Build Part 3
This I found a quite daunting and nerve racking task as I'm no expert when it comes to the fitment of fibreglass body panels and apart from a few pictures in the MEV build guide the builder is left to fend for himself. Although in their defence and unlike many kit car manufactures, MEV remove all the flashing on the fibreglass and even undertake a trial fit of the primary panels prior to releasing the kit from the factory. Having already trial fitted the body panels to the chassis once, now long ago when I first got the kit home, I still remembered the advantage of doing this in a large space and having the benefit of being able to stand back and view the beautiful lines and contour's of the body work.
The body work consists of 11 pieces of fibreglass ignoring the 4 wheel wings. You are left with the 2 main Side Panels, front grill, back panel, dash/scuttle, bonnet, engine cover (including intake scope)
Not by any means saying this is the best way, or order, to fit the panels but this is what I did and it worked for me:-
First I hung the two side panels in place lipping them over the internal chassis rails pushing them back against the rear bulk head. Now this is the first area of trimming required, in order to simplify the build process MEV have deviated from their demonstrators build. Whereas on the demonstrator model the rear bulkhead runs the full width of the frame, the production standard is squared and the fibreglass mould is extended. To get the best fit it is a good idea to have cut trimmed and located with self tapping screws at this stage the rear bulkhead. Remember to line up the height of the bulkhead with the side panels clamped from underneath, you may also need to trim the thickness of fibreglass as it backs against the chassis. Remembering this join will be on display, a piece of ' I ' section rubber can be used to great effect to give a professional finish.
With the two side panels now hung and clamped in place, forced back against the chassis bulkhead it's time to turn one's attention to the front grill. This is fixed using 4 bolts and penny washers to spread the load. This is easily fitted, the only attention is to get even shut lines between the various panels even.
The same process as for the front grill is adopted for the back panel (4 bolts with penny washers)
Next is the Dash/Scuttle panel, diagonal dimensions are included in the build manual for its position from the side panel front edges, but I found this should be done in tandem with trial fits of the bonnet in order to achieve the best fit. You may also find it necessary to trim the fibreglass around the steering column cross member (and steering column if fitted at this stage in the build). The panel is fixed using either 2 or 4 bolts on the sides and 3 self tappers on the front leading edge. Its important to ensure this panel is a good fit and is at least at this stage easily removable as you will probably be removing this many times as you cut the various holes for the instruments.
Note:- You may find it necessary to include a washer between the shut lines of the front grill and rear panel in order to achieve a better more even fit. Remember to trial fit both the bonnet and engine cover.
With all the panels now temporarily fitted its important to ensure that all panels fit squarely and evenly without any stress on the fibreglass as stress will inevitably create cracks at a later date. Some key checks are:-
The distance from the front and rear corners of the chassis to the side panels.
That the bottom side lips are not tucked too far underneath the chassis/floor pan.
Once I was generally happy with the position of the panels and their collective fitments, I decided to temporarily fix the side panels to the bottom rails of the chassis with 3 self tapping screws on each side. With the sides now temporarily located, I drilled the underside edge rivet holes prior to completely dissembling all the panels cleaning / deburing and removing the drill swaff. (The underside of the side panels are drilled through the alloy flooring and box section chassis effectively sandwiching the floor pan.)
With all the panels now trial fitted its a very satisfying process to finally get out the pop rivet gun and set about riveting the side panels in place.
Note:- You will never have enough 'G' clamps or hands, so try and borrow a few from friends and neighbours for this task, remember to take your time and if your tight for space like I was, do it outside as this is a task that is best done with lots of room.
General Suspension Assembly "Bones"
Having bushed all the suspension arms, the assembly is relatively straight forward. It is important though to remember to remove any plastic coating residue from the chassis bolt holes.
It is now that you appreciate that the pre marked holes that you so carefully cut out are only a guide and will require opening out to allow for the full travel of the suspension. This can easily be done by leaving off the spring initially to ascertain the maximum travel. (insure you include an allowance for depression of the rubber bumper stop at the top of the shocks).
You may find, as I did, that the front lower arm hole and the steering rack hole are better opened out and joined. Should you ever need to remove the steering rack, then with the holes enlarged its an easy process to remove the rack with the side panels now permanently fitted.
