October 1999


he target completion date is set for the 28th October. Why? Because that's the date of the SVA test. It's at the Yeading testing station which is near Harrow in London. The appointment is for 8.00am. I've decided to trailer the car there even though I really wanted to drive it to and from the station. If it is teeming down with rain on the test day, quite likely knowing the British weather, I'll get absolutely soaked as I have no weather gear at all on the car - not even a tonneau. So I don't fancy standing around for 5 hours wet through while they test my car.

I've been working away from home this week and also next week so things are a little frustrating. I've got everything on order and I'm just waiting for a few things to arrive to complete the car (except for trimming the inside) by the 28th.

9th October

Picked up a 90 degree enlarged water hose today from a Peugot garage in Aylesbury. I'd ordered one from Demon Tweeks but they didn't have it in stock and had to order it. John at Crendon had already ordered the same hose from the Peugot garage in Aylesbury and he said that I could have that one. I picked up some black exhaust paint and some jubilee clips.

I spent the rest of the day very productively. I bled the clutch and that seems to work OK, I say seems to because I don't know how much clutch travel I need so I may have to do a little adjustment in this department. I trial fitted the binnacle housing and wired up the indicator stork. Jill sprayed the indicator stalk with clear lacquer to protect the black I'd previously sprayed on it. It does look rather good even if I do say so myself. I feel many kit car interiors are let down by poor switchgear and badly presented steering binnacles.

I also trial fitted the rest of the hoses and metal bends to complete the cooling system. I just need to put some beads on the end of the tubes before I finally fit those in place. Jill fitted the interior mirror today. All in all we got a lot done on the car. All being well I should get the remaining couple of pieces during next week ready to start the engine next weekend. I'll keep you all posted, how I get on.

16th October

The postman bought the last of the items I've been waiting for this morning. So I've been really busy today. I fitted the recalibrated speedo plus the adapter for the Smiths water temperature gauge. This adapter fits into the Edelbrock Torker II manifold. I also filled the gearbox and engine up with the necessary fluids so it's almost turn the key time and start the engine. I want to double check the timing before I do this. I fitted the rear stoneguards today too. Now the car is really looking finished.

I've decided to get the MOT'd before it goes for its SVA test. This is not really necessary but it does allow me to get the headlight beams checked and set up properly plus the exhaust emissions can be tested and tweaked if necessary.

I also re sited the wiper motor as I felt that the route of the cable was a little too acute and this was causing the wipers to be very slow and erratic. My aim was to straighten out the run of the cable, I resited the bracket and was able to push the wiper motor up towards the underside of the bodyshell. This gave a much straighter run and the wipers now work much better than before.

21st October

Today I planned to run the engine and bed it in. Because it is a brand new engine it needs an initial running in period of 40 minutes to bed in the cam etc.... My first job today was to fill up the cooling system which I did with a 33% antifreeze mixture.

Then I primed the engine with oil. This involves removing the distributor and attaching a special tool onto the oil pump drive mechanism to build up the oil pressure and make sure the oil is circulated around the engine before you crank it over. I checked the oil pressure on the dashboard gauge as I was doing this. It is very important to prime a brand new engine as it has been known for engines to seized before the oil ever got round the engine. I took the rocker cover off to make sure oil had found its way right up to the top of the engine. I also took the opportunity to make sure I had no. 1 cylinder at TDC. I'd located it earlier with the finger over the spark plug hole technique but I thought it was worth checking - it was on TDC. I checked the static timing again and made sure all the leads went to the right spark plugs. I filled the tank with petrol and turned on the ignition switch and prepared to push the button. I plucked up the courage to press the button and all I got was a click from the solenoid. I checked the wiring and put a test bulb across the solenoid contacts which confirmed that the power was getting across the terminals and they were wired in correctly. I phoned John and Crendon to discuss the problem and he pointed out that because I'd bought the SVO started motor this already had a build in solenoid and the external one I'd mounted on the bulkhead was superfluous. So I swapped around my wiring and tried again. Success this time in so much that I cranked the motor but not hint of and firing. I spun the engine for three of four bursts but it was obvious there was no spark.

I then went on a process of fault finding. I'm running a MSD electronic ignition and MSD Blaster 11 coil with a Mallary breakerless distributor. I tested the MSD unit and found I had no spark. But I could not drop the MSD unit out of the system as I had no ballast resister to put in its place. I figured that if I left the MSD out of the system and just went for a coil and distributor I could defiantly know that the MSD unit was causing me the problem. I phone Real Steel a supplier in Uxbridge and they had a ballast resister so I arranged to go and pick it up in the morning.

