Tuesday 28 December 2010

Time for a bit of Diff and Dat

Well, Christmas is over and the goose has got fat, well to be honest I have eaten a bit more than I should so it is me and not the goose that needs to go on a diet!! (Perhaps I should have waited for the new Zero with the wide body!!)  Anyway, I have done all the "family" things and visited the relatives and I am back to work tomorrow, but I was able to spend the day in the garage today.

This is really my first proper day on the car.  I have had a few little sessions painting the front up rights and marking out a couple of the panels ready to fit, but I have not really made a positive start to the build.  I have also spent a lot of time just looking at the chassis trying to work out where where things are going to go or be routed etc.  It really has been too cold to do anything before now.

When I collected the car, I was told by the guys in the workshop, that for ease of access, the first job is to fit the differential.  This really is a 2 man job but me, being the stubborn person I am, decided I could fit it on my own.  First I thought I would check the build manual to see what it had to say about fitting the diff.  Nothing.  Not a thing.  The current GBS Zero build manual really is not worth the 9.2MB of space it is taking up on my Mac.  Oh well, looks like I will have to make it up as I go along.  They do assure me that they are re-writing the manual but that is of little use to me today!

First thing you have to do is get the diff up in place from underneath (hence the requirement for 2 people).  I made up a trolley affair with an amp flight case and a couple of other flight cases and together they did the job.  After a lot of huffing and puffing, I got the top bolt in.  I had to use washers as spacers as the brackets are too wide, I assume to suite different differentials.  Anyway, I then proceeded to fit the front bolts.  These needed a bit of persuasion, but went in eventually.  Now to fit the lower bolt.  Bugger!! There are chassis members and other brackets preventing this from happening.  Now I see why the holes for the lower bolt are actually slots.  You have to fit the lower bolt first with the diff raised up higher, and then lower it down in to the right position!!  So, undo all the other bolts and lift the diff out again and start the whole procedure from scratch.  This time, I fitted the lower bolt first.  Not so easy to get the washers in to act as spacers, but it went in after about 20 minutes of faffing, dropping washers, picking up washers, dropping them again ... you get the picture.  Then it was a simple task of re-fitting the top bolts and washers/spacers and the front bolts.  Once it was all in, all that was left was to torque all the nuts up.  Problem no 2 with the build manual.  No torque settings.  All I can say is thank heavens for Westfield and the numerous versions of their manual you can find on line that contains torque settings.  I used those and the nuts and bolts are now suitably torqued up.

I am on a roll now so I thought I would tackle the seat back panel.  I had already marked it out ready so now I needed to re-fit it and drill the holes in to the chassis.  Once that was all done, it has to come off again to clean up the drill fillings and to apply the silicon/bonding agent.  For this I used the recommended Sikafex 221.  Now a word of warning here.   This is nasty sticky stuff and if you get it on your hands you will have a devil of a job to get it off.  I got some on mine and spent a good 20 minutes trying to clean it off.  My hands still look grubby now so I would strongly recommend using disposable rubber gloves, subject to you not having any type of latex allergy.  So back to the seat back panel.  It really is very straightforward and once the Sikaflex is applied and the panel is re-fitted, it is a simple case of riveting it all together.  I only have a hand rivet gun so it is a bit time consuming but none the less rewarding.  I didn't count them but I think there are between 50 and 60 rivets on this panel alone!!

One other word of warning.  I got so carried away with the moment that I forgot to remove the protective film from the panel.  it is not a train crash, but it is a real bugger to remove once you have riveted the panel to the car!

Next time I will move on to the tunnel side panels.

Thursday 9 December 2010

Collection Day

Well, the day finally arrived.  It was actually only 4 weeks from placing the order to collecting my kit, which I think is pretty good going.  I collected the rented van at 8.00am and after the usual paperwork was on the road by about 8.30am.  It was very cold, probably about -2 or -3 degrees and it was cold in the van.  Don't worry, I thought, it will soon warm up, after all, it is a nearly new Mercedes Sprinter.  How wrong was I.  Luke warm was the best it could muster so I put my coat and gloves on and carried on.  The washers were also frozen, so that equally didn't help the journey.

