Worth the wait
It has been a while since the last post as I was waiting for something positive to happen so that I could make the transition from planning to working on the radios and the RB 44. When I left it I was arranging leave, getting a date for the VOSA test and trying to co-ordinate the drive back to Cornwall. My target date was the 10th or 11th May and everything seemed to be fitting in with that. However it was not to be as the truck, which had its VOSA test on the 2nd May, failed because a seal in the power steering blew. It was no-one’s fault, but most likely because it had been standing for a while and the seal had perished. It was then booked in for the following week, but this left me little or no time to get the insurance, and more importantly, the registration paperwork completed. I did consider other options – drive it anyway, borrow trade plates or make up a number plate – but was advised by those with cooler heads to leave it and not to take the risk. They were of course right. All it would have needed was to break down in an awkward place, to lose another seal in the braking system or have an accident and I would have been in trouble and could have risked a crushed vehicle, fine or points. Not only that it could have had an impact on the hobby in general and made it more difficult to register or run such vehicles in future.
We were then on plan B. The procedure is that once you have insurance and the VOSA test, you take these to the DVLA local office and they check it all and after a few days you get a registration document and the authority to make number plates. After that the log book and tax disc comes through in due course, but you can drive it. My local office is in Truro so I took the train down and went to see them. They checked everything and decided that the copy of the disposal certificate was not sufficient and that I had to produce the original. This was in Grantham as it was needed for the VOSA test, so it was sent down. They looked at all the other paperwork and stamped the form. So next week I took another train ride to Truro. I thought I would enjoy the day as it was our thirtieth wedding anniversary and have lunch out in what is a pleasant city. How wrong can you be?
Having got to the front, I submitted the paperwork together with the original cast certificate. The application was rejected this time because the VOSA certificate that I had made no reference to the chassis number. Because of the earlier problems with the test I am now quite an expert on VOSA and know that in cases that have no registration number they allocate a K number. This is their reference number unique to the vehicle until it is registered and can be found on their system by quoting it. It then details all the history, including in my case the failed and missed tests. They can do this over the phone as I have done it with them a couple of times during the lead up to plating. However the DVLA would not accept the K number. They say that they do not have access to the VOSA system and they were not going to ring up and check. It was my problem. I rang VOSA who confirmed that they had a record of the chassis number under the K reference, but that they did not use it. The certificate was competed according to their instructions and that was that. Back to DVLA – they would not budge. I have to admit at this stage that I became quite annoyed with the whole thing. If I could phone up and confirm the chassis number why couldn’t they and anyway why was a properly issued test certificate not acceptable? Two hours later, arguments with the manager and he did sort it out, but by that stage I was really, really annoyed. It seemed the most frustrating type of bureaucracy; an argument between departments with me stuck in the middle and powerless to influence either. I also could not understand why in these days of customer focus, a department would want to turn something that we both want the same outcome into a battle.
After that we did get lunch and the very large bottle of beer that accompanied it seemed a reward for the wasted morning. A couple of days later the registration number came through so we were all set for the weekend.
For the rest of the week I gathered as much stuff as I could that would be useful and put it in the car. I had a box of oils, greases, fire extinguishers, as well as all the paperwork I had and went via London on the Friday and picked up a civilian transceiver that I bought some months ago. Seemed in very good condition but my mate is not into radio so I just wrapped it up and put that into the car as well. Early on the Saturday I went up the M1 to another friend who lives nearer to Grantham and arrived there just in time for breakfast. The journey and adventure was about to begin.