Caterham 420R Build Tools and Trinkets

I thought I owned them all until I built a Caterham.

Sorry to all you non-builders, another technical post I’m afraid.

I’d been planning to do this post since finishing the build but I only finally got it over the line after being contacted by a number of prospective builders all asking me about tools. There’ll also, hopefully, be another one soon about “consumables”.

How Many Tools are Enough

Clearly any discussion about the number of tools needed is going to end up showing the total to be N+1, where N is the current number of tools you own. The same rule applies to all sorts of things… bikes (both kinds), t-shirts, books, car magazine subscriptions… and oddly enough – unicycles!

Having said that, I did have almost all of the essential tools, and probably could have got by without buying many at all. But I did end up buying a number of additional tools, of course! Some were just to help make things easier, some were to speed up the process. And some were because the one’s I had were a bit tired and I liked the idea of an upgrade. In some cases, like a socket set, I was missing a few sockets and decided now was the time to buy afresh. One or two tools I bought and didn’t turn out to be useful at all – but surprisingly few actually!

Is This List Definitive?

The discussion below is not meant to be definitive, exhaustive or for that matter definitively instructive. It’s what I used and may give you food for thought if you’re thinking about building a Caterham.

The tools listed are just for the build. As time goes on you (I) will need other tools like an oil-filter wrench and feeler gauges etc etc. But here goes for the build tools…

To the Tools

I come from the school of thought that says that, at a wedding, there should be just one photo taken that includes everyone attending – it seems I think the same way about tools (I hope nobody was at the bar when it was taken)…

Almost all the tools I used to build our Caterham 420R

The image above contains all the main tools (I think) but of course I also have others that got used that are not shown. Hopefully there’s nothing major missing. For instance I have a lot more screwdrivers, pliers, cutters, hammers, many spanners, etc etc, that are not shown, but the ones that are shown are, I think, indicative of what’s needed. I also tended to use socket sets for things: allen-head bits, posi-head bits, small sockets, etc etc all from the 1/4″ socket set (blue lidded socket set in the middle of the picture). I always seemed to be pulling that set out and diving into it. The 1/4″ socket set was ideal because it had just about everything in it I needed and it was small enough to fit in and around all the tight spaces of the car. Having said that, if I had to have only one socket set then it would be a 1/2″ set in both metric and imperial.

[ Note: At some point I might create a numbered legend of the tools above – let me know if you’d like to see that.]

The only major things missing from that picture above are the axel stands I used (highly recommended for small garages or where you want to get the car outside to work on)…

Front ans rear CJ Autos Axel Stands – I trimmed the excess of the cross bars after taking the picture

… and of course there was the engine hoist (borrowed)…

Engine hoist and leveler in use

You May disagree with how I classify the following categories as being useful or not, it is just my opinion in the end.

I’ll give a quick list and then discuss them in more detail below.

Essentials

Here’s a list of the really useful stuff. If something isn’t critical then it’s listed elsewhere:

  • Allenkey sets
  • Axle Stands
  • Brake bleeding kit
  • Cordless Drill
  • Dolly
  • Dremel
  • Drill bits
  • Dust mask
  • Ear defenders
  • Engine hoist and leveller
  • Eye protection
  • Funnels
  • Files
  • G-clamps
  • Grease gun
  • Grips
  • Hacksaw
  • Hammers
  • Hole punches
  • Low profile Trolley Jack
  • Multi meter
  • Petrol can and/or jerry can
  • Pliers
  • Revolving Punch Pliers
  • Rivet tool
  • Scissors
  • Screwdrivers
  • Side Cutters
  • Socket Sets
  • Soldering Iron
  • Spanners
  • Special Sockets
  • Stanley knife and blades
  • Tape measure
  • Torch
  • Torque Wrench
  • Vice

You May Need These

  • Brake Piston/Caliper Windback Tool
  • Circlip pliers
  • Tap and die set

The Time Savers

The items below would sit squarely on my essentials list if I were to do the job again. That’s not to say you need them, I just thought they saved me a bunch of time and they were worth the expense to me and I had many of them already anyway.

  • Crows Foot Spanner’s
  • Creeper/Stool
  • Digital calipers
  • Drill Rivet Attachment
  • Hot Air Gun
  • Hot-glue Gun
  • Laser Measurer
  • Rotating Hole punch – highly recommended
  • Scissor or low profile bottle jack
  • Tweezers

The Trinkets

Some of the tools I bought were more to test things out than because I thought they were going to be really useful. I just wanted to see how that worked or it was clearly going overkil. I thought this list would be longer when I created this section…

  • Rivnut tool
  • Tablet in the garage

Wouldn’t Recommend

Some stuff I bought I wouldn’t recommend. Other’s might find useful but I didn’t.

