Author Archives: frizille

Build Day 2 – Headlights

After a few hours sleep I headed back down to the garage to regroup. Progress was much slower on Friday night than I’d hoped for; largely because it was a learning experience in many intangible ways. Or what I hope will be tangible as I go along. Finding bolts in the bolt packs is a little daunting at first, but as you do it more you start to look at it with much less uncertainty. Ironically enough, after a few hours I was picking out bolts and identifying them by size, ‘M8 x 25 cap head bolt’ and boom, there it is.

As I was getting organized to start the headlights, I noticed the GoPro was out of batteries – again! When I was working Friday night it would run dry after about an hour and a half. A little peeved, I broke out the drill and a 1/2″ drill bit and put a hole through the case. It wasn’t quite the right size, so broke out the dremel and opened it up a bit more and viola! I now have a hole for the power so I can just leave it plugged in all the time.

Modified GoPro case

With the GoPro problem solved, it was onto the headlights so I could attach them to the upper wishbones and get them bolted in. I’d read somewhere, I think maybe it was in the manual or might have been a build blog, that its much easier to get the wires run properly if they’re done at the same time as the upper wishbones.

And that’s where I hit my first really frustrating point. Before, when I was working the suspension, it was fairly straightforward. The couple missteps I had Friday were because I was trying to learn the manual, learn the build process, and kind of figure things out as I went. I’ve worked on cars for a few years and can confidently say taking things apart and putting them back together the same way is pretty easy; following a paragraph of descriptive ‘English’, finding bolts (which may or may not be missing), and a diagram which does NOT match your setup in any meaningful way fundamentally slows (or halts) forward progress. I lack patience. I’ll be the first to admit it. This process is not for those who lack patience – you will be frustrated and pissed off very quickly. But I’m learning; perhaps this build-a-car-thing will enable me to improve an important life skill?

Now that I’ve waxed poetic, time to get back to the headlights.

Red and brown

Wrong rings

Damper install

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Build Day 1 – Steering rack

With Kim gone for the day, and me being between work trips, I decided to take a couple hours off from work in the afternoon to finally get some time in the garage. My goal for the day was what I now know to be … overly optimistic. I went into it thinking I’d get through the steering rack and front suspension on the first day, the manual looked to be so simple, just bolt this bolt that, and you’re good. Well… it’s not quite that simple.

To start the day off I snapped a couple pictures in her pristine state. She’ll never not have parts on her after today. Sentimental… or just mental… I don’t know.

Starting block

First step of the day was to cover the front in tape to protect it from scratches. Picking up the roll of blue painters tape I got to work. And when I was done, I realized I may have been a bit overzealous. I hit every nook and cranny with the tape. I did not, however, put tape through the edges of the cut suspension and steering rack holes because I was worried I wouldn’t get it back out and end up with remnants of blue tape on the car forever. Knowing what I know now I would have double or triple coated it. Wrenches have a habit of scratching anywhere you don’t have tape as if by magic.

Lots of blue tape

The second build tip would be to wrap the bonnet catches with foam and tape. I didn’t at first and the second time I bumped into them simply said that wasn’t going to do. Last thing I need is to scratch this thing up before I even get it on the road.

Padding and tape on the bonnet latches

With the tape and foam in place, I moved onto the first real part – the steering rack. After staring at the manual for a few minutes trying to make heads or tails of the orientation, I slid it into place. But something didn’t look right. The little green rubber nub on the steering rack was in the right spot, but it didn’t line up with the steering box. I was under the assumption that those should line up. Had I put it on upside down or something stupid? So I pulled the manual page out and cocking my head left and right, up and down, it suddenly dawned on me the manual was written for a British right-hand drive car. The manual I had was not the US version, but the British one. So I pulled it out, flipped it around and sure enough, everything lined up as I expected. First learning moment complete – anything that’s oriented towards the drivers side needs to be reversed.

Steering rack

Once the rack was in place (which took all of about 30 minutes to do something so simple) I had to find the steering rack clamps, bolts, and washers. After a little digging around, and by little I mean 30 minutes of searching in every damn box I had, I finally found the polythene bag marked suspension in the very last one. Pulled out the clamps, found the necessary bolt pack after a much quicker search, then through process of elimination found the right bolts and washers. Loosely clamped the rack in place and attached the track rod ends.

End of day 1

After getting that done I decided it was time for organizing the bolt packs a bit better so set off to do that but was quickly interrupted when the phone started ringing off the hook. Apparently there was some new computer vulnerability, something to do with the bash shell, and mass chaos was about to ensue on the internet. So with a sigh of resignation, I flipped off the light, trudged upstairs, and went to work.

