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Hell may be experiencing a cold spell...


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Warning: lots of drivel ahead!  The short version for those with better things to do is that I will be asking a lot of Caterham-related questions over the next several months.  

 

And for those with too much time on their hands…After more than 20 years of Westfield ownership, I'm turning to the dark side; a deposit was placed last month on a new Caterham.  The build slot is still pending given Caterham has yet to figure out their 2022 schedule, but it appears the kit won't arrive until sometime in the Spring.  Although I love the Westfield and its recently completed 2.0L Duratec, that infamous engine build process showed me just how much I'm craving a big project.  I'm also at a point where the window for me to undertake something like this is closing, so it's now or never.  

 

After considering several options, it came down to either building another Westfield or trying my hand at a Caterham.  My Westfield has a number of custom touches to better align the car with my tastes and preferences.  After living with those mods for years, I wouldn't do any of them differently.  This means building another Westfield -- while vastly cheaper -- would simply be a rehash of the previous build.  Not much of a learning experience or challenge.  With the Caterham, both the assembly process and things I wish to change from stock are new puzzles to solve.  

 

Unfortunately, Caterham won't sell a kit without a drivetrain, and my original workaround of buying a 360R or 420R and simply swapping engines with the Westfield turns out to be anything but simple or cheap.  Packaging differences mean the Caterham's intake would need to be replaced with Jenveys or their equivalent, then a programmable ECU to accommodate that change, followed by an engine loom for the ECU, and several other minor items.  Yes, I could avoid this slippery slope and take cheaper shortcuts, but the Westfield is a great car and I want to keep it that way for the next owner.  

 

Surprisingly, the alternative of keeping the Westfield as-is, selling the 420R crate engine, and building a new, more powerful 2.4L Duratec is only marginally more expensive.  The upside from this approach is a better Westfield that needs no effort to prep for sale, a much faster Caterham, and I can spend all my build, design, and fabrication cycles on the new car rather than plotting to pull the soul from an old friend.  More to come on the spec….

 

-John

 

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Congrats! The dark side has its shining moments. 

 

I see Croc has finally worn you down. 

 

Any particular things that you look forward to in comparison to the Westfield? Any down sides other than price?

 

What power are you shooting for in a build?

 

 

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Westfield places a bigger onus on the builder than Caterham, but when built well, I personally feel the the two cars are pretty close.  There are some things I prefer about the Westfield and some I prefer about the Caterham.  But they are my preferences so I don't want to go down that path as I will simply be saying my car is better than my car :918766748_biggrinjester(1):

 

I've gone with the SV which compares favorably to the Westfield in shoulder width.  As for the engine, some may wonder why the 2.4L and not another hot 2.0L if I like my current engine so much?  Short version: weight and expectations for dollars spent.  When introduced, there was a reason the SV quickly earned the nickname Fat Bastard.  With its extra weight, it would be a touch slower than the Westfield with the same engine.  If I'm spending a lot money to change cars, I don't want to go slower.  I want to go faster.  Much faster.  With that mindset, the 2.4L makes sense.  

 

Since Caterham won't sell me what I want, I've broken down the spec into two parts: what's on the Caterham order sheet and the planned mods.  Some of this is subject to change given the months I have to evolve the plan, and as Bruce Beachman can attest, it's already changed more than once in the past few weeks :-)

 

Order Sheet

  •  420R SV
  •  620R nosecone
  •  Roulette Green (special order)
  •  Lowered floors
  •  Carbon Fiber seats with padding (Tillet B6 as used in 620R)
  •  Plain black leather tunnel cover from Signature catalog (not a fan of the standard carbon-look leather)
  •  Full weather pack
  •  Trackday roll bar
  •  Track suspension
  •  AP 4-Pots
  •  3.64 diff
  • 13" black wheels 

Mods

  • Engine - 2.4L short block from Esslinger Engineering that combines a forged 2.3L keyed crank with a deburred 2.5L block, includes various oil gallery sealing mods, forged 12:1 pistons with a slightly thicker head gasket to lower static compression to ~11.75:1, forged, longer-than-stock rods, fully balanced, ARP fasteners, etc.  Ported 2.5L head, Jenvey 50mm (possibly 52mm) DTHTB, Emerald K6+.  Cam investigation is ongoing, but I'm currently leaning towards the Esslinger Stage 4 or Raceline RDL 270.  VVT and balance shaft delete.  Dry sump.  The stock Caterham exhaust manifold and silencer will probably limit power to the 250hp-260hp range, which is plenty for now.  A future upgrade will be a custom exhaust that should lift output to ~270hp.
  •  Traction control - either the native system in the K6+ or RaceTCS
  •  Higher flow fuel pump.  This might take the form of an external pump with return hose with inline regulator. 
  •  Raceline compact bellhousing, flywheel and starter.  This places the bottom the sump and bellhousing on the same plane rather than have the bellhousing about 35mm lower.
  • Carbon dash with custom configuration.  Currently leaning towards 620R style toggle switches.  BlinkStop wireless steering wheel buttons (4) to cover horn, turn signals/hazards, and high beams/flasher.  Includes programmable self-cancelling function on turn signals.  AIM MXS 1.2 Strada display that covers all gauge, warning light, and shift light needs and connects to the Emerald K6+ via a CAN bus.
  • Lighting - front & rear LEDS with clear lenses.  Roll bar mounted 3rd-brake light.
  • Lithium battery
  • Create cold air intake from intercooler duct in 620 nosecone.
  • Locking boot lid - I have some ideas for this.  More later.
  • Hidden interior storage.  I did this to the Westfield, but it's not yet clear how to achieve this in the Caterham without having the car on hand.  That said, I do have an idea.

