Le Mans or Bust

Archive for June, 2006


Tuesday, June 13th, 2006

A vote of gratitude to Robin Saunders for supplying the funds for upgraded breakdown cover. Generously he has donated the sponsorship space to which he is entitled to a charity, The Dover Detainee Visitor Group, which is a voluntary and non political organisation committed to helping Immigration Act Detainees at the Dover Immigration and Removal centre.


For those traveling to Le Mans via Dover the Immigration and Removal Centre is situated in the Victorian fort on the Western Heights which can be seen from the ferry on the opposite side of the port to the famous castle.

Now the traditional list of our other sponsors:

Warning to other traffic.

Tuesday, June 13th, 2006

It’s only polite really to warn others on the road about the cab, so I’ve knocked up a couple of signs, commonly seen on the back of European trucks.

It should let approaching traffic know that we’re not messing about, but that 56mph really is our top speed.


Nearly there….

Sunday, June 11th, 2006

Probably the last technical update for a while, due to the impending race, but I’m pleased with what was done this weekend.

With a little help from Ian the spare tyre is fitted, and the wheel nuts have all been slackened off to the point where a normal breaker bar (my new toy) can deal with them. It did, as predicted, take a scaffolding pole to sort it out on Friday!

Saturday was…interesting. I’d never fitted a handbrake cable before, and had little no experience of drum brakes, but how hard could it be? Well, at about 7pm Satuday, I was jumping up and down cursing a blue streak (as was Matt), planning to melt down the taxi and take the Golf instead…

The wheels came off easily enough, but getting the drums off was a different matter. I followed Friday’s technical advice (bray it wi’ a hammer) but they weren’t budging. I tried a screwdriver and got somewhere, then a crowbar, and got a little further, but then I hit a plateau and they refused to move any more. After an hour of messing about, I finally got frustrated and really went at it in an uncharacteristic fit of violence and fruity language.

Top tip for removing brake drums? Get an angry short man with a sledghammer and set him lose. They came off perfectly after receiving a repeated battering…

Getting the old cable off was also entertaining, as I really didn’t want to take the whole brake assembly apart, not having any idea how it went back together again. A cunning arrangement of different size flathead screwdrivers removed a couple of return springs, and the only snag was removing the end section of the cable itself from the lever that pushes the shoe onto the drum. The aformentioned flatheads did the job, but only after another loss of rag. I was sensing a pattern emerging here.

There then followed a judicious use of the crowbar again, to subtly alter a section of chassis that restrained the adjustment section of the handbrake. I’d like to point out that this would not have been neccessary, had it not been designed in a way that meant the cable was never designed to be replaced as a whole. However as the restraining bracket that holds the outer sheath of the cable was welded to the chassis, I had to improvise.

“Refitting is the reverse of removal.” This includes the use of hammers by the way, and this was where the final snag arose that led me to throw all of my toys out the pram. One of the drums went back on without any difficulties (it was the same drum that I ‘learned’ earlier, I think it now knew its place), but the other had a stubbon streak… Despite beating it like a ginger stepchild (thanks to Viz for the phrase) it resolutely refused to go back on, and I ended up knocking off parts of the shoe. After an hour of frustration (including a couple of jumping up and down in anger moments), I gave up.

A massive shout out to Ian for helping me out this morning at short notice and providing technical support over the phone. The reason incidentally the drum wouldn’t go back on, was that in the course of my fiddling, I had moved the self adjusting ratchet, and so the shoes were at their maximum extent, and just too large to fit a drum over. It took Ian all of 3 minutes to sort it, and the drum went on with no resistance at all. Result! One working handbrake.

The only outstanding issues to resolve are the indicator relay (needs cleaning), the untidy wiring in the passenger footwell, the untidy heating system and the interior cover for the TAXI light. Nothing like leaving it until the last moment, so I know what I’ll be doing on Wednesday morning…

Gotcha Keep hitting it


Wednesday, June 7th, 2006

Chris, Chris, Phil, Matt & I gave the taxi some attention tonight, and we now have a working Roof Sign with spanking new lettering, a working Le Mans/Bust illuminated side sign (nice one Phil although I hope it stays set to Le Mans) and a boot that now shouldn’t leak.

We also have a tyre courtesy of Tyre Traders and a new handbrake cable from Taxi Mart which will be sorted on Friday & Saturday respectively. Thanks to both firms who delivered the next working day, very impressive. A slight difficulty was encountered with the handbrake cable, in that you have to get the rear wheels off, a task which defeated me this evening. There are six 1″ diameter wheels bolts, and all of them seem to be welded in place. My wheel brace was too small, it bent my socket wrench (even when using a 4′ pole as a lever) and defeated my mole grips.

