Saturday 29 January 2011

A Small Set Back

I was looking around the rear end today (ooh err missus!!) and remembered the tag on the diff that said to open it up, clean it and inspect it.  First, I thought, let's see if there is any diff oil in it.  I just need to take the fill plug out and have a look.  Well that was the first problem.  I put in the correct 10mm hex key (as found via the good old Internet) but it just rounded off.  Closer inspection shows that someone else had already tried this and well and truly buggered it up.  Cheers, thanks!!  OK, perhaps I can take the back plate off and inspect it all that way and get the filler plug out while the rear plate it off, you know, perhaps drill it out or hammer it off.  Anyway, do you think the star bolts would come undone ... would they 'eck as like!! (that's Yorkshire speak for no!).  Just to add insult to injury, I noticed that one of the drive shaft boot gators has got a split in it.  No point trying to sneak that past an IVA inspector, they are bound to find that.

So, I decided the only course of action was to remove the drive shafts and diff whilst they are easy to get at and have another look at the problem out on the bench.  I may just take them to a local garage and get them to sort the drive shaft boot and also to get the fill plug out.  I am sure they have some special way of doing it, probably with a blow torch or some other device, certainly will be something I don't have in my garage. It may cost me a couple of hours labour and some parts, but it would be worth it for some peace of mind.

Thursday 27 January 2011

A Week Off Work

Yes, as the title of the post suggests, I have taken a week off from the day job.  For one reason or another, I haven't had an full week off work since last July.  I have had the odd day or couple of days here and there, but not a full week, so I decided it was time I was due.  I really thought I could get loads done in a week, but it hasn't really turned out like that, which is not really a surprise.


I had noticed that, for some reason, the steering column I had got with the donor kit from GBS wasn't straight, or it certainly didn't appear to be to me.  I phoned a couple of the breakers near me but they didn't have one on the shelf.  I then spoke to a local scrappy and he said there was a Sierra in the yard but he had no idea what was left on it.  I decided to go on a visit and have a look.  The steering column was all intact including all the column surround so I set about removing it.  An hour later, with grazed knuckles and dirty hands, I had the column out.  He charged me £20 for the lot.  I was more than happy with that as I would have paid more than that  just to get my hands on a column surround.  Anyway, I got it back to the garage and set about modifying the surround to fit.  I think it looks OK.


My plan for today was to look at the wiring loom, but I made the mistake of answering the phone to my daughter. "What you doing today? Stuart could really do with your help to clear the side of the house and do a couple of tip runs.  Please .... pretty please?".  Well what father can resist his daughter and the man a) who took her off your hands and b) who is going to paint your car for you!!  I couldn't really say no and that wiped out my day.


So today I got to dry fit the wiring loom to work out where it all runs.  I have opted for a factory produced wiring look with everything in the right place and all properly labelled.  Wiring is a bit of a dark art and I wasn't prepared to take any chances.  It may have cost a bit, but I think it is worth it.  I dry fitted the firewall panel and attached the fuse board and started to try and figure out where it all went.  It all seems straight forward but I wanted to check with the factory before I went any further.


Spent another few hours in the garage today but didn't really get much done.  I tried to fit the drive shafts but realised I didn't have all the required nuts and bolts to do it.  I seemed to spend aged just looking around the car deciding what to do next and didn't actually do anything!!!

Now just a quick point on this issue.  There was a recent discussion on the RHOCar forum about how long it takes to build a Zero.  Well, I know that the factory takes 3 weeks because Ben told me, and he is one of the guys that does it.  So based on 8 hours a day 5 days a week for 3 weeks that is 120 hours.  The main difference is that they know what they are doing and have everything to hand to help them.  For the average builder at home, 120 hours is not realistic.  I haven't counted it all up, but I reckon I have spent probably about 20 hours actual build time and 20 hours just looking at the car deciding what to do next!!  I think you can comfortably double the 120 hours and then add a bit more for good measure.  


