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simontibbett Reader
3/16/16 8:25 a.m.

So it has been a little while since an update. I’m supposed to have this car loaded for the SCCA Majors tonight but we will see. We’re having braking issues as I’ll show.

Anyway, so since my last post the new fuel cell is installed. It’s another ATL cell, great quality and fit. If you need a cell, check them out! This one is another 8 gallon cell.

She’s a beauty!

Getting things put back together. I used all new hardware, figured out some better backing plates, etc. There’s bars running front to back and side to side underneath and then of course the two up top.

Once it was all back together I had to mount my cover back in, before it was riveted in with a lot of rivets. It made removing it a pain as I had to drill them all out. So this time I just put eight bolts in so it can be removed if needed without such a headache. Nothing fancy:

Next up was installing the new fire suppression system. It’s a much nicer unit than my older one. It’s a SPA FIA approved kit. I installed two nozzles in the cockpit and two in the engine bay, I am probably going to add a third in the bay just to keep things covered.

First things first I mounted the bottle, it’s a bit larger than my older one but I decided to mount it first and then plumb everything up.

Time for the fun part.

This was very simple to install. It came with the tubing which is a bendable plastic feeling tubing, not sure what material it is, anyway, clip your nozzle into the end of it and it locks in. Then mount it where you want it.

The nozzles

I also took the opportunity to install a second handle. This one on the driver side cowl. The other is on the passenger side of the dash. I figured this would let a worker who ran to my window be close to one if needed without having to reach in through the net and stuff:

Next up I decided to waste a little time making a new lid for my airbox and wrapping it in carbon fiber vinyl. Which I think adds HP? The old lid didn’t fit right and was kind of mangled on. So I made one from ABS plastic and mounted it with three screws for easy access to the filter.

Meanwhile I got the interior back in as well. New stronger seat mount, proper hardware, I installed a new FIA Sparco 6 point which is one of the H&N models. You can see I skipped painting for now, some of the cage was painted but I just scrubbed the interior as clean as it would get as I was running low on time for now.

So now onto the brakes. Simple right? No, this is where my issue is.

What started out as a simple pad and rotor swap has turned onto more but I think I really just ran across a problem that existed no matter what. To make a long story short I saw the calipers looked kind of dated so figured why not I’ll buy new ones. I did but they didn’t fit. I forgot the car has MK2 Golf calipers. I finally got the right ones, they didn’t seem to fit right. After messing around they were good but then they wouldn’t bleed. Over and over again no luck.

The MC (straight out of a ship wreck it seems) Inside the booster:

Easy, buy new ones and maybe that fixes it? Sure but so far I have three master cylinders and not one fits! It’s now Wednesday and the car is supposed to go to the track tonight, I have another MC coming in to O’Rileys this morning that I pray fits. Meanwhile AutoZone should have a booster in by 3 which once again, I hope fits. The thing is so rusted I can’t read any markings on it. To make things better I stupidly wasted an entire bottle of Motul bleeding the brakes. So I had to run out and find something that will work, my Advance carries this stuff, which I have known people to run. It’s not cheap though at $55ish a can.

At least the new rotors and pads look pretty… I guess…

So while all this has been going on we dove into vinyl wrapping the car. Let me first say those who wrap cars well have my utmost respect. This is no walk in the park! My wife and I spent hours and hours wrapping each panel one by one. It turned out decent for our first time, it’s far from perfect, I have some bubbles to work out but it does look better than the paint did. I’m happy I stuck with blue versus the Kamei scheme because for a first timer this was much much simpler.

Note that fearful face.

I’ll get more shots when I hope we make it to the track tonight. We don’t go out until Friday morning so technically we can go tomorrow too but I’m OCD and like to have plenty of time to setup and stuff.

So that’s it for now, the engine bay looks like this right now as I wait for new parts to try.

Time to go for a quick MTB ride then head to the shop/parts store to stress all day. Wish me luck!

simontibbett Reader
3/22/16 7:56 p.m.

