Sunday 10 November 2013

Getting the car back

Finally got the car back on Friday the 1st November so this post is long overdue. A few things had to happen before I could go and collect the car though. This post aims to cover some of that and of course the day I'd been waiting ages for - Collection Day!

Post Build Check Remedial Work 

The car went back to Caterham at the start of October. Unfortunately, due to an unfortunate accident with one of their members of staff, looking the car over got delayed by a week. This meant that we'd already gone past the anticipated IVA date that I'd asked VOSA for.

The car got looked over the following week as planned but unfortunately a few things came up at the PBC that needed to be put right. My experience with Caterham to date had been quite positive but I have to admit to being less than pleased when I got the schedule of works through from the Service Department detailing what needed to be looked at and how long it was going to take them to do it all. I appreciate that all of the things did need to be done but there was some slightly suspect tasks on the list where I never did get to the bottom of what exactly was done. The primary bone of contention being what exactly was done under the heading 'wire tidying' given the 3.25hrs of labour time I was charged for. Furthermore, there were some tasks that needed to be performed largely because the Assembly Guide doesn't tell you the proper way to fit things and so, unsurprisingly, you then fit them incorrectly. The heater panel in my case being a good case in point. I'd fitted it upside down. Apparently lots of other owners have also made the same mistake. Why is it then that the Assembly guide has not been updated in this area. They've been fitting the same heater panels for years!!!!

The other tricky area concerned the gearbox and bellhousing attachment. It transpired that I'd incorrectly bolted the gearbox to the bellhousing rather than doing it the correct way which should have been to bolt the bellhousing to the gearbox. I'd also used the wrong bolts. The only way to remedy this issue necessitating removal of the engine and gearbox from the car, changing the bolts before refitting the whole thing. 5hrs was the quoted figure to do this job which I actually thought pretty good given the amount of work involved. The only issue I really had was that in my opinion, the only reason I'd got it wrong was because of the lack of detail in the Assembly guide around correct fitment. There are no exploded diagrams showing the positioning of the bolts for instance, something that would be very simple to add and would be much better than the textual description they currently have at this point in the guide.To their credit, having discussed the point with Caterham, they agreed to meet me half way on the labour costs for this particular job. 

Having now picked the car up, I discussed this particular issue with the technician who had worked on it throughout. I mentioned to him that what had thrown me was the fact that the duratec engine had come with the bellhousing pre-attached and that, having read the guide, it made most sense to simply insert the gearbox spline into the end and bolt the gearbox to the housing. I was then told that the reason Caterham pre-attach the bellhousing is because up until the SuperSport R model being released, all Duratec cars were fitted with the 6-speed box and indeed had it been a 6 speed box I was fitting, the approach I'd taken would have been correct. As it was, I was fitting the 5 speed and as such, the bellhousing should have come off the engine so I could have fitted it the correct way. Apparently Caterham are to be updating the Assembly Guide to make this clearer now that I've highlighted this particular issue.

So all in all then, more work at the PBC than I was anticipating with a bill totaling over £700. Given that some of these were, in my opinion, more the result of a lack of detail in the Assembly Guide rather than me being stupid and not fitting things correctly, it did sour the post build experience a bit for me. I think Caterham really need to have a long hard look at the Guide and update it properly rather than expecting their clients to pay for their lack of due diligence.

The IVA & Vehicle Registration
With the car finally sorted, it was off to the IVA. The first available date being some 2 weeks later than originally planned (17th October). Unfortunately, the news later that day from Caterham was not good, the car having failed on a few bits not all of which could be remedied at the test center.

There had been a problem with the speedo giving up over 60mph when the car was placed on the rolling road and there was also a problem with one of the rear brake calipers binding. The car therefore had to be returned to Dartford to put these further things right. The speedo issue was solved by replacing a resistor somewhere whilst the rear caliper was swapped out completely for a new unit. Unfortunately we then had to wait a further week before the car could be retested. In actual fact I got a bit lucky as there had been a cancellation. Without that, I may well have had to wait even longer. Fortunately there were no further problems and the car finally made it through - yippee!

At this stage, the paperwork was then submitted to the DVLA for me by Caterham with a warning that it could take up to a further 21 days for the DVLA to sort out the paperwork (booooo!). Luckily for me though, this seems to be a worst case scenario figure as in actual fact the DVLA kindly turned it around for me within a week. The paperwork was with us by the 24th and Caterham kindly had some number plates made up within 24hrs. The car would be ready for collection as early as the 25th November. You can imagine my delight therefore when I realised the earliest I'd be able to get a day off work was the following Friday (1st November). Still at least the car was ready whenever I could get down there.

Collection Day (1st November)

It was a Friday, I had the day off and I was about to go and collect my new car with the wife. Life couldn't have been much better. The weather certainly could though. The forecast the day beforehand was for overcast skies with a very good chance of showers and high winds.  In a word, shite!

The drive over there wasn't so bad, just the odd shower to contend with. Most of the journey between Guildford and Dartford consisting of a combination of the A3 and the M25. We made good time, getting to Caterham just after 11am to find the car ready and waiting out front.

Roof on - absolutely the right decision

We settled our final bill (oh god, my poor credit card) and decided it would probably be wise to turn around and head straight back whilst the weather and the daylight held out. I needn't have worried though, it took less than 30 minutes before the rain started to fall and the light started to fade. On went the headlights and I was very thankful to have a roof over my head. It did give me a good chance to fully test the integrity of the roof and the rest of the weather gear and I have to say that it's really rather good. The seal around doors and the roof being particularly novel but effective. I was also wearing a coat which proved to be a bit of a mistake as even with the heater off, the heat given off from the transmission in general is enough to keep things rather toasty inside. Unfortunately there's no real way of getting any fresh air into the car but never mind, I was dry after all.

