A taste of things to come

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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. 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.
  5. 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!
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.

Blog commenting fixed!

Looks like I had an incorrect setting somewhere for commenting… which meant that it was impossible to comment on any posts… whoops.

Should be all fixed now so post away!

I’m gearing up for the build aspects of the blog, so watch this space! Can’t wait. The garage is ready, I’ve got most of the tools now. Only fluids and the car itself to go now!

A little peek at what’s to come

This made me giggle like a little girl on Saturday morning. After such a long period of waiting, things are almost within touching distance now.

Grubby (http://www.sevenracing.co.uk/) visited the Caterham factory to pick up some of his car bodywork ready for vinyl wrap[ping… whilst he was there, he snapped part of my car as well!!

So, here, in all its resplendent glory, is my very own engine. Apparently the chassis is off with the painters at the moment, so he couldn’t grab a pic of that. Many thanks Steve, it really did make my day!

My very own engine

Delivery date!

Well, not quite an exact date but near enough for me. So, the Cheese Mobile is going to be on the Caterham production line in mid-september for an earliest delivery of 1st week in October.

4 weeks away! Perhaps it’s time to start reading that build manual again and also looking up all the tips and tricks from previous years builders… I know there were some golden snippets out there.

One month to go…

I still don’t have confirmation of my delivery date yet, but I know that one of the Academy entrants has had confirmation that his car parts will be picked before 8th Sept for a pre-build of 2nd week of September… Given that person is slightly ahead of me in the queue ¬†(I think I was about the 15th entrant or thereabouts) that still looks like I might be on for a delivery date of late Sept/early Oct (which is what we were provisionally told.)

So, in order to keep busy, I’ve got together a few more of the tools I’ll be needing. I am now the proud owner of 4 Halfords 3T axle stands. With 3 tonnes, I could stack 6 Caterhams one on top of the other, but they were the highest ones available off the shelf at around 50cm at their highest. This should offer fair clearance for the days when I’m buried under the car or angling the car if I do decide to follow the manual and connect up gearbox/bell housing/engine ahead of dropping it into the car.

I also picked up a low range torque wrench (8-60Nm), again from Halfords. By gosh they are expensive tools :). That goes alongside my other torque wrench that covers the higher numbers.

I picked up a Bosch cordless drill/driver and bit set which were on offer. Fingers crossed it’s portable enough to poke into all the corners it will need to get to.

Finally, I also got a bag of disposable gloves for when things get messy.

It’s getting more real by the day at the moment and I go through equal measures of dread, excitement, regret (that I didn’t get Caterham to put it together), fear and joy.

The adventure is nearly here…

I’m going to make a sweep of the tool chest and try and see what I’m missing

2013 Caterham Academy Facebook Group

2013 Caterham Academy Facebook GroupAre you on Facebook? Have you entered (or are you thinking about entering) the 2013 Caterham Academy? If yes, then this Facebook group is for you!

You’ll find popular Caterham ARDS instructors, past racers as well as current and 2013 entrants on hand to answer questions, offer advice or just natter away with.

The 2012 group on Facebook has turned out to be popular, with lots of discussion, race videos and, most importantly, banter. Hopefully, the 2013 group will be just as useful.

Taking to the track with the Caterham Academy