Wednesday 31 May 2023

RogueRunners '23 - Day 4

 A mostly good day.

Yesterday ended with investigating the braking issue on one of the cars which led to the discovery that the brakes were OK, but the wheel bearing was destroyed allowing the wheel rim to move about an inch.

There was nothing we could do apout that in a hotel car park car was moved to a local garage 1/4 mile away where I was pleased to see an MGB up on a ramp firstly because it indicated the guy was a proper mechanic, secondly because that was another MGB that wouldn't be holding us up. We kept out fingers crossed for the guy fixing it because it's a VERY long way home on a lorry.

So Robert came in the Stylus with me & we set off on a short route out to Applecross as it was now quite late. There were some "issues" going round Loch Ness. The car ahead of us just sat at a junction while all sorts of lorries, vans & a coach got ahead of us.

At one point the coach slowed to a crawl so the people could take pictures of Loch Ness, there was a chevroned area, but it didn't use it, just sat in the road in our way at a walking pace.

One of us did manage to get past which left me behind it, at Castle Urquart there was wide are it could've used to allow us past, but again, the highway code was ignored. Then it slowed, moved towards the kerb & I thought the driver was at last letting us through so moved to overtake - there were road works & traffic lights! But the gods of blatting were smiling on us & I'd only got as far as "Oh Fu..." when the lights went green & I was able to pass the coach easily.

We re-grouped on the wide smooth road heading west, occasionally stopping for photos, the Stylus was occasionally grounding with the extra weight, so I sat with the Elises at the re-fuel stop & while tinkering I found the vacuum hose to the MAF sensor had come adrift while I was rummaging in the engine bay on the way north yesterday.

Re-attaching that stopped the rough idle & the popping on over-run, so it was a more serine ride up to the Applecross Pass road, where we had one of the best runs up & down that we've ever had, traffic wasn't too bad, there was no cloud at the top & apart from someone taking a very large camper up the far side as we were going down (signs warn you against attempting this) we had no hold ups going down.

The car park & pub at the coast was mobbed, so we drove north up the wonderfully undulating road round to Shieldag which was still pretty busy, but we were able to get coffee & cake in the little cafe overlooking the island & after a chat & some photos we headed back along the A road east. It's a again a lovely wide twisting ribbon of tarmac, recently re-surfaced (in white, which was weird).

The only problem came towards the end when six cars going east just fitted in a passing place, but five campers & a car going west tried to get past at the same time, completely blocking the road.

The rumble back to the hotel was very enjoyable & we all got refreshed as were we planning on an evening out in Inverness with Pam a good friend of mine who's a local.

However, the local taxi wasn't answering the phone, apparently the Inverness taxis charge both ways for both trips meaning a bill of about £120 & the last train back was too early. So instead we went into Beauly & had a very nice meal, in a hotel Pam suggested.

Tuesday 30 May 2023

RogueRunners '23 - Day 3

 Day 3 is a little clearer in my head - & not necessarily for good reasons. We all set off heading for the proper north - to Inverness - and beyond! as Buzz Lightyear so nearly said

Robert was still having trouble with his car, but we set off along the A7 & some local byways, arriving on the outskirts of Edinburgh where most of what I can remember is how shockingly bad the road surfaces were. There was one road with speed humps, but it was difficult to tell where the humps started & the pot holes ended.

We all parked together under the Forth bridge at South Queensferry where an extremely enthusiastic woman sat in the Stylus so her brother could take photos.

After that it went a bit down hill. Most of the journey was good - we got over "The Bridge Of DOOM!" (it's a particularly pointy bridge so you can't see if anythings coming towards you until you're perched on the top).The weather closed in & after refueling in Perth we headed for the Cairngorms & Glen Shee. It's a fantastic road winding through the mountains & we stopped for refreshments at the ski lodge which seemed to be full of painfully thin, extremely fit looking outdoor types looking miserable.

By this time we'd lost the two Elises, so We took some photos outside & as the rain started properly, I fired up the car to find it only running on two cylinders. We headed down the mountain & by the time we reached civilisation the rain had stopped & we pulled into a petrol station where the Elises were just finishing a re-fuel stop.

I fiddled with the Stylus & managed to get it running a little better & with a hundred miles still to go we headed gingerly out onto the road again & what a road it was. It even managed to impress me through the stress of the car not running properly. I looked behind me at one point & realised that while I was stressing & not paying attention, I'd got ahead of the others, but decided to press on as the car was running tolerably well, though that meant I HAD to stick to the route so if the car did fail I would at least be found, so I was driving the middle-of-nowhere single track roads on my own with a sick car. Not a good feeling.

But the miles ticked by & eventually I found myself on the outskirts of Inverness - over the bridge - onto the Black Isle - refuel at Miur Of Ord - the hotel (sigh). Only then did I look at my phone & find that Robert had run out of brake pad (or so they thought) somewhere along the way, but shortly afterwards he came squealing & grinding like a freight train into the car park & the last two followed close behind.

