Thursday, 16 October 2014

4,300 miles Two sheds....

This month I have mainly been covering 4,000+ miles in old cars-

2,300- 4 day Alpine blast -1976 Scimitar GTE SE6A (STST 2014)
2,000 -48hours Club Triumphs Round Britain Run -Triumph Dolomite Sprint (RBR)

     Two different cars nearly 40 years old- and on paper they have very similar spec- but drive very differently- something you just don’t get in modern cars.

0-60 MPH
9.1 secs
116 mph
9.4 secs
118 mph

The GTE has more grunt, but also has 278 kg more weight to lug about.

First up it in Mid September it was time for “Team Shed” to ride again on the self named STST- 2014 (Scimitar to Stelvio Tour) “Unfinished Business” following last year’s disastrous fire in France.
 Second up was completely un-planned (like all the best things in life) Mike Weaver needed a co-driver at the last minute for Club Triumphs Round Britain Run –I've done the event 8 times before and jumped at the chance to make it 9- especially as it was in his Sprint- a car I love having owned one myself, completing my first RBR in it back in 1996.

Which would I like the best? The spec would suggest that the Scimitar is the “Grand Tourer Estate” the “GTE” moniker suggests, where as the Sprint is exactly what its name suggests- a sporty light weight over excited puppy that likes to be revved and thrown sticks to chase – so how well did the cars do on their respective trips, were they having cake and eating it or looking at the pies feeling bloated?

So to “Unfinished Business…”
Final preparations  were made without the air of usual  panic - the slight cock up being  I decided to replace the trunions the weekend before the off - I was re-adjusting the front wheel bearings after getting a bit of “pad slap” post  “good test thrashing”  when  I noted a bit of “trunion” play so did a quick check unbolting the top ball joint and pivoting the upright towards me- this check revealed the nearside trunion was rotating on the bolt  (the big bolt should rotate with the trunion otherwise the trunion wears on the bolt)
I had a bit of a “top of the stairs moment” and then it all came back to me after reading old blog posts-well looking at the pictures--I didn’t replace the trunions last year due to preferred supplier being out of stock- I had been desperate to get it on its wheels for the MOT thus  convinced myself  “these are not too bad lets run with them and see how we get on” - it passed the MOT so I put it to the back of my mind behind all the other things I was trying to remember before the trip- anyway I now had a window of opportunity to do the job right so took it – brain fart over I was happy  everything was  as spot on as it could be in preparation for the trip

We didn’t  set off at 2.00am as first planned opting instead to leave at 21.00hrs on the Weds evening and get some hotel  kip a couple of miles from the Tunnel –I was up for driving through the night but Ben was being sensible and I have to admit it was a good call.
Day 1 – Thursday
Leg one- Calais- Dijon 350 miles 4.5 hrs –This was an all motorway section averaging 80 mph, the aim being to get some quick distance clocked up on the way to the interesting bits in the South.
The GTE ate the miles up in great comfort with very little fuss, temperature staying normal, no doubt helped by the new water pump (fitted before setting off this time!)  new head gaskets (as the heads had been off to replace core plugs) the up-rated cooling fan only needed whilst ticking over stationary for a few minutes –if called for it would now stay on with the engine switched off  – I had wired in a three position switch with l.e.d running indication to allow “constant auto on”  “off”  “constant on”   – I had noted in the 500+ test miles before the run that the fan was being called for far less than last year which shows a well maintained SE6A cooling system will do the job -we passed the spot we caught fire last year  laughing about the “high viz bra incident”  Ben suffered last year before stopping to take on fuel,snacks and check the cars vitals

No fires this time-and no need for Ben to wear a child's High Viz "bra"

