Pre-build Update #5 – A Project Planned

This week has seen me in the US again, Dallas this time for a couple of days. While there was lots of work to do on the flights, and in Dallas, I did get some time to finish the project plan and review the line drawings I’d previously started.

Project Plan

Because I’m a Mac user and project management tools are limited for Mac, I do my project plans with Omni-plan. It’s similar to Microsoft Project but probably not quite as polished.

So, I took the Caterham recommended build sequence and threw it into Omni-plan. I then went through each item and added an estimate of how long it will take to complete each task. I used my common sense and tried to apply what I’d gleaned from the many build blogs I’ve read already. Hopefully we’re about right at 77 hours and 35 minutes ;-). I’m actually rather amazed that after just one pass through the plan I got the effort estimate to be so in line with what Caterham say, I suspect that’s too good to be true.

Here’s the high-level gantt chart of the plan which for the moment assumes we build during the first week of July:

Caterham 420R High Level Project Plan

A general point on timings: while the plan is showing just less than 80 hours and Caterham say that 80 hours is do-able, we’re under no illusion that it will work out that way!

For completeness I’ve also included the detailed plan below, and I apologise if it’s not particularly readable. This and the original files will get added to the downloads page once I can get that set up.

Caterham 420R Detailed Project Plan

As we progress through the build I’ll be updating and posting status on the plan.

Line Drawings Updated

More on line drawings…. I promise this is the last update on line drawings. Here’s the latest front drawing. It looks much better with some detail in the tyres.

Catherham Seven Line Drawing

Bristol Motor Show 2017

Williams had a display of three Morgans, a Lotus Elise and a Caterham Seven at the Bristol 2017 Motor Show this weekend. The event was held in the car park of The Mall, Cribbs Causeway. We took the opportunity to allow the finance committee to view a car in the flesh. It was an S3 without lowered floors but did have a quick-release steering wheel. It was, of course, great fun getting in and out and hypothesising about how big our car is going to feel.

While at their display we talked to a couple of sales guys and also with Williams Sales Director, Paul Tovey.

One interesting point from Paul was that the last three self-builds they’d supplied to customers had gone very smoothly, at least in terms of the correct components being supplied. While that bodes well I’m still not counting any chickens until they’ve been delivered… and believe me we’ll be counting all the chickens as soon as we can get our hands on them and not just that we have the right number but also whether they’re the right chickens or not.

The finance committee was also very impressed with Paul’s telling of an incident from a race last year where he was T-boned by another car at 100mph and walked away from it.

Next Time…

I’m not sure what’s on the list for next week, it’ll be a surprise for all of us!

Pre-build Update #4 – The Colour is Lotus Aubergine

The Colour will be Lotus Aubergine

Aubergine colour sample

The colour is going to be Lotus Aubergine. There are many Purple Caterham Seven’s around but I’ve not seen too many that look like they’re Aubergine. Please leave me a comment if you know otherwise.

Williams have been chasing for the colour. I had been trying to find something a little darker but we couldn’t seem to make a great deal of progress on that, so Aubergine it is.

Rear Line Drawing

I’ve also spent a little time on getting a rear line drawing of a Seven together. There’s a plan for the line drawings that will become clear in a later post but for the moment I now have both front and back drawings done. Both could do with some more TLC being spent on them so I’ll wait to post them in their native format until that’s complete.

Second Deposit

With about nine weeks to go Williams have asked for the second deposit, which was paid this week.

What’s Next

Hopefully, we’re back on track for weekly updates. Last week we were out of the country on holiday and so there wasn’t much to report. Next weeks post will be on the back of another trip to the US, so hopefully there will be time to say something interesting.

I was also due to go to the London Motor Show next week for a petrol-head fix, but due to US trip I won’t be able to make it now – bummer! However, I should be back in the UK next Sunday morning and that means I’ll be able to make it to the Bristol Motor Show at The Mall, Cribbs Causeway. Williams have a display there so we’ll go and have a poke around and see what’s going on.

The weeks are ticking by now. On the todo list is still a project plan and I need to check through the tools I’ll need to make sure I have everything I need. I have a list of things to consider but I need to do a full run through and check what I’ll be needing.


