Thursday 19 December 2013


I'm thinking of changing the colour of the Fury. I thought maybe the black, white, grey "urban camouflage", why?

Folk don't seem to be able to see it. There was the "near death experience" last month & it's now the car's been driven into. I was just arriving at work, the car in front of me turned right into my office car part, I signalled & followed it, but instead of driving into the car park, it turned across the entrance. I stopped while the driver sorted himself out, but then the reversing lights came on & he started coming backwards. I expected him to come back a yard, turn & pull out onto the road again, but no, back & back he came. I laid on the hooter for a good five seconds & watched while he reversed into the front wing of my car. Obviously a bright yellow screaming thing directly across his path wasn't sufficient to gain his attention.

Fortunately there was no damage, GRP is good at withstanding this kind of thing & it was only a nudge, but short of flashing beacons, what can I do?

Monday 9 December 2013


The Fury’s been leaking oil, slowly getting worse over a few weeks, so I took the sump off as I had some time. The gasket was  flat rubber thing with washers where the bolts went through to stop them crushing the rubber, over time the heat & oil had got to the rubber & it had gone wrinkly
After a post or two on the SKCC forum & some replies from the wonderfully knowledgeable & helpful Dick, it turns out I have the right gasket for the engine - what I should've had is the right gasket for the sump. So I ordered silvertop Zetec gasket to replace the blacktop zetec one & hopefully I’ve seen the inside of the engine for the last time. Equally hopefully, I’ll be cleaning oil & the gravel stuck to it out of the engine bay for the last time. I thought I’d seen the last of that when the X-flow went.

After a very long wait for the sump gasket, it finally turned up, so having loads of holiday to take before year end I left work at lunch time & headed home. I took the sump down & cleaned it, paying special attention to the until now unused groove, I checked the seal fitted the groove, I put a bead of sealant in the groove, laid the seal in & put another fine bead of sealant along it’s upper edge. Marvellous – then I couldn’t get the sump back up. Try as I might I couldn’t locate the back, then get the front up past the pick-up pipe. In the end I found the trick was to locate the pick-up pipe first. Hopefully the seal was still in place by the time I’d got it all sorted. Now I need to wait for the sealant to cure before putting fresh oil in & starting it up.

Another thing I did was fit the camera housing to the mounting in the rad intake, just to see what it looked like. It looked like this.......


Sunday 17 November 2013

Another Encounter with The Sussex Blind Drivers Assc.

Another rather too exciting run out with the SKCC. I’d been feeling lousy with a cold, so at best was 50 / 50 for this run, but I woke at 05:00, so I thought I’d go.

Arriving at Newlands there were already three other cars parked up & waiting, so I ambled past them & reversed into the remaining space. My new reverse lights were noticed but deliberately not mentioned – rats!

After a few minutes SteveRST arrived, & a few minutes after that we were joined By DavidT which meant we were good to go. There was a little deliberation about who should lead, but in the end DavidT pulled out of the car park followed by myself. We trundled as far as Godalming before DavidT put himself in the inside lane behind a tintop at some lights while I opted for the outside lane – so then I was in front. Regular readers will know that this never goes well – I seem incapable of following a SatNav while leading a group of cars, but today I did quite well, getting as far as Petworth before turning the wrong way – the SatNav said to turn left, so I did, then it went odd & requested a right turn up an alley, having turned round it wanted me to turn right - the way I had been going – strangeness. But inevitably I was now at the back of the pack when the excitement started. We were on a dual carriageway rumbling along as you do, the other cars were in the inside lane, I was in the outside. I was just considering speeding up to record the cars as I went past when (rather too late) I noticed the speed camera van.

A glance at the SatNav said I was doing 75, so should by OK – we’ll see. Shortly after this we passed a couple of HGVs & then pulled into a side road. I assumed this was a wee stop until the others gathered round DavidT’s offside front wheel. It seems he had been about to overtake the second artic when a Transit pickup which had been waiting to turn right, pulled back into the fast lane without signalling, leaving our man with a choice of hitting it or going under the artic trailer. He chose to take his chances with the Transit & his offside front wheel came into contact with the pick-up’s nearside rear, the cyclewing had been “re-located” & there were witness marks on the tyre wall. To begin with it seemed the tracking was all over the place, but there was no obvious damage to the wishbone brackets, no lost movement in the steering & sighting along the front wheels onto
the rear suggested things weren’t as bad as we’d thought. The mis-alignment was perhaps an optical illusion caused by the misplaced cyclewing. Anyway, after some prodding & a good hard stare Mr T elected to carry on with caution & we set off again. I kept his lights in my mirrors for some time, but he seemed to be OK. Sure enough he arrived at the café just after us.