New parts I'll need to sell because Caterham won’t let me purchase what I damn well want (bitter?  me?  nooo…)

  • Complete 420R engine w/ dry sump, injectors, intake & filter, bellhousing, flywheel, clutch and pressure plate.  I'll likely hold onto the alternator & bracket, COP, and clutch slave.
  • Caterham MBE ECU w/ engine wiring harness
  • Carbon dash with gauges and switches

When the time comes, I'll start new build threads for engine and car assembly.  Criticism welcome…but likely ignored :) 

 

-John

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Roulette Green is no longer a standard color, so not in the configurator, but here is a 620S in that shade of Kermit.  Given I'm doing the 620 nose, it's close enough, although the wheels are wrong.

 

1269350530_roulettegreen1.jpg.5ed9e530645064d7699d70d76d89d096.jpg

 

-John

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John.

Did you consider calling our friend in CO?  That EcoBoost seven he built looked mighty powerful, and I’m sure he’d customize the order for you.

- perhaps this is a harbinger if my se7ens future also?

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Westfield has been doing the Eco Boost for several years (the Sport 250), but I prefer NA in a very light car.  I've spoken to Tom in the past and wouldn't hesitate to buy a car from him, but one of the draws of the Caterham is the fact that Bruce Beachman's shop is just 10 miles from my house.  Now that might be something that @BruceBe lives to regret, but it is a great perk for me :) 

 

-John

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  • 2 weeks later...

Nearly 6 weeks after placing my deposit, I have a build slot from Caterham: the week of February 6th.  Add in manufacturing and shipping times, it sounds like a late April delivery provided everything goes smoothly.  Given they usually don't for me ;), more likely sometime in May.  The plan is to start ordering various parts over the summer and assemble the engine in the second half of December.  Much earlier than needed, but I generally take that time off from work and it ensures plenty of buffer in case things don't go as planned (see earlier comment).

 

-John

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  • 5 months later...

Now that my order has reached the stage where it's locked with Caterham, I thought I'd post an update before the engine build thread begins (hopefully) later this month.  The spec has evolved just a bit from my initial plan.  Changes and decisions include:

  • Heated carbon fiber seats.  Yes, on the surface, heated seats may seem incongruous with a Caterham but they weigh a lot less than a heater and should take the edge off on Fall drives.  Also, the heat helps my back should the Tillets prove less comfortable for me than the Westfield's MOGs.
  • No Track suspension upgrade.  A big concern for this car is the ability to put down power on less than ideal pavement; I don't want to get sideways on a narrow back road when passing a rolling pylon.  After a lot of research, I've decided to go aftermarket with shocks and springs and have ordered a set of CORE dampers from Meteor Motorsport.  The fronts have a digressive valve with linear springs while the rears are normally valved but with progressive springs.  Simon believes this combination will give the best performance.
  • Stock 3.92 rear diff rather than the longer 3.64.  Bruce wasn't convinced Caterham would honor the diff swap request and given I'm unsure on the shape of the torque curve on the new engine, staying stock for now seemed like the better bet.  If the traction control doesn’t work well, then swapping to the 3.64 may be on the winter upgrade list next year.  Or I'll finally need to make progress on exhibiting self control (who am I kidding?)
  • I've decided to stick with the Emerald K6+ native Traction Control rather than use the Race TCS system.  Although I have more confidence in the latter working better, I might as well start with the no-cost option.  Emerald is building the custom ECU loom now.
  • Jenvey 50mm DTHTB vs the larger 52mm.  Dyno tests from Raceline and Esslinger show the smaller set flow more than enough for my power targets and should have a slight edge on idle and low-mid range given the increased air velocity.  As for velocity stacks, there are only two choices in this size: 40mm and 93mm.  I'd prefer to use a cold air box and not cut the bonnet, so I'm starting with the shorter set but reserve the right to make dramatic changes here based on dyno results and how I feel about the torque curve after driving the car.  Longer is definitely better for all but the top of the rev range, but I'm not yet sure I'll need improvements down low.
  • I've opted for the Esslinger Stage 4 cams over the Raceline RDL 270.  They should more than meet my power target and I do like they are an asymmetric setup vs the symmetric for the Racelines (interestingly, their more aggressive RDL 300 cams are asymmetrical.)  The downside to this choice is COVID supply chain issues.  When I placed the order in mid-July I was told they were out-of-stock and would take 4-5 weeks to ship.  Five months later and I still don't have an ETA on when Esslinger's cam grinder will have the blanks for my set.  It's beyond frustrating.  

Parts continue to arrive and fill my layout bench.  The next big shipment should be the short block which I'm hoping will ship by the end of next week. 

 

parts.thumb.jpg.ec937e28069f18aee76ff56b44671253.jpg

 

-John

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