IVA test success!


Just a quick update to say that my IVA was this Wednesday, and I asked BookaTrack to process it for me. I dropped the car off early Monday morning, after completing the PBC list of workshop notes, and BaT fixed the other faults that I couldn’t (Oil pressure gauge, shift light not working).

I’m pleased to say that it passed and I have the VOSA test certificate in my hands. I picked up the car and it’s now back in my garage awaiting the next step. All of this has been made much easier by having my own trailer, and BaT have stored it when I’ve dropped my car off each time.


Unfortunately I assumed that I could pick up a DVLA licensing form (V55/4) either from a Post Office or download from the DVLA web site.

I just checked this tonight, and regret not checking a week or so back. You have to fill in an online form to request the shipping of the V55/4 form. And there is a 7-10 days lead time stated on the web site.

I am suddenly really frustrated. It would have been good to have been informed of this process, so I’m warning all of you self-builders now!

You need to go to to the DVLA form request site and select “V55/4 Application for first vehicle tax and registration of a new motor vehicle” once you have pressed the big green button to “Start Now”.

There isn’t really a bright side to my faux pas here, but if there was it would be that I now have a few weeks to complete a few remaining tasks.

Remaining tasks

  1. Remove all IVA rubber trim I was forced to super glue to the car – horrid stuff, looks worse on a white car.
  2. Perform oil change (rom the special running in oil, directly to the Millers 5W/50 that came with the kit
  3. Attach Thundersport half hood
  4. Fix door mirrors correctly (to the doors as opposed to the windscreen as per IVA request)
  5. Remove all dashboard stickers (IVA request)
  6. Remove any other pieces of superfluous rubber bungs, bolt head caps
  7. Remove windscreen and fit my existing aeroscreen
  8. Fit number plates in anticipation!
  9. Swap front mesh and Caterham 7 badge grille over (IVA requirements that mesh is in front of grille)
  10. Consider painting the number 7 in white and the rest in black. Not sure yet, I will see what I think when I swap the mesh and grille over.
  11. Sit in the garage on an evening and wait for the moment it’s registered and road legal 😉


Running in and Paint Protection

Running in @ Northampton Motorsport

I took my car to NMS based on recommendations from BlatChat and, as previously mentioned Derek Clarke, who is doing the same with his build, and thats another track orientated car. I thought it would be a good idea from a peace of mind perspective, knowing that the moment I have the car registered and on the road and track I can simply “go for it”. Its also a good stress test in a controlled environment, as its checked over during the process, and far better to have a problem at this point as opposed to on the road.

So last Wednesday I trailered it down to NMS in early rush hour and left it in the capable hand of Troy, who runs NMS, whilst I sat in the back of my S-Max and worked on my laptop using the wifi.

I did hang around and natter to Troy for the first 15-30 mins or so, but the excitement wore off rapidly, as it’s ultimately quite a tedious job, and almost as bad as watching paint dry for any spectator!

I did take a quick video and a few photos, and most importantly, once the main job was completed, Troy provided me with a full power and torque trace, shown below.

I was slightly miffed that it didn’t record a max of 210 BHP, but 204 is close, and it was both a warm day and a brand new engine. Tory implied that given 1000 miles and a little loosening up, it would report 5+ BHP more. Most importantly, this is a torque curve my old K series would be envious of. Pretty much a flat line all of the way through.


Around 3 hours later, I had strapped the car back onto the trailer and I was on the way home, in time for lunch.

If you want to see why I went and sat in the car park and got on with my own work, enjoy a minute of Troy on video:

Premier Paint Guard

My old car had 3M paint protection, and I knew that I wanted to go down the same route, as once peeled off 12 years later, the paint work on my old car was in perfect condition underneath the protective layer.

Technology has moved on a little too, and whilst the 3M protection is still available, another option is available from Suntek. My next door neighbour Andrew has this on his car (R8), and the moment I saw it, I knew that this was the option to go for, as its self-healing and considerably thinner than the 3M option.

Dave from Premier Paint Guard came around to our house on Friday, just two days after the NMS visit. I was up very early to give my car it’s inaugural wash before I started my working day. Literally I was out washing the car at 7:30 and in the rain! I pushed it back into the garage to dry and was done and dusted my 8:45am, just in time for my normal working day.

Dave turned up at 2pm, and Steph was at home to make him a few cups of tea as I sat welded to my work computer until 4:30pm. Pretty perfect timing, as the job was just about complete, and looked amazing. I know I could have saved a bit of money doing this myself, but I have seen other self-builders have the odd challenge. My opinion on this was to “get the professionals in” and pay for a great service. It was the right decision for me, and Dave is awesome at his job, and a very nice bloke too.

