Wednesday 25 September 2013

Back To The Garage

In another attempt to distract myself, I did  little painting on the car. When I made the headrests I attached them to an aluminium frame attached to the roll bar. It works, but I've always thought it made the back of the car look cluttered, so yesterday I bought some matt black paint on my way home, took the frames off & sprayed them. No photos yet as I was unable to push the car out of the garage. Maybe this evening.

Bourton Blatt

I had decided not to do this run, but a No. of folk dropping out & a worsening situation at work left me wanting some respite & I changed my mind. Having said that I nearly changed it back when I realised I'd have to be at Newlands at 06:00.

There was no point taking a photo at the start point - it was pitch dark, with only one other car in the isolated car park when I arrived - a Fiesta 1/2 way along, with "people" in, but no lights on - Hmmm.

Everyone except Crunchie arrived, so today's Leader sent him a text we hit the road. We quickly lost "Captain Moderate" (the former "Captain Slow" - he's made some improvements to his car), this is normal as he prefers a more gentlemanly pace, but it wasn't until we stopped to answer a call of nature & to check for messages from Crunchie that we thought maybe it wasn't just his right foot delaying him.

But I'm getting ahead of myself - the route took us through Basingstoke, usually we'd avoid towns if possible, but the early start & the town layout being mostly dual carriageways & roundabouts made the blatting of a more urban environment possible & it was quite a nice change.

Just after the wee stop, we ran into some drizzle - fortunately it quickly cleared to blue skys meaning we rolled into Bourton-on-the-Water in bright sunshine. Bourton's a very pretty town with a wide, shallow river - the romantically named "Windrush" flowing through it, we crossed the river & pulled into our breakfast stop, a hotel that I never did catch the name of. There was however, no room at the inn, for parking at least, so we found some spaces in the high street.

Breakfast was some time coming. In fact by the time it was served Crunchie, who had loused up his diary & arrived at Newlands at 07:00 had turned up & Captain Moderate walked in as we were eating with a tale of woe about changing his fuel pump at the road-side, which took 3/4 hour. This made us feel guilty - whenever there is a break-down, it's a fair bet that he'll be along in ten minutes with a car full of tools & spares. Inevitably when he broke down, everyone was in front of him & didn't know.

Breakfast eaten & tales told, we headed for the next stop. This would be Chipping Norton, only five miles away as the crow flies, but we'd be doing 70 miles to get there, & in some ways these 70 miles were some of the best of the trip, with sparse traffic & smooth roads, but all too soon we were at the lunch stop, wishing we'd had less breakfast.

Parking in Chipping Norton was an issue, but we all found spaces by fair means or foul - Mattijs boxed my car in so when a "proper" space was vacated, only one of us was ever going to get it - then having lunched it was time to head home. Here our leader waved Crunchie & myself past & adopted a more leisurely pace with Mattijs, though they were soon to be separated. Crunchie & myself had a spirited trip back as far as Basingstoke where we went our separate ways. I arrived home at about 16:00 having had ten hours concentrating on what I was doing too hard to think about problems with work or family. Very nice

Monday 16 September 2013

South Downs Round Robin

It's mid September & every blatt could be the last warm(ish) / dry roads / salt free blatt of the year. Best make the most of it then.

This blatt went from the regular start point of Buck Barn, due west almost to Winchester & back to Buck Barn, the day chosen was part of the Goodwood Revival weekend & we'd be going right past Lord March's door. While we stood about in the car park waiting for the last stragglers, we watched E-types, old Maseratis, even a MkIII Zodiac estate rumble past. Then the last of our No. new member DeanoR1 arrived & was pushed back into a parking space (bike engine - no reverse) & we were ready for the off.
Straight out of the car park & into traffic in the form of a bright red E-type. There is something particularly satisfying about overtaking a red E-type. After that, picking off  the BMW 6-series soft top & Z3 weren't nearly as satisfying. Unfortunately as we got closer to the venue itself, the interesting cars became bunched up & impossible to overtake, so it was a slow ride along the A272 this morning, but soon enough we passed the main gate & picked up the pace a little.
By now it had blossomed into a lovely autumnal morning with the sun streaming through the roadside trees & lighting up the occasional patch of lingering mist. There were some navigational issues as new member DeanoR1 didn't have one, so "Blattiquet" (making sure you can see the following car so they know where you've gone) was the order of the day. On this occasion it didn't work terribly well & at one stage DeanoR1 found himself 1/2 mile up a farm track with no reverse. Hat's off to him though for driving from Southampton to the A22, then back to Winchester on the route & then 1/2 way back again before turning for home in Southampton.
But we all managed to re-group at the side of the road where the lead cars had stopped for water (to spray some into a hedge rather than take some on). After that the pack broke up almost instantly & I drove more or less alone to the breakfast stop. From there MrMango & I (it seems we are now known as the chutney brothers) headed off the route as neither of us had time to go 30 miles east, to come back 30 miles north west again, but before the parting of the ways there were some lovely sweeping bends where my rear camera recorded the following image, which I think is stunning.
The rest of the video is here:-

Monday 9 September 2013

Need To Know

Listen very carefully, I shall say ziss only once.

