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What is a Tiger Cat E1?

It's a Lotus 7 replica with room for a pekinese on the back seat (thanks Nick!). To build this car you not only need the kit from the manufacturer (Tiger Racing) but also a Ford Sierra as your donor. Our car will not have the clamp shells but cycle wings instead.

To enlarge the image, just click on it!

Just click to enlarge the picture

What's happening?

27 Feb 2001 After breaking the ring yesterday I decided that today I want to do absolutely nothing to the engine. Started finishing some unfinished business on the kit itself starting with the fitting the master brake cylinder. The last time I worked on it I fitted it a little bit too low. Fortunately I also didn't fit it straight enough so there is plenty of scope for moving it upwards on one side without having to drill a hole in the other side. I also modified the rod by maunally grinding and sanding it. I could have taken it to the workshop at work where they would have done a far better but not more effective job but the fun of building a kitcar is in doing it yourself (and I expect to be asking for quite a few favours in the near future as well). Also test fitted the steering column and rack. I'm not sure yet how the column fits on the rack because the mounting point on the rack point to the side of the car. Gives me something to think about. Also discovered that the rubbers for fitting the rack are missing.
26 Feb 2001 I've started putting the engine back together again and tried fitting the new piston rings. My book says they're very brittle so I decided that I needed to practice with the old ones first. That went fine. I even tried breaking them just to find out how brittle they really are but they weren't half as brittle as I expected. Time the fit the new ones. My book also says that if there is a ring that is going to break it will probably be a new one. Since this is the first time I was doing this I decided to follow the book to the letter. The first ring snapped right on the first gentle attempt! Very annoying! Fortunately I managed to fit the rest without much damage and the right way up.

Fitting the new valve springs and collets was a fairly straightforward job. They weren't fitted straight at first but you can still move them into place after fitten them. Used plenty of cam lube to fit the Kent FR31 mild road camshaft. I did notice that the bit that holds the pulley in place is missing.
20 Feb. 2001

Almost a year later and still no finished article. Will it ever get finished my friends and colleagues wonder. To me there's no doubt that it will. I guess there are two ways of building kitcars. Dropping everthing and finish it soon or work on it a little bit at a time. One is not necessarily better than the other and for me the latter approach seems to work as long as I work on it regularly and are able to stand the psychological abuse I get from my colleagues, friends and family.

So what's the current status? Well my red Sierra reached the end of it's life and since some of the donor parts from the blue one (see photo section) were very bad I decided to strip this one as well! Especially the engine was worth keeping since it runs on unleaded and has done about 110.000 miles with an automatic gearbox. I also bought a book on engine rebuilding and got a little bit carried away. I've always fancied taking one apart and started reading this book full enthousiasm. Just when I thought I was ready to tackle it my road going car developed a problem. I had bubbles and smoke coming out of the radiator which is the unmistakable sign of a blown head gasket. Good thing I'd just read about it although I'd preferred to practice on an old engine first instead of dismantling an M-reg.'s engine. Anyway, I managed it which encouraged me even more to rebuild my kitcar engine as well.

So there it is in the picture above! I've had the valve seats recut (were quite pitted), the valves refaced (you won't believe how much carbon the collect) and the crankshaft + flywheel + clutch cover + pulley balanced. The latter was necessary because I had to use the flywheel from the other engine since this engine was mounted to an automatic gearbox. I also did a bit of grinding on the head. One of my books says that you should simply remove any rough bits in the ports. Another book that I borrowed said that that does not do anything for this engine in praticular. Dilemma! What I ended up doing was checking whether there are any obstructions with the inlet manifold (for twin dellorto's) fitted and there were. I had to enlarge the inlet ports by about 4mm! At the moment I've collected all engine bits and am about to paint the outside after which assembly will start.

I've just noticed that I wrote a while ago (understatement) that I just moved garage. Between now and the last entry I had to move again and tomorrow just two months after the last move I'm moving the kit again! This time it is going to the double garage at work for a while and I'll be taking some time off to work on it. I know I said that working on it a bit at a time works for me but my wife and I are expecting a little one which probably means that a little bit at a time will become nothing for a long time and I do want to finish it before she or he passes it's driving test!

