|Post build - May 2009|
About a month has gone by since the last update and I've managed to put just over 450 miles on the car so far. The first couple of journeys were to the MOT and the SVA, but I'm counting these as part of the build process rather than actual trips out.
The first solo trip out without a support car was for a quick blat around the local roads with my wife as the passenger. Apart from losing one of the bolts that holds the engine cover hinges on there were no real dramas. For about 99% of the trip however, I found myself listening for every single clunk and rattle and wondering if the car was going to hold together or not... I also found myself shifting gear far too early as I'm used to driving a 1.5 ton diesel estate car every day, and I felt like I was going 100mph when the speedo read around 40mph... There's a learning curve for me here.
A few days later, my sister came down to visit from Scotland so of course, the Mojo was used as the vehicle of choice for the day. Now she's a biker so she's used to the thrill of speed, but a quick blat up and down the A140 still put a grin on her face. Again, no problems with the car - my confidence was building slowly. I also got a chance to try out my new wet-weather-gear. I don't currently have any doors or a roof so I needed a way to keep warm - and here it is.
Trip 3 - I needed to pop out to the local shops to get some supplies one afternoon and the sun was out. Perfect excuse to go in the Mojo then! This time, I had my housemate as co-pilot and we tore up the back roads on the way there. On the way back, I decided to go for broke and see how the car performed on the A14 (the fastest I'd ever been so far was around 50mph). So, I threw caution to the wind and accelerated up to 70-80mph. I kept my eyes on the temperatures gauges which all behaved surprisingly well and there were a few rattles and squeaks but overall the Mojo felt smooth, controllable and well planted with no wobble or other bad habits - well chuffed! This was also a bit of an acid test because Stoneleigh was fast approaching and I really wanted to drive there in the Mojo if at all possible as this has been the aim since last year, By now I was beginning to think that the car wouldn't have any problems, and I just needed to make sure that I would be ok for the journey.
The big day... Stoneleigh. Gulp.
I checked the weather, I checked the traffic, I checked the route, I checked the fluid levels, and eventually I couldn't put it off any longer. I was about to do nearly 300 miles on A roads on my own. I say on my own because this time I wouldn't have a passenger. My wife had decided/volunteered to follow behind in her Yaris as a support vehicle and as a method of carrying all of the tools and bags we would need for the weekend. The biggest disadvantage of the Mojo so far has been the lack of any storage. If there's only one of you then you can fit a fair amount into the passenger footwell, but if there's a passenger too then you can only really manage to take things if you can wear them. I may need a solution for this for next year... but, I never intended for the Mojo to be a practical car!
Anyhow - we finally set off to go to Stoneleigh on the Saturday afternoon. The route we had chosen avoided the A14 as much as possible due to my paranoia of the car having a problem, and the fact that there aren't may places to pull over on the A14. The route took us through some very nice countryside and some very pretty villages but it did take us just over 4 hours to complete the journey including a couple of stops for fuel and panic checks... Needless to say, arriving at the hotel was a relief, and the tools weren't required at any point.
The Stoneleigh show was a real triumph for me this year. Only 12 months ago I had been a nervous newbie asking daft questions about which bits I needed from which cars and how easy was the thing to put together. This year, I had driven my car there and I was parked alongside all the other Mojos at the front of the JPSC stand, and I was the one answering the questions! Wow - what a difference a year of scraped knuckles, empty wallets, confusion, rivets, aluminium and steel, sanding, questions, eBay, PU adhesive and Googling can make... I look back to my early notes from a year ago and I realise how much has been achieved. It's a great feeling.
I also distinctly remember being stuck in the queue to get in on the Sunday morning and sitting there with the engine running in the bright sunshine wondering when I was going to overheat... As it turns out, I didn't which helped boost the confidence a little bit more. I also noticed Neil's Mojo somewhat ahead of us in the queue and just as I did, he saw us and waved so my wife and I waved back like a pair of over-excited schoolkids on a day trip.
The show itself was a lot busier that I'd expected given the current economic situation (or media portrayal of it) which was a pleasant surprise and we spent the day ambling around the halls and outside stalls and drinking vast amounts of coffee. Unfortunately, I was unable to wander around as much as I would've hoped due to a current affliction which is causing considerable back pain, but we did manage to get around a fair amount and catch up with various people I wanted to see.
In particular, it was nice to catch up with Neil again, and to finally meet Michael B who had been so helpful during my build. I managed to make it to the Meggt stand and had a good chat with Matt and I hear that he has now sold a Mojo which is a great result! I've placed my order for some side screens with him too so they should be with me in a few weeks. I also managed to put a lot of names-to-faces with the JPSC club members and other people I have been communicating with on the Locost builders forum. I also found a new steering wheel to replace the rather tatty one I currently had fitted.
During the weekend I also managed my first trip out in darkness in the Mojo which opens up a whole new area of peril which will have to be explored later on...
In contrast to the beautiful weather on Saturday and Sunday, Monday started off as a wet and dreary day and my back was being particularly bothersome so we decided to make a run for home and try and miss the bulk of the bank holiday traffic. With my new found confidence, we followed the A14 for the majority of the journey and I'm glad to report that there were absolutely no problems whatsoever with the car. I say no problems, but I did notice that my ambient temperature sensor said that it was 16 degrees outside, so i can only assume that the 'minus' symbol doesn't work since it certainly felt more like -16°. Maybe it was just me being a wimp but by the time we got home I was freezing cold but still grinning like an imbecile! During the journey, I started to explore the experience of 'life beyond 4000rpm' which turns out to be a whole load of fun with a background of wonderful noises as the induction system gulps air and the exhaust rumbles away to itself. This was especially true on roundabouts in the wet where the traction and road-holding of the Mojo is beyond anything I have ever experienced in any other car. You can just keep pushing and pushing and at no time did I feel like I was anywhere near the limits of the car which boosted my confidence even further. Ok, so I had to mop up some water that had splashed into the cockpit and I was a bit soggy around the edges, but the Mojo is great fun to drive and once you accept the fact that you will be cold, wet, and deafened, then you can really start to enjoy the driving! I think I need a track day at some point...
Upon my return, I checked the car over for any loose bits and it all seemed ok. The only real change was that the coolant level had dropped by about 10mm in the header tank which is probably due to air pockets being released so no cause for alarm. I also fitted the new steering wheel which looks much better and is much more comfortable.
Finally, in answer to a couple of questions I got over the weekend regarding fuel economy and other matters, I averaged about 60mpg for the journey and the coolant temperatures hovered between 88 degrees and 93 degrees for the majority of the time, occasionally rising up to 96 degrees when sitting in traffic. The fan switches on at 104 degrees.
Next stop - the monthly meeting of the East Anglian Kit Car club at Diss in Norfolk on Sunday. The weather looks to be ok, and I just hope that my back is less painful by then...