Target:- Bletchly Park - Britain code breaking centre from WWII.

Rendezvous:- Various

Departure time:- oooourrrgh

The plan was a complex one, "operatives" to set off from various locations around the south east, join up north west of London & proceed to the target fast & low.

As usual on a blatt day I was awake before the alarm went off - today the unearthly hour of 05:30, to make the first meet point at 06:00. Matijs was already in the layby as I rolled up at 05:55. the T.Y.R.E. navigation program we use had suggested the time to the next meet point was 30 mins, I knew we'd do it quicker than that, but I wasn't expecting the 15 mins it actually took us.
Neither was Matijs & he sailed past the meet point on the ITN (route file on the SatNav) like a man on a mission. After a couple of minutes my phone rang & shortly after that Matijs re-appeared behind me along with David T. David said that Mr Mango would be joining us in Windsor Great Park & Tony B was heading straight for the subsequent meet, so although we were early, sitting in a park was more appealing than the side of a dual carriageway, so we moved on.

Of course I had no idea where Windsor Great Park was (OK, I guessed it was around Windsor) so Matijs & I drove straight through, stopped when we realised the Martini Tiger was missing, called him, turned round & went back - bit of a theme emerging here.

By the time we got back, the MangoFury had arrived so it was time for a brief photo op. I was pleased with these considering I was holding the camera above my head, aiming it using only The Force.

The early morning fog certainly added to the atmosphere Don't you think?

So, off we set again, heading for Hemel Hempstead where we were waved into a carpark by the jovial figure of Nash. After a few minutes the last stragglers rolled in & after a short chat, we headed out - Neil had thoughtfully prepared a quiz for the next part of the route which I failed at in spectacular fashion & by the time we hit Leighton Buzzard I had only registered three villages - the quiz asked for the names of four. The stop here was for breakfast & a café had opened two hours early especially for us.

The café was off an alley off an alley, we needed an ITN just to find it from the car park. But find it we did & after a healthy full English we were ready for anything.

For the last leg the two Furys took their own path as is often the way, but the ITN final destination must've been a post code, because we found ourselves in a housing estate. We knew we were close by the street names "Turing Close" & "Colossus Way" were clues, so making our way round the block we soon found the brown signs & followed them in.

We were met by a very friendly chap who escorted us up to the main house - by now bathed in sunshine) where the payment for admission seemed to throw the staff into some confusion, but after a few minutes we were all sorted & making our way to a classroom hut.

Here a very knowledgeable chap gave us the history & some of the amazing facts & figures behind the place, like there were 9000 folks based there involved in code breaking, most were billeted out in nearby towns & bussed in each day - that's an awful lot of folk to keep the secret of "Station X". There were times when the German secret messages were read by the British war office in London before their intended recipient had seen them, then the subterfuge to ensure that the Germans didn't suspect the codes had been broken - like sending a reconnaissance plane over a convoy - close enough to get shot at, so the subsequent attack would be blamed on the recce plane discovering the ships, rather than knowing where it was all the time.
Clearly we were expected
 Having had the talk, we wandered the grounds huts & displays, we were fortunate to have chosen the annual re-union day, so the place was awash with people who in other circumstances I might be tempted to refer to as "biddies", but who were the people who worked long hours in cold damp sheds trying to make sense of random letters, never knowing if that difficult one they were struggling with would turn out to be Hitler ordering a new attack, of Fritz ordering a new box of pencils. It was a privilege to walk the same paths as them.

We also got to see one of the early code breaking machines running, this was the "bombe", an electro-mechanical marvel which has been painstakingly re-built for the museum.
But with dark clouds gathering, it was time to make a move & the two Furys & the Tiger headed out as the first drops of rain were starting to fall.

