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 our 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)