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Build Tips - from an old BC post

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  • Build Tips - from an old BC post

    Cleaning out old files on computer, I found the following, which I stole off of BC long ago and had forgotten about. Because it is un-edited (yes, I am that lazy), some of it is outdated, some applies only to cars in jolly olde Blighty, and some of it I disagree with, but still some good points in here:

    The Advice below is from various Blatchat members who have built their own cars and know most of the problems and some solutions.
    Please note that the information listed may not be correct for your kit if you have a different combination of parts to what they built, and there are a number of different opinions about some of the suggestions (eg powdercoating of engine bays is being questioned at present).
    Items below by Peter - Red Roadsport SV

    Polish all bodywork a couple of times before bolting anything on. This will be the last time you have access to all areas without bits of suspension sticking out. (Caterham finish the paintwork with a polishing compound and mop only – no protective �wax’ polish is applied.) I didn’t do this but I wish I had…

    Again before bolting anything on, apply Waxoyl / Dinitrol - whatever your poison - I used Dinitrol 3125 ordered from Frosts. Can also be purchased from some Halfords in aerosol form. Apply with a آ£1 hand held garden spray and paint brush to all the bits you think might benefit (very subjective this). I waited till 2 months after I had finished the build, so access to some areas was difficult and it was a lot colder when I did this job, so had to fill the garage with electric heaters to get the temperature up.

    Apply Waxoyl / Dinitrol to all bolts heads, nuts and exposed threads after torquing using paint brush. I did this again once winter had started and everything was covered in crud/muck etc.. Not all the bolts are all zinc plated and the exposed threads start to rust quite quickly.
    Apply Copaslip to all threads before assembly. Note that Copaslip will not wash out of your best polo shirt.

    Kitchen roll (or toilet roll if you’re poor) is very useful for cleaning up excess Copaslip from fingers, your best polo shirt, bolt threads etc.

    Dab of paint on every nut/bolt after torque tightening – helps the memory and looks professional!

    I bought 2 Draper torque wrenches to cover the required torque range (except for the 250 lbf/ft on the rear drive shafts – I was lucky enough to have a work colleague who has a huge one which goes up to this figure and beyond!) I checked the calibration at various values by gripping a bolt in the vice/work mate, slipping the torque wrench plus socket on to the bolt head and hanging weights from the torque wrench handle (weight times distance equals torque etc.). Higher torques can be checked using a length of pipe to extend the wrench handle – the weights I used were previously unemployed hand dumbbell weights, 2.5lb, 5lb and 10 lb in various combinations.

    For tightening rear drive shafts, I drilled 2 holes in a 5ft length of steel flat bar and slipped this over the wheel studs (without the wheel fitted of course) - 2 big washers and the wheel nuts held the bar on. The torque wrench then easily did the job with the steel bar end against the garage floor to stop the drive shaft going round.

    Don’t tighten any of the front / rear suspension bolts which go through bushes until the car is on the floor with full weight on the wheels. You will only end up slackening them off again.

    If you are a [email protected]@rse like me then it will take you 3 attempts to centralise the diff. using the various packing washers, but then you will feel really smug because you have got it centred within 0.5mm – much better than the +/-2 mm in the manual!
    (Ditto on the A frame/DeDion assembly)

    The manual tells you to slide the prop shaft into the transmission tunnel before fitting the diff. There is a good reason for this, as I proved conclusively that you cannot get the prop shaft into position after the diff is fitted.

    Protect chassis rails from rear suspension bits by using split foam insulation for 15mm central heating pipes. Cut into 6â€‌ lengths and slid over chassis tubing, this prevented me from removing any paint from chassis whilst fitting DeDion, A frame etc.

    When engine was being installed I set the length of the slings front/rear so that the engine/gearbox was horizontal front to back (viewed from side) but I didn’t notice it was slightly rolled over when looking from front. This roll angle prevented the gearbox from entering the transmission tunnel and I had to pull out (!!) and start again. I ended up with sling lengths of 6â€‌ front, 16â€‌ rear which meant that the engine/gearbox was not rolled when viewed from front but front of engine was higher than gearbox by quite a lot. This actually helped as this was the natural angle to insert the assembly and it just slid to place like a good â€?n.

