Setting Up on the Rolling Road (2001)
I had my Capri set up by Peter Baldwin at Wilshers Garage in Wimpole, near Cambridge. Peter took quite some tracking down as he used to be based at Marshall's in Cambridge where he was quite well known for his racing of Minis. So I had to ask around before locating him. In fact rolling roads are not easy to find and they are few and far between (See the technical article on how they work).
I had booked a couple of hours with Peter to set the engine up properly. His garage was about 15 miles away so I set off in plenty of time so as not to stress the engine out.
First thing was to get the car located onto the rollers which were set into the floor of the garage. It was obvious to Peter that the engine was not set up correctly at all but he sympathised with my problem that I could not do much on my own because she just would not tick over.
Peter had a full set of electronic diagnostics which showed the strength and frequency of each spark, and the decay pattern of the condenser. All the initial settings were made using the standard ignition rather than the electronic. He soon discovered that the dwell and timing were out; in the case of the timing it was actually set to 6 degrees AFTER top dead centre! No wonder she drove like a tractor! With the timing set correctly and the dwell set to exactly 50 degrees the car started to tick over a bit better.
The carburettor was adjusted so that the tick-
On to the actual road tests themselves. This requires running the car up to high speed on the rollers and being that Peter had his head in the bonnet it was up to me to do the driving. I can't tell you how much fun this rolling road business is. As we were inside the exhaust was attached to an extraction system and a great big fan was placed in front of the car. We wore head phones during the testing as it was quite noisy.
Driving a car on rollers is a bit strange. You have to pretend you really are driving along the road (even though the bonnet is up!) So the clutch was depressed, first gear selected and off we went. I increased speed gently up to around 60mph and then into 4th gear. At this point I floored the accelerator and watched the speedo rise and rise until 120mph was reached (note however that my car read 110mph at a true speed of 100mph). Peter was busy waving his hands at me, either asking for more power or to hold off. Meanwhile he made several adjustments to the carburettor to optimise the fueling. After a few runs he announced that the carburettor would not require re-
On the note about the speedo Peter explained that by law speedos must read fast and typically Fords have speedos that are 10% fast. This was confirmed by my observations and meant the true top speed of my Capri was actually about 110 -
Peter advised me that the car would easily pass its CO emissions test for the MOT (<3.5%) but the hydrocarbons were a bit high (>1200ppm) at tick over. This is typical behaviour of performance cams which make the engine run much more efficiently at higher revs but tend to run a bit rich at tick over speeds. He told me that the MOT tester is required to retest the hydrocarbons at 2000rpm at which point they were dropping off to below 600ppm. So no problems there then.
With the ignition and carburettor set up and tested over the power range, it was time to set up the cam shaft. The only tried and tested way to do this is to make small adjustments on the vernier and retest. So we tried several different settings and it soon became obvious we were getting more power in one direction as opposed to the other. So after a few more attempts we fixed the vernier in place and the result was a staggering 118 bhp at the wheels.
This new power figure was compared with 97.5bhp from my previous rolling road session in 1995 on an unmodified engine. So my budget modifications had given me a 20% increase in available power which is quite noticeable I can tell you.
With the K & N air filter off the car managed another 2bhp. This power drop is much less than what you would get using a traditional air filter. In fact in some cases the presence of the (performance) air filter can even increase power slightly.
After nearly two hours worth of adjusting and testing and almost half a tank of petrol used up (you get only single figure consumption figures testing at high speeds!) it was time to go for a test drive. I remember roaring off down the road yelling like the Dukes of Hazzard. The difference was unbelievable. There was so much more power and she really felt like she wanted to pull harder. No flat spots on the fueling whatsoever. To say I was chuffed is understatement of the year. The only downside is a noticeable increase in exhaust noise but I have to say it has a nice 'sporty' roar and is not too intrusive.
The two hours with Peter cost £85 plus VAT and it is the best money I've spent in ages -
So the next challenge to overcome was the dreaded MOT. I booked a trip to a local garage where I sat patiently waiting. The verdict? -
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