Leg two –Dijon ....Boug-en-Bresse ....Frangy...Thones...Col des Aravis...Beaufort ....Bourg-Saint-Maurice,HOTEL  240 miles 5.5 hrs
First French stop....not on fire!
A mix of motorway and smaller roads ,the sun was out and  it was a lovely late afternoon /evening  which lifted the spirits-even I was starting to feel we might complete a full day without any drama from the car, when we got stuck in a bit of town  traffic  the biggest drama was caused by a local not looking where she was reversing- nearly “T boning” us whilst stationary - the locals sitting outside the café, drinking coffee and beer like they do shouted at her just in time –one even came over to look at the car ,interested to find out what it was, he started trying to chat to Ben just as the lights turned ...just as well I don’t think he was ready for a cultural exchange with our home grown “northern cultural attaché”- "Eh? nons parlez Rodney"
Bedding the brakes in

The run from Beaufort to Bourg Saint Maurice was superb, no traffic the car going well up the hills and around the hairpins –I was still very nervous about giving it too much stick but even just giving it 6/10ths,it pulled up the hills without issue obvious the engine was still producing somewhere near the 190 ft/lb torque when new , it cornered  with aplomb, it was more a question of me becoming used to the modified suspension as it all started to “settle”  - a decent “hostel” like hotel was waiting for us at the bottom of the hill-the brakes bedding in nicely by the time we reached the halt  – Needless to say I was pleased when we parked up outside the Hotel and the only thing I had to worry about was where reception was.

Day 2 –Friday
 Bourg-Saint-Maurice....Val d lsere .... Col de l'Iseran.... Col du mont cenis..... Stressa.... Locarno.... Bellinzona.... St Barnardino Pass..... Splugenn pass..... Chiavenna..... Saint Moritz....... Zernez HOTEL , 370 miles 9.5 hrs
     I was up at 6.30am checking the car over-torque wrench on the wheels nuts, fluid level checks even popping a plug out to check the mixture –all was good, no oil used water level on the cool mark etc. The early morning clouds lifted revealing the mountains we would soon be climbing post “Euro” breakfast-this was shared with a group of Scottish cyclists staying in the same Hotel, they too would be ascending the same mountains –I hoped they wouldn't pedal past us as we repaired the car! The hotel owner came out to wave us off explaining he loved the look of the car -he had even taken some pictures, looking it up on the internet as he hadn't seen one before.

The comedy of camera timers-"Run Homer you fat git"

No traffic

Fast bends-the Scimitar really does handle well

Dont fall off...

Val d‘ I ‘sere was reached then we started to climb Col de’ l’seran my confidence was growing in the car and my own ability to pedal it on a bit – I loved the lazy torque there was no need to thrash it-easily dispatching the mandatory Dutch camper van between hairpins ,the only drawback being the poor lock –the last time I had been doing these type of roads it was in a1500 spitfire- thrashing it to keep momentum, squealing understeer to get it round the corners –the Scimitar felt completely relaxed in comparison- accelerating up the straights 2nd to 3rd  ease off  change down turn in making sure you have enough lock on - back on the throttle and off you go again – no drama  no excessive understeer - I didn't feel I had to “attack” the hill to keep a good pace. It was a pleasure to drive.
We stopped at the top for a few pictures taking in the view then set off down the other side. I took it easy still building my confidence in the handling and the brakes, but the car was egging me on and I soon found myself chucking it around a bit more.
 Once out of the mountains it was an Italian motorway blast to Verbainia on Lake Maggior -tradition would dictate a mandatory stop at Mc Donald’s as we had done 10 years earlier in aTriumph 2000.

The road along the lake is always a bit hit and miss with traffic- you just have to approach it with a sightseeing attitude – in fact there were several manned speed traps along it- this time we didn’t fancy an on the spot speeding fine (been there done that!) so kept to the speed limits when not stuck behind Dutch camper vans.