A few hours later, with the company’s response to the Bash ‘Shellshock’ vulnerability under control, I wandered back down to the garage. It was late, close to 10pm, but wanted to hit my goal of getting the front suspension on during build day 1. After skimming the manual a bit as a refresher, I’d already read it several times to let things sink in, I started gathering up the parts I needed from the boxes and set to work. It was during my haste that I interpreted LWR to indicate ‘left side’… which it most certainly does not. So with the lower wishbone in hand I began attaching it to the left hand side of the car. I can assure you the wishbones do indeed fit on the wrong sides of the car. It wasn’t until I was doing a double check for the missing left-hand lower wishbone that I realized the mistake. So … next step was to remove the right lower wishbone from the left side of the car and remount it properly on the ‘right’ side of the car (yuk, yuk, yuk).

Lower wishbone

A couple things I learned while getting the lower wishbone into place:

  1. A flathead screwdriver and rubber mallet are your friends. The fitment was a bit tight and took several good whacks of the mallet to push the washers into the respective alignment to allow the bolts through.
  2. Wide track suspension needs 4 washers together on the rear lower wishbone mount rather than the 2 + 2; this is not indicated in the diagram. At first I was reading the manual PDF on my iPad directly going solely on the diagrams which is a mistake. Going directly on the iPad kinda works, but makes it difficult to use when you have anti-seize goop on your fingers.
  3. There are numerous spots in the manual where the diagram indicates the ‘normal’ way to do something, but on a later page you’ll find a statement that usually starts with “If you’re using the optional…” which changes how you did the previous step(s). The solution that I found to work best is to print off all the pages, then with a pencil (or sharpee or pen or whatever) cross out the sections which won’t apply to your build. It’s kind of like a choose your own adventure novel. Which in a way I guess this car is now.

Upper wishbone

Once I had the lower and upper wishbones on loosely I peeked at the clock and realized I’d been down in the garage for 3 hours and it was after 1am. I finished off my Allagash, shut down the GoPro for the time lapse pictures, and decided to call it a night.

Beer and GoPro

Daniel

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On the stands

Tonight Chris and Jimmy came over to help get the car moved. With two of us in the back and one up front we got it lifted off the crate and onto jack stands. I had some extra microfiber rags and placed those between the chassis and the jack stands to protect the chassis from being scratched. After getting it moved, we bullshitted in the garage a bit, liberated a couple beers from the fridge, and wrapped up the night with not much more progress than that.

Green chassis sitting empty

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Completed the parts inventory

Tonight after going out for some La Parilla, Kim and I finished the parts inventory from the manual (using latest I could download from Caterham, Nov 2013) and emailed Jon at Caterham USA about what’s missing and my questions.

Here’s what it looks like I’m missing and/or need clarification on:

  • Spare wheel w/ associated fasteners, center caps, center cap badges, etc.
  • Gearbox fastener pack ZGB14 says its for a K-Series engine; I’ll be using the Duratec engine so not sure if this is the right fastener pack or not.
  • Driveshaft nyloc nuts – I see two nyloc nuts on there but both are white and the manual says one white and one green. Asked Jon about what I should have.
  • Fastener pack for the suspension in the manual is 30R012A, I got 30R012C. I’m assuming its correct but didn’t match the manual so wanted to ask.
  • Missing lower wishbone left hand side, wide track. Of all the things I’m missing this one is the most important as it’s one of the first things that goes on.
  • There’s no SVA bag; I’m assuming there is nothing in there I need since I’m not in the UK but wanted to validate.
  • I’ve got an extra bag of random parts – aero whiskers, clutch line, screws, washers, nuts – and think it might be Simon’s (the owner of the red Superlight I got by accident) because I found a bottle of red touch up paint in the bag with his build number on it. I’ve got his address (from the side of the box) and can send it his way. Similarly, I think he’s got mine as I’m missing the fuel filler cover, wiper blades, wiper arms, transmission tunnel cover, IVA trim, velcro strips, green touch up paint, fastener packs 30P106A, ZCH, and ZWE – essentially everything from page 43 of the manual that was shipped loose in the car.
  • I’ve got a ton of Ford parts with no parts manifest. I asked Jon if Caterham has one so I can inventory those boxes. The big things I can think of are in there, but wanted to see what I should have because I’m sure there’s a million little nuts, bolts, random bits I’ll need.

Overall, the inventory task wasn’t too bad. Things were together in boxes by function, i.e. suspension, engine, lighting, weather gear, etc. and Kim was down there helping me so went pretty quick – with both of us I think we knocked it out in about 2 hours. The problem was the manual was pretty spotty on the polythene bags – it just says “suspension polythene bag” and you take it at face value the polythene bag has what you need. I’ve got to see if Caterham has a parts database for every part number – that’d be really helpful. And no parts inventory for the engine; it’s like a big black hole mystery right now what the heck I need to do with that thing and all the ancillaries but will cross that gap when I get there.

Daniel

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Finally… delivery!

After getting the shipping confusion straightened out with USF Holland and New Penn Freight, it was determined the crate would be delivered Thursday the 28th between 4 and 6pm. Which explains why at 11am a USF Holland truck pulled up in front of the house. I went outside and talked the driver and told him he was early by about 5 hours and we could do the delivery now, however, I was about worthless since I couldn’t lift more than 10 pounds because of my surgery this past weekend. He said no sweat, let’s do it, so to work we went.

