Leicestershire Loop – 100 miles / 3 hours

The background

I know the roads in Leicestershire pretty well because over the last 5+ years of Caterham ownership I’ve driven most of them at some point.

But rarely do I string them together into a formal route, I normally just go out for a drive. But Andrew my next door neighbour talked to me about doing what is called the “Midlands Tick”, in effect a route that is online presented on quite a few “best driving roads in the UK” style web sites.

The reason its called the Midlands Tick is because it is shaped the way a left-handed person would draw a tick mark, and its a route that starts in Bingham (east side of Nottingham) and goes down to the outskirts of Market Harborough (pretty much due South), then back up to conclude in Uppingham (a bit North East).

The two really good parts of this are the bit near Tilton on the Hill (between A46 and A47 cross country) and the Harborough to Uppingham stretch. Both road sections are fantastic.

But the Midlands Tick misses out on other seriously good roads and you can string it all together in a circuit. So I did. Using myroute-app again of course!

Now I live in a village called Barrow upon Soar, and that is the start and end of our route, but this bit can be skipped if you fancy an attempt at the route. Just drive to the nearest start point of the circuit and then go around. I personally prefer this route in an anti-clockwise direction.

I jumped out of my car for a quick call of nature and took one photo last weekend on this route. This is it:

p1170631

The route map – The “Leicestershire Loop”

myroute-app_web

We stopped for lunch at The Chequers in Belvoir, which is really close to Belvoir Castle, and a fine place for a day out full stop. The Chequers has great food and service and is a very pleasant place to relax in a log fire, Sunday lunch kind of way.

North York Moors Weekend

The Itinerary

The next big test of man and machine together came in the form of a boys weekend in Yorkshire. The loose idea was to drive somewhere with interesting roads nearby, with time for a fun drive and lunch on the way to the destination. Then stay overnight and enjoy pie and a few pints, and then following morning have a spectacular blat with a nice lunch before heading home. Its a format thats worked well since the Romans and their chariots.

So we settled on the North Yorkshire Moors as our target area, The Inn at Hawnsby as our overnight stay, a route planned a week or two in advance to grab lunch on day 1 at the highest point in the Moors at The Lion Inn, Blakey Ridge.

Day 2 we looped around the Moors and had lunch at Trenchers of Whitby . Either that or The Magpie are renowned and lovely.

The Technology in use

After years of fiddling with Sat Nav devices like TomTom and Garmin, more recently I have switched completely over to smart phone software. Specifically an amazing app (available across device platform) called “Waze”

It is brilliant, free, works the world over, provides traffic updates via upload data feed live from its users and is a world class app. Originally developed by two Polish brothers, Google acquired Waze a few years back and its continued to be amazing. But its online, doesn’t store maps (with the exception of a temp download of the route to destination you request). Waze is for every day driving.

There is another app that is equally amazing but for a completely different reason. It does offline maps AND it accepts itinerary files. It’s called “Sygic”

Which would be OK if you could build routes easily (for example on a PC or Mac using Google map overlays) and the simply send to the sat nav app  without needing to be an astrophysicist?

And that’s where My-RouteAPP comes in. And this is REALLY clever. For those that are in the know, this is the updated and overhauled Tyre app which was originally aimed at the motorbike touring market.

MyRouteAPP is a web application, that allows you to build routes from web map services, and export them into any format. It comes with a companion app for your iOS or Android phone. This app shows the routes that you have created online in your myrouteapp web account on a big computer screen and with two finger presses can send these routes to Sygic. It opens Sygic automatically, presents the route and I normally save this as a favourite in Sygic.

You then simply use Sygic with this route. This workflow is so simple it’s genius, and other friends that I blat with also use this method. We have a group in MyRouteAPP (where the magic happens) and if any of us build a route worthy of sharing, we can send it to our blat group, the others can pick it up and use it.

The companion app to MyRouteAPP (the software on your smart phone) can also act as a route recorder. Simply go out and drive, and it logs where you have been for route conversion later back to your group.

Here is a screen shot of our group route for the NY Moors weekend:

myroute-app_web2

It was a great driving weekend and some of the roads were very special. The challenge with this part of the country is that there aren’t many road options across and around the Moors. Which means that there is more traffic than is ideal to really enjoy the driving.