11 May 2000 I could be cheeky and just carry on adding dates in the left column pretending that I update this at least monthly. Unfortunately more then a year has passed since I added anything (to the site) but I'll better my life. Fortunately, I have made some progress with the kit in the meantime even though I had to move to another garage again! The suspension didn't quite look brand-new after I applied the Hammerite. I read somewhere that using two different colours is a good idea if you apply more then one coat. Well, it isn't if you combine hammered and satin finish! The second coat, black satin finish, simply dripped of the first greyish coat leaving me with a silver speckled suspension!! Needless to say I had to sand it and do it over again.

In general I'm not impressed with Hammerite. It takes ages (6 weeks) to cure fully after which it is fine on the shotblasted parts. However, it chips easily on those parts that were only given the wirebrush treatment. I got the impression that other builders have experienced the same. Somebody said he used Rustoleum to paint the inner part of his bath which is still fine. Sounded like it was worth a try. This certainly works a lot better and it dries quick too (10 minutes). Only down side is that it cost £8.5 a spray can. Now that I got the hang of painting I decided to paint some more parts such as the pedals and fuel tank.

In the end I got it all painted nicely and ready to fit it. A colleague of mine made me a nice template so that I could drill the holes for the final drive unit in exactly the right place. Worked a treat. All of the rear suspension is fitted now. I found this very motivating because all of a sudden it starts to look like a real car. Continued work on the pedals and master cylinder. Fitting the rubbers on the pedals seemed to be a little bit of a problem until my partner suggested to use her hair dryer. Perfect fit! This cannot be said of the cylinder though. After drilling out all the predrilled holes it wouldn't fit properly. I now have two 10mm holes in the wrong place and the would like to have two new ones just a little bit above the wrong ones. We're talking brakes here so I guess I'll have to become creative.

Tried fitting the master cylinder but the master cylinder of my donor wasn't of the right type so I had to buy a new one.
14 Apr.

A new entry finally! Everybody asks whether we've finished the car yet or whether it is going to be finished this summer. This is basically the wrong question. The right question is 'are we still having fun?' and the answer to that is yes,yes and another yes! So what's happened so far? Well ,we've now have fitted all the panels and brake pipes. Painted the bottom (not really necessary but did it anyway). We've also sealed some of the holes because we reckon that without a roof the car will have enough air conditioning. We've also made life difficult by purchasing twin carbs from by semi-brother in law. This week we've picked up the rear suspension that was shot blasted and I couldn't believe my eyes (see photo). We were wondering whether it was worth doing at all before we took it away but it'll look brand new after we've applied the Hammerite! Even the bushes look new again!

