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GT3 | Becker TrafficPro Install

Friday 1st August

Very little time today, all I get to do is have a good look through as many pics as I can find of loom installations and get mine roughly in position. Not terribly difficult really, again pick one point you can identify and start there. In this case the easiest bit is the group of bundles for the fuses and relays which will be in the passenger sidepod. I get them as closely matched as possible to the factory CD pics and temporarily secure with a couple of cable ties.

I used the fuse/relay spurs as the starting reference point for the loom (click for larger image)

Saturday 2nd August

Again not a reqarding day - morning wasted with a hangover, afternoon spent out reccy'ing the course for the bike road race tomorrow. I'm the event secretary and need to make sure no-one's been out putting up traffic lights or digging the road up before we take 100 or so riders round the 62 mile course tomorrow. Not pleasant as it's a roasting hot day and I still don't feel 100%!

Back to the loom - the only real difficulty is not being sure of the routing of the rearward branch at the front of the sidepod, but I figure it isn't terribly critical so long as it's secure and isn't in the way of anything. The frontward branch looks straightforward, and it's clear from the build CD and the other build sites that it's too long and needs convoluting proximally. I therefore start at the front of the chassis with the weatherproof multiconnector and the spurs for the horn and rad fan switch then work back. Pretty soon I'm happy.

Main front section of loom - it looks like this on the build CD too! (click for larger image)Front connector, horn and rad switch (click for larger image)

Sunday 3rd August

The road race goes well, but by the time I get home it's nearly 4pm, so won't get much done today. I really want to get the loom finished this week as the rest of the car is arriving on Friday!

The next bit I tackle is the main rearward branch of the loom, which is easy enough as it's just cable tied to the main battery cable.

Loom running back along main battery cable (click for larger image)Loom heading back towards engine bay (click for larger image)

Monday 4th August

I decided to tackle the run which goes forward on the inner chassis rail containing the main loom supply from the battery and spurs to washer/wiper. No problems here. Next is the spur which runs across behind the radiator, supplying the two rad fans and a fairly hefty chassis earth. This is difficult as access is almost impossible! I start by sleeving the rad fan cables in heat shrink and crimping and soldering the connectors on after passing the wires through rubber grommets. With a lot of patience I eventually manage to get some p-clips in there - it looks from the build CD pics as if the factory use some Sikaflex but I don't fancy that. There's a bit of spare length here too so that gets looped back on itself before clipping and cable tying.

Took quite a bit of work tidying the wires behind the rad - access is difficult (click for larger image)

Tuesday 5th August

The dash loom is fairly straightforward, just three large p-clips and it's done. Next on to the engine bay. This has accumulated lots of wires and hoses and looks a mess! First job is the battery cable which gets clipped along the rear bulkhead. Drill out every 4th rivet and clip it in place. The loom branches into 4 here, one branch goes along the battery cable, one goes to the rear of the chassis, there's another chassis earth and there's an pair of wires for an optional interior light. The length along the battery cable is just cable tied to the battery cable which doesn't take long, then p-clipped the rest of the way along the bulkhead.

I decide to do the handbrake cables next - the build CD showed these crossing over, but neither CJ nor James have done that, aand when I fitted them they didn't seem to have quite enough length to sit comfortably like that. 3 p-clips on each side has them secured.

Dash loom clipped in position (click for larger image)Engine bay starting to look tidier - handbrake cable clipped, battery cable clipped across rear bulkhead (click for larger image)

Wednesday 6th August

It looks in the build CD photos as if the loom running to the back of the chassis is cable tied to the brake pipe, but I'm not terribly keen on doing that - I have some niggling thoughts about not clipping things to brake pipes for SVA. So I end up p-clipping that as well. All the spurs seem to come off in the right places - fuel tank sender, brake light switch etc.

I also clip the rest of the battery cable along the diagonal chassis member towards the rear of the engine bay.

One other job is to get the fuel tanks down and install the VDO fuel gauge senders. The mechanism is locked with a tiny pin which needs to be removed, then the sender is fixed with 5 screws. The holes are spaced such that it will only go on one way, and I go round tightening the screws sequentially until the cork gasket is compressed. One minor worry was that I saw that one of James' coolant pips needed moving as it impinged on the fuel tank as it was located a bit too far to the rear. A trial fit of mine looks like they'll be OK, but they can't go on till I have the side pods etc. fitted. One bit I should have ordered with my first delivery was the luggage containers - Andy at the factory had said they go on at body pre-fit, but to be honest they could have been fitted by now, and until they are I can't really secure the heater/aircon hoses.

Nearly there now, just the few wires on the other (driver's) side of the engine bay. This looks like it will actually be neater if they are clipped to the clutch pipe, so I'll check with the factory tomorrow.

Wiring loom at rear of chassis (click for larger image)Wiring loom along passenger side of engine bay (click for larger image)

Thursday 7th August

Onto the last few tidying up jobs now - not much more can be done until I get the rest of the bits tomorrow. I was going to ring Ultima this morning but Andy rang me at 8.45 and confirmed that all's set for tomorrow. The driver will be leaving Hinkley about 8.30 so I should see it around lunchtime.

First job was cable-tying the starter cable to the battery cable, and securing the short section of loom at the front corner of the engine bay on the driver's side. Andy said there's no problem using cable ties to the aeroquip hoses. Then some more drilling to p-clip the alternator cable along the other diagonal cross member in the engine bay floor.

Front corner of engine bay, driver's side (click for larger image)

There are a few earth leads floating around, so I have a look at securing these. There don't seem to be any bolts supplied but I've got plenty of 8mm bolts, so I start with the one in the front corner of the engine bay on the passenger side. A couple of p-clips secure it then I cleat the powder coating from the hole with a small round file and clean it off around the hole with my Wizard with a little wire brush in it. Same process then for the one behind the rad at the front of the car along with the one each side of the main dash tube.

One other job which I see other builders seem to leave till late on is the pedals - Ultima supply some self-adhesive non-slip material, looks like coarse wet & dry. I reckon this will be a bugger to get on there once the body is on so I decide to tackle that next. Even without the body on I decide this will be easier if I take the pedal footplates off. I used some meths to degrease the surface then stuck an oversize piece of the tape on and trimmed with the stanley knife. Then back on they go - it's difficult to know how far in to screw these until I have the seat in and fluid in the system, so for now they're screwed most of the way in on the basis that I need all the legroom I can get.

Pedals now have nice anti slip surface (click for larger image)

And I think that's it, chassis as complete as I can get it for now. Good clear out of the garage next, lots of empty boxes to get rid of to make room for some full ones tomorrow. Still not sure what I'm going to do with the bodywork but I'm confident I can work something out. I doubt it will fit up the stairs into the garage loft, and the Westy can't live outside, that's for sure! When I got the Westy I hung the main body tub from the ceiling, perhaps that'll be a solution.

Once all's tidy and swept up it's time to give the chassis a clean - it's covered in dust and fingermarks! After a bit of Autoglym resin polish it all looks lovely, well pleased with my handiwork!

Front end of chassis - it would be 'rolling chassis', but no wheels yet! (click for larger image)Inside cockpit - ready for some bodywork, seats etc. (click for larger image)Rear view of not-quite-rolling chassis (click for larger image)

Friday 8th August

Andy rang again at 8.45 to let me know the driver should be with me between 12 and 1. He did mention that the lorry had been loaded the night before, and in fact the driver had decided to leave early and turned up at about 9.40!

Chris took some pics of the bodywork while I made the driver and his accomplice tea. It wasn't Graham this time. It's quite a while since I saw an Ultima in the flesh, and seeing the bodywork taped together on the truck was a reminder of just how stunning the car looks.

First sight of my bodywork (click for larger image)Chris was taking the pictures, I think he likes 'em wonky! (click for larger image)This pic gives a clearer idea of the quality of the finish on the gelcoat (click for larger image)Boxes, wheels and loads of bits stashed around the bodywork (click for larger image)

There were lots of boxes and bits stacked around the bodywork which took a little time to unpack and dump in the garage. The body panels themselves were taped together. The finish on the gelcoat is really fabulous, and the panels themselves are quite thick and very solid feeling. Each has submouldings for things like the dash, headlight mounts etc. Soon had them ensconced in the garage.

