Build Session #1 – The Build Begins…

Finally, 25 weeks and four days after first ordering the car we began the assembly.

Although we planned to do some corrosion protection at some point, we felt like we wanted to do something a bit more exciting as it was our first day, so we began unsurprisingly, with the steering rack and front suspension. I had read that it was a good idea to fit the IVA trim around the wishbone holes first, as getting access to them after the suspension had been fitted was more tricky. We began by putting a strip on the rear upper mount hole, just fitting it to the flared edge of the hole. Several blogs (and Derek) confirmed that it was only these flared edges that required the trim. However once it was on we both agreed that we didn’t like the way it looked, as the ends of the trim were very obvious. We therefore cut a new bit and this time covered all the way round the cut-out. I had seen this alternative approach used on other projects and we definitely preferred this look. However it looked like it was going to cause a problem when we came to fixing the front upper wishbone nut and bolt so we went back to the first method and angled the cut ends a bit instead.

The next challenge was how to fix it. Several builders report that the IVA test requires it to be permanently fixed, but there seem to be two possible methods; superglue or silicone. We ended up using superglue gel, squeezing small blobs right into the slot of the trim before fitting it and using insulation tape to hold the trim tightly into the corners while it dried.

Protecting the paintwork was next. We used pipe insulation around the top edges around the engine bay and to cover the bonnet clips. TudorEv had done some research on masking tape and had got a sample of tesa 50530, described as temporary protection film for freshly painted surfaces. The specification sheet says it preserves the paint finish for nine months, even outdoors. We used this to protect around the steering rack and suspension cut-outs.

IVA Trim and protection
IVA Trim and protection

First part in was of course the steering rack. Each of the main build areas of the car has one or more “fastener packs”  which contain nuts, bolts and washers. There are also polythene bags of assorted other small pieces such as mounts, bushes, covers etc. Fastener packs have a very formal reference number, eg 30S003B, whereas the polythene bags have a handwritten label on them with a list of the part numbers that are inside the bag. So, armed with “Fastener Pack 30S003B” and “Polythene Bag – Steering” (yes, that’s how the latter are referred to in the manual), we set to work.

Fitting steering rack
Fitting steering rack

Cue manual ambiguity number one; it says “…ensure a washer is placed between the rack clamp and the nyloc nut…” It neglects to mention that the chassis frame is also between the rack clamp and the nyloc nut, so which side of the frame does the washer go? Looking at the diagram there is no washer even shown!  We concluded that it was illogical to have a washer between the clamp and the chassis frame, so put it next to the nut.

In case you didn't know...
In case you didn’t know…

Then it was onto the lower wishbone and another opportunity for a long discussion about ambiguities in the manual. There is a clear diagram as to the layout of bolts and washers on a standard car, but then a paragraph states that on a sidetrack car you leave out the two washers on the front mount and put four in the rear mount. As the standard build already has four in the rear mount, did this mean six in total or four? Doing a dry fit with the pieces concerned suggested that getting six washers in the rear mount was going to be quite a challenge, so we stuck to four, left the bolts un-torqued and resolved to check with Derek.

We then fitted the spring damper unit which needs an aluminium bush inserted into each mounting hole before fitting. There were eight very similar bushes in the suspension bag, and it necessitated measuring the dimensions and lengths to determine which is which. A micrometer is useful here as the difference between 1/2” and 12mm wide is only 0.6mm

Number Length Outside
2 of 35mm 12mm 10mm Upper Front Wishbone
Rear Mount
2 of 35mm ½” or 12.6mm 10mm Rear Spring Damper Top Mount
4 of 32mm ½” or 12.6mm 8mm Front Spring
Damper Top & Bottom Mounts


Another of these spacers goes into the rear mount of the upper wishbone. The manual gives the dimension of this as ½” OD (Outside Diameter). We had two pairs of bushes, one pair 12mm OD and the other 12.6mm. The latter ones were closest to ½”, so we tried these, but they would not fit in the wishbone.

We used tape to distinguish each bush
We used tape to distinguish each bush

Checking them in the rear/damper unit we found the wider (12.6mm) fitted snugly whereas the 12mm one was definitely loose. Typically the manual does not give any dimensions for the rear damper unit!

Although we were ready to fit the rear mount of the upper front wishbone. However before we could fit the front mount we needed to look at the headlight bracket and assembly. All the advice suggests that you get the wiring and grommets for the headlight in place at this point as doing it later involves removing the bracket.

Daniel French’s blog has an excellent step by step description of a really neat wiring solution. Unfortunately I hadn’t anticipated the need for heat shrink so soon so we were only able to locate the various parts, take them apart and look how they would fit together.

So by now we had most of the suspension parts loosely fitted and a variety of headlight bits all over the workbench, but we were unable to persevere with either due to lack of knowledge or equipment. We looked for one more area to start on and settled on installing the horns. Andrew Bissell mentions needing a breaker bar to undo the central 13mm nut. Ours was also really tough to remove. I ended up resorting to using a rubber mallet on the spanner to loosen it. Apart from this the horns fitment was straightforward.

Horns in place
Horns in place

We’d certainly been taking our time on all this, as we’ve always agreed that the build was not a race, but something we wanted to take our time on and do as well as we could. Although we had been in the garage for about six hours, I reckon we had only been actually doing anything to the car for about one hour. The rest of the time was spent reading the manual, locating the parts, discussing what the manual actually meant and of course pausing for numerous cups of tea!


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