Pauls Astra Mk2 rallying adventures...

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    Pauls Astra Mk2 rallying adventures...

    Have had various build diaries open for the various cars Ive built cars over time, but thought it would be a good idea to amalgamate them into one as they get changed and developed..

    The story so far....

    2011 - Built a Mk2 Astra to take to Rally Barbados and have competed with it since. Fitted with a 1400 8v engine affectionately known as Old Faithful, its had various upgrades and changes over the past few years but is essentially still the same car we built and is next in line for some love...



    Full build thread is at Astra Mk2 Rallycar - from 2011 to now... for anyone that wants to catch up with the full build..

    In late 2012 I bought a cheap rallycar from Ebay, then promptly rolled it on the first event I did in it. That was very quickly and roughly reshelled in early 2014 into a tired stage rally shell to make a road rally car to allow me to do night events.



    After doing that project, I started on the most ambitious one to date - the Tarmac Astra build.. I was offered an unused shell that I just had to buy, had collected a redtop, SBD engine kit, Quaife box and Proflex along the way and we built that from mid 2014 to April 2015 into an awesome car for Rally Barbados 2015..



    Full build thread for the new car is at Tarmac "GpA" Mk2 Astra Rallycar Build.

    So thats where we start from... A roadrally Astra GTE, a stage rally Astra 1.4 8v and a stage rally 2.0 redtop..

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    Re: Pauls Astra Mk2 rallying adventures...

    F20GTE - the Tarmac build, has just arrived back into Portsmouth from its voyage from Barbados and will be collected at the end of the week but we decided to do an event - The Flying Fortress Stages - which my club organises next weekend so brought the 1400 car - F2GTE out of the garage and gave it some love.

    Sumpguard off, suspension off, brake pad cleanup, oil change..



    Then changed springs from 8" 275lb on the front to 9" 250lb to soften the car a little.



    Refitted to the car and reassembled all the suspension, slackened off the ARB and give full spanner check along the way.



    Then changed the rear springs from the Eibach tarmac ones to gravel springs more ride height and lower poundage and softened up the back end dampers



    Which means she is nearly ready for next weekend.. Just fuel, brakes to bed in and a couple of small things to finish on Friday.



    As the weather was decent, I started a job I havent had time to do.. I bought a redtop Calibra SE2 last year and hadnt had time to get it stripped so started on that.

    Started with this "beauty"..



    Complete front end subframe removal...



    So I now have this stored..



    Not a bad weekends work really.. The plan is to fully rebuild this engine for the roadrally car - not sure whether to go dizzy or keep DIS though. The car has to keep its standard inlet tract but otherwise engine is free but you cant do too much to them on std inlets.

    Paul..

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    Re: Pauls Astra Mk2 rallying adventures...

    The manifold is quite thin walled, however, you may pick a bit of flow up with extrusion honing.
    Using a insulating spacer between the manifold and head will help a little, as will painting it with a heat insulating paint.
    Thing is, you'll probably just gain a few percent from doing that so it's your call if it's worthwhile.

    As for the other manifold, I'd suggest doing your own research for the best dimensions and building it to suit what you need, not just what they happen to be built to.

    You should be able to fit a full potentiometer type TPS and use aftermarket ECU for best performance.
    NOTE, these are my thoughts and opinions, sometimes I'm wrong ;-)

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    Re: Pauls Astra Mk2 rallying adventures...

    Hmm wrong thread Gordo..?

    Paul..

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    Re: Pauls Astra Mk2 rallying adventures...

    Busy end of week and weekend for us..

    Wednesday evening I picked up another Mk2 Astra shell. This is going to be a parts donor for some bits I wanted.



    The early start on Thursday down to Portsmouth to collect the tarmac car from the port after its Rally Barbados trip.



    Then emptied that on Friday and put all the spares etc into the truck and loaded the 1400cc car to go down to the Flying Fortress stages



    Then helped set up the venue on Saturday in glorious sunshine and then it pissed down overnight so was a damp start to the rally on Sunday



    We started very well and took fastest class time on stage 1, encountered various issues but mainly a bad oil leak but kept the lead all morning. Incurred a 30 second penalty for hitting a chicane on stage 3 so were joint class leaders going into the afternoon.