Pre-build Update #3 – Specification Set, Garage Finished and Line Drawings

Purplemeanie Specification Set

This week we had a couple of trips over to the Williams car showroom. The first trip was to confirm the final specification of the car. We ended up with the following:

  • 420 (2-litre Ford Duratec engine tuned to 210bhp)
  • R-spec (track specification)
  • Series 5 (Wider bodied SV)
  • Lowered Floors (2″ lowered floors)
  • 5 Speed Gearbox (Williams didn’t recommend the soon to be discontinued 6 speed)
  • Full weather windscreen and hood (the R usually comes with the aero screen and that’s not in line with my all-year aspirations)
  • 15″ Orcus Wheels (I like the low profiles even though some say the 13″s are better)
  • Ventilated Discs and Quad Callipers (you can never have enough braking)
  • Heater (again all weather aspirations)
  • Leather Seats (found these to be better for my less than perfect lower back)
  • Armrests
  • Momo Quick-release Steering Wheel (why not)
  • Battery Cutoff (will help with battery depletion if left standing for a few weeks in the winter)
  • Boot Cover Carbon (finishes the look set by te carbon leather tunnel)
  • Carbon Front Wings (should set off the exterior colour better)
  • Carpets (can help with internal noise – we’ll see)
  • Polished Exhaust (not sure about this one, but was convinced in the end)
  • Custom Colour (more on this below)

The second trip to Williams was a couple of days later and was with a number of family members. The guys at Williams were very accommodating to my turning up with an entourage and, as well as letting us wander around freely, allowed me to take a few pictures of one of the probable colour options – Lotus Aubergine…

Lotus Aubergine – lit from the right on a curved sample showing a gradation of the colour in different lighting.

Garage Completed

For those of you following each episode you’ll remember from the last post that after one coat I wasn’t happy with the epoxy garage floor covering. This week another pack of the Rust-o-leum garage floor kit arrived and it was applied to the floor.

Before putting this second coat on I also took the time to fill any cracks in the concrete floor. The rust-o-leum didn’t cover well with the porous floor and did very badly at filling fine cracks in the concrete. The first coat also showed a number of holes and dents in the original floor. All this was filled and then finally the second coat of rust-o-leum was applied. This time the quoted 25m2 coverage given on the can was much closer to being valid. Instead of the full can only covering our 16m2, it looked like it would have gone on to do the full 25m2.

The final result was much better.

We then left the garage empty for a couple of days just to make sure it was all cured. But even then, putting a kids bike back into the garage caused the rubber tyres to bond to the epoxy and pulled the second coat away with the tyre when we moved the bike. Needless to say, the bike spent the next two days perched on some off-cuts of plywood to make sure that didn’t happen again.

On reflection, perhaps a self-levelling compound prior to any epoxy coat would have given a better overall finish but in the end it’s only a garage and I’m happy with the result.

CAD – Line Drawings

In the down time this week I turned my attention again to the 3D CAD model  of an R500 that I’d bought. I want to try and get a 3D print of the model and have experimented with a number of ways of turning the supplied mesh into a solid body – all to no avail. This needs a rethink since there are a few dozen parts in the model and the hand editing of the mesh that I’ve resorted to so far is proving to be very time consuming.

In the meantime I created a vector line drawing of the front view of the CAD model. I intend to use the line drawing for some promotional material but that’s… for another post. At some point I’ll provide a high resolution PNG and SVG image gallery of the drawing below.

Vector line drawing of the front view of a Caterham Seven. Vector created using Sketch on macOS.

Last week I also talked about working on the project plan for the build. I got a little time to work on that this week but it will now also have to wait for a future post.

Pre-build Update #2 – More Garage Prep and a Car in The Space

It’s a quick update on the garage work this week: painting, lighting, the floor and some idea of what space is available for the build.


This week we completed the painting of the walls and ceiling, see Update 1 for more info on that. In total I think this modest 16m2 garage with a mixture of brick, breeze block and ply-wood walls took something like 40-50 hours to paint. It wouldn’t have been worth it just for the 20-30 days (not elapsed time) that I think the Caterham is going to take to build, but we use the garage all the time and its much brighter with white walls, which justifies the time in my mind.


Speaking of bright, I also changed out the ceiling lighting this week.

Since the extension of the house and rebuild of the garage we have had two 4ft fluorescent tubes lighting the garage. While this was ok it wasn’t stellar and not what I’d wanted when the lighting was put in.

So, this week I bought and installed two 5ft double and one 4ft double LED units from LEDHut.

For those interested: the lighting levels went from an average of 120 lux (average of three points with garage doors shut) to 580 lux (at the same locations).

Technical: Lux is a measure of the light falling on an object, you measure lux with a light meter.

