Sunday, 1 January 2012

Rear suspension – 12th March 2011

After the challenges of the rear diff assembling the rear suspension was relatively straight forward. In went the prepared de Dion tube, flexible brake hose connected, on went the rear damper assemblies & the radius arms. One thing the build manual doesn’t make clear is that the rear damper lower mounts are installed inside the side chassis rail but once we’d worked this out installation was easy, although Copperease on the lower radius arm bushes & a rubber mallet were required to get the lower radius arm to fit in the mounting on the de Dion tube.
© 2011 Chris Jobling - All rights reserved

Rear diff revisited – 10th March 2011

Graham came over in the evening prepared to do battle with the diff with his engine hoist; which as it turned out proved unnecessary. With two adults we managed to manoeuvre the diff into position so that the lower mounting bolts could be installed. The distance on both sides of the diff & chassis rail was then carefully measured & spacer sandwiches assembled by “glueing” washers together with Copperease to get within the prescribed +-2mm tolerance). A micrometer helps here.
Now the fun part began! The long top mounting bolt was driven out of the top diff mounting with the aid of a screwdriver & rubber mallet & the bolt lubricated with Copperease to assist installation. With gentle persuasion from the rubber mallet, plus some wriggling of the diff, the bolt slid through the first chassis mounting bush & the same number of spacer washers were applied each side of the diff as for the lower mounts. Unfortunately the bolt then stopped at the second bush with the end sitting a couple of mm too high. The spacer washers were aligned to make sure they were not obstructing the bolt & the rubber mallet applied; no movement. Taking an alternative approach the bolt head was turned with a rachet & the diff pushed & pulled to allow the bolt to screw itself into the second mounting bush, before emerging ready for the washer & nut to be fitted. Success!
The  whole process took about an hour & was a lot easier than my earlier attempts had suggested. We managed to get the diff centralised in the chassis to within 1mm which I was pretty pleased about.
© 2011 Chris Jobling - All rights reserved

Sunday, 21 August 2011

On the road at last! – 16th July 2011

Collected car from Caterham South this morning & drove back with Adam in the rain, hood down, big smiles - just had to be done. 

Frustratingly, the whole post build inspection, IVA test & registration process took four long weeks so we missed our target by 2 weeks of getting the car on the road in time to drive it to the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

Surprised by the length of the list of remedial work uncovered by the post build inspection (including new A frame!) as I thought we'd followed the Assembly Guide meticulously :-(. Closer analysis revealed that the guide was incorrect (washers for rear dampers, washers for rear brake hose) so I managed to negotiate a reduction in the bill but nevertheless there was still an unexpected £500 of work. 

A word of warning to others reading this blog: the routing of wiring, cables etc in the engine bay has to be done in a very specific way to get through the IVA test & this is one area the Assembly Guide glosses over  (a few more detailed pictures would be useful here). Consequently mine needed re-doing by Caterham, who did a very neat job. Another gotcha is the A frame for the rear suspension; apparently it's very easy to stress & crack the weld when tightening it up. Even measuring the spacers & making sure it was central we got caught out so it has to be a manufacturing defect.

Decided to get Caterham to take the car through the IVA test but, even so, this was not straight forward as it failed first time round despite all this work & preparation. The handbrake needed adjusting & the mounting of the washer bottle was incorrect which I'm at a loss to understand. The bottle comes pre fitted to the chassis & slides into a tapered bracket so there is only one way it can be fitted. Net result we lost us a week while we waited for a re-test.

Second warning: don't use MC Edwards for your insurance. Service is non existent, they don't answer the phone, respond to emails or voicemails & cover notes don't turn up on time.

How long did it take to build?
Estimate that the build took us about 120 hours. We started mid February & finished mid June working about 8 hours each weekend.

Was it a good family project?
It certainly beats spending hours in front of the TV or gaming on the PC or Wii. Both of my sons learnt a lot from the project about how to use tools, how to solve problems, car mechanics/enginering, & resolve & determination to see something through to the end.  The picture on Adam's face of pride & excitement as he took his first ride in a Caterham he'd help build was priceless.

