The Wiper Motor Fuse… and Test Rig Overkill with a Logic Analyzer

Drip, drip, drop, click, bugger!

… or in other words… rain… followed by another wiper fuse blowing.

The Story So Far:

For those of you that need a recap, I’d tested the wipers in December, prior to the IVA (Individual Vehicle Approval) test, and they had also been tested by the dealer that sold me the kit, Williams, at the Post Build Check. However, on the morning of the IVA, at 7:30AM, just as the heavens opened, and as I was pulling off our driveway, they stopped wiping and just sat still. I had to drive to the test centre, getting wet and knowing that with the wipers broken I was heading for a certain failure.

We did get them going again during the IVA but only with the help of a very considerate examiner and a spare fuse.

Driving in the rain with no wipers and my head hanging out the side of the car

Since then the wiper fuse has blown a total of 4 times, not a big problem, mainly because I was intrigued as to what was going on and was increasing the fuse size as each new fuse blew. A couple of the times it blew was when I was testing, but it also blew a couple of times when it mattered and I had to drive in the rain with no wipers. But fortunately, I had decided to carry spare fuses after my school-boy-error of not taking any to the IVA test.

Blown 10A Wiper Fuse

Well, of course, the standard response to any fuse failure is to adopt the age old course of action: throw in a bigger fuse and see what happens!

As the fuses kept blowing I’d managed to “do in” two 10As (factory fitted), two 15As and then finally found that a 20A held. I was still rather in the dark as to what was actually going on though. Was there a current spike that was “just about” holding with a 20A? Or was it more of a sustained current draw that was within the limits of this 20A… and of course, why do I need a fuse that’s double the factory fit item?

2018 Catheram 420R Fuse Box and Relays – there’s a 15A fuse in the topmost wiper motor fuse position

[ Note: the image above has an RDX relay where the standard indicator relay should be – that’s another story but relates to new LED indicators, brake, reversing and fog lights… but that’s another story ]

Now, sticking in a 20A is not quite the bodge-it-and-scarper approach that it would be to use a piece of tin-foil across the fuse terminals… as had been suggested by some, but it was close.

I went through a bunch of possible options that might be causing the problem. Clearly there was too much current being drawn as the wiper motor started. But I couldn’t imagine Caterham fitting a 10A fuse when they knew there was a startup problem with the motor… or could they? Of course this could be a defective motor, or there was some inrush current protection missing from my car.

Other options I thought of mainly revolved around the mechanical linkages getting “bound” and causing a higher than normal stall current in the motor. If that were happening then it would probably happen at some point no matter how long the wipers had been running… i.e. it could bind at a particular point in the cycle but it could take a few cycles before the problem showed itself.

That didn’t seem to be what was happening…. the fuses seemed to all blow when the wipers were first switched on… and more than that, at the very point the wiper switch was flipped. It did catch me out once when I thought that wasn’t the case, but in the end I decided that I had gone from slow-wipe to fast-wipe and the wipers had stopped mementarily in between those modes – so inducing a “start condition”. It seemed to me that if it was a mechanical bind then at some point in the wiper motion there would be a sticky point and the current would increase there. But it doesn’t feel like that’s what’s going on.

Ok, so it’s probably something to do with startup current. But how am I going to see exactly what’s going on. Hmm. A volt-meter or ammeter isn’t going to be able to tell the story at the split second when the wipers start up. I could use an oscilloscope but the only one’s I’ve got are 15+ years old and are not the sleek slim LCD units you can buy these days. I’ve also got some similarly old logic-analyzers that I could have broken out, but they too are bulky and difficult to extract data from to include in this blog. Very Web 1.0.

Bring on the Salaea Logic Pro 16. My modern way of doing oscilloscope and logic analyser work is to use the logic/analogue PC dongle from Saleae. They come in different sizes, i.e. inputs, speed and colors. I have the 16 channel Pro version in a fetching anodized red.

Saleae Logic Pro 16 – In Red

Salaea can be found at www.saleae.com.

The Salaea 16 Pro is an great bit of kit. It plugs into a USB socket on your PC and can deliver up to 500Ms/s (mega-samples per second) logic acquisition and 50Ms/s analogue acquisition all from a box that fits in the palm of your hand. Each of the 16 channels can be set to logic or analogue acquisition and the whole thing also takes its power from the USB bus, so only needs a single cable. I only need a single analogue input for this investigation, but nice to have 15 backups!

I think for the higher acquisition rates you need to have a USB 3 port on your computer but for what I needed in this project, USB 2 was going to be fine. It’s also really tiny so hooking it up to a laptop meant that if I wanted to I could “go mobile” and connect up the rig to the car as I drove around. In the end I didn’t need that, but it was always an option.

On the PC side of things… I’m a Mac sort of person, so I had the Salaea hooked up to a Mac Book Pro. That’s way overkill for what I needed but if I wanted to “go mobile” I would have broken out an old MacBook Air or something.

Salaea are beta’ing (as I write this in April 2018) a live capture mode too… the current release of software only lets you see results once a capture has run. Again, that’s fine for this project but I’m looking forward to finding other projects where I can use that feature.

Logic Analyzer Setup

That’s the tool sorted, now how do I connect it to the car.

Hmmm… So… I’m looking to get current measurements of the wash-wipe circuit. I either need to put an ammeter type device in series with the circuit or I need a current probe. I don’t have anything I can connect to the Saleae that is like an ammeter or that I could construct… to do that I would need an accurate and low resistance that’s in series with the motor and that I could then measure the voltage drop across. We’re talking about 10 or more amps here so the resistance would have to be very low – or else I’m going to be affecting the measurements by adding more power draw and voltage drop. I didn’t have those sort of components to hand.

My solution was a current probe. I have a 0-20/0-60Amp dual range current probe that generates a 10mV/Amp and 100mV/Amp in it’s two ranges. For a load of less than 20A (my 20A fuse is holding, so I’m interested in less than 20A draw) the lower current range of 100mV per amp should do nicely.

For those not familiar with current probes, they measure the net current flowing through any wires passing through their jaws. The effect is an electromagnetic effect that we won’t go into here. However, the result is that the net current flow produces a proportional voltage response on the probe’s output.

Pico TA018 Current Clamp

My next problem was that the current probe has a BNC connector on the end. That’s fine for the old-school oscilloscopes but not what the Saleae needs. It uses 1/10” headers for its input and has breakout leads that can hook up to 1/10” headers or at a push bare wires. I was unlikely to need the BNC connection type again, so… off with its head!

I could have made a BNC to 1/10” converter cable, but I was feeling lazy. That being said I also couldn’t just hack off the ends, I did need to at least provide something a little more professional – OCD, moi?!