Creepy...I am the clown sitting down

Speed traps and road works make the lake road a Sunday drive

We were fully expecting to get pulled over crossing the border from Italy to Switzerland for not having a vignette – but got waved on by the border guard who was relaxing in the late summer sunshine not a care in the world-game on.
Time to give the Scimitar a blast on the faster road to Splugen pass –the aim of this trip unlike others was to take in the mountains in the daylight and not be looking for hotels at 11pm suffering from fatigue –this is where the car started coming into its own eating up the miles on the new San Bernadinio road – (we had done the old road back in 2012 in the spitfire)
Climbing Splugen pass. I decided to attack the hill a bit more going past an earlier self imposed rev limit of  4,000 rpm deliberately  provoking a bit of oversteer – just to learn the cars behavior as much as anything –it performed brilliantly-I had fitted adjustable AVO dampers with adjustable platforms  up rated springs and superflex bushes -using luck rather than judgement I seemed to have them set up pretty well- the last few hairpins on this climb are very tight and steep – the car had to be on full lock to get round -the power eased in gently or you would risk understeer into the bank! –it was bloody cold at the top so we didn’t hang around, on the way down we got stuck behind a cattle wagon-we could hear the cow bells from inside the truck! I let a few mad locals go past –completely unsighted and trusting in luck- before I found a safe section to blast past before the brakes got too hot from having to slow up all the time behind - again on the decent there is a couple of full lock hairpins where you only just clear the Armco on the opposite side- once past Chiavenna the roads are reasonably flat with fast sweeping bends –OK flat and fast compared to the road you have just come off.

The traffic had disappeared –it felt like we were the only car on the road -we pulled up for a leisurely fuel stop just outside St Moritz on route to the Hotel in Zernez, it was only a few miles out from the Hotel with the light was starting to fade- I noted the headlights had failed as-just the side lights were on…doh
 As we were only a mile or so from the overnight halt we didn’t bother stopping to investigate until the hotel car park –I found one dodgy fuse cap and checked the wiring to the relays –pulling off the connectors and pushing them back on again making sure they had made a good contact –that seemed to do the trick dip/main working fine again ... one thing I have learnt from these trips is to not to fanny about to much-if it’s now working leave it, crack on ,thoughts of melting fuse boxes expelled as we went in search of an evening meal .

Homer "bloody hell theres metal in this sausage"-Me "Your not meant to eat the clip you knob"

Day 3 –Saturday  -Zernez… Offen pass …Strada del Passo dello STELVIO…Umbrail Pass…Offen pass….Fluela Pass…Davos… Tiefencastel…Col de la Schlucht le vatin (France) ..Nancy ..Remis (Berry –au-bac HOTEL) Legs 6 ,7 and 8 : 537 miles 12 hrs
Again I was up at 6.30am checking the car out- today was the “Big” day–the car had settled slightly on the springs and looked to be riding  10mm lower all round from when we set off- I had a C spanner with me but decided it would be fine ,it was working well the day before - best not to fanny around with stuff that’s working.
I checked the lights again ,all the fluids were good- all though I spotted a slight tell tale stain below the top radiator hose- the outlet pipe is slightly deformed  (oval) so I moved the hose clip to  seal on a different place on the pipe – I took the rad/filler cap off to check the water -it was full to the overflow pipe so left it and just put a splash in the expansion bottle making a mental note to keep an eye on the top hose/temperature- I had plenty of antifreeze mix, K seal, hose clips etc with me so felt confident I could deal with any issues on route.
Breakfast scoffed, bill paid – I highly recommend Zernez as a halt/start point for Stelvio and the surrounding areas- we fired up (first time) and headed off for Offen pass as part of leg 6 – “loop of joy” which would take us over Stelvio- a hill that had been our nemesis for too long – Offen had some road works and we had to get past some slow moving trucks to crack on- this done we had a clear run to the eastern approach to Stelvio- I pulled over to allow a group of fast modern Porsches  to pass then set about safely passing the gaggles of MAMILS (middle aged men in lycra) before the hairpins started – No 48 at the base- we settled into a rhythm even catching a couple of slower cars who pulled over to let us by before we caught up with an old Merc estate pulling a trailer full of classic bikes-he wasn’t moving over and I couldn’t  really get past him safely due to the width of the trailer -after being stuck behind for half a dozen corners we pulled into a lay by at hairpin 12 to get some photos and take it all in, we stopped for about 5 minutes s taking  pictures before setting off for the final blast up the hill- feeling confident - got round the next corner- coughed to a halt, stopped dead- panic replaced confidence! Not the place you want to stop!- Ben jumped out and directed traffic (about four bikers) as I rolled the car back into the lay bay we had just been in –first check- spark -connected the ignition tester in line with the HT lead / plug, cranked it over and she fired up! Ah..ha  could be fuel lock so we left it another five minutes, confident it would fire up again- it wouldn’t -bugger- tools out again-a length of pipe was attached to the fuel filter just before the fuel pump and I drew the short straw to suck some fuel through –which I did without swallowing any-connected the line back to the pump-still wouldn’t fire up – now it was Bens turn on the pipe- suck fuel through the filter and the pump – whip the carb pipe feed back onto the pump- sorted she fired up –massive- relief !
Bloody trailer!

