Main Page

What's a Seven?




Zetec vs. X-Flow

 Conversion to Zetec

Gearbox upgrade

 Maintenance Log

7's  50th Anniversary







Maintenance Log

March 1999 - present

1999 Caterham Super Seven

Wide Track / deDion
195/50/15 Prisoner wheels / 13" 3pc track rims

2/1999 - 2/2000 - 1600 Ford Crossflow 711M Samcor,
2/2000 - 4/2002 , Crossflow bored to
1700,  244 cam
4/2002 - present
- 2.0 ltr / 200BHP Ford Focus ZX3 Zetec
see Zetec conversion page

Date / mileage Event Solution
1st Year

3/20/99 first start
3/26/99      130 #1 intake valve stuck in it's guide recondition and upgrade head to XF1700 spec
4/20/99      130 first (re)start
4/21/99      200 15..20ftlbs of torque needed at the hubnut to turn either driveshaft (gear in neutral, brake pads out) differential needs break-in. This goes eventually down to 1ftlbs at about 5k miles.
5/26/99      700 rear A-arm crunch noise add washers at chassis mounts, relaxes tension on the A-frame
6/3/99      1600 transmission vibration/noise I forgot to put in the pilot bearing - engine / xmission out - insert $9 bearing
6/20/99     2302 odometer broken
6/29/99     2xxx?? speedometer broken  get replacement (warranty)
7/20/99     2xxx?? distributor cap spring lost drilled the cap and put in a pianowire loop, tied at the base of the distributor with a ty-wrap

8/5/99      5xxx?? new speedo broken again get 2nd replacement (warranty)
checked cable length to make sure it is not too long - seems ok. Bad batch of speedo's.
8/6/99      5xxx?? Blinker relay stops working open it up and clean contacts. Black dust inside.
9/1/99      7000 decide that 110BHP is not enough power upgrade the XF1600 to XF1700 with a Kent 244 cam this coming winter, yes!
9/30/99    7600 order pistons and 244 Kent cam from RMSCI and plan for the upgrade
10/17/99  8000 car is getting too cold to drive around 30..35F order fresh air heater
10/20/99 8100 Radiator leak at  the top 1" blanking nut solder with silver solder
10/25/99  8500 Valeo voltage regulator goes out (on alternator) rgenerating 20V board voltage, with very bright headlights. I did replace the bulbs.
redesign regulator (corrects  field winding bias issue, causes after runs when the fan is running at shutoff), mount under carbs to avoid baking by header #1
12/26/99 10100 dismantle engine - prep for XF1700 upgrade -- Hobbyist Wisconsin plates do not allow driving in January, also 0F/-18C weather makes driving less enjoyable
2nd Year

2/4/00   10100 1st start as a 1700/244 cam noisy at startup, allow 500mi for break-in. Initial compression about 160psi, after break-in around 190psi (warm)
3/5/00   10900 Clutch cable breaks far from home - have to start in 1st gear, shifting w/o the clutch is not too bad otherwise.
Embarrassement at a couple of the intersections.
Get new cable and a 2nd as a spare in the boot
3/24/00  11400 Install engine mount restraint plates as a precaution
4/2/00    11800 K&N airfilters self destruct replace (blow back from carbs is desolving the rubber seals. 10% alcohol in Wisconsin fuel does that)
4/5/00   12100 A carb stud loosens - leans out mix on #2 loctite and center punch studs behind the manifold
4/6/00   12150 Radiator leaks again at the top resolder again
5/5/00   13500 Radiator leaks at the bottom resolder and hope for the best
8/27/00  17000 driver side floor fails (10 rivets lost) drill out rivet remnants, re-drill and use 3/16" stainless rivets after epoxying floor to chassis
9/3/00   17600 Radiator leaks everywhere resolder everywhere
12/16/00  19000 put it away - too cold (25F is the cut-off), also too much salt
3rd Year

2/4/2001 19000 2001 driving season starts - still cold, have to drive around the salt :-)
7/1/2001 23000 Junked the Heavy Duty Radiator, it's a sieve  get Alu radiator - much much better cooling and ... no more leaks... wow
10/30/2001 28000 thermo sender goes flaky replace
12/18/2001 30500 Parked for the season.  Just can't stop driving


