Friday, 24 August 2012
Sunday, 12 August 2012
Thursday, 9 August 2012
With the IVA test complete and the sun still shining I brought the car home, had a quick bite to eat and set off with my Dad to the DVLA office to get the car registered. I had to leave the Cobra at home as whilst it had now passed it’s test, I had to have it road registered before I could legally drive it again. The reason I was able to drive it to and from the MOT and then the IVA, was that for travelling to or from a pre-arranged test or examination, the vehicle is classed as being exempt. If you want to read more, it’s covered under the Vehicle Excise and Registration Action 1994, Schedule 2 (Exempt Vehicles), Section 22 (Vehicle Testing etc) “link here and scroll down”.
I arrived at the DVLA office to find a queue that stretched halfway round the building and it was a good 20 minutes before I got to the front desk. It was getting late in the afternoon and the greeting I received showed it. I thought I was going to be in for a real struggle when I told the girl behind the counter what I was there for. She responded with a big sigh and said “right, what paperwork have you got? “ She actually seemed disappointed that I had everything I needed until maybe she realised that because I’d come prepared it wasn’t going to be too difficult for her. She took all the bits and pieces I gave her and disappeared off behind the wall to speak to someone else. She came back in a much better frame of mind but regretfully told me that whilst it would be processed today, it might not be until the following week when I’d receive my tax disc, log book and V948 which is the document you need in order to get your plates made up. I smiled at her and jokingly said “I won’t get to drive it this weekend then ?” She looked at me, smiled back and said “wait here a minute” and disappeared off behind the wall again. This time when she returned, she had a smile on her face and said it would be done today, but I might have to wait for it, maybe 30 minutes. That 30 minutes actually turned into about 10 and I was walking out of the DVLA, tax disc and V948 in hand and on my way to Halfords to have my plates made up.
These last few posts have turned this storey into a bit of a saga, and it doesn’t end here. There’s a Halfords service centre right opposite the DVLA office with a big sign outside saying “DVLA number plates made here “. Perfect, or so I thought ! The chap that makes the plates was on holiday and they couldn’t help me, there was however, another Halfords 300 yards up the road who could so I set off, paperwork in hand with a degree of determination beginning to set in. I chose the plates I wanted, plain, and the letter style, plain, paid the guy and he set to work. It was only after he’d made the front plate that he realised he didn’t have any plain rear plates in stock. After several excuses about the guy who orders the plates being away and he was just filling in and “ooh, I don’t know what to do” I suggested the Halfords service centre 300yds down the road might have the plate but explained they didn’t have anyone to make them, “good idea, I’ll ring them and see if they can help”. When he got off the phone he had a triumphant look about him which told me he’d been successful, what I didn’t realise was that he expected me to go back down the road and get the plate for him. He wasn’t budging and he had no-one else who could go. I bit my lip, hard, and agreed to go, I was not going to come this close and have some spotty face oik ruin my day.
Once I returned, number plate in hand, it became apparent that the plate from the service centre was slightly different to the plate in the shop and it wouldn’t fit through the shop’s plate machine! I was starting to lose my patience now with the guy still dithering about, very apologetically, but still not getting my plates made. OK, an executive decision was made, scrub the first plate, remake them both with a black border, not really what I wanted but I’ve got a private plate on retention and the chances are that these plates are not going to be on there very long anyway. “OK, great” said the guy only to then report that they only had the front plates with a black border but he could do the rear one with a blue border. Last straw ! Scrub the whole thing, I’d been in the shop for nearly an hour now, I’ll go somewhere else. I was fuming and had to stand through the embarrassing procedure for the guy to sheepishly issue a refund and reverse my purchase through his till, one item at a time, that’s two number plates and 14 individual letters !
Time was getting on now and it was approaching rush hour, I just had enough time to get to another Halfords, much nearer home who made my plates, in the style I wanted, plain, with the letters I wanted, plain, in about 5 minutes flat! It was however just too late for me to get home, fit them and still go for the first drive on the first day. To have come this far and face so many challenges in such a short space of time it was time to relax, kick back and drink a well earned beer.
Wednesday, 8 August 2012
With the IVA the next day I wondered whether I’d sleep but it was quite a shock when the alarm went off, I’d been so tired I slept like a log and felt a little better for it. I still had a few things to sort out, my Dad was coming with me and came along in his car just in case ! I loaded my tools, various lengths of rubber hose, zipties and anything else I thought I might need, including my laptop, into my Dad’s boot and we set off. Because the rear pipes of the exhaust are the easy breathing type, I also had some baffles to fit just prior to the test to help deaden the sound and planned to pump up the tires when I got there to help with the steering self centreing part of the test.
The first “issue” of the day occurred when I stopped to fill up with petrol as the test required a full tank. On auto pilot I filled the tank like you would any other car only the petrol pump didn’t shut off immediately the tank was full and the additional fuel ran out over the rear deck of the car, part of which slopes forward. There’s a lesson for the future, I now had petrol running all over the back of the car some of which ran forward into the cockpit and soaked into the carpet. I paid the attendant, made a mental note to be more careful next time and set off once more, this time with an unleaded aroma filling the atmosphere.