Bonnet section (click for larger image)Tail section (click for larger image)

This delivery also contained all the rest of the parts I need to finish the car bar the engine and a couple of bits they didn't have in stock and will send on later. I could have sourced a gearbox from elsewhere (and probably cheaper!) but the factory give a warranty with it, have tarted it up with some paint and new fasteners and there won't be any quibbles about the 'reconditioned to as new' requirement of the DVLA for a new registration plate. I just stacked the boxes and bits together to sort them out and ship most of it upstairs later.

Porsche G50 gearbox nicely painted up and all new nuts etc. (click for larger image)Lots more goodies to pack away in the garage! (click for larger image)

I did manage to get some work done on it later - I was supposed to be working from home but my ADSL line was down so I was a bit stymied for the day. The first jb was to have a good look at some of the parts. The seats look really nice - black alcontara (like a man made suede) with pneumatic lumbar supports. I just took most of the rest upstairs without unpackaging it - I must have about 3 acres of bubble wrap on this stuff!

The wheels are now here and I decide to stick them on - I'll needthem on to align the suspension and they're needed to get the bodywork positioning right as clearance is very tight in the wheel arches. It now looks more like a car! The wheels are monstrous - rears are 335x30 and 18 inches diameter. OZ Racing rims with bespoke Ultima billet centres with a very high finish.

I did manage to make a start on the passenger side luggage container. All OK, the main problem being that it needs trimming down all the way around the top so it doesn't impinge on the cill. Also quite tricky working out how to get it into position -thanks again CJ for your helpful diagram!

Storage is clearly going to be a problem, and for tonight with David's help I stuck all the panels on the chassis. Hopefully I'll get quite a bit more done tomorrow.

Body GRP panels assembled on chassis (click for larger image)Wheels really fill the arches! (click for larger image)

Saturday 9th August

Worked the morning but spent the afternoon in the garage. Damned hot it is too!

First job was to take all the bodywork back off the chassis with David's help. Then on with finishing off the passenger side luggage container. These are quite beautifully made, and look like they'll actually hold quite a lot. I've decided to fit the large ally p-clips which hold the pipes in place after the container is fixed - that way they can be pushed right over out of the way. I nibbled another couple of mm off the top of the fixing flanges all the way round then filed flat and finished off. One relief is that I don't seem to have a problem with my coolant pipes, their position seems fine so I stick a couple of blobs of sealant to stop them moving around or vibrating against the chassis.

Before I fit this one I need to fit the heater control valve. This has a directional arrow on it (front to back) so I'll need to bear this in mind when connecting up the other end when I've got the engine in. Simply a matter of choosing the right spot, cutting through the hose and fitting it with a pair of jubilee clips. Another job is to add some edge beading round the cutout for the hoses to stop them chafing, I've already got some on there and a bit of superglue holds it in place nicely.

Heater control valve in situ - will be in passenger luggage compartment (click for larger image)

With all these bits and bobs done the only other thing on my mind is that the build manual shows a 'fume seal' which go behind the luggage container. After a good rummage through all my boxes etc. I'm confident I don't have any. A good look through James' site and it looks like there are none on his car. I can't really work out what they'd do anyway since the side pods don't communicate with the cockpit anyway? It's clear that the design of the side pods has changed since my build CD was produced since the side pods no longer need slots/holes cutting for heater hoses etc, and the front end is closed off looking like the cill closure panels shown on the CD are no longer used. I decide to carry on and ring the factory for clarification on Monday.

With the container held snugly in place I can start drilling and holding with skin pins. The top edges can then be napped around the round chassis tubes. No need to cut recesses for the cockpit rollbar hoop since this bit will never be seen, tucked away under the cill covers inside the sidepods. Once it's rivetted in I rivet the p-clips holding the heater hoses in place. Job done.

Luggage compartment now fitted (click for larger image)

Next it's the same procedure for the other side. I decide this time round that there's no need to trim the top of the fixing flanges, I'll just lower the whole thing by a couple of mm to make sure none protrude up above the chassis rails. Bit easier, and I'm now confident there isn't a problem with the container impinging on the coolant pipes. After about an hour and a half the driver's side container is fitted and I nip in to get the vacuum cleaner to clean all the swarf out of the containers and the cockpit.

Taking David to play golf at 5 so running out of time. I decide to fit the rose joints front and rear which will act as hinges for the front and rear canopies. Then a quick tidy up of all the tools and sweep up the swarf (the bits from the nibbler are pretty sharp little crescents!).

Sunday 10th August

Bike ride in the morning with the lads from the club, then after a shower out to B&Q to get some 2m lengths of aluminium angle, then Halfords for some more stonechip paint.

The build manual describes a procedure using the angle irons clamped on to front and back of chassis to align the suspension, and since you line up the bodywork to fit around the wheels with very tight clearances it's important I do this before my body pre-fit. Frankly I wasn't looking forward to it - it looks like the kind of thing which turns out to be much harder to do than it looks! Also I wasn't confident in my ability to accurately measure the toe-in and camber to the required accuracy!

I started off just clamping the alu angles to the chassis ends at about wheel hub height after protecting the chassis with gaffer tape. I started using G clamps but soon realised the plain plastic sprung clamps I have were much easier and held them on quite adequately. Next the manual says to cut slots 1900mm apart in the angles, and since they were exactly 2000mm long this was a doddle. I then ran a length of thread down each side, from front to back with the thread in the grooves I'd cut. It was then easy to get the angles set at the right height (mid hub). Once I'd done this I marked the position of the angles on the gaffer tap. Next measure from thread to hub centre at each side for the rear and adjust the angle so it was centred laterally, then repeat for the front. Once it was right I marked the horizontal position on the tape also so I could easily remove and replace the angles.

Then it was a matter of measuring and adjusting the toe-in and camber. At the front I worked out where the steering rack centre was, wrapped cloth round the universal joint on the rack pinion and gaffer taped the grips to the chassis rail so it couldn't move. It was then surprisingly easy to measure the distance from thread to rim at front and back of the wheel to get the toe-in! I set this roughly right by lifting the track rod end out of the steering arm and rotating, then fitted the track-rod end back and torqued it up on each side. The camber is easily measured using the steel rule with a spirit level - just get the spirit level vertical and measure the distance from level to the outer point on the tyre.

At this point I needed to work out what '1 - 1.5 negative camber' means in real money! i.e. how many millimetres measured against the spirit level. Why is toe-in always quoted in mm and camber in degrees? This was easiest done with a spreadsheet. I looked at where the spirit level touches the tyre and measured the diameter then on the spreadsheet it was easy enought to produce a chart of how many degress for each millimetre. To adjust you remove the bolts holding the upper wshbone on and rotate the whoe wishbone. Of course you can only adjust the camber by one whole turn on the wishbone rose joint thread, and this worked out to be about 4mm of camber, which equates to about 0.45. I ended up with the left at 12mm and the right at 11mm which is about 1.35.

Wheel diameter 506mm

Camber (degrees)
0.54.42mm
1.08.83mm
1.513.25mm
2.017.67mm
 
Camber (mm)
1mm0.11
2mm0.23
3mm0.34
4mm0.45
5mm0.57
6mm0.68
7mm0.79
8mm0.91
9mm1.02
10mm1.13
11mm1.25
12mm1.36
13mm1.47
14mm1.58
15mm1.70

Then back to the toe in to get this right. There are no flats on the steering rack rods to get a spanner on, so I wrapped some cloth round them and used the mole grips to turn the rod to adjust the toe-in. Pretty soon I had them spot on at 2mm - I could watch the nut flats going round, each nut flat represented a 1.3mm adjustment.

Onto the back and the procedure is similar except that it's easier. The upper wishbone has a single rose joint and by undoing the bolt holding the upright to this you can rotate the rose joint by half a turn at a time. The only tricky aspect of this is that the spacers between the rose joint and the upright are a very tight fit, so I had to take the wheel off to get them back in! The toe-in is a doddle at the back as there's the toe-in link with a left hand thread at one end and right hand at the other so you turn it one way to increase toe-in and the other to decrease. Of course this also alters the camber so that needs redoing ...

This lot took me about 3 hours I'd say, but was much more rewarding than I expected and at the end of it I'm entirely happy with the setup, which was my main worry before starting.

