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Clutch bleeding...... wrong assumption over the nipple

The best-laid plans... With all the will in the world, the weekend did not go to plan.

My mate Mark came around to lend a hand early Saturday morning and we got stuck in. We didn't get far, and on Sunday I went back to laying some skirting board in a bedroom the wife and I have been decorating.

What did we get done? We rotated the car through 180 degrees in preparation for starting. I wanted the exhaust away from the Lotus Exige. It was the first time the 7 had been on its own wheels and rolled. We rolled it out onto the driveway and performed a 3 point turn with ease, it really is incredibly light for a car. It was surprisingly low even against the Lotus too. Getting the car back onto the moveable axle stands was a bit of an issue with the wheels on, in the end we had to jack the car onto static stands, then re-jack the car via the rear wheels, I know a bit dangerous, but it was the only way we could accommodate the central bar on the movable stands.

Caterham 7 420R
3 point turn on the drive, putting the car into the garage nose first, ready for starting

We also secured the plug on the bottom of the oil reservoir ready for starting. The reservoir required a dummy sender to be inserted into a threaded hole towards the bottom of the cylinder. Mark is more experienced than I and so received the job of torquing everything up.

With Mark being there I also took advantage of his experience to put DOT4 into the clutch system and bleed it. This is where we embarrassingly got stuck and wasted the majority of the day. We both made a ridiculous assumption and it cost an immense amount of time, but I guess that is part of the learning experience with the Caterham. Adding fluid to the clutch system is very straightforward. Cover everything meticulously to protect from spillage, then remove the reservoir cap and pour in the DOT4 fluid supplied. Once the fluid is in, follow the same process as you would bleeding brakes, just using the clutch pedal and clutch bleed nipple. Simple right? Yes, that's exactly what to do, however, we got stumped by the bleed nipple. We wrongly assumed it was constructed of a nipple sat on top of a cylinder which extended the bleed nipple outside the bell housing. When we opened the nipple the cylinder also turned, so we assumed the cylinder needed to be held. This was incorrect. We spent the entire day trying to prevent this. The guys on BlatChat came to the rescue in the evening and educated me, it's one piece and the cylinder will turn, that's correct. Later on, during Saturday evening I went back to the garage armed with the information and with the support of my wife we successfully bled the clutch. The guys on BlatChat also warned me not to throw the clutch pedal too far as it might pull out the slave cylinder in the bell housing, as a result, I also adjusted the pedal stop inwards to shorten the throw before bleeding. Afterwards, we were able to shift through the gears with ease, but we'll only truly know whether the adjustment is correct when the engine starts.

Caterham 7 5 Speed Bleed Nipple
Clutch Bleed Nipple. Cylinder and valve/nipple are one, and will turn together..... doh!

All in all then not as fruitful as planned, we certainly didn't get to adding the front cycle wings. That will need to be during the week if we are to remain on target for an engine start this coming weekend.

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