Number # 27 – Part IIi
#27 is a lightweight C4, getting rid of all unnecessary weight without compromising too much on usability. You can read the first and second parts here but the last update ended with my 140 mph off at SPA Francochamps circuit.
Following the crash #27 was trailered back to the pits and the L90 guys gathered round to hear what happened. The simple answer is that I had no idea, I was braking at the end of the Kemmel straight as I had done many times previously that weekend and the car suddenly shot off to the left. It was extremely sudden, as if one of the callipers had locked. The instructor who was with me was adamant that something had gone wrong with the car; the track was clean, I was braking in a straight line so there was no way it should have behaved in that way.
We pushed #27 into a garage and surveyed the damage to see if there was any way the rear wing could be knocked back into shape so I could limp the car home. Unfortunately we quickly spotted that the camber plate on the rear driver side was badly bent, so that put an end to any hope of driving it back. Various options were looked into and in the end I decided to go with BAT’s offer to get it back for me. Johnny was really helpful and the guys subsequently delivered it back down to Quick Belts for me at no extra charge. Despite this, having to pay £1000 just to get #27 back was a bitter pill and a bill for ARMCO damage from SPA for £220 was even less palatable.
Alex and Roger from the L90 helping me check out the damage....
Stuart Quick is part of the L90 and was there when I had the crash, he owns and runs QuickFit Belts and generously offered to let me take my car to their workshop so I could have space to start fixing it up. This was a godsend as they have a lift so we were quickly able to assess the damage; a bent rear camber plate, bent front castor plate, cracked rear bumper, dented rear wing, destroyed Cup 1 wheel, cracked front bumper and smashed indicator. Could have been much worse. My immediate priority was to find a cause for the crash, get the car back on the road and to check for any potential chassis damage.
I replaced all the bits that were visibly damaged and then also decided to get the steering rack reconditioned and replace all 4 discs as a precaution, the rears were badly worn and the fronts not much better so it would have eventually needed doing in any case. An upgrade to braided lines also seemed to make sense and would add up to all new brakes.
The front castor plate took a good whack from the crash and the replacement rear camber plate kindly donated by Roger
Whilst this was happening I had sent my feedback to Donald at Intrax and he offered to take the shocks back and rebuild them completely free of charge! To be fair the fact they were too soft was really my fault as much as anything as I should have been clearer on what I wanted. This time round I discussed the use of the car directly with Niek, the engineer working on them. I had been in a couple of 964s running KW V3s and thought that they were a good benchmark so for the springs we settled on 30N/mm (171 LBS/inch) for the front and 70 N/mm (400 LBS/inch) for the rear. Front springs are pretty much the same as KW and the rear is 55 LBS/inch less. Intrax collected the shocks and had them back to me in a week with the new springs and damping to match.
Getting the steering rack out and sorting the brakes predictably turned out to be much harder than planned. Taking the rack out on a C4 is truly a torturous job and one I will never do again. There is absolutely no room with the rack directly behind the diff case and in the end I had to drop half the sub frame to get the thing out. The connectors on the brake hoses had seized on the hard lines so I ended up having to remake these from scratch as well. Progress was slow and working so much under the car was taking its toll, including a black eye from a dropped spanner.
Braided lines and shiny new brakes!
I'd been wanting to fit a roll cage for some time and QuickFit make their own quality item which is very similar to the Heigo cages. Whilst the car was there they supplied and fitted the cage for me and also fitted the Recaro Trendlines I had sourced. The cage is a great addition and the new seats are fantastic, contact QuickFit if you want to know more.
New roll cage and Recaro Trend Line seats
The reconditioned rack came back from Kelly Brae Steering and at the same time I replaced the steering ends, which had looked a bit past their best. During refitting I managed to cross thread one of the seats for the banjo bolts and had to take the rack out gain to re-tap it. I thought #27 would never be back in one piece and after several late nights I was considering just setting fire to it.
Eventually the car came together and I drove to get some basic geo done as a first indication on the health of the chassis. It all checked out ok and #27 seemed to drive well, however just to be sure I booked the car in for a thorough check with Ben at Park End Works near Silverstone. Ben works mainly with racing cars doing body and structural work. He examined under the car carefully and said that in his opinion there was no point in getting it onto the gig. The body showed no signs of bending and the chassis legs were straight. There is a small chance the rear arm mounting point may have moved a little but that is unlikely as the wheel is sitting correctly in the arch and the car drives well. Good news all in all! Whilst in the area I dropped in to see Nick at Redtek for the yearly engine service and got him to drive the car to get a second opinion. Nick took it on his usual shakedown route and said it handled fine .. bad news is that two wheel bearings are noisy and needed to be changed!
I’d heard of Raikku at WaffZuff through another group member and left #27 with him for the replacement of the wheel bearings as well as some other odds and ends. He is a true enthusiast who runs a 964 cup car and also helped me with the set up, including a geo to his specs. We also discussed the possibility of a C2 conversion for the future.
Earlier in the year I had ordered some Work Meister wheels from Japan, I only got round to fitting them in June but it was worth the wait.
The last piece of the puzzle was finding a cause for the crash so I booked in #27 for two hours at North Weald Airfield with Alex (The Doc) to do some high speed brake testing. The results were pretty telling. The ABS was coming in to an extent but not working consistently and allowing some of the wheels to lock up. In the clip below you can see that braking in a straight line results in a spin and two long black lines.. not what you want from your ABS system.
By the end of the testing the ABS had started to function correctly and the car was not locking up and braking straight, we suspect that having given it such a heavy work out we cleared whatever channel was not operating and got the pump fully working again. I’ll remove it and get it serviced with the parts from a donor Mercedes unit but in any case I will not refit it for now.. my trust in ABS is shattered and the pump is pretty weighty so I think I’ll just run without it. Less to go wrong in the future too!
Testing with 'Doczilla' at North Weild Airfield
The testing was also a welcome opportunity to see how the revised shocks were working and I am absolutely delighted with the results. The Intrax 1K2s are fantastic, on their softest settings they are controlled but pliant on the road and on the track, once the correct settings are dialled in they transform the car, making it corner super flat but still soaking up the bumps as needed. Contact Intrax to find out more.
I’d been wanting a lithium battery conversion for a while but always baulked at the £600+ cost of sourcing a specific track day battery in the UK, so when Gary from the W90 came up with an option from the US at a more reasonable £240 I jumped in. The Deltran Lithium 35 Amp battery is officially designed for quads and motorbikes but in theory packs as much punch as my existing Bosch so I figured it would be ok. I ordered one on eBay and set about making a bracket and wiring so it would fit in #27.
Tiny Lithium battery weighs in at less than 1kg!
The Deltran is tiny and weighs around 1Kg, leaving a saving of around 17Kgs from the standard battery. So far so good, the new battery has no problem spinning over the engine and all seems ok, however I’m not sure how well the 964’s charging system will work with this type of battery, so it will be interesting to see how it fares.
Lastly a special thanks to all those who helped, Stuart, Roger and Alex in particular, Vroomphoto for the pic of #27 at the top of this article and also Mark from Specialised Windscreens who helped me out refitting the rear screen with a new seal, top guy and really recommended for all your car glass needs.
It was a long slog but #27 is now back in rude health. In the next year or so I’m planning some exciting work including a C2 conversion using the existing C4 drivetrain. Watch this space!