He recommends removing the exhaust, not fitting the nose cone badge, and ideally even not fitting the rear stone guards. I had fitted all of these, and he worked around the exhaust and stone guards. However, he did whip off the badge with some super fine string to cut through the glue, and refitted it properly afterwards. Maybe more of a pain for him was the exhaust, but it was completed in place with no issue. Start to finish 2.5 hours.

PBC results

I got my car back from Post Build Check (PBC) with a list of faults to rectify. I was told (thanks Greg) that my car was a good build, and the fault list is mainly adding trim and caps specifically for the IVA.

But there were a few build issues, so let’s document those first.

Build Issues or faults to rectify

  1. My shift light (single light middle of dash) doesn’t work – Caterham BaT to fix
  2. Oil pressure and water temp gauges not working – I reported this, but during PBC there was no time to diagnose and fix – Caterham BaT to fix
  3. My Clutch stop is loose – me to adjust, a 2 minute job
  4. Engine earth to the bell housing is too close to exhaust primary no. 4 – quick fix, move to another bolt head around the bell housing
  5. Too many washers on rear flexible brake hose (union tightening up on lock nut) – sure I did this exactly as build guide, but something I can fix whilst trying not to lose any brake fluid.
  6. Door hinge pins should be on doors, not stanchions – daft error on my part, I knew this, but still put them on the wrong way around, easy fix.
  7. Coolant and oil level low – simple to add more of both, was told oil level needs to be up to the baffle you can see in the oil tank, but apparently needs to be a little over this. Every time I start the car, the coolant level goes down a little, just air poets working themselves out of the system.
  8. Upper steering rod is rusty – it went in not rusty, but it now is. Other than squirting fairy liquid on it to get it through the two collars, it’s just sat there in the car and rusted over a month by itself, in a cool, dry garage – Caterham agreed to replace.

IVA Checklist items still to sort

Caterham dealers have an IVA checklist sheet, one for each IVA test centre they use because there are differences in each centres approach, which is mad, but true!

Items I have to do specifically for Nottingham IVA centre that I either haven’t done, or wasn’t aware of are:

  1. Rubber IVA trim – I need some added to edges of knee panels
  2. I have to properly glue down the rubber IVA trim around the indicator pods, front wings and wishbone cut outs. I knew this, but was trying to get away with it. The moment it passes IVA is the moment I rip ALL of the horrible black rubber trim off the car, so it would have been easier to do so without it all being super glued. Apparently I cant get away with this. Bah humbug!
  3. Bolt caps – I forgot to add a plastic bolt cap to the lower wishbone upright suspension bolt
  4. Bolt caps – I have to add a small cap to the bung holes in the rear bottom of the front shocker bolts
  5. Cat spring hooks – the metal sharp bits of the catalytic converter spring mounts need a little piece of washer hose fitting over the ends
  6. Side repeaters – I have to feed washer tube over side repeater wiring on the wing stay through the side skin where it could chafe.
  7. Add scuttle trim to leading edge of catalyst guard – I knew this and forgot…
  8. Inside balance pipe bolt – a bolt needs a cap on the inner side of the twin pot callipers
  9. ARB Gaiter – I need two more ARB gaiters to cover the top ball joints on the suspension.
  10. Inertia Switch wiring – I need to secure now the inertia switch wiring, the only wire I haven’t tidied up in the engine bay – needs covering with rubber tubing or insulation tape in addition to being cable tied.
  11. Secure handbrake cable with off cuts of rubber coolant pie and cable ties where it sits against the chassis and could rub
  12. Remove doors and hinges – apparently it wont pass with doors attached!
  13. Mirrors mounted via IVA stalks on the top hole on the side of the windscreen – I mounted mine on the middle hole, simply following assembly guide…
  14. I have to label the dashboard switches with temporary sticky labels.

So in fact I’m very pleased, as there really was nothing significant to fix, as you can see!

I can handle all of the items in both lists in a couple of hours, and will do so over the weekend.

Next stage is Northampton Motorsport for rolling road running in session – I drop the car off at 8am next Wednesday morning (17th August). Will report back after that.

Oh and I am currently arranging Premier Paint Guard (Dave) to come and fit the paint protection film – agreed a price, just sorting a date.





Full Video of Build!


For the duration of the build I have been using my GoPro to take a fixed photo every 60 seconds. Every time I walked into the garage I made sure that it was on and recording photos, and it felt like I was spending more time cycling 3 batteries in and out of camera and charger at times!