BNC Probe connection replaced with 1/10th” header connectors

Back on the Saleae side of things, it’s analogue inputs are configurable up to a maximum input voltage of 3.3v. So, with 20A and 100mV/A, I need a voltage range of 0-2V – that’s perfect for the Saleae. Bostin!

Now I need to figure out how to get the current probe clamped around the wiper circuit input. Hmmm (again)…

I dangled myself into the passenger side footwell hoping that the wiper motor wires were accessible – they weren’t. The wiper motor is tucked up under the passenger knee panel. Hmm. I could of taken the knee panel off but I was feeling lazy, as discussed above.

This is what a Caterham Wiper motor location looks like

What about getting the probe on the back of the fuse panel. That had been the plan all along. But there wasn’t a lot of room there either. I’d probably have to unbolt the fuse panel to be able to get at it. Hmm.

Then came a eureka moment. I’m sure this is something that old hands know all about and use all the time. But I was pleased I worked it out myself… Use… a… modified… fuse (as pictured above).

You’re regular automotive fuse is essentially a plastic molded holder for the fuse wire. My plan was that I could nibble away at the end plastic of a blown fuse and insert a wire loop that I could get the probe onto. It has to be a “blown” fuse or else my wire loop will only be in parallel with the fuse wire and I won’t “see” the full current in my probe. Then, once I have this fuse Frankenstein, I can pop it into the fuse socket for the wipers and attach my probe.

Here’s the modified fuse…

Fuse with added wiring loop.

I could probably do a neater job than this second time around if I had another go – but it will do. I had to file away some of my soldered connections so the fuse would fit back into its holder and the wire loop got caught on the soldering iron at one point and so I lost a bit of the insulation – it’ll do!

And I also probably would have got the measurement done faster if I’d have taken the knee panel off… but lazy doesn’t mean lazy in all respects. When there’s a Eureka plan to hatch then lazy goes out of the window!

And here it is in the car with the probe attached.

Current probe attached to (wrong) fuse position

Now to take some measurements.

After a false start where I actually started to probe the wrong fuse, I finally found the right fuse (it’s tight up in that fuse box), and got to taking some measurements. I set the analyzer to 5ks/s and the full 3v3 input range. I didn’t need a lot of either time or voltage resolution… I was sure that anything that was going on was happening at the ms (millisecond) scale and not at the nanosecond scale. I was mostly right.

Scope output – ignition on then 4 cycles of wipers

The image above is a screen shot from the Saleae with the probe being connected into the wider fuse socket. The first spike is the ignition being turned on. Then we see a big spike where the wipers are turned on. There are then 8 “bumps” showing the wipers making 8 sweeps (4 cycles of left then right). It’s not totally obvious to me why there’s a spike associated with the ignition switch being activated – though I assume its something to do with the wiper reverse/park, there’s a momentary energising of the motor as the park circuit decides that the wipers are in deed parked.

But we’re interested in the big spike…

Initial wiper motor in-rush spike – medium zoom

We can see that the initial in-rush spike is large but also drops very quickly only to be followed by a wider almost the same amplitude second wave of current.

If we zoom in on the initial spike we can get a current reading…

Wiper motor in-rush spike – high zoom

The 1.657V shown on the image indicates 1.657 X 10A (100mA/V), or 16.5A.

Ok. Problem identified. The motor is drawing some 17A for about 0.6ms then almost the same for a much longer period. The shape of the curve is a little odd, there’s clearly a decay going on here followed by a cut-off, so I suspect the current peak is a lot higher than what I captured. This is firmly in line with the stall current theory, the magnetic fields build quickly and the current would be infinite if it wasn’t for the resistance of the windings. But in a real motor the currents aren’t infinite – luckily. Phew… my 3 years of university motor and electro-mag theory are paying off! Time to dissect the time… and up the sample rate a bit.

So, we’ve got a current spike when the wiper motor starts. That’s normal. And at the time scale that a wire fuse is going to be worried about (millisecond duration) the current draw is around 17A. The question is still: why is it so high?

There’s some writing on the side of the motor that shows what looks like a “14W”. I’m not sure if that’s relevant but I’m clearly going to need to do some more investigating. Especially if the motor is 14W… the 17A startup current and the ~7A running current are way bigger than 14W. For those interested, 17A x 12V = 204W. You can do the other calculation if you like, consider it homework. That wold be 1/3 of a horsepower at stall… while that’s feasible, that’s not going to be needed to drive two small wiper arms I don’t think.

One of the causes of the large spike, could be that the motor is faulty or at least the windings are at the low resistance side of a manufacturing tolerance. I’m certainly not going to be taking the motor apart to dissect it, but I might put a ohmmeter across the terminals if I take it out.

Perhaps I still also need to look at the mechanical side of things. The wiper assembly shows the motor attached to a gearbox and then through a bar to two worm gears that drive the blades themselves. Maybe the gearbox is dry or the worm gears need lubricating. It should be simple to get some lubricant on the worm gears but getting the motor and gearbox out will have to wait for another day.

The only other option I can think of at the moment is that there should be some sort of shunt across the motor to dampen any inrush – perhaps that’s faulty, missing or not designed for.

Next steps are to see if this is a common problem that I hadn’t been able to Google on Blatchat… and to do some digging to see if there are any clues on the Caterham supplied wiring diagrams (though I’m less than confident that they reflect how my car is actually put together).

So, what’s going on?

Well, I guess I still don’t know. Though I know more detail on what’s going on at the current level.

And of course leaving the 20A fuse in place isn’t really a great option. The fuse is there, obviously, to protect against over-current. And with the stall current being below the fuse rating I have in there now, then a stalled motor isn’t now going to blow a fuse. I guess if the motor does truly stall then it’s going to get rally hot too… that’ll reduce the resistance of the windings enough perhaps to increase the stall current and blow even the 20A fuse. But that’s perhaps just wishful thinking… there’s a lot of metal in a wiper motor and it will take a long time to heat up and even then I doubt the winding resistance will fall low enough to blow the fuse. If I had a spare wiper motor I’d probably try that out – sounds like an interesting experiment.

More to come…

PS: This post was written in April of 2018 but for various reasons has only been posted now (June 2018). In the intervening time I’ve not had a chance to look any further at the Wiper Motor problem but my 20A fuse has held. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to look some more at this at a later date and report back.

The 2018 Taffia Fish & Chip Run YouTube Video

Warning: this post contains techie stuff. Sorry, had to get that out of the way. Some people will have gone by now, you can carry on reading if you like this sort of thing.

YouTube

So, this is my first YouTube video and creating this video of the day out was no mean feat. While I work with video every day and I know the fundamentals of Non-linear Editing (NLE) I’d not had a go at such a detailed video before.

