Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Wheels Day

Last Friday was Friday the 13th. I had just got the Fury roadworthy again after 6 weeks without rear upper wishbones, also, it hadn't rained for six weeks - guess where this is heading......

In my haste to get the car back on the drive & under cover, I threw the house keys into the passenger seat & pushed the Fury into the garage. As I left, I thought "I'm finished in there, shall I lock the garage? might as well", I walked to the house to find it locked & only then remembered that the house keys were locked in the garage. I sought shelter on a garden chair under a garden umbrella & sent a text to my wife asking when she'd be home because I was locked out & was getting wet. No answer.

After 20 mins I wandered dejectedly round to the front of the house to find her car parked there & knocked on the door - she opened it - apparently her phone was on silent!

Today, was not like that. Today featured a lot of crane diving, which is good & also my work's "wheels day" where anyone with an interesting vehicle is invited to park along the front of the building & take folk for a ride round the research park in exchange for a donation to charity. There were some brightly coloured interesting cars & some grey German cars - some Porsches & a 5 series Alpina, to be honest I got bored & zoned out while walking past them. There were also some motorcycles - old Triumphs & a Laverda Jota.

Of the interesting stuff there was a Fiat 124 coupe, a new Mustang, a Noble, an Austin Healey 100 & the Blatter family's show fleet. There was obviously the Fury, there was my Brother's Model A truck, my Nephew's "patina'd"100e Anglia, & the electric "mini pop", which went down very well indeed.

My nephew drove the Fury round the research park & came back with a silly grin saying "that car is so fast" - can't see how he'd know that - it's a 20 limit.


Everyone has a silly grin on the mini pop

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Rogue Runners '18 - Epilogue.

When I started looking at the car it was obvious the upper bush mounting had broken in fatigue, so really I was lucky it was broken by a pothole, otherwise it would've gone under braking & the results would've been much worse than a trip home on a truck.

Since then I've taken down the exhaust to get to the fuel tank to get to the wishbone bolts. This is a good thing because the tank was leaking when very full, so I had a look for the cause of that & cut a new access door in the boot floor so I can get to all the connections with the tank in place.

But the real problem remains the wishbones, which are over in Kent getting the apex cut out & replaced with a longer one & a rose joint. Unfortunately the guy doing it was at Brands Hatch one week, then hurt his back, so it's taking a while. But it's gone there because I trust them to do a good job

Perfect fatigue failure!

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Rogue Runners '18 - Day 8

Last day & time to pack in the last of the good miles, before heading back to the over-crowded south east. Three of our number had been out on the town again & were looking quite bleary eyed. As four of us left, the other two were about to begin changing the alternator. I of course was passenging, I’d called the RAC & been assured the car would be delivered home between 09:30 & 10:30, which was fine.
First item on the blatting agenda was heading north to do the Horseshoe Pass, then south through some more “unsuitable” roads (sorry Graham – they looked OK on street view) including one where a woman got out of her car to give Brian some firm instructions (which he appeared to enjoy immensely) & at last to Lake Vyrnwy & the opulent surroundings of the Hotel for a coffee stop.
I was called by the RAC & was assured my car would be delivered at 18:00. We also discovered that the alternator couldn’t be swapped because the pulley had to be pulled off & press-fitted to the new one. A local garage was being sought.
We then saw a gaggle of Morgans & a flock of MkII Escorts out for a drive, before reaching the lunch stop & after circumnavigating the medieval streets of Ludlow (possibly several times) we found the out-of-town retail park & the lunch stop.
I was told at 13:14 that my car would be delivered in 2 – 3 hours. We also discovered that the Westfield’s alternator had been fixed, but the clutch cable had broken.

So after waving a fond farewell to Linda, we headed home through the Cotswolds, cutting more & more of the waypoints until we were heading direct for my house. We arrived at 17:20 – at exactly the same time as my car.
So that was it – Rogue Runners over for another year.

