Gareth's Robinhood 2B Site


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11th May

In the post today came my SVA date - May 30th! I know this was the date I requested but didn't actually think I would be given the day I asked for! What's happening in the world if you ask a civil servant for a particular day and they give it to you!

Anyway, it's all full steam ahead now to finish everything for the SVA - my aim is to have an MOT the week before to check on emissions and lights etc then SVA on the Friday.

The rest of May will be spent finishing off the car and getting an MOT before the SVA. There have been a few discussions on whether an MOT is required to register your car - I see it as a shake-down test; it allows you to drive the car legally to a basic safety test and back - it also gives you a chance to have the light alignment set and make sure your emissions are within limits.

Rest of May

The first job on my list was to fit the wipers, washers and heaters for the SVA. I decided to go to the test with the windscreen fitted - I know I could have gone without a windscreen and reduced my workload, but I just knew I would never get it all done unless I was forced to :)

I had bought two electric blowers which looked to be the perfect job for the de-misters. However, when I looked at them I realised I would need to cut the vents to fit and find some way of mounting them. So I changed my mind and decided to buy a Mini heater from e-Bay and fit that instead. Adding a heater that uses the engine water system has the added benefit of being a secondary cooling system for the engine - I am happy to boil if my engine doesn't.

I found a washer bottle from a Vauxhall Nova that seems to fit nicely behind the firewall on the passenger side.

I used a wiper system from a Mini but reversed one of the gears so I could have them sweeping from the outside of the screen to the middle. I am unsure whether this is going to pass the SVA but it seems to sweep most of the screen.

And then, my water pump decided to leak just before my MOT date! After talking to some of the fellow Hoodies (conveniently-timed regional meeting at local pub...) this seems to be a common occurrence with this engine - especially if the engine has been standing for a decent length of time. My advice would be to buy one and change it - less than £20 and it's just three bolts to change.

I have to give some kudos to Steve Loat who came up with a really nice boot cover. I have stolen the design and put together a similar boot lid - ta Steve. I also had a little help with the cutting out from my wife - ta luv ;-)

27th May - MOT day

OK - to start with, the car failed - not really upset about this. My aim was to get the car a basic once-over and to highlight any of the really big problems with the car, if any, before the SVA. Also useful just to get the car rubber- stamped by someone more mechanically-minded than me.

I failed on suprisingly little:

1. no side lights
2. parking brake - NS not working, OS weak
3. suspension nut loose

And that was IT! Not bad for the first attempt. One thing that I did notice was even with just one person in the car, it grounded on the unmodified sump far too much - not just on the lumps & bumps in the road that you expect, but almost all the time. On the trip back from the test centre I must have hit one lump too many and have seriously dented the sump - which then started to leak from the sump plug. Oops... So I think number one job after Friday (SVA day) will be to remove and shorten the sump as described on the RHOCAR website. Or maybe I'll just buy the RS2000 sump which is meant to be shorter and save the hassle - watch in the modifications section!

For some reason, my original idea to utilise the Sierra side light design went wrong in one of my re-wiring of the front lights. Rather than going back to try and find out why, I have decided to fit a secondary side light that shines through the clear glass section of the sealed beam units. RHE can supply a different cable that includes a side light attachment - however they would not take a credit card for less than £20 and I didn't have time to wait for them to receive a cheque and return the items. Instead, I am going to use light bulbs dangled behind the sealed beam units that do the same thing.

The parking brake is an enigma wrapped in a quandary. It's all new and all fitted but for some reason when the lever is engaged it brakes more efficiently on one side than the other - I have tightened up the handbrake cable but it still seems to be unbalanced. Any ideas?

28th May (two days to SVA)

Steve Young's wife - Jacky - who is a demon on the sewing machine was more than kind enough to put together a gaiter for me - I have no idea how it was made (and to be honest I don't think I would understand) But HUGE thanks to her for such a fast turn around - she only said she would do it on Sunday and she had finished it on Monday! Anyway here are the pictures of the gaiter - they don't do it justice.