On  the day I had the following with me:

  • 4 x GoPro (2 x Hero 5 Black, 2 x Hero 6 Black)
  • Cannon m6 mirrorless DSLR with Rode Video Mic Pro+
  • iPhone X
  • DJI Mavic Air Drone

My setup and thoughts on it are as follows:

  • GoPro mounted to the front grille: This gave some great footage but the grille rattled on its mountings and gave some shaky footage at times. Also, the audio from it was compromised… but ok in places for establishing shots. I’ll need to see if I can stop the grille rattling – I had planned to do that prior to the run but ran out of time.
Nosecone mounted GoPro
  • GoPro mounted to the centre base of the windscreen: This gave us some great video of me and Joel. From the outbound fuel stop onwards gave us audio in device audio. This audio was really bad in places… I had the GoPro touching the screen I think and it kept on tapping against the glass giving a huge click on the audio. Prior to the first fuel stop Joel and I wore lav mics into a Saramonic wireless transmitter. The receiver fed into the windscreen mounted GoPro, through the GoPro USB-C audio interface, and gave reasonable audio.
GoPro mounted to base of windscreen
  • GoPro mounted to centre roll over bar: Gave great video looking down at the road ahead, including Joel an me in the shot too. The audio from this camera was useless, as expected, when the car was moving but could be used sometimes when we were still.
GoPro Mounted to Roll Over Bar
  • GoPro HERO 5 Black in the boot as a spare. I also took two spare GoPro batteries, fully charged – and used both of them.

 

  • Cannon m6: Used for taking video around the Pearcefield carpark and I tried to take video over the top of the screen as we drove along… Of course that audio was useless, and I don’t think I used any of the over-the-windscreen footage – lesson learnt there. I tried a few shots using this camera through the windscreen but there were quickly too many bug splats on the screen and the camera’s autofocus latched onto them too much. Another lesson learnt, use manual focus in those scenarios.
Cannon m6 with Rode Video Mic Pro+ and Manfrotto mini-tripod
  • iPhone X: As usual the iPhone was in my pocket. I took footage at the Piercefield and in the carpark in Aberdovey with it. It gives great results but I was being lazy and should have used another app (Filmic Pro) to set shutter speed and the like manually… The iPhone defaults to 60fps for video and that looks a bit sketchy when Final Cut re-rates is to 25fps.

 

  • Mavic Air Drone: I took the Mavic Air because of it’s great video (up to 1080p) and compact size. My Mavic Pro isn’t that much bigger but its more imposing in the air and sometimes people don’t mind the Air buzzing around when they take exception to the Pro. My Phantom 4 would just be too big to get in the boot! I got some footage of the Piercfield before we left and was going to try and get a shot of the carpark in Aberdovey but it took so long to get there that I didn’t want to spend the time sticking the drone up – we needed to get back.
Mavic Air drone

I set all the GoPro’s to take 2.7k 25fps footage and configured for wide angle rather than super-wide or linear. That allowed it to use its own image stabilisation (I chickened out on relying on it in post but might be happier with that now I know how good Final Cut can do in that respect). Going for 2.7k instead of 1080p also allowed me to crop the video down to 1080p in post without losing any resolution – 2.7k is 140% the size of 1080p so allowed a reasonable crop ratio if I needed it.

Audio on the GoPro’s was set for high noise/wind environments. It perhaps didn’t need it on the Windscreen mount but I didn’t want to swap a camera over and then forget to set the noise reduction.

Each GoPro had a 128GB card in them. Two of the three were ok for space but the one that got used as the windscreen cam the most ran out of space at the homebound fuel stop.

I did end up rotating the GoPro’s around as I switched batteries around as I charged them. The windscreen mounted dash was hooked up to a USB charing cable and allowed me to keep that topped up and switch that battery into other GoPro’s as we went along.

I’ll spare you the details of the edit for YouTube but it was a big learning curve for me. Stitching multiple GoPro segments together into compound clips and then pulling all the different camera angles together in multi-cam clips was new to me (other than some simple tests I’d done a while ago). It certainly made sense to do all the prep, colour correction, stabilisation etc on the footage at this stage – prior to dropping it into the timeline. The multicam support in Final Cut is awesome and made switching camera angles trivial instead of a right royal PITA. The exception to that is probably image stabilisation: if you do it on too long a clip then the stabilisation algorithm often crops too much of the image out to get to a stable shot… best doing stabilisation on clips in the timeline.

In all I probably spent well over 20 hours on putting this 14+ minute video together… possibly even double that if I’m honest. A baptism of fire for my first YouTube video!

In the end the Final Cut Pro timeline looked like this…

Final Cur Pro X Taffia Timeline

Conclusion

Other than some tweaking of the 3 main GoPro mounts I think the video is good. I do need to take a lot more B-roll (supporting shots) but that’s probably always the case.

The area where I need to spend a lot more time is on the audio. I still have lots of things to try here but I think I’ll be trying out the Zoom H6 multi-track recorder next to see if I can get some more audio sources and have more options in post.

The final result is here:

Taffia 2018 Fish & Chip Run – The Full Story

After posting a quick Drone shot of the start of the Fish & Chip run I’ve gone back to give a longer post on the day, read on…

YouTube

For those of you that are impatient and don’t like reading my posts… how about a YouTube video…

The Main Event

The Taffia Fish & Chip run is organised by the Welsh Area group of the Lotus7 enthusiasts club (www.lotus7.club). It tries to run every year (weather permitting) from The Piercefield pub, just outside of Chepstow, to the Welsh seaside town of Aberdovey – where everyone crams into Shelley’s, a small Fish & Chip shop, to partake of their wares and then to drive home again. It’s all just a big excuse to dash across the Welsh countryside and enjoy the driving and the views.

This year’s event took place on May 19th with probably perfect weather conditions. Perhaps the only downside to the weather being so nice was that there were plenty of other people on the roads – but as long as you didn’t want to break any timing records for the run then the busy roads didn’t really matter.

Getting to the Start

The kickoff in the Piercefield car-park was from 8:30 in the morning for bacon baps and coffee and leaving the car park at around 10. We decided for an 8:30 set off from Bristol with both Joel and Mike being eager and early.

Joel was my co-driver for the day… a very reasonable £25 admin charge to put him on my policy. Mike is a local (about 300m from me) Caterham owner with a bright green 2017 360R.

Ready to get going

As we got closer to Chepstow we passed or collected another 5 or 6 Sevens on the roads into the pub. Clearly we weren’t going to be on our own.

By the time we got there at just after 9 we found there was already about 60 cars in the carpark.

Drone shot of car park
Panaroma of the car park
Mike and his 360R
Inside the Purplemeanie

We had a wander round the carpark, registered ourselves inside the pub and I took some video and drone footage. All while chatting to the other participants.

We had a pep talk from one of the Welsh Area Rep from the club and then we all set off.

From the Piercefield to Llanwrthwl

Joel took the first leg of the jaunt from the Pub up to Llanwrthwl which was to be our fuel and coffee stop, loosely half way to the seaside.

