Post Build Update – Registration Documents

Following the IVA test on December 7th, I sent off the registration application to the DVLA (Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency). Their website says they will process an application for a new registration within 4 weeks.

I had hoped that the run up to Christmas would be quiet for them, but it seems that was counteracted by them being low staffed. I was really hoping that they would complete the registration process in time for Christmas so we could drive the car on the road over the holiday period. They managed to dash our hopes on both the two week and four week schedules.

The car stayed in the garage all Christmas.

Once it had got to early Jan, in fact exactly four weeks after I had sent in the application, I gave the DVLA a call. They said my application had been received and that they processed applications for this type of application in four weeks. I pointed out it was already four weeks and the person I had on the phone said she would go and check some more. The phone went dead before she could give me an answer.

I waited a few more days and called again. This time there was progress. They said the application had been approved and I should receive the various docs within 3 to 5 business days.


In fact, the confirmation of registration arrived the next day, Jan 10th, in the post – so much for 3-5 business days. The day after that I got the V5.

Now that I had the registration confirmation letter I could get some number plates and get on the road.

Prior to the registration application I had decided not to go for a so called vanity plate of any kind – I just relied on getting a random number assigned. In the UK, there have been a number of different number plate configurations. Obviously in the very early days of cars, number plates consisted of just a few numbers, then letters were included and there have been a number of different schemes in the intervening years.

The UK number plate registration system these days is a complex system to try to describe on a blog like this, Google will tell you all you need if you’re interested. Suffice to say our registration was designated a 67 registration semi-year! The 6 denotes the second 6 month period in 2017 that’s actually from October to March 2018. The 7 denotes 2017. We were also given a region specific prefix of WX (W being “west”, i.e. Bristol) and then a random letter sequence of LCN. The whole plate therefore reads: WX67 LCN.

Not very inspiring but it will do.

The day the registration confirmation arrived (34 days after sending off the forms) I went and got new plates for the front and rear, white for the front, yellow for the rear. I used velcro to attach them. That works fine on the back with a flat surface to work with but is far from satisfactory on the front where the nose-cone is contoured and you have to get the flat plate to fix to a contoured surface. The way I have the front plate at the moment… I know it’s going to fall off soon.

Number Plates

I think I’m going to 3D print some braces/brackets to help keep the front plate from dropping off.

In the end I went for UK and Union Jack designations on the number plate. I’m absolutely not, anti-european, but I’m aware that having a Euro flag on our number plates is going to be a thing of the past – might as well accept that now.

That’s it. I can drive it now.

How Does It Drive

Since getting the number plates, the weather has been really bad.

Fog, rain, snow, ice and more rain.

It’s not that I want to be a fair weather Caterham owner, I’m just biding my time. The 420R has a reputation for a) a fierce clutch and b) a proclivity for lighting up it’s rear tyres. With both of those together I’m not keen to stick my nice new car into a wall/ditch/other-car (delete as appropriate) because I’m a novice.

So, I’ll bide my time. I’ve been out in it a few times in the past week since getting the plates but I’m building up to an appreciation of the cars capabilities and quirks and will, I’m sure, be all the happier for it.

Here’s me and a friend in the car after one of the few outings to date…

Giles and me going for a Blat

Initial impressions of the driving experience are exactly what I expected…

  • There’s torque available in any gear to hurl you down a road
  • You’re the smallest thing on the road, by far
  • It’s amazing how much heat the heater and transmission tunnel generate – this is going to be a problem in the summer
  • There’s not much space between the clutch and brake pedals. The SV is ok with the accelerator pedal but the other two are close. It caught me out on the trip to the IVA test where I wore shoes that were too wide. I’m going to have to work on my wardrobe.
  • Bump-steer – there’s clearly some bump-steer being generated from somewhere in the geometry. I heard members talking about steering rack height (raising it 10-12mm), so may need to look at that.

Giles pointed out that the front LHS tyre was running very close to the wing-stay at the front. I’ll have to take a look at that at some point. It’s not touching, but it is close and I can imagine it might rub under some scenarios.

Indicator Trouble Again

On one of the first drives, the front RH indicator gave up the ghost – characterised by the indicators running double speed. Caterham clearly use the resitive load of the indicator bulbs as part of the RC circuit determining the indicator mark-space ratio… sounds a bit old fashioned, but not a complete surprise!

I’ll have to sort out a new bulb for the indicator.

We’re on the road!

Individual Vehicle Approval – The Test

It’s the big day. The one I’ve been building up to for 9 months!

The test appointment is set for 8AM at the Avonmouth test centre… and I live in North Bristol, about 5 miles away. It’s about a 15minute drive at that time in the morning.

Getting Going

I got up in plenty of time to get the car out of the garage and to get to the centre.

I looked out of the window – rain!

I’d been watching the forecast all week and it had resolutely refused to stop forecasting rain for Thursday morning. The whole of the rest of the week was dry, but not the only morning I had a test planned in an open top car with no doors.

I’m taking the car to the test centre with no hood or doors. I didn’t want the extra complexity of presenting the car with either, and seeing as I’d not been inside the centre I didn’t know if there would be somewhere I could store them while the test happened. I didn’t want any risks here so decided to brave the rain and reduce the complexity.

It wasn’t set to rain heavily but it was definitely going to rain.

After getting ready, with obligatory hat and coat, I started the car and got it out of the garage. Imagine the scene: I’m sat on the drive with the garage now closed, it’s not really light yet, engine running, 4-point harnesses on and me ready to go. It’s raining and the windscreen is covered in water.

Wipers on. Err… no! Dead!

Wipers off.

Wipers on. Err… no! Dead!


They worked last night when I gave everything a once over! Grrr!!

Me trying the wiper switch repeatedly – the wipers are dead though.

For the second time in 12 hours I’m wondering whether this is “meant to be” today. It’s going to be an interesting drive to the test centre. But much worse than that, there’s no way I can pass the IVA test with no wipers.


  • Get the car back into the garage and do a once over: almost certainly going to be late for the test and I really don’t want to have the inspector started off on the wrong foot from the get-go with me being late.
  • See if I can fix it in the rain on the drive: Hmm, sounds like a recipe to get really wet and probably still late
  • Drive to the test centre as best I can and see if I can fix it there: I know from a rec’ie I did of the test centre a few days earlier (thanks Will) that there was a canopy in front of the test bays.
  • Maybe the wiper drive mechanism was “bound up”: I’ve had cars in the past where the wiper mechanism can stop in a location where it can’t start itself again and the mechanism becomes bound. I gave the wipers a quick tweak as I sat in the car and the mechanism didn’t feel “locked”.

I decided to go with “drive it to the test centre and wing-it” strategy. It was either going to be a loose connection, a fuse, a relay or a dead wiper motor. I didn’t have any spare fuses and I couldn’t fix the wiper motor. My thinking was now heading towards “worst case scenario”… it was going to fail unless, in the most unlikely scenario, it suddenly fixed itself and there was a dodgy connection. I’m now also thinking that I might as well get the test done to find out what else is bound to be wrong and assume I’m going to have to do a second test.

Nothing for it but to brave the rain.

The Drive to the Test Centre

I’ve driven in some precarious driving conditions in the past. But this sits high up there along with:

  • No working brakes on a Fiat Super Mirafiori as I drove it to be scrapped.
  • A 1972 Avenger, which at 14 years old in 1986, threw a con-rod on the M1 whilst on a trip from Sheffield to Northampton, limping home on 3 cylinders.
  • The time a ladder came loose on a roof rack as I was driving over the Old Severn Crossing.
  • Wheels falling off, brakes seizing, car running away with itself and nobody in it… etc etc, you get the picture

All scary road trips, but a virgin drive of a self-built, brand new kit car, in the pouring rain, during Bristol rush hour, with no windscreen wipers certainly ranks up there.

Initially the rain was not too bad and I could just about see enough to make slow progress. Though I’m beginning to think this wasn’t such a good idea now. But I’m on the road and there’s not as much traffic as I was expecting. I’m also heading out of Bristol as everyone else is heading in.

It’s getting wetter!

As I got to about mile 3 of the journey the rain really started to pour. Nothing for it but to stop and try and clear some water off the screen. I was also working on a game plan I’d concocted: Once I’d got closer to the test centre I’d take another look at the wipers, give them a jiggle to see if there were mechanical problems. At least I could spend the time looking at things in the knowledge that I was closer to the test centre and therefore knew better how much time I had to play with. .

Back on the road again, it’s now properly raining and my only option is to drive while leaning out over the side of the car. My eye-lids are doing a way better job of clearly the falling water than the windscreen was.

But I got there. It was a real relief to pull into the covered bay outside the test centre. I’d been told to park in the SVA lane in the box marked on the road.

Arriving at the test centre and parking in the SVA lane

I took all the GoPro’s off the car and stuffed them into my rucksack, then went into the main building where a sign told me to wait by my car. So out I went again and waited for the inspector.

Here’s a video of my trip to the test station and realising at the end of my driveway that the wipers aren’t working!

Phew! I’d arrived!

The Test Begins

I was probably 5 minutes early, but the inspector turned up soon from the depths of the test lanes. The inspector introduced himself as Les and I took the car inside.

While Les was sorting himself out, I had a bit of a rummage around under the dashboard to see if I could see any loose wires – there were none in sight. Well… that’s sort of good I guess??

I brought the car into the test centre

That’s about the only picture of the test process. From memory the test went something like this:

Weight Scales

  • Weigh front then rear on the red weigh scale in the floor (above picture). The results in the scanned docs at the bottom of this page will be slightly out – I hadn’t taken about 10Kg of tools out of the boot!

Static, Switchgear and Visual Tests

  • Move car (by me) forward off scale
  • Remove bonnet
  • I noticed that the bonnet-catch covers weren’t attached. I went to get them from my box of tricks and showed them to Les. He said he didn’t need to see them on the car if I had them, he had a quick glance at them. He knew what they were supposed to look like.
  • Emissions test – no problem, I think
  • Les did various measurements including using a few different contraptions to measure things like the relative positions of steering wheel and seats
  • It was at about this time that Les told me – “you know, almost nobody passes first time. They usually fail on the brakes.” Hmmm, that’s making me feel good!
  • We discussed the need for the collapsable steering column. I’m glad I got Williams to fit it in the end, Les said it would have been a fail if it wasn’t fitted. He showed me his IVA bible where it mentions a deformable steering column. I think the wording could be interpreted a couple of ways – but I wasn’t arguing.
  • He sat in the car and tested all the switches.
  • Test wipers – bugger – no change! We had a discussion about what might be wrong. Les was turning out to be very amenable. Firm but fair. He genuinely wanted the car to pass if it could. We left the wipers for the time being.
  • Everything apart from the wipers was working.
  • He took a long look at my “milky” rear fog light, from the debacle the night before, but didn’t poke around at it and didn’t try to take it off. He made no comment.