Breakdown corner!

Cool wall

Unfinished business completed

I attacked the last dozen hairpins not letting the revs drop for risk of stalling, tyres squealing, giving it a boot full up the last straight to the top- we parked opposite the café , gaining appreciative nods from the bikers plus other Saturday morning petrol heads who had witnessed our stranded car -then the subsequent  delights of the V6 getting gunned -all or nothing up the hill (they do sound dirty when booted!) – Our feeling was one  of euphoria, the strong coffee from the café helped get  rid of the taste of un-leaded.
Finally I had got this “lost cause” of a car to the top of a road I had been wanting to do for years  –and what a great car it is now (I had forgiven it the vapour lock issue –we shouldn’t have stopped!)
It turned a few heads at the top –watching from the café window we watched several people checking it over –I guess it’s a bit different to the normal “classic” people see, one of the reasons I like it so much
Now fully refreshed- the café toilets must have the best view in Europe!- we set off down the other side looking for a right hand slot to take us over Umbrail pass- I had read on the internet that there was a “1k or so” section of this pass that isn’t tarmac – so kept this in mind – it’s a great road the only traffic we encountered was coming up after the unmade section –we spotted ..Well heard them first,pulling over to give them room- the ground shook as classic  Countache led several other modern Lamroginis , Adiu R8s lotus and a Rolls Royce Silver Wraith! What a sight they were thundering up the hill.-made our day

We soon dropped down onto the road that would take us back to Zernez again  and on to the Fluela  pass –It all seemed a bit tame now following our mornings exploits, we even got some rain which dulled the mood even more, but we had to get some miles under our belt and head back to blighty - we  enjoyed the roads while we could knowing soon  it would be a motorway to get us across the border out of Switzerland (without buying a vignette) and into France at Basel –After Basel we opted to stay on the Auto route- after all  main mission had been  accomplished-  heading  straight to the Hotel  rather than take the cross country route  – in hind sight I wish we had  headed  across country for a while because it will be at least 2 or 3 years before I get to drive a classic across Europe again.
We reached the Hotel around 9pm –well it looked more like the type of Motel you see on American movies we picked up our key from an unlocked/unmanned reception room where eventually we also found a note telling us our room number – the American theme continuing as there was a classic mustang in the car park to be joined by two others at about midnight the v8s waking me up.
Day 4 Last Leg- Back to Blighty   (Somerset) 370 miles
We made a hasty retreat in the morning getting away about 7am- post car checks- I topped up the oil for the first time here –not knowing the protocol for paying the bill slowed us up –it appeared to be automated but as I had booked on line and given card details then I didn’t want to be charged twice- so just left! Thinking if there is a problem they will be in touch..they were, I had to pay over the phone a few days later- never mind lesson learnt.
We got the boot down making the Calais Terminal in time to get an early crossing –once back in the UK it was back to the grind of traffic, road works and delays, ironically the longest was caused by a car catching fire on the A303! We ducked off finding an alternative route “using the force”
We made it back home for 3pm – approximately 2,300 miles,an average fuel consumption of 29 mpg, half a pint of oil used and a splash of water, job done “Unfinished business” completed.

Back home -in need of a wash and service

Time for rest from cars and get cracking on the house-until the chance to take part in the RBR presented itself-thanks to all- especially my Wife for making it possible for me to take part.

