16/04/97 - 17/06/97
One of the first things that needed sorting out was the brakes - although Caterham said they were OK they did not really inspire confidence and after several attempts at bleeding the diagnosis from 'Jimmy the Fish' was that the master cylinder was duff. Caterham supplied a new cylinder, a thorough bleed was done and it's been much better since. In the course of this little exercise I've discovered the best way to bleed the car is :-
1. Get the rear of the car as high as possible on axle stands;
2. Keep the master cylinder topped well up at all times;
3. Use a long (couple foot) bit of clear tubing and only slightly open the bleed nipple;
4. Start at the rear-LHS of the car, the rear-RHS, front-LHS and front-RHS;
5. I found the pressurised easy-bleed a waste of time - the tyre went flat before I could bleed the system....It's better to get someone pumping the brake peddle rather than pumping up the tyre.
Another problem which occured during the first week was a 'tinkling' coming from the alternator. When peering at the engine a square brass nut flew out! When the alternator was taken off it transpired that metal nut was one of 3 used to hold the front bearing on - it was loose at manufacture! I pulled the top plate off and secured it correctly.
Fuel! Filling the car was a BIG pain! For two reasons - 1. The fuel could only be trickled in; 2. People hassle you whilst filling the car! While I couldn't really sort of #2, problem 1 did need sorting. The problem was the aero filler has a 2.25 inch neck and the fuel injection tank a 1.75 inch neck. The end solution was to take the tank out, cut off the existing neck and cut a 4 inch inlet hole, fitting a 4 to 2.25 inch flange - Grand Prix fillups? No problem! Plus I can now zoom off before Problem #2 becomes too serious!
Throttle linkage. The throttle linkage was a homebrew job - it worked but when the engine was hot it was sticking - not a very good idea! Also, we (rather Paul Dunnell) discovered I was only ever getting 1/2 throttle - well I thought it was going rather well. The end solution was a proper linkage with rose joints and an extra return spring (2 as required for racing) which appears to much more effectively.
Headlights. I noticed the RHS headlight was shaking alot - in fact it was shaking loose. When I checked, the front connector onto the fuel rail was rubbing on the nosecone and ,thus, inducing vibration into the headlight (and wearing the fuel line). The solution is to replace the fuel connectors with 45 degree angled connectors and replace the hose with aeroquip for good measure.
Notwithstanding all this 'playing' we've put a few miles on the little
car - well just over 2,000.
Biggest 'day out' so far was Stoneleigh where we experienced our first aqua-7 experience - the main outcome being that driving with nearly 200 BHP in the rain needs care!
Progess? What progress! I've lost count of the number of weeks the cars been off the road now. The main holdup was discovering that the connector Caterham use to terminate the high pressure line in the engine compartment is a totally non-standard, unique Rover part. James Whiting came to the rescue arranging fitment of the connector onto the end of the aeroquip hose.
When finalising the fitment of the throttle linkage I managed to split the screw-on cable barrel. Thankfully, the local motorsport specialist had a much more substantial machined item which will definitely not split.
The steering column was always hard up against the bottom rubber gromit (due to my fitting the plate before the engine) and to tidy this up (and give scope for easy adjustment) I filed the hole out to allow full vertical movement and made a 1.5 height rubber gromit.
Also discovered that a fullsize Mondeo oil filter will happily fit.....
So thats progress so far - the only jobs that need doing before getting the car back on the road is fitment of the fuel hose, connecting the washer bottle up (I'm told heating the feed pipe does the trick) and putting some petrol back in the dry car......Oh, and some decent weather!
Progress! All jobs done, suns out and we're off! Funny - this cars really small having driven a Mundeo for the last couple of weeks....
Fill up with petrol - WOW!! Fourteen quids worth in the tank in under 2 minutes - there's no stopping me now!
