The sun came out! The car came out!

After the snow, came the sun. Sadly, the car wasn’t on track yesterday because of the cancellation, but the overnight rain and the sun all day today meant that I could get the car off the trailer, fiddle with a few bits and pieces and, more importantly, have a small blast around the mean streets of West Sussex.

Firstly, I fitted the Longacre rear view mirror. Others have had a problem fitting the clamp between the roll cage and the windscreen – I guess the tolerances on my car are the right way around, as I had no problems..

The clamps are too large for the roll cage on the Caterham, so you need to pad out the clamp to ensure it can grip properly. I added a strip of sticky back foam, as used on the bonnet padding, all around the inside of the two halves of the clamp. I also added 2 strips of the rear wing piping to one half of the clamp. This was just enough to firmly grip the roll cage.

I looked to see whether I could add my Racetech mirror easily to the drivers side. Hoever, I couldn’t figure it out… It may need some sort of fabricated clamp to hold it on somewhere –  or perhaps a drill taken to the door. I saved that headache for another day.

During the week, I ordered some plastic window polish to try and improve the visibility through the side screens. This hasn’t arrived yet, but I did take a closer look at the doors today and am fairly happy that polishing out some of the wear and tear will make things better.

Finally, I also adjusted the brake pedal slightly. I wanted it raised up inside the foot well so that when the brake is pressed, it remains higher than the accelerator. I moved the pedal as far as the threads on the adjuster would allow and things are better, but it’s not there completely. I may need to take a crow bar to the accelerator to lower it slightly. I may also use some washers to move the accelerator closer to the brake.

It was also good to have a quick blast around to blow out the cobwebs. Slowly, I’m beginning to understand the car a bit more and I really just want to get out on track again now to really start pushing on.

Arghh – Will it… won’t it…

Friday’s track day is in the balance! The weather has been so inclement that Brands is currently under a layer of snow and ice. Over the past few days, all the other track events leading up to this Friday’s track day have been cancelled.

One by one, the days acting as a buffer to our event have been culled. Now, it’s us next in the firing line! I guess that we’ll know more tomorrow but in the mean time the wait is unbearable. I really want this Friday to be able to happen as it’s been far too long since the last outing!

Even if the event does go ahead, there’s still the slight problem of getting to the track in the first place! Everywhere is iced up and my car doesn’t pull the trailer with much to spare in the best of conditions! Perhaps if we get all the bad weather out of the way early doors, the rest of 2013 can be a bone dry dream of a year for racing!

All the gear and no idea… Autosport International

I took a trip up to Autosport International yesterday. This was my second visit to the show as I went last year with the aim of finally making my mind up on whether I should go racing, whether I could afford it and, if so, what series to enter with.

This year, I went on a trade day and for sheer joy of being able to move, see things and chat to people, it was definitely worth it.

I also turned up with a shopping list. I wasn’t sure whether it was going to be practical to actually buy anything at the show and also whether it was sensible with relatively limited stock or chances to try things on. However, Demon Tweeks have a great setup at the show that includes most of their main stock and also have chancing room facilities. Anything they don’t have, they can order and will ship for free.

They also honoured the 10% discount for Caterham Academy entrants and, being face to face also meant I could be cheeky and see if I could get any more deals!

I spoke with Chris on the stand and spent what must have been a good hour trying things on etc and here’s what I came away with in the end:

Arai GP-6Sarai Schroth HANS postshansclip Schroth Sport HANS (20 degree)hans
OMP First S Race Suitsuit OMP First S Glovesgloves OMP First S Race Bootsboots
OMP Nomex Sockssocks OMP Clubman Balaclava / Long Sleeve Top / Long Johnsunderwear Longacre 14″ Rear View Mirrorlongacre
Racetech F1 Wing Mirrorwingmirror

Racetech Single Seater Mirrorrac_sin-seat-lh-blk

I spent the money on a helmet that fitted and I love! But it did cost a chunk of cash. The HANS is also another large dent in the budget but seems sensible and I think the majority will now race with these nowadays. The rest of the kit was the budget end of the market. I did actually try several different brands and price range products but I preferred the cheaper boots and gloves in any case.