Steve also came up with a possible reason for the handbrake problem - when the cable is shortened I fitted a new end but didn't weld it/ braize it in place so today I took it off and put a blob from a mig welder on the end - this seems to have done the job - I'll find out on Friday !

30th May - SVA DAY!

A very sleepless night followed by quite early start (6:45) and an extremely uneventful trip to the SVA centre in Northam meant we arrived a good hour before the test.

I met my examiner (Mr Isaacs) and he gave me a brief explanation of the test. He asked me to open the bonnet for a quick look at the engine bay - at which point we noticed that I had a water leak coming off one of the unused water pipes - the plug had become perforated. I had brought everything I own in the back of the Saab so I was able to fit a new cover and make sure it was sealed.

He then asked me to drive the car onto the ramp. He started by checking the underside of the car, asking me to turn the steering wheel one way and then the other, put on and take off the handbrake and press the foot brake. He found a brake fluid leak on the front and told me if it didn't stop I would need to get a trailer to take the car home! Luckily I was able to tighten the connector and stop the leak.

The emissions test was next - which the car passed without a hitch - and this was followed by the dreaded noise test! I was asked to run the car at 3900 rpm and the noise level was 95dB - well within the limits.

The speed test was next - this seemed to go OK, but when I spoke with the tester, it turned out I had failed! It appears that there is a generous limit if the speedo reads fast (i.e. it says 70 when you are actually doing 65) but you must never run slow (shows 70, actual 71). I passed at the higher speeds but at 30 and 40mph it was 1 mph over - the most likely reason is the speedo needle - so I am going to move it round a little and see if that solves the problem.

The brake test was a revelation - the car was too low to fit on the rollers so they had to do a visual brake test and take only one set of weight measurements. He had to make a phone call to confirm a pass, but I passed easily (he said he had done loads of these cars and never had a problem).

He came back from the brake test - where he also did the self-centering, again a pass - and left the car idling while he checked the mirrors. This was when I noticed the steam rising from the front of the engine bay...! The car had overheated and started dumping water into the overflow bottle - the problem was it was dumping far too much, and the water was pouring onto the floor of the test centre! The tester decided to take this moment to have a break and leave me mopping up the floor :-(

I have decided that my word for the day will be "leaky".

We then went back onto the ramp and checked the brake leak to make sure it hadn't got any worse (it hadn't). Mr Isaacs then took a well-earned lunch break after which he began to write up the report.

He came back an hour later and ran through the list of failure points.

Most of the failure points were simple things - contactable edges, incorrectly fixed pipes (fuel and brake), single wires not part of loom etc. The main problem areas were:

1. Inner lower seatbelt mounts not acceptable - require further strengthening - this will be difficult - I never wanted to remove those seats again!

2. Front indicators not a minimum of 400mm from outside edge ... yes, I know I bought the indicators from RHE, and I know the rear wings were also bought there, as were the wheels - and I know that I fitted them in the correct place - but I am about 1 inch out on both sides - I have no idea how I'm going to lengthen these - but it is going to have to be done!

3. The build video weights are the wrong way round so I need a letter from RHE to give to them stating the correct weights (450 front axle, 650 back axle).

4. The fog lights need to 250mm from the floor mine a 190mm so these will need to be fitted to the back panel.

5. Mountney steering cover from Merlin Motorsport passes the SVA!

What I have learnt from today is:

1. The SVA testers at Southampton are friendly professional guys who want you to pass and will help out as much as possible including giving me ideas on how to resolve problems.

2. The car is going to overheat at every opportunity unless I get a second fan and maybe an electric pump.

3. The sump is way too low and I will need to do something about that. I don't think I am up to the job of doing my own, so either I pay someone to modify the sump or I buy an off-the-shelf version. Tiger do one for £80 ex VAT and delivery.