Well what a weekend. Let me start by saying this was one of the most miserable weekends at a race track I have ever had. I almost packed it up twice but I’m glad I didn’t because the ending wasn’t too bad. Let me also say that while I say the car had no brakes, at no point did I think it was dangerous for me, fellow drivers, or workers to go on track. The car had brakes but not brakes that would make for a fast race car nor were they anything like I had felt previously.

So we got the car to the track Wednesday evening as planned. The car was not entirely ready though, still suffering from a brake issue. It was good enough to load and I decided to go ahead and take it so I could test drive it around the infield on Thursday to try and fix things. No room to drive at my shop.

Thursday I drove the car and had no brakes. I disconnected the booster as it was shot but the car had pretty much no stopping power. I figured I should bed the new pads in before I dive into it in since cold new pads and rotors sometimes feel bad anyway. No real improvement. I stayed at the track until midnight taking the brakes apart again, checking everything, making sure something wasn’t just in the wrong place or leaking. I tried everything I could think of.

Practice 1 was Friday morning and on the first lap out I could tell the thing was a handful. It was a good learning experience to have to adjust my driving to fit the car versus letting it just beat me. Which it did a few times. Including this first session. It was only a few laps in after a lot of sliding that I got sideways on the entry into turn seven, I corrected as usual, but the snap back was hard and I went straight off towards the concrete wall. With my brakes absolute crap, I could barely stop before the wall. There was inches to spare. I knew something had to change after that as clearly it wasn’t going to be safe to go out again for me or the other drivers. I had actually called in to my wife that I was pitting that lap because the brakes felt like they were fading.

Qualifying 1 came up and the drums were adjusted just in time to go out a little later and turn some laps. I went out and the car felt slightly better, though still not great. While the car would slow and the brakes weren’t like they were in practice, I was still having to really dial back my braking points.

Qualifying 2 was Saturday morning. I was optimistic to get out there after a reboot (sleep) with the goal of focusing on my driving and ignoring the car. To compromise I decided to avoid downshifts as much as possible to focus solely on braking. The pedal was so far down when braking it made heel and toe especially hard so I decided to cut that from the equation. It seemed to work and really help stabilize the car but I once again spun in the process of learning. No biggie but embarrassing on my end.

Race 1 came Saturday afternoon. The start of the first race was mayhem as a Lotus and the fastest HP Honda got into it somehow right at the green flag (see video). I luckily made it through cleanly and took the opportunity to make a few passes. The race was black flagged that lap to clean up the mess and we would restart in our original starting order. The pace lap started and I had stumbling issues like I had back in July. As soon as the green flag flew the car had zero power and I had to pull off in turn one to retire.

It ended up being the wiring to one of my fuel pumps. I am hoping that is also what caused some issues last year but I won’t know yet. It acted the same and even started back up fine a little while later but we traced it down to a bad wire between the pump and the dash.

Race 2 was right after lunch on Sunday and I was really tired. The weekend had been non-stop and quite frankly pretty miserable. I rarely feel like giving up but I was absolutely exhausted, my wife was exhausted, and it just felt like we’d have another failure of some sort.

I decided to clean the brakes Sunday morning to make sure the fronts weren’t glazed or something. Anything to try and help. I did what I could, checked the fluids, and was as ready as I could be.

More bad luck came ten minutes before the start. The car would not start. I had battery or alternator issues in November that I thought were fixed, apparently not and the car decided to not start even when being jumped off by a running car. I was going insane. I kept trying and trying. I was now late but someone dropped oil in the previous session so there was a small delay giving me some time. The car finally started and I was out of there to the grid like a bat out of hell. I was fired up to say the least and made it to the grid and to my grid spot (4th in class).

The green flag flew and I had a great jump on the third place car then saw Moore’s Civic coming up and was able to get him coming out of one moving me to second in HP. I was able to hold second until the back straight when the Honda motored by but held third. I kept turning lap after lap (I actually thought I was in 4th) and eventually saw the checkered flag for the first time over the weekend. I was happy, relieved to see the end, and glad the car held up. It wasn’t the most pleasurable driving experience but I managed.

We finished third in H Production so getting a podium after such a horrible weekend made things better.

