Choosing the Diff

- Early January -

There are 2 common choices for BECs - the Ford Sierra and the Landrover Freelander. The Sierra diff is readily available in both open and limited slip types, a variety of ratios, and there are a range of options for after market upgrades; but it's quite heavy. The Freelander diff is less easy to get hold of, and after market upgrades are extremely limited. However it is significantly lighter than the Sierra diff, and the only available ratio, 3.21:1 is a very good match for the GSX-R1000 engine. With sensible tyres on, top speed will be limited to about 140mph in 6th gear, and that just about matches the top speed as limited by the available power as well.

STM also offer a chassis which can take a Mazda MX5 diff, which also has good availability. However, its most common ration is 4.41:1, which would be hopeless for the GSX-R1000 engine.

By chance, Dan Bromilow had a new Freelander diff for sale, and never one to make my life intentionally more difficult than it needs to be, I bought it.

2nd visit to STM

- Mar 16 -

IanG wanted me to drop the diff off today, so that he could give it the chassis manufacturer, to make sure that the mounting holes end up in the right place. Fair enough - I did.

Dry fitting the diff

- May 29 -

I dry fitted the diff, so that I can take measurements for a propshaft. It lines up quite nicely with the engine output, but then again, it should, as the chassis has been designed around this diff and engine combination...

- June 15 -

Having received an order from Namrick including spring washers, and having bought some nutlock from Mackays, I degreased all the bolts Ian had provided, and them put them back in using the nutlock and washers. With no idea what torque to use, I just sort of leaned about as hard as I could on the end of the socket wrench

Finding some driveshaft bits

- August 27 -

Today, the Mighty Hackett and I went off in search of a scrapyard, to find some driveshafts. In retrospect, I was slightly under-prepared, as I didn't know where the scrapyard was, and didn't know what I wanted when I got there Still, life is full of little challenges, and we eventually found one on Red Lodge, and stripped a couple of tripode type driveshafts off a clean looking 1.6 Sierra. We also 'picked up' a handbrake lever for Dan Bromilow.

- August 28 -

Stripping down the driveshafts revealed a problem. The CV joints are too small to fit on the shafts that Ian has supplied. I guess there must be a different size of Sierra shaft available, or I should have been looking for shafts off somehing else

- August 30 -

Spoke to Ian, and there are indeed 2 sizes of Sierra shaft (excluding the Lobro type). He wasn't sure of a way to identify them for sure except that the one's I need are the bigger ones. In a susbsequent chat with Dan Bromilow, he reckoned that the larger shafts were used on 2.0l Sierras.

Another quick visit to STM

- September 23 -

I asked Ian what we were going to do about the driveshafts, so neither he nor I knew exactly what the donor was. We consulted a Brakes catalogue, but there was no hint in there of a fatter driveshaft (the standard one is ~24mm, and the ones used in the Phoenix are 28mm.) In a fit of enthusiasm, he volunteered to take me over to his local scrappy to see what we could find.

To which the answer was nothing. There were only a couple of Sierras, and they were the wrong sort. A quick conversation with the owner of the yard and he confirmed what Dan Bromilow had hinted at weeks ago, which is that the fatter driveshafts are only available on 2.0l cars, and then, only those with the DOHC engine fitted. The scrappy also said that he didn't have many Sierras in because they are worth more to him as scrap than for parts - he takes out the really high value parts, such as the diff, and scraps the rest within a week - so kit car builders everywhere beware!

On our return to STM, Ian gave me Classic Conversions number - they are his suppliers for the custom driveshafts. If they couldn't help, then no-one could.

Classic Conversions

- September 24 -

Spoke to Richard at Classic Conversions today. He did have some Sierra shafts in of the right size - yay! It got a bit confusing after that, as he would normally only supply driveshafts complete, but I had 80% of the bits from Ian already. In the end, we agreed that I'd just send him everything I had, and that he'd build up the shafts for the difference in price. Now I've just got to figure out what Ian owes me, as I've paid for the shafts twice over now.

My recommendation (and Ian's, for all I know) to anyone thinking about doing this same build is to go to Classic Conversions direct!


- October 12 -

A package arrived at work today. I mean, really, a Package. I could scarce believe mine eyes. Driveshafts. The 6.5 month wait seemed as nothing as I tore off the wrapping, and beheld them with my eyes.

Fitting driveshafts has caused problems for numerous fellow car builders, with difficulties seeming to focus on the difficulty of getting the retaining circlips at the diff end to compress enough to seat whilst fruitlessly leaning on/hammering/cursing at the sprung end of the shaft. However, mine was dead easy, no doubt because my shafts weren't completely assembled (I'd not sent the Freelander bits off to Classic Conversions) - consequently I was able to just smack in the difficult end with a soft hammer, and then slide the rest of the driveshaft in afterwards. Piece of cake.

Hubs were similarly easy - I pulled the old ones off the driveshafts that DH2 and I had got from the scrappy, and tightened them into the bearing carrier on the car with the 41mm hub nuts. For reference, the offside nut is a conventional thread, the nearside is a left hand, or backwards, thread.

I then spent a fruitless hour trying to figure out why the diff wasn't working properly - twisting the prop only rotated the offside shaft. Locking the prop by putting the engine into 1st gear, and rotating either shaft caused the other one to rotate, but only reluctantly.

Alex, my otherwise useless housemate, said it was probably just because the diff was new - with a bit of wear it'd be fine. Tim said much the same thing during his visit to drop off the steering wheel. You live and learn...


This page last updated on: Sunday, Jul 16 2006