So, once again rather more of an adventure than we would ideally like, is this just a bad couple of weeks or are folk really driving about without looking where they’re going?

The video clip of last week's "event" is still getting more than 1 hit per minute - over 12,500 now.

Thursday 14 November 2013

Back Up Lights

Having fitted & been impressed with the Day Running Lights (DRLs), they show up pretty well as you can see in this video still from "Bluephil1978 from the SKCC:-
Though obviously not that well from the Nissan 4x4's point-of-view. It occurred to me that I could use the same thing at the rear as reversing lights. Up until now I've avoided reversing lights as I felt they would unnecessarily clutter the back of the car, they were not required for SVA & aren't an MoT item, though I believe they are now an IVA test point - but I don't need to worry about that.

Anyway - when building the car I put a wire from the dash to the gearbox switch & another from the switch back to the rear lights just in case I found I couldn't live without them.
So here's a photo of the back of the car with the new reversing lights fitted ........

Can't see them can you? Good, that was my plan.

The lights are "light bolts" a thing that's really only been possible with the advent of modern high power LEDs, they are effectively a bolt with the LED in the bolt head & the wires running up the centre of the bolt shank. After the Remembrance Day Blatt, I fished the black & purple wire out from the rear light housing & re-routed it through the existing rear fog / No. plate light wire conduit into the centre of the boot space, fitted some terminals, modified the existing earth & Bob's your uncle.

Here they are working:-

 Yes I've used them to hold the No. plate on (the other bit of light on the "Built Not Bought" sticker is a stray reflection in the camera lens.

Last night I took the dash out & found the coiled up wire at the front & soldered it into the fused supply for the DRLs, so with ignition on & reverse selected they work - hurrah!
Of course I still can't actually see behind me because the harness stops me turning round & the mirrors are next to useless, but that's a problem for another day.

Granted they don't look very bright in this photo - that's because they're fighting with the flash.

But here's a picture with all the garage lights out & the flash turned off. As you can see they're bright enough to illuminate the general clutter at the back of the garage, so I think they'll do the trick.

Invisible reversing lights - what will they think of next?

Speaking of being invisible, the video clip of my "near death experience" has now had 3,500 views in four days - it's gone viral!

Monday 11 November 2013

Remembrance Day Again.

Mmmmm - Sunday mornings were made for this.
The SKCCs plan was to meet at the amusingly named Pease Pottage ready to leave at 07:40. I looked it up on the route planning software which assured me it would take 28 mins to get there. I woke early & crept about – even had time for a coffee before leaving at 07:00. The weather was forecast dry & the sky was light, but leaves & standing water on the road meant caution was the order of the day. So by 07:30 it was pretty obvious I was going to be late, by 07:40 & still some miles short of the meet point, I was glad to notice the SatNav showing the routes in & out were coinciding,  so at least I would see the club coming the other way - & sure enough, that’s what happened - & what a magnificent sight they made coming towards me – on my side of the road overtaking a tin-top (OK it was ½ mile up the road & quite unlike the “near death experience” I was to encounter a little later).

As the last car passed, a drive made a convenient turning place & I set off in pursuit, so all was well. The greasiness of the roads was amply demonstrated after ten minutes or so when one of our number was a little too heavy on the right foot, as I rounded a roundabout, there he was facing me. We pulled over & as he didn’t appear to be moving, I gallantly went round the rest of the roundabout to check all was well. The rest of the SKCC used this opportunity to scarper. As it turned out, Wingco was fine, but having SatNav issues, so I led & kept a close eye on the mirrors to make sure he was still in touch.

