Sunday 27 May 2012

Invisibly Mended

So, the bonnet's cracked & split, but re-inforced underneath with fibreglass, but the upper surface is like a grater, so the edges had to made safe if I was going to use the car.

Initially all I could find was parcel tape, which isn't really thick or strong enough, but I've now found the duct tape & have done it "properly". Most of the damage is under the reg plate, so that's easy, tape the "official" plate over the top, then tape over the other cracks - then I stood back & got creative by joining up some of the strips of tape ..........

Saturday 26 May 2012

Back To Blatt.

A club run in the evening from my local meet point, Newlands Corner was too much to resist, so with the Fury bonnet patched up I headed somewhat nervously through the Guildford traffic. At the car park, discussions were centring around who’s car would drop out first, a number of faults were being complained of, from my car’s expedition into the hedge, to a shortage of water, there were also complaints about closed roads, as we were to find, Surrey & Sussex councils have a road repairing frenzy going on – this is a good thing, but they will leave “loose chippings” in heaps anything up to an inch deep in the road, but there were lots of signs saying “SKID RISK MAX 20” – so that’ll be OK then.
But I digress, to begin with the run was something of a procession, stuck behind any number of slow moving hatchbacks, vans, Land Rovers, but as we headed south into the badlands of West Sussex, the traffic thinned as the roads improved. There were the usual satnav inspired divergences, an occasional P.A.M. (Puckered Arse Moment) caused by the aforementioned loose chippings & a pleasant drink in a country pub, but at the end we were all still present & correct, so that must count as a success.

We passed in formation through the Hindhead tunnel keeping all very quiet - yeah right.
The truly astonishing thing about this run though was the weather – glorious sunshine & WARM! It appears that summer 2012 has at last arrived. Hoorah.

The Assessor Cometh

So, the insurance man came to see the Fury. I chuckle at this sort of thing. The total bill for the repairs is less than £1500, so the absolute most he can save the insurance Co. is £1400 (excess is £100) less the cost of his visit, say £100/hr x 3 hrs, so max possible saving = £1100. The recovery is a fixed cost, as is the radiator, the engine mount & while the bonnet could theoretically be repaired, it’s far cheaper to buy a new one, so that’s a fixed cost too. There is no labour to negotiate as I’ll be doing the work myself, so the interests of reducing the cost to the insurance Co. are best served by not sending an assessor & thereby saving his fee are they not?

He seemed happy enough that there had been a crash & my list of replacements parts was reasonable, so now I'm waiting for the word to proceed. The new rad has arrived & been fitted, hopefully the bonnet lead time won’t be too long, I’ll need a number plate – toying with the idea of a square one offset to the passenger side & there’s a club run  this evening, so hopefully, I’ll finish that without incident.

Initially I had little enthusiasm for putting the car to rights, but – keenness returned & I felt the need to get back out in the garage, especially after I saw Mrs Blatter writing out a “jobs to do” list, only one of which was something for her (I expect that’s because she does all her jobs so efficiently, she has no need to write them down). So normal blatting service should be resumed soon.


Last weekend (as well as completing one of Mrs Blatter’s listed jobs) I mechanically repaired the car – this time the fan is on the back of the radiator, I also improved a couple of parts that were looking a little the worse for wear after the road trip. The rear alternator mount had snapped – I thought at first this was metal fatigue, but on taking it apart, I found that the spacer tube between front & rear mounts had pushed into the front mount of the alternator making it too short, & over-stressing the rear mount. So it’s re-made & this time there’re two much shorter bolts & no spacer, so lighter as well as better.

I also made up a brace for the idler pulley. I really wasn’t convinced what I’d done before was stiff enough, so the new brace cures that & makes the rear brace, the stiffener & the bracket to hold the cam-belt cover away from the alternator belt redundant. As it was dry on Saturday, I glassed the bonnet back together so it can be used while I’m waiting for the new parts to arrive, it looks “a bit rough” but the sharp edges are taped over, so it shouldn’t grate any passers by.

