At the end of September I finally acquired my donor vehicle a Ford Focus 1.8lt Zetec Estate. I had intended to use a Cat D salvage thus reducing cost, but was unable to fine one, and ended up purchasing a fully Taxed and Tested car. The last week in September saw me use it everyday to travel to work, ensuring that I hadn't purchased a 'pup'.
I emailed Stuart and informed him of my acquisition inclusive of pictures (if only to put his mind at rest) and finally sent my deposit for one MEV Sonic 7, the project had now truly begun.
The MEV website gives a good outline of the necessary parts that are required from the Donor car and clutching my recently purchased Haynes Manual, I began. It took no more than a good weekend to strip the car of both the necessary donor parts and anything else that might be of value to be sold (eBay) thus recouping at least some, if not all, the cost of the Donor.
The End of a Good Car
I had been informed by MEV that my kit would be available in about 6~8 weeks dependent on specification. This providing me with the time to refurbish and modify my donor parts and source the other items required for the build prior to my kits arrival.
I have chosen a conservative colour scheme that I hope reflect the origins of Ford Focus Motor Sport - 'Blue and White' and have taken up a number of MEV's suggested options:- fibreglass seats, peddle box etc.
In the mean time and now that the donor has been striped of all the necessary parts prior to the arrival of the kit at the end of November, I felt it would be a good time to both check over, refurbish and modify as necessary the donor parts. The 1.8 Zetec engine / transmission remains essentially unmodified (decided to leave any engine tuning until the car was on the road)
Many people seem to be interested in how complex the build is. Although I am at the very early stage of the build I would like to share with you an early example of what I very much hope is the MEV philosophy and approach. “If the engineering is good enough for a mass produced car manufacture like Ford on the Focus then use it, and if you have to modify to fit, then let MEV do the development, prototyping and testing and make it easy for the kit builder.”
A good example of this 'THE MEV WAY' and I do hope Stuart dosen't shoot me for giving his secrets away, is in the only real engine modification. It involves the removal of the steering pump and the air con pump, if fitted, and removing and reposition the auxiliary belt tensioner, and fitting a new belt (I've used a standard Micro-V 6PK1288).
This is made very easy as MEV supply as part of the kit a complex shaped, 6mm thick mild steel laser cut bracket. Spacers can be made, or as I have decided to do a mass of suitable washes can be used to adjust accordingly. Quite frankly its takes longer to paint the bracket than do the modification.
The Drive shafts are unmodified however the front hubs from the focus that are used need to be removed from the front uprights, This is not really a job for a large hammer and are much better removed by the use of a suitable press. It is possible, with great care to remove the bearing without damaging them thus saving further cost by there reuse, however when I found a local garage that had a press, and offered to pop the bearings for me, they managed to crush the plastic bearing cages therefore I had no choice but purchase new, about £20 each if you shop around. Again although my drive shaft gaiters were not cracked, as part of a general refurbishment I will renew.
Steering column. One interesting point to note on the steering column was that although the entire car is metric the two bolts used to hold the air bag in place are 3/16” quite why I'll probably never know. There are no real mods to the column just a strip down, while I intend at a later date to fit a windscreen and therefore will require the wiper stalk and wiring I shall remove at this stage and retain for a later date. Having removed the Air bag and steering wheel I shall need to source a new steering wheel and boss, very much personal choice.
The Steering rack, front uprights and stub axles (used) are all supplied as part of the kit but will require refurbishment so those items will have to wait until I collect the kit at the end of the month.
My Ford Focus did not have rear discs fitted so I am still on the hunt for a suitable priced second hand set that I can refurbish.
The radiator required is the smaller single fan (none air con type) fitted to the 1.6ltr. The twin fan larger air con type fitted on my donor was subsequently sold on ebay for £60 and a late 2002 1.4ltr single fan unit purchase for similar money.
With the remainder of the donor items now checked and cleaned, I decided it was time to turn my attention to what I felt was going to be the area of biggest challenge for me, “The Electrics” although Stuart had assured me that it was relatively straight forward, I must confess to being a little apprehensive, at least half of the current draft build manual supplied by Stuart, covered the electrics and I was very keen to get my head around the subject, my biggest scare was probably cutting the existing engine wiring harness incorrectly and being left with a right mess. I decided to periodicity review the electrics with the intention of developing questions, some probably being very stupid, to discuss with Stuart as and when I collect the kit.
While it's been a long time since my last build, I can still remember wishing that I had undertaken greater preparation prior to the kits arrival, thus I turned my attention to my build space, “The Garage” and my new home for the next couple of months. This is quite often an area that is neglected by many builders at their peril, some builders I realise have facilities that would make my local garage jealous. My Build area measures approximately 10ft by 16ft and includes a central heating boiler that does provide a degree of welcome warmth and a chest freezer that I might just try and move into the conservatory with my partners agreement for the next couple of months. (you can never have enough space)
The next item was lighting, as this was going to be a winter build, I managed to acquire some industrial strip lighting, two light units each fitted with 2 x 6ft 70watt florescent bright bulbs (daylight indoors) then the inevitable clear out “get rid of everything you don't need” as I was not intending doing any gardening over the winter, that means all the garden tools, mower etc. can go to the mother-in-laws, along with the kids bicycles!
The garage floor was at last coming into view once again. The next step was to check my tools and ensure I had everything I was going to need. Inevitably a list was being formed that was going to require funding – dose the expense never stop !
The one problem that I can remember from previous builds, and something many builders use where space is restricted, is a wheeled trellis to raise the chassis to working height and in a restricted space be able to move it around, thus providing additional room around the area that is being worked upon at the time. Owning two sets of 6ton axle stands already, I decided to make up some little wheeled trolleys for the stands. That in the future could also be used to put the entire car on.
The addition of a poster of Lewis Hamilton's formula WON victory completes the garage transformation “he's got a mid engined car too”.
DONOR COMPONENT REFURBISHMENT
Focus Hubs, Cortina Hubs and Uprights.
Electrolytic Rust Removal, I won't bore you with the process other than to say that this is what I did, and to show you the photos of the before and after. For those that would like to know more then please visit :- http://stovebolt.com/techtips/rust/electrolysis.pdf
(I couldn't get hold of 'ARM and Hammer' and used “dp – liquid soda crystals” from Tesco for 95p and left the items in for 24 hours before wire brushing – time left depends how rusty they are)
Final Coatings – after spending considerable time and effort cleaning and refurbishing various items, it came time to decide on what coating to give them, I considered the various common options of Hammerite and Enamel based paints but decided to use 'plasti-kote gloss super 1100 Black' as it provided an almost exact match with the chassis plastic coating.
This coating option while not cheap, spray cans are easily available in your local DIY store (Wilkinson's under £5) and as long as suitable ventilation is available and the instructions are followed, gives a first class finish.