While I've got the steering absolutely centred to the millimetre I decided now would be a good time to fit the steering wheel to the boss on the column. This fits via an SVA compliant collapsible boss (although how the hell you'll hit the wheel with a 6 point harness on is beyond me!). Drilling the 4 holes in the boss on the end of the steering column was a pig of a job. Very difficult to get them right as you can't mark them accurately, but I got there in the end and it looks very nice! And it's even straight!

Another job on my to do list is to make a template for the steering column hole in the dash so I get the card and scissors out and get that done.

The bushes in the rear canopy for the bolts which go through the rose joints have been glassed over on one side, so a bit of work goes into those first with the drill then a round file. It's the first time I've had a proper look underneath the canopy, the wheel arches are well reinforced underneath to protect from stonechips.

Mounting bush on rear body section - bolts onto rose joint on chassis as pivot (click for larger image)Can't see much here 'cos of the flash, but other side of bush has now had excess fibreglass removed (click for larger image)Bolt now fits through bush (click for larger image)Reinforcing inside all wheel arches (click for larger image)

Running out of time fast now so I decide to clear up and get David to come out to help me slip the bodywork back on for the night so I can get the Westy back in the garage. This took longer than previously as the aircon hoses were fouling the cockpit section and it took me a while to work out the best place to put them. With the cockpit section on, the front and rear canopies only take seconds, and I could now fix them with bolts through the rose joints I fitted yesterday afternoon. This is the first opportunity to see how they pivot. Tomorrow I can fasten the cockpit section to the sidepods (the sidepods have studs which go through the return on the cockpit) and adjust the position of the whole bodywork assembly on the chassis to get it straight and get all the shutlines looking right.

Monday 11th August

A phone call to the factory during the day confirms that the fume seals should be fitted, and they'll sen me some out. I'll have to think of some way of fitting them now I've got the luggage containers in the way! I'll worry about that later. I speak to Dave, who's the resident bodywork expert and he runs througha few tips on fitting the bodywork. The main advice is to get it all on there and keep tweaking it all round until you're hppy with it. Also to get a feel for the effect moving each part has on the other parts. He also warns me that the doors will need some filing down to fit. The doors seem a long way away at the moment!

Now to try to get the bits all fitting together properly. A couple of snags - the aircon hoses foul the front of the cockpit section and need moving (only takes a couple of seconds) and there are a couple of places where the GRP needs filing down where sections fit together, the main one being the front left corner of the cockpit, this means taking the 8 nuts off and lifting the cockpit up. The sidepod won't line up on the bonnet on the driver's side either, the sidepod will need some trimming to fit round the cooling system pipe and the sidepod on the other side needs trimming to fit round the wiring loom. The Black and Decker Wizard with a little sanding drum makes short work of both of these jobs, and leaves a very smooth finish. Very handy tool!

The front of the cockpit section also needs a couple of rubber body buffers fitting - there are already little pilot holes drilled where they need to go so it's simply a matter of drilling them out and running the 5mm tap through the hole and screwing the buffers in. These can then be adjusted up and down to get the shutline in front of the windscreen looking just right.

Tapping hole in cockpit section to fit rubber body buffer - small pilot hole was pre-drilled by factory (click for larger image)

Once it looks like the panels will all fit together it's time to start fiddling with the front mounting pivots. Two large bolts go through bushes in the bonnet section and fasten onto the front rose joints which then act as pivots. These rose joints are fitted in vertical slots, so by adjusting the locknuts the rose joint can be moved up and down as well as in and out to provide plenty of adjustment. This is pretty fiddly, and you need to make lots of small adjustments but after and hour or so I'm happy with it. Lots of folks take the option of returning the chassis back to the factory for the body pre-fit but I was pretty determined to do it myself, and not really because of the cost! The body pre-fit has been one of the jobs I've been a bit worried about, but Ted was right, so long as you take your time and do it methodically it's not really more difficult than the rest of the build.

I'm starting to run out of time but make a start on lining up the rear section. This proves trickier than the front, it just doesn't seem to want to sit right. You get one bit looking right, then adjust another bit to find the first bit is now out! I also can't get the driver's side wheel arch to line up on the rear of the sidepod. I come to the conclusion that I can't adjust the rear canopy inwards, so the sidepod will need to come out - at present it's clamped onto the chassis. Once I move this out it all looks much better! But still a lot of work to do on it when I have to pack up for the day.

Tuesday 12th August

The bodywork has been playing on my mind overnight. I ring the factory and speak to Dave again. He's really helpful and nice to deal with, doesn't make me feel stupid! I ask if the sidepods are meant to be fitted tight up to the chassis to which he replies 'you might find you need to pack out the rear of the right hand sidepod'! Which was exactly what I was hoping he'd say!

Back out in the garage I spend about an hour sitting on my little wheelie stool at the back of the car adjusting the two rose joints in and out, up and down ... in the end I realise I'm getting there and it's starting to look right. Once you realise you're only moving the things by less than a millimetre or a fraction of a turn of a nut you know you're close! Once I'm happy I go round and make sure all the rose joints are straight and tighten up the locknuts.

By now the bodywork is covered in grubby fingermarks, so I decide to give it a polish. Next it's onto the latches. I don't have the release cables yet, but you can get to the latches through the wheelarches/apertures. These initially look a bit complicated but when you actually get them out of their bags they're pretty simple. Also the bodywork has small dimples where the holes need to go so positioning is easy. It only takes 20 minutes or so to fit the first one, and I'm worried it's not quite in the right position because I don't seem to be able to get it to close ... then I press the GRP down a bit firmer and get a nice clunk indicating that it's closed. The holes on the main latch are slotted lsightly horizontally so I slacken off the screws a bit and tweak it till the shutline's spot on then tighten. It really holds the GRP very firmly in position and I'm really please with it! On to the driver's side next where I find to my horror that there are no dimples for the holes! There's a larger recess which the latch goes roughly over centre, but it's difficult to take measurements from that. I initially measure from the edge fo teh GRP under the latch and mark a line on some masking tape, but it looks wrong - too high. I realise that the moulding isn't exactly symmetrical, and twig that I need to measure from the top, i.e. the outer face of the panel, as that's the important bit. The line now looks much better, and I finally summon up the courage to drill the holes. The latch is soon fitted and I'm delighted to find that this side also snaps closed exactly as the other one does, so I again tweak the lateral positioning and stand back to check the shutlines, which look absolutely spot on.

Closer view showing rear shutlines - again the latches hold the panel down tightly (click for larger image)Rear 3/4 view (click for larger image)View of bodywork from rear (click for larger image)

The front takes less time as the holes all have a small pilot hole pre-drilled. Again a bit of lateral adjustment to get it all lined up right and the finished result is great. So, one more potential headache out of the way! Out with the AutoGlym resin polish again.

Body now fully pre-fitted and bolted together. This shot shows the shutlines behind front wheel arch. The bonnet catches are now fitted and hold the panel down tightly at each side (click for larger image)Driver's side bonnet/cockpit shutline also good (click for larger image)Shutline across front of cockpit can be tweaked by screwing rubber body buffers up and down (click for larger image)Oh shit, the gearbox has fallen out! ;-) (click for larger image)

I decide next to fit the gas struts which will support the rear canopy - until now I've been using my long floor brush! One of the pics on the build manual shows clearly how these fit, and the position of the holes in the inner wheel arches is clearly marked. The struts come with billet alloy brackets and a longer suspension mounting bolt. Half an hour or so sees this done. Trickiest bit was getting the temporary bolt holding the ride height bar in position and replacing with the new one as it's holding up all the weight of the uprigth, wheel/tyre and the not insubstantial brake rotor! I end up lying underneath the car pushing the wheel up with my knees while I replace the bolt. Good job I've got long arms!

The bonnet catch is tricky - I've fitted it but it's fouling on the bonnet and I can't work out how to solve it. There are no pics in the build manual, so I'll ask when I ring next. I've checked CJ's site, but his is a bit different to mine as he has a big additional splitter.

Times running out again, but I've got half an hour or so to make a start on a door. I carry it down carefully from the loft and place it in the aperture and sure enough it looks like it needs quite a bit taking off, exactly in the places Dave described - in the angle where the window frame meets the bottom section of the door at the front, and in a similar position at the back. I get my file ready but nervously recheck the door in the aperture again a couple of times! As Dave said, it looks like at least 2-3mm will need to come off, and it doesn't take me long to realise that this will mean going right throguh the gelcoat to the base fibreglass underneath! There's no way the door will fit otherwise, so I again summon up courage and set to it. I started with a small very fine file but soon abandoned it in favour of a more aggressive one! After 20 minutes or so of cautious filing/refitting cycles it just fits in. That's all I need for now, the final fettling will wait till the bodywork's finally fitted.

