Saturday, 23 September 2017

September 16th - 17th. The Mercian Road Rally

God knows why, but Colin Wake and I had agreed to do this rally the very weekend after the Club Triumph 10CR. Not content with covering nearly 1900 miles the week before, we were now destined to cover another 400 miles this weekend!
Colin arrived at mine around 4pm and after a quick play with the spotlights to get them working again we set off for the start at Southam, Warwickshire.
The signs weren't good as we sat in the car awaiting a noise test while listening to the rain hammer on the roof incessantly. Most of the cars there were small front wheel drive with the exception of a large Volvo 740 and a Mk2 Escort. We were also the oldest car there by a good ten years. 
After passing the noise test, we then sailed through scrutineering and then went to sign on. Signing on was at Southam football club and in-between signing on at 8pm and the drivers meeting at 10.30pm (Yes, a two and a half hour wait!) the dark and damp and fog decended on us. 
Our time away was 12.06am and by then the fog had really become quite thick. By the time we got to the first test on a farm, it had lifted a bit, but not much. We found the course on the test very tight in a big saloon and couldn't help but have to reverse to make the turn, thus gaining our first penalty. 
Back on the public roads, we did our best to keep time but it certainly wasn't easy in the pitch black and with the route keep taking us up farm tracks, through industrial areas and at times it even seemed like we were driving across fields or up peoples driveways! 
We also stopped at one point to drag a Citroen AX back onto the road after it had had an 'off' and ended up in a ditch. After checking that Jon and Alex were ok, we carried on. 
The half way 'rest' came and went while we were refilling with fuel and I have to say towards the end of the rally I was starting to struggle with sleep deprivation. 
We struggled on until we eventually made the finish at 6.15am, although by then we had racked up a few time penalties. Breakfast was most welcome at the finish and I then took the opportunity to grab some sleep in the car while Colin waited for the results to be issued. I was awoken at just after 8am and told we had finished 4th in class.  It was Colin's turn to sleep then while I then drove the two  hour journey home. 
Gertie once again had performed faultlessly although I have to say I don't think I've ever seen her looking that dirty. I washed it Sunday afternoon and had to change the water halfway through as I was just putting muddy water back over it! A good event though, with the only downside being the waiting around before the start. 

Monday, 18 September 2017

Sep 6th -10th. Club Triumph 10CR

After months of wallet damaging preparation on Gertie, the '10 Countries' rally was finally here. Monday morning was spent changing my hard earned cash up into Euro's and buying a few last minute provisions to fend off hunger on the long days ahead.
My Co-driver for the event Dave Harvey arrived around 3 ish and we then spent the remainder of the afternoon trying to transfer the directions from the route book onto the latest Collins map of Europe. 
After much head scratching and confusion we decided this had been a bad idea and went out for our last curry and beer on English soil for a few days. 
Tuesday: We finished packing the car and set out for the port. The route to Dover was only delayed by a good old fashioned 'English Breakfast' stop on the A127. Our crossing was shared with plenty of other Triumphs, not to mention Team Torpedo from America who were running five cars.

A calm crossing was followed by a quiet run down to Lomme where we were staying the night. The event started proper on the Wednesday morning. A lovely pizza was followed by 'just the one' glass of beer in a local pub. The glasses given could hold a litre of beer, (1.7 pints) so just having one was a good call.