We almost immediately got caught up in a traffic jam that formed behind a group of cyclists heading out of Chepstow. We must have passed 50 cyclists over the course of the day – great to see so many people out enjoying the weather!

Then it was through Usk, south of Abergavenny, through Brecon and over the Brecon Beacons.

The full route plan is at the bottom of this post if you’re interested so I won’t go over all of that now. It’s a very varied first leg though, small quiet villages, large towns, single track bridges and dual carriageways. It’s all in there except for perhaps a Motorway and a ford.

Here’s a map of the route, I think I’ve got it right…

Taffia 2018 Fish and Chip Run Routemap

The best part of this leg is across the Black Mountain section that all the car magazines and Top Gear have used in the past.

Shot of the Black Mountain section (I think)

Buzzard Bomber

As we crossed the black mountains we could see buzzards flying over head. There really were a lot of them. Then as we rounded a corner (Joel driving still) a buzzard took off from a tree in our peripheral vision. As we continued along the road it was clearly heading towards us, not intentionally I don’t think. Until we were clearly on a collision course and it then had to suddenly veer off.

The cameras on the car caught it taking off all the way up to when it decided to abort it’s path.

From the Black Mountains we followed the route below. One interesting point was as we navigated the bridge at Coed-yr-ynys (at least I think that’s where it was) and saw a guy out in his Ariel Atom wearing a dashing Spider Man liveried helmet. He must have wondered what the hell was happening as dozens of Sevens passed him the other direction.

Spiderman in an Ariel Atom

When we got to the roadside fuel and coffee stop in Llanwrthwl it seems that just about every other car on the run had got there too (for those interested here’s a link to the pronunciation of this town). I like to think I can have a fair bash at Welsh place names but I completely screwed it up in my video voiceover.

It had taken us just over two hours to get to this point… this run was turning out to be a slow one. We had been told that we should have been at Aberdovey by 12:30… but that clearly wasn’t going to happen.

Roadside Garage Fuel and Coffee Stop (Llanwrthwl)

From Llanwrthwl to Aberdovey

We stopped for about 20 minutes at the garage and then headed out with just us in front and Mike behind – with me driving this time.

It wasn’t long though before we came up behind another group and we were travelling in a larger convoy again.

Perhaps the best part of the whole run is the section which I think runs from Staylittle to Machynlleth.

Traversing the hillside

Aberdovey

When we finally got to Aberdovey it was about a 5 minute run through the town to the seafront. We just about all got into the pay-and-dislpay carpark I think – though the parking toll machine was causing problems for people – some who had only got cards and the machine wasn’t of this era.

In all, including the fuel stop, it took about 4 hours to get to Aberdovey. Getting there just before 2PM. That’s quite a difference to the advertised 12:30 arrival that we’d been told, but hey, what the heck… that was more time behind the wheel.

I can only think the extra time was due to the number of cars – we got a bit bunched up in places – and to the number of other people out on the roads. There was also a bit of a queue for fuel and coffee at the pit stop that probably added a bit of time to some people’s journey.

Shelley’s Fish and Chip shop were clearly expecting us – but perhaps not quite the numbers that turned up. All the tables inside had “Reserved for Lotus7 Club” written on them, so they knew we were coming. However, we were queuing out of the back of the shop and into the side alley-way when we got there. We had about a 10 minute wait to get served as I think a new batch of chips was coming through. No point in getting upset about these things and it was a great chance to have a chat with the people in the queue next to us. The staff were friendly when we got to be served and the chips were great. Shelley’s is highly recommended.

Shelley’s Fish and Chip Shop (image from TripAdvisor)

With 95 cars arriving at Aberdovey and probably a ratio of perhaps something like 1.5 people per car, the fish and chip shop probably didn’t know what hit it 🙂

We sat and ate our fish and chips on the sea front looking out over the beach… what’s not to like about British seaside towns when the weather’s fine?

Fish and chips on the steps by the beach
Aberdovey Beach

The Home Run

We left Aberdovey at about half past two and essentially reversed our route of the morning until we got to Abergavenny.

Not long after leaving Aberdovey we ran into (almost literally) a sheep.  Sheep jumping out in front of you is a constant threat on these Welsh runs and today we found a particularly suicidal one…

At least this sheep had the good sense not to run right into us!

We stopped again at the same petrol station – we hadn’t planned to do that and had been looking for somewhere to stop for a few miles, it just so happened that we ended up there again.

Once we got to Abergavenny we just took the sign posts for home. That got us down onto the M4 motorway and it was a “quick” blast back.

I’m not too sure of when we exactly got back to Bristol. We dropped Mike off at his place on the way through and from the timestamp on the picture below we probably got home about 5:45. So about 3 hours 15 to get back.

Summary

From other reports I’ve seen it seems that in the end 86 cars left The Piercefield Pub and were joined by another at the fuel stop. Then 8 more cars rendezvous’ed with us later on – making a grand total of 95 cars for the run. Amazing! And a record!

All in all an absolutely fantastic day out. One of those days to remember for a very long time.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

YouTube

If you’re interested in seeing some of the highlights then there’s a YouTube video available here:

That video is about 15 minutes and took a lot of work to get it down to something that won’t bore the hind legs off a donkey – as they say. If there’s demand then I could put together a longer video with more sections that I’d missed if people are interested. Let me know if you’d like to see that happen.

There’ll be another more in-depth post about how the YouTube video came together and can be found here.

Here’s some Links from Lotus7.club Website in case you’re looking for other info on the run – you may need to be a member to see them though.

The Route Text

Road Book for the Taffia Chip Run 2018

I’ve taken  the following route plan from the Lotus7.club forums, I’ve pasted them here in case you fancy taking a similar trip, but be warned… I think some of the directions are a little sketchy in places and you should expect to get lost once in a while if you follow them – but all part of the fun of it!

