After the filming of the pulling power episode last year , I waited patiently to watch the episode broadcast on TV, the episode before mine had a feature on Kit Cars, which the Mev Rocket kit car was featured on. As this cars a mean looking beast, I have now decided to have a go at making one myself.
This is going to be the donor car for my Rocket, a 2000 (X Plate) Zetec Ford Focus 1.6 manual petrol. I need to get the engine, gearbox, drive shafts, wiring looms, brake discs, callipers, hand brake, fuel sender, steering column and wheels from the vehicle. The wheels will be replaced for better looking ones nearer to the completion time.
Not a dent on it, to be honest its better than my own car and as Rob pointed out, with less miles to!
Start of the strip down, front end removed and bumper and wings sold on ebay.
Engine removed, now for the rest of the car, I won’t bore you with pics of the doors being removed.
The parts not required for the build have now been sold and I am left with these bits and pieces. Basically, the engine and gearbox, wiring looms and ECU, front wheel hubs, calipers and discs, steering wheel and column assembly, gearshift cables and handbrake. The cardboard box contains a replacement cam belt and cam belt cover panel as the one fitted on the engine has had fire damage. Also I forgot to mention the header tank and the brake reservoir.
I am making an effort to get hold of all the components to make the car before I receive the kit, starting with the wheels. I have opted for 16″ multi spoke black rims with 195 45 R16 Toyo Tyres. I think they will look mint! The colour of the car panels are going to be British Racing Green with a Silver Grey Chassis.
Sparco Steering Wheel & Momo Steering Boss/ Hub.
Vapor Digital Dash. This is a complete Vapor installation kit. It comes with Vapor computer, RPM sensor, Temperature sensor , Speed sensor and I have also ordered the optional warning light surround as shown above.
Wilwood front brake caliper upgrade and upgraded vented front brake discs.
Alloy Brake/ Clutch Pedal Assembly with Balance Bar & 3 Master Cylinders.
A little boring really, Stainless Steel Piano Hinge for the engine & bonnet covers.
I had to find a separate Single Fan Radiator Assembly as my Donor Focus had air conditioning (twin cooling fans) which unfortunately means the radiator was to large to fit.
Lighting Set with wiring loom and fuses/relays, SVA ready.
Homemade Digital fuel level gauge. I have started making the display and the actual control box will be made shortly. The electronic circuit has been taken from www.mez.co.uk and is also used by an other ‘MEV Rocket’ Owner. Details of the circuitry and required components can be found by clicking here: http://www.mez.co.uk/
Ford Mondeo gear shift lever, from a breakers yard.
My exhaust manifold was posted of to MEV and by return I received a complete exhaust system, consisting of a cat, silencer and tail pipe.
Corsa header tank.
I guess this is the main part of the Rocket kit. There were a couple of upgrades which I asked Stuart to arrange, the chassis was to be powder coated silver / grey and I wanted the optional seamless tube Roll Cage. I feel the only colour for a sports car is British Racing Green, so that was the colour. The new type aero dynamic fenders where the first produced by MEV’s production line.
Other parts supplied in the kit included the front wheel hubs, shocks, springs and bush’s etc. Too many parts to list really.
And the suspension parts, all manufactured in house by MEV.
Other bits I have purchased for the Rocket:-
Black & Grey PU Adhesive.
Good selection of nuts and bolts.
12′ long lubricated throttle cable.
Air filter assembly.
New car battery.
Flexible brake hoses.
Dash charging and oil pressure warning lights.
Head light, fog light and hazard light switches.
Convoluted cable tubing.
Aluminium and stainless steel P clips.
A selection of fuses and relays.
2 pack black paint complete with acid etch primer.
Pack of about 400 5mm rivits.
Copper brake piping and fittings.
4 point seat harness’s.
LED number plate light.
Lengths of 8mm and 12mm water cooling hose.
Bonnet & Engine cover catches.
Plastic edging trim.
A length of 32mm aluminium tubing for the coolant system.
A selection of Jubilee Clips.
Hylomar to seal the fuel sender in the tank.
Mini exhaust mounts to attach the fuel tank.
M6 threaded bar.
Replacement gear knob.
New wheel bearing set.
Mater cylinder resiviour fittings & brake fluid resistant pipe.
Swivel bearing for steering column.
Right here we go!