A truck with a lift gate

First step was to get it onto the lift gate; no issues encountered but that was the first time I noticed the holes. It looks like someone put a forklift through the end of it. One hole was wide open, the other merely cracked open, so my guess was the tongs on the forklift didn’t go all the way into the crate and hit the chassis. Either way, it still made me shake my head… nothing simple or easy.

Two holes

Next step was to get it down the driveway. For that we put it on the pallet jack, let it slide its way down, and gravity did the work. No drama there either. We then spun it around, picked up one side with the pallet jack, and pushed it into the garage. And she was home.

The crate is home

With the crate in it was back to work for a few more hours. The holes had me wondering all afternoon, but was busy with work and knew I wouldn’t have time to get it checked until later.

Mick, Carol, Jimmy, Kim, and Bob showed up around 6 and we proceeded to open the crate up. I was pretty sure I’d have a green chassis, but the big question now was any damage that might be present. And those holes… still had me nervous.

After pulling off the top of the crate it was apparent the chassis was far enough away from the edge of the crate that the tongs from the forklift didn’t hit it. Whew. Felt much better after that mystery was solved. So … on to opening the crate.

With the big reveal complete, let’s look at some pictures! First, we have Mick being … Mick.

Mick...

And we got me in the green one with a big grin.

Green and a smile

A shot of the dash. I should have gone with the carbon…

Should have gone carbon

And with that the green one was here; somewhat anti-climactic but I feel measurably better knowing she’s here safe and sound. Next step is to get it on jack stands and start the inventory process. I’m sure, based on other blogs I’ve read, there will be parts missing and the sooner I get those figured out the better. I’m ready to get this thing going!

Daniel

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Delivery confusion

I’m frustrated. I talked to Holland Freight Monday morning and confirmed they’d be here Tuesday afternoon between 4 and 6 pm to deliver the box. We even coordinated the time so I would have people here to help get it off the truck since a 13′ crate on a lift gate is difficult.

Then Monday afternoon around 2pm they tried to deliver it on a 53′ truck with no lift gate, no forklift, no pallet jack, and 1 guy. I asked him how he proposed to get 1000 lbs off the truck without any of those items. He had no answer and took the crate back to the depot so it could be delivered on Tuesday as planned.

A few minutes ago I called Holland Freight, to make sure we’re on for today between 4 and 6, and now they’re telling me it might get delivered on Thursday but can’t confirm because they weren’t paid for a lift-gate or residential delivery; talked to Caterham USA and they assured me it had been setup with lift gate and residential delivery. All the delivery trucks are out on their routes, my crate isn’t on one, so it will definitely not be coming today. So close… yet so far away.

Daniel

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Simplify and add lightness

Anyone familiar with the history of Lotus will instantly recognize the phrase. On Thursday night I would have recognized it… but never in my life would I have guessed how that would be the next major challenge in getting the Caterham done. This build-a-car thing is turning into one long never ending challenge it seems.

So Thursday night, Kim and I decided we were overdue for a date night. Stay in, cook dinner, and watch a movie together on the couch since we’d both been incredibly busy the last few weeks and hadn’t really had time for just us. Kim brought some Publix rotisserie chicken over and I had an extra package of Vigo red beans and rice from the un-re-boxing party; sounded perfect for a healthy dinner.

We ate around 7pm then moved down to the living room for the movie. On the way down I mentioned to her I shouldn’t have eaten as much as I did as I felt incredibly full and bloated. She said it didn’t look like I’d eaten that much and I agreed. We proceeded to watch the movie (Noah’s Ark… was eh, ok I guess).

Fast forward to 9pm. My chest hurt. A lot. It felt like my stomach was about to explode. I had horrible pressure and pain right under my breastplate and no matter how much I tried to burp or move just could not get comfortable. There were several comments made between Kim and I related to me being inhabited by a chest-burster (Aliens reference). Finally I hit the point where I decided I just needed to throw up and that would help ease the pressure on my chest and that I had just eaten too much too fast. With that thought process I got up off the couch, went into the kitchen, and made myself get sick in the sink. I didn’t throw up much, but just that little bit seemed to help.

Fast forward another 15 minutes. I was in even more pain than before. I threw up again, although this time it was MUCH easier to make happen. I was starting to think maybe something was really wrong. Kim asked if I needed to go to the emergency room… and I said yeah, we need to go.

Things moved quick from there, I grabbed my shoes, iPad, cell phone, and the car keys. We were in the car five minutes later and on the way to Northside Hospital. It’s a 20 minute drive with no traffic – by the time we got there I was in tears. Every minute that went by it seemed the pain doubled. Kim was starting to get very concerned; I could see it in her face.

She dropped me off at the door to the ER and I went in telling the first nurse I saw I had horrible pain my chest; immediately the nurse had me back in a room and was hooking me up for an EKG. Two minutes later the nurse told me I wasn’t having a heart attack; I guess that was good news, but it also meant I had to go back to the waiting room in horrible pain until a room opened up.