The worst part of the journey was not so much to do with the bad weather though. With it being a Friday and with the stretch of M25 between kent and surrey being largely a 50mph limit due to road works, I soon found myself hemmed in between huge lorries kicking up large amounts of spray. The traffic was also terrible so I was barely crawling along and I spent the whole time questioning whether I thought the various lorries knew whether I was actually there or not.

After about 2hrs I was fed up and so we decided to pull off the M25 at the new Chobham services for a bite to eat. 30 minutes later we were refueled and decided to head for home on the final leg of the journey. I jumped into the front seat, turned the key and.... nothing. The car would not restart - shit. The battery appeared not to have enough power to turn the engine over. If my diagnosis was correct then at least all I needed to get going again was a jump start. As luck would have it, an RAC van was parked some 20 meters away. The only snag I could see with approaching him for help though was that I am in fact an AA member - oh well I thought, what have I got to loose.

After some quite funny banter whereupon he ribbed me for having sided with the enemy, he did eventually agree to help me out sticking the car onto a jump pack to get it going again. He then kindly did some basic diagnosis on it for me, eventually concluding that at idle, with the headlights on, there appears to be a net drain on the battery with the alternator not making enough to keep the battery charging. Oh dear. Still, the car was running again now so I quickly thanked the RAC man for his help, gave him some beer tokens for his trouble and headed off on my way again. The traffic had begun to clear a bit by this stage so I managed to keep the car moving and the revs up to reduce the chances of me running out of juice before I got it home. I needn't have worried, I got back safe and sound in the end. Certainly not the most relaxing of drives nor one I'd choose to do again but I was glad the car was finally home. 

First proper drives (3rd & 10th November)

The weather on the Friday may have been terrible but by Sunday it had cleared through to leave us with a lovely blustery sunny day and I had a chance to take the car out properly for the first time on some more suitable roads and with much less traffic.

All I can say is it's been worth the wait. The car is fabulous to drive, oodles of power and torque everywhere in the rev range. The biggest problem I had was trying to drive within the speed limit as it just begs to be thrashed. Although I haven't been nannying too much, I am conscious that the engine has still only done 300 miles so I'm driving it hard(ish) but not to within an inch of its life just yet.

Harriet also had her first chance to drive the car and I was really pleased to see her get to grips with it really quickly and she doesn't seem at all intimidated driving it. Bring on those long trips to the back and beyond next summer then! 

I've had a few requests for some more photos so here are some of the best ones taken over the last couple of outings. Our trip to Newlands corner earlier today was a particular highlight and well worth a visit. 

Getting ready for first launch with both of my ladies

Still no boot cover nearly 3 months after the kits delivery!
Love the front - needs some clear indicators though I think
Hood up in anticipation of an evening outing
Brace for departure!

Newlands Corner looking mighty fine but a bit chilly

Good shades, crap hat!

Getting to grips with it

Yeah I know, I tend not to mess with her either

Friday 4 October 2013

Reflecting on the Build

Now that the car's been picked up and with my evening freer than it has been for some weeks I thought I would reflect back on the build to provide future prospective owners some insight into what, with hindsight, I'd have done differently if I were to do it all again. I'll also be detailing some of the less obvious, incidental costs that I have had to bear on top of the kit itself.

Before I do though, a couple of pictures of the car being collected.

Off she goes!

Might be a while before I get it back again

Tools & Incidental Costs

To start, some details on the various tools that were used and purchased for the project. Where known, I have disclosed the approximate purchase price. You will note that not all of the tools have a cost associated with them. This is because I was lucky enough to have some tools thrown in from Draper (Caterham's Sponsor) by buying the kit from Catertham when I did. I've listed all of the tools though so you can see what was required and what you might have to get hold of if you were to buy all the tools yourself. To be honest, up until now I hadn't sat down and totalled up all of the costs. Now that I have it's actually quite frightening!

As you can see there are quite a few tools and parts you will need to complete the build. I'm thankful that I had quite a lot of tools thrown in for 'free' as the figure probably would have been closer to £1200.

It's also worth noting some other incidental costs which need to be factored in to the complete 'On the Road' price. For me these included:

So all in all then, its cost me quite a bit of cash to get the car on the road and that's on top of quite a hefty price tag for the kit itself. In actual fact, its almost at the point now where it would have been just as cost effective to purchase the car ready built. To me though it wasn't really about the money, it was more about the experience and I'm still really glad to have done it. At least I now know the car inside out. It's also a shame that VOSA charge so much for the IVA. I understand the cost of this has gone up quite a bit recently and £450 seems like a lot of money for what is essentially a glorified MOT. The £700 worth of work that Caterham quoted me for was also quite unexpected. I plan to break down what needed to be done in a subsequent post however.

Things I would do differently

Having completed the car, there are a few things which, in hindsight, I'd do differently were I to build it again. Hopefully someone benefits from this by reading it before they start their own build. There's probably more things to share than this but these are the ones I can remember and can help with. I'll be sure to come back and any further ones as I think of them:

1) Headlight Assembly - The Assembly guide tells you to put the headlight brackets on as you build the front suspension. Its actually much easier to build the entire headlight assembly (headlight, indicator pod & bracket) as one unit and then fit it all in one go later on during the build. In fact you could do it near enough at the end. The wiring for the headlights that needs to go down through the bracket is particualrly fiddly and would be much easier if done off the car. Apparently thats how Caterham do it and the guide is due an update!

