Caterham Alloy HandBrake Sleeve Install
Updated: Oct 17, 2021
Upgrades are continuing, this time it's out with the 1970's handbrake sleeve and in with a Caterham Cars alloy sleeve.
This upgrade is all about the look and feel of the Seven. My desire is to make both the 420R and 620R look and feel the best they can while maintaining Caterham original parts. Well for as long as possible, I know at some point I'm going to end up fitting a significant aftermarket item.
Most of this blog is going to be a quick install guide. There isn't a huge amount of information out there on this topic, so hopefully, the post will fill the void.
Before we get to the install I will as usual pass a few comments on the product. Caterham's alloy sleeve comes in 3 options, silver, grey and black. I opted for the black version to match my efforts displacing all the silver fasteners with black. The machining of the product is excellent with well-finished edges, the black is a strong shade with depth and shine. The Caterham logo is accurately machined out of the alloy body and provides a strong silver contrast against the black. I really like the visual effect, of course, opinions may vary. I think it looks fantastic.
A link to the black version Is below;
Is the alloy sleeve heavier than the standard plastic item? Yes, I'm afraid it is. After removal, the plastic item weighed 62 grams. The alloy around 90 grams. An extra 32 grams, I know, shock horror.
Now I know people get all hung up and bothered regarding weight with all Lotus based cars including Caterhams, stating Mr Chapman's mantra of adding lightness. So let's put this in context. The extra weight is akin to around 4 Chocolate Limes, they're 7 grams each, I didn't have any Opal Fruits to hand. When put in this sort of context, I don't consider the extra weight unacceptable. Drop me a comment below if you think the added weight is too much, I'd be interested to read your views on the topic. I tend to be of the opinion, minor increases in weight for improved features is acceptable such as this case. The pursuit of reducing weight is also fine if you improve the car without determinantal impact on the aesthetics or function. No holes in bodywork thank you!
Unfortunately, I didn't spot the camera missed the readings on the scale, you'll need to trust me on this.
Time of the install, which in true Caterham fashion isn't quite as straight forward as I'd expected.
The first step is to remove the old plastic sleeve. Clearly, the handbrake lever including sleeve is manufactured by a 3rd party, and they do a good job of securing the plastic sleeve. To remove the sleeve you need to rotate it left or right and break the adhesion between the plastic and inner metal arm. Despite my best Hulk impression, I couldn't move the plastic at all. After a quick post on Blatchat to confirm my approach was correct. Resulting in a helpful recommendation, my install process escalated to using a pair of mole grips. I wrapped a microfibre towel around the plastic and clamped a set of mole grips over the towel. Using the full fulcrum benefit of the handtool, I simply pushed left and right a couple of times, breaking the adhesion, then carefully pulled the plastic sleeve off. Using the mole grips was easy, if you're doing the install, don't bother cutting or grinding the sleeve off, methods I've seen others use. Just get yourself a set of mole grips, it will take about 10 seconds. Cutting the plastic off is comically bad in comparison.
At this point, and after a quick wipe down I inspected the underlying handbrake lever, it looked clean and ready for the replacement alloy sleeve.
Having made sure the retaining grub screws were also backed out I attempted to fit the sleeve over the handbrake arm. This was wrong, it wouldn't fit. With all the silicone lubricant in the world, the sleeve wouldn't slide over, the shape of the handbrake arm was not round, unlike the sleeve. Square peg in a round hole springs to mind.
Underneath the handbrake arm there's what can be best described as a seam. I'm not sure if it's a welding seam or some very hard adhesive. Either way, it prevents the alloy sleeve fitment. Once identified I initially started filing it down with a small metal file. I picked a very small file as I was being cautious about both the approach and also the tunnel top. It became abundantly clear a hand file was going to take time and was quite the chore, so out came the trusty Dremel. The Dremel made light work of the seam and within a few minutes, sufficient material was removed to allow the alloy sleeve to be slid over the top of the handbrake arm.
I did wipe down the handbrake arm with some ACF50 to prevent corrosion, though I suspect that's unlikely to happen, and if it did a new arm will cost peanuts.
Once the alloy sleeve was fitted over the arm, I align as required and secured by carefully tightening the two grub screws. The grub screws are face down so a 90-degree Allen key is required. Job complete, some photos below show the end result.
Thanks for reading.
If you've been following the Instagram feed you'll have noticed I'm replacing all the bonnet catches for black items. That project is ongoing, but a blog post will be available soon. Please keep checking back, and thanks for reading. Stay safe.