I also ticked off the two mirrors that I want to race with.

rac_sin-seat-lh-blk

UPDATE: The correct mirror to buy is in fact the Racetech Single Seater mirror (convex is normal choice). The ‘F1’ version shown above will attach to the car but it’s not quite adjustable enough to make it sit 90 degrees out to the side and so it’s visually and practically not as good.

It feels good that I’ve now pretty much got everything I need for the year ahead. I just need to get the car out on track and on the road now. The weathers not helping that though!

More car amends

Back in the garage today for another session. I made use of the free delivery from Caterham during January to buy most of the remaining bits and pieces I need to get the car ready for the new season.

Here’s a run down of what arrived through the door on Thursday:

  • Red front anti-roll bar (including fittings to allow quick swapping)
  • Uprated front brake pads
  • 4 alloys
  • Door fixing kit (including hinges and straps)
  • Replacement water temperature gauge (warranty replacement)

It was like Christmas! And so I headed back over to the garage today to fit the new toys.

Red front ARB

I was dreading this a little bit. Ideally, you use the red bar in the dry and the orange bar in the wet. During the main build, fitting the ARB was a pain and a struggle. With the radiator now in the way, I thought it was going to be awful.

As it went, I undid the bolts holding the radiator and fan to give a little more room, removed the orange bar in its entirety and popped in the red bar. The first ball sank into place pretty  easily and the second just took a little encouragement to get it lined up with the attachment socket. Once it was roughly in the right place, it just popped itself into the socket! Great! The braket attachment bolts are awkward because of space but they eventually went home. Done!

I’m afraid the fact that I’ve fitted this has now pretty much guaranteed that it will rain on the track day on 25th January.

Doors

I picked up a second hand pair of doors just after Christmas. They were a little dirty and scruffy when I picked them up, but a good scrub later and they came up OK. The windows aren’t as clear as new ones would be and there are a few frays here and there but really, nothing that a new pair wouldn’t have after a few uses.

The hinges were simple to fit with 2 screws/nuts per hinge. Fitting the popper bases wasn’t too bad either. I drilled out a couple of the rivets that were in about the right place on the side panels and put the popper bases in place using self tapping screws. I was happy enough with the fit and the poppers made a strong connection.

Doors do make it even tricker to get in and out of the car of course but on my quick test drive this evening, they make so much difference to the buffeting and splash proofing. I think once I get the half hood up with the doors on, it will actually be a fairly dry place to be in the cockpit… famous last words!

Rain light

Having seen that it was indeed possible to mount the rain light on the central cross of the roll cage, I re-visited this. It was still an absolute pain in the arse and involved using pliers, not using the large washers that were supplied with the kit and even then, only just getting the nyloc in place. But it’s done.

Honestly, if I hadn’t seen that others have managed this, I would have sait it was impossible.

Boot sealing

I moved the fire extinguisher out of its mount to get the sealing and taping done around the back of the boot. I finished off the sealing of the rear edge of the boot ready for taping the next time the car is off the trailer and the sealant has gone off fully.

I’ve found that rather than looking at the whole thing and getting stressed about how to go about sealing everything, it’s better to take it inch by inch and just work your way along slowly. Each time you step back, it’s a surprise how far you’ve got.

One more session to go on this to get it done completely.

Uprated front brake pads

These are simple to fit. Just unclip and slide out the originals and slot these in their place. They are supplied with plastic anti-squeal pads, which I fitted. Steve has said since that Caterham removed his shims to give a firmer pedal. If I find the pedal a little spongy going forward, I will have to remember to start by removing the shims!

Water temperature gauge

The final job of the day was to fit a new water temperature gauge. This mad broken previously (the case had cracked all the way around the body, just behind the glass.

Caterham sent the warranty replacement very efficiently, so I was able to get this in as well.

The gauge attached so the wiring and just pops through the dash to roughly seat itself. You  then need to feel around to attach a metal U bracket and some plastic thumb wheel nuts to stop the gauge falling forward. Because it all happens behind the dashboard, you have to have a good feel around to get it right. Another job I’m glad is over!

Overal, I’m happy with how the prep has gone and the car is really now looking the part. Once the race numbers go on, it’s going to be amazing (if a little embarrassing driving it around!)

Remaining jobs are:

  • Tape handbrake down
  • Fit race rear view and drivers side mirrors
  • Take trip to Demon Tweeks for race gear (possibly buy mirrors here or at Autosport Show)
  • Adjust arm restraints
  • Bypass inertia switch