On Wednesday November 21st , 11 members of OUMF were invited to visit Think Automotive in Ashford, south London, with our Sebring race car project, by our great supporter Matt Potter who is the MD. As he advised, the plumbing for the car had been planned by the team in advance, and the proposed routes for the various reservoirs, pipes and hoses carrying fluids were laid out in tape. The car had been loaded and the van packed the evening before, so we were able to make an early start from the OUMF HQ and arrive at THINK as planned at 9.30am.
On arrival at the smart new THINK Automotive headquarters, we were met by Matt who was beaming and friendly and welcoming, and immediately offered everyone a cup of tea/coffee before asking right hand man Santino to go through the necessary health and safety instructions. We introduced ourselves to Matt Potter and his employees, and he outlined what he had planned for the day. It became evident very quickly that Matt envisaged himself and two colleagues dedicating their whole day to the OUMF team, to give us a great race engineering experience of completely plumbing the car, and teaching all of us many new skills and much vital knowledge in the process.
The OUMF team’s plans on many nights before paid off and we were able to forge ahead with making up pipes and fitting components without too much modification to the plans. There was some re-designing as we progressed to ensure that everything looked as aesthetically pleasing as possible, and pipework was laid out only after being thoroughly thought about - so that it was easy to change if need be. Matt suggested that Teflon brake lines should be used as he viewed them as being the equal of steel or copper but, due to their flexibility, much easier to lay into a car neatly, lighter, and less vulnerable. The choice was ours – and as a team we went with his suggestion.
We then divided ourselves into two groups, with half of us working the rear and the rest on the front. Those at the rear initially addressed the installation of the fuel pumps, filters and lines to the beautifully made GDM alloy tank, while the other group was installing the hydraulic master cylinders, reservoirs and pipework for the brake and clutch systems at the front.
Matt Potter oversaw the work done at back of the car, while Santino guided the group at the front of the car through the difficult issues involved in how to place the plumbing around the engine bay so that its visually pleasing, but also, by using dry breaks, extreme fast swapping out of damaged components in the heat of competition. This also makes it easy to modify and manipulate if a change became necessary later in the build.
Much thought was given to the siting of the reservoirs, and the gravity feed from them to the master cylinders. In the end, the tubing from the bottom of each reservoir has a difference of 10 degrees, starting from 90, then 80. and lastly 70, where 0 degrees was the vertical axis. Meanwhile the rear group was working out how to avoid the double skinned box section heelboard that rises up behind the seats. They decided to route the brake and fuel lines through a single skin above the prop-shaft tunnel on the inside of the car instead, with the brake lines running through a 7 position Tilton adjustable brake bias valve. They also ensured none of the plumbing would be in the way of the driver or be otherwise unsuitable in a racing situation.
On the filling side of the fuel tank, Matt found us a beautifully-crafted, flush-fitting filler cap made by Newton Equipment which will look stunning when mounted to the rear of the nearside door window. Large bore Aeroquip hosing will lead the fuel from this cap to the tank through all enclosing alloy bunding. At the front of the car, the GDM alloy radiator will be graced by a Davies Craig super-cooling pump and fan, beside a vertically mounted MOCAL oil cooler, feeding to a Canton ultra fine oil filter. It will look stunning - and should perform brilliantly.
One of many new skills that we all learnt was cutting the plumbing using a table circular saw. It is very important not to strip too much rubber off the Teflon piping, otherwise a gap would be created when inserting the stainless steel ferrule in order to seal it with an end port, i.e a banjo fitting or brake banjo screws. Another skill was to cut the plumbing so that the part to be fitted on the car was on the right-hand side of the machine. If this was not done the steel braiding in between the outer Teflon layer and the rubber would fray and unravel, making it very hard to fit into the ferrule. We also learned the value of clear communication. This was key on a day where two groups were working towards each other, and ensured that as few mistakes were made as possible, and that the whole team was happy with the complex layout of all the systems.
All in all, the day was a great shared experience at a world leading company, staffed by helpful well-informed people, and led by a wonderfully generous guy in the shape of Matt Potter who not only provided so many superb parts, but treated us all to a pizza lunch too! A huge amount of valuable knowledge was gained by working as a team and understanding and listening to one another's suggestions, and selecting which one was the most logical and ergonomic solution. Lastly gaining practical experience with Matt and his employees helped us all to be more involved with the car and make it more special - and with the tremendous bonus of achieving in a single day what would have taken us weeks, if not months, otherwise.
We cannot thank Matt enough! THINK Automotive rocks!
1st Year Automotive Engineering at Brookes