NEWSLETTER SEVEN MARCH 2003

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					                     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.

				
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