With those tests completed, the topic of conversation (we were chatting all the way through) turned back to the wipers. Les went to make us both a coffee while I had a fiddle.

It didn’t look like there were any loose connections under the dash and the mechanical side of things seemed to be fine. That meant it was probably a fuse or a relay. If it was a relay then I was going to be in trouble. If it was a fuse, then perhaps there was a chance to salvage things. Now… both the washer pump AND the wipers weren’t working. So, it would have to be some weird wiring for a relay to cause both to be out. So lets assume the more likely problem that can affect both the washer and the wipers, a fuse… but which fuse.

We got the build manual out and turned to the wiring diagrams at the back. The 420R fuse layout seemed to be completely wrong. We tried reading the lists from different directions but neither made sense of the diagrams vs car.

While Les was cleaning a couple of cups for the coffee, I decided I’d take out each fuse in turn and have a look. Car fuses are usually very obviously blown when they go – lots of current. So… 50/50 chance of starting at the top or bottom… top first.

Bingo, the first, topmost fuse was blown.

Everything else was working on the car so this was almost certainly the wash-wipe fuse. Now, what to do, I still had no spare fuses – schoolboy error…!


I was wondering if I could “borrow” a fuse from another location in the fuse box and still have a car that Les was going to pass – did the whole car have to be in a pass configuration or could it pass “in pieces”. While I was musing over this, Les came back over and said: “hang on, let me see what I can do”. He trotted off to his car and came back with a spare fuse – top man! He GAVE me the fuse and we moved onto coffee… after I had confirmed the wipers and washers were now working.


At least the car wouldn’t fail for a wash-wipe fuse!

This part of the test probably took 20 minutes, plus about another 20 minutes on coffee and fixing the wipers. It turned out that Les gets to test some very exotic vehicles – often imports. There’s also a lot of Atoms he tests from the Ariel guys down the M5. Earlier in the year he got to test a Garden Shed, on a Sierra chassis – the owner wanted to make it road legal!


  • Drive the car (by me) onto a ramp
  • Ramp lifted about 5 feet in the air
  • I stayed in the car while it was up on the ramp.
  • Les asked me to apply the brakes a few times and to apply the handbrake as he inspected underneath the car.
  • The ramp was lowered and I remained in the car
  • Les did the headlight tests. Both needed a tweak (even though Williams had said they had adjusted them). Les was happy for me to adjust them while we watched the headlight test jig displays. It was at this point that I realised I didn’t have a spanner for the headlight nuts. Williams had adjusted them and I didn’t have the 26mm spanner needed. I also hadn’t brought an adjustable spanner. I eventually got them loose with a pair of pliers and I got them just about tight enough to satisfy Les.

That was about 15 minutes.

Brake Tests

  • Next we moved off the ramp and onto the rolling road brake test rig.
  • Les sat in the car at this point and ran through front and back brake tests.
  • The machine ran through a sequence and presented Les with results that he wrote down. The test included him attaching a pressure pad to his foot so he could check brake pedal pressure. He wasn’t giving anything away though – I had no idea if I was passing or failing. From what I could see of the readings on the machine, things looked ok – but I couldn’t tell.

About another 15 minutes.

Final Rolling Road

  • I moved the car off the brake test rolling road and onto a final rolling road which tested what I think was speedo and more brake tests – though I lost track of things at this point, not quite sure what all that was about.
  • Next I moved the car outside for the noise test, it had stopped raining by now – thankfully!

This was probably another 10 minutes.

Noise Test

Car on the noise test grid, test has exhaust on the transverse red line (car needs to go forwards 2m in this pic).

The noise test consisted of me sitting in the car and aligning the exit of the exhaust with the red line you can see in the picture above, running across  the car – the red line under the front wheels in the picture above. Les then placed a “jig” to the side of the car. This jig allowed him to place his noise meter at 45degrees diagonally to the rear of the car and 1m away. The noise reading came out at a surprising 94dB (when measured at 75% of full revs – 5700rpm). I was expecting it to be much closer than that, but it was an easy pass in the end (pass mark is below 99dB).

5 minutes for this testing.

Test Drive

The final test was for Les to take the car for spin around the site. We’d had the car up to some pretty high static rolling-road speed, so by this point it seemed Les was happy to trust my workmanship with his life. He wasn’t hanging around but also wasn’t totally crazy. He took the car back around to the entrance of the hanger and I walked back to the weight scales through the hanger.

2 minute test.

Test Completed

That was it. The test was done. Les offered for me to sit down while he did his paperwork and he left me in suspense.

Here’s a not very in-focus selfie while I waited…

Selfie of the car back at the start and with the various test stations stretching out into the distance – weigh scale, ramp, brake rolling road, second rolling road, exit at the far end.

The Result

While Les was working through his paperwork, I made sure I absolutely did not leave 2 x £1 coins next to the kettle. It would certainly not have been appropriate for me to have made sure Les was not out of pocket for his gift of a wiper fuse 😉 . He was adamant that he couldn’t take anything for it and that such a payment might be construed as bribery! That absolutely did not happen!

Five minutes later, Les emerged from his yellow office and walked over to me. He presented me with a piece of paper and said “this is what you’ve been waiting for”. I did a double take… it looked like all the sections on the page said – pass. I couldn’t see any fails.

He said “it passed”.

I was just a little… over-the-moon. I was certainly hoping it had passed but I wasn’t expecting it. Especially after the trip there and his statement about not many passing first time. I must have thanked Les at least half a dozen times in the next  2 minutes. We talked about a few nothings and I said my goodbyes.


Here are redacted versions of the various docs I got…

Redacted IVA Test Certificate
Redacted IVA Test Report
Redacted IVA Speed Check
Redacted IVA Emissions Test


I needn’t have worried so much about the formality of the test. There was plenty of opportunity for me to present the car how I wanted. I’m sure I would have been fine to turn up with doors and hood and to have taken them off prior to the test. The whole process only took about 3 of the 4 hours that were allocated. I’m sure other’s take longer, and I suspect that some would have been shorter, given the wiper diversion.

The inspector, Les, was knowledgeable and easy to get along with. He was firm but fair. I don’t think trying to con or kid him wouldn’t have worked – he’d been doing the job for over 30 years. You get to know a few dodges in that time.

I was pleased with the state of the car as I’d presented it. I don’t think I could have done any better. In the end, that was enough.

The Drive Home

I didn’t have a chance to set the GoPro’s back up as I left the test site and I wasn’t in the mood to stop and do so once I was off the premises, so sorry, no footage of that. It was certainly a less eventful trip than the ride there. But here’s a selfie looking back at the test centre with some blue sky and a very happy driver.

Could “look” happier… but I certainly was.

Needless to say, I took the long way home.

All in all the car had now done 14 miles. It had 2 miles on the clock when I’d left in the morning – being put on by Williams and by my trip to fill up with fuel the day before. It was around 5 miles there and probably 6-7 miles the way I went home.

Once at home it was time to get the beemer out and head into work. I had all my V5 application forms pre-filled so it was just a question of signing / dating and getting all the various docs in the post. I did that when I got to work.

In the meantime, I needed a selfie of me, the car and the pass certificate…

Looking a little happier this time with the IVA test certificate

The hope is that with a following wind I could get the forms of to the DVLA straight away and get the V5 back before Christmas in 14 days. Then we could drive it over the Christmas break.

For those of you not familiar with the UK regulations: while I have a test pass I still need the formal registration documents for the car. Only then can I legally drive it on the road. This doc is called a V5 or “log book”. The DVLA website says it processes applications for new V5’s in 4 weeks. I’m hopeful that it will be quiet before Christmas and it’ll come sooner. On the flip-side, I guess DVLA will have people taking vacation at this time of year and that might make the processing longer.

We’ll have to see.

[ Note from the future: fat chance! DVLA took more than their 4 weeks ]

Of course… thanks goes to all those who helped and supported me. To all those people who “popped round” to have a chat and lend a hand – it was great to see everyone and a fantastic experience. Thanks to Harry and Joe for helping out. Thanks to Andrew Pepperrell who was a huge help via Facebook Messenger. Thanks also to the Facebook and BlatChat communities for their comments on my posts. Thanks to Ted, next door, for all those times he leant over the fence to offer support. And of course, thanks to my wife, Sue, who didn’t complain once about the amount of time I was spending in the garage. Awesome!

Thanks Everyone!


Post-Post Build Check and a Dash for Fuel

The Purplemeanie has returned from its PBC and so its time to get all the remaining small jobs done before its IVA test next week. This post will be a catch-all for all those tasks, sorry, it’s probably a long one.

Friday December 1st – Return from PBC (6 days to IVA test)

I don’t have any pictures of the car returning, but good to their word, Williams delivered the car just after lunch time. This time they used a covered trailer rather than the flatbed from the other day.

One picture I do have is of the PPF application added while at Williams. Somehow I’d got it in my head that it was going to be less obvious than it is. On reflection, it couldn’t be and I think they did a good install.

PPF has a lip where it stops on the paintwork.

If I’d have gone for a full “wrap” then those lines wouldn’t exist, but I was more interested in protecting the critical areas than making it look pristine. My PPF application included the following:

  • Front nose cone upper and lower
  • Bodywork side panels – also protecting against 4-point buckle “slap” when people “throw” the buckles off
  • Rear Wing L-shape – protects more of the wing against gravel rash from the front wheels
  • Bonnet sections where the door mirrors land
  • Below fuel filler cap
  • Front of front wings

I think all of that came to around £550. Expensive, but I think worth it.

Saturday December 2nd – Bleeding Brakes Again (5 days to IVA test)

Tom at Williams had confirmed that my brakes were a bit soft, so it was time to have another go at getting them bled again.

He had said that he uses a pressurised brake bleeding system. I therefore followed his lead and ordered a Sealey VS820 Brake & Clutch Bleeding System after returning from the PBC on Wednesday and which duly arrived the following day. You’ve gotta love Amazon!

The idea with these systems is not to go through the cycle of pump-pedal, open-nipple, close-nipple, pump-pedal, open-nipple, close-nipple, etc etc. but to just pump fluid straight through the system with the bleed nipples open and pressure in the tank…. you just replace all the fluid, and air, with clean fluid.

This Sealey system was simple to use and took me about an hour to flush enough fluid through the brake lines to completely replace all the fluid, and some. It took a few minutes to figure out how to use the system, so I suspect the next time I need to use it I could bleed the whole system in a few minutes. I  also went and bought a 5 litre bottle of Dot4… I wanted lots of clean air-free fluid  to work with, rather than what was left in the bottle supplied by Caterham.

