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GBS Zero Pinto to Duratec conversion


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So today was the big day!  With a level 4 diploma starting shortly today is make or break.  If the engine starts it has a chance of being back on the road for spring 2020, if not then the car will mostly likely sit in the garage until Aug/ Sept 2020 before i can start work on it!!

So, with no pressure! Stu (Duck) came over armed with his laptop and see if we could make Choo, Choo noises from the engine.

We started with checking and calibrating the crank sensor.  We then proceeded to trying to get the engine to fire.  All of this took several hours as the engine would just not fire.  

The first issue was that the fuel pump was no priming?  After several hours of messing about we removed the fuel cut off switch from the look and the fuel pump started working.

We then found a few more issues, like about a litre of engine oil pouring all over the floor!  At this stage it was early evening and we could not find the issue.

After Stu left i had a look and it appears the oil leak is from the oil cooler.  I then tried to remember if i fitted the gasket?? And did i torque up the bolts?  Also the whole coolant system is leaking.  I tried the system without swaging the ends of the ali tubes but every single one leaked!  

This means the car will be locked up now until Summer 2020 as the diploma will now take up all of my spare time!  Gutted it didnt work but maybe fresh eyes in the future might reveal the issues.

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Aug, Sept & Oct 2019

So the exams have been going well.  Passed 2 so far with just 4 more to go.

Over the last few months i have had a few hours here and there to have a look at the issues that stopped me and Stu getting the engine running.  First off the list was the oil cooler.  I assumed the gasket was in as it was not in the parts to fit pile.  I pulled the oil cooler off.  First thing i noticed was the bolts were only finger tight!  This might be the issue, but i kept going to make sure the gasket was in.  It was, so bolted it all back together and torqued the bolts.

Next was to have a look at the fuel cut switch as to why it would stop the fuel feed.  Checked for continuity and all appears the be working with nothing obviously wrong.  I added spade terminals the the wiring so that it can be removed from the circuit if it continues to play up.

Other jobs have been to calibrate the TPS.  This turned out to be a much bigger job than i thought.  After a few different days of trying to get it to work i had to go back to basics.  I tested the TPS to ensure that the unit was working.  This tested out all ok, next i tested the wiring.  I continuity tested and resistance tested the wiring and again not issues, but it was still not working.  The only logical conclusion was that the ECU was faulty, so sent this off to trigger wheels, who tested the ECU and this was all fine??  At this stage i was at a complete lose, each item in the system works but the ECU did not read the TPS.

Stu popped over for another go at testing and trying to get the engine to run.  Everything seemed to be in place and all my tests were good.  Stu then noticed that the plug that connects to the ecu was not seated properly.  On further investigation one of the locating tabs was broken off.  No idea when or how this happened, but this was stopping the loom connecting.  This ended the few hours of work with emails to trigger wheels to see what could be done.  Long story short, it is nothing.  The ECU is a sealed unit.  There suggestion was to use cable ties to pull the loom plug tight into place.

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Had a half day today and no exams to revise for this week, so chance to have a look at the car.

Cable tied the loom plug to the ecu. Like magic it seemed to work.  The TPS was talking to the ECU and calibrated.  What i thought was going to be a few hours in the garage was 30 minutes and job done.  

Stu volunteers to pop over on Saturday and see if we can finally get the engine to run.


Started the day with a cuppa tea, as got to be in the right frame of mind.  Plus it is bloody cold in the garage, so waiting for the little heater i have to try and take a bit of the chill out the air.

First job was to check the TPS still worked?  Nope, something had changed and was no longer reading.  Also the fuel pump was not priming.

So, disconnected the fuel cut off switch from the loom and bingo the fuel pump works.  The main power feed in the loom also seems to be a little bit loose.  It doesnt pull out the plug but with a wiggle the fuel pump primes and everything works.  Next was to check the TPS.  Everything is still wired correctly and the TPS tested correctly.  Only possible thing that Stu suggested was that as i have 2 sensor grounds there was some issue with the earth.  Connected the TPS to the other sensor ground and the TPS springs into life.  It calibrates and reads perfectly.

