Sunday, 28 October 2012

October 28th- South Coast Rally

A very cold early Sunday morning saw me picking up long term partner in crime Dave Saunders and then head South to take part in this years South Coast Rally. After a trouble free run (apart from the A21 being closed and a diversion through Tonbridge) we arrived as the first car at the start location.
The temperature inside the car was only mildly warmer than outside, (note to oneself-remember to remove the 'summer' thermostat before the winter arrives!) but Doug Foreman's hot tea and sausage sandwiches soon warmed us up.
With the instructions issued we started to plot our route. Dave and I always struggle with this bit, so it took a while to calculate our intended path. We set off hopefully and it all appeared to be coming together.
We drove some good roads, didn't kill any pheasants this time, or even bend the the front wing up by disappearing down a pothole like we did last year.
A sign that did make us laugh was a home made one on a narrow lane that read 'Caution! Hole in road. The council are looking into it!'
With our route completed we returned to the start/finish location and handed in our sheet. We felt that we'd done quite well, but joy turned to despair when we found that we'd missed four code boards! Bugger! Never mind, we shall continue to persevere.
The next event with Gertie will be next weekend for the 24th Nachtrit (Night run) in Holland. This is a great rally that takes us through France, Belgium, Holland and Germany. I really enjoyed this rally last year but did it in a weekend which was quite exhausting, so this year Dave Maton and I are travelling out on the Friday morning to do it at a more leisurely pace. 

Sunday, 21 October 2012

October 21st. New driveshafts!

With today's weather so appallingly wet I decided not to go anywhere and to have another dry day in the garage instead. One of the biggish jobs on my list was to finally fit the new driveshafts I bought from Mike Papworth some weeks ago.
These driveshafts have a slightly different spline set up to the norm, but also have grease nipples fitted on so you no longer have to remove a driveshaft to grease up a spline. Laziness being one of my key features, this will suit me down to the ground.
The new shafts also come with new UJ's and just need the hubs fitting to them to make them complete. While I had the driveshafts off of the car I took the opportunity to remove the coilover shock absorbers that I fitted for the RBRR and refitted the standard ones. The coilovers are great when you have lots of weight in the boot and a three man crew, but make the car quite skittish when travelling light.
 
With the new shafts fitted and the car back together, I turned my attention to a couple of other issues that have come to light very recently. One is the starter motor. last year I had an issue with it failing to engage on numerous occasions. I had it reconditioned by a company in Grays and it has been fine until now. However, it's now doing exactly the same as it was before. It doesn't click or anything, it just doesn't seem to make contact and wont even try and crank the engine. I shall be taking it back to the same company tomorrow and be asking them to look at it again. This is a pain in the ass removing this as it wont drop out of the bottom of the car because of the 6-3-1 manifold and wont come out  through the top until you remove the throttle linkage, air filter box, K&N air filter, air horns and strut brace!
The second one is a clutch issue. Every now and then, and more so when you hold your foot on the clutch for a while, it seems to lose pressure. Pumping the pedal restores the pressure, but it does seem to be happening more and more frequently. The slave cylinder is reasonably new, so my money's on the master cylinder. Best get this sorted before the Nachtrit in Holland in a fortnight methinks!
 

October 20th- Give us a flash!

Monday 15th, I decided to take Gertie for a run out to the CT North London meet to stretch her legs again after the recent RBRR. After taking the slip road for the M25 I realised that all was not well and I appeared to have no indicators. Jumping out of the car and looking round revealed that the indicators were actually working, but just not on the dashboard repeater lights. So, I carried on regardless knowing I could get some advice on the problem at the meet.
After seeking advice from Colin Scrapman it turns out that the dashboard repeater lights are on the same circuit as the side repeater lights on the door pillars, which turned out wasn't working either! After further investigations and numerous calls to Colin later that week, we decided that the problem must lie with the flasher unit. I did have some spare flasher units, but all of mine were two pin whereas the one I needed was a three pin. So, a new one was ordered on Ebay and fitted when it arrived on Saturday morning.
With this fitted everything worked again and I can tell now whether I'm indicating or not! (it's an MOT fail as well having no warning indicators on the dashboard!)
So the three pin flasher unit must provide a live to the door pillar and dashboard repeaters. I'll have to remember this for future reference.
 