2) Wide Track Suspension Extenders - I didn't get any in my delivery nor does the guide mention them but for a wide track car, there are supposed to be extenders that go on each of the front suspension struts. Make sure you get these from Caterham and fit them during the build if you can.

3) Filling the diff - I left this till quite late on in the build. I'd actually already fitted the carpets to the boot only to realise that the only real way to fill the diff was with the boot floor lifted up so I could gain access. I suggest filling the Diff as soon as the drive shafts have gone in.

4) Get Caterham to supply some proper instructions for the coolant pipework routing for the SuperSport R - The manual is devoid of any information on how to route the coolant pipes on this particular model.

5) Fit armourfend (or similar) during the build - The car has gone off to IVA without it fitted. In hindsight I wish I'd purchased all the relevant transparent plastic film etc and fitted during the build. The rear wing protectors in particular would have benefitted from having these fitted after the film had been applied.

6) Get some foam/lining for the rear wheel arches - I've heard that stones coming up underneath the rear arches can crack the paintwork on the rear wings. I will be fitting something as soon as the car is back but in hindsight I could have purchased in advance and fitted during the build

7) Buy a battery conditioner before the car arrived - I needed one of these during the build as the imobiliser ran the battery flat quite quickly. I bought one from CTEK for about £50 and its seems like a good bit of kit (missing from the costs above incidentally!)

8) Doing up the top bolt on the Diff - It's going to be a pain whatever you try but I wish I'd got my trolley jack out sooner than I did to jack up the diff from underneath to aid alignment before whacking the top bolt through

9) Take the Bellhousing Off the engine - It came bolted to the engine already. The manual isn't clear about this but it needs to come off so that the gearbox can be bolted to the bellhousing in the correct manner (Bellhousing to Gearbox)

10) Take the Alternator off the engine before trying to fit it - It wont fit and we wasted quite a bit of time before finally giving up and taking it off

The good news is that the car is now being worked on in Dartford following the PBC. The IVA is scheduled for the 10th October. Not quite the 1st October I was aiming for but not too delayed. Let's hope it passes first time!

Monday 16 September 2013

Day 16 (Completed!)

All I had left to do today was to fit the nose to the front of the car, tidy up a bunch of the wiring in the engine bay, fit the bonnet and then get round to fitting all the IVA bolt covers etc to make it compliant for the test. I've still not heard back from VOSA yet about whether or not they are going to give me my suggested date of the 1st October. Either way, its booked to be picked up by Caterham on the 23rd so I needed to get it finished.

I had originally intended to fit all of the weather gear to the car as well but I've since been told by Caterham that they'd simply remove all of this ahead of the IVA anyway so I've chosen to leave the fitting of this stuff until the car is back with me.


I'd had a read of the Assembly guide the night before to see what it said about fitting the nose to the car.  Strangely though I could find no information on this whatsoever. As it happens its pretty straight forward, there are four Dzus fasteners already attached to the nose and the brackets that they do up into are already fitted to the car. Its simply a matter of fitting the nose to the car and then doing them up. Just before I fitted it, I was sure to stick the new style Caterham badge onto it. There are actually some bolt holes pre-drilled in the nose to take the badge but the new ones simply stick on so the holes aren't actually needed.

New Style Badge

Nose is on!


Again this was very straightforward, the bonnet simply needs to be lifted in place and secured to the car using the various fixings that came pre-attached to the chassis. One thing I did do before I fitted it though was to run some self-adhesive felt along the edge of the nose and along the main chassis rail that runs the length of the engine bay on both sides. This will hopefully stop it rubbing against the paint work whilst on the move.

Bonnet in place

I also ran the car up again quickly to make sure that all of the various instruments were working correctly. I'd noticed earlier in the week that the horn wasn't working. As it happens, on closer inspection of the front of the car around where the horns are mounted, I found 2 stray wires that weren't attached to anything. These were a purple & purple/yellow combination. Thinking that perhaps these were in fact the wires for the horn and not the ones I currently had fitted, I swapped them over. Sure enough the horn then started to work and oh boy is it loud with the bonnet off! I've since double checked with Caterham about the other wires and apparently these are no longer used. They used to be used to power some kind of fan and still form part of the loom but are not required on the SuperSport. I've now taped them up and cable tied them out of the way.

Correct wires for the horn

Adjusting front wing alignment

I'd also noticed that one of the front wings looked a bit wonky. It was centrally aligned with the tyre correctly, it just didn't look like it was located correctly in terms of the horizontal alignment in relation to the tyre. I'd remembered that the guide had mentioned the potential for some adjustment to be needed to the wing stays to get this spot on so I decided to remove the offending wing with a view to revising the alignment. With the wings now held in place with cable ties to the BigHead fasteners, this proved very easy indeed. I cut off the 4 cable ties, moved the wing aside and then gave the wingstays a couple of good whacks with a soft faced hammer to 'reconfigure' their positioning. 4 cable ties to hold it back on and it now looks great. The whole thing took no more than 10 minutes so I'm chuffed that I went with the option of bonding them on.

My only gripe now with the Cycle wings is that the repeaters do look rather crap. I think I might remove those at some point in the future If I can but they will have to remain on the car until after the IVA. I think they look particularly garish on a White car but c'est la vie!

And that's pretty much it done for the moment. Think I might give it a polish later in the week but other than that it's good enough to be sent off to Caterham. I'll update again once I hear about how the post build check goes and whether I eventually get my requested IVA date off VOSA.