So, the next and only item left was to start the engine.  We cranked the engine and it built oil pressure and no oil leak which was great.  The issue was it did not fire?

After several tries, we noticed that the injectors were not `clicking’.  We checked the spark plugs and we were getting spark.  The fuel was reaching the fuel rail, but was just not getting into the engine.  We ran a logger on the cranking and it showed that the ECU got the initial signal but then dropped out.  We ran the crank logger and this was reading the tooth pattern.

After several cups of tea and googling we came to the conclusion that everything was working as it should but the ECU was not seeing the crank signal at cranking.  In a moment of clarity, Stu changed the ECU setting to read the crank from before to after and boom, the engine burst into life within a few turns of the starter motor.  OMG, it sounds good.  Admittedly it doesn't have a silencer on it, but it sounds awesome and with a rev it barks like a proper racer.

Here is a video of the 2nd start as we didn't expect it to start the first time.  Only ran it for a few moments as I have no coolant in it at all, but here is a short video:


Really happy that it now works.  Just a bit of tidying on the TPS wiring and the rest of the build can continue.  I will get a bit more spare time as we move towards Xmas.  One of the first jobs will be to sort out the garage heater, its just far to cold!

Thanks goes to Stu for his persistence in getting the issue resolved.  I would have given up ages ago without him.

Lets see how much more I can get sorted over the next few months.

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So a bit of spare time tonight with the motivation from the weekend, I decided to get my 3kw heater unit up and running.  Working in the garage over the weekend was bloody freezing.  Not sure if its the weather or my age but I was feeling it!  The unit needed a new plug, so swapped it over and it was good to go.  2 hours in the garage this evening with an outside temp of 4-5’ and after a bit I had to shut the heater off as i was getting too hot.  That means the winter working can continue.

Tonights task was to check the brake upgrade would fit.  The plan is to fit a well trodden path of Mondeo Mk3 calipers, discs and pads.

I know these will fit as others have used this with success.  I removed the current standard sierra calipers and carriers and offered up the mondeo units.  

I will need to use some 6mm spacers but they fit.  The sierra carriers fit through the hub with a 10mm hole.  This will need opening out to 12mm as the mondeo carriers use 12mm fixing bolts.


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The mondeo units are so much bigger than the sierra units. 

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So, now i have confirmed they fit the hubs, I will need to try them with the wheel on to make sure it clears.  It should but will check before moving on.

Once this is confirmed, I will start the stripping, cleaning and painting process.  Trying to decide on what colour to paint the calipers.  Shall i go standard silver?  Part of me thinks go for a bright colour and i am thinking of going sky blue to match the blue on the body work.  Not making any decisions until the calipers are stripped.  They look a bit scabby at the moment and if they are too far gone, I might just end up swapping them out.  

I have also made some enquiries about having a heated front screen made.  The company may still have the template from Dan (Brumster), when he had them quote for a screen.  They are currently searching there records to see what they can find.  Failing this they do have a standard Westfield screen pattern, which should be very close to what I need.

Neil (Nelmo) has offered me an old screen frame that he has.  It has a bit of damage and too many holes in it but will be something i can work with as i plan to have it powder coated, so can fill the holes and prep before hand.

The side mounts i will probably end up buying from ebay as they all seem much the same and should do the job nicely.

Once that is all sorted i will then have to sort the wipers.  My current thought is to buy the kit from carbuilder solutions.  It comes with everything that is needed and is brand new.  

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Another spare hour tonight to play car.

Bit more work on the brakes.  Now i know they fit it is time to get them clean.  First job was to strip them.  They came apart easy enough.

The carriers slider bolts are in good condition.  These will be reused.  One thing i noticed was the bolts are handed.  They are slightly different as you can see below:


The smooth looking one fits in either end, but the one with the splines only fits in one end as it is slightly thicker.