The Repair Crew set to & took down the part No.s of the brake pads & from that found the donor car, but in trying to remove the wheel, we realised the pads were fine. The problem was the wheel bearing. There was a “proper” garage just down the road & we took the car in, he made some notes & after a couple of days it was mended.

RogueRunners '23 - Day 2

I have to admit to Day two being a bit of a mystery. As I sat down to write this I could remember very little about it.

I know it was a loop out from Selkirk & back, I remember we went east, I'm pretty sure it was epic - because it always is with the Rogues.

But as I start to go through the pictures & the pace notes it comes flooding back. We headed due west into England To the coast at Alnwick, but on the way there, one of our brethren had called for a wee stop (we were still in Scotland at this point) & after a mile or two, I found the ideal spot, secluded, picturesque (for those who didn't know where to look), perfect, but too late, a stop had already been had.

We moved on, crossing the border into Northumberland, passing through Alnwick & Seahouses, past Bamburgh Castle from the opposite to usual direction & away west, stopping for cake before going back into Scotland around Coldstream.

At some point we past the lake of the devil sheep. We came this way last year, the road passes a dam, runs up the side of the lake (possibly loch) & then up a steep hill where last year I fell flat on my face in the road while attempting to photograph my car. But I remembered there were a small number of "devil sheep" & sure enough they were there again.

After the steep hill there are another two lakes, or reservoirs, or lochs & it's all very scenic, with good driving & little traffic. By now we had passed Selkirk to the north & turned to head back.

We were looking for refreshment, but there was none to be found until we rolled through a small village & found a pub with a prominent OPEN sign. We parked up & went in, trying not to be put off by the large stuffed badger under a bench seat as we entered.

Apart from the stuffed badger, it was a nice place & we supped our coffee & reflected on the days driving.

After that is was a short hop back to The Glen, a good meal & some sitting round in the bar telling stories & remembering memories - which it seems I then forgot.

Monday 29 May 2023

RogueRunners '23 - Day1

 With apologies for the tardiness - usually I write these things as I go, but this year there just wasn't the time.

For me RR23 began a little differently as I drove to the breakfast meet direct, so saving myself an hour & a half's driving (& the cost of crossing the Thames in the tunnel). I timed it well, arriving at the fuel stop just as the others did mostly did - on of the Elises had failed to start - a minor matter of an immobiliser battery. At breakfast we were joined by Robert & Linda so the tour had officially begun.

After not long at all Roger & the reluctant Elise caught us up, but the first bit is always a slog, mile after mile of A1(M), but eventually we got on the "A" roads & in Cumbria we visited the Keilder reservoir in ones & twos, the sun came out & the roads got better & better. New boy Richard was beginning to see why we come this far.

We arrived at "The Glen" tired & hungry, Robert's car was still overheating, but it kept going, Roger handed out this years special home made commemorative coaster & it felt like the trip had begun.

Tuesday 16 May 2023

RogueRunners '23 - Prologue

It's about that time again, the tour for this year, entitles "Nae Ord'inary Tour" & featuring the another work of creative genius on the sticker will set sail from Thurrock this coming Friday the 19th. All the usual rites & ceremonies have been observed, car's have been repaired in the nick of time, sacrifices have been made to the gods of weather, packing, repacking & re-repacking of barely enough clothes has happened (I had to buy more pants!) & I think everything is about ready. Only three will be meeting at Thurrock this time round, the other three including myself will go direct to the breakfast stop as Thurrock is in the wrong direction. After that we're heading north to the land of the Celt & the Pict. North & further north until there's no more north to be had without getting wet.

This year we have a couple of activities planned, one evening we'll be escorted around the fleshpots of Inverness by a friend who lives locally (OK, we're just going out for tea) & one of the routes is quite short as there is a distillery offering tours within walking distance of our hotel in Miur Of Ord (the name of which, if you think deeply enough accounts for a couple of the references on the sticker). Then we'll head south again wondering if that was really 10 days because it felt like about three.

Monday 8 May 2023

A Little Knowledge.........

 Ooh 700th post!

Regular readers will know that the Stylus' handbrake has always been pants. There were many reasons for this, a pulley made of soft plastic, attached by a poorly supported screw made from cheese, a cable stop bracket badly attached to thin sheet metal that moved when the brake was applied, a balance bar that was far too short & handbrake levers on the calipers that were very stiff from lack of use.

It was the last of those that contributed to the final fault (possibly the final fault). When soaking the levers in WD40 & working them up & down to free them up I hadn't realised (not having had a hobby car with rear discs before) that I was adjusting the self-adjusters out - it didn't show up because the pistons were moving in each time the adjuster moved out.

I noticed yesterday that when I pulled on the handbrake, the nearside caliper lever went right to it's travel stop before the brake came on. Taking off the caliper & putting in a vice, I realised what had happened, wound both pistons fully in, pumped the foot brake to get the pads against the discs & Bob's your uncle, five clicks of handbrake & the hubs are rigid. I need to bleed the brakes through before I can road test it, but in feels better than it ever has before.

This news will come as a great comfort to anyone who stops behind me on a hill.