Thursday, 3 May 2012

WSCC meeting

I'd been to the local WSCC (Westfield Sport Car Club) meet a few times but now I could go in the Westfield. They meet at the Whipping Stocks Inn just south of Knutsford the 1st Thursday of every month. It had been dry but there were some grey clouds.

I arrived about 8:30 to find only one other Westfield in the carpark. It seemed the threat of a shower had meant people left their cars at home.

There were only about 8 pople (fewer than I'd seen before). As you'd expect, I spent more time in the car park showing people the Westfield than in the pub.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Cockpit cover

I decided a loose cover would be good if I parked up somewhere and there was a chance of a shower.

I ordered  the Walker St Clair Cockpit Cover I'd seen on the Westfield World site:
It cost £54.95 and arrived in a couple of days.

The cover fits round the wing mirrors and windscreen wipers at front:

There is a bit of a gap where the sides are which I guess would allow rain to get in if there was a side wind. You can buy a couple of rubber suction hooks from some DIY place which you can use to hold in place but I don't think you need them unless it's going to be really windy:

and it tucks under the back:

It folds up into a nice small bag that I stuff behind the seat:

Saturday, 21 April 2012

First Drive (with plates)

Finally it had stopped raining and I was able to take it out for a spin. This wasn't the first drive as I'd done about 50 miles taking it to the IVA but this would be the first run since with the registration plates.

All strapped in a ready to go:

Getting in gear:

Off down the driveway:

and out of the close:

Fitting registration plates

I got plates with the GB flag off to one side. For the front they were quite a bit wider than the nose so I trimmed off the GB part and also took a bit off the upper part to fit nicely under the nose. They were fitted using a couple of black plastic number plate mounting bolts. With a long extension on the socket set I was just able to fix without having to take the nose off.

The rear didn't need any trimming but getting to the back to hold the nuts was a nightmare. I thought I'd have to take the wheels off to get access but in the end by jacking up the rear, the suspension lowered giving me just enough room to get my arm in.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Registration document arrived

I'll have nothing said against the British postal system! After speaking to the DVLA on Thursday, the registration document (at least the V750 which is a certificate of entitlement to the registration) came through on Friday. At lunchtime off I went to the local Halfords and had a set of plates made.

Sill raining!

Thursday, 19 April 2012

DVLA - 2nd phone call back

The DVLA call back again. I'll give them one thing which is they actually do call you when there is progress.

It became clear they were not prepared to issue an age related plate without the V5 for the donor vehicle. As it was a Cat B write-off I didn't have the V5. I think it would have gone to the insurance company or the DVLA themselves when the donor was written off. I suggested I could bring the Westfield in for them to check the engine number. I even had the VIN plate from the donor, the last MOT certificate and of course multiple picture of the stripdown. But, after some discussion it was clear I wasn't going to get anywhere. They were happy to issue a Q plate so I opted for that. I thought Mark Wendon got his age related plate without V5 but having looked down the post about the V55/5 form filling it seems he had a photocopy which they were willing to take. As far as I can tell the only impact of a Q plate is I can't put a private plate on the car (not something I was considering) and for some people (not me) there is a certain sigma about having a Q plated car.

They said the registration documents would be in the post and I should get them in a few days.

At least it was still raining.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

DVLA - 1st phone call back

The DVLA called the following day. It was the Manchester office and they said they would have to send the documents to the main Swansea office as I didn't have a V5 for the donor vehicle. That could take a few days.

At least the rain had come back so I could drive the car anyway.

Monday, 16 April 2012

DVLA - the paperwork

Immediately after lunch after passing the IVA I headed off the local DVLA office in Salford (under the shadow of Old Trafford for any football fans out there).