Rogue Runners '18 - Day 7


Three countries in a day today as we left Scotland, passed through England & entered Wales.
Rain was forecast for our arrival, so I put the big windows on ready for the roof later – little did I know how soon I’d be putting it up.

Just like yesterday it was misty in Selkirk, just like yesterday it brightened up as we left. We were travelling the same road Linda & I arrived by yesterday & we also noticed the same change in Tarmac quality as we passed from “Borders” to “Dumfries & Galloway” This morning, what had been nice smooth blacktop became rutted & potholed as we crossed the border & not long after that there was a crash as the back of my car went down one of these for which “sink-hole” might be a better description. The car felt OK (ish) but didn’t sound right, I slowed & at the next left hand bend the back of the car felt as if it was on marbles.

I stopped & called over the radio, I got out & the near-side rear wheel was leaning in towards the car at an unhealthy angle.
Soon after, Graham & Linda arrived & shortly after that Brian & Steve re-appeared having turned round & even Woody shortly after that in spite of having an appointment at Demon Tweeks for a new alternator.

The very nice man from the house I’d stopped outside came out & said we could put the cars on his drive & even use his garage (with pit & welding gear) if it would help, then he made us drinks.

I called the RAC & said I needed a truck, not a patrol man, I built the car & knew it wasn’t a roadside fix. 90 mins later a patrol man arrived, said it wasn’t a road side fix & went away again. The other kit cars left at this stage, but GB generously stayed with me so I could at least complete the trip as a passenger. 90 minutes after that a flatbed arrived, but in the mean-time the cabaret started.
In scene one the police arrived & blocked the entrance to a dirt tack opposite the nice man’s house, stopping a car from immerging. Raised voiced suggested an altercation was happening, this was then upgraded to a fracas with full blown shouting coming from the car. The man inside was bellowing “I’M THE ONE BEING INTIMIDATED BY THEM” (which seemed unlikely given the shouting). The poice people calmed him down & after about ½ an hour they all departed.

Shortly after that came scene two, in which the recovery truck arrived. For one thing the driver was every bit as unintelligible as “Les” the welder yesterday, then he reversed the lorry up the nice man’s drive, applied the handbrake firmly, climbed out & extended the slide-out ramp, which lifted the braked wheels off the ground & the lorry rolled down the slope, across the road (with the unintelligible man flailing after it) & came to rest JUST before it went down a grassy bank into a field.
At this point I decided welding the wishbone myself looked like a reasonable option.

With the driver’s composure regained, the car was loaded, buttoned up weathertight & sent on its’ way. I then travelled to Llangollen with Graham in the MX5. Our hotel was easy enough to find & we were pleased to hear the bar would stay open as long as the residents wanted – what wasn’t made plain was that a Welsh male voice choir would be singing in it. Much like my car, we retired early!

Rogue Runners '18 - Day 6

More choices. Today there were three possible circular routes, based loosely on routes we did last year. I couldn’t honestly recommend any one over another, so we let the weather forecast do the selecting. Which meant we went west. We were one car down as the red Westfield had a blown regulator in the alternator & one of the alternator lugs was cracked, so Woody passenged with Steve in the supercharged Elise.
I collected some insects
We started off well enough, though some of the road surfaces were frankly appalling, but once again a closed road led to a sundering of the ways, as Linda’s car succumbed to the potholes with a broken wing stay (Brian drove off & left her – the bounder), so Gentlemen Graham & Tony, returning from an abortive attempt to find a way past the closed road (OK – we didn’t read the sign properly) performed a rapid amputation at the roadside & we adjourned to a local tea shop.
Baaaaa-sing Place
Once we’d all reformed (except of course for the bounder who was miles away by now) we restarted but were soon separated again, only meeting up at the next coffee & cake stop.
By this time it was properly hot, so at the next stop, two cars deleted all but the last waypoint, the other two stuck with the route & we all arrived at the petrol station near the hotel more or less together.

