26th April 2009

Final countdown to SVA

  Fitting a grill to the front of the car. It's expanded aluminium mesh held in place by four small zip ties, one in each corner.

Fitting the driver's seat and harness. Willans were able to remake the shoulder straps on the 6 point harness, for a very reasonable 25 pounds plus postage, and even did it with a 2 day turnaround. However, by that stage I'd taken these E-marked harnesses out of the Striker, so I fitted them anyway.  

  Making and fitting a crash pad onto the steering wheel. Velcro and sticky tape are no longer considered sufficient for holding on crash pads, so this one's made from a sheet of steel, with the 3 bolts to mount the steering wheel onto the QR boss welded to it, and then covered in foam and leathercloth. It's definitely not coming off in a hurry.

The mounting bolts are sufficiently long that they prevent the QR boss from being removed from the column. This is one of the grey areas of SVA - some testers say QR steering wheels are fine, because there's nothing specifically to exclude them in the SVA regulations. Other testers say they're an automatic fail, because someone might remove them while driving. Of course, the same idiot might also shut their eyes, drive into a tree etc. but stopping them from removing a steering wheel mid-drive is apparently important to some testers.

Made and fitted the padded headrest for the headrest mount. Not actually required for SVA, but since I had the leathercloth, foam and contact adhesive out to make the steering wheel crash pad, I thought I might as well.  

  Made up these trim strips, with plenty of rubber edging. Actually, they're originally off the FuryBird I, hence the bling Momo sill covers. They're there to cover up the edge of the chassis where the tub mounts onto it. You can also see some rubber trim and bolt covers I've added to remove any sharp edges.

Made and fitted this cover for the pedal box. The idea here is to cover up the brake bias bar, preventing it from being adjusted. It's rivetted into place so that it can't be considered as an inspection panel, since the tester is entitled to require inspection panels to be removed - and once removed the bias bar would be adjustable again.

The significance of the adjustability is of course that if the bias bar's adjustable then the tester will test it at both extremes, which will invariably result in a fail due to having too much rear braking effort. Again, this is a rule which is there to stop people doing stupid things, such as winding on too much rear braking effort, thereby leaving them free to do lots of other stupid things that the Nanny State can't stop them from doing. Yet.

  Although not necessary for SVA, I was a bit embarrassed by my repeated stalls when trying to drive the car for the first time, so I extended the clutch release arm slightly. My first effort was rather excessive - I extended the release arm so much that while the clutch would've been nicely progressive, it was so light that a mild breeze was capable of depressing the clutch, while the return spring on the release arm was no longer man enough to overcome the drag in the clutch cable.

I think the current setup provides a happy balance between a smoothly acting clutch and a reasonably feelsome pedal. If nothing else, dicking around with the clutch release arm showed up the fact that my brake bias cover plate, shown above in its modified form, needed modifying. In its original form it went over the from of the lower part of the clutch pedal, and was very effective in preventing the driver from depressing the clutch pedal. Turning up to an SVA test unable to use the clutch really would have been a bit embarrassing...

By this stage it was getting rather late on Sunday evening, and the last job left was to try and remap the car using the Power Commander so that it would pass the emissions test. This of course involved loading the Power Commander software onto the laptop, learning how to use it (naturally, this did not involve a manual at any point), and then trying to adjust the map. The DASH2 has a Innovate LC1 wide-band lambda controller to talk to, so I could see from the dash what the AFR was, and it was obvious that it was running rather rich - an AFR of 12.8:1 at idle.

After a few abortive attempts to pull the map off the Power Commander (the engine needs to be running before a map can be either up- or downloaded) I got the hang of tweaking the map and spent a whole 15 minutes trying to get the AFR close to the magic AFR of 14.7:1 at both idle at fast idle (between 2500 and 3000rpm). After 15 minutes the garage was getting a bit stinky and I was getting a bit bored so I called it a day. Still, the cooling system seemed to be able to keep the temperatures under control (at idle, at least) with the ECU-controlled fan kicking in and out nicely, and the DASH2 reading an entirely credible 102 degrees C when it kicked in and 95 degrees C when it tripped off.

That done, only thing left to do was drive over to the Shed, pick up the trailer, drive back home, load up the car (remembering this time to strap it down), drive back to the Shed, manhandle the trailer with car on top into the Shed (not a fun job), drive back home, and set the alarm for 4.30 a.m...