NEWSLETTER SEVEN: MARCH 2003. FINALLY BACK ON THE AIR: Bloody annoying things computers. All I was trying to do was lead a simple life up in the hills, picking the banjo on the front veranda and putting out the odd newsletter. But no, nothing is that simple when you deal with a computer. Suddenly my life is full of frozen screens, messages saying, “ you have performed an illegal operation and this computer will now be shut down” and shrinking mailing lists. Finally the damn thing fried some vital part and ceased to operate all together. There are no doubt, entire communities in the good ole U.S of A. who believe that the computer is the work of Satan. Their arguments would have won me over during December and January!! LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL? Victorian Locosters, along with those in NSW are amongst the most harshly treated in the country re engine choices allowed for ICV’s. Both of these states require the Locost builder to have an engine from a 2003 Australian delivery vehicle or one meeting 1999 Euro two specs. ADR emissions rulings relate only to new cars, it is up to the individual state road authorities as to what level of emission compliance they demand of an ICV. In Victoria and NSW the relevant authorities view a Locost as a new vehicle, therefore we are stuck with each new car emission up date. We can look wistfully across the pond to England, muttering darkly about how easy the Poms have got it, until we’re purple in the face and we’ll never get anywhere. However, it seems things might change, at least for Victorians. Apparently VICROADS are considering making the engine requirement for an ICV, any fuel injected, unleaded fuel engine. Now that would be a huge step in the right direction. It would open up engine choice to all the popular engines of the past, eg. Toyota 4AGE and Nissan SR20. Build cost and complexity would be reduced immensely. We badly need a sympathetic change like this one or the future is not all that bright for the home car builder. Previous to the current ADR 79.00, which came into place on 1st Jan. 2003, we were subject to ADR 37.01, which began in 1997. Back in 1997 the introduction of ADR 37.01 caused the same sort of consternation, as has the introduction of the latest emission ruling. I had started a build then and I shelved it, reasoning that a 1997 Australian delivery motor would cost an arm and a leg. There was also the fact that no one knew much about most of the new batch of 1997 engines; were they reliable, what north south gearboxes bolted up to them,etc. There were several major differences between the 1997 and 2003 regs. I restarted my build when I found that in addition to a 1997 Australian delivery motor, I could also use a motor that complied with 1992 U.S.A. emissions. I was then able to use an AE92 Toyota Corolla 4AGE engine from a 1992 Japanese import. The EPA had overlooked specifying that LPG had to meet ADR 37.01, so putting an older type carby engine on straight LPG was yet another avenue for the Locost builder to avoid having to buy a 1997 Australian delivery engine. Even the 1997 Australian delivery option became more realistic as the years rolled on and these engines became more plentiful and cheaply priced. Things are vastly different this time. Firstly, the straight LPG loophole has been slammed shut, LPG cars must meet the same level of emissions as the unleaded fuel versions. Secondly, we have no mention of alternative year U.S.A. emissions, in its place we have 1999 onwards Euro Two emissions and that one will need some investigation. The vast majority of engines used under the old 1992 U.S.A. clause, were not from the USA but from Australian based Japanese engine importers. To prove compliance it had to be shown that the engine that came out of the scrapped Japanese vehicle was the same emissions level as the engine that was used in the USA The same process would have to be gone through with the 1999 Euro Two engines. Chris from Ceedra Services mentioned that he drove a Ford Focus 1.6 litre, last time he was in Europe and it impressed him greatly. I can’t be sure but the engine could well have been the Zetec engine, which is used in many UK kit cars. I presume Euro Two type cars would be found in the EEC countries, namely Great Britain and the major western European nations. I’ll try to find out more detail, but suffice to say, don’t bother importing a motor from a Transylvanian Auto Union “Roota” or such like. Sorry about the momentary lapse, but writing these articles on emissions law is like wading through quicksand. The last and biggest problem we face is that of time. The next update of new car emissions law is due in January 2005. Six years went by between emissions updates last time, this time we have two!! In other words we have next to no time for motors to become cheaper or to sort out what’s what. If Victorian car builders are subjected to this sort of legislation, then it is fairly obvious what will happen, there will be virtually no kit cars or home built cars completed here in the future. So what can we do? I think it is imperative that we gather some data about the numbers of people either building or thinking about building any sort of ICV’s in Victoria and petition VICROADS letting them know of our numbers and concerns. This is not just a Locost builders problem, it concerns every kit car builder and manufacturer, be it Cobra or GT40 Fords, Madisons, MG2000 or whatever, everybody is in the