Sunday, 31 July 2022

Blackbushe Again Again

 Last time at Blackbushe my brother got chatting to a guy about MG Magnette parts & it turned out that each had parts the other wanted, so this time I drove quite carefully to the aerodrome with a cylinder head in the minimal boot.

The weather wasn't too promising, but the rain held off & we rolled into the meet area & parked up. Again there was a good range of unusual cars there, a mini with a turbo Type R engine hanging out of the front & the only E-Type I've seen that made me say Wow.

it looked for a while as if I would be taking the cylinder head back with me, but the Magnette arrived shortly after us & parts were exchanged.

Also arriving just after us were my Nephew & his Girlfriend who were on their way back from the "HotRod Hayride". the were in the Devon, now featuring a roofrack with wicker basket & a boot forced open by luggage - the therefore looked cooler than a cool thing.

I was engaged in conversation by a guy asking what the engine in the Stylus was, I explained it's a Zetec, but with all the plastic removed & the coil pack re-located to make it look as old as the car looks as if it should be, he nodded & said nice things about it & the next time I saw him he was getting into this...

I'm not generally a fan of an E-Type, but this one was EPIC. not only did it look fantastic, but it was an actual racer & has been crashed & re-built several times, which makes for a proper back-story.

So once again, a good morning at Blackbushe. the organisation is laid-back, but efficient, the visitors are enthusiasts, interested & responsible (no burn-outs when leaving), so long may it continue.


Sunday, 24 July 2022

Day Out

I was bored. I'd been for a walk in what I refer to as my back garden (the PandaCows are back!), I had planned to go to my Dad's as there were a couple of little jobs he needed help with, but he was feeling poorly, so that was canned. Then I thought "It's a nice day, I could go to the Museum of Army Flying" at Middle Wallop (yes there really is such a place). I'd driven past it a few times & never gone in because - well it looked quite small & you know - it's the army. But in fact it was really good. OK so the aeroplanes they have aren't the most exciting, being mostly gunnery spotters, but a great deal of thought has gone into the displays making them "come to life" (ish), it has a very similar style to the Fleet Air Arm Museum further down the A30 at Yeovilton which is one of the best.

This item struck me. Apparently it's what they did before there were aeroplanes to do gunnery spotting. I can certainly so no down side to that at all, his limbs are well protected so he'll have no problems climbing down - if he still has a head.

And here's another thing, how are we going to get jeeps to the front line to move the troops about? How about turning each jeep into an autogiro with some disposable parts & tow it behind an aeroplane? It'll fly just fine if we paint it to look like an aeroplane. Apparently the test pilot was so stressed after a test flight, the whole idea was scrapped in as long as it took him to write a report (in very shaky handwriting).

The museum has examples of all the assault gliders used by the army (Hotspur, Hadrian, Horsa & Hamilcar), the Hamilcar - a huge tank carrying glider - isn't complete, it was found behind a pub in Wiltshire being used a chicken shed. The thing that struck me about the Hamilcar was this, you can see from the picture that it's properly big & it's made of wood.

The thing I've ringed in red is the fire extinguisher. 


You're flying this enormous wooden plane into a war zone & that's the fire extinguisher? Not even two of them?

So yes, the Museum of Army Flying gets a thumbs up from me. there were lots of activities about the place for kiddies - even a soft play area & they weren't too precious about the exhibits. There was a Westland Scout with signs inviting you to sit in it & fiddle with the controls - which were still connected & as you can see from the pic, the walkway goes right through the Hamilcar & there can't be too many of them left. If there were they wouldn't have had to turf the chickens out of this one.

On the way home I stuck to the A30 as it's a more pleasant drive than the A303 / M3 & it took me past a petrol station selling unleaded for <£1.80 / litre. Shortly after that I caught up with a guy in a Boxter - one of the flash ones with numbers on the back - 918 is it? A fair bit of bling & a wing on the boot. he seemed to think he could out-drag the Stylus. He doesn't any more.

The last thing of note was a couple of '50s Fairthorpe specials in the Blackbushe "show area". I stopped & had a walk round them.

Sunday, 17 July 2022


 I was woken by the alarm & nearly drifted back off - but no! Be firm - it's a blatt day.

This morning we would be breakfasting in Bourton. I arrived at Newlands Corner to find one Elise & one Ferrari, then GB & Roger arrived in their Elises, then naturally the local man, Guy arrive last. I was a little confused as those first two weren't coming with us - but whatever.

The route had been re-routed to avoid the ludicrous 30 limit on the "Pirbright Triangle" & the Farnborough Air Show road closures & we headed out north west.

After about 20 miles Roger dropped out feeling poorly - we've heard from him since & he's OK now. But just as he turned for home the roads got much better - no really - I know we always say that, but today it was true.

