("It's Good to Torque....")

18/01/97

Well the car has arrived - put it up on stands and checked all the contents which appeared to be all present and correct except....

Masked all round the body off and sorted out the bits to start attaching the front suspension. Damn! B*gger! Two Bilstein front dampers with blue springs - Damn! B*gger - two totally different units, even the length is different (and no, they're not the rear ones! - they are ok).....

Ah well....Lets achieve just one little thing today and fit a wishbone. Look for a bag of nuts,bolts,etc. labelled front suspension - Damn! B*gger! No bag! Question :- Are the bits to fit the front suspension in two bags labelled 'Front Suspension' just like the rear bits are in bags labelled 'Rear Suspension' or am I missing the point?

Ahhh well - We'll get there in the end!

I must say though - all the other bits came well packed, labelled and arranged....And the finish of the body is superb!

P.S. If anyones received a car recently (DeDion) - What is the hole on the far right of the dashboard for? (Looks like it's the horn)

25/01/97

The correct front damper arrived during the week so proper construction commenced....

Put the front suspension upper wishbone in place and loosely fixed the front bolt. Prepared to fix the second retaining bolt and noticed a spacer bush is required - took the wishbone off again! Fit the spacer bush - this is a tight fit - check with Caterham - nobody answers the phone on the factory number (again!) so call the spares desk and they confirm you need to use a vice to get it to fit....

Fit damper, lower wishbone with no problems.

Fit cycle wing stay to front upright. The manual says use a 'thin' 1/2" UNF nyloc. What do they mean by thin? Look around for 'thin' nyloc - the thinest I have is 3/8th's Inch fit this - Can anyone confirm this is correct? (3/8th's turns out to be the right length)

Fit the front upright but don't tighten nylocs until I can confirm that the wing stay nut is correct....

Left hand front suspension is complete!

Start right hand side - this goes OK until I try and fit the bolt into the 'second chassis leg' for the lower wishbone. The sleeve welded onto the chassis where the bolt goes through appears to be at the wrong angle. Only the first 1/4 inch of the bolt will go through the hole. Gently tap with a rubber mallet - goes a bit further and starts to scrape the paint off the chassis. Give up!

Has anybody had this problem? (Yes! This is a common problem!)

Although the manual says the bolt must enter from the front - is this actually the case? Can anyone confirm whether Caterham assembled cars adhere to this? (Checked with a few sources and they all concur that fitting the bolt from the back is quite common and perfectly acceptable)

26/01/97

After peering at pictures of other 7's in various books, decide to go ahead with putting the bolt in from the rear of the lower wishbone and check with Caterham tomorrow. Right hand suspension completed.

Fit the anti-roll bar. This went in very easily apart from the cable ties to hold the boots on are missing.

Try to fit the steering rack. The manual makes this sound easy - in fact it is once you know the correct way of doing it which I have to work out for myself. Discover that putting the rack on full left lock, inserting it into the left hand hole from above just gives enough clearance. Mount the steering rack to the chassis - well as best I can as I have a shortage of washers and nuts.

Next task is the rear end. The manual says that some material needs to be removed from the diff and to check whether this has been done at the factory - it hasn't, so I saw the required piece off the diff. Fit the breather pipe, check that I have the correct propshaft (I have) and check that the propshaft attaches to the gearbox (it does).

Attempt to fit the propshaft to the diff using four special blue bolts. Problem! Cannot find the four bolts anywhere. Decide to call it a day and wonder whether Caterham took on the quality control people from British Leyland.

28/01/97

Woke up this morning feeling distinctly odd. The doctor told me I was suffering from a severe bout of "Sevenbuildyitus" and advised a me to take a dose of "Caterham Assembly Guide". I checked with my boss (me) and I told myself to have the day off.

A package from Caterham arrived this morning so I fitted the missing bits and prepared to tackle the diff. Torqueing the 'blue' bolts which hold the propshaft to the diff is best tackled by holding the gearbox end of the propshaft in a vice - otherwise the propshaft just turns round - strange that!

Try to fit the assemble diff/propshaft to the chassis. Discover (the hard way) that the propshaft has to be slid into the chassis from the rear of the car and not just lifted in from the bottom. After I've increased the height of the rear axle stands I eventually manage to get the propshaft into the transmission tunnel (it's very tight and you need to rotate the propshaft) and the diff hanging from the top mount. For anybody tackling this task who isn't Geoff Capes I'd suggest you obtain assistance when fitting the diff - I discovered this the hard way as well....

