Monday, 5 August 2019

August 3rd. Another long day!

Another mammoth journey this weekend, this time to collect a Triumph Mk3 Spitfire from 'oop north'. The car had been bought by Colin Wake unseen, so it was to be a bit of a  surprise when we got there.
The meeting point for the latest expedition was Latchingdon in Essex where we once again scrounged a trailer off of Mike Helm. 7am was the planned arrival time and this would be the third Saturday on the trot that I'd not been able to have a lie in. 
Mike was already up and about when I arrived, so before long the trailer was hooked up and we were awaiting the arrival of Colin Wake
Keighley in Yorkshire was our destination, but not before a quick diversion to Chellaston in Derby to collect the differential that I had dropped off at Dave Harvey's the week before. The weather was better then the week before and we made good time arriving at Dave's just after 10am. 
After a coffee and a chat, we grabbed the differential and were on our way again continuing north bound up the M1. 
Colin had text Bryce (The guy selling the Spitfire) to give him an eta of 1pm which turned out to be a pretty good guess as we pulled into the yard at bang on 1 o'clock. 
We were greeted by a pile of bits that at one time used to be a car and realised it would take some time to get it all loaded. 
I don't know how long we took getting everything loaded, but I know there was far more stuff than we first realised (3 engines, 2 gearboxes etc) We then headed towards Skipton, but cut across country and ended up going through Otley and past Harewood House before stopping for diesel and food at Ferrybridge services. (We hadn't eaten all day) We then realised it was already 4pm and we still had many miles to cover. 
After a bite to eat and a coffee, we put £40 of diesel in the Land Rover (We weren't going fill it up at a scandalous £1.55 per litre!) and headed south. Our route took us down the A1 and A14 across to Ipswich before taking the A12 to Colchester. ( We stopped at a Tesco superstore near Cambridge to get more diesel)
We arrived at Colin's at around 8.30pm where I dropped the trailer for Colin to offload and return at another date.
After a quick coffee I made tracks back to Leigh on Sea arriving home at 10pm. The old faithful Land Rover had clocked up another 594 miles on this trip and once again, never missed a beat. 
I don't have any further long trips planned at present which is just as well as I'm ready for a break from them. I worked out today that not including going to and from work or other local trips, I've covered 3067 miles since the 15th June!






July 27th. Visit to HarveyTune HQ

Following the trip to Wales it had come become evident that the differential in the Pi wasn't quite right. So, after arranging for repairs and adjustments to be carried out, the offending item was removed from the car and plans were made to drop it off at Dave Harvey's place in Derby where he would then take it to where it was being repaired on Monday
A very rainy Saturday morning saw me leaving Leigh On Sea at 5.30am to head for the M1 and up to Derby. The rain was continuous, although it did manage to ease off by the time I stopped at the Watford Gap services. 
The roads were clear and I made good time up to Derby. Too good actually as I didn't want to arrive at Dave's too early, so stopped for a coffee at Derby services to kill some time. 
On arrival at Dave's more coffee and sausage cobs were on the agenda and soon after Adrian Hadfield arrived to start preparing Dave's car for its impending accident damage repairs. Adrian's work is top class and it's good to watch a real expert at work. 
Before long the rain started again and it now looked like it was here for the duration. Around 2pm I decided to make tracks and head for home. Sure enough, the rain was indeed here for the day and I never turned the wipers off all the way home. The traffic was kind though and I arrived home around 5pm having covered 310 miles round trip. 
The car ran well, although seems to be running hotter than I would prefer. Further investigations will be required. 