I exported all images out of the “Photos” app on our home Mac into sequential numbered files. I then used some software called “Stop Motion Studio” to recompose the shots into video files. I couldn’t use “iMovie” which comes built into OSX because it only allows a minimum of 0.1 seconds between shots, and that would have made for a very long and tedious video. I played around with Stop Motion Studio settings and settled on 15 frames per second, as anything faster and you lose the ability to see much of the work. Any slower and it creates a movie that’s too long for most people to be bothered to watch.

I struggled a little with this software because you cant just dump 5000+ photos at it and get it to work. It brings up spurious error messages that I eventually worked out relate to “Out of Memory” issues. So in the end I broke it all down into 1000 picture “chunks” of videos.

It then wouldn’t recompose the 6 video files output into one without re-sequencing the video frames incorrectly. This was beginning to drive me insane until I googled and found out that “QuickTime”, part of OSX, allows you to merge video files together. So I merged all 6 video files I’d created earlier, and ended up with a 5 minute 51 second video output of the total build.

Accurate build timings

I created 5257 photos at 60 second intervals, so my previous estimate of 95 hours total elapsed build time is actually too high. In total 5257 photos equates to just under 88 hours build, which I’m really pleased with.

Completed car photos


Complete “Stop Motion” video of the build

If you have just under 6 minutes to waste, then I hope that you enjoy the following video, I know that I will keep looking back on this in years to come with very fond memories of the process of assembling my own car. I simply can’t wait to get it through its PBC and IVA, and get some number plates on.

My next post will be a review of this process, so hopefully within the next 2 weeks.



Summary – final thoughts on the build


I’ve really enjoyed everything about the build. I started off not sure how hard it would be, or even whether I was capable, being an IT geek as opposed to a mechanic. The reality is that anyone with a basic understanding of cars and a spanner can achieve this.

And it’s massively rewarding, one of the most enjoyable things I have ever achieved, and a learning journey along the way. The build guide is shortly being updated to be more detailed, with much better exploded diagrams and instructions. But I don’t mind one jot.

I posted on BlatChat that actually the challenge of deciphering the instructions is part of the fun. If it was too easy, then it would be less rewarding. To encounter a sub assembly in the guide and not have enough pictures, alongside tragically badly written text is reason to communicate with others who have been, or are on, the same journey and forge new relationships.


I took 14 days, simple as that. My days ranged from 5 hours to 10 hour long slog-athons, but on average I worked a 7 hour day. Didn’t want to kill myself, or never see family or friends during. I therefore took 98 hours from start to finish, although I still haven’t processed the GoPro photos I took automatically every 60 seconds – this will be the most accurate recording of elapsed time.


Currently there are 3 others that are building (or have just built) pretty much identical cars. Each of them have added to my fun, and I hope they feel the same.

In no particular order, I call out:

Derek Clarke, a chap I met very randomly at the AutoSport show in January, on the Racelogic VBox stand. He was asking questions about fitting a VBox to a new build Caterham, I was stood right behind him dreaming of the same, my ears pricked up and I introduced myself. Turns out that his 420R kit was arriving around the same time as mine. We have helped each other out a bunch of times via email, and I know that he has been reading my warbling diatribe here. Thanks Derek, and all the best completing yours!

Dan Smith, met on Facebook, new to Caterham’s, and therefore at the time not event a L7C club member or had probably even heard of BlatChat. Someone who actually knows what he is doing, as he works for JLR (in an engineering capacity) and I am pretty sure built his car in record time with his eyes closed. His kit arrived after mine, but he managed to complete way before. The kind of guy who seems to get up at 5am and put in 3 hours build time before even going to work. far too committed for me, and although this kind of behaviour is normally a warning sign that you have just met a looney, he actually appears quite normal. He may read this, hence my cheekiness. Helped me a lot by sending pictures of random parts and assemblies, and only ever took the piss when I tried to fit the hub carrier the wrong way around… I would have been worse if it was the other way around…

Simon Calvert, met on Facebook, appeared to be friendly with Dan prior. So transpires that either Dan or Simon is the male equivalent of “single white female”, as they are copy cat 420R build mates. Slightly less scarily mechanically robot like with his build performance, but equally helpful. I’d like to think that I’ve had moments where I’ve helped him out too! He also completed his car before me, but all of the above are in a wait state for IVA test right now.

I am hoping that we can all meet up as the “class of Spring/Summer 2016 420R builders”, you never know. A blat or a track day…


I met Craig Bramley at a L7C intro to sprinting day in 2010 and we have been really good friends since. He and Paul Browne (an even older mate, met through Salsa dancing with his wife!) are top notch friends and both have helped me out during my build. Both were here to help with the engine, and then on and off throughout both have been here for me for other build work. Thank you both so much, love you dearly, as you have made the journey much more sociable and fun, and all the hard bits were easier shared!

