Westfield Megabusa Build Diary

19 May 2008

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:


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.