Sunday 15 September 2013

Day 15 (Full day)

OK, been a while since I updated the blog, mainly because I've been busy with a few other things and as a result work on the car has had to take a bit of a backseat. I managed to get one evening last week to work on it and all of today. Quite pleased with the progress actually so here's what i've been up to.

Indicator Pods

I started by getting to grips with the lights. Both the front Indicator Pods and the front headlights still needed to be fitted. First up it was the Indicator pods. The instructions in the guide are actually pretty good at explaining what to do here. Its best to start by fitting the rubber edging around the underside of the pod. I didn't do this but I think If i were to do it again, I'd probably apply some glue to the edge of the pod before applying the strip. Especially around the back of the pod where the cut away is, the edging likes to lift off. I found the hardest part of putting the pods together was actually getting to the backside of the bolts so that I could hold the nuts in place whilst I screwed the indicator light platforms into the pods from the front. Here is a pic of the solution I found which worked best. To be honest the one I'm doing up isn't that difficult to reach but there is one right at the back which is tough to get a socket onto.

Assembling the Indicator Pod

Front Headlights

With the pods done, I then moved on to fitting the headlights. The headlights come assembled so the first step was to remove the glass and then take off the electrical connectors that power the headlight and sidelight respectively. This then leaves you with the headlight pod with a threaded stainless tube at the bottom. This should be fed downwards, through the indicator pod and through into the hole at the top of the headlight bracket. All of the wires for the headlight pass down through the middle of the threaded tube. Once through the bracket, a big nut screwed on from the bottom holds it all together.

Assembling the headlights

By this point I thought I was doing pretty well and could see that the headlights would be finished imminently. After all, there was just the wiring to do which couldn't be that hard could it?

As it happens, this proved true for one side of the car, each of the wires for the headlight easily finding their way down the headlight bracket tube and into the engine bay. I had one side cracked within about 10 minutes with just the other side left to do before I could stick my feet up for the evening, excellent. I'd agreed with myself that I'd leave the final part of the puzzle (connecting the wires into the econoseal plug) until the weekend.

2 hours later and I was not a happy bunny. I could not, for the life of me, get the damn wires to go through the tube. They'd pass down it easily enough but I couldn't get them to go through the grommet at the far end where they are supposed to exit into the engine bay. In the end, I gave it up as a lost cause and decided I'd see what Blatchat had to say about the problem and also vowed to give Caterham a call in the morning to see how it was normally done at the factory.

The suggestions from Blatchat that came back were both good and varied, the best suggestion appearing to be to cut off the connectors from the ends of the wires (see image below) and then either re-solder these back on once the wires were through or better still, get some new connectors and fit them onto the wires using the correct crimping tool. Didn't stop me having a go at threading some strong cotton back up the tube and trying to pull the wires through though. Didn't work as it turned out.

Not the best approach 

I got hold of Derek at Caterham the following day to get his view on things. Apparently down at the factory they build the whole headlight and headlight bracket assemblies off the car and then, at the point at which the front suspension is fitted, fit the whole lot to the car in one go with it being a lot easier to thread the wires through the final hole with the bracket loose from the car. Apparently the build guide is to be updated soon to reflect this as it will definitely simply things but as Derek kindly pointed out, this wasn't going to be much good to me having already built most of the car.

Derek suggested two approaches to me that would work though. The first being to take the headlight bracket back off the car again with the primary issue here being that the front ARB passes across the top of the bolt head that would need to be removed. Apparently you can undo the ARB brackets and drop the ARB a bit to give you access and I could see how this would work, but In the end I preferred the second approach more (which backed up those suggestions made on Blatchat) which was to cut off the connectors, thread the wires through on their own and then, assuming I'd been successful, put some more connectors on the ends. Derek kindly agreed to send me some more of the connectors in the post so I got on with cutting the wires and attempting to thread them through in anticipation of their arrival.

This exercise still wasn't exactly plain sailing. I managed to get a couple of the wires through on their own but not all would go through at once. In the end I came up with a neat solution which was to pass a couple of sacrificial wires back up the tube from the end nearest the engine bay and using them to pull the wires I wanted back down it again. I could only get 2 wires back up the tube in the end so I bunched the 5 cables I needed to feed back down into a set of 2 and a set of 3 cables. I then soldered the wires together and taped around the connection with sellotape to make sure nothing would snag as I pulled it through. It took some shingling around with the wires and puling them back and forth but they did eventually go through. 

Wires finally through to the engine bay

So those were the bits that I managed to get done during the evenings this past week. Saturday was a write off as I had other things to do which only left Sunday clear for me to do a decent stint on the car.

Cycle Wings & Front Repeaters

The weather was actually pretty good when I awoke and, having heard that crap weather was due by lunchtime, I decided now would be a good time to get the side repeaters and cycle wings fitted so that I could complete the assembly of the econoseal plug and connect all of the lighting at the front into the main wiring loom. First step, drill out the marked holes that were already waiting for me on the wings (came like that from Caterham) using a 5mm drill bit.

Drilling initial holes
The guide then tells you to open up the middle hole to around 15mm which I did with the Dremmel. I'd recommend this approach over using consecutive larger drill bits for the middle hole. I tried this initially and could soon see that it was going to end with lots of cracks and chips to the fiberglass and paint finish so I stopped and opted to sand it to a greater size which didn't take very long either.

Making space for the front repeaters
The front repeater was then simply passed through the holes and was bolted on from the underside. Now it was time to fit the wings to the wing stays.

The Assembly Guide talks you through the steps needed to bolt the wings onto the car and indeed this is the usual approach for self builders with the wings coming pre-marked so you can see where you need to drill. I'd seen on a fellow 7'ers blog though that you could also take the approach of bonding the wings on so as to avoid any unsightly bolt holes that would be needed through the tops of the wings. I duly bought the necessary tools (BigHeads & acrylic bonding agent) during the week so had these ready to go.