One blue, one orange, one blue & orange.
The route was good & had the usual amount of turning the wrong way (me, twice), getting split up & re-forming & we arrived at Bourton-on-the Water at about 9:50. The cafe wasn't supposed to open until 10:30, but open it was & we were offered a seat outside because some cyclists hadn't arrived (lets face it if a bunch of people who'd been cycling in this heat pitched up, you wouldn't put them in an enclosed space). After a while Linda arrived & we ordered our breakfast - which was very good indeed, we sat & chatted, pulled faces at any electric cars that went past & generally did Rogue's stuff.

The Frecci Tricolori
Then we said our goodbyes & headed back. Having re-routed to avoid the Farnborough Air Show which hadn't yet started, we then drove along the boundary fence at RAF Fairford where the Royal International Ait Tatoo (R.I.A.T.) was on! Fortunately, there was little traffic apart from a few folk parked up to look over the fence. We were over-flown by the Frecci Tricolori (Italian Red Arrows) & I managed to get a picture.

After that we rumbled home in the heat - this evening I'm a bit pink 

I did get a better one (still not great though).

Sunday, 10 July 2022

Small Advances

 It's been a while since I added anything here, so what's been happening? Not much really until this weekend (the hottest so far this year) I have been to Scotland to visit my son & meet my new granddaughter (4 weeks - awwww). But this is a car blog, so you won't care about that.

First on the agenda yesterday was the creaky suspension. I've now received the superflex bushes to replace the rod ends in the rear suspension, so they came with little pouches of assembly grease. I took the front wishbones off, took out the crush tubes & re-fitted them with a little grease & all is now smooth & quiet - at the front. The rear lower arms are still "singing", but that's a job for another day.

Today's task was to "lengthen" the throttle, by which I mean increase the pedal travel for the same amount of throttle opening. The problem is the motorbike throttle bodies, they are set up for a twist grip throttle, so require very little cable motion. Connect that to a car pedal & you get a very sensitive throttle which means unless you temper it by allowing a little clutch slip, you can get a very jerky ride.

As you can see, the cable didn't take the best route, running at an angle out of the adjuster.

There's also an odd thing like a fork-end joining the pedal to the cable - it's pivoted & working perfectly OK, but there's two of it welded together - maybe the car had twin throttle cables once?

First job then, separate the forks & change the cable from a bike gear cable to a thicker brake cable - which means cutting the nipple down to fit. Then re-drill the "flag" on the pedal to move the cable a full inch closer to the pivot, increasing the travel by over 1/3. Then (arse) cut the nipple down a little more to get full motion in the fork again.

Now I had the travel, but because the cable attachment on the pedal has moved by an inch, the fixed adjuster on the pedal box didn't line up any more. I spent ages poking round the garage looking for something to hold the adjuster further from the bulkhead, but I didn't really like the idea as it'd add load to a thin flange on the pedal box. Then I noticed an un-used riv-nut in the pedal box roof & unusually it was the right thread for the adjuster & in about the right place - 'stonishing.

The next job was to cut down the pedal down-stop, so the pedal could travel - further down. It was something I'd fitted as there was nothing but the cable stopping the pedal when I bought the car, so that was an easy fix, then I noticed the cable outer wasn't aligned with the adjuster - a common cause of failure on kit car cables. There was nowhere to fit a bracket to hold a P-clip, so I forced a 3" length of old fuel hose over the adjuster & that keeps the cable outer in line - sometimes I can be quite clever.......

...... and just as I was thinking that I realised there was now nothing stopping the pedal falling through 90 degrees, right to the footwell floor.

I considered many many things, a cable, a welded on stop, a length of cable outer over the cable. I went inside & made a coffee. When I went back out I considered another load of alternatives, none of which appealed, either because I couldn't get a drill in, or there would be a risk of the pedal getting tangled, or it might interfere with another control. In the end I was "struck by the bleedin' obvious". There was already a 6mm hole above the pedal "flag" where the adjuster now wasn't, so put a wide headed bolt in there & it would hit the flag which (phew) I hadn't cut off. Perfect.

I set the cable up with the pedal at idle, wedged it down with some wood & went to see where the throttle linkage was, it was bang on wide open - no adjustment required.

I've taken the car round the block & it is indeed more controllable. Little by little the Stylus improves.

Sunday, 26 June 2022

Car Show Again

The Stylus & my nephew's Devon
I'd fancied going on the SKCC's run today, but my brother wanted to go to the Blackbushe meet, so that's where I went. My nephew came too in his newly finished Devon hot rod-ish, so the three of us arrived together & parked up. I was immediately engaged in conversation by a guy building a Formosa, which is a car I'd looked at building myself. We talked about the seat covers as he has aluminium seats & fabric, so needs them stitched into covers, so I was able to pass on the upholsterer's No.

Then my brother bumped into someone he knew many many years ago, they got talking & it turned out the guy is organising a show & handing out application forms, so that was good, but then the green MG Magnette I've posted photos of before on this very organ turned up. My brother's a big fan, so introduced himself & it turns out my brother has parts the guy needs & the guy may have access to parts my nephew needs - so all in all, a very worthwhile trip!

