Today was my last day on the car before I have to go back to work and unfortunatley I didn't quite get quite as far as was hoping to. I think I am probably 2 - 3 days off being totally finished, but loosing a day to the diff installation and spending far too long on the seats put me back a bit. I also realise that I have probably put myself under a bit too much pressure to get it done in the two weeks available, but with a young family and a busy job time is very limited. Still, I am really pleased with what I have done and know that I haven't cut any corners in anything I have done, which was important given the cost and pride involved.
I started today by securing the front passenger wing and then moving on to the drivers side, which took a couple of hours and, with the exception of the wiring for the front lights, was the last major bit of assembly that I had to do. I then spent time preparing the car for its first start up, which involved adjusting the throttle cable, filling the car with fuel, filling and bleeding the brake and clutch systems. The brakes went just fine, but the clutch was a real pain, with the bleed nipple in a horribly hard to reach. I am not happy with the result and will probably have another go at it in the next week. With the brakes done I could get the rear hubs done up to the correct 270NM and put the wheels on. I then filled the engine with oil and the cooling system with de-ionised water and anti-freeze, which highlighted a couple of unions that needed tightening further to avoid minor leaks.
It was at this point that the day became hardwork and incredibly messy. The infamous gearbox plug required me to take an angle grinder to an allen key and spend a good hour under the car trying to locate and extracate the plug. With the plug out it was time to rig up a real Heath Robbinson combination of pipes and funnels to channel gearbox oil into the gearbox. The result was that after at least another hour I was litterally covered in gearbox oil and not entirley sure how much went in the gearbox and how much went over me. It was a pig of a job and not one I want to repeat, so I will ask Caterham to check carefully that there is enough oil in the gearbox when the car goes in for its post build check. This job genuinley rivalled the diff for frustration!
At this point I dropped the car onto the floor and connected the battery, which scared the crap out of me by sparking visciously the first time I connected the positive terminal. I then decided to start the car up for the first time and after turning her over for a little while she kicked into life on 3 cylinders. I had a good dig around, checkign HT leads, connections etc and gave it another go, at which point she fired properly and settled to a nice idle. There was quite a lot of smoke from the exhaust primaries, which is various oils burning off and it was late, so I decided not to make too much noise for fear of annoying the neighbours.
It was a satisfying point to leave the build on, even if I didn't manage to get quite as far as I had hoped. I still need to do the following jobs, but they will have to wait for next weekend:
- Connect and adjust the front lights
- Fill the diff with oil
- Bleed the clutch
- Adjust the throttle and clutch stops
- Set the suspension up
- Rivet on the heater blanking plate
- Give her a quick run around the block :-)
It has been frustrating, satisfying and hard work, but the reward so far has been fantastic and my appreciation for the car and how it works has grown significantly. Above all I feel as though I have learnt a huge amount and hope it will stand me in good stead when I start racing early next year.