12 Apr 2008
SVA preparation begins

Now that the car has already run and bar a few niggles, seems roughly ok, it's a good time to start the SVA preparation.

Number 1 on the list is the fog light angle. The fog light sits at a slight angle when flat to the bodywork, so I used the supplied plate from Westfield to make it sit square to the floor. This was very easy and just required the block connector to be dismantled so the cable could be run through the metal bracket. It looks terrible, but the light sits square and should be fine with the SVA examiner.

Next job was to the fit the handbrake cover as this is another requirement. There was a rubber matt which we couldn't work out as it made the whole assembly too much for a screw of rivet to go through, so we just left it out. Also, we used screws and not rivets since I'd like to be able to remove it if needed without awkward drilling.

There are a lot of sharp edges in the cabin, so I covered everything I could with rubber u-channel. I got Westfield to send me loads and loads more as I wanted to go around everything, and still have enough spare to take to the SVA for last minute patching if needed.

The entire transmission tunnel panel was covered, and so were the reverse box inspection panels and the ECU tray. It actually looks really nice. Super glue holds it really well, and bolting it down holds it even better, so I used both which helped with positioning.

Lastly, I still wasn't happy with the aero-screen as it was too close to your hands when placed on the steering wheel. Your knuckles came into contact with the screen, and this is not a good idea. The screen needs to come up at a steeper angle.

I decided to fibreglass the holes up in the scuttle and start again. This time I made a much better job and the screen sits at a much better angle.

Laurence

Fog light sitting against the bodywork elevates the light too much Spacer brings it down a bit, but will still need tweaking to get it square with the floor. Handbrake cover fitted and rubber edging fitted to top panel.
Top panel edging goes all the way to the bulkhead. Rubber edging in the reverse box inspection panels, and ECU tray is next to be done. Aero-screen adjusted.
Rubber trim surrounds the entire panel to ensure no sharp edges are exposed.    

28 Apr 2008
Final SVA preperation

Over the last new days I have spent the odd hour here and there putting the finishing touches on the car. The main focus was the SVA preparation though.

It seems that there are no right or wrong answers with the SVA trimming. Just make sure all of the sharp edges are covered. Westfield ended up sending around 4 times as much rubber trim as they did originally since we had to go around the seats, up the transmission tunnel, around the nosecone, and along several other places just to be sure.

They also sent us a load more plastic nut and bolt covers. I wanted to make sure I covered everything, and have enough to take to the SVA for safety too. The same story for the rubber trim too.

See pictures for the areas that were given attention, but in short they were:

  • Cover all exposed nuts and bolts inside cabin (ie. gear lever), and all wishbones and front end bolts.
  • Trim sharp edges of transmission tunnel.
  • Trim reverse box inspection panels.
  • Trim holes cut for gear and reverse levers.
  • Fit spacer for headlights to ensure no wheel contact on full lock.
  • Fit headlight bracket covers.
  • Fit kick strips and rear bulkhead/bootbox front cover trim plate.
  • Space foglight so it's 90deg from floor.
  • Cover rollbar brackets (decided not to fit rollbar supports until after SVA for easy boot box access).
  • Fit steering wheel boss cover.

I'm sure there were some other bits too, but my suggestion is this - if you think it might need to be covered then cover it!

The car seems totally ready for its SVA now. I had to raise the front suspension up a little bit to ensure the indicators were above the minimum height from the road. The only other problem was self centering of the steering, so Matt and I popped up and down our road quickly. This is not strictly legal, but at very low speeds in a dead-end private road is not quite the same as popping down to Tesco in an uninsured car. I know the law is the law, and where do you draw the line to what you should and shouldn't do etc...

Anyway, there is no self centering at all, and the R888's don't help as they are so sticky. I added some extra toe-out and altered the tyre pressures and it at least attempts to self-centre now. Hopefully Mr SVA man will be ok. We might have to make some alterations on the day.