 After a while we arrived at the café & ordered up breakfast while the banter flowed & one of our number collected contributions for the wreath & charity donation, then at the allotted time & after an ad-hoc repair or two (this week’s broken cycle wing count was two – not both on the same car) we assembled for the run into to church. The idea was to rumble along in formation & all arrive together, however a flock of Harley Davidson riders left the café at the same time, got in amongst us & slowed the second half of the pack to a crawl. But no-matter, we had a back-up plan to re-form at a junction just before the church, however (again) I loused up the seemingly simple task of changing my SatNav from night display to day display & in doing so managed to change the route altogether. So when it said “turn right” I turned right, in spite of the cars in front & behind going straight on, this happens sometimes & I thought I would re-join the party at the next junction, fortunately I noticed the ETA on the screen was saying 11:19, which couldn’t be right as we needed to be at the church by 10:45. Having stopped, called up the correct route again& deleted all but the last waypoint, I headed off, arriving just after everyone else had parked & dismounted.
 The venue is in a posh little village. I’m talking proper plum-in-the-mouth POSH & make no mistake these people dress for the occasion. There was some discussion the first year as to whether there’d be problems with a bunch of mud-splattered oiks pitching up uninvited, but nothing could be further from the truth. They seem genuinely delighted that a crowd of brightly coloured, noisy cars come out of no-where once a year and their dishevelled drivers amble up like a bunch of schoolboys to deposit a slightly soiled wreath at the foot of their cross.
After the wreath-laying we disperse, I took the direct route home, but about mid-way I was rumbling along a nice wide A-road with a right hand bend at the bottom of a long hill, speed limit 60, I was in no hurry, doing maybe 55. I rounded the bend to be faced with a Nissan 4x4 OVERTAKING a Discovery pulling a horsebox! I put two wheels on the verge one my side, the Disco put two wheels on the verge the other & the Nissan just got through. It was really VERY close as you can see in the video – yes, for once I had the camera running when something interesting happened. The video's Below:-
It occurred to me later in the day as I pottered in the garage, had there been about a foot less room, the police would’ve found my camera & data-logger among the twisted wreckage & would by then have arrested the driver of S24UTD for causing death by dangerous driving.

I wonder if they realised how lucky they were?

Sunday 10 November 2013

Rememberance Day

Lots to report, but no time to write it in a witty & amusing manner, so I'll just post a couple of atmospheric stills from the rear camera:-

As well as this clip of a near-death experience I had on the way home:-

More later when I have a little more time

Tuesday 5 November 2013

GoPro? Go Overboard More Like

I've been looking at GoPro mounts as I'm getting one for Christmas. A guy in the SKCC makes superb videos & extolls the virtue of alternate camera angles. This is great if you're Top Gear & have a dozen cameras to festoon a car with, I will just have the one, but I thought I might make the most of what I have with some mounts to put the camera in places you might not expect.

To this end I started sketching & through a few iterations & experiments came up with  a mount on the back of the passenger headrest (not that unusual a view), one in the radiator intake & I wanted one low down at the side of the car. After grubbing about in the garage I came up with this.

What it is, is the bottom section of one leg of a tripod, with the screw & foot removed & replaced by a 1/4 Whitworth bolt, which is shortened & has a GoPro tripod mount fitted.
 There are also a couple of brackets made from aluminium off-cuts pop-riveted on (riveted in two planes - the brackets wrap round). just to ensure I retain ownership of the GoPro, the tripod mount is wired to the leg which means that neither the push-in end can fall out, nor the tripod mount can unscrew.

This item can be attached to the car by two existing bolts holding the rear of the driver's side pod on. I did think of fitting it to the passenger side, to get dramatic footage of exhaust & undergrowth rushing past, but thought better of it when I realised just how close the undergrowth would be.

So here it is installed. All I need now is a camera to put in the case. Roll on January.

Saturday 2 November 2013

The GoPro & The Yogurt Pot

With the “graceful degradation” of the BlattCam, I’d been considering my options & had kind of decided on a GoPro as a combined Christmas & birthday present but as ever with me, there were complications. The current GoPro Hero3 is all fine & dandy, but uses the micro SD cards. Nothing wrong with that as such, but they are fiddly to change & easy to lose. The previous generation GoPro Hero 2 uses the postage-stamp sized cards which I already had a number of.

My conundrum was decided when a barely used Hero2 appeared for sale with the WiFi remote in nearby Weybridge. I put in an offer, the owner accepted it, he saved on PayPal fees, I saved on price.

