They are mounted this way up to make it easy to adjust them and to minimise the unsprung weight (within the damper itself).|
|The front springs are currently rated at 180lb. As installed they are compressed to 126mm and the length between mounting bolt centres is 284mm at rest. The plan is to replace these with 225lb springs. The spring diameter is 76mm. As you can see, these shocks can be run inverted to make it easier to get to the adjusters plus, my thinking was that you get slightly less unsprung mass with them this way up.|
|I started at the front of the car and cleaned up the chassis and suspension, then the front front wheels. The powder coat was chipped in places due to stones flying up. I'm using Bilthamber Hydrate 80 to seal the metal work prior to repainting these bits. These are light-weight alloy hubs to fit the Ford Escort mk II uprights, used because they are a light-weight solution. Bolted to these are belled 7mm thick, grooved, race discs. Because the car weighs so little (450Kg), you can get away with these incredibly thin and light brake discs and they simply will not over-heat, even if you raced all day. The Hi-Spec calipers are machined alloy and very light in weight too. Are you spotting a theme yet?|
|Another job that needed doing prior to the MOT, was to fix the left headlight, which was broken by a flying stone.|
|The lamp unit themselves are quite cheap (~£24) and easily replaced in ten minutes. I need to do something with the chrome surrounds as these are corroding due to the salt that hits them.|
|Also swapped over the exhausts for the MOT. Cleaned all the wheels and gave the bodywork a clean polish. Spotted a few star cracks above the wheels caused by stones. Finally tucked the car up in the garage, just about ready for the MOT. Lots of people ask me what the 10mm hole under the right indicator is for. A bullet cam sits behind this hole linked to a solid-state digital video recorder.|
Need to let all the Bilthamber dry thoroughly before I can paint over it but have done all the bits on the chassis that I wanted. This included removing the exhaust side pod but, I want to remove the driver's side one for the first time in three years to see how things look behind it.
Booked the Fury in for an MOT. Ordered a pair of 225lb springs from Nitron . Arranged to visit Andy Bates up at AB Performance to see about a larger catalyst exhaust for the MOT. Not 100% sure my 2003 R1 can will be enough to get through an MOT test, so want a backup just in case.
A pair of 225lb, 6" long springs arrived in the post from Nitron today A fairly reasonable £45 (+ P&P + VAT) for the pair.
Drove up to AB Performance at lunchtime to arrange new exhaust with large catalyst insert. I love going up to see Andy Bates. He's got so many cars and parts in his workshop, you learn something new with every visit. A total enthusiast who can help with pretty much everything. Always got time for his customers too.
|Fitted the front 225lb springs. Quite an easy job to do really. Took 30 minutes to do both sides. It's not till you compare these springs side by side with the 180lb ones that you notice how much thicker the metal forming the coils is. I'm planning to run slightly higher ride height to start with. The floor to chassis distance is 125mm at the front. Planning to run with 152mm at the rear.|
|Weather was rubbish today but found a break in the rain to fit the 180lb springs to the rear of the car. The rear springs are subjected to a fair bit more spray from the road and the springs were a bit pitted in places but, the rest of the shock unit looks as new. Whilst changing the springs it was noticable that the rear shocks have been hitting the bump stops. There are clear marks on the bump stops from the top of the shock unit.|
|Again, I noticed that when you compare the 180lb and 130lb springs side by side, the metal coils are thinner. This photo also shows that the 130lb springs are 7" long and not 6" like the others. I don't think this makes any real difference though.|
|The car is set currently set up with a ground to chassis distance of 125mm at the front and 152mm at the rear. It looks slightly odd seeing the car riding this high but, I'll see how it goes and maybe lower it again.|
Sunshine is out and just been out for an initial test drive with the new springs on the Fury. Hard to find the words. Wow!
Didn't think it would make that much difference but, it is simply a massive improvement. The ride is firmer but, not uncomfortably so. I can better feel what's going on through the seat. The biggest surprise to me though, is that the ride is now actually more compliant. Bumps and traffic calming measures are soaked up so much more smoothly. On my favourite local route through Rendlesham Forest there are crests where the car would break traction before but, now the wheels stay in contact the tarmac.
There is noticably more grip on accelerating out of corners and the car just feels so much more planted and stable on the road. There was very little body roll before but, now there is even less and the car dives less on heavy braking. Even the feel through the steering wheel is improved.
The ride height adjustments may also be a factor but, at speed the car is just so much more stable and this provides you with a lot more confidence.
I really didn't think I could make my Fury much better but, for £45, I've got a whole new car. I really can't see why Fisher recommended the 180/130 spring combination when 225/180 is just so much of an improvement.
My new exhaust is nearly ready. Popping up to collect it from AB Performance later this week.
Have managed to get a few more drives in on some of my favourite local roads. This has given me another chance to assess the improvements in ride and handling. I'm even more convinced it was the right thing to do now. Along Bucklesham Road there are some nasty ridges running across the road and previously you could feel the shocks hitting the bump stops and actually keeping my foot on the accelerator was a challenge. I had got into the habit of lifting my foot off the pedal to avoid my foot bouncing on it. These same ridges are now handled smoothly and cleanly and without any drama at all. The suspension obviously now has the compliance and travel to soaks these bumps up.