    Check the manual’s listing of torque figures for every different diameter bolt – don’t try to tighten the bellhousing/sump bolts up to the same torque as the bellhousing/engine bolts – it’s too high.

    The big washers on the suspension have chamfers on one side of them. After fitting the suspension, I spent a happy 2 hours turning the washers round again so that the chamfer side was against the rubber suspension bushes (as stated clearly in the manual!). I forgot this immediately after reading it and installed them with chamfer facing wrong way but looking �pretty’.

    Double check the bellhousing to gearbox bolts are torque tightened. After you have installed the engine/gearbox into the car is not a good time to start to wonder whether you did actually tighten these 4 bolts properly.

    Diff and gearbox can be more easily filled using small plastic funnel (swiped from SWMBO cookery drawer) and a length of clear section tubing (found it in the garage). You can tell when the gearbox and diff. is full because the oil runs out all over the floor

    Paint garage floor – oil spillages are more easily cleaned up.

    When filling gearbox be aware that some oil is left in following manufacturer’s assembly so you won’t get the full book amount in the box. This won’t stop you trying though with the resulting oil spill as above.

    When filling gearbox, don’t lift the plastic filler funnel too high to see what's going on in the tube – this pulls the funnel out of the clear tubing, so that the oil in the funnel runs all over the ECU on the scuttle and the tube drops to the floor starting another spillage – this causes brain overload as you don’t know which oil puddle to mop up first.

    Always have lots of waste rags available for mopping up oil spillages

    Where a part is threaded to accept a bolt, have a trial run with bolt and part on the bench or the floor before final assembly. If the fit is tight and bolt thread looks ok, then obtain a tap of correct profile and carefully clean out thread in component. I needed to do this on the differential bottom mounting bolt threads. (I reckon I would have stripped the threads or sheared the mounting bolts if I hadn’t done this on the diff.)
    I also found it necessary to run a tap up the lower shock absorber mounting threads on the DeDion tube.

    I found that the top steering bush can be more easily fitted if top steering column section is first pushed down through dash tube into engine compartment and onto lower column section as far as it will go. The top bush popped into place easily without the top column trying to �guide’ it (using rubber lubricant of course!!) under finger pressure and top column section can be pushed back up from inside engine compartment into bush.

    Front suspension top ball joints spin as soon as nut nyloc bit hits thread. Use a short length of tube (I used an 11mm off cut of أ?20 steel tube that I had bought from B & Q) or stack of washers slipped over thread under nut which can then be tightened sufficiently firmly to pull taper joint together. Nut can then be slackened, pipe/washers removed and nut replaced and tightened properly.

    For brakes I used a Gunson Ezibleed (spelling?), but I didn’t use more than 10 psi in spare tyre to provide �power pressure’, and after getting brake fluid over everything at first attempt, I didn’t fill the (Gunson) intermediate reservoir with fluid. Left it dry and just kept my eye on the level in the master cylinder and made sure it didn’t fall below minimum. I found DIY bleeding straight forward using this method (plus tapping rear calipers with mallet as recommended in manual, chanting ancient incantations and only carrying out the bleeding during a full moon) and once the pads had bedded in I had a nice hard brake pedal.

    Top tip – if you ever need to get excess fluid out of the brake master cylinder, not that I put too much in of course – excess fluid can be easily sucked out of master cylinder using a chicken basting syringe, plastic tubey type thing with rubber bulb on the end type thingy. (99p from Wilko)

    Bonnet is fitted with loose sticky backed foam strips under the sides for TRANSPORT PURPOSES only. Don’t immediately peel off the backing and stick the foam down – it takes ages to scrape off with your thumb nail. (Although you may end up putting some bits of it back to stop the bonnet fretting and rattling…..)

    If you have a 4 point harness, don’t tighten the bolts to the full specified torque – this will crush the assembly (which has a stepped �top hat’ spacer part) and the straps will not pivot. I was advised by Caterham to try a maximum of 35 lbft, (they supplied replacement �top hat’ spacers) but when reassembling I tightened up using a spanner until everything was just nipped up and still pivoting.