The GoPro is undoubtedly an excellent piece of kit, but there’s one or two aspects that don’t work terribly well when used on a road trip. The principle one being the need to get a power wire & mic line into the waterproof case, which naturally renders it – not waterproof at all.
The “proof” bit of waterproof wasn’t too important, if the car gets submerged, having footage of the event won’t be my principle concern, but I was bothered that rain would enter through the holes drilled for wires & accumulate in the case. Which would prove expensive. I’d seen instructions on the interweb for modifying a USB lead such that it fitted within the case, the wires themselves could then come out via a hole in the removable door. Swapping to an alternative door would make the case watertight again.
Excellent! I tried it, it didn't work.

The only alternative was a large hole in the side of the case, but all was not lost, as a second-hand case with a scratched lens came up on Ebay, which I bought for £not-much-at-all. I could cut this one about & keep the watertight one for scuba diving off the Maldives (one can but hope).
I was still concerned that rain would enter the case though & looked at various ways of making a shield, including gluing a 35mm film pot to the side. After a few options were dismissed, I hit upon the following.

This is a yogurt pot. Being the preferred variety of my elder daughter, it is of course the expensive type. You can tell by the sturdy nature of the pot. No cheap polystyrene & foil lid here.


This is the part I cut out of the pot, compared to an unmolested pot.........

......... and this is what it looks like selotaped to the case. When I drill the case for the wiring, I’ll attach the shield with double sided foam “servo tape”, which should be strong enough to keep it attached at Oh – 70mph, & seal well enough that any rain gets carried past the opening in the side.

The only down-side I can see at the moment is that the "skins" available for the GoPro will no longer fit - though I may have a plan for that to

Friday 1 November 2013


Little's been happening in Furyville. I went out on an SKCC blatt last weekend, there were two planned, the weather looked better for the Saturday one, so I picked that.


It was drizzling as I stepped out of the house, but the forecast had been for dryness, so it must just be the last of a shower passing over yes?


I'd looked at the route the night before & it began at one of our regular haunts, then came towards Guildford, so I elected to give the neighbours a lie in & meet the route in Shalford. Except that I woke early so I set off. I got as far as Dunsfold parked up & sent a text to say I'd meet the others there. Then the drizzle started again, so I sent another text to say I'd amble along the route to keep the wet at bay. Just before I got to Bramley my phone beeped, "ah" I thought "confirmation". I pulled over & read the message, it said "I think you may have the wrong No." I'd sent the messages to "GB", I should've sent it to "GB SKCC".


Sorry 'bout that GB.
Shortly after that, the other two of today's runners passed the layby I was laying-by, so off we went. After a few miles our leader's SatNav went a little odd, so I took the lead - generally when I'm leading something goes awry, usually I go off piste & end up at the back again, today it was a rainstorm, a real, proper hurling it down type rainstorm. After a while I pulled into a petrol station to take cover under the canopy. Only here did I think to remove the rear facing camera - then I put the roof up anyway.

The rest of our jaunt was conducted with tops erect (unusually all the cars on this run were equipped with screens & hoods) & by & by we arrived at "the chalet", where we breakfasted & bantered.

On arriving home I mopped a decent amount of water out of the car & took the roof & all the blatt gadgets into the house to dry. The rear camera had not fared well.

Water ran out of it.

I believe that expert opinion suggests that this is "not a good thing" for a camera.

I took the covers off each end & laid it to rest on a radiator. A couple of days later it was still not responding to prodding. It was only £14, so not a huge blow & now I have my GoPro (or will have come Christmas) so the failing BlattCam would be called to rear-facing duty.

BUT, now almost a week after it's dunking, the rear camera has come back to life - hurrah!

Next outing is the rememberance day run, so fingers are crosser for better weather for that.

Saturday 19 October 2013


So, all the LED bulbs are in, the electronic flasher unit is in, the wiring for the near-side front indicator has been swapped +ve to -ve so the LED bulb works, & the large LED bulbs in the front indicators have been swapped for small ones so the Lucas 488 "flat" lenses fit AND - it all works.

Why have I done all this? What's the deep engineering-based reasoning behind the change? Well, there's nothing to do at work, so I've been spending far too much time on E-bay.

Time to put the dash back

I'd split the wiring loom on the dash so I can plug all the plugs in in the same place, previously the speedo & tacho had to be plugged in separately once the dash was in. My plan was flawed though because the dash won't physically fit unless the speedo's withdrawn, it's better than it was though.