October 3rd Club Triumphs RBR Car no 21”Two fat bastards and a boot full of spares” Dolomite Sprint

I wasn’t planning to do the run this year but offered myself up as a last minute co-driver for Mike in his Sprint ,I couldn’t wait  and was very excited in the few days leading up to the start-Mike wasn’t after discovering the timing chain had become slack – this necessitated a 4.00 am engine strip down on the morning of the event  which was due to start at 6pm – he discovered that the pad had “fallen” off the cam chain tensioner- a nearly new tensioner- the standard of new parts supplied for classic cars is appalling and needs to be  addressed
6 hours later he had replaced the chain for a new NOS item he had in the shed and the tensioner from a second hand engine
With no catch up sleep Mike headed straight down to the start in North London whilst I made my way up from Somerset
I knew nothing of the cam chain heroics until I got to the start – It was obvious Mike was knackered and my main priority for the next 12 hours was going to be driving the car whilst he tried to catch up with sleep which is hard enough on this event
Leg one- Plough to Blyth Services

It was only fitting that Mike drove this section –the sprint was miss behaving its self in the traffic coming out of London – Mikes fitted a EWP (electric water pump) and controller that takes care of the cooling fan as well as the EWP -it seems that in traffic the voltage drop from the battery trips the controller which knocked out the engine cooling fan- odd as the alternator was an up rated unit from his Stag and the battery less than 3 months old –so something’s not quite  to spec –my money is on a dodgy cell in the “new” battery
The sprint had also been plagued by the cruel mistress of time – i.e. there were still jobs on the to do list- a situation I know only too well, it had also suffered from well meaning but ultimately misinformed previous owners who had given up trying to make it a reliable usable car, thankfully Mike had persevered ,fought off the prince of darkness thus we were now buzzing up A10  at a steady 60mph heading for the A1,confindence growing in the car as the miles past underneath us

Blyth -Carter bar- Edinburgh Airport-Skiatch services

Blyth control was made in good time where I took over driving duty –I made myself at home adjusting the seat –Mike admits he has gorilla arms- It was like going back in time as I eased the car down the slip road onto the A1 –back in 96 it was a roundabout –getting used to the car I commenting to Mike that the stiff  throttle pedal felt just like mine did prior to the cable snapping – I made a mental note to have a look at it at JOG in day light and see if I could free it up, or put the spare cable on-strangely I felt an instant inner confidence in the car -I was in new territory here as its normally one of my sheds I’ve rescued that I’m driving on these events, thus I hadn’t seen all the bad bits Mike had put right so why worry? Although I didn’t want to put a bad karma on things so limited my confidence to focusing on making it from control to control and seeing where we ended up!
I had forgotten how “sit up and beg” the steering wheel position was-must admit I prefer the Scimitars  wheel position- but it all felt responsive and  well put together – if in fact a bit tight and “skittish” at first.
It would not  be until dispatching  A1 and getting onto the A68 that I would be able to re-teach myself the sprint
In the mean time we had a bit of traffic to deal with which meant killing the ignition to reset the fan controller then back on again bump starting the car
Once onto the A68 I set about re-freshing myself with the finer points of the sprint experience –the aim was to get it round the route reliably so it was nice to tootle along short shifting learning where the torque was or wasn’t -after so many miles in the GTE I needed to remember to rev the sprint a bit more - my confidence was growing as we rose and fell over the hidden dips on our way to the Carter bar control, we were about the 10th car through -just as it started to rain- I carried on the driving Mike hoping that now his adrenalin rush had worn off he could get some sleep-not to be- his eyes were soon on stalks, as were mine -the road ahead now awash  in  thick  proper Scottish rain, visibility  right down and a serious amount of standing water –at least the sunroof didn’t leak, a few drips came in past the windscreen seal.
 I was bloody impressed how the car dealt with the conditions in particular the suspension and the Yokohama tyres when we hit standing water –finally the weather eased as we reached the outskirts of Edinburgh encountering only one brain fart trying to find the “valet” parking for the airport control –it was where we thought it was i.e. where we parked last time -sometimes too much info can be confusing for old gits!
Mike was desperate for sleep so I carried on to the skiatch control – slipping in behind the  “Flying Dutch” GT6 we played cat at mouse glad the average speed cameras were not in use yet Mike finally getting his well deserved sleep –I started to give the car a few more revs the engine felt to be loosening  up. Handling improved as it settled on its up-rated springs –the excited puppy induction noise makes its debut  around 3,500 rpm barking “throw me a stick throw me a stick”  which I did a few times-flicking out of O/D 4th to get round trucks on the long climb into the Highlands –  again we made the control in good time and the car had behaved its self – this was the furthest it had traveled in the last year without the assistance of a breakdown truck

