Day 3: Final prep work prior to engine install

Holiday

Had a great family holiday over half term to Italy, Lake Garda area, and therefore was not at home in the garage working on the car. I was aiming to work this last weekend both days, but a big party night on Saturday pretty much killed me off on Sunday. I managed to mow the lawns in the afternoon, but still felt grotty and hungover. So day 3 efforts were all about Saturday.

Pipe Lagging, Washer bottle and Heater

A quick trip to B&Q in the morning for some standard plumbing foam pipe lagging and it was easy to protect the engine bay chassis tubes in readiness for the engine installation.

The washer bottle apparently needs fitting before the engine gets installed, and it appears from other blogs I have read that this is due to both the routing of the rubber tubing and the poor access to fit the bottle to the mounting plate afterwards. It was all really straightforward with the exception of the fact that I had to snip a tie wrap that was running close to the top right corner of the bottle as you look at the overhead bottle shot. The cables were running too close to the bottle and needed repositioning under the cross member.

The Heater unit was the next item to install, and this was very straightforward, but a little fiddly to tighten up. I had two minor issues with the heater though. The first is a known issue. Basically the vent plate that mounts behind the bulk head in the cabin comes pre-attached one way up, but many other blogs indicate that the mounting plate needs to be rotated 180 degrees.

This seems weird to me, as this means that the “legs” on the vent plate point downwards and also stick out over the bottom edge of the inner bulkhead. It looks silly, but is apparently correct.

Look at the following picture as a guideline. When complete, rotate the vents so that they point downwards, again as per the image.

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This is wrong, but looks right!
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This is right, but looks wrong!

The second issue I had was that the top mounting screws were nowhere to be found. Or at least not in the bag I was expecting them to be in. I found screws that looked right and fitted in a miscellaneous chassis fixings bag. Like everyone who has built a Caterham before me, I seem to spend more time searching for fixings than actually fixing things.

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The job was fully completed by using a bead of clear internal and external use silicone sealant I picked up from B&Q when I bought the pipe lagging. I also squirted this on the inner edge of the heater unit, all the way around before I bolted the vent face to the heater. A sort of belt and braces approach to try and avoid a little future water ingress into the cabin.

The assembly guide and other build diaries don’t mention that the vertically situated Banner battery is very close to the top lip of the heater unit, and when dry fitting the heater, I felt I needed more space and the battery wasn’t slid as far forward as it could have been. You can see in the bottom left of the picture above one of the four slotted battery cage mounts. I loosened and slid the mount a little to the front of the car, and also whipped out the battery to make fitting the heater easier.

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Very tight fit between heater and battery

Engine / Bell Housing / Gearbox

My kit is the 420R Duratec, with the 5 speed Mazda gearbox. The installation instructions are a little odd with this configuration in one tiny area. They basically tell you not to remove the bell housing from the engine. But that’s simply untenable, as bolts have to go in from the bell housing to the gearbox, and its impossible without having access to the inner face of the bell housing.

 

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You can see the sneaky trick with the cable ties on the bell housing to engine bolts. They are different sizes, and to avoid having to sort through and remember or get them in the wrong order, I simply cable tied them temporarily, then when it came to refitting to the engine later, I could just slip off the cable tie on each bolt. Anything that saves me thinking too hard is a good thing!

You can see how I would HAVE to remove the bell housing to gain access to the 4 more centrally mounted caphead bolts for the gearbox above too.

It was a two man job and I had help from Craig again today. What we did was keep the whole sub assembly as low as possible, and used my Halfords creeper to rest the engine on. We then used some thick card and a few bits of wood to raise the gearbox and attached bell housing to the same level as the engine.

Craig stopped the engine and creeper from moving and I then tried to slot the gearbox and bell housing into the hole and align the splines. It took a few little rotations of the gearbox shaft by finger (super light and easy to do) before it all slotted together easily.

I then tightened each bolt in a clockwise from front of engine order as dictated and the job was complete.

Engine mounts

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The two remaining jobs for the day were engine mounts and horn fitment. This should have been easy, but turned out a little more complicated than planned.

Basically the RHS engine mount is too close to the chassis tube triangulation point welds. You can see from the above picture that I had to get my Dremel out to grind a little piece of weld away to get the mount to sit flat.

Once I was happy with the minor operation, I used some smooth black Hammerite to paint over the bare metal and then much later in the day I could attach the mount properly.

The LHS mount also needed minor surgery, but this time it’s because it also is a mount point for the engine earthing cable, and I had to file the coating from both sides of the mount and the chassis tube to ensure a good earthing contact patch. We tested this afterwards with my multimeter and all was good.

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Horns

Final job of the day was to fit the horns, and this was a little nerve-wracking as a 420R with dry sump requires the horn to be mounted in such a way that you have to drill a hole in the chassis steering rack platform. The picture in the assembly guide is not 100% clear with where this should be, but I’m pretty damn sure we drilled in the right place.

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8 mm hole drilled front centre of steering rack platform

The fun bit was then identifying where the “special” mount bolt and sleeve for this was. It was in a bag on its own in the heater box. Took 30 mins to find….grrrrr…

So that was it really, a fun and gentle day, lots of cups of tea, sunshine and a nice lunch. Exactly how I hope each day goes on the build, with zero stress. This is really good fun so far!

Enjoy a picture of the whole car so far, you can see the horns mounted on the shot below.

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Out of sequence front brake pipes

Something I should have completed on day 2 after the suspension assembly was the front brake pipe and flexible hoses mounting. But I couldn’t because I simply didn’t have either the plain washers or the shake-proof ones. I put a call into Derek on Monday morning and the washers arrived today. I will sort that out before the engine goes in over the weekend.

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