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Doodle passes the MSVA test

Mighty Scared, Very Anxious

After five years of off and on building, Doodle was ready for her MSVA at the end of June. My friend Colin, a MotoGuzzi engined SuperSports builder, kindly offered to help trailer the car down to the Southampton VOSA centre for me and offer me lots of moral support. He had used Southampton for his test so knew where to go, thus making the trip there an easy trip. Nothing for me to worry about except for the pigeon sized butterflies in my stomach.

The test centre is in a modern industrial estate with huge warehouse type buildings with hard stands out front big enough to park a pantechnican or three. Doodle sat there in all that space looking quite lonely. Having spent all the build crammed into a cluttered car-port it was the first time I'd ever seen the car with space around her. She looked lovely!

Meeting my tester quickly shook me out of my dewy-eyed state. He was all business-like with a hint of sarcastic wit. Mmmm, this was going to be fun! Nerves plus a not quite adjusted clutch had me grinding gears as I drove the car hither and thither at the testers command. He was thorough in ways I hadn't imagined. Things that I thought would be contentious were not even looked at and things I thought would be fine seemed to attract his attention. Colin was amazed at the difference between our two examiners. Each seemed to focus on different areas.

After about four hours the test was done. Eight fail points. Six of them fairly minimal and two that would take a bit more time to sort. We drove home with me being in a despondent mood and Colin trying to persuade me that I'd done very well. I think I was just feeling so wrung out by the experience that I needed to just think the whole business through. The following day of course, I did feel much more enthusiastic. Mostly with the realisation that the MSVA was behind me! No more vague thoughts about what might happen. No more what ifs.

The six minor points were disposed of over that weekend. Radiusing edges, cutting back steering rack bolts, putting a more rigid fix on the fuel filler pipe and biggest of all, turning the spare wheel round one stop to hide the air valve stem under the rear lighting panel!

The two more substantial jobs were to clean up the near side disc and replace brake shoes for both near and off-side brakes. I had let brake fluid contaminate the nearside disc and hadn't noticed, hence a degraded performance on that side. Stupid really, I should have checked. The other point was his refusal to accept the seatbelt bar behind the seats. The seat cushions are thicker than standard so I needed to raise the seatbelt height. I had bought a stainless steel hand rail from a chandlers but, when I had eased a curve into it with a pipe bender I had left slight ripples on it's underside. I couldn't convince him of it's strength even though the belts only slide over it rather than being attached to it. By this time I was just too tired to argue the point. Anyway, I designed and had made a replacement which took a couple of weeks to sort out and fit.

By the end of July I was ready for the retest. I drove the car down this time and what a thrill it was! It was a lovely warm day with blue skies and a scattering of fair weather cumulus. And I could smell the sea as I passed Portsmouth! What joy! My examiner was standing in the sun waiting for me and was keen to start right away. "Pay your fees and we'll get started if you want". He seemed to be in quite a different mood from our first encounter. He checked through the car ticking as he went and within about half an hour we were done. Him with a big grin on his face and me with my pass cert and an even bigger grin on mine!

The drive back home was done rather quicker that the trip down with one or two bikers giving me the thumbs up as they passed. It took about a week to scrub the grin off my face. In fact I didn't quite manage - it's still there now!

The day after the retest we went to the DVLA office at Portsmouth with all the registration paperwork. What fun! They wanted to class it as an open topped sportscar £150 per annum until I persuaded them that as it only had three wheels ..... Then they started talking about Q plates ... So, another week of useless worrying, waiting for a call from them to ask me why they shouldn't give me a Q. Just over a week later a wonderful age-related number confirmation fell through the letterbox. What joy!

So now we're on the road and getting to know each other.

Some thoughts after building a Pembleton:

  • It's suprising what you can do if you put your mind to it.
  • The guy who invented the cleco should be given the Nobel Peace Prize.
  • Sikaflex really sticks ... and to a lot of things you didn't expect it to.
  • Time goes quickly when you're having fun but not quite as quickly when you find out too late that the paper pattern you've cut your metal to was a tad short.
  • The shower's a wonderful place for getting ideas and solving problems, especially after a frustrating day of building.
  • Ebay is a great resource for the endless stuff you can't find anywhere else.
  • How bloody good this forum is.
  • How generous Pembleton builders are.

Pete Willmin

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