  1. Turn RIGHT out of pub car park onto A466, follow the road past racecourse to roundabout. Continue straight ahead.
  2. At next roundabout take second exit, stay on A466
  3. After 200m turn RIGHT onto B4235 Signposted Usk
  4. Follow B4235 until the junction of the A472. This is a dual carriageway; cross into the centre reservation and turn RIGHT into Usk
  5. Follow A472 past the 30 mph speed camera into Usk
  6. In the centre of town , At the big black and white Three Salmons Hotel turn RIGHT onto the B4598, sign posted Abergavenny
  7. Continue along this road for 6.5 ish miles
  8. At T-Junction turn LEFT signposted Abergavenny B4598
  9. Continue along this road for 5 ish miles
  10. CAUTION – Complicated bit coming up!!
  11. At big roundabout, drive ahead and under bridge, continue 200m to second roundabout.
  12. At second roundabout Take 2nd exit onto dual carridgeway A465 signposted Merthyr Tydfil A465
  13. Continue along A465 (for a total of 9.5 miles), at first roundabout continue along A465
  14. At second roundabout take 3rd exit and continue along A465 for 2miles to the top of the hill……CAUTION – Major road works on A465
  15. Take slip road onto A4281 signposted Ebbw Vale
  16. After 400 yards take the slip road signposted B4560
  17. At T junction turn Right onto B4560 signposted Llangynidr
  18. Continue along B4560. This is the EVO, Autocar, TopGear“Black Mountain” test road. (Enjoy the view)
  19. At T-Junction turn LEFT signposted Brecon
  20. After 1 mile turn / bear RIGHT signposted Bwlch
  21. Follow road across weak narrow bridge (CAUTION blind entry & exit)
  22. At T junction turn LEFT signposted Brecon A40
  23. Continue along this road for 7 miles ish
  24. At roundabout take the 2nd exit signposted Brecon B4601
  25. Continue along this road into town – fuel stop here!
  26. After the Petrol Station Turn RIGHT at the mini roundabout.
  27. Continue past Morrison’s supermarket on the left to traffic lights at cross roads junction at the bottom of the hill & turn RIGHT signposted Upper Chapel B4520
  28. After 100m turn LEFT up Priory Hill signposted Upper Chapel
  29. Continue along this road until you enter the village of Upper Chapel☺, top road!
  30. Just after Upper Chapel at top of hill turn left onto B4519 (sign posted Garth B4519)
  31. Follow road across the military ranges (don’t worry about the redflags. CAUTION do not deviate from the B4519 & beware of low flying tanks)
  32. At T junction with A483 turn Left
  33. Continue along A483 until you enter Beulah
  34. Just before Trout Inn and garage Turn Right onto B4358, follow road. Continue all the way towards Builth Wells.
  35. At T junction turn Left onto A470 signposted Rhayader (A470)
  36. Stop at Halt Café for refreshments / weight reduction / grief from the co-driver …. Plus fuel stop here!
  37. Turn LEFT out of café back onto A470, follow to Rhayader.
  38. At crossroads in the middle of Rhayader go straight across onto A470
  39. Continue along A470 for loads of miles until you come to a roundabout.
  40. At roundabout take 2nd exit sign posted Llanidloes A470
  41. Continue along A470 until you reach second roundabout
  42. At roundabout take 1st exit onto B4518 signposted Llyn Clywedog / Staylittle
  43. At next round about take 2nd exit onto B4518 signposted Llyn Clywedog Staylittle
  44. After 100m turn Left onto B4518 signposted Staylittle
  45. Continue along B4518 to Staylittle
  46. Pass through Staylittle, after 1 mile turn left Signposted Dylife / Machynlleth CAUTION – very narrow blind bridge in the village of Forge just before Machynlleth
  47. Continue along this great road to Machynlleth.
  48. At T junction with A489 turn left
  49. Continue through town. At T junction turn right onto A487 sign posted Dolgellau.
  50. Cross over river bridge and turn left onto A493 Signposted Aberdyfi
  51. We will gather on the seafront in the carpark near the fish and chip shop – He is expecting us.
  52. BE CAREFULL of pedestrians, they may damage your nose cone if you hit one!!!!

The route home is the reverse of the morning run.

80+ Sevens on the 2018 Taffia Fish and Chip Run – Drone Shot

Today, I and my co-driver (Joel) took part in the Lotus7.club 2018 Taffia Fish and Chip Run.

I’ll put a longer post together when I get a chance along with hopefully a YouTube Video, but for those interested, here’s a drone shot I took just before we all left from Chepstow to Aberdovey on a 250 mile round trip for Fish and Chips!

I understand there were over 80 Sevens that headed out and more like 90 by the time we got to Aberdovey.

Fantastic day out in glorious weather… Highly Recommended!!

Back with Some Stats – How Much Time!

Three months on from the build and time to do a look back at some statistics…

It’s been three very cold and wet months since I got the car on the road. We’ve had the Beast From The East and it’s lesser sibling, The Mini Beast From The East, along with a bunch of rain and a good dose of a stinker of a cold that kept me inside for too long.

Suffice to say I’ve not been out in the car much. As I write this (end of March 2018) the car only has about 160 miles on the clock and 70 of those were in the last 3 days. There’ll be more on that in a future post though.

In the meantime, how about some build stats? I get asked the usual questions a lot – how fast, how much, how heavy etc etc. But I also get asked a lot about how long it took to build…

… and I’m glad you asked, I say 🙂

So, as well as keeping a Blog on this website while I was building, I also kept a written record of how much time I was spending, both on the website and on the build. I also totted up a few other items in case anyone’s interested. The numbers are “about right”… I think. Don’t quote me to the second, I may have missed recording a time and had to think back as to how long it took, but I don’t think I missed anything big, or I’m too wildy out.

Some High Level Statistics

Build Hours 162
Visits to the dealer, Williams 7
Visits to Caterham 1
Pictures Taken 1,546
Pictures added to Blog 601
Emails to Caterham 58
Emails from Caterham 35
GigaBytes of storage used (mostly video) 877
Blog Posts 65
Words in Blog 83,869
Hours Blogging 111.83
Website Views 9,530

I think most of those stats speak for themselves, but lets run through them for the insomniacs amongst you…

Build Hours – 162

For many of you aspiring builders, this is the only number you’re interested in:

162 hours to build a car

That’s a lot longer than I thought it would take… and also a lot longer than Caterham tell you it will take.

Double what I had hoped.

Where did all the time go…? Well there’s more detail below if you really want to the gorey mess of it… but in the end, it went into the “fun” of it. I really enjoyed the build and I probably took longer because I was enjoying getting it all done the way I thought it should be done, and not just the quickest way.

It also seemed to take forever to get over the final line. Endless jobs to tidy and  do the IVA tasks. In the end I did just about everything I could find that was required by IVA. Perhaps all of them weren’t necessary but the way I look at it – it passed first time!

Could you do it faster – certainly… especially with the swanky new Ikea style build manual. Would you have as much fun – depending on your goals… maybe. Would I have had as much fun doing it more quickly – absolutely not. It was a fantastic 162 hours of glorious fun!

Awesome!

What’s not included: I haven’t included any research time. As well at the hours of building and blogging I did many, many hours of reading all the blogs, forums and facebook posts I could find. I’m sure there was at least another 100 hours in research – both before and during the build.

More Detail on Build Hours

If you’re interested (and a real sucker for punishment), then at the bottom of this post I’ve put my whole build log.

I recorded all the major work items, and even lumped in the not-so-major items. I can’t guarantee that I captured absolutely everything, but if you’ve been a follower of the blog you should get a sense of whether I’m the meticulous type or not.