I went back out to the waiting room and sat there with Kim for what seemed like forever but was in reality about 15 minutes. I couldn’t get comfortable sitting, standing, walking; it was just never-ending pain in my chest. I also started to get even more nauseous and finally decided to just get it over with. I found a nurse, got a tongue depressor, and then went into the bathroom. I’ve never thrown up more violently in my life. I had burst blood vessels in my eyes, my face was just one giant splotch of red, and it looked like I’d wrestled a bear in there. Kim was aghast at how I looked when I came out. Later on that night the nurse asked if I had a rash on my face. Both Kim and I laughed and said no, that was from when I was throwing up earlier that night in the ER lobby bathroom.

A few minutes after my bear wrestling episode a nurse came and got me and I was shown back into a room in the ER. A doctor and another nurse came in to check my vitals; heart rate was way too high, blood pressure too high, had a fever of about 100, and was constantly sweating all over. At this point I’m thinking great, I’ve got some kind of food poisoning and that’d be it… well… I was wrong.

After discussion with the doctor they got me hooked up with an IV, got some fluids going in me, along with a morphine drip and some anti-nausea medicine. That helped take the edge off but didn’t do too much. A dose of Dilaudid was added, and then another, before I was finally comfortable. By now it was close to midnight and was taken in for a CT scan but not before I sucked down about a gallon of this yellow liquid. It was like cold thera-flu and tasted gross with the after affect of making seem like I’d attempted to swallow a half dozen dry cotton balls. Given that I was already nauseous this stuff didn’t help. It was also a good time for a photo op, you know, just for posterity. The smile is fake and forced (like you can’t tell).

Drinking the yellow goo

At this point I was actually pretty calm, thanks to the pain meds, and the guy running the CT scan machine and I had a good chat about motorcycles. I showed him a picture of the Caterham and so forth…. two gear heads chatting while we looked at my innards in black and white. Eventually we wrapped up and I got moved back to my ER room. Kim was asleep sitting sideways in her chair with her head on the wall. We tried not to wake her but weren’t successful.

After about 30 minutes, the doctor came back in and said they didn’t see anything conclusive on the CT scan, but wanted to do some further tests via ultrasound. They’d ruled out appendicitis at this point from the CT scan results, which is what Kim and I were thinking, since during all the waiting we’d Google’d everything we could about abdominal pain. That’s the good and bad thing about WebMD; if you got some malady you can self diagnose, but if you got nothing wrong with you, you’re convinced you’re about to die from a half dozen diseases you didn’t know existed. By now it was 3:30 in the morning and both Kim and I were zombies but she was being a trooper and didn’t complain once. I was getting short tempered, cranky, tired, and didn’t feel good. Pain med’s always bring out the worst in me.

The promised ultrasound happened around 4am and was largely uneventful. The nurse gooped up my chest, ran the transceiver over it, and took some pictures. I then flipped up on my side and they took more pictures. Shortly I was headed back to my berth in the ER and another dose of dilaudid. I asked the ultrasound tech if it was a boy or girl; she didn’t really laugh. I thought it was funny, but of course I was high on pain med’s so…

Around 5am I decided I wasn’t going to work the next day regardless of how this turned out; I was exhausted. As I started sending out messages to folks that I was in the ER and wouldn’t be in the next day, the doctor came in and announced “We got it. You’ve got stones in your gallbladder blocking the bile ducts, its inflamed, and needs to come out. We’re moving you upstairs to a room so we can start prepping for surgery.” Both Kim and I looked at each other for a second then I said “Ok, whatever we need to do let’s do it.”

From there a bunch of paperwork came my way, I got a new wristband, was dropped into a wheelchair, and sent upstairs to room 404. Ironic… that’s also my area code.

The rest of the morning went by quickly. Nurses came and went, doctors came and went, and in between all of it Kim and I took mini-naps as best we could.

Kim in nap mode

I was on IV drips, antibiotics, pain meds, oxygen, and couldn’t eat or drink. Kim disappeared for an hour or two to go home and get some clothes, charge cables for my phone and iPad, and to take a shower. I want to say I missed her but honestly there was so much activity going in and out of the room that I can’t really remember her even being gone.

Around 9am they came and collected me for surgery. Went through pre-op around 10am and was on the table by 11am. I remember the oxygen mask coming onto my face and that was it. I woke up 2 hours later in recovery with the familiar droopy eyelids that just did not want to open. I don’t know what it is about coming out of surgery, but every time I feel this war between my body falling back to sleep and knowing that I had to wake up. I didn’t know it at the time, but it had already been three and a half hours since I went in for surgery and my mom and Kim were worried; it was only supposed to take two hours end to end.

Around 3:30pm they got me back up to my room. Kim and my mom were already there; they’d gotten tired of sitting around the waiting room and figured they might as well go chill in my “medical suite” where it was quiet. After getting back from surgery the normal stream of nurses and doctors made their appearance. Mom left right after I got back. I felt bad she drove all the way to Atlanta to see me for five minutes, but knew she had to beat traffic to get back at some reasonable time. I was glad though that Kim had someone to hang out with while I was in surgery and I’m sure the two of them kept each other company. As I was getting settled the doctor poked his head in and said the laparoscopy had worked as they’d hoped and they didn’t need to cut me all the way open. I realized then I hadn’t actually looked at my incisions. So I hiked up my gown and took a peak; four small incisions about an inch long scattered across my abdomen with a layer of biological super glue over them. Kinda neat.