Wednesday 13th August

Time to make a start on the hinge for the passenger door. Again there are dimples for the holes. Once they're drilled I try the hinge in situ - it fits inside the wing with the semicircular bit protruding throguh to attach to the door. There's a small lug for the hydraulic ram to fit onto. Unfortunately when I try it the holes won't line up - the top corner of the hinge is impinging on the inside of the bodywork. Worried that the holes are in the wrong place I check I've got the right hinge etc. I then decide the holes must be right, and that the thing to do must be to file/grind metal off the hinge to make it fit. I decide to double check with the factory, and Dave confirms that it's sometimes necessary as the GRP has a lot of reinforcement in that area and ends up quite thick.

After about half an hour with the file and the bench grinder I finally get it in position. Attention now turns to the top hinge bracket. These look neat little things in all the pictures I've seen, and sure enough the bracket is a nice little billet alloy piece custom made, which takes a small pin to pivot the small rose joint on. The fit of the bracket into the GRP recess is lovely, and I make a start on filing the top of it down so it's flush with the roof. Didn't finish this as I ran out of time.

Thursday 14th August

Only an hour to spend out there this evening, first job is to finish off filing down the top hinge mount. 15 minutes and it's done, then time to drill out the holes in the door for the bottom hinge. These have the usual dimples, and once they're drilled I trial fit the door. It's a smidgin low, so I'll need to extend the holes up a bit, which isn't a problem as there's a big backing plate to go on the back. The backing plate won't fit and needs filing down as did the main hinge body. The top hinge doesn't seem to line up exactly right, but I realise that all I need to do is spring the door a little and it goes in fine. It's clear there's quite a bit more door filing to be done, so I take off enough to get the door closed but will leave the rest until the body is finally fitted - Dave says they often leave it till after the windscreen has fitted as that really firms up the cockpit section. The passenger door then goes back upstairs and I bring the driver's door down. It looks like this will need less work to get it to fit, but that'll have to wait as it's time to go in.

Friday 15th August

Another builder has sent me a pic of his bonnet stay (cheers Chris!), which is located where I thought it should be - I was confused by the fact that the screw can't go right through the chassis tube as the radiator's on the other side. The choice is to either tap the hole or use a rivnut. It doesn't take long to drill and tap a hole, quick squirt of Waxoyl and refit the stay.

Driver's door today. Initial impressions were wrong, it needs as much fettling as the passenger door! Still, easy enough and doesn't take long. Next fit the lower hinge to the body and this is easier as it just fits with no filing/grinding. Filing down the top hinge mount is fiddly but doesn't take too long. I trial fit the door and it's fine - it'll need more work but that can't be done till I finally fit the body. I try fitting the gas ram which goes inside the wing behind the hinge, and it goes on OK but the bodywork isn't secured anough to really try it out as it's quite stiff. Again the hinge will need packing further back to close up the shutline down the front of the door.

Lower hinge, driver's side (click for larger image)Top hinge mount prior to filing down (click for larger image)Top hinge mount now filed down - I'll polish up the GRP later (click for larger image)

I decide while I'm doing the doors I may as well fit the door hardware. There's the latch mechanism, an external button/lock and an internal pull handle. The external lock connects to the latch via a nylon pushrod with snap fixings at each end and the pull handle via a length of wire. I fit the latch first, not too difficult, the aperture needs opening out a bit, but the three holes are pre-marked. The hole is pre-drilled for the external button/lock, but needs opening out quite a bit, I use the Wizard followed by a small round file. The pull handle is a bit tricker since there are no markings for it, and you can't hold it in place to mark the holes as it has the handle poking out of one side and the actuating lever with the hole for the cable on the other. It doesn't take long to make a cardboard template, and pretty soon I've got a hole big enough to hold it in place to fettle the holes to fit. It took me well over an hour and a half to do the door, and I haven't fitted the pull cable yet as I don't know how it's done. The driver's door doesn't take quite as long but by the time I've done that it's time to go in.

Door latch fitted (click for larger image)Inside door handle fitted (click for larger image)Door push button/lock fitted (click for larger image)

Saturday 16th August

I think I'm getting close to removing the body panels again to final fit the sidepods, but there are a couple of things to do first. I've decided I'm going to prepare the dash while the cockpit is still on the car - I previously thought it might be easier with it off, but with the cockpit section resting on the ground the dash is only a few inches off the floor and the section isn't rigid enough to rest it on anything.

First job is the hole for the steering column. I decide to use my cardboard template - the base of it goes fluch with the bottom of the dash, with the side against the bit of masking tape on the dash tube. The column should then be located in the semicircular notch in the top of the template. Not trusting this to be 100% accurate I start with a small hole and enlarge it to 8mm so I can see through it down through the two steering column bushes. It's about a millimetre out so using the stepped drill next a bit of lateral pressure and check again and it's now right. Carry on enlarging until the column will fit and check the column is central in the hole which it is. Job done. Next I sand down the flash line along the top face of the dash.

Hole for steering column drilled, flashline sanded off (click for larger image)

Next up is the binnacle for the speedo and tacho which go on top of the dash centrally. First I measure the centre of the dash and mark it on some masking tape. There are no detailed instructions for the hole required, so I have a careful look at the pics in the build manual and mark out on masking tape where the aperture should be - the front of the binnacle sits down slightly in the dash rather than just resting on top of it. The binnacle has 4 bolts bonded into it, and these stop you resting it in place until you've drilled the holes for the rearmost ones, and you can drill those till you're sure where they should go ... bit chicken and egg this one! I get the front fitting nicely then mark and drill the holes for the back 2 bolts.

Aperture for dash binnacle (click for larger image)Binnacle in position (click for larger image)

The positions for the apertures for the other 4 clocks are marked on the GRP with a fairly deeply scribed line. Before I start drilling I add some masking tape - not to protect the dash but so I can see the lines I draw on it. I've decided I just want to match as closely as I can the factory dash layout. It's then simply a matter of measuring and marking, making sure things are level and symmetrical around the clocks. Once I've got this done it's time to start drilling. My biggest tank cutter is 54mm, which is too big, the next one down is 44mm so I use that then use my Wizard with a sanding drum to open the hole up. Once it's getting close I keep trying one of the gauges until it's a snug fit. Then repeat times three!

Holes for gauges - from left oil pressure, battery, water temp and fuel (click for larger image)

The holes for the warning/repeater lights next, and I can't find the b****y things! After rummaging through loads of boxes I refer back to the parts list in the manual which reminds me they're with the switches. D'oh! 12mm hole with the stepped drill then slight enlarging with the round file, and pretty soon the 5 of them are done.

The buttons for the horn and dip switch are 22mm and are done in seconds with the stepped drill.

Holes for other warning lights an dbuttons/switches drilled (click for larger image)

Now for the tricky bit - the row of rectangular switches which go to the right near the A pillar. This is slightly complicated by the fact that I've got an extra one - I've decided to fit a switch to manually control the rad fans. The dash loom already has the wires for this. I spoke to the factory who said they usually just use a toggle switch, but I wanted some visual reminder of this so Richard sent me the switch they use for the heater fan in a car without aircon - this has a nice fan logo on it and a warning LED in it. After perusing the pic in the build manual and studying the switches I decide on 7mm spacing, which will leave a 5mm gap between each switch (on checking later CJ has a nice pic of his and that's the spacing he used too). Positioning is tricky and quite important - position them high on the dash and there's more room, but there's a risk they'll impinge on the outer bodywork behind. Too low and they'll get in the way of the fuel tank/sender changover switch. I again make a card template which I can hold on the dash to see what they'll look like. Once I'm happy I transfer the markings onto the dash and I'm ready to go. I was hoping to use the Wizard with a cutting wheel, but this will only work for the horizontal cuts - because of the curvature of the corner of the dash I can't get it in to do the vertical cuts. I have another attachment for the Wizard which is like a little drill but is used for cutting and this does the job although not quite so neatly so I need to leave a bit more filing. I manage all this leaning over from the side, but doing the filing from here is difficult so I decide to climb into the cockpit to do this. It's my first time in here! Checking out the legroom I find that with no seat I can barely reach the pedals! Filing the openings doesn't take long and pretty soon it's all done.