Of course there could still have been air pockets in the system after this bleed session and I’ve heard some people say they have problems with the rear of the car. I guess that can happen if there are cavities in the system that create a sump, but I didn’t seem to suffer from any problems like that in my experience.

Here’s what the system looked like…

Car on axel stands and wheeled outside for brake bleeding session.
Brake bleed with pressurised pump and the obligatory jam-jar

With this bleed system I was able to get a pretty firm pedal. It wasn’t rock solid but it felt better than a new 420 that I’d taken for a test drive at Williams in March. There was also no sense of the pedal needing to be pumped to get any increased firmness – a sign that there’s air still in the system.

I was happy with the pedal now so we’ll have to see if it passes the brake efficiency scrutinising at the IVA test.

Front Flexible Brake Hoses – IVA Treatment

Whilst at Williams I had discussed the fixings/couplings that attach the front flexible brake hoses to their callipers. Tom agreed that it might not be essential to cover them for IVA but that it wouldn’t hurt. So that was the next task: cover the unions and fixings to conceal any sharp edges that might promote an IVA fail.

Again, I think some of the job with all this IVA protection is to give the IVA inspector confidence that the build has been done well. They can’t inspect everything so they’re looking for the obvious things and IMHO can, to some extent, assume that if the obvious stuff is done well then the less obvious stuff is done well too… and so they don’t poke around so much. That’s very much IMHO… your mileage may vary!

Here’s what I did with these fixings: a length of 5/16 hose, rounded off at one end, slit down it’s length and attached to the fixing with self-amalgamating tape plus cable ties. Hopefully that will do the job.

5/16 hose rounded at one end to be used as IVA treatment for the front hose to calliper fixings
IVA treatment for the front brake hose to calliper fixings

I think the tape and cable-ties were a bit of a belt-and-braces approach, but it seemed to make sense at the time.

The Bonnet Badge

Another simple task today, now that the PPF was on, was to add the bonnet badge. Awesome!

A Caterham 7 Bonnet Badge

A Mangled A-Frame Conundrum

What I had omitted to mention at the top of this post was that I managed to mangle the rear A-frame at the start of Saturday morning!


Since going to Williams, and as part of the suspension setup, the ride height had been lowered. It therefore transpired that I couldn’t now get my trolley jack under the back of the car to lift it up.

Somehow I convinced myself that it would be a good idea to partially lift the back of the car on the A-frame. I would then put my trolley jack under the chassis and lift it onto the axel stands like I had done normally.

However, jacking a Seven on the A-frame turns out to be a really bad idea – no surprises there. The A-frame is not meant to take any significant vertical load…

… and so it bent.

Oh crap!

Not a particularly bad bend – I’m not that thuggish. But unfortunately, as well as a bend, I’d put a kink in the RHS tube. I was sure I could get the bend out, but removing the kink was going to be another matter. I went through all sorts of options in my head to think through how I was going to remedy this kink but I doubted I could get it right first time.

Left hand side of A-frame rail shows my new kink

Now, don’t get me wrong… This is a small kink. Almost imperceptible – except that as it sat under the nice new car, with all it’s clean and straight chassis beams… it jarred. You could also feel the kink as you ran your hand down the tube.

If this had happened after the car had passed its IVA test, then I wouldn’t have worried about it. It wasn’t sructural and there would be no effect on the suspension setup. It’s like one of those people who routinely clean behind the fridge and when someone asks “why do you do that, nobody else can see it” the reply comes “because I know its there”. It was nagging at me like that… If I left it and the IVA inspector noticed, and I failed the test, then I would kick myself.

I decided to ponder the problem. It was Saturday afternoon by this point and Caterham parts department was closed – I know, I tried to call them. The website was showing stock of the right A-frame, so this was an option if I decided to solve the problem on Monday with a credit card.

I took the car back into the garage, still on its axel stands, and left it while I pondered.

Sunday December 3rd (4 days to IVA test)

Having thought things through for a day I had decided to take the A-frame off and at least try and straighten it. Perhaps the small kink wouldn’t get noticed at the IVA test, but a bow in the A-frame probably would.

I tried a few combinations of vice, grips and clamps but eventually resorted the fully calibrated “body and plank” method.

A fully calibrated 850N force applied with pin-point accuracy

In the end I found that I could best modulate the bending force I was applying, and where I was applying it, by lifting the A-frame onto a low plank of plywood and “jumping” on it. I didn’t really jump on it, but I could feel the amount of “give” in the tube and got all of the bend out of the bar with my weight.

The kink remained.

Monday December 4th – A-Frame Ordered (3 days to IVA test)

First thing Monday and I decided I would go for a parallel approach on the A-Frame. I had the “unbent but kinked” A-Frame but would also order a replacement in the hope that it would arrive on Tuesday to give me another option.

A quick phone call to Caterham when they opened and they confirmed they could get an A-Frame shipped today and hopefully it would arrive tomorrow – credit card engaged and order placed. The A-Frames seemed to be relatively cheap at around £70 ($95) – not a costly mistake but still frustrating at this stage in the game. Little did I know, but there was further self-inflicted frustration to come.

Tuesday December 5th – A-Frame and Labels (2 days to IVA test)

True to their word, Caterham got me the replacement A-Frame via a next day delivery.

[Note from the future: while we’re talking about the ordering of an A-Frame – Caterham were a little too efficient. A second A-Frame arrived a week later. When I called to return it, they thought that the shipping team had shipped the first one without waiting for the invoice to percolate through their system and so when it did, a second one was sent out.]

It was a quick 30 minute job to install the new A-Frame and attach the handbrake cable on both sides with my P-clip arrangement.

To bolt the A-Frame in, I decided that this time I would drill out the rear A-Frame bolt holes.

When I fitted the first A-Frame a few weeks ago, I had carefully Dremelled out the bolt holes but not quite gone far enough. Inevitably, this meant I had a devil of a job to get the bolt through both sides of the A-Frame and took some of the thread off the bolt in the process.

This time around I took out my callipers and measured the bolt. I then went up to the next 0.5mm drill bit size and drilled out both sides of the back of the A-Frame – not the front mounting points.

Drilling out A-Frame #2

Dashboard Labels

One job I’d not got round to was the labelling of the dashboard switches. It’s an IVA requirement to have the switches labelled and as usual I was going over the top. I had spent a day or so playing with some printed options. The idea was to laser-print, cut-out and stick-on sticky-backed vinyl sheets with dashboard graphics as below…

Some unfinished dashboard graphics

Unfortunately, I ran out of time and had to go with plan-B.

Plan-B was to use a simple label printer, which worked out fine and I can either go with my graphics at a later date or, like many people, pull them off and forget about them altogether.

Indicators and Start Button labels
Dashboard lights and horn labelling

I only needed to label the switches that didn’t have any logos on, so the green light switch in the picture immediately above was sufficiently labelled already.

Wednesday December 6th – Road Trip, Rear Fog and Reverse Light IVA Treatment (1 day to IVA test)

The big day is tomorrow.

I had some time I could spare in the morning today so decided to take a trip…


The IVA test centre had called on the Monday to remind me that I needed to present the car with a full tank of fuel. The car gets weighed in the test and it needs to be fully wet. They were concerned that I hadn’t been told this when I made the appointment – Nice… considerate!

The weather was chilly but dry, so I decided to go to the local filling station about half a mile away for my first real ride in the car!

I had been threatening to take the car to the filling station for a few days. So… car out of garage, gear up for the weather and take the car out for my first short drive.

Of course I had no plates on the car and I had no appointment I could fall back on as part of the IVA test. So, if I got pulled over I was going to have to talk my way out of it. Here’s a time-lapse of the trip there.

…. and a video of the return trip, with some commentary…

No dramas on the trip, other than a police car pulling out in front of me on the way there, which meant I had to hold back to keep out of his rear-view!

Job done!

An Evening of Strife

After the first outing for fuel, tonight was about getting all the stuff together that I thought I’d need to take to the test tomorrow. In the end I took this list of stuff plus some other stuff that I’ve almost certainly forgotten about:

  • Set of metric spanners 6-19mm + 32mm, doubled up on 10,13,17 and 19mm
  • Set of imperial spanners
  • Grips, Pliers and Side-cutters
  • Hammers
  • Various tapes, including masking tape, electrical tape and self-amalgamating tape
  • 1/4″ + 3/8″ Socket Sets
  • Various screwdrivers of different types and sizes
  • Velcro in case the fuse box needed better fixing
  • Scissors
  • Stanley Knife (sort of a heavy duty craft knife for you non-UK people)
  • Lots of spare nut-caps
  • Any remaining IVA trim (of various types)
  • Remaining 5/16″ hose
  • IVA bonnet fixing caps – I was carrying them in my kit rather than on the bonnet, where they might fall off (they don’t sit very tightly on the fixings)

It looked something like this…

Tools packed ready for the IVA test

I also fired up the car and tested all the lights and switches – that’s an important statement for later!

[Note from the future (spoiler alert): I should also have taken at least an adjustable spanner and a set of spare fuses]

Anyway, back to a real job for this evening…

I was kicking my heels a bit after the prep for tomorrow, so decided I’d have a go at the IVA trim around the rear Fog Light and Reversing Light. I’d seen recent blog posts saying that IVA trim around these lights is no longer required to reduce/soften the radius on the housings – probably because the housings have changed, but I don’t know that. However, I had some time to kill and like I’ve said before… better safe than sorry… BIG MISTAKE!

I then proceeded to take off the red fog light lens from the housing…

…which promptly fell apart in my hands!!!!

Oh Crap!

Bits of rear fog light lens on the floor

Ok. Deep breath!

So… this was a BIG problem.

There was no way the car was going to pass the IVA test in 12 hours time if I couldn’t get the rear fog light operational again. It looked like someone had overtightened the lens into the housing and the sides of the lens had shattered. That wasn’t me, I hadn’t touched this assembly until this point.


…what was even worse was that the two bolt-stems/tubes that actually held the lens into the housing had sheered. There was no way they were going to be usable to attempt to attach what was left of the lens back into the housing.


I went through a few options in my mind. Were any of the local garages or auto-factors open (Noop it was about 8PM by this point). Anyone I know able to help? (Couldn’t think of anyone). Could I scavange something off one of our other two cars? (Didn’t sound promising, but possibly an option). Could I 3D print something? (Not enough time and the quality of the result wasn’t going to work… even if I could figure out how to turn clear translucent filament into red translucent filament – nah!).

The only option I could think of was to clear-epoxy the stems/tubes back into the lens, hope it would all line up again, and be transparent, if I took my time. The lens seemed to be ABS, which would take the epoxy fine, and I had a good clean break on the interface of the parts to work with. If I screwed this up then I had a problem – but it seemed to be my only option.

