11 December 2011
1 December 2011
25 November 2011
15 November 2011
21 October 2011
10 October 2011
18 September 2011
So it was with some trepidation that Robbie took to the wheel on track for the very first time on the sighting lap, followed by Martin, and then the final test, the first proper laps with Jon at the wheel and Robbie sitting, still nervous, in the passenger seat. Why were we worried? Within a few laps it was clear that Project Merlot was back. With about 45 full throttle laps being completed in the morning session, in wet and dry conditions, by lunch time there was no doubt about the car any more, and to quote Robbie’s last blog entry, “its just the same as Project Merlot, but Black”.!
15 September 2011
Once the engine installation was complete, the car initially failed to start. After a wasted hour of checking the newly installed wiring harness (taken from Project Merlot and which is slightly different to the one that was removed from Merlot Black) the cause was in fact wrongly fitted fuel pipes! "It was a school boy error but once I'd eliminated the wiring harness as the cause, diagnosis was quick" Robbie claims, "With the pipes fitted the correct way round, the engine started on the button!"
With all the parts swapped from Project Merlot, Merlot Black really is a carbon copy of the original car and unsupprisingly feels just the same to drive.
Eastern Region member and previous Project Merlot driver Kevin Shields gave a helping hand all day to get Merlot Black back together for Silverstone. Thanks Kevin.
14 September 2011
By 9:30pm the new (old) engine was in but Robbie knew there was no beer in the fridge so he had to throw down his overalls and call it a night before the local Spar shop shut. In should be fully up and running by the end of tomorrow.
12 September 2011
11 September 2011
9 September 2011
After 8 hours solid work Merlot Black is looking like a track car. Robbie worked all day to fit the lowered suspension, poly bushes, HEL brake hoses and EBC discs removed from Project Merlot. Robbie also replaced the left hand rear wheel bearing and fitted the steering rack from Project Merlot following advisories on it's recent MOT test. Finishing the day off with a steering geomotry set up on EMG Motor Group's Visualiner 4 wheel alignment equipment, he also found time to install the front lip spoiler. Leaving just the smokey engine to attend to. Merlot Black looks all on track to attend the Owners Club's National Rally and Silverstone circuit and Billing Aquadrome on 17th and 18th September.
28 August 2011
By early afternoon on the Sunday Merlot “black” was fully stripped, with harnesses, race seat, light weight door panels all installed. In tribute to the old car the original merlot headlamp covers and wing mirrors were fitted to “black”. The jury is still out as to whether these will all stay, but some of us thought it looked cool.
And so it came time for the final farewell to Project Merlot “merlot”. The car left Robbie’s drive way for the very last time, almost 5 years exactly since it had originally arrived as a wrecker. The “merlot” is going to spend its last few days at EMG in Cambridge where it will be stripped down even further, and ultimately just the rusty shell will be scrapped. It may only be a car but a lot of people have had a whole lot of fun sitting in the drivers and the passenger seat, it really has become more than just another car.
This is of course only the end of a chapter. Merlot “black” has the potential to carry on where Merlot “merlot” left off. There is still a lot of work to be done however. “Black” has a number of major issues to sort out, not least of all the smoky engine! It looks like despite all Robbie’s work on the old “black” motor we may still have to swap it for the “merlot” engine. And with “black” currently looking like an MX-5 4x4, especially now it’s a bit lighter than it was, a suspension swap (and drop) needs to be done, and then we will have the battle to get the roll cage in again!
Team Merlot would like to thank the following for all the assistance so far with “black”:
James Huggins without whose invaluable help this weekend we would have made far less progress,
Ady Neill and Solar Graphics ,
Footman James for their very efficient insurance swap,
EMG Cambridge for enabling the final strip to take place,
And Liz Turner “black’s” proud former owner.
27 August 2011
11 August 2011
10 August 2011
...and the stuck open thermostat, a classic sign of an overheated engine. A split in one of the heater hoses (now where have I seen that before) and a failed cooling fan were also found. A new radiator and water pump had already been fitted so the actual cause of the initial overheating concern is still a mystery. Blocked radiator? Failed cooling fan? Split water hose?
A "block test" was carried out to check for combustion gases in the cooling system. This is a sure-fire way of confirming a failed cylinder head gasket. Gases in the cooling system are drawn though a blue coloured liquid which changes colour if combustion gases are detected.
New blue leak detection fluidChanged Colour, bad news!
The cylinder head was removed and sent away for crack testing and skimming.