If you’re a “a bit more of the detail” sort of person but not a “dump all the minutia on me” person, then I also grouped the tasks into the following categories and generated a (pivot) table of the approximate headline durations…

Task Category Duration (hh:mm)
Bodywork and Protection 22:20
Brakes 11:53
Drivetratin 26:58
Electrics 18:57
Exhaust 05:40
IVA 07:50
Other 06:50
Plumbing – Oil 09:35
Plumbing – Water 16:30
Safety 02:05
Steering 03:15
Suspension – Front 17:20
Suspension – Rear 12:56
Grand Total 162:09

At some point, I might try and put this information back into the gantt chart I first created. I know there were a bunch of you that said it would take me longer than in the gantt… but hey you’re only young once.

Again, there’s more detail at the bottom of this post…

Visits To The Dealer – 7

Of course there were the usual test-drives, spec’ing, paying etc etc. But I also had a few trips out to poke around their stock to see how things were done on an already built car, and I also made trips to pick up my bonnet and a different track day roll-bar.

And while we’re on the subject of roll-over bars… bear in mind that some clubs (i.e. Lotus7.club) insist on the FIA track-day roll-over bar – the one with the diagonal braces running across the car. If you go for the standard roll-over then no-tracky-with-them! They won’t allow you to enter one of their track days unless you have at least the FIA track-day roll-over bar.

Visits To Caterham – 1

A visit to take my bruised, and already late, bonnet back to be reworked. I could have got them to pick it up but decided a trip to the showroom was going to get it there faster… and… it was a worthwhile day out that I hardly needed an excuse for. I learnt a lot from poking around the cars there and also got talking to other builders and mechanics which was also really helpful too.

Pictures Taken – 1,546

I’ve talked about my reasons for blogging (here) and some of the very first comments I got back on my first few posts were – “more pictures please”. We all know a picture paints a thousand words and nothing more so than when you’re trying to explain something technical.

Of course you need to take pictures as part of the submission to IVA, but I only provided them with half a dozen or so. So, taking lots of pictures wasn’t for their benefit. In the end I found it really, really useful to refer back to pictures I’d taken from earlier in the build. I’ve also been able to dig through the collection when people have asked questions later and I’ve been able to find something that didn’t make the blog but showed exactly how I’d done something.

I’ve enjoyed having the photo collection to go back through and I hope you enjoy the montage header picture on this post – which is (most of) the pictures uploaded to the site so far… in a montage (ImageMagick if anyone’s interested). I think there are 504 images in that montage – don’t ask about why there’s a difference between the 504 here and the 601 mentioned below… there just is – right!

Pictures Added to The Blog – 601

I think that’s way more than I was expecting and probably took forever for people to download as they read the posts… but it seems they helped a bunch of people through their own builds so hopefully worth it in the end.

I’m also aware that some people just look at the pictures on the pages… with very little evidence that they’ve read the words. That’s ok too… and of course I can bad mouth them here because they won’t read this either! 🙂

Emails to Caterham – 58

I never would have guessed that – honestly! I thought I was trying to keep the traffic to Derek to a minimum. Hmmm.

Derek was great, and often surprised me with how quickly he got back… but sometimes not so too… so don’t rely on him for a guaranteed response if you’re in a rush, would be my recommendation – but realistically, nobody promised that either.

If you need help quickly, there are some great Facebook Groups and of course Blatchat if you get stuck in a rush:

Both those sources helped me out during the build, but the standard internet and social media warnings apply: only with an adult’s permission and caveat emptor!…….. what! you didn’t pay for your internet content… ! 😉

Emails from Caterham – 35

Derek wasn’t always as chatty in return… some of the disparity in numbers comes from me replying “thanks” or “ok” a few times. But, also Derek, I’m sure, has other jobs to do and so his responses could sometimes just be “yes” or “no” – which left my questions answered but sometimes a little lost as to actually how I had to move forwards.

However, for the overwhelming majority of the time, Derek’s answers were great and left no room for confusion.

(The one exception to that was the pictures he sent of the washer bottle install, in the boot, that didn’t include the non-return valve and caused water to spray the windscreen whenever the brakes were applied as I drove the car for the first few times!  🙂 … more on that in a future post).

GigaBytes of Storage Used – 877GB

Yes, that’s right, not far off a TeraByte of media… mostly video.

For the whole of the build I had at least 2 GoPro’s running. I have many, many hours of video that, one day, I hope to make a time-lapse or even a “These are the Steps to Make a Car” video.

I had started off thinking I would do a VLog as well as a Blog. However, it became clear very soon into the build that building, blogging and vlogging would have been too much. The general rule seems to be that 10 minutes of video takes about 200 minutes to film and about another 100 minutes to edit. And as you can see below… I spent almost as much time blogging as building and to edit and post a VLog was going to take me way over the time I had available. Sorry no VLOG – yet.

Blog Posts – 65

Hopefully you’ve all read them! They were great weren’t they?

Words in Blog – 83,869

Phew! That’s some piece of work!

Hours Blogging – 111.83

I didn’t count all my time blogging – some of it was on planes, trains and automobiles. But… I did “time” some of my blogging and that gave me a metric to use… which worked out at about 750 words an hour while I was writing, drawing, uploading and editing. So… 83-thousand words @ 750 words per hour  =

112 hours!

I could have built another car in that time, or at least I could do now I know what I’m doing!

Website Views To Date – 9,530

All Time Views – 2018-03-26

Whilst not exactly the web’s most visited site, I’m pleased that there has been at least a few people interested to take a look at the fun we’ve had.

From the start of the blog to March 26th 2018 (just over a year), the website has had some 9,500 views. And for those of you interested… a view is counted when a visitor loads or reloads a page.

That’s it for stats… I hope you enjoyed the journey so far…!