 

First real drive

So the first real drive took place on Sunday 25th September and it was a blat down with some mates to the British Motor Museum near Gaydon in Warwickshire. This was arranged by the club Mid Staffs Area rep Stuart Bates.

Stuart had arranged a deal where we had both dedicated club parking area and discounted tickets into the museum buildings. A great day out, and in addition to numerous 7’s in our display area, two other mates of mine showed up in a latest model Audi R8 V10 Plus and a AMG GT S. Both cars are monsters, and the AMG sounded like it too, with 600+ BHP and a dump valve kit noisy enough to make some of us jump out of our skins when revved with the bonnet up!

This was the first time I noticed that I had the issue with the leaking brake fluid, and after only after a semi-spirited drive across country.

p1170551
From left to right, Revilla, Mucus72 and CraigyB (BlatChat nicknames)

A few snagging issues…

Issues

Drivetrain Vibration

I have had a few issues since driving my car after completion. The most serious of which was a vibration that could be felt through the chassis, through my hands and the seat of my pants. There is a lot more detail I have provided about this via this BlatChat link, including testing other cars with vibration analysis iPhone apps.

For some time I thought it was caused by the Mazda gearbox resting on the chassis rails. It’s a wide box and only just fits in the gap. I did fabricate some spacers to fit under the gearbox mount (out of M14 spacers, with the edges filed down to fit the narrow shape inside the gearbox mount). This raised the box about 3 mm, enoguh to ensure that the gearbox was not resting on the left hand side chassis rail. Before I did this it was definitely resting and this would definitely go some way to explaining the vibrations I was feeling. But it wasn’t the only problem.

In he end, BaT suggested replacing the engine mounts, just in case they weren’t working as intended. They were definitely working, as I had tested vibrations on different parts of the car using an engine stethoscope. However, after BaT replaced the mounts, the rest of the vibrations eased up.

I now think that I have a normal working Duratec engined/Mazda gearbox combination Caterham. Still not as smooth as a K series, but more than good enough.

Brake Fluid Reservoir

My other issue is with the brake fluid reservoir. Basically on its first real outing, my car leaked fluid over the scuttle base on which it is mounted, an some of this fluid seeped over the edge of the car and has stripped paint from the edge (the bit that the bonnet sits on). This is really frustrating because I had not overfilled, and the cap was tight.

After asking others, quite a lot of folk are aware of a design flaw, and this is a small gap in the rear of the cap. This is covered by the rubber o-ring, but there has been some change in recent times and Caterham now supply a very thin o-ring. With the cap on tight, the thin o-ring does not supply a strong enough seal. In fact the cap tightens against its own lip as opposed to against the thickness of the o-ring.

Caterham, via Derek and BaT came up with two potential resolution options. Firstly, it’s a known issue and other solve this by being supplied with a “race cap”, which provides a perfect seal, but doesn’t provide any sensor outputs to the dash. So in effect, it won’t leak, but you won’t know you have lost your brake fluid elsewhere in the system until you crash. I don’t see this as a solution.

The second option, which I am currently trying is to “double up” on the o-rings. Derek sent me another brake fluid reservoir with another equally thin (and therefore badly designed) o-ring. I have taken the o-ring from this and am using now double the thickness by stacking the o-rings in my original reservoir. It’s currently working, as I have had no more fluid leaks.

However, Caterham, via BookaTrack do not see fixing my paint as a warranty issue. I had this report back a few weeks ago, and I have since been back to BaT and ask them to go back again. I find it astonishing that a known flaw with a brake cap that causes paint damage is not warranty repair. I’ll update the blog when I have an answer!

Registration and first drive

Registration

It took 8 working days for the DVLA to process my new car registration application, and I got news of this remotely when my wife called, as I was away in the US with work. She photographed the V5 certificate, and I was then able to process my number plate on retention online, which was a 2 minute job.

I then phoned REIS and informed them that I was ready to upgrade my insurance from “Build Insurance” to normal fully comprehensive and I was good to go.

I just had to wait until I travelled back home for that elusive “first drive’!