Today I took a trip to the factory.  I had a bunch of questions to ask and although I could ring up the technical support line, I am a visual person and I need to see things.  I spent a good hour with Ben (the one mentioned above) and he was very patient and answered all my questions, showing me on a couple of chassis where things go etc.  He confirmed the correct routing of the wiring loom and fuel pipes and and also confirmed that I had not done the brake pipes right! He explained that they need to run under the steering column support so as not to catch on the steering.  Oh well, I will need to re-do those.  Whilst there, he confirmed that he is due to start building 3 new cars next week and is going to take photographs of every strep of the process for a new manual.  This is the weakest part of the GBS Zero, and GBS are the first to admit it.  He may even take some videos of some of the more complex jobs.  While there I bought a few more parts.

I also found out that they have moulds to shape the panels and a great big wooden jig they use to fit the side panels.  They simply run the adhesive down the chassis rails, add the panels and put the wooden jigs on to apply pressure to the joints, clamp it all up and leave it overnight to cure.  Ben says that the joint is so strong that if you need to remove the panels, you need an air chisel to get them off!!  He did say that they add a few rivets underneath just to keep the IVA inspector happy, but there really is no need to.


Next was to look at the wiring loom and fuel pipes.  These need to be secured to the offside upper tunnel rail.  The factory chassis have little lugs welded to them to use for this but I had to improvise.  I fitted some P clips to a piece of aluminum box and glued that under the top rail.  I can then use the P clips to tie cable ties to.  This should be secure enough for IVA and for safety reasons.

Next was to fabricate some small V shaped infills to mount the fuel pump and fuel filter to at the back.  I cut these from an off cut of aluminium sheet I got from the factory and bonded and riveted this in to place.

I also had to do the same near the drivers bulkhead on the chassis so that I could mount the swirl pot.  Both of these are jobs that are need for the Zetec but maybe not be for other engines, hence that are not automatically sorted in the kit in the first place.

So there ends another day.  I am not sure what I will do tomorrow yet, probably spend another few hours just looking at the car trying to decide!


Not a huge amount of progress today.  I fitted the high pressure fuel pump using a couple of £1.49 exhaust clamps which seems to have done the job nicely.  I also fitted the swirl pot and had my first experience of fitting rivnuts.  It took a bit of working out but once I got the hang of it, they were easy to fit.

After that I fitted the wiring loom and fuel pipes to the mounting bar I installed yesterday.  I think it worked out pretty well.

I also fitted the other fuel pump at the rear of the car on the mounting plates I fitted yesterday.

Sunday 16 January 2011

Brake Pipes

At the end of the last post, I had just got to the point of fitting the copper brake pipes on the rear of the car and I was starting to run the pipe to the front.  The problem was that I didn't have a brake master cylinder to run the pipes to, so I was a bit stuck.  Anyway, this weekend, I took a trip up to the factory to get some more parts.  It was very quiet up there as most of the team were at the Autosport International Show, where GBS had a stand.  Anyway, I was still able to get some parts and have a look at a car in the workshop.  I wanted to have a look and see where the brake pipes were being run and also the fuel pipes and the wiring loom.  I took loads of photos for reference and had a chat with John Hall about the new GRP dashboard.  It does look nice and would fit the dials perfectly.  I still have to decide which way I want to go with the dash, there are so many options.

On a side note, my son-in-law, Stuart, rang me the other night as the Top Gear Caterham Challenge was on 'Dave'.  He wanted me to have a look at the Caterham that The Stig was driving as that was almost the colour that we had spoken about when I first talked about getting the Zero.  Anyway, he confirmed that he and his friend are still very keen to get involved with the build and want to paint the car for me as a project for themselves.  They are both experts in painting GRP and metal and I have no doubt will do an amazing job.  Seeing the Top Gear program pretty much made up my mind for me on the colour (Ford Imperial Blue) but I still have to decide on what to do with the interior.  I would like to do some sort of blue and tan interior like below.  This is on a Tiger 6, but I think it looks amazing.