same boat. If you have already finished your vehicle or are safely ensconced in the system with your current build, don’t just take the attitude of “ I’m alright, Jack “. For starters, most fellows always build a second car and more importantly, it’s letting your mates down very badly!! Now there is a point of view that says lay low and don’t let VICROADS know how many of us there actually are building these vehicles. This is a perfectly valid argument; we might make things worse by speaking out. I heard a story, and it was supposedly true, about a magistrate passing sentence on a career criminal. The magistrate announced that he was going to give the offender three years for his crimes, to which the fellow snarled, “I’ll do that standing on my head!” The beak replied,” Well, while you’re standing on your head, do another twelve months, for good measure!” In our case, I don’t think that by remaining silent we have a lot to gain. The regulations we face in the next two years will virtually stop ICV building for the privateer in Victoria. I would also contend that VICROADS well and truly know about us anyway. Firstly, we wouldn’t have a set of regulations governing the construction of our vehicles if there hadn’t been numerous cars registered and many enquiries in the past. In clubman style vehicles alone, Westfield, Elfin, Amaroo and PRB have been doing very good business in Victoria for many years, not to mention smaller firms and private builders. On the broader scene, Robnell, DRB and Python Cobra replicas, along with Madison and the MG2000 have been well known. If you just scratch the surface in Victoria you will find that there are GT40 replicas being built in the southern suburbs, Lamborghini’s in Tullamarine and the US Diva out in the west. Don’t forget that VICROADS is the final destination for all these vehicles, I would say they well and truly know how many cars are out there! What’s the first step? Probably finding out how many people are actually involved in building ICV’s in Victoria, either as home builders, kit car builders or kit car manufacturers. To that end I’m quite prepared to use this email address as a register to receive messages. These messages should contain the person’s full name, address, a contact number, the type of car they are building and their expressed concerns. If anyone is concerned about giving me this information, let me put it this way, the only way we will ever cut any ice with VICROADS is for them to know they are dealing with real people, not Bob W. of cyberspace or “ Dogsdonga of the Grunt Factory”. Second step? Probably to seek a meeting with the appropriate group of officers at Vicroads, to let them know of our concerns and perhaps to aid in the formulation of a more equitable set of regulations. That is a fair way down the track and if VICROADS were amenable to such a proposition, we would need to have our facts and figures together and to have a highly competent, motivated group elected to make representations on our behalf. If indeed we were able to talk to the appropriate people at VICROADS, we must assume we will only get one chance at it, we had better get it right!! So, back to the first step, send me your own email, but also talk to everyone you know who is considering building a car or is a kit builder or manufacturer and get them to send me an email or call me on 57 970228 after hours. KEN THE COLLECTER COMES TO KERRISDALE: Alliteration, you’ve got to love it. One of my old Melbourne uni. lecturers was waxing lyrical about it and finally asked if anyone could think of an example. Quick as a flash a voice boomed out from the back of the lecture theatre,” the crippled cat crept from the crypt and crapped.” That offering absolutely evaporated the beauty of the English language theme that the lecturer had been enthusing upon. Anyway, back to the story. Ken the collector is a lovely fellow who rang me years ago when I was running how to build a Locost classes. As we talked and I realised just how many cars and projects Ken had underway I said,” mate where do you live, I’m coming out right now to have a look!” It was about three thirty on a Friday afternoon and I figured I had achieved enough for the week. More importantly, I had to meet a bloke who had a Moss (UK) Morgan replica, a Formula Vee, an English style 750 race car, two Triumph TR7’s, a mini, a Mitsubishi Lancer and a Trailer Sailer, most of them works in progress!! Ken turned out to be both very knowledgeable and highly enthusiastic about his motor sport. A man in his early sixties, Ken had raced Formula Vees back in the seventies, owned and driven many, now vintage cars and was currently racing Victorian Historic. What occurred to me was just how much work, time and money would have to be devoted to these projects to have them all completed. We all suffer from the constraints of both time and money, but fair dinkum Ken would not only have to live another hundred years, but also would have to be fully employed!! Ken of course couldn’t resist the opportunity to look over my Locost, but sensibly concluded that he certainly didn’t need another project to further muddy the waters and decided that he would not attend the classes. Ken and I kept in touch, shared the odd red over counter lunches, at which the only topic of conversation was cars and attended the Victorian Historic Racing Register functions. Eventually of course, Ken had a rolling Locost with a 4AGE and I had a Moss Morgan replica, a