Well - apart from outstanding jobs:-
1. The throttle is still sticking slightly - needs the cable shortening and a small bracket to prevent twisting;
2. I'd secured the main water rail with a 'P' clip secured by a plastic clip onto the chassis - in my exuberance the plastic completely melted - will make a proper alli bracket;
3. Put the boot floor in - I think I'll use bolts and wingnuts for this;
4. Secure the inside panels - investigate thumb screws;
Found a few hours today and points 1 & 2 finished....Too late (and wet) to take the car out - maybe tomorrow. Will book the car into Arrowstar for a flat floor setup in the next week or so.
Busy last few days sevens-wise. The car's been down to James Whitings for a once over - his conclusion with the brakes is that De-Dion cars over braked at the rear causing the rearend to lock prior to the fronts. The flat-floor setup at Arrowstar resulted in fitting adjustable damper platforms and changing the springs - the result is a completely changed car!! The car handles (and brakes) in a much more predictable and capable manner.....managed to put 800 miles on the clock in the last week!
Today (Sunday) went down to the International event and the car behaved perfectly - well apart from hiccupping at certain revs which the engine management system is recording it as electrical failure. The general concensus is the alternator is faulty and I'm awaiting a replacement from Caterham.
In the course of the week I discovered why the engine sometimes runs on - If the fan is in operation then the latent momentum in the fan when the ignition is powered off is enough to generate power to keep the engine running for a few seconds!!
Fitted the new alternator and went off to meet some seveners down the pub. The car is now running perfectly - it now pulls smoothly throughout the rev range right upto the soft limiter. Removed the tacho and stripped it down (very fiddly job) to fit the shift up/down/diagnostic lights.
Grrrr! Engine hiccuped again on the way to the Norfolk meet earlier this week (although it's nowhere near as bad as it was). Disconnected the cutoff switch and after a couple of long test runs everything seems in order - hopefully I've fixed it this time!!!
Shift lights and the MIL (management warning light) are fitted into the tacho ready for fitment into the car tomorrow. Also sealed the slight leak I was getting on the fuel tank filter flange (fuel was creeping up the threads on the bolts) using gasket sealant.
Also prepared the boot floor ready for fitting - the two pieces of plywood supplied are not deep enough so I've joined them with another piece of ply. Just waiting for the varnish to dry.
Once these little jobs are done and the cars been on a few more runs a trek across to Paul Dunnell for a couple of mapping tweaks will be made.
All jobs done!!! And no hiccups!! The side panels are also now secured - I tapped the holes to M5 and fitted some stainless bolts - the kick panels still need fitting but I don't think there really necessary so I'll leave them off for the moment.
The wobbly headlights are slightly annoying and the aggravation (if not the cause) is the nose cone rubbing on the brackets. To rectify this I'm going to stick some adhesive rubber feet on the cam cover to lift the nose a few mm. The boot floor at the rear of the car bounces up and down slightly when going over large bumps - some rubber feet there should sort that niggle.
The shift lights make driving the car a lot easier - the standard Caterham rev counter can't really be described as a quality, highly calibrated unit. I've currently got the soft limit at 7,200 RPM (max is 7,800) and the shift set to 7,000 - trouble is my reactions aren't that good and I sometimes still hit the limiter before I've changed gear - I'll the shift threshold down to 6,800.
Next major job? Wash the car - haven't washed it since Stoneleigh....
Washed the car and finished the other small jobs.
I dropped the shift light threshold down to 6,800 but found I was still hitting the rev limited unless I concentrated and did a very quick shift. Not being that interested in squeezing the final bit of performance out of the engine I've dropped the shift light down to 6,600 - Hopefully that will be ok.
What do I do next?!
Met up with some of the listers - nice to go for a drive with some other cars....Shift light seems about right now....
Checked the play in other 7's steering (I thought it a bit excessive) - mines no worse so I really don't have any jobs left to do on the car.....Bar a visit down to Dunnells....
Got the Seven out for a play today - 200 mile round trip without any problems (well part from a brake bulb going). The brakes work fine - you can lock the wheels with ease and it pulls up nice and straight....Brilliant!
Started it, drove it, put it back in the garage - Perfect!