    In the afternoon, the weather improved and the rally just got better and better for us although an engine fire due to the oil leak on stage 5 was a little frightening but didnt damage anything luckily. We swapped onto well used Dunlop tarmac tyres for the afternoon and managed to eek 3 stages out of these before they were too worn.. Think its fair to say Ive had my moneys worth..



    We finished 22nd overall (from 58 starters), 1st in class by 30 seconds and even beat all the 1600cc cars - not bad for a 1400 8v on carbs and dizzy! This was the engines last event as its having a 1600cc 16v motor built for next season to see how well we can do.



    Nice little class winners glass award to go on top of the cabinet :-)



    Paul..

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    Re: Pauls Astra Mk2 rallying adventures...

    Good stuff, well done :-)

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    Re: Pauls Astra Mk2 rallying adventures...

    Well done.

    Being in the import and export game I'm wondering how you get around the customs formalities for the Barbados Rally. Is the car and spares package exported as a temporary export and then imported again as returned goods? I assume it may all be part of the package from the rally organiser or the shipping company.

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    Re: Pauls Astra Mk2 rallying adventures...

    Hi Melv

    I leave that side of things to the shipping company and the rally organisers but its booked as a return journey. Is it any different to taking the car on a ferry to France on holidays from that point of view, although I suppose we arent in it when its being shipped.

    Paul..

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    Re: Pauls Astra Mk2 rallying adventures...

    Had another good weekend of tinkering... including much needed help from Harvey.

    Started on the tarmac rallycar to get the various bits repaired so its drivable / moveable again.

    Stripped the driveshafts and diff from the car and replaced the oil seals before fitting a standard diff to get it moveable.



    Then rebuilt the driveshafts with new inner CVs..



    Did an oil change and removed the ARB as it has pulled the threads out of the bulkhead on the passenger side so no easy fix for that.

    I also fitted a different gearstick. I had noticed that the Astra H m20/m32 stick / unit was physically shorter so ordered one of those and fitted that. Vectra C is shown on bottom and Astra H is on top. This helps shorten the front / back throw a little - around 15mm.



    Also started making an F17 short shift kit for the gearbox end. The idea is to shorten the distance between the pivot point and the cable pivot. The issue is leaving enough clearance for the cable end against the body of the selector unit. Started by straightening the arm.



    Will take a photo of the finished item when finished but I think it will reduce the throw to approx 100mm in total.

    We also stripped the rest of the parts from the Calibra and took it to the scrappers. Shame really as solid shell but no-one was interested in buying it and I dont have the space to keep it indefinately.



    Paul..

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    Re: Pauls Astra Mk2 rallying adventures...

    Not a huge amount to report recently...

    Went to Billing for the weekend with both rallycars - F20GTE to the right of the Astra Mk2 stand and F2GTE - the 1400cc car still dirty from its last event further to the left.



    Then stripped a rotten 16v shell for parts. Pembo needed various bits which happened to be decent so out came the angle grinder



    Then stripped the Proflex from the rallycar and swapped for std uprights to keep the shell movable



    These can now go back to proflex for checking as the seals are leaking.



    Also washed the dirty 1400cc car so its nicer to strip down. This car will be getting most of the attention over the next 12 months.





    However the tarmac car needs finishing first ready for MSA logbooking and its next event which will be Donington in October.

    Paul..

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    Re: Pauls Astra Mk2 rallying adventures...

    Quick update..

    Proflex sent off for rebuild.

    Black Rallycar given some love. Fitted and bonded in rear window seals and opening rear windows again and started door / wing repairs after a little accident meant that the door wouldnt open and close. Not perfect but will be good enough start and will be fine after some more filler, sanding and paint.



    Also added another one to the collection...



    Paul..

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    Re: Pauls Astra Mk2 rallying adventures...

    Bought a shiny new multi-battery charger and a pair of new 4ah batteries for my power tools as the 2.4ah ones have been hammered for the past few years and wallmounted it.