We ran into a little traffic on the way, nothing too serious but enough to rob me of my preparation time before the test and as we arrived the examiner was there waiting for me and waved me straight in. A little panic set in as I hadn’t had time to pump up the tyres nor fit the baffles in the exhaust. I waved and mouthed a comment that I just had to speak to my Dad about something and frantically searched out the baffles in the box of bits in my Dad’s car before shoving them into the end of my exhaust. When I trial fitted these before, they were a really tight fit and I hoped that by wedging them in hard it would be enough to get me through. I restarted the engine and drove gingerly into the test centre.
The tester, Dave, introduced himself and explained what would happen through the test. He was a really nice guy which went a long way in putting my mind at ease. The first thing he would test would be the emissions as having driven the car there, the exhaust system was nice and hot which was a requirement before the emissions could be tested. Evidently the catalytic convertors only really work efficiently when they have reached their operating temperature. I was asked to start the engine and bring the revs up to 2,500 rpm. Perhaps I was a little nervous, understandably given the events of the days before, perhaps my inexperience with the car was to blame but the revs came up much quicker than I expected and the increased pressure in the exhaust “fired” one of the baffles straight out of the tail pipe landing some 10 feet away at the feet of another examiner. He was none too happy and returned the baffle suggesting they were dangerous and should both be removed before I went any further. Dave calmly asked me what they were for and whether they were needed. I made some excuses about the fitment and explained they should have been secured with jubilee clips but I’d forgotten to fit them. It was pretty obvious they were there to reduce the noise and Dave allowed me to “quickly” run back to my dad’s car in the car park and get the jubilee clips. 10 minutes in and I’d pissed off one examiner and put doubt into Dave’s mind as to what he might find next. A bad start was about to get worse, when I came back with the jubilee clips, one of them was made up of two smaller clips which had been joined together so had two adjusters 180 degrees apart. Dave advised me to fit the single, larger jubilee clip with the adjuster at the bottom as it had a contactable edge and the radius on it would fail the test, by placing the adjuster underneath the exhaust, at the bottom, it was outside of the test area and would be exempt. No matter what configuration I tried the second clip in, one of the adjusters was contactable which would mean it would fail the test. Great ! we had just got started and I had already failed ! Surprisingly, Dave suggested we test the exhaust for noise both with the baffles fitted and without and if it would pass without, I could remove the baffles completely and not have to worry about the contactable edge on the jubilee clip. Things were looking up !
We pressed on and on the second try, the car passed the emissions test. It wasn’t the emissions themselves which caused a problem but the lambda which seemed to be sensitive to engine speed. The second run was at a slightly higher rpm and it sailed straight through. Dave gave the car a good look over and asked various questions about the construction and parts fitted and seemed genuinely interested and rather pleasingly, impressed at the level of detail and general construction. In fact throughout the test I received several compliments from both Dave himself and several others from the test centre who stopped to take a look. One guy made a sweeping comment that you could tell it was “right” by the quality of the paint job, his face was a real picture when he found out it was polished gel coat!
We went outside for the self centering test which it passed easily, phew ! and onto the noise test. It was pretty obvious it would fail the 99db limit when it reached 98.4 db with the baffles fitted. When we removed them and retested it hit 105, oops, that jubilee clip was going to be a problem ! The visibility test came next which involved driving onto a predetermined mark and checking to see the extent of rearward visibility in the mirrors. Dave had some poles which would normally be placed into strategic positions but he said it was pretty obvious it would pass as the visibility was clearly in excess of that required. On the way back to the test area he checked the brakes to make sure the rear didn’t lock up before the front which was all ok and it was back inside and up onto the ramps for a good look round underneath. I did have a slight problem with one of the front flexible brake lines touching the wishbone. Dave pointed this out and suggested I might like to try and adjust it. It took three goes to get it right which bearing in mind this meant lifting the car up on the ramps for me to turn the steering side to side while Dave checked underneath, lowering to the ground so I could get out, lifting it up again for me to adjust it and then down again for me to get back in before it was raised up again for me to test, I really couldn’t have asked for more. BUT... that jubilee clip was still going to earn me a fail !
From the ramp, the car moved onto to be weighed and then onto the rollers for the brake test and then the speedometer test which involved driving the car up to 70mph whilst stationery and checking the speedo off against the calculated speed from the test machine. The speedo passed but there were some further calculations to be made to compare brake efficiency against the weight of the vehicle. Dave suggested we go for a cup of tea but I had other ideas ! My Dad and I jumped into his car and shot off around the industrial site looking for somewhere to get another jubilee clip. Just next door to the test centre was a commercial vehicle parts supplier, throwing myself on their mercy and describing myself as a male “damsel in distress” earnt me several jubilee clips of various sizes, one of which was bound to be suitable. Sure enough, on returning to the test centre, just as Dave had finished making his calculations, the replacement clip was fitted, declared a pass and we moved onto “general construction”. I was feeling pretty confident on this area and was pleased to see Dave move through it and declare he was happy. There were some further tests for lights, indicators, hazards lights etc and the dreaded windscreen wipers which had caused me so much heartache just 48 hours earlier. Everything worked, nothing melted or caught light and there was no sign of any smoke, phew ! Dave explained what he had tested, went through the checklist with me and returned to his office to complete the paperwork and finalise the calculations made on the brake efficiency.
I had about a 10 minute wait before he finally returned with my IAC certificate in hand and declared it a pass. A great sense of achievement mixed with relief washed over me. The test itself had actually be quite enjoyable, Dave was a great guy, very helpful, knowledgeable and it was plainly obvious he wanted me to pass. He certainly wasn’t the jobsworth man from the ministry type I had imagined.