Wednesday 30 May 2018

Rogue Runners '18 - Day 5

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

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


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

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


Rogue Runners '18 - Day 4

The planed route - we cut the bit on the right

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

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

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

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

Monday 28 May 2018

Rogue Runners '18 - Day 3

Day 3

I knew it was a bad sign when "love is all around me" was playing over breakfast - Wet Wet Wet.

But before that, there was another cooked breakfast & an early trip round to the local petrol station (closed yesterday - Sunday) to fill up before heading out of town on “Serpentine Road”, as you would expect it’s a series of bends going up a hill – it’s in the town, so there was no careering, but it was an enjoyable drive none the less.
We toured the south side of Bute before arriving at one end of Britain’s shortest sea crossing, the Rhubodach to Colintraive (Pr. rubber duck – by us - & colin try). The crossing takes about 5 minutes, so it’s not really worth turning the engine off. When we arrived the nice lady from CalMac looked at our tickets & said the second ferry – Portavadie to Tarbert – was out of commission with a fouled propeller. Divers were on their way, but no-one knew how long it would take to clear, so instead of travelling north on the Kintyre peninsular, we headed for Oban from where we were. The roads were still good, but the traffic increased markedly as we closed in.
Also – the rain started.

After lunch (cake) at the Castle Stalker View Café, we took the Corran ferry to the far side of the Loch, to take us away from the major roads, one problem with travelling this way is that if you’re not first off the ferry, you’ve got vehicles ahead of you & the roads here aren’t conducive to overtaking – but even though we were last off, every other car turned left –we turned right & had the single track road to ourselves, except for a very occasional car coming the other way, one of which resulted in a bit of a P.A.M. (Puckered Arse Moment) when as we approached each other with a closing speed of about 120mph & I realised we were not going to stop in time & there were no passing places & right were we would meet there were two stout posts either side of the road …… but we just squeezed past, with the closing speed down to about 30mph – Eeek.

As we wound north, the roads became bigger as we approached Ft William from the west – it was of course raining, because in Ft William, it always is. More fuel was taken aboard & we cruised the great glen in a huge tailback behind a white Mercedes A class doing 30mph & slowing for the corners. I overtook cars one & two at a time until I eventually got past & had a pleasant run up the side of Loch Ness to the next fuel stop. Th others sensibly stopped for a coffee until the queue cleared.

When we re-formed, we again took to the lesser used A roads, few trippers bother with the area north of the Great Glen because it’s sparsely populated & a bloody long way from anywhere – but that’s why we like it. There’s really only one way to get to Ullapool, so we were stuck on the main road, but it’s a good one with passing opportunities, so it wasn’t too long before we were topping up the tanks, settling into the motel & thinking about a beer & drying our clothes.
I’d been a bit concerned about the place, on the website it looked a little like a portacabin – single storey & 1960s built, but in fact it proved to be perfect, with room to park the cars outside each room & a spectacular & very reasonably priced restaurant ….. and a bar, where I spent rather too long (ahem).

Rogue Runners '18 - Day 2


After a full English (yes, we’re not in Scotland yet) we girded our loins & headed for the border, but before the border there were the Yorkshire Moors, Northumberland & Cumbria to be enjoyed. The road surfaces were “variable” sometimes varying from “ribbon of smooth black tarmac to “ploughed field every 100 yards on the same road. Luncheon was taken in a very genteel garden centre where even Graham was younger than the regular customers by quite a long way.
At this point I noticed a little smoke exiting the bonnet & found that the heat-shield had fallen down onto the exhaust manifold, so in a fit of “it’s probably not doing anything anyway” I took it off & left it in the carpark.
 Then there was a little schlepping the motorway to get us northwards in short order before we took to the hills, up the smoothly tarmaced & quite glorious blat-track that is the Mennock Pass, a swirling road following the contour lines up a valley, then left & left again to come back down the adjacent glen.
Linda Likes Langoustines
We were then stuck with an A road until the next fuel stop at Kilmarnock where I found the new scorch marks under the bonnet where the heat shield used to be. Then over the moors before dropping into Largs, where I had planned a visit to Nardinis’ ice-cream parlour, but by now time was pressing so we went straight to the ferry up the coast to Wemyss Bay (Pr. Weeeeems Bay), bought our tickets & caught the ferry to the Isle of Bute & specifically the Victoria Hotel in Rothsay "how far is the hotel from the ferry" I was asked, "about 100 yards" I replied - & it was. An area outside the hotel had been coned off especially for us.
And we still hadn’t got wet.
View from my bedroom window
When I got back to my room there was a missed call & a text message from my bank saying I was about to go overdrawn. When I looked, tomorrow’s hotel has taken £350 from my current account (without telling me) for the rooms tomorrow. Not impressed.

