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Monday 1st September

An early start with work this morning means an early finish, and a couple of hours in the garage. The driver's side cill closure is next, and sure enough it doesn't take long before it's in position with the trusty ManU ruler holding it in place.

Sidepod closure in position - trimmed and ready to fix (click for larger image)Underneath sidepod closure moulding (click for larger image)Kid's ManU ruler used to hold closure in position while sealant goes off (click for larger image)

On the passenger side, fitted yesterday, it's time to seal the joint properly. First of all clean it off with some meths, then apply masking tape to each side, then the sealant. I know CJ will think I've nicked this idea from his site but in fact I've used it before applying sealant down the side of a bath! ;-)

Left hand sidepod closure fixed in position - cockpit section overlaps top edge (click for larger image)Masking tape applied ready to apply sealant (click for larger image)Sealant applied to joint between sidepod and closure moulding (click for larger image)

Onto another cosmetically challenging job next - the cill covers. Those who've met an Ultima in the flesh will know what I'm talking about - you climb in across a wide cill. This is a highly polished ally panel with a carbon fibre lid in the middle providing access to the luggage containers. The rivets in this panel really must be in a straight line and equally spaced. Also the cutouts where it goes round the chassis tubes must be neat. I did the cardboard template for this some time ago, so after a quick check I transfer the outline of the cutouts onto the gaffer tape protecting the passenger side panel.

Out with the nibbler next, to find that the gaffer tape holds all the crescent shaped trmmings together as a gooey mess! The nibbler still works fine though, and I trim the recesses very conservatively, then use the file to do the last few mm. After about an hour of filing and trial and error it's done, then I mark the rivet holes, centre punch, drill and deburr. I won't fit this till after the alarm installation in case any wires need running down the sidepod.

Passenger side cill cover cut out and drilled ready to fit - still covered in gaffer tape! (click for larger image)

Tuesday 2nd September

Manage to snatch 45 minutes this morning before work. Remove the masking tape from the passenger side wheel arch and the strip of sealant looks really neat. Onto the driver's side and mask, clean with meths then apply sealant and smooth with a finger.

Grab another cardboard box and attack it to form a template for the driver's side cill cover. Cover the cill with gaffer tape to protect it and pretty soon I have another template. 20 minutes with the marker pen and a pair of scissors sees it fitting nicely and ready to use to mark the cill cover panel.

Wednesday 3nd September

Again not a lot of time today, but tidied up the cill covers with fine file and wire wool. Then made a start bonding the ally hoops which space them from the chassis frame. It's important that they don't overhang the aperture in the cover or the carbon fibre lid won't fit, so I clamp the first one in place then apply a bead of sealant around the outside edge (this will all be invisible underneath the cover of course). I need all 3 of my miniclamps so leave this to go off overnight.

I decide to have a go at covering the speedo/tacho binnacle, and take it in the kitchen to do this at the table. First glue the stitched edge along the top/front corner, then work from there. It's very tricky to get it flat in places - the alcontara is quite stretchy and this makes fitting convex surfaces quite easy. Not so easy getting it to sit flat on the concave surfaces though - like the recesses for the instruments themselves. In the end I'm there and it's time to clear up.

Instrument binnacle covered (click for larger image)

Thursday 4th September

Quickly nipped out this morning to take the clamps off the cill cover and seal the hoop on the other one. While I was there I couln't resist putting the speedo and tacho into their holes in the binnacle.

Cill cover with hoop clamped and sealant applied (click for larger image)Speedo and tacho in binnacle (click for larger image)

Friday 5th September

After working late last night and getting up early this morning to get some more done I could spend quite a bit of time out there today. First job was clearing up and making some space for the alarm fitter who was supposed to be coming today. Pushed the MegaBlade out of the garage and had a general tidy up.

Main job for today is to try to get the cockpit ready for fitting onto the chassis. Carrying the bulkhead carpet down from the garage attic I'm surprised how heavy it is - on unwrapping it turns out that not only is the carpet fairly substantial stuff with a heavy rubberised backing, it has a largish tin of Evo Stik rolled up in the middle! It also turns out that it's ready cut to shape, although I assume it's going to need some trimming to fit accurately. Trying it against the bulkhead on the cockpit it looks a very good fit without any tweaking at all, altohugh it'll need trimming along the bottom edge - I'll do that once it's fitted. I use 3 pairs of strips of masking tape to provide me with registers to get the position right once the glue's applied.

Carpet ready to fit - came trimmed to shape and with tin of Evo Stik (click for larger image)Bits of masking tape used as registers (click for larger image)

Just as I'm starting to apply the glue to the bulkhead the alarm fitter arrives, and after a quick chat about the car and a couple of mutual acquaintances we talk about what's going where and which circuits he'll be breaking into. He's a nice guy and is happy to let me final fit the components, pin switches etc. later once it's all wired in. While he makes a start I complete the glue spreading on the bulkhead, and move onto applying it to the back of the carpet. Once done it can be left for a while to dry.

While that's drying I move back to the cill covers - the driver's side can now be fitted so with some bits of scrap ally protecting the cover I clamp it in position. It's important that the edge of this lines up neatly with the cockpit side panel when it's rivetted on and the edge is napped over so I take some care with that. Once clamped in position the holes are soon drilled, by which time the alarm fitter is ready for a bit of help.

We have a chat about where he's going to cut into the wiring for the immobiliser functions, and he asks if the battery has been connected yet. It hasn't, but it'll clearly need to be for him to test the alarm. First of all I stick the battery charger on to give the battery some life, then rummage round to find the battery earth cable. This turns out to be pretty short and I'm not sure it'll reach - wish I'd put the battery a bit closer to the middle of the car! After opening out the hole in the battery end of the lead and fitting it underneath the chassis lug it does in fact just reach, which is all it needs to do! Some hints about this sort of thing wouldn't go amiss in the build manual!

Once this is fitted I make sure the ignition switch is off and check around for any wires which might cause a problem. All the potentially live terminals are in fact insulated so shouldn't be a problem. Touch the positive lead on the battery briefly and am pleased there's no sign of a spark. When Jon the fitter turns the ignition on it's again OK. So far so good. Will he's fiddling around though we suddenly get smoke from one of the wires, so it's quickly off with the battery lead and inspect the damage. It looks like an earth wired for one of the instruments has contacted a spare auxiliary terminal on the ignition switch, and the earth lead has fried its insulation. Gulp. Jon's a bit embarrased but says not to worry he'll sort it. He checks all the wiring and it's just the one lead, and within 15 minutes he's replaced it - fortunately it was a short one which just ran to the chassis earth lug on the driver's side of the dash. That done we can get back to identifying which wire's which and decide where to cut in. Once he's identified what's what he offers me a couple of choices, then I leave him to get on with it.

Next up is the dash cover. Before I fit it I set to the cockpit with a file followed by some sandpaper to round off the inside edge of the windscreen surround - where the GRP has cut it has quite a sharp edge which I reckon Mr. SVA won't be too keen on. That done I rub down the flash lines at each side of the dash and go over the entire surface of the GRP with some medium grade wet and dry to give the adhesive a key. I also get the plastic bit the alarm LED will go in on the dash and drill an 8mm hole for that.

By now the carpet glue is dry and that can be fitted. There are no dramas here, it's pretty straightforward. There's a sort of ledge partway down it, and I want to stick just the top part on first, so I stick some pages of newspaper over the lower section to 'mask' it off (the Evo Stik is completely dry so it won't stick to it), once happy with the top section, pull the newspaper out and the bottom section can be stuck on. I use my long aluminium ruler to trim the lower edge so it'll clear the chassis rail and apply glue to the bits of the lower edge that aren't secured.

Bulkhead carpet glued on (click for larger image)

Back to the dash, the first job is to get it all in place with the main seam running along the front top edge of the dash then fold it back carefully to apply a pair of strips of masking tape to help me once the glue's on. That done it's time to go for it. The key to getting this looking right is firstly to make sure the seam runs neatly along the edge of the dash, then of course to make sure there are no creases etc. I apply a strip of glue along the central portion of the dash edge up to the points on each side where it starts to curve backwards, then start applying the glue to the seam on the alcontara cover. I have one heart stopping moment where I think I'm applying the glue to the wrong side, but on checking all's well! Phew! Using my bits of masking tape I stick the centre of the seam down and apply tension along it to progressively work my way along the seam to the driver's side. This seems to go OK, and after doing the same on the other side I carefully inspect it to make sure it's all lying straight. I'm pretty sure it is, but until the dash face and top are glued down with a bit of tension it won't lie really flat. I decide it definitely is straight, and start applying glue to the top of the dash GRP. Sticking the alcontara to the flat surface of the dash is pretty easy, just a bit of tension to stretch it a bit and it goes on nicely with no creases. I've left a strip of about an inch glue free around the edge to sort out later.

