Thanks to continued poor weather I'm still waiting to road test the Caterham 7 420R with a second occupant and confirm the re-positioning of the rear drop links as a fix for the scraping noise which I covered in my last blog post. The weather does look good for the upcoming week, so hopefully an opportunity will arise soon. Fingers crossed!
One update I do have is regarding the rubbing cam cover which I covered in the blog post on the 31st May 2019.
Well, I did get some mileage on the car before the bad weather set in. Is the issue resolved? Did removing some of the excess GRP and adding additional foam to the nose cone stop the rubbing? The answer is no, the situation seems to be slightly improved in so much that the level of contact has been reduced, producing less dust, but it's still present. Of course, the amount of residue or dust created by the contact will be related to the mileage traveled by the 7 and so the issue might be no better, it's difficult to say.
At the moment I'm not sure what else to try. Please drop me a comment if you've any recommendations. I'm reluctant to remove the cover since I paid the extra to have it painted.
Continuing to learn and plan for the future.
There were many factors that influenced my decision to eventually purchase and build my 7, one was the opportunity to learn more about cars, their construction and operation, so what better way than to build one. Now that the car is built and on the road I'm still keen to continue my education, expanding my knowledge for both the enjoyment but also to be better prepared for any potential failures.
Through active participation in the Lotus 7 Club forum Blatchat I've also become well aware of the countless issues the Caterham 7 seems to suffer. Don't get me wrong, these don't put me off ownership, well not at present, but I am acutely aware that being isolated on the Isle of Man away from the Caterham dealer network I'm likely to need to deal with an issue myself. So, given my desire to learn and be self-sufficient I've started to look at inspecting the car's ECU.
I've owned a handy OBDII ECU data reader for a number of years, and it's been an effective tool on most cars I've owned including Honda, Subaru, Mitsubishi and of course Lotus. Many years ago the tool helped me to diagnose a defective S-AYC pump actuator on my Evo 8 and avoid horrendous dealer costs. I used it recently on my Exige when starting the car after its winter sleep and wanted to ensure there was good oil circulation before that first post-winter start. Check out the blog post
Unfortunately, the 7 isn't compatible with such tools (apparently) and uses a custom ECU which generates data that will be misinterpreted and I guess misdiagnosed by generic OBDII readers. Caterham originally mentioned this to me during the build when I was attempting to diagnose the radiator fan and its temperature control.
In order to read the ECU data you need to use a piece of software known as Easymap supplied by the ECU manufacturer. You also need to use an appropriate cable from the ECU manufacturer which interfaces the CAN bus to serial or USB. Now I appreciate for writing new values to the ECU basically changing the map, you'll likely need bespoke software, but my use is inspection or read-only and I have to say I am surprised about the need for tailor-made solutions. The automotive industry has been pretty good with regards standards in this area and so I'm surprised about the bespoke requirements in a read-only use case. My OBDII tool also seemed to get good results when reading the coolant temperature value, so I am a little cynical at present.
Although I don't currently have any engine management issues, thankfully! I do want to check the throttle position sensor is achieving 100% open throttle when the throttle pedal is at full throw. Setting up the pedal hasn't been that easy and so I'd like to double check by reviewing the ECU value. Time to source the Easymap and the cable then!
Hurdle one, running the Easymap software. Easymap v6 is written with Microsoft .Net v3.5 (stop booing at the back), and the spare laptop I'd intended to use in and around the garage is running Ubuntu 18.
In the past I've successfully used Windows 32 bit and 64 bit software on Ubuntu using Wine for emulation, however, with .Net v3.5 being thrown in the mix, I fear this isn't going to a sensible proposition. v3.5 apps are notoriously difficult to get running in a stable fashion under Wine. I need to find an alternative approach, a new cheap laptop or possibly a virtual machine running in a suitable hypervisor.
If you've managed to get v3.5 apps working reliably on Wine, I'd love to hear about your experience?
Until I source a Microsoft Windows host I'm a little stuck, but I will resolve the challenge and blog about my experience with Easymap, particularly setting the TPS and other basic values. I'm keen to do a comparison between my current OBDII tool and the Easymap software, confirming whether Easymap is truly needed for basic setup and inspection of the 7.