Build Session 6 : Headlamp and Indicator Pod Assembly (the short version)

Ok, so the front suspension is now starting to take way longer than I anticipated. I’m 6 sessions in and still not completed what I thought was a simple part of the build. A lot of the problem is that I’m not getting many long sessions in. It just goes to show how difficult it is to build a kit car when there are other things going on in your life…

Layers of Heatshrink

I’d finished the IVA strips around the indicator pods yesterday and was determined to get the headlamps on the car today.

I am following Daniel French’s procedure of using heat shrink for the wiring of the headlamps and indicators. However, the moulding on the back of the indicator is different to that in Daniel’s post. The one’s I have have got a wider protrusion sticking out of the back of the moulding. 10mm heatshrink just isn’t going to go over the top.

I checked my box of heatshrink…

My heat shrink box

… but I didn’t have any of the right size in black. So, a trip to Maplin for some heatshrink and while I was there I popped into B&Q and got some pipe lagging to protect the chassis.

7mm, 10mm and 13mm Heatshrink bought from Maplin
15mm and 22mm pipe lagging for chassis protection.

While on the topic of pipe lagging… I bought both 15mm and 22mm just because I wasn’t sure what would work best on different sections of the chassis. It seems to be that the 15mm is probably the better option in the end, and now measuring the main chassis rails at just over 19mm that seems to make sense – the 22mm lagging flops around a bit on the rails, though can be more useful for the bodywork sides.

Back to the Headlamp Assemblies

I decided I needed a slightly different approach than Daniel’s heatshrink on the back of the indicator. With the 7mm, 10mm and 13mm heatshrink I’d bought from Maplin I would put a layer of each covering the bigger protrusion and the wires… stepping down from 13mm to 10mm and then finally to 7mm.

This is what the three layers of heatshrink should look like when heat has been applied.

I had started writing this post with the intension of describing my process in much greater detail than what you see here, and also with more pictures than Daniel had included – his post is great but there’s this new heatshrink approach and there’s a couple of areas where I think Daniel’s pictures could be added to (no offence Daniel – I really appreciate the work you did in figuring this out in the first place).

However, that was taking way too much time and I was getting behind with these posts. So, that info will have to wait for an addendum post – just like Daniel did!

The short version is therefore that I ended up with a headlamp assembly looking like this:

All wires heatshrinked up, just need to finish putting the headlamp back together

One Big Hiccup

I had one hiccup during the assembly, and that was not to include the headlamp stem in the stack of components that need to have the various wires fed through them. I got the whole thing assembled only to realise that the headlamp stem was missing and wouldn’t go into the stack of bits where it needed to be. Doh! What was I thinking!

This is what it looks like if you forget to add the stem. DON’T DO THIS!

So, I had to take the 300mm of 10mm heat shrink off (the heatshrink that runs out of the bottom of the picture above), re-thread all the wires into and out of the headlamp again and make sure I got the stem in the right place in the assembly stack. Then I could re-heatshrink the long wires again with the 10mm heatshrink.

Threading The Stem

Another step I’ll pull out from the detailed description is how I threaded the heatshrunk cable assembly down through the oval hole in the headlamp stem. The first one I did took ages. I was using rubber lubricant and lots of force but it just took forever to feed through the oval hole (there’s an oval hole in the side of the stem/tube that runs out of the bottom right of the picture below). I tried all sorts of angles, twisting as it went in (which helped a bit) and trying to feed it in from the rear of the oval. The heatshrink just kept getting rucked as I fed it into the stem. I even considered pulling the whole think apart and putting  7mm heatshrink on instead – but a quick test of that showed it was really going to work – the heatshrink was too tight.

Heatshrink got rucked when feeding into the first
headlamp stem

Eventually I got it through, but I ended up chewing up the heat shrink in places. I think it will be fine from a water ingress perspective but it didn’t look so great.

This is what happened to the first headlamp heat shrink after forcing it through the oval hole and stem

On the second stem I spent some time making sure the oval hole was free from any burs. I didn’t find any but I ran a file around the aperture anyway and probably took off some of the powder coat along the way. I also ran a file up the inside of the stem just to make sure there weren’t any burs there too.

The second heat shrink assembly then went through the oval in its stem in about 60 seconds. I couldn’t believe my luck. I had made a fresh brew and was steeling myself for a big job but it turned out to be a non-event.

Headlamp and Indicator Assembly Time

In the end this job took all of a Sunday afternoon for the two headlamp assemblies. What with screwing up on leaving out the stem from the first assembly and then the heatshrink not going down the stem smoothly, it took about 3 and 1/2 hours to get the first assembly done.