    I found Caterham techhelp and parts people were brilliant at sorting out my problems and queries. I used e-mail when I got to work in the morning and usually had a reply within a couple of hours. Missing parts were usually in next mornings post. Brilliant service from very helpful people.

    Make sure brake pads are well bedded before SVA test. Mine failed on front brake balance test which turned out to be a simple lack of pad bedding-in, but meant a further return trip to Derby and a re-test fee.

    Book SVA well in advance – I waited till I had engine in and running before applying for test date – sent letter off around beginning August 03, first available date at Derby was October 8th, 03.

    Ask Caterham for advise on best place to take car for SVA – this can remove a lot of worry.

    Remember to replace wooden panel in boot before you take car for a test run – this will prevent loose tools etc from dropping out of the car as you bounce down the potholed road which runs along to your garage from the main road.

    I used heavy duty double sided carpet fitting tape for interior carpets. So far this has worked fine and was easy to apply – I guess much easier than fooling around with impact adhesive – and it allows the carpet to be pulled away and refitted without problem. The only bit which won’t stay down is the little strip of vinyl trim which raps around the top of the panel behind the seats.

    Think before you drive on the road before the SVA. You will not be road legal. I was going to drive my car to Caterham for the post build check but I lost my bottle and trailered it there. I asked DVLA/vehicle inspection section about this and legally you are “only allowed to drive the car to and from the SVA test and also to and from a pre-booked appointment to have relevant repair work done if the vehicle fails the test, subject to insurance cover and compliance with the appropriate Regulations. Any other journeys must be undertaken by transporterâ€‌. For driving to and from the SVA test you get insurance on the chassis number.

    Items below by various Blatchat Members

    Mentioned once already but remember to kick of the SVA as soon as possible. You don't need to worry that by sending the initial forms off you will end up with having to specify a date you might not be ready for. It takes a few weeks from sending the first form off before you are in a position where you need to agree a date with them - and at that stage its a case of when you are ready you simply phone them up and make the appointment (usually a week or two lead time).

    If you are having Caterham do a post build check you'l need to allow a couple of weeks lead time with them first as well (They usually will ask you to wait until you have an SVA date........) I messed up and ended up waiting 5 weeks after building the car before It was SVA'd and on the road!

    Get a box of latex gloves to keep Copaslip and other gunk off your skin.

    The front wishbone bushes would not fit between the chassis lugs, use a nut and bolt to jack the lugs apart.

    Use a sash clamp to pull the wishbones together at the upright end so that the nuts can be tightened without spinning the studs.

    Buy a Dremel or similar. Lots of uses for fiddly things and great fun.

    The steering column may not pass through the centre of the lower pedal box grommet. Slot the hole in the aluminium up to 5mm with a dremel to allow the grommet to centralise.

    Do not use copperslip on the blue propshaft flange screws.

    The dedion tube brake pipe 'T' is fitted with the fixing boss offset 'away' from the centre of the tube.

    Jack under the rear hub carrier to take up all play in the screw holes before tightening the dedion ears and hub carrier. Otherwise the ear can move on hitting a rut etc.

    Horn brackets must be bent through 90 degrees to mount as shown in manual.

    Fit speed sender to gearbox before installing engine unit in car (but take care when lowering into place).

    The radiator fan legs should not be pushed fully into engagement or the fan will hit the anti-roll bar.The fan should lie against the radiator. Secure legs with sealer.

    The heater is a pig to fit, allow more time and force than you expect.

    Do not fit the exhaust manifold to the still suspended engine as suggested, but offer it through its hole in the side skin before you lower the engine.

    The rear wings must either be fitted before the suspension radius arm or the hole in the wing flange slotted out to fit.

    A breather tube must be fitted to the battery and run down beneath the car.

    Use heatshield attached to the foot wells to solve the 'hot foot' - melting shoe sole problem.

    Paint the garage walls white, paint the floor to seal it, and fit extra lights.

    Use BigHead fasteners on the front wings (instead of drilling and bolting).

    Check bolts fit (and threads are clear) before trying to fit them in - particularly the rear diff.

    If you are planning a part of the build for the following weekend - make sure you check the bits are there so Caterham have time to send you the shortages.