Having assembled the front suspension and brake discs and callipers you can now accurately determine the position of the brake pipe/hose connection through the body work. I found that I required a set of different brake hoses as the standard 370mm long ones were too short on full travel/full lock.
Note:- Due to the inclusion of the front wing stay brackets and the top ball joints thread being reduced, you will either need to replace the nut with a suitable thinner one or grind the upright down by the thickness of the mount. Thus ensuring that the ball joints thread is proud of the nylon locknut.
Once the rear suspension bones have been attached including the hub plate, the Focus rear callipers (Standard or the larger ST versions) can now be fitted, I have chosen to use the standards but have fully refurnished and modified accordingly. Fitting the rear callipers now enables the builder to finalise the handbrake cable and hydraulic brake pipe/hose runs. Great care needs to be taken to ensure that none of the cables/pipes and hoses foul on any of the moving suspension/drive shaft components, throughout the full range of their respective travel.
Rear Uprights and Hubs
The new hub bearings were gently tapped into place using a rubber hammer and are secured in place by both friction and the fitment of a retaining 'C' clip
You will find that the hubs to bearing interface is a very tight fit, and should be inserted by use of the drive shafts to press the hubs into the bearings. A little trick here in order to make it a little easier is, and so long as your partner does not mind, to place the hubs in a plastic bag in the freezer for 24 hours and the uprights/bearings in the airing cupboard. (Thus using a little bit of expansion/contraction to help the fitment process)
Note:- Ensure that any excess plastic coating residue is removed from the upright bearing end face prior to installing the bearing, you must ensure that the bearing fits all the way into the housing or you may end up having difficulty fitting the callipers/discs.
MEV specify a type 054 battery, its location being predetermined on the chassis via location channels. Although this solution enables the standard focus wiring to be utilised without change. I think if I was to build another car, I would investigate the feasibility of a) locating the battery (heavy lump) lower in the chassis, b) using the standard focus battery and c) moving the battery forward to the passenger foot well to aid better weight distribution, acknowledging increased cost and cabling complexity.
The 1.8Ltr Zetec engine has the advantage of having the catalytic converter mounted on the down section of the exhaust manifold. MEV are keen to exploit this feature, which means that the manifold, cat, down pipe - running under the engine and all the associated emission sensors (lambda sensors) are retained from the donor. Due to so much of the donors system being retained the amount of sound suppression needed is minimal.
While MEV will supply a high quality stainless steel system/back box subject to your specification, I felt that this would be the area for a little bit of imaginative low cost building. Therefore I set some parameters 1. MEV's Sonic has an exhaust that exits the car at the back centreline, I liked that so I'm going to do the same, 2. That it must pass SVA sound /emission requirements and 3. should cost no more that £10 in materials. ' I like a challenge '
I have converted a 'coastal salvaged' 6kg powder fire extinguisher and the donors flex pipe to manufacture a reverberation chamber. Initial indications show that even without any wadding it should comply with the VOSA noise requirements. Like the MEV demonstrator I have added a heat shield manufactured from some scrap 1mm alloy sheeting in order to deflect the heat from the intake area. While not perfect and certainly not 'gas flowed' It will enable me to get the car on the road, at a later date if I'm not satisfied I may take the car to an experienced exhaust manufacturer and have a proper one made.
Total cost £11 (I bust my budget)
Wheel Arch Stays
The stays on the front are predetermined regarding fitment/position and with 17” wheels and 205/40 tyres give approximately 10 to 15 mm clearance. 15mm is recommended by MEV, a little adjustment can be gained by splaying the front stay arms to increase the clearance, however if you have had your 'Stays' plastic coated then be aware that bending the stays may cause the plastic coating to crack.
There is an SVA requirement here to be aware of, which is well covered in the MEV build guide, relating to rim coverage. IVA requirements are different and are based on measures angles.
The rear stays have to be positioned, drilled and bolted into position on the uprights, again the MEV build guide gives a clear description on this task. I used a slightly greater spacing than for the front of 20mm. The only close tolerance is the forward stay arm to side of the bodywork (see pic) with the upright set vertical at 90 degrees to the lower arm it clears the bodywork by only 5mm.
Note:- Remember you will want to be able to remove the wheels when the arches are bonded to the stays, so don't get too carried away with getting them ultra close. Also you can initially bead the arches in place and then the following day fillet to increase the bond area. All dimensions assume new tyres.