Wednesday: Despite not being hungover we still managed to arrive at the start late and most of the cars had already set off. I don't think anybody got too far though due to a horrendous traffic jam just outside Lille which caused most of us to lose over an hour.
We eventually headed down some lovely national driving roads taking in Belgium and Luxembourg before crossing back into France and heading down towards Metz and Nancy. We then crossed the  French Natural park and finished for the night in Mulhouse. Dinner was a nice rump steak and enjoyed with some excellent company in the form of Kris Schouppe and Yvan Roggeman.
Thursday: Morning dawned early but bright and we decided to skip breakfast to get on the road early and beat the traffic. This turned out to be quite successful and around lunchtime we were enjoying a coffee and an ice cream at the top of the San Bernadino Pass in Switzerland.
 After lunch we tackled many other passes before finishing off on the Umbrail and Stelvio. (We actually ended up doing Stelvio twice, and the Gavia pass as well, but that's another story for the club magazine.)
After a longer than expected day we reached our hotel in Italy at 10pm. Luckily the local Pizza restaurant was still open and we managed to fit a meal and a beer in before returning back to the hotel for the night.
Friday: After our previous long day, we didn't fancy another extended one so we planned a route of our own. Our day took us back into Switzerland and up onto the beautiful Bernina pass. This is a fantastic road and has breath taking views as well. A perfect drive for any Triumph. It doesn't appear to be that well known yet either as it wasn't swamped with Motorbikes, cyclists, or tourists.
After a leisurely coffee at the top of the pass we carried on for a while before tackling another brilliant pass named the Albula. Once again, with not many motorbikes or cyclists around it was a lovely drive and completed without hassle or incident.
Our lunchtime stop included a minor repair to a split breather pipe on the fuel tank which had been annoying us with a petrol smell whenever we filled up with petrol, but disappeared below three quarters of a tank. With the rest of the car checked over we continued our journey through Lichtenstein and Austria before meeting up with some of our other crew in Singen in Germany.
Saturday: It always seems to rain when I visit Germany and today was no exception. We left the hotel after a good breakfast and settled in for the long drive to Rolduc. We did manage to find another good driving road over near Baden Baden and it must have been popular as we met a Mini Club and a Porsche club driving it as well. (Although going the opposite way to us)
The afternoon was a long motorway drive and we met up with Colin Wake and crew who were having issues with the Mk1 Pi they were running. We followed them to Rolduc in case of any further issues they might have had, but luckily things were fine.

Rolduc in Holland appeared all too quickly and another brilliant 10CR was over. The celebrating of a successful run began and a good night was had by all. Serious breakdowns had been few and far between and as a far as I'm aware only two cars failed to complete the trip.
Sunday: Trying to beat that 'back to work and reality' feeling is hard when all you are doing is running home, but it was a good drive back to the port. We did leave Rolduc a little bit late and only just made the boat in time to be honest.
It had been a fantastic trip though and it's always great to see old faces and meet new friends. I'm looking forward to the next one already, but also quite fancy a trip to Ireland as I've never been there, so I might organise a little run there as a filler before the next 10CR.  

Saturday, 12 August 2017

An MOT at the first attempt! (Although not at the first booking!)

As a follow on from my last post, work continued on my 1967 Mk1 and I replaced the two bottom ball joints, one track rod end and bought a new exhaust centre section and downpipe. 
With all of these fitted I decided to go ahead and book the MOT. Saturday 5th August at 4pm was the impending appointment and after completing some small niggly jobs in the morning, (Interior light and panel lights not working) I was ready for my journey that afternoon. 
I have to confess I was a little wary as when I went to replace the thermostat the night before, I had found that there wasn't one in there to begin with! So I fitted my new one anyway. 
Also, not knowing the history of this car, I wondered if it was hiding any issues not addressed by the previous owners. In my experience with these 'barn finds', people do not just park up and store perfectly good usable cars. There is normally something not right with them that enforced the cars lay up in the first place.
Anyway, After playing 'musical cars' so I could get this one out of the garage I set off for MOT and hoped for the best.

