Individual Vehicle Approval – The Test

It’s the big day. The one I’ve been building up to for 9 months!

The test appointment is set for 8AM at the Avonmouth test centre… and I live in North Bristol, about 5 miles away. It’s about a 15minute drive at that time in the morning.

Getting Going

I got up in plenty of time to get the car out of the garage and to get to the centre.

I looked out of the window – rain!

I’d been watching the forecast all week and it had resolutely refused to stop forecasting rain for Thursday morning. The whole of the rest of the week was dry, but not the only morning I had a test planned in an open top car with no doors.

I’m taking the car to the test centre with no hood or doors. I didn’t want the extra complexity of presenting the car with either, and seeing as I’d not been inside the centre I didn’t know if there would be somewhere I could store them while the test happened. I didn’t want any risks here so decided to brave the rain and reduce the complexity.

It wasn’t set to rain heavily but it was definitely going to rain.

After getting ready, with obligatory hat and coat, I started the car and got it out of the garage. Imagine the scene: I’m sat on the drive with the garage now closed, it’s not really light yet, engine running, 4-point harnesses on and me ready to go. It’s raining and the windscreen is covered in water.

Wipers on. Err… no! Dead!

Wipers off.

Wipers on. Err… no! Dead!

Bugger!!

They worked last night when I gave everything a once over! Grrr!!

Me trying the wiper switch repeatedly – the wipers are dead though.

For the second time in 12 hours I’m wondering whether this is “meant to be” today. It’s going to be an interesting drive to the test centre. But much worse than that, there’s no way I can pass the IVA test with no wipers.

Options:

  • Get the car back into the garage and do a once over: almost certainly going to be late for the test and I really don’t want to have the inspector started off on the wrong foot from the get-go with me being late.
  • See if I can fix it in the rain on the drive: Hmm, sounds like a recipe to get really wet and probably still late
  • Drive to the test centre as best I can and see if I can fix it there: I know from a rec’ie I did of the test centre a few days earlier (thanks Will) that there was a canopy in front of the test bays.
  • Maybe the wiper drive mechanism was “bound up”: I’ve had cars in the past where the wiper mechanism can stop in a location where it can’t start itself again and the mechanism becomes bound. I gave the wipers a quick tweak as I sat in the car and the mechanism didn’t feel “locked”.

I decided to go with “drive it to the test centre and wing-it” strategy. It was either going to be a loose connection, a fuse, a relay or a dead wiper motor. I didn’t have any spare fuses and I couldn’t fix the wiper motor. My thinking was now heading towards “worst case scenario”… it was going to fail unless, in the most unlikely scenario, it suddenly fixed itself and there was a dodgy connection. I’m now also thinking that I might as well get the test done to find out what else is bound to be wrong and assume I’m going to have to do a second test.

Nothing for it but to brave the rain.

The Drive to the Test Centre

I’ve driven in some precarious driving conditions in the past. But this sits high up there along with:

  • No working brakes on a Fiat Super Mirafiori as I drove it to be scrapped.
  • A 1972 Avenger, which at 14 years old in 1986, threw a con-rod on the M1 whilst on a trip from Sheffield to Northampton, limping home on 3 cylinders.
  • The time a ladder came loose on a roof rack as I was driving over the Old Severn Crossing.
  • Wheels falling off, brakes seizing, car running away with itself and nobody in it… etc etc, you get the picture

All scary road trips, but a virgin drive of a self-built, brand new kit car, in the pouring rain, during Bristol rush hour, with no windscreen wipers certainly ranks up there.

Initially the rain was not too bad and I could just about see enough to make slow progress. Though I’m beginning to think this wasn’t such a good idea now. But I’m on the road and there’s not as much traffic as I was expecting. I’m also heading out of Bristol as everyone else is heading in.

It’s getting wetter!

As I got to about mile 3 of the journey the rain really started to pour. Nothing for it but to stop and try and clear some water off the screen. I was also working on a game plan I’d concocted: Once I’d got closer to the test centre I’d take another look at the wipers, give them a jiggle to see if there were mechanical problems. At least I could spend the time looking at things in the knowledge that I was closer to the test centre and therefore knew better how much time I had to play with. .