Paint and Super Glue Remover

I learnt an important lesson before I went away though. When I was removing the rubber trim from the front wings and side skins around the front suspension a few chunk of IVA trim did not come away easily. This is where the super glue had run around from the inside of the side skin to the outside.

I bought some super glue remover and applied this to the rubber and glue chunks, but unfortunately, when I rubbed it off a few hours later (the packet said overnight), the paint came away too, so I was left with a few areas of bare aluminium.

I trailered it back to BookaTrack for their paint guy to fix, and that’s where I left my car whilst I was away. It cost me £280 to fix, plus £2.99 for the glue (and paint!) remover. I won’t be doing that again in a hurry…

First drive

So I came off the red-eye from Atlanta into Heathrow last Friday (16th Sept) and the moment I got home I took a taxi up to BaT to collect. Greg had cleaned it and put it in the showroom, so I had a little bit of the “experience “of picking up a brand new car, which was kind of cool.

These are the photos I took of that moment:

And then all that was left was to get strapped in and drive home. At rush hour on Friday evening, this was not exactly the best time to experience a great drive, and I spent most of the 15 mile journey stuck in traffic.

Oil Change

Once tucked away at home in the garage my next opportunity was Sunday morning, with a few hours free. Saturday was a write off because my wife was away and I was home alone with my children, but I did sneak into the garage and replace the running in oil with the Millers 5W/50 that was supplied with the kit.

I had previously planned how to do this, and also posted on BlatChat to see what others were doing, as this would be my first experience with a dry sump set up.

This turned out to be a great plan, as this thread highlights. Essentially I listed what I thought I would do, and then others in the know provided suggestions, the best of which from ScottR400D (or Lee in real life) was to buy a Pela pump and extract the oil up and out of the tank. This would avoid having to undo and redo soft aluminium connections.

I bought this item from Amazon, which is the best price I could find at the time, essentially a re-badged Sealey/Pela 6.5 Litre extractor.

I had slightly overfilled the car the first time around, and I knew that there was 8 litres to extract, around 6 in the tank and 2 in the sump.

This was my process and it worked beautifully, with zero fuss:

  1. Jack car up and onto axle stands
  2. Bonnet and Nose cone off
  3. Start engine and leave idling for 5 or 6 minutes to warm up and thin the oil
  4. Insert Pela probe into the oil tank and twist slightly around the baffles (easy) to ensure that the end of the tube sits right at the bottom of the tank.
  5. Pump two or three times and go away and make a cup of tea.
    • Here is a video of some of this process:
  6. Return to find 6 litres of oil in the Pela cylinder.
  7. Pour into a portable oil drainer for disposal – I used this one
  8. Drop the car off its rear axle stands only, and remove the finger filter on the LHS rear sump – looks like a black plastic “egg shape”, and once the bolt is removed and it’s prised off, it looks like the picture below. The remaining 2 litres of oil came out and I left the car to drip for an hour. I was really pleased that I’d got rid of pretty much all of the oil possible.img_2365
  9. Clean out this filter with WD40 or petrol rinse. I found a few little pieces of metal and some black rubber. This is apparently normal the first time around, and the filter is doing its job. This is what I managed to harvest:img_2367
  10. Remove the oil filter using an oil filter wrench. I’d lent my best one to a friend, and really struggled with the chain type, as the factory had over-tightened the filter. It should only be on hand tight.
  11. Drain remaining oil from filter and replace with a new one. The part number is UFI 23.118.00 and I got mine, yet again, from Amazon here
  12. Replace the finger filter.
  13. Jack the rear of the car up again to get in level.
  14. I poured 5 litres straight into the oil tank, and 1 litre into the top of the engine.
  15. I then disconnected the Crank Position Sensor (front RHS of engine block) and the Inertia Switch. This is to stop a spark, and to stop the fuel pump operating. It’s a 1 minute job.
  16. I then turned over the engine on the starter motor, and recorded (after 5 seconds) about 3 bar of pressure.
  17. I reconnected the crank sensor and inertia switch, and fired the car up properly, with the oil tank cap off so I could peer down and watch for the flow of oil back into the tank.
  18. I stopped the engine twice to re-top up the oil tank over the course of around 2 minutes running.
  19. I finished by using 7.5 litres of oil via this method, and the oil level sits cold just below the top baffle in the oil tank.
  20. This may be still slightly over filled, but only a max attack track day will tell me this for sure, and if it is, then I will end up with some oil in the overflow tank, which is fine.