It will be coming off on Friday afternoon, with a little help from a stronger wrench and a scaffolding pole…

All seemed well on the drive home, as I’ve adjusted the idle screw so it now over-revs when idling, but seems to have stopped cutting out. I’m going to adjust it back the other way a little to try and stop it from seeming like I’m trying race people of the lights (although I did give some git in a Z3 a face full of diesel fumes).

Fingers crossed for the weekend….


Wednesday, June 7th, 2006

For those that don’t know, the rules have been changed this year to make diesel engined cars more competitive. Audi are the first to take advantantage of this with the R10. Whilst browsing the interwebs today I was presented with this advert:

Audi ad

The cynics (and I include myself here) will tell you that the ACO (the organisers of the 24h du Mans) have changed the rules to not only make a diesel engined car competitive but to give it an advantage over the petrol cars. The fact that a large part of Audi’s road car sales happen to be oil burners is merely a co-incidence - [sarcasm]the advertising value of a race winning diesel clearly means nothing in their pursuit of sporting endeavour[/sarcasm] (see above advert). This further goes to prove that in order to have a chance at Le Mans these days you really need four rings on the front of your car.

Phone test

Monday, June 5th, 2006

Rotate:90 Will this work? :-)

Testing the e-mail posting

Monday, June 5th, 2006

This is a test of the whole system I’ve bodged together. If everything works it should turn this e-mail into a post in the Technical category.

The image should come next:


(The above should be thumbnailed and linked.)

Cron should pick up the new post from the mail server after a minimum of five minutes. Finally, hourly it should clean up the e-mailed log files for jobs that didn’t result in a posting so that I don’t have to wade through 12 e-mails every hour, every day!

A big thanks to Postie for making this all possible.


Look mum!

Sunday, June 4th, 2006

I did something. Chris’s sticker post reminded me; I made some lovely logos for use of stickers, or t-shirts or leaflets. I’ve attached one. Hopefully.

I see no reason why everyone we know should not have a t-shirt with this on. You can print them yourselves, mind.


I know it’s a bit “budget” looking, but fortunately that fits right in with the whole project.

[Long string of expletives]

Saturday, June 3rd, 2006

The taxi has a new game, it’s called trying to kill Tom. I didn’t think that an Automatic Diesel could stall, but it can. Frequently. In fact, every time you brake to slow down below a certain speed, the engine tried to cut out as the revs drop and you also lose power steering etc. I think it’s to do with the wiring (of course), but it did it as I was making a right turn infront of an oncoming Double Decker Bus, which was rather entertaining….

In other bad news, the handbrake has breathed its last (without taking the rear drums apart for serious re-adjustment; possible but unlikely given the time constraints). Also ‘Park’ is still not selectable without some new cable in the gearbox selector, which is going to make for an interesting Ferry Crossing… A solution is at hand, but does anyone want to donate a brick or two just in case?

Good news (for there is some) consists of the original battery reporting for duty in full health, the lights still working, the fuel line replacements are not letting air into the system & DYK fires up first time. We also have a working taxi sign and other electrics thanks to the kindness of Ian and his probe (insert joke here). It’s now wired off the ‘mystery button’ which is a mystery no more, it now makes us glow!

More work will be carried out hopefully on Wednesday evening, but in the mean time, I have a beggin request out there. Does anyone have a spare tyre I could have/borrow please? Any taxi drivers out there that want to contribute to a worthy cause, I can swap you a bald one for a week (a tempting offer I know). Alternatively, if anyone has a 175/80/ R16 tyre in a garage/shed, then please contact us!


Get your stickers here.

Thursday, June 1st, 2006

With all this promotion of others, I decided we needed to do a little more self promotion.

Using some of Phil’s test t-shirt designs, and wresting with an Aladdins Cave of stickers in the stationary cupboard at work, I came up a 4×5 sticker page layout, which we can use to sticker anything that stands still long enough. Heres the design if anyone in the world wants to print their own.


If the work stationary monitor or my boss is reading this, of course I’m only jesting (ho ho), I did it all in my own time using my own materials.

I’m thinking of targeting the captive audience in the toilets at the Isle Of Wight festival next weekend. I’m sure anyone who’s ever been in a festival toilet knows that looking ahead at the stickers and adverts for “mooncups” is much more fun than looking at the mountain of festering filth below you.

J885 DYK