Back on the road again, it’s now properly raining and my only option is to drive while leaning out over the side of the car. My eye-lids are doing a way better job of clearly the falling water than the windscreen was.

But I got there. It was a real relief to pull into the covered bay outside the test centre. I’d been told to park in the SVA lane in the box marked on the road.

Arriving at the test centre and parking in the SVA lane

I took all the GoPro’s off the car and stuffed them into my rucksack, then went into the main building where a sign told me to wait by my car. So out I went again and waited for the inspector.

Here’s a video of my trip to the test station and realising at the end of my driveway that the wipers aren’t working!

Phew! I’d arrived!

The Test Begins

I was probably 5 minutes early, but the inspector turned up soon from the depths of the test lanes. The inspector introduced himself as Les and I took the car inside.

While Les was sorting himself out, I had a bit of a rummage around under the dashboard to see if I could see any loose wires – there were none in sight. Well… that’s sort of good I guess??

I brought the car into the test centre

That’s about the only picture of the test process. From memory the test went something like this:

Weight Scales

  • Weigh front then rear on the red weigh scale in the floor (above picture). The results in the scanned docs at the bottom of this page will be slightly out – I hadn’t taken about 10Kg of tools out of the boot!

Static, Switchgear and Visual Tests

  • Move car (by me) forward off scale
  • Remove bonnet
  • I noticed that the bonnet-catch covers weren’t attached. I went to get them from my box of tricks and showed them to Les. He said he didn’t need to see them on the car if I had them, he had a quick glance at them. He knew what they were supposed to look like.
  • Emissions test – no problem, I think
  • Les did various measurements including using a few different contraptions to measure things like the relative positions of steering wheel and seats
  • It was at about this time that Les told me – “you know, almost nobody passes first time. They usually fail on the brakes.” Hmmm, that’s making me feel good!
  • We discussed the need for the collapsable steering column. I’m glad I got Williams to fit it in the end, Les said it would have been a fail if it wasn’t fitted. He showed me his IVA bible where it mentions a deformable steering column. I think the wording could be interpreted a couple of ways – but I wasn’t arguing.
  • He sat in the car and tested all the switches.
  • Test wipers – bugger – no change! We had a discussion about what might be wrong. Les was turning out to be very amenable. Firm but fair. He genuinely wanted the car to pass if it could. We left the wipers for the time being.
  • Everything apart from the wipers was working.
  • He took a long look at my “milky” rear fog light, from the debacle the night before, but didn’t poke around at it and didn’t try to take it off. He made no comment.

With those tests completed, the topic of conversation (we were chatting all the way through) turned back to the wipers. Les went to make us both a coffee while I had a fiddle.

It didn’t look like there were any loose connections under the dash and the mechanical side of things seemed to be fine. That meant it was probably a fuse or a relay. If it was a relay then I was going to be in trouble. If it was a fuse, then perhaps there was a chance to salvage things. Now… both the washer pump AND the wipers weren’t working. So, it would have to be some weird wiring for a relay to cause both to be out. So lets assume the more likely problem that can affect both the washer and the wipers, a fuse… but which fuse.

We got the build manual out and turned to the wiring diagrams at the back. The 420R fuse layout seemed to be completely wrong. We tried reading the lists from different directions but neither made sense of the diagrams vs car.

While Les was cleaning a couple of cups for the coffee, I decided I’d take out each fuse in turn and have a look. Car fuses are usually very obviously blown when they go – lots of current. So… 50/50 chance of starting at the top or bottom… top first.

Bingo, the first, topmost fuse was blown.

Everything else was working on the car so this was almost certainly the wash-wipe fuse. Now, what to do, I still had no spare fuses – schoolboy error…!

ALWAYS TAKE SPARE FUSES TO AN IVA TEST!

I was wondering if I could “borrow” a fuse from another location in the fuse box and still have a car that Les was going to pass – did the whole car have to be in a pass configuration or could it pass “in pieces”. While I was musing over this, Les came back over and said: “hang on, let me see what I can do”. He trotted off to his car and came back with a spare fuse – top man! He GAVE me the fuse and we moved onto coffee… after I had confirmed the wipers and washers were now working.

PHEW!!!

At least the car wouldn’t fail for a wash-wipe fuse!