Skiatch to JOG –Seaview hotel Breakfast

Mike decided he was up for this stint to JOG which all though I reckon I could have done- I was glad of the rest-Mike reckoned  I would be more useful “kept fresh”
I had no problem falling asleep   to the tune of “throw me a stick throw me a stick” as Mike started to push the car a bit more.
Signs for JoG started to loom up out of the morning half light - Mike rattled off the last 30 miles or so to the Seaview Hotel breakfast halt –it  was bathed in grey Scottish light and as ever a cold wind – inside it was warm as was the  welcome from the staff-we tucked into our excellent  fried breakfast  along with  the other crews feeling good but well aware we were not even half distance yet – post bacon egg and beans I set about Mikes stiff pedal which was actually just the cable needing a bit of lube –taking the end off the pedal I ran some EP 90 between cable and sleeve –this had the instant effect of making the car a lot nicer to drive and me smell of   EP-90 rather than sweaty feet.

Allowing the car to "vent off the interior" JoG

Seaview Hotel  JoG to Conon Bridge

I drove the next leg to conon bridge this takes in the single tack road along the loch-we were in clear traffic nothing in front apart from a stag of the four legged version and nothing  behind –I felt completely at home on this stretch just like driving over one of the many fell roads in west Cumbria where I grew up, there was no pressure to kick on as we were ahead of the curve regarding timings –the average speed quoted in the route book is easily maintained whilst remaining safe –just as well as the Dolly had settled on its springs reducing the ride height-this combined with  the effect of the undulating uneven road , plus the two fat bastards with  boot full of spares brought the rear anti roll bar into contact with the ground on more than one  occasion –something I remember mine doing chasing Golf GTIs over Corney fell 20 years ago-as this wasn’t my car and we had  no Golfs to chase  I thought it best to back off –all though later in the day the sparks from said anti-roll bar would provide amusement for those following  when Mike was putting it  through its paces in the post conon bridge section section.

Conon Bridge to Sterling
Mike took over for the next leg (only after licking all the sandwiches laid on at the hotel) I stuck to the peaches and bananas I had brought with me.
I was looking forward to being a passenger in this section, taking in the scenery, getting a few pictures even a bit of kip to set me up for the motorway sections post sterling control- I did get a power kip in- I awoke to Mike grinning like a mad man and the smell of very hot Mintex brake pads –I was chuffed he was starting to trust the car and enjoy throwing sticks for it to chase along one of the best roads this island has to offer.
We made the control  in the first batch of teams- it was great to catch up with McJim  who had called in to say hello –we did check he hadn’t slipped any Lambrini into the sprints boot-he took great pleasure in explaining to the un-educated what exactly the grey meat was in  “scotch pies”-something Mike would  regret at Lands End.

The Motorway sections - Sterling to Tebay services, Tebay to Gledrid- are a good opportunity's  to catch up with some sleep -which we did, I drove to Tebay and Mike drove to Glenrid, the most excitement we had on these sections was in the car park at Tebay-not supplied by the coach load of “Hens” on their way to Blackpool as has been the norm in previous years- but by a nice looking Spitfire that came barreling into the space next to us and used the kerb to stop with a heavy clunk
“Easy Tiger” I thought –the Driver climbed out a bit pale and obviously a bit shocked stating the brakes had failed-seeing the crew were a bit shaken the two Fat Bastards got to use the boot full of tools they had been carrying around for the last 1,000 miles or so and set to work.