The first step was to clean the underside of the cycle wings and the tops of the wing stays with Isopropyl alcohol to make sure the surfaces to be bonded were nice and clean. The bigheads sit directly on top of the wingstays and are then attached to them using cable ties. With these then loosely fixed in place, I could set about aligning the wings with respect to the tyre, a job made considerably easier with the aid of some masking tape appropriate markings to show the central line of the wings. These can then be aligned in relation to the central cut outs in the tyre tread.

Left/Right alignment of the Cycle Wings
The trickiest part of alignment is making sure the overhang at the front is correct. I did this initially by putting my finger on one of the marked holes and then, whilst looking up from underneath, looking to see whether my finger was aligned with where the Wingstay would need to be should I have chosen to drill it. With it aligned, I then looked down vertically from above at the forward edge of the wing and marked a line onto some tape that I had put onto the tyre. With all my visual cues in place, I quickly took the wing back off, made sure my BigHead fasteners were all aligned properly and then duly covered them all in the acrylic bonding agent. I used a 2 part adhesive called BigBond FS Acrylic. It mixes together automatically as you use it to activate it. I gave a good covering over the tops of all 8 of the BigHeads I was using (4 for each wing), then put the wing back into place and pushed down to make sure I got good contact. I then temporarily stuck the wing in place with some more masking tape.

Wing starting to bond to the BigHead fasteners
Within about 30 minutes the adhesive had worked its magic so I jacked the car back up and took the wheels off again. I then used what little adhesive I had left to go around the backside of the fasteners to make sure everything would definitely stick.

Wings bonded in place

Top down view of cycle wing

Now all that's left for me to do is get some polish and see If I can remove the 2 blue dots which look to have been put on with a marker pen. I had a go at a little bit of one and they do seem to be removable which is a relief.

The last activity for today was then to fit the hoodsticks (simple) before test fitting the roof. There are still some fasteners that I need to add to the sides of the car to locate it fully in place but other than that it does seem to fit pretty well. Some of the poppers are quite hard to get on though but I guess the vinyl will stretch a bit over time. Here's what she looks like tonight (albeit with the hood not properly fastened in place)

Very close to the finish line
Next on the list is the doors and the arm rest brackets which I hope to get done one evening this week before doing some final tidying of the wiring and sticking on all the necessary bits and bobs ahead of the IVA. Oh and it could do with a bonnet and nosecone shortly too!

Sunday 8 September 2013

Day 14 (Full Day)

Being a Sunday and having had a late night the day before I was actually quite pleased to be starting on the car by 9am. Unfortunately the BigHeads hadn't turned up in the post before the week was out so work would have to be confined to other parts of the car for now. Turns out there was LOTS to do so I needn't have worried.

Steering Column

On looking at the instructions, I'd been led to believe that this would be another of those 5 minute jobs so I thought it would be a good one to kick start the day. Unfortunately that wasn't to be and it took rather longer than I'd hoped. Fitting the Union Joint to the Steering Rack was simple enough, as was fitting the lower steering column into the other side of the Union Joint. The only issue I had was with one of the retaining bolts that go through the UJ. I just couldn't get one of the bolts through as the alignment was slightly off. In the end I cut a big taper onto the end of the bolt, coated it in Copper Slip and gave it a big whack (several actually) before enough of the bolt came through the other side to get the nut onto it. I then pulled the bolt all the way through by doing it up. Apparently this is quite common so when you get to this job and you are getting frustrated, rest assured that I know how you feel.

At this point you are then told to pass the upper steering column down through the dash, down through the lower bush and onto the lower rack. Unfortunately, despite greasing up the column when I pushed the upper column through the bush, the white plastic inner of the bush came loose and came right out of the hole in the dash - damn!

I tried various attempts to bush the plastic part of the bush back up the column but I wasn't getting anywhere. I couldn't see what I was doing and the plastic inner has a couple of retaining notches which have to align perfectly with the rubber part of the bush it sits in so the chances of getting it to locate were slim to none. Apparently it's quite common for this to happen but its bloody frustrating when it does. Time to search for a solution. I couldn't really leave the inner out of the bush as I was sure that would mean lots of play in the steering which was not something I wanted. Thankfully I worked out a solution quite quickly which I will share below just in case it happens to someone else.

  • Step 1 - Remove the upper steering column completely.
  • Step 2 - Remove the lower column completely (take it out of the UJ). This needs to be done as it is fouling the hole that you need to insert the plastic insert back into
  • Step 3 - Spray the white inner with silicone spray and use your middle finger to insert it back up and into the bush. You can look down the hole through the dash from the top at the same time to make sure the white notches align correctly into the locators on the rubber bush
  • Step 4 - Grease the upper steering column and insert it back down through the dash whilst at the same time keeping your middle finger inside the bush so you can feel when you have it central. When you do gently push it through. Hey presto its through the white inner!
  • Step 5 - Refit the lower column and then slide the upper column over the lower one as shown in the Assembly guide.
This goes against the order in which the guide tells you to do it in but actually if you started with this approach I'm pretty sure you'd save some time and if you are unlucky enough to pop the white inner out of the lower bush you have nothing in the way in order to pop it back in again!