So what’s next? -Fix the brakes. Either convert to discs or overhaul the drums/change to earlier drums. -Fix the charging issue. New battery and alternator for sure but also go through more wiring.

Our next race is The Mitty which isn’t too far away, so I’ll get to work this week. Our vinyl wrap actually held up perfectly. I was surprised how well the front end looks after the weekend, I thought it would take some chips. So overall the weekend was a good learning/testing experience with a good finish at the end. I hope we get all the gremlins sorted so the rest of the season is fairly trouble free. The car is back in one piece so it could have been worst!

Video coming shortly…photos:

Got everything setup for the weekend. The car spent a lot of time jacked up over the weekend. Here was where I spectated in the first session out. Luckily I didn’t make any contact with the wall. In the video you will see the utter lack of brakes going towards the wall. I could have let off and tried to just turn away from the wall but I thought just stopping the car was probably smarter. So after the first session we got into the brakes again. This time looking into the drums as a possible culprit. I still have no idea what I’m looking at! Lol Well sort of but the adjustment just has not worked for me. Time for discs…or something. Ready to try again… It was better but still not good by any means. This photo was pointed out to me by another racer on FB. Look at the camber on the left front…that’s like circle track style. I guess I need to look into that. I have not touched the alignment since I bought it. Stupid yes. This was cleaning the brakes before race 2. My first race was so short there’s no photos of that. The start will be in the video but that’s about it. I sanded the rotors a little with some fine grit paper to try and get some front bite back per the advice of another driver. It couldn’t hurt. Let’s race…

vwcorvette GRM+ Memberand Dork
3/22/16 8:46 p.m.

Why the wear on the lower left axle stub bolt in the pic of the rears?

Going to disks unnecessary if you ask me.

I've never run without the e-brake cables.

Is there a proportioning valve somewhere in the system causing issues?

vwcorvette GRM+ Memberand Dork
3/22/16 8:47 p.m.

Oh, and congratulations on the podium.

simontibbett Reader
3/23/16 4:30 a.m.
vwcorvette wrote: Why the wear on the lower left axle stub bolt in the pic of the rears? Going to disks unnecessary if you ask me. I've never run without the e-brake cables. Is there a proportioning valve somewhere in the system causing issues?


I'll have to see if that's wear or if it's just from me scraping at the dirt with a screwdriver when I was sitting there scratching my head. Lol Looks suspicious in the picture but I have no idea what could possibly cause any wear right there.

Going to discs would only be to make things easier for me. The car doesn't need discs braking wise it had always been fine on brakes. If I can find a fast fix and understand how these work I'd keep them. I can't find a dead on answer to the problem though. About the ebrake cables someone mentioned these self adjusting drums sometimes need an ebrake to adjust properly.

There's no proportioning valve on the car.

jgrewe Reader
3/23/16 6:07 p.m.

A few things. I have a set discs off a 16V Scirocco that I'll make you a hell of a deal on. I don't see an A1 VW in my future anytime soon.

I'm pretty sure the e brake helps the brake adjustment on those. I ran a Rabbit in auto-x back in the 80's, I think I remember that being an issue.

The stock system has a brake bias adjuster attached to a lever on the rear torsion beam axle. Lowering the car will send more brake pressure to the rears because the car thinks its full of people. Since it was a race car already it has probably been removed.

Kendall_Jones HalfDork
3/23/16 6:28 p.m.

Do you have video of race 1? The lotus driver is a buddy of mine, like to see who did the mugging :)

I used to race an A1 rabbit in HP, solid rotors and drum rear. I recall it having some kick ass brakes and was able to make up for the lack of power (1.6l) with some serious late braking. I also remember the rear factory disc conversion was heavier and "not as good" in the eyes of the IT racers (something funny happens when you lift the inside rear? Dont recall). Anyway the rear drums will work well, drill some holes in the backing plates and add some cooling ducts. There must be something else going on with the brakes, those brakes are huge compared to the rest of HP.

Jerry From LA
Jerry From LA Dork
3/23/16 7:10 p.m.

from what I could glean, you were getting a lot of brake pedal travel. That could be attributed to a master cylinder that's too big. A smaller piston will push less fluid volume but with more pressure. check your new master against your old one with a vernier gauge to get an accurate bore size.