It's not east to fit a Rover in a Pop. It's REALLY not easy to do it this well

Laurel & Hardy must be here somewhere

Very understated, very nicely done.

Apparently not a McLaren, but not a UVA either.

Saturday, 18 June 2022

A Day Of Farewells

 Firstly & most importantly I waved goodbye to the Quantum. I'd had a number of enquirers, most seemed to just talk about the car, then on Thursday a text held promise & the guy came to see the car that evening. The quantum is a good car, I couldn't manage it & the Stylus but I didn't want it to go to someone like it's last couple of owners who just let it dilapidate.

Matt has never had a kit car, but has had several classics - so I expect he'll be disappointed by the complete absence of rust - he seemed to like the car straight away & a brief test drive cemented his enthusiasm, a deal was done & he collected it today.

He gave me a little more for the car than I paid in 2020, but in the mean time I have spent over £4,000 refurbishing it. but it was never about the money, I bought it to keep me sane at a particularly dark time in my life & it achieved that. So the drive's looking a bit empty now.

The other goodbye was a more pleasant one, I said farewell to the really awful handbrake on the Stylus. The handbrake cable runs round a pulley on the trans tunnel & back through the side wall to the the inside of the tunnel. There it was doubled back & clamped around the middle of a length of studding. At each end of the studding were two nuts clamping two more cables in a "balance bar" arrangement which was way too short, so really only one brake ever came on. My fix was to have the loop pull on a "yoke" which pulls a Harrier flying control pulley & add a new rear cable in one piece, so the brakes are pulled on equally no matter what. Having been out for a swift test, the handbrake still isn't brilliant, but I can no longer push the car along with the brake set. I have a few ideas to improve it further over the winter when the car's down for having the rear chassis refurbished.

Also mended is the SatNav mount. I'd printed one which had worked OK, nut just before (luckily) the road trip it broke where I always thought it would & I'd cobbled something together out of a TomTom cradle, a Ram mount, a couple of bolts & a tyrap - it worked though. With the Quantum going I had a spare TomTom mount, so I cut the suction end off one & glued in a modified motorcycle mirror Ram mount. so the SatNav is back in it's rightful place.

Tuesday, 14 June 2022

Lucky, Lucky, Lucky

Sunday & an "out", a run from a garage on the A24 to the Chalet Cafe. 

As the crow flies just a few miles - we'd be doing 100, seven Elises, two Caterhams, a Westfield & a Stylus.

But even before that, one of the RogueRunners had got tee-shirts printed with the excellent artwork from the RR22 tour sticker emblazoned on the front. As luck would have it both he, I & a few of the other Rogues would be on this run to collect, though two would be at a car show. But wait! The Chalet is due south of one of the two & I had a 3D print to had over to him, the other lived not 1/2 mile from my Dad - who I was going to see before turning for home - job done!

The run went well, with the Stylus performing superbly, especially in the Hindhead tunnel. At the Chalet the car park was heaving with interesting stuff & the queue for breakfast was out the door & half way to the main road.

After that I rumbled to Reigate (finding petrol at "only" £1.78 / l) & handed over the shirt & print, then went on to Selsdon for more deliveries.

Nice day.

The following day - not so much. I was due to be the only person in the office as the others were either working from home or on a business trip, but I awoke far too early with a headache. By the time I arrived at work it was worse & by 11:30 I was feeling sick it was so bad. I took the Quantum home.

After quite a lot of painkillers & a walk on the heath I was feeling better & jacked up the Stylus to investigate improving the hand brake. I was prodding & poking at things when I felt a drip on my arm. I looked round & a three-way hydraulic fitting on the axle had a drip on it, but the trail of hydraulic oil down the pipe had just started, furthermore there were no drips on the carpet (yes, carpet) beneath it, so the first drip had landed on me.

The drippage seemed to be coming from the connector on the new pipe I'd made a few weeks back, so naturally I assumed I'd loused up the swaging or the tightening, I got another 1/4 turn on the fitting, but the dripping got worse.

Having had a good look round I found the oil was coming from above the fitting I'd done (so nothing to do with my workmanship), from a pipe I'd thought at the time was over-long, not attached & vulnerable to vibration & metal fatigue. I moved it, oil rushed out. Having stripped it, the pipe had indeed fatigued through, so how lucky was I that it survived the road trip & the blat, only to drip for the first time when I was there to feel it.

I cut & re-swaged the pipe less than half the length it had been & re-fitted it, bled the brakes through again & it all seems OK.

The irony is, I'm pretty certain it doesn't even need the rigid pipe that broke, the flexi line could go straight into the three-way fitting. I've put the shortened pipe back on for now because to confirm it wasn't required would've meant lowering the car, jacking it up again by the chassis & checking the hose at full axle droop. I'll do that when I refurbish the rear chassis over the winter.

I've thought before that this car likes being used (it's averaged 700 miles a year for 20 years before I bought it, so it must've been bored right? 

Now I'm convinced it's doing it's best to help me.

In more good news the Quantum has been my daily driver this week & is going just fine.