Alcontara dash cover seam glued along edge of dash - important that this bit's straight! (click for larger image)Main upper surface of alcontara glued in place (click for larger image)

By this point Jon is more or less finished with the alarm - I guess he's had a slightly easier time fitting this one with all the wiring sitting exposed, but a couple of idiosynchrasies with the wiring have kept him on his toes! It's taken him over 4 hours. He connects it all up and we check it all works, including the wiring he's put in for the central locking motors. All is hunky dory and he talks me through how it all works with the remotes etc., and shows me each of the connections I'll need to deal with later for pin switches, ultrasonic units etc. While running a wire for a pin switch for the rear canopy he's also stuck in a length of heavyish brown wire that I can use as a live feed for the engine bay if I need it later - this was recommended on the Ultima forum yesterday by someone who found out the hard way that if you come to fit EFI or an electronic ignition box later there's no suitable live feed in the engine bay and retrofitting a wire through the sidepod is difficult. I can leave this neatly taped out of the way.

The alarm is fully functional, and an added bonus for me is that I now have the loom powered up to test out the various circuits and switches etc. Once Jon's got his cheque (a very reasonable £250) he's on his way and I can carry on.

After a quick trip out for some more pop rivets I can get on with the dash. I trim round the dash edge to allow just enough of the alcontara to tuck in between the dash moulding and the cockpit moulding - there's a nice little gap most of the way round, and where it's blocked it's easy enough to clear it with the rounded end of my steel ruler. Once the glues applied and dried I use the end of the ruler to go round and tuck it in all the way round. Once this is done I can sit back and check it all out - it looks really nice, all flat and nicely finished round the edge. Next I apply glue to the dash face and the relevant bit of the cover and start to apply this, working out from the centre. With most of the central (flat) bit stuck on I decide the complex curves of the dash sides where they curve round towards you, along with the bottom-most strip will be best tackled with the cockpit section turned upside down.

Alcontara glued ready to fix onto dash face (click for larger image)

Once David's helped me turn it over I can get on with the most challenging bit of the covering. The alcontara's easy enough to apply to convex surfaces, but on concave surfaces it's easy to get creases in it, the approach being to make sure it's stretched enough around the concave bit, if you know what I mean. With quite a bit of care this bit also goes fine, and I'm really pleased with the result. It doesn't take long then to trim the bottom edge and glue it around onto the underside of the GRP. At the sides of the cockpit I've left it overlap almost to the edge of the GRP so the rubber door seal can overlap it. The end of the seam is a bit more challenging, but is soon sorted and the job's finished.

Cockpit section turned over to complete gluing of dash cover (click for larger image)Final bits of dash cover ready to fix (click for larger image)Et voila! Dash covering completed (click for larger image)Driver's side completed - alcontara is stretchy enough to cover complex curves neatly (click for larger image)

Next job is to cut out all the holes for switches and instruments etc. James found he went though a load of scalpel blades doing this - I'm not sure what blunts them, I doubt it's the alcontara itself and suspect it's more likely to be the GRP, but they certainly do blunt quickly. I resort to keeping my honing stone and oil next to me and resharpen the blade after each hole is cut.

Holes cut in dash cover for instruments and switches (click for larger image)

With that done we turn the cockpit right side up and I can fit the speedo/tacho binnacle. The finished dash looks really lovely - another fairly critical cosmetic part of the build done.

Dash binnacle now in place (click for larger image)Corner of dash cover tidied up - rubber door seal will overlap edge of alcontara (click for larger image)

Saturday 6th September

When I covered the dash binacle I folded the alcontara back through the apertures for tacho and speedo - this resulted in them being an extremely tight fit. I decided overnight to take them out, trim it back and refit them, so that was this morning's first job. My main worry was that if I needed to remove them it would be extremely difficult with the dash fitted.

There's been some concern expressed in the forum about the amount of current drawn through the ignition switch by the aircon system, and the suggestion was made that it would be easy enough to check it at this stage of the build. If too high it would be possible to fit a relay. By putting my multimeter in series with the supply to the fan switch I could check the current at each of the 3 fan speeds. This also confirmed that the fan worked nicely! It was drawing 3.4A on the lowest setting going up to 5.6A on the highest. I decided to temporarily connect up the condenser fan in the rear of the right sidepod to check that, but couldn't get it to work. By this time it was 8.30 and I needed to go in to work.

Back early afternoon it was time to move on to fit the first cill cover. After the usual deburr, waxoyl, meths then sealant routine it was skin pinned in place and then rivetted. Once rivetted the edge needed to be napped over using a block of wood and the dead blow hammer. I'd lined the edge up so it was almost vertically aligned with the top edge of the cockpit side, with just a tiny gap. I expected that as it folded round the chassis tube it would 'land' a bit short of the cockpit side. As it was it landed butting right up to it along the centre of the join. This means the join looks very good but it's difficult getting the cover to lie absolutely flush with the other panel. Each end of the join there is a tiny gap, which must be due to the chassis tubes not being absolutely straight (since the edges of each panel are absolutely straight).

Cill cover skin pinned in place (click for larger image)Cill cover rivetted prior to napping over chassis rail (click for larger image)... and cill cover completed (click for larger image)

On to the other side and through the same routine. This ended up exactly the same as the driver's side. I'll leave the gaffer tape on for now, although it'll need to come off to fit the cockpit section, I'll recover it with some cardboard then.

I decided to have another look at the aircon wiring - I'm keen to make sure it all works OK before hiding it away under the dash. On checking the wiring diagram in addition to the wires to the A/C compressor clutch there are a pair of wires labelledA/C pressure switch annotated 'Link wires to be used if'. I rearranged the words and worked out that if I linked them the aircon condenser fan might work! ;-) And indeed it did, accompanied by a click from the relay rail and a minimal current drawn from the ignition wiring, which satisfactorily answered that question. I decided while I was at it I may as well permanently wire the fan, so it was out with the soldering iron, crimping tools, shrink wrap etc.

I decided while I had the soldering iron out I'd sort out the wiring for the main rad fans - since this is optional the wires supplied in the loom aren't terminated. I also need ot work out which terminals on my switch I should use. My switch is a 2 speed switch, so I thought I'd need to link 2 of the terminals to make sure my fans were on in both of the speed positions, but it turned out that in position 1 one of the becomes live and in position 2 both of them are live. I added a link wire anyway to make the switch illuminate when the fans are running. They make a hell of a noise in the garage but I suspect you won't hear them in the cockpit with the engine running behind your left ear! These are again relay driven, and it was nice to confirm that not only do they work but they even blow the air in the right direction!

Sunday 7th September

Getting closer to final fitting the cockpit section now! Quite a few jobs to try to get done today, most of them involving electrical bits and pieces which will be hidden away under the dash.

First job of the day was fixing the main alarm ECU box or whatever it's called. I fabricated a braket from ally sheet, rivetted the box to that then rivetted to the chassis with some sealant to prevent rattles. That done I set about tidying up the dash wiring - there were now about 3 different 'layers' of cable ties on there since the alarm installation, so they all came off and new ones were applied. The alarm ultrasonic probes were also wired in.

I ran out of cable ties so nipped out for some of those, and while in Maplins spotted a few other bits and bobs. I still hadn't made up my mind about the heater wiring - one of the forum contributors had said he thought 6 amps was too much to be running through the ignition switch, and (from all his other contributions) he's clearly more technically knowledgable/capable than I am! The factory on the other hand reckon it's OK as it is - but of course they would say that, and I fully accept that. While browsing in Maplins I spotted a standard 40A relay for £1.49 so I got one. They also had central locking solenoids in there - the 2 wire ones which would work with my alarm system were only £7.99. I'll see how I get on fitting the one I've got before I buy another - it might end up being a problem fitting the solenoid.