The second stem took 45 minutes. No fuss no hiccups.

Then it was about 15 minutes to fit the two assemblies to the car. They turned out to be a little trickier than I’d expected… mainly because the angle at which the stem comes down and meets the chassis mount means that the cables don’t have enough clearance to feed through the chassis mount hole from the end of the stem as the as the wires come out of the stem ( I know a picture of this would be useful but I don’t have one – sorry). You have the chassis mount, the headlamp assembly and the upper wishbone all meeting at the same point and fixed with the same bolt. In the end I bent the lug on the bottom of the headlamp stem so that the assembly could approach the chassis mount at a wider angle. It wasn’t how I hoped it would be but there seemed no other choice.

This is what the headlamp assembly, chassis mount and upper wishbone all look like when the come together and attached with a bolt.

Joint of chassis, headlamp assembly and upper wishbone. You can see the lug on the headlamp stem that folds under the chassis at the bottom of the headlamp stem plate (I hope that makes sense). The observant among you will also note the this picture was taken after the ARB was fitted.

The whole thing now looks even more like Brum…

Headlamps installed (loosely)


A final word on this task. Grommets. The manual calls for a grommet to be fitted to the oval hole in the headlamp stem down tube. The 10mm heatshrink and cables were such a tight fit through the hole that I couldn’t see any way at all to get a grommet in there too.

I’ve also seen bloggers put a grommet in the chassis mount hole before the stem gets attached, but I just don’t see how that can be an IVA fail not to have a grommet there. Again, a picture would be useful here but I don’t have one.

Note to self… take more pictures.

In the end I didn’t put any grommets into the headlamp stem down tube or the chassis mount. Time will tell if this is a mistake.

Build Session 5 : Front Suspension 2

It’s Saturday and I was hoping to get a good day’s build in – guess what… didn’t quite go that way.

I didn’t get up as early as I was hoping and so didn’t get into the garage until around 11AM.

The first task however was a trip to B&Q (Lowes equivalent for our US readers) for some pipe lagging to protect the chassis tubing. It was going to be a while before we put the engine in but I wanted to make sure I had some available if needed.

Pipe lagging purchased to protect chassis tubing

I bought 15mm and 22mm. Either works with the 22 being a little lose but probably a better choice as the 15mm can “burst” off the tubing if knocked.

Back in the Garage

I’d decided that I needed to get the headlamps onto the car, mainly because the front mounting of the upper wishbone needs the headlamp stay attached as the bolt goes through the mount…. and I didn’t want to have to take everything apart again to put the stay on later.

This strategy certainly has risks associated with it. Having the headlamps on the car as the engine is installed provides another fragile component you have to be careful of with a 150Kg pendulum on a hoist. I’m not sure how this decision is going to play out but decided I preferred the “do it right, do it once” mentality of not having to redo things later.

I had the upper wishbones attached with just the rear mount from yesterday and I could offer up the headlamp stays to the front mount to see how they fit.

The stays have a flange on their lower side where they mount to the wishbone that is used to hook under the chassis mount. I’m not too sure why that’s there, perhaps other than to provide some retention of the stay if they were to be knocked. I guess that’s an IVA thing, if the car is in an accident then there’s more likelihood that the headlamp would be retained on the car instead of becoming a projectile.

On offering the stay up to the car it was clear that the holes in the stays didn’t line up with the holes in the chassis and the wishbone.

Headlamp stay sits outside of the chassis mount but holes don’t line up.

What to do?

I thought there were two options. The first was to enlarge the holes in the stays to allow the mounting bolt to pass through. The only other thought was that the flange on the underside of the stay could be altered to allow the stay to slide on the chassis mount. I wasn’t happy about this second option, the flange had clearly been put there for a reason and it looked like I was going to have to modify it considerably, and it probably still wouldn’t do what I needed.

I also considered that adjusting the flange so the stay didn’t sit flush with the chassis mount would also adjust the angle of the stay. I put a level on the stay to check if it was level. It was, and I didn’t want to put it out of level with any changes.

It was therefore clear that I needed to open up the headlamp stay mounting holes. Out with the paint pen to mark up what needed to be removed on all four holes…

Paint shows the material that needs to be but away to allow headlamp stay to be attached.

… and then the dremmel to remove the material.

Now I’d got headlamp stays that I could attach I also needed to protect them. A job for some black Smooth Hamerite but it needed a couple of coats and 4 hours between coats.

