Friday 15 April 2016


Messing about under the car taking measurements for alloy panels I noticed the starter motor appeared to be leaking. Clambering topside, I realised the leak was coming from a seam in the thermostat housing - a known problem with zetecs, but not one I was expecting to encounter yet.

I went straight to Ebay & there was an early zetec housing up for sale, these are alloy castings & much more robust (& shiny), I put on an outrageously large bid & got it for just less.

The alloy ‘stat housing arrived & I cleaned it up, all the pipes are in the same place as the plastic one, but there was one open threaded hole in the top. This was the fan switch on the car it came from, my car has a fan switch in the radiator & is also switched by the ECU, so I don’t need this hole. I was just going to plug it, but I took it into work to measure the thread & a conversation got going, the upshot of which was that it went down to the machine shop to get the area around the thread flattened off, so I can fit a plug, a vent, or a thermo-switch as required. In this photo, the old split one is black & the shiny ally one is the new (older) one.

I had to make a gasket as the old one has a rubber o-ring & the new one is more old school, but it’ll be fine with some jollop on. The alloy housing is a lot heavier than the plastic one, but reliability wins this one.

Yesterday evening I took the housings apart to find the alloy one all covered with silicone sealant & the thermostat rattling about. The thermostat should have a seal round it that seals between the body & the cap, so with it missing there was nothing to stop the coolant peeing out, hence the silicone the previous owner had ladled on. I re-assembled it correctly.

On the way home from work I called into Margnor & picked up three stainless cap head bolts & washers to hold the cap onto the body & an M16 x 1.5 tapered grub screw to seal the hole in the top. Unfortunately the grub screw didn’t quite seal, after ten minutes running it had just filled the hex socket, good, but not good enough - it must've been leaking atom by atom. So back to the excellent Margnor where they produced a “cylindrical plug” which when used in conjunction with a soft copper washer onto my new machined flat face – sealed. Yay!

So another plastic part is replaced by a nice shiny alloy one & the car's got a little bit better. At some point I'll swap the plug for a rad fan switch, monitoring the temperature of the coolant in the radiator makes no sense to me, it's the temperature of the engine that's important.

Wednesday 6 April 2016

Lille For A Meal

Straight after the Rallye des Jonquilles 2016, Mrs Blatter & I pointed the Fury east & headed for Lille for no better reason than it seemed like a nice place to go & it would save getting stuck in the Sunday afternoon queues for passport control at the Tunnel. We took the minor roads to Lille, went straight to the hotel I’d booked which had a secure underground car park - & drove past it. Once round the block & down under the building while the steel shutter rolled down behind us. Again the hotel was very nice inside, not in the best of streets, but I very much wanted town centre & secure parking.
After a shower we headed out to explore, we wanted food. There were of course hundreds of restaurants, the one we selected looked very French, dark wood panelling, mirrors, large dark brown leather seats & a head waiter in a white jacket & bow tie.
The menu was all in French, but there was a list of steaks, the top one of which was “Steak Americane Specialite” I said to Mrs blatter “Ah, that’ll be a T-bone – that’s an American cut”, so after a while the man appears to take the order, my wife asks for it & the he says “not cooooked – tartar”, we quickly changed our plan with the waiter’s help, we asked for MEDIUM. When the dinner arrived it was just a large lump of steak in a pepper sauce with a separate plate full of thin chips – no vegetables - REEEESULT!
Naturally it wasn’t “medium”. Medium is a bit pink in the middle, this was still twitching, but fortunately my wife has got much better with that sort of thing & having a brown pepper sauce to stain it with helped. It was a beautiful meal. Then the puddings arrived, I looked down to see a small black fly on mine, I swatted at it, missed & caught my wine glass which fell over sending a wave of Burgundy over the table next to ours, at which a surprised & quite posh (as well as a little wet) older couple were sitting. Arse!
The waiters swept into action & cleared their table& replaced the table cloth in seconds & put a serviette on ours to hide the stain – they got quite a large tip for that.