The Spitfires brake master was empty and the O/S  front calliper/hub ccovered in fluid, apparently it was a new calliper, but I noted there was no washer between the aftermarket steel braided  flexible line fitting and calliper so that was my guess as to the loss of fluid, we topped up the master and gave it a few pumps to see where the fluid was escaping hmm nothing out the front – it was all coming out the rear N/S hub area - out with Mikes lovely lightweight alloy trolley jack, I was intrigued to see this jack as Mike had stated that if anyone driving their car like a “cock” caused damage to his he would chase them down the road with the jack handle –I did point out that a lump hammer might be better as the handle was a bit light weight being ally- his reply was it was longer thus he had more chance of catching the bastard-needless to say I was jealous of Mikes jack as I put it under the diff to lift the spit up –all became apparent as to why the fluid was pissing out the back-the rear trunion  bolt had snapped -  hub/drive shaft had spun round ripping the brake line out-it was at this point the driver mentioned a loud bang as he was trying to slow on the handbrake!

The Spitfires RBR was over-unlucky you may think –but very lucky the trunion failure didn't happen at speed on the Motorway
What must have happened was the front caliper leak causing the fluid loss - then the use of the handbrake to get it slowed down in the service area put extra load/strain on the trunion, the bolt let go and major damage ensued -the bolt didn’t look new- it’s always worth checking/stripping/ replacing such safety critical components on these old cars every two years or so ,definitely before a long event like the RBR.

Glenrid to Sugar loaf

I took over the drive for this section –wide quick roads turning into twisty narrow bits great fun but some get carried away remembering Mikes words regarding jack handles I hung back and stayed away from some of the cars displaying a different risk assessment process to me-this resulted in us having some clear roads on the twisty bits leading up to the sugar loaf picnic area passage control  I have to admit taking the revs close to the red line and getting the brakes a bit hot but the car performed brilliantly –I backed off  apologising to Mike for cooking his brakes and looked out for the control-making a cock up when I saw the CT sign and pulled into a passing place rather than the car park !

Mike then took over the driving as I got a bit of kip in to line me up for the graveyard shift from Gordarno services M5 to Oakhampton services on the A30 – I had to take in coffee red bull and chocolate to fight off the 1,000 yard stare that grabs crews at Gordarno –I also had to leave part one of Tracey Island at the petrol station facilities –this seemed to wake me up and I felt the best I had ever felt on the graveyard shift-helped by not being in a spitfire no doubt!  on the following  patchy fog M5 section I clobbered a badger and things smelt a bit funny for a while as bits of it cooked on the exhaust- inspection at Oakhampton revealed that the rear anti-roll bar and front cross member were in fact now fur coated but no damage had been done.

Oakhampton to Lands end

Mike took over for this section and I have to admit to being knackered and sleeping most of it we rolled into lands end about 7.00am ish I was looking forward  to breakfast .
Mike was pre-occupied trying to find somewhere to release the scotch pie from earlier- unfortunately Lands End Hotel management seemed to have forgotten about us –even though they had been reminded the night before- peering through the dining area window I could see headless chickens running around realising they had 200+ breakfasts to cook –the doors were locked and when we did manage to speak to someone to asked that we be allowed to wait inside in the warm and make use of the Toilets –only to be told that the Toilets couldn't be opened or made available until maintenance  staff were on site – they didn't clock on till 08.00 – I can only assume bowel movements are banned on this site when said staff are not available.
 Finally doors opened and I joined the queue for Breakfast rather than the one for Tracey Islands- 20 minutes later I was scoffing eggs beans and bacon –Mike suffering a bit had a kip instead –with route book signed I had a wander around taking in the sea views and getting some fresh air,chatting to other crews for 10 minutes or so  - I didn't want to disturb mike from his sleep just yet.

