This weekend I was allowed by Steve Grubb, and his very accommodating family, to pretty much move in and ‘help out’ with starting to put his shiny new 2013 Academy car together!
Steve’s already put one of these contraptions together and owns another 7, so is a mine of information and tips/tricks which I tried hard to excavate.
Essentially, we put together the front suspension and steering then installed the handbrake and the differential.
All these things will help me when I begin putting my car together this coming Thursday (arghhhhh!!!). Some learnings that would be useful for anyone else who is putting an Academy car together:
- Collect together all the A4 fixings bags together (the ones with the card inserts and the piece of paper showing you what’s contained. They are spread throughout all the boxes and are much better being all together in one place. You could also move the fixings bags that don’t have card inserts – but these are often harder to identify and are USUALLY in the same box as the things the fix together.
- Don’t take it for granted that the correct bolts/fixtures are in the correct bags. For example, the front anti-roll bar mounting bolts were incorrect in the fixtures bag and and the correct bolts were in another place.
- Sometimes things don’t fit – this means, you get used to using the hammer. However, this can also make you blind to other alternatives… like you may have a slightly different sized bush somewhere else that’s not in the correct bag (or the expected bag). We were deep in conversation at one point about filing down a badly fitting bush – when the correct one was just in another place…
- 4 hands are very nearly always better than 2. (Unless it’s me fitting your brake pads…). Every single job done on the car was tricky with 2 people. I can’t imagine what it’s like on your tod. Bodywork needs to be pushed, bolts need lining up, washers need inserting and all with tiny tolerances that don’t allow access for anything of sensible size/shape.
- 2 heads are better than one. Not only do extra hands help – but extra brains and eyes also help (see brake pad point above). Again, there are sometimes multiple ways to tackle a problem, and having 2 people bouncing ideas is a great thing. The eureka moment comes quicker!
- A basic toolset may theoretically be alright – but an extensive one is far better! Metric and imperial is important but deep/shallow sockets are also important. As are lot of extension bars and at least one wobble head bar. Having a massive extension bar on and working outside the car is far better than trying hard to get a ratchet inside a tight space. (The wobble bar just lets you easily get round chassis bars that are in line with the one you’re attempting to get a bolt into.
- Everything is annoyingly tricky for one reason or another. If something goes far too smoothly on one side, then you can be sure that the other side will cause you endless problems. Go in with this mindset and everything will feel like an interesting challenge, rather than a pig ugly mess of a sodding car.
- It’s better to get all your bits and pieces together for the section your about to work on and read the associated manual sections fully before getting going. Often there are additional sections in the manual that don’t alway appear in sequence. A computer version of the PDF will allow you to search through the manual electronically for keywords.
- Dry fitting bolts is a great idea. This checks that the bolt is the correct size and has the correct thread spiral. It also makes sure the thread and bolt are clear of any gunk – e.g. powder coat etc.
- Jiggling fixings, leveraging against bodywork and rotating bolts using the ratchet are all useful techniques to try whenever a bolt doesn’t head home straight away. If one method doesn’t work – make sure you try all the other before declaring it impossible.
- Take a really good look through all the boxes. Take the time to identify the parts and get a feel for where everything is. Often, knowing you’ve seen a particular bag/part is a great motivator to keep searching for it when you’re sure you’ve looked in every box already.
I’m sure there were a million other things that I sub-consciously took on board and I hope that these will be documented in my build as I go through it. One thing I know for sure, is that I will not be turning down any help offered. Oh, and I’ll be taking a kettle into the garage to keep the chain tea’ing going.