The following morning was wet, but forecast to clear up so we set off walking towards the river & found that Lille has a small but very pleasant zoo – free to get in, so we looked at the rhinos, zebras, parrots, owls, apes & “Pong” the red panda, the meercats it seemed were not at home to visitors as there was no sign of them. Busy selling insurance somewhere I Guess.
From the zoo we walked to the citadelle a sunken castle in the shape of a five pointed star. We then walked across town to the shopping area, sat in a café with a beer each (“deux beir blonde sils vous plait”) – how very continental. The buildings in the main part of the town are stunning but by the time Mrs Blatter had had her fill of the shops, it was time to make a move, so we moved the car out of its subterranean lair, pausing only to explain to a Frenchman that it was a Fisher Fury while his wife / girlfriend gave him a hard stare, then out of town & heading north on the fast roads aiming for Dunkirk – yes Dunkirk, not Calais.
On arrival we parked up & walked around a harbour looking at the boats, then moved on to a small town called Grand Fort Phillipe where a huge straight breakwater  has been built across the huge beach by sweeping the old German anti-landingcraft defences into heaps. It was about 1 1/2 Km from the car park to the end, so it was quite a walk & by the time we got back to the car (pausing to say “Fisher Fury” to a French man) we headed now west for Calais & the tunnel terminal.
 This would’ve gone well had I not followed a lorry & ended up in the freight terminal. Not fancying going through the tunnel in an open cage truck, I found a roundabout & headed back out onto the motorway, along one junction, off, back one junction & off at the right place (sigh). No matter, we still had time for a coffee in the terminal didn’t we? – then we saw the queues for passport control & naturally picked the wrong one. Why is it so difficult to get into my own country?

By the time we cleared passport control we were late for the train, but a little queue jumping in the holding area moved us up a few carriages & so we arrived back in Blighty tired & thirsty. The next plan was to drop into the service area in the terminal for fuel both for the car & ourselves, the fuel was expensive at £1.06/l & Mrs B objected to the fact there was only a Costa Express, so we drove on to the next one, where the fuel was £1.18/l & even the “Café
24” was closed, so by the time we got to the third service area we were pretty damn thirsty!

Rallye des Jonquilles 2016

The Rallye des Jonquilles 2016. I’d been looking forward to this for some time, which made it all the more worrying when my elder daughter broke her collar bone the weekend before. However arrangements for friends & helpers were made (she is 21) & at 06:30 on the 2nd of April we set off. The trip to Folkestone was, as usual dull, cold & long, we tend to put the iPods on loud, shuffle down out of the wind & just get it done.

This time the Rallye went from Béthune – I’m still not sure if it’s pronounced Bethoon, Betonay, Betoon or another possibility. Pulling into the tunnel terminal, we found Matt, Matt Jr & the two Matt Srs, shortly afterwards Crunchie, Mrs Crunchie & the Larks arrived, but there was the inevitable problem with booking which meant Crunchie ended up on the following train, ironically with Bahnstormer who was actually booked onto the train before ours. No matter, we had arrangements to meet at the fuel stop just as you leave the terminal.

Except either something’s changed, or the dastardly French were determined to wrong-foot the plucky Brits from the off & sent us out another way. Whatever, we found fuel, sent a text outlining the problem to those on the following train & headed to Cap Gris Nez (Cap Gree Nay) where traditionally would-be invaders queue up to give England a hard stare before being rebuffed. We were surprised to hear over the radio that Crunchie & co were already there. Not sure how that happened but all’s well that ends well. We strolled up to the headland asking each other if that whitish smudge between the fog & the sea could possibly be England, then we drove off. We convoyed through the countryside with the weather slowly improving, but time was not on our side & eventually we set the SatNavs to head directly for lunch at the Grange Aux Damiers’ club house, which sparked a debate about whether to use the toll road or not, some of us did & handed over the princely sum of 70 Euro cents, the others elected to take the slower route & naturally turned into the clubhouse lane just before us.

