Ultima GTR - Hours 101 to 150
Stages 14, 15, 16, 17 (or parts thereof !!)
Suspension alignment, Bodywork on (and off !), Dampers and Cockpit



Sat 18th November 2006
Day 58 - Hours 5 (Total 105)

Just one or two more tasks until the GTR heads off to Ultima for the body pre-fit.

Today, I aligned the suspension.  This sounds pretty difficult when you read the manual; you have to construct a perfect box around the chassis and secure parallel wires running up and down.  The principle is easy though, make sure that :

- the wheels / hubs are vertical
- the wheels point straight ahead
- the wheels point parallel to the chassis and
- the wheels front and back are parallel

The last will follow if the first three are right !

To adjust the wheels, there are the rose joints at the top of the suspension and the camber adjusters (rear) and steering joints (front).

Rather than construct a box, which itself must lead to a few mm error, I decided to use careful measurement of a few key distances and some basic trigonometry.  See the big picture below.

Make sure that the discs are firmly on the hubs (which mine are) and you can level off from either.  With the hubs vertical, then adjust the camber.  The hexagonal bolt has opposing threads so increases or decreases the camber when turned.

To make sure the discs are pointing parallel to the chassis, I calculated that the rightmost chassis rail is 96mm further out than the edge of the disc (measure across the car to work this out).  The left measurement is also 96mm (that's an accurate chassis for you !!).  Usig a long 3 foot rule against the flat of the discs, you can adjust the camber so the ruler points exactly at a mark on the right chassis rail that is 96mm in (see white sticker).

The fronts are more tricky.  As the manual says, you need to secure the rack or the distances will move as you tighten the bolts.  

The easy solution is to make a pair of 59.5mm long braces out of some spare Ally, which then fit exactly in the gap between the steering rack and end locking nut.  With the steering set dead straight, the wheels can be aligned vertically and horizontally and the bolts can be tightened.

NB  The top joint needs clamping so you can tighten the nut underneath without the top spinning.

Sun 26th November 2006
Day 66 - Hours 5 (Total 110)

Last couple of tasks and the GTR is ready for transportation on the 11th Dec.


All the wires have been taped down for the journey so they are clear of the floor and will not rattle around and generally get in the way.  I am still far from convinced that the wiring is in precisely the right place so have not rivetted the cockpit chassis member nor the front and rear wiring.  

The side pods were rivetted into place (with all the wiring and pipes now secured) and the heater matrix switch installed too.

Late evening saw a call to some "muscle" to help get the GTR off the dolly.  Thanks go to Marc, David, Jay and Trev, plus Ness and the lads, who all "heaved ho" lifting the best part of 400kilos of car safely to the ground.  This is one LOW car, as the pictures demonstrate.  NB the rule in the middle is 3 feet, or 36 inches, and easily clears the roof line.  Add 5 inches of ground clearance and you have the same height as a GT40.  Beautiful !


So that's it for now - all I can do is wait until just before Xmas when the GTR arrives back with its clothes on.  

I cannot wait !!!

 Mon 11th December 2006
Day 81 - Hours 5 (Total 115)

As the celebs say to the papparazzi, "no photos !"  But just to document that the GTR made its way to Ultima safe and sound, tailed by an anxious AJK.  Spent an hour with Dave at Ultima going through potential snagging points, but other than the accelerator cable being too low down the side of the car and the pedal positions needing a "tweak", everything got the okay !  Cue big intake of breath ....

Dave confirmed I had the wrong gear rods (side, not middle) so they will be changed (cue Andy).  Dave will also help route the ends of the woring loom around the body.

Whilst there, I also picked up most of the remaining parts.  Seats (which are SUPERB in Alcantara, forget the leather option), lights, windscreen (a heavy piece of glass I can tell you) and four other boxes that I will explore over the weekend.

Also ordered a couple of extras on Dave's recommendation, given the power of the engine he said an oil cooler is essential and a acusump is also useful for engine longevity.  Another 1,000 then, but the old addage "don't spoil the ship" etc comes to mind - that said tar wasn't a grand, even in today's money.