Next it was necessary to evenly pack either side of the diff with washers so there's no play between the bushes and the diff. This is easier said than done! Len suggests pushing the diff to one side and test packing the washers into the other side - hopefully you'll end up with an even number! The two bottom bolts were packed with washers and the whole lot torqued up - RELIEF!

After the diff the rest was easy going. Fitted the de dion tube, drive shafts, ears. Oh dear! We have some bolts missing! Decide to carry on fitting just one side and consequently fit the ear (don't forget that ally cover), hub carrier, hub, brake callipers. This went together without any problems. Peering into the dedion tube I decided the missing bolts were a mixed blessing as I'll spray a load of waxoil down the tube before doing the other side.

Went home for tea....

Steve.

P.S. Anyone who's a considering going to a healthfarm to get fit - save your money and get a job fitting diffs for a couple of weeks!

01/02/97

Today started with the best of intentions - well it's allowed on the weekend. Purchased some brake fluid, 3/4 to 1/2 socket adaptor (for the 41 mm hub socket) and retrieved my waxoil kit from the depths of the shed (ironically, the can had gone rusty!)

Spent 2 hours cleaning all the waxoil sprayers innards after a test spray resulted in waxoil shooting out of the wrong end of the spray gun (at least I'm fully rust proof now!). Anyway, I finally got the tube treated which was probably as total waste of time.

Fitted the other de dion ear, hub and brake assembly followed by both radius arms. I decide to ignore all the "Grannies gone shopping" and "Seasick" criticisms of the 96 suspension and opted for the optimum ride setting.

Started to fit the FIA rollbar.

Had a rather nice steak and kidney pie for tea.

02/02/97

Got up late! Decided to continue my attack on the FIA rollbar. Attack is in fact quite accurate as one of the inner holes was a couple of mm's out and required attention from Mr.File.

The rear dampers were the next to receive attachment. Or would have been if I'd remember to get the right allen gizmo to do the cap head bolts up. Checked the rest of the rear suspension bits and discovered some more shortages.

Changed tack and installed the front brake hoses and front wheels. Decide that the car is actually starting to look like a car and it looks rather good without any wings....

The handbrake is then fitted without any problems. Well until I try and attach the cables to the rear brakes. Oooopps! Shurely shome mistayke? Indeed! I've got the rear brake assemblies backwards! Remove both assemblies, swap them over and put them back. Now the cables go on without any problems....the handbrake even locks the backwheels.

Attach the Caterham keyring to the cars keys.

Send my weekly shopping list to Iain at Caterham HQ.

Have a bath,

Steve.

P.S. Anyone considering building a car HAS to buy Tony Weale's book - this has proved invaluable so far.

08/02/97

Caterham have finally supplied the fuel injection supply pipe to James Whiting so I now have all the bits. After some headscratching and a phone call to Caterham sales (where I got a salesman to crawl underneath a K series car - glad to see salesman still know their true place in life!) the top bolt in the diff was removed, solid pipe installed and cable tied up (the existing plastic pipe is now used as a return). Shortly after that I had the old fuel tank out, the sender removed and installed along with a fuel pump into the new tank, and the tank secured into the car.

The correct bolts for the FIA rollbar arrived today (well done Caterham - it only took 2 attempts!) and so the bar was finally torqued up. The dampers and a-frame went in next, the tolerance between the de-dion ears and the chassis was checked resulting in no measurable discrepancy.

Next job was to bend and fit the rear brake pipes - this is a horrible job. An important note for builders here is to remember that the pipes will only fit one way round - the manual ommits to tell you this. Fortunately I noticed this early enough and the pipes were fitted, cable tied and connected to the t-piece.

Rushed off to make some pastry....

09/02/97

Drop the front end onto it's wheels, move the rear axle stands to under the de dion tube and torque the A-frame and radius arms up. Adjust the handbrake and mark settings on cable as this needs to be released before the tunnel top is fitted. The cars then dropped onto it's rear wheels and can now be pushed backwards/forwards plus the handbrake can be operated! Spent a few minutes tidying all the tools up which had distributed themselves all over the garage floor.

Fix the additional cabling required to power the fuel pump into the wiring loom.

Piece together the bits required for the steering. All appear to be correct apart from a missing upper bush for the steering column.