For the homeward leg I'd planned an ITN to take me down the A404, but as is often the case, Mr Mango had a better plan & led us down some cracking roads, but after a while there was an absence of white in my mirror, slowing down in line with the rules of "blattiquette" led to a slowing of the Mangofury & we rolled to a halt. After a couple of minutes, the Tiger appeared with a tale of woe - the upper alternator bracket had failed, but fortunately the lower bracket was holding it in place against the belt, but it looked like straight roads & constant speed were the best option & David T dropped out of formation & headed back the quick way.

So the two Furys again took to the back lanes & skirted the rain, by the sound of it, we were the only two to remain dry. I was treated to coffee & cake at the Mango house before departing for home.

Another great day out with the SKCC & my thanks go to Nash who organised it all.

Thursday 5 September 2013


As the weather's been unseasonably warm I've been taking the Fury into work every day, in fact the "daily driver" hasn't been off the drive since I got back from Sweden. I've noticed though that as I accelerate away from work & back off the throttle there was a CLACK! which I could feel through the transmission tunnel. Now, there's generally a thump when coming off power because there's so little rubber in the transmission, no "donut" in the propshaft & the diff is hard-mounted. But this wasn't a thump, it was a CLACK!

But as the engine warmed it went away, so it couldn't be anything much could it?

Today - being the last day before the forecast rain, I left work early (CLACK!) & arrived home to an empty house. I put the back of the car on ramps & reached for the spanners. The diff bolts accessible from under the car were all tight, I got a little more torque on a couple of wishbone bolts, but nothing to explain the CLACK! Next job was to take out the seats to get to the front diff bolts - sounds dramatic, but it only takes about three minutes per side. Passenger side first & I got about a turn on the bolt - Aha! If the driver's side was as loose it could account for the CLACK!.

Passenger seat back in (I'd found my long lost leatherman under it) & round to the driver's side, seat out & as I removed the grommet in the side panel, the diff bolt fell out. Yes, that will account for the CLACK I could feel. I bolted it back in (swinging on the ratchet as hard as I dared), put the seat back in & took the car out to get some fuel. not only was there not a CLACK!, but the diff whine I remembered from when the car was new is back.

Job done it seems.

Sunday 1 September 2013

Cotswold Curves

So, although the Fury’s been out everyday this week as my conveyance of choice for commuting in the fine weather we’ve been having, my blat-gland needed massaging.

Last weekend was supposed to be the car’s first post-rebuild run, but weather ruled out the 1st proposed date & a promise to visit the coast with my wife ruled out the re-arranged blatt on the bank holiday. This weekend there appeared to be nothing happening SKCC-wise until Crunchie proposed a run to the Cotswolds. That’s not a direction we go often, so I was in, but in spite of some other interest, the set-off time saw just the two of us sitting in the car park filling our faces with the sausage & egg McMuffins Chrunchie had generously bought along & gazeing at the super lightweight titanium bolts appearing on the Crunchiemobile. Drilled for wirelocking too.

Five past & still no sign of anyone else, so we set off. The sun was just rising & there was an autumnal nip in the air requiring a windproof coat & gloves, but the roads were pretty clear. As we wound our way into Oxfordshire we saw evidence of what Clarkson often moans about.
Speedlimits posted seemingly randomly 20, 30 or 40 in towns, 30, 40, 50 or NSL in the country – yes there were large stretches of decent, smooth road with no habitation with a 30 sign every 50 yards. This absurdly low limit seemed to be ignored wholesale by the locals.

That - & me taking the wrong turn off a roundabout near Oxford were the only irritations, as we made the most of what could be the last of the nice days. We breakfasted at the Falkland Arms in a place called “Great Tew” which suggests there is a “little Tew” in the area. If so it must be pretty damn small as Great Tew was little more than a hamlet. Very pretty though & the Falkland Arms itself was a superb example of a “proper” English hostelery, been there since just after the dawn of time, wood fired, low ceilinged & with a warren of small comfy rooms. Also, until you got used to the geography of the place, the gents never seemed to be in quite the same place you remembered it being.

Once again I am indebted to Mr Crunchie for standing me a breakfast – very kind, we sat at a 3” thick oak table that had probably been there since the time of Henry VIII, ate breakfast, talked Engineering & looked out of leaded windows at the kits cooling in the sunshine.

After an hour or so we headed off again, with me still leading since the satnav mount had broken off the dash of Crunchie’s car – the only breakage all day – which is nice. The roads on the return leg were spectacular, there had been good stretches on the way, but the home run had longer stretches of smoother windier roads with less speed limits & less traffic. What traffic there was seemed to melt away, either turning off, going straight on when we turned off, or even letting us past – almost unheard of in the UK. So all in all a very pleasant morning, 175 miles (ish) & nothing needing doing to the Fury. Excellent.