The next job was to prep for the chassis paint. I removed the fire extinguisher pipes, the brake bias adjuster, the ARB adjuster and unscrewed the steering column and the dash panel from the chassis. I then spent a while with masking tape and newspapers followed by some polythene sheeting.
Once the chassis was painted I gave the rear valance another coat as it was still a bit scruffy n places and I’d got a couple of runs in the first coat. Once I’d given the paint 48 hours to harden I got all the masking off again. One of the IVA requirements that has been giving me a bit of a headache is the lower edge of the dash. Currently it’s a square steel 25mm box section, IVA requires a 19mm radius or less if it’s padded. I had initially thought about making a GRP moulding but discarded this idea as it seemed like too much work! My next plan was to bend a strip of aluminium soi it could be fixed to the bottom edge of the chassis rail and bend it to give the required radius. I then came up with the idea of planing/sanding a piece of wood to use as a former to bend the aluminium. It was only when I got a suitable piece of wood in my hand that I realised I was being a silly boy and that the easy thing to do was just plane up the strip of wood and fix that onto the rail.
So after half an hour with the plane and some sandpaper I had a strip of wood with a nice radius on it. I cut it to fit each side of the steering column mounts (this area’s exempt anyway), drilled it and fixed it with self tappers. With that done I took it off again to finish it. I was thinking of painting it but decided covering it in vinyl would be a whole heap quicker. It actually looks quite passable
I’d dropped the ride height even lower than normal for the Birkett, less than 70mm. Even at the RGB regulation 75mm there’s little chance of getting it on the VOSA ramp and rollers so I slackened off the pull rod locknuts and screwed the rods to their shortest. It actually got the car higher than I expected, about 120mm. It looks a bit ridiculous but hey ho.
On to electrical stuff next. I removed the little aluminium sub-dash that sits to the right of the steering wheel and made a new one. Into this I fitted my ignition lock and a momentary push button. The ignition switch is required as part of the IVA security requirements, the push button is to test the low brake fluid warning. The DigiDash has an input specifically for this purpose and it didn’t take long to wire in the button along with the 2 terminals on the fluid reservoir lid.
Then I had to abandon play at lunchtime on Friday for a trip to London. When I got back on Sunday afternoon I got on with wiring in the immobiliser. This was another job that I thought could potentially take ages but in the end didn’t take much more than an hour. Here’s a shot of the new mini dash with ignition lock and immobiliser transponder thingy along with the button for testing the brake fluid warning light.
There are some complex rules around steering columns, basically it’s not thought to be a good idea if a frontal impact pushes the steering column back into your chest. Nor for you to fly forwards and impale yourself on a steering wheel that doesn’t give. I think I’ve already clearly demonstrated that in a heavy frontal impact the steering column doesn’t move backwards! Firstly the steering rack is actually behind the rather substantial 30mm thick billet aluminium bulkhead, then even if that does move the steering column traverses the cockpit diagonally at a fairly acute angle. However when I spoke to the inspector he was keen to see some form of mechanism for the upper column to collapse in the event of the driver being thrown forward. So I bought a collapsible boss from Europa spares. Of course it wouldn’t fit on the existing holes drilled in the steering wheel so I had to drill 3 more 4mm holes. An hour or so early on Monday morning saw the new boss securely bolted between the steering wheel and the QR boss. I don’t think the QR boss itself should be an issue, my Ultima was fine with one.
On Monday evening I started to feel like I was running out of time! With a half day on Tuesday I still had quite a bit of time but the to do list was still quite long. I got the seat and harnesses fitted (some horrid 4 point E marked ones) along with the headrests. Here’s a pic of the passenger headrest – it’s longer than the driver’s so it would span the roll cage tubes to fix it.
Tuesday was a busy day – I tried to do everything on the chassis before refitting the bodywork – sorting out the last bits of wiring, making sure the fog light would only come on with dipped beam, making sure the hazards worked etc. I uploaded the IVA map for the Power Commander and reprogrammed the DigiDash to get rid of the lap timing screens etc. I made up and riveted on a manufacturer’s plate, removed the masking from the VIN and stuck some clear lacquer over that. I locked off the brake bias bar with a roll pin and some lockwire along with fitting a sticker warning of the dire consequences of adjusting the brake bias, also a DOT 4 only sticker near the fluid reservoir.
Finally I was ready to refit the bodywork. The sidepods went on first followed by the rear cover. I could then check the valance alignment before refitting all the lights to it. I also added a number plate light and a pair of reflectors then the whole assembly got bolted on. I refitted the front cover and reconnected the lights to discover one of the headlights was dead. I thought it would be a loose wire somewhere but it turned out to be the bulb, so at 5pm I had to brave the rush hour traffic to get to Halfords. Fortunately it seems the bulb in my projector lamps is a common enough fitment so they had them in stock. Once back I got that fitted and tested. Next job was to trim the sharp edges. I glued some rubber U channel around the edge of the rear spoiler brackets and taped that in place.
This was followed by rubber edging strip around the dash apertures, the DigiDash bracket and the top edges of the air intakes on the front bodywork. The bodywork then got a quick clean and a tank full of fuel and she was pretty much ready to go.