Steve Griffin outlines the developments amongst his mechanical bits.
“Why don’t you just have it?” As those who know her are already aware Mrs Griffin is a good girl, she indulges my love of noisy and powerful machines in a similar manner that my grandmother used to with sweets when I was six years old. We were at a local car dealership and I was sitting in a BMW Z4 fixed head coupe. It had only done thirty or so thousand miles and was immaculate. I wasn’t too sure about a purchase until I opened the bonnet. The three litres straight six is a bit of a BMW classic and it howls when pushed. It is now in the garage and a very nice car it is. The AMG Mercedes will stay on as the family car the fact it has done nearly 100,000 miles seems not to have blunted its performance one bit. It remains the most complete car I have ever owned. Looney-tune performance, four seats and a boot. I think it will stay on the drive for a while yet. I did suggest that Mrs G took it on as a shopping car but she politely refused.
At then end of last season during the Silverstone GP circuit race I managed to skip over a curb and dislodge the oil pipe from the dry sump tank in the Van Diemen. I switched off as soon as I noticed the low oil pressure but the unpleasant sounds of metal against metal with no lubrication told the sad tale. Nick Edgington took the car home with him and rebuilt the engine. Possibly not the cheapest remedy but at least I have a known quantity in the back of the car. It would have been cheaper to have bought a new engine. The rebuild rather scuppered my plan to move down (or as David Parkinson would say ‘up’) to the 1800 class. The cost of the ECU/loom and hardware for the conversion was just too rich for my blood on top of the engine rebuild. So I will soldier on as one of the few 1800s in Classic class. I hope some more refugees from F4 will join me in due course.
My Sierra Cosworth is progressing slowly. In fact at long last I think it is possibly race worthy. I have done some track days with it in the hope of ironing out the snags before committing myself to race it. A visit to a rolling road was an interesting day. The engine has only the small turbo and modest injectors so 290 BHP seemed like a good result. Seeing the car being run up to full revs under load whilst stationary is always a little disconcerting. The turbo glowing red, the noise of the fans and rollers can be quite overwhelming but it is a nice way to spend a Tuesday morning. The car was hesitating on left handers when the fuel level was low, it seemed a swirl pot was needed. As I was planning the plumbing I realised that the system was almost identical to our heart and lungs. Two pumps, one high and one low pressure with a plenum chamber between. Even the pressures are similar. “Simples” as those Meerkats would say. The only difference was that all the pipe joins I make at work I have to sew and those on the new fuels system are held together with jubilee clips. It was with great excitement that I fired up the engine then dived under the car to inspect for leaks, much to my surprise there were none. The new system has meant that I no longer get the six foot plume of flame coming out the side of the car when the engine gets going after a fuel surge. I rather miss that.
The truck managed to fail its MOT with some style. It burst a brake pipe at the test centre. I suppose it is better there than on the M1 but once they find one thing wrong they tend to go to town and find lots more. I cannot grumble I suppose, I have owned the Iveco for over a ten years and it has never failed on anything before. Considering the odometer suggests that it has been to Jupiter and all the outlying planets before I bought it the thing has done well.
My main mechanical passion in life is my sailing boat. Seven miles an hour in eight tons of plastic with no brakes can be surprisingly thrilling. However living in the frozen wastes of East Yorkshire for nearly two decades has meant that weekend sailing is not really an option so I only get away for the summer holidays and I have long turned to racing cars for sporting solace. The Perkins Diesel in the boat is 35 years old and is indestructible, it may be something to do with maximum revs being 2,200 of course. This aura of indestructibility was something I had also attributed to my dinghy outboard motor, a Yamaha 2 HP two stroke. A remarkable machine with very few moving parts. For twenty years it has been abused and neglected but every summer I just pull the string and it starts. Sadly not in 2011. Dead as a defunct formula 1 team. After trying everything I knew about two strokes (very little) it went in the skip. The Japanese no longer make oily engines, they only make heavy and expensive four strokes so it will be replaced by a Chinese motor. Such is the reputation of Yamaha engines that mine only spent twenty minutes in the skip before an optimist with better mechanical knowledge than me nicked it.
So a combination of impulse buys at the car dealers, profound neglect, fractured oil unions and MOT failures has left me with a very small budget for the season. I have very little interest in money, I find counting it the least interesting thing one can do with the stuff but unlike our last Prime Minister I have learned that you can only spend it once! I had better go and earn some more.
I hope I’ll be there propping up the grid at Donnington. I hope you all had a good start to the season at Brands Hatch.
Disclaimer: The Monoposto Racing Club takes no responsibility for any open heart surgery undertaken by readers of this website as a result of reading how it is done.
Article by Steve Griffin. All pics and captions from SG (wonder if he took his proper camera in for that heart pic or just used the iphone?) except heli shot of boat caption which is the land-bound TC.
The New BMW
A rather nice swirl pot