All seemed well first of all and the car was running well. My preferred garage is eight miles away so the car would be getting its first good run for many a year. The temperature gauge climbed slowly to the half way mark.........but then unfortunately kept climbing. At the three quarter mark I decided to pull over and check it, but the next turn off on the dual carriageway was still a few miles away. By the time I did manage to pull over (Only a mile away from the MOT station) it was boiling over big time and the pressure had even blown the lid off of the expansion bottle! 
I phoned the garage and cancelled the MOT, let the car cool right down, topped up with water and drove back home without the radiator cap on. Feeling quite disappointed after all of the hard work I'd done in a relatively short period, I just parked the car up and left it until the Sunday morning. 
The following day I removed the radiator and compared it to a spare one that I had been given some time ago. The one from the car was considerably heavier than the spare so I worked on the assumption that it was a blocked radiator that was causing the problem rather than a blown head gasket or worse. 
On fitting the spare I found that this leaked, (that'll be why I was given it for nothing then!) but even with me topping the water up and running the car for 15 mins at 2000 revs it never overheated  and the temperature gauge never mover past the quarter mark. So the situation looked promising. 
I managed to borrow another radiator from a mate and did more testing on the Wednesday evening which again saw no issues with the cooling. So, Thursday 10th August, I re-booked the MOT and dropped it into the garage late morning. 
I'd still heard nothing by 3pm, so me being of the impatient sort decided to have a quick look online. To my relief and joy it had passed its first MOT in 18 years! Graham, the guy who I bought the car off of was quite chuffed as well as he'd wanted to see it back on the road and being used. He told me 'you've done more to that car in two weeks than I did in two years'.

So now it has an Mot, I can start getting a bit of use out of it. It needs a bit more t-cutting and polishing and then I think it will start looking quite presentable.
Oh, and I applied for some road tax as well. I thought it might be a tad overdue. :) 

Monday, 31 July 2017

Next seasons rally car?

Back in June I'd been made aware of an apparently very solid 1967 Mk1 saloon languishing in Hertfordshire that could possibly be coming up for sale. Seeing as I also had to go to Hertfordshire for Scrutineering the day before the East Anglian Classic Rally, I decided to factor in a diversion to go and view said car. 
The car had been put up on ramps so I could view the underneath when I arrived, but I have to say, it looked very sorry for itself with its bent front bumper and covered in dust where it had been previously dry stored since 1999.

However, it was indeed a very solid shell with no sign of any welded repairs, and still had its original floor pans and sills. The interior was also very original as well. (albit covered in dust!) After spending a few days pondering I decided it was too good a car to pass up and agreed to the sellers asking price. (Which I thought was very good anyway)
Due to he and I being away at different times arrangements were made to collect the car on the 15th July. So, armed with a very good borrowed car trailer and my trusty old Land Rover I arrived in Hertfordshire around 9.30am.
Loading the car was quick and easy and the only concern was the slightly sticking front brakes. I was going to have to unload this car on my own when I got home with it and being a non-runner I wasn't relishing the thought of pushing it with motionless front wheels! 
After a trouble free run home I set about moving my other two Mk1's off of the drive and getting this one in the garage ready to start work. I did manage to get it off the trailer and into the garage on my own although the rain making the ground slippery didn't exactly help. (It only rained for half an hour that day as well! The half hour that I was unloading the car!) 
     Over the next few weeks the car was emptied of all of the rubbish in the boot and in the cab and the interior hoovered and de-dusted. I was surprised at how well it started to come up to be honest. 
When I first  got the car a long list had been drawn up of jobs that would need doing before Mot and after spending a couple of hours in the garage a few nights a week these jobs were gradually completed. The carburettors were stripped, cleaned and rebuilt as were the front brake callipers. The rear wheel cylinders were replaced along with the rear shock absorbers and a very noisy water pump was changed for a much quieter one as well. As an upgrade the original sealed beam headlights were replaced with modern halogen items. 
   On Sunday 30th July, Graham Parkins (The man who I bought the car off and fellow co-driver on the 2014 RBRR) came up to help out for the day and by close of play the car was running well and not only driving, but stopping as well. All it needs now is the bottom ball joints replacing and the blowing exhaust centre section sorting and it will be ready for its first Mot for 18 years. 

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 overheating 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.........