Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Sunday 18th June. East Anglian Rally.

As with the Hughes rally a few weeks previous, scrutineering for this rally took place on the previous evening as well as the day of the event, Sunday morning.
So after going to look at another Mk1 saloon on Saturday afternoon, I then made my way to Elsenham to face scrutineering. 
Unfortunately, this didn't go as well as it did on the Hughes Rally and after finding and fitting some static seat belts as opposed to inertia reel seat belts I finally received a pass stamp on the Sunday morning.
The weather for the day was excessively hot as predicted and I had taken the precaution of fitting my louvered bonnet in order to expel the under bonnet heat. 

We left Elsenham at our required start time and completed regularity sections through Great Notley and Cressing before heading to our first set of tests at Wethersfield Airfield. Some of the courses for the tests were quite long and poor Gertie was getting a proper thrashing. We didn't do too bad and put in some acceptable times for such a heavy car. 
After leaving Wethersfield Airfield, we then had to contend with regularity sections through Justice's Hill and Castle Headingham before stopping for Lunch. Whilst at the lunch break we discovered that we were running in second place in our class behind a very well prepared stage rally Mk1 Cortina GT. (Painted in the obligatory Lotus Cortina colours)
The day was still blisteringly hot and a number of the cars were suffering from over heating problems. (So had one of the crews who had retired solely due to the heat!)  We had even taken to running with all four windows open and the electric fans on continuous while doing the tests. 
With food and lots of cold drinks consumed we headed through Sible Heading and back to Wethersfield Airfield for more tests. 
The day just seemed to be getting hotter as it went on and again the twin electric fans were switched to permanent. The car got pushed a bit harder in an attempt to improve on our second place, but too much right foot was resulting in a fair bit of sideways action which looks good, but isn't the quickest method. Great fun though. 
After battering Gertie around Wethersfield again, we then did more regularity sections through Finchingfield, Cole End, Carver Barracks and Sucksted Green before finishing back at Elsenham. 
After the planned dinner (and more cold drinks) we learned that we hadn't improved our performance enough and had to settle for 2nd in class and 17th overall. Still a good result considering some of the other cars and crews we were up against. A brilliant day, but incredibly hot weather. I have to say though, I was impressed with Gertie who, despite getting a good thrashing in such fierce heat, the temperature gauge never ventured past the 3/4 mark all day. 

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Saturday 3rd June. The Hughes Rally - Kent.

After many late nights of tidying up bodywork and fitting other requirements to ensure a pass at scrutineering, (2kg foam fire extinguisher, emergency windscreen hammer, seatbelt cutter, battery terminal covers etc,) Gertie was finally ready for this well known event. (So I hoped)
Scrutineering takes place on Friday night and Saturday morning, but with this being my first time on the event I decided to go on the Friday night. That way, if anything failed, I at least had a bit of time that night to correct it. 
The car passed scrutineering with only an advisory to put gaffa tape either over the spotlights, or inner headlights. (MSA regulations state you are only allowed four forward facing lights)
With this completed, I headed back home to Essex for a good nights sleep before the following day's activites. 
Colin Wake arrived at my house bright and early the next morning and by 07.30am we were entering Kent via the Dartford Crossing. The weather was expected to be good and we were hopeful of a fun (But long)  day out.
After signing on we the left the start location to go and test the measured mile. We have to do this to ensure the trip meter is in calibration with whoever measured the mile from the road book. With this done, we took on more fuel and then headed back for a coffee and a bacon sandwich and waited patiently for our 'car away' time.
At our designated time, we left the hotel and navigated our way to Mereworth Woods where we were to take part in five tests. These test courses are similar to Club Triumph's autosolos, only you are allowed to have your navigator on board and are in the woods, or fields, or farm yards!
Start of Test One in Mereworh Woods.

Competition is fierce on these events and there are lot of cars that are professionally prepared for just these type of rallies, so you just have to do your best and try not to make any mistakes
After test five we ventured back onto public roads for the regularity event. This is where you have to try and maintain an average speed at all times. (Easier said than done!) . Check points can spring up at any time and when you are least expecting it, so you really don't want to be too many seconds behind or in front because your time is recorded as soon as you enter the check point. 

After this regularity it was time for test six at Hononton Farm which turned out to be quite a quick course. This was on tarmac and concrete and in and out of farm buildings, so lots of tyre screeching was the order of the day.