This part of the test probably took 20 minutes, plus about another 20 minutes on coffee and fixing the wipers. It turned out that Les gets to test some very exotic vehicles – often imports. There’s also a lot of Atoms he tests from the Ariel guys down the M5. Earlier in the year he got to test a Garden Shed, on a Sierra chassis – the owner wanted to make it road legal!

Ramp

  • Drive the car (by me) onto a ramp
  • Ramp lifted about 5 feet in the air
  • I stayed in the car while it was up on the ramp.
  • Les asked me to apply the brakes a few times and to apply the handbrake as he inspected underneath the car.
  • The ramp was lowered and I remained in the car
  • Les did the headlight tests. Both needed a tweak (even though Williams had said they had adjusted them). Les was happy for me to adjust them while we watched the headlight test jig displays. It was at this point that I realised I didn’t have a spanner for the headlight nuts. Williams had adjusted them and I didn’t have the 26mm spanner needed. I also hadn’t brought an adjustable spanner. I eventually got them loose with a pair of pliers and I got them just about tight enough to satisfy Les.

That was about 15 minutes.

Brake Tests

  • Next we moved off the ramp and onto the rolling road brake test rig.
  • Les sat in the car at this point and ran through front and back brake tests.
  • The machine ran through a sequence and presented Les with results that he wrote down. The test included him attaching a pressure pad to his foot so he could check brake pedal pressure. He wasn’t giving anything away though – I had no idea if I was passing or failing. From what I could see of the readings on the machine, things looked ok – but I couldn’t tell.

About another 15 minutes.

Final Rolling Road

  • I moved the car off the brake test rolling road and onto a final rolling road which tested what I think was speedo and more brake tests – though I lost track of things at this point, not quite sure what all that was about.
  • Next I moved the car outside for the noise test, it had stopped raining by now – thankfully!

This was probably another 10 minutes.

Noise Test

Car on the noise test grid, test has exhaust on the transverse red line (car needs to go forwards 2m in this pic).

The noise test consisted of me sitting in the car and aligning the exit of the exhaust with the red line you can see in the picture above, running across  the car – the red line under the front wheels in the picture above. Les then placed a “jig” to the side of the car. This jig allowed him to place his noise meter at 45degrees diagonally to the rear of the car and 1m away. The noise reading came out at a surprising 94dB (when measured at 75% of full revs – 5700rpm). I was expecting it to be much closer than that, but it was an easy pass in the end (pass mark is below 99dB).

5 minutes for this testing.

Test Drive

The final test was for Les to take the car for spin around the site. We’d had the car up to some pretty high static rolling-road speed, so by this point it seemed Les was happy to trust my workmanship with his life. He wasn’t hanging around but also wasn’t totally crazy. He took the car back around to the entrance of the hanger and I walked back to the weight scales through the hanger.

2 minute test.

Test Completed

That was it. The test was done. Les offered for me to sit down while he did his paperwork and he left me in suspense.

Here’s a not very in-focus selfie while I waited…

Selfie of the car back at the start and with the various test stations stretching out into the distance – weigh scale, ramp, brake rolling road, second rolling road, exit at the far end.

The Result

While Les was working through his paperwork, I made sure I absolutely did not leave 2 x £1 coins next to the kettle. It would certainly not have been appropriate for me to have made sure Les was not out of pocket for his gift of a wiper fuse 😉 . He was adamant that he couldn’t take anything for it and that such a payment might be construed as bribery! That absolutely did not happen!

Five minutes later, Les emerged from his yellow office and walked over to me. He presented me with a piece of paper and said “this is what you’ve been waiting for”. I did a double take… it looked like all the sections on the page said – pass. I couldn’t see any fails.

He said “it passed”.

I was just a little… over-the-moon. I was certainly hoping it had passed but I wasn’t expecting it. Especially after the trip there and his statement about not many passing first time. I must have thanked Les at least half a dozen times in the next  2 minutes. We talked about a few nothings and I said my goodbyes.

Awesome!

Here are redacted versions of the various docs I got…

Redacted IVA Test Certificate
Redacted IVA Test Report
Redacted IVA Speed Check
Redacted IVA Emissions Test

Conclusion

I needn’t have worried so much about the formality of the test. There was plenty of opportunity for me to present the car how I wanted. I’m sure I would have been fine to turn up with doors and hood and to have taken them off prior to the test. The whole process only took about 3 of the 4 hours that were allocated. I’m sure other’s take longer, and I suspect that some would have been shorter, given the wiper diversion.