First (fun!) drive

Sunday 18th September was that seminar moment when I realised that I’ve actually assembled a decent car. It pulls like a train, and is so much faster than my old K Series. This feeling is mainly because of the torque. It’s a pretty flat line across the rev range, and the K series was nothing like this.

It does sacrifice some passionate screaming goose-bump kind of rev happy feeling for outright performance. But oh my, how it pulls.

It feels a little loose at the back end, and I think this is mainly because I’m arriving at “known bends” much faster. It’s also partially to do with the fact that it still sits a little high at the rear, and my previous amazingly well set up (for my liking) car had the rear ARB removed. I really got to grips with a soft rear and roll, as this telegraphed what the car was doing better for me. Currently it feels stiffer and flatter, and therefore a less progressive break away.

But it’s not that challenging to drive, and it’s definitely OK as is for my first track day at Hethel (Lotus test track) on Sun 9th October. I will do that event, pile on some miles, and then take it back to BaT for flat floor set up.

I went out with Paul in his Jag F Type and my new car is very quick. We blatted locally for about an hour, then stopped for a pub lunch to let the drive settle in. Plus I had to pick up the kids from one of their social activities, so didn’t have any more time to play.

img_2369

This photo is of us parked up at The Greyhound in Burton-on-the-Wolds, in Leicestershire, about 3 miles from home. Its a fab pub, with a big car park, great food, real ale and a pleasant beer garden, highly recommended!

I can’t wait to get out again soon, hopefully this coming weekend if the weather holds up. By which time I will have fitted my aero screen and half doors that I received from Thundersport (Oxted Trimming) a few weeks back. They supply Caterham, but it’s much cheaper direct, and they have more options. I went for the technical carbon effect look, to match the tunnel top and boot cover, and with arm rests built in.

I have promised that I will stop spending money on my Caterham for the foreseeable future. Troy @ Northampton Motorsport will see me next year for some ECU and Throttle Body upgrades though…probably…. 😉

 

IVA test success!

IVA

Just a quick update to say that my IVA was this Wednesday, and I asked BookaTrack to process it for me. I dropped the car off early Monday morning, after completing the PBC list of workshop notes, and BaT fixed the other faults that I couldn’t (Oil pressure gauge, shift light not working).

I’m pleased to say that it passed and I have the VOSA test certificate in my hands. I picked up the car and it’s now back in my garage awaiting the next step. All of this has been made much easier by having my own trailer, and BaT have stored it when I’ve dropped my car off each time.

DVLA

Unfortunately I assumed that I could pick up a DVLA licensing form (V55/4) either from a Post Office or download from the DVLA web site.

I just checked this tonight, and regret not checking a week or so back. You have to fill in an online form to request the shipping of the V55/4 form. And there is a 7-10 days lead time stated on the web site.

I am suddenly really frustrated. It would have been good to have been informed of this process, so I’m warning all of you self-builders now!

You need to go to to the DVLA form request site and select “V55/4 Application for first vehicle tax and registration of a new motor vehicle” once you have pressed the big green button to “Start Now”.

There isn’t really a bright side to my faux pas here, but if there was it would be that I now have a few weeks to complete a few remaining tasks.

Remaining tasks

  1. Remove all IVA rubber trim I was forced to super glue to the car – horrid stuff, looks worse on a white car.
  2. Perform oil change (rom the special running in oil, directly to the Millers 5W/50 that came with the kit
  3. Attach Thundersport half hood
  4. Fix door mirrors correctly (to the doors as opposed to the windscreen as per IVA request)
  5. Remove all dashboard stickers (IVA request)
  6. Remove any other pieces of superfluous rubber bungs, bolt head caps
  7. Remove windscreen and fit my existing aeroscreen
  8. Fit number plates in anticipation!
  9. Swap front mesh and Caterham 7 badge grille over (IVA requirements that mesh is in front of grille)
  10. Consider painting the number 7 in white and the rest in black. Not sure yet, I will see what I think when I swap the mesh and grille over.
  11. Sit in the garage on an evening and wait for the moment it’s registered and road legal 😉

 

Running in and Paint Protection

Running in @ Northampton Motorsport

I took my car to NMS based on recommendations from BlatChat and, as previously mentioned Derek Clarke, who is doing the same with his build, and thats another track orientated car. I thought it would be a good idea from a peace of mind perspective, knowing that the moment I have the car registered and on the road and track I can simply “go for it”. Its also a good stress test in a controlled environment, as its checked over during the process, and far better to have a problem at this point as opposed to on the road.

