Our Kit Car Has Arrived

After 151 days since putting in our order, the Purplemeanie Caterham 420R Kit Car has arrived!

We got final confirmation of a delivery date earlier this week and a courtesy call from Caterham yesterday confirmed that they would deliver our car before lunch time today…

… And at just after 11 this morning the Caterham driver arrived. We had a cup of tea and then got to moving the boxes and chassis into the garage. This became a four person task and so was completed in no time (Harry has been looking forward to helping out and was waiting for the driver, Joe arrived back from a rugby training session just in time to help out too). Even with a few chats with the driver we managed to get everything unloaded and stored, including doing the paperwork, in less than an hour. As well as the regular paperwork the driver left us with a business card for Derek Howlett. I’m hoping that Derek and I do not get too well acquainted, and that’s not a reflection on Derek, I’m just hoping we have a fairly complete kit.

Just arrived

From the side

Chassis coming off the van

Everything installed in the garage

Colour is looking great by the way. Sue and I are both very happy so far. Driver said it’s the first car he’s ever delivered in this colour – cool!

Colour looking great!

I got a couple of GoPro’s set up as we unloaded and I’ll work to get them included in the first VLOG that goes onto YouTube soon (hopefully).

A note to those thinking of building a Caterham… the CJ Autos rolling axel stands worked well today. The process of getting the chassis onto the stands involved firstly getting it down onto the wheels/tyres then lifting it onto the stands. The fact we could do that in the relative space of the drive and roll the chassis into the garage was a great help. I’ve also found myself rolling the chassis around the garage already to make more space.

Front CJ Autos Axel Stands
Rear CJ Autos Axel Stands

One of the first jobs tomorrow is going to be to re-align and trim the excess square tubing off the ends of the cross members both front and rear – I’m going to bark my shins on them way too many times otherwise.

We also dropped the engine onto a home made trolley that I’ve had around for years. The engine sits very solidly on the trolley and that’s going to help with flexibility in the early stages of the build too. The OCD in me needs to shift it so its square on the trolley though!

Engine on trolley

As soon as the driver had left, we had our first visitor. Two doors down from us lives Pete. Pete has two old Lotuses, neither of which are on the road at the moment. Pete came to see what one of these “new fangled things” looks like. I think he went away impressed. I hope to see plenty of Pete through the build process and he’s also kindly offered an engine hoist from his collection of tools which will come in very handy, hopefully, shortly.

Seeing as today was a regular work day I couldn’t spend more time than was needed just to unload and store the boxes. There were 18 boxes and a few bubble wrapped items (exhaust silencer, nose cone, seats and oil cooler). There is only one shortage – the bonnet (hood for you non-UK people). As Caterham were loading the van yesterday they noticed that the bonnet had a couple of blemishes and they decided to rework and then ship. Top marks to Caterham for spotting this and making the right decision. And to be honest, not having the bonnet at this point is actually a bonus – keeps it out of harms way for a couple of weeks while we work on other things.

Surprises: yep, there were a few. Firstly, the car has come with the hood (that’s the roof for our American readers) already fitted. All “poppers” for the full hood have already been fitted and the hood is in place. It seems that Caterham have recently decided that this saves headaches in the future where people screw up the installation of the poppers and make a very expensive mistake. I’m wan’t necessarily looking forward to that part of the build and it will have taken a few hours off the build time, but, it seems a kit is now more and more like a finished car.

Hood already attached and poppers in place

I was also surprised to get a printed build manual. I thought I’d read that Caterham had stopped sending them out. I’m not planning to use it as I’ve been keeping notes and changes in an electronic version on an iPad, but I’ll have a read through just to make sure its not and different to the one on line.

Once all my meetings today had concluded we could spend some time figuring out what we’ve got. It’s still early days on checking through the parts that have arrived but in all the major items seem to have arrived.

I had rigged up a DSLR in the house to get an overhead view of the parts laid out on our kitchen table. The idea is to have a photographic record of what’s arrived and to be able to review the contents of a box without having to actually find the box, open it and rummage around. I’m hoping this will cut down on searching time.

So, we spent a couple of hours pulling boxes from the garage, unpacking them,  photographing the contents and then repackaging and putting the boxes back into the garage. We also to the opportunity to put some items back on the garage shelves without being in boxes. We’ve managed to get rid of four large boxes already and will help getting around the single garage.

I’ll put a montage together of the pictures we’ve taken and post that soon. Taking a lead from Adam Savage (of Mythbusters fame) the task of laying out all your components before a project build is known as Knolling. It’s what OCD people (like me) do before building a lego set – lay out all the bits and pieces so you know what you’ve got. I’ll post a Knolling picture soon.

On the topic of storage – items we’ll need later will be stored in an office I have in the garden. Wheels, Nose Cone, Seats, Rear Wings and Roll-bar will all go out there for the time being.

Having gone through all the boxes it strikes me that I haven’t seen any front wings yet. I’ve seen the wing-stays and various mounting kits but no wings themselves. I’ll need to have another look around and see if I’ve overlooked them. If they’re not to be seen then it’ll be a call to Derek on Monday. UPDATE: I found the front wings in the passenger footwell… we hadn’t ventured that far into the car until I went looking for the wings – the fact that the hood is already on meant we just hadn’t got to sticking our heads into the cockpit fully.

It’s been really hard to resist actually fixing anything to the car today. I’ve been dying to actually start to put something onto the car… but better to be patient and get things in order before the onslaught.

That’s all for today. Kit delivered, knolled and stored. The next post will probably be the start of the build – finally.

Pre-build Update #6 – Delays but now “in build”

Breaking news: The Purplemeanie 420R is now “in build”. Caterham have updated their online systems to show that the car is now being built. Delivery is still likely to be end of July or early August.

For those of you that have been asking… the Caterham 420R kit car delivery date is delayed but is now on what Caterham has as a production line. When we’d ordered the car we had been given a build week of Wk26. This recently then slipped to Wk28 but is now showing on Caterham’s online tracking system as August. The latest is that we might hope to get the kit delivered late July or early August.

BTW: sorry for the lack of posts. That will be a relief to some of you but others have been asking where I’ve got to. It’s been a busy first half of 2017 with three trips to the US since my last post (Dallas, Salt Lake City and Sacramento, Clearwater (Florida)). I had planned a bunch of updates but I just haven’t had time. Hopefully things are going to quieten down now for the next few months.

I have also managed to get a morning over at the dealership (Williams) to take some pictures of a factory built 420R. I’m hoping the images will give me some reference for when the jigsaw puzzle finally arrives.

Here’s one of the many pictures I took…

Engine bay of Factory built 420R

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.