Once that was done, I then had to fit the upper steering column bush. This is presumably the same as the lower bush although you never actually see that one as it is hidden beneath the dash. The guide says to fit it over the upper column pushing it down into the dashboard tube. Its got two rubber lugs on it which are supposed to locate into corresponding holes in the side of the dash tube. I tried for about 20 minutes using loads of rubber lubricant but could not get the bush to push home into the tube. To be honest I was getting a bit pissed off. In the end I stopped for a bit, had a cup of tea, calmed down and thought about what other ideas I could come up with. In the end, I pleased I did as I happened upon a good one which I strongly advise others using too.

I popped down to B&Q and bought a length of metal tubing. the diameter was 25mm, just wide enough to fit completely over one end of the bush. I also bought a load of M12 washers which could fit over the end of the upper rack. The lot cost me about £8.

Tools for fitting Upper Steering Column

The metal pole I'd bought was over a meter long so I cut it down to size, fitted it over the Upper Column and then added a number of washers over the end. Using what would later become the securing nut, I then did the whole lot up, pushing the bush into the hole as I did so. I had to repeat this procedure 2 or 3 times, adding further washers each time so that I could push the bush further into the hole. It was a job well done but one that had taken over 2 hours to complete.

Improvised Steering Bush Locator

Once that was done it was a simple case of fitting the steering wheel boss, doing the large nut up and then screwing the steering wheel into the holes on the boss. Steering now complete!

Rear Wings

I then moved on to the rear wings. I started off as suggested in the guide by fitting the wing protectors. The protector plates fit to the wing with a rubber bead that runs round the top, outer and bottom edge. To simplify things I stuck the rubber beading in place using tape. This is now on the car but is hidden behind the plate so it won't be seen.

Securing Rubber Bead in place

Flipping the protector plates over, I then stuck them onto the wing, again using tape. Happy that I had the alignment right I then drilled through the existing holes and through the fiberglass wings. It was then just a case of gently riveting the panels on. I started in one corner and then worked my way around. Just be careful to ensure that the rubber bead is tight to the edge of the plate before you rivet each hole.

At this point I tried to test fit one of the wings to the car. I realised quickly that there was an issue. The rear radius arm was in the way. A quick check of the guide confirmed that it was OK to cut away some of the fiberglass so it would fit so out came the Dremel again.

Enlarging Wing Holes

Breaking right through

With the wing then fitted flush to the side of the car I loosely held them in place. Some of the bolts go straight into holding nuts that re fitted to the body of the car. Those towards the back of the car come out into areas such as the boot and below the boot floor and need a nut to hold them on. Additional (Wider) Rubber Bead then needs to be fitted behind the wing, being sandwiched in place when the bolts are eventually done up. The end result looks as follows:

Cut out for Radius Arm

Completed Wing

Rear Lights

It was then time to fit the rear lights, Harriet kindly offering to take this job on whilst I moved on to tidying up some of the wiring in the engine bay. The first step was to loosely fit the rubber mounting blocks to the car having first removed the light clusters that are screwed to them. There is a single hole drilled in the wing already for you. You use that to get the position of the lights right and then drill the additional 3 holes to fit the blocks. Simple screws that go directly through the wing hold them in place. Although this has worked successfully, I do wonder about the safety of having screw heads protruding through and into the wheel arch the other side. Might ask Caterham whether its safe to file off the ends?

Holes drilled, ready to be fitted

Rear lights in place

Wheels & Initial Alignment

Whilst the lights were being fitted, I decided to align the front tracking as best as I could. I test fitted the front wheels and then looked down the line of the car to get a visual indication of whether it was toe in or toe out on each side of the car. They were both a bit out so I adjusted the track rod ends and did everything back up again. Its good enough for now but I'll be sure to get the whole geometry set-up properly once the cars is back from its IVA.

First Start

With the rear arches fitted I then decided to fit the rear wheels as well. This meant that I could now lower the car down and off the Axle stands. Some friends duly arrived for some dinner so I took the opportunity to try and see if the car would start.

Following the advice given in the Assembly Guide, I cranked the engine for about 30 seconds with the Inertia switch disconnected so it wouldn't start. When I saw that the oil pressure was registering I stopped, reconnected the switch and then started it up. Broooooooooom Broooooooom - It's alive!!!

The first thing I noticed was that it was running at a very fast idle (2.5k) so I switched it off and tried readjusting both the throttle cable but also the idle screw. These helped but the car is still idling very quick. Think some more adjustment might be in order but I shall leave that for another day.

Just the front wings and the weather gear to do now and I should be nearly there. Still no word from VOSA regarding my IVA date but hopefully I hear from them this week.

Day 13 (Evening)

Not updated the blog for a couple of days now as I've been back at work this week and haven't had much time to dedicate to the car. That said, I have managed to find a few hours between meal times to complete a few odd and fiddly jobs. Mostly I have focused on filling the car with fluids and getting those systems which needed bleeding finished off.

Bleeding the brake lines

A surprisingly tricky and time consuming job this one and definitely a job that works better if you've checked to make sure that all your union joints are done up properly! My 3 way union located on the Dedion wasn't and so the first time we pumped the brakes we had a nice pool of brake fluid on the floor behind the car. The stuff also has a habit of getting on to everything so be sure to have a bucket of water and a sponge to hand so as to dilute it and wipe it off anything that it later finds its way onto.

This job is easiest if you read the instructions properly and do it like it tells you to in the guide. First step, get a glass (pint glass is good for this) and put about a 1/4 of a pint of fluid in the bottom. Caterham had kindly given me a length of small diameter fuel hose which I assume was meant to assist with this job. One end goes into the glass being sure to get the end of the hose submerged into the fluid. Next step is to start at the back of the car and unscrew the bleed nipple on the calliper. you can see it in the image below, its the light silver bit poking out of the back of the calliper. Unscrew it ever so slightly, put the other end of the hose onto it and then pump the brakes making sure you have filled the brake reservoir so that it is full.