    Then finally got back to working on the 2.0litre car. Have to get the modifications I want done to test the car at the Astra Mk2 trackday in October.

    The main one is solving the gear cable issues I had in Barbados. However I also have an issue with the gear lever to seat position which means 2nd gear is really uncomfortable to go into.

    To resolve both of these needs a multi pronged approach but started like this:

    Bought a new M20 / M32 gear lever change unit - nice and new means no slop in that unit.



    Cut off the plastic ends of the gear lever cables and welded on some small rod ends - to give a solid unit that wont pop off the shifter as happened in Barbados


    Cut, shortened and rewelded the swivel arm on the cable shifter to shorten the forward and back throw of the gear lever



    Removed the side to side pivot and drilled out the ball



    The old and the new throw pivot arms. The new one is approx 10mm shorter. Ive also welded a bolt in place of the old ball.



    Trial fitted the cable rod ends onto the pivots using some misalignment spacers.



    Fitted to the car



    This has now reduced the front to back throw to approx 100mm total and means I can move the gearstick unit forwards towards the dashboard hugely helping with the spacing issue.

    The next steps are going to be to rerun the cables, move the drivers seat a little sideways towards the centre of the car and reposition / remake the mounting bracket for the hydraulic handbrake and the gear lever to alleviate the issue as much as possible.

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    Re: Pauls Astra Mk2 rallying adventures...

    Wifey was working at the weekend so managed a fair bit of garage time..

    Front proflex arrived back. These have now been checked for leaks and the top swivels replaced. Also bought some 250mm 60nm springs for the front.



    Rebuilt them into the front uprights with the 60nm springs and some tender springs to try to get ride height correct.



    Then removed the standard diff we had fitted to keep the car rolling



    We have rebuilt the TranX diff with a new clutch pack and a new casing - the inner CV had milled out the casing on the diff and the threads were pulled.



    Because the casing in these diffs are thicker, the standard length crownwheel bolts (26mm) dont pick up a full thread in the diff casing. So I imported from the states some ARP bolts that were 30mm long so that they would help the threads..



    Also managed to swap the speedo ring without too much damage to it.



    Then moved onto the brakes - pads out and roughed up, discs cleaned and roughed up.



    Then refitted everything in the car - diff, shafts, uprights, brakes etc



    I then spent 4 hours tracing a slight water leak. Wasnt much of a leak but needed solving. Was from a gasket underneath the throttle bodies and had to remove a load of things to get at it.

    Then onto the rear of the car. It had 350mm 35nm springs fitted but I wanted to go harder so used the springs Id removed from the front which were 300mm and 45nm



    Swapped them on the car and wound the spring platforms up a little so the springs sits tightly in its caps.



    Then spanner checked the rear end and refitted the wheels etc



    Then pushed it outside to check the ride height



    I then started back on the inside, removing the drivers seat, gearstick and handbrake mounts.



    Then decided to clean up and temporarily fit some carpet tiles Id been given to see how they would work in the garage as a floor to work on.



    So all in all not a bad weekend. Important things crossed off the to-do list.



    Paul..

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    Re: Pauls Astra Mk2 rallying adventures...

    Quote Originally Posted by RallyMarshal View Post
    Hmm wrong thread Gordo..?

    Paul..
    Nope - if restricted to the standard inlet manifold, anything you can do to improve flow is beneficial, insulating spacer reduces heat ransfer from the heat to manifold, reducing charge temp' and increasing density and smart use of insulating paint will similarly improve charge density as less heat is transferred for the underbonnet heated air.
    Exhaust manifolds are normally, at best*, optimised for a high end, specific spec' engine and building one to the dimensions required for your specific setup can mean a significantly better power output.

    *Some are just budget 'better than stock' big bore ones that are 'one size fits all' - or rather, none.
    NOTE, these are my thoughts and opinions, sometimes I'm wrong ;-)

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    Re: Pauls Astra Mk2 rallying adventures...

    I realise from re-reading that you meant on the black roadrally car.