I raise a beer to the other guys, let’s hope we all get through IVA soon!

Can’t wait to be back on track with Craig and Paul….

Addendum: Steph, my wonderful wife read this and reminded me of her assistance. She mopped my brow, listened to general ‘man chat’ (very tedious) and made many cups of tea. Also fed and watered Craig and Paul when they came around. Much love to her xx


Day 14: Completion, final brake bleed, 1st Drive


I wanted to start a new page for the momentous occasion of “first drive”, but its important to say that this is still Day 14 of the build and the final day. I have nothing else to do other than wait for the PBC (post Build check) which is 10th August, so next Wednesday. After that, I have it booked into Northampton Motorsport on 17th August for rolling road running in cycle with the current Mineral oil I used.

And I received a confirmation email letting me know that my IVA had been processed and that I could now phone them up and pay the £450. I applied online on 15th July, so its taken a little time, but the person who processes the applications has been off on summer holiday!

I will pay on Monday 8th and hope that I get a Z number and a test date in August. Book a Track are processing it through the test for me.

Final Brake Bleed

But I have got ahead of myself a little. I bought another litre of brake fluid because I had two small leaks and a floppy brake pedal and wanted to have another crack at getting it right. Paul popped over for an hour or two to help with the bleed and to come for a first drive.

It didn’t take long to bleed the brakes, washing another half a litre through the system and removing quite a bit of air in the process. The brake pedal is definitely coming to me now, which is good.

1st Drive

I’m lucky in that I live at the bottom of a long private road, and therefore I can drive up and down without fear of being caught driving an unregistered car on the Queens highway.

So we both strapped in, and my youngest daughter Lucy (10) recorded the video on her iDevice. The video is funny because of this, as you could sense the moments she was bored or away with the fairies. To be fair though, she kept it running all the time.

The first hitch was that we couldn’t get off the drive with the ballast on board, as the car grounded. I live on a little estate of 5 houses, with 3.5 built and an unfinished road, so its a bit of a drop off the kerb as the road is unfinished. My old car made this OK, and the new one just about did, but only after the passenger ballast exited the vehicle 😉

Enjoy the vid!


Day 14: Doors, mirrors, IVA trim


The hood is really good for one thing, and that’s lining up the doors correctly. I used duct tape over the roof and half way down the doors in 3 strips, once I’d got the positioning right.

In effect, the roof has a door sealing channel. The front part of the door goes inside of this channel, and the back part, after the triangular cut out, goes outside of the channel.

Once the hinges were attached to the window frame it was straightforward marking two drill points on the doors themselves. The trusty awl came out to mark an indentation in the steel bar that runs inside the door frame part of the door, and I drilled 5mm holes, but first with a smaller pilot bit.

Once attached back on the car there is a little fine adjustment you can make on the window frame hinge holes. I needed to do this on both sides to stop the doors from drooping a little too much.

Then the escutcheon brackets could be lined up exactly, meaning I could finally drill through them and complete the riveting along the inner lower door edge.

The final holes to drill in the car are for the rear straps for the doors, fixed using a Duradot fastener via yet another rivet into a chassis tube!


It’s a bit annoying, but everyone has to jump through the same hoops. Basically, the mirrors should be mounted to the doors, allowing for the doors to swing fully open against the bonnet. However, to pass IVA, the mirrors need to be mounted to a stalk that is attached to the window frame. Once its passed the test, I can revert back to the more typical mounting. Until then, every time you open the door, it hits the mirror.

It’s a simple fitting, but the only problem is that my mirror stalks did not fit over their mounting bolts. The inner diameter of the hole was too small.

So I gripped each mounting stalk in my vice between two pieces of wood, and drilled out the hole a little.


IVA Trim

Oh my god, the easiest jobs are sometimes the most painful. Fitting IVA trim around the fog and reversing lights is not easy. There is not really a big enough gap around either to be able to make it all of the way around each.

I tried with the lenses off, and on, then partially on. In the end I settled for “almost” screwed in, and with lots of rubber lubricant. It does make a positive difference. Having said that, on each of my lights, one side was so tight that even this wouldn’t work, so I trimmed the rear edge of the trim, and used a fair amount of super glue to finish the job.

I lost an hour of my life on what should have been a 5 minute job…

Some of the other IVA trim I am going to have to check with Caterham. The exhaust trim and bolt head protector caps were straightforward, as were 2 of the front suspension caps. But the other bolt heads that need to be covered did not seem to have a cap size that fitted. So I have ignored these temporarily.