And now for something completely the same… The Full Build Log

Now for the real insomniacs amongst you, here’s the full build log…

Date Item Comment Duration Task Category
12/08/17 Steering Rack 00:50 Steering
12/08/17 Front IVA Trim 01:00 IVA
13/08/17 Engine, Bell Housing and Gearbox 01:00 Drivetratin
17/08/17 Tapping Harness Bolt 00:20 Saefty
18/08/17 Front Suspension 01:40 Suspension – Front
19/08/17 Front Suspension 02:36 Suspension – Front
20/08/17 Headlamp Assemblies 04:16 Electrics
20/08/17 Front Suspension 01:18 Suspension – Front
22/08/17 Upright Test Fit 00:20 Suspension – Front
22/08/17 Upright N/S Cycle wing stay, upright, wooden stay 01:00 Suspension – Front
22/08/17 Upright O/S 01:22 Suspension – Front
23/08/17 Blogging Playing with 80D mount 00:25 Other
23/08/17 Track rod end TRE requires 13 turns not lock nut 00:18 Suspension – Front
23/08/17 Front Anti Roll Bar 00:47 Suspension – Front
23/08/17 Front brake pipes Test Fit 00:20 Brakes
23/08/17 Front brake pipes Fitting, not torqued 00:15 Brakes
23/08/17 Waxoil Front bodywork 00:10 Bodywork and Protection
25/08/17 Front Anti Roll Bar Fit bushes to bar and brackets 00:07 Suspension – Front
25/08/17 Front Anti Roll Bar Dremel out holes and attach 01:15 Suspension – Front
25/08/17 Horns 00:32 Electrics
27/08/17 Engine L-Hose, Engine Mounts, Hoist 02:35 Drivetratin
27/08/17 Engine Hoist Leveler Extensions 01:04 Drivetratin
28/08/17 Engine Moving Car and prep alternator 03:05 Drivetratin
28/08/17 Engine Install engine and reattach alternator 03:45 Drivetratin
28/08/17 Tidy up Put car away and tidy 00:30 Other
29/08/17 Gearstick 00:20 Drivetratin
02/09/17 Gearbox Try and get some more clearance – failed 01:30 Drivetratin
02/09/17 Reverse Switch 00:15 Electrics
02/09/17 Engine Wiring 00:50 Electrics
02/09/17 Starter Motor Positive Cable 00:05 Electrics
02/09/17 Fuel Pipe 00:05 Drivetratin
02/09/17 Clutch hose Remove plugs 00:15 Plumbing – Oil
02/09/17 Primaries Start 00:20 Exhaust
03/09/17 Primaries 00:30 Exhaust
03/09/17 Catalytic Converter Springs mainly 00:50 Exhaust
03/09/17 Exhaust Tighten exhaust and cut down 8mm hex 00:30 Exhaust
03/09/17 Lambda Sensor 02:05 Exhaust
03/09/17 Lambda Sensor Rivnuts 00:45 Exhaust
03/09/17 Tidy up 00:15 Other
04/09/17 Engine Retorque engine mounts and paint mounts 00:30 Drivetratin
04/09/17 Oil tank 02:00 Plumbing – Oil
04/09/17 Steering Column Gring universal joint 01:40 Steering
04/09/17 Tip and B&Q Sealant black and clear 01:20 Other
04/09/17 Steering wheel Fix boss (double sided tape for velcro) 00:10 Steering
04/09/17 Oil Tank Bottom fixing P-clips 01:00 Plumbing – Oil
04/09/17 Throttle Cable Fettle Hole for nipple in footwell 00:40 Drivetratin
04/09/17 Oil Tank P-Clips 00:45 Plumbing – Oil
04/09/17 Oil Tank Top setscrew – 4 spacers 00:10 Plumbing – Oil
04/09/17 Top oil breather Cut and flip P-clips 00:15 Plumbing – Oil
04/09/17 Steering Column Uni joint insert + torque after painting before 00:35 Steering
06/09/17 Radiator Dry fit – fan brackets? 01:45 Plumbing – Water
07/09/17 Oil cooler Dry fit and drill extra holes 00:15 Plumbing – Oil
07/09/17 Heater Test fit heater 00:15 Plumbing – Water
09/09/17 Radiator/Oil Cooler Fit and drill oil cooler mounts 01:45 Plumbing – Oil
09/09/17 Oil hose Test fit 00:40 Plumbing – Oil
12/09/17 Roll Over Bar Torqued 00:45 Safety
16/09/17 Engine Water Plumbing + Water Expansion Bottle Mount 01:55 Plumbing – Water
22/09/17 Water Expansion Drill Chassis + Heater + Water Hoses 03:00 Plumbing – Water
23/09/17 Water Heater + Water Hoses 00:30 Plumbing – Water
23/09/17 Heater / Water Pipework to temp sensor 00:20 Plumbing – Water
23/09/17 Water Pipework to temp sensor 00:25 Plumbing – Water
23/09/17 Water Temp Sensor + Heater Control 00:50 Plumbing – Water
23/09/17 Accelerator Pedal Bend 00:00 Drivetratin
23/09/17 Prop Shaft Refill Gearbox + Propshaft 00:40 Drivetratin
23/09/17 Diff Install Diff – Joe helped 01:25 Drivetratin
24/09/17 Engine Bell Housing Bell housing protector 00:30 Drivetratin
24/09/17 Raise Rear Jack up rear again 00:05 Other
24/09/17 Diff Bolting in and measuring 00:40 Drivetratin
24/09/17 Diff Bolting in and measuring 00:14 Drivetratin
24/09/17 Diff Bolting in and measuring 01:15 Drivetratin
25/09/17 Tidy up 00:30 Other
25/09/17 Engine Rethink expansion bottle and earth leads 00:45 Drivetratin
29/09/17 Handbrake Dremel (duh!) 01:15 Brakes
29/09/17 Diff Fluid 00:15 Plumbing – Oil
29/09/17 Diff Make 14mm Hex Plug-Socket 01:00 Drivetratin
29/09/17 Diff Fluid – slow but took all 1L 01:00 Plumbing – Oil
29/09/17 Prop Shaft Failed torquing bolts 01:25 Drivetratin
29/09/17 Drive Shafts Installed 00:05 Drivetratin
29/09/17 Rear Suspension De Dion Dry Fit 00:40 Suspension – Rear
29/09/17 Rear Suspension De Dion Dry Fit 00:35 Suspension – Rear
30/09/17 Handbrake Again – this time in the right place 00:30 Brakes
30/09/17 Prop Shaft Torque bolts without destroying screwdriver 00:10 Drivetratin
30/09/17 De Dion Bend brake pipes 00:50 Suspension – Rear
30/09/17 De Dion Bend brake pipes 00:23 Suspension – Rear
30/09/17 Rear Suspension Insert DeD, Dampers, Radius Arms 02:15 Suspension – Rear
30/09/17 Rear ARB Rear ARB + A-Frame 01:15 Suspension – Rear
01/10/17 Rear Suspension A-Frame 00:45 Suspension – Rear
01/10/17 Rear Suspension A-Frame + RHEars + Hubs + Callipers 02:10 Suspension – Rear
01/10/17 Rear Suspension LHEars + hubs + callipers + Wheels 01:35 Suspension – Rear
06/10/17 IVA Form Filling 1c and 4 01:00 IVA
07/10/17 Scuttle Trim 215cm, 70cm reamaining 00:25 Bodywork and Protection
07/10/17 Knee Trim RHS 01:55 Bodywork and Protection
07/10/17 Knee Trim LHS 02:50 Bodywork and Protection
07/10/17 Carpets Transmission Tunnel 01:30 Bodywork and Protection
07/10/17 Mats RHS 00:45 Bodywork and Protection
08/10/17 Mats LHS 00:10 Bodywork and Protection