    Plans are to build a decent stock engine first, a little higher compression and maybe some mild cams but nothing too manic.

    Appreciate the idea is to get air in and out and will try to work through what we can do.

    Reality is that for this type of event, a good reliable engine driven well is better than anything too wild. Plus its budget motorsport.

    Paul..

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    Re: Pauls Astra Mk2 rallying adventures...

    No worries, even the F1 guys have budgets , the extrusion honing is rather expensive for the gains, but the rest should be well worth the return for the small amount of money concerned, esp' if a new exhaust manifold is required anyway.
    With so many cars, it must be a bit of a poser at times which one to use - a very nice dilema to have?
    NOTE, these are my thoughts and opinions, sometimes I'm wrong ;-)

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    Re: Pauls Astra Mk2 rallying adventures...

    Not too much of a dilemma actually..

    Black car is night rallies / road rallies as we call them over here. Navigational based events with some "tests" off the public road.

    2.0 litre car is for tarmac use - race circuits, closed road events like the Jim Clark rally etc

    1400 (to be 1600 for next year) car is for gravel and rougher events - like old airfields

    Paul..

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    Re: Pauls Astra Mk2 rallying adventures...

    Treated myself to a new toolbox set from Halfords and had a bit of a tidy up of the bench.



    Seems like very little progress over the last few weeks but had lots of niggly jobs to do.

    I started by moving the seat position towards the centre of the car. The build position had the seat mounts tight against part of the tunnel so that was initially sliced



    Then gently tapped to give clearance to check



    Then checked - gained just under an inch of sideways movement towards the centre of the car to improve the position.



    Then spent a day trial fitting the gear lever, seat, gear lever, seat etc etc to try to get the optimal position without hitting the dash with my hand and being able to operate the hydraulic handbrake.



    Once I was happy with the position, I made another mounting bracket with the new dimensions. This also helps with 2 other problems - codriver seat clearance and cable handbrake clearance.



    I also remade the MBE mounting bracket with a flat plate bolted to the bottom of the dash and 2 big cable ties more solidly mounting it but allowing quick swap if needed.



    I had sourced a brand new M20 gear-lever unit so fitted that (as reverse is in the same place as on an F20 series box) so no sloppy play



    and I finally refitted my seat in its new improved position



    The seating position is a bit better, the gear lever operation is now better, the actual gear shift in the garage is very direct and short front to back with only a little slop which is across the box from the selector.

    Then I started on the black roadrally car. Got a night rally event in 2 weeks so put it in the garage and gave it a very quick check over..



    and found this hole in the drivers sill..



    So plate made up



    Welded in, ground it back a little and quick paint and hopefully good enough for MOT. Not worried structurally as the car has a full cage so its quite rigid anyways



    MOT booked for tomorrow morning for this one. Wont be surprised if it fails but hopefully not to much. It has been laid up in the garage for the last 15 months.

    Paul..

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    Re: Pauls Astra Mk2 rallying adventures...

    So the car indeed failed its MOT..

    Front wheel bearing
    Rear wheel bearing (that old chestnut)
    50p hole in the inner sill that Id missed
    Emissions

    Took the car to a mates garage to do the welding and patching as the tank needed to be removed.. So tank guard off, petrol tank off and had 3 screw holes in the top from a previous owner! Then started cleaning up the inner sill. Ended up making a 50p hole into this..



    An hour and a half later we had this fully remade inner sill.



    Dave (the welder / mate) wasnt happy with the outer sill patches either so he took out the cutting disc and cut it all off, then we trimmed a sill section down and welded that on. This is that outer sill a little while later after some Bilt Hamber primer has been put on.. Not pretty but strong and this isnt exactly a pretty shell anyway!



    We also did the wheel bearings and did a few emissions tweaks and it passed so its now MOTd, taxed and insured.

    I also got the roadrally tyres mounted. Im moving to 15" wheels and these part worn knobblies should work pretty well and the Corsa Sxi wheels should be decently strong.