Once fluid starts to flow freely out of the end, close off the nipple and then repeat the process on the other callipers. The guide clearly gives you the sequence in which to do them but its rears first and then the front.

I found I had to take at least 2 trips around each calliper before getting all of the air out of the system. I also found that the hose, though good and getting fluid to go into the pint glass, did flick fluid everywhere when taking it off the bleed nipples so definitely worth having something ready to wipe things clean quickly as it does corrode paint work.

Bleeding the Clutch

Very similar process to doing the brakes however I found this one even more difficult. This is because the bleed nipple exits at the top of the bell housing. The issue is that it doesn't stick out of the top but is instead just visible through an opening in the top of the housing. Its easy enough to undo with a socket (spanner is too wide to get onto it) and easy to get a hose onto it but as you bleed the system, you are forced to take the hose off before you can close off the nipple again.

In the end, I resigned myself to the fact that I would have to fill the clutch reservoir with enough fluid to keep it flowing out of the end of the nipple even after the hose had been removed. I knew this would mean a bit would flow out of the end and down into the bell housing but I couldn't really see any other way of doing it. Oh and be aware that the clutch fluid reservoir is tiny so if you are not careful it will run dry and you introduce air back into the system again.

Anyway, done now and the pedal feels pretty good. Wont know if its sufficient until its on the road.

Filling the Diff

I'd left this job until after the rear axle, suspension etc was on the car before trying to fill it. In hindsight, I kinda wish I'd done it as soon as I'd put the diff in and there was nothing else impeding access to it. As it was, I was forced to take the boot floor up (glad I hadn't stuck down the carpet yet) in order to gain access to it. The main issue though is that the Dedion tube sits only about an inch behind the filler plug and so getting the filler plug out is a bit of an issue.

Part of the tools that had come with the car included a very large allen key specifically for this job. Unfortunately, the head of the key was just too long to make it work within the space available so it was out with the Dremel to make some minor adjustments...

Safety First!

Modified Allen Key

With that done, It was now a very snug fit but I could just about get some purchase on the plug and get it off. It was actually on pretty tight.

I then set about rigging up a way of filling it with oil, choosing to reuse some fuel hose that I still had which I then attached to a funnel. I then cable tied the funnel to the roll bar so that it would hold itself in place. Filling through the funnel was then very easy but a bit slow. It was a tiny funnel and the oil reasonably thick so it took some 20 minutes to get it filled. I was sure to add the LSD additive that Caterham had provided first to make sure I had all of it in there. In the end, I managed to get about 1.1 litres of oil in on top of the additive before oil started coming out of the filler plug. It was then a case of doing the plug up again using the butchered allen key.

Knee Trim Panels and Riveting

Believing I might have the wrong panels I'd gone and checked this out with Derek at the factory. Apparently they are the same for both car types so it was just a case of me not getting them to fit right. I had a few goes at this and couldn't get it to work, mostly finding that the panels seemed an odd shape for the space they are designed for.

Fiddly Knee Panels

There are holes in the trim panel that are already drilled and there are corresponding holes in the side panels of the car already. Its just a case of lining them up before popping rivets into each of the holes. In the end, I did manage to align them on the drivers side. but on the Passenger side, I could only get one end to align (left hand end as you look at pic above). I was hoping that, having put a single rivet into the hole, I would then be able to move the panel around, pivoting it around this point and therefore getting it all to align. I got it close but ultimately no cigar. In the end it looked a good enough fit though so I re-drilled the holes slightly and then fastened them with the rivets. the alignment is therefore slightly different on each side but as these are hidden underneath the dash and are black its really not noticeable or worth worrying about.

Edit  - 08/09/13 - Having spoken to Derek at the Factory, since writing about the Knee Trim Panels, I have realised that I have used the wrong rubber piping. The stuff you see in the pic above is for use on other bits of the car such as around the front cycle wings etc. This means I will have to drill out the rivets and replace the rubber for the correct type at a later point. Oh well!

And that's all I'm going to have time for this week as work is pretty busy. I'm going to attempt to fit the rear wings on and start her up this weekend for the first time if I can. I've also got some BigHeads and adhesive on order which I intend to use to bond the front wings on. If that turns up on time, I may also look to get that done too.

Sunday 1 September 2013

Day 12 (Afternoon)

So today was my last chance to work on the car before I go back to work on Monday so I was looking to make it a productive one. My wife Harriet kindly offered to muck in and give me a helping hand and between us we made extremely good progress leaving a more than manageable workload left to do before Caterham pick the car up on the 23rd September.

Rear Brake Lines

The first thing I did was go back to finishing the rear brakes off. I'd been concerned yesterday that I might've been in danger of doing something silly but confirmation from some kind individuals on Blatchat confirmed that gently bending the pipes into place so they could locate into the calipers was indeed the right way to proceed. In the end I resorted to bending the pipes gently round in a nice arc using a socket to help make the curve nice and smooth. The resulting rear calipers now look like the following and the brake system is now in a position to be filled and bled but that's still to be done and is perhaps a nice job for tomorrow evening.

Rear brake lines fitted

Carpets, Interior and 4-point Harnesses

I started out by fitting the carpet that sits behind the 2 seats. All of the carpets come in one big pack but none of them are labelled so it does take a little while testing fitting where you think they should go to make sure you've got it right, particularly around the boot area where there are several bits to fit. That said, the one that goes on the rear bulkhead behind the seats is obvious enough. Having done an initial test fitting and once comfortable with what went where, I then got out the contact adhesive and started to stick the carpet in place. I started off by sticking the vinyl strip that runs across the top of this piece of carpet to the chassis behind where the headrests would be.