Marked up ready for row of rocker switches - another one needs to be tacked onto the left hand end of the row (click for larger image)

The only holes I haven't done yet are for the ingnition switch, the electric mirror control switch and the cigarette lighter (useful for things like radar detectors etc). I haven't got a cigarette lighter yet, so don't know what size hoel for that, but a quick rummage in the morror box finds the mirror switch. I think it's a Ford item, standard joystick like button which rotates to left and right with a central 'off' position. It's afunny shape and I decide a template is in order again. First I need to find where the factory locate it! It doesn't appear in any of the views I can find of the dash. I then find a pic of their left hand drive version and can see the switch tucked at the very end of the dash on the other side of the roll cage upright. Looking at my car this position looks like it'll be obscured by the door, but a quick squint at the door confirms that it'll be fine. So, masking tape on, draw round the template, brief attack with the stepped drill then finish off with the sanding drum and it fits nicely.

Onto the holes for the dash vents next, and again no measurements are given, but I suppose it's not terribly critical so long as they're symmetrical and don't foul anything under the dash. CJ's site helpfully points out that the holes are just a bit bigger than the inside of a roll of masking tape, so after applying masking tape I draw round one, measure it up and draw one in the matching position on the other side. The 54mm tank cutter leaves loads of work for the wizard, following which there's loads of work for the vacuum cleaner! While sanding these holes out to size I've left my car vacuum running with the nozzle next to the hole which does suck up a lot of the dust.

Holes for vents now cut also (click for larger image)Row of holes for rocker switches finished (click for larger image)Electric mirror switch (click for larger image)

So, the dash now done and it's time to do a spot of cleaning up. It would have been less messy doing it with the dash off the car but much more tricky, also more risk of putting holes for things where they can't go as they're positioned over something over/behind the dash. Vacuum first, then blow off the dust under/behind the dash with the compressed air nozzle, then vacuum again and it's looking respectable again.

This lot has taken me most of the day, and I have a golf appointment with eldest son soon. Last job of the day is to pin the sidepods to the chassis ready to remove the cockpit section. I decide to drill and skin pin underneath at front and back on each side and I can stick another one into the chassis outrigger on each side at the front under the back of the wing (where it won't be visible later). I never much like lying on my back working above me, generally gives me a headche and makes me feel sick! Especially when I'm drilling with bits of GRP/metal filings and swarf falling like snow. But it has to be done. I decide I want to drill into the rearmost vertical flange on the sidepods too, but can't get at those for the moment as I'll need to take the rear wheels off. That will have to wait till tomorrow.

Sunday 17th August

The main goal today is to make sure I'm ready to remove the cockpit section leaving the sidepods firmly (but temporarily) fixed in their final position. The first thing I want to do is fix the rear vertical flange to the chassis since this dictates the shutline above the rear wheel arch. On the left it's fine with the sidepod firmly up against the chassis but on the right it needs packing away. Removing both wheels gives easy enough access, and I start with the left one since that's the easiest. With some masking tape on the GRP I can mark a line down the centre then put a mark for the topmost rivet. Once drilled I can hold the sidepod in place using a skin pin.

On to the right side and I'm concerned that rivets may not be long enough - although Ultima have supplied some extra long ones. I was thinking of using some 5mm button head stainless screws, but on closer inspection it looks like the rivets will be just long enough. If I drill for rivets and it doesn't work out I can always revert to the screws, although the reverse isn't true! I cut some strips of aluminium sheet 300x30mm, and it looks like 4 strips will provide the right thickness. It takes a while filing them to the right size then drilling a hole so they're all going to sit flush with each other. I decide to acually fit a rivet to make sure it's going to work out OK, so after marking out as on the left I drill, fit the packing strips in place and clamp the GRP to the chassis to make sure the strips are all packed tightly together. The rivet goes in fine and closing the canopy the shutline is perfect.

I also need to fit the over centre latch at the top centre of the cockpit, as well as a little supporting alloy bracket for the rear canopy. I'm sure I remember seeing a litle strip of alloy angle amongst the bags of bits with the latches etc., but I can't for the life of me find it now! It's not a problem anyway, I have some alloy angle I can use. The easiest way to mark and drill for the latch is to climb into the cockpit and stand on the floor up through the doorway. The little hook which engages on an opposing hook on the canopy is threaded, so once fitted it's easy to adjust this latch so that the canopy is held firm.

Marking to fit hook of latch onto rear canopy (click for larger image)Latch finished - nicely adjustable (click for larger image)

To fit the angle bracket I go burrowng underneath the engine bay and emerge upwards where the engine goes. There's a convenient cross member to sit on! It's easy enough to stick a hand through the air scoop to feel the shutline between cockpit and canopy, so it's easy to make sure they're flush before marking and drilling for the bracket.

Alloy bracket to support rear of canopy in centre (click for larger image)

I can now go round undoing the nuts and screws holding the cockpit down, then work the cockpit off the studs carefully. This is more tricky than before - the dash is sprung under the chassis tube, and previously I could engage cockpit and sidepods together then slide the whole lot forwards into position. Not now as the sidepods are firmly fixed. Once it's free David goves me a hand to lift it over the rear canopy and rest it down. I can now finish off the sidepods.

One slight concern is the fume seals - these arrived last week and are simply squares of sheet ally which fit inside the sidepods in line with the front of the rear bulkhead. I can't personally see that they do a lot, but the factory said they're in case petrol get's sloshed on top of the fuel tanks while refuelling. The idea is that these plates stop petrol/fumes going forwards into the sidepods. I'm still not convinced as without about half a gallon of Sikaflex there's no way there will be any kind of a 'seal' since although it will be easy enough to get a seal between plate and chassis tubes, there are quite a few pipes/cables running through here - the large coolant pip, rad overflow, main battery cable, main loom and the brake pipe. Anyway, I've decided they need to go on anyway, and they're supposed to be fixed before the luggage containers ... so either I come up with a clever way of fixing them or I need to remove the luggage containers. I hadn't looked carefully before, but had wondered if there was any reason they couldn't go in line with the rear face of the bulkhead, and now's my chance to have a careful look. I really can't see any disadvantage at all, and this seems a much better option than removing the luggage containers - as well as the rivets don't forget the top bit is napped around the round chassis tube.

This is going to be a really complex shape, so I decide to make a cardboard template first. Within about 20 minutes this is an acceptable fit, and will make a nice starting point for the alloy. Running out of time now so I decide not to make a start on the alloy today. I remember that when fixing cockpit to sidepod I couldn't get the screws into the bracket bonded into the sidepod just behind the door. On closer inspection it's because the threads have got clogged with fibreglass, and some more of the stuff is on the other side of the holes and will stop the screw going in far enough. I can't even get the 6mm tap in there, so a bit of careful work with a 5mm drill clears the way for the tap. And that's it for the day ... bit of grass cutting to do then both sons want to play golf. I have taken some pics and will get them uploaded later.

Monday 18th August

Got up at 5 this morning to start work so I could have some time in the garage this afternoon. Once I've got my work done I nip out on a shopping trip - some rivets, some longer stainless cap headed screws for the door hinges, some filler (for the cockpit), some cellulose thinners (for the stonechip paint) and more masking tape. Also found a cigarette lighter to fit.

Once back the first job was to set to work on the left hand side fume seal. I transferred the cardboard template onto the ally sheet then set to it with the nibbler followed by a file. Only took a few minutes to get it looking something like but then quite a bit longer till I was completely happy with it. Once clamped in position I could drill it and temporarily fix with skin pins. I didn't want to fix it yet till I was happy the side pod and fuel tank etc would fit OK.

I don't yet have the bonnet/canopy release cables and handles and haven't worked out where they go. I know they go inside the luggage containers, but I'm not sure whereabouts! I've already drilled 2 holes in the front of the passenger side container for them, but a quick call to the factory confirms that the front ones go at the front of the driver's side container, rear ones at the rear of the same one! The pic I'd seen in the build manual was for a left hand drive car! Ho hum ... This means I can crack on with the passenger sidepod without the release cables etc. The 2 holes are quickly blanked off with rubber grommets (and won't be visible once the car's finished anyway). The heater control valve also needs a cable fixing to it but again the location of the other end of the cable with the pull knob on it isn't shown anywhere that I can see. I checked on this also when I rang the factory - it goes on the same plate as the other heater controls. Fitting this is interesting as the securing nut needs to go inside a U shaped channel and it's particularly difficult to get a spanner on it. So I end up lying on my back inside the car with my head down the footwell! Can't really get it really tight as there's nothing to stop the whole thing spinning, so I add some threadlock to stop it vibrating loose. The other end is easily sorted once I've cut the cable to length. My cycle tool kit comes in handy here as I have a nice cable cutter which makes a really neat job of both cable inners and outers. To keep the cable inner on the control arm I just tapped it and stuck a 5mm nut on there, easier and less sharp than drilling and using a split pin.