We got underway again Mike continuing to try and get some kip as I drove to Bude-the roads were reasonably clear –there was no need to push on –but you almost feel you have to by this stage as you know you are on the home leg -I ended up just taking it easy with Gertie the slate grey MK1 2000 following us in to the excellent control.  I scoffed the rest of my gluten free stash of snacks and shared out the peaches

Mike suitably rested took the drive over Dartmoor to Badgers halt –where the toilets were out of action –not good as Mike was still in a “bit of discomfort” so we got signed in and I took the wheel out the car park 20 yards up the hill-cough cough splutter splutter the car stopped dead-It was exactly what the Scimitar had done to me a few weeks earlier 10 corners from the top of Stelvio- quick check of the floats revealed no fuel –whipped the top off the fuel pump to examine the internal filter- full- and I mean full with rusty flakey brown deposits  –bugger- Mike was fuming it was a new tank,new fuel lines and new pump so the only cause could have been contaminated fuel –Oakhampton the suspect as they were having their tanks filled as we filled ours? almost to confirm this theory a white mk3 spitfire went up the hill  making spluttering misfiring noises!

What was annoying that after clearing the blockage the fuel pump it wouldn't self prime – so we filled the floats manually using jerry can fuel this got it fired up again – I think half the problem was the battery not having as much oompfh as it should- see my dodgy cell theory earlier- anyway we were running again and needed to find some facilities quickly! I gunned the car up the hill no-missfires result -we found some conveniences  at the next car park then were on our way again –still on schedule -thanks to staying ahead of the curve all the way round.
The next stint I don’t enjoy the A303, A30 are fine but the A35 always seems so painful –Sunday afternoon traffic
Pimperene cake control was made 15 mins into the control window- Mike checked the fuel pump again whilst I got myself some rather nice Gluten free cake and a coffee not wanting to fanny about we set off again- Mike behind the wheel – 500 yards cough, cough misfire  stop- bugger- no fuel again- I took the top off the pump checked clear -put it back together-still wouldn’t self prime so filled the floats and it fired up with the aid of Allan Cs booster pack -but it was running rougher than the badger we had left on the M5 –working on the premise most fuel problems are electrical Mike took the Dizzy cap off-bugger-the Magnatronic trigger wheel had  come loose on the dizzy shaft- we swapped the old points back in set the gap and fired up again –proving the fuel pump was now OK- off we went- Allan C in front to make the Didcot control- misfiring all the way- but not so bad -we could maintain 60 mph-once at the control I reset the points gap, ran the car up and down the road it seemed fine-book signed (Mike continued driving duty) – the misfire came back within ½ a mile, bugger!
Various theories were discussed but  brain power was reduced by fatigue –we were determined to make the finish –Mike drove brilliantly getting the car through traffic, by now with head lights on the fan controller was tripping out and the battery not charging correctly – this necessitated  me steering whilst he reset the controller by un-plugging the feed under the dash- we did this all the way through the oxford/M40 traffic not daring to comment on whether we would make the Plough or not  –Once we reached the M25  traffic cleared a bit and our junction approached –belief creeping in I asked Mike if we were allowed to say “it”
Mikes response being-
”We can push the bastard from here so feel free”

Laughing we turned into the Plough – Book signed two bowls of Chips ordered ,two distributors in bits on the pub table –we pulled the one from the car to find the oil pump drive wasn’t “floating” this will have caused sideways load on the dizzy bearings causing them to fail hence the shaft movement and the random points gap jump-(misfire)- the movement would have also shagged the trigger wheel –the spare dizzy Mike had put in the boot was an unknown but had good bearings we freed off the counter balance weights, used the base plate and cleaned up points from the old unit – threw it back in the car and she fired up first time – quick timing check and it passed its test run up and down the road- Mike wouldn’t have to go home on a breakdown truck after all –it was 10.30 pm we were knackered- so said our goodbyes and headed onto the M25- I stayed with the Sprint until the M1 junction where Mike headed north- a flash of his lights confirming he was good to go- I continued off to Somerset making it home to my bed by 2.00am. Job done

So GTE or Sprint.....I would have both!


At 11 January 2016 at 00:47 , Blogger Unknown said...

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At 1 June 2016 at 04:50 , Blogger Unknown said...

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