Monday, 22 July 2019

Welsh Wales! July 20th & 21st

A weekend away with some good friends in the Welsh countryside was on the agenda for this weekend and I had been looking forward to it for some time. Unfortunately, friend and running mate/co-driver Dave Harvey wasn't available for this one, so I would be travelling alone.
I had prepared and loaded up 'Gertie the 2nd' to take on this trip, but for some reason when it came to leaving early hours Saturday morning, she decided wasn't going! (I had flushed the heater box and cylinder head out the night before and had smothered the electrics with water, so I think that was the reason for her poor behaviour) So I hastily transferred the tools and spares etc into the Pi and later than I wanted to be....finally set off. 
The rain had lashed down the night before and there was some giant sized puddles along the route. I made good progress along the A127, M25, M40 and A40 and only stopped for coffee once I was the other side of Gloucester.
All coffee'd up, I set off again and after another 20 miles was at the meeting point at Jo's diner near Ross On Wye. I haven't been on one of these tours for some time now, so it was really good meeting up with old faces again. It was like we'd only seen each other yesterday and the laughs and jokes were already well in progress.
After a large (but not great) breakfast we set off towards Abergavenny, then headed up to Builth Wells. Unfortunately we managed to get stuck behind a Tesco's artic for about 15 miles that seemed to have a top speed of 20mph! Eventually he turned off and we were then able to have a good drive up towards Rhayader where we turned off to conquer the Edan valley. We found a spot where we had planned to make a brew while enjoying cake and scenery, but the rain had set in and just wouldn't leave us alone. The mist forming over the mountains still gave the scenery good effect though.


With the brew up cancelled we then headed to Tregaron and found a pub...…...which was closed! So we got back in the cars and headed for Lampeter where we parked in the town and enjoyed coffee and cake in a coffee bar. 
Suitably refreshed we then cut across country to Newcastle Emlyn, Cardigan and then our final destination at Fishguard. By now the weather had picked up, the sun was out, and the view from my hotel room was perfectly acceptable! 
A good shower was next on the agenda which was followed by a crafty pint in the beer garden. Not all of us were in the same hotel, so a group text announced that the meeting point for the evening was the Royal Oak in the town followed by a trip to the local Indian restaurant. The food was very good I have to say and considering we'd hardly eaten since breakfast, went down very well.
With my 3.30am start, I was flagging about half ten and called it a night and returned to my room and slept like the dead! 
Sunday morning and a good breakfast of eggs, bacon and hashbrowns was consumed before meeting the rest of the crew in the hotel car park.

The next plan was to head to Newport (Not the one near the Severn Bridge) and have an ice cream on the beach, but a few of us decided to start heading home. (Mainly the guys that had travelled the furthest) My Satnav was  telling me I had a distance of 309 miles to cover, plus I had driven 179 miles just to get to the start. 
So, three of us travelled in convoy until someway down the M4, where we all separated at different points and went our own separate ways. 
The long drive home along the dull M4 was mind numbingly boring, but I made good time and didn't encounter any traffic on the M4, M25, or A127. 
By the time I arrived home I had covered 672 miles and had no issues at all with the Pi. It had been a great weekend, with some brilliant company and plenty of good laughs. Roll on the next one! 






Monday, 1 July 2019

June 29th. Triumph 2000 Register National Day.

