After many years, I finally decided to get myself a 7. The 7 was designed in 1957 by Colin Chapman, the founder of Lotus. It was originally known as the Lotus 7. In the 1970’s rights to the 7 were sold to Caterham, who now sell the 7. Actually you get to buy a kit of parts and you have to build the car yourself.
This blog shows the path from taking the test drive through car building and finally driving the completed car. Most of the construction happened in April & May 2013.
Posts are chronologically ordered, the earliest starting at the bottom. So, if you want to read from the beginning, then scroll way down. Alternatively, select from the Categories or Archive menus.
I also went though some of the older posts and added some Hindsight comments in italics.
I removed the intermittent ignition switch and replaced with a toggle switch and starter button.
Also checking the tires after about 6000 miles, pretty close to being bald. I certainly expected them to last a little longer.
….since my last blog, a year has gone by. Summer is over, we have 3 feet of snow on the ground and the 7 is put away for the winter.
Over the summer we had driven down to Los Gatos for the annual 7 get together, and during that trip the speedo died permanently. So I just left it broken and relied on my GPS to get my speed and mileage.
My eyesight has gotten to the point that I need reading glasses when I have my distance contact lenses in. When I don’t have my contacts in, I have some bifocal sunglasses. But, where I had mounted the GPS, it was above the lens cutover horizontal meaning that I could not read anything unless I tilted my head way back. Clearly I needed to move the GPS lower.
The final solution takes inspiration from F1 cars, where they display all kinds of data on the steering wheel. So, I have mounted the GPS on the steering wheel. Sofar it seems to work OK, but I have driven only limited mileage before winter set in.
This evening I went to take a look at the speedo sensor. It appears to be working correctly- with ignition on and turning the wheel slowly the led is the sensor turns on & off matching the toothed ring timing. At least, I know I’m getting +12v and a ground. Next thing to check is that the signal is making its way to the speedo. That’s the next thing to check.
While doing that, I discovered that the ignition switch is intermittent. I removed the switch assembly and found most of it was loose. So, I need a replacement.
I remember when waiting for my 7 kit to arrive, Randy informed me that there was a delayed schedule due to a faulty batch of ignition switches. Well, I guess I got one, but it took a while to shake loose.
Well, I found out what keeps my hat on (actually baseball cap). I removed part of the driver side deflector, took the car out and my hat flew off at 50mph. Its the lower part of the deflector- so, I’ll have to try some more experiments with that part of the airflow. See the red circled area in the picture.
To fix the problem of the individual pop fasteners coming loose. I found a piece of extruded aluminum 3/4″ x 1/8″, cut to length and bent at either end to follow the top windscreen contour. This involved heating the aluninum until it JUST started to bend and using large pliers, form the curve. Note that the curve is on the wide way (3/4″), so its quite tricky to get it right. Also if you heat the aluminum too much, is just breaks off.
With the bends on either end finished, I marked and the drilled the holes to mount the pop fasteners. Mounted the fasteners and verified the fit onto the top windscreen.
Then I removed all the screws and pop fasteners and started threading the aluminum extrusion into the seam of the soft-top. This was a very tight squeeze and took about 1/2 hour. Once in place, I found each of the mounting holes and screwed on the pop fastener and completed with a stainless steel acorn nut. With all those in place, I installed the shortie and went out for a test drive. Took it up to 70mph and the top stayed on – test passed.
On the return drive home on Sunday in the mid-day sun, the Speedo started to go intermittent again. Lost about 60 miles when compared with the GPS.
Back to the drawing board I guess.
Moved to the top & re-ordered.
While Jeff & I were comparing cars on Sunday morning, I noticed some oil on the outside of the sump. So, on Tuesday evening I decided to take a look. Jacked up the front end and I noticed the LHS front stub axle bearing was loose – there was play in the wheel.
But first things first. The oil temp sender mounted in the drain plug was not fully tight – so I took care of that. Next the oil filter was a little too loose for hand tight- so I hand tightened it a little more. There’s maybe some oil slightly leaking around the oil filter mounting casting, but I’ll wait a while on that to see what the other two fixes have achieved.
Now the LHS front stub axle. Took the wheel off and noted that the lock nut was not fully tight even though there was a fitted cottar pin holding it from moving. Also noted that the inside stub bolt (where the front wing bracket bolts onto), was not tightened to the spec 81NM (60 ft lbs). So, I torqued that first. Then tightened the outer bearing-facing nut until the wheel just got too tight to freely rotate, then backed off to the closest cottar pin hole. Fitted the cottar pin and put the wheel back on. Looseness all gone.
I looked under the back and noted the rear A-frame mounting point looked like there was a small gap, checked the bolt and noted it was not tight, even though its supposed to be 81NM (60 ft lbs). Now when I built the car, I had inadvertantly not included 2 nylon washers on either side of the bushing on the rear A-frame mounting point. So, I found the nylon washers, took out the bolt, then re-assembled with the nylon washers and torqued it up.