22nd October

I picked up the ballast resister from Real Steel and another coil just to be on the safe side. When I got back home I wired the resister in and took the MSD unit out of the ignition system. The moment of truth arrived again when I'd have to push the magic button. So here I went, because I'd cranked the engine over yesterday I felt more confident that everything was OK with the system. So I pushed the button and she almost caught first time. I pulled out the choke a little more and she fired up. Then it was really frantic.... Jill came rushing outside once she'd heard the din and I'm glad she did. Jill looked after the revs keeping it about 1500 rpm while I looked over the engine. I had started it in the garage which was very quickly filling up with blue smoke from the exhaust system and engine. I was not too alarmed by the smoke as John had said that it would be very smoky to start with. I pushed the car out of the garage onto the driveway. At least now we could breathe! I pushed in the choke and screwing in the idle screw to allow the engine to sit at about 1500rpm. I then started checking for leaks and any major problems. This all happened so fast, but typing it here it seems like ages had past but they hadn't. I had a small trickle from the top of the radiator hose where the sensor for the Kenlowe fans had gone into the pipe. So I tightened this up. Most of the smoke, steam and now disappeared and it was easier to see what we were looking at. The oil pressure was good and the water temperature was just starting to get up. I varied the revs a bit but not letting them go above 2500rpm or fall below 1500rpm. I timed the engine with a strobelight and then forgot to disconnect the vacuum from the distributor so I had to do it again. The timing was too far out and I was happy with it for the time being, It was close enough. Once the initial 20 minutes run in period was over I could time it a more accurately. I was now getting really excited. The sense of the occasion had now started to dawn on me and I could relax and enjoy the event more fully. The exhaust gave a rich deep burble and they sounded gorgeous. It was a really good feeling to get to this hurdle and jump it and start to move on.

After the initial 20 minutes were up I dropped the engine revs to around 850rpm and timed the engine to 10 degrees BTDC. And it was very near that so it only needed a very small tweek. I kept the engine running for 40 minutes in total and by the end of it I'd been able to check everything was working properly. I set the thermostatic switch on the Kenlowe fans so they would kick in at the right temperature. I constantly kept and eye on the oil pressure and water temperature. The only slight concern was how quickly the petrol level was going down. I'd put in 2 gallons which I thought would be enough. Thankfully it was but it got me thinking for a while whether it would make it or not. I noticed that the petrol in line filter has some crap in it, presumably from some mess that got into the petrol tank so I'll have to clear that out. All in all this was an excellent day and a milestone for the car.

25th October

I took the car over to John's workshop at Aylesbury as we were planning to trailer the car from his workshop to the SVA centre at Yeading on the Thursday. I had a few things to complete before the test but as they were only small things I wanted to use the time at John's to get some miles on the car. His workshop is on an old airfield so there's plenty of private roads to play about on.

26th October

Took the car for an MOT an a local testing station. Although the MOT is not really necessary I wanted to get the headlights correctly aligned and the emissions tested. The test had been booked with the testing station however when we got there their gas analyzer was not working. So I only managed to get the headlights set up. Still it gave me a legal reason to be out on the roads. The drive there was excellent, the weather could not have been kinder to us. Bright sun and blue skies but not hot a great Autumn day. The car drove really well, the exhaust note was great to hear and I soon got used to the gears and clutch.

Just after leaving the MOT testing station the engine started coughing like it was running short of fuel and then it died completely. I went straight for the fuel tank and looked at the in line fuel filter. It was blocked with something. I clamped the petrol hose and removed the filter to discover that some sealant had come away from the seal around the sender unit. I suppose I'd used just a little too much and the excess had squeezed passed the gasket. Once petrol had been put in the tank it attacked the exposed sealant which dropped into the tank and blocked the filter. Once the filter had been cleared and replaced the car started all right and we made it back to John's workshop. We then emptied the fuel tank and flushed it through to get out all the debris and bits and pieces. Touch wood this seems to have done the trick as the in-line filter has remained clear.

27th October

Today I did a final check over of everything and put a few more miles on the car. Everything seems alright so it's now a matter of time to see if we pass the SVA test.

28th October

Today was the day of the SVA test which meant an early start. So at 4.00am in the morning I got up and left the house by 4.20am and I was at John's workshop at 5.00am. It's about a 2 hour drive to Yeading, but in rush hour traffic we didn't want to be late so we allowed the extra hour. Well the journey was good and we arrived at Yeading at 7.15am. We stopped off just around the corner to fill up the Cobra with fuel as you have to present the car with a full tank to fuel. We unloaded the car at the test centre then made ourselves known at the office. At 8.00am the SVA inspector came over. He didn't introduce himself and didn't seem too friendly. I though Oh hear we go. As the test progressed he did warm up a bit and actually talked to us! I won't go through the complete 3 hour test here stage by stage for the sake of brevity. Right at the end David, the examiner, said that there were a few minor things that needed to be done. He didn't tell me what they were right away, as he had to complete the paperwork, but he did say if we wanted to we could probably do them here and he could check them later on that day. I thought that was really good of him because he could have just failed us and sent up away. The things I failed on were:

- Rear fog light too low by 10mm
- Front indicators too low by 50mm
- The brake pipes ran too close (2 inches away) to the exhaust manifold - possible boiling/overheating of brake fluid.

John and I set about fixing these small problems. The exhaust headers were wrapped in heat shielding webbing purchased from Real Steel who aren't too far away. The front suspension was raised to bring up the front indicator height and the rear foglight bracket was swivelled to a higher location. I was annoyed with myself about the rear fog light as the original one I'd fitted was the correct height. But I had to change this as it was not 'E' marked and as a result would have failed. The new one was slighty larger and could not be fitted between the rear bumper rails like the old on. So I have to make up a new bracket and I fixed this to the bottom rail of the bumper. I forgot all about the SVA height after I'd re-fitted this new light - typical!

Once these items had been done David re checked them and the car passed its SVA test.

29th October

I contacted the Department of Transport office in Luton to ask for a form to be able to register the car. Hopefully it won't be too long before I can get it registered and taxed.

30th October

The form I asked for yesterday arrived today and I can't make head nor tail of it so I'll have to phone them back and ask for the explanatory booklet V355 that should be used to complete the form V55/5.