Provided in the kit is a piece of 2mm aluminum sheet, the chassis is turned upside down and the profile of the chassis is marked on to the aluminium. Then as the tube is about 50mm diameter, I marked an internal parallel line of 15mm, giving me a cutting line just over the center line of the tube once in place.
Here is the sheet cut out, de burred and ready to be riveted. As I mentioned, the edge overhangs the tube center line by about 10mm.
I started on one side and drilled holes every 100mm, I used 4.8mm large head rivets for this job, the holes were drilled 10mm from the edge. The rivets were temporarily put in place to make sure the sheet did not move.
Once all the holes were drilled, I removed the rivets and de burred all the rivet holes, on both the chassis and the aluminium sheet.
Putting 100 plus rivets in gives you cramp, it would have been nice to have a pneumatic rivet gun, maybe a present to my self this christmas.
All riveted. Jobs a goodun.
A quick flip back the right way up and now time to get on with the suspension.
These used hubs are supplied by MEV as part of the kit. For a smallish fee I popped them down to my local engineers and they sandblasted them giving a nice key’d finish, I then primed and painted them with satin black enamel paint and cooked them in the oven for about an hour at 120 deg C. I think the finish is pretty good considering.
The stub axles are provided in the kit and have also been sandblasted and then a coat of enamel paint applied, any one making a kit with used parts, I would suggest its well worth the extra effort and cost.
The bush’s for the wishbones are supplied but not fitted and this was actually a fairly time consuming task. For each corner there were 2 bush’s to press in, then a coat of teflon grease around the inner holes and then the crush tube finally being pressed in place through the two. Satisfying once completed though. Here you can see the semi completed hub assembly.
As part of the SVA test, there cannot be and radius less than 2.5mm protruding, to help matters some plastic wheel nut covers are placed over the bolts and nuts to help comply with the regs.
The original wheel studs have been removed as they need to be upgraded to longer ones. Wilwood 4 pot calipers added as an upgrade, they look better and are a lot lighter than the original focus steel calipers.
Rear wishbone assembly assembled and wheels fitted to complete a rolling chassis. Fender stays are yet to be fitted, I will leave this task to last.
Drive shaft fitted to temporarily help keep the rear bearing together.
Top view of the rear wishbone assembly.
The donor focus steering wheel assembly attached to the mounting brackets. M6 holes were already in place, but I opened these out to M8.
A side view giving me an idea of how the colour scheme will look. I think the Racing Green, Silver and Black colour scheme works well.
Time to do a little more today, starting with the front grill. The front of the rocket chassis was measured and marked out on to the perforated sheet , it was then bent using a piece of box as a guide. It’s worth noting that the sheet has a smooth side and a rough side, although not a lot in it, there is deference, of course I bent it the wrong way round, smooth side in, not a problem but I will be more careful for the bonnet and engine covers.
This picture shows the the grill painted enamel black and riveted in to place, I wasn’t sure whether its should have been silver, but it can be changed if needs be.
The aluminium radiator panels supplied had markings for the cut outs, I used these as a guide but not as a definite cut out point, with a few trips back and forth to the jigsaw I have ended up with some nice trimmed panels.
I have decided that the panels are going to be painted matt black, this is going to be done last, due to the brake pedals, wiring loom and braking system yet to be fitted as I do not wish to scratch the finished paintwork.
A view of the panel work from the rear.
Gear lever from a Mondeo and the original Focus handbrake lever now attached. For the gear lever to work, I have had to rotate the position of it 180 degrees and remove the reverse locking latch. I have yet to fabricate some replacement cable fixing points as the ones on the gear lever assembly are to short, these will have to be cut off.
And this is a picture of one of the upper radiator brackets. This I have to say this is the mk II version, I felt that the radiator was too upright in my first fitment.
The bonnet has now been attached using a length of stainless steel piano hinge, this was quite a stressful and time consuming operation as I wanted it to fit perfectly.
The passenger view of the fitted bonnet. I prefer to see the hinge rather than try to fit it in to the fiberglass, I think it looks pretty classy.
Well here we go, lets see if the engine fits!
Engine in place, needs a bit of work before it’s fully mounted.
Rear looking view of the engine, it’s sitting wonkey so some amendments to the mounts will have to be done.
