Monday, July 6, 2009

A mildly industrious weekend

It was a weekend of quiet productivity for the Caterham, with a couple of teething problems now sorted out. First off I decided to engineer a proper repair for the exhaust mount. This involved me putting a call through to fellow Seven owner Mark about thread sizes and so on, who kindly invited me over to his workshop.

The exhaust repair – touch wood – was an unexpectedly simple operation, which just involved cleaning up the thread with a tap and replacing the bolt. Next Mark – an experienced Caterham racer who just happens to have a whole load of setup equipment in his garage – suggested checking the geometry.

The ride heights and tow angles were spot on, and a rather vicious-looking procedure to remove the front ball joints with a hammer soon corrected a small camber defficiency. Last came the tyre pressures (technically an oversight on our part that should have been done first) and the corner weights. With half a tank of fuel and various odds and sods in the boot, the car came to a featherweight 528kg, in full road trim, complete with a full height screen, doors and weather gear.

That said, there was one thing missing. During my initial investigation of the exhaust I’d mistakenly taken the passenger seat out (forgetting the sides were double-skined and the fixing was inside). This potentially thrust me into a whole world of pain and anguish, as I attempted to align the bolts and spacers dangling from two independently movable runners with four tiny holes on the floor, all the while obscured by the seat. Fortunately moving the runners to the extreme end of their travel, so that the front bolt on each side was accessible solved this, meanwhile taping the spacers down ensured they remained on the bolts during the installation.

After the geometry check I asked racer Mark if he’d take the car out to check it was handling as it should. He didn’t take much persuading and soon came back with a grin on his face and a glowing endorsement of the Seven’s setup and mechanical condition. To cap it all, during my drive back I decided to have a go at heel and toe; one of those things I’ve occasionally tried to do, but never been able to perfect. In the Caterham, however, the pedal spacing lends itself to this technique perfectly and it’s become almost second nature. It may be a small thing – like the other work over the weekend – but it formed the cherry on top of the cake, finalising a rewarding introduction to Caterham ownership.

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