So last Wednesday I trailered it down to NMS in early rush hour and left it in the capable hand of Troy, who runs NMS, whilst I sat in the back of my S-Max and worked on my laptop using the wifi.

I did hang around and natter to Troy for the first 15-30 mins or so, but the excitement wore off rapidly, as it’s ultimately quite a tedious job, and almost as bad as watching paint dry for any spectator!

I did take a quick video and a few photos, and most importantly, once the main job was completed, Troy provided me with a full power and torque trace, shown below.

I was slightly miffed that it didn’t record a max of 210 BHP, but 204 is close, and it was both a warm day and a brand new engine. Tory implied that given 1000 miles and a little loosening up, it would report 5+ BHP more. Most importantly, this is a torque curve my old K series would be envious of. Pretty much a flat line all of the way through.

power_torque_trace_420R_Marcus_Adams

Around 3 hours later, I had strapped the car back onto the trailer and I was on the way home, in time for lunch.

If you want to see why I went and sat in the car park and got on with my own work, enjoy a minute of Troy on video:

Premier Paint Guard

My old car had 3M paint protection, and I knew that I wanted to go down the same route, as once peeled off 12 years later, the paint work on my old car was in perfect condition underneath the protective layer.

Technology has moved on a little too, and whilst the 3M protection is still available, another option is available from Suntek. My next door neighbour Andrew has this on his car (R8), and the moment I saw it, I knew that this was the option to go for, as its self-healing and considerably thinner than the 3M option.

Dave from Premier Paint Guard came around to our house on Friday, just two days after the NMS visit. I was up very early to give my car it’s inaugural wash before I started my working day. Literally I was out washing the car at 7:30 and in the rain! I pushed it back into the garage to dry and was done and dusted my 8:45am, just in time for my normal working day.

Dave turned up at 2pm, and Steph was at home to make him a few cups of tea as I sat welded to my work computer until 4:30pm. Pretty perfect timing, as the job was just about complete, and looked amazing. I know I could have saved a bit of money doing this myself, but I have seen other self-builders have the odd challenge. My opinion on this was to “get the professionals in” and pay for a great service. It was the right decision for me, and Dave is awesome at his job, and a very nice bloke too.

He recommends removing the exhaust, not fitting the nose cone badge, and ideally even not fitting the rear stone guards. I had fitted all of these, and he worked around the exhaust and stone guards. However, he did whip off the badge with some super fine string to cut through the glue, and refitted it properly afterwards. Maybe more of a pain for him was the exhaust, but it was completed in place with no issue. Start to finish 2.5 hours.

PBC results

I got my car back from Post Build Check (PBC) with a list of faults to rectify. I was told (thanks Greg) that my car was a good build, and the fault list is mainly adding trim and caps specifically for the IVA.

But there were a few build issues, so let’s document those first.

Build Issues or faults to rectify

  1. My shift light (single light middle of dash) doesn’t work – Caterham BaT to fix
  2. Oil pressure and water temp gauges not working – I reported this, but during PBC there was no time to diagnose and fix – Caterham BaT to fix
  3. My Clutch stop is loose – me to adjust, a 2 minute job
  4. Engine earth to the bell housing is too close to exhaust primary no. 4 – quick fix, move to another bolt head around the bell housing
  5. Too many washers on rear flexible brake hose (union tightening up on lock nut) – sure I did this exactly as build guide, but something I can fix whilst trying not to lose any brake fluid.
  6. Door hinge pins should be on doors, not stanchions – daft error on my part, I knew this, but still put them on the wrong way around, easy fix.
  7. Coolant and oil level low – simple to add more of both, was told oil level needs to be up to the baffle you can see in the oil tank, but apparently needs to be a little over this. Every time I start the car, the coolant level goes down a little, just air poets working themselves out of the system.
  8. Upper steering rod is rusty – it went in not rusty, but it now is. Other than squirting fairy liquid on it to get it through the two collars, it’s just sat there in the car and rusted over a month by itself, in a cool, dry garage – Caterham agreed to replace.