Another mammoth journey was on the agenda this weekend as the 2000 register were holding their national day at Warren Mill, which is near Bamburgh Castle. 
Now, as I nearly always have commitments on Sundays, I have always made the journey to these national days as a day trip no matter where they are. Watchet in Somerset, Boston in Lincolnshire and Paignton in Devon have all been completed in a day without stopping over. However, this one being 348 miles away from where was I live was certainly going to be a challenge. 
Co-driver Richard Warr arrived Friday night and we decided to give the obligatory pub visit a miss and after loading the car with tools and spares we just had a Chinese takeaway and watched a bit of TV. 
We left mine at 1am Saturday morning and planned our route of M25, M11, A14 and then the A1. The road works on the A14 were still going on and we found the road closed before we'd even got to Huntingdon. The diversion route was sign posted appallingly and I had to rely on Richard finding a route on google maps on his phone to miss out the closed section and get us back on track. 
Richard took the wheel just after Peterborough while I tried (unsuccessfully) to grab some sleep. The A1 was very dark and very boring with hardly any cars, but lots of trucks. Just before Blyth Richard was flagging, so I took the wheel again. His long journey from Warwickshire to mine on the Friday had obviously taken its toll. 
By now the sun was starting to rise so it wasn't so difficult. Richard slept all the way from Blythe to the A68 turn off at Corbridge where we completed another driver change. By now the flask of coffee I'd prepared before we left was coming in handy as well. 
Just after we swapped drivers we decided to enter the location for the national day thinking we shouldn't have that much further to go. We were quite a bit out with this one as it turns out we still had another 82 miles to cover! 
The sun was up by the time we passed the Angel of the north and the mist and fog from the night before had now disappeared. 
Around the Newcastle area we were starting to get a bit peckish and according to google the restaurant on the site didn't open until 12pm. We didn't want to get all the way there and then have to leave site again to get something to eat, so we thought we'd try and find something before we got there. 
However, once north of Newcastle things get a bit sparse and the area becomes quite remote. There doesn't even seem to be many petrol stations around let alone cafes or snack wagons. The first place we found was the Purdy lodge which was only 4 miles away from where we going to anyway. 
With the car re-fuelled and us fed we pulled into the camp site at around 8.40am. It had been a long drive through the night, but apart for the A14 diversion, things had gone well. 
The day was lovely and warm already and became quite hot as it went on. Although not as hot as it was in the south apparently. 
There were some lovely cars there and the standard as usual was very high. Richard and I were asked to judge the best performance modified, and I hope we managed to do a good job. 
It was also a great day as well for meeting friends and fellow enthusiasts and catching up with people not seen for a while. 
The journey home was going to be a long and hot one so at 2.45pm we made the decision to leave. The sat nav was predicting an eta home of 8.45pm and telling us we had 345 miles to travel, so with oil and water checked we set off. I took the first stint and my target was to the junction of the A1 and the M62. However, this was a bit ambitious and I only made it as far as Wetherby before tiredness took over. The heat was also incredible the further south we headed and it was like driving with the heater on full blast even with both front windows wide open.
Richard took over from Wetherby, but before long we were having trouble with fueling and the car came to a stop in a lay-by on the A1. The metal facet electric fuel pump was extremely hot and this was thought to be the issue. With the pump re-mounted further back and well away from the radiator, we set off again. However, 20 minutes later we had the same issue and had to stop again. The fuel pump was very hot again and so I wondered if it was overheating and cutting out.  Luckily, I always carry spares and so a brand-new Huco electric pump was fitted in place of the facet pump. I also moved the fuel pressure regulator on the other side of the engine bay to move this further back from the radiator too in case this was being affected. Before setting off we decided to let everything to cool off for a while we settled for a McDonalds meal and cold drink. The heat really was something else and I was sweating buckets just working over the engine bay. 
With dinner out of the way we set out once again and all seemed to be good, but we found out after about ten miles that it still wasn't. The hesitation started again and before long we had had to dive for the hard shoulder again. 
With nothing else left to try I by-passed the fuel pressure regulator and attached the fuel line direct from the pump to the carburettors. 
This time we had success and a trouble free run home was enjoyed. So the problem wasn't using a 52 year old car  to do a 700 mile trip, it was a reasonably modern component that couldn't survive six years! 
Our eta home had been creeping up with every breakdown and the new one after the last breakdown was now 10.25pm. We did manage to achieve this though and decided to have a quick wash and brush up and head to the pub for last orders. Luckily, the pub was open until midnight, so we had a few drinks to celebrate out long but successful (only just) day. 
It was a good test for the car as it was its first long journey since having new big end and main bearings in the new year. This car is now effectively 'Gertie the 2nd' as it has Gerties engine, differential, exhaust system, cooling system and suspension set up. It's also lined up to be next years RBRR car, so it needs to be reliable. (Gertie was suffering terminal rot and damage and had to go) 










15th June- Triumph recovery!