Take your time as you will regret a sloppy job
Rear Brake Callipers
Need to swap over the rear handbrake plates …................
The Drive shafts have been stripped, cleaned, checked over re greased, plastic coated and reassembled. Apart from this they are completely unmodified. However I found I had to use a number of 30mm washers as spacers to position the shaft correctly.
Once all the callipers had been refurbished and piping connected, everything is triple checked for tightness, it was time to fill the brake system with fluid. I'm not going to go into detail regarding the bleeding process as there is tremendous amount of information out there on the internet and or in bleed kits. Therefore I shall only cover issue that I have come across in my build.
Apart from the need to ensure the use of suitable materials i.e. correctly marked fit for purpose brake pipe and remember to retain the purchase receipt for SVA purposes 'Car builder Solutions' 2 x 5m rolls purchased receipt in folder for SVA inspector to view.
Both the Sonic and Rocket MEV kits utilise a small amount of flexible hose to connect the fluid reservoir to the brake/clutch cylinders. As with any hose, especially flexible, caring flammable or highly corrosive fluids, they tend to come under specific scrutiny by inspectors. Following advise from MEV, 'Rally Design' were contacted and a 2mtr length of suitable Gates hydraulic 3/8th dia pipe was supplied along with a signed fitness for purpose letter and purchase receipt.
I write in length here as it demonstrates on occasion what you as a builder are up against. Recently an MEV owner presented his car for SVA including letter and receipt for the subject hose. The Inspector still not satisfied with the Fitness for Purpose deceleration from Rally Design, emailed 'Gates' in America for the hoses specification and discovered that the hose was only suitable for synthetic based brake fluids (i.e. DOT 4 ) and not for petroleum based brake fluids. The Builder being unable to prove that he had used a synthetic brake fluid and having not put a warning on the fluid chamber, failed his SVA.
I, having used the same hose contacted 'Rally Design' who promptly despatched an alternative hose inclusive of suitable specification sheet. This demonstrates the benefit of sourcing your components from well established, supportive company's.
When bleeding my brakes, I am proud to say that none of my flared joints leaked, but I did have a small weep coming from the tapered thread on the hydraulic switch. Which I found I had to tighten to almost braking point to seal – 'a nerve racking process'.
The only point of note here is that the bleed nipples on the rear focus callipers point down wards, therefore it will be necessary to either remove the callipers and tip them upside down or dependent on the stage of build rotate the rear uprights so that the bleed nipples point upwards in order to extract all the air from the system. I initially tipped the callipers upside down and then after letting the system settle for 24 hours, I unbolted the rear callipers, gently tipped upside down so the nipple pointing upwards, and then in a circular motion tilted at 25 degrees rotated the calliper while bleeding to extract the last little bit of air from the system.
Remember to check that the breather hole in the reservoir cap is clear.
I won't go into to much detail as the MEV build guide, gives a good basic understanding of the principles, inclusive of the recommended basic starter settings for the car, of which I have used. You may however wish to leave setting the cars suspension up along these lines until you have passed the dreaded 'self centreing' test in the SVA/IVA test. There are some alternative settings that while certainly not ideal for general driving amplifies the effect of self centreing and will aid you passing the test prior to the suspension/steering bedding in.
Air Intake System
Unfortunately the original intake ducting would not fit under the engine cover therefore an alternative would have to be found. I chose a simple PVC 68mm Drain pipe and 87 degree fitting and one XX degree fitting connected with a short length of pipe and a fairly standard after market Max Power induction style air filter. Be sure to block / cap off all unwanted intake breather holes as if left open it will confuse the ECU and result in poor running/idling.
Note:- the pipe can also be used for as 'spigot rings' to centralise the rally design supplied 25mm rear wheel spacers.
There are a number of different digital dash displays on the market today and the builder has the option to select their own, copy the MEV demonstrators use of the 'Vapour' or even use the the more traditional clocks and dials.
I opted to use the 'Vapour', its a small lightweight and hopefully a very robust unit (being intended for Trail motorcycle use) as well as being relatively cheep. Its fitment and wiring are relatively straight forward. The unit being quite small allows for easy mounting.