13/02/97

Horrible day! Start by riveting the rear wings protectors to the wings - amazingly these line up. The rear wings with the rubber strip go in without any problem.

This has to be the worst job yet! I fit the front cycle wings. Why, oh why don't Caterham pre-drill the brackets for these? Trying to line the holes up and get the entrance angles right is not fun. Fortunately (and it was fortune!), everything lines up reasonably well.

As some recompence I fit the carpets and the seat loosely in the car - Vrrrooooommmm.......

14/02/97

Spend a day hassling the very patient Paul Dunnell. He waps my new engine onto the dyno to map the management system. The end result is a nice peak power of 196 BHP running on boggo unleaded fuel. I'm also amazed that when we check the engine emissions it meets all the necessary standards for a new production car - Who needs a cat? And just to make sure there's a nice software setting to reduce the emissions when you are going for your MOT! This engine is well sorted! Respect Paul!

15/03/97

....time passes....It's been sometime since the last build report, this is mainly caused by a distinct lack of building. After bolting the gearbox/bellhousing (remember - you don't need a spacer in Ford cars if you have an ally bellhousing) /engine together it was fitted into the car. The manual makes it sound very easy - just drop that engine into the car - well it ain't! The engine itself goes in fine - it just took an hour stripping the skin off my hands trying to get the splines on the gearbox and driveshaft to mate. And yes! I did remember to attach the speedo drive prior to fitting the engine.... Tip - for people yet to sample the joys of Caterham construction - get yourself a trolley jack....I've found it invaluable on several occasions - such as jacking under the gearbox to aid alignment.

The gearbox was filled with fluid - I used a funnel and tube to fill it up. Remember to loosen the filler plug before fitting the box....it can be done up very tightly. I'd suggest the use of the standard Ford oil quoted in the manual as it has special ingredients to aid the syncromesh - and with me driving the syncromesh needs all the help it can get! The diff was filled up in a similar fashion using synthetic gear oil.

Next I tried to fit the oil filter - ooopps! - the steering column is in the way. The solution to this problem took me rather a long time - it is in fact very simple (but, then, so am I) - rotate the steering rack in it's clamps. Et voila - a fitted oil filter.

By this time I'd received the modified bonnet from James Whiting and the air filter unit from Paul Dunnell (thanks gents). Being in an optimistic mood I loosely bolt the filter on and attempt to fit the bonnet - Nope! After repeatedly drilling, sawing, filing the air filter I get the bonnet and nosecone to fit.....Celebrate by torquing all the bolts up.

With the rear lights and heater fitted the main jobs remaining are :-

1. Install the engine plumbing; 2. Install the wiring; 3. Mount the fuel filter; 4. Bleed the brakes;

22/03/97

Didn't get much done today - Ambrose came over in his 1700 DeDion Super Sprint and Mike arrived in his freshly registered Executive SuperLight (a Superlight with heater,etc.) After much crawling under the cars, peeking and pushing in order to spot what construction mistakes I'd made (and I did....see later!) Mike took us out for a spin....

The six speed box is just mental! From start your constantly changing up until you hit 6th - which is the equivalent of 4th on a 5 speed box. The end result is great acceleration - Mike was still running in and was limited to 4,500 RPM but even so the thing went like stink! My conclusion is that if you've going K series and can put up with the lack of a 'cruising' (5th) gear it's well worth considering....

Ambroses car was interesting as well - I'd never really looked at a seven which had led a 'normal' life! As it's his only car it's been out in all weathers but still in good nick. 23,000 and still on the same tyres/brakes can't be bad - and that doesn't mean he's a namby pamby driver - 'cos he ain't!

Sorted out some bits, tidied up and went home....

23/03/97

Installed the aero fuel filler (looks good) and installed all the water system. I'm impressed with James Whitings Zetec installation - the main water pipes are actually made out of polished stainless steel and look alot nicer than standard rubber piping.

With that lot done I attempted to install the clutch cable - a quick peer through the inspection hole in the bellhousing indicated I'd installed the clutch arm the wrong way round! Damn! The diagram in the Caterham manual is crap! Looking at the diagram it looks like the lip on the arm faces forward (logically thinking it can't) - it doesn't! So the next job it to take the engine out and reverse the arm. Can someone just confirm that on the Ford 5 speeder cars the arm emerges out of the bellhousing and faces forward? Also - with both the gearbox and engine mounted what is the easiest way to do this - I only need to slide the driveshaft out of the engine an inch to get the thrustbearing and arm off. Can I leave the gearbox bolted in and just slide the Zetec forward? Or will I need to release the gearbox securing bolts and angle the engine out?