Three more regularity sections followed this and then we were off to a well earned lunch at Hole park, but not before doing another test. We made some minor repairs whilst here as one of my seat runners had snapped on one of the tests. (I always said those Triumph seat runners were crap!)
After lunch we had to complete another test at hole park, although we couldn't see the vehicle that lined up behind us getting a very quick time!
Another regularity section followed before heading off for another test at Brockton farm. This was probably our slowest test yet as our standard road tyres just couldn't cope with the loose surface. Most of the time was was just spent wheel spinning and trying not to over rev. (See below)

An Afternoon coffee break followed at a transport cafe on the A20 and then it was time for the last two regularity sections, one of which was Mereworth woods again. Great fun was had around the woods although the last section seemed to confuse everyone and we met two cars coming towards us looking for the exit.

After a long day, it was time to head back to the hotel for dinner and results and it was whilst we were at the hotel that we discovered we had picked up a bullet in the tyre from Mereworth Woods. (It's used for MOD excercises as well) 
The tyre was still inflated, but we decided not to chance it and changed it in the hotel car park rather than the hard shoulder of the motorway if it did let go. 
It had been a long day and Colin and I were feeling quite exhausted. We had been on the go for about 12 hours by this time and still had to drive home. 
We did quite well though and finished 3rd in class and 22nd overall. Not bad considering some of the other cars we were up against that had obviously had some serious amounts of money thrown at them. 

Monday, 1 May 2017

Historic Counties Rally. 8th & 9th April 2017

On this bright sunny Saturday afternoon it was time for the Annual Club Triumph Historic Counties Rally. I had decided to rest Gertie my Mk1 saloon 2600 for this event and introduce Flo, my Mk1 saloon 2.5 Pi to some of this endurance type stuff.
I've had a lot of trouble with reliability with this car before, (Purely down to Lucas fuel pumps though,  it has to be said) so it was time to start trying to get it up to Gertie's reliable standard.
Ross, my Co-driver for the event arrived at my house around 2pm and after a quick coffee we set out for the start point in Coventry. 
The drive up to Coventry was glorious in the sunshine and the Pi behaved well. We arrived at the start in time to take part in the pre-event quiz and enjoyed some good food before the off at 8pm.
Once the clues had been handed out, we plotted our route which would start us off at the Canley memorial, then take us to Hinkley, then Noble Automotive at Leicester.

 From Leicester we travelled north up the M1 to the county off Nottinghamshire (Bonus point) and then across to Derby to the Toyota Factory.

From the Toyota factory we set off across the A50 towards Stoke as our next port of call was the Bentley factory at Crewe in Cheshire. Here we encountered a 'jobsworth' security guard who said we needed permission to take a picture of the factory even though it was on the main road! We just ignored him and took the pic anyway! It was while we were here that we received a text telling us that the halfway point rest break had been moved from a motorway services in the Midlands to a services in Staffordshire due to road closures. We then decided that as this was a lot nearer to where we were, we now had time to get to the Vauxhall plant at Ellesmere Port and back to the services before cut off time.
We nearly came unstuck here though, as on our return from Ellesmere Port we found the junction from the M56 to the  M6 southbound closed and faced a lengthy diversion. We also didn't count for the amount of 50mph roadwork sections for such long periods on the M6 and just made the halfway point three minutes before 2am. Arrival past 2am would have put us OTL. (Outside time limit-which meant disqualification from the remainder of the event.) 
Once we had had our compulsory break, we set out on the second half at 3am which took us down through Worcestershire, Gloucestershire and into Wiltshire to the Honda factory. Once again roadworks and 50mph speed limits seemed to be the order of the day. Even the M5 was closed between junctions two and three which meant another diversion. 
Apparently a lot of other crews had trouble with security at Honda and were told that taking pics was not allowed, but we had managed to find the rear entrance which was unmanned, so we didn't have any grief. 
After leaving here we headed south east to McLaren's base in Woking in Surrey. By now the sun was coming up and the tiredness that had been creeping in was dissipating, so that was a good thing. I had started to feel quite knackered! 
From here time was staring to get a bit tight, so we looped back up towards the M40 so that we could obtain proof of county signs of Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire before finishing at the required location in Berkshire. (Reading)  Here we had a hearty breakfast before heading homewards on a journey that was fraught with accidents, traffic jams and other serious hold ups! Not what you want when you've been awake all night and just want to get home and sleep!
I was impressed with the Pi though, I have to say. We did 722 miles door to door and she never missed a beat in all that time. (Even sitting stationary for ages in the heat trying to get home) The fuel consumption wasn't bad either with a wallet friendly 27.8 mpg. 
The only thing I did miss was power steering. (Gertie has obviously spoilt me!) My shoulders were killing me on Sunday night and Monday morning. A modification for the near future no doubt. 
All in all though, a very good trouble free run and faith restored. =) 