So, out with the rapid-set epoxy…

Rear fog light lens with bolt stems epoxied back in place
Close up of my rear fog light epoxy effort

The end result wasn’t too bad – other than I’d overdone the amount of epoxy, as usual. The epoxy had wept onto the lens a little which made the lens appear a little milky from the front. But, this was still my best option.

I carefully fitted the lens back onto the car, gingerly tightened up the screws and sat back. It was a serious hack to get to this point but not the complete disaster it could have been.

For some reason I was still prepared for more trouble this evening when I decided to still try and attach IVA trim to the fog and reversing light. This time, instead of taking the lenses out, I decided to go with my cosmetic-only approach… cut some IVA trim and glue it to the housing.

Cutting up some IVA trim

The fog light lens ended up looking like this, including the epoxy fix…

Milky fog lights with IVA trim glued on

I did a similar cut-and-glue-job on the fog light.

Ok… so… a bit of disaster this evening but I think I recovered ok. We’ll have to see if the inspector does, or does not, like my fog light repairs…. along with the dozen other items I’m worried about.

Roll on tomorrow!

Post Build Check

Uh oh – its crunch time! Somebody else that knows way more than I do, is going to take a look at my handiwork and tell me how much my ignorance is going to cost me.

The Post Build Check is taking place today, Wednesday after I’d finished my Big Push last Sunday. For those of you that are only casually following… firstly, shame on you. Secondly, the Post Build Check is where the dealer you buy the kit through will give the car a thorough once over. The PBC is included in the cost of the kit and is meant to check on whether the car is fit for IVA. It’s not a guarantee that the the car will pass IVA test, but in my opinion it’s a must-do part of the build.

However, since Sunday, I had got itchy fingers and couldn’t resist adding some IVA trim pieces that I didn’t think the PBC would need to remove.

Exhaust Rear Mounting – IVA Treatment

All the rear exhaust bracket nuts/studs/bolts need to have caps on them…

Rear Exhaust Bracket needs caps on the nuts and “dashboard” IVA trim on the leading upright edge. Switched out the taller cap for a regular M8 cap after taking this picture.

Front Brake Hose to Bodywork – IVA Treatment

I also added a soft cap to the front flexible brake hose body work fixings. The cap is supplied as part of the IVA trim. As others have done, I drilled a hole in the top, ran a slit down the side and cable-tied it all back together.

Soft cap added to front flexible brake hose where it meets the bodywork

Oops – Don’t Tip a Caterham That Way Up!

One practical tip I’ve not heard discussed anywhere but I bet is something the old-hands chuckle about when a Newbie tells them what happened…

If you tip a Caterham on it’s nose then the washer fluid dribbles out the washer nozzle.

As part of the process of dropping the car onto it’s wheels, ready for the PBC pickup, I dropped the front of the car off it’s wheely stands and left the rear still up in the air. I then went and did something else around the house only to come back into the garage to find washer fluid all over the floor.

Rear of the car up high and the front down low, the washer bottle in the boot is higher than the washer nozzle in front of the windscreen. It’s just then a matter of gravity.

Mental note to self… in the future bung up the washer bottle nozzle if you drop the car nose first, or drop the rear first.

I guess there may not be a problem if the washer bottle is placed in the engine bay, like they used to do, but it certainly seems to be a problem when the washer bottle is in the boot,

Blue Washer fluid on the floor

PBC Pickup

Back to today though…

The plan was set for Williams to come and pickup the car first thing in the morning. Then, one the car is loaded, I’d follow them over to spend some time with the technician as he/she takes a look at the car.

Having read the guidance notes on the DVLA website again… it seems that it would have been possible to drive the car to Williams. The guidance is that you have to have a pre-booked appointment for the purpose of completing tasks associated with the IVA check. Then you can drive it on the road to those appointments. So while that is technically possible, Williams is about 15 miles from our house and I wasn’t keen to test my ability to put the car together without someone else checking it first. Perhaps I could have driven it back from Williams after the PBC but I’d have had to have got someone to take me over there first. Decision made – let them trailer it both ways.

So, I opened the garage door and let the Purplemeanie loose.

The Purplemeanie waiting to be picked up for PBC
The Purplemeanie waiting for PBC pickup

Once the car was outside I could see that I was going to have to take a look at the jubilee clips holding all the coolant pipework in place.

Uh oh! Coolant on the garage floor. Looks like I’ll need to take a look at a coolant leak at some point too

Here’s some video of it running…

Tony from Williams arrived on time and got to sticking the car onto their low loader…

Loading up for PBC

Unloading At Williams

It was still a crisp autumn morning when we arrived at Williams…

Looking good on the low loader. Couldn’t resist a gratuitous patriotic pic
Another patriotic shot at Williams
Off the trailer waiting to go into the shop

In the Shop

The technician working on my car was Tom and he got the car into the shop and onto a ramp once he’d finished off an early morning job. He then came and got me from the showroom and we had a look over the car on the ramp.

On the ramp in the shop
From the back, on the ramp

Here are the things we discussed…

PBC – Wheels

For the eagle-eyed amongst you, you’ll have noticed that in my haste to get everything done, I’d got the front-left and rear-right wheels switched – the tyres are directional and I got them reversed.

PBC – Coolant Radiator

Another interesting tidbit from my discussion with Tom was that he spotted a weeping weld on the coolant radiator. He said that this is not unusual. We agreed it was small enough that it might “heal” over time but I’ll keep an eye on it over the coming weeks. It’s not an IVA fail and the worst case is that I’ll have to drain the coolant system and get it re-welded – it’s so small I might be able to bung it up myself.

Weeping coolant (pink) from a radiator weld

PBC – Speedo

Whilst I stood with Tom we had a look at the speedo reading – or not as it happened. As Tom had run the car in gear, he noticed the speedo wasn’t reading anything. So, we both headed to the RHS rear wheel to take a look at the sensor.

Tom pointed out that as you turn the RH rear wheel, with the ignition on, the shroud around the speedo sensor tip will light up and pulse as the wheel is rotated. So, you can get a rough check on whether the speedo will operate correctly without having to run the rear wheels via the engine. As it happens I had got the sensor too close to the armature on the wheel and so the speedo wasn’t working. For those interested: the mark-space-ratio seems to be something like 80/20… the light is on more than its off when operating correctly. We also discussed the possible need for the “spare” speedo earth lead included in the kit, but mostly not used – see below. Here’s what the illuminated shroud looks like…

Speedo sensor illuminates at its end to show it is picking up the tessellated armature

As discussed above, the item in the polythene bag below is used on “some” cars where the speedo isn’t working as intended. The strap replaces the earth pin on the connector that the speedo sensor connects into on the chassis by the RH rear wheel. You then attach the other end of the lead to the chassis. According to Tom: you drill a hole in the chassis tube running up the rear bulkhead and attach the lead to the chassis there. Derek had also told me about this lead when I asked what it was for, though Tom was more explicit about how to install it. I’ll now know something to ckeck if I get poor speedo reliability.

Speedo earth lead for cars with dodgy speedo readings

PBC – Brakes

Tom and I also discussed the spongy brake pedal. He thought it could definitely be better… And coming from someone who drives Caterham’s every day, who am I to argue. He showed me a self-bleed system he uses that pressurises the brakes via a pumped tank which holds a reservoir of fluid. He said that you could bleed a system in a few minutes with it. That’s gotta be on my list… I can imagine I’ll be bleeding brakes often, if not regularly, and sounds like an investment I should make. I hear Amazon calling me!

PBC Conclusion

I hung around at Williams for a couple of hours then headed out to let Tom get everything done. The car was to stay at Williams for a couple of days anyway so that PPF (Paint Protection Film) could be added on Friday.

There wasn’t much that needed doing in the PBC that I didn’t know about already, but here’s the list of stuff that we agreed and that Williams did:

  • Perform Post Build Check
  • Brake pedal travel, bleed system, still poor. Customer to sort out
  • Remove rear callipers to check pad notch to piston alignment – ok
  • Stop light now working correctly
  • Swap OSF and NSR wheels around for correct tyre rotation
  • Set headlight alignments. N/S bulb had a bad pattern, bulb bent, supply and fit new bulb
  • Set suspension ride height higher
  • Adjust washer jets
  • Coolant temp gauge erratic, found poor solder joint in link lead. Make up new lead, tested ok

Of those items… I didn’t know quite what happened to make the stop light not work and I thought I had the washer jets set reasonably well, but those are small points.

Tom and I had agreed that he should set up the ride height. However, that seemed to consist of Tom going to find a car with a similar spec in their portfolio, measuring it’s ride height and setting my car to be the same 😂. I also knew about the brake system and will sort that out when I get the car back.

The one item I’m very embarrassed about is the coolant temp link lead. As an electronics guy who’s been soldering for 45 years, I should have got that one nailed – doh!

That all came to just over £200 for labour and parts, and was probably what I was expecting. The PBC is included in the kit price but not any remedial work carried out. I couldn’t get away completely scott free could I?

I now have to wait for Friday to come around and hope that the PPF gets fitted early enough for Williams to drop the car back that day. Then I can spend the weekend on IVA preparation.

Seems as though my handiwork wasn’t too bad – Phew!

Build Session 37 : IVA Preparation and Tidy-ups

It’s the final shove in the The Big Push – Day 5!

We’re pretty much finished now. Everything is installed, attached or bolted down. With the exception of some wiring for the front repeaters it’s all about tidying things up and getting all the finishing touches done for the IVA test.

So lets get on the that pesky wiring…

Front Repeater Wiring

Now the front wings are on the car I could finish up the wiring of the repeaters.

The grommets were included and inserted into the holes at the bottom of the wing stays…

Grommets for the repeater wires as they exit the wing stays

Heat shrink is in place from the repeater into the wing stay and I aded another layer of Sikaflex. The Sikaflex looks a little untidy here but I found I could mould/flatten it once a thin skin had formed on it.

Heat shrink all the way to the repeater. I’ve added some more Sikaflex at this point too.

RHS wiring looks like this from the front…

RHS wiring for all the lights and indicators

… and looks like this from the back looking forwards…

RHS wiring for lights and indicators

Here’s what a repeater looks like on the wing…

RHS Repeater Installed

With that wiring done, time to get on with some other jobs.

Washer Fluid Fillup

Caterham provide washer fluid, just needs to be added to the bottle and then diluted…

Concentrated washer fluid added then toped up what water

Fuse Box Cover IVA Trim

Next up is to add IVA trim to the fuse box along the long and short edges…

IVA trim added to fuse box cover. I opted for a 12v socket to be included in the options I selected

And then installed…

Fuse box cover installed with IVA trim. No velcro.

