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K-Series Gbs Zero


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So I'll start the ball rolling with a build thread - almost definitely this is going to be a very long-running one :). First post will just be an introduction to what is being planned, and some background to how we got here.




The donor is my old Robin Hood Exmo. Since the value of this in the market is so low these days, and having poured a sizeable chunk of cash into it last year getting it back on the road (engine management, BGT gearset, etc), I'm really happy with it apart from one aspect - the chassis. Built it back in '96 with a mate (we both went 50/50) on a budget and far less experience than today. Bought out my mate's half in the mid-noughties. Originally a Pinto, but converted to the K-Series in the late 90's.


It's a good, known car, and obviously the ideal donor. And before anyone asks, yes I will be doing it properly via IVA ;)




Spotted an unused kit on eBay back in the spring. Now I'd already got plans to do the transplant into a Zero around this time of year, but was originally just going to buy a new kit. However I thought I'd have a punt on the unused kit and put in a suitably low offer. Well, it all came through, the guy was happy with the offer and must have been eager for the cash as he ended it early and we did the deal. The kit got stored away until now, no time to really do anything with it as my time was taken up with motorsport during the main part of the year, and rebuilding an engine for another car.


Now the season is over it's time to start up the winter project :)




So at present time we have a Zero kit from late 2010. The Kwak green is going - I've picked up a new set of white bodywork for it (the newer one-piece rear wings and revised nosecone) and the necessary bits of plate/bracketry to bring the chassis up to present-day spec (thanks Keith at GBS). First job is to strip the Exmo of all the donor parts and I've taken evidential footage of its make-up, including a video of it running, in case anyone later queries it.


The suspension arms are off to be dipped/cleaned with a mate, as their paint was peeling off and surface rust on some portions of them, so we'll start again with those.


First task is to offer up the K-Series and figure out what's going to interfere with what. The bellhousing I have was originally for a Fisher so tilts the engine over considerably from the vertical, so I suspect the top chassis tube is going to be a problem. If this is the case I suspect I'll either need to get the bellhousing modified, or get a new one that keeps the engine vertical. We'll see. Hopefully get this done the weekend.

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Was delayed at the weekend stripping the donor Exmo, so didn't get to offer the engine up until tonight.




In general it fits with no issues. On the right hand side there's no issue with the throttle bodies clearing the top tube, but then the engine is tilted over a fair bit due to my bellhousing being of a one-off design for a Fisher Fury. The right hand engine mount doesn't land anywhere near where the Ford lump does (this is an unmodified Caterham engine mount) but I can weld on a plate eventually - for now, bonus points if anyone can tell me what's temporarily serving as a base ;)




You can see below the angle the gearbox is currently at, so it's not right. The camera is square onto the chassis. I can tilt the engine over more to get this vertical, but the engine mounts will need packing up on the right-hand side.




In terms of fore/aft location, there are no issues in the engine bay. The crank pulley clears the crossmember with room to spare.




The left-hand engine mount lands perfectly where it's intended, and the oil filter clears too. The alternator will have no issues either; there is loads of room this side, basically.




Here is my problem area. The starter motor. This bellhousing retains the Rover flywheel with the starter motor running out the back of the bellhousing instead of the front. And this doesn't look to me like it's going to clear the chassis tubing. Now granted the engine needs to tilt over a few more degrees to get the gearbox upright, but I'm not entirely sure it's going to be enough to open up clearance here. We'll see, I'll get round the spacing it up tomorrow, but I think this little area here will mean I need to replace the bellhousing with one where the starter extends forward instead of backwards.




Exhaust-wise, no issues whatsoever (and this was the bit I was worried about!)...




Sump clearance doesn't look like it will be an issue, but then I was never worried about this bit so much as the Rover is quite shallow in the sump... obviously without the ride heights set up this is all a bit inconsequential at this stage. But you can see the sump doesn't extend much below the gearbox bellhousing anyway.




Final pic just gives you an idea of the current engine inclination - and it STILL needs to go over a little further to get the gearbox vertical, IF I want to keep this bellhousing! This is taken level on the battery tray panel. Having said that, if when I fully tilt it over the starter motor issue isn't solved, then I'll go for a conventional bellhousing which will keep the lump nearer vertical... although I need to be careful if I go this route that it doesn't make the engine fully vertical, otherwise I don't think the exhaust and inlet manifolds will clear the top tubes then X-(.



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Packed the engine mount up last night just to check 100% if the starter motor was going to be an issue. It is.




The starter motor (or the solenoid to be accurate) hits the vertical chassis tube on the front inside of the tunnel. The way I see it I have 3 options in order of preference.


1. Find a smaller starter :) not much hope on that one I think

2. Swap for the QED bellhousing (or an equivalent) that puts the starter motor on the front of the bellhousing rather than the back. Problem solved. Only issue I could potentially have then is the angle of the engine will be different, more vertical, and I am then very worried about interference with the top engine bay tubes. I am awaiting some detail from QED to confirm whether this is a safe route to go.