While I was in the garage, I decided to get another job off of my list. I had been avoiding this job for some time, but as someone said to me once: the 'thought' of doing something is sometimes worse than actually doing it. (Very true) So, with this ringing in my head I knuckled down and got on with it.
The job in question was changing the front springs on my estate. I had been told by the guy I bought it from that he had fitted 2.5S springs to give it a softer ride. Just lately I had found them too soft and the car leaned too much when taking corners. (Or maybe I have just got too used to Gertie's fast road springs and taking corners too fast!)
So I removed the front springs and set them down next to the PI springs that Colin had kindly loaned me to try. To my disappointment, they looked the same height and thickness. Perhaps the previous owner had got it wrong and they weren't S springs after all?
I fitted the springs Colin had loaned me anyway and a test drive later will reveal if the car handles any different or not. If it doesn't I shall have to look at some other options.
While having the callipers off I noticed that the discs and pads have worn unevenly. I was surprised at this as there is no feeling of braking deficiency's when driving the car, so maybe they have just always been like it. Further investigations to follow. Maybe it's time for a Stag Disc and calliper upgrade?
 
 


13th October-Post RBRR repairs.

After our little wiring issue on the way to the Plough for the RBRR, I decided to investigate a tad further. After removing both of the dashboard clocks I was able to get to the part of the loom that had got hot and melted.
After the laborious task of removing the loom tape  and separating the offending wire from the pack, I was able to see that the damage was contained to a two inch long strip and had not burnt through or melted any other wires.
This section of wire was cut out and replaced with new making sure that all connections were good and tight. I then decided to investigate the fuse box as really, the fuse should have blown before this wire had a chance to melt. Removal of the fuse showed it to be a severely scorched, but not blown 35 amp fuse! I have never seen a fuse that was so badly burnt, but not blown.
Then I remembered Doug and I had an wiring issue when we did the Chinese rally in Holland in March and had been putting in fuses every 50 miles or  so just to get home. In the end we had run out of the correct fuses and were having to put anything in. Obviously this was still in there from then. That will teach me to forget to replace the fuse for the correct one at the time!
 


Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Oct 5th -7th. The RBRR is finally here!

For the previous few months, most of my spare time (Not to mention money!) had been spent getting not one, but two cars ready for this event. The first choice was always Gertie, but the estate was readied too because of uncertainties with Gertie's rebuilt engine.
So, Thursday afternoon Gertie was loaded up with spares, tools, supplies and goodies ready for Friday's departure. Theo (Beans) had arrived from The Netherlands (Not Holland. I got told off for that. It's a different region apparently!) in the afternoon. So after a few cups of tea and a chat we took a run down to Enfield in the estate to meet up with Davemate and Mike and Ann Weaver for a few pre-RBRR drinks. It was a good night and a good laugh was had by all. It was also a welcome release from all of the pressure and nerves that a run such as this brings in the lead up to the start date.
   Friday lunchtime Theo and I set off For the Plough in Enfield via Dave's house for a spot of dinner. On route to the pub I went over one of the speed humps in Bullsmore Lane a bit quicker than I intended to and all of sudden we encountered a burning smell and smoke coming out from the dashboard and the car started misfiring!
After the initial panic, we realised that it had stopped as quick as it started and everything electrical was still working. We booked in at the Plough and then returned to the car to investigate. The estate was sitting at home on standby, so if the worst came to the worst we would have made a quick dash home to swap cars. Investigations revealed that one of the wires had dropped off the back of one of the gauges and had touched metal causing it to earth out. The main loom had got hot and melted slightly but the wire was still intact. So a decision was made to tape it up and carry on. (And hope for the best!)
Before we knew it the time had flown and the drivers meeting was on us and it was time to get ready to depart on this mechanical, physical, mental challenge!
 
