Thursday 24 September 2020

Spring Has Sprung

No sooner am I back from Wales than the mods had begun again. Today a large package of springs arrived, I got home about 5:00 & by 6:00 both had been fitted & test driven. The new springs are an inch & a half longer than the old ones & 25lbs softe at 200lbs/in. Hards to tell as I only went round the block, but it felt smoother - which was the point of doing it.

 Never understood why folk put stiff springs on a car. I guess if you're running it seriously low it stops it hitting the bump stops, but then it tends to ruin the grip as well.

Anyway, mine has longer & softer springs now which means the spacers my brother made have come out.

Tomorrow - new brakes!

Wednesday 23 September 2020

Wales - What Did I Learn?

I leant that you don't need a huge amount of power. The 70ish horsepower Quantum could (just) keep up with the Elises on the tight twisty roads because the roadholding & brakes are good. On the more open A roads they could accelerate harder out of the bends & gain a couple of seconds on each corner & I would slowly drop behind. Of course on a road with no traffic or a race track I wouldn't even see which way they'd gone, but that's not where we were driving.

I learnt that you don't need to pay a load of money, I probably paid way too much for the Quantum at £1400 (but it was local when I needed it) & while it was practically undrivable when I collected it, it hasn't cost much at all to put it mostly right.

I learnt that no matter how good it is, I still prefer rear wheel drive.

I learnt that even in Wales, even in September, the weather can be fantastic.

But mostly I learned that a journey is made by the people you go with.

Wales Day 5

The breakfast table on the last day of a road trip is always subdued, everyday life seems very dull after the full days of route finding, scenery, overtaking, mending cars & the banter that goes on over the radios. but all good things come to an end & it just makes us look forward to the next trip, but first - day 5.

We headed out the way we had come in the night before, a twisty single track road that seemed to have more than it's fair share of commuter traffic, but we were soon onto the wider roads & making good time, the plan was to make for the border & have a last lunch at Bourton-On-The-Water before going our separate ways. It kind of worked, we all arrived at the fuel stop together, but the traffic was getting steadily heavier which always splits groups up.



I left the fuel stop last & was following along until roadworks meant two lanes became one & the lorry to my left was not going to let me in if he could help it. Robert two cars in from noticed & slowed to let me in front. A couple of roundabouts later The other two cars were no longer behind me - I suspect SatNav divergence, but when I rolled into Bourton it was rammed full of folk making the most of some pre "lockdown-the-send" sunshine. I drove through the town & sent a message asking where people were, the Elises were pulled over ahead, so I drove on, then thought I must've gone too fa so drove back, then found out I'd turned round about 50 yards before I'd have seen them, then heard the sevens had parked up in Bourton, but by this time I was heading back.......

In the end I set the SatNav for home & cruised along the M40. It was a pity to miss out on the proper goodbye, but that's the way it often is on road trips.

 Roll on the next one!

Wales Day 4

Today was foggy at the start, that beautiful sort of fog that lies in the valleys & lights up when the sun shines on it, it didn't last long as we drove out of the top onto the moors. 







Unfortunatly one of the Sevens had to leave due to work commitments, but the rest of us set off for some twisty roads where the Quantum was sailing in the wake of three Elises. We found ourselves on a fantastic road winding along the shores & in between several reservoirs. This went on for quite some time before we came up over the head of the valley & I realised we were - back in the Elan Valley - fantastic.

We didn't re-trace the route I'd done the day before, but I did recognise a few plces & we all went up the Black Mountain, this time though there was a hatchback that didn't want to move over, so it was a case of dropping back & then stringing a few bends together, then repeat. The ice-cream at the top was most welcome (thanks Graham), we did a few more miles, until out progress was bought to a halt by a whole herd of cows in the road along with three farmers, a tactor, a quad & several sheep dogs.


Shortly after that, one of the Elises left for home & as there would be no evening meal at the guest house & the area it was in was officially "locked down" we needed lunch. We saw a "Cafe" sign & the lead group of cars swung around & found a car park, by the time we'd walked back to the road we were just in time to see the second group heading back the way we'd come. Texts & photos were sent & we re-grouped. The "cafe" turned out to be a community centre, but we had a hot meal in the games hall & they all took photos as we left - as usual Linda attracting the greatest interest when people reliased that the funny little blue & orange car was owned & driven by a woman.

More Wales

 Where was I? Day 3 maybe? As usual we caused chaos in the car park before leaving, today we would be heading southish, There were lots of moorland roads today, heading first towards Bala, the glorious Elan Valley, the Black Mountain & "the Military Road" - so all the best bits in one beautifully sunny day.