further distraction that neither of us needed. Over the time that has passed since then Ken has added a rear engined Renault motorkana car, a Lotus Eleven roller, numerous engines and gearboxes, plus a Datsun 120Y and a Morris Elite to act as donor vehicles!! Over that time I had also begun to despair that any of Ken’s cars would ever be completed, such was his voracious appetite for collecting new projects. I said to him at one stage,” mate you know that all you’ll end up with, is a shed full of rusting, unfinished shitfighters!” Now that may sound very unkind, but in the ensuing period Ken and I have become good mates, he’s very entertaining company. There is also another factor that allows me to make this seemingly harsh comment. Ken realises only too well that I certainly do not occupy the moral high ground on issues of keeping life simple and not trying to pull on too much in the way of projects. Along with existing projects such as the Datus Eleven rebodied production car, the 3SGTE powered Lotus Eleven, the 351 Cleveland powered Locost, my current Locost and work on customers cars, lurk day dreams of restoring my old dragster and building a Lancia powered mini!! So, in other words, it is a case of one lunatic discussing the running of the asylum with another. We both know that we should clean up our act and jettison some of these projects, but we can’t bear to part with any of them!! Two weeks back Ken rang and wanted to know when I was next coming to Melbourne, we needed to talk. I was going down the next day to see Chris at Ceedra Services, so we arranged to meet at Ken’s place. It’s always exciting to go to Ken’s house, you never know what you’re going to find, and this was no exception. As I parked the ute out the front, I surveyed what looked like a used racing/vintage car yard, all camped on Kenny’s front lawn. Now don’t think for a minute that this looks like a tip or anything like it, Ken’s house and gardens are very well cared for and each car is neatly parked and tarped up if required. I realised that there was a Morris Minor highlight and a Triumph 2000 that I had never seen before, along with old favourites the Renault, the Formula Vee and a box trailer that had a motor with chrome tin ware gleaming. The mini had gone to his mums to make space; admittedly it was parked out the front of mums because Ken had already filled up her six car garage with other treasures!! Now I’m being a little unfair to Ken here, not all the space in mum’s garage is taken up with Ken’s stuff, after all she has got her pushbike in there!! The upshot of the visit was that Ken and I towed both the Locost roller and the mini to Kerrisdale last week. Ken has left the Locost with me and is full bore on avoiding the “ shed full of rusting shitfighters” syndrome, to which he often refers in conversation. I hope he does and on some future Sunday morning he can rise while the rest of the suburb is still asleep and take his gleaming Lotus Seven replica off into the Dandenong Ranges to thrill himself on the deserted mountain roads. For my part well, when I’m not beavering away on Ken’s car, I can sit with my morning coffee and look out on a yellow mini parked next to a 1980 2Litre Lancia Beta and muse over whether perhaps it would be better to transplant the Lancia engine into the rear of the mini…… YAHOO GROUPS LOCOST OZ: Now that we have our own little corner of the Locost chatline it is quite useful. It was always a task wading through the English one, what with info. on Austin Allegro steering columns and the like. I was browsing through the messages on the chat line, as I often do, over the recent long weekend. It’s interesting to find out what stage Mike Laws or Chris Dixon are up to, new stuff that internet guru Fitzy has found or new developments in Graham Lewis’second car. One exchange that caught my eye was a little unusual. Chris Dixon had asked about setting up his four link bars and nose cone. Nothing unusual about that, both queries were legitimate questions especially seeing Chris, living in Katherine in the NT, is probably one of the most isolated Locost builders in Australia. Graham Lewis gave an answer to Chris’ question. Now Graham, unlike some who pontificate, can walk the walk and talk the talk, he’s done it. So nothing unusual there. Graham signed off by saying he was opening another Coonarwarra Red. Now there’s nothing untoward about having a nice red, I’ve been known to enjoy one or two from time to time. What struck me was the time of day: 6.47AM!! So Graham, had you just risen to wash down the Weeties with a red or had you had the snout deep in the trough all night?? FOOD FOR THOUGHT I write these newsletters over the month, as ideas that you guys might be interested in occur to me. As I said earlier writing those pieces on emissions and prophet of doom type messages are hard, depressing work. Those types of things are not what I had in mind when I started this newsletter. The basic idea was that the newsletter would be progress reports to keep everyone motivated, some tech tips to share with you all, a few of my long rambling stories and some of my experiences with all the fine Locost folk I come into contact with. It didn’t start out to be some quasi political newsletter, constantly reporting on road traffic authorities, but unfortunately that in part is what it has become, as regulations threaten to stop us in our tracks. I believe it is my responsibility to report this sort of stuff so