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.