Tuesday 11 April 2017


When I was in Seattle I visited the Centre for Rotting Boats. They might have called it the Centre for Wooden Boats, but as all the exhibits were 100 years old and they kept most of them afloat any of them could have been kicked a pile and called a bonfire.

One of the themes at the Centre for Rotting Boats was "The Great Compromise" of trying to design a boat that both sailed and rowed well. You can see that it's a fool's errand because you either have too much deadwood and drag under the surface, or you have gunwales too high for rowlocks.

Unfortunately I seem to have done exactly the same thing with my kit car. I spent the weekend in South Wales and went to a track day at Pembrey circuit. Perhaps the best £20 I've ever spent bought me a charming racing driver who took me for a spin in my own car and then critiqued it. It was fantastic fun and very impressive. It's not a slow car. The brakes and steering geometry are good. Initially he enjoyed the luxury of having a windscreen and padded seats but he said the suspension was far too soft. I explained that I also use the car and that I drove it from Plymouth to the circuit and he made some encouraging noises about compromises. Perhaps what I've done is to build a uniquely uncomfortable and impractical touring car that wallows slowly and lazily around a circuit.

Never one to be daunted when my hobby starts to involve simultaneous equations I'm now trying to understand his idea of increasing the roll stiffness while leaving the bump stiffness and damping rates unchanged.

Richard "oversteer gradient" B

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