In which I spend a weekend on my car and don't make it worse

The title understates the success of my weekend. I actually improved it!

You may remember from the last episode:

Actually, that's a different photo; I used my trusty, battle-scarred SLR to take a photo today in the hope I'd get a better photo of the same thing, and still managed to get a bad photo. Maybe I'm just doomed if I try to take photos of anything but BMWs driving sideways past me at 50 miles per hour.

Anyway, that was the thing I worked out wherein I found it was much easier to get the bottom bolts in if you jack the hub up. At some point in the week, while working on something completely unrelated, I had a lightbulb moment: I had bolted up the front coilovers when the hub was dropped, which, from what little I know about suspension geometry on a car like this (mostly learned by osmosis from the drifters), means that I had ended up dialling in positive camber to the front suspension, which would almost certainly explain the bump steer and the near-dangerous amount of understeer.

I guess that's one of those things you don't know unless you know it; I've only fitted suspension on ancient Land Rovers in the past, so I don't feel bad about it. The upshot is: If you're doing coilovers on a car with fully independent suspension, always jack up the hub to roughly its natural sitting position (since your car is going to be jacked up when you do this, remember you need to do this relative to the body and not the ground) before doing up the bottom bolts.

So that's what I did when fitting my new longer bolts (sourced from the wonderful Franklin Industrial Supplies in King's Lynn, and picked up for me by the equally great Maurice due to my lack of a safe vehicle, so thanks to both). With the car back on all four wheels, I took it for a swervy spin down my street to get everything settled to where it wanted to settle, and with that settled down, I measured the gaps on each corner between the arch and an arbitrary point on the sidewall with my cheap Vernier.

Hey, I hate to boast about getting my front ride heights within two millimetres of each other, but it was a complete accident, so I'm probably not going to boast about getting my front ride heights within two millimetres of each other. I rather liked the extra ride height on the front, so I decided to raise the rear suspension to match it.

This is merely time-consuming, rather than difficult, especially when you know the thread pitch is 1.5mm. Working from the measurements I have, I needed to raise the rear left by 20mm; that meant unbolting the rear shocks at the bottom (and loosening them at the top, to give me some room to wiggle the shock around) and unscrew the bottom mount by 13 turns. I needed to raise the rear right by about 7mm, which meant unscrewing the bottom mount by 5 turns.

After that, it was time to go for a little spin on the bumpy backroads around here.

Yeah, that's a 'car park' around here, but the roads aren't much better...

And the end the bump steer is almost gone, and the understeer is gone entirely! Yep, it still needs a proper alignment from people who know what they are doing and who have tools I don't have, and I'm going to see where I can get it booked in next week to make that happen, but I can confidently say this: The new suspension and the ride height has completely transformed the car. Yeah, the K-Sports were a bit of a fiddle, and you cannot fit them unless you have some minor fabrication skills, but they are awesome even at speed on the terrible roads in this little corner of Norfolk.

There's one more good thing that came out of this. Let's go back to the Driftworks steering wheel I bought and fitted a few months back:

You may notice that in this photo, the steering wheel is at a bit of an angle. The fun part is that this was with my steering centred. And no, this could not be because the boss was fitted incorrectly; there are two nubs on the Mazda steering column that meet two holes on the Mazda steering boss, which means it is impossible to get that wrong. It was annoying; because of the low sitting position in the Mazda, it meant that one of the spokes of the steering wheel was blocking the speedometer in the 20-30mph range.

Unfortunately, it was not quite out enough that I could unbolt the steering wheel and rotate it by one bolt spacing (6 bolts, so 60 degrees). I wrote this off as "I'll deal with it some other time", as I didn't want to pull the engine out to get to the steering box to fix a minor annoyance; I figured I'd get someone else to pull the engine out to get to the steering box to fix this minor annoyance at some point. I'm glad I didn't, because with the new suspension sitting correctly this happened:

Which looked like everything had changed, such that the steering wheel was out by almost exactly 60 degrees, which meant I could unbolt and rotate the steering wheel by one bolt hole to the left:

And well, that's actually still not totally straight, but it'll do. And does that mean I actually fixed a steering alignment problem with this car with a prehistoric Halfords bottle jack? I don't know if I did, but that's not the story I'll tell everyone else in the future.

In short: I got everything done that I wanted to get done this weekend and fixed a thing I didn't even intend to fix. And that, means it was a good weekend. :)


So last night that thing happened wherein the clocks shift by an hour, for entirely unclear reasons. I figured it might be time to change the clock in the car. I've never looked at the clock, really, other than that brief time when it was a canary for electrical problems. I've certainly not changed it; that means that the clock has not been set in 13 years. Today, I looked at it:

The time was actually 3:33pm (what sensible people call "15:33"), so when you ignore the clocks changing, the clock has lost 6 minutes, in over a decade. That's pretty impressive!

That LED poking out of the clock annoys me though. That's probably a remnant of the vestigial alarm system. That vestigial alarm system is something that I want to get rid of. But that, will come in a much later episode of "Lewis spends too much money on a 33 year old hatchback".