The inspector, Les, was knowledgeable and easy to get along with. He was firm but fair. I don’t think trying to con or kid him wouldn’t have worked – he’d been doing the job for over 30 years. You get to know a few dodges in that time.

I was pleased with the state of the car as I’d presented it. I don’t think I could have done any better. In the end, that was enough.

The Drive Home

I didn’t have a chance to set the GoPro’s back up as I left the test site and I wasn’t in the mood to stop and do so once I was off the premises, so sorry, no footage of that. It was certainly a less eventful trip than the ride there. But here’s a selfie looking back at the test centre with some blue sky and a very happy driver.

Could “look” happier… but I certainly was.

Needless to say, I took the long way home.

All in all the car had now done 14 miles. It had 2 miles on the clock when I’d left in the morning – being put on by Williams and by my trip to fill up with fuel the day before. It was around 5 miles there and probably 6-7 miles the way I went home.

Once at home it was time to get the beemer out and head into work. I had all my V5 application forms pre-filled so it was just a question of signing / dating and getting all the various docs in the post. I did that when I got to work.

In the meantime, I needed a selfie of me, the car and the pass certificate…

Looking a little happier this time with the IVA test certificate

The hope is that with a following wind I could get the forms of to the DVLA straight away and get the V5 back before Christmas in 14 days. Then we could drive it over the Christmas break.

For those of you not familiar with the UK regulations: while I have a test pass I still need the formal registration documents for the car. Only then can I legally drive it on the road. This doc is called a V5 or “log book”. The DVLA website says it processes applications for new V5’s in 4 weeks. I’m hopeful that it will be quiet before Christmas and it’ll come sooner. On the flip-side, I guess DVLA will have people taking vacation at this time of year and that might make the processing longer.

We’ll have to see.

[ Note from the future: fat chance! DVLA took more than their 4 weeks ]

Of course… thanks goes to all those who helped and supported me. To all those people who “popped round” to have a chat and lend a hand – it was great to see everyone and a fantastic experience. Thanks to Harry and Joe for helping out. Thanks to Andrew Pepperrell who was a huge help via Facebook Messenger. Thanks also to the Facebook and BlatChat communities for their comments on my posts. Thanks to Ted, next door, for all those times he leant over the fence to offer support. And of course, thanks to my wife, Sue, who didn’t complain once about the amount of time I was spending in the garage. Awesome!

Thanks Everyone!

IT PASSED FIRST TIME!

Post-Post Build Check and a Dash for Fuel

The Purplemeanie has returned from its PBC and so its time to get all the remaining small jobs done before its IVA test next week. This post will be a catch-all for all those tasks, sorry, it’s probably a long one.

Friday December 1st – Return from PBC (6 days to IVA test)

I don’t have any pictures of the car returning, but good to their word, Williams delivered the car just after lunch time. This time they used a covered trailer rather than the flatbed from the other day.

One picture I do have is of the PPF application added while at Williams. Somehow I’d got it in my head that it was going to be less obvious than it is. On reflection, it couldn’t be and I think they did a good install.

PPF has a lip where it stops on the paintwork.

If I’d have gone for a full “wrap” then those lines wouldn’t exist, but I was more interested in protecting the critical areas than making it look pristine. My PPF application included the following:

  • Front nose cone upper and lower
  • Bodywork side panels – also protecting against 4-point buckle “slap” when people “throw” the buckles off
  • Rear Wing L-shape – protects more of the wing against gravel rash from the front wheels
  • Bonnet sections where the door mirrors land
  • Below fuel filler cap
  • Front of front wings

I think all of that came to around £550. Expensive, but I think worth it.

Saturday December 2nd – Bleeding Brakes Again (5 days to IVA test)

Tom at Williams had confirmed that my brakes were a bit soft, so it was time to have another go at getting them bled again.

He had said that he uses a pressurised brake bleeding system. I therefore followed his lead and ordered a Sealey VS820 Brake & Clutch Bleeding System after returning from the PBC on Wednesday and which duly arrived the following day. You’ve gotta love Amazon!