The build manual calls for velcro to be used to attach the fuse box to the bulk head. It seemed to me that the fuse box was perfectly snug enough inserted in between the bulk head and the dashboard, so I didn’t bother with the velcro step.

Protection Around Repeater Wires

The build manual suggests that the repeater wiring be protected from chaffing when it passes through the bodywork. It recommends using spare washer bottle tubing…

Washer bottle tubing added to repeater wires where they pass through the bodywork

I probably only added a couple of inches of tubing to my wiring which I think is probably a bare minimum. I’d recommend putting a longer length on but I only spotted the recommendation to use more in the build manual after I’d finished both sides. It was tricky to get the tubing onto the wiring, possibly because I have two wires running here which makes the wiring thicker, but there’s not much space around that aperture. I got there in the end though and got the cable ties on.

Exhaust Springs IVA Treatment

Another chance to use some of that spare washer bottle tubing. You have to put some of it on the brackets used to hold the reverse springs on the exhaust. This step seems a little facile or superficial – I’m not sure adding tubing here is going to fool too many people about how “safe” this makes these hooks… But its a requirement for IVA… so on they go…

Probably the most bizarre IVA requirement, the reverse spring brackets are too “pointy” to pass IVA so you have to cover them with washer bottle tubing

Door Bracket IVA Treatment

This one doesn’t seem quite as bizarre as the reverse springs above, but its getting there. You need to add grommets, that have been cut in half, to the brackets that would normally hold the doors onto the windscreens. I’ve seen people post in blogs to say that Caterham now supply these brackets with rounded tops and that you don’t need the grommets. Mine didn’t seem that rounded, so I added the grommets on the basis that anything I do to mean I don’t have a double IVA visit has to be a good idea. They were fixed to the brackets with SuperGlue/KrazyGlue.

Grommets added to the door brackets

Nut Caps In the Footwells

I can’t remember quite where I saw this, I think it was in Caterham’s addendum IVA document that came along with build manual, but it talks about making sure all the exposed nuts in the footwells have nut covers on them. So out with the Superglue again and I glued some nut covers wherever I could think to look. Some didn’t need SuperGlue, but I didn’t know how much poking the inspector would do and if they’d fall off on the way to the test.

Nut covers added to the back of the heater on both driver’s and passenger side
Nut covers added to the rivnuts installed in the roof of the passenger footwell. These rinuts are what the air filter attaches to

Bonnet Springs IVA Treatment

Again, the Caterham IVA addendum talks about making sure the screws that hold the bonnet springs onto the bodywork needing to be rounded. Mine looked reasonably rounded but I decided to go OTT and added plastic caps to them. I had to put a slot in the side of the cap, but it seemed to do the job…

Caps added to the bonnet spring mounting screws

Catalytic Converter IVA Treatment

Another IVA point… the front of the Catalytic Converter Shield needs to have spare IVA trim as used on the dashboard…

Dashboard IVA trim added to the leading edge of the Catalytic Converter

Lower Oil Pipe IVA Treatment

One of the changes I’ve seen done during a PBC is that some of the aforementioned spare dashboard IVA trim gets used to protect one of the lower oil pipes from chaffing on the underside of the steering rack cross member. This one makes sense to me, I can see that pipe chafing on that cross member.

Dashboard IVA trim installed on lower edges to steering rack cross member (left to right) above the oil pipe (middle top to bottom)

Cladding Removed

One last task for today was to remove the cardboard and masking tape that had been protecting various bodywork sections for the past few weeks. We can now see the full effect of the hours of fun we’ve had…

Bodywork protection removed to see the full the can in its fully glory

I’m Done… ish

For the moment… I’m done. It’s the end of my 5 day big push and I’ve got as much done as I need to for the PBC. There’s a bunch of IVA items that I need to do, like adding “soft” protection on nuts/bolts where they might be deemed to be dangerous by an IVA inspector. However, whoever is doing the PBC is going to want to get access to these various nuts and bolts to check they’re tightened… so I’m leaving this last IVA step until after PBC.

Another two areas I’ve not addressed are Headlight Setup and Suspension Setup. I can sort the headlights after PBC and I’ve a mind to let Williams do the suspension setup as I suspect they’ll have an opinion on that anyway.

Finally, I didn’t get a chance to flush the brake system through again. The pedal is ok in my mind, but probably still needs another bleed. I’ll see what Williams say about this.

I’m (for the moment) done. Phew!

Build Session 36 : Repeaters, IVA, Mirrors, Wipers, Rear Hubs, Wings

Day 4 of The Big Push – Phew! This is getting tiring! I’m glad I decided I needed to take some time off to get this knocked out. While I’m not getting as much time on the car as I hoped, I am making progress. All that’s going to change today… no distractions, no excuses!

Front Wings Again

Today, I wanted to at least get to the point where I had the Carbon Fibre Wings “tacked” onto the Wing Stays.

As far as I know the only hard and fast regulations around the front wings are the IVA trim needed around the edges of the wings (done) and the requirement that the leading edge of the wing has to be forward of a line drawn vertically at the front edge of the wheel (not tyre).

On this second point I have read blogs, and seen emails from Caterham, where they recommend the leading edge of the wing is 75 mm from the wing stay. That’s a good starting point but seems a little vague to me. It’s fine in the factory where they know what has been done to the car already but in a home-garage, where I’ve been tweaking and bending the wing stays, I could have inadvertently moved the wing stays fore or aft. In the correspondence I’ve seen it’s also not obvious whether that recommended measurement is to the front of the wing stay or the centre line. It’s much easier to measure to the outside front of the wing stay, so I assume that’s what they’re referring to. So, anyway, my recommendation is still to set up a plumb line of some sorts and verify that the wing will sit forwards of the wheel.

To this end, I sat a wing onto a wing stay and used  a large set-square I had kicking around to make sure the wing was in front of the leading edge of the wheel. I then measured from the front of the wing stay to the front of the wing (including IVA trim). ISTM that a little extra distance would satisfy my fear of getting this wrong, so I set my measure at 80mm (8cm) and marked it with masking tape…

Leading edge of front wings set to be 8cm (80mm) from front of wing stay.

Next up was to try out the routing of the repeater wiring. I’d extended the earth lead of each repeater a couple of days previously so could try fitting them.

My repeater/wing install consisted of the following:

  1. Insert pull cord through wing stay – a thin piece of coated wire in my case
  2. Add approx 15cm of 7mm heatshrink to the wires nearest repeater
  3. Thread repeater heatshrink/wires through 16mm hole I’d cut in the wings
  4. Thread heatshrink/wires through wing stay (using pull cord)
  5. Add grommet to wires and insert where wires exit wing stay
  6. Add long piece of 7mm heatshrink to wire ends
  7. Insert heatshrink through grommet added to wing stay (using lubricant to get the heatshrink as far in as possible)
  8. Apply heat to heatshrink
  9. Bond wings to wing stays
  10. Cable-tie wires to rear arm of top wishbone
  11. Bolt earth lead to chassis (there’s a threaded hole on both sides where the front t-piece is bolted on both LHD and RHD cars)
  12. Wire repeater signal wire into the econoseal connector

Here’s a few pics of some further tidbits…

A paper-clip worked better than tweezers at getting the pull cord out of the wing stay…

Paper-clip worked better than tweezers

Tape the repeater wires to the pull cord…

Repeater wires taped to pull cord

I removed some material from the back of the grommet I used for the wiring exit from the wing stay. This allowed the grommet to go in more easily, especially as I’m feeding two wires down the tube where Caterham only do one…

Modified my grommets to make them easier to insert

I did a test run again without the wings in the stack…

Dry-run of repeater wiring again

Ok. So at this point it was still early in the day and I was being nervous about attaching the wings to the wing stays while having to work around the car all day – I might knock them as I move around. I still have 4 days until the PBC (Post Build Check) and so could afford to wait until the end of the day to stick the wings onto the stays.

Onto something else then…

Engine LHS Wiring Tidy-up

Next up was to spend a couple of hours (2:15 to be precise) sorting out the wires one the LHS of the engine. I’m happy that I don’t have anything that’s going to mean I need to pull this apart again, so time to tie it all down for IVA.

There’s a few things going on with the wiring under the intake manifold:

  • Oil pressure sender
  • Alternator
  • Mystery unterminated spade connectors
  • Engine to chassis earth lead

When I started on this, it was all just hanging about still. The car had arrived with some of the alternator wiring half held in a P-clip and the oil pressure sender wiring was just wrapped around the oil filter.

The picture below summarises where I got to…

Engine LHS wiring tidy-up

In the picture above, here are some salient points:

  • The P-clip (top left of pic) was only half attached when the car came. I attached both eyes of the clip and kept the +ve lead from starter to alternator included in the P-clip. I also added the wire that runs from the timing sensor on the bottom of the RHS of the block. This wire runs under the front of the engine and then up the LHS of the block. I have a picture of that sensor and will add below
  • I added a P-clip (centre right-ish of pic) and ran the red/white wire from the starter motor through it
  • The oil pressure sender wiring is long – even for an SV chassis. You have to run the wiring along the engine mount (from top right-ish to bottom left of pic), down onto the chassis rail (bottom left), across the chassis rail (bottom left to bottom right) and then “lose” the excess wiring by doubling the heat shrunk covered wires back on themselves and then into the sender (to the right of the oil filter).
  • Make sure the boot is on the +ve cable going into the alternator from the start motor.

I’ll need to come back to this area later and add IVA plastic caps to the various nuts that protrude into this space.

Grey cable running under bottom front of engine block… from timing sensor to ECU via the LHS of block. This cable was added to the P-clip (right of picture above)

As for the mystery spade terminals in the loom on this side of the engine (I think they may be something to do with oil temp… maybe??), I just taped them up into the loom and cable tied it all back together again…

Mystery spade terminals now encased in black electrical tape (top middle of pic) and cable tied in place.


Mirrors next…

I’m presenting the car to the IVA test without the doors or hood. I didn’t want to get into the complexities of those extra bits in the test… less is more.

Irrespective of this (the side mirrors still need to go on the sides of the windscreen), the side “wing-mirrors” need be fitted to the windscreen – not the wings! 🙂

First up though is the rear-view mirror. Simple job to take the 3M protective paper off the back of the mirror stem and fit it to the top of the windscreen. There are lots of mods that can be done to improve the rear-view mirror options but I was going for an IVA pass and so wanted a bog-standard mirror to get through the test.

Simple install of the rear-view mirror. Made sure the bracket was level and plumb and a few mm from the windscreen top rail.

