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.

Painting

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.

Lighting

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!

Floor

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.

Lighting

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.

Render Me A Colour

Colour… the Biggy.

It would almost be better if Henry Ford made Caterhams – any colour as long as its black.

There are so many great Caterham colours. There’s the classic green, or the recently more popular Porsche blue. There’s yellows and reds. Decals. Single, double or triple stripes. The options are endless.
Initial thinking was, at least for me, centering around Purple. With the Purplemeanie domain it seemed obvious. Then there’s the question of flat, metallic or flake.

How to try all this out?

Well as luck would have it I’m a bit of a geek (apparently) and I spend quite a bit of my time tinkering with 3D models – on PC screens, as 3D prints and 2.5D CNC projects.

What I needed was a 3D model of a Caterham that I could change the colour of and test out some paint options without having to actually paint a real car. I did a bit of Googling and found a reasonable 3D model of a SuperSprint I think it is. It’s not quite the right model and the exhaust is on the wrong side (yes I know). But its good enough for the task at hand.

There were a few other possible 3D models doing the rounds but many had aero screens and I wanted to model things with a windscreen. This model also had doors (no hood) so that gave some further options for seeing what colours would look like with and without doors. The rest of the models I found were clearly not realistic enough or weren’t available in the right file format – I tried a couple of free (as in beer, not as in spirit) models first but they didn’t import well into my CAD tool.

I bought the model and got a bunch of different formats. I think I paid $75 for here… [ link to model ]

The tool I’ve been using recently is Autodesk’s Fusion 360. For those interested its a cross platform Qt based application that sits in Autodesks semi-pro/pro-sumer space. It’s really well featured and semi-cloud based so I can work on it from various laptops or PC’s and offline. I like Fusion 360.

I imported an .obj format model in Fusion and as far as I can tell the import was good. It has some scaling issues but I’m not worried about that for this project.

Once I’d imported the model I could select each of the model components (they’re called bodies actually in Fusion for this particular import) and set their appearance. The models I’ve used for this site’s images are mainly set to have the following “appearance”:

  • Shiny black plastic – wheel arches
  • Anodised black shiny aluminium – roll bar, suspension etc
  • Carbon fibre – dashboard
  • Black leather – seats
  • Painted metallic metal – body work
  • Stainless steel – exhaust
  • Satin Steel – some of the suspension… ‘cos it looked better that way

By setting a custom colour I’ve been able to play around with colour options. I tried some yellows, reds, blues etc. But there are dozens of images of those sorts of cars (all nice cars) on the web and I didn’t need to go to all this trouble just to check them out.

What I really wanted to do was try out some Purple variations and see what worked.

Fusion has a rendering engine – for those of you that are still following along but don’t know what one of those is… its a way for computers to be able to create lifelike images from a computer generated model or shape – in our case the model/shape is a Caterham. Fusion does its rendering using a system called Ray Tracing, where the computer works out how rays of light travel from a light source, bounce off a coloured, textured object and then into a camera (all of this happening in the computer’s imagination 🙂 )

So, I played around with a bunch of options in Fusion, some of which are below. To my taste the dark metallic purple’s are what works best for me – each to their own.

Another job sorted… at least until we change our minds!

Sample Renderings

The images below were rendered using Fusion 360’s render tools. Lighting was set at 2000 lux.

Yellow (RGB=255,255,0)

Riviera Blue (RGB=96,176,245)

British Racing Green (RGB=0,66,37)

PurpleMeanie (RGB=84,42,87)

Post Office Red (RGB=146,37,41). I’m not convinced this is the correct RGB for Post Office Red…

Orange (RGB=221,81,0)

To Blog or not to Blog

Before getting into this build I had only partially been aware of the Blog culture of building a Caterham… both with formal blogs and in some cases with forum posts in a thread. But having taken the plunge it’s clear there are some great blogs out there. Here are some of the ones I’ve come across:

Other Blogs since we finished our build:

Update 2017-08-02: If you’re building a 420r like we are, I can’t recommend Marcus Adams’ blog highly enough (Caterham420rBuild). It is the perfect fill-in for what’s missing in the current Caterham Build Manual. I plan to have this blog as part of my daily read before continuing with our build.

So I asked myself a few questions:

  • Do I want to Blog?
  • Have I got time to Blog?
  • Can I add anything to what’s come before?

I’ve run websites for business, I’ve tweeted and posted on Facebook, again for business and I’ve run websites on the Purplemeanie domain a few times… but never really had anything to say. So I guess the answer to the first question is yes, I do want to Blog.

The bigger question is: do I have time to Blog? I’m hoping to get the build done as quickly as we can manage, and so will blogging delay that outcome? I’ve seen some of the best blogs, in my opinion, done in real time… finish off an evening in the build space and then write about it until the early hours. Only time will tell if I can keep that sort of dedication going.

As to “can I add anything”.. hmmm.. perhaps. I’m essentially a glorified project manager at work and have spent many years pushing project plans and more latterly ticketing systems around. These days cutting edge project management is Agile… in my IT world. Can I bring an Agile approach to building a Caterham? Well from what I’ve seen of many other blogs I would say that they’re all pretty Agile anyway… what with Caterham’s parts logistics and the build manuals I would say you have to be Agile if you want to make progress. [link to Agile on Wikipedia ]

Another option would be a video Blog… the blogs I’ve seen so far are mainly text and pictures. There are some good time lapse videos of daily progress and people providing video summaries, but I’ve not seen a detailed step by step video Blog… that’s a possibility and I ought to know how to do a video Blog having spent all my professional life making video communications a thing! So that’s an option.

Also on the project management front the build blogs around are exactly that… a chronological log of what people have done to build their car. Some are almost a replacement for the build manual but not quite – as they have to dodgeabout the theoretical build order while parts are couriered to them as a result of mis-shipping, omission or breakages. So, could I do a video build manual for my build… hmmm… that’s an option too. And yes, I appreciate that for some, doing the build their own way and in their own order is a lot of the challenge and fun.

I’m not sure where I’ll go with this Blog and whether what I’m thinking of will be too much to chew on, but perhaps that’s something I can do for the people that follow. Of course that could all get bypassed by the approaching next-gen IKEA-esk build manual that Caterham are working on, if it arrives before we finish the build.

But for the moment, the decision is made:

  • Put a blog site together on Purplemeanie.co.uk
    • For those that are interested it’s LAMP and WordPress based (Twenty Seventeen theme as of this writing)
  • Write up my experiences from here onAnd see where we end up

One option that didn’t make the grade was that I was thinking of completing the build using a ticketing system like Jira or Redmine, but:

  1. I think it’s overkill
  2. It wouldn’t be as accessible to everyone (you the reader) as a Blog
  3. I suspect it wouldn’t stand the test of time
  4. Search engines don’t index ticketing systems so well, so nobody would find it
  5. It wouldn’t easily allow the journey to be written about after the build

… shame, I like tickets!

Mind made up… a blog it is.

Having said I won’t be using a ticketing system, I will be using an itemised build order… broken down into a todo list. Let’s see how long that lasts. I might write a post about that approach if your unlucky.

PS: the decision to Blog was made on a trip to the US during the week of March 17th 2017. Therefore, anything you’ve read before the 17th was actually written after the decision to Blog and I’ve just adjusted the post-date in WordPress to reflect the date I did things.