  • Pipe bender – for brake pipes. Some people may find they have the time to bend brake pipes with a pipe bender but I ran out of patience. It was much more fiddly than the usual central heating 15mm pipe bending I’ve done for household plumbing. In the end I formed the rear brake lines around whatever cylindrical item I had to hand and that I thought would create the right radius.

Could Have Needed But Didn’t

  • Ball joint splitter

More Detail

Here’s the list again in more details and with some comments. I can’t guarantee that all the links will work forever but where they do I hope they’re helpful – it’s amazing how far you can go back and see your Amazon purchases, I bought some of those tools over 10 years ago.

[ Note: you can click on the pictures find out more info on Amazon ]

Essentials

Item Comments Link
Allenkey sets Various sizes, lengths and config: loose, socket sets, t-bar set.

Special: 9.5mm (3/8″) for engine mounts. The only other odd allen-key that caused me problems was the diff fill-plug – short 14mm.

When I bought these they came in a different black case… but these seem to be what I bought…

Axle Stands Min 3 regular but I used AJ Autos Mobile Axel Stand and replace steel wheels for “rubber” wheels Mobile Axle Stands

And then I switched the steel wheels for these…

Brake bleeding kit In the end I used Sealey  VS820. I tried a few different brake bleeding options (mostly cheap and not so cheerful) but this did it for me in the end.
Cordless Drill Any drill really, but cordless always works better for me and I’m caught in the Dewalt eco-system, so I use a Dewalt (DCD996) and which is my bestest of friends around the house
Dolly 4 wheeled home made dolly (40x50cm). Useful for moving engine/gearbox around on (not shown in the picture but it’s in the blog in a few places). The dolly linked here is similar to the one I made.
Dremel Used for grinding and cutting on many occasions. Through a quirk of history I actually own two Dremels. I keep one with the flexible extension shaft on it and the other just with a cutter installed. That’s way overkill to have two Dremels but I think one (or similar) is essential to fettle bits that don’t quite fit.

My Dremels are an older generation than the one linked.

Drill bits Metric (1mm – 10mm) and imperial (1/16″ – 1/4″) (pretty essential for some of the rivet holes that need the right hole size or else the rivets won’t fit or pull out)

Dust mask For fibreglass cutting, at the least. I’ve got on well with the 3M mask linked, but your face shape may work better with something else.
Ear defenders Sometimes used these when doing a lot of drilling/grinding. I use the Peltor ear defenders, your mileage may vary
Engine hoist and leveller I’m going to call the leveller essential but you could get away with straps… but I didn’t
Eye protection Of course. I use all sorts of clear and tinted safety glasses… too many to link to.
Files Various files. Needle files are very useful bot tricky to get at places
Funnels For various fluids and one with long neck for fuel fill
G-clamps I mainly use 6″ QuickGrips but also used some old school steel G-clamps.
Grease gun Prop shaft universal joints
Grips Slip Joint Pliers – I know them as “grips”
Hacksaw Useful for creating custom allen keys or cutting down bolts I provide that were that are too long
Hammers Leather/copper hammer was useful persuader
Hole punches See optional leather/material punch http://amzn.eu/4MVGT2A
Low profile Trolley Jack The one I got just about worked. It struggles to get under the exhaust system on the RHS and needed a wooden block to lift the rear (using the cross member at rear of prop shaft tunnel) Trolley Jack
Multi meter Checking voltages and continuity
Petrol can and/or jerry can Need something like 20l to prime system so something bigger than a 1G container can save some trips to the petrol station. Carrying petrol around is dangerous and I haven’t bought any containers online so I’m not going to link to anything I haven’t tested. No Link
Pliers Thin nosed most useful for me. The ones shown are electrical but any will do.

I do have mole-grips but try to avoid using them. They’re fine for holding something that might get hot (when grinding perhaps) but I rarely use mole-grips.

Revolving Punch Pliers 2.0-4.5mm. Highly recommended for rear wing rubber trim etc
Rivet tool A hand riveter is essential and I found a drill attachment to be a real time saver
Scissors Amazed how often I was reaching for a set of scissors
Screwdrivers Flat, posi and torx (wing mirrors)
Side Cutters For wire, IVA trim, cutting misplaced zip-ties etc. The ones I have are electrical ones but they’re good quality and I can’t stand poor side cutters.
Socket Sets 1/2″ is essential in metric (not linked, there are too many options but going with a reputable brand would make sense to me).

Used the 1/4″ set most of all

3/8″ used less.

I do have a 3/4″ socket set but didn’t need that in the end.

