Pilgrim Sumo – Welcome!

August 2016 … The decision has been made and I’ve placed an order with Pilgrim for my kit, I’ve decided to build it using their ‘new’ modular build program. To start with I thought I’d go for the first 3 modules which should give me everything for a rolling chassis, minis the engine and wheels. I could if I wanted to pick up an old set of wheels to build on, but I don’t want the extra cost so for now the car will sit on axle stands while it is being built.

If you don’t know or haven’t checked the pilgrim cobra is built from a old Ford Granada or Sierra running gear, breaks, steering, rear diff and a few other parts etc to ensure you keep the original registration and don’t receive the dreaded ‘Q’ plate. It helps with the re-sale value for the future and if registered correctly I think you can also change the name of car on the registration document to pilgrim Sumo.

So that’s it really, its been ordered and now I have to wait until they gather all the parts together and are ready to ship it. In the mean time it will give me the opportunity to clean out the garage, organise some tools, research engines I’d like and eventually a colour scheme … I’m almost too excited to wait, I want it here now so I can get on with the build!


This is a photo of my cobra in its current state, I intend to update this image as the build goes on until eventually it’s completed.

Photo 01-05-2017, 14 38 23

If you’d like to see or know more about the cars Pilgrim make, visit here Pilgrim-motorsport and take a look.

Once I receive a few boxes and the chassis (which is already for me) I’ll update the blog and continue as i work my way through it.

One more thing, I should probably make it clear I’m ‘NO’ mechanic, certainly no more than an avid Ikea furniture builder! Actually a photographer and civil engineer so I’d like to think I have an ounce of common sense, however this is a big task and should be very interesting, so if you want to follow me and my progress then please subscribe or keep checking back.


Tidying up

After a brief visit to Pilgrim to pick up a few bits, I needed some extra tidying up bits which I’ll explain below along with a new top ball joint because the one I have had a tear in the rubber which was noticed at the pre MOT, thankfully. Not sure if it would be an IVA foul but I’m not taking the chance.

So onto today … It doesn’t feel like much but I’ve on the car for about another 6 hours today tinkering. I thought it was about time I set up the speedo, so I popped under the car to work out the diff ratio as I couldn’t find a tag or stamp for it. I basically moved the wheels and counted the number of rotations on the driveshaft for two full turns then halved the figure. Hopefully my diff has a ration of 3.92 cos thats about what I worked it out to be. After this you have to measure the rear wheel circumference in inches and work out the number of inches in a mile (63,360 in case you were wondering) this is divided by the wheel circumference then multiplied by the diff ratio and then the number of magnets I’d installed on the prop-shaft (2) so my pulses came out to 6180. I reset the speedo and will see next time I drive it, fingers crossed. While I was under the car I tightened the handbrake so that I have between 2-3 clicks before it tightens and I had one of the flexible brake hoses slightly touching the copper brake lines, So I moved this over and attached a small clip to ensure it didn’t cause any further problems.

Next up was the battery. As part of the IVA you need terminal covers and to make sure that as much as possible you don’t have any wobbly cables. Mine were quire long and Tony had commented that perhaps I should trim them a bit … so I did. I ended up cutting them shorter, with the terminal covers on and making a small bracket to attach the fuel line and live battery cable too. Fairly simple to do, just takes a little time. I also clipped another one of the hoses down to the rocker covers with p-clips to tidy it up.

At the MOT as we were checking the car we noticed that the top water hose from the top of the engine to the top of the radiator was fouling on the bonnet hinge, not good. I decided to buy a large 50mm p-clip and fix this down to the top of the chassis rail. this proved a little fiddly because the body was on now so anything from now-on wasn’t going to be simple. But with a 90deg gadget on the end of the power drill, it wasn’t to much trouble. With the hose held down I now have a little bit of space above it. I also decide to just trim about 6mm off the bottom of the bracket, which again gives more room above the hoses when the bonnet is closed.