08/10/17 Centre Arm Rest Arm rest and gear knob (again) 00:10 Bodywork and Protection
08/10/17 Harnesses RHS 00:35 Safety
08/10/17 Harnesses LHS 00:25 Safety
08/10/17 Seats LHS + RHS 00:50 Bodywork and Protection
08/10/17 Exhaust Silencer  + Cat Guard 00:40 Exhaust
10/10/17 Brakes Swap couplings to grey ones 01:00 Brakes
11/10/17 Headlamps Remove, add gromets, replace 01:30 Electrics
14/10/17 Water 02:00 Plumbing – Water
14/10/17 Petrol Fuel fillup with Dad 00:20 Other
14/10/17 Petrol Fuel fillup with Dad 00:10 Other
14/10/17 Engine Start – not 00:30 Drivetratin
14/10/17 Engine Start – not 01:00 Drivetratin
14/10/17 Engine Start – no flow in Rad though! 01:30 Drivetratin
15/10/17 Water Attempt to clear airlocks – failed 01:00 Plumbing – Water
21/10/17 Water Drop front then rear, no sign of airlock 01:45 Plumbing – Water
21/10/17 Water Blow water from rad, run for 30mins 00:45 Plumbing – Water
22/10/17 Boot Varnish Wood 00:20 Bodywork and Protection
22/10/17 Boot Carpet 00:45 Bodywork and Protection
22/10/17 Boot Carpet + fuel shroud 02:05 Bodywork and Protection
22/10/17 Boot Carpet sides 01:40 Bodywork and Protection
23/10/17 Boot Fuel shroud + boot floor carpet 00:50 Bodywork and Protection
23/10/17 Rear Wings Abort 00:05 Bodywork and Protection
23/10/17 Torque Rear Watts Link – must do hubs later 00:20 Suspension – Rear
23/10/17 Rear Wings RHS 03:40 Bodywork and Protection
23/10/17 Rear Wings LHS 01:40 Bodywork and Protection
23/10/17 Rear Wings LHS – Finish bolting on 00:30 Bodywork and Protection
28/10/17 Fuel Add More Fuel from Garage 00:30 Other
28/10/17 Washer Bottle Make bracket 02:00 Plumbing – Water
29/10/17 Brakes Rear brake braided hose protection 00:10 Brakes
18/11/17 Lights Rear Lights 01:05 Electrics
18/11/17 Lights LHS front indicator not working 01:00 Electrics
19/11/17 Lights LHS front indicator seems to work after wiggle 00:30 Electrics
19/11/17 Front Wings Swap wing stays – grrr! 00:45 Suspension – Front
19/11/17 Lights Repeaters 00:30 Electrics
22/11/17 Front Wings Tried bending wingstays 02:11 Suspension – Front
22/11/17 Gearbox Mounts Flip bolts so threads show 00:50 Drivetratin
22/11/17 Lights Repeaters – cut and solder new earth leads 00:24 Electrics
22/11/17 Lights Rear Number Plate 00:35 Electrics
22/11/17 Lights Repeater wiring – spade fettling 00:25 Electrics
22/11/17 Handbrake Adjustment – hmm 00:10 Brakes
22/11/17 Lights Headlamp Wiring 00:40 Electrics
22/11/17 Lights Headlamp Wiring 01:45 Electrics
23/11/17 Clutch Fill with fluid and bleed 01:15 Plumbing – Oil
23/11/17 Brakes 1st fill and bleed 02:25 Brakes
23/11/17 Williams Trip to Williams to pick up bonnet 01:55 Other
23/11/17 Brakes Brakes weeping – keep tightening more 01:00 Brakes
23/11/17 Front Wings Seem to need spacers, bending isnt working 01:00 Suspension – Front
24/11/17 Brakes Tighten front joints again 00:20 Brakes
24/11/17 Front Wings Spacers? No… bead of 521 to space with 00:05 Suspension – Front
24/11/17 Front Wings IVA trim 00:40 Suspension – Front
24/11/17 Handbrake Final Tweak 00:05 Brakes
24/11/17 Handbrake Cable routing, dremel diff 02:00 Brakes
24/11/17 IVA Book IVA for 7/12 @ 8AM ! 00:05 IVA
24/11/17 Cable Tidy Clutch braid + ECU Plug 00:50 IVA
25/11/17 Lights Repeaters wiring up (loose connections) 01:20 Electrics
25/11/17 Engine Tidy for IVA 01:25 IVA
25/11/17 Engine Tidy for IVA 00:40 IVA
25/11/17 Mirrors RH Wing Mirror 00:45 Suspension – Front
25/11/17 Mirrors LH Wing Mirror 00:10 Suspension – Front
25/11/17 Mirrors Rear Mirror 00:05 Other
25/11/17 IVA Cable Tie Front ARB (again) 00:20 IVA
25/11/17 Engine Air Filter including rubber IVA trim 00:25 Drivetratin
25/11/17 IVA Battery Cables 00:45 Electrics
25/11/17 IVA Catalytic Converter IVA trim 00:05 IVA
25/11/17 Wipers Fit wipers and bend 00:15 Bodywork and Protection
25/11/17 Lights Rewire Repeaters – forgot to include wing! 00:15 Electrics
25/11/17 Rear Suspension Tighten Rear Hubs + Oak brace 00:23 Suspension – Rear
25/11/17 Front Wings Glue them down! 01:00 Suspension – Front
26/11/17 Font Wings Repeater Wiring to Sockets – RHS 01:40 Electrics
26/11/17 Font Wings Repeater Wiring to Sockets – LHS 00:35 Electrics
26/11/17 Tidy up 00:45 Other
26/11/17 IVA Run through Caterham IVA handout 02:25 IVA
26/11/17 Handbrake Move P-Clips to A-Frame! 00:10 Brakes
26/11/17 Bodywork Remove carboard and masking, add foam strips 01:45 Bodywork and Protection
02/12/17 Brakes Final Bleed before IVA – bent A-Frame – GRR! 02:00 Brakes
03/12/17 A-Frame Take car out of garage and onto stands 00:20 Suspension – Rear
03/12/17 A-Frame Contemplation under car 00:25 Suspension – Rear
03/12/17 A-Frame Took A-frame off and stand on it to straighten 00:23 Suspension – Rear
05/12/17 A-Frame Install new A-Frame 00:37 Suspension – Rear
05/12/17 Handbrake Re-attach Handbrake P-Clips to A-Frame 00:13 Brakes

Good night insomniacs… go to bed!

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.

Awesome!

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 Lotus7.club 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!

Bugger!!

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.

Options:

  • 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…!

ALWAYS TAKE SPARE FUSES TO AN IVA TEST!

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.

PHEW!!!

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!

Ramp

  • 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.

Awesome!

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

Conclusion

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!

IT PASSED FIRST TIME!

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!

Bugger!

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…

Whoohoo!

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.

But…

…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.

Crap!

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!