Sunday 13 May 2012

Road Trip Part Four

Day 4, The SKCC were up with the lark & had mostly left before the canteen restaurant opened. A few stragglers hung on in the hope of bacon & were lucky enough to be loitering by the door when it opened, so we got first dibs on the finest morning fayre Blackpool can provide. The sun shone brightly on the battlements as we handed in the plastic room keys & headed for the cars. My starter motor had been playing up & making horrendous noises in it’s attempts to fire the Zetec, & this morning was no exception, so I had made it my policy to start the car before other people were in their cars so if it did give it’s last gasp, there were folks about to push start it. However, start it did & I sat with idling engine until my comrades had mounted up, then after refuelling & waving a cheery finger as we passed BAES’ Warton site, we headed out of town. This was probably the worst part of the trip, traffic, endless suburban sprawl, speed cameras & problems with satnav route dominated our attention, but before long we were under the Mersey & making for the border. 24 hours ago we’d been in the letter L refusing “Annik”, now we were in a land where they couldn’t get enough of the right-angled blighters & indeed were very keen on consonants of any shape, but vowels were out of favour it seemed. The roads & the scenery were getting our attention, with wide sweeping bends, mountains blue / grey in the distance & a growing anticipation we headed west. We wended our way down through Snowdonia through some truly spectacular scenery, the weather stayed dry, it was bliss. We even caught up with the group in front, only to lose them again when we stopped at a petrol station best described as “rural” it was an agricultural workshop with a forecourt full of Land Rovers & quads, it had two pumps of 1970s vintage, & a bloke in very greasy overalls who had to put down his spanners to serve us. I loved it – it wasn’t even close to the most expensive fuel we bought either. The next stop was lunch, we wound out zig-zag drive into a car park  & entered what looked like a really nice establishment, walked through to the bar & stopped in our tracks at the view. The Hotel was at one end of the Vyrnwy  reservoir, high up & with a large picture window & patio overlooking the scenery. We ate outside. I considered indulging in the Stowfold Press cider – until I read “Hot chocolate – with marshmallows, whipped cream, flake & crushed honeycomb” I took my coat off to make quite sure I was cold enough to need warming up by such a beverage. After lunch we dragged ourselves away from the view & watched while the Tiger drivers among us compared alternator bracket faults & replaced worn & broken bolts, then after some more unpleasant mechanical noises from my starter motor, we were away. At the bottom of the hill was another rustic service station, this time little more than a hole in a cliff face, with one pump. I didn’t need fuel just then so after driving back to check Mattijs was OK (his satnav was out of battery) I didn’t want to turn the engine off again, equally I didn’t want to sit with it idling while four cars filled up from one pump, so I said I’d drive on slowly until they caught up. I set of at a sedate pace (about 30mph) then realised I would need fuel later on & if the “station” was like the last two, they were unlikely to be open after 5:30, so speeded up – but only to about 40. Then suddenly there was a corner – a hedge – a bank – a sudden stop.

 I can’t explain what happened. I was rested, I’d had no alcohol for over 36 hours - & not a great deal then. I wasn’t speeding, the GPS data logger confirms this. There doesn’t appear to be any faults with the car. Just a loss of concentration I guess.

 The car was now perched on a bank on the wrong side of a very rural road, with no phone signal at all. I tried to extricate it, but the offside front wheel was hooked over the edge. After a few minutes the rest of the bunch came along & helped me pull the car out. The bonnet was pushed in & the radiator was vee shaped & leaking. It was game over for me. I gave the car a very quick check over, started it up & drove slowly for a mile or so until my phone came to life then called the RAC. About two hours later I was recovered to the depot & handed the keys to a ford Ka. What I should’ve done was driven to the pre-booked hotel, slept & driven home the following day. What I actually did was drive direct to home from Welshpool (it wasn’t actually Welshpool, but it was close & I can spell it). The rather sad looking Fury arrived late the following day & I immediately removed the battered bonnet (as it wouldn’t open) & surveyed the damage. It appears to be light, just the GRP front & a new radiator required. One of the engine mounts looks as if it might be cracked, but I’ll need to remove it to be sure.

So, an excellent time curtailed with rather unfortunate end.

Road Tip Part Three

Day 3 led us back across the moors, but this time heading south west, & for the only time on the trip it rained, not much, but enough to need the roof on the car. We started with a re-fuel, & headed out. We hadn’t been going long when there was a ping – ting – thud from under my car. Last time this happened I found out some time later that it was a brake calliper bolt detaching, so I pulled over & checked all the important bolts I could find – they were all still there. I pulled away, & checked the mirror, expecting Mr Mango to appear, but of him there was no sign. I stopped & waited. Still nothing. I turned round & went back, cresting the hill I saw the unmistakable sign of a Fury bonnet raised. As I’d departed, he’d turned the key to find that absolutely nothing happened, no starter, no lights, nothing.