After we had been up the road and back a couple of times, the oil obviously gets thinner and it was leaking from the bottom of the dry sump tank. Only very slightly, but it's obvious it shouldn't do it. It looks like a very similar problem to the fuel tank boss leak. I removed the oil tank it to check what's wrong.

Also the last pic was a storm on its way over and it turned the sky an awesome colour, so I pictured it.

Laurence

Gear and reverse lever holes before covering Gear and reverse lever holes after covering Various bolt covers at the front-end
Headlamp spacer and bracket cover fitted (front) Headlamp spacer and bracket cover fitted (rear) A closer look at the upright and wishbone bolt covers
Rear bulkhead trim panel Rear fog light angled so it's parallel with the floor Roll bar brackets covered
Bonnet catch covers (these were actually added at the SVA, but thought they were suited to this post) Steering wheel boss cover Exhaust bolt cover
Kick strip panels (look and feel really nice) Nose cone trimming just in case (and looks really nice) Oil tank has a small leak at the bottom outlet when oil gets warm. Obviously it's minor, but needs fixing.
Just a cool picture as I finished for the day. The storm was brewing!    

18 May 2008
SVA tomorrow morning!!!

Matt and I spent this evening making sure the car was all good to go. We trimmed a few extra bits, applied a few more bolt covers, went over a few bolts, aligned the headlights using Matt's car as a template, marking the wall with chalk, and then adjusting the Busa to suit.

All things that you think were done, but you go over again and again. We finished at 12:49am and the test is first thing in the morning (about 8 hours from now).

I'm feeling really nervous about it. Not just the SVA, but also the fact that we have to drive a totally unproven car in busy rush-hour traffic down the Purley Way. It could overheat, and could break down, it could fall apart...

Then there is the fact that most cars fail their SVA first time. I'm pretty much prepared for a fail as there is so much to get right. Emissions, safety, paperwork, headlight alignment, speedo calibration.

To make things even worse, I forgot to call Adrian Flux to tell them that we need the insurance to start tomorrow. The only thing I can do is email them with the quote reference and say that we want the insurance to start from now and then hope this is good enough in the unlikely event that were were to have an accident or get stopped at 8am on the way to the SVA. It's just one more thing to worry about!!!

We decided that Matt would drive, and I would take his car full of tools, bolts, foam tape, super glue, rubber trim, and bolt covers.

I am expecting a fail, and we'll come home with a list of things that need addressing. We'll book a re-test immediately, and then address those issues. I don't think you have to wait long for a re-test since they only check the things you fail on so I'm told.

Did I mention I was nervous?

Laurence


19 May 2008
SVA TODAY!!!

6:30 AM and we're awake! The SVA is at 9am but we want to leave early so we miss most of the school and rush hour traffic. The Clio is already loaded up with tools and supplies, and the Westfield is already full with fuel.

The DASH2 sensors have been giving some funny values, but I am happy that the engine is running at normal temperature because I have measured the resistance from the water temp sensor when the cooling fan is on, and it's around the 100C mark so we'll just keep an eye on the temperatures, but take them with a pinch of salt if they start doing weird things. If I am worried, I have a multimeter with me to check from the sensors directly.

We set off around 7:30 and Matt said it seemed really surreal driving the Busa on the road properly and mixing it up with traffic. The clutch pedal is so sharp it's almost impossible to use in traffic. We head up to Selsdon and straight across the traffic lights which requires a big hill start. Luckily I'm behind Matt so I leave him plenty of room. He stalled 4 times which didn't make me feel any easier about being in the traffic, but he finally got it going. We weren't sure exactly where the testing station was, but Matt thought it best to travel a certain way which was just full of traffic.

We could have been there in literally half the time and didn't need to get involved with the Purley way at all. I was worried about the car, but it stayed at around 104C in the 20 minute nose to nose traffic which was ok. The weather was nice and warm, and no sign of any rain.

Matt's route had taken us the wrong side of Mitcham Common, so we had to travel back down it. Matt left a big gap, and then gave the car some stick because I watched him in my mirror. The car looked so fast and Matt was just laughing to himself by the time he had caught up.