The rubber boots for them are also in good condition, so will be able to reuse them.

The pistons are in reasonable condition, but for £30 i can buy rebuild kits, that include new pistons and seals, so this will be the way to go.

The next step will be getting them clean.  I get the feeling this will be loads of degreaser and wire wheel action.  I need to get them good enough to be able to paint and look good with the wheels on.  I have decided on a colour, but that will be a big reveal at a later date!!

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Managed to get the calipers and brackets sorted today.

The first part was to get them clean!  They were perfect on the inside, but the outside definitely had a good few years of rust and grime on them.

I started with a liberale use of brake cleaner.  This with a bit of the air compressor got all the dust and loose bits off.  Up next was the wire wheel action.  It was a bit of a pain but between a drill clamped on the vice with a big wire wheel, a dremel with little attachments to get in the tight corners and a paint removal pad on the angle grinder saw them clean up well.


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After the wire wheeling is was another brake cleaner bath and drying off with the air compressor.

I fired up the garage heater as the paint instructions says it should be applied at 17-21’.  The outside temp today was a lovely and warm 6’!!

Left the heater running whilst having a cuppa tea and also left the paint pot and brakes in the heat stream so that it all warmed up nicely.

This worked a treat and started the painting process.  The paint applied well and the coverage is very good.  I used the E-Tech brake caliper paint.  The colour choices are very good and one of the colours was perfect for me.

The first coat was drying nicely in the heat, so I hung these on metal rods.  The instructions say to leave these 30 minutes before the second coat.  By the time I got to the last caliper the 2 brackets had dried enough for a bit of a touch up in a few dry spots.

I then hung them all back up and i will leave to dry for a day or two and then see if they need a full second coat.

The initial look is very pleasing.  They have come out much better than I thought and the prep work was worth the effort.

This is what they look like currently.  The pictures don’t do them justice as they are very bright and shiny.  They will look awesome behind the black wheels.


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With these looking so good, it brings up the next big issue which is that the rear drums are orange, so going to have to do them now!!  I am also thinking of a bit of livery on the calipers in white or orange.  Need to think of something that would look good.

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Well, first day of the new year and not to bad a hang over from the night before means a bit of garage time.

The next job is to build back up the calipers with the new pistons and seals.  This was reasonably easy and the kit that i ordered came with everything needed, except new guide pins.  The pins i have are in good condition for a bit of a clean and they were good to go.

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The next job was to fit is back to the car.  The sierra hubs had a 10mm hoke for the original calipers but the mondeo bolts are 12mm.  This meant drilling out the hub holes to 12mm.  No going back now!!

The carrier needed spacing from the hub too, so that the disc sat square.  This was done with washers for now, but I will get some proper spacers made up along with proper length bolts for the final fitment.

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Everything fitted up and the clearance to the wheel is tight but it fits.

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Once i get the spacers and bolts i can go for the final fit.  The passenger side caliper will need a bit of paint touch up as it has got a bit bashed around being fitted.  I will then do the drivers side, but this should be a quick job now i know what i am doing!


Been a while since i had a chance to work on the car.  Had a half day spare so thought i would get the brakes finished off.

I have made and cut the spacers.  I made these out of some connector nuts, that i cut to size.  I then drilled out the threads leaving a spacer 14.5mm long and a 12mm hole.

This allowed the disc to sit right in the middle of the carrier as i had a total of about 3mm clearance. 

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All fitted and looks good.  I put an air line in the fluid feed to check the pistons were working.   It locked up the brakes hard enough that i could not turn by hand and nothing is catching or rubbing that shouldnt.  Wont know for sure until its on the road!

Whilst i had a spare hour i tried to make a start on beading the coolant pipes.  The aluminium pipe i had has a wall of about 2mm.  This made beading very tough and as a result ended up cracking the aluminium and making a right mess.