Other little bits were just tidying up the electrics where I’d grabbed some boots for the live terminals and altered the connection to include these on the starter motor and coil, similar to that on the alternator.

Lastly was I had to change the seat belts, unfortunately I had a set that were no longer IVA compliant due to the length of the webbing and they didn’t have any covers over the reels. As I’d already installed these, I simply had to remove the old ones and install the new ones.

Still a few little bits to do and only a week to go for the IVA, biggest worry at the moment is sorting the geometry out and getting the horn to work. Not quite sure whats happening here, but I think I forgot to sort this at the start, so now I HAVE to figure it out and fix it. But I still have a few days spare to problem solve so I don’t think it will be an issue.

I’ll keep you posted 🙂

7 days and counting …

UPDATE … managed to get the horn working. It was a simple case of one of the wires hadn’t been connected in the steering rack. Little annoying because I’m pretty sure it wasn’t me but none the less it sorted now. The best part is where I hate and don’t fully understand the whole wiring/electrics bit, I managed to check the the loom and live wire to and from the horn and again in the steering rack to problem solve the issue. I wanted to make sure connecting the wires was the correct thing to do. Pretty chuffed about that.

5 days and counting …


Overheating and Pre MOT

Update time. So I’ve been having problems with overheating on the Cobra lately and been racking my brain to figure out why and what I needed to do to sort it.

Speaking with guys on the UK Cobra Forum they’ve been suggesting that the  configuration isn’t great as it is and there’s been a lot of people in similar positions where they’ve had issues with bleeding all the air out of the system. Well turns out that was one of the issues! Here’s a run down of what I did …

Firstly I had to check if the stat was still working, so this came out of the thermostat housing and in a pan of boiling water, thankfully that opened up with no problems. Next up I changed the fan switch so that it opened up at 82deg instead of the supplied one at 88deg, this way the fan kicks in earlier. I also added some Water Wetter to the system as we refilled it after the switch was removed lost some liquid. Then I removed the front grill which at best has some tiny holes in, which looks quite restrictive. I’d been told about this before, so that came off. The last thing we did was I added a few little washers to the expansion cap as I don’t believe this properly pressurised the system as it was wobbly.  We bled the system again by squeezing the bottom hose and then the top one as some air was still bubbling out. A lot of this I have to thank TONY for as he came down and gave me some help on checking it all over, so thanks Tony.

Once we’d done all this, I started her up and waited until it got up to temperature, check the reading within the car which sat just below 90, perfect. Once it had been running for a little while we used a infra-red heat gun to check the temperature of the engine and rad against the gauge. Turns out the gauge isn’t that accurate either! Probably about 10deg out by the readings. So thats not to bad, at least I know now the cars not over heating!

Yay, problem solved … hopefully.

Ok so next it was time to re book a pre-MOT and see how well the build had gone so far. After the disappointment of the last attempt I managed to find a local garage down the road (about a mile away) who had a mechanic called Steve that just happens to work on V8’s (Bonus) after a quick chat and some helpful info on the cooling system. I decided to book the MOT with them. If you’re local to me you need to check out Clarks Auto Service who have been fantastic (www.clarksautoservice.co.uk)

Really nervous drive down to them, considering the last outing but once there, Steve got the car on the ramps and we went through a normal MOT test. Aligned the light as they were a little low. Thankfully we also found one nut that wasn’t tighten so that was sorted.  We tested the emissions and adjusted the carbs so both side read around 1.4-1.6 Co2 so for the age of the engine thats ok. The Brakes were pretty good too, all balanced and pretty much equal so all in all a good pre-mot.

It’s left me with a few minor areas to adjust and secure, nothing bad just things that will make the car safer, so that all good.

The drive back home, was A LOT more enjoyable 🙂 … 2 weeks till the IVA!


Was really excited to be driving the car today down the mot station for a pre test. We made it about 2 miles before the car over heated and I had to turn around and stop, didn’t even make it back home 😦 somethings not right

I have a few weeks to get it sorted before the IVA so I best do otherwise I won’t be doing that either, considering I have to drive it there, it’s not down the road 😦 … Gutted!