Anyway, back to the build.  I fitted the newly purchased master cylinder and continued to run the brake pipe from the back.  I followed the routing on the factory car and it seems to fit OK.  I did the same for the 2 front pipes.  It seems that looking at different blogs and Photobucket accounts, that everyone seems to run these things differently, there doesn't seem to be a right or wrong way of doing it.  I made one error in that I was trying to get a fairly tight bend in a pipe and did the one thing you should never do when bending brake pipes. Yes, I used pliers!!  The net result was a kink in the pipe.  Fortunately, it was near the end of the run and there was enough spare on the pipe to allow me to cut out the kink and re-flare a new end and finish the job.  Cost me a bit of embarrassment and £20 for the brake flaring tool!  Anyway, as you can see below, it doesn't look too bad, and is pretty much in line with car I saw at the factory.  It all gets hidden under the scuttle and in the pedal box, so as long as the pipes are not kinked in any way, it will do the job.

Next thing to do was to try and fit the steering column, but first I had to try and get the old key barrel out so I could fit the new one.  This was not easy but after drilling out the lug and generally hacking the old barrel out, it is ready to fit the new one, but not yet.  I fitted the steering column but found it is not straight.  If I can't figure out where the slight bow is, I will have to get another column, so there is no point fitting the key barrel just yet.

I also fitted the passenger foot well panels.  I decided not to bother fitting the first part to the outside to make a bit of extra foot room, as it is not as crucial for the passenger to be able to get both feet side by side like it is the driver.  I am happy with the finished result.  It is almost a shame that it all gets covered up with carpet!  All the clamps are just so the panel glues to the chassis.  This part will get riveted when I fit the rest of the tunnel panel, but that won't be until the prop shaft is fitted, and that is a long way off yet.

Finally, I was tyring to work out where every thing went, with relation to the scuttle etc, so I thought I would trial fit the side panel.  This has all of the holes cut in it which will make lining things up really easy, I hope.  Anyway, it fits really well as you can see below.

That is it for this weekend.  I probably won't touch the car until next weekend and then I have a week off work to do some more, so I hope to make some good progress.  Sitting here thinking about it, I am not sure what the next steps are going to be, so I am going to have to start making myself a list of jobs to be done, so I can plan the week.

Until next time! 

Sunday 9 January 2011

Rear Suspension and Brake Pipes

Saturday - This weekend I thought I would get on with the rear of the car.  The first thing to do was to clean out all the holes where the bolts would go.  When I bought the car, I chose to have the chassis powder coated and this adds a layer of protection but in so doing, reduces the size of any holes buy a small margin.  These need either filing with a hand file or with a drill and sanding bit.  Once this was done I fitted the off side shock absorber.  These are gas shocks and are very adjustable and will help later on to set the car up well.  The upper wishbone is then fitted.  I had to cut down one of the fixing bolts as it would have hit the chassis and not tightened up properly.  The bottom of the shock absorber fits to the upper wishbone.

Next was the lower wishbone and hub carrier.  This took a bit of persuasion to fit but finally went in.  Once it was all in place, I tightened it all up.

I then repeated the process for the nearside.  I still have to fit the drive shafts and brakes etc, but that will be for another day.

Sunday - I didn't have a lot of time today due to other commitments but I still wanted to do something.  A fairly simple job was to fit the hand brake and the hand brake cable.  The hand brake was a simple job of 2 nuts and bolts.  The cable was also simple to run and put in place.  I then moved on to the brake pipes.  A single pipe runs from the front of the car to a splitter valve.  From the splitter is some copper pipe and then flexible brake hoses which run to the calipers (once fitted).  This was a simple process of gently bending the pipes into shape and tightening the appropriate nuts.  I kept going back and forth from the garage to the study to check the build images I have from the factory and other builds.  They are worth their weight in gold as a good point of reference.  This is what the back end is looking like now.