Linda’s car’s broken wing (stay) was taken to the local “motor engineer” a very large bloke in a very dingy workshop festooned with bits of broken cars - exactly what you want in these circumstances. He was far too butch to have any truck with namby-pamby things like safety glasses when angle grinding or a dark helmet when welding. He stuck the two parts back together with rather more weld than was strictly necessary & the car was re-assembled outside the hotel.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Rogue Runners '18 - Day 5

After a night out in the flesh-pots of Ullapool, after a day driving the towns of the north coast, there was always going to be a "morning after" something was bound to happen - & it happened to Brian.

Brian is fastidious about his car so it was with a certain amount of giggling that the sticker appeared at a suitably wonky angle.


There was a choice of two routes today, there was actually a choice of a high road & a low road. both routes were the same from Ullapool to almost Inverness & we decided on the high road after that, but I decided to stop to take photos today, so ended up at the back, then there were some SatNav “issues” & I became detached completely.
So I took the opportunity to look up the place where my son grew up before overtaking a small flock of Model T Fords, stopping for a photo, getting passed by the T Fords, overtaking them again, crossing the Cairngorms – where the roads are epic & I found an old AA box so had to stop for a picture.
I met up with everyone else at a coffee stop, then lost them immediately afterwards when a couple of closed roads threw some confusion into the mix, then we dropped down towards Edinburgh. We crossed the Forth on the new bridge & I sidled into South Queensferry for a gawp at the Forth Bridge.
Now THAT's what I call scenery

Awesome is an overused word these days, but the Forth Bridge fully justifies its’ use. Then I wrestled the Traffic trying to get out of Edinburgh before a last jaunt over the moors & finally – after about ten hours of driving - Selkirk & the Glen Hotel, a jewel of a hostelry, small, but with spacious rooms, an excellent bar, good food & a very welcoming atmosphere. After a superb meal & a beer or two, we retired to bed.


Rogue Runners '18 - Day 4

The planed route - we cut the bit on the right

One of our favourite sections of road was on the agenda today, but two of our number had car issues to sort out, so the rest of us set off, first for a visit to the Summer Isles, as had been recommended by a Scotsman I sat next to at work. This involved some very small twisty roads, but the views & the village of Achiltibuie (Pr – not a clue) were worth the effort, The scenery was stunning & the traffic almost non-existant. After that, the main road to Durness.

We stopped at a car park by the spectacular Kylesku Bridge, for a photo opportunity. Which also gave Brian the Civil Engineer (he's just more polite than most of us) the chance for a good walk round muttering enthusiastically about footings & expansion joints.
Next was a stop at the cafĂ© in Scourie as usual, but it was closed. Someone in the caravan site said it would be opening at 12:00. As it was 11:30 & the missing two still hadn’t been heard from, we waited. But after a coffee, we still hadn’t managed to get a signal to contact them, so we moved on
Then back on the road to Durness. It’s a terrific road, swirling as it does around rocky outcrops, as you venture further north the trees stop & the road sometimes reduces to single track with plentiful passing places – so plentiful they could just tarmac between them & we’d all be a lot happier.
At regular intervals there are signs saying “use passing places to allow faster traffic to overtake”, which most people do, there were a couple however who seemed intent on getting in the way, including – bizarrely – touring motor cyclists, who would ride steadfastly down the middle of the road at 20 – 30. It’s simple, speed up or pull over. At Durness, we stopped & took a few photos, then moved on to Tongue, where our absent friends caught up with us.

At Tongue I topped up with fuel at the worlds most expensive pump - there's no prices on it or any signs around it, the gauge comes from 1962 & the man comes out of a shop to fill the car, so you have no idea how much you've bought, but by working it back from average MPG - it was around £1.60 / litre - but his is the only pump for 30 miles in any direction.

At Tongue we decided to head south rather than go across county to the east coast, there is a road that runs almost due south to Lairg, again it’s mostly single track, but has VERY little traffic, so you could (in theory) get up to – say – 80 or 90 if you were that way inclined. We of course travelled at a speed we felt comfortable with – and got back to the hotel really rather quickly.