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jonjh1964

Top Tips for a new XI Builder

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jonjh1964

Question for anyone who's built a Westfield - what tops tips would you give to someone building one?

Good suppliers, websites, blogs, dos, don'ts etc

I built my SEIW FW car from a complete kit over the summer of 2012 and have spent every winter upgrading it.  I've bought a 1974 MkIII donor that appears to have a good engine/gearbox/axle but the bodywork is a basket case having had cills removed and wings chopped ready for replacement repair panels to be fitted.

It will be a couple of weeks before I pick up the donor so I can clear some  spare in the garage and I've visited Simon at Westfield to start the kit order process.  My plan is to strip the Midget and overhaul the donor parts over March to July then build the kit over the next year with the aim of having it on the road for summer 2018.

Thanks in anticipation,

 

Jon

Midget Nearside.jpg

Midget Engine Bay.jpg

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stephenh

I can only recommend that you read my build blog, in the tech talk section! It is an ongoing work, as my build is still in progress, although I'm on the home straight towards getting the car to IVA spec.:)

Any questions, just ask!

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robhume

Yes, Stephen's build blog is great and also Sunbeam Lotus.

All I would say is insist on getting all or as many of the essential parts as possible.

If you are going to have a gel finish and not paint, opt for the polished bodywork.

It is a lovely car, and I am sure you will be pleased when you see your kit for the first time.

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Simon Marks - North Oxfordshire AO

Hi, Jon,

Welcome aboard.  I collected my kit in July 2014, started the build in September 2014, had it on a shakedown run in April 2015 (got distracted with work and motor sport commitments through the second half of 2015), IVAd it in August 2016 and it was on the road late September last year.

Overall, I enjoyed building my car but a few pointers:

Impress on Simon, Ian and the rest of the Westfield organisation that you have heard many horror stories regarding parts supply (for example, I ordered my kit in April 2014 and didn't get the last parts until November 2014) and you expect there not to be any shortages when you collect your kit.  It may be worth suggesting that you would like to come and tick off the parts list before making the final payment.  That may focus them - but it will be difficult!

Get hold of a build manual as soon as you order your kit and read, read, read.   Whilst it is, indeed, an old document, and written based on a build in the US, it gave me an insight and understanding as to what was coming.  I bough one when I went to the factory to look at a car in detail with Mark Walker a good few weeks before I placed my order.

Stephen H's "Building My XI" thread on here is excellent, recounting Stephen's experiences and attracting suggestions / comments from others.  robhume's similarly titled "Building My Eleven" thread is also good - though Rob's build is far from "standard".  There is another website -  http://www.westfield-eleven.org/  - that is an excellent source of technical information.  The detail in the way that questions are answered is highly impressive and I made several important build choices based on what I had read there.  Si Richards has just completed an XI build and it is documented here: http://www.dogs-agility.com/westy_11_build_.htm  

When I got my kit home (and completed building my garage - including plenty of storage shelves / worktop space), I sorted out all the components into the relevant sub sections (such as brakes, front suspension, rear, cooling, engine, clutch etc).  With Westfield only supplying three boxes containing assortments of bits, I feel that this was essential to my understanding of the sub-assemblies and, unfortunately, the shortages.  I would then lay out the components of the sub-assembly, reread the build guide and (if necessary) the relevant section of the Midget Haynes manual, check all was there and sleep on the task.  Generally all went well the following days.  I strongly commend this process to this house!

The Eleven is a very low car.  I used a couple of builders' hop-ups to raise the chassis to a less straining work height.  http://www.screwfix.com/p/work-platform-aluminium-600mm/5892p  is a good example.  With a safe working load of 150kg, this is fine for the chassis build, which will only go appreciably over 300kg when the engine and gearbox is fitted.  They are also a height that is accessible to most trolley jacks (with a wood block or two) for putting it up and taking it down from the hop-ups.  When I work on my complete car now for anything over a few minutes, I put it up on ramps and stands for the benefit of my ageing back.

Go to the National Kit Car show in May.  I should be there with my car and I believe that Stephen is aiming to be there too.

You will find things that need thought and/or fettling.  You will also find things that you will choose to do differently to suit your own tastes or to improve usability of your car.  I viewed this as my chance to personalise my build and (mostly) did not resent having to do this.

I also stocked up on nuts / bolts / fixings / electrical connectors, wiring supplies, cable ties and heat shrink  - sources such as Car Builder Solutions, Europa Spares and local quality hardware suppliers will soon become your friends.

Finally, use the forums to ask for anything.  Eleven owner / builders, possibly due to the less than comprehensive build manual, are a friendly bunch who are keen to help to get another of these head-turning cars onto the road.  Buying into a Westfield Eleven and, for me also, the history of the original Lotus Eleven, is a real privilege and pleasure.

Simon

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jonjh1964

Thanks for the ideas, I've been reading all of your posts and blogs.

I spoke to Simon today and the next batch of kits is currently being finalised so could be ready for pick up in June.  I'm going for basic kit, polished bodywork and a new wiring loom at this stage as everything else can be added later.

 

Jon

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MK11

I made several changes to my car when I built it, some I would recommend, some not.

The first thing that I suggest that you consider is a BGH 5 speed gearbox.  The shortened first gear means that the ratios are pretty much the same as the Midget box but you get the benefit of overdrive 5th.  The Midget gearbox is over 40 years old and although I did rebuild mine, 3rd gear was not great and when I enquired it seems that the 3rd gear was not available so you have to use the best you can find.  The reason I didn't build the car with the type 9 from the outset was that I was worried about getting the age related plate, although in retrospect it seems like this is not an issue.