Heater control cable fitted (click for larger image)

Next I get the fuel tank down for a trial fit. It looks OK and there's nothing else to go round there so I final fit the fume seal with some sealant and rivets.

Left hand side fume seal now fitted. (click for larger image)

The fuel tank is rivetted to the lower chassis rail, has 2 screws through the rear flange into the sidepod, and is suspended via a threaded stud at the front outer corner. Once in position it's clear that although I thought it was OK earlier the coolant hose is going to be too close for comfort. I manage to wiggle it round enough to get it to slide forwards about a centimetre, which is all it needs. Next I remove all the plastic film and masking tape and fit the expandng tape to it and get the tank and sidepod in place. All's looking well and I'm close to being able to fit this sidepod. Duty calls again as youngest son wants me to take him surfing. I've had a few hours out here today but don't seem to have got very much done - it goes like that sometimes, but I think I've got a clearer idea in my head of how it all goes now.

Tuesday 19th August

Managed 40 minutes before work this morning and a bit at lunchtime. Couldn't get on with the sidepod really in the short amount of time I had, so I decided to get the driver's seat and runners down. I initially thought the runners looked like they'd hold the seat quite a way up, but in fact the pan of the seat dips down between the runners and is going to be very close to the cockpit floor, so you wouldn't gain a significant amount of headroom by leaving the runners out. First identified right and left runners and worked out how the lever for sliding the seat back and fore fitted on. The runners simply bolt into threaded bushes in the seat base with some button head screws. I then protected the floor with masking tape and carefully lifted the seat in - didn't want any accidents of the Nigel 'Detail' Dean variety (Nigel was unlucky enough to damage the cockpit side panel while fitting a seat and ended up replacing it)! There ain't much room in there! With the right hand side of the seat very close to the gear lever there was just about clearance the other side for the handbrake. Still, if there's enough room there's enough! I've got the runners in the seat righ back position, so I can just see the front of the runners to mark through the front hole onto the masking tape. Then it's out with the seat, measure the distances between holes and mark the rear holes onto the tape, checking the diagonals are equal so the runners don't bind. Drill out the 8mm holes, deburr then fit the seat in and pop the front bolts in. Then realise I can't get at the rear holes at all even with the seat right forward, so it's out with the seat again, stick all 4 bolts in and lower the seat back in carefully. It's easy enough to persuade the front bolts in, then thankfully the rear ones just pop through their holes too. Must have got the holes in the right place then!

A couple of minutes later and the penny washers and nuts are fitted under the floor pan, and it's time for me to have a sit in it! Careful climbing in as it would be a bit sad if I toppled it off the stands! The seat feel really comfy, the steering wheel position is great, and the pedals feel fine. I've got over a centimetre of clearance between my knees and the dash rail. Luxury!

That's the end of play for today unfortunately. The seat will be coming out again and stowed away safely upstairs, and I'll slap some Hammerite around the drilled holes in the floor, and maybe even some underseal over the exposed bolt/nut.

Rang Richard in the factory this afternoon - he's expecting to get the bonnet release catches back in stock in about a week. He then asks me to hold while he checks something - comes back to tell me he's going to send me some they're waiting to fit to a car but won't be able to get round to yet anyway. Excellent! Sounds like the factory's pretty busy!

Also I've run out of 3mm drills - I'm down to my last 2, one of which is a bit bent the other being just plain blunt! Screwfix sell packs of 10 for less than a single one locally so I decide to order some more from there. Unfortunately they charge £4.50 handling/postage, so I decide to order a few other little bits and pieces to get the order over the £45 needed to get free carriage. I don't think Jen checks out this website, but if progress seems to stop it's likely she's found it!

Wednesday 20th August

Managed to get the passenger seat fitted lunchtime without any dramas.

Seats now fitted (click for larger image)

Then decided to get the passenger footrest fitted. Still not 100% sure about this as it'll reduce the passenger legroom a bit, having said that it shouldn't be a problem other than for my brother who is 5" taller than me at 6' 10". First of all I marked the position of the rivet nearest the front left corner in the footwell onto the front flange of the rest, then measured at 30mm intervals for the rest of the holes. The rear flange will cross the diagonal brace sandwiched under the cockpit floor, so I work out where it'll cross it and mark the position of the rivet it'll sit over, then mark out a sensible spacing to suit - 40mm works well for this giving a nice symmetrical spacing.

Carrying on in the evening I drill out the rivets from where the front flange will sit and rivet this in position then drill out the one rivet hole i'm reusing for the rear flange and pop a skin pin in to hold it while I drill the other holes. Once it's done I can strip off the protective polythene covering and test it out - the legroom's fine. What I'd forgotten is that the driver needs extra room to be able to not only have pedals there but to be able to rest a foot on them with them fully up.

Passenger footrest fitted - still loads of legroom (click for larger image)

Another job that needs doing is to fit the battery clamps and battery. Ultima supply an American made Odyssey PC625 battery which is a very compact, fully sealed drycell unit. And expensive. According to Odyssey's site is can provide 625 cranking amps and supply 25 amps for 27 minutes (I suppose that makes it an 11.25 AH battery?). The clamp kit includes 2 small alloy angles, one for each side, some rubber pads, the main strap and fixings. First job is fit the angles - one of the bits that arrived today from Screwfix was a flexible drive for the drill, and this works brilliantly for getting into these restricted areas. Then mark for the main strap, fit rivnuts to hold the base of this, then the two 5mm screws through the bulkhead for the top. Fortunately I've guessed the length of the main battery cable to perfection.

Battery and clamps fitted (click for larger image)

Jen's out tonight so I can stay out to play till fairly late, so I carry on. I have another look at the left sidepod and wonder what's next. I decide there's no reason I can't drill and skin pin the fuel tank in position so I get on with that. It's easiest done while standing in the engine bay, although access is difficult and it's impossible to drill the holes completely perpendicular even with the small angled air drill. I keep the tank pressed back as far as I can into the sidepod while drilling the first hole. That done the tank is feeling pretty solid and all that remains now is to drill through the rear flange of the tank and sidepod and fit 2 stainless screws.

Fuel tank suspended by threaded rod at front left corner (click for larger image)Fuel tank flanges drilled and skin pinned in place ready for final fit. (click for larger image)Stainless screws fixing tank rear flange to rear wheel arch of sidepod - don't worry, I'll use equal length screws when I final fit! (click for larger image)Screws holding tank rear flange from inside wheel arch (click for larger image)

It looks like I'm more or less ready to final fit this sidepod - all it needs now is the underneath trimming (it overlaps the floor a bit too much) and then the holes marking and drilling, then I can paint the inside of it then fit. But not enough time for that tonight, so I pop upstairs to get the cill cover for this side. The cill covers are highly polished and look great on the finished cars. Important therefore not to mess them up! They are also handed, but it's easy enough to identify left and right as the outer edge has a raised flange to fit over the edge of the sidepod GRP and the aperture for the luggage container is offset to the rear. I can't actually get this in position as it needs too much trimming to fit round the back of the sidepod and the roll bar tubes etc. This looks like another job for the cardboard and scissors before getting out the nibbler!

Cill cover - will need to make cardboard template to fit this, also I'll cover it in gaffer tape to protect it (click for larger image)

Friday 22nd August

Made a cardboard template for the cill cover, and covered the cill cover itself with gaffer tape to protect it. Also removed the seats, covered them in polythene and stuck thm back upstairs.