3. Cut out the vertical tube and brace from the top point down on a diagonal to the bottom tube, allowing room for the starter. Now obviously hacking about bits of the chassis isn't ideal but I'm not too worried about this if it's necessary as I will put some strength back in with a diagonal and some additional webbing. But I will consider this a last resort if the alternatives all fail.


I'm going to stop worrying about the engine for a bit now as the QED bellhousing is expensive and there are higher priorities - expenditure needs to go on the coilovers first so I can get the chassis rolling. So next job is the usual one I think people start with - fit all the nylon bushes, paint the wishbones, get the rideheight roughly measured and then get Procomp to make me up some dampers.

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Great build thread btw :)

Considering your options, I'd be tempted with option 3....cutting the chassis. I'm sure it can be modified and still be as strong as it was before and it doesn't effect anything else.

Option 1 is probably wishful thinking and I can appreciate your concerns regarding option 2. You've got the engine to fit nicely as it is so I'd be reluctant to change it's position with the new bellhouse.


Do you know if this is this the first zero with a rover engine?

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Good point - at least this bellhousing/combination is a "known". I know it all works in terms of clutch operation, input shaft length and so forth (there's some faffing to do if you were starting again but nothing insurmountable).


I don't know for definite but I would think it probably is - the K isn't the most popular engine these days (unjustified IMHO!).

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Bit more progress today. In the week, the suspension arms and parts all came back from sandblasting. Even though they'd not been used, the paint on them wasn't great and had peeled off in places, and there was surface rust as a result.



They're off now to a local pal with a bodyshop who's going to paint them up for me. In the meantime, I spend today stripping and chopping up the donor... ready for a trip to the scrappy now. Needed to do this really as I needed to free up the space in the garage.


From this....



...to this...




I have chopped out the VIN from the chassis and kept that to one side as proof of existence, and also taken various photos/video as evidence just in case. Of course, being built pre-SVA, there was no such thing as chassis plates back then so the VIN is really just a stamped piece of metal rivetted into the chassis, but that's how things were back in those days.


Tomorrow I hope to start prepping some of the new chassis with the brackets I need to weld into it to bring it up to 2013 spec. I might also offer up the diff just so I can check prop length.

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Hi brumster


can I just query your comment about sump clearance.


suspention is designed to have a running height of 110mm to 130mm from the side of the chassis to the ground, usualy set at 120.


Is that still sufficient ground clearance? because that does look low in your picture.


Ah, ok, it's a bit tight then. Just measured it at 90mm from chassis to sump (give or take). I'll make sure I keep an eye on that when finalising the engine position (it could well come up a little when I resolve the angle the engine is at). If it comes to it, a shallow sump may be needed (please not a dry sump he says, crossing his fingers :D !!)

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Started the prep with the new brackets today, and quickly dropped the diff in place to measure up how my propshaft looks. I've got 2 (the original Exmo-suppled one, and a lengthened one what I had made up for the K transplant in the Exmo). Neither are any good, both too long, so those will need replacing eventually. Nothing immediate to sort out but it just helps me budget.




Clearing off the powder coating here in readiness for the rear arch crescents and the seat belt mounts. Then tack them in place...




...and the inner ones. These are apparently needed for the IVA in that they allow adjustment of the harnesses with the passenger/driver in situ. Can't say I can quite fathom why moving them forward makes a difference to being able to adjust them but hey ho, I'll fit them all the same.




The outers ones just position opposite the inner ones...




The crescents finished and the welds flatted off - take the worst off with a cutting disc, then a flap wheel to get them nicely flat.




...and the inner ones welded up along the full sides (will also put some on the back too)....




Need to get the suspension back and do the front bracketry too now, but awaiting a trip to the scrap merchant in the week to clear the pile of Exmo out of the way and free up some space around the car :) that's it for now then, pretty boring stuff at this point....

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Re the starter I have a starter that moves the solenoid to the bottom the mount was from an auto car that had starter mounted on other side . Is ther a rover option that might work try calling Eletrostart see post pined in eletric thread as very knowledgeable






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In all fairness even with the solenoid relocated, the starter housing is going to interfere with the chassis tube unless it's shorter in body length, or narrower in diameter. But I'll try them tomorrow, sure, thanks for the tip.

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Have a look at engine height. I can't see any reason the engine can't be lifted to a point where it is just under the bonnet. There should be no problem raising the rear gearbox mount to keep everything level. Next, fore and aft position. Maybe the engine can go forward a couple of inches or more if that helps the starter fitting. Might even find the exmo prop will fit. I don't think that moving this weight forward would make a change to the handling that most drivers could detect and the K is very light.



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Agreed, it's not a heavy lump in the first place so a little compromise on engine position (if we're talking an inch or two) isn't going to be the end of the world. Although I do want to check the gearstick exit position too, ergonomics is a real sticking point for me (as I'm sure it is with everyone!) and I really like the control to fall into a natural place (gearstick, wheel, pedals). Not that an inch or two is going to be a deathblow, of course :). One of the next jobs when the bits come back from the paintshop is to quickly set up the pedal box, steering wheel, gearstick and seat and check everything out.

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