Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Been a long time, long time, its been a long time!

Jeez, two years since I last wrote anything on this Blog.

I do not know where to start, all the cars have enjoyed constant work and use. So lets start on the one that has been off the road for years, yep, the Spitfire.

Spitfire mk2
Its back on the road and going very well. I realised that I was not going to get around to finishing her off, so I employed my good friend James Cooper to complete all the tasks. This was a wise decision as the work he has done has been off a high quality:
Engine: This engine, that has never been run, was originally built by Dave Pearson of Canley Classics, it then went to another chap in the Midlands called Roy Burrell who did some serious cylinder head works to the head including lovely big valves and bronze guides. As the engine had just sat around in the Spitty, we (James and I) decided to strip her down to ensure no corrosion had formed. luckily, we found nothing of any great shake, so she was put back together. James then connected up the oil cooler, the re-built Andrew Turner SU HS4s, the 123 Dizzy (Bought this for the Herald!) and the various other components I had knocking around in the shed. James also painted the engine an off white colour paint that I had sourced. We used Mini Spares head nuts as these offer remarkable value compared to those offered by Moss.
Gearbox: Overdrive unit wired up, new Clutch fitted and the box filled with oil.
Suspension: Rear suspension which is a swing spring set up was treated to Bastuck's adjustable radius arms, a Canley lowering block and a new set of Koni shockers (Larkspeed: £97 a pop). The front suspension was all fine for the present, but will soon be re-furbished with poly bushes, Konis and a John Wolfe rose jointed arb joint set (again found in the shed). I have also bought a new steering rack for the car plus grease nippled TREs and UBJs. This will all be done soon.
Interior: Fitted new glove boxes and re-built the H frame to include an oil pressure gauge (yep, an old Mini 850 Smiths 52mm unit-scrapyard pilfering from the early 80s) and an oil light, this being a Spitfire mk2 front indicator light. I have started to re-trim some GT6 mk3 seats that I have, bought a shadow blue recovering kit from Newton Commercial and a new foam kit from Park Lane, both the foam and seat covers being top quality, so I have no hesitation in recommending their products.

An MOT was obtained and off I went to put some mileage into the car. A few snags have been found: Leaking oil pressure pipe Y piece, this being replaced by LMA supplied components. (LMA from Wellingborough are another good company for specialist parts such as oil control products, Mini spares and the like)
New tyres are needed as the Yokohama 185/60/13s have gone hard, these will be replaced by Uniroyal 175/70/13s.
The carpet set has been eaten by various wildlife that broke into the car whilst she was stored in my car port, a shame as the carpet fits very well and apart from some sun bleaching is in good nick. Not sure what to do, I will probably speak to Newton Commercial and buy one of their moulded carpet sets, again in dark blue. Whilst at the Triumph Show at Stoneleigh, I purchased a massive roll of car carpet underlay, this will be used to produce some noise and heat insulation, attempting to civilise the car, er, not a chance (Spitfires are rough and ready, my god ain't they noisy).
So, after owning the Spitfire for sometime, I have finally been able to drive her, amazing! All the mileage has been done with a running in maximum engine speed of 3000 rpm, so I have been unable to drive her hard, but I must say she feels that she has some power, I look forward to putting more mileage into the car and seeing how it goes.
I have found the engine build sheet, which states the following:
Cubic Capacity: 1350cc
Compression Ratio: 9.75:1
County Pistons: Decked to be inline with the engine block.
Con Rods: Standard, balanced to be equal in weight
Camshaft: Kingston Sportscars 2R 35/75/75/35 310'': Timing 108.5 degrees
Valves: Triumph Tune 1434 (Inlet) 1.475'' dia and 1435 (Exhaust) 1.3'' dia.
Valve Springs: TT1307 Doubles: 1.39'' Fitted length.
Crankshaft: Standard balanced
Flywheel: Standard but lightened and balanced
Timing Gear: Vernier Duplex
Head: Ported, TT bronze guides
SU HS4s, Matched to ported inlet manifold, ITG panel filter with Calver Tune ram pipes.
Mocal oil 13 row oil cooler with thermostat.
Huco electric low pressure fuel pump with Rover Group inertia fuel cut off switch.
123 Dizzy with very old (1984) NGK plug leads-why oh why, do they not make these anymore!
Phoenix 4>2>1 stainless steel manifold and sports exhaust system: Too loud!

The front suspension is too low at present and bump steers, so it will be raised to a similar height as my GT6, I will also slightly raise the steering rack height (cheers, Clive). This is something that can be done to Spitties, unlike the GT6 as it would foul the engine block.
Got to say that the car is a pretty one!