Once home I decided that now I've splashed out on the heater relay I may as well fit it! So I made up a little sub-loom comprising 2 wires which run to the existing wire and the heater switch terminal, a 12V supply to the relay and an earth for the relay. The 12V supply I took from the fused side of the fuse box wiring - the 15A fuse on the end of the rail is the one which already looks after the heater ciruit. The earth I took from the existing relay rail earths. Once this was all in place a quick check confirmed that it worked as planned so I could tape it in with the existing wiring. While I was there I found a few other spare wires - turns out they're for headlamp flash and front fog relays. I'm not fitting front fogs but do have a bag with a relay in it labelled 'flasher relay' which I'd thought was for the indicators but since they work OK without adding that in it must be for the headlamps. Not sure if Ive got a switch for that but I fit the relay anyway and I'll have a look at the switch situation later.

Next up was the starter button. The existing wiring confused me a bit - there's a single brown wire which turns out to be a permanent live feed, and a looped white/red wire which looks like it runs over to the ignition switch. This is confirmed when I snip it as the ignition switch no longer operates the starter relay! So I need to connect one of the cut ends of the white/red to one terminal on my button and the live feed onto the other. I'm a bit puzzled that this means the starter button will permananetly be live, but that's clearly the way the factory plan it (confirmed from wiring diagram).

My starter button just has plain narrow terminals with a hole, so I first of all solder leads onto the terminals, then add spade connectors, followed by the appropriate female spades to the starter loom wiring . Connect it together and it all works fine.

Nearly there now - the only other job I can see under the dash is to stick the ducting onto the heater blower box for the dash vents. This doesn't take long, nice tight cable ties to hold them onto the stubs.

One thing I nearly forgot was the alarm siren box - I'd decided where I wanted to stick it, which was all well and good till I tried to get it in place. Without advertising where it is for obvious reasons suffice to say it's a very tight squeeze and it took a while marking and drilling the holes, and even longer getting the b****y rivet gun in there to fix it in place!

Before the cockpit can go back on I need to spray the strip of GRP beneath the carpet on the bulkhead - I cut a strip off the carpet so the GRP fits directly against the rear bulkhead, and the top of this is likely to be visible from the cockpit. A quick blast with the aerosol of black paint remedies this.

All done now - clear all the tools etc. out of the cockpit, vaccum it out, clean up the chassis tubes under the dash etc., and finally tidy up the wiring at each end of the dash so the cockpit can go on. Last job of the day is to lift the cockpit section back into place with David for what should be the final time.

Monday 8th September

First job today was to trim the edges of the bulkhead carpet above the cill covers - easily done from behind with the stanley knife. Then apply masking tape where the fixing rivets will go holding the cockpit to the sidepods and chassis at the front. On the driver's side there were a couple of mould defects on the return so I spent a little time rubbing these down and polishing out - wet and dry starting with 240, then 600 followed by 1200, then some T Cut and finally some metal polish.

Blemish on GRP (click for larger image)Blemish rubbed down with wet & dry (click for larger image)Now polished out (click for larger image)

Once this was done I could mark a line roughly on the centre of the returns and space the holes at 60mm intervals which had it looking like the ones in the build manual.

Where the cockpit sits on the chassis tubes running back from the front corners (over the cill closure panels) there is quite a gap, slightly more on the right than the left. I was initially a bit worried about this until I realised that since I've got the back of the front lip of the cockpit flush against the front of the front bulkhead any gap is down to the actual kit rather than any of my positioning.

Once the holes were all marked the cockpit could be fastened down to the sidepods at the front and the holes drilled. Then undo all the studs, lift the cockpit, spray some waxoyl into the holes where they go into chassis tubes then degrease. Out with the sealant next, with a good thick fillet along the aforementioned cill closure stretch. Carefully lift the cockpit back over trying to avoid smearing gloop everywhere (and succeeded!), this is a little tricky as the bottom corners of the dash spring under/inside the chassis tubing. Once in position final fix the cockpit to the sidepods with the stainless nylocs and drill all the holes.

I used the longest rivets where I was worried about the gap and it worked fine, just pulled the return in a bit. Only one didn't hold, which was easily drilled out and re-rivetted. Used slightly shorter rivets in the other holes and pretty soon it was all done. Quite a bit of sealant had oozed out which took a little time to clean off with some petrol. Last job of the day was to fasten the rear of the cockpit section to the sidepods - 2 studs each side holding it down and 2 stainless buttons each side holding them together laterally.

Cockpit marked and drilled ready for final fit (click for larger image)Cockpit section now rivetted in place (click for larger image)

Pretty limited time out there today but another milestone accomplished. I've had a steadily decreasing 'To Do' list over the last week, and now everything is crossed off I get to start a whole new and much longer one!

Tuesday 9th September

Made a start on the front cockpit/bulkhead area today. First job was fitting the windscreen wiper motor - I'd considered fitting this before fitting the cockpit section but it wouldn't really have helped as I'd still have had to go headfirst down the footwell to fit the wires to it anyway! There's no measurement given in the manual for the washer nozzle but I can't see that it's all that critical.

Wiper motor and washer nozzle fitted (click for larger image)

I could see no point delaying the rivets across the cockpit front so I got on with those. Gratifyingly the 3 holes I'd drilled rivets out of matched up nicely with the ones I'd measured for on the GRP. Looks like the factory use 60mm spacing but I've gone for 30mm. Minor snag is that my trusty air rivet gun couldn't get in there so my forearm had a bit of a workout!

The next bits are the windscreen washer reservoir and the brake fluid reservoir. Again no measurements supplied and it all looks a bit tight with some critical aspects to it. Don't want anything fouling on the steering column and it would be nice if the bonnet closed! The latter proved to be the main problem - the washer reservoir has to go very low on the bulkhead for the bonnet not to hit it. Although I could reach some bits on the back of the bulkhead by sticking my arm through the front of the sidepod I finally needed some help so youngest son was sent down the footwell with the 10mm socket to help fit the mounting bracket for the brake fluid reservoir.

Also had a look at the main loom positive lead - couldn't get the grommet in the hole with the wires through it so had to enlarge the hole a couple of times and retry (back down the footwell again!) before it went in.

This all took over 2 hours, by which time I had to abandon for the day.

Wednesday 10th September

Good couple of hours in the garage tonight so plan to crack on with the front bulkhead stuff and then move onto the dash. I need to get the wires through from under the dash for the windscreen washer motor and the brake fluid reservoir level sender, also another hole for the washer tubing. After applying a bit of maskig tape to make it easier to mark for the holes and help prevent splintering I drilled the holes with the stepped drill, then went back under the dash to poke the wires through. The washer motor terminals are in a single plastic moulding and wouldn't go through the hole. They were also a bugger to get out, the terminals aren't held in the same way as the other single terminals! Eventually got them through, then fitted a grommet and connected up the brake fluid reservoir.

Next onto sorting out the rubber hoses between the reservoir and the brake master cylinders. Bit of trial and error to get the right lengths to get them to sit tidily, then got puzzled about clapming them in place. I don't seem to have been supplied any clamps, and I'm not sure jubilee clips are OK for this (and don't seem to have any of those with the brake kit either). I'll ring the factory tomorrow.

Brake fluid reservoir in place (click for larger image)No instructions as to placement of bracket for washer bottle - it needs to go lower than the pic in the build manual shows! (click for larger image)

Onto the dash next, and since all the terminals are labelled it's simply a matter of connecting up and fitting the instruments, switches and warning lights. Yes, except it's bloody fiddly because of the mouting tray for the aircon preventing access from underneath. Also the wires from the speedo and tacho are tucked away and I can't reach them - access to them is very tight as they're right pver the aircon box. I decide in the end to remove the binnacle, althought it's obvious refitting it will be a pig of a job!

With the binnacle off fitting the instruments is a doddle. It's purely down t personal preference, but I really prefer the plain old fashioned instruments to the Stack dash. They look really good with their white faces, and I find it much easier reading a dial at a glance to trying to read a number in a digital display. Couldn't work out what's what with the speedo and tacho though, I'll come back to them later and maybe speak to the factory about their connections.

Instruments in dash - binnacle needs refitting once speedo/tacho connections sorted. (click for larger image)

Onto the switches next - before I do this I decide to reconnect the battery lead and fit the ignition switch so I can check out each circuit as I go. Check for sparks with ignition off before turning on and trying again. All fine so back round to the switches. I'm just going to connect the wires up first and make sure all's working before actually fitting them in the dash. First one to go in is the light switch, once it's on I can check the backlighting of the instruments, and sure enough all working fine. The switch also illuminates when on.