Side mirrors next…

Perhaps its me but I didn’t find the build manual very helpful when figuring out what to do with the side mirrors. As I mentioned above, the side mirrors need to be attached to the windscreen for an IVA pass. Once the IVA is done the accepted wisdom is that these mirrors are moved to the driver’s/passenger’s doors. The idea being that with the mirrors installed on the windscreen the doors won’t open far enough for the doors to rest on the bonnet – where they will stay put and you can then more easily get into/outof the car. With the mirrors installed on the windscreen the doors only open half way and you have to hold them there so they don’t fall back into the closed position again.

So… the mirrors need to be installed on the windscreen.

Now, how do we do that?

The mirrors are supplied with the stems used to attach them to the doors, not the stems used to attach them to the windscreen. And… in order that the mirrors be adjustable the mirror frame is attached to a stem using a ball and socket arrangement with a screw running through the stem, socket and ball to tension the whole thing (see exploded view of the parts below). The ball also has a short stem of it’s own that the screw thread goes through.

Now, of course, when you take the screw out from this tensioning arrangement, the whole thing falls apart. And to make things a little tricker, the ball floats in the mirror frame so that when try and put the screw back in the ball just rotates in the frame.

Now, because you’ve not had a chance to see all of this before, you’re left with a bunch of bits that need to be assembled onto the new stem.

There’s a trick…

As I mentioned above, the ball in this arrangement has a stem on it… and on that stem is a flat on it’s side. You use the flat on the ball/stem to lock the ball/stem into the larger stem – it will all make more sense with some pictures below. That way you can do up the torx screw without the ball rotating all the time. I needed a pair of pliers to get the whole thing going, before the flat on the ball/stem can engage in the larger stem slot.

That’s a lot of words… but we all know a picture paints a thousand words… so here’s some pictures:

Rear of mirror frame with captive ball/stem, larger slotted stem, cup
Close up of slotted stem
Close up of captive ball/stem – you can see the flat side of the stem

This is how it’s all arranged in an exploded view…

Exploded view of wing mirror assembly for windscreen attachment

Here’s me using some pliers to get the torx screw started back in the assembly…

Using some pliers to get the torx screw started in the wing mirror to windscreen assembly

It’s then a simple case of replacing the middle screw on the windscreen sides with a stud fixing…

Stud inserted in windscreen side

Here’s a finished wing mirror ready for IVA…

Finished IVA wing mirror

That was a lot of words and pictures for such a simple part of the build. I hope it helps any future builders.

Like I said… lots to get done today… onwards!

A Ding

It was at about this point that I had a bummer of a moment. I was rushing around a bit and managed to drop a pump-clamp onto a rear wing – bummer!

I touched up the resulting ding with some of the spare paint that I’d been supplied with in the kit. I’m not too precious about the whole “pristine” thing but its a shame to have dinged the paintwork at this point.

Dinged (centre) the RHS rear wing and applied touch-up paint from…
Spare touch-up paint came to the rescue

I guess I was being a bit sloppy not to cover the rear-wings with some cardboard or bubblewrap when I’d installed them. The PPF (Paint Protection Film) I’m proposing to add later would have protected that particular point, but it doesn’t cover the whole car.

Front ARB Tidy-up

For those of you following closely you’ll remember that I had to disconnect the front ARB (Anti Roll Bar) in order to add grommets to the front light stem wiring – after my bonnet drop-off visit to Caterham, Crawley.

A simple job was then to refit some 2mm x 200mm cable ties. I’d had to order these in specially, they’re narrower than anything else in the kit and there are only enough in the kit to do this job once… and I am doing it twice!

Re-cable-tie the front ARB gaiters

Air Filter

Next up is the air-filter. There’s almost nothing in the build manual about this step, but it’s fairly simple. The filter is, of course, inside the black box…

Air-filter installed

Next it’s the air intake trim, that seals the air-filter assembly to the bonnet. After a bit of research it does make sense that it fits with the flange making a funnel but there’s no pictures or instructions in the manual. It needed lots of lubricant and “pre-shaping” before it would go on. The trim is constructed like the IVA trim for the dashboard, i.e. it has a metal strip moulded into its centre and so can be “formed” to get the small and large radiuses needed to attach it to the filter assemebly…

Lubricating the air-filter trim
Air-filter installed

Odds and Ends

Next up a couple odds and ends that I’ll lump together…

First is to attach and cable tie the 5/16th hose used to protect the braided clutch hose…

5/16th hose cable tied in place on the braided clutch hose, running bottom left to middle of the picture. Covers all of the hose.

… and add the IVA trim to the catalytic converter cover…

Added IVA trim (spare left over from dashboard) to catalytic converter cover

Windscreen Wipers

Another 10 minute job to add the windscreen wiper blades to the windscreen wiper stems. Its important to have run the wipers at least once through a cycle prior to attaching the blades. The windscreen wiper motor and cams/rods could be installed part way through a cycle in the factory and putting the blades on at the wrong point in the cycle could drive them into the bodywork or off the side of the windscreen.

Here’s a video of the comedy wipers in action, I still need to bend them some more so they sit closer and more parallel to the bottom of the windscreen…

Tightening Rear Hub Nuts

Penultimate job today…

The rear hub nuts need to be tightened to a pretty hefty 274Nm, to make sure they don’t allow the rear wheel assembly to come apart and therefore have a wheel fly off into the distance (happened to me before, but that’s another story!).

Because of the magnitude of the torque needed to tighten up these two nuts (one on each side, one left hand thread, the other right hand), it’s almost impossible to get to 274Nm without the aid of the handbrake and a gadget or with the car on the ground.

I decided that I couldn’t do these nuts up with the car on the ground – the wheels would get in the way. However, it was pointed out to me later that the centre inserts of the wheels come out, and you can get the requisite 41mm socket in through the hole and onto the nuts. With the 15″ Orca wheels I had the circlip holding the wheel centres in looks a bit fiddly, I’m glad I didn’t go with this option. For those interested in doing though – you’d take out the wheel centers, attach the two rear wheels, lower the car onto the ground, apply the handbrake and tighten the nuts. You obviously have to have adjusted the rear handbrake cable at this point in the build and in theory the lever created by the wheel and handbrake can counteract the force needed to get the torque-wrench up to 274Nm. I didn’t try it, but it sounds plausible.

Anyway, back to the way I did things. I made a widget.

I took a piece of oak I had kicking about (it needs to be a hardwood or else I think you’ll snap something less sturdy) and fashioned a brace to stop the wheel from turning as I did up the hub nuts. Here’s some pictures…

Rear hub nut problem… big torque and nothing to hold it back
Solution: a Morgan’esque brace
Just the job for the rear hub nuts

Bonding the Front Wings – Finally

Last job of the day is to bond the Carbon Fibre Front Wings onto the Wing Stays. I’ve seen other blog posts where people go to great lengths to line up and level their wings. I was planning to be a lot more methodical than I finally was, but in the end I eyeballed them.

I added Sikaflex 521 to the top of the Sikaflex beads, that I’d applied a couple of days ago, and plonked the wings on top. I did some basic measurements to make sure they were level and centred but then left them to soak overnight. Here’s the best picture I could get of the Wing, Wing Stay and Sikaflex…

Wing, Wing Stay and Sikaflex

As you can see from the picture above, I sanded the Carbon Fibre to try and give the Sikaflex something to key against. The Sikaflex instructions didn’t seem to need that step but it wouldn’t hurt.

I had also got more nervous of the continual handling of the wings by this point and decided to coat them in masking tape – should have done something along those lines to the rear wings…

Front wings now tacked onto wing stays and protected with a layer of masking tape

That’s it for today. Nearly 8 hours in the garage, more like 10 elapsed with meals and other jobs, and good progress I think.

Day 5 of the Big Push tomorrow…

Build Session 35 : Front Wings, Handbrake Cable and Tidying Up

Day 3 of The Big Push – a Friday! I was hoping to get a lot done today but instead of a Big Push it turned into more of a Gentle Shove. Still… progress was made.

Today I wanted to get going on the spacing theory I’d formulated for the Front Wings and Wing Stays. There were also a bunch of tidy-up jobs that needed doing, not least of which was to get the routing of the handbrake cable finally nailed down.

Some Dates for the Diary

Before we get to any building though… I’d got enough confidence together to book both the PBC (Post Build Check) at Williams and the IVA (Individual Vehicle Approval) test. Today is November 24th, I’ve booked the PBC for next Wednesday, November 29th, and the IVA for the following Thursday, December 7th. That’s 5 days and 13 days, respectively, from today! Gulp! Better get a move on!

Front Wing Spacing

So, I’d decided that I needed to space the front wings off from the top of the wing stays. That would allow me to move the wings laterally, without hitting the vertical part of the wing stay, and therefore to get them centred left to right.  It would also bring the wings upwards and give me more clearance from the tyres.

Now, the question is: what do I use as a spacer? Hmmm. I’m using Sikaflex 521 to bond the wings to the stays.

Sikaflex 521 – Weathering Resistant Adhesive Sealant

For my spacing needs I wasn’t really looking for anything to mechanically attach the wing to the stay – the Sikaflex will do that. All I needed for the moment was something to hold the wings in place while I cake the joint between the two with the Sikaflex. I also probably need to apply multiple layers of Sikaflex or else it will take an age to cure. It cures in the presence of moisture and needs about 24hours to set with a bead thickness of around 10mm and late November garage temperatures.

I thought about using some copper pipe that I have lying around. I could flatten the pipe and make it whatever depth I wanted. However, I wasn’t sure how the Sikaflex would react with the copper, probably inert, but didn’t want to risk it. I also didn’t know how it would work over time. I wasn’t thinking of putting the crushed pipe along the whole length of the wing stay, just a couple of pillars. But how would I attach the copper pipe to wing stay – Sikaflex I guess.

However, the obvious choice was to use a bead of Sikaflex along the wing stay, let it “go off” and then bond the wings to the stays with the first bead of Sikaflex as the spacer. I could be quite precise with the depth of Sikaflex I put down, so that gave me the control I was after. The only issue here is that I’m going to need to let the bead cure and that will add at least another day to this saga.

Anyway, decision made. So the first job today is to get that bead on and start it curing – I’ll have to be extra careful walking around the front of the car today with “wet” Sikaflex on the wing stays…

Black Sikaflex bead applied to the wing stay

With four beads applied to the four wing stay arms I can move onto something else.

IVA Trim for the Carbon Fibre Wings

Next up is to get the IVA trim applied to the Carbon Fibre Wings. The trim needs to be permanently applied – I used Super-Glue/Krazy-Glue (Cyanoacrylate)…

SuperGlue blob every few cm (more on corners) to hold IVA Trim to Carbon Fibre Wings

Rear Brake Anti-Squeal Plates (I think)

Simple job next to attach what I think are anti-squeal plates to the rear callipers…

Anti-squeal plate – the thin plate on top of the calliper

Handbrake Cable Routing

Like so many other jobs, this one took longer than I was anticipating.