IVA Checklist items still to sort

Caterham dealers have an IVA checklist sheet, one for each IVA test centre they use because there are differences in each centres approach, which is mad, but true!

Items I have to do specifically for Nottingham IVA centre that I either haven’t done, or wasn’t aware of are:

  1. Rubber IVA trim – I need some added to edges of knee panels
  2. I have to properly glue down the rubber IVA trim around the indicator pods, front wings and wishbone cut outs. I knew this, but was trying to get away with it. The moment it passes IVA is the moment I rip ALL of the horrible black rubber trim off the car, so it would have been easier to do so without it all being super glued. Apparently I cant get away with this. Bah humbug!
  3. Bolt caps – I forgot to add a plastic bolt cap to the lower wishbone upright suspension bolt
  4. Bolt caps – I have to add a small cap to the bung holes in the rear bottom of the front shocker bolts
  5. Cat spring hooks – the metal sharp bits of the catalytic converter spring mounts need a little piece of washer hose fitting over the ends
  6. Side repeaters – I have to feed washer tube over side repeater wiring on the wing stay through the side skin where it could chafe.
  7. Add scuttle trim to leading edge of catalyst guard – I knew this and forgot…
  8. Inside balance pipe bolt – a bolt needs a cap on the inner side of the twin pot callipers
  9. ARB Gaiter – I need two more ARB gaiters to cover the top ball joints on the suspension.
  10. Inertia Switch wiring – I need to secure now the inertia switch wiring, the only wire I haven’t tidied up in the engine bay – needs covering with rubber tubing or insulation tape in addition to being cable tied.
  11. Secure handbrake cable with off cuts of rubber coolant pie and cable ties where it sits against the chassis and could rub
  12. Remove doors and hinges – apparently it wont pass with doors attached!
  13. Mirrors mounted via IVA stalks on the top hole on the side of the windscreen – I mounted mine on the middle hole, simply following assembly guide…
  14. I have to label the dashboard switches with temporary sticky labels.

So in fact I’m very pleased, as there really was nothing significant to fix, as you can see!

I can handle all of the items in both lists in a couple of hours, and will do so over the weekend.

Next stage is Northampton Motorsport for rolling road running in session – I drop the car off at 8am next Wednesday morning (17th August). Will report back after that.

Oh and I am currently arranging Premier Paint Guard (Dave) to come and fit the paint protection film – agreed a price, just sorting a date.

 

 

 

 

Full Video of Build!

Process

For the duration of the build I have been using my GoPro to take a fixed photo every 60 seconds. Every time I walked into the garage I made sure that it was on and recording photos, and it felt like I was spending more time cycling 3 batteries in and out of camera and charger at times!

I exported all images out of the “Photos” app on our home Mac into sequential numbered files. I then used some software called “Stop Motion Studio” to recompose the shots into video files. I couldn’t use “iMovie” which comes built into OSX because it only allows a minimum of 0.1 seconds between shots, and that would have made for a very long and tedious video. I played around with Stop Motion Studio settings and settled on 15 frames per second, as anything faster and you lose the ability to see much of the work. Any slower and it creates a movie that’s too long for most people to be bothered to watch.

I struggled a little with this software because you cant just dump 5000+ photos at it and get it to work. It brings up spurious error messages that I eventually worked out relate to “Out of Memory” issues. So in the end I broke it all down into 1000 picture “chunks” of videos.

It then wouldn’t recompose the 6 video files output into one without re-sequencing the video frames incorrectly. This was beginning to drive me insane until I googled and found out that “QuickTime”, part of OSX, allows you to merge video files together. So I merged all 6 video files I’d created earlier, and ended up with a 5 minute 51 second video output of the total build.

Accurate build timings

I created 5257 photos at 60 second intervals, so my previous estimate of 95 hours total elapsed build time is actually too high. In total 5257 photos equates to just under 88 hours build, which I’m really pleased with.