One last thing I wanted to do:- the speedo had been reading about 15% over since my last attempt (guess) at calibrating it, not usually a problem because the Satnav's always on & that has a speed readout. But if I'm carrying a speedo about with me it ought to work, so I made up a "jumper" cable which plugged into the speedo connector & the speedo and I persuaded Mrs Blatter (at best a reluctant traveller in the Fury) to passenge while I drove along the A3 at 70 as shown on the SatNav, she then held the speedo in her hand & adjusted it to read 70.

Job done.

Back home, the jumper cable was removed & stored for next time & the speedo re-mounted in it's rightful place in the dash.

All ready for a blatt then yes? Well - no, rain has stopped play this weekend I'm afraid.

Saturday 12 October 2013

Living Day Lights

Yes, after a week of popping out to the garage a bit, the Daytime Running Lights are fully functional, as are the spot lights. I've done some other jobs too & I only set fire to the car once!

The fire incident occurred after I sensibly looked at the connection diagram printed on the relay, then wired it up wrong, filled the garage with acrid smoke & set myself back 20 mins while I replaced the burnt out wire.

So, here they are, with ignition on, & with ignition & main beam on - powering up the side lights automatically turns off the DRLs. The DRLs look brighter than that in real life, so hopefully I'll be hitting the hooter less in future.

Other jobs I've done while the car's laid up:-

I've removed the speakers, I took out the stereo some time back, but now the speakers & their panels (1,287 grams) have been replaced by plain panels made from the finest leatherette encapsulated waffier-theen fibreglass (166 grams).

I've ordered an LED indicator relay & a set of four LED bulbs, the relay is also a little lighter, but the bulbs are almost certainly heavier, the idea is to get the flash-rate left & right to be the same & hopefully re-fit the much nicer "flat" Lucas lenses.

Also on the shopping list is a pair of LED sidelight bulbs. One of the sidelights was noticeably brighter than the other & when driving at night, the 40a alternator struggles a bit with the side, main & spot lamps on as well as the windscreen heater, so that's 10w it won't have to provide. As LEDs get more powerful & less expensive, I may swap the spot-light bulbs too, losing another 110w off the total.

One job I've been unable to complete because of the non-arrival of an 8-way connector is separating the speedo & tacho plugs from the main loom. Pulling those two (particularly the speedo one) usually results in pain, but a connector nearer the centre of the car should mean I can take the dash out with the loom still attached to the clocks.

Monday 7 October 2013

Light Fitting

I've fitted the lights, what a faff! Holding the brackets in the radiator intake, while fitting a bolt in the wheel arch would confound an octopus, but I got there in the end. I used my new digital angle finder to set up the spot lights so they light up more than just the tarmac 5ft ahead of the car. The DRLs are visible just below them, but they don't distract.

So yesterday I confirmed the spare slot in the fuse box was live-with-ignition & took out the dash. It is I have to admit a bit of a bird's nest behind there, but I found the appropriate wires, capped & stowed from when they used to run the amplifier. I'd bought the relay, but the there was inevitably a problem. The relay has a "tag" for attaching it to structure, but the rest of the relays have a tag on the relay BASE, & are fitted to a rail so they can be changed / tested easily (sigh). So I ordered a base with a tag, probably no more than 10p worth, but £3.50 delivered, & I'll fit it properly in line with the others. The last thing to do is run a wire through the car to the front & fit the waterproof connector that will supply the spots & the DRLs.

Not a moment too soon either - I took the car out - just to the post office - yesterday & got pulled out in front of AGAIN.

Thursday 3 October 2013

Fuelling Debate

There's been a kerfuffle about the imminent introduction of E10 fuel (10% ethanol) to the UK. There have been the usual "THIS EU DIRECTIVE WILL KILL YOUR CAR" horror stories, but an SKCC member found a report on the consequences online, so I read it. It's conclusion is that you can't use E10 in several million vehicles in the UK, but as usual that's not the full story - particularly where kit cars are concerned. Here's what I think, read & decide for yourself, but first a link to the report.

Right - I've read the report end to end - yes, still not much going on at work.
The first thing to note is this:-
"The study was funded by Olleco, a business which collects and refines waste cooking oil to be used as biodiesel in vehicles, which Mr Bailey found was a better option to be mixed with fuel than ethanol."

Not an un-biased view then.

Secondly, no practical experimentation was done under this report, all it does is report the findings of other reports & note comments found on internet forums.