They all go on fine, some need reference to the wiring diagram to get the conmnector blocks on the right way round, but all is fairly straightforward and all seem to be working with the exception of the hazard flashers and the wiper. I suspect the hazard flashers is down to the lack of flashers being connected, but will need to look at the wiper, not sure what's going on there. Most of the switches illuminate when the lights are on, others just illuminate when the switch itself is on, depending on function.

Thursday 11th September

Rang the factory today to check on a few things. Dave talked me through the speedo/tacho wiring, and I ordered a glass fixing kit for the windscreen. Apparently the factory don't put clips on the brake fluid reservoir to master cylinder hoses, they just use some loctite. I'd also been wondering (again!) whether I ought to get a rivnut tool - I've been wondering about the access panels that go over the sidepod openings - apart from not having a rivnut tool my other concern is that the rivnuts will hold the panel slightly away from the GRP. Apparently the factory just tap the GRP and leave it at that which sounds a nice simple solution.

It only took a couple of minutes to sort out the speedo and tacho, and they were nicely backlit like the other instruments. On to the switches next, and it was simple enough to undo the wiring switch by switch and pull the wires through the relevant hole, refit to the switch and push the switch into its aperture. Still a couple of problems, some of which are no doubt due to the fact that I didn't have the alarm fob out there so the main ignition was disabled. It still seemed able to blow the fuse when I tried the wipers though. I'll need to look into that. I'll need some more fuses too! Then I had to try to refit the binnacle. This is really difficult with the instruments in place, and indeed I needed to remove a couple of them to get a little more room. After about half an hour and some choice language it was finally back on and time for me to go in.

Friday 12th September

First job today was to pop out for some fuses. Then tried the switches with the alarm disarmed and all seems to be working as planned apart from wiper and hazards which I didn't try as they blew fuses last tiem and I want to investigate that. Also the voltmeter still isn't working, so I need to look at that too.

The alarm siren wire needed sorting out - ran that along some of the existing loom, clipped it all in place and connected that up. Likewise the ultrasonic sensors.

There's also a little trailing wire from the speedo which has a little button on it. I'd assumed this was for setting up the pulses per mile etc., but it turns out it's for resetting the trip etc. and so will need to be easily accessible from the driver's seat. So I drilled a small hole in the dash and fitted that.

The only other bit for the dash was fitting the upper aircon vents. The passenger side was straightforward as there's plenty of room but on the driver's side it was tight because of the steering column. I ended up lopping a bit off the bottom of the vent so it didn't protrude so far below the dash. With these on I could check out how effective the blower was. It's actually very good, with the lower ones closed there's a good powerful blast to demist the screen and with all 4 open there's a good flow generally round the cockpit.

Once that was fitted I could refit the steering wheel - got the front wheels as straight as I could then headfirst down the footwell again! Looks really nice with the dash finished and the steering wheel back in place.

Dash now complete and steering wheel refitted (click for larger image)Dash finished (click for larger image)

I thought the front release cables would take quite a while but I was wrong. The only bit that caught me out is that you must fit the solderless nipples onto the cables with the latch closed otherwise you won't get it to snap shut. With time running out my last job of the day was to give the cill covers a polish and fit the carbon fibre lids. These are a very precise but tight fit, and required a bit of sanding withg some wet and dry. They'll also need some velcro or foam tape underneath to bring them up flush with the polished aluminium.

Cill cover with carbon fibre lid - lid will be flush once there's a bit of velcro underneath it (click for larger image)Cill on driver's side (click for larger image)

Sunday 14th September

Not a lot of activity this weekend - away in a meeting most of the weekend with a friend's daughter's wedding Saturday. Managed a couple of hours Sunday afternoon though.

Moving to the rear of the car the rear canopy release cables need fitting. Since they both originate at the rear of the driver's side luggage compartment one of these is extremely short, the other crosses along the bottom edge of the cockpit section to the other side. I found the routing was better crossing them over, i.e. using the handle nearest to the right side of the car for the left hand release and vice versa. A little bracket needs fitting on each side to take the cable outer, these were fitted with stainless 5mm countersunk screws - the GRP is plenty thick enough to countersink to make the heads nice and flush. Fitting the cables was pretty simple, again my cycle cable cutter proved invaluable as it cuts both the inners and outers neatly without crushing or fraying.

I also needed a pin switch fitting for the alarm system, since it's fitted to GRP I needed to fit an earth wire as well, this was easily routed to the nearby chassis earth. I fitted the body of the switch underneath the GRP to avoid it holding the two surfaces apart and spoiling the shutline.

Once these were done I moved onto the fuel filler hoses and filler caps. Starting on the passenger side the GRP needed trimming back to avoid impinging on the rubber hose, the sanding drum soon took care of that. I also trimmed an inch off the bottom of the hose which meant it went on without any stressing/kinking, and provided a bit of additional clearance from the bodywork. The filler caps are lovely, nice shiny black with the Ultima logo on. Fairly simple job to pop the cap in its recess in the GRP, mark the 8 holes then fit. I fitted the hose to the filler neck and tightened the jubilee clip first, then popped the whole thing in position before fitting the screws. Getting the nuts and washers on the back was a bit fiddly, but not too bad without the mesh being fitted to the opening in the bodywork. Not looking forward to the other side though!

Same procedure on the driver's side, but access particularly to the forwardmost screws was particularly difficult. I got there in the end by a combination of poking the allen key down through the hole and sliding the washer and nut up this for some, while on others this wasn't possible and I stuck 2 nuts in the 8mm 1/4" drive socket with a little extension bar, balanced the washer on top and lifted into position from underneath.

The fuel tank sender wires were fitted next - pretty simple, just undo one of the screws holding the sender unit in place and fit the earth terminal, then cable tie the wires neatly onto the chassis tube.

With this all done the filler caps were looking very pretty apart from all the fingermarks, and the GRP dust from drilling/sanding. A quick blast with the compressed air took care of most of the dust and a bit of Autoglym brought the gelcoat up to a nice shine.

Fuel filler and release cable fitted on passenger side (click for larger image)Driver's side fuel filler (click for larger image)

Monday 15th September

Decided to make a start on fixing the relay rail and fuse box but realised I didn't have suitable screws. I need some countersunk 5mm for fixing the bracket to the bodywork, and some 5mm buttonheads for fixing the block of relays and the fusebox to the bracket. I drilled the holes in the bodywork and the bracket.

I haven't yet fixed the rear of the cockpit to the bulkhead - I want to wait till I know exactly which bits of cable/hose etc. will be going where so I don't end up drilling out loads of rivets. I decide I may as well drill the holes now anyway - I've already drilled the line of holes in the GRP, it's just a matter of crawling under the car and popping up in the engine bay to drill the holes skin-pinning along the line as I go.

I plan to fit the fuel pumps next. The pumps come with a pre cut and drilled aluminium bracket to rivet to the chassis underneath the engine mounts as well as the right angled bracket for mounting the pump to this via grommets. I spend a little time studying the pics in the build manual as well as CJ's site to get it clear in my head exactly where the pumps go and which way round they face. Then back into the engine bay to position the first bracket and drill the rivet holes. Once that's done I start assembling the pump onto the bracket. This is fairly simple once you work out the sequence of washers/grommets - the pumps are fairly hefty jobbies and I gather can make quite a noise. I'd noticed that on James' site he'd used stainless button headed screws rather than the plated bolts that come in the box with the pump. It was only after tightening up my bolts that I discovered a pack of stainless buttonheads in my bag of bits! Doh! Only a minute to swap them over.

With the first pump assembled onto its bracket it only takes a couple of minutes to get it rivetted into place. I'm running out of time so I decide to finish off by drilling the holes to fit the passenger side bracket so I can resume early tomorrow morning without making a load of noise drilling.