We turned up to the SVA centre and signed in at reception. Matt reported that the car was absolutely fine all the way there. No noises or issues to report and fix. Good stuff!

After about 20 minutes we were told to make our way over to a certain test bay. We drove the Westfield over there and then waited. When out tester cam over, I asked if he minded if I drove the Clio over too because it was full of tools and supplies. He then asked me rather sharply, "Well why would you need them? You won't be allowed to touch anything on the car whilst I'm testing it!"

Gulp! Not only has that ruined my plans of setting the fuel pressure here to get through the emissions, it also means if I can't touch the car it will almost certainly fail.

I had left the fuel pressure at 44psi and planned to turn it down whilst it was being tested until it passed the test which many owners do. I told our tester this and he said "That's why you book an MOT before the SVA." I told him that we had no way of getting the car there legally and he said providing it's booked in you have the right to drive it there.

This is always a gray area, but he said in any case, we would not be allowed to adjust the car at all. Great, we've failed before we even got here. If I would have known that I would have taken care of it before-hand.

I couldn't help but think that the guy was being deliberately unhelpful and rude.

Anyway, he started by going over the car's harness mounts. First thing he said was that the seats would fail because there was no support around the harness holes in the seats. It was going from bad to worse. He then said, "There's an easy way around that though..." He then unclipped the harnesses and removed them from the holes in the seat, then put them over the seat instead of through it. "There you go, passed!" He said with a bit of a grin.

At this point Matt turned up with the Clio and he reversed it up to us so the tools in the boot were easy to reach. The tester then walked over to Matt's car, crouched down, looked at his rather loud exhaust and asked, "Non-standard I presume?" Matt replied, "We've only paid for 1 SVA today you know?" and then laughed. The tester laughed too, and from this point the mood of the morning changed and the guy seemed really friendly.

The tester went over the car testing the horn, the hazards, all lights, and then on to things like exposed bolts to ensure they were either covered or that they passed the radius test so they do not become a hazard to others in the event of a crash.

The only thing he asked that we did was to use bolt covers on the battery and starter motor terminals, and to place some cable ties around the track rod covers to ensure they didn't move. This was all very easy. The only other issue he had was with the bonnet catches which needed covering. There was nothing in the SVA kit that I could use which was a shame.

We then went on to the emissions. I knew the car would fail at its current fuel pressure setting of 44psi which is the optimum setting for the engine. He put it on the machine whilst Matt held the engine at 3k which was a real art due to the nature of the engine.

I was watching the machine the whole time as I understand the readings that it gives very well. The test came back "failed" very quickly which was no surprise as the lambda was too low.

The tester looked at me and said, "Go on, give it a little tweak." Brilliant news. I told him that all I had to do was adjust the fuel pressure slightly and it was dead simple. I gave the fuel pressure regulator a complete turn of adjustment to reduce the fuel pressure. We re-tested and the car ran like a bag of s***! It sounded like it was really struggling and the test came back with a lambda value of 1.52 - that's WAY too lean!

The tester had obviously seen how easy the adjustment was and that it was just a case of trial and error. He then said, "Go on, give it another go." I then turned half a turn back the other way to increase pressure again. We re-tested...

I looked at the machine with Matt revving at 3k and the lambda started a bit high and then I could see it settling down to almost exactly 1.0! I had a really good feeling about this, but then the machine's RPM pick-up started playing up.

He had to adjust it about 3 times to get a decent RPM signal, which meant Matt was left sitting revving the car at 3k for around 5 minutes. It sounds easy, but it was a real art to do so steadily. The machine went through each of the 6 tests and then passed every one. The guy seemed very please and we were too. He explained a little tweak is fine, but when people start bringing out the laptops he's not interested which is why he was so lenient with us.

We then moved on to the ramps so he could inspect under the car. By this time we were chatting a lot about various things. I asked him, "So we just go away with a list of things wrong with the car today, and then come back when they are fixed so just those items can be re-tested?" He confirmed this and said re-tests go through very quickly too because of the small amount required to be examined. He then asked if we had heard of a Locost and said that their re-tests are normally just as thorough as the first tests. 5-6 pages of faults are quite common!

