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 she 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 hash browns 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 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) 

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.