The idea with these systems is not to go through the cycle of pump-pedal, open-nipple, close-nipple, pump-pedal, open-nipple, close-nipple, etc etc. but to just pump fluid straight through the system with the bleed nipples open and pressure in the tank…. you just replace all the fluid, and air, with clean fluid.

This Sealey system was simple to use and took me about an hour to flush enough fluid through the brake lines to completely replace all the fluid, and some. It took a few minutes to figure out how to use the system, so I suspect the next time I need to use it I could bleed the whole system in a few minutes. I  also went and bought a 5 litre bottle of Dot4… I wanted lots of clean air-free fluid  to work with, rather than what was left in the bottle supplied by Caterham.

Of course there could still have been air pockets in the system after this bleed session and I’ve heard some people say they have problems with the rear of the car. I guess that can happen if there are cavities in the system that create a sump, but I didn’t seem to suffer from any problems like that in my experience.

Here’s what the system looked like…

Car on axel stands and wheeled outside for brake bleeding session.
Brake bleed with pressurised pump and the obligatory jam-jar

With this bleed system I was able to get a pretty firm pedal. It wasn’t rock solid but it felt better than a new 420 that I’d taken for a test drive at Williams in March. There was also no sense of the pedal needing to be pumped to get any increased firmness – a sign that there’s air still in the system.

I was happy with the pedal now so we’ll have to see if it passes the brake efficiency scrutinising at the IVA test.

Front Flexible Brake Hoses – IVA Treatment

Whilst at Williams I had discussed the fixings/couplings that attach the front flexible brake hoses to their callipers. Tom agreed that it might not be essential to cover them for IVA but that it wouldn’t hurt. So that was the next task: cover the unions and fixings to conceal any sharp edges that might promote an IVA fail.

Again, I think some of the job with all this IVA protection is to give the IVA inspector confidence that the build has been done well. They can’t inspect everything so they’re looking for the obvious things and IMHO can, to some extent, assume that if the obvious stuff is done well then the less obvious stuff is done well too… and so they don’t poke around so much. That’s very much IMHO… your mileage may vary!

Here’s what I did with these fixings: a length of 5/16 hose, rounded off at one end, slit down it’s length and attached to the fixing with self-amalgamating tape plus cable ties. Hopefully that will do the job.

5/16 hose rounded at one end to be used as IVA treatment for the front hose to calliper fixings
IVA treatment for the front brake hose to calliper fixings

I think the tape and cable-ties were a bit of a belt-and-braces approach, but it seemed to make sense at the time.

The Bonnet Badge

Another simple task today, now that the PPF was on, was to add the bonnet badge. Awesome!

A Caterham 7 Bonnet Badge

A Mangled A-Frame Conundrum

What I had omitted to mention at the top of this post was that I managed to mangle the rear A-frame at the start of Saturday morning!

Bugger!

Since going to Williams, and as part of the suspension setup, the ride height had been lowered. It therefore transpired that I couldn’t now get my trolley jack under the back of the car to lift it up.

Somehow I convinced myself that it would be a good idea to partially lift the back of the car on the A-frame. I would then put my trolley jack under the chassis and lift it onto the axel stands like I had done normally.

However, jacking a Seven on the A-frame turns out to be a really bad idea – no surprises there. The A-frame is not meant to take any significant vertical load…

… and so it bent.

Oh crap!

Not a particularly bad bend – I’m not that thuggish. But unfortunately, as well as a bend, I’d put a kink in the RHS tube. I was sure I could get the bend out, but removing the kink was going to be another matter. I went through all sorts of options in my head to think through how I was going to remedy this kink but I doubted I could get it right first time.

Left hand side of A-frame rail shows my new kink

Now, don’t get me wrong… This is a small kink. Almost imperceptible – except that as it sat under the nice new car, with all it’s clean and straight chassis beams… it jarred. You could also feel the kink as you ran your hand down the tube.

If this had happened after the car had passed its IVA test, then I wouldn’t have worried about it. It wasn’t sructural and there would be no effect on the suspension setup. It’s like one of those people who routinely clean behind the fridge and when someone asks “why do you do that, nobody else can see it” the reply comes “because I know its there”. It was nagging at me like that… If I left it and the IVA inspector noticed, and I failed the test, then I would kick myself.