The second thing I did was fit Megajolt mappable ignition, for me it worked but it doesn't make it to the recommend list as the gains were not enough.

The third thing I did was fit a Weber 45.  Made a lovely raspy noise, but as the Weber doesn't have a vacuum take off it meant that my crankcase breather system never really worked properly and the A series does like to breath.  For simplicity and if you are not going for big bhp then I would suggest sticking with the twin SUs.

The next thing I did was fit a Metro radiator.  These can be found new on Ebay for very little and they are very light and offer very good cooling.  The pipework changes to accommodate are not that great and means these are probably cheaper than a new Midget item to fit.

The last thing I would recommend is looking at the dampers that Westfield supply.  If they are the same spec as the ones I had then they are not really long enough.  When you drive on one of the UK's billiard table smooth roads (not) the car tends to bottom out on the damper, when I took the car to have the Geo done at NMS they jacked the car up and showed me.  The front wheel only dropped about an inch or two before it hit the full extent of the damper movement.  The Yahoo Group for the Westfield XI has much debate about this.

Lastly, when the car is done, take it onto a handling circuit, there is a reason that EVO placed it very well in the 2006 ETDCOTY, it may not be fast, but it is certainly fun!  Proper old school 4 wheel drifting round the track, steering on the throttle almost instinctively.  Oh and the hard tyres means that they look new even after a hard day on the track, not like the new fangled sticky track day tyres that mean you can corner much faster right up to the point you face the wrong way, but are down to the canvas after one days work.

Enjoy, I really miss mine, so much so that I may come back to the fold.

 

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jonjh1964

Mk11,

I have a BGH long 1st HD Type 9 in my FW and it was one of the best upgrades I've done to the car, but at ~£1,800 and something that I can relatively easily fit at a later date missed the list, perhaps in a year or two.

Still not certain on carburettor, I initially thought Weber 45 but the advice from classic mini owners was to stick with the SUs, my latest thought is to go to a single HIF44 1 3/4" SU which worked very well on the MG Metros and keeps the vacuum for the distributer, I need to see how much space there is under the bonnet.

I hadn't thought of a Metro radiator and was thinking of going to a full alloy radiator as there's a Dutch manufacturer that does them for a reasonable price at ~£135.

After recently fitting them to the FW, I've ordered Protech shocks from Westfield and they will have rose jointed mounts which appears to be a recent change, what length would you recommend and I'll check with Westfield what they're now supplying and if the shorter ask them to be changed.

I'm really looking forward to getting on a track, although I'm not the most competent/fast track driver, I've enjoyed track days with the FW.

Jon

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Simon Marks - North Oxfordshire AO

Hi, Jon,

There's been a lot of debate about the springs / shock absorbers on this and the other forum recently.  I have currently got an order in with Protech for some longer shock absorbers and matched springs for my Eleven.  The car has been built using the Westfield supplied components.

The spec for the Protechs that I have ordered is:

  • All dampers 400 series 1.9" od, single adjustable which controls bump and rebound, bearing mounting top and bottom to suit 1.25" bracket width and 7/16" mounting bolt.
  • Front Shock Absorbers 12.5" long, rears 14" long. Factory set valve reduction to suit loaded/wet car weight of 600kg.
  • Springs to suit Front 7" x 300 lb, Rear 9" x 150 lb.
  • Kevin (at Protech) thought it would not be necessary to fit Double Adjustable units for road/ track day use- proper racing is another matter.

Stephen has, I am sure you know, bought his Protechs through Westfield but they supplied them at the lengths as provided as the standard kit.  Last weekend, I tried to jack my car to some recommendations for ride heights on the other forum - 5.75/6.0 inches for the front axle (near side first) and 7.25/7.5 inches for the rear axle (the stagger allows for a 70kg driver apparently) - but it was not possible using the shock absorbers supplied with the kit,  I ended up lowering it back down to the settings suggested in the Build Guide (adding in the stagger for the driver) and am waiting for my longer springs / shock absorbers before I set the thing up properly, including corner weighting.

I will be cutting out the rear floor to allow the axle to drop further.  Now I am using / running my car in on less than perfect Oxfordshire roads, the floor is already adopting the shape of the bottom of the diff!  I have been advised to drill outside the diff unit and cut between the holes with a nibbler (snug fitting goggles at the ready as I'll be doing this from below).  One other tip I have had is to fit the lower trailing arm bolts with the threads facing the wheels so that the head end of the bolts can pass the chassis rail.  I have read that someone also reduces the height of the head of these bolts to afford better clearance with this.

Simon

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jonjh1964

Simon,

I've ordered Protechs from the factory and will contact them to ask for the longer shocks. I'm Somerset/Dorset based and a regular Oxford/Bucks driver so know that the roads are no better so will look to cut out the rear floor.  We're a family of  'front rows' (excluding Mrs H) so will probably go with the WF 200 lb rears....

Have you fitted powerflex bushes at the chassis end of the rear diff mounts and left the axle end only just nipped up - I don't know if this is just an early chassis issue.

Thanks for your advice, currently struggling with front kingpins......

 

Jon 

 

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Simon Marks - North Oxfordshire AO

Hi, Jon,

I was lucky with kingpins - the ones on my donor had recently been overhauled so all I had to do was clean, paint and re-lubricate.

I have a set of Powerflex bushes safe in a box ready for installation with the Protechs.  All my present rubber bushes are silicone greased and only nipped up.

Simon

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