IVA – 26th JUNE 2018

It’s done, following the online application , which has now been approved and paid for … £450.00 (ouch) I now have a date set for the 26th JUNE 2018.

Nervous and excited all in one is the best way to explain it!

Next things to do, are to get a pre-MOT booked to test the various aspects, brakes and lights, emission etc and have a garage give it a proper look over.

oh Heck!


It’s done!

I took the week off work with the intension of getting the car ready for the IVA and I can finally say it’s done.

VIN plate is stamped and riveted to the car in the engine bay, I finished tidying up a few of the wires that I thought might be a little dodgy at the IVA by basically extending the conduit on some of them. The paper work is all done, forms all filled out, photos enclosed of the build … now sent!

All I can do now is wait for a test date! Once I receive that I’ll get the car down for an MOT to test the various aspects, brakes and lights etc.

More on this when I have news 🙂

Forgot to add, its all done online too, so scan everything and keep it all under 5MB

Last few bits

This is it, I’m almost at the finish line, just a few more bits to do. Enough chit chat today lets get straight into the next piece of work.

At some point you need to reinforce the tunnels fixing the chassis to the body, it helps with keeping it stable apparently. So with this in mind the manual says to use ply wood, however I decided because I love fibreglassing I would do that instead! First off I measured the gap, cut up and moulded some wire mesh to fit. Positioned this in the tunnel which was fairly fiddly and left my arms looking like I’d been attacked by a pack of hungry cats!


Anyway once the mesh was in and fixed I fibreglassed it in place, another very messy job and tricky with everything in the way but not impossible. Once Id’ built up enough layers of fibreglass I left it to go off and then painted it black with the same paint I used on the rest of the car (rear inner wings etc) just as another level of protection really. Once the inner front wheel arches are in you won’t even see that area.

OK, next item was something I found out about which is required for an IVA pass. It’s not in the manual anywhere so thankfully someone mentioned it otherwise that would have been very annoying! So what is it you ask, well, you have blank off the area in the passenger footwell next to the mini-heater so that in the event of a problem with the water pipes your passenger doesn’t get sprayed with hot water! Safety first

I asked the question at Pilgrim and had no response so I went online on the cobra forum and got my answer almost immediately! I have to say if you need to know anything, get stuck or have an issue, ask online. Theres some very knowledgeable people on there, always happy to help.

Right, back to the issue at hand. Firstly I made a cardboard template of what the shield needed to look like. Then (luckily) I had some aluminium left over which I cut up, moulded and made as my template. Once that was done, I covered it with black fabric, drilled the holed through to the chassis and bolted it in place … done!


Consider you won’t ever actually see this, its functional and fixed in place, all IVA ready … hang on … ALL IVA READY! Yes, well almost yes, I’m waiting on the VIN plate from Pilgrim but thats it. The car is done, the forms are filled in and I’m ready.

Other than this, all I have to sort with the car is to over come an overheating issue I’m currently having. Hopefully this won’t be to much of an issue but apparently its quite a usual one for the Sumo. I’ll keep you posted once I know more.


I was told to check several things, including the expansion tank, restrictor valve, water levels, ensure all the air is out of the system etc and that the fan is blowing in the correct direction! … Guess what, the fan wasn’t. Who knew you could wire it incorrectly. Swapping the wires over has seemed to have fixed the issue tho 🙂 It was running for a longer period at around 90deg as apposed to the other day when it went up to 120deg! … Problem solved!

Until then, I also managed to get the car out of the garage for a clean …


It’s been a while

I think the title says it all really.

With one thing or another the past year has flow by as has the time. But I’ve still had the car sat in the garage gathering dust which is really annoying (especially as summer is approaching again) BUT to be honest I went through what a lot of personal issues and something a lot of amateur builders go through and that just everything get on top of you and it feels like every little issue is a massive one.