Event/mileage Issue Solution
4rd Year. 2002 .
2/1/2002 30,500 I'm back - Wisconsin Hobbyist plates do not permit driving in January. Normally this is ok, but this year there is no winter. .
4/21-30/2002 31,500 Swap in 2.0 Focus Zetec  .- see XF-Zetec conversion page
5/2/2002 32,000 Remapping of GEMS fueling map continues. Mileage now around 17mpg, but a lot more power Note: (5/03) - lean out cruising map - AF approx. 13.5 - gives 23mpg freeway, 20mpg country roads
5/30/2002 32,800 Running good, except odd event where revs limited to 4500rpm The issue disappeared.  ECU gremlin?
6/4/2002 32,900 (GEMS) ECU overheats - 3000rpm
see near the bottom of  XF conversion page
Added cooling.
95F weather, sidescreens in, heater valve not completely shut off. ECU mounted on the Exhaust side firewall inside the scuttle. ECU too hot to touch. Issue resolved with added ECU cooling installed.
10/25/2002 37,300 Clutch cable brakes again. Seems underrated. Too much force is required. Snaps off, 1/4" back from the eye in the footbox. replaced cable for now  - considering hydraulic. Craft something from Pegasus or Jegs parts.
12/19/2002 39,500 Weather perked up, so out I was, but speedometer failed again. replaced 1" flexible cable in right angle drive at the gearbox. Also shortened both ends of the main cable to make sure it runs free enough to spin the speedo by hand from the gearbox end of the cable.
12/20/2002 39,501 Battery failed - low temperature starts killed it off. Fully charged, but capacity is not enough to crank a 10.5 CR Zetec at -0C /<32F temps. New Johnson Control (aka Sears Diehard) sealed Gel battery ($45)  is perfect. Slightly lighter, fits about in the same space and 340CCA !  Need to device pole caps for general & track safety. 
12/22/2002 39,600
Parked for the season

5th Year

2/1/2003 39,600 Back on the road
4/15/2003 40,100 installed adjustable  Leda shocks and new springs - however 275 / 200 lb/in   F/R is too stiff . Handling improved significantly, but since it's a daily driver, I 
ordered 220lb/in Front and 150lb/in Rear springs.
Running 275/150  F/R now.
8/23/2003 44,000
rattle inside the muffler, sounds like a weld had given away
lost 1 of 3  #4 exhaust header bolts, others loose. replace/retorque - fixed.
10/08/2003 46,200
deDion tube failure...whoOAaa
Left rear shock mount cracked, causing 1" left rear suspension drop.
weld up the old tube to close the season, and ordered a new tube.
But..we're back on the road within 2 days, let's hope it holds up.
11/07/2003 47,100
Speedometer out again. 1" flex drive wire broken - this is fragile when it gets cold and the bowden cable stiffens. This is Wisconsin, and it does get cold here.
use a 1" x 1/8" square brass rod section as a link between right angle box and gearbox - no more troubles. Also, no more wavy speedo needle.
11/25/2003 47,600
new deDion tube received. Looks reinforced. Also received hydraulic clutch actuation parts
Mounted - slight adjustments needed, for brake-T mount and Z-arm openings, otherwise fits fine
12/09/2003 47,800
Season ends - snow and salt are here.... it's hard to stop :-)
6th Year
Back on the road again of course !

5/1/2004   49,000
Starter solenoid keeps hanging up. This is still the old starter from the Crossflow. It's a Magneti Marelli.
lubricate solenoid plunger. Dry graphite works best. Also added heat shield wrap to the starter  / solenoid
7/6/2004  50,900
brake pads glazed (still about 30% left)
replace (original) brake pads
7/17/2004   51,500
Nothing to report, just running great, except the weather has been lousy here in Wisconsin, hence not many miles have accumulated this year.

July 3/'04
Black Hawk Farms track day...

kinda washed out

12/31/2004  53,000
The car has been very solid this year, but driving has been curtailed by THE worst weather we've seen here in Wisconsin in a while, with perpetual downpours. Some rain is no problem, but there are limits :-)

Fortunately the 2004 driving season ended with a perfect 45 degree F - blue sky day - I suppose global warming has even reached Wisconsin

7th Year
March 53,000
Back on the road!

May 55,000
Just running good, but the weather has not cooperated. Cold is ok, but rain is not great.
Brake light switch is out again... need to really fix this..
September 58,000
Rear brakes glazed
new rotors, new pads
11/30/2005  59,000
Season closed, early winter

8th Year
February 59,000
One 30mile spin - 35F, but that's enough!