I must pay tribute to James Cooper for his diligent work on the car, without his cajoling the car would still sitting under its cover in the drive. Cheers matey! By the way, James has now put some very good Triumph cars back onto the road: James Carruther's rapid Spitfire mk3 (Mega jolted and Dellorto'd), Ben Hutching's fabulous GT6 mk1, James Carruther's glorious 2000 mk1 as well as his own 2.5Pi mk1 and his current project TR6. He is presently fettling Jason Chinn's TR6, then he is going to do some welding to my GT6! He is open for business!

The Saloon and the GT6 are presently being used and seem fine.

Saloon: I have just fitted a new radiator, this being a spare that I had (again, found in the shed-its a big shed), it was re-built by Lee at GT Radiators at Shepperton, Middlesex 01932 568 816. Lee fitted a nice big core to the rad, he also fitted a 22mm boss for the rad switch and brackets to mount the Pacet fan onto the frame.

GT6 Mk2: The differential is knackered, so I have just changed for a spare 3.63:1 unit I had on a shelf in the shed, I also took the opportunity to wrap the spring in waxed canvas cloth-very 1930s eh! I have also started to finally get parts together for the impending engine re-build, these include Duplex timing gear, a ShackTune blueprinted oil pump, lightened cam followers, a full ARP nut set and a very nice ShackTune lightened flywheel. Parts to be bought include a new camshaft and getting the HS6s re-furbished. However, yesterday I went out with James Cooper in his mk4 Spitfire that is running bike carbs, umm, these seem a good idea!
Also, as mentioned earlier, the car needs some welding. The battery tray is rotten so this will be replaced and whilst at it, the bulkhead will be stripped and painted. Its has looked skanky for far too long!

Weirdly enough, for the first time since buying the Spitfire, all three of my Triumph cars are on the road! Far out!

Here are some pics:
1. The Spitfire: Cop the rot by the front OS sidelight. (Bit of warranty work for Mr Picton)?
2. Spitfire engine bay: Thanks to Craig Gingell for the SAH rocker cover-jeez, ain't they alot to buy secondhand!
3. Engine bay detail work

Sunday, 3 May 2015

May 2015
You turn around and realise that a year has gone!

Just looked at my blog and see that I have not published anything for over a year! Where the hell does the time go?
Below is a blog entry that I started but did not finish last April, so I have just tidied it up and here it is:

'Easter 2014
I have been a busy chap over the winter as I have built a double length car port to house the Spitfire and Saloon, plus re-roofed the garage.
The car port was built using 4 x 4'' timber sections as uprights, and 2 x 4'' timbers as roof joists, these being attached to the frame by joist hangers.  For the roof I used corrugated bitumenised sheets with corrugated acrylic clear sheets at various centres to provide light. The port was built onto the side of my precast concrete garage, a large timber batten being attached using lengths of studding and locking nuts, all very simple. I have not finished yet as I need to concrete a section of the floor, at present I am using thick paving slabs that I got from a Waitrose site that we at work were re-surfacing, these were going to the scrap so I took 20no, blooming heavy units though! I have fenced the other side as it adjoins the property next door, one of the reasons for fitting this car port was that next doors fence came crashing down in the high winds before Xmas as it was rotten. I was lucky to get fence panels as the awful wet weather and winds of January resulted in a high demand for fence panels. There is still a backlog of panels, I have heard that one can wait a month for them even now. I still have to attach a gutter system and would like to fit some lighting,  I hope to do this over the summer.
The old garage roof was tricky as it had asbestos corrugated sheets, these were extremely old and very brittle, making face masks essential. I have still got to get rid of the old panels, these will have to be bagged and taken to an amenity tip that takes them, I believe the local Runnymede BC one at Lyne does take asbestos. Again, I used bitumenised corrugated sheeting again for the roof. Once I had fitted the roof I cleared out the garage and in an attempt to brighten the place up I painted the internal walls white, make the place cheerier as well. I had previously bought some racking units from 'Big Ted', umm, not too strong but sufficient for storing parts and tools etc. And whilst having a splurge, I bought a work bench. Made one last year for the wooden shed (old kitchen worktop and a few old battens), but decided that it would be a good idea to have one in the garage.
I bought all the timber for the car port from Beaumont Timber at Ascot, Berkshire all delivered on time and the timber is good quality. The roofing sections came an online company called Roofing Superstore, again all top quality (I used roofing sections made by Coroline) and delivered when I expected. Odds and sods came from Wickes, I was impressed by the fastenings that they sell, I used loads of 4'' screws, all inserted using my trusty Makita!!! I must thank my work colleague and sometime RBRR co-driver Howard Riddell, a true friend, we bicker like a pair of old woman but did the job very quickly together.