There are several important areas it comments on:-

Fuel filter blockage caused by the ethanol dissolving fuel tank sealants & fuel hoses.
It says there is a small amount of evidence this happens, BUT the use of E5 & detergents already in petrol mean the chances are that if it was going to be a problem it would've happened by now.

The only repeat problems identified were with cars with sealant in fuel tank seams, in-tank hoses made from incompatible material & one make of camper where the filler hose was eaten by the ethanol in six months.

Our cars generally have welded tanks, so no sealant, have the outlet at the bottom, so no in-tank hoses, the filler hoses we’ll have to keep an eye on.

Galvanic corrosion (dissimilar metal corrosion) caused by the ethanol being a conductor & having water dissolved in it.

One of the few bits of actual science in the report says that Amal (they make carbs in the UK) has done soak tests & found that after a while a white powder collected in the float chamber & the brass jets showed signs of corrosion, they have changed materials to cure the problem. On aluminium it notes a number of reports, some say aluminium is fine, others say it’s not. Those that say it’s not, seem to regard tarnishing / discolouration as being unacceptable because it shows the Ethanol has “an effect” – significantly one report on fuel storage tanks states that aluminium is OK if it’s anodised, ethanol contains a lot of oxygen, tarnishing of aluminium is the oxidation of the surface – which when it’s done deliberately is known as …… anodising. There’s little actual info about brass, but it looks like it’s the zinc content rather than the copper that’s the issue & zinc is right at one end of the dissimilar metal table, just above magnesium, so that seems likely. GRP fuel tanks seem to be a particular problem, but they only seem to be used on boats.

On my car I have copper fuel lines, so I assume these won’t be a problem. When I built the car I earthed the fuel lines to prevent static build up, so that may help to reduce the electrical potential & therefore any galvanic corrosion, but I’m guessing there. I also have an aluminium fuel tank, but aluminium corrodes to a white powder, so I can look for that in the pre-pump filter, if you’ve not got one, now could be a good time to fit one.

Here the report states that as Ethanol contains about 35% oxygen, the air/fuel mixture will be wrong on carb engines, with EFi, it’s only when running open loop that there is an issue & the issue is that the exhaust temp could rise by up to 30deg C, which it sees as a problem only for the longevity of the cat, which I haven’t got.

So at worst it’s a rolling road session for a re-jet or a re-map. If you have carbs, get jets made of the more recent materials, though it’s worth noting that if the jets corrode, the holes get bigger, richening the mixture.

It says there is the potential for carburettor icing because the ethanol vapourises faster, lowering the inlet temperature more. It reports that internet forums dealing with running light aircraft on mogas (car petrol) suggest there’s a problem with carb icing. It goes on to say that in Canada they adjust the mix of petrol depending on the season to prevent carb icing, in the winter they add – ethanol.

So, inconclusive.

Deposit formation
The report says increased levels of inlet system and combustion chamber deposits have been reported with the use of E5 and E10 blends compared to E0. It goes on to say that those reports come from areas where they don’t add detergent so it’s unlikely to be a problem here.

So this shouldn’t be a problem either.

My conclusion is that the only real issue for my car is the flexible hoses. However, the major manufacturers all said that their cars made this century should be OK, all the fuel hose on my car was bought this century, so should be OK unless it was old stock when I bought it. But I had a similar problem with this when I built the car with some hoses not being compatible with unleaded. The first sign was a smell of petrol in the garage as the hoses soften & allow fuel to seep through, so I’ll be watching (sniffing) out for that.

Having said all this & concluded that the evidence is sparse, contradictory & apart from one or two instances (like the camper vans) not really serious, it goes on to say:-
Vehicles ten years old or older, carburettored vehicles (including powered two wheelers) and first generation direct injection spark ignition vehicles should not be fuelled on E10 unless the manufacturer can state the vehicles are compatible with E10.” Which I guess is a legal disclaimer.

Wednesday 2 October 2013

Day Light

On the past couple of runs I've been impressed by the Daytime Running Lights (DRLs) on the following car. I was very sceptical of DRLs at first & still don't understand why we need DRLs & side lights, but I decided I wanted DRLs on the Fury to help with visibility after having to hit the hooter three times in a single journey after folk failed to see the vivid yellow red & black car.

But Where to fit them? Most of what E-bay had to offer were light units which would fit into the multi-holed frontage of a modern car, but would look pretty stupid on the Fury. I considered moving the indicators inside the light covers & fitting something in place of the Lucas units, but I could find nothing I liked the look of. But I did find a simple 1" dia 3w LED in an alloy body.