Brake and Clutch Master Cylinders fitted with appropriate holes cut in the bulkhead, obviously the pedals are the other side.
Brackets welded on to the chassis to support the brake/ clutch reservoir, then painted appropriately. Once fitted there is about 6mm clearance before the cap would touch the underside of the bonnet.
Cutting the engine cover was quite a nerve racking experience, though it went better than I thought, I used an angle grinder with a 1mm cutting blade, this did the trick just right.
The remainder of the stainless piano hinge was then used to piece together the two half’s of the engine cover, all went well apart from the small amount of chipping of the outer gel coat of the fiberglass. I guess this was my fault, I was kinda rushing really.
Jobs a goodun. A thought went through my head about adding damper rams for when the engine cover is lifted, but decided this was a non critical fitment, it may be something that I address once the car is completed.
Back to the front again, now to get the steering column fitted. I know there are various ways of doing this, but after a lot of thought I have decided to do it the following way. I have cut the stub of the focus column joint in half to reduce its length and welded some 15mm solid bar up inside it, this bar then passes through a 15mm self centering bearing in the bulkhead and…
.. then fits in to a piece of tube that has a 15mm ID, this tube has then been welded half way on to the shaft of the steering rack, all held in place with a M6 bolt. The column, should needs be is easily removable from the car. Fitting this was fairly time consuming due to the lack of space, but I wanted it right and now I’m happy with the result.
I felt that the thin aluminum bulkhead should be reinforced around the steering column bearing carrier area, so I cut a piece of 2mm aluminum and using PU adhesive stuck it over the mounting area. It won’t look so bad once a coat of paint has been applied.
Once the font panels were finished and primed with acid etch, Rob gave them a coat of satin black 2 pac paint for me.
Panels were fitted by using large head pop rivets. A thin bead of PU adhesive was applied afterwards to help stop the panels rattling.
Bonnet re attached, time to get on with the seats.
It’s starting to look like a car now.
Choosing the seats was a fairly painful business, the problem was that all the seats that I really liked were to wide to fit in to the narrow space of the Rocket’s chassis. Eventually I decided on MK1 Lotus Elise seats as I have owned an Elise in the past, I new they were fairly comfy and light weight, saying that they are still going to require a small miracle to get them to fit properly. After a bit of looking around these came up on eBay for a reasonable price.
This picture shows the start of the installation of the center console. As I have not decided on which gear lever/ handbrake gator’s I will be using, I have kept the exit holes as small as possible. Adding the center section also gives me an idea on how much space I have to play with to get the seats fitted..
The Elise seats sliding rails are actually wider than the seat base and as the seat is a tight fit already, this obviously presents me with a fitting problem. I decided on extending the seats upwards ny using 3/4″ angle on the rear and 1″ on the front, at the moment I have no idea how I am going to fit the safety harness. I will worry about that a bit later.
My mate Tony giving a very welcome hand with the wiring of the car. The existing loom has been shortened or extended to the proper lengths and because Tony likes this sort of thing, all of the wiring was completed within 3 days, which is nice. The picture shows the rear engine loom, the ECU bracket has yet to be manufactured.
Getting on with the front fuse and relay board. We decided that this would fit nicely on top of the pedal box assembly. I would recommend to any would be builders to buy a copy of a suitable Haynes manual, this has saved me quite a lot of time in the long run.
I decided that rather than using a push switch for the brake lights I would opt for the hydraulic type, this saves me the trouble in making a suitable bracket to hold the switch. The hyd switch has been placed in between the front brake master cylinder and the tee fitting and wired in to the cables pre made on the loom.
Vapor digital dash and light switch panel fitted. The switch panel will be made again to allow space for a battery/ charge fail light and also the digital fuel gauge which has yet to be made.
Reverse side of the dash, a bit of tidying up yet to be done.
ECU, Fuses and relays installed, just a few more wires to the speed sensor and this ends done.
Fuses and relays at the front, just need to fix the aluminium cover plate in place.
Front lights and indicators fitted and working, I am currently looking for some stealthy repeater lights.
Rear lights fitted and working, waiting for the clear reversing lens to turn up.
Passenger rubber matting cut to size and center console covered in grey vinyl. A leather gear lever gator has been attached whilst I have yet to still source a suitable handbrake gator.