Well after feeling so down for a while, I approached Pilgrim to ask for help getting the project finished. Sadly after 1 email they never got back to me, which is a shame. Either way you look at it, customer service should be paramount, in my view anyway! So I took to the UK Cobra forum and the guys on there were very helpful and encouraging, I even had one guy ‘Tony’ who was going to come down and help me. So thanks Tony for the offer but sadly Tony had a fall so it didn’t happen but I wish him a speedy recovery.

With all the encouragement and help from fellow owners and builders alike I decided to take a week off work and get it sorted myself. So there is a plus in all this, I get to finish my car!

OK … on to the build progress.

Quite a few issues to sort out, firstly I had a strong smell of fuel from the boot, which I was informed is quite normal. I had a quick look and noticed the top clip was pinching a little so it may not have had a 100% seal on the cap. Quick rotate, retighten and all was sorted. There were a few pieces of carpet that were coming unstuck too which I managed to re-stick, this time using a special glue spray we used to carpet the VW camper. I should have used this first! Worked so much better.

A few other places in the passenger and driver footwell needed some attention, more sticking the carpets down, easily done with the right glue!

Next step was to swap the front callipers over! Somehow, I managed to put them on the wrong side, so basically the bleed nipples were at the bottom. This turned out to be a easy job, couple of bolts and off they came, quick swap and done! While I had the front wheels off I decide to play a little with the camber of the wheels. I had to wait until the wife came home to re-bleed the brakes, but thats straight forward. I didn’t bother with pics here, because it all looks the same as before.

After this I had to fix a little problem the passenger front light. No idea what was happening here, everything else was working ok, but nothing from one head light. I checked all the fuses, all ok, took the light apart to check the bulbs hadn’t blown and that was ok, so lastly I opened up the conduit to find two of the cables had come apart!? Not sure how that happened but it did, so another quick fix. Once back together I crimped them to ensure a tight fit and placed them back in the conduit and taped it back up.

Then it came to sorting out my leak on the hydraulic clutch. I’ve had this very annoying leak in the footwell, where the clips I was using I just couldn’t get tight enough. I’d also noticed that the hose was touching one of the rocker covers so knowing the IVA is on the horizon I thought I would cut this shorter and re-route it. Pity I waited till now to do this as it made life difficult with everything in the way! However once done, theres now no leak and it looks neater and works better. I ended lifting the clutch reservoir up slightly (by about an inch) which also helped.

The other little job was to place a restrictor in the top hose from the radiator to the expansion tank. I did this before with a piece of plastic where I drilled a small hole through it, but I was never 100% happy with this. So I decided to redo this area by using some good plumbing materials. A flow restrictor with compression connections on to a piece of 2″ copper pipe, all connected and clips together (see picture above) This apparently helps the flow of water go through the radiator rather than through the expansion tank. Hopefully helping keep the engine temp down.

What else was there … oh yes, I had a slight wobble in the steering column so that was adjusted slightly, I also noticed I hadn’t quite tightened the bolts up as it joined the steering arm.

Last but not least! The HT leads were failing on the rocker covers, which from what I understand would be a failure, so I made up some quick brackets to keep them off for now. I’ll find a better solution, or at least one that looks better anyway later. For now, they are off the covers.

Oh I nearly forgot, I also managed to stamp the VIN number I received from the DVLA on the chassis. I used the lower part of the chassis, just in front of the wheel, drivers side to do this. There’s still the VIN plate to go inside the engine bay but I’m waiting for this to come from Pilgrim.

And that was it for the day, very happy with all the progress made. I still have the inner tunnels to fibreglass and seal off, and I need to redo the camber (I did it way to much) and I’m looking at shortening the amount of turning (lock to lock) the steering currently has as it is a fair bit. But I’ll see how it drives first.

So with that lot done, I’ll get on to the tunnels in the next few days, and then all I have left is the IVA to look forward to!