So today on getting home, I made a couple of simple alloy brackets which would fit the DRLs just below the spot lights in the grille. The spots sit a way inside the grille with black painted brackets so they appear to float, the DRLs will sit further back still & in the shadow of the spot so they shouldn't show up unless the light is on - that's the theory anyway.

So far so good.

Tomorrow I'll blow over the bracket with some matt black, re-fit the lamps & start on the wiring.

The DRLs need to be wired into the ignition so they come on with the engine, but they need to go out when the side lights are on, so there will be a "normally closed" relay, switched to open by the side-light circuit.


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.

Sunday 25 August 2013

Going Nowhere

Today was supposed to be the Fury's inaugural run out with the SKCC after it's enforced lay-up, but the British weather dealt it's cards & the outlook was not good. The run was moved to tomorrow, but sadly I can't go out to play. Instead I cut out & fitted the support beams in the driver's footwell. When I built the car there were horror stories about Furys failing the government SVA test because the bulkhead flexed when the brake pedal was pushed. I made a beam from sheet aluminium to back up the plain steel sheet & it passes muster with no comment at all. However my local MoT man has commented on the flexing a couple of times & I noticed when messing with the clutch that the bulkhead flexes even when I moved the brake pedal with my hand. Time to fix it properly.

I'd ordered some alloy channel from Forward Metals through Ebay & it arrived from Birmingham in less than 24 hrs, post free, it looked awfully short, but after measuring & cutting it for the two beams, there was less than an inch spare. I took off the mastercylinder & the sheet metal beam off the outside & attached the two new beams to the inside with the master cylinder attachment bolts. Next time the engine's out I shall drill through the old beam attachment holes & pop rivet the new beams on, but that won't contribute anything to the strength.

Anyway, I put it back together & took it out & the brakes were much improved. Not in stopping the car, but they feel more positive - which is good.

Postscript - on the Costwold Curves run there were a couple of occasions when I floored the clutch & it stayed floored for a second or two, so there's a little adjustment needs doing.

Thursday 8 August 2013

North o' Tae Border

Yes good people, I've been to Scotland. Mrs Blatter had never been to the Highlands, so we pointed the turbo diesel north & set off.

To break the journey we did a stop-over in Falkirk, which Mrs Blatter was expecting to be as pretty as Edinburgh - her only other experience of Scotland. We stayed in the salubrious surroundings of a Travelodge & were rewarded by being kept up half the night by a party of Northern Irish pipers shouting at each other. But there was a point to the Falkirk stop.
We went on this:-
The Falkirk Wheel is a piece of modern engineering on a scale that would impress Victorians, if you look at the gondola nearest the water, that's a boat in there - floating. Its actually double the width of a narrow boat, so it's not a small item & as the arms rotate, the boat & all the water is lifted to the canal above - for the energy equivalent of boiling three kettles. Fantastic thing & at £8.50 for the boat trip including two goes on the wheel, something of  bargain.

Following the ride on the wheel, we detoured east a little to see another impressive feat of engineering. In a former life I'd stood under the Forth Bridge a fair bit, as it was close to my first set of in-laws house, but it NEVER fails to impress, particularly when you hear a train & look up to see a tiny thing trundling through the trusses & you realise that this thing is REALLY big. There's a memorial at the side to the guys that died building it. Quite a few did. If you ever find yourself in southern Fife, I urge you to get down to North Queensferry & just stand under the bridge & marvel at it. F you look closely at the bottom of the nearest foot, you can see a whit smudge smaller than the diameter of the tubes - it's a portacabin.

Next we drove to Fort William where we'd rented a small bungalow / called Moidart Cottage. Mrs Blatter rented it for the view from the back.
This was it:-
Stunning yes? The greyish hump to the left of centre is Ben Nevis (more of which later). You could lose hours just watching the light changing on the mountains. To top it off Oystercatchers would come & roost on the shingle bank opposite.