To fix this issue i needed a new plan.  Rolling the bead into a 2mm tube was not easy, so the plan is to buy some 1mm wall tube and roll the bead in a more gentle fashion.

Also the bead is much bigger than it needed to be, so will roll in a smaller bead.

New tube has been ordered so hopefully plan B works out better.

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13 hours ago, Peter Bell said:

You could try annealing the aluminium tube, but be careful it melts quite easily. If you rub soap on the tube and gently heat until the soap turns brown you should be ok.

Thanks for the tip but actual fixed the problem by buying the correct grade of Ali tube. From the conversation with a local Ali supplier there are 2 grades. One for forming and bending the one that does not!  

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Managed to buy some 1mm wall aluminium tube.  This was much better and the bead rolled in much easier and without cracking the tube.


I cut the tube to length and beaded the ends.  All replaced on the engine and hose clips in place.

All this should be leak free but i still have a few bits to finish on the expansion bottle side, so not the end of this story yet.

I then moved onto the master cylinders…..

The original plan was to mount the fluid reservoirs up on the scuttle area,  This was causing plumbing issues and space issues.  Plus it just looked a bit rubbish.

The hoses from the master cylinders were getting caught in the pedals and the reservoirs themselves were high up and causing clearance issues with the bonnet.

Plan B was to mount the reservoirs directly to the cylinders for the brakes, but the clutch cylinder is very close to the chassis rail and will have to be remote, which for just the one reservoir is not an issue.


This all fits nicely with enough space around the reservoirs and the caps fit on easily.

The next job was to box this all in.  I wanted to keep the fluids away from the pedals, but also my feet away from the reservoirs in case I have a pedal-panic moment.  I don't want to go breaking the reservoir of the cylinder!

The original plan would not now work as the reservoirs are now in the way.  After a bit of head scratching I came up with a new plan.

The original panel was on the outside of the chassis rails, but this meant the hoses needed bulkhead fittings.  This means more chances of leaks, which i definitely don't want.

The better plan was to panel from the inside of the chassis rails.  Good old CAD to check for clearances. And everything looked OK.


Up next was to make the panel.  This meant removing the pedal box and the cylinders to gain access.

It was then a case of cutting and folding the panel.

Then it was a trim and refit until it fitted like a glove.


Everything is looking good.  I just need to find a way to secure the panel.  I haven't decided if i am going to bond it in plan or make it removable for future access.

I will then get the pedal box bolted back in and the cylinders back on.

The top panel will take a bit more creative thought as it will need to clear the steering column.  The original box is not so great and again didn't look good.

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So, COVID-19 has proper hit.  Lockdown has started and deliveries are slowing down so this week whilst i wait for the aluminium sheet to arrive, i started on the calibration of the coolant temperature sensor (CLT) and the air intake temperature sensor (IAT).  After the issues with the TPS, i wanted to make sure these are working.  Net result, they are not!!  The ecu is not reading that the sensors are plugged in or exist.  Over the last week I have been working through the wiring to make sure this is all correct.  I tested the wiring and this had continuity all the way back to the ecu.  After finding the dodgy power wire in the ampseal plug i checked and one of the sensor grounds was slightly iffy too.  Unpinned this and reinstalled and this made no difference that i could notice.

Next step was to test the sensors.  Hot air gun on the IAT and not a thing.  Tried the hot air gun on the CLT and again, nothing??  Next step was to test the sensors themselves.  CLT is easy enough to test.  It just reads resistance, so off the car and into the kitchen.  Sneakily put the CLT in the fridge, whilst SWMBO wasnt looking.  Temperature probe on the multimeter said the air temp in the fridge was 6’ and room temperature is 18’  I pulled the CLT out of the fridge, measured the resistance.  Waited 10 minutes for the sensor to reach room temperature and measured the resistance.  Next was to get a hot reading, boiled the kettle and `plonked’ the CLT in a small jug up to the brass part of the sensor.  Wait a minute or so and measure that resistance.