Tuesday 16th September

Getting out into the garage at 7am to get an hour in before work the second time round's always quicker and pretty soon the passenger side pump is in place. So, it's on to the fuel hoses ... this has been another task I've found a bit daunting. I've got several of the by now extremely familiar polythene bags with the Ultima logo'd cardboard label - two containing lengths of the braided steel hose, one with the fittings for the fuel tank link hose and another with all the fittings for the rest of the hoses. The fittings are beautiful looking anodised aluminium in red and blue which look pretty in all the pics I've seen of them. I need to make up each length of hose. The fuel tanks operate independently, each having its own pump, with the hose going to a T via a one way valve. You switch from one tank to the other via a toggle switch just to the right of the steering wheel which also swaps over the fuel tank sender wires so the gauge shows you the level for whichever tank you're currently using. The fuel tanks are linked at the top so that should a one way valve fail you won't get an overflow from the opposite tank.

I decide the link hose will be the easiest to start with. Following the advice on CJ's site I use some electrical tape around the end of the braided hose to stop the steel strands splaying. It's a really tight fit in the screw on anodised collar but with a bit of patience and some force it goes in. Next I clamp it in my woodworking vice to tighten up the fitting and clamp the cable. My 19mm spanner does fit but is a bit sloppy - I'll get an 18mm spanner later today. Same procedure for the other end, and after removing the masking tape from the tank fittings I can fit the hose in position. By now it's time to get ready for work.

At lunchtime I pop round a few places - tool shop for an 18mm spanner, car spares shop for some pipe clips for the brake reservoir hoses and the fastener suppliers for some stainless screws, washers and nylocs.

Back in the garage I fit the relays and fuses first which only takes a few minutes. Then the pipe clips for the hoses from brake fluid reservoir to master cylinders - I've got some petrol pipe clips rather than jubilee clips as they look a bit better. Then it's back to the fuel hoses. Starting on the driver's side there's a short hose from tank outlet to pump, a blanking off fitting for the other outlet which isn't used and a length which loops from the back of the pump underneath the pump along the chassis rail to terminate in a one way flapper valve on the bulkhead. From there a length to the T piece then a vertical length up to the carb.

This takes me most of the evening, and as I get through the bags of fittings I refine my technique. Some of them I can get on OK without using the tape which makes them easier to get on as it's a less tight fit. I use some electrical tape in the jaws of the spanner which reduces the risk of marking the fittings. The hose is cut by tightly wrapping with electrical tape and using a cutting disk on the Wizard.

By the end of the evening the engine bay is looking more like the pics on the build CD, the brightly coloured anodised fittings really set it off nicely. Once there's fuel in there I'll need to carefully check all the joints for leaks, although I'm confident they're all done up tightly. I'm absolutely confident of the hose to fitting joints, if anything leaks it's more likely to be where the fittings have been screwed to each other. It's difficult to know how much force to apply, and the taper seats seem to tighten very quickly - once hand tight you won't get much more movement with a spanner.

Wednesday 17th September

Up early again today so a bit of time before work. First job was fitting the last length of fuel hose in. Then onto the aircon drier unit which sits on the right hand side of the bulkhead. On getting it down form the loft I'm a bit disappointed to find the bracket isn't the same as that in the build manual and is simply a short strip with a short return at the bottom to rest the drier on, with 2 stainless jubilee clips. Not as neat as that in the manual but it'll work fine and is in the engine bay anyway - it's easy to get a bit over picky about things! After marking out where it'll go and drilling the bracket for 4 rivets I fix it in place using a small packing washer behind each rivet to provide a bit of space for the jubilee clips, which I've flattened for a short part of their circumference to ensure they sit flat behind the bracket. Careful drilling through the bulkhead, it would be a pity to have holes through the carpet! Once the bracket's fitted I can trial fit the drier to mark the position of the hole for the hose from the condenser radiator. This done the unit is fixed in place with some foam tape on the bracket to protect the unit and prevent rattles. I can then connect up the hose from the evaporator unit up front - this needs shortening a bit by pulling it back through the luggage container towards the front of the car, otherwise it's impinging on the gearshift linkage rod. The wires to the pressure switch are also a bit short but it'll be a simple matter to make a short extension - I already have a short length with 2 male terminals on it that I used to bridge them to test the condenser fan out.

Bracket in place ready for aircon drier - washers behind bracket packing it away from GRP to allow room for jubilee clips (click for larger image)Right hand fuel pump and hoses (click for larger image)Left hand fuel pump and hoses (click for larger image)Aircon drier installed - need to lengthen wires to pressure switch (click for larger image)

Got the velcro at lunchtime for the luggage container lids. Stops them rattling (not that there's enough free play for them to rattle to be honest, but more importantly brings them up flush with the cill cover.

In the evening managed to fit the swirl pot to the bulkhead. It's just positioned high up on the bulkhead and as far over to the left as it can be while still allowing easy removal of the cap and reasonable routing for the pipes. I still haven't worked out where all the overflow piping goes - it isn't specified in the build manual. I think I have it sussed but I'll ring the factory to check tomorrow. The bracket just rivets onto the bulkhead then the polished aluminium swirlpot bolts on with some 6mm stainless buttonheads. Very nice.

Swirlpot fitted to bulkhead (click for larger image)

Thursday 18th September

An important email arrived this morning from Gail, at American Speed - my engine's ready :-) !! I was only talking to a friend last night saying it was 8 weeks to the day since I'd ordered it. There's 6 hours time difference between us and Illinois, so I rang him when I got in from work to sort out the credit card payment and ask when I should get my grubby little hands on it. He reckons about 4 or 5 days, and I'll hear from the shipping company when it's in Cardiff airport for me to collect. Still not sure what to do - cheapest option would be to take the trailer over and strap it onto that, otherwise I could hire a van or get one of the courier companies to bring it over. The airport's only 40 odd miles away, it may work out economical to get it brought over by the time I consider petrol and my time. My main worry is actually unloading it at this end, I expect it'll be a bit heavier than the 'Blade engine!

First job this evening was the expansion tank, level with but on the opposite side of the bulkhead to the swirl pot. Same procedure as the swirl pot, so it didn't take long. I decided next to make up the extension leads for the fuel pumps - the loom connections date from when the pumps were mounted at the bottom of the bulkhead, but they were apparently a bit close to the ears there! I made a start then realised the wire I was using was rated at 5 amps, which isn't enough for the pumps. I'll get some heavier duty stuff tomorrow. I move on to make up the lead to connect the aircon pressure switch and that goes fine.

Expansion tank now fitted (click for larger image)Expansion tank fitted (click for larger image)

I spoke to Andy at the factory about the hoses and I did have it sussed right, better safe than sorry though. So I connected up the rad overflow pipe to the top spigot on the swirl pot, then connected the remaining length of hose to the other spigot ready to route it across the bulkhead to the expansion tank. I'm almost ready to sort out the routing of all these pipes across the engine bay - it's quite a busy area with 2 heater hoses, overflow pipe, main fuel lines, fuel tank link hose and body release cable to sort out. I'd like to get some rivets in the bulkhead instead of the skin pins as they're getting in the way a bit, so I leave gaps every 5th rivet to clip pipes later and get going with the pop rivet gun. The line of rivets and washers looks nice, much tidier! The bottom of the cockpit back looks neat on the inside too, I cut the carpet across at about the right level.

Friday 19th September

Got some wire rated at 17A at my local motor factors at lunchtime. Also spotted that they sell Valvoline Racing 20/50 which has been suggested as a good choice for a Chevy engine. Cheap too - only about 13 quid for 5 litres. And I went mad and splashed out just over a tenner for 5 litres of alloy wheel cleaner.

Anyway, back to the build. The fuel pump wiring didn't take long, ring terminals on the pump end, then cut off the old terminals on the loom spur and twisted then soldered the wires together. Some shrink wrap followed by some tape then they were all clipped neatly along the existing wiring/hoses.

Decided to start thinking about tidying up the rest of the hoses etc next. I'd had a mental block - the build manual shows the heater hoses running across the bulkhead across the middle of the ally bit. I'd not been keen on that until I remembered that it's double skinned so nothing will poke through into the cockpit! Durr! Ultima supply the plastic/rubber coated metal P clips for the hoses and plastic ones for the fual lines, yet the pictures seem to show cable ties. The holes in the metal P clips are far too big for pop rivets, so I decide to use some of the rivet on cable tie mounts and use a loop of cable tie each side.

The asbestos matting/cloth is up in the loft so I get it down to see if I can pinch a small offcut to insulate the heater hoses where they run alongside the fuel tank link hose ... just about. I briefly commandeer the kitched table to cut a strip off and bind the edges with the aluminium self-adhesive tape supplied. Then slap some Evo-stik on to alow me to wrap it round the hoses as a sleeve. Now I've decided what's going where I can clip the rear canopy release cable.