I’ve read many blogs where people have failed IVA because they’ve not got the handbrake cable “out of the way” enough from the drive-shafts. The cable has to loop over the top of the shafts, down behind, then under and up to the brake callipers. The cable essentially spirals around the drive-shafts on both sides.

I could get the RHS cable running reasonably nicely seeing as the handbrake adjuster bracket on the side of the diff allows the trajectory of the cable to start off nicely on its spiral journey.

The LHS was proving to be more of a problem. As the LHS handbrake cable exits the transmission tunnel there’s a semi-circular flange on the diff casting that obstructs the cable’s exit. This flange tends to push the cable sideways and down… bringing it very close to the LHS drive shaft.

My solution… grind off the flange.

The flange didn’t seem to be used for anything and I just couldn’t see any need to keep the flange on the diff. So, out with the Dremel and I ground about 1/3 of the circular flange away…

Modified diff by grinding away flange. The flange originally continued around to the left

… which allowed the cable to exit the transmission tunnel much higher than before the mod…

Handbrake cable can now exit transmission tunnel more horizontally than before the modification

I used cable ties to keep the cable run away from the drive shaft.

After these changes the cable is kept on its spiral trajectory with two P-clips fixing it to the A-frame…

Spiral trajectory of LHS handbrake cable. You can see it running from the transmission tunnel exit, top left, over the drive shaft, down behind it, under and then into the calliper handbrake actuator, top right.

For those eagle eyed among you, you’ll note that the cable is actually P-clipped to the chassis in the picture above. It should be attached to the A-frame… that change will come later.

You can perhaps also see that I’d left on the long (3cm?) rubber cover/tube that come on the handbrake cable. This tube was really useful to place coincident with the P-Clip on to the handbrake cable, otherwise the P-clips I had would have been too big. In the end I think I used a 13mm and 19mm P-clip.

The P-clips were arranged like this…

Double P-clip used to tie the handbrake cable to the A-frame

The grinding of the diff took a lot longer than I was planning to spend on the handbrake cable today. But… I also got a much better solution than I had hoped for. This change worked really well for me. In all I probably spent two hours on the change. I used one of my Dremels but I needed the flexible extension attachment on the it or else there’d have been no hope of getting in there, it was tight. It needed access from both the top and bottom to get enough material off the diff and to get it to where I wanted.

Some Tidy-Up

Before packing away for the day, I did a bit of engine bay tidy-up. I’d been pondering how the ECU plug was going to get fixed down for a few weeks now.  When I finally got to having a look at it, rather than just thinking about it, it was straight forward. All the “spare” length in the cabling to the plug/socket all folded up on itself and I could cable tie it to the existing loom.

The final place for the ECU connector is circled red… under the battery in the picture below…

Final resting place for the ECU connector

That was it for today, only managed about four and half hours today. Must do better tomorrow.

Here’s what the car looked like by the end of the day…

Progress to date by the end of the Build Session 35

Build Session 34 : Brake and Clutch Fillup/Bleed, Bonnet Collection and more Front Wings

Day 2 of The Big Push!… and I’m also getting close to pushing the button on putting a date in the diary for the PBC (Post Build Check) back at Williams and then of course the government IVA (Individual Vehicle Test) test too. If I’m really, really lucky it will have passed both before Christmas.

I want to get some more fluids into the car today and to get those systems bled properly. I’ve also had word from Derek on two fronts. Firstly, the Bonnet is heading over this way today. I’m not entirely sure where or when it will be arriving but its on the van for delivery today.

Derek also got back to me early this morning to confirm that you need to bend the Wing Stays until you can get the wings to fit centrally. I think I knew that already but there were no other words of wisdom from him so I’ll have to figure out how to attach the wings the best I can myself.

Getting the Leeches Ready

That was a Bleedin’ Awful headline – sorry! And again!

With the bad jokes out of the way, I’ve got both the Brake System and Hydraulic Clutch to fill and bleed today. I’m armed with a very low-tech set of tools to get the job done – a few spanners, a glass jam jar and a length of hose pipe from the washer bottle install.

There are plenty of gadgets available to help bleed both these systems but I’m going to have a go at the old school way of doing things and some ingenuity. I’m only trying to get a first round of bleeding done today anyway.

[Note from the future: the pressurised brake bleeding system I purchased later on would have done the brake setup in one fell swoop – so perhaps I was being rather cautious with my expectations on a first bleed]

Forming the Pipe Ends

First off I needed to get the only pipe I had, that was close to being the right size, ready for the job. I employed my hot air gun and a “form” to one end of the pipe for each of the clutch and brake nipples…

Using a hot air gun to form some washer bottle pipe to the right size
… and ending up with two ends of the pipe the right size for the Brakes and Clutch

Filling the Hydraulic Clutch

I thought I’d start with the smaller of the two hydraulic systems with my rudimentary tools… the Clutch.

The first job is to protect the area around the clutch fluid reservoir. Brake fluid is nasty stuff and I didn’t want any finding its way onto anything it shouldn’t be on/in.

Protecting the paintwork around the clutch fluid reservoir

I undid the clutch bleed valve/nipple and tested out how I’d get a spanner in to the depths of the engine bay to turn it on and off.

Testing out actuating the bleed valve

Next the pipe was attached to the nipple and dropped into a jam jar partly filled with brake fluid.

Fluid will bleed into the jam jar until there’s no air or bubbles

The actions required to bleed the clutch are:

  1. Depress clutch
  2. Leave clutch pedal depressed
  3. Open bleed valve
  4. Wait for fluid and air to stop flowing through the pipe
  5. Close valve
  6. Goto 1 until no air/bubble flow in step 4

It’s step 2 that’s the problem when you’re doing this yourself. You have to keep the clutch pedal depressed and operate the bleed valve at the same time – my arms just aren’t long enough to do that myself.

So, I used a bit of enginuity and cut myself a length of wood that would just fit between the depressed clutch pedal and the cross member that cuts across the floor of the cockpit, just in front of the seats. It looked like this…

Wooden brace used to keep clutch depressed.

Using this mechanism also meant I didn’t need to keep getting into and out of the car for iteration of the procedure.

I spent about an hour and 15 minutes filling and bleeding the clutch system. In the end the clutch felt good and it was now much easier to engage a gear once the clutch was depressed. I took that to mean the clutch was operating successfully.

Now its the Turn of the Brakes

I essentially used the same approach I’d used with the clutch to fill and bleed the brakes. It was much more of a chore to do it by myself but at the time there was nobody else in the house. I’d have to pump the brake, keep the pedal down with my brace and then walk around the car to the corner I was working on. I worked from the furthest point from the brake cylinder around the car to the closest (Rear RHS, Rear LHS, Front LHS, Front RHS).

It took about 2 and half hours to do the brakes by myself, but I took my time and got a reasonably firm pedal. I was fully expecting to have to let things settle a bit and have another go at it, but I was happy with the first go.

The jam jar and washer tubing worked well..

Jam jar and washer tubing working a treat

I did have to modify my brace towards the end of the bleeding process. As the brake pedal “came towards” me as the air was expelled from the system, the pedal wouldn’t depress all the way. I also needed some additional mechanical advantage and so put a cross piece on my brace and employed a pump-clamp in “expanding” configuration to give me a good solid push of the pedal…

Modified brace and pump-clamp

At one point I forgot to put some rubber/latex gloves on and got fluid on my hands. I soon came up in a rash on my fingers and wrist which took a couple of hours to go down…

Brake fluid not good for the skin

Mental note to self: always wear gloves when handling brake fluid. We never had cheaply available latex gloves when I was last playing around with brake fluid 25 years ago, perhaps my younger skin was more resilient then.

A Telephone Call and a Trip to Horton

As I was finishing up the brakes I had a call. It was Williams Automobiles (for those of you that haven’t followed all this blog, they’re the dealer I’d got the car from) and they had my bonnet!

Now… this wasn’t totally unexpected. When I’d been discussing the bonnet delivery with Derek, I had actually offered to go to pick it up from Williams… if it was easier for Caterham to get the bonnet to them rather than to Bristol. However, Derek hadn’t confirmed that as the plan and I was rather expecting the bonnet to be delivered to my home – anyway it gave me a chuckle when Williams service team called 🙂

So, pack up the garage and head over the Williams to get the bonnet.

Getting the bonnet back was the last part of the whole puzzle and with a fixed bonnet in my possession I was feeling confident enough in my progress to start talking about booking the PBC and IVA test.

While I was a Williams I took the opportunity to have a look over a couple of cars they had in the courtyard. Everything seemed to be as expected except that I noticed something I hadn’t appreciated before. The cables for the front wing repeaters are routed along the rear of the top front wishbone. I’d been thinking that I was going to route them along the bottom, but the top made much more sense – further out of the way of any debris from the road and a shorter route to boot.

Repeater cable runs across rear arm of the top wishbone

Once I’d had a chat with their service team about how soon I could get a PBC done (pretty much as soon as I was ready – i.e. next week if needed) I headed home with the newly sprayed bonnet in the 3-series. We also spent a few minutes going over the bonnet to make sure it was all in good shape this time – it was.

Bonnet heading home for the last time – hopefully

It was a couple of hours round trip to Williams in Horton and I didn’t get back home until about 4PM. I did also take a detour to Halfords to see if I could find some better tubing to work on the brakes with. But they only had some simple brake bleed systems – I bought one but didn’t use it in the end. With some other family stuff to do for a couple of hours it was 6PM before I could get back into the garage.

Nipping up the Brake Lines

I spent an hour looking at the brakes again. When I’d got back into the garage there were drips of fluid coming from the LHS bodywork coupling and from the flexible hose to calliper coupling. I tightened them up again and will check again tomorrow.

[Note from the future: I was being a bit conservative with the brake line tightening. It took me two or three more goes to stop the various front joints from weeping. All the rears were fine. But, I struggled a little with the fronts. I got there in the end but they needed to be tighter than I first thought]

More Front Wings

I then spent another hour trying to figure out what to do with the carbon front wings. I came to the conclusion that just putting them directly on the wing stays was not going to get me to where I needed to be. The wings would still too close to the tyres. At the end of the hour I had decided I was going to space the wings away from the wing stays somehow. But how? Hmm.

I mocked up some spacers with some pipe lagging that I kept cutting down to size. It seemed I’d need about 10mm of spacing…

Foam pipe lagging cut to size to check out the spacing I needed

I spent the rest of the night writing a couple of blog posts. The blogging is taking almost as much time as the building.