Clutch and rear brake pipes securely fixed along the side of the center tube using special plastic dual clips and the wiring loom cable tied together on top of the coolant pipes. All I need to do now is fit the throttle cable.
All the front end radiator pipes have now been attached, I made use of some aluminium tube to connect the 90 degree hose bends together. On the top right you can see the temperature sender insert, this had to be purchased separately as the one supplied with the Vapor unit is for a motorcycle.
Adequate space to fit the outer seatbelt harness was restricted due to the the width of the Lotus seat runners, so my only option was to weld a bracket in between the space frame to take the harness mounting point.
The fuel tank is firmly fixed down using four old type mini exhaust brackets or cotton reels as they are sometimes known.
The original donor fuel sender is used, but as the fuel tank has a greater depth then the original donor tank, it has to be extended using threaded bar and locking nuts, also I have extended the length of the float arm a couple of inch’s, so that I can get an accurate fuel measurement. I was also careful to make sure there was no chance of the cables rubbing on the threaded bar, I don’t want a short circuit here!
Fuel tank with the locking fuel cap and sender/ fuel pump fitted in place. Hylomar sealant was used to seal the sender and cap in place as it is fuel resistant.
A bracket was fabricated out of 3mm steel for the push/ pull gear cables. A bit of time was spent making sure they were welded in just the right place.
Because space is at a premium, I decided to use a smaller header tank from a Vauxhall Corsa, it seems just right for the job.
MEV supplied Stainless Exhaust fitted.
I decided to have the air filter as high as possible so that it should suck mainly cold air in from the boot air duct, this should make sure that I wont get a drop in horsepower. The donors pipe work with a bit of fiddling provided the hose that was required.
Side repeaters fitted from the donor and PU’d in to place, I think it looks the part.
Battery housing fabricated, not a bit of movement when bolted in.
Throttle pedal assembly fabricated from scratch, end point adjustment stops yet to be made.
The fuel feed and return pipes, the connector with nothing on it will be the tanks breather pipe. The sender assembly was then fixed in to place by carefully drilling eight holes equally around the edge and bolting using stainless steel self tapping screws then sealed with Hylomar.
A picture of the rear brake pipe bracket.
It was easy to forget the brake hose had to remain slack on the extremities when turning, I overlooked this the first attempt. This attempt there was sufficient play in the hose.
Speedo, with indicator lights and a very basic control panel for the hazard lights etc.
Cooling pipe work was achieved by using the Focus’s original pipes with some purchased additionals coupled to aluminium sections.
Another non pleasant experience, you really only have one attempt on getting the fender holes in the correct place.
Fenders bonded to supports using PU Adhesive and lots of it.
Needs a bit of finishing, but it looks ok.
Legally required reflectors added for the SVA test.
Running the handbrake cable needed a bit of thought.
Ideally it would have nice if they were shorter, but they were from the donor vehicle and it would add lots more cost and time to source a set that fitted perfectly.
My designated Serial plate stamped and attached to the Rocket.
Rubber clamps to hold the engine cover down.
I used motorcycle mirrors as they were an easy fit.
I think the Vapor unit is an ideal budget choice for the Rocket, but I did have 2 major issues with it. Firstly the Speed went haywire after 50mph and the Tacho was highly unstable. The speed issue was resolved by running a length of screened mic cable, it seems that interference from the cars loom was causing incorrect readings, the RPM issue was resolved by adding a 39K resistor in to the rpm wire running to the vapor, I crimped the resistor in between a couple of connectors so that it could be easily changed in the future if needs be.
A quick check over before the SVA.
The final detail added and now for the SVA test so I can take it on the road.
The Rocket awaiting front and rear brake testing.
The majority of the test was done on a ramp, including the 100mm sphere test. A finally a pass and after a bit of paperwork I’m legally on the road, that was a bit of a mission. 🙂
A small feature in June 2009 ‘Complete Kit Car’ magazine, obviously the best read available!
Newark Kit Car Show.
Not a lot of storage room for Rob and some beers.
Newark Kit Car Show.
Just checking the underside of the car.
Newark Kit Car Show.
Beer can challenge.
Newark Kit Car Show.
Yep, we won!
A trip to Stratford Upon Avon aka Avon Park Drag Strip.
A drag race between my Rocket and a MEV Sonic Seven.
Kit Car feature on ITV’s Pulling Power.