ETS Drift Ute – Feeling Alive Again

Could I have picked a more difficult hobby? I dont think so. Being so invested with something so complicated has its ups and downs. When I set out to build a car from scratch the idea was to build it as basic as possible. I think I achieved this, mechanically its a very simple car, if everything looks visually together then everything should work. I made a point to try and make the electrical system as visible as possible as-well. Take the engine for example, gone is the factory cam angle sensor and replaced with a trigger wheel and hall sensor, the hall sensor is a robust item that when positioned close to the trigger wheel should not give any issues. This approach was taken throughout the entire car.


I must apologize to my Alternator and Smartwire unit at this point, last night I came across a long term issue I have been having and in 10 minites it was fixed. The Smartwire has been blamed for an issue that wasn’t its fault. Even before WTAC I had an issue with cranking the engine and the ECU shutting down, this was a real problem and I believed it to be the Smartwire dropping voltage and shutting down circuits it controls, this isnt a stab in the dark because at the very start I did have this issue, partially solved with a better battery I believed the issue was the same one.


Last night I was able to spend an hour going over everything, I removed the plugs (I have gone through a lot of these now) regapped a new set down to 0.5mm, removed the plug off the rear of the alternator to check the excite system, it was working fine, charged up the Fullriver HC28 battery and turned on the ignition. Sitting in the passenger side and looking at the ECU the fuel pump would prime on ignition but the blue light on the LINK ECU would not light up, signalling no power, I left the ignition power on and unplugged the ECU, with the plug half way out of its socket the light would flicker and then go out again. This was odd so I played around with the plug for a bit. All the pins looked like they were in there home position and none were damaged. I replugged the plug into the ECU and the light stayed on, the fuel pump primed and I fired up the motor, it ran like a dream.


Stepping round to the drivers side I gave the throttle a few stabs and it it was crisp, clean and responsive, something I haven’t heard for a while. Looking at the dash the Volts were sitting on 13.5V signalling the alternator was working and I was so happy. As soon as that relief swept through me it was taken away again, the volts dropped, the motor spluttered and then died. Stepping back round to the passenger side the blue light on the ECU was out.

Gavin helped me out on Saturday at the Geelong Revival, he came over and we took a good look at the ECU plug, we think an earth pin may have been pulled from its home position, it was hard to see but we plugged it back into the ECU and fired it up again, its running like a dream, could this have been my major problem from before WTAC? Maybe, I hope, I’m just so super relieved I dont have to pull anything apart.


I had the best sleep last night, relieved and excited now that I may get the chance for a trouble free test run, I’m making moves to try and lock in a test session before New Zealand, could this be the chance to actually concentrate on handling and working out the limit that I am require to drive the Hilux at? Its a day I have been looking forward to for so long.

I have definitely had my personal limits stretched with this project, from the breakage the night before WTAC to the financial stress of reinventing the driveline to the breakdown before my home event just a few weeks out from shipping to New Zealand, that dream of everything working together for a trouble free day at the track is the light at the end of my dark and deep tunnel. Lets just hope it doesn’t get sea sick…..

  • Tony

    keep it up mate, nobody is disappointed. Everyone is cheering for you and supporting you. What you’ve done is awesome. If anything these trials and tribulations will make your creation even stronger.