The first test drive.
Updated 7th May, 2000
Finally passed SVA on 11/11/99. Finally finished, we embark on changing the head.
The car failed SVA at the first attempt, on numerous things. These included too much lock-lock steering travel, not enough clearance between sump and chassis, the atatchment of the rear subframe and the atatchment of the seats.
After fixing these, we were all set for a re-test on the 27th of July, but the speedo cable failed the day before the test. Obviously, the tight radius bend caused by running it in the tunnel was too much. Now we have to cut a hole in the side of the tunnel and try and fix it without taking the engine and gear-box out.
Failed for being over-braked, and also because the sidelights flickered when the hazard lights are operated
'Single Vehicle Approval' applies to anyone who wants to import a vehicle to Europe and more importantly, to anyone who wants to build a car themselves. The rules were only introduced in 1998, and are liable to be changed as they start to be exercised.
Until we get a pass, this section is obviously going to consist purely of my own speculation. It seems, however, that the requirement is that you submit a vehicle which meets only the letter of the law, rather than the spirit. Once you have a pass, you can then modify the car freely. Not only can you install those nice chrome toggle switches [warning, you may blind yourself if you poke yourself in the eye with the dash], you can also cram in a stereo somewhere.
Robin Hood's Advice Fit as little as possible. On the basis that 'if it's not there, it can't be tested' (c.f. MOT's and fog lights) you don't need to fit the following:
If you have a windscreen, you also need wipers & washer, and a de-mister. If you have any lights, you need the full set. This includes theindicator repeaters for side-visibility, and sidelights. Sidelights arenot included in the kit (I don't think the witing loom even caters for them at the front), but the sealed beam headlights do have provision for installingthem. Use the parts from a Mini.
Discussion with a test centre made it clear that lights are not optional(Robin Hood now admit this), and not fitting pasenger seats and windscreen would lead to the test engineer asking some searching questions about retro-fitting said items.
One item which seems rather poorly defined is a requirement for un-used seat belts to be stowed out of the way, (presumably to avoid damage and prevent injury). With a harness you might possibly get away with just fastening it tightly, or providing a fabric loop to tie each side up with. I don't think you need to go to the extent of making a bag to put it in, as is suggested by Robin Hood.
HT leads should be supressed, but do NOT need to be marked as such for an amateur build vehicle. Radio emissions will be measured, do supression does need to be effective. Good electrical connection between body and bonnet should help with this.
Sharp edges are a prime candidate for strict inspection, inside the body and also elsewhere (e.g. bonnet louvres), so cover them up. Fortunately, the underside of the car isn't checked, except around the sides.
Brakes are also liable to be carefully checked. Not only is brakingefficiency checked (shouldn't be a problem), but also braking effort required, brake peadal free travel, appropriate split system, etc.
This section is temporarily at the top, cause it's most relevant. Any errors or omissions, please let me know.
How to wire-in an ammeter or a voltmeter (Without blowing a fuse!)
Coming soon: Pics of how we modified the windscreen brackets by welding a strip of 1/4" steel to support the windscreen. Tapping holes into the aluminium channel round the windscreen would also be a good idea.
Out of interest, how many people out there have bought these and not yet finished?
At the time of writing, the New Series III had only recently been releasedby Robin Hood, and was advertised as being a complete kit, suitable for a novice constructor. All the reviews I had read of Robin Hood kits (relating to older kits) said 'great car, good value for money'.
The New Series III may appear to be a worth while investment compared withthe more traditional Robin Hood Kits, since it should save you having to salvage more parts from the donor and fabricate components, but the kit (at least in June '98) seemed to be an odd comprimise between the more usual, basic, kits and a complete 'box of parts'. Robin Hood seem to think that a kit car isn't a kit car unless it has taken at least 18 months to build, and are not prepared to do all those little things that take the time.
With a little effort, the kit could be worth buying. I have written this page to give anyone thinking of building a kit car a few ideas about what to check with the manufacturers. Hopefully, some of this will feed back to Robin Hood because I think there is a market for a cheap, simple car kit which can be built by someone with limited engineering experience. Unlikely, since customer service seems to come low on their list of prioreties.
It seems that Hobin Hood Engeering will be pulling out of the 'Lotus Seven Lookalike' market, prompted by the SVA test requirements. This is a shame, because the car is a nice concept. Maybe build it yourself is the way to go. See Clive's Carand my locost pagefor some ideas. It does take considerably longer though!
For a copy of the blurb that goes with the kit, see the
'Unofficial RH Kit CarPage'.
It appears that you get all that you need to build the car, except
your donor vehicle. You also get an 8 hour instructional video. This is what
you get for your ~£3500.
The kit is by no means complete. Although they have included some replacement parts which you may not need (at least to start with) in an attempt to make it look like a professional and well thought out product, some vital parts are missing or incomplete. I should point out that I didn't buy the kit, I just helped with the build. Prior to writing this page, one weekend was spent stripping the £350 donor vehicle and a full week of 15 hour days went into the assembly, culminating in a test drive on a private road...
I can only hope that we suffered by being one of the first teams to build a new kit. It is a shame that, if this was the case, we wern't told that we were expected to be beta-testing the product.