By the time I've done that and marked up and drilled the holes for the cable tie mounts the Evo-stik is dry. Once the heat insulation is wrapped round the heater hoses securely I can secure them along with the fuel tank link and the overflow pipe to the expansion tank.

Hoses and release cable now clipped (click for larger image)Hoses and cables on passenger side (click for larger image)Asbestos matting round heater hoses where they run along bulkhead (click for larger image)

Still got a bit of time left so I decide to stick the silicon hose from the left hand aluminium pipe to the swirl pot. This requires a 90 degree bend joined to a straight length via a short length af ally tube and some jubilee clips. These all go together nicely with a tiny smear of fairy liquid. Looks very pretty. Can't really fit any more of the nice blue stuff till the engine's in there.

I decide on another clear up before going in, and decide I may as well stick the wheels back on to save me keep tripping over them! It's also an opportunity to make sure the front wheels don't foul on the cill closure panels - it looks awfully tight in there! Sure enough it's fine. Those wheels certainly do fill the wheel arches though!.

A quick look at the electrics - the hazards and wiper etc. are all working fine now - a fuse had fallen out of a relay! Still nothing showing on the voltmeter though, and the ignition light doesn't come on. I wonder if they need the alternator etc to be connected up? I'll leave them till the engine's running, I'm confident it's all connected up right anyway.

I'm actually off all weekend and don't have any meetings to go to! Hurray! Guess where I'll be tomorrow ;-) I can make a start on finishing off the bodywork - the bonnet and rear canopy need removing for the insides to be painted and the doors need final fitting.

Nice Samco hoses joined with short aluminium length (click for larger image)Swirl pot and hoses in all their glory! (click for larger image)

Saturday 20th September

I couldn't get the bonnet and canopy off first thing in the morning as I had no help! Teenage sons sleep late on Saturdays! So I busied myself tweaking the position of the rose joint pivots to optimise the shut lines as they've shifted a tiny bit since the final fit of cockpit. Then I got going with masking tape.

Also nipped out to the motor factors to get some more stonechip paint. I'd toyed with the idea of just using aerosols but decided I can get a thicker coat on with the spray gun, and the paint's only 5.95 a litre. Once the two body sections were off and upside down on bubble wrap on the garage floor I could finish off masking, blow all the dust out and give it all a swish over with a thinners soaked cloth.

Canopy masked up and ready for the black stuff (click for larger image)

Painting them was simple enough but messy and I'm sure the Health and Safety Executive wouldn't have approved. I did wear a mask which must have been doing something judging by the black tide mark on my face around where the mask was! While the paint was drying I refitted my angle strips to check the suspension alignment - I had a feeling I'd left the front wheels parallel thinking it might help with lining up bodywork. Which it didn't of course. I'd left gaffer tape on the chassis showing exactly where the angles should be clamped, and it didn't take long to get it all set up again with the parallel threads. Double checked the rears were OK and tightened up the locknuts on the upper rose joint and the toe adjuster. Then moved to the front and set the overall toe in to 2mm, checked the camber which was fine and tightened the locknuts up front.

Canopy blacked up apart from where the asbetos cloth will go (click for larger image)Bonnet painted (click for larger image)Chassis surrounded by string box to recheck suspension before body goes back on (click for larger image)

By now the paint was dry, and I decided it was better to fit the grilles to the canopy and bonnet while they were upside down. First bit was the shaped ones in the slots in the top of the rear canopy. Ran out of selant on the 4th one, but had spotted tubes of Tetrosyl polyurethane sealant in the motor factors for 5.95, so nipped down to get some of that. The rest of the black mesh grilles were pretty simple, although because the GRP apertures have fairly substantial returns on them you need to use quite a bit of sealant if you want to avoid being right up to the edge of the opening and risk the sealant being visible. I used cable ties and masking tape to hold them in place which worked well.

Cable ties and masking tape used to secure grilles while sealant goes off (click for larger image)

The main opening in the front of the bonnet has a large stainless steel grill to fit with stainless screws and nuts. Using the right angled drill I was able to drill these and countersink them nicely, then fit the screws. The factory supplies standard stainless washers, but these are too small and go straight through the holes in the mesh! I had some spare penny washers so used those. Getting the washer and nut on the three upper screws was difficult and required holding the nut in a pair of needle nosed pliers. Got there in the end and the result looks nice and neat.

Bonnet grille fixed with screws (click for larger image)Outside of bonnet showing countersunk screws (click for larger image)

I've decided I may as well get the shocks on the car now as it'll be much easier with the bodywork off and it's almost time to think about lowering the car onto terra firma. Up in the loft to retrieve the box with the Intrax shocks (custom built for Ultima) I realise I'm running out of boxes! The shocks look very nice and exude quality. fitting them is pretty straightforward although hard work particularly on the rears as the wheel/upright assembles are darned heavy. I could have taken the wheels off but decided not to bother.

Intrax rear shock mounted - damping adjustmnent will be left on full soft until 'run in' (click for larger image)Front shock (click for larger image)

Last job of the day before clearing up was cutting the asbestos heat shielding cloth to shape, binding the edges and gluing it in place with some Evo-stik. It was deformable enough to follow the contours nicely.

Heat shielding Evo-stuk in place (click for larger image)View of engine bay with canopy removed - all needs a good clean! (click for larger image)

With that done the whole day has gone - off out with some friends this evening.

Sunday 21st September

I'd got one of the kids to lift the bonnet section back on yesterday evening, so I could refit the pivot bolts this morning. Couple of snags - firstly the nuts holding the grille are hitting the bottom of the rad pan floor, so they have to come out, I suspect it's not intended to have any on that side of the grille. Once I remove those I discover it's much more difficult getting at the pivot bolt/nut with the grilles in place! I end up slackening off the rose joints again then it takes me a couple of hours to get it refitted and lined up again.

I then discovered another grille I'd forgotten about which sits in the aperture in the middle of the bonnet above the rad fans. Took me a bit of time to work out exactly how it fits, then even longer trimming it to fit and bending it carefully. It was also missing a bit of paint before I started, so once it was fitted I stuck some paper behind it, masked around it and gave it a spray with some Hammerite.

The whole car is covered in dust and fingermarks, so I decided the next job was to get it looking pretty again. After a quick dusting off I set to with the Autoglym resin polish which brought it up nice and shiny again. At the back I did the same thing with all the chassis tubes etc., also cleaned off the fuel tanks which had some marks from the masking tape on them.

Front of car with grilles and a bit of polish (click for larger image)

And that was it for the day as I had a few jobs to do about the house - taking up a floor ready for the carpet fitters tomorrow.

Monday 22nd September

Lifted the rear canopy back on before help went to school. Had to be around the house all day waiting for carpet fitters. Got the canopy refitted with much less trouble than the front end! Once it was on and the gas stuts were refitted I gave it a dust off and some polish, then set about fitting the rubber buffers. There are 6 of these and they just space the canopy off the cockpit section to provide some cushioning, stop it rubbing and to ensure the shutline is even. They're relatively thick and make closing it very positive, also widen the shutline a bit which actually looks a bit better now as it's parallel around the curved section near the fuel filler.

On to refitting the passenger door next. Still quite a few anxieties about getting the doors right since they're so critical to the car's final finish. During the prefit I'd only taken enough GRP off the doors to squeeze them into their apertures. I'd also noted that the front shutline was too wide, and had bought some stainless penny washers to space the hinge forwards off the front pillar to move the door forwards slightly. Getting these in was a bit fiddly but seemed to do the trick. I did experiment with using 2 washers but that moved the door too far forwards.

With the door back on it was obvious there was loads more to come off the rear edge of the door, especially the horizontal stretch where the handle is, but it needed filing back from top to bottom. I started off using a file, tried a sanding block but in the end used the Wizard with a sanding drum to get the bulk of the fibreglass off. Once I was nearly there used the sanding block and progressively finer paper to get a decent finish. The edge will need painting, but the edge that's visible with the door closed is of course fine. It really is worrying the amount you have to take off - I stopped and thought about it and realised that since the cockpit is secured to the sidepod with 2 studs at the front and 2 at the rear the aperture size is entirely dictated by the factory, so there's no way I could have got this wrong myself!