Last spin with the old gearbox - time to change!
3.36 1st / 1.81 2nd gear a 3.92 diff and a 2.0ltr Zetec does not work well. Last year October visited Brian Hill and his team at BGH Geartech. He put together an E7 kit for me, which I'm about to put in.
Original ratios: 1st - 5th  3.36 / 1.81 / 1.26 / 1.00 / .82
New ratios: 1st - 5th  2.75 / 1.75 / 1.21 / 1.00 / 0.85
Not much spare time, but, the box is done - time to put it back in the car
See Gearbox upgrade
page for details
4/1/2006  59,250
1st run with the uprated box
sofar so good. Better put some miles on it.
I just noticed that the old T9 boxes actually used trust washers on the layshaft, hmm..maybe I improved it :-)
5/20/2006 60,000
Front rotors worn
New rotors and pads.
5/22/2006 60,400 Lotus trackday at BHF - Gearbox worked great!  No more 3rd gear crunch. The dreaded front wheel lift-off due to the 3.36 gear has finally been put to rest. Last year with 3.36 and the sticky racing slicks, the car did a mini-wheely on leaving the pitlane and I almost hit the exit wall, close one that.
Clean starts now with these new ratio's.
6/2/2006  61,000
coolant in the driver side footwell - heater hose split
7/30/2006  63,000
ECU overheating again after coming of the freeway in 100F weather.
Added noise filter to 5V regulator, increased cooling fan capacity - seems to work
9/1/2006  63,500
Throttle cable frayed... hanging up in the sleeve
Replaced it with the old throttle cable I still had laying around from the Crossflow days.
10/15/2006  64,500
GEMS ECU fails - replaced with DTA S60
DTA S60 PRO is DTA's latest development
This DTA is excellent. Features, programmability, monitoring is quite a step up. Great logging features!
Combined with a WB02 (Bosch NTK) gives much closer tuning than the GEMS.
12/1/2006, 65,000
Season ends... it's very cold here (10F)

Back in the car!  It's 35F and dry, some rain washed much of the salt away.
12/31/2006 65,500
Balmy 50F!!!.... yes, this is Wisconsin, not Florida
(normally 10..20F this time of year)

9th Year
1/3/2007 65,500
Left lower A arm balljoint needs replacement.
Locknut mysteriously loosened itself.  Retightened for now, but need replacements. Not bad for 65k miles.
new ones ordered - will install these when it gets warm(er)
1/5/2007 65,510
Left lower rear shockmount bolt shears off.
Had to get tools from home (10mi's) and do a roadside repair.

Replaced all lower suspension bolts with Grade 8 plated.
Suspect this failure was due to trapping some piece of bushing rubber under the bolt washer, preventing proper bolt tensioning, causing significant bending stress.
1/26/2007 65,550
Using full sequential injection mode causes cam sensor errors below 1200rpm, i.e. idling >5 secs stalls the engine.
Replacing Ford's magnetic cam sensor with a Honeywell Halleffect device. The DTA S60 ECU has both magnetic and Hall effect inputs. The Honeywell-IGT101DC does not quite fit, thus a bushing is needed to fill the gap as well as an O-ring to seal it off. Bushing: L = .5", ID = .705", OD = 1.01"
Zero cam errors now!  Solid idle, smooth shifts.
5/31/2007, 67,000
Throttle cable is not fully returning
Replaced with 1/16" heavy duty mountain bike brake cable.
5/31/2007, 67,000
Overheating when sitting still in traffic jams in 90F weather
Replaced cooling fan thermoswitch (in filler neck) with a 75C model (was 92C) - works perfect even in super hot 90F  (32C) weather with traffic.
7/22/2007, 69,500
Front wheel balance issues. Haven't had this in a while. Proper centering of the rims is important as I've noticed that with hasty wheel mounting (track days) the rims may not be perfectly centered possibly.
Last session had 22 (!) stick-on pieces of lead on one of the wheels..
Back to traditional transverse and radial balancing solved the issue. Just 2 small rim weights / wheel. Wow.. now it's good.
Oh.. that's $12/wheel.
10/16/2007, 71,700 Speedo out again. - check this eve, probably the cable at the right angle drive fell off.
The Oct 8 Road America track day was great, but new Avon's did vibrate slightly, causing things to come loose.
The right angle drive had vibrated loose.. no big deal. The high speed running at Road America probably did that. Car still vibrates >100mph and power is off > 120mph, due to having "lost" the ECU map after the TB issue... to be corrected over the off-season months.
(see follow up 6/18/2008)
11/22/2007,  72,100
Snow came last night and a lot of salt.  That's it then. It's early this year, but given the length of the "to-do-list", it may well be a good thing, as I  can't stop driving this car.

10th Year

3/11/2008, 72,100
At last. It's a balmy 33F, almost +1C. Still sheets of ice and snow, but no salt!!  Salt ran out in January having received a record 98" of snow fall.
Car needs tuning, the TB's aren't properly tracking since last year, drawing false air on idle...  I'll work on it, but I need to get some driving in first :-)
4/10/2008, 72,600
While adjusting the TB balance, I noticed the top alternator bracket was cracked. About 80% through.
Machined a new beefier one from solid 6061 Alu. Note the crack in the original (left).