I decided to ponder the problem. It was Saturday afternoon by this point and Caterham parts department was closed – I know, I tried to call them. The website was showing stock of the right A-frame, so this was an option if I decided to solve the problem on Monday with a credit card.

I took the car back into the garage, still on its axel stands, and left it while I pondered.

Sunday December 3rd (4 days to IVA test)

Having thought things through for a day I had decided to take the A-frame off and at least try and straighten it. Perhaps the small kink wouldn’t get noticed at the IVA test, but a bow in the A-frame probably would.

I tried a few combinations of vice, grips and clamps but eventually resorted the fully calibrated “body and plank” method.

A fully calibrated 850N force applied with pin-point accuracy

In the end I found that I could best modulate the bending force I was applying, and where I was applying it, by lifting the A-frame onto a low plank of plywood and “jumping” on it. I didn’t really jump on it, but I could feel the amount of “give” in the tube and got all of the bend out of the bar with my weight.

The kink remained.

Monday December 4th – A-Frame Ordered (3 days to IVA test)

First thing Monday and I decided I would go for a parallel approach on the A-Frame. I had the “unbent but kinked” A-Frame but would also order a replacement in the hope that it would arrive on Tuesday to give me another option.

A quick phone call to Caterham when they opened and they confirmed they could get an A-Frame shipped today and hopefully it would arrive tomorrow – credit card engaged and order placed. The A-Frames seemed to be relatively cheap at around £70 ($95) – not a costly mistake but still frustrating at this stage in the game. Little did I know, but there was further self-inflicted frustration to come.

Tuesday December 5th – A-Frame and Labels (2 days to IVA test)

True to their word, Caterham got me the replacement A-Frame via a next day delivery.

[Note from the future: while we’re talking about the ordering of an A-Frame – Caterham were a little too efficient. A second A-Frame arrived a week later. When I called to return it, they thought that the shipping team had shipped the first one without waiting for the invoice to percolate through their system and so when it did, a second one was sent out.]

It was a quick 30 minute job to install the new A-Frame and attach the handbrake cable on both sides with my P-clip arrangement.

To bolt the A-Frame in, I decided that this time I would drill out the rear A-Frame bolt holes.

When I fitted the first A-Frame a few weeks ago, I had carefully Dremelled out the bolt holes but not quite gone far enough. Inevitably, this meant I had a devil of a job to get the bolt through both sides of the A-Frame and took some of the thread off the bolt in the process.

This time around I took out my callipers and measured the bolt. I then went up to the next 0.5mm drill bit size and drilled out both sides of the back of the A-Frame – not the front mounting points.

Drilling out A-Frame #2

Dashboard Labels

One job I’d not got round to was the labelling of the dashboard switches. It’s an IVA requirement to have the switches labelled and as usual I was going over the top. I had spent a day or so playing with some printed options. The idea was to laser-print, cut-out and stick-on sticky-backed vinyl sheets with dashboard graphics as below…

Some unfinished dashboard graphics

Unfortunately, I ran out of time and had to go with plan-B.

Plan-B was to use a simple label printer, which worked out fine and I can either go with my graphics at a later date or, like many people, pull them off and forget about them altogether.

Indicators and Start Button labels
Dashboard lights and horn labelling

I only needed to label the switches that didn’t have any logos on, so the green light switch in the picture immediately above was sufficiently labelled already.

Wednesday December 6th – Road Trip, Rear Fog and Reverse Light IVA Treatment (1 day to IVA test)

The big day is tomorrow.

I had some time I could spare in the morning today so decided to take a trip…

Whoohoo!

The IVA test centre had called on the Monday to remind me that I needed to present the car with a full tank of fuel. The car gets weighed in the test and it needs to be fully wet. They were concerned that I hadn’t been told this when I made the appointment – Nice… considerate!

The weather was chilly but dry, so I decided to go to the local filling station about half a mile away for my first real ride in the car!

I had been threatening to take the car to the filling station for a few days. So… car out of garage, gear up for the weather and take the car out for my first short drive.

Of course I had no plates on the car and I had no appointment I could fall back on as part of the IVA test. So, if I got pulled over I was going to have to talk my way out of it. Here’s a time-lapse of the trip there.