potential builders don’t get ambushed by new regulations I did think however, that I had done my duty for this month in reporting on the Victorian scene in the “ light at the end of the tunnel” article, when in came this email from Chris at Ceedra Services. Hi Geoff, Some "food for thought": At the recent Motor Show in Melbourne a senior figure from the Department of Transport (from Canberra) walked up to a stand with Cobra replica cars, exhibited by a kit manufacturer and said: " do you realise that what you are doing is illegal?". The comments that followed indicated that no replica (or kit) car should be registered as an ICV if it is built on a kit or chassis supplied by a kit manufacturer. Anything like this should have a compliance plate approval under Low Production Vehicle Scheme. He also commented on illegality of the engines. As new kits, he expected them to have 2003 model engines. This was a view of someone who represents the Federal Government and it will most likely be adopted by the states. The question is, what is the final interpretation going to be? Not every ICV builder is capable of building his own chassis. I guess getting a chassis frame from someone else does not mean a complete kit is being supplied. Some other matters worth considering (I do not have answers to all of them): In NSW the date of manufacture (date built) is the date you present your vehicle for registration - it means if you register it in 2003, you have to have a 2003 engine. This may apply to some other states. In Victoria, currently (and this is the operative word) we are allowed to backdate the Dof M by up to 3 years, if we have a concrete proof that the project was started so far back. All chassis and kits supplied by Westfield, PRB etc. are now not eligible for ICV treatment in NSW and possibly in many other states, under the pressure form the Federal Government. As to the idea of building "rebodied cars" based on production car floor pan, this works well in Victoria, because the definition of ICV is that it has to be based on a chassis or floor not sourced from a production vehicle. However, Queensland and NSW (and possibly some other states) have a different definition of ICV and a project, such as Datsun 120Y floor with FG replica body would be still treated as ICV (2003 engine!).For example, a Toyota Landcruiser chassis with holden HQ body is an ICV in Queensland! So, if a vehicle gets registered in Victoria as rebodied (redesigned production vehicle), it may not be accepted for registration as such in other states. Further to the Victorian description of ICV, which must not be based on a chassis from a production vehicle, one must ask what is a production vehicle, or is it a "volume production vehicle"?, in other words, is a car based on Elfin or PRB chassis an ICV or not? Both manufacturers have Compliance Plate Approvals for the cars, but only for Low Production (current system - Elfin) or Low Volume (old system - PRB). Any more news, I'll let you know because the ICV scene in Australia is definitely changing. Regards, Chris Drabikowski In the light of what Chris has just reported, maybe we should be looking at forming a national ICV builders group! The Federal and State road traffic authorities could very well legislate Locosts and most ICV’s out of existence. It is not just homebuilders that are in the gun barrel, but seemingly the kit car manufacturers as well. If we try to go back in time and work out how this whole situation evolved, it might be helpful. I imagine that at some stage, the home builder finished his car and went direct to the local registration branch or perhaps the police station and presented the car. The car might then have been registered as a “ Morris Special “ or some such title and let loose on the roads. It would have become obvious pretty quickly, that neither the clerical staff at the road traffic authority or the police were qualified in any way to assess the actual mechanical integrity of these vehicles and there was a need for these cars to be classified and tested by competent personnel. Now a licensed Roadworthy Tester is just that, a mechanic who has passed examinations in how to evaluate the safety aspects of an established mass produced car, not in assessing the engineering aspects of a newly produced vehicle, automotive engineers would have to perform this task. So far, this all sounds perfectly reasonable to me. Realistically, we don’t want some knobhead cobbling together some lethal bit of crap, with a huge V8, chookshit welding and Morris Minor brakes and then being allowed to carve his way through your wife and kids on their way to school in the morning. From an emissions point of view, there also had to be a responsible level established. We can’t really expect to have an open go on any old carby style motor, if we hope to leave the planet a bit better than how we found it. I know I have ranted and raved in the past about the contradictions of the Locost builder having to adhere to harsh emissions standards and local road authorities re registering any old wheezer that has a roadworthy certificate, but we wont be given those sort of emissions levels for our cars, so forget it. If we think about it for a moment, the engineering requirements are reasonable. We need some form of chassis testing, for torsional and beaming and we need decent brakes and suspension, don’t forget that these are high performance cars we are building. The biggest single problem is the