As usual there was a long queue for the reception desk but at this stage all I wanted was the V55/5(First registration for used vehicle) and V627/1 (Built Up Vehicle Inspection Report) forms. If I'd been thinking I should have got these forms earlier (the V55/5 is not available for download) but I hadn't so there I was at the DVLA. There was a stand with loads of forms so I went over to see if the were there. They weren't. Luckily there was a desk right next to the stand where a lady was directing people after they'd been to the reception desk. I asked her if the forms were out, she furtled in some draws behind her desk and found a V55/5. She then had to go into the back office to find the V627/1.

I'd already bookmarked the fantastic post by Mark on the WSCC forum on how to fill in the forms:

I found a table and stated to fill in the forms. After a while the same lady came over and asked how I was getting on. I'd nearly finished so she said she would get someone to come over and have a look so I wouldn't need to queue up which was very kind of her. Another lady came over shortly and said everything looked okay with the forms but was concerned when I explained I didn't have the V5 due to the scrap nature of the donor.

I got a ticket for the casher's queue and 10 minute later paid my £275 (£50 registration fee and £220 road tax), handed over all the paperwork and was told they would contact me in the next few days.

IVA - The full story

I'm sure every IVA centre is different and every examiner has their own style, but this is my own experience which may help any other novice builder out. It should at least give a flavour of what it's like going through an IVA.

6:00 early get up. I looked outside to find blue skies, welcome after the last couple of weeks of rain. I then looked down to see frost on the ground. It was going to be a cold journey to the test centre. Hunted around for the old ski jacket and gloves. A friend, Mick (as opposed to Mike) had agreed to accompany me in his car, a bit like Thunderbird 2 support vehicle. We loaded the back of this car with almost the complete contents of my tool kit and various other things I might need to fix things during the IVA: convoluted tubing, various tapes, electric wires, connectors and fixings, various rivets, nuts and bolts.

7:00 left the house. The journey was about 25 miles to the VOSA test station at Chadderton. The first couple of miles on local roads, about 6 on the A34 dual carriageway then the rest on the M60 Manchester orbital motorway. Given I'd done less than 1 mile in total with the longest run being a few hundred metres around the close it was quite a daunting prospect. With Mick following and the instructions to catch anything that fell off, I set off. 7:10 petrol station. You have to have a full tank of fuel for the IVA so first stop was the local Tesco petrol station. I filled up a jerry can as well to top up at the testing station if necessary. The car had felt really good on the first few miles. I realised I'd forgotten a hat so cold ears.

8:00 arrived at the test centre. I'd found a nice van travelling at about 50mph to follow on the motorway and with Mick acting as my wingman behind the journey to the test centre was very smooth. It had helped that the motorway was starting to get busy with the Monday morning commuting traffic. This meant the general speed of the motorway was slower. I parked up in the car park and wandered over to reception. They told me to bring the car into the 1st lane where it was marked with SVA and the inspector would be with me shortly.

8:10 the inspector came out, asked a few general background questions then we were off! As the car was warm he started with the CO2 emissions test. He first measures something towards the rear of the engine then shoved a sensor up the exhaust. I guess this is the same as they do at an MOT test but having never witnessed it I'm not sure. This was one of the things that if there had been a problem there was very little I could do. It would mean a trip to a garage with more specialist knowledge and equipment to fix. Luckily there was no problem and it passed.

Next was onto the ramps to check out the steering, suspension, and under the car. Whilst on the ground he got me to turn the steering fully left and right. The wheels were on rotating disks on the ramps to allow them to turn. With the ramp up he got me to apply the handbrake several times, I assume to check the mechanism was working okay. This is one area I know several people who built the standard Westfield had issues. There is a nylon fixing that has a tendency to slip under strain. My handbrake mechanism all came from the Mazda and was fine. He remarked on how neat it was underneath. Lights and electrics were next. He checked all the lights were working correctly, including checking things like the fog light only coming on when the dipped beam was on (another failure point I'd heard of). Despite the time Mike and I has spent setting up the lights, the O/S headlamp needed pointing very slightly to the right and down (only by a tiny amount). This section raised the first two problem items. First was the wire going to the indicators on the cycle wings at the front. I had run then behind one of the stays holding the cycle wings. The inspector wasn't happy about the proximity to the wheel, having a concern it could get caught. The second item was also indicator related. This time it was the wires running to the front nose cone indicators. These were fixed using self adhesive fixing pads attached to the front lip of the nose cone. This allowed easy access for disconnecting when removing the nose cone but one of the pads had come loose during the trip and came away easily when pulled. He said you have to stick using something like Araldite as the self adhesive pads on them are not sufficient. Depending on how the rest of the test went I would have to remediate these two items.

