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Build - Day 1 - Steering Rack, Tie Rod Ends, Front Left Wishbone

Updated: Jan 21, 2019

Saturday evening. I’m writing my first real build blog entry, the build, blog, and Caterham life has truly started.

I didn’t really achieve that much today, even though I’ve worked in the garage all day.

I started off by protecting the front suspension areas with bubble wrap, but ran out, so had to make a quick trip to B&Q. They didn’t have any, so spent more time searching the house for some off cuts. I did eventually find sufficient and applied. Whilst at B&Q I also picked up some lagging for the chassis and applied that too.

Caterham 7 S3 420R body
Protected body using bubble wrap

After that I moved onto the steering rack, IVA boots and track rod ends. Happily all installed without issue and were relatively straightforward. I’m still not sure of the exact angle the rack needs to be at, but hope that becomes more clear when the steering column is installed.

I then moved onto the front left lower wishbone. I spent time separating all components and hardware into new plastic bags and marking appropriately, doing so took time, but ultimately gave me confidence in picking the right hardware at the right time. I even punched holes in cardboard and stuck the bolts through, then marked the cardboard accordingly.

Caterham 7 assembly guide

I’ve been issued the new build manual with my kit, the one which makes the whole project look as simple as a radio controlled car build, we’ll call it the pictorial manual as that’s basically what it is. I’ve also sourced and printed the 2015 assembly manual too, wow what a difference. The pictorial manual glosses over so many details, it leaves me wondering whether it should be presented in the manner it is. One of those areas is the complete lack of commentary on wide track and narrow track cars, something I believe is important when installing the lower wishbones.

The 2015 manual clearly states the layout of spacing washers is different on the wide track cars, but there is no reference in the pictorial manual.

Caterham 7 assembly guide

After lots of internet searching and forum posts I discovered the layout of the spacer washers impacts the caster on the car, and will ultimately affects the steering weight. I opted to go with the 2-2-2 configuration as stated in the supplied manual. Seems to be the safer bet.

Fitting the wishbone with the washers was less simple, the tolerances between the wishbone, spacers and chassis is practically 0. It seems at time like an impossible fit, there simply isn't sufficient space to fit all the hardware.

I was also attempting to install on my own which made handling more difficult. Eventually after getting some support from my wife and climbing inside the engine bay area I managed to just fit the washers into place. In the end i found working from the rear mount and moving forward through the fittings to be the only method which worked. I’m not sure how long I was working on the single wishbone, probably the best part of 2-3 hours! Not good.

After fitting one wishbone, I called it time for today. I have the right side to tackle to tomorrow.

Other stuff worth commenting on.

My new GoPro 7 purchased for the blogs/vlog, has been a disappointment, and a contributing factor to missing delivery footage. But that's a story for another day.

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