level of emissions to which we must adhere and that is what we must get changed or the Fat Lady is starting to sing and the show is over! Chris from Ceedra Services informs me that there is already a kit car manufacturers group formed to lobby VICROADS. In that case, if we can ascertain the numbers of builders we can join with the kit car manufacturers group. After all both builders and manufacturers are after the same end result. BITS AND PIECES: Bought quite a handy little device last week, a fluid oil pump its called, made by STA-LUBE ( CRC ). It’s a small plastic pump that fits into transmission oil containers and can be used for gearboxes and diffs. Saves having to transport the car to the local servo to fill up transmissions. Silicone rubber was a revelation when it first appeared, it could be used for reviving tired gaskets, sealing exhaust flanges and many other uses. However, with fuel injected engines, the sensors don’t like silicone and can give the ECU incorrect messages. Loctite have a silicone on the market called BLUE MAX which is sensor safe, so that could be one to look at for jobs near the exhaust oxygen sensor or around the fuel injection manifold. Don’t put it on in handfuls around the fuel lines, because sensor safe or not, excess will still block injectors, etc. Clarke Rubber Stores have a few products of interest to Locost builders. First one is the “Tadpole Tape” or beading used between the rear guards and the body work. Another useful product is rubber strap with raised edges for use under fuel tank straps. The raised edges prevent the rubber from creeping out from between the tank and the steel strap and the flat area between the raised edges measures 32mm. Clarkes also have rubber strip of various widths with one adhesive side, which is useful on the lip area of both the nose cone and scuttle, to keep the bonnet firmly in place. I used a VN Commodore in tank fuel pump in my Locost and found that normal fuel line could not handle being immersed in unleaded fuel. After a few days the outer cover of the fuel line had grown to twice its normal size and no doubt would have started to break up and block the internal filter bag if left much longer. Clarke Rubber was able to supply a Goodyear fuel hose developed for the EA/EB Falcon, which did the job. One last product is plastic automotive weather strip, normally found inside the door jam of cars, it can be used for protection on sharp edges such as exhaust shields and dash plate. I may have forgotten something but it’s definitely worth having a good look around these stores. MARTIN MONSTERED BY MIG: I hasten to point out that this is not a report on Martin Glassborow having some sort of welding accident. The MIG in question was a Russian fighter plane, in which Martin had a twenty-minute blast, at Ballarat Airfield several weeks back. Martin tells me that he had considered pulling out of the flight on many occasions in the time leading up to that weekend. Now this was not because big Martin stands around at barbeques, talking about his truck in a squeaky voice, it was just that the ride was going to cost a bloody fortune! Anyway the day dawned, and before you could say Yuri Gargarin, Martin was suited up listening to his pilot explain that the ejector seats were no longer charged and in the event of any sort of trouble he would have to clamber out of the cockpit unassisted. The pilot went on to say that it would be best not to let go until he was on the side of the fuselage in case he was blown back into the tailplane. “Couldn’t the plane be inverted, to make getting out easier?”, Martin queried. “No, I won’t have time,” the pilot replied, “ the most likely reason for bailing out, will be that the plane is on fire!” Now big Martin’s animal crackers were starting to tighten a notch or two, and he was wondering what he had got himself in for! The flight took the form of a dogfight with another plane over nearby Lake Burrumbeet. Martin recalled that after a couple of barrel rolls, a dive and a hard turn or two, he had absolutely no idea where he was, such was the speed the MIG was travelling at! Having seen Martin’s video I can appreciate what he was talking about. At various points Martin’s helmet is jammed into the top of the canopy when the plane is upside down or he is unsuccessfully fighting to straighten himself up as it barrel rolls. Martin described the G forces of the MIG’s acceleration as feeling like two thousand litres of water in a huge plastic bag was crushing his body back into the seat! Martin’s video also included footage from the other plane involved in the dogfight and at one stage Martin said,” the MIG’s coming past in a moment, but don’t blink!” And that’s all it took, the MIG was a fair way out from the other plane’s right wing, but it just rocketed past! The ride looked great on video, but I’m sure it was something else all together to be in the thing! PROGRESS REPORT: There’s nothing quite like seeing someone else’s car near completion and looking great, to spur us on again with our own project. Mike Laws, from Blair Athol in South Australia, sent me an email recently and enclosed some photos of both his and his mate Warren’s Locosts. Both cars are beautifully finished and the boys have done a sensational job. The attached photos speak for themselves, both cars are beautiful and the boys should be very proud of their achievement, congratulations Mike and Warren. Finally on a positive note, Cheers to all, GeoffO.