6/18/2008, 73,500
TB's still not balanced at idle. The Jenvey/Lumenition TB's are relatively high tolerance items, and clearances for a good idle setting just aren't there. 
Used the last track session at the Lotus track day to collect some steady high end (6000-7500rpm/100% Throttle) data. Thanks to Graeme for fearlessly hanging onto the laptop and O2 electronics gear.
Updated the Fuel maps and balanced the TB's at quarter throttle. Wow, what a difference.  "Z power is back"
8/8/2008, 75,400
Top right ball-joint creaks, also, the rear ARB drop links have developed some play
received fresh ones from RMSCI.
Drop links are installed, but I need to allocate more time for the top ball-joints as it'll require re-alignment. (jackstands / strings & ruler method)
11/22/2008, 78,000
Season close. Snow is on the way. (12/6/2008 -  12" on the ground already )
Certainly a good year, with some longer (700mile) trips during the past weeks - it's going to be 10 years with this car. Even past 77,777 miles, and it still make kids smile and it still gets greetings. I can still look ahead by looking under those silly King-Kong SUV's. 

11th Year



I should really do some work on the car, but at a sustained < 10F for weeks now, I wouldn't even try change the oil, unless I used a spoon.
I know there's se7eners further North of me, so I'll save my complaining. The weather forecast is showing a warmup to maybe the 20F's, the week after next.
And... the new local low-salt road-maintenance policies should indicate early clean roads!  Keep hoping.
2/11/2009, 78,100
[ 10 years ] ]
20's--30's--40's Mid winter thaw, and some strategically selected salt free routes. Put the 1st 100 miles on it. Started without trouble. Good to be back driving.  Got a few incredulous looks from the SUV parade, but hey, it'd be difficult to explain.
7/7/2009, 80,500
Rattle in the back
parking brake cable worked itself loose. Sleeved it with 5/8" rubber hose and ty-raps to the lower diagonal frame rail
9/21/2009, 81,500
Front pads worn
new pads (Mintek) and
standard solid rotors.
10/2/2009, 82,000
Alternator bracket  broken. This time it's the delrin slider. Too many miles I suppose.

Just wonder what it is with alternator brackets. The Valeo  45amp is very light, and the Zetec runs pretty smooth, maybe not at idle (light flywheel).  So.. I dunno. Just replace it and see what happens.

I made the new one from delrin (as was the original from Raceline) a bit
thicker and added a "brow" hoping to help avoid
resonance (we'll see if it helps)
12/08/2009, 82,600
Season close.  24F and dropping rapidly. 12" came overnight, so that's it. April seems very far away.

The car has been very good this year. Over the winter, when it's not too extreme, I plan to check the rear suspension, as I still heard something make noise, although it doesn't affect handling. Maybe it's something with the wooden floor board in the trunk.... yes, my car has a 'trunk' :-)

12th Year 2010
2/21/2010, 82,600
Snowcover since Nov '09 leaves time for upgrades  - Battery, and front brake-line (too close to one of the primary pipes).
Installed an Odyssee battery. Looks like three resonable choices:
PC545, PC625, PC680.  No need for the metal jacket or terminals.
Picked the 680 for it's very low internal resistance (7 milliOhm) and good capacity/volume ratio. Although rated at 17Ah, it can deliver over 500Amps for 20sec. (or 680Amps for 5secs). Odyssee specs (220CCA), or 220 cold cranking amps at 0F and for 30secs.
Starters can't run for 30sec without taking damage.  In other words, more than sufficient cranking power.
5/23/2010, 84,500
1. lost left front bearing dust cap during a trackday
2. Oil breather catch tank drain  spigot plugged with emulsion
3. right front suspension crunching noise
1. replace dust cap - cheap at $4/pc!
2. Wash out the tank and filter.
3.  tightened upper A-arm suspension bolt (wheels on the ground)
9/14/2010     86,000
rear suspension noise over large bumps.
rear ARB drop link interference. I replaced these some time back and they never fitted right...  made a new offset interface.
Not pretty, but very effective.
On the left the original in actual orientation (angles), leaving no room for any deflection w/o interference.
Center is an intermediate version, which didn't work well.
Right is what I put on the car and this works well.
Overall weight left vs right is about the same (Alu block)

11/21/2010   87,300
Season end.  23F is too nippy. Didn't get the tonneau cover to fit (yet). I'll figure it out next year.
I do have to fit those half side screens sometime before Spring.