Rolling road time. The inspector tested the front brakes then drove the car forwards and tested the  rear as well as the handbrake. He seemed to use a pressure pad under his foot to check how hard he had to press to stop the vehicle. He tested it multiple times, I assume at various speeds. He also tested the speedo. I was very relieved when these tests were over as although he couldn't confirm it had passed until he had entered all the data into the spreadsheet they use, he thought it looked okay. This was a relief as I'd just driven 25 miles and would have been a scary thought if he'd have told me it had defective brakes. Also, if there was something wrong, I'm not sure I would have been able to rectify it at the centre. Whilst on the rolling road he also measured the weight of the car.

Next we went outside for the noise test and to see how the car drove. The car park at the VOSA centre was quite large and there was a whole section round the back which was completely empty. He had a good go at flinging the car round forwards as well as backwards, testing things like the self centring of the steering. When he had finished he commented on how well it drove. Next was the noise test. He had a stand which he placed against the exhaust end. It came out and back a a specified angle. He placed the sound meter at the other end and then removed the stand. At tick over it was registering at something like 85dB. I then had to rev it up to 4,800 which is the appropriate percentage of max revs whist he read the meter. The meter registered 95.2dB, well within the 99dB limit.

He drive the car back to the main building but as it was such a nice day parked the car outside. It was time to check general bodywork, sharp edges etc. He didn't seem to use the hemispheres but I had seen them in the cupboard by where we did the emissions test. I assume he had done IVAs enough to know by sight things that may not be right and will only pul them out if necessary. This was when he highlighted the 3rd issue on the car. The jubilee clip that fixes the standard Westfield exhaust to the Mazda 'S' shaped adaptor needed to be rotated. I had fixed it so the bolt part was horizontal under the exhaust. He wanted it at 45deg so both ends were behind, i.e. out of the range of the hemisphere.

10:00 He wanted to check the brake fluid level test button but you cannot press the button whilst still being able to see the dash so he asked me to press the button. When I pressed it he didn't see anything. I checked he didn't have the handbrake on as it's the same light on the dash (a mistake I did earlier) but the handbrake was off. I'd checked this a few days earlier so knew it should work. I took of the 2 connectors and shorted them out, the light came on. I tried to take off the brake master cylinder cap but I'd clearly been keen when tightening it and couldn't get enough leverage with the restricted access. At this point the examiner said he was off for a cuppa and would leave me to play with it. I send Mick off to his car to get some gloves to get a better grip as well as various items to fix the wiring and jubilee clip. I managed to get the cap off and get my hands covered in brake fluid, just as Mick returned with the gloves. After reconnecting the connections it all seemed to be okay so I screwed it back on and all seemed well. Less than a minute with a spanner fixed the exhaust jubilee clip:

For the cycle wing indicator wires I just wrapped a load of insulating tape round then to ensure they were held on the inner side of the bracket:

For the wires running to the indicators on the nose cone I just cable tied them to some of the other wires running to the front (I think it was the horn/fan on the n/s and headlamp on the o/s).
I had just finished wiping my hands (and the floor) when the examiner returned. He checked the wiring and exhaust jubilee clip and was happy. I pressed the brake fluid level test button and thankfully the light came on the dash. Slightly humorous moment occurred next, he was checking in the engine bay when he said in a serious tone "you seem to have a fluid leak". He then broke into a big grin, it was the fluid from the brake cylinder. When he returned I'd told him I'd got the fluid all over my hands when getting the cap off.