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Chinese Rally-Holland-March 11th 2017

Having been busy with work lately, I've only just had time to sit down and write this so apologies for the delay.
Having been absent from the Chinese Rally for a couple of years now, I thought I'd get myself reacquainted with it. 
Dave Harvey, my co-driver for the event arrived on Friday afternoon and after a quick play with the fuel pressure on the Pi, we then ventured out for the evening by way of a beer and an Indian, although with the alarm set at the ungodly hour of 5am for the Saturday morning, it was never going to be a heavy night. 
By 6am Saturday morning we were on our way to the Eurotunnel for our 8.10am crossing. Neither Dave or I had been on the train before, so this was a new experience for both of us. 
Check in was straight forward and before we knew it we were driving down the inside of a large train carriage.

Roughly 20 minutes later we were off the other side and decided on a non-stop drive through France, Belgium and the dreaded Antwerp ring road before stopping for breakfast. A ham omelette was the order of the day for breakfast which was rudely interrupted by the couple behind us suddenly charging out of the restaurant and chasing two men that had just just stolen their wallet out of their coats. Charming!
Dave took over for the second part of the run and by mid-afternoon we had reached our hotel in Raalte. We had an hour spare for a quick coffee and a shower before it was time to head for the start at the Hong Kong Chinese Restaurant at Weseppe.
The entry was very full and certainly varied and we also met up with the only other British entrant Don Cook in his beautiful red GT6. 

After some lovely Chinese food it was time to hit the road and take to the darkness. I have to say the first part didn't go to well for most crews as the route book didn't seem to match to the kilometres or mileage given. There seemed to be quite a few other crews driving round lost as well as us. Shoulder shrugging seem to be the common gesture and we all drove past each other from all different directions!
We eventually got to the half way stage for the obligatory coffee and cake and a bonus here was that the half way stage was at a car restoration work shop. There was some interesting work going on here on some very interesting projects.
After being fed and watered it was time to hit the road for the second half and this went a lot better than the first. We never ventured off route once and on our arrival back at the finish our total kilometres on our trip meter showed 86.5 kms compared to the 86.2 in the route book. This was deemed close enough as you're never going to get it spot on. 
We had time for a couple of small beers before retiring for the night and was delighted to win an award for the best foreign entrant as well. A lot of people also complimented us on our enthusiasm for the event having only left England that morning in order to compete in Holland the same night.

After a good nights sleep and a hearty breakfast, it was time to head back to blighty, because unfortunately I had to be back at work on the Monday morning. We caught a ten minute hold up on the Antwerp ring road, but other than that, had another clear run home. 
The Eurotunnel was a bit slower this time due to passport and car checks, but we still managed to get on an earlier train which was a bonus. 
All in all we'd had a good trip. The weather was definitely on our side and it was nice to be roaming about in short sleeves for a change. 
Now, shall I do the next one in November? Hmm.........

Sunday, 16 October 2016

RBRR 2016. Another Success!

Friday the 7th October 2016 and the long awaited Club Triumph Round Britain Reliability Run was upon us. 
Hopes of a nice lie in were soon dashed when the neighbour across the road was having his driveway block paved and I was awoken by the sound of a nine inch angle grinder revving its nuts off! Moving into the lounge wasn't much better as the house behind me was also doing some building work with the aid of a kango! How's your luck? 
My two co-drivers (Darren Sharp and Dave Saunders) arrived just before 2pm and after a quick coffee we were ready to set out. However, Dave then noticed a spring laying in the driver side footwell. Further investigation revealed that the clutch return spring had broken and just dropped off of the pedal!
Dave and Darren then proceeded to remove the parcel tray while I disappeared into the Garage to rob the spring from my Mk1 Pi. (See? it pays to have more then one car!)
Once this awkward and fiddly job was done, we were finally ready to set off, although now an hour later than we intended. 
The traffic around the M25 and A1 wasn't too bad and before long we were at the start location at Knebworth I always love the start of this event and meeting other club members that you wouldn't normally see is always a highlight for me. 
Before long we were setting out and leaving Knebworth turned out to be a lot better than leaving the previous location for the RBRR. No traffic hold ups at all. Lovely!