This gave me the 3 readings that the ecu needed, but for a standard Ford sensor, this is majorly different to the standard Ford setting in the ECU.  Good news is the sensor works and the readings are in line with what the Haynes manual says for a Duratec MX5 should be.

Plugged the sensor back into the car and entered the new readings into the ecu.  This made no difference??  I tried just randomly messing with the readings and found that when you get to a low enough resistance reading at zero degrees the temperature would swing from reading 81’ to -18’.  Bit of google and help from a Facebook group and the general consensus is that it is an earthing issue.  Double checked all of this again and there is definitely not an earthing issue.  

Thinking back over the issues with the ECU and the fact I still don't think I got back the original ECU after having it sent to be checked, as a last resort, I decided to do a full firmware reset.  Take everything back to the factory settings and also upload the most recent version of the firmware.

This was not overly difficult and only took about 15 minutes to figure out and action.

Reconnected the ECU and started a new project.  First and easiest test is the hot air gun on the AIT, Hay presto!  The AIT is taking readings.  Next was to put the CLT into a jug of hot water.  Again, getting readings.  Now the kicker is the readings are not accurate.  What is strange is that the resistance readings i took for the CLT don't give the correct readings on the ECU.  Also the AIT with the stock setting does not read below 21’.  This is just a calibration issue, so should be easy enough to figure out.  Just over the moon that I don't have to rip out the wiring loom!!

Now to get on with the rest of the build!

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So, the good news is that the aluminium sheets arrived.  With the world in lockdown i bought twice as much as i needed, just in case!

I need to make the end panel, which i had already made a CAD (Cardboard Added design) template for!  This was easy enough with a bit of fettling and edge trim to fit closely around the steering shaft.



Next was to work on the top cover.  The shape is a weird one and has the added issue of the steering column cutting through the top edge of it.

A few measurements and a bit more CAD and I had a rough shape.

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Finding a way to cover the steering column was not so easy.  I ideally wanted something that was just big enough to cover the column, a wedge shape, with no fixings showing.  Sounds easy enough.  

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Plan 1, was to use some square plastic tube.  This had the right finish as it is gloss black.  Cutting to size and in a wedge shape was easy, trying to bend in a return lip for the hidden fixings, not so much. If you tried to cold bend it it would break, If you tried to heat and bend it the bend was not a tight 90’.  After about half a day of messing about, including trying super glue, I gave up on the plastic idea.  It was just not going to work!

Plan 2, make it out of aluminium.  This would mean having to wrap it, but as the panel was going to get wrapped, this was not such a big issue.

The next issue was getting the aluminium into the right shape and with nice tight bends.  To achieve this I have a sheet metal folder.  The big issue was getting the folds in the correct order so that I can get all the bends in the folder.

Net result meant having to increase the size slightly, but it worked.  A bit of carbon vinyl wrap and a few rivets we have a panel.

Still a bit of finishing to get some of the air bubbles out of the wrap, but i think it looks OK.

_NGTMZu_-tbscqhqs8OHIax0XSMrYOT8XKJ83OXhp_iGRwubW5Faju5SctVPziRitULpOIL9wT0nGjnISl_xNURlfSdoFddD-nBvLmvcG3BQiqY3syvrAk06ftkJ67x8G4SqLj2L1yZ0D0jFLAVnEQhv5zKTu_HgyVO5MlHhRtR-IM5rs-ITNIZ_8hpQKY6KnDbSoJhdMZwY29PoHvE0jEHYfV2Kx2rgnrr-Xl09LT5mZuroOExU7kyWlJf6VhrYDOoBt5LrkcyLxqLS  nFjni5KtgT7bllWK_X9o4tXrqZ2lsL1vbyoFKvqeSBpbATr_ExZgelalcRAnqQVIC9yLSfhfvOmEKW1EJ__us5ChF-ARjP6axMIgzBah8iKa2Ujj8xvhDPR4MVwiTJ90U9CY-f1Z