Day 2 of the big push was about 7 and half hours in the garage. Day 3 tomorrow…

Build Session 33 : Front Wings, Lights, Handbrake, Gearbox, Number Plate Light

This is the final push… 5 days to work on getting the car finished… surely it won’t take THAT long!

It’s Thanks Giving week this week, which means my US work colleagues will be taking at least this Thursday off work and probably a day or two either side of it too. Normally that’s a cue for us in the UK to get our heads down and get some work done. However, this year I decided to take some PTO (Paid Time Off) while it’s quiet and get the car finished.

So, I have Wednesday to Sunday (5 days) able to be dedicated to the car. Yay!

The big job still to be done is to bond the front wings onto their wing stays. I also have a lot of engine bay tidy up to do and lots of IVA items that I’ve been putting off until they’re absolutely needed – don’t want to add IVA items only to find I have to take them off to re-do something else.

On to today then…

Front Wings

The first job today is to get the cycle wings ready to go onto the wing stays. That meant opening up the holes that are pre-drilled in the wings for the side repeaters.

The wings are pre-drilled with 3 x 5mm holes – arranged in a line. Though note that the repeaters have their mounting posts off centre and the centre hole is not in the middle of the mounting posts.

These LED repeaters are offset with the back being longer (left)
Wings pre-drilled with 3 x 5mm holes

That middle hole needs opening up. The cable-protrusion out of the back of the repeater is just under 13mm…

Repeater needs at least a 13mm centre hole

I decided to go with an oversized 16mm hole here, so I had a bit of wiggle room to make sure the repeaters were where I wanted them…

Used an oversized 16mm spade bit to make the repeater centre hole in the wing

My spade bit was nice and sharp, and so created a relatively clean hole…

Centre hole now enlarged

The wing now sits on the wing stays as below…

RHS wing on it’s wing stay ready to have the repeaters fitted.

And now starts another rabbit hole to dive down… as you can see in the picture above, the outside edge of the wing is sitting very close to the tyre. That picture is taken with the wing directly on top of the wing stays and no modification to the stays – you’re supposed to bend them into an appropriate position.

At this point some bloggers go through the motions of taking off the wing stays and using a vice (or similar) to bend the wing stays to the right position. I’d already had the wing stays off once this week so decided to try something different.

I just happened to have some 1″ Aluminium bar lying around for a future Caterham mod (more on that in the Spring) and some U-bolts. So, I constructed a lever through which to bend the wing stays…

My wing stay lever. Note how the wing stay bends above the blue electrical tape and runs very close to the tyre.

I could certainly bend the wing stays with this approach but I still couldn’t get the wing stay either central to the tyre or far enough away from the wheel for my liking. I suspect both the Carbon Wings and the 15″ wheels/tyres are what’s causing the problem. I’ve not seen anyone post blogs or seen anything in real-life with that combination. I’m sure someone’s done it, but I had nothing to reference for my installation.

I did the best I could to get the wing stays into an optimum position but it wasn’t working. My options seemed to be to cut some slots in the carbon wings to allow the wings to move outwards while not fouling on the wing stays. Or, I could space the wings off the wing stays and that would have the twin benefit of pulling the wing upwards away from the tyre but also allowing the wing to move outwards too.

I don’t have a picture to help here but the carbon wings were touching the wing stays where the wing stay bends away from the vertical – above the blue electrical tape on the wing stay in the picture above. A slot in the wing where it touched this bend in the stay might give me the room I needed.

However, these wings are not cheap, and I baulked at the thought of cutting them up and not achieving what I wanted.

You can see in the image below how much I’d managed to move the wing stay with my lever, those lines were originally coincident…

How much I could lever the RHS wing stay over to get the wing closer to central

So, I did what any self-respecting engineer would do at this point – I chickened out and sent an email to Derek. I decided to get on with something else while Derek got back to me.

Refit Gearbox Mounting Bolts

One of the things that had been nagging at my OCD gland was that in some of the IVA reports I’d seen from others going through the process, they had failed because the inspector couldn’t see the bolt poking out of the end of a nyloc nut when that combination is used. It had been nagging at me that I had installed the gearbox to chassis bolts so the bolts poked up through the nuts and it wasn’t quite so easy to see the end of the bolt. I’m sure an inspector could see the bolt if they spent the time, but… I didn’t want to be in a position where I was a borderline pass and the inspector was looking for a reason to fail me. OCD… I know.

So, I took 15 minutes and switched the bolts and nuts around like so…

Gearbox mounting bolts (before) going up
Gearbox mounting bolts (after) going down

I then torqued and paint-pen’ed the bolts.

Side Note: IMHO I liked the idea of leaving the obvious paint-pen marks on all the nuts/bolts. It’s there to show the inspector that I’d paid a lot of attention to detail. They are going to be looking for competence and so:

Confidence in the builder is probably as important as confidence in the build.

… profound!

Number Plate Light

Onto to something simple again now. The wiring to the number plate is left folded by the number plate bracket when the kit arrives…

Number plate wiring as it comes from the factory

It’s a single red signal wire. The earth for the number plate light is provided by the bracket to the chassis directly. Both the signal wire and the heat shrink are too long and needed to be trimmed.

I then crimped the bullet connector to the trimmed cable…

Bullet connector crimped to the number plate light wire

… but made sure the wire was long enough to route under the bulbs so that the cable and the heat shrink didn’t interfere with what would be a hot bulb. I’m not sure that logic made much difference in the end, but it made me happy!…

Number plate light attached and wired up.

I made sure I removed some powder-coat from the bracket where the screws earthed the circuit to the chassis – sorry, I don’t have a picture of that.

Wiring the Econoseal Plugs for the Front Lights and Indicators

The wiring for the front lights and indicators runs through a pair of econoseal plugs/sockets. The sockets are pre-fitted to the loom of the car when it ships from Caterham. The plugs are taped to the LHS of the chassis (in my case) in a plastic bag. It took a bit of fiddling with the various bits of the plug but it was fairly obvious in the end how they went.

Econoseal plug with one wire inserted.

I found that I could eject the pins from the plug if I wanted by using the usual method of pushing a small, thin flat blade screwdriver down into the back of the plug. The metal retaining tab in on the connector just needs to be depressed to the connector pulls back out of the plug. I found I also needed to “reset” this tab by bending the tab back out again so it would “catch” in the plug again when re-insterted.

With the wires all interested into both the LHS and RHS plugs and sockets, and the wing repeaters tacked in, I could get the lights and indicators to work…

With the wiring of the econoseal plugs/sockets mostly completed I could tack them in place with cable ties. The repeater wiring still needed to be added but I was going to route them separately from the other front wiring – the repeater wires are going to be routed across the rear arm of the top wishbone.

LHS econoseal sockets/plugs
RHS econoseal plugs/sockets

I didn’t seem to have got a great number of jobs finished today but I’d put in a solid 7 hours of effort today. I’m still hoping I’ll get it all done in the remaining 4 days I have.

Build Session 32 : LHS Indicators, Swap Wing Stays, Repeater Wiring

Another short day I’m afraid, just an hour today.

LHS Indicators

After all the “mucking about” yesterday with the LHS indicators not working I thought I’d give them another go this morning. I took the bulbs out from the  two indicator pods and was determined I’d go through the whole thing methodically.

Front RHS indicator pod

The first obvious test (that I’d already done yesterday) was to try the RHS bulb in the LHS pod… it worked! Hmm!

I then put the original LHS bulb back in the LHS pod and it worked! Hmm!

From that point on I couldn’t get the LHS indicators to fail. We’ll see how this holds up over time. I’ve no idea what the problem was, but I suspect a poor electrical connection in the bulb holder. Hmm… I don’t like mysteries they come back to haunt you.

[Note from the future: even after lots more testing, PBC and IVA… the indicators have been fine. We’ll see if they hold up to real-world use but for the moment no problems]

Wing Stay Swap – Grr!

Ok, so onto something more productive, front wings.

I’d ordered carbon fibre front wings for the car, mostly on aesthetic grounds but also due them being so much lighter than fibre glass versions and this would keep unsprung-mass down – that’s what I’m telling myself anyway!

The wings had perched on top of the wing stays at various points in the build – mainly to keep them out of the way. They’d picked up a couple of scratches in the process but these things are not going to stay pristine for very long once on the car, so I’m not bothered about those cosmetics so much. I probably should have covered these wings in masking tape when they arrived – and I’d recommend anyone receiving a new kit to do exactly that.

Anyway, seeing as the wings had been on the wing stays so many times I would have thought I’d have noticed that each of the wing stays were on the wrong side of the car – and therefore pointing backwards. It was only when I put the wings onto them loosely to look at how they would be attached that I realised the stays wouldn’t allow the wings to sit anywhere close to where they should do… you have to have the front leading edge of the wing vertically forwards of the wheel rim (not the tyre) to pass IVA.

I thought I had previously spent a minute or two getting the wing stays on the right way round when I built the front suspension. I distinctly remember thinking that they could only go on the way I had put them on and that I must therefore be right… wrong!

This wing stay should be on the other side – this is the WRONG orientation

And now with them swapped sides…

Now with the wing stays swapped to the right side – CORRECT orientation

That was a 45 minute job that I needn’t have done. However, looking back at the manual, it’s not at all obvious from the instructions which way you’re supposed to do this. Now I know more about Caterhams, it makes sense to do it the right way, but it didn’t when I was starting out and working on the suspension at the beginning of the build.

Front Indicator Repeaters

Another waste of time job…

Now I had the wing stays on I decided to wire the front indicator repeaters through the wing stays. Sounded like a good idea, except I forgot I had to also wire them through the wings themselves… as there’s no way to feed the repeater through the hole in the wing from the inside out. You have to feed the wires through the wing from the outside of the wing and then down the wing stay – bugger! Hey-ho all part of the fun.

Anyway it was a good exercise in figuring out how the repeater wiring, grommets and heat shrink sleeving all went together.

I used some tweezers to extract a pull cord (some wire) through the stay and then to pull the green signal wire through…

Tweezers to pull wire from inside the wing stay – there’s a better way of doing this

And so it all looked like this in the end…

Repeater signal wire threaded through wing stay… wot no wing, wot no extended earth lead!@!

It was at this point that I decided I would definitely extend the repeater earth wire to terminate in the engine bay. The manual tells you to terminate the earth at the top of the wing stay – which is why the earth lead is so short and terminates in a ring connection. I’d intended to do this but this wiring exercise today definitely showed there was enough room to get all the wires and heat-shrink through. That coupled with the fact that I didn’t fancy the earth wire being attached to a very wet and grubby wing underside. Mind made up – extend repeater earth wires…. another time.

That was it for today. Progress on… the indicators working, wing stays each on the right side… and made progress on the thinking through how the repeater wiring would work. All of which today I need not necessarily have needed to do if things had gone differently! What fun!