The roads leading to Lake Bala were good & there was no traffic that held us up through the Elan Valley. Hellfire Pass had plenty of traffic though & unfortunatly is was here that we suffered our only breakdown, with one of the sevens in the following group breaking the gear selector remote & having to limp to a repairers with duct tape holding it together.

Us in the leading group discovered this as we stopped for coffee at "Mr Benn's pub" - no idea what it's real name it & it's a hotel not a pub, but it'll be forever "Mr Benn's Pub" to us.

Inevitably we got separated & in the event I went up the Black Mountain & did the Military Road alone - I was the only one to do the whole 300 miles, the bonus whas that when I say alone, I mean just that - no traffic!

By this time the Quantum was properly singing. It seemed to me that it got faster as the week went on, I've heard of cars being "run in" a second time after years of little use & this seemed to be the case. It still struggled up the steeper hills, but was generally more "willing" & the road-holding was excellent for a front wheel drive car.




Saturday 19 September 2020


It was dark when I set off - very dark indeed, in fact it was still very dark indeed when I got to Newlands Corner to meet another five bleary-eyed blokes heading west for a long weekend's driving - yes, we were all keeping a safe distance apart both in & out of the cars. One of our number was running late & sent word that we should set off & he'd meet us on route. So we headed out into the dark.


This was the first trip with the Quantum & it had only had the last of its’ ills mended a couple of days before so I was "a little concerned".

Last year (I didn't go having just wrecked the Fury - was that really only a year ago?) they turned up at the pre-booked breakfast just inside Wales an hour early, this year we were almost an hour late, so on average, pretty punctual then.

Linda was waiting for us when we arrived & having scoffed we set off. We pretty much went up the middle of Wales, I don't remember too much of this except rounding a blind corner to find a Hi-Lux coming towards me in the middle of the road - that got my attention. There was also an incident with a sheep - we'd stopped for a break & someone noticed a sheep-in-distress having got it's horns stuck in a fence. A couple of the group rescued it & sent it on it's way. I reached the hotel in Llangollen in the early evening, 300 miles barely any motorway, we had tea & I was in bed by 9:00 - asleep.

Day two & there were two routes to choose from, we chose & headed out. For some reason I was leading which was fine all the time the road was narrow & twisty, the car can hold its’ own in the corners, but as soon as it opened out a bit I pulled over & let the others by. It was shortly after this that I touched the brakes in a village & the bonnet opened & fell back! I stopped & shut it properly.


There were the usual splits & re-formings, wrong turns & no turns where there should've been, so two of us missed the first coffee stop & then found a third who had also missed it, so the three of us carried on & rolled into Llandudno stopping by the prom for a coffee & in my case treacle tart. The route when round the Great Orm & while we were in the queue to pay the toll, talking on the radios, the other group arrived, so we circum-navigated the Great Orm in convoy. After that it was some excellent moorland roads. Slowly heading back to Llangollen, but inevitably we got split up & two of us never made the coffee stop at the Ffestiniog railway.

Back at the hotel, the car park was rammed, but shortly after we arrived, one car left a corner space allowing us to get three cars in. After a wash & brush up I decided to go for a quick walk around & get some photos of the river Dee, this turned out to be a big mistake because I started thinking about when I was last there with my wife & youngest daughter in 2018 & came over all melancholy - even the ducks were paired up in couples. So then I took myself off for a long walk by the canal to sort my head out.


On reflection, maybe not the best choice.

No beer for me this evening (or tea come to that).



Monday 14 September 2020

All .... Systems ..... Go!

 Took the Quantum into work this morning & had no issues. None at all.

So it's fingers crossed for Wales not changing the Covid rules. There is currently no legal reason why we can't go, so I'm hoping it stays that way as I could REALLY do with getting away for a few days.

Also on the plus side of life's equation, the HT leads & spark plugs arrived from Burton, pretty impressive as today's Monday & I ordeed them on Friday evening. They are fitted already & look the part.

Yes, yes, not much of an engine bay I know. Hopefully I'll be improving it over the coming months.

Next on the list (assuming nothing breaks in Wales) is new longer front springs so I can take out the spacers, hopefully a new rear silencer to replace the rather embarassing boom box it has at the moment & it could do with new tyres & brakes on the front. 4 pots would be nice but at around £800 I'm going to have to REALLY like this car, so green stuff pads & new disks is looking a lot more likely.

Four more sleeps!

Saturday 12 September 2020

Getting There

 There was another dissapointment this week when I took the car into work & 1/2 way thee it lost power - & it hasn't got a lot to lose!