The car then moved off the ramp and onto the rolling section to test braking efficiency. I told him the brakes were brand new and that I hoped the limited bedding was enough to get the car through. He tested the car and he said the front brakes were so efficient he couldn't even get a reading so he just wrote "pass" instead of the actual value. The rear brakes and the brake balance were equally as easily passed.

We then went outside where he tested self-centering of the steering wheel. It was very poor, but the 3mm of toe out I gave the car for the test was enough to pass. I had a few tricks up my sleeve but he was happy with the initial test as it showed an effort to self-centre.

Now it was the noise test. The car recorded between 100 and 101dB @ 7,500rpm which is right on the limit, but it made it. The last test was the measured mile. I told him exactly how I had configured the speedo and he was happy. He took it for a drive around the perimeter, stalled 6 times, and then just said, "Yeah that's about right" and just laughed.

At this point I was ready for the list of things which we would need to address and have re-tested, but to my amazement he said, "The only thing I have a problem with is those bonnet catches." I was amazed the car had passed everything else given how strict the test was, but also annoyed that it might fail on something so silly.

We drove back to the Clio and the only thing I could find was rubber U-channel trim. I asked it it would be ok, and he said as long as it was held on it would be fine, so I super-glued them (as well as all of my fingers), and he was happy to confirm it had passed!

What a result. We made a couple of phone calls to spread the news, grabbed our pass form, and then headed off. Before we did, we adjusted the fuel pressure back half a turn so it was back at 44psi and he saw us do it because he walked past us right as we were adjusting. He didn't say anything though LOL.

The idea was that Matt would drive the Clio home so I could drive the Busa, but I was so delighted with the pass that I really wasn't bothered so I jumped in the Clio. We drove back past a friend's house which was on the way home, and Matt took him out for a very quick spin. He only went around the block and was gone ages, but then all of a sudden I heard the most crazy noise and just couldn't believe the sound!

I then jumped in and drove it home giving it the odd bit of stick, but only using about 6,000rpm at the most since the engine was not properly run in yet. The car felt super-fast - little did we know we had only scratched the surface of the performance. We were still using the clutch to shift, and not using anywhere near the revs the engine is capable of.

In Matt's own words to me, "I was following you home, and all I would hear when you were about to give it some stick was CLONK CLOCK CLONK (dropping a few gears)......"BBBAAAAAAAHHHHHHH CLONK BBBAAAAAAAHHHHHHH" and then the car would just shoot off from him :)

When we got home, I told Matt to take it along a road that runs along the back of our house quickly before we put it to bed just so I could hear it, and then that would be it until the car was road-registered.

He did, and the sound was just awesome - see video.

Matt's fly-by along the road: Matt returning home:

Laurence

A few pictures in the waiting bay whilst we waited for our tester to begin. A few pictures in the waiting bay whilst we waited for our tester to begin. A few pictures in the waiting bay whilst we waited for our tester to begin.
A few pictures in the waiting bay whilst we waited for our tester to begin. A few pictures in the waiting bay whilst we waited for our tester to begin. Emissions test in progress.
On the ramp about to go up in the air. Checks in progress. Matt driving onto the rollers for various brake tests.
We were worried about the sump at this point. Sump clearance was not as bas as we thought. A successful first-time SVA pass sitting next to it's support vehicle.

20 May 2008
Registering the car

Straight after the SVA yesterday, Matt went down to the DVLA office to get the forms required to register the car. We have 2 offices near us - a major one in Wimbledon where parking is near-impossible, and a smaller one in Orpington.

Matt drove there (not in the Busa though), explained the situation, and came home with a handful of forms.

I have looked at the forms and they don't look right at all to me. I'll call up the DVLA tomorrow and then explain what needs to happen again. The DVLA have all of the forms on their website to print, so we shouldn't be held up too much. It's just a case of making sense out of them, and hoping I speak to someone who knows what they are doing!