Once I had the door closing with a nice shutline I could fit the striker bolt. This initially had confused me a bit as all the factory supply is a big (~10mm x 65mm) bolt. I'd asked Dave about this some time ago - the idea is to initially fit the bolt from behind the B pillar to get the right depth and position, then reverse it and cut it to length and polish up (it's stainless). It sounded easy enough, and indeed it was fairly easy. There's a small pilot hole predrilled in the pillar, but I needed to expand mine upwards and outwards a bit to get the door alignment right. I also found that the nut was impinging on the latch mechanism, so I employed the same trick as used on the hinge and packed it out into the door a bit with some washers.

Once happy with this bit I fitted the gas ram which goes inside the front wing. This was easy enough but took a bit of time recovering dropped washers using a magnet on a telescopic rod! The door closes up against a rubber edging strip so I fitted that next. The lip this clips over needed trimming back a bit around the rear of the door but otherwise it went on easily. The door now opens and closes nicely and I'm entirely happy with the shutlines so now spend a bit of time with the very fine wet and dry followed by some T cut to get a good finish on the outside of the door. The actual edges will need a bit more work - there are some holes that'll need filling where I've taken the GRP off so much I've got down to a gap where the two skins have been bonded together. After that some paint will have it looking good.

With all the dust cleaned off and the door polished up I could admire my handiwork. Extremely pleased with the door, it's taken a few hours but been well worth it, it looks really good. The pictures don't really do it justice!

Passenger door final fitted (click for larger image)Rear shutline of passenger door - had to take lots of GRP off here! (click for larger image)Passenger door top hinge (click for larger image)

Tuesday 23rd September

Only a short session in the garage today as I'm away early tomorrow morning up to Edinburgh for a couple of days. Hung the drivers door on its hinges with some packing spacers to pull the door further forwards but decided that still left too wide a shutline at the front edge, so will need to fit some more washers in there.

I rang Gail at American Speed in the evening to check on the engine - he says it was shipped yesterday and gives me the consignment number. I can then track my engine on BAX Global's website - according to their web tracking page it's on a flight from Chicago O'Hare airport to Heathrow and should arrive at HEathrow at 7.20am tomorrow.

Friday 26th September

Back to the drivers door today. After trying it with 2 washers behind each screw it's still sitting too far back, so have to take it all off again and add 4 more washers. Made life a bit easier for myself by fitting the gas ram to the hinge which then held the hinge up and made hanging the door on it quite a bit easier. This time it looks right and I can set to work fettling the door which needs a lot of GRP taking off, as the passenger door did. Again I used the sanding drum on the Black and Decker Wizard followed by elbow grease with sanding block etc. and clouds of dust later I was happy.

Here's the before and after pictures for the front edge of the door:

Drivers door hinge side before being attacked with sander etc (click for larger image)Drivers door hinge side tidied up and polished (click for larger image)

... and the rear edge:

Rear edge of drivers door before final fettling (click for larger image)Rear edge of drvers door also done (click for larger image)

Fitting the striker bolt was fairly staightforward although the 10mm stainless bolts take a little time with the junior hacksaw! There's already a pilot hole there, but the position wasn't exactly right so I had to enlarge the hole in the right direction. Once I was happy with the position the nuts on the bolt were tightened and the door's done. With both doors on it really looks like a car now!

Drivers door fettling completed - will now need edges painting (click for larger image)Car starting to look more complete - pretty curtain is there to keep dust off the dash alcontara! (click for larger image)

There's no particular sequence to follow now really, there are lots of jobs I could get on with. Now the door hinges are final fitted I can stick the indicator repeaters in the apertures in the cockpit sides. This takes all of 20 minutes, and a quick check confirms that they're working fine. Flashing a bit quick though cos all the relay's powering is the side repeaters and the dash repeaters!

During the morning another box had arrived from Hinckley containing various bits and pieces - glass bonding kit, clutch slave cylinder, brake bias locknut and a horn. I decide to stick the horn on and that too doesn't take long.

Before I finish for the day I decide to have another look at the voltmeter which apparently should be working when the ignition's on. I can't really get to the wires on the back properly, space is very restricted behind the dash. I just about manage to undo the 2 plastic knurled nuts holding it in place and slide it out. Sure enough the green wire shows 12 volts on the multi meter, so I try swapping the wires round and hey presto! It works. Getting the knurled nuts back on was a pig of a job, but was eventually done. The voltmeter's showing just over 10 volts, and I realise it's been connected for 3 weeks now during which time it's been powering the alarm, so I stick the charger on.

I decide to have a look at the rear lights, so bring them all down from the loft. These are nice round units from Valeo and look a bit Ferrari-esque. There are three on each side, the outermost being the indicator and rear fog, the other two being stop/tail lights. According to the wiring diagram only one of the stop/tails should be connected, and I'm sure I read somewhere that it's the middle one as it woul dbe too close to the indicator otherwise and would fail SVA. I trawl through CJ's and James' websites but can't for the life of me find any reference to this. The wiring diagram suggests it's the middle one.

First job is to fit the rear loom, which requires drilling a couple of holes through the GRP inner skin. By the time the loom's clipped in place it's time to call it a day.

The BAX office in Cardiff Airport rang in the morning to say my engine was in Cardiff and they hoped to clear it through customs during the day and get it out to me on Monday. They offer to deliver it to me for an additional £43 and it doesn't take me long to decide that at that price it's not worth me spending 3 hours and the petrol going over there with the trailer.

Saturday 27th September

Woke up at a ridiculous time this morning and couldn't get back to sleep so I was out in the garage very early even by my own standards - well before 5 o'clock! I knew I'd be knackered later but thought I may as well try to be productive if I'm awake.

Returning the the rear lights I find that the holes cut in the GRP are too small to get the units in, and after a brief and not terribly spirited attack with a small file I realise I need to use the little sanding drum again. Figuring the resulting noise pollution would be a bit inappropriate for this ungodly hour I leave the lights and move on to something else.

I make a start on passenger headlight cluster. Again there's no text supporting the pics in the build CD, but CJ's site is as usual helpful in clarifying some of it. I soon encounter the same problem as at the rear - apertures too tight to get the indicator through. I realise there are 4 threaded studs to glue in place, so I mix up some JB Weld (chemcical metal) and bond them in.

Still too early to use the sander so I decide to have a look at the passenger mirror. The build CD has some nice pics with dimensions clearly shown, so marking up and drilling the holes for this wasn't too bad. I again use a small spirit level to ensure the rear face of the housing is vertical as shown in the manual. The mirror housings need a bit of fettling, they haven't had the same flash line removal process as the rest of the body kit, and the rear edge of the stem needs sanding down then polishing. The gelcoat has gaps in it with the black GRP showing through so these will need painting.

I'd promised to take David to play golf early, but on my various trips back into the kitchen for tea/coffee I'd noticed that there was a clear sky and it was in fact getting colder as it came light. Eventually I reckon I could just about cope with the temperature so we leave at 8.30. After getting back at lunchtime I nip down to the motor factors for a tin of red paint.

Back to the rear lights - the sanding drum makes short work of fettling the apertures and connecting up and getting the washers/nylocs on at the back is fiddly but not too bad. Pretty soon all 6 are fitted and I can test the lights out. All is well and they really do look very nice.

Rear light units look lovely (click for larger image)

On to the headlight cluster next, and the sander makes short work of opening out for the left hand indicator. The indicator rivets onto an ovalish plate which then screws onto the fibreglass housing - I just drilled 4mm holes in the GRP and ran the 5mm tap through. There's no real stress on these mountings so that will be fine. I even used a spirit level to make sure it was level instead of just eyeballing it! Next up is the lamp next to the indicator - there are 3 lights in each cluster, and I haven't got a clue what each does! It's obvious which goes where though, so I get on with it. This unit is mounted via each corner, with a button head in 3 corners and a threaded stud at the other for adjustment. The factory supply a length of rubber tube which you cut into short lengths to mount the lamps on to allow some movement. The manual doesn't say how long, but I work out how many I need and cut the length supplied up into that many pieces which works out at 3-4mm each. The pair of lamps above this are supplied fitted as a pair to a mounting plate, and this goes straight in without any trouble. Again it's mounted on rubber buffers.