I started to look at the brake pipe run from the rear to the front of the car.  I laid the pipe out as it should be and then went to tackle adding some P Clips.  I tried one with a 3.2mm rivet only to find it wasn't really big enough and the P clip didn't hold together.  I think it will need some 4mm rivets which I have left over form when I part build a Westfield some 15 years ago.  This was a sign to me that I was rushing things and I decided that was a good point to stop for the day, before I did any damage that was not recoverable.

Wednesday 5 January 2011

Pedal Power

No, I haven't succumbed to any kind of fitness regime and bought a bike!! It was a bit cold in the garage on Monday (it was a Bank Holiday) so I didn't really fancy spending too much time in there, but I wanted to do something, so I thought I would tackle fitting the pedals.

I had already fitted the bushes to the clutch and brake pedals and also the bushes to the chassis where the pedals fit.  The only thing left to do was to try and get the pedals to fit the mounting bar so they are tight enough not to wobble around but loose enough to move freely.  One fitted fine the other was too tight so I had to spend a hour or so sanding the bar with emery cloth.  It took a while but it is just about there.  The mounting bar is a bit too long and either needs cutting down or needs some kind of spacer.  I need to see what the factory do on my next visit and ask them.

This is what they look like from above an you can see where I need some sort of spacer fitting.

The pedals come with a simple metal plate that I could just add rubber covers to but I decided that I wanted something a little bit more in keeping with a 2 seater sports car.  To this end I have bought and fitted some Ripspeed sports pedal covers.  I think they look the business and they will stop my feet slipping off the pedals.

So that is it for now.  Next time I think I will start fitting the rear suspension, drive shafts, rear brakes, hand brake and may even start to look at running the brake lines.

Sunday 2 January 2011

A New Year - A new Challenge

So firstly, Happy New Year to anyone that may be reading or following this little blog.  The festivities are out of the way and it is time to move on to the next part of the build.

So the next thing to tackle is the drivers side tunnel panels.  This was just a repeat of the way the seat back panel was fitted, but remembering this time to remove the plastic film cover prior to fitment.  The process is: dry fit, line up, mark where the chassis tubes are, remove, centre punch for the holes, drill, dry fit again, drill holes into chassis rail, remove, clean up the swarf, apply Sikaflx (this time with surgical gloves on to stop the mess!), fit and line up and finally rivet it in place.

This is during the initial phases.

This is the panel fitted.  it is actually made up of 3 separate panels with 2 fitted to the inside of the rail and one fitted to the outside to give a bit more space for the size 9's in the foot well.

This is the finished result.

The next thing to tackle was the fitting of the suspension bushes.  This is actually a fairly simple process and if done right is not a bother.  I wish I had found this advice on a blog somewhere before I started as it would have been even easier from start.

So, the process is this.  Firstly, you need to clean out the inside of the suspension tubes.  This can be done with a nice little drill attachment or a dremmel or even some emery paper and your fingers.  The drill bit worked best for me.

Once cleaned out, add some copperslip to the inside of the tube.  You could smear some on the bush if you want, it has the same effect.  Whatever you do, do not try and go in dry!!

Finally you need to push the bush into the tube.  There are 2 methods.  One is to use a normal bench vice or the other is to use a big nut and bolt with big washers to protect the bushes.  I chose the latter and it worked a treat.  Make sure the bush goes in square, but if it starts out a little of, it will correct itself.

The whole job took be the best part of a day in the garage, spread out over a few days, so about 6 hours or so.  Don't rush it, take your time.

I have also spent a lot of time just looking round the car to see what to do next.  As I have said previously, the current version of the manual is not a very good guide and I have found most of my help has come from reading posts on the RhoCar web site (Robin Hood Owners Club and Register) and also from looking at other blogs and photo diaries.  One of the reasons I am not putting up hundreds of pictures is that there are loads of other people that have done this and they are far more detailed than the ones I have taken.

I won't put any links on here as they have a habit of changing or being removed over time, but I would simply say go on to Google and search for Zero Build Blogs and you will find loads.