I was not looking forward to the journey as Great Britain was having a torrid time of it with deep snow and freezing temperatures.  Anyway, 3 hours and a couple of pit stops later to clean the windscreen, I arrived at the factory.  To say the car park was an ice rink was an understatement and made for an interesting time getting the van up to the loading bay doors!

Anyway, the kettle was on for a very appreciated coffee (thank you Ruth) and we set about loading up the kit.  There was a very detailed check list of parts to go through and Will, who works in the parts department, was very thorough going through them one by one so I knew what the part was and where they went on the car.

The donor parts were all cleaned up and looking nice and after about an hour, everything was loaded up.  I also opted to buy a few little extras whilst I was there.  Time for a second cup of coffee and a look around the workshops.  There was a customer's car that had been through the IVA the previous day (a first time pass) and another that was being prepared ready for collection the following day to be taken all the way to Spain.  I had a long chat with Simon, the technical wizard and he gave me some good pointers to look out for along the way.

More chats with Richard and Keith before we finally sorted out the bill (well the bill to date anyway) and once that was all settled, I was on my way.  The journey back was uneventful and by 6.00pm I was back in Gloucester.  I started to unload what I could but had to wait for some help from the son-in-law (Stuart, who I think may make a few appearances in this blog as time goes on) to lift the chassis out of the van and in to the garage.

So, she (why do we always refer to cars as "she"?) is here safe and sound and so on to the build proper, which I hope to start at the weekend.

Wednesday 24 November 2010

Getting Close Now

Well, I had a busy weekend, clearing the garage out and getting it ready for the arrival.  I have a nice new tool box and a few new bits and bobs, but I still have a few things to get.  I have told the Vectra that she won't be able to stay in the garage for much longer, and she seems OK about it.  I will miss not having to defrost her on cold mornings but these are the sacrifices you have to make if you want to build a kit car.

Anyway, I spoke to the factory on Monday and was told that my GBS Zero kit will be ready for collection the week starting the 6th December 2010.  We agreed on a collection day of Wednesday 8th, just to give the guys chance to get everything together, although I was told they have everything in stock that I am having in the first delivery.

I have opted for the 2468 kit with the following little additions.  I have chosen the lowered floor and also to have the chassis and all suspension parts powder coated.  To me, this was a no brainer and will be a lot tougher than any finish I could apply, painting the chassis myself.  I have also had louvres put in to the bonnet as I think that really helps the look and I have also opted for a new factory wiring loom to save any electrical issues later on.  Finally I have ordered a donor pack as I just don't have the time, space or inclination to strip an old Sierra on my drive!  I have also asked for them to get it all shot blasted for me as, again, I don't have the facilities to clean the parts myself.

Colour wise, I have opted for white GRP panels.  I am very lucky that my son-in-law is a vehicle paint sprayer by trade and he has very kindly offered to paint the car for me so the white GRP probably won't stay white very long.  I still have to make my mind up what colour I am going to have it.  I keep looking at pictures of other builds and also other cars in the same mould (7 style clones) to get some inspiration.  At this point, I am erring towards a dark metalic blue, but that could change.  Fortunately I don't need to make a decision just yet but at some point the panels will need to be taken away to be painted before I fit them to the car.  Well that is the plan at the moment.  I need to talk it all through with the son-in-law to get his opinion as he may say it is better to paint them once they are fitted.

The last thing I can do before collection has also been done i.e. the van has been booked (£55 from Europcar for the day, LWB LDV van),  so all I can do now is wait.

Tuesday 9 November 2010

And so it begins!!