The video: This is introduced an an amateur production.I think this is being rather generous. The sound quality is so bad that weended up having to hook the video up to a hi-fi, and listen to several sections repeatedly to try and make out what was being said. The video also relates to the Series III and IIIa, not the New III (which is different in several places). Having bought a kit, it is rather worrying to see places where "you can do it like this and it seems to work" (most of the time for the first 1000 miles???). There are also places where "you can make this bracket using your offcuts". Offcuts from the Locost that I'm helping to build? or bits we cut off the chassis cause they look spare?
I would reccomend that to start with, you watch the last half of tape 3, which contains a number of updates and extra information.
DO NOT ATTEMPT TO LIFT THE ENGINE ANDGEARBOX USING A TATTY BIT OF ROPE TO LIFT IT.
If you think this looks dangerous, you should watch the video!
Fixings: We ended up buying a significant quantity of washers and nylock nuts, as well as a few bolts. These cost pennies, but we are provided with a new instrument cluster! Also listed in the kit parts list are drill bits. OK, so you do get 3mm and 6mm drill bits. The first section in the video covers the fitting of the rear sub-frame and mentions a 12mm bolt which needs to be drilled through the chassis and sub-frame. I guess we must have lost our 12mm drill bit from the kit.
Rear suspension Mountings: After discarding the idea of cutting off the old damper mountings from the subframe to use as mounting brackets for the coil-overs, we bought some 40x60x2.5mm steel tube, cut a hole in the side and welded two bolts in for mountings.Without access to welding gear, it would have been hard to make quite as elegant a solution.
Painting: The stainless steel does not require painting. Almost true, but RH do recommend that you at least paint over the welds on the under-side of the car, since welded stainless will rust. There are also numerous mild steel plates and brackets which will benefit from being painted. Waiting for the paint to dry was one of the things that delayed us the most.
Accurate: The stainless steel chassis is plasma cut by machine. This leaves rough edges, some of which are difficult to reach to clean up once all the welding is complete. Whilst many of these are eventually covered up, they are used during the build for access. Before you start, run over everything you can reach with a sanding disk on the angle grinder. Whilst I can forgive mis-alignment of some of the holes by 1-2mm after folding, there is no excuse for the gearbox strengthening strut and it's mounting holes not to line up. You are provided with a length of angle with 4 holes, and two alternative rows of mounting holes in the floor pans. Any one of these can be used, but you will need to drill 3 more (with the 10mm drill bit that we lost) before you can proceed. The other 7 holes must be intended for drainage.
Wiring loom: The kit comes with a new design of wiring loom, which isutter !"£$^*. Unless your donor vehicle has completelynon-electronic ignition (unlikely), then you will have to salvage at least theconnector for the engine management unit. As an indication of the size of the task, I spent 3 days working on sorting out the wiring. To start you off, (for post '88 2.0 engines) you need the relay which supplies the ESCII with power (switched by the ignition) and if you want the manifold heater relay (switched by the ESCII) It is also rather annoying that the rear lights have bullet connectors and the wiring loom also has bullet connectors. This just leaves you to make up the extra length required with cables having female bullets on each end. The fog-light switch socket rather amusingly plugs into the dashboard light dimmer module, or the intermittent wiper speed adjuster. I was not too surprised to find that neither of these give variable intensity fog lights. Speaking of which, how exactly do the fog lights mount? They are the type which hangs under the car on a little bracket (not supplied) and should soon break off.
No holes are cut in the body to allow fitting of the wiring loom, blower or fusebox (as is claimed in the documentation)
Steering Column: There is a nice hole cut for the steering column lower bush. Cutting another centered on the edge of this one, up and away from the engine seems to clear the exhaust manifold quite well. You will need to pull the end section out of the steering column to allow enough to fix into the extension at on end and the pod at the other. The pod provided in the kit will slip easily over the column, but needs to be glued on after cutting significant proportions of the column casting away.
Speedo Cable: The cable provided to replace yourperfectly good Sierra one is a little short (ok, you can bring it up throughthe transmission tunnel once you've decided where to fit the blower), and more importantly it doesn't attach to the gearbox. I wouldn't buy anything mechanical from the comedian who dreamed up the recommended method of attaching it.Using the aluminum nut on the end of the cable, with a bit ground off to accept the circlip, you are advised to buy an new circlip and use this to retain the cable. Remember, it's an internal circlip and the nut passes through it. Ours managed to fit so the nut didn't touch the circlip at all. You then drill through the casting and nut to secure it with a self tapper (oops, must have lost that one as well). My bodge was to cut off the sleeve from the old cable and slit it down the side. Slide it over the end of the new cable and retain with a jubilee clip and the original circlip. OK, you could buy a new circlip now, since it's actually doing something useful.
If you are tempted to build a Hood, my personal recommendation would be to buy the chassis (with front suspension) and GRP, and do the rest yourself.
The 'finished' Article, as of 21/6/98...
Robin Hood Owners Club
LoCost (no kit) Kit-car
New Series IIIDetails about the differences between the video and the new kitMy bit on Road Safety
My New Home Page
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This document is copyright Sean Houlihane,1998-2001, and may only be reproduced in full with acknowlegements, or referenced as a link.