Test Day!

Friday March 29th 2019 was the so-called Brexit deadline, it will however go down in history as the date my 7 was due for its Single Vehicle Assessment or S.V.A. I wonder which was going to be more successful and immediate, I wonder if the assessment of the 7 would become as ill-fated as Brexit. If you are wondering, the Isle of Man is still using the S.V.A. rather than the I.V.A. as per the UK.


I'd been reviewing Friday's weather forecast all week, praying for a clear dry day, the BBC weather app on my phone had been regularly changing the proposed forecast for Friday, so I opened the curtains on Friday morning with some trepidation, it was dry but rather overcast. Checking the app once again also confirmed it was rather chilly at about 9c. Time to wrap up warm.


Having sorted my insurance cover to drive to the test centre my plan was to avoid taking any weather equipment other than the front screen, so the dry day was aligned with my plan. I'd performed final checks the night before however still felt the need to give it the once over before backing the car out of the garage. I checked the tyre pressures, they were set at 18 psi and the additional IVA trim needed for the test was also confirmed good. I also packed plenty of tools for the test which my wife would bring in our daily driver along with snacks and drinks, we were planning for a good few hours.


My allocated test slot started at 9:00 am, and was around a 3 mile drive away, unfortunately it required driving through Governers Bridge roundabout, the TT grandstand and Bray Hill traffic lights, all notorious traffic hold ups on a morning, especially Governers Bridge as there's a relentless stream of traffic down from the Mountain as commuters make their way from Ramsey to Douglas. We didn't want to be late for the test, but equally didn't want to be too early, and of course didn't really want to sit in traffic, mainly because it would be the first drive in any form of traffic. On top of which I needed to brim the tank for the test, so a pit stop in Onchan at Corkill's petrol station was required. If you're wondering I am name dropping here for the benefit of my readership that visits the Isle of Man.


By 7:59 am the car was sat on the driveway ready to go.

Ready for the drive to the test centre

We sat around in the house for awhile debating the exact time to leave but eventually settled on leaving early, so left around 8:10 am.


The drive to the petrol station was straightforward enough, along with filling with fuel, although the car was already starting to gain some glancing looks. Once fuelled it was on towards the test centre, we were held up as expected at Governers Bridge which took some time to get through. Bray Hill lights weren't too bad, and the car caught the attention of chap in the lane alongside me who thought the car was very cool. We arrived at the test centre at about 8:40 am, where I parked the car in one of the allotted lanes for inspection. A few minutes after we arrived a bus also arrived, which was to be inspected, and it proceeded to park next to the 7, that was my first real glimpse of how small these cars are!

At the test centre up arrival.

Size comparison with a bus.....

When booking the test I'd spoken at length with the staff in the test centre which also acts as vehicle licensing department about all the required paperwork needed and so I'd arrived well prepared. It was therefore a simple case of booking in and waiting for the assessor to arrive outside. The assessor arrived at about 9:05 am and by 9:08 am we were underway. The chap was super interested in the car and happy to be assessing the 7, it gave me a fantastic vibe from the outset.


The assessor asked me to drive the car into the first bay or assessment area where the brakes, handbrake, suspension and lights would be tested. He also asked if I would operate the car during the test. While I was eager to do this, I must admit it did increase the pressure somewhat, to the point I couldn't decide which was dip and full beam, how embarrassing!

First was the lights, which of course all worked fine, however the headlights weren't aligned appropriately. The assessor was totally happy for me to grab my 24mm spanner and slacken the retaining nut, I was amazed at how helpful he was. We aligned each light and retested until the car was satisfactorily aligned. The assessor was so amazing, even when I struggled to get the second light tight again!


Next came the suspension and brake rollers. Again the car aced it, although the assessor did comment the nearside handbrake was slightly weaker than the offside, but still within tolerance. It was rather nerving driving the car in and out of the recessed mechanisms used to test the vehicle, especially since I was still getting used to the clutch.


The assessor then asked me to drive the car to the bottom of the shed where I jumped out and he continued the assessment, this time inspecting the 7 from above and below.


The assessor diligently went over the car reviewing all aspects while discussing the build with me, asking me lots of probing questions related to the build. I'm not sure whether he was testing me, but here on the Isle of Man we don't have the self-build declaration, so I'm not sure if it was related to that, or whether he was testing to see how I'd approached certain things. We talked about the front uprights, how they were shipped assembled and how they needed grease and so forth.


The assessor commented on the fact the car's suspension wasn't balanced at rest, I confirmed the car had been corner weighted for my body weight and so lifted on the driver's side suspension when no occupants were present, he was happy with this. Unfortunately the assessor discovered the front suspension locking rings were not sufficiently tight, I'm not sure whether this was due to any settlement from the corner weighting or just oversight, there was an alignment mark present on the rings so I'm not sure what had happened. The assessor seemed happy for the locking rings to be nipped up, however I didn't bring any c-spanners, not that any were provided by Caterham. Luckily another assessor came to the rescue and went to look for a set in the bike test area and he came back with a set. The assessor even nipped them up for me! Amazingly helpful!


The assessor was hugely complimentary of my build and Caterhams in general. Before I knew it the test was over and we'd passed. The whole process had been quite enjoyable and not what I'd anticipated, friendly and engaging at all points, a complete joy!

PASS !!!

At this point the assessor went off to generate the S.V.A. certificate, once provided we took the paperwork to the lovely ladies in the registration office.


I'd previously spoken to a very helpful lady whom it turned out knew my wife, and she'd helped throughout the process especially sorting out what was required to avoid the dreaded Q plate. The same lady picked up the process and helpfully took my part filled forms and Caterham paperwork, returning some 10 minutes later having registered the 7 onto my cherished plate. Given it was the 29th March there was some discussion as to whether to wait until April to tax the 7, however I couldn't wait so we paid the tax and the kind lady asked we return in an hour to pick up the log book and tax disc.


As I knew what registration number would be going on the 7 having used a cherished plate we decided to drive the 7 home and fit pre-made plates while waiting for the log. We'd then drive back up in the daily car, grab the tax disc and log book once available, before returning home for to fit the tax disc and hopefully go out for a quick run in the 7. Tested, registered and tax and in a day!


Once home I fitted the rear plate using typical sticky pads supplied locally with number plates, making sure to avoid the decals. For the front I used a single run of 3M SJ387B Dual Lock Reclosable Fastener, 25 mm, all the way along the flat section just below the grill. The 3M fastener is similar in action to velcro, but more like a stickle brick in construction. So far it seems to have done a fantastic job. The solution was recommended on Blatchat as it provides sufficient support to retain the plate, but will give in an impact from say a speed bump, and thus avoid damage to the nose cone. I suspect it might be handy on a trackday if I want to quickly remove the plate for additional cooling.


Once we'd collected the tax disc it was out for a first proper drive. We made a quick picnic and headed on a 5 mile drive to Laxey for mid afternoon tea, thankfully the weather had improved.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my 29th March 2019, I'm sure it's more enjoyable than watching Brexit unravel, and at least my 7 passed.


There are some remaining build posts I need to compose, mostly interior stuff, like seats, carpet and tunnel cover. I hope to find time soon to complete those.


My intention is to continue the blog under the '7 Life Post Build' section bringing an interesting insight into ownership of my 7 and of course my Exige and Teg... but mainly 7 content. All the best for now and thanks for reading.

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Meet Mark
Loves cars, light weight specials, jDM, Lotus, Caterham, Rallying and Trackdays