Well I know it wont be everyone’s cup of tea but i believe a car of this caliber deserves to have power steering so I’m going to have a go at putting something together. The tidy choice seems to be to go for a fully electronic version or EPAS – a lot of cars have this now and it has several advantages. No messy hydraulics, ecu controlled and mappable to provide the correct balance of assist (no or little assistance at high speed, full assistance at low speed), compact and dare i say, relatively easy to install. There are quite a few choices out there either new or second hand new systems are quite pricey and will run from a few thousand pounds. A very popular choice for several years has been those from Vauxhalls corsa range – they have been used on all sorts of conversions kit cars and rally cars etc., so there is a fair bit of knowledge out there on how the system works. I found a particularly helpful write up at.http://www.super7thheaven.co.uk/blog/corsa-c-electric-power-steering-epas/ This covers a great deal of the background on the ecu and maps etc – all very helpful stuff, and not the sort of info you will find in a Haynes manual – or from a Vauxhall technician for that matter.
It seems the majority of the units get fitted with simplified dial in electronics that either set the amount of assistance by dialing a knob or use other methods of timing such as allows power assist for first 20 seconds after engine start or after pushing a button. Most of these systems look like a compromise on how the system is supposed to work so I’m aiming at a properly speed related self adjusting system.
A few companies seem to do their own variants of aftermarket kits but essentially rely on the stock Vauxhall Corsa B or C column. example below.
The good thing is the units are still readily available and can be purchased for as little as £50 or £60. Try to get a good low mileage one if possible and it seems the tilt steering version will be an advantage to gain a bit of “inclination” on the steering wheel – more of that later.
The biggest challenge will be getting the geometry correct and making sure it has a substantially engineered bracket system to attach to the car. (power steering can exert a lot of torque to its mounting points. I’m sure the GD monocoque shell will be more than man enough to handle it but the bracket that transfers it to the shell will have to be equal to the task. Keith A was incredibly helpful in providing me with some accurate dims to ascertain the standard position of the steering splined shaft, kindly removing his steering wheel and checking a few dimensions for me – great photos and great help – its gonna save me a lot of head scratching. With his photos and dimensions i can be pretty certain of the desired X Y and Z position of the steering wheel.
I firstly roughed up the position of the steering column into the body shell by a bit of temporary joinery work acting as support battens and props. Once I had the column in the correct position I can take a few measurements to make up the final bracketry. It soon becomes apparent that i wont be able to use the GD windscreen support cross bracket as it slightly interferes with electronics on the column, but that’s not a bad thing as it allows me to beef up the cross over assembly that will be transferring the power assistance loads.
It will be getting some additional fixtures to the body work around the gearbox tunnel as it develops… more pics and details to follow…
3rd June began working on the flashlines. after a few hours of this I realise you have to be pretty meticulous with the sandpaper steps – I thought I was being very careful as I went through the grades but each time I finished the fine machine polish/cutting stage I could see micro scratches left by my less than perfect sanding operation.
Step 1 Mask up and scrape off as much excess as possible without adding further scratches. I used a thick blue masking tape to mask and a variety of scrapers.
Step 2 Sanding, I started with 800 then 1000 then 1500 grit, I was generally wet sanding with lots of water and I eventually realised its very important to thoroughly dry off between sanding layers and check for micro scratches, by the time you get to 15oo I needed to aim at having a smooth matt finish with no sign of micro scratches caused by the heavier grades used in the earlier steps. only then move on to the machine polishing. I’m half way down one side of the car by the time I’ve figured this out… maybe I’ll know what I’m doing by the time I finish.
Step 3 Machine cut/polish, I’m using two steps here firstly 3m green top fast cut(50417), followed by 3m blue top ultrafina (50383). After my first attempt I achieved an excellent shine but could see lots of micro scratches (they become more visible at this stage) .Obviously I hadn’t carried out step 2 correctly. I went back at it with 1500 grit and ensured I got rid of the scratches, once you know what you are looking for with these very fine scratches and are able to get rid of them with the 1500 grade, it all becomes much easier to achieve (it still aint easy though!).
Step1 Mask and scrape
Step 3 machine cut/polish
For the machine polishing I’m using a small 3″ detail air polisher but I’m sure any polisher would work, I think its mostly important that you use the correct mop/sponge head for each grade and also don’t go too slow or too fast I guess I’m working somewhere in the 1200 to 1500 rpm area. only use as little compound as necessary, once polishing the compound should gradually disappear, if it doesn’t then I’m probably applying too much. I also found it best to concentrate on a small area at a time maybe no more than two sq feet or even less. I plan to do final polishing/wax with a larger mop head over the complete car once I get everything to this stage. Prepare to get wet and messy… I found this little scraper from one of those vibrating tool sets (Aldi) ideal for stage 1 it has a slightly curved scrape edge which means its difficult to scratch other parts when scraping off the excess flash lines, although I also used a variety of fine files. Mainly using the 3m green top and blue top for stage 3 and the little Kobe polisher from Cromwell tools, the green sponge mop is for the green cap “Fast Cut” and the black (very soft)sponge top left of picture is used for the “Ultrafina” blue top.
The body is back home now fitted to a trestle for good working height. Ill start collecting the materials and equipment together to tackle the molding edges and flashlines etc.
The wheels have also been delivered, I went with the 18″ CHB wheels from Image ordered through GD. I’m very pleased with the rear wheel offset finding those E type rear axles has definitely been worth the effort. the dished look is just very right.
Just trying the boot lid against the rear wheels to get a feel for the colour scheme. The plan is red wheel bands on the rims and some red accents on the car but all the metalwork including windscreen and roll bars in satin black – like the wheel finish.
So Thats Black Stripes on main background colour Ral715 with red accents
Original Plan was to have sidepipes but as time goes on I’m swaying towards no sidepipes Photoshopped out the side pipes and added some graphic. Ok this graphic looks OTT but may do something more subtle in place of the pipes?
Just a little later than planned I’m now the proud owner of the MK4 body. I collected it together with a host of other stuff at the end of May. I’m very happy with the color choice its Ral715 slate gray.
My Mk4 on the left
The car with the stripes is another of Andy’s customers its a MK3 in a much darker painted grey with very subtle stripes very nice indeed!
The gelcoat finish looks very good. At one point I was going to Ask GD to do the flashline removal and panel fitting etc. but after further consideration I thought it was something I would rather attempt myself…. so on the road and back North she goes to receive some tlc….