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High Level Rear Brake Light (JAL)

Updated: Jan 2

I'd like to start this post by wishing all my readers well, I hope everybody is staying safe during these strange times. 2020 is one of the more challenging years in our history and I think only serves to put everything into perspective. Still, I'd like to add some light relief through my blog, but content isn’t easy as neither Seven is getting any road use. You’ll need to bear with me if the content seems a little shallow or basic. So, what has been happening? I’ve added some clear lenses to the rear of the 420R following the installation of rear LED taillights, a high-level brake light from Just Add Lightness has been installed too. The 620R has been fitted with LED front indicator bulbs and has also received an oil change. My motivation for performing an oil change is quite interesting and probably warrants its own dedicated post. Essentially the 620R has been struggling to reach ideal operating temps during the couple of times it’s been used during the winter. Further, it's returning terrible fuel economy. Since the car is still being run in, having covered only 400 miles, I was concerned it might be over fuelling as the lower than ideal temps would result in a richer fuel mixture. This theory was clearly supported by the terrible fuel economy. As a result, I decided to perform a quick oil change and send an oil sample away for analysis, if the car was overfuelling it might result in fuel/oil dilution. As mentioned I'm of the opinion the whole topic requires a dedicated post. Let's get back to the lighting. Just Add Lightness supplied a set of genuine clear rear lenses for the 420R. These were a quick and straightforward replacement. Remove the two retaining bolts and replace. Simple! The more modern lens style certainly lifts the car giving it a cleaner look. Plus they work really well with the already fitted JAL LED light clusters. Before fitting, each lens was cleaned using a detailing IPA solution and then protected with a detailing sealant. The use of an IPA removes all grease and provides an optimal surface for the detailing sealant to bond.

Genuine Clear Rear Lens over JAL LED Rear Light Clusters

Next up, the 620R JAL front LED indicator bulbs. The installation of this bulb type was covered in a previous blog, so I won't detailed the process. Here's the finished result. I've yet to install the LED compatible flasher relay, unfortunately the factory decided to bolt the fusebox cover down, so that's still on the list of things to do.

JAL LED Front indicator on the Caterham 7 620R
JAL LED Front indicator on the Caterham 7 620R

Before ordering the kit from Just Add Lightness I was in two minds about how to approach a high-level brake light install. Should I use the JAL kit, or build my own using parts from Car Builder Solutions. In the end, I opted for the JAL kit as the light is very similar if not identical to the light also used by Caterham Cars on the race cars.

The kit supplied is pretty simple. It consists of the LED light body which has an electrical cable that exits underneath through a p-clip and then through the centre of a hollow bolt. The hollow bolt threads through the p-clip with a washer and into the light body. Of course, the p-clip is to be wrapped around a suitable location on the roll bar. In my case the 'X' position. The electrical cable is supplied unterminated, however, two spade connectors are supplied for attachment to the electrical cable, and then interfaced to the car's loom.

Before proceeding with the install, don't forget to disconnect your battery!

I decided from the outset I wanted to improve the look of the p-clip. There is nothing inherently wrong with it, but the grey/silver finish of the metal structure against the black roll bar just didn't look great. I stripped the p-clip down, removing the outer rubber cover, revealing the inner metal structure. I then carefully covered the metal in a strip of black electrical tape. The p-clip was then reassembled, with the rubber outer being carefully added back without disrupting the electrical tape. I think the end result was a significant improvement.

The improved p-clip was then fitted around the roll bar.

Improved p-clip

Once the p-clip was on the roll bar it was a case of threading the electrical cable down through the p-clip eyelets, through the hollow bolt with the washer, then carefully securing into the light to hold it in place. The process is shown in the following sequence of photographs.

At this point I set the light just over finger tight and turned my attention to cable routing. My approach was to run the cable along the underside of the lower driver side roll bar and then down into the boot at the roll bar mounting point. At this point I roughly laid the cable path without securing it. Once in the boot, I had to remove the side panel carpet and pass the cable down between the boot floor and side of the car. There is just enough room for the cable to pass through the boot floor, and should exit in the forward most corner underneath. Thankfully I'd used double-sided carpet tape during my kit build, so removing the side carpet was a trivial affair. Now JAL do publish a guide for the install, however, in their guide, they don't mention removing the rear wheel. After lots of faffing with my rear wheel in place, I'd strongly recommend jacking the car up and removing your wheel. Doing so allows you to work at the right height, looking directly at the loom connector, exit point from the boot, it's much easier. Plus getting your hands up from underneath is a nightmare. Once I'd got my cable down through the boot and carefully positioned the correct side of the chassis tubes I went about attaching spade connectors. The spade connectors supplied were the same colour, so I decided to replace them, and match the inner cabling colour. When crimping the spades, I also used heat shrink to add additional strength and corrosion protection. The rear of each spade was covered in heat shrink, and then a larger diameter piece was used to seal the pair against the outer sheath. If you do this, don't forget to put the heat shrink on first. The following photos detail my efforts here.

At this point it's a case of finding the connectors on the loom. Mine were cable-tied onto the chassis tube by the fuel tank. They weren't immediately obvious, but after separating a few cables I spotted them. It's then a simple case of pressing the spades into the female connectors on the loom. After connecting up the light I reconnected my battery and tested, everything worked a treat. I actually disconnected the wiring at this point and tied the cabling back on itself, then passing over heatshrink I made a neat protected loop of cable. The cable was then secured with (green) cable ties against the chassis tube. Note, I had my wife help me here, ensuring the length of cable across the roll bar and boot was the correct length, and the bundle contained the excess. The following two photos taken from within the wheel arch towards the fuel tank shows the bundle attached against tube. Look out for the green cable ties!

At this point the install is pretty much complete. The final step is to secure the cable across the roll bar, and in the boot. I used transparent single-sided Gorilla Tape for this process. The carpet tape was also replaced, and the side carpet reinserted. Oh, nearly forgot, once everything was in place the hollow bolt was tightened to secure the light.

JAL High Level Rear brake light fitted
JAL High Level Rear brake light fitted

Job done. Here's a quick video showing the high level brake light, along side the LED rear lights with clear lenses.

Hope you enjoyed the post.

Stay safe!

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