Modified headlamp stays after one coat of Hammerite

Front Nearside Lower Wishbone, Front Chassis Mount

While the first coat of Hammerite was drying I turned back to the two plain washers that needed to be added to the nearside front wishbone that I couldn’t figure out yesterday.

I could see that one washer in the gap was snug, but could probably take something else in there with some persuasion. It then struck me that I might be have a thinner washer in my nuts and bolts box and that something thinner along with a supplied washer would be better than just one washer.

I found a M8 penny washer that was 1.5mm thick, 1mm thinner than the supplied washers. I thought I stood a chance of getting that in.

Now that I’d got some of the penny washer in, I thought: then why not try the second supplied washer. After a lot of pushing and persuading with a soft hammer, grips and piers success: I managed to get the second supplied washer into the gap.

It was now just a question of using grips and pliers to coax the second washer in to place and to get the bolt into the mount. I put plenty of masking tape on the chassis and wishbone to try and protect it from the jaws of the grips and any wayward slips.

Using grips to manipulate second washer into place
Both supplied washers did eventually fit


The Hammerite on the headlamp stays was still not ready for a second coat so I moved onto the headlamps and indicator pods.

I followed Daniel Franch’s approach (with my own twist) from his Build Day Four – Headlight and Indicator Mounting.

The basic idea behind Daniel’s approach is to not use the plastic tubing supplied with the headlamps to run the wiring but to replace with heatshrink. The tubing can then be fed through the various nuts, hollow bolts and headlamp stays and provide much better weather protection.

Before we get into all of that though, I needed to put IVA trim around the two indicator pods, and that was the end of the day – it took a couple of hours to attach the IVA trim and meant I’d run out of time after I’d also applied a second  coat of Hammerite to the stays.

As has  been said by many others, the trim is applied by snipping excess material at the corners and sticking the trim to the pod with super glue every few centimetres. I found it best to fit the trim and once I’d gone all the way around I cut the trim with about 2cm of excess.

[image of trim on and 2cm of excess ]

I then pushed the trim into all the corners which reduced the excess but still meant I had to further trim it later on. Once the trim was fully into all the corners I cut the puckered material from the corners and then super-glued it all in place.

Sorry for the image quality of the work on the indicator pod IVA trim… I suspect Copper Ease on the lens!

I spent the rest of the day/evening catching up with blog posts. I’d got a few days behind and so pushed a few posts out that night.

Build Session 4 : Front Suspension 1

It had been a busy week at work and I hadn’t had a chance to get on with the car other than 20 minutes to look at the poorly threaded harness mount yesterday.

Today is a Friday and a work day… and after sorting out all my morning emails I found a couple of hours to start looking at the front suspension before my afternoon  and evening meetings started.

Are Upper Wishbones Handed?

The first task was to read the manual, consult a few blogs and figure out what I’d got to do first on the front suspension. It was around this time that I realised that the manual says that the upper wishbones are handed. That shouldn’t have been a problem except that I’d taken them out of their poly bags to photograph them and hadn’t kept track of what bag they came from – doh!

I poured over the parts but couldn’t discern ant difference at all. I tried measuring offsets, checking the angles that the bushed parts were welded at, and generally trying to find a difference between the two.

Upper wishbones (left) look identical

As a side note, it’s simple to determine which are the O/S and N/S lower wishbones because there’s a circlip retaining the ball joint that faces towards the floor – simples.

Pondering upper wishbone handedness over a bacon sandwich

I decided this was a question to post to Blatchat on the website, but in the meantime I got on with putting the O/S lower wishbone on.

Lower Wishbone Washer Configuration

This build is an SV build (wide body) and there is supposed to be a different configuration of washers used to space the rear mounting point of the lower wishbones.

For the S3 (narrow body) the manual calls for two plain washers to be placed either side of the rear bush on the lower wishbone. However, it seems that all blogs recommend and use this for the SV (wide body – i.e. ours) chassis too. I decided this was also how we were going to go and so the configuration in the picture below was used.

Washer configuration on rear mount of lower wishbone (O/S)
O/S Lower Wishbone Installed

Back to the Upper Wishbones

After only a few minutes of my question being up on Blatchat there were some useful responses to my question, the clincher being that one member had had two LHS upper wishbones delivered… and after consulting Derek Howlett he’d been told that they are actually not handed after all. Along with the fact that I couldn’t tell any difference, I decided to go ahead with putting them on.

Then came the next question. The manual calls for the upper wishbone rear bush to have a spacer inserted – 10mm ID, 1/2″ OD, 35mm long from the polythene bag marked “front suspension”. Well, firstly I don’t have a bag called front suspension, but there is a bag called “suspension” – that’s got to be the bag then.

