It’s a great feeling when ideas finally become reality. Earlier this year I had the pleasure of overseeing ideas that had been rattling around in my head for many years, come to final fruition. Back in 2009 was when the first ideas first began to circulate in my mind. I was in my first year of university when one day a friend who I’d met in Computer Science lectures introduces me to the concept of an open-source engine management system. That was when I was first found out about the MegaSquirt ECU. Apart from having a confusing product name, the MegaSquirt ECU truly is a mighty piece of kit. It wasn’t until 2011 that I actually got around to building one. Yeah it took me a while.. but sometimes these things do, and for something as complicated as soldering together your own ECU, a little patience isn’t going to hurt anyone. The only thing is, back then, little did I know that the ‘simple’ plan of converting my car to run EFI would lead me down the road to dabbling in the darks arts of forced induction, as well as unexpectedly discover the pain and suffering felt when a full body restoration is undertaken.
This multipart blog series is to document in great detail my story of retrofitting the MegaSquirt ECU into a crossflow’d Ford Mk1 Escort, tacked on with the many unplanned detours experienced along the way. That said, I don’t intend to write a step by step ‘installation guide’ for MegaSquirt. A lot of the engine work was completed years ago and I can’t recall all the exact steps taken. The issues tackled in this blog series aren’t easy ones, that’s why its taken me so long to do! Automotive manufactures during the 80’s/90’s faced the same issues, the only difference being they had whole teams of engineers and wads of cash to get the job done. So don’t expect anything other than a long ride.
Depending on your background and areas of expertise, you may find some areas of the build easier to follow than others. For those of you know your bolts better than yours bytes, and know your way round a set of spanners you should be fine. However it would be beneficial to know a little about engine principles, automotive electronics and engine component design. For those who are a little more geeky and technical minded, I will also cover putting together the ECU and making it past your first firmware burn. Having a little knowledge on computer engineering and familiarity with CLI’s wouldn’t go amiss here.
I will do my best to try and write a new post every week or so, but work is always busy. Thankfully for you readers, the hard part of building the car is already done and I just need to find time to do a huge mind dump and get everything wrote down. Ideally each post will be focused primarily on one topic, however due to the lengthy time-span of the build some crosstalk is bound to happen, as well as reasons for design change decisions.
For those who a little more impatient and just want to see the end result, a summarised story of the build was recently featured in Septembers (2014) issue of Classic Ford magazine here in the UK.
On a final note, I hope you enjoy reading about my car build as much as I did putting it all together.