Then started work to get the sidepod finished off. First of all lying underneath the car I marked the places where it needs trimming back - the only place it matters is along the lowered floor pan since it's not sitting fluch against the chassis rails there as it's being held away by the floorpan. Marker pen and masking tape, then off with the pod and take to it with the Wizard and sanding drum. Finish off with sanding block to get a nice even finish. Once that's done I add a strip of masking tape along the edge where the line of rivets will be, and add some masking tape underneath the car and mark the distance from the edge so I know where the rivets should go - the overlap of the sidepod isn't completely even all along. Then refit it with the skin pins and mark the rivet lines, including the line down the rear vertical flange - using 30mm centres along there.

Once the sidepod is off again measure and drill all the holes at 60mm centres, adjusting the last couple of holes by a couple of mm to line up on the existing end hole. Also use the sanding drum to open out the notch at the front where the loom passes under the front edge. Then I can refit the sidepod to drill all the holes.

Next job is to mask off the gelcoat to paint the inside of the pod black. I figured this would use loads of aerosols and have decided to try using the spray gun with a tin of Hammerite stone chip paint, that way I should be able to get a nice healthy layer on there. The masking takes quite a while as it's a complex shape, and I want the paint to go on the bare edges of the GRP as well as the inside face. The Hammerite tin helpfully says to use Hammerite thinners ... but I reckon it's got to be cellulose based, so I try mixing a small quantitiy to check it looks OK and it does. It also takes a while covering the rest of the stuff in the garage - the Ultima chassis, bikes etc. Next using the air nozzle blow all the dust out from the inside of the sidepod, followed by a wipe with a cloth soaked in cellulose thinners to make sure the paint sticks well. The spray gun seems to work really well, excellent coverage and it doesn't take long at all. Within a couple of hours it's all dried to a nice satin/matt finish.

Another job I start is preparing the cockpit. This is made up of several mouldings bonded together, and at each side of the rear bulkhead where I'll be gluing carpet is a vertical joint. Using the filler I bought the other day I fill these joints so the carpet will be going on a smooth surface. The filler goes off pretty quickly and after sanding flat I realise there are still a few low spots so last job of the day is to mix and apply a bit more.

Saturday 23nd August

Not in work today, but have to finish early for our village duck race at 2pm - 700 numbered plastic ducks go into the river in our front garden, then they 'race' along the river to the finish line behind the pub about 300 yards downstream. Trouble is some of them aren't very good swimmers and get caught up in the undergrowth at the side so need a couple of idiots to go down after them in wetsuits or waders. Yes, that'd be me! As excuses for an afternoon drinking session go it's up there amongst the crazier ones.

So, an early start in the garage not long after 7am. After a final check that there really isn't anything else to go in this sidepod before I fit it I get on with it. First some contact adhesive to secure the highish density foam wedge which closes off the gap between fuel tank and sidepod t stop stones getting in there and chafing. Then apply sealant along the chassis rail underneath the car and on the vertical plate at the back, and slide the sidepod into place. This is a bit of a bugger as the foam wedge is holding the pod away from the tank and it needs a firm shove to get it in far enough to get a skin pin in a hole to hold it. After about 15 minutes during which I had to crawl out from under the car several times to clean sealant off my hands I finally have it pinned in place and can start going along inserting rivets. Some of them aren't too keen to go in and I need to run the drill through the hole again, but another 30 minutes or so sees the sidepod finally fixed securely.

Another 30 minutes or so spent under the car cleaning off the excess sealant with a cloth and some petrol and the job's done. Tomorrow I'll run a bead of sealant along the edge of the GRP to finally seal it against water ingress.

Next the final rubbing down of the filler on the canopy.

Cockpit after 2nd layer of filler and some elbow grease with sanding block (click for larger image)

That done it's time to refit the stainless screws holding pod to fuel tank, then tighten the nuts on the threaded rod. I use these to determine the final position of the tank, just making sure it's held out a couple of millimetres from the chassis rails so it can't vibrate or rub against them. I lower the rear canopy and to my horror find that it no longer lines up correctly on the sidepod, my previously lovely shutline has been spoiled! I quickly realise the foam wedge is the culprit and that holding the top of the pod in where it'll be held by the cill cover rectified the situation completely. Phew! The finished pod looks really nice - the coat of black paint has transformed it.

Sidepod fixing at rear (click for larger image)Inside of sidepod showing foam wedge and nice black paint (click for larger image)Rear of sidepod now fitted and shutline retrieved! (click for larger image)

Hmm, what next ... may as well make a start on the pod on the other side. First job is to fit the fume seal on that side, so it's the old routine of cutting a template, marking up the ally sheet and a series of nibble/file/try routines until I'm happy with it. The outside edge needs shaping to follow the shape of the sidepod at the lower outer corner, and it takes a little while getting this right, as I have to keep refitting the sidepod to try it. Once I'm happy with it I mark and dril the rivet holes, clamp it in position and drill the chassis tubes and squirt some waxoyl in.

Next job is to fit the canopy release latches at teh rear of the luggage container. The position of these needs to be such that the innermost of the two cables will clear the fuel tank. Once I'm happy with the positions marked on the masking tape the stepped dril soon produces two 14mm holes and after tidying them up with a needle file I can trial fit the handles. All is well so I can apply sealant and rivet the fume seal on. It's then quite tricky fitting the shakeproof washer and nut to the outside of the luggage container, along with a small angle reinforcing ally strip supplied with the handles. You need to poke the end of the wire through the hole in the luggage container, then thread the reinforcing strip onto it, followed by washer and nut then push it on through the hole in the fume seal.

Driver's side fume seal fittd along with canopy release cables (click for larger image)Canopy release handles inside luggage container (click for larger image)

Then my friend Rob arrives with the 700 ducks in a sack and it's time to go.

Sunday 24th August

Main goal of the day is to get the driver's sidepod fitted. With it skin pinned in place I stuck masking tape on it then marked the position of the chassis rails. With it removed again first of all trimmed it to clear the floor pan and generally tidy it up, then mark the lines for the rivets and measure 60mm spacings. Also open up the recess at the front for the main coolant pipe to make sure it's not going to come into contact. Because of the packing strips to go behind the back end of the pod I'll leave that till after I've fitted it on. Once the holes are drilled I can refit it and drill all the holes in the chassis rails.

Next job is to get it painted, so out comes the masking tape and old papers. I've decided while I'm painting the sidepod I'm going to paint the cockpit also - all the underneath areas need painting to ensure that the colour looks uniform, also to 'seal' the fibreglass and prevent the car smelling of it. I also have a decision to make - the inside of the cockpit roof and the A and B pillars is finished in a glossy black gelcoat-like finish, and I'm not sure whether to polish this up and leave it as it is or to paint it. I decide to try polishing a bit up to see what it looks like - not brilliant really, there are a few blemishes on it. So that gets a rub down with some 240 grade wet and dry then a wipe with the cloth and cellulose thinners. After one coat it looks a bit grotty! Uneven and patchy. I carry on with the spray gun and stonechip paint on the sidepod and underneath the cockpit.

Once the paint is dry I give the cockpit ceiling a very gentle rub down with 600 grade wet and dry, blow the dust away and give it another coat. As this one dries it's obvious it's much better - I'm using an aerosol of satin black paint. After a bit more rubbing down and a third coat it's looking great, a nice even satin finish. More in keeping with the alcontara that's going to go on the dash.

Underneath dash/cockpit painted black (click for larger image)

Back to the sidepod ... somehow the aircon condenser (looks like a radiator to me, I know bugger all about air conditioning!) needs to fit in this sidepod. There are a few pics on the build CD, and I'm sure I remember seeing some text somewhere describing how it's fitted. I find it in the ssection on the fuel system - it has alloy brackets top and bottom and the bottom one is at an angle to allow it to sit on the top outer edge of the fuel tank, with a vertical flange which then is sandwiched between the fuel tank and the sidepod foam. The top bracket will then sit under the top face of the sidepod and it looks like a button head screw goes through there.

I prefit the whole lot and it's obvious it's all a bit of a tight squeeze - in addition to the actual condenser there are the pipes to fit to it, and I somehow need to get the grill in later (which is looking impossible at this stage to me!). I decide that I need to fit the pipes at this stage, which means I need to work out exactly what goes where - the instructions on the aircon bit are more or less non-existent, just some photos. While I like a challenge, I'm feeling pretty deserted by the build manual right now - there is now very little text to describe any of the rest of the build, most of it neds to be gleaned from the photos, and there's some useful help on CJ's site. I also decide I'd better fit the grill before the condenser goes in as I wont be able to get behind it to apply sealant otherwise. So, with the condenser sandwiched between sidepod foam and fuel tank I apply sealant along the length of the chassis underneath and start rivetting. Again it's very hard work getting the holes to line up as the foam strip is pushing the pod away. Eventually it's in and I've got the excess sealant off with meths.