Throughout the afternoon not much happened; watched TV, hung out, then Mick showed up with presents! I got a Caterham F1 hat and a homemade card with some very funny gallbladder jokes. Cards got posted to the wall and the Caterham hat became my “walking hat” for my evening strolls throughout the night (had to get up every four hours and walk around the nurse’s station to prevent blood clots). Mick’s visit cheered me greatly; thanks Mick! The pic below is great; I was so high on pain med’s I look like I’m in outer space.

New hat and a smile

Friday night and Saturday morning was pretty uneventful, nurses and doctors every few hours to check my vital signs, I got fed dinner finally (crusted Tilapia, was good) – I hadn’t eaten in about 24 hours – and managed a couple hours of sleep Friday night. I took a stroll about 2am dressed in my gown and Caterham hat. I made small talk with a nurse and another patient on my journey; both commented on the hat and had to explain to both what a Caterham was exactly. They were both intrigued that you could actually order a car and build it. It was a buzzkill when they asked how I was going to build the car now that I was on six weeks of recovery for the surgery. In my head I was thinking “bloody hell two weeks ol’ chap”. Besides, the car isn’t even here yet.

Breakfast Saturday morning was eggs, grits, and pancakes – all lackluster – while I watched a rainy F1 qualifying session from Spa. The good news was the eggs gave me gas and was tooting up a storm under the blankets; I joke about it, but the doctors and the nurses actually said it was important I did that because it meant my digestive system was functioning. It wasn’t until they said that did I realize just how significant this surgery was.

F1 and breakfast

Shortly thereafter the doctor came in and said they’d be releasing me about noon. Kim packed our stuff and I was home a little after 2pm – the house was exactly as I’d left it in a rush Thursday night and it was kind of surreal that I hadn’t been home in almost two days.

And now it’s Sunday night and am watching the F1 race on the DVR while I write this. My stomach is a little tight and the incisions hurt but so far no sickness from eating and the pain pills seem to be doing their stuff in taking the edge off. Back to work tomorrow, working from home, and have gotten a few phone calls from people I work with checking in on me which is much appreciated and warms my mood greatly. Throughout the last two days I’ve had a ton of support from folks via email, Facebook, phone, and text – thanks everyone it meant a lot for all the support!!

Daniel

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The morning after

Sunday morning, with the party out of the way, and a hang over both real and figuratively, I set about to get things moving again. Shortly after lunch Jon from Caterham USA called and let me know the red car I had should be in New Jersey. That made it highly probably the gentleman in NJ had mine. The NJ car hadn’t been delivered yet so it wasn’t confirmed, but given the similarities in the build numbers it was a good guess they’d been swapped accidentally and mine was up there. That was somewhat relieving; NJ is a lot closer than Seattle. Or Brazil. Or Canada. Jon apologized, but like I said, it wasn’t really his fault. Accidents happen and we both knew Caterham would make it right. Frustrating yes, disappointing yes, but there are far more important things in life than having your third sports car be a different color than what you expected. And it didn’t ruin the party at all – everyone still had a great time – and to me that’s what was important.

After talking to Jon I went down to the garage for a bit to confirm there weren’t any more boxes labeled with the wrong numbers and to start doing an inventory. I spent about an hour down there, opening miscellaneous boxes and didn’t find anything but stuff for mine. That was good news, at least it was just a simple chassis swap rather than searching for all kinds of other goodies too. One interesting item I found, is a box labeled ‘French 14358′ with a set of harnesses in it. From reading Daniel French’s build blog (www.caterhamr500.co.uk) I remembered seeing something about his harnesses not showing up and getting some odd color combo instead; I wonder if somehow I ended up with his harnesses since our crates should have been getting assembled about the same time. It’s a small world after all – will have to shoot him an email and see if that’s indeed his build number.

I also cleaned up the garage and organized things a tiny bit. I had a number of tools scattered around from the box opening process the day before so straightened those all out. Also took out the trash and re-stocked the beer fridge since it had been raided pretty heavily during the party.

Once satisfied the garage was in decent enough shape I took the afternoon to go sit by the pool; it was exactly what the doctor ordered.

Daniel

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The un-re-boxing party

It’s been just under a year in the making and today was finally the day to open the boxes up. You’d have thought it was agony waiting a couple extra days but quite honestly it was really pretty easy – I had so much going on at work and getting ready for the party I hardly had time to even realize “zomg my Seven is in a box downstairs”.

Going into the morning it was a little helter-skelter; getting the house cleaned up, getting setup for the party, last minute odds and ends, and so on. Jimmy helped prep and Kim ran around cleaning bathrooms once she arrived.