Kendall_Jones HalfDork
3/23/16 7:36 p.m.
Jerry From LA wrote: from what I could glean, you were getting a lot of brake pedal travel. That could be attributed to a master cylinder that's too big. A smaller piston will push less fluid volume but with more pressure. check your new master against your old one with a vernier gauge to get an accurate bore size.

They are usually cast right on the side (15/16) of the MC as well. Make sure that your axle nuts are tight, I torqued mine every session - they loosen and cause piston knockback.

TED_fiestaHP New Reader
3/24/16 5:38 a.m.

With H production you can change the brake master. I converted to twin masters on my fiesta. The original master on my car was so small that the brake pedal was always soft. The new pair are larger, which made for a better pedal feel but lost some leverage, fixed that by changing the connection point on the pedal to increase the leverage. Check with others that run VW's see if there are known solutions that have been tried.

jgrewe Reader
3/24/16 9:12 a.m.

A lot of pedal travel would definitely come from the rear drums not adjusting properly. All those springs will pull the pads back until the wheel cylinders are compressed all the way.

I don't know which years but some of the early cars had manual adjusting drums. I don't know how much it will be worth to go to discs even with slicks. The rear wheels are just there to keep the gas tank from dragging on the ground. I'll second the quality of brakes that car should have with very little change from stock. I drove an ITC Scirocco that had brakes that reminded me of dropping an anchor on a rocky bottom.

I remember the Hacker brothers running VW's saying they torqued the front CV nuts to what ever they got using a 4' breaker bar with as many guys as they had in the shop standing on it.

TED_fiestaHP New Reader
3/24/16 9:30 a.m.


You might want to post questions on the prod race forum, your not the only one running a VW.

One idea, the master that you removed might not have been the OEM part. You might have replaced the original with a smaller one. Or the rear drums could be doing something odd. But if the problem started after you replaced the master? If you still have the old part, measure the cylinder diameter, to see what you had.

simontibbett Reader
3/24/16 10:01 a.m.

I'm on the Prod forum, I get most of my VW answers from a VW Club Racers FB page. There's a lot of very active VW drivers/builders there. The previous owner of my car was also racing his Golf this past weekend at the Majors so he was providing some input as well.

I'll upload the video ASAP, the start from race one is kind of hard to see it was bright out and they were ahead of me but I'm going to see if I can zoom in and darken it. I don't know who started it, the CRX driver told me someone bumped him.

The ONLY reason I would switch to discs is simplicity. I don't get drums, I get discs, the car doesn't need anymore braking power (well when it's working) than it had last year. The brakes were fantastic last year.

The stock prop valve has indeed been removed. I'll look into the master but we did quite a bit of comparing before installing it. I ordered three wrong ones before I got the right one.

TED_fiestaHP New Reader
3/24/16 12:02 p.m.

I must say your car sure looks a lot better than my fiesta. My poor car looks like it has been rode hard tortured most of it's life.

fasted58 UltimaDork
3/24/16 12:20 p.m.

Looks like great fun, less the headaches. Congrats and hope you get it sorted out soon.

Contradiction Reader
3/25/16 8:56 a.m.

I haven't dealt with drums really myself either (just rebuilt mine in my 84 GTI for the first time after I upgraded to 200mm drums), but the parking brake may help with adjustment on those. Might be worth a shot putting it back on.

chandlerGTi UberDork
3/25/16 12:07 p.m.

Parking brakes do help hold the adjustment, because they keep the pads seperate do. I had a prop valve in mine and actually ran with very little pressure to the rears. The fronts would do enough to REALLY stop the car since it was so light. Your problems are all to do with the MC IMO.

Once the axle nut is tightened to spec (4xx lbs or something silly) it won't come loose, problem is getting enough torque on it.

simontibbett Reader
3/26/16 1:25 p.m.