Sticking down vinyl strip on rear bulkhead carpet

God knows how I managed it but shortly after this i noticed I'd managed to spray a bit of adhesive onto my shiny white paintwork on the boot of the car. Needless to say I was not best pleased but I was lucky to catch it early as I was able to rub it off with no signs remaining now of my little mishap. It did take me some 20 minutes though which was time I'd rather not have wasted but there we go.

Having stuck the vinyl strip down all the way around the top bar, I then set about cutting out some holes in the vinyl around the bolt holes already present in the chassis rail. These will later be used to fix the shoulder harnesses to the chassis.

Carefully cutting squares in vinyl

I then went on to fitting some of the remaining carpet panels in place within the boot space. The guide suggests that you don't need to stick the boot carpets down at all but I decided to do some of them around the sides, opting to leave just the main boot floor free of glue. It was relatively easy to get a decent enough finish though I am yet to fully finish off the boot completely. Trying to screw down the plate that protects the fuel pipes leading to the fuel tank was quite a tricky exercise. Mainly this is down to the relative lack of space to get a drill into the area in order to drill the required pilot holes. I did actually manage to get that bit done but still haven't got round to screwing the plate into place. That job will have to wait until another day.

Gluing carpet triangles in place

Boot mostly finished

Whilst I was doing that, Harriet kindly got on to bolting the shoulder harnesses in place on both side of the car. A single bolt and a spacer are all that is needed to fit the harnesses to the top chassis rail.

Not my hands I promise!!

That finished, the interior was left looking a lot nicer but we still had the carpets to fit to the transmission tunnel and in hindsight we did this bit slightly wrong as we'd fitted the lap belts in place only to find they needed to come off again to fit the carpets but hey ho. I had been tempted to use velcro for the transmission tunnel to make removal of the carpets again in the future a little easier. As it was, I didn't get it in time and just wanted to get on with the job so I've stuck it on with Evo Stick but only in a few places so I should be able to rip it back off if needed. By this point, this is kinda what the interior looked like

Harnessed and rear bulkhead carpet in
Before getting too ahead of ourselves and fitting the seats, we decided to split up and tackle separate jobs. Harriet kindly offered to take on the task of cutting and fitting the necessary bits of rubber piping needed around the interior. It needs to be fitted along the edges of the side panels before the panels are later riveted into place. Having done the rubber piping, I then put the carbon sill protectors into place and duly drilled holes through them inline with the existing holes in the side panel in readiness to do all the riveting.

Rubber piping in place and holes drilled in sill protectors
With that done, there was really no point in moving onto anything else without first riveting the side panels in place so I got out the riveting tool and got started. I was actually quite surprised at the amount of force needed to get each rivet into place but other than a bit of hard graft, the job was reasonably straightforward. I've also not riveted everywhere at this point as I still need to fit the knee trim panels and also a bracket which is designed to take the popper which is used by the side screen arm rests which are still to be fitted. Unfortunately, I may have to check in with Caterham again about the Knee Trim Panels as I think I may have been given the ones needed for an SV chassis rather than my S3. Certainly a check on the Caterham parts site suggests these could be wrong so I shall have to double check tomorrow.

The Gun Show!

Whilst this was going on, Harriet continued to cut up various bits of rubber and vinyl needed to protect a few bits needed ahead of the IVA. to start with she dealt with the trim required around the rear lights before finally fitting the vinyl protection needed around the scuttle which runs around the top edge of the dash.

The wife done good!
Oh and apparently I'd made a hash of some of the carpet in the boot so she went and sorted that out for me as well, thanks Hattie!

Harriet doing the business

To finish off the interior and before fitting the seats, we put the transmission 'Tunnel Top' on over the gearstick, handbrake and transmission tunnel. This is one complete piece and simply pushes down into place. By this stage the interior looked as follows:

Interior still missing some seats


We then moved on to a job which I knew before we started it wasn't going to be easy. The seats come armed with the adjustable runners already on the bottom. To start with, you are supposed to move the seats into their most reward position on the runners so that the very front of the runner is exposed to reveal a bolt hole through which you pass a bolt downwards through the runner and into the floor. Simple enough once you know how but did take us a while to read the instructions. Once the front 2 bolts are in, you then slide the seat forwards and then try and pass 2 bolts down into the rear of the runner, again bolting them through the floor and doing up the nuts from underneath. This is the hardest part as the seats impede access to those holes. You have to get all 'Stevie Wonder Hands' and feel your way along the runner and guess where the holes are. To make matters worse, a couple of our holes weren't quite aligned perfectly so the bolts didn't really want to go through. On one of them, I had to open up the hole slightly from underneath using the Dremel to finally get the bolts to come thorough. Once we'd finally bolted them in place, it was time for a well deserved photo of me getting acquainted with my new driving position.

Hmm, something is definitely missing

While I was there, I also noticed a couple of wires hanging down into the passenger side footwell. I've still not worked out what these are for and where they are supposed to be routed. If anyone has any ideas and can shed light on it for me, perhaps be kind enough to leave me a comment so I know what to do with them - thanks.

Unidentified wires

And at that point it was time to leave it and head off for a well deserved Sunday Roast. Really happy with the progress this afternoon and its starting to look nearly complete. Next job will be to start reading the IVA guidance and covering the whole car in tacky bits of rubber and plastic - ahh well, needs must.

Here's a picture of how the old girl looks this evening:

Nearing Completion