Saturday, 23 May 2015

DVLA and the HMRC

After 4 weeks I finally received a letter from the DVLA. Thinking that this must be the letter I had been waiting for I quickly ripped open the envelope only to find bad news.... They were requesting that I:
a) Re-stamp the chassis and VIN Plate with a NEW VIN number issued by them. Not sure why, but arguing didn't help
b) Inform HMRC of the new VIN number (which they issued...!) via their NOVA system. NOVA stands for Notification of Vehicle Arrival, and is used to inform HMRC of cars coming to the UK from other countries! WHAT! I argued (politely), but they insisted this was the new process.

2 weeks later and a few nudging via again polite phone calls, I received my v5 document. PHEW!

The sun is shining and I have number plates and a big smile on my face!!

My advice to other builders would be to check with DVLA before you stamp the VIN number on your chassis and check whether a NOVA application is required. Get the NOVA application started at the same time as your DVLA application  - it'll save 2 weeks.

Friday, 10 April 2015

It is finished (well nearly...)

The IVA re-test was a success and I have received my IAC certificate - a truly wonderful feeling that after 3 years of fun, and frustration I have finally finished the Cobra. Well nearly, because we all know that a kit car is never really finished.

Fixing the two problems were simple, once I figured out the how.

No.1 Indicators at the wrong height:
I made some small brackets and mounted the indicators up by 3cm. I was going to try jacking up the suspension again, but 3cm seemed a lot and making the bracket was a simple job and I didn't need to change the wiring.

No.2 No Self Centring:
The failure was more on the fact that at 3/4 lock the steering pulled to full lock (so opposite to self centring), which he rightly considered to be dangerous. I had to limit the lock to lock steering by adding steering limiters to the rack. This was easy; the hard part was making the car self centre. Lots of help from the forums and the advice was to increase the caster angle, but sadly that made no difference - I believe I had enough caster angle and increasing it didn't help. I checked and adjusted the camber angle, but still no self centring. I pumped the tyres up, but still nothing. And I knew that even though I had solved the anti-self centring, I need to show some degree of self centring for Mr. IVA.

I started to go down the route of wheel offset as the -21mm ER I had on my new wheels was quite different to the -38mm offset on the original Sierra wheels. Before I went too far down that route, I found that the one thing I thought I'd got roughly right was the Toe-in, but I discovered that my method of measurement was woeful! Armed with a laser, I re-measured the Toe in and discovered it was incorrect and needed 3 turns on the tie-rods to correct it to 0 degrees. A little more tyre pressure and I had self centring! Yes!

The re-test took 10 mins and cost me £90 - ouch.

I've now filled in all DVLA forms and posted it all off to our friends in Swansea - hoping for a swift (3 weeks) return before the sunshine disappears.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

IVA Test

IVA Test March 2015 at Southampton

I spent the day before going over the car, tightening bolts, checking the lights/electrics and checking all the projections. I didn't sleep well the night before and was extremely nervous.

In summary it was a good day, but a very stressful drive to the test centre as it was only the 2nd time I had driven it and I was worried it would breakdown even before I got to the test :-)

It passed on everything expect:
 - Front indicators were too low - they should beat least 350mm from the ground to the BOTTOM of the lens. I measured mine from the middle of the lens
 - No self-centring

Hopefully the detail below will give you an idea of what happens on the day; this is the order of tests at my IVA:

Under-car inspection
8am and I drove straight onto the car lift and sat there performing various tasks like turning the wheel, pressing the brake and pulling the handbrake. He checked all the wiring, brake/fuel pipes, etc. from underneath. He also checked the VIN number on the chassis and VIN plate. He checked the engine number and prove of engine age.

Next all the lights were tested, including the fog light which confuses a lot of people. Basically the fog light must not be on, when the lights are off or on side lights. It can only come on when the lights are dipped or full beam - this in the Pilgrim is achieved by a separate relay for the fog lights which is
powered by dipped lights. So no dipped lights, no fog lights!

Thankfully he let me adjust the headlights as while they passed the MOT, I had jacked up the suspension to ensure the front indicators were above 350mm from the grouns.

Failure No. 1: The indicators were less than 350mm from ground to BOTTOM of lens. I had been measuring them from the middle of the lens.

Wheel nut removal
He asked me to remove one wheel nut from the front and back wheels as the nuts were enclosed.

He looked in boot, but since it was all carpeted, nothing to see there. He had a good wiggle of steering column, thankfully I had re-enforced it with a steel plate.

Seat belts. He spend a long time on these which is a good thing. I showed him pictures of how it was constructed, including the mod I made (see earlier post) and the Pilgrim EU approval. I don't know if he had reviewed it on their database as I had mentioned it in my IVA application, but my explanation and pictured satisfied him. He spent lots of time spent measuring seat belt position, headrest and shoulder height. He then had to get a spy-style camera on a stalk to feed behind the seat to see the seat belt bolts

Next I drove onto the grid for the mirror check where he aligned various red and green magnets on the wall behind him. All fine, phew

Outside in the car park
Then outside for a skid test - this I wasn't expecting as it wasn't part of my SVA for my 1st kit car. Basically in the car park I had to drive up to 20mph and do an emergency stop next to him. He was checking the front locked up before the rear and I guess other things too. I quite enjoyed that test!