…. and a video of the return trip, with some commentary…

No dramas on the trip, other than a police car pulling out in front of me on the way there, which meant I had to hold back to keep out of his rear-view!

Job done!

An Evening of Strife

After the first outing for fuel, tonight was about getting all the stuff together that I thought I’d need to take to the test tomorrow. In the end I took this list of stuff plus some other stuff that I’ve almost certainly forgotten about:

  • Set of metric spanners 6-19mm + 32mm, doubled up on 10,13,17 and 19mm
  • Set of imperial spanners
  • Grips, Pliers and Side-cutters
  • Hammers
  • Various tapes, including masking tape, electrical tape and self-amalgamating tape
  • 1/4″ + 3/8″ Socket Sets
  • Various screwdrivers of different types and sizes
  • Velcro in case the fuse box needed better fixing
  • Scissors
  • Stanley Knife (sort of a heavy duty craft knife for you non-UK people)
  • Lots of spare nut-caps
  • Any remaining IVA trim (of various types)
  • Remaining 5/16″ hose
  • IVA bonnet fixing caps – I was carrying them in my kit rather than on the bonnet, where they might fall off (they don’t sit very tightly on the fixings)

It looked something like this…

Tools packed ready for the IVA test

I also fired up the car and tested all the lights and switches – that’s an important statement for later!

[Note from the future (spoiler alert): I should also have taken at least an adjustable spanner and a set of spare fuses]

Anyway, back to a real job for this evening…

I was kicking my heels a bit after the prep for tomorrow, so decided I’d have a go at the IVA trim around the rear Fog Light and Reversing Light. I’d seen recent blog posts saying that IVA trim around these lights is no longer required to reduce/soften the radius on the housings – probably because the housings have changed, but I don’t know that. However, I had some time to kill and like I’ve said before… better safe than sorry… BIG MISTAKE!

I then proceeded to take off the red fog light lens from the housing…

…which promptly fell apart in my hands!!!!

Oh Crap!

Bits of rear fog light lens on the floor

Ok. Deep breath!

So… this was a BIG problem.

There was no way the car was going to pass the IVA test in 12 hours time if I couldn’t get the rear fog light operational again. It looked like someone had overtightened the lens into the housing and the sides of the lens had shattered. That wasn’t me, I hadn’t touched this assembly until this point.

But…

…what was even worse was that the two bolt-stems/tubes that actually held the lens into the housing had sheered. There was no way they were going to be usable to attempt to attach what was left of the lens back into the housing.

Crap!

I went through a few options in my mind. Were any of the local garages or auto-factors open (Noop it was about 8PM by this point). Anyone I know able to help? (Couldn’t think of anyone). Could I scavange something off one of our other two cars? (Didn’t sound promising, but possibly an option). Could I 3D print something? (Not enough time and the quality of the result wasn’t going to work… even if I could figure out how to turn clear translucent filament into red translucent filament – nah!).

The only option I could think of was to clear-epoxy the stems/tubes back into the lens, hope it would all line up again, and be transparent, if I took my time. The lens seemed to be ABS, which would take the epoxy fine, and I had a good clean break on the interface of the parts to work with. If I screwed this up then I had a problem – but it seemed to be my only option.

So, out with the rapid-set epoxy…

Rear fog light lens with bolt stems epoxied back in place
Close up of my rear fog light epoxy effort

The end result wasn’t too bad – other than I’d overdone the amount of epoxy, as usual. The epoxy had wept onto the lens a little which made the lens appear a little milky from the front. But, this was still my best option.

I carefully fitted the lens back onto the car, gingerly tightened up the screws and sat back. It was a serious hack to get to this point but not the complete disaster it could have been.

For some reason I was still prepared for more trouble this evening when I decided to still try and attach IVA trim to the fog and reversing light. This time, instead of taking the lenses out, I decided to go with my cosmetic-only approach… cut some IVA trim and glue it to the housing.

Cutting up some IVA trim

The fog light lens ended up looking like this, including the epoxy fix…

Milky fog lights with IVA trim glued on

I did a similar cut-and-glue-job on the fog light.

Ok… so… a bit of disaster this evening but I think I recovered ok. We’ll have to see if the inspector does, or does not, like my fog light repairs…. along with the dozen other items I’m worried about.

Roll on tomorrow!