So what did we get up to? It was mostly mountains & waterfalls (being a particular favourite of Mrs Blatter) we did about 1000 miles getting there & back, with another 800 miles touring while we were there.
The next day we tromped off Up Glen Nevis (the glen at the foot of the mountain. The idea was to walk to the Steal Waterfall, which turned out to be a hard - but rewarding slog up a narrow gorge with a torrent cascading through it which suddenly became a high meadow between mountains with a lazy river & wildlife with no fear of people at all. Oh, and a truly magnificent waterfall all down the side of a mountain. We elected to not cross the river as this was what constituted a "bridge". Some girders & three lengths of steel hauser.
That was supposed to be a rest day after the journey, because the following day we took "the Jacobite" to Mallaig.
Also known (very unofficially) as "the Harry Potter Train" because it runs over the curved viaduct shown as Harry & Ron were trying not to fall out of the blue Anglia. The ride as a whole was spectacular, pulled by an old "Black Five" engine (they have three) the scenery was breath taking. So why were half the passengers - who'd paid £35 return - playing cards instead of looking out of the window? They all jumped up when we passed over the famous viaduct, but most ignored the stunning views of silver beaches, mountains, waterfalls, islands.
 I find people very strange.

While in Mallaig we had a tea of spectacularly good fish & chips washed down with a heather beer - & we sheltered from the rain.

The next day was a wildlife boat trip south of Oban, so another long, but beautiful drive, ending on the island of Easdale. It really is only just an island, here the Atlantic Ocean is about 20 feet wide & there's an old stone bridge over it. Again I was perplexed, as a bloke walked up onto this fantastic old bridge over an Ocean to take a photo of his Mercedes off-roader in the car park.
 OK I'll admit to taking a photo of Mrs Blatters Focus CC, but at least I had the bridge in the background.

The trip itself was something of a disappointment from the wildlife point of view, we saw some porpoises & some awks, but mostly the wildlife wasn't coming out to play. Again fantastic scenery though, cruising round the inner Hebrides. Rum, Muck & the others.

Of course we couldn't not make an attempt on
Ben Nevis. The plan was to walk a mile or so along the path & go home, but the views were so good we kept going & only turned round just below the clouds at 650m. as we got to the highest point we reached, a bunch came down the mountain carrying a sofa. This was part of a stunt for children-in-need, Mrs Blatter asked them how we could donate & I SO wanted them to say "just leave some coins down the back of the sofa" but they didn't. There was a website - BORING.

We were running short of days, but I had another big trip planned. I wanted to go to Skye. Don't know why, I just had always wanted to. We drove to Malaig & took the ferry to the Sleat peninsular, then north - west - south to Elgol, where there is a hamlet with a jetty, & a fantastic view of the Black Cuillin Mountains.

They were certainly brooding that day. We had another boat trip planned, just across the bay but on that short trip we saw Dolphins, seals, all the seabirds we'd seen on the wildlife trip & more, but we did get VERY rained on on the way back. I'd planned to drive from Elgol back over the Skye Bridge - another bridge over the Atlantic. But Mrs Blatter had other plans & wanted to see the "Fairy Pools", so north again, west again, south again, down a single track road to a place not marked on the map (she'd asked the lady in the harbour where they were) a small - & I MEAN small - sign at the side of the road
pointed the way & off we trouped. We were rewarded by what must be described as a flight of waterfalls, perhaps 15, each more fantastic than the last. We didn't get to the top, it started really raining, we got soaked - again. But mere photos can't convey the beauty of the place. We WILL be returning.

By this time it was rather late & we had 100 miles to go, so we sped though a range of mountains the we really should've taken our time over, but needs must. We stopped off for tea at a large inn festooned with tartan at the end of a glen & I thought this could be good, or very very bad. On a main road in the middle of nowhere they will not get much repeat custom & what there is will be trippers, so won't need to care much about the food. How wrong was I? That was probably the best meal we had & we didn't have a bad one anywhere in Scotland.

So that was about it really, we cruised with the roof down alongside Loch Ness - just because we felt we ought, then it was time to come home stopping off everytime a few gallons of water was seen tumbling off a ledge - which was often given the weather.

So yes it rained, yes we got wet - though I still got home with more of a tan than the elder daughter got in a week in Malia! - & the whole trip cost about £2000 for the three of us including food, fuel & the walking boots I had to buy there because I'd bought the wrong ones with me. But we all thoroughly enjoyed it which is the main thing. In a last desparate attemps to bring this back to the subject of cars, the Focus CC 2.0 turbo Diesel AVERAGED 49.1mpg either winding round lanes or cruising at 70 on the motorway. Quite impressed with that.