Then the exhaust sound test which I was really worried about as I had no way to know what it was
going to be. I had put 4500 rpm for max power for my v8 which meant I was measured at 3750rpm, and it came up at 95dB. 99dB being the pass line. He said he was surprised as he said he could hear me arriving 5 minutes before I arrived :-)

Next he drove it around the car park to check general steering and self centring.

Failure No. 2: On 3/4 lock the car turned into full lock rather than self centring which he considered to be dangerous - which I guess it is if you are not expecting it. There was no self centring evident.

Speed test on rollers
I was confident this would pass as I had calibrated the speedo with my Sat Nav on the way to the MOT and knew it was reading nicely over the "real" speed.

Again, I knew this would pass as it had already pass the MOT. Key point with this was prove of engine age. The first engine I bought of ebay turned out to be a 1992 engine and would have needed a CAT, so I made sure next one I bought was 1991.

Brake test on rollers
This was a little worrying as it is quite a long test. He had to measure front and back brakes at 5 different rates, and then again with the engine off, i.e. without the servo assist. While I watched he kept pulling strange faces and tutting. In the end I realised he was getting frustrated with the rollers and the infra red controls, and there was nothing wrong with my brakes. He then took all the calculations and said he was going to feed them in to the computer and he would be back shortly. I just sat there staring into space and trying not to hold my breath :-) It passed the brake test!

Next was projections test where he wandered around the car with the 100mm ball to see if all the projections had the right radius. Again I was prepared for this one and was confident it would pass. This part of the test also included the check of wheels being outside the plan of the car. The test of my first kit car (back in the SVA days) failed on this by 1mm! Thankfully they have a proper tool/template which they hold up against the side of the car to ensure the wheels (not tyres) are not outside the plan of the car. Thankfully the Pilgrim with Image Halibrands doesn't have any problems here.

Overall a good day and he was very friendly and fair. I'm kicking myself for not spotting the self
centring issue, but it is a difficult one to test as you need to be doing over 10 mph. I should have
tested it on the way to the MOT, but had so many other things on my mind - speedo cailbration been the main one.

2 failures now fixed and IVA re-test of the 2 failures is now booked and I'm confident it will pass.

Gaiters, Seats and Carpet

Thankfully I remembered to fit the tunnel carpet before I fit the dash and had even planned it into the fitting of the heater. Once the dash was in, I cut down the gearstick to a level where it didn't feel like I was driving a truck, and it didn't touch the dash in 1st, 3rd, or 5th. The gaiters were easy to fit and looked good with the chrome surround:

The interior side panels needed a fair amount of trimming to fit snugly against the rubber door seal. I decided to fit them so they could be removed to give me access to the door mountings. Except that they needed to be sealed at the rear to prevent any road grime into the cockpit. So I fibre glassed the rear end of them as shown and cut them in half so the front section could be removed. Once the carpet was laid on top it nicely hid all this.

Getting the seats in was easy, but I struggled to get the bolts lined up with holes I drilled. They look great and been able to sit in the car and make brmm brmm noises was a good day!

Inside the boot

This part of the build seemed to take forever for something that doesn't appear that complex. In summary it involved:
 - Trimming and fitting the rear inner arches
 - Board off the fuel tank
 - Fitting the carpet

However, it wasn't that simple. Fitting the inner arches involves many trial fittings and trimming of the fibre glass and then securing them in so they seal in the boot and behind the seat. Learning to fibre glass was a new skill and is actually quite simple once you have the right kit ( thanks ebay!) I decided  that unlike the front wheel arch inners these didn't need to be removable:

I decided to board in the fuel tank away from the boot itself. I wasn't sure if it was an IVA requirement, but the less Mr. IVA can see the better and I felt it was neater to have one flat edge to fit the carpet to. It proved a good decision as during the IVA he opened the boot and took one look and closed the lid saying there wasn't much to see in there :-)

The board is made of 2 pieces of marine ply attached to the bottom and sides of the boot allowing the number plate light wire to appear and up to the boot.

I've lost count of the number of times I have had to remove those panels:
 - After fitting, the fuel pump failed and had to be replaced.
 - After replacing the fuel pump a fuel smell developed in the boot (not good!)
 - After re-fitting and tighening all unions the smell was still there
 - Finally narrowed it down the plastic fuel filter - frustrating as it was only slightly porous, so needed to be felt over night before any smell became evident.


The grills on the front (4 in total) can be purchased from Pilgrim, but I found it cheaper to purchase the mesh and cut my own from B&Q. Also you can choose the size of mess to allow more air flow into the radiator. I fixed the bottom grill with tiger sealant as it won't ever need to come out again. The middle and 2 side grills were fit with small flathead M4 nuts and bolts so they can be removed. While building I frequently needed access through all 3 of the whole, so good to make the removable.

Door cards

Like the dash I went for simple door cards without the extra pocket. I didn't like the look of the extra pocket on the front and if I find limited storage a problem I can always add them later.

Fitting the vinyl was a lot simpler as stapling was quicker that the glue gun. As you can see the fir tree panel clips have already been fitted with matching holes on the inside of the doors. These are nicely invisible and strong once the door cards are fitted. Thankfully they are not so strong as to be permanent - I recently had to remove a door card and while hard they do pop out.

Job done!