The final section was all about measuring the car, wheel base, seating position etc. At about 10:30 he announced he was done and would go in to do the paperwork which would take about half an hour. He said with a good neat car it takes less time. At this point he didn't say it had passed but as I'd fixed all the items he'd mentioned I felt it was looking good. I guess he couldn't say for definite until he had run all the numbers through the spreadsheet. Mick and I went to sit in the waiting room, drank plasticy coffee from a Klix machine and ate 2 day old slightly stale donuts I'd thrown in the back of Micks car with the tools.

At just before 11:00 the examiner returned. He said "did I realise that 98% of vehicles fail the IVA on their 1st time" (something I'm not sure is true - I know a lot do fail but not that many), but then he said mine was in the 2% and said congratulations and handed over my certificate (in return for the hi-vis vest I'd had to wear all morning). I asked if he had any advice, if there was anything that had passed but he thought could be improved. He said there was nothing and it was a really nicely build car. I was really chuffed!

By 11:00 we'd put all the tools back in Mick's car and were heading out of the test centre. I was definitely more relaxed on the way home but still shaking slightly. I felt more inclined to open it up more on the motorway but still wasn't going mad. I did make it to the middle lane though.

11:30 Arrived back home. Next stop... the DVLA.

IVA - passed

I passed... 1st time! You are not allowed to take photos during the IVA but here are a couple of shots before we started:
more details to follow...

Monday, 2 April 2012

IVA - no cancellations

Have tried calling a couple of time to see if there was a cancellation but nothing. With Easter coming up it seems 16th is going to be it.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

IVA - test date

My test date came through this morning, it is for the 16th April at 8am. Going to be an early start on that Monday morning.
So much for the 5 day lead time I was told when I first enquired.
I phoned to see if they had an earlier slot or if there was any likelihood of a cancellation. They said there was nothing earlier and the only way to check for a cancellation slot was to phone up every couple of days. Interestingly they also said the next available slot was Monday 23rd April. Maybe they only do IVAs for kit cars on Mondays so it makes it easy to be pushed out a week or two if they have a rush. This is the time of year when people a trying to get their cars through IVA and on the road.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

IVA - VOSA phoned

The same guy that I spoke to yesterday phoned back to say the application had just come back from technical and everything was fine. He seemed quite keen to tell me, maybe he'd taken pity on me from the phone call yesterday with it being held up in 'Technical'. He said the next step was they send to the IVA testing centre and they would contact me with a date.

Monday, 26 March 2012

IVA - not heard anything yet

I'd posted the forms on a Friday so assuming they got there on the Monday it was 2 weeks since VOSA would have got them (the max time I'd been told it would take). So I decided to phone and find out if there was an issue.

They said there was no issue but the application was with the 'Technical' department. I'd seen in another blog/post that someone had sent a CD with build photos to prove the build was amateur. So I sent them a CD with a PDF copy of this blog. It seems sending a CD with a PDF was a bit too much for VOSA, the guy said if I ever do another it was better to send half a dozen pictures instead. So much for technology!

He couldn't tell me when it was likely to be processed or even where it was in the 'queue', other than assuring me they always process then in the order they are received.

Friday, 9 March 2012

IVA - initial call & paperwork

The car is ready for the IVA so time to get all the paperwork sorted out and arrange the IVA. I went onto the VOSA website and downloaded the 2 forms I neede to fill in. I phoned them to find out the lead times. I was told the lead time for Chadderton (Manchester) was 5 days so I got all excited it might get done before Easter. Then she told me they took up to 2 weeks to process the forms.

I jumped onto the WSCC forum and found the old post Mark Wendon did that had all the necessary info on how to fill in the forms. Thanks Mark, it helped a lot!

Off the forms went in the post.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Finished car photos - external

Not much clearance under the sump:

Finished car photos - under bonnet

Finished car photos - internal

The red on the passager seat is actually my daughter's booster seat. She's prepared already!