I think I'm going to go back track and just take everything I changed back off and look at it. Including the MC, I may order a better quality one if I can find one. While the drums may be out of adjustment, it's just too weird that it would have happened from sitting...that's not even possible is it? Brakes were fine in November, crap when changing things now, it has to be something I did. The only weird part is even after putting the old calipers back on, changing the MC, nothing changed.

I think it would be too much of a hassle to put an e-brake back in, surely someone who races with these drums has a better way to keep them adjusted. Too bad they aren't just the older screw type adjusters.

jgrewe Reader
3/26/16 5:58 p.m.

Early cars had the screw adjustment at the bottom. I rolled at Scirocco at Waterford Hills that had them. I remember vividly because a bad manual adjustment is what made one side lock up quickly and pitch me sideways at the end of the back straight.

I had just made the pass for the lead and was late braking the crap out of it to stay in front of 2nd. The car came to a stop on its side, on the racing line in the middle of turn 6 so they red flagged the race. I got credit for 2nd because I had made the pass for the lead after the start/finish line and didn't get credit for leading a lap.

So, yes. The earlier cars have manual adjusters. Swap out the backing plate and you'll be good.

simontibbett Reader
3/27/16 6:22 p.m.
jgrewe wrote: Early cars had the screw adjustment at the bottom. I rolled at Scirocco at Waterford Hills that had them. I remember vividly because a bad manual adjustment is what made one side lock up quickly and pitch me sideways at the end of the back straight. I had just made the pass for the lead and was late braking the crap out of it to stay in front of 2nd. The car came to a stop on its side, on the racing line in the middle of turn 6 so they red flagged the race. I got credit for 2nd because I had made the pass for the lead after the start/finish line and didn't get credit for leading a lap. So, yes. The earlier cars have manual adjusters. Swap out the backing plate and you'll be good.


Maybe I just want discs. lol

simontibbett Reader
3/27/16 6:23 p.m.
jgrewe Reader
3/27/16 9:12 p.m.

Pay for shipping and you can have my almost complete set of discs, I have everything from the stub axles out but I lost one of the caliper brackets in one of my shop moves.

2K4Kcsq HalfDork
3/30/16 10:28 a.m.

Cool car. Loved the 2015 highlights vid. I'll probably go download that song now. Keep up the good work!

simontibbett Reader
4/12/16 8:45 p.m.

Next event:

So we are close, too close to The Mitty. I have acquired a rear disc conversion (huge thank you to jgrewe) but have not gotten underway on it yet because we’re trying one last thing with the drums. I’m replacing the master cylinder again with a nicer piece (ATE), a new booster, new lines, new wheel cylinders, and new pads and rotors in case the old ones were shot from overheating them.

For brake lines I actually went with some ECS lines, they were a cheaper option and better than just regular rubber lines. My main reason for switching is just to ensure I didn’t accidentally kink one of the old ones or something.

I had to pull the strut tower brace off to get the booster out so I figured I’d touch it up with some high quality spray paint….as in cheap “Chevy Orange” from a parts store.

I also took the time to redo a lot of wiring…again. This time behind the dash and some into the engine bay. Additionally I have purchased a new alternator and new battery as well. The fuel pump wiring has been completely redone, I found a lot of sketchy connectors. So fingers crossed it’s good to go.

A mess but cleaning things up and labelling everything to make tracing down an issue faster in the future.

In the engine bay with the booster and everything out of the way it made for a good opportunity to clean some wiring up back there as well that was missed before the Majors.

Slowly but surely the dash went back together. Still some interior cleaning to be done but at least the wiring inside is complete and the car starts and runs fine.

After someone mentioning the camber in a photo from the Majors I am also for the first time on this car doing an alignment. Pretty silly I have not touched it since owning it. I’m hoping there’s a small gain to be had.

That’s it for now…we head to the track next Wednesday. Updates soon.

jgrewe Reader
4/12/16 9:40 p.m.

I just took a close look at your drum set up. Is your adjuster wedge jammed by the wheel cylinder? Your tension spring looks really pulled tight, I just wonder if the wedge can't drop down. If you pump the pedal without a drum on there that wedge should drop down and hold the pads out so far you can't get the drum back on without pushing it back up manually.

That would help your long pedal problem for sure. Good luck!

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