And lastly, would I build a Caterham again? Yes, but it would be a lot easier & quicker second time :-)
© 2011 Chris Jobling - All rights reserved

Job done! – 11th June 2011

All done & ready to be collected for it’s post build inspection on Monday.
Fitting the IVA trim & covers is mind numbing & fiddly. Assembly Guide leaves it until after you’ve done all the lighting before telling you that you should have installed grommets for the head lamp & front indicator repeaters in the wing stay & head lamp brackets :-{. By then it’s a bit late & they’re pretty well impossible to fit (even if you cut them) so ended up using amalgam tape at the bracket exit points. Hope this meets with the approval of the IVA inspector!
Tube for windscreen washer required a hole to be drilled through the bulkhead as there was insufficient space to slide it through the wiring loom hole. Replaced rear fog lamp bulb, checked fuse & wiring to the switch but still it refuses to function so added this to the post build inspection list for Caterham to have a look at. Broken plastic in lens suggests there might be internal damage.

© 2011 Chris Jobling - All rights reserved

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Carpet jigsaw– 5th June 2011

Discovered that 8 unidentified bits of carpet were in fact for the boot. Another area where the assembly guide is deficient. Completed fitting of hood & boot cover.

Sidescreens, mirrors & hood all attached. Relieved to find all the hood dot fastenings were already on the hood itself; not sure why Caterham don’t do the same for the boot cover. Just the torneau cover to fit now-with plenty of dot fasteners!

© 2011 Chris Jobling - All rights reserved

The best seats in the house – 21-22nd May 2011

Returned from Seven club event at Dunsfold all fired up to complete the build. Just a pity that it took place a month too early to participate in my own car.

Zip tied wiring into place & connected up front lights with Econoplugs. All lights & indicators now functioning with the exception of rear fog light. I’ll have to investigate.

Repetitive strain injury from riveting 110 pop rivets for aluminium body panels to chassis.

Replaced nearside rear light cluster with new one which arrived during the week. This has a cable which is about an inch longer so the wiring isn’t stretched taught like a bow string. Apparently it’s common for there to be differences in manufacturing, but it seems like a basic quality control issue to me!?

Installed knee panels but pre-drilled holes in these don’t match up with those already drilled in chassis panelling :-(. As they seem a tight fit I need to ask Caterham if these have to be riveted for the IVA test.

Hoodsticks fiited prior to attempting boot cover installation. Drilled through alloy bar but top nearside harness bolt won’t go through chassis. Might need Caterham to run a tap through the mount when the car goes for it’s post build inspection.

Boys back from a weekend Scout camp so fitted 4 point harnesses & seats. Headrests a struggle to fit & remove even after carefully filing away burrs on the inside of the seat. Boys & I strapped ourselves in & went for an imaginary drive :-)

© 2011 Chris Jobling - All rights reserved

Lights, camera, action – 14-15th May 2011

Indicator repeaters fitted to front wings & cables fed through the hollow wing stays. This is quite tricky as the cables are a snug fit. Solution was to thread a long length of house earth wire sleeve up from the bottom , push the end onto the rubber connector of the repeater wires then use this to push & pull them through the stay. Unfortunately sharp edges inside the stay resulted in some nicks to the outer heatshrink.

The assembly guide describes a complex process for positioning & drilling the mounting holes in the front wings. In reality a much quicker & easier way is to centre the wings over the tyre, drill the holes in the wing stays using the tyre tread to get the same spacing front & rear, & finally put a pilot hole in the wings by using the holes in the stays as a guide & drilling up through them to mark the wings. You can then flip the wings over finish the pilot hole & drill out to 5mm.

Now that the wings & front & back lights are on it's looking like a real car! Unfortunately I discovered I'm missing the Econoplug connectors so cannot complete the headlight wiring & also realise that I'm still waiting for the hoodsticks. I'll have to put in another call to Caterham (I seem to have had rather a lot of shortages/missing items).

© 2011 Chris Jobling - All rights reserved