 All it needed was the battery terminals cleaning up & Matijs arrived as this was being done & soon we were once again blatting through the somewhat bleak (but majestic) scenery, stopping from time to time as photo opportunities presented themselves – there is after all the SKCC photo competition to be be honest we could’ve stopped for a photo at almost every corner, so we had to ration ourselves, but even then we arrived at the lunch stop as everyone else was finishing. Next on the agenda was a short detour to take in the Ribblehead viaduct, A spectacular piece of Victorian architecture, but the only way to get a decent picture was to take the cars along what to describe it as a dirt track, would be a dis-service to farm tracks the length& breadth of the country, rutted & pot-holed, the Furies were not the ideal vehicles to traverse what I would describe as a “green lane” were it not for the fact it was chalky white. But we got to a good vantage point with our sumps & suspension unmolested, took some spectacular photos & headed back to where Mattijs had waited – deciding (probably wisely) that his sole means of transport was more important to him than a couple of pictures.
So the day went on, more stunning roads, more stunning moor. The wide open, sweeping bends punctuated by tight & steep almost Alpine sections down into valleys where a small village would echo to the sound of three not terribly well muffled sports cars, then up the other side & away.  So we eventually wended our way into Blackpool. Ah Blackpool – what can I say that hasn’t already been said. It sits between the spectacular beach & spectacular moorland like a prominent tattoo on a pretty girl – kind of interesting in it’s own right, but the whole would be so much better without it. All human life was there – mostly shouting & whooping. The hotel itself was to the north of the town & if I said it was built in the style of a castle, I’d be stretching a point to say the least, it was a concrete edifice with crenellations & “NOR  RE  K CAS  LE” writ large on it. To be fair, it was clean enough, but with rooms numbering hundreds, the service was never going to be personal in the same way last night’s hostelry was, & the food was more “canteen” than “Cordon Bleu” but it sufficed. Of course my enthusiasm for it may have been tempered by the fact that my ankle was now REALLY hurting, because my shoe was rubbing, so I ate my tea & went to bed.

Friday 11 May 2012

Road Trip Part Two

After a hearty breakfast & some running repairs to one or two cars, we headed out of town – still heading north. The Dales were stunning, mile after mile of scenery uninterrupted by towns & even contained a county I’d never heard of – Richmondshire – strange. We dined at a very nice pub in a village who’s name I never did establish, before heading for Bamburgh Castle, a spectacular pile, made all the more impressive by the bright blue sky. Many pictures were taken, just about all of which had a car or six in the foreground. Then all too soon we reached “target for tonight” Alnwick – pronounced “annick”, where do to a cock-up on the admin front, we were all booked in for the following evening. Fortunately there were no guests on the evening in question & the nice lady in charge made an excellent job of making us welcome. It was a slightly odd establishment, an old farm house built around a courtyard with the guest quarters being converted from the animal pens, basically it was an antique shop, the rooms being furnished with the stock & everything had a price label on it. Some of our party ventured into Alnwick & returned mightily impressed with the service they had received, the rest of us bought in beer & fish & chips, which was also very nice.

Road Trip Part 1

The 2012 SKCC Road trip – not unlike “the girl with the curl – right in the middle of her forehead” really, in that when it was good as very very good, but when it was bad it was horrid. The driving was excellent, the car performed brilliantly, the team spirit was good, the route was superb, but getting run over & crashing put a bit of a dampner on it.

Day one to Bridlington was good, but a hell of a long way, the roads through the “bomber country” of the Fens were straight – but certainly not level, with the car getting hurled from side to side by the sudden dips & lumps in the other wise flat-for-miles road surface, then further north, with the scenery getting slowly more – scenic. We stopped for lunch just past RAF Conningsby after seeing Typhoons practising bump & gos. The weather being so fair that we ate outside – a welcome change from the persisting rain in the south east.

Nourished & refreshed, we set off again, but already we had made an unknowing error. When we Mr Mango & I both independently loaded the second route to the Satnavs, it warned us of tolls on the route – We knew about this, twas the Humber Bridge, so we both hit the “YES” button to accept. Unfortunately that wasn’t the question the little boxes were asking us, had we followed the age old computing adage “RTFS” we would have realised it was asking if we wanted to AVOID the toll. We headed even further north, & pulled onto a motorway – oh well, we’d been told there would be “link sections” where the fastest road was used, but the motorway miles racked up & still the satnavs kept us on them. Only when we were passing the junctions to North & South Cave did I realise our mistake, we had been diverted right round the Humber Estuary. We went across the bridge & back just for the look of the thing & quietly slunk away before anyone noticed.

After a very long time’s driving we pulled into Bridlington in bright sunshine & saw some of our compatriots re-fuelling, so we drove into the station to do the same. At this point one of the other cars failed to start – no electrical power. A lifted bonnet soon draws a crowd & the Tiger cognoscenti soon had the problem diagnosed, it seems all Tiger supplied alternators do the same & the control box at the back was all loose. This remedied We set to push starting the car. With three already pushing the roll bar, I in my over keenness to assist stupidly elected to push the front suspension. The car fired & leapt forward, I suddenly found I had nothing to lean on & fell – taking off the driver’s mirror, the car then got it’s own back by rolling over my leg. Fortunately the leg took the weight, but I broke the rear wheel arch, & I lost quite a lot of skin around my ankle. Still hurts now.

Having hopped about the forecourt & sworn quite a lot, I established I was still OK to drive, & we continued to the promenade where a photo session had been arranged, that done, we found the Hotel, packed the cars into the carpark & Myself & Mr Mango walked (hobbled) into town for some more food.

At this stage one of our number had to call in the services of the RAC as he’d blown the head gasket, so the following day we bid him farewell & headed for the Dales.