Dave was the man in the hot seat for the first stint so he was 'flagged' out of the pub and we were on the way. The rain was once again was our companion all the way to the first control point at Blyth just as was in 2010. It's nice to see that some things never change.
A quick sign in and fuel up at Blyth and we were on the way with me driving. Just after leaving the services we all heard a metal vibrating noise and quickly pulled over to see what was up. All it was was that one of the headlight stoneguards had come loose. The retaining screw had workeded itself loose and wouldn't go back in, so the headlight guard was removed for the time being.
 I had already told Dave that I wanted to drive the A68 road,  (The pitch black roller coaster road!) so it was turn in the seat next. This is a great drive and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I wonder what it's like in the daylight?
  Carter Bar was the next control where Theo presented McJim with a bottle of Lambrini. I think McJim was quite pleased judging by his reaction. I think he was less impressed in 31 bottles time though!
Edinburgh airport was the next control and again we just got the book signed and moved on, before the car park got too crowded with various different Triumphs!
By the time we got to Skiach we running quite early along with a few others and hung around for a bit waiting for the control to open. Petrol was obtained, coffe drank and sausage and tomato flavoured crisps snacked on. Life was good!
John O Groats was the next stop and a well deserved breakfast was devoured. Oil, water, etc was checked on the car but not found to be needing anything. Although she was starting to look a tad dirty by now.
The stunning drive across the top of Scotland towards Bettyhill went without a hitch (Apart from Gertie annihilating a crow just like she did on the 2006 RBRR!)  but just before turning onto the B871 we were met by a high pitch screaming noise that sounded like radio interference! Turning the radio down and even off showed that it wasn't and it turned out to be the propshaft rubbing on the exhaust. We found a lay-by and luckily some Pikeys had discarded a huge mound of tarmac that they no longer required. So, we drove up one side of it and got the car at an angle so that we could get underneath. A quick modification with a tyre lever persuaded the exhaust to go back to where it came from and it was all systems go again.
Dave then took over for the drive down to Conon Bridge where a lunch of Burger, Sausage and Bacon rolls were waiting. We even managed to scrounge a longer screw so that we were able to put the headlight stone guard back on.
After leaving Conon Bridge we took the beautiful route down past Loch Ness, Glencoe & Fort William. There's some absolutely stunning views on this stretch and it's my favourite part of the route.
Further control points at Stirling, Tebay, (Where I had a lovely hot shower) and Gledrid followed and then we were off to the eerily silent Sugar Loaf in deepest darkest Wales. The drive down to Gordano followed which I did while being accompanied by some strange grunting and rasping noises from the rear seat area. These were from Dave though, nothing to do with the car. I'm not sure which end of him they were coming from either!
A brief stop at Gordano and Okehampton followed and then we were down to Lands End to watch a beautiful sunrise and a hearty breakfast.
(Picture by Theo)
 
With breakfast dealt with we headed north to the Bude control and were visited by two of my customers that were holidaying in Cornwall. They witnessed most of crews coming in and were mightily impressed that even though most of them had had no sleep, were still full of enthusiasm and joviality. So much so that they have offered a generous donation to the cause. Brilliant!
We continued on and completed further stops at Badgers Holt, where Dave collected an engine part from Nick Jones while we were there. On leaving Badgers Holt we went through a large puddle which set off my high pitched frequency noise that we'd heard in Scotland. Once again the propshaft seemed to be connecting with the exhaust. However, by the time we'd found somewhere to pull over, it had stopped and was all fine again! We concluded that the water hitting the exhaust must cool it down and contract (or expand?) it in some way and move the positioning of it. Then when it heats up again it moves it back away from the propshaft. Very strange! I'll add it to my 'jobs to do list' as I don't want the car to sound like I'm tuning into to a long wave radio station every time it goes through a puddle! The propshaft and exhaust are obviously very close together!
Sixpenny Handly was the next control point and very nice it was too. A very friendly team supplied us with tea and biscuits to keep us going for the next few hours.
Dave then took the penultimate drive from there up to the TR Register offices where more tea and coffee was on offer and I did the final stint from Didcot to the Plough.
The route from Dicot to the Plough was the dreaded M40 & M25 route and although the M40 was heavy we managed to miss the road closure that apparently followed. The M25 was surprisingly clear for a Sunday evening and we managed to to report to control at the exact time of it opening.
We had a fantastic time and I think a 3 man crew is definitely the way to go. Although Theo wasn't taking part in the driving he was an excellent navigator and probably had less sleep than Dave and I.
Having that third man just gives the option of being able to climb in the back and get away from it all for a while. Dave also did very well on his first RBRR and I think his experience as an LGV night driver helped. (Although he needs to remember to bring a coat next time!)
Gertie once again performed very well apart from her scare at the beginning, and all she really needs it the exhaust moved, the melted wiring repaired and a bloody good wash!  
 
All in all it was a fantastic weekend and full credit must go to the organisers, marshall's and anyone else involved in this event. Also thanks to the other entrants who make it such a laugh and a pleasure to be with. Will we be at the 2014 event???? Too bloody right we will! See you there?