In my industry of video communications we try to make sure a video conferencing room (think posh meeting room) is set with a lighting level of at least 600 lux. If an office is being used for video conferencing then anything above 300 lux can give acceptable lighting for modern web cams. However, for some high profile installations lighting levels might get as high as 1000 lux. The more light you have illuminating the subject of the video the less noise there is in the video – noise is speckling patterns in the video images. With really low lighting levels, below  about 100lux, lower quality web-cams can start to reduce the frame rates of the video they produce. As light levels drop they can reduce their frame rates from a normal of 25 or 30fps (frames per second) to 15fps and below that in really low light. Mobile phone cameras with small sensors and small lenses are notorious for reducing their camera frame rates when they’re in a low light setting.

So… my 580 lux is definitely there or there abouts for lighting levels. The space is now markedly brighter, even if the occupants aren’t!


This weekend the weather took a turn for the better with clear blue skies on both days. Saturday had hardly any wind. So, we decided to get the garage floor painted. The low wind being a benefit because we needed to make sure no stray leaves or dust found its way onto the newly painted floor. We’d also need to keep a lot of the garage clutter outside over night while the epoxy dried so a dry clear weekend was a bonus at this time of year.

After clearing the space we swept, vacuumed, swept and then vacuumed the space again. Then we cut-in the edges of the garage and rollered the main area. In all that took all of Saturday for the clearout and painting. We used a Rust-o-leum garage floor kit that we’d bought when the garage was rebuilt. The instructions said it would cover 25m2 of floor but in the end the kit was all done with our 16m2. Our concrete floor was nowhere near as smooth as I first thought and the shortfall in coverage was probably something to do with the roughness and porosity of the concrete.

All finished… I’m not happy with the outcome. It’s patchy and hasn’t covered some of the rougher areas well. Therefore, another kit is on order from Rawlings. I’ve also filled some of the bigger cracks and gouges in the surface which didn’t take the first coat so well. Hopefully that means that the second coat hasn’t got so much work to do and I can make a thicker and more even covering.

This is what the garage looks like now.

Garage after painting, lighting and floor

And this is what it was like before.

Garage before painting, lighting and floor

How Big is an SV in this Garage?

For those of you unfamiliar with Caterhams, they essentially come in two sizes. The one I’m going for is the wider and longer SV, which is around 3300mm x 1680mm. What does that look like in the garage? Well I marked out the size of the car with masking tape on the garage floor and here it is below. It’s going to be a tight build.

Garage with Car Outline

Next Week

Next week I’m hoping to get back to Williams to fully spec out the car with Lindon and with the garage mostly finished I’m turning my attention back to project plans and 3D models again. More on all of that next week.

Pre-build Update #1 – Build Space

Posting Update

Before the build starts in earnest we’re hoping to be posting Blog articles weekly, probably on a Sunday. Also, in addition to full weekly posts on this blog we’ll also be pushing new post links to Twitter and to Facebook to let people know when posts have happened. If you want to get notifications of new posts in your favourite social media feed then either follow @JFPMartin on Twitter or friend me by looking for JFPMartin on Facebook.

And now on with the update…

Painting Walls

The main activity this week, other than getting my head around WordPress again, is the garage build space.

The first job with “The Space” is to paint the walls.

I had already painted about 1/3 of the walls when we had an extension built and the garage reconfigured a couple of years ago. But I needed to finish off the walls and paint the ceiling. It’s not that I think we need the extra light that white walls will give (hopefully we’ll be building during a hot and sunny British summer)… I just needed an excuse to be OCD and finish a job I started a couple of years ago.

You can see where I’m starting from… a bit too much clutter and walls that NEED to be painted!!! I have to turn this into somewhere we can build a car.

The garage is about 16.3m2; but a weird shape:

Dimensions in mm.

I’ve spent about 25 hours painting walls this week and now it seems that the image below is burned on the back of my eyeballs when I go to bed…

The painting consisted of one coat of 50:50 diluted emulsion followed by a final pure emulsion coat. Went for the cheapest emulsion I could find… it is only the garage after all.

A decorator had once recommended that the only way to paint a brick wall was to:

  1. Don’t bother, it’s too time consuming and not worth it, or
  2. If you HAVE to paint the walls then you HAVE to fill any gaps between the bricks first, don’t try to paint into them.

… and that’s why you need to have your hands covered in gap filler at 2:30 in the morning!… It was just one of those nights when it seemed like a better idea to be in the garage than in bed – hopefully that attitude will stand me in good stead when it comes to the build.


I’ve also decided to upgrade the lighting in the garage. I’d never been happy with what the electrical contractors put in when we had the extension done. This will be an excuse to fix it. I think we’ll go with 3 lots of 5′ double LED “tubes”. I have to order them yet, but that will be next week’s job.

Mental note to self – must remember to measure lighting levels before and after installing the new lighting

Hopefully the lighting will go in after painting the remaining walls and ceiling. Then it will be time to put an epoxy coating on the floor.