The Speed signal is collected via the fitment of a magnetic rotation sensor to the nearside drive shaft housing, signal feed via the the MEV loom to the Dash, preferably a nut should be wielded to the hub housing in order to hold the Magnet but I suppose a suitable adhesive could be used.
I opted to purchase the larger temperature sensor housing, which is an optional extra and install this in the nearside forward feed pipe to the radiator.
Cooling Header Tank
I utilised the standard donor cars header tank, its height in relation to the engines cylinder head is as per the donor car and there is plenty of room for its fitment, but the builder will have to fabricate suitable brackets for this purpose. Some builders of Rockets including myself have experienced problems caused by airlocks. Attention should be paid to this area as in order for the Ford Zetec to achieve the correct environmental emission requirements as it runs hot. On the standard 1.8 that I have used the thermostat opens at 92 Degrees C is fully open at 99 Degrees C with the electric fan not kicking in until around 106 Degrees C.
Rear Bulk Head
Like the front bulkhead the rear requires minimal trimming to fit and comes with the top edge pre folded. Slots will require cutting in order to allow the various cables handbrake and gear to pass through, as well as holes for the fuel pipe and electrics to pass through.
Unlike the front bulkhead and floor panel I decided to use 6 self tapping screws to secure the rear bulk head in place rather than to permanently pop rivet it. Although this fixing sounds minimal the bulk head is effectively sandwiched via the role bar lower mounts to the chassis, and subsequently allows the builder alternative assess to the front of the engine without necessitating engine removal.
Note:- Remember to ensure sufficient clearance and edge the cable slots to prevent chaffing. Similar consideration should also be given to the fuel and electrical lines.
Accelerator Cable Connection/Peddle/Cable Run
The accelerator is connected via a standard cable of approximately 11ft length. The basic peddle being supplied in the kit may require a little manipulation to suit personal preference. The photos below are fairly self explanatory however, as this is another key driver interface and a little extra attention to detail will be greatly rewarded. Two things to address here, 1) fit a peddle stop so as not to stress the cable when ones driving exuberance takes hold and 2) if you find the peddle a little stiff, the standard focus return spring has two clip settings, use the second one.
Two small alloy location clips were fabricated and bonded/fibreglassed in place to secure/locate the front of the bonnet. The bonnet catches are of the computer keg type sourced from Rally Design. Two angled brackets will require manufacturing and securing to the chassis side railed for the catches to be mounted.
Rear Engine Cover
Similar to the Front Bonnets fitting. The Engine cover will require two Z style brackets bonding/fiberglassing in suite at the back. The front is then secured via two rubber bonnet style catches. Depending on the type of Style Hoop and top seat belt mount structure fitted, slots may need to be made in the engine cover in order to clear the rear stays. The Air intake scoop is trimmed, slots cut for the air intake, grilled and best bonded in place with PU adhesive.
The mirrors are Yamaha R1 'copy's' and were supplied courtesy of MEV. Their fitment and positioning are relatively straight forward.
Although not covered in the MEV build guide, and no provision made in the MEV loom, it is a relativity simple task to splice in some electrical tails.
Note:- Just make sure you splice in the nearside tail prior to fitting the nearside body panel.
Note:- When laying out the main loom and before riveting the side panels it is quite simple to locate and splice a tail to the near side indicator feed.
The aero screen is supplied by MEV precut and with the SVA required rounded edge. The builder is only required to correctly position drill and bolt into place. Seven 6mm x 25mm Stainless Steel Button head bolts are recommended. With suitable nylon lock nuts and washers.
The car requires some form of cover for the gear linkage and handbrake mechanism.
The MEV demonstrator is a very minimalist car, and uses a folded strip of alloy to cover the mechanisms, while I was not planning to panel in the side pods and create some storage areas at this stage, could always be a winter update. I did want somewhere I could put my wallet and phone, therefore I decided to utilise the donor cars plastic centre console to both cover the mechanisms and provide the desired storage.
I decided to only fit runners to the drivers seat, but used spacers to raise the passenger seat to the same height. Although this may have a slight decrement to the handling via raising the centre of gravity, as I'm not competing in the car and I decided to do it on cosmetic grounds. Although I may well fit runners later as it not only provides adjustment for foot support, but makes it a lot easier to clean behind the seat.