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 lay 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. After 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 the 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 Seaview 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 just 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 Badgers Holt at Dartmoor where we enjoyed 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. 

Sunday, 26 June 2016

A great weekend away - Scotland again. :)

After a year or so of not doing much at all due to injury, it was time to take to the roads for my first proper road trip since last September. A small group of us had decided to take to the Highlands and run a tour of Northern Scotland.
So,with the Hotels booked, Friday morning finally came around and after putting in a few hours at work, it was time to head to Derby to collect my co-driver Dave Harvey.
A reasonably clear run saw me arrive at Dave's at 2pm and after a quick chat we set off across the A50 and onto the M6 to start heading North. We stopped for coffee and petrol at Lancaster services and in general were doing well for time, although an accident in the roadworks lost us about 20 minutes. 
By early evening we were on the A9 and heading in the direction of Inverness. The original plan was to all meet at the Premier Inn, Inverness, but with me having to work Friday morning, we were never going to make check-in before it closed. Therefore. our planned stop was the quaint little town of Dunkeld, about 100 miles short of Inverness and we would catch up with the others sometime Saturday.
We arrived at Dunkeld at 9.20pm and the friendliness of the hotel staff was in complete contrast to the town folk! We tried for a Pizza only to be told that they stopped serving at 9.30pm and then walked into town until we found an Indian Restaurant only to be told they stopped serving at 10pm! (although the takeaway part was open until 11pm!) We then gave up on food and settled for a couple of pints of Tennants and a bag of crisps each before retiring for the night.
Our quaint little Friday night stop. 

Breakfast in the guesthouse wasn't served until 8.30, so we told the guys at Inverness to crack on without us and we would catch them up on route. The Plan had been to all meet at their hotel at Inverness and then head to the Applecross pass to tackle the mountains. Dave and I cracked on with only a brief stop for coffee and fuel and then managed to meet up with the rest of the crew who had stopped for a leisurely lunch break at Applecross.

After leaving Applecross and its stunning scenery, we travelled along the coast road and encountered even more stunning views just about everywhere. It seemed like every time we came round a bend, we were met by sights that just absolutely took your breath away. it was incredible.
After more leisurely driving we headed for our hotel stop at Ullapool. It was a beautiful place and my hotel room even had a balcony to step out onto overlooking the bay. 

A quick freshening up was the order of the day, then we all wandered into town to try  out the culinary delights. Fish seemed to be the most popular choice, but Dave and I opted for the Haggis lasagna, and very nice it was too. Tim's mate Darren decided to ask for a whisky at the bar and was given a four page book full of numerous Whiskey's and asked 'what one would you like?'
A few more drinks at it was time to call it a night. Although it was now 11.25pm and still not really that dark! (See below)
Sunday morning and after declining an offer of Porridge with Whisky for breakfast and settling for something more non-alcoholic, we were on our way. Our destination this morning was up to Durness in the North West tip of Scotland. (This takes you through the county of Sutherland, which not many people even know exists)
It was a grey start, but the sun soon made an appearance and before long the day was as glorious as it had been the day before. A 'brew with a view' as it had become known was the order of the day and the camping stove was dragged out and tea, cake and Hobnobs were consumed at the beautiful location of Sandwood Bay. It was a bit too much for some us who had to discard our shoes and socks and go for a paddle in the beautiful cold sea. Dave Langrick decided to go one further and dive completely in much to the amusement of the rest of us.

With our frolicking in the sea complete we continued around the coast road and across to the Kyle of Tongue. Again, there is nothing but beautiful scenery up here and it makes you wonder why nobody comes here, the roads are almost empty. At Tongue we turned right onto the A836. After a few miles at Altnaharra, this road links up onto the RBRR route so we were on familiar territory.
We headed down toward Lairg and stopped at the Crask Inn for lunch. We always drive past the Inn on the Saturday morning on the RBRR but it's never been open, so we took advantage and enjoyed some sandwich's and coffee and good hospitality.
(The Inn is up for sale as well if anyone's interested?)
The last leg of the trip saw the skies get darker and the rain the that had apparently plagued the rest of Scotland all weekend had finally caught up with us. By the time we got to our next stop at Inverness it was well under way. A walk to the Indian restaurant later that night saw us all well soaked. However, the food was good and we finished off with a quiet drink in the hotel bar. 
We all met again for breakfast the following morning and then departed to make our long Journeys home. My sat-nav was telling me I had 573 miles to cover and that was without the diversion to Derby to drop Dave off! 
The rain was still pestering us intermittently as we finally headed south and we came across a section of road works with a speed limit of 10mph! Yes, 10mph! How ridiculous! We stopped for a coffee somewhere near Perth and then cracked on to Tebay Services. (Another RBRR check point) While we were here we felt it  would have been rude not to sample some of their fantastic food. (Pity not all motorway services are this good.)
By now, the sun had returned which made the driving all the more pleasurable even though we were going home and had that 'back to work and reality' feeling. (Well I did anyway, Dave was going back up to Scotland on Tuesday afternoon for the Triumph Register national week.)
Around the Lancashire area the motorway signs were telling us that there were 30 minute delays on the M6 at junction 19, so we took the M61 to Bolton and then onto the M60 Manchester ring road. We then  took the Woodhead pass over to Sheffield. (This was a route I used to take in my truck driving days when the M6 was closed) From there it was just a short blast down to the HarveyTune HQ at Derby where we arrived at 7.15pm. 
After emptying Dave's gear out of the car and filling the boot up with parts that I had bought off him, we had a quick cup of coffee and then I made tracks. It was now nearly 8pm and I still had 160 miles to cover and had to be at work at 7am the next morning!
Luckily, the M1 and M25 were clear and I arrived at my place at 10.15pm. It had been a brilliant trip with some excellent company and a great co-driver. 
The car performed faultlessly and racked up 1,648 miles door to door and the only time we opened to bonnet was to check the oil and water. Who says old cars are unreliable? :) 
Gertie home at last after another mammoth journey.