This is all time I'd really like to spend out in the car. It's such great weather and we really want to explore the car. Hopefully it will all happen soon.

Laurence


22 May 2008
Registration problems - idiots!

I am getting nowhere with the registration of the car. I have spoken to the DVLA over the phone so many times. Each time I speak to someone I get a different answer on what I need to do to register the car. Person 1 says I need an inspection, person 2 says I need a V55/5, person 3 says I need an import form even though it's not an import...

I finally loose my rag when I speak to person number 4.

Her: Well if you have already submitted some forms to Orpington as well as your cheques, and they have given you more forms to fill out then just fill out what you have been told to and send it in.

Me: But what if the forms I have been told to fill in are wrong?

Her: Then they will be sent back to you along with the right ones so you can send them back in again.

Me: But I want to avoid all of that, which is why I am on the phone to you now asking EXACTLY which forms I need to fill out and send to you. I have a car I have spent months building which I really want to drive now, and I'd like to do that as quickly as possible, so which forms do I need?

Her: The forms you already have.

Me: But you have told me something totally different to what I was told by the last guy.

Her: Are you going to listen to me or not?

Me: All I know is that I have called up 4 different times, and been told 4 totally different things, by 4 totally different people. That means that 3 of you are morons and one of you is correct, or all 4 of you are morons. I don't know which to go with though!

Her: <Puts phone down>

This is all so infuriating! I have a car that I just want to drive, and there are people in government jobs getting paid good money to just guess their way through the day. I'm so angry, and yet totally powerless!

Laurence


23 May 2008
Getting somewhere at last

I called the Orpington DVLA office today. Each time you have to call the DVLA in Swansea, get through their automated service, and then speak to someone who can then put you through. Apparently local DVLA offices DO NOT have direct dial numbers.

Anyway, I got through to Orpington DVLA who tell me that they do not deal with kit car registrations because they do not have the facilities to carry out a kit car inspection. SO WHY ON EARTH WERE YOU HAPPY TO ACCEPT THE DOCUMENTS FACE TO FACE FOR KIT CAR REGISTRATION WHEN MATT TRIED TO REGISTER THE CAR ON THE DAY OF THE SVA AT THE VERY SAME OFFICE?

At this point I can't help but think that someone is taking the piss and I'm just not noticing!

The lady told me that Wimbledon is the nearest place that can help me. This is actually nearer to us than Orpington, but Matt decided to use Orpington because you can park more easily.

So back to the automated service, back to speaking to someone at head office, and then through to Wimbledon DVLA. I spoke to a girl, explained for what seems like the 100th time that I am trying to register a kit car, and immediately the girl seems very on the ball.

She said, "I don't even know why Orpington let you get as far as they did! They have no way of registering kit cars because they are too small there to inspect them. I'm going to get Orpington to forward everything they have that relates to you in first class mail so I'll receive it within a day or so. All we need to do is set up a vehicle inspection where you drive the car to our office just to check it over, and then we can handle the rest with the documents that are already filled out. You can fill out anything else on the day if it's missing. Let me give you my direct dial number..."

Ok so we have gone from "offices do not have a direct dial number, you have to ring through Swansea." To, "Here is my direct line." I'm beginning to like this girl a lot.

We set up and kit car inspection for 27th May 2008 and from what I'm told, the car should be road legal from that point onwards.

Why oh why didn't I call Wimbledon first? Up until now I had absolutely nothing good to say about the DVLA at all, and now I have just spoken to someone who is literally going out of her way to help me.

Laurence


27 May 2008
Registration complete

Once again, I had been feeling quite nervous about today because the car had to be driven in rush-hour afternoon traffic to the DVLA office in Wimbledon. The clutch is still terrible and so snappy it's virtually undrivable on the road. Also, I'm still expecting something to fall off, break, or fail, but this time I have no tools with me!

Matt drove there and I held the TomTom in my hand since there is no screen to stick it to. It works rather well.