A quiet drive up the A1 saw us arrive at the first check point at Blyth more or less at the opening time. A quick stop for fuel and signing of the roadbook and we were away again. We had to devise a diversion for the next bit as the A1 was closed at Leeming Bar for bridge works. We opted to take the A168 and A19 and then cut back over not far short of the next control at Carter Bar. (The Scottish Border)
Arrival at Carter Bar 20 mins early found the check point initially void of any CT marshal's, but by the the time it was due to be open, they had arrived. A quick dash up to Kinross Services for the next control saw us take on fuel again and then it was my turn for long run up past Inverness and the next control at Skiach services.
After more coffee at Skiach to boost the energy levels we then encountered the beautiful drive up to John O Groats while watching the sun rise over the North Sea.

A hearty breakfast at the Seaview hotel, John o'Groats was most welcome and was consumed in good company too.
Gertie at John O Groats
With Gertie full of 99 octane and us full of coffee and hot fried food we left view earlier than intended, but only to vacate the table for more incoming crews.
A leisurely drive was then taken across the top of Scotland through Thurso and over to Bettyhill before heading south towards Altanharra. The next control point was back at Skiach and because we left JOG so early we were there a good hour before it opened. This was fine with us as Dave wanted to grab more sleep and Darren and I did some fine tuning with the car.
I then took my seat behind the wheel for (in my opinion) the best part of the run. We went down past Loch Ness and Fort William and stopped at a lovely roadside cafe juts before Glencoe for a nice piece of Lemon Drizzle cake and more coffee. 

I continued the drive down to the next control at Stirling before Dave took over for the motorway stretch down to Tebay. At Tebay we took some time out to have a hot meal and a shower (not at the same time and certainly not together!) so we all felt refreshed for our second overnight drive.
Darren was now in the driving seat and I tried to grab some sleep on the back seat as for some reason, sleep had totally evaded me so far.
The Gledrid control was its usual hive of activity and it's at this point that I took to consuming Red Bull and Haribo TangFastics sweets in readiness for the pitch black Welsh forest stages down to Sugar Loaf.
The Sugar Loaf control was crammed so we just pulled in, had the book signed and moved on. Another good drive saw us topping up with fuel at the previous control at Gordano, before carrying on down to Westonzoyland aerodrome and the next control. Coffee and Banana cake was the order of the day here before the long slog down to Lands End via the check point at Okehampton.

Sunday morning saw us at Lands End and finally in the daylight again. This is the part of the run where we all start perking up. The daylight driving makes life easier, plus you know that you are on the last leg and homeward bound. (Well heading for the finish anyway)
Another good hearty breakfast saw us revitalised and heading for Bude Motor Museum. More coffee followed and I made arrangements to leave my timing light and spare distributor for my fellow CT Essex colleagues in car 104 who were having a few difficulties and were about 90 mins behind us.
From Bude we headed for Badger Holt at Dartmoor where we enjoined ice cream purchased from the petrol money. (Such Luxuries!)
Pimperne would be the next control and famous (with CT anyway) for the vast array of cakes laid on. This is always a favourite haunt for RBRR'ers and nobody ever seems to be in a rush to get away from here. This was the penultimate control, so the drive from here is always full of apprehension and the dread of something going wrong at this late stage. The rain also set it at this point which was a pity as this had been the best RBRR for weather since my first one in 2010.
The drive back to the finish was the usual Sunday night go slow, but not too bad actually. We made Knebworth in good time and walking up to the bar I was met by a giant dog serving beer! I thought I must have been more tired than I thought and had starting hallucinating, but it turned out to be one of the bar staff in a dog costume. =)
We had booked into the hotel for the night, so no more driving for us and we had the chance to have a few beers to round off a great weekend. 
We'd had another great run and once again Gertie had performed faultlessly. (Apart from the broken clutch spring at the start)
This was now her 3rd RBRR in my ownership and 4th in total. All without breakdown or serious issue. I have to say though, I may stand her down for the next one and give the Mk1 Pi a try. Listening to all those other Pi's on the run just made me want to be in the same.