I heard that the wing repeater light cable needs a grommet (or rubber protection) around its exit point out of the wing stay. Thanks to a photo from Simon Calvert, I also used a little washer hose cable tied to it.

IMG_2154I seem to be missing the front bonnet catch protectors, but have added the rear ones. Things for the bin immediately after a successful test result!


Here is the exhaust protection, I used scuttle trim and 3 caps:

And then some caps to protect the brake hose connectors as they enter the side skins. Or to protect a pedestrian from injury if their body was to go through the gap between the front spring and upper wishbone…

And then finally I filed a chamfer on the 4 leading edges of the wiper blades. Once I’d done that, I applied a little smooth black Hammerite over the bare metal I had filed down to.

Wing Protection

After owning my previous Caterham for years, I picked on a couple of star cracks on the rear wheel arches due to sharp stones sticking to warm tyres and being flung off and literally smashing a crack that appears through the gel coat on the outer wing surface.

So I decided a long time ago that I would apply some form of stone chip protection. I used Dinitrol 445 based on a few others recommendation. I sprayed it into a bowl, and then used a pain brush to apply to the underside of each wing. I used most of a bottle on all wings, so hopefully enough. I may reapply a further layer, and have a spare bottle. It basically dries to a rubberised coating, and is very thin but allegedly protects. Time will tell!


Day 13: Front Wings, Hood, Tonneau


Front Wings

After not feeling confident about sticking the wings on yesterday I decided, after a little overnight thinking, to fashion a measuring device from the aluminium bar I removed from the boot cover. I folder the end of it over and measured 75mm from the centre line of the front wing stay to a pen mark on the measuring stick. The reason for 75mm is because Derek told me that so long as the front edge of the wing is over the leading edge of the wheel rim (note rim, not tyre) then it will pass IVA. However, the factory cars are all done with a 75mm measurement as above.

With the home made measuring stick, I could easily slide the bar under the wing stay and move it left to right, keeping my eye on the pen mark. It made the job really simple.


I used Sikaflex 521 to bond the wings to the sanded down wing stays, but just before doing that I used a rivet to attach the earth wire to the hole I drilled under the stay, and also fed the live wire through the hole in the stay, but not before first applying heat shrink to this wire, as the build guide states.

Before I got the glue out, I tested the wing repeaters and they both worked fine.

A big sausage of Sikaflex on the stay front and rear, and then press down and re-measure. When I was happy I taped the wings into place against the tyres, and then applied lots more Sikaflex to each side of the stay, donned some rubber gloves and smoothed a more aerodynamic shape around each bar. Left it all to dry overnight and lo and behold, Sikaflex sets like rubberised concrete!

Hood and Tonneau

A job that I wasn’t looking forward to. In fact it wasn’t so bad, just a day full of poppers, drilling and hammering using the Duradot tool.

There were only two painful moments, but these occurred when I hammered my thumb! Craig popped over to help, as it’s a little easier to stretch the hood, check both sides and mark the popper base location.

Just as with the boot cover, I used a few strips of masking tape to mark the location of poppers once the bases were in place.

The only moments of stress come when you have to drill holes in the side skin then through into chassis tubes for the Tonneau, but the assembly guide gives very exact measurements. I used lots of masking tape and I got all holes started by tapping an awl with a mallet. The side skin is so thin, you can make a really good start point for your drill.

Weirdly I never took a photo of the hood or tonneau attached. The hood is already bagged up neatly in my loft. I’m highly unlikely to use it. The only time in recent years in my old car where I wished I had it was in torrential downpour on the French autoroute on the way to Le Mans. Biblical levels of rain and flooding, and the half hood was never going to cope. But other than that one trip, my old half hood was amazing.

So I have ordered a new one, but instead of via Soft Bits for Sevens, this time around I elected for the Thundersport version. For one reason, based on experience. The rear side mounting point on the SBFS variant is on top of the double popper base (first popper for the boot). Mine always used to fly off from here whilst driving.

The Thundersport version has a mounting that sits under the rear FIA roll over bar mount point, so its impossible to come loose. Let’s hope that I have made the right decision!

The tonneau is regularly used, and will spend its life in the boot, protecting against prying eyes and the elements when parked in aero screen mode.

I didn’t have a full day to be able to work on the car today, so I wrapped up quite satisfied that I’d not slipped with the drill and destroyed the side skin, and that I’d fitted the hood and tonneau well (i.e. no baggy, sagging bits and very tight).