On smoother roads, the car just feels more solid and stable. I know the roads are now a little warmer but, the levels of grip are simply much higher than before. My A048's are nearing the end of their useful life (2mm to wear indicators) but, the the grip is simply awesome and it is so much easier to tell when it is running out. I don't know how much of this is down to the ride height changes but, will experiment later this month by putting the car down to its old ride height. It definately turns in and corners a lot more quickly and there is virtually no noticable body roll now. It feels like the vertical centre of gravity is running right through the wheel centres, like a go-kart in fact.
Looking forward to my first track day of the year now. It's the only place to explore the limits of this car.
|Popped up to AB Performance , to collect my new exhaust. Andy has built me a slightly larger diameter, stainless-steel exhaust which fits my existing manifold, mounting bracket and exit hole in the side pod. It can be configured to meet two different needs. As shown the front end cap can be replaced along with the attached catalyst and silencer section. This exhaust is road legal from both an emissions and noise perspective. He has also provided another end cap with a longer perforated tube welded to it and with no catalyst, which can be slotted in to the same body to provide an even quieter, free-flow exhaust for track days. I'm really pleased with this clever design, which was modelled on my current titanium track-day exhaust but, which can be too loud for some circuits. The tail pipe will be shortened once I have an idea of how much needs to come off.|
Bugger! I knew it was all going too smoothly. Changing exhausts over is normally a 15 minute job and that's what I allowed to fit this new one. It actually took 3½ hours to get the new one far enough onto the manifold and fabricate and fit a new mounting bracket, plus enlarge the exit hole in the side pod . And even then it is too close to the fibreglass for my liking. Need to mount it closer to the chassis at the trailing end.
The Fury failed the MOT emissions test . It was very close but the Power Commander map was not good enough to pass the fast idle test. The car was fine on all the other aspects of the test.
I have a session booked at Hangar 111 , to connect up a gas analyser and refine my Power Commander map.
Drove down to Brands Hatch with my son today, to watch the Elise Trophy race and some other races. Last time I was down at Brands Hatch, I was in my own Lotus Elise for a track day. Also got to drive a Lotus Esprit and a few other cars. Arrived nice and early and got a chance to look round the pits and pit lane area and chat to drivers and pit crews. I know some of the names through my Lotus Elise web site and the various Lotus Internet forums.
Got a bit trigger happy with the camera and took 470+ photos. My first attempt at motorsport photography, so many need to be binned. Currently on an FTTP trial so you can find the best 200 odd here .
Spend a few hours at Hangar 111 this morning with the Fury plugged into their exhaust gas analyser, whilst I tweaked my Power Commander map. As this was going to mean leaving the car stationary with the running for long periods of time at 1500 and 3000rpm, I removed the side pod over the exhaust as a precaution. I've got a fan over-ride switch, which I used to keep the engine cool. They also had a large fan to point at the exhaust system, to keep the chassis and tub from getting too warm.
To keep things simple, I decided to use the idle screw to control the engine speed. This makes controlling the engine speed much easier (you don't have to be in the car) and it also keeps the engine speed steady. It also has the benefit of both the engine ECU and Power Commander seeing the throttle position remain at 0%. The means that modifications are only required to a very small part of the fuel map. Engine vibrations and tolerances can cause the throttle position to register at 1%, so I also changed the map values in the 2% column to match. This is because for intermediate throttle positions and engine speeds, the Power Commander interpolates. To ensure the right map value is used you need to set the same map values either side of the actual input values.
At the end of this session, we had a map that would easily pass the 1500rpm idle test (lambda is not monitored) and could pass the 3000rpm (fast idle) test. From Hangar 111, I went straight to my local garage for my MOT retest on emissions and it passed on the first attempt .
Today marks the end of my first three years of ownership. In those three years I've done just over 6000 miles, which is pretty good for a third car, used only for fun. Whilst this doesn't sound like much use, every single one of those miles has been an event. I have rarely driven the car to actually get somewhere, most of my driving has simply been for the fun of driving. I have never commuted to work in it and the ~3 mile journey to work has always resulted in a 30+ mile drive.
Over those 6000 miles, I've averaged just over 25mpg and got through two sets of Yokohama A048R tyres. That's 3mpg more than my Subaru Impreza managed and that was our main family car! I've driven it at every opportunity that the weather and my spare time has allowed. About the only thing I would consider replacing my Fury with now is a road-legal single seater. Bike-engines are addictive. I simply couldn't go back to a fun car that couldn't rev to at least 10,000rpm.
I've got no regrets in replacing my Lotus Elise with a Fisher Fury R1, the cars are so different. The biggest differences being about 400Kg and the running costs. I do regret not being able to afford and garage both. My yearly insurance is less than £160 (fully comp, zero NCD), road tax is £125. Petrol aside, the biggest cost is tyres, at approximately 21p per mile or ~£420 a year.