I was down in the garage straightening up, making sure the DeWalt cordless screw guns were charged, pry bars available, hammers where they should be, and music good to go. A quick shower at 10:30 and I was set right on time; Randy showed up literally as I was walking into the kitchen.

With Randy here, I left the cooking to mom and Kim, while Randy and I went down to the garage to start prepping the crates. There was a ton of screws in there to pull out and most folks wouldn’t want to stand around waiting for us. We also needed something to cut the metal bands on the tall box – the diagonal cutters I have couldn’t do it and thankfully had the Dremel stashed close by. Randy worked on the bands while I started pulling screws out of the boxes… there are a lot of screws in there. All that work made me thirsty, took a break to liberate a beer from the fridge.

Beer!

As we continued loosening things up Kim came down and started snapping pictures.

Removing screws

I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but I looked up and all of a sudden there were people here. On time. Like to the minute on time. I told folks to be here at noon, crates would be opened at 12:30 on the dot, that way people could be fashionably late and nobody would miss the opening (which was kind of the point of the party). And then everyone showed up exactly at noon… on time. WTF? So we stood around staring at each other for 30 minutes and everyone was like “dude, open the crates already”. I was like “I can’t, I told everyone I’d open at 12:30… we gotta wait. Eat some guacamole.” So we waited.

Voyeurs

As we got closer to 12:30 I started getting excited, I guess it kind of all hit me at once; the dream of building a car, the long and often times misinformed wait with no clear direction on when it was actually going to be here, the challenge getting it the last mile and here by Saturday, and just the general state of patience. I read Michael Eddenden’s book, Why build a 7, I remember a line in there where the guy, while waiting for his Seven to arrive, makes the comment “I now know what it’s like to be forsaken.” Dude… I know exactly what you’re talking about. I still had that nagging fear in my head… what if, after all this, all these people here, it shows up and its the wrong chassis or entirely the wrong car?



When I was un-boxing, I wasn’t thinking much. I was excited, just letting myself feel, but nervous that something was off. When I pulled up the corner flap tentatively, and saw it was red, I was shocked… no fucking way. It’s like manifest destiny. The one major thing I was worried about… came to fruition. I just could not wrap my brain around that. And I knew I had about 2 seconds to figure out what to do next. When I pulled that cover off everyone was going to see red. They expected green; hell, I expected green!

But in that split second I figured there’s a couple ways I could deal with it. I could have…

  • Justifiably been angry, pissed off, but that was a pretty immature response and that’s not me. Skip that.
  • Be disappointed. Yeah, I mean, I was a little, but I didn’t want to ruin the party for everyone else by moping around like a whinny puppy and it’s not like someone died. Skip that one too.
  • Take it like a man, head up, and on the bounce. Shit didn’t go my way; so what? Would it get resolved? Of course. Would it mean a delay? Sure. Does a delay matter? Nope. Are folks still having fun? Yep. Has anyone here actually seen a Caterham being taken out of a box? Nope. Is it going to ruin anyone’s experience today if its red? Nope, probably not. So what’s the big deal? There really isn’t one.

So that was my attitude. Head up, on the bounce, making sure folks had a good time because that’s what really mattered to me. It wasn’t the car, It was having folks in my life there, together, creating a fun memory.

Which was followed very quickly by my internal monologue … “I can’t believe its red. Holy shit I need a beer” and made a beeline to the garage fridge to rescue yet another tasty morsel. I rescued some guacamole too; man that stuff is good (recipe on my previous post).

When I got back over to the car someone, I think it was Randy, said let’s see if the fenders match. And so we opened them up… and viola! They’re green! People can see green! Better yet, its the iconic nose cone with the 7 logo.

Behold! A green part!

Holy shit that green is sexy! I love the color – was exactly what I wanted. Yeah… that’s the smile we were looking for. Now I’m happy.

A green and yellow nose

We then proceeded to unload everything from the car; more green fenders, more parts, all labeled correctly with my build number #11565. It was around that time we realized the red car was very close to my build number; off by one digit easily mistaken for another. This whole debacle was simply someone looking at a number on a piece of tape incorrectly.

Aha! A simple mix up...

Kim caught a good picture of me, Facebook profile pic worthy I might add, with the red bonnet and the green nose cone as I was headed to the beer fridge to rescue one of the Drafty Kilt bottles (Monday Night Brewing). Of all the pictures taken I think this one is my favorite.

Green, red, and a smile

With the mystery solved, next up was unloading the tall crate. For that we acquired a ladder, pry bar, and hammers. This one wasn’t screwed together like the chassis crate – “hammers and nails, ladies, hammers and nails” (quote from Company of Heroes, a video game I played probably too much of many years ago).

Hammers and nails...

Top off...

With the top off, I peered in and there was a pile of soft stuff within reach. I pulled it out, was the weather gear and carpet, but the rest I couldn’t reach and seemed to be in there pretty solid. Off with the front slowly to make sure nothing came falling out.

Side off

Ten or so boxes in there, heaviest stuff on the bottom and fragile stuff on top, all of it seemed to be in good shape with no major issues.