Sunday 27 May 2018

Rogue Runners '18 - Day 1

Our Route for Day 1
After we'd all met at Lakeside Thurrock, re-fuelled & used the McDonalds loos, we set off, as we pulled out onto the motorway I remembered last year when the Fury’s throttle return spring broke while accelerating on the M25, no such issue this year as the whole thing was re-designed over the winter, but in a car you built yourself, at the start of a long journey, you hear all the noises & smell all the smells that might possibly indicate a problem with the car. Pretty soon all that was forgotten though as we turned off the motorway & took to the back roads. After a couple of hours we pulled in for a cooked breakfast & called the last member of the crew to tell her we what time we’d be at the meeting point.

After a “healthy breakfast” we met Linda in the appointed place & headed for the lunch stop – which we all missed due to some sat-nav confusion compounded by Graham & Steve hiding their cars in the car park, so I assumed they'd missed it & gone on. Having convinced myself they were now ahead, I was quite surprised when they appeared in my mirror.
Humber Bridge

 After a little random driving we found somewhere to stop for a photo under the Humber Bridge, then set off again (following a speed camera van - which I photographed) onto the Yorkshire wolds & the roads started twisting in the third dimension, so we got up & down as well as the left & right of Lincolnshire. The roads were good & sweeping & some bikers warned us of a camera van parked up round the next bend – which was nice, although we were in traffic & below the limit anyway.

Then suddenly all the satnavs just stopped. It seems they can only store 50 waypoints & my route had 60, I tried to open the route on the laptop to sort it out, but it was playing dead & having none of it. So we had to go direct to Whitby to refuel, then direct to Glaisdale to the inn we were in. But that just meant that beer o'clock just came round that mush soonerer.
Beggars Bridge Glaisdale
Target for tonight The Arncliffe Arms

Saturday 26 May 2018

Rogue Runners 18 - Prelude

The last week passed very slowly indeed, but eventually the alarm went off at 04:45 on the 19th May – an hour after I woke up. This was day one of Rogue Runners 2018 the “Ferry McFerryface” tour. I crept about the place accumulating belongings & hurled them in the car before setting off at 04:50, only to return after 5 mins as I’d forgotten the cameras. My plan was get through the thames tunnel before the toll started at 06:00. Fortunately we would be heading away (far far away) from Windsor where some royals would be getting married. The weather was forecast dry, the M25 was clear & after an hour I was pulling into the meet point & filling the tank ready for the off.

We would be slightly down on numbers this year as the dates had conflicted for some people & others had work commitments. There were also two who were taking the soft option & had swapped kit cars for production types, so we were a Fury, two Westfields, an Avon to be met later, an Elise & an MX5.

Saturday 12 May 2018

Geometry Good

Today I took the car round the M25 to Boss Racing near Brands Hatch for a geo & corner weight check, after a thorough go over, it turned out that the car was corectly set up except for the offside front wheel which was of concern due to having practically no castor (it’s not adjustable) & very little camber (the lock nut was seized) so there was nothing that could be done. Even the corner weights were right, after the careful set-up procedure which consisted of me measuring the length of the spring with a steel rule.

So the car is “bench-marked” & I can sort it out at my leisure. I had trouble with the lock-nuts being seized before & had to cut them off & get replacements, so I'm not looking forward to that, but even so, the castor is more of an issue. I'll need to draw out the suspension on CAD, work out what needs to move & by how much & then work out how to do it.
Yes, that is an original Lotus Cortina. It was having the twin Webers set up by an old guy in an "overall coat", white hair, stethoscope, changing the jets by just listening to the carbs. They don't make them like him any more! It was running much smoother when it left

Wednesday 9 May 2018

Bleedin' Air

Last weekend was the annual Stoneliegh Kit Car Show & Mrs Blatter being out for the day gave me the opportunity for a day out. Once again the show seemed smaller, but the sunshine had bought the clubs out is quantity, particularly the sparkly buggies

I bought almost nothing, just a few consumables, though I did pick up a ProTech sticker which is now proudly displayed in the engine bay with the other supplier's logos.

On the way there I noticed the rear of the Fury was bouncing over changes in the motorway joints, so I gave the shocks another click & it seems perfect now.

When I got home I was looking at the piping for the top hose & realised  that the "hump" over the suspension rocker was likely to be full of air, I slackened the clamp & the hissing of air & the rapid change in the temperature of the pipe I was holding told me I was right. I looked up the price of the specially made things for putting hoses in though the sides of pipes & then I thought, "I'm an injinear dammit, I'll make something, so after toying with a screenwash jet fitted inside the pipe with a hose connected outside, I settled on getting a titanium bolt drilled & turn down the head, this will get bolted into the pipe & the hose connected to duct the air back to the reservoir tank. So let's hope it works as there's not a lot of time left to test / replace it if it doesn't