    I then swapped the seat from the Gravel car into this one. This seat is out of date at the end of the year and the older OMP seat was too narrow for my lard arse but the Cobra Monaco are pretty wide and therefore comfortable for me. Dont need indate seats for road rallying so this can stay in the black car now.



    and I also swapped to a smaller steering wheel too. This is a bit boy racerish with the flat bottom but its what I had in my spares box.



    Couple of things still to do - steering rack needs changing as its leaking and tracking needs doing too plus would like to swap to standard inlet rather than a powercap but thats not essential.

    The tarmac car is going to MOT tomorrow so will see if that passes or fails.

    Paul..

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    Re: Pauls Astra Mk2 rallying adventures...

    MOT passed for the tarmac car - another step closer to its next event at Donington



    Paul..

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    Re: Pauls Astra Mk2 rallying adventures...

    Nice work Paul, I must say the seats being out of date is a bit of a joke, I can understand the hardnesses as they are more likely to wear, Have you got your Hans device sorted yet? , The simpson one is the best by far from what I've seen but the most expensive!

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    Re: Pauls Astra Mk2 rallying adventures...

    Yes I have a HANS sorted - its actually a HANS branded one as well.

    The problem with seats is that they took a sample test of a number of seats that were over 5 years old and all showed signs of issues and wouldnt re-pass the original test. The one Ive just put in the black car is probably OK as they are steel framed rather than fibreglass but I will have had 5 seaons out of them. My new OMP winged seats in the tarmac car last until the end of 2020 so 6 seasons (well 5 seasons and 11 months from purchase) out of those.

    Need to change my Peltor at the end of the year though but waiting till the new Snell and/or FIA helmet specs out in October first.

    Paul..

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    Re: Pauls Astra Mk2 rallying adventures...

    Quote Originally Posted by RallyMarshal View Post
    Yes I have a HANS sorted - its actually a HANS branded one as well.

    The problem with seats is that they took a sample test of a number of seats that were over 5 years old and all showed signs of issues and wouldnt re-pass the original test. The one Ive just put in the black car is probably OK as they are steel framed rather than fibreglass but I will have had 5 seaons out of them. My new OMP winged seats in the tarmac car last until the end of 2020 so 6 seasons (well 5 seasons and 11 months from purchase) out of those.

    Need to change my Peltor at the end of the year though but waiting till the new Snell and/or FIA helmet specs out in October first.

    Paul..


    Hmm, Interesting info, The seats we have, had virtually no use at all and are brand new looking. I've got to change my Peltor too, Oh well, My friend had a crash using the Hans and he came off without neck ache unlike the driver who doesn't have it yet, So I guess its not a bad thing!

    You've got a few interesting threads at the moment, makes great reading, The Harry hockley wishbones look interesting. I'll get some posts up next year, we've a Sunbeam and an Escort, and I'm building the Astra.

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    Re: Pauls Astra Mk2 rallying adventures...

    Back to the black roadrally car. Had an event on the weekend of the 19th/20th and a list of to-do items still so cracked on. Harvey came up and we did the steering rack in-situ which was so much easier with 2 people than 1.


    and we also swapped back from a powercap to a proper SFI airbox too.



    Also filled the door properly and painted it black, fitted new 1144 pads and some used discs and took it out for a run to check it drove OK and set up the lights.

    Then onto the Mercian Roadrally.. 149 miles navigational event, starting at midnight, couple of special tests around an old airfield. Slow start for both myself and Ian my navigator as been a while since the last event. Bedded the car in and progressively got quicker through the night. This is us at petrol halt after 80 miles.



    Was going fairly well after that, but there were patches of fog that kept coming and going. One such patch of thick fog led to this on a tightening left hander..





    Annoyingly we were on the last section so only another 3 miles to go.. The car wasnt really damaged at all. Just front bumper, mirrors, spotlights and some paintwork to do.



    Managed to get it towed out and got to the finish venue in time for Breakfast though :-)

    Paul..

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    Re: Pauls Astra Mk2 rallying adventures...

    Unlucky, I must say the road rallies really are the hardest for the navigator, stage rallies are easy by comparison, only did 1 all night road rally navigating and it was hard. Glad you made it for breakfast!

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