13th Year 2011

3/31/2011  87,500
Weather is a more than balmy 37F for several days now.  Heater full on, throttle full on, sunglasses on and we're good to go.

5/16/2011   88,300
cam errors after track day.
reset to non-sequential injection until I find a new cam sensor
5/21/2011   88,400

All fixed. Runs smooth again, zero cam errors.
Digikey carries these (again) - straight swap, added ty-raps for the wires, which had broken due to vibration.
6/1/2011  88,700
clutch cable broke 20 mi from home, prompting another clutch free drive, and reinterpretation of stop signs.
This is the 3rd cable to break in about 90k miles. I guess time's up for this archaic method.
Spare clutch cable turned out to be 2" too short. The proper length isn't available (supposedly it never was??  haha... funny).
Whatever, it's time to convert to Hydraulics at last : See below:
Left pic: note rubber washers under the slave cylinder to help clear the bellhousing edge (interference spot not visible in picture)
Center and right pics: hydraulic line route. The line is a bit short actually, but it's not too bad. Overall more linear operation than the cable.
10/4/2011, 92,200
rubber washers under clutch slave cylinder deteriorated (as anticipated)
machined Alu replacement
12/11/2011, 92,500
Getting cold, season end is near. Drove in some <28F and thought it felt a bit cold. Aging maybe? Nah..
Put the hood up next time
14th Year 2012

4/7/2012, 92,750
Right front (LEDA-24) shockabsorber has slight free play at full extension
consider having these dynoed and rebuild. LEDA is unfortunately out of business - nevertheless excellent shocks.
6/12/2012, 93,500
Right Front top ball joint has developed slight play. Supposedly 7's are hard on balljoints. Probably applies to any car driven quickly on crumbling roads.
Replacements on order (backorder)
8/11/2012, 94,200

Replaced top RF balljoint - sharp steering has returned

15th Year 2013

4/20/2013, 94,600
seats and tunnel worn. Not bad for this level of use.
The Odyssee battery didn't live as long as expected
Light slop in the front ARB
Alternator bracket cracked (1st time for this one)
replaced seats, tunnel cover. Black/Black
went with another pc680 battery
replaced front roll bar ball ends
machined / replaced top alternator bracket / accessory belt
8/1/2013, 96,000
clutch slave cylinder linkage failed -- too much stress
repaired, added spherical washers to accomodate the slight angular  movement
16th Year 2014

1/16/2014 This winter is fiercly cold (a week below -25C), and  taking the car out is a ways off. Projects from last year have accumulated, and I hope to get to them before the roads clear up.
5/5/2014, 96,500
Driving season's a bit late this year. About 7C now. Not much time for driving in the past year due to personal circumstances.
Redid the hydraulic clutch cylinder using pivot washers, accommodating the slight arc motion.
5/19/2014, 96,700
Annual Lotus Trackday at Black Hawk Farms, produced an 'off', which folded up the exhaust system. Yes, I went out in the rain on semi slicks and had a lazy spin. The tailpipe tip just caught the concrete curb edge, going backwards. So much damage in so little time..  really.
All repaired. Raceline had another set of headers made, which fitted perfectly.  #3/4 are 'standard' but #1/2 are different for the LHD car, i.e. special order of the already special order.

Timing belt replacement (maintenance)

17th Year 2015

10/19/2015, 98,000
No repairs - just driving :-)
Weather is unseasonably warm (65F), and the symbolic "100k-miles-in-a-Seven" is approaching.  It'll read 95,000 since there's the 5k unregistered miles due to a couple early failures (see '99). Very Se7enEsque!  Everything has a story and is non-average. Who'd want to be average anyway.
11/1/2015, 99,300
replaced rear rotors & pads - 50% left, but crumbly
12/19/2015, 99,400
I think this is it for the season - 22F

18th Year 2016

3/8/2016, 99,400
1st drive 

5/19/2016 100,001
100k in a Se7en!
On the way back from the Black Hawk Farms Lotus track day, it ticked over to 100k when entering the driveway at home. The odometer reads 95,001 as mentioned previously.
..if it's some form of affliction, no cure is anticipated or sought.

In summary, I recommend this car.
Exhaust flow issues, limits top end (track day) . Inspection shows internal damage (kink) from 2014 track mishap
Replaced muffler, flow restored.
Running on battery only, alternator is not charging
Corrosion of terminals. Cleaned alternator spades, replaced connectors, all good.
End of Season - Salt on the road = no more driving

19th Year 2017

new sparkplug cables

End of Season is nigh  35F, but no salt yet!

20th Year

Return to Main page