-JHwdtGAZgwFuDdXEIOltc2phLHNm7Xn65ZkinT19hgYBvUjRldsF2Ksnj3JTEBhqgVmUgaeP9iw4pFr0GnEuF6oOrWokl7uZkyFJop9Oe9TBPinyXkRg7yipiODM_N2CR1JrMf-  oCJ6FL-W6W8sSMeBHg3NlWQlNccOMetgZxMkw3UuR5II9iCQKqNJvR7409EsNb2LFtWcSfIBYRBposWPr7vYZJNFWOOTDQB2wZOU_euWIZQzVQX0QlinYKr7ccqyW5zwo0xDYbYH

… and the finished item.  Still a few very small bubble, but you can only see then at the right angle in the right light, so as it will be under the bonnet most of the time, this will do.

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Next jobs will be to get the pedal box back in and connect up the hoses and see if they will hold fluid!

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10.4.2020 - Good Friday

So, today was all about the pedal box.  I fixed the footwell end panel which was easy enough other than access.  I had to use my hand riveter as the air riveter would not fit.  Luckily it was only 8 rivets, which by hand was hard enough.

Next was to figure out the throttle cable.  The pedal box needed a small hole drilling to take the 90’ adjuster.  This then fits to the pedal and is secured with a solderless nipple.

I then found a nice route for the cable to the throttle bodies.  The end of the cable has a welded on nipple which fits into the socket on the cam pulley.  I used a couple of rubber lined P clips to secure it all in place.

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Next up was to get the pedal box back in.  This was just a case of bolting up the 8 securing bolts.

Next in was the master cylinders.  As this had already been fitted in the mock

 up, this was easy enough to fit in. Fitting the balance bar was a bit of a struggle.  As the bars that fit to the cylinders did not twist, it meant having to spin the whole cylinder.  Got there in the end, but this was a bit of a faff and i am sure there must be an easier way to do this.





After fitting up the throttle cable, I had to make a bit of an amendment to the coolant top hose.  This was to get around the throttle cable bracket, as this sits at a specific angle so that the cable pulls straight.

It just meant a slightly longer aluminium pipe.  I beaded the ends and fitted this to the silicone.

Not bad a bit of progress for half a days work and with this being the Easter bank holiday weekend, i should be able to get on with a bit more over the coming days 

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Only a couple of hours on the Zero today.  Most of the garage time has been tidying up!  I have 3 `scrap’ boxes.  One for metal, wiring and wood.  The metal box was starting to overflow and get in the way.  I got a bit brutal and threw away some of the smaller and less useful parts.  This means that I can now get everything into one tote box.  The wiring was actually 4 smaller boxes.  Again, condensed this into one box and the wood was tidied up in the corner in a neater fashion.  I also condensed the cardboard i have for my CAD modelling, which has given me a bit more room at the back of the garage.

I then spend nearly an hour trying to figure out how to fit the remote fluid reservoir for the clutch.  First off I thought about using a spare threaded hole off the coil mounting bracket.  After speaking in a messenger group with the Midlands RHOCaR group, the general consensus is that just one bolt would not be enough and fixing it to the engine was not a great idea due to the vibrations this might cause.

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The first 2 pictures above are the area I have to work with.  The second 2 pictures were original suggestions.  The option at the end of the pedal box cover on the outside edge would not work as the hose down to the clutch master cylinder would interfere with the steering column.  The second option would cause issues with interfering with the pedals.

This gave me the idea below.  This would mean a small hole in the battery tray panel, but as it is not likely to be coming off anytime soon, this does not cause any issues to me.

A couple of Rivnuts and M6 bolts and job done.  The bracket itself was from the original pedal box kit.  It had the bracket which allowed for 3 reservoirs to be connected in a line, so a bit of a shop with the angle grinder and a single bracket was created.


Not much progress for 4 hours work, but a step forward is progress, so onwards we march.

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