Triumph recovery was the mission planned for this weekend after good friend Dave Harvey had an issue on the Circuit Historique de Laon in France, which unfortunately resulted in accident damage and the car being left undriveable.
The insurance company and the RAC had made it perfectly clear that they weren't interested in helping with the recovery as it was an 'accident' and not a 'breakdown'. Nice! 
So, with Ferries booked and arrangements made we left my place at Leigh on Sea at 5.30am Saturday morning to catch the 8.25am Dover to Calais crossing.
The sailing was on time and the crossing was calm and the restaurant also served a good breakfast which was much needed after the early start. It was a beautiful day weather wise and the traffic was virtually non-existent. (Unlike English roads!)
We decided to punch on without stopping and made good time down to Bruyeres-et-Montberault, just south of Laon to where the car was stored. Luckily, although the car was damaged, it could still be carefully driven onto the trailer, (even with a flat tyre where the front wing had pierced it!) so loading the car onto the trailer didn't take long and we were soon on our way again with the intention of trying to catch an earlier ferry. (We'd bought a flexi-ticket for that reason) With just one quick stop for coffee we motored on and achieved our objective by managing to book onto the 5.55pm Calais crossing as opposed to our planned 6.55pm crossing.
We hadn't eaten since breakfast, so we headed for the restaurant and consumed a rather nice dinner. Again we had another nice calm crossing and the rest on the ferry was most welcoming after all the non-stop driving. 
Once we departed at Dover we made the decision to 'go for it' and make the journey up to Dave's place in Derby. That way we wouldn't have another full day the next day, plus we wouldn't have to drag the car and trailer all they way from the M25 and up the A127 to almost Southend and then drag it all the way back down to the M25 again on the Sunday. 
With only a fuel stop just outside Dover and a quick stretch of legs (and to check the straps on the trailer) at Toddington services we carried on. The rain, dark clouds, low sun and spray made visibility interesting to say the least! 
Apart from the dreaded roadworks between Bedford and Northampton the traffic was free flowing and we arrived at Dave's parents where the car was to be stored at around 10.30pm. 
Leaving my house earlier now seemed like a different day, but we were pleased with what we'd accomplished. The Mileage for the day was a tad over 600 miles. After a quick spruce up we then retired to the local pub to celebrate with a couple of well deserved beers. 
Unloading the Triumph was the first thing on the agenda Sunday morning which didn't take too long and by 10.40am I was on my way home. I had to return the trailer to Latchingdon first though. I eventually got home at 2.40pm with another 191 miles on the clock, so total mileage for weekend was 791. 
Once again the Land Rover had done me proud and she's doing well for a 22 year old. It was also satisfying to help a good friend in trouble and make sure that his car wasn't stranded on foreign shores due to the appalling attitudes of the insurance company and RAC's 'European Breakdown cover! 
Nethertheless, we still managed to have a good, if not tiring and long weekend. 




Sunday, 31 March 2019

Friday 22nd March. Triumph Action.....Sort of!

Friday morning 6.45am saw me heading towards Latchingdon to meet Dave Jones and collect a car trailer. Dave had bought a Mk2 Triumph 2.5Pi and due it being a non-runner needed transporting home.....from Wigan!
By 7.30 we were on our way and cutting across country through Chelmsford before joining the M11 at Bishops Stortford. 
We stopped for Coffee, Croissants and Diesel near Stanstead and carried on across the A14 and M6. Just after Birmingham we started seeing signs on the overhead gantry's stating 'long delays junction 23 to 25'.  Bugger! It was junction 25 of the M6 that were due to come off at. Not long after that the signs changed to read 'M6 closed at junction 25'. Double bugger! Just our luck. 
A quick phone call to the seller was made and he advised us to come off at junction 23 and head up the A49. It was better, but everyone else had that idea, so it was slow going.
We eventually arrived at the pick up point at around 12.45, so it wasn't too bad I guess. We loaded up the car straightaway and set off for the return leg. 

We found a chip shop before the motorway, so a very greasy cod and chips was consumed. (Actually, I only ate the fish and gave the chips to Dave-too greasy for my liking!)
We suffered a small delay around junction 24 on the way back, but nothing too serious. The Triumph  was to be delivered to Cheshunt in Hertfordshire, so the M1 was our favoured return route. Surprisingly for a Friday afternoon it wasn't too bad. I have to say though, the amount of people we saw using mobile phones whilst driving was quite alarming. But then I suppose with our wonderful government doing away with police on the streets and police cars on the motorways (When was the last time you saw one?) then people are going to take chances and risk it aren't they?
A quick cup of tea at Cheshunt and we were soon on the M25 again and off to Latchingdon to return the trailer. By now it was approaching 7pm and I was feeling the effects of the long day. Luckily the M25 and A12 was clear and we arrived at Latchingdon at 8pm. 
With the trailer safely delivered I finally arrived back home at 8.45pm. I worked out the mileage and fuel use the following day to find that my 22 year old Landrover Discovery had covered 516 miles and averaged 22mpg. Not bad considering nearly half of that mileage was covered with an empty car trailer in tow and the other half with a 1400kg car on it as well. The old girl did good and never missed a beat. 



