Excel Rally car build Part 3
The suspension towers and other crucial areas were all seam welded on the inside of the shell. The seams are stitch welded to provide rigidity to the shell and stop splitting and cracking, especially in areas of high stress.
Under the bonnet, the engine and transmission were removed as a complete unit from the car. We chose this option as the engine & transmission both needed work and we also needed to gain access to the engine bay for further seam welding.
Before removing the engine, we gave a quick compression test to see how the Twin Cam mill had fared over its 14 years of road use.
With an even 210 PSI in all cylinders and good oil pressure, we’re confident the engine will be reliable and serve well as a starting point. The Excel engine and gearbox removal is a fairly straight forward job and was easily lifted out through the top without even having to remove the bonnet. During removal we did discover three of the four engine/trans mounts need replacement and the radiator has seen better days with leaky tanks.
Before turning back to the shell, the mechanical items in the power plant were tackled. A new cam belt, rocker covergasket and clutch were installed and new outer CV joints found their way onto the drive shafts. We caught both the clutch and the cam belt at just the right time. Some of the cam belt teeth were beginning to crack and separate and the clutch plate was just down to the rivets. Both outer CV’s were flogged out from being driven with split drive shaft boots. It goes to show how quickly a car can degrade without proper maintenance. Throughout the car’s life, the log book indicated regular servicing. That was, until the last owner bought the car. In the 12 months he’d owned it, the car probably hadn’t even had the bonnet opened, let alone a service. Luckily we got the car before any of the mechanical issues became critical.
Soon the Excel’s front guards, suspension and some front wiring found their way off the car to allow continuation of seam welding. There are a lot of seams around the front suspension mounts and strut towers, all of which need some careful cleaning to remove sealant and allow for easier welding.
With the paint and sealant removed, the last stages of the seam welding continued. We were lucky with a few days respite from the normal summer temperatures straight after Christmas. By this week the mercury had hit 40°c in the workshop which made welding an early morning or late afternoon task to take some of the sting out of the very hot work.