Unloading the tall box

Once the crate was empty, folks milled around and checked out all the parts and boxes. It very quickly turned into a petting zoo of car parts.

“Hey, here’s the diff. It’s from BMW.”
“Oh wow, look, here’s the suspension box! A-arms, ooohhhh a de-Dion rear…”
“Anyone see the brakes? What kind of brakes? Did it come with pads? What kind?”
“What’s this do? Looks like … a brake line. No… hey, Dan… check this out…”
“What’s a wide track suspension?”

Everyone had a great time going through the parts. Based on my observations, everyone enjoyed getting their hands on all the parts and just seeing what goes into actually building a car. Car-people look at them with a sense of majesty, non-car-people look at them with a sense of distrust. It’s an interesting difference; but regardless, when you explain to someone, car or non-car person alike, what that part does, how it works, and they see your enthusiasm for it, you see their perspective changing. It’s a fun process to watch.

Christmas for all

With the excitement over, most folks wandered back upstairs to the kitchen to get food. A small group of car diehards, more interested in the Seven than the food, stayed behind with me to organize things a bit. I also needed to take care of something I noticed when I first unwrapped it; a small dent in the hood bonnet.

The dent wasn’t from us. In the video, when we un-box, you can see where the cross-member was broken prior to un-crating. That cross-member was right over the dent and was either a) broken during install or b) broken during shipping. Either way, I feel bad for whoever’s car this is, it’ll be another headache to deal with, but at least it’s in the bonnet and not in the car itself. Fixable and/or replaceable.

The dent in the red car

I can’t believe it showed up red. That was the recurring thought that seemed to reverberate through my head for most of the party. I just can’t believe it showed up red. Here’s a good picture of what that looks like.

I can't believe it showed up red

The red Superlight. Red looks pretty hot; the stripe up the bonnet looks great too. No idea who bought this one but they picked well. I wonder if they have buyers remorse after seeing the green one though.

The Caterham is... red?

The carbon dash is gorgeous; I went with the plain-Jane black plastic. Immediately regret the choice. Speaking of buyer’s remorse…

Carbon dash... I'm jealous

Knowing the car had to go somewhere else, since it was someone’s car based on the build numbers we found, it was time to box it back up while I had helpers… and we were still waiting on the low country boil to finish up; cooking for 30 takes longer than anticipated.

Re-boxing

I thought it’d be fun to leave a note / easter egg for the real owner; hope they contact me. Would be fun to have an account-a-build-a-buddy during the process since we’re both building essentially the same car. It’s also good to know I’m not balding back there.

Left an easter egg for the owner

With the un-re-boxing completed, we gathered around the crate and said our final farewell. Final farewell to the red oneWe also couldn’t find the plastic wrap … so loaded it with all the paper stuffing we could find in an attempt to keep any moisture off it should the box encounter water (and more stuffing never hurts) and didn’t want the questionable cross-members from causing more damage. Loaded with packing

With that task completed, we headed back upstairs to dig into the food. Timing was perfect; fresh off the stove. If you’ve never done a low country boil before you owe it to yourself to do one. It’s a fun social food – you just dump it out on paper and let folks grab what they want – while conversation flows around the table where the food is dumped.

Food!

Once the food was mostly devoured we did a toast with some reserve Korbel Champagne I bought back in April when we were touring the Korbel winery; great stuff and I usually don’t drink champagne. About this time it was also revealed I had a gift from the group; it was a homemade-one-of-a-kind set of Lotus 7 pictures with some places for before and after pictures. Keith was up late the night before putting it all together; man, I can’t say how much I love it. It’s awesome. Made the entire day worth it. Thanks, Keith (and whoever else was in on the surprise)!

Lotus 7 frame

About that time most folks started wandering home. I went outside with Jimmy and his dad, who are in the process of rebuilding a late 50’s Chevy, and took a peak at their project car. I forgot to take some pictures but the car looked fantastic. It’s amazing seeing it now after a couple years of work – definitely something to be proud of.

After that, my mom and Doc said they were headed home so grabbed one last snapshot with them and a re-boxed crate in the background. All told it was a great day. Excited for the green one to eventually get here, which I’m sure will be sometime in the next week or two, but like I said earlier, having everyone together, watching them have fun and enjoy themselves was well worth getting the wrong car shipped here from England.

Mom, Doc, and IDaniel

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The second box is here

After the whirlwind of yesterday today was much more calm. I worked from the house with the expectation of FedEx dropping off the second crate sometime between 10am and 5pm. Like clockwork, a FedEx truck rolled up about 11am and after a brief discussion of what we needed to do the driver and I started unloading the crate.

The second crate measured 83″ tall x 48″ wide x 36″ deep and weighed just under 1000 lbs – 924 lbs to be exact. Given the height of the crate that 924 lbs has some serious mass to it and it’s a little unnerving getting it down a lift gate. Especially when that lift gate bounces around like a drunken giraffe with us and the crate on it.

But we got it down to the street; photo op time. As you can see it was almost as high as the roll-door on the truck.