It was one of those horible thing where the engine will idle or scream at full throttle but nothing inbetween. I wrestled it into work & decided some dirt must've got in the carb so it would run on the idle jets & the second venturi.

I left work at 15:00 to avoid the traffic, but it was a lot better on the wy home - not good, but better. I took the jets out & cleaned them, put them back in & took it round the block - it was mech better. I wen home & set up a camera for the Welsh trip, took it out to get some footage & it was back to how it was again.

Back home & I noticed the central post on the distributor cap for the HT lead had a clean bit around the plug, could it be the plug wasn't pushed in properly? It seemed unlikely but I gave the lead a hard stare, it's a yard long & falls right down to the gearbox before coming back up to the distributor & there in the middle -right down in the depths of the engine bay it was wrapped in insulating tape "here we go" I thought.

Sure enough, on unwinding the tape, the insulation on the lead is cut right trough to the conductor. There's a new set of leads on order.

Having pushed the central plug right on, I took the car round the block & it was much better - until suddenly it wasn't. Not the HT leads then.

So the carb has come right off the car (four attachment bolts weren't tight) & had a good clean with all the little drillings I could get to squirted through & all the diaphragms I didn't change in the week replaced. There is quite a large heap of stuff the carb now hasn't got. A choke butterfly & all the linkge, the "throttle kicker" & all it's linkage has gone & there's some more bits I couldn't identify that weren't doing anything in the heap as well. On fitting it back onto the car I found the gaskets that came with the carb refurb kit are the wrong size, fortunatly the carb came off without harming the old one.

The car started up OK & a run round the block suggests it's mended, but who knows. I need to take it out for a few runs over the weekend.

In other news, the seat belt had been a pain, either not retracting, or more annoying, locking solid & not extending. Some inertia reels I've seen are adjustable for locking angle & sensitivity, so I took it out of the car & this one isn't, but excercising one of my favourite mantras I thoght about the non-retraction & asked "what actually is the problem here" & realised there was far too much webbing wound onto the spool - why? because the Fiesta it came from had the shoulder mounting high up on the "B" pillar, the Quantum hasn't got a "B" pillar, so there's about 2ft too much webbing. At the bottom it just loops round a steel rod bolted to the floor, so I took it off that, pulled it under the seat & attached an adjuster from the redundant rear seat belts & bolted that to the front seat mount so that absorbs the excess webbing, the belt is all nice & free with no kinks or folds & what's left retracts. I carefully tightened the bolt where it extended most easily.

What amazes me is that this car has been like this for TWENTY YEARS. Did these things not irritate previous owners enough to do something about them??

Wednesday 9 September 2020

Some Success!


After the dissapointment of not finishing a number of jobs last weekend, I have been more sucessful in the intervening days.

My brother made the spacers I needed for the front struts & I got one fitted after picking them up on Monday & found time to swap the cig lighter sockets on the dash for 12v ones which are slightly smaller so the plugs don't keep falling out. Tuesday the carb refurbish kit arrived so I re-built that, though some gorilla before me had stripped no fewer than THREE of the six threads  holding the carb top on. I had some studding, so araldited lengths of that into the remains of the threads & held the top down (gently) with the three remaining screws & three nuts. It started & having done the other strut, I took it for a test drive, but the steering wheel was off by about 10deg which was annoying.

Since then I've slackened the strut bolts off, pushed the front wheel out with a jack between the gearbox & the hub carrier & torqued them up again & the steering wheel now points straight ahead & has more "feel". So that's another fix.

Thursday 3 September 2020

Brakeing - Good


That brake push-bar I mentioned last time, here's the horrible mashed & worn thread that would, given time, have stripped & dissapeared into the fitting leaving the car with no brakes, or at least a pedl that wouldn't work them.

The push rod took a trip to Margnor & the tread was diagnosed as M10 x 1.25 but it was so mashed by 20 years of vibration that the nut wouldn't go on with finger pressure.

I bought a bolt & a nut & yesterday evening took them over to my brother's lathe, turned an old railway bolt into a tube & prepared the ends to slot nicely into one another.

This evening I did some measuring & cut them to size, before welding them up (& grinding & welding them up & repeat). The welding isn't stictly necessary as it's all made to fit together & it's in compression when in use, but for safety's sake, it's welded as well.





As usual my welding it not pretty, but a coat of matt black does wonders & the push rod is as good as new. Better even.

It's on the car even as I type.

In other news, I swpped the inner door handles fom the "excitingly chunky" 1980s monstrosities, to plain simple alloy items, for no better reason than I've always liked them but never has a car I could put them on before.


Wales Road Trip Count Down:-

14 sleeps.