I also bought converter bits to allow me to put, for instance, a socket from one set onto a ratchet from another.

 

Soldering Iron

I use a simple 25W hobby iron
Spanners Lots. I have many metric from 5mm up to big. 24mm for headlamp locking nut adjustment, thin 15mm Spanner and a 32mm for the oil lines.

Don’t forget you often need two to do up a nut and bolt. Sometimes it works that a socket and a spanner will do but sometimes you need two sockets or two spanners. Doubles are only really needed for the common metric sizes – 10, 13, 15, 17 and 19.

I do own adjustable spanners, but I use them only as a last resort… and only use ring spanners where at all possible – much more reliable than adjustable or open ended spanners.

Individuals…

I

Not a complete set, but a start…

Special Sockets 41mm for rear hub nuts
Stanley knife and blades Always useful
Tape measure Tended to use digital calipers more to measure bolt lengths and the like, but sometimes need some extra reach
Torch To be honest I used my iPhone light more often than not when reaching for a torch. But I did also have a rechargeable magnetic torch/bulkhead light.
Torque Wrench’s – x 3 Norbar 13658 3/8-inch 8-50NmTorque Wrench
Norbar 13441 1/2-inch 20-100Nm Torque Wrench
Norbar 13445 1/2-Inch 60-300 Nm Torque Wrench
Obviously used the 20-100 the most but 8-50 useful for things like brake lines and 60-300 needed for rear hubs, though many leave those for PBC to complete.

Vice Regular bench vice No Link

You May Need These

Item Comments Link
Brake windback tool I ended up fiddling with the rear brakes a lot to try and improve feel and still not sure if applyig handbrake before bleeding was the cause.
Circlip pliers I took the rear brake calipers apart but can’t think of another use
Tap and die set Metric. Questionable essential, but was for me. Seat belt harness but also when cutting down bolts to clean up occasional thread.

Time Savers

Item Comments Link
Creeper/Stool Not being the spring chicken I once was, I found this convertible creeper/stool to be invaluable whizzing around under the car and sitting on it when working on suspension stuff
Crows Foot Spanner’s Metric and imperial. The metric ones came in handy a couple of times like the dry-sump to radiator oil lines. 32mm for oil lines

Digital calipers Cheap as chips these days and I think almost essential
Hot Air Gun I used one of these to shrink all the heat shrink – gotta be careful not to get too hot though. Otherwise a soldering iron works too.
Hot-Glue Gun Used hot glue to tack a few things down when I needed a light tack before final fixing.
Rivet Drill attachment Real time saver completing the riveting for the internal trim
Laser Measurer Found it useful instead of a tape measure but by no means essential. The one shown is a bluetooth version that I picked up for another project – Bluetooth is overkill
Low Profile Scissor or Bottle jack Sometimes needed to lift something where the trolley jack couldn’t get to. I had an old scissor jack that I used along with a hydraulic scissor jack that I had to modify to fit under the rear A-frame (ground the recess at the top down).
Multi-Tool Leatherman Wave. I’m a fan of having something quick and dirty on my belt while I’m working in the garage. Gotta be careful not to butcher whatever I’m working on though, there’s no substitute for the right tool.
Quick Grips QucikGrips useful when you only have one pair of hands. My Quick Grips are over 20 years old but I think the linked Irwin ones are the same. I also have the 18″ ones but don’t think I used them on the Caterham build.
Tweezers Good for pulling wires out of holes in tubes
Dremel Flexible Shaft As mentioned elsewhere I had the luxury of two dremels one always fitted with the flexible extension

Trinkets

Item Comments Link
Rivnut tool Thought I’d use it more but only ended up using for the lambda sensor cable under the driver footwell and attaching the oil catch bottle to the frame.  

Tablet in the garage Many times flitted between build blogs looking for a picture that helped me decipher the old build manual. New manual much better in that respect but as of mid 2018 the new manual is still not good enough to do the whole build. I use iPads… other tablets are available.

Wouldn’t Recommend

Item Comments Link
Pipe Bender I thought I’d be able to create lovely neat rear brake pipe install with this but I didn’t have the patience to “get the knack” of it.

Could Have Needed But Didn’t

Item Comments Link
Ball joint splitter Might of needed this if I’d needed to strip back the front suspension but I got that right and so didn’t need one.

So that’s a lis of all the tools I used. I toured my garage a few times trying to think if there’s anything I missed, and of course I added some items as I did those tours. But hopefully I got most of them.

Next up I hope to have a similar list of “consumables” – things like masking-tape, extra zip-ties, jubilee clips, rivnuts, adhesives etc etc.

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!!