We turned up at the office and then buzzed into the car park. They let us in and then sent a guy down for the inspection.

We had been reading the rules of the registrations, and found the following on the DVLA website:

Where all the parts of a vehicle are supplied new by the manufacturer. Subject to the provision of satisfactory receipts and a certificate of newness these vehicles will be registered under a current registration mark.

Kit cars which have been built using not more than one reconditioned component will also be registered under a current mark. This is subject to the provision of satisfactory evidence that the component has been reconditioned to an "as new" standard. An ESVA, SVA or MSVA test will be required.

So in theory, we should be given a 2007 plate. The engine is a late 2007 used engine with 800 miles on it, and the diff has obviously been reconditioned too as supplied with the kit. Along with everything we were asked to bring, I printed a list of modifications to the engine in the hope they may deem it new. Dry sump kit, exhaust, induction system, fuel rail etc.

The guy obviously had no idea about the diff, and was happy with the engine receipt so it was given a brand new registration. I was just happy we didn't get a Q plate, but I was really really happy we had a brand new 08 registration! Incidentally, we didn't need a certificate of newness.

The guy was really friendly and very into his bikes, so naturally quite interested to see the Busa engine in a car. Matt and I popped upstairs to finish off the paper-work which took quite a bit of waiting. After about a 20 minute wait we saw someone who was expecting us, finished it all up, and we were on our way with a fully road legal Busa!

We just had to get some plates made up and that was job done. It was a very satisfying feeling knowing that we could now drive the car as much as we wanted without any worry of legality...well...you know what I mean ;)

We popped over to my Dad's shop to get a numberplate made up for the Busa, but we did this in my car since it was quicker in traffic. Once home we made a couple of calls, stuck the plate on, then 4 of us went out that evening for a drink at Bottley Hill Farm House, a pub based on a 60mph road so we could have a nice little drive up there and take Kriss and Dan out for a spin.

The weather had turned from sun to very gray cloud, but it didn't look like rain to me. We got to Bottley Hill Farm, then I took Dan out for a spin down the road and back. The speed is sensational even limiting the engine to 8k (until it has done 1000 miles). Dan was pretty shocked at the speed, and I was shocked at how nervous the handling was. Now the SVA has taken place, I need to have a proper look at this suspension setup and make it feel a lot nicer.

Matt then took Kriss for a spin along the same route and I filmed his fly-by. The sound is just brilliant. It's all induction noise and it really doesn't sound like a bike! When it passes you it makes a crackling sound from the exhaust - it really is a bit of an ASBO!

 

After a drink we left and then Matt and I headed down to Caterham Bypass so I could bed the brakes in a little bit. A few stops from 60mph down to 30mph in blocks of 5 are the AP Racing instructions and have always worked well for me. After a few blocks of these I could feel the pedal improving all the time, and less and less pedal effort was required to stop the car. We were on our way back home, and decided we wanted to stay out for a bit longer.

We called by Jon's girlfriend's house in Croydon on an extended route home. It was pretty dark by now, so we showed him the car and Matt took him out quickly. Whilst he was out it started to rain lightly. We were going to take his girlfriend out too, but we decided to head back because of the light rain. Matt did his first couple of clutchless shifts on the way home and they felt awesome!

I took my crash helmet and gloves out that evening to see what it was like, and it makes driving in it feel a lot safer. I gave these to Matt, and it was very lucky that I did! The rain got a lot heavier and the drops hurt my face at 30mph to the point that I couldn't stand it. I had to duck my head down to avoid the pain. I don't know what  we would have done without the crash helmet as Matt couldn't have driven!

The rain got heavier but it didn't take long to get home at all. Just as we got into our road, Matt flipped his lid up and said in a laughing voice, oh well, it had to happen sooner or latter, better to get it out of the way :)

We put the car away, leathered it off, and noticed that no rain had gotten inside the cabin with the exception of a few drops when we were stationary. I'm feeling much happier about the car now it has been driven a bit.

Laurence



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