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Caterham 420R Build

Build Session 2 : Engine, Gearbox and Bell Housing

Day 2: front suspension day… or so we thought.

First thing Sunday, while I waited for Harry to “wake up”, as he sat watching the football on the TV, I decided we needed the better bodywork protection I’d been thinking about the day before.

So, I took one of the spare Caterham cardboard boxes (I thought the cardboard would come in useful) and cut out a couple of gaskets to apply to each of the front sides of the bodywork.

Cardboard gasket around front bodywork apertures

I think the corrugated cardboard sandwich is a much better solution than just going with masking tape, we’ll see. Happy with that, even if the masking tape keeps coming free.

Front Suspension Misfire

Cups of tea in hand we got ourselves ready in the garage. We had a quick re-read of the build manual and started looking for the parts we’d need. It then started to dawn on us that we hadn’t seen any wishbones anywhere in the parts we’d found so far. A check and re-check of the boxes and parts we had on shelves told us we weren’t dreaming and the wishbones were nowhere to be found.

Oh dear. This was really the first major build process in the project and we’re already missing major items. This would have to be a phone call to Derek Howlett in the morning.

So, what are we going to do now for the day?

Looking around the garage the only thing that came to mind was to fit the gearbox to the engine and bell housing. This process involves taking off the pre-installed bell housing from the  front the engine, attaching it to the gearbox and then refitting the two back onto the engine. Should be relatively simple.

Engine, Bell Housing and Gearbox

The first job though was to make some space. This is where the CJ Autos axel stands really came into their own. The chassis took its first outing and we wheeled it out of the garage and onto the drive. We had the whole garage then clear to play with the engine, bell housing and gearbox.

To protect both the components and the garage floor we had put down an offcut of ply wood onto the floor and rested the gearbox and bell housing on that. When Catherham had dropped off the engine I’d got the driver to put it onto a home made trolley we had. It made scooting it around the garage really easy.

Getting ready to take off the Bell Housing

Getting the bellhousing off the engine was reasonably straightforward. The bell housing was a little reluctant to come away from the engine but after we’d released the tension on the bolts holding the starter motor to the engine (there’s an overhang of the starter motor casing to the bell houseing and a rubber seal that crosses the two) and some gentle persuasion with a leather end of our persuasion stick (a #2 leather/copper headed hammer) it came free.

We’d seen a number of blog posts where people had got themselves confused about which bolts go where on the bell housing to engine interface. But Marcus Adams had posted a great solution where he tie-wrapped each bolt in place on the bell housing once it was free from the engine. That way the bolts don’t come lose and get mixed up with where they should go.

Harry and I had to scotch the engine and bellhousing forwards on the trolley before the bell housing would disengage from the engine as the assembly was resting on its trolley with the bellhousing touching. The weight of the assembly was therefore running through the bellhousing as we were trying to extricate it from the engine.

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