I now know what's what in the paint department and exactly what the prefit does, or is.  Sounds like there are quite a few jobs that will take some time and care, which in a way is exactly what I want to hear.  Each panel, for example, needs spraying black on the reverse (the standard GRP is a yukky grey) and the edges of the doors need filing and gelcoating / painting on the final fit.  The hours will be eaten up here.  

Roll on 22nd Dec and the return with the bodywork !!!

Fri 22nd December 2006
Day 92 - Hours 3 (Total 118)

It's back !  And what a transformation !  The weather held (just) and I met Graham (nice chap) along the A5 to guide him in.  It now looks like a car !  A few "hold your breath" moments as we got it off the trailer - Ultima say the ground clearance is sufficient but I won't believe them until I drive over one myself - it's a tight fit off the ramps.

So here it is with it's "clothers on"  :o)


Ultima are now shut until 2nd Jan 2007 so I am on my own as far as deciding what to do next.  Spent an hour or so getting it back in the garage - a tricky job with no steering wheel and watch your fingers when you turn the wheels manually, they are very tight against the wheel arches - and two more looking at the manual.

Sat 30th December 2006
Day 100 - Hours 5 (Total 123)

A day of looking through boxes, slight fustration and some head scratching.

In a nutshell, all the bodywork needs to come off.  Rear canopy, front canopy, doors x 2, main cockpit section (tricky !) and the side pods x 2.  The rear canopy is okay, but opening the front one seems impossible.  The manual does not shown the front releases and I suspect (correctly) that they are the same as the rears, but only after some protracted e-correspondence on Pistonheads (thanks Steve and Russell) do I finally find the releases for the front.  They are just over an armslength away under the front wheels.  

The manual also seems slightly vague in terms of what to attack next.  Again, Pistonheads comes to the resure.  There is a lot to do, but not before the bodywork comes off.  Cue Trevor to help with the front, rear and door sections.

Another annoyance was that the button head screws on the doors defy ANY imperial of metric Allan keys.  They are somewhere between 3.0 mm and 7/54ths of an inch.  In the end, I used a six pointed key (used by the Germans) to release them.  By close of play I had allo sorts of bits of Ultima upstairs and downstairs !

Thanks to Ben and Marc for the tooling help !


Sun 31st December 2006
Day 101 - Hours 4 (Total 127)
2006 total build days = 37, or about 3.5 hours per garage visit !

Another tricky day with the hours disappearing away.  But I know that this is ground work that needs to be done - once the cockpit section is off I will be back to full speed.

Try as I might, I don't think I have released all the temporary rivets and bolts holding on the cockpit section.  There are six bolts plus a dozen rivets each side, but the dashboard section may or may not be bolted to the cockpit section.  I can't find any bolts - it may be glued ?  No-one at Ultima so tools down in that area until the helpline is open in the new year.

Despite the bodywork delays, I still managed the steering wheel (lovely leather Momo) and crush zone, plus got the first gear lever rod in place (see rose joint and bracket on the floor).  The rods have a beautiful finish but are slightly, and I mean very slightly, too wide for the connectors.  They need T cutting back by a tenth of a mm or so.  NB the steering column head doesn't need tapping, just drilling out at 6.5mm so the bolts can get to the 6mm tap in the crush zone head.



With a party on the way my mind turns to cooking and the GTR will have to wait until 2007.  But what a 2007 in store - getting this car on the road will be amazing !  

2006 thanks to everyone who has lent a hand on the car so far - Ness, Sam, Ben, Trevor, Marc, David, Jay, Henry and Ben, plus Gail at Amerspeed and Andy & Dave at Ultima.  Thanks also to Joe Satriani / Gary Moore / Phil Lynott for the predominantly guitary rock bassline that kept me going and no doubt runs in the veins of the car.  I salute you all !!

Happy new year everyone !!

Fri 5th January 2007
Day 106 (38th build day) - Hours 3 (Total 130)

Been on holiday the last few days so no progress.  But with the bodywork problem (can't remove cockpit) it's tricky to move on anyway.  Still, there is always the dampers to do.  A straightforward enough job - just remember that it is a lot easier to use a trolley jack under the discs (with suitable protection) to get the right height and to stop the assembly dropping when you let go - although the wishbones have some "bite" they wont hold the hub etc.