28-31/03/97

I answered the question about sliding the Zetec forward to change the clutch arm - there's not enough room. Ended up removing right hand engine mount and removing engine and gearbox - losing almost 2 litres of gearbox fluid in the process. One consolation is I've got the removal and replacement of the engine down to a couple of hours....and a clutch which now works a treat!

The fuel system has now been completed - I managed to fit the aero style filler onto the fuel injected tank - it transpired that the cap has it's own pressure release valve so the other two tank feeds were simply blocked off. The fuel pump was mounted (thanks to Rob Spahr and Mike Bee's for crawling under their cars!) and the engine feed / return connected up along with the pressure regulator. I replaced the 2 pin connector for the fuel pump 1) Because I couldn't get a socket for it; 2) It's wasn't particularily waterproof.

Bled the brakes - isn't this a horrible job? The o-ring on my Easybleed was knackered so I had to make a new one. Then it took several circles round the car to get the air out - if your using an easybleed remember to pressurize the system with air and check for leaks (much easier than having brake fluid p*ssing out everywhere!). This wasn't helped by someone wandering up and telling me all about their Dax Rush with a 180 BHP blueprinted Xflow - Yeh!

The lights are on! Now it's looking the part - I found it easier to assemble the whole light assembly off the car and stick it on last.

All the engine wiring was completed along with installation/connection of the cutoff switch, horn, etc. Feeding the 3 leads to the cutoff switch and the 10 or so connectors for the engine management system through the little hole above the gearbox was a tight fit!

The only things left to do are :-

1. Connect the supply for the ECU up (waiting response to questions from Paul Dunnell) along with fuel pump relay;

2. Put washer bottle on and washer blades (after firing up motor);

3. Put seats in and various trim bits;

4. Add coolant (oil already added);

5. Finish!!!!

05/04/97

Well this was going to be the one! I was finally going to drive my 7! Ha! I should have known better! The Grand National wasn't the only thing to be postponed! I mounted the relays / fuses alongside the original fusebox and connected it into the loom without too many problems - this took quite along time as I avoided drilling any holes in the body, instead making a bracket to support the extra electrics from existing mounts. In fact, the whole car has been upgraded to Zetec and fuel injection without a single modification to the bodywork or wiring - apart from enlarging the bonnet hole and filing a bit of the nosecone inside lip away.

06/04/97

Connected the car's supply to a 12V power supply and current limited it just to check for shorts (especially after Mike's problem with the cutoff switch!). Fortunately, everything was in order and winding the current up dropped the main ECU relay in and playing with the buttons everything seemed to work ok.

The front of the car was jacked up and placed on axle stands, the heater valve opened and coolant added via the radiator bleed hole. Eventually the coolant (green stuff to match the car!) started to fill the expansion tank and overflow the radiator. Almost there....

The battery had been on charge - well I'd attempted to charge it. With a normal battery charger it keep pulling so much current that the charger kept cutting out - so I placed it on a regulated PSU and limited it to 1.5 Amps....eventually it seemed to settle down.

Connect the battery to the car....pressed the horn - Beeep! Removed connection to fuel pump relay and grab 41mm spark plug tool. Problem! The spark plugs have shrunk! Rush off to buy new tool - 3-69...bargain!

With the spark plugs out I attempt to turn the engine over - bit of noise from the starter and -clunk- it's relay drops out. Grab jump leads and another charged battery and this time the engine turns quite happily with the oil pressure gradually building up. And now for the big moment....

With the fuel pump relay back in circuit and the plugs in, the ignition key is turned. The fuel pump primes with the freshly added petrol for 3 seconds and then powers down - good, the ECU wiring works fine. Operate the starter and the starter motor barely moves. Stick at it and then notice the jump leads start to melt followed by the Caterham battery throwing up acid all down the side of the car! Fortunately bucket of water and sponge are to hand and the car is quickly swilled down.

It looks like the new battery is faulty. Even offload it puts out little over 11 volts and one of the cells is roasting hot - dead short! So the big event is cancelled and the rest of the day spent cable tying all the wires up, fitting the passenger seat,etc.

Next week it has to work! Doesn't it??

To be continued....

Back to

Sevens Website