CJ's site makes the wiring sound complicated, a view encouraged by the pics on the CD. However when I get the loom in place it's a doddle - obviously they've sorted the wiring out since CJ got his. The connectors just fit straight on and I can check that the lights all work. They do indeed and I'm now able to decipher which lamp does what. The one at the bottom next to the indicator is the dipped beam, the two above both come on for main beam. They're all nice Hella units and look like they should light up the road pretty well. The indicator lead needs cutting down, but I'm out of time.

Sunday 28th September

First job of the day is getting the wiring spur from the front loom across to the right hand headlight cluster. This goes through the strenghtening brace/double skin on the front of the bonnet, with a grommet at each end. Again it's a bit too early to make much noise out here, so I decide to carry on with the mirrors. The housings already have the motors fitted, but I take these out to fettle the housings and mask them to spray the inside black. Sanding and polishing them takes quite a long time. The red paint I got yesterday turns out to look a bit too dark, I'll nip back later on and swap it for a different shade.

While the black stonechip paint is drying I have a look at the wiring for the mirror motors. The supplied crimp on connectors are a bit bulky, so I cut the insulation off them, solder them on then insulate with some shrink wrap. I can now check how they work. On the right hand side the left/right movement seems fine but there's no up/down movement. A bit puzzled I connect the same motor to the left hand side and it moves fine in all 4 directions. Happy that at least the motor's OK to be fitted I leave investigation of this for later.

By now it's mid morning and everyone's up so I can get going on the right hand headlamp cluster. Now I know how everything goes this is much quicker than the other side, and pretty soon I have a full complement of headlights, side lights and indicators (which are now flashing at a normal rate!).

I snip the indicator leads to length and attach new bullet connectors. The covers which go over the headlamp assemblies under the bonnet are upstairs so I nip up for them. It's starting to look really sparse up here now! A couple of seats, windscreen, exhaust and 2 boxes containing the perspex and the clutch and gearbox fitting bits and pieces.

I'd expected the covers would be tricky to fit, but after drilling the 2 holes through the moulded dimples they just go straight on. Another 10 minutes sees the front loom section p-clipped to the bonnet and the front lighting is done.

Right hand headlight cluster fitted and wired up (click for larger image)Right hand headlight cover fitted (click for larger image)Left hand headlight inside cover fitted and loom clipped in place (click for larger image)Left hand headlight cluster completed (click for larger image)Right hand headlight cluster (click for larger image)

I've been planning on getting the car off the trestles today, and going through a mental checklist of what really needs doing before then I realise I'm not far away. I've got some different paint and apply the first coat to the mirrors and leave them to dry. I still haven't rivetted the outboard edge of the cill covers, and now the doors are in their final positions I can get that done. This is fairly simple, just applying gentle pressure to hold the top of the sidepod in to make sure it's perfectly aligned with the bottom edge of the door.

I decide I've done enough now to lower the car to terra firma. The trestles are quite high so it's a multi stage process using various blocks of wood and the axle stands. Once it's on the floor it looks completely different, definitlely a car now!

I decide to wheel it out of the garage so I can clear all the bits of wood away and give the garage floor a good sweeping. The drive slopes downhill from the garage and this car's a different kettle of fish from the Westy which is easy to push around as you can use the roll bar and reach the handbrake easily from outside the car. So Chris gets the first drive of the car to hold it on the handbrake as I push - he's amazed how low down it is! There's a good few inches of clearance each side of the car through the garage doorway and the car's soon out in the fresh air. It's a bit dusty so it gets a quick wipe over before I take some photos.

Car sees daylight for the firt time! Kids can't get over how low it is! (click for larger image)Car soaking up its first rays! (click for larger image)Front view of car (click for larger image)

Once my spring clean's complete we push the Ultima back into the garage, I hook up the trailer to the Evo and nip round to my friend's house to pick up his engine hoist. I did go to Machine Mart to get one a few weeks ago but once I saw them in the flesh I realised I really didn't want one hanging round in the garage, they're bigger than I expected and take up quite a lot of room.

With any luck the engine should be arriving tomorrow!

Monday 29th September

The engine arrived mid afternoon - the girl in the BAX office had said it would be coming in a Transit van, with no lifting gear, so I thought I'd be OK using the engine hoist to lift it out. The engine turned up in lorry with a pretty high bed! I quickly managed to grab my neighbour and ring a local friend who wasn't in but whose son was unfortunate enough to answer the phone! Between us we just managed to lift it down off the lorry, the driver then had a little fork trolley to wheel it up the drive into the garage.

The engine comes bolted onto a steel frame which in turn is bolted onto a pallet. The whole lot is enclosed in a large polythene bag and thick cardboard box secured with steel straps. Didn't take me long to get in there! It really does look stunning, aluminium Edlebrock heads, manifold and water pump, polished rocker covers. Couple of boxes with huge K&N filter, MSD ignition unit and coil, engine mounts.

The engine arrives! It's hyooooge! (click for larger image)Left side of engine (click for larger image)Edelbrock heads very pretty (click for larger image)Lots of nice billet aluminium (click for larger image)Right side of engine (click for larger image)

Managed to get a couple of bits done - fitted the oil pressure sender unit via its adapter:

Oil pressure sender fitted (click for larger image)

Fitted the aircon compressor - this was fairly simple, the bracket replaces the oil pump blanking plate and there are some replacement bolts (two of which were actually too long). I haven't got a belt but my local motor factors will have one in for me tomorrow. While I was in there I got some oil for the new baby - the factors have Valvoline Racing 20/50 in stock at £14.95 incl VAT for 5 litres which seems a bit of a bargain!

Aircon compressor fitted - need to get a belt for it. (click for larger image)

Made a start on the flywheel and clutch assembly. Bolted the flywheel onto the crank OK, it was a tight fit but I just kept tightening the bolts evenly until it was seated firmly. Next bit was fitting the needle roller pilot bearing into the crank, but its a tight fit and didn't want to go. Also not sure which way round it goes - it isn't symmetrical. I'll check with the factory tomorrow.

Flywheel bolted onto crank (click for larger image)

Before going off to bed I stuck the dyno figures into an Excel sheet and produced a graph. According to the dyno the maximum power is 479.9HP @ 6095 rpm, with maximum torque 501.8 ft lbs @ 4500 rpm. The dyno printout only runs from 2853 rpm upwards but it's already producing 453 ft lbs by then.

Dyno graph - max power 479.9 BHP @ 6095 rpm, torque 501.8 ft lbs @ 4500 rpm

Tuesday 30th September

Some helpful advice from the PistonHeads Ultima forum on the bearing fitment, also had a chat with Andy in the factory. It seems I should have an original Chevy phosphor bronze bush in the end of the crank which is retained to prevent the needle roller pushing out of its aluminium bush when fitting the gearbox. They didn't have one in stock so I ordered one from Real Steel. Also asked about fitting the coil and the throttle cable - Andy's going to send me brackets for both those. I also need some bolts for the engine mounts. Felt a bit frustrated that after getting my engine from the factory's recommended supplier I'm left needing quite a few small but necessary bits and pieces.

Nipped to Swansea Fasteners for rivnut kit at lunchtime - I'd come to the conclusion it was the only sensible way to mount the MSD ignition box to the rear bulkhead. Picked up the aircon belt to find it didn't fit being too long, despite being the size recommended by the factory. I guess I must have a different size pulley on my engine. Also realised I'd forgotten to ask Andy about the water temp sender and body buffers for the bonnet so I'll need to ring him again tomorrow.

Couldn't spend long in the garage in the evening due to building a new computer for youngest son. I did manage to fit the MSD ignition box. The box mounts via rubber bushes on the rear bulkhead and rivnuts are the obvious way of fitting these neatly. It just fits in between the insulated stretch of heater hoses and the fuel line. Started making a template in cardboard then fitting it was fairly simple. The rivnut tool made very light of fitting the captive nuts, well impressed - wished I'd got one before! Used a bit of threadlock on both the threaded rubber bushes and the screws holding the box to them. Had a look at the wiring and think I've got most of it sussed, although there's a slight issue about whether it's safe/advisable to take a permanent live supply for it from the alternator or starter or whether it's worthwhile using a separate wire run down through the sidepod. I'd caught wind of this a couple of weeks ago and had run a suitable cable through the passenger sidepod at the time the alarm was fitted in case.

Rubber bobbins on bulkhead for MSD ignition unit (click for larger image)Ignition unit fitted (click for larger image)

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