Sunday, 4 September 2016

RBRR - 1 month to go......Gearbox out again!!!

Since about  May this year I have had a strange tinny rattling sound on Gertie. However, this sound only happens when you turn the engine off. You never hear it when driving along.
The noise is very similar to having a loose exhaust clamp which is spinning round the exhaust. So, that  was where the investigations started. 
Over the past few months extensive investigations have also been carried out on the starter motor, alternator and various other parts that rotate. I've also laid underneath the car while someone starts it and turns it off again looking for this noise, I've looked through the engine bay, up inside the nose cone in case the electric fan brackets had come loose or broken, you name it, I've looked there. 
I eventually convinced myself that it was coming from the bellhousing area, so when after all else had failed, I resigned my self to removing the gearbox. (Not my favourite job- I think this is the 4th time since 2011 now!)
Inspection of the gearbox proved to be fine and everything looks and works as it should. However, I then tried to push my finger through the splined hole for the clutch plate and felt something very loose and flapping about. 
Removal of the clutch plate revealed the below. I'm not too impressed I have to say. Particularly as this clutch was only 14 months old when it started making this noise. 

You can see the crack in the bottom left of the hexagonal metal plate. 
This metal plate was obviously dropping onto the first motion shaft and spinning round it when the engine was switched off. Maybe it was doing while driving along as well, but I couldn't hear it because of the engine noise. Or, maybe the centrifugal force of the flywheel was moving it back into place while circulating? Who know? All I know is, I need another bloody clutch! =( 

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

RBRR Preparations.

On the last part of the recent Scottish trip Dave and I had become aware that the brake pedal had a tad more travel than normal. Once home and time permitted inspections revealed that the front pads were indeed getting low. 
Replacements were purchased and while I was at it I decided to replace the rear shoes as well. Further inspections revealed that the nearside inner front wheel bearing was noisy, so I replaced all of the front wheel bearings. My train of thought being that they were all fitted at the same time, so if one was worn, the rest may not be that far behind. Plus, I'd rather do the job now in a nice warm garage with plenty of light and tools, rather than on the RBRR in a pitch black lay-by somewhere while it's peeing down with rain and watching my sockets roll down a drain hole! (Or worse still the replacement bearing!)
With this done I then focused on the shock absorbers. Gertie has become a bit 'wallowy'  of late and needed to be tightened up a bit. A full set of brand new gas shocks were purchased and fitting commenced. The rears had been replaced with new standard shocks a few years back so these were swapped with the new gas items and put in the spares bin. The front shocks however, had never been replaced.In fact, if I remember rightly I had swapped the entire front legs over off of my Mk2 before I sold it so that I could keep my lowered springs. 
Once I had stripped the legs right down and removed the shocks I discovered that the driver side had a Monroe gas shock in it, but the passenger side had a normal hydraulic one! I can't believe that people can do these things. 
Both gaiters were completely knackered as well, so a new pair were ordered. The new shocks were fitted, then the search began for a replacement strut top as my nearside one had seized solid and this had caused the rubber bonding to split. You wouldn't have thought so though as the car steered perfectly. It's amazing what power steering can mask! 
So with this little lot done, all that's needed before the RBRR is an oil and filter change, then we are all good to go and Gertie will have another sticker for the inside of her bootlid. :) 

I've been doing bits to the Pi as well. I finally got fed up of the 'super lightweight', vague and constantly leaky steering and removed all of the power steering kit. I also re-greased the strut tops while I was at it and set the Koni Adjustable front shocks for a bit more 'firmness'. 
The Pi steering wheel has also been removed for something with more strength in the form of a Motolita. (No, the Pi wheel isn't for sale) :) 
The next job was to remove the awful Mk2 rear brakes that someone had fitted. The so called 'self adjusting' handbrake type that do nothing of the sort! Mk1 back plates were sourced, new wheel cylinders and brake shoes were fitted and now at last I have a car that I can park on a hill and it will still be there when I get back. 
An oil and filter change is also next on the list for this car too. Plus, I've almost got a full set of good doors and panels for her now, so the bodywork should start taking shape soon as well.
I just really need to get out and drive the bloody thing more. It goes like stink when required and sounds fantastic too.