Sunday, 28 October 2018

October 5th-7th The 2018 Round Britain Reliabilty Run

That special time was on us again. The famous RBRR. I had been looking forward to this event for some time, although a few last minute issues with the car saw me preparing another one as back up just in case! 
The Mk1 Pi was the weapon of choice and after some last minute metering unit tuning by co-driver Dave Harvey we were set and all ready to go. 
This RBRR was to be different for us this time as we had decided to run as a two car team with Richard Warr & Dave Maton in the other car. (We were also both  running as a two man crew as opposed to the usual three man.)
We met up at a Tesco superstore at Knebworth and after discovering that they didn't have a café, resorted to a nearby carvery for a good roast dinner before our drive through the night.
Disaster struck when we were waved off as Richards car decided it didn't want to go and broke down with fuel supply issues before even leaving Knebworth! Frantic efforts were made to get it running, but after an hour we had to admit defeat. Luckily Dave Maton had brought his Mk1 to Knebworth to meet Richard, so they swapped all the tools and spares over into Dave's car while we shot off to try and persuade the marshals at the first control at Wetherby to stay open and wait for them. 
As we were now an hour behind right from the start, we pushed on up to Wetherby and made good time. By the time we had finished our coffee, Richard & Dave had caught us up too. 
We were now running right at the back of the pack, so time was tight. We persevered, but the rain and dismal conditions were holding us back. 
We just about made the next control at Carter Bar before it closed and quickly got the book signed before heading off to Knockhill Race circuit. An added issue was that my brake lights had now packed up and the plastic  switch fell apart while under investigation! I went in front and used the walky talky that Richard had brought to warn them of when I was braking. 
Knockhill was a welcome sight and luckily I managed to borrow a brake light switch to resolve my issue. 
The long drive up the A9 to Inveness was the next stretch with no chance of playing catch up due to the boring 60 mph speed limit and all the average speed cameras. 
Skiach came and went, but a welcome coffee saw us through to John O'Groats. 
A good breakfast saw us all refreshed and then it was back to Skiach again for the next stop. We had a bit of time to play with here , so work started on Dave Matons car which had developed a misfire through the small hours. Thinking he had cured the problem, we set off again, but had to stop two or three times to try and improve the running. Needless to say, after catching up well, we were now falling behind again. 
The run through Scotland was beautiful as ever although the rain did rear its ugly head once or twice.
A quick coffee saw us head down to Tebay where a hot meal in the restaurant was enjoyed. 
Dave took the opportunity to take a pic of the petrol pumps with only one modern car on the pumps to spoil the view! 
Gledrid, Monmouth and Okehampton controls were crossed off the list with just a quick stop at Okehampton to change my front offside sidelight bulb. Dave's car still wasn't running right, but he was putting up with it rather than work in the dark.
Lands End was a welcome sight although the queue for breakfast wasn't. If we had known how long it was going to take, we would have skipped it and just carried on. 
I hadn't put the RBRR stickers on my car as the paint is still fairly new, so I cut them into strips and put them across the back window. When I came out from breakfast I found that someone had vandalised them! I have my suspicions of who it was, but I'll keep that to myself. =) 
Bude Castle saw Dave changing the coil in a bid to improve matters but that proved just as fruitless as everything else that he'd tried.
By the time we left Dartmoor we were running behind again and hoping there would still be some cake left at the Pimperne stop. ( I was in more need of coffee actually!)
We made Pimperne just before closing time, but then had the long drive up to Brackley for the penultimate checkpoint. 
By now dusk was falling and we were all becoming quite tired. The control was a quick stop & go with the desire to get to the finish now stronger than ever. Unfortunately,the drive across country to Knebworth wasn't pleasant and we arrived a lot later than we wanted to.
Nevertheless, the event was fantastic as usual and despite the hiccups was enjoyed by all. As I write this Dave Maton has now finally sorted out all of the issues with his car. Considering it had had no preparation for the event at all, I thought it did bloody well despite its issues. 
Richards car was recovered to mine on the Monday after the event where it was fitted with a good second hand fuel tank. 
The issue? The tank had been treated with some fuel tank sealer, but for what ever reason hadn't taken or stuck to the metal, so it had pealed off like strips of old wall paper and blocked the outlet. 
The Round Britain for me in the Pi was a great success with only the brake light switch and side bulb giving out. MPG wasn't too bad either and the car never missed a beat the whole trip. The only time we opened the bonnet was to check the oil and water. A brilliant event with great company and as usual, I cant wait for the next one.