2nd crate on the street

Now that we had it off the truck, the next step was to tackle the driveway. The driveway slopes down at about a 20 degree angle for 30 feet. With 924 lbs of box pushing its way down on top of you its quite scary. The plan was to ease it down the driveway, letting the skids drag their way down the concrete to slow the box. I’d seen the FedEx guy who delivered the engine do it this way and he was able to navigate all 400lbs of that box by himself. With two of us, we should be able to get it down. Key was to go nice and slow.

So while I had that picture in my head, apparently the FedEx guy didn’t. About half way down the driveway the box is going faster… and faster… and faster… and I’m hollering for him to lower it so it would brake more and he’s not. There was momentary panic where I’m thinking “yep, we’re screwed, this box is coming straight down on top of us.”

Thankfully, that didn’t happen. It sailed right on into the garage right where we needed it to go. Also thankfully I had opted for the 8′ foot garage doors when I did the garage renovation – the top of the box literally scrapped the weatherstripping on the bottom of the garage door as it went through.

Box just barely fit in the door

Both boxes in the garage

With the boxes in it was back to work for a few hours until Jimmy arrived to help me get setup for the party the next day.

Around 5pm Jimmy arrived and we started the party prep – cleaning the house up and heading to the grocery store. I’ll spare you the minutia but will post up the recipes used for the low country boil, the Georgia caviar, and the guacamole.

Georgia Caviar (Vegan Dip)

2 (15-ounce) cans black-eyed peas, drained
1 (15-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes and green chiles (recommended: Ro-Tel)
2 cups chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh jalapeno peppers
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 (8-ounce) bottle Italian dressing
1 (4-ounce) jar chopped pimentos, drained

In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients and stir gently to combine. Refrigerate mixture overnight. Serve with corn chips.

Low Country Boil

10 lbs small red potatoes
6 lbs smoked sausage or (kielbasa or turkey smoked sausage) cut into 1 1/2  inch pieces
10 lbs large fresh shrimp (peeled and deveined optional)
15 ears of corn cut in half
2-3oz bags crab boil seasoning
8 tablespoons of Old Bay Seasoning
Cocktail Sauce (3 or 4 jars about 8oz size)

In large pot put 3 1/2 gal water, add potatoes and seasoning, cover, bring to boil for 5 mins. then add corn halves and sausage return to boil for 10 minutes or potatoes are tender, add shrimp cook for 3 to 4 mins or shrimp is pink, drain and scoop out on to newspaper, Serve with cocktail sauce and beer!

Well, beer is optional, it just makes it better in my opinion. For beer on hand I decided to go with something you can’t get too many other places – assorted Jekyll Island brews from Alpharetta, GA, some Allagash White from Maine (my current favorite), and Monday Night Brew Club’s assorted selection, another Atlanta-based craft brewery (Drafty Kilt is damn good). 

Dan’s Guacamole

10 avocados
2 large tomatoes
Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning (original flavor)
Fine ground red cayenne pepper
Ground pepper
Fruit fresh preservative
Valentina’s Hot Sauce (Note: very important; you can sub out with another hot sauce but it ruins the taste. Red or Black Valentina’s is fine)

Start out by scooping all the avocado out of the shells into a bowl using a spoon. Dispose of the pits and shells being careful to not get the hard nubs from the ends of the shells into the bowl. Mash all the avocados with a fork until the consistency is a paste; you’ll still have a couple small chunks in there which is ok. Add in a tablespoon of Valentina’s, dust with the Fruit Fresh, salt, and pepper, and then add in about a teaspoon of Tony Chachere’s and a teaspoon of the the red cayenne pepper. Exact measurements aren’t really necessary; essentially add everything in to get the right balance of taste for immediate hot, middle hot, and what I call ‘the backend’. The three spices used (hot sauce, red cayenne pepper, and Tony Chachere’s) breaks down like this:

  • If you want the bite of guac to be hot when you first bite into it, add more Valentina’s hot sauce. This is the “hot” you initially feel on your tongue.
  • If you want the bite of guac to be hot about 3 seconds into the bite when you’re chewing the chip, add more red cayenne pepper.
  • If you want the bite of guac to have that hot sensation after you’ve swallowed then add a little more Tony Chachere’s.

Don’t worry if you don’t get it right out of the gate, I rarely do. I just grab a chip and taste test to perfection, going slowly and adding in each of the three spices until I hit the mix I’m looking for. Once you have the balance right and it’s just hot enough, dice up the tomatoes being careful to capture all the tomato juice you can as you cut. A cutting board with curved edges works great for this. Once cut, dump it all into the bowl with the avocado and spices and stir. The tomato and the juice act as an acid to balance the base from the cayenne peppers and hot sauce (which is also made with cayenne peppers) and will make it seem less spicy than without the tomato. If you really screw up and add too much spice, just dump in another tomato.

I love cooking with science.

So with all that said, Friday night wrapped up and we were all set for Saturday. I took one last picture of all the girls in bed for the night.

All the girls down for the nightDaniel

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