It's nice to bolt something permanent on after weeks of getting nowhere - we are back on track once again !

Sun 7th January 2007
Day 108 (39th build day) - Hours 5 (Total 135)

On the way home from Ultima last week I took a few pics, asked lots of questions about the cockpit section and picked up some "tough black" (9 tins), which you need to paint the inside of the bodywork for protection and to bring out the colour of the gelcoat.

First job was to tun the garage into a paintshop.  Ness kidly picked up 30 meters of rather tacky cloth from Dunelm Mill and it was thrown over anything perishable (speakers / tools / engine, plus garage doors).  This took two hours but I thought against a repaint or the cost of new speakers it was worth it.  Note Stella can - it's thirst work in there sometimes !

So garage protected I made a start on the fuel tanks.  These don't need painting all over, so mask the bits that you want to be on show when you open that engine bay !


Now, don't make the mistake I made.  I used parcel tape rather than masking tape (it was all the Sunday car boot guy had available and all shops shut at 8:30am Sun morning.  No problem I thought, until I tried to get the f**king stuff off later in the day.  In the end, it took just 20 mins to spray two coast and a good hour a side to get all the glue off, with judicious use of several cloths and half a pint of thinners.  But the end result is flawless, as the above pic shows.  That's it for the night - my fingers are down to the bone.

Mon 8th January 2007
Day 109 (40th build day) - Hours 2 (Total 137)

Back on the night shift, with Def Leppard's "Pyromania" on the deck.  Great album !  It's always good for build morale when you run into a solid album that you haven't heard for a while, isn't it ?

Any way, back to business.  Ultima say not to mask the bodywork - simply wipe off the excess with thinners.  sounds too good to be true ?  But a quick test "blob" does come off very easily.  Mask on - doors open and off we go.


Note that the rear canopy needs to be left unpainted towars the rear - the heat shield (silver side up and secured around the edge with silver tape) needs to be bonded directly for strength.  I'll get the extra overspray off tomorrow evening.

Tue 8th January 2007
Day 110 (41th build day) - Hours 6 (Total 143)

Oh dear.  When Ultima say that the tough black overspray somes off with thinners, they didn't tell me that it needs to come off pretty much immediately or, as is the case, it sets like concrete !!  Aarrggghhhh !!!

Luckily I have a large supply of cotton cloths.  Starting with Auto Glym, the majority comes straight off with a careful wipe.  The tricky areas are the heavily oversrpayed areas around the edges and the louvres.  Thinners don't cut the mustard here, you need some T-Cut and to take your t - i - m - e.  I don't want to risk any damage to the gelcoat, even though it is pretty tough stuff.

So four plays of Iron Maiden's "Piece of Mind" (and several San Miguel's) and the two canopies are finished.   It's close to 1am and work starts at 5:15a.m.  Here's a quick shot of the front canopy - I've said it before but it's a work of art !

Wed 9th January 2007
Day 111 (42th build day) - Hours 4 (Total 147)

I still haven't figured out the cockpit removal.  Rather than rush it, I'll scratch my head a little longer and do some of the drilling of the holes for the side pods.  This is quite extensive, all along the underside of the pods and up the rears, plus along the outer sides (which I must leave until the final fit as the door alignment relies on moving the sid pod sides a fraction).

It's nice to get the 3.2mm drill bits going again - we are well over 1,000 rivets now and I reckon there will be close to 1,500 when the car is done.  The side pods have 60 or so each.

Fri 11th January 2007
Day 113 (43th build day) - Hours 3 (Total 150)

Ultima reckon 300 hours to build the GTR so I am about halfway - it feels slightly more but time will tell.

After a couple of calls to Andy at Ultima, I finally manage to get the cockpit section off.  Nearly two hours to remove the odd stray rivet, tape up the canopy dampers and slowly manoeuver the section from the chassis.  

if you find yourself in the same position, remember that the face of the dash curves over the lower front chassis rail and doesn't "give" very much.  You have to move the whole section backwards about an inch, which should be possible given the flex in the GRP and the margins in the holes that hold on the rear section.  When it does spring loose, it's easily removed.

The last hour of the day was spraying the inside with tough black, and remembering to remove the overspray at once !  ;o)

On to Hours 151 - 200 !

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