So, where do I start?  Well, if you have found this page, there is a very strong possibility that you are either building, have built, or are considering building a Great British Sportscars Zero.  Looking for sites like this was exactly what I did .... looking for build blogs about the car to try and find out the pros and cons of building one.  Looking for answers to questions like, how easy are they to put together?  How good is the factory with support?  How much will it cost me in total?  How long will it take me?  Do I have the required skills to pull this off to a standard I will be happy with?  Can I build it to a standard that the IVA inspector is happy with?  I have asked these, and loads more questions over and over, and I am sure I am not alone in doing that.

So why blog it?  Well, for 2 reasons.  It gives me a logical place to keep a pictorial record of the build that I can refer back to and also where an IVA inspector can see that it really was me who built the car.  Second, to help anyone else that may decide to build a GBS Zero.

So where did it all start for me?  Well I am not exactly new to the kit car scene, but I am very much out of touch.  15 years ago I embarked on the build of a Westfield SE.  2 years later I was 60% of the way through but finances got the better of me and I had to sell her on.  I was, as I am sure you can understand, rather upset to see my pride and joy disappear on the back of a trailer and on that very day, I swore that one day I would build another.

Fast forward to November 2010.  I had already started thinking about building another car and had spent many a happy hour trawling the Internet and looking through kit car magazines trying to decide what to build.  We have all been there.  Cobras, Lambo replicas, Porsche Speedsters and so on, but to build any of these to a good standard is not cheap.  I know, I've seen the signs too ... "Build this car from a little as £12,000" ... yeh right ... who are they trying to kid!!  I am not rich and don't have a bottomless pit of money so I had to be realistic.  I didn't want to run out of money again in the middle of a build.  I had settled on a Seven replica before and there was nothing new on the kit car scene that made me change my mind.

Exeter 2010

Off I went to the Exeter show.  There were a few manufacturers I wanted to talk to and to get the low down on the cars and the costs.  Most were there, some weren't.   I wanted to consider them all and then narrow it down to a couple to go and visit.  You had both ends of the spectrum from the Westfields to the Locosts and all the derivatives in between.  There really are a lot of companies to choose from so it is not easy.

I was looking for a car that was not too expensive to build but still had the back up of an established brand.  After a day of speaking to various people I settled on the GBS Zero and Tiger Avon.  The next thing to do was a factory visit.

5th November 2010

This was going to be a busy day.  I set off early for the 135 mile trip to Boughton Nr Newark to the GBS factory.  I was met by Richard Hall and the first thing I was offered was a coffee (always a good start).  Richard showed me round the factory so I could see where they build the cars, the showroom and the parts department.  It is all very well laid out and a very professional set up.  We looked at various aspects of the car and Richard was constantly pointing out new developments and where improvements are being made.  It fills you with a lot of confidence.  Next was a run out in the demonstrator.  All I can say is wow!! I am no expert in this field but to me the car was excellent.  Plenty of power, plenty of grip and plenty of excitement.  A final look around the factory and loads of photos later, I thanked Richard for his time and was on my way.

Next stop was 70 miles away Nr Wisbech and the Tiger factory.  I was met by Jim Dudley.  He is really open and friendly and what he doesn't know about the business isn't worth knowing.  He showed me the Tiger Avon chassis and also a development car that they are trying to get type approval for.  You wouldn't believe the number of tests they have to go through!!  There was no pressure to buy a Tiger but he had some words of wisdom about what I should look for in a car and in a company.  From the main factory site he took me to the manufacturing and stores site where I met the manufacturing manager (sorry I can't remember his name) and Laura Dudley (Jim's daughter) who looks after the stores and orders.  I discussed figures with Laura and then set out on the 150 mile trip back to Gloucester.  Now all I had to do was make a choice between the two!!

9th November

After much deliberation, number crunching, sole searching and more questions, the deed is done and I have placed an order for a GBS Zero 2468 kit and a deposit has been paid.  I am going to go the Zetec route with reconditioned drive train (the one concession from the IVA test) so I can, hopefully, get the car registered on a new registration when it is ready.

All I can do now is wait.  Richard thinks it will be 4 to 6 weeks but should certainly be before Christmas.  I will start clearing out the garage and sorting through my old tool box to see what is missing and what else I need to buy.