The lunch was as ever, very good indeed & we collected our rallye packs & departed in good spirits, heading for our hotel. It was about here that one of us picked up a French bird, who was taken back to the hotel only to be dumped the following morning, it looked like a green finch to me. Also somewhere on this section I was driving along when I realised there was no car behind me – strange – I then noticed in the driver’s door mirror that it was on the other side of the road “they must be over that side to  take photos of my car” I thought WRONGLY. The hotel was modern & on a commercial estate, but was clean & bright & most importantly, had a bar. A quick reconnoitre identified at least nine restaurants within staggering distance, so arrangements were made to visit the Italian two doors down. Again the food was good & the wine & conversation flowed. 
 So – Rallye day, coincidentally Mrs Blatter & I’s 23rd wedding anniversary. As usual it took an age to prepare the car. Soft top, side windows, steering lock & solar charger all needed to be removed & stowed, but it was DRY & the forecast was predicting temperatures in the mid 20s. But first, petrol, we asked the SatNavs to take us to the nearest fuel stop on the route to Béthune, which tuned out to be just off a roundabout (which I missed) but why did the SatNav take me to a grave yard?? Anyway, all fuelled up we arrived at the beautiful town square, parked up under the beautiful (& melodious) clock tower, & went for coffee & croissants in the beautiful town hall.

At 09:00 cars started leaving, so we stuck on the rallye plaque, strapped in, started the cameras & the SatNavs, opened the road book & joined the queue – NOT belching smoke like last year. Also unlike last year we weren’t immediately lost, in fact we got almost out of town before the first mistake. I must’ve been distracted when the rallye plaque flew off the front of the car.

So the sun was shining, the car was running well & we cruised through the French countryside. Our task on the first section was to look out for town signs & collect the first two letters of every “you are now leaving ……..” type sign, easy enough you would’ve thought, but noticing them while navigating & driving on the other side of the road is quite a challenge, but the form seemed reasonably full when we handed it in at the coffee stop. The next stage was much the same, except the signs we were looking for were at the beginning of the town, so there was less warning & we got lost around Crepy (known as “creepy” in my car) with the result that the first four or five boxes had “CR” written in them. Along here somewhere I was following a Ferrari 430 (I think) & queueing to cross a main road, there was a space big enough for two cars & the Ferrari floored it & so did I – it didn’t get away, ok it was a narrow bumpy lane which gave the Fury a big advantage & we only got up to about 50, but I’ll take that as a win thank you very much.

By now it was getting pretty warm & I could feel the sun on my face, as we headed into the lunch stop. We met up with some of our group & gratefully accepted the aperitif in the restaurant garden before going inside to look for the others, we never did find them. No matter, the lunch was excellent & as we made our way out into the sunshine again our missing friends were in the queue of cars waiting to leave, it seems they had been directed into the first room & not allowed to reserve seats – understandable as the waiters were serving one room at a time, having folk on different courses because they had waited would’ve been a nightmare.

During the lunch stop I mentioned that my Rallye Plaque had flown away & was handed a spare, which was nice – I now have plaques from four years, I need a man cave. After lunch I have to admit we kind of gave up & just followed people, there are no activities in the third section, so my navigator took photos as we bimbled along in the sunshine. When we returned to Béthune, the town square was awash with a few thousand spectators & bystanders, thronging the cars & asking questions. Usually I get asked what the car is, sometimes “is it a Ginetta? But one Frenchman asked in broken English was it a “Feeshur” or a “Seelvurrr” I was impressed.

Once again the rallye organisation had been faultless - even the weather had been arranged, so our heartfelt thanks go to the gentlemen of La Grange Aux Damiers

We watched the award ceremony (no silverware for us AGAIN) then said our farewells & climbed aboard. Three of us headed for a fuel stop to top up the tanks, then two pointed north for the tunnel, while myself & Mrs Blatter headed east for Lille & the remainder of our anniversary. But that’s a different story.