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Sunday, 8 January 2012

Lotusbits Lotus Sunbeam, first outing, Longmoor Loco Rally 30th December 2011

We put the car on the trailer as planned at 5pm on Thursday night and headed down to a local pub in Hampshire  where we had booked rooms. Up at an ungodly 5.30am Friday morning and off to Longmoor!
The day did not start well as the car would not start - the battery was flat. We tried to push start the car on a gravelly surface but the wheels slid every time the clutch was engaged, on the occasions it caught the little Sunbeam refused to start.
A tow start from the Lotusbits van eventually worked . We trotted off to scrutineering where the new car passed with no issues, although the scrutineer had never seen a Cat 2 MSA logbook before!
The van went back to service as we tried to go off to the noise test, unfortunately the car would not start again.
 quick pull behind the van and the Sunbeam barked into life – the noise test was passed with a very satisfactory 96dB.

Time to head to service and find out why the car would not start and charge:
The service crew discovered a loose nut on the master switch which was subsequently tightened. We made up a charging lead from the Lotusbits service van  to charge the battery.

We decided to fill the tank at the start and run throughout the day without refueling until we detected any fuel surge issues.

As it was the first time at this venue in a new car we chose to start on worn wets – cut X22s. It was dry to start but still very, very  slippery.
As the Sunbeam left the start line on its first stage the service crew wandered to the burger van for their own personal re-fuelling  exercise.

Off the line we discovered  a total lack of traction, the car was sliding everywhere. We definitely needed to change the rear suspension settings when we got back to service.

When we got to the finish of the first stage we had two major issues – the oil temp was very, very high - 106 degrees and the alternator wasn’t charging – time for the service crew to work some magic.

They softened off the rear suspension to the minimum and ducted air into the oil cooler. With the alternator, we could not find any issues as it started charging again. The service crew found blue paint on one of the rear arches and suitably chastised the driver – it was time for Stage 2.

From the start line, it was a little better following the set-up change but still not much  traction.

We clouted the other (very expensive) works rear arch properly this time on a chicane – oops, this Sunbeam is a lot wider than the Lotus Micra!

 The oil temperature was even worse – 110 degrees at the finish and alternator had given up the ghost again.
During service we found the alternator had thrown a belt so we left it off and simply charged the battery from the Lotusbits van for the rest of the event. The crew fitted an Anderson plug to the car so we could plug  it into the van on arrival.  

Why was the oil too hot?  We had already wired the oil cooler fan to run continuously – no difference. We raised the rear of the bonnet, still no difference. Eventually it clicked – the air filter was in front of the oil cooler sucking hot air through the oil cooler.

We relocated the air filter with a roll of duct tape and the oil temp at the end of stage five dropped to a satisfactory 92 degrees – a 28 deg reduction!

On stage 4 there was some grip to be had as we were on X22 slicks and car 21, our class leader , a yellow Mk2 Escort came out behind us on the merge and we lost them! The little Lotusbits Sunbeam was starting to shine. The co-driver of car 21 came over to see us in service and was very surprised to see we had a standard H pattern gearbox and a home built engine – he went back to wind up his driver…

After lunch it rained, the surface became even slippier – so even less traction.

The only activity for the service crew in the afternoon was to hit the burger van and watch the event as we did not even change tyres or add fuel.

At the end of stage 7 we were sitting 2nd in class a second ahead of car 19 who was 3rd in class.
Off to the last stage – it now start to rain continuously and we were on slicks. The stage was comparatively uneventful despite car 21 spinning through a chicane in front of us.

Unfortunately we lost 5 seconds to car 19 and dropped to third in class. Time to put the car on the trailer and collect a trophy.

Not bad for a first test – hats off to the Lotusbits service crew, Ben, Brent, Sam and Dave, who built the car and kept it running all day! Apologies for the lack of event images, the venue is an active military establishment and photographers are shot!
A few more "pre paint" build images:

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