Today was a Sunday, and unfortunately, in Ecuador this means that not many people are working. However, we had paid Victor the fibreglasser to work all hours to fix the front bodywork and splitter, and we were due to meet him today to see how he had managed over the last 24 hours. So, after breakfast, we hurried over to his workshop in the north of the city desperately hoping that he was as good as we needed him to be.
Upon arriving at his small workshop, and by small I mean smaller than a bedroom, he proudly displayed his handiwork. Despite seeing it 6 hours ago, I am still in shock as to how well he had done after only just a day! Yesterday, he had insisted that the repair could be completed a lot faster if he had the pieces of fibreglass that had broken off in the crash, so we had called up the university, got in touch with the cleaner, and asked her to retrieve the pieces. It was immediately evident how this had helped, as it ensured that the bodywork retained it’s original shape.
There were still cracks in the bodywork and splitter, but it was evident how strong his reconstruction was, and despite the cracks, the former glory of these beautifully shaped pieces of fibreglass was beginning to reemerge! And to prove that his repairs weren’t just cosmetic, he started jumping on the bodywork, much to our horror! Yet it all remained completely intact and we were very hopeful that by tomorrow we may have a credible piece of bodywork to put back on our car.
While at Victor’s workshop, we met with Alfonso, which you may remember as the businessman who owns a Radical here in Quito. Very kindly, he had brought along the upper and lower wishbones that we needed, and comparing them with our components, it was clear that they were a match! This was fantastic news and ensured that we could get down to work today to fully repair the suspension! So, after a quick stop at the local hardware store, which by the way trumps anything I have ever seen in the UK, we returned to the garage.
One thing to realise about race cars is, as Sebastian puts it, that no one is similar to any other. Each car gets stressed in different ways, and small fluctuations in the constancy of new parts mean that sometimes they fit, and sometimes they don’t; if only it were as easy as a Mecano set! This fact became all to apparent when we tried to replace the old upper wishbone with the new one. For some reason, whatever we tried would not enable the new wishbone to fit into the suspension points. This could be due to one of 2 factors; either the new wishbone was made slightly differently to our old one, or the crash had damaged the suspension points so much that a new component wouldn’t fit.
Upon close inspection, it would appear that the likely reason for the misfit is a combination of the 2, but much more leaning towards the former explanation. As you may remember though, the top wishbone was only very slightly affected in the crash, and so, as it still fitted onto the suspension points and didn’t stress them like the new component, we decided to use the old wishbone.
Over the next 4 hours Nik and I reassembled the suspension, and by the end we could see that it was a good job! Everything fitted very nicely together, and aside from a few adjustments needed in the setup, namely toe, camber and damper settings, the car is good to drive!
This concluded a very successful day; the bodywork was well on its way to a speedy recovery, and the car was back on its 4 wheels ready to roll! Many thanks to Victor and Alfonso for spending so much of their time to get us back on the road!