Suspension pack poly bag

Once you open the bag there is another poly back with a selection of spacers, below…

From top to bottom: ARB ends, upright spacers and special nut, bushes (see text)

This inner poly bag contains a number of different components, from top to bottom:

  • Front Anti Roll Bar ends – these screw onto the roll bar ends and then fit into the upper wishbones
  • Upright spacers and upright special nut – the spacers go in the top of the upright and the special nuts screw up from the bottom.
  • The next section of the bag actually has 4 spacers (2 are shown). This section contains 2 spacers for the rear ARB and two for the upper wishbones that I’m looking for at the moment.
  • The bottom section has four identical spacers for the front dampers – the top and bottom of each damper gets a spacer inserted into the bush before going onto the car.

I was a bit rushed for time today and decided I’d send an email to Derek:

Hi Derek,  Build question for you… Build manual section 5.3 upper wishbones, it talks about a spacer bush 10mm ID x 1/2” OD x 35mm. Can’t seem to find any and I don’t have a poly bag marked “front suspension”. I do have a poly bag marked “suspension pack” but can’t find any spacers in there. Suggestions?

His response, almost immediately, was:
They are sleeves that fit in the rear bush, you should have 4 for the front dampers 2 for the top of the rear dampers and 2 for the top wishbones 


That explained it nicely. I’d got the right bag and could work out what fitted where. It was clear that only two of the spacers were going to fit in the upper wishbones, so in they went. The 1/2″ in the spacer description in the manual should read 12mm. Therefore the upper wishbone rear bush should have a spacer that is 10mm ID, 12mm OD and 35mm long.

If I’d got a better memory I would also have remembered that John and Carl from had done a nice explanation of the conundrum here. I only found it again when looking back at their blog later. It also taught me to look harder for solutions that others have posted.

Now with the upper wishbone offered up to the car and the headlamp stalk in place it was obvious that I was going to have to do some work on the headlamps – that would have to wait until tomorrow.

Near Side Lower Wishbone

To finish up today I thought I’d get the N/S wishbones into the same state as the O/S. I got the rear mounting point in easily with the 2 plain washers either side of the wishbone rear bush. However, the manual calls for two plain washers to go in between the chassis and the front bush of the lower wishbone. On the O/S wishbone this was tight but very do-able. The N/S one was a different story. I tried for probably 20 minutes to get the two washers into what was a very tight gap, but it just didn’t seem to want two washers in there. I was considering what the effect would be on the suspension geometry to leave it with just one washer but meetings were pending and I decided to leave it for another day. This is what it looked like at the point I had to leave it overnight.

Struggling with front N/S lower wishbone washers.

Looks like it will be more front suspension tomorrow and some work on the headlamps and front indicators.

Build Session 3 : Tapping a Poorly Threaded Harness Mount

A simple job today… when the car arrived there was an obvious problem with the inboard off side harness bolt. The car is set up for 4-point harnesses and it now seems that Caterham, not only pre-attach the hood and the boot cover, they also pre-drill and set up the attachment points for the harnesses.

Many build blogs talk about the process of unstitching the boot cover at the point where the stiffening aluminium (aluminum) bar sits at the front of the boot cover. The bar has to then be removed and the boot cover has the four holes for the harness bots punched in it. Then people typically glue up the unstitched boot cover.

I have none of that to do as Caterham have done it already and has probably saved me a days work with the hood, hood sticks, harness bolts and boot cover.

However, one of the bolts wasn’t screwed all the way into it’s thread. A quick tweak of the bolt on arrival day showed that it was binding in it’s thread and probably was suffering from some swarf or material in the threads.

Harness bolt sticking out

After pulling out the callipers and tap/die thread gauge it became apparent that I was going to need to order a new tap – the bolt is M11x1.25t/mm. One was ordered on Amazon and arrived today.

It was then a five minute job to tap out the hole and test fit the bolt – another job done, 10 minutes.

Tapping the harness mounting point

Delivery 1 : Shortages Box

After speaking with Derek Howlett yesterday, Monday, he shipped the missing shortages box by courier.

I had given Derek my work address and the delivery arrived at 8:42 today, Tuesday.

We opened the box while I was at work and found:

  • N/S and O/S, upper and lower, wishbones
  • Pair of De Dion Ears
  • Pair of Rear Hubs
  • Radiator Bracket (At least that’s what I think it is. Looks to be a modified radiator bracket with the 420R cutout already in it)
  • Gear knob (cool!)

Fantastic, we can get going again with the front suspension and now there’s no known shortages. Fingers crossed this is the only delivery we need.