26 Oct. We were a little bit too optimistic last time but are now regularly (= at least once a week) working on the kit. We also had to spent some time on preparing the garage for the dark (and cold) evenings to come. So, what has really happened to the kit lately? Well, we've been mainly fiddling around with the aluminium panels. It's not always obvious to determine where they should go. After having broken two drill bits, we've also purchased ten of those in one go. It ruins your evening because it forces you to stop earlier then you really want to. Ironically, we haven't broken any bits after our bulk purchase.
22 Aug. We've finally started. According to the manual, the fuel and brake lines, wiring loom and inner alluminium panels are the first things to fit. How to fit the lines and loom is nicely illustrated in the manual by a handdrawn and sligthly artistic picture that leaves something to the imagination of the builder as well. As a result we do not know (yet) where three alluminium panels should go and we're also not sure whether the lines and loom should go over or under the cross-members of the main tunnel. Anyway, we started fitting the panels and we've drilled the holes for the lines and loom because that will not be possible after all of the panels have been fitted. We'll probably be paying Tiger a visit pretty soon to video tape the prototype. Gives us a change to pick up some of the missing parts as well.
5 Aug. No work has been done after we picked it up because Leos house has been recently transformed into a B&B full of Dutch non-paying (what do you expect, they're Dutch) guests. However, we did have a look at all the parts and realise we're in trouble! Most parts seem to be there and quite a few parts have not been identified yet. What worries us is that most parts are not mentioned in the build manual. Good thing Tiger Racing are fairly close and may be it is time to become a member of the Tiger club. Alternatively we could set up a web based Tiger club if other fellow Tiger builders fancy this as well. Just drop us a line.
27 July During the last couple of weeks we've overhauled and cleaned several components. Last Saturday was also kit collection day! We drove over in the biggest van we could hire (Transit Luton, I know it's not the biggest van but it was the biggest van we could hire) and loaded it up in Plumstead. Unfortunately, not all the parts were available yet. For instance, the radiator, headlights, and exhaust are still missing and those are only the large parts that we could spot. Jim Dudleys lovely daughter Laura assured us that all things will be send to us over the post shortly and that those parts needed to get going were there. If we do find other things missing in the future then a call to Tiger should sort us out she promised. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.
6 July Things have been delayed a bit because of the Dutch football team reaching the quater finals in the world cup. We're taking the suspension apart and have started overhauling the brake components.
3 July This was a sad day. The breaker came round to collect Sweeties body. Several colleagues of ours were on standby just in case we needed some lifting power to get it out of the garage but in the this was not necessary. The guy from the breakers just lifted the front on his own and asked me to simply remove the axle stands! Then he simply pulled it out of the garage with a crane.
24 June Removing the rear suspension was easier than we thought it was going to be although we didn't quite follow the procedure given in the Haynes manual. Anyway, the car is on four axle stands now and it's time to call the breakers!
23 June Sweetie the Sierra is starting to realise what is happening to her and is giving us a real fight. May be we shouldn't have mentioned the word 'scrap yard' in her presence? Anyway, there are still 8 bolts to go before she's completely legless and we hope we can finish her off tomorrow.
22 June Flame grilling and applying some real force on the discs worked nicely and they're off. All the other parts of the front suspension came off as well. However, removing the hubs from the struts was a bit problematic especially since we managed to break one of the bolts. We opted for the easy way out and posponed the problem by removing the whole lot in one go.
21 June We made quite some progress today and are almost finished! The steering and (front) brakes have been removed and we've been struggling to remove one of the brake discs. Unfortunately we had to give up. Time to consult one of the local experts. If you think you can help then please leave us a message!. We've also made a number of pictures so you can expect them on here soon.

Tiger has sent us the list of components that need to be sourced from the donor and we do have almost everything except for the suspension. This means that we can probably call the breakers some time this week. I'm not sure whether they'll be too happy about receiving an empty bodyshell but we'll soon find out. This weekend nothing will be hapening because Leo is off to The Netherlands for his sister's wedding. After that it time to start thinking about overhauling/shot-blasting/painting all the components.

13 June This day was a long day. Not only because we had lots of things to do but also because we're pretty slow at it! After all, as we wrote earlier, we've done nothing like this before. Goal was to remove the engine and gearbox which we managed at the end of the day. Unfortunately this also meant that Leo had to miss the first half of the match between The Netherlands and Belgium. A matter of priorities (and they were crap anyway).

Removing the engine/gearbox combination was quite a job indeed. All our negotiating/threatening/cursing skills were needed to untighten some nuts and bolts and we had to resort to violence with a mini-grinder when it came to removing the exhaust. There are also an unbelievable number of hoses, cables and wires connected to the engine and gearbox which needed to be taken off while keeping in mind that, at some stage, we want to reconnect them again. Inevitably, we overlooked (only!) one which was to earth strap to the gearbox. We did find out eventually when it snapped while lifting the combination.
7 June The cooling system, ignition system and carb have been removed. At the end of this day, the engine bay is starting to look pretty empty and we're getting a nice pile of cardboard boxes in Leo's garage. Any buyers for a radiator/headlights?
30/31 May We've put the carb back in place, replaced the HT leads and adjusted the valves. A quick test run on the car park at work (which was almost empty fortunately) gave us the impression that everything was fine again.
25 May The carburettor appeared to be in a reasonable good state. It's completely clean now and new diaphragms, float needle and gaskets have been fitted. The secondary venturi appeared to be a bit loose bit this proved to be an easy fix.
4 May The carburettor has been removed and will be overhauled within the next few weeks if it is not past repair completely. Other things that we've observed are: the front left tyre needs replacing, the timing belt is worn and the battary is flat and isn't charging properly.
29 April We have finally purchased our donor! It's a 15 years young Ford Sierra with a 2 liter engine and a worn camshaft. Apart from that everything seems to be there but I'm sure there will be a lot of surprises. I'll try to add a picture as soon as possible. Next steps will be a rigourous inspection of all parts and overhauling most of them in the current car so that we can test them properly.

Why?

Because we haven't done anything like this before and our own cars do not break down often enough.