Completed car photos

IMG_0130IMG_0131IMG_0132IMG_0133IMG_0134

Complete “Stop Motion” video of the build

If you have just under 6 minutes to waste, then I hope that you enjoy the following video, I know that I will keep looking back on this in years to come with very fond memories of the process of assembling my own car. I simply can’t wait to get it through its PBC and IVA, and get some number plates on.

My next post will be a review of this process, so hopefully within the next 2 weeks.

Enjoy:

 

Summary – final thoughts on the build

Enjoyment

I’ve really enjoyed everything about the build. I started off not sure how hard it would be, or even whether I was capable, being an IT geek as opposed to a mechanic. The reality is that anyone with a basic understanding of cars and a spanner can achieve this.

And it’s massively rewarding, one of the most enjoyable things I have ever achieved, and a learning journey along the way. The build guide is shortly being updated to be more detailed, with much better exploded diagrams and instructions. But I don’t mind one jot.

I posted on BlatChat that actually the challenge of deciphering the instructions is part of the fun. If it was too easy, then it would be less rewarding. To encounter a sub assembly in the guide and not have enough pictures, alongside tragically badly written text is reason to communicate with others who have been, or are on, the same journey and forge new relationships.

Time

I took 14 days, simple as that. My days ranged from 5 hours to 10 hour long slog-athons, but on average I worked a 7 hour day. Didn’t want to kill myself, or never see family or friends during. I therefore took 98 hours from start to finish, although I still haven’t processed the GoPro photos I took automatically every 60 seconds – this will be the most accurate recording of elapsed time.

People

Currently there are 3 others that are building (or have just built) pretty much identical cars. Each of them have added to my fun, and I hope they feel the same.

In no particular order, I call out:

Derek Clarke, a chap I met very randomly at the AutoSport show in January, on the Racelogic VBox stand. He was asking questions about fitting a VBox to a new build Caterham, I was stood right behind him dreaming of the same, my ears pricked up and I introduced myself. Turns out that his 420R kit was arriving around the same time as mine. We have helped each other out a bunch of times via email, and I know that he has been reading my warbling diatribe here. Thanks Derek, and all the best completing yours!

Dan Smith, met on Facebook, new to Caterham’s, and therefore at the time not event a L7C club member or had probably even heard of BlatChat. Someone who actually knows what he is doing, as he works for JLR (in an engineering capacity) and I am pretty sure built his car in record time with his eyes closed. His kit arrived after mine, but he managed to complete way before. The kind of guy who seems to get up at 5am and put in 3 hours build time before even going to work. far too committed for me, and although this kind of behaviour is normally a warning sign that you have just met a looney, he actually appears quite normal. He may read this, hence my cheekiness. Helped me a lot by sending pictures of random parts and assemblies, and only ever took the piss when I tried to fit the hub carrier the wrong way around… I would have been worse if it was the other way around…

Simon Calvert, met on Facebook, appeared to be friendly with Dan prior. So transpires that either Dan or Simon is the male equivalent of “single white female”, as they are copy cat 420R build mates. Slightly less scarily mechanically robot like with his build performance, but equally helpful. I’d like to think that I’ve had moments where I’ve helped him out too! He also completed his car before me, but all of the above are in a wait state for IVA test right now.

I am hoping that we can all meet up as the “class of Spring/Summer 2016 420R builders”, you never know. A blat or a track day…

Friends

I met Craig Bramley at a L7C intro to sprinting day in 2010 and we have been really good friends since. He and Paul Browne (an even older mate, met through Salsa dancing with his wife!) are top notch friends and both have helped me out during my build. Both were here to help with the engine, and then on and off throughout both have been here for me for other build work. Thank you both so much, love you dearly, as you have made the journey much more sociable and fun, and all the hard bits were easier shared!

I raise a beer to the other guys, let’s hope we all get through IVA soon!

Can’t wait to be back on track with Craig and Paul….

Addendum: Steph, my wonderful wife read this and reminded me of her assistance. She mopped my brow, listened to general ‘man chat’ (very tedious) and made many cups of tea. Also fed and watered Craig and Paul when they came around. Much love to her xx

IMG_2147