    You WILL have shortages. Caterham are very good at sorting these out, so not a huge problem. Always a good idea to check you have everything you need for the next weekend's tasks though.

    Fit Freestyle dampers from the start instead of the CC bilsteins.

    Powder coat the engine bay and cockpit alloy panels.

    Double check that you have the correct bolt. It's easy to end up using one that's longer than it should be only to find that the longer one was needed somewhere else.

    Invest in a couple of selection boxes of UNF and metric fasteners. These cost around a tenner each from motor factors and make maintenance much easier. It means that the days of scratching round jamjars are over. Just get the box down and choose exactly the fitting you need. This is essential with old cars where you can waste hours trying to get rusty fasteners undone where a mechanic would have cut it off, thrown it away and replaced it in half the time.

    You may also wish to buy a small torque wrench for the fittings under 20lbft. There's no need to go mad buying Britool, Facom, or Snapon, a decent one will be under آ£20.

    I find it saves time to have spanners etc hanging on a toolboard. It doesn't take long to build and means that you can see all the regularly used tools at a glance. You have a nicer time if you know where to find the tool you need.

    As for powder coating, I chose to leave the carpet set at the Factory and had the interior 'blacked' (charged آ£270), using just the custom-made rubber mats.

    Very low maintenance to clean should it ever get wet in there (which it will).

    Try trial-fitting everything, hand tight at first so you'll know whether it'll fit before committing yourself.

    And don't be too surprised if the major, most obvious bits (engine/gearbox install, propshaft, wings etc.) run more smoothly and take less time to do than the supposed small awkward jobs (boot/tonneau covers, handbrake, De Dion mounted rear brake pipe).

    Put the bonnet, nose cone and arches in the spare room and don’t let anyone in there.

    Use copper grease on ALL electrical connections - including earth connections at chassis. If they're factory installed, remove 'em and slather it on.

    Put plastic SVA covers on starter solenoid electrical connections and electrical connection nut on rear of alternator.

    Extend differential breather to underside rear of chassis or into catch tank (small plastic bottle).

    Paint all exposed suspension parts after assembly with waxoyl - can be considered to look messy, but a lot less messy than RUST. Even the front suspension uprights - don't get it on the disks though.

    Assemble rear flexible brake line at chassis the same as front flexible lines - not how it says in the build manual.

    Attach boot cover and poppers and four point shoulder harness bolts before roll bar. This means leaving the rear dampers off, but it's on axle stands, so no worries.

    Make sure long differential bolt goes through hole in differential before trying to fit differential in place AND check threaded holes in diff with the bolts while it's still on the bench.

    Threaded bolt holes in the chassis can be cleared by smearing bolt in copper grease and AFTER "starting" bolt by hand, wind in half a turn and back out half a turn, and so on - if you don't have a tap.

    Be careful masking bodywork to prevent "dings" while building - masking tape can be difficult to remove if left in place too long. I used bits of cardboard box (you'll have PLENTY). Cut to fit and positioned, rather than taped in place.

    A strop passed through the centre gap of the inlet manifold gives just the right amount of tilt to the engine/gearbox assembly for insertion - get a proper lifting strop and shackle (Machine Mart) rather than mess with rope or whatever.

    Buy a decent trolley jack that will lift the car to the highest extension of your axle stands.

    If you buy an engine hoist it can be used to lift the car - or used to position the differential if you're on your own (through the boot floor)

    Remove the wooden boot floor and the honeycomb panel over the tank for improved access - for assembly and waxoyl treatment of bodywork behind the tank.

    Before assembling anything I masked off the area of bodywork where it passes and is attached beneath the chassis rails and sprayed it and the rivet heads with stone chip underseal.

    If I had to do it over, I'd only fit the tunnel carpet - leave the others in the box - they WILL get wet.

    Slather all bolts with copper grease EXCEPT the ones you put Loctite thread locker on.

    Install Chris W's starter relay modification during the build.

    Cut the top 1 to 2 inches off the wiper blades so they will not impinge on the screen frame.

    Paint the inside of the headlight bowls with copper grease and the attachment/swivel device.

    Spray matt black paint on the radiator to make it disappear from view - improves heat transfer too.
    | | Sean