With the condenser slid forwards I can fit the pipes to it, and I tilt it in towards the engine bay so I can put the grill in and seal it in. This is a messy job as access is very restricted and I don't want the grill to fall out! I use some sponges between the grill and the condenser to hold it in place, but the lower front corner isn't really sitting snugly, so I stick a long cable tie through from behind and set to work to find a way to get a bit of tension on it. I end up clipping 3 cable ties together than tying a bungee cord to the last one and attaching it to one of the kid's bikes that's sitting at the side of the car. I can now leave this to go off overnight. Then with a liberal dosing of meths try to get the sealant off my hands!

Last job of the day is to fit a couple of rubber coated aluminium p-clips to hold the pipe that runs from bottom of condenser to the dryer/evaporater unit. It's 6pm now and I've been out here all day, at least I feel I've achieved quite a bit, it won't take long to get this sidepod finished - just complete fitting the aircon condenser and clamp the rear flange to the chassis for drilling/rivetting.

Grill held in place with sponges from behind and cable tie & bungee cord to kid's bike! (click for larger image)Aircon consenser/radiator in driver's sidepod (click for larger image)

Also kept forgetting to take a pic of the starter button - I got this from RS Components. I didn't want a really cheap button, but similarly think the £52 + VAT for a Honda S2000 button is extortionate! I also decided I'd rather have a green button since that says 'Go' to me more than a red button which says 'Stop' to me!

Anyway, here it is, £8 +VAT and delivery. It's got a really nice microswitch action and I'm sure will look great on the dash.

Starter button from RS Components (click for larger image)

Monday 25th August

Can't spend all that long on the toy today - lots of work to do for a course I'm running this week and some gardening to catch up on.

First thing is to check on my sidepod grill - cut the cable tie, pull the sponges out and it's great. Next job is to fix the rear of the sidepod. After applying some masking tape I used a G clamp to hold it in firmly to the chassis and found that it's sticking out a bit and not lining up with the wheel arch. So I pulled out one of the 4 ally strips I'd used to pack it and it was then fine. Marked holes at 30mm centres, a squirt with waxoyl and it was soon rivetted on. It also didn't take long to drill and fit a screw to hold the condenser in place. I looked up how it all works too, found a page which explained it although the page on refrigerators was actually the most helpful. Fuel tank fixings were next, rivets into the lower chassis rail, followed by the 2 screws through the wheelarch.

I decided next to stick the cockpit section back on as there were a few things that needed sorting out with it on before I could final fit the dash cover and bulkhead carpet. After sticking some masking tape on the rear bulkhead with the existing rivet positions marked David and I lifted it back on without any dramas, then I went round fitting the nuts and screws etc. holding it to the sidepods. The first job was to mark up the bottom edge - it's not cut off entirely straight, and I needed to transpose the existing rivet positions onto it to mark it for the line of rivets across the bottom. At this point I also discovered it's impinging on the chassis on the left side just to the side of the bulkhead at the bottom where it goes over the chassis rail, so that was marked for some trimming also.

Anther job needing doing was to fit the roll bar braces, which go from just in front of the rear suspension mountings to the back of the roll bar at each side. Starting with the passenger side it was possible to hold one roughly in position then mark from the cockpit side using a marker pen, then drill a pilot hole followed by the stepped drill until the hole was large enough to get one of the bolts through. I could then stick the bolt through from the correct side and mark around the end of the roll bar. Once I'd got the hole round and roughly the right size using the sanding drum I realised it needs ovalling out at the bottom to accommodate the downward angled brace. This took a little time but in the end I was happy with it and trial fitted the brace. Then finish the edge of the hole with some wet and dry and repeat for the other side.

The other thing I wanted to do was double check all the places where it meets the sidepods to see if any fettling was required - it is in a few places, at the rear of the doors for instance, although that'll have a rubber strip over it of course.

That was more or less it for the day, I think next chance I get to be out here will be Friday, and what I plan to do then is mark and drill for all the rivets holding the cockpit section to the chassis and sidepods before removing the cockpit section.

Friday 29th August

My course finished at lunchtime, so I can fit a couple of hours in this afternoon before being dragged off to the golf course by eldest. Just a couple of things to get done before lifting the cockpit off again. Mark the position of the front rivet holes across the bulkhead - I only put 3 in there so that didn't take long. Also wanted to check that the wiring to the fuses and relays doesn't prevent them going in place, and it doesn't. With that done David and I lift the cockpit off - I've got a pair of chairs so I can rest it upside down to sort out the bits that need trimming. The front corners rest on the chair while the rear of the roof rests on a piece of carpet and some bubble wrap.

I've got a whole to do list of things that need sorting before the cockpit can go back on hopefully for the last time. First job is trimming the sharp corners at the bottom corners of the A and B pillars, then mark the line for the rivets across the rear bulkhead. With that done I can mark a line parallel to it and trim the edge nice and straight and sand it smooth.

Cockpit on its back - bottom edge squared off and holes drilled ready for fixing (click for larger image)

Saturday 30th August

No play today as I have a trackday in the MegaBlade at nearby Llandow circuit. It's with the guys fromn the bike-engined-car Yahoo Group, and brilliant value at £80. Had a really good day, only 14 cars there so oodles of track time and pleased to report that the rebuilt engine performed brilliantly all day.

Sunday 31st August

Back in the garage it's time to do the same with the front of the cockpit. This one's a bit trickier though, it's far from straight and there isn't much room to play with in the centre. I check the build manual and see that this is exactly reflected in the factory pics, so I haven't done anything wrong. Rather than trim the whole width off the same they've left the gap between edge and rivets wider at the sides so I'll do the same - the rivets would all be very clse to the edge otherwise.

With the cockpit section now sorted the rest of my list concerns the chassis. A few things to check first - the wiring for the door mirrors and door pin switches etc. I need to fit an alarm, and will use the existing wiring for as much of it as I can, there's a guy coming next Friday to fit it. I'm thinking of fitting an interior light too, so I locate the wires for that and think about routing into the cockpit. Another bit of wiring that needs sorting out is the wiring to the air conditioning controls, there's no wiring diagram that I can find, and the photo on the build CD doesn't show me enough so I'll need to ring the factory. The chassis earths also need tightening - when I fitted them I didn't have enough washers. I also remembered I hadn't tightened the nuts on the threaded rod holding the right hand fuel tank, so spend a little time skinning my knuckles doing that as space is very tight in there now!

Next job is the pair of front bonnet release handles - the holes are drilled ready for these and it's only a few minutes of a job to fit them. I'm leaving the cables full length for now, but I cable tie the passenger side one in position to see how it goes across the cockpit. Also drill out the 3 rivets in the front bulkhead.

Sunday 31st August

Onto a bit I've not been looking forward to this morning - fitting the cill/sidepod closure mouldings. These are a pair of black GRP mouldings which seal off the front of the sidepods in the wheel arches. They're a rather complicated shape and will need trimming to go round the various pipes, cables and chassis rails. Cardboard template time again, and after 20 minutes or so with a bit of cardboard box and a pair of scissors I'm ready to transfer the profile onto the masking tape I've stuck on the GRP. Using a combination of cutting disk and sanding drum I get it roughly there, and with much trial and error I have it fitting nicely after over an hour. Then I can clamp it in position and mark it for drilling, then mark the underneath to trim it so it lines up with the edge of the sidepod. Once this is done I can actually fit it, using sealant and rivets again.

It takes quite a while sealing round the edges of this panel then getting teh excess sealant off, and while I'm down there I seal along the edge of the sidepod as I didn't do this one when I fitted it.

The rear edge of the closure panel doesn't want to sit flat on the wheel arch surface of the sidepod as it's curved, so I come up with a cunning plan involving one of the kid's plastic rulers and the brake caliper! Basically with a bit of sealant behind the edge of the panel I tape one end of the ruler to it and spring the ruler in against the brake caliper, which holds it nicely in place while the sealant goes off. That doen it's time to clear up - don't seem to have got much done today, but it took ages doing this panel, but in the end I'm happy with it and suspect the driver's side won't take as long.

And that's it for this month, onto another page tomorrow!

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