Since doing the above, I have done lots of work to the GT6 as follows:
Installed re-built gearbox: This was done by a friend of Clive Senior's, what a great job.
Rebuilt the front suspension: When I had the car re-built by David Picton, I bought a couple of old GT6 suspension units off him. Got all the parts blasted and powder coated and then fitted them with red polybushes. I also fitted new 440lb springs, the old ones were looking very shabby and it seemed cost effective to replace with new, rather than have them blasted and powder coated. I also cleaned up the vertical links and fitted greasable TREs and top ball joints. I had a devil off a job taking the steering column UJ off, ended up getting the trusty 4'' grinder out!!! This meant a new UJ, bought one from Canleys, all ok, however I am a bit concerned as I have heard that these recon ones do not last very long, time will tell! I also changed the brake flexi-hoses for some new braided SS ones I had in the shed, the old ones which were of the braided type looked a bit tired. Whilst at it I stripped the alloy hub and Canley Caterham stub axles down and found no discernible wear, all good news that gives the lie to the claim by some that I have problems with wheel bearings! So the front suspension is looking good again, I last re-built this section of the car in 1988, so she has done well. Back then it was not possible to buy polyurethane bushes, so I used TriumphTune's shore 70 harder rubber bushes, 26 years later they are still in good condition!!! It will be interesting to see how the red bushes last! The ARB link is a rose jointed type that I bought from Jon Wolfe years ago, this is still fine so no need to replace, much better than the standard rubber/monkey metal crap that most traders (have to) sell. So now I have to get the suspension 4 wheel aligned, this will be done next weekend as I have entered the TR Register track day at Castle Combe on the following Tuesday.

Whenever I do anything to the car I find lots of other jobs come up, this time I have had an issue with the alloy water pump housing, a bolt has sheared, so a little job tomorrow. Also, I have to change the bottom hose as this is perished. I also need to paint the underside of the floor, she is looking a bit rusty under there, see lots of silly little jobs!

Whilst underneath I was horrified to find that my oil radiator was battered and looked to be on its last legs, this needed to be changed so I took the one of the Spitfire ('er not a lot of progress so far with that car) that I fitted a couple of months ago and fitted that once I had straightened the radiator mounts. Something fairly heavy must have clouted the car as the bottom tank on the water radiator is dented as well, I cannot remember anything untoward happening, so I am mystified when the damage happened.

Next up, I must re-build the seats, the covers are looking decidely worn out. This will cost but it will be worth it as I am a fan of GT6/Spitfire seats, no MX5 seats for this car! I have a set of vinyl mk3 seats that I can use in the car whilst I re-furbish mine. My GT6 is one of the last mk2 cars and has always had the mk3 seats fitted to the car, years ago I changed the seat material to cloth as the late mk3 covers, will do again as I find them more comfortable and less sweaty. After this I must repaint the bulkhead panel that the master cylinders and solenoid sit upon, it is looking very crusty and spoils the look of the engine bay. When Dave Picton fitted the replacement bonnet, we found that the cross-tube bonnet support fouled the brake servo, so I had to take that unit out of the car. It's been weird driving the car without a servo, but not really an issue. The replacement bonnets all seem to be a different shape, not bad at a £1000.00 each!!

Then it will be time to fit a different engine, I picked up a Vitesse mk2 engine last year, so this will be used  as the basis for a fast road engine. My existing cylinder head has nice valves and has been ported so this unit will be used on the engine. Plans are to use fairly standard parts but lightened with a new camshaft and then get the engine fully balanced. Lots of advice is being taken from people in the know!

I have been discussing the quality of parts for the small chassis range recently with other Triumph enthusiasts. The small chassis cars definitely suffer with poor quality parts, wheras the TR, Stag and saloon owners enjoy better quality parts. I do think that problem partly lies with the owners of the small chassis range, the cars are looked upon as being budget type classics and they will not pay for quality parts, therefore traders have had to look overseas to get parts manufactured, as a consequence quality has suffered. However one or two traders who exist in the Herald/Vitesse/Spitfire/GT6 world have struck out to offer good parts, these being Canley Classics and Rarebits, many others are not so careful or caring! Just recently I have been reading on the CT forum that fellow round tail Spitfire owner has just had a vertical link failure, much comments have been made following this incident. I have a set of Canley Classics 'trunnion less' vertical links on the GT6 and will now be fitting a set of these to the Spitfire, at present they cost £329.00, but it does seem to be an obvious and safer choice.
That's all for now.'

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Ocean Rain!

Blimey, ain't it rained alot-title should read  'Oceans of rain'! Thought I'd post that title as it from one of my fave lps!

Not alot happening here, the Spitfire is coming back to life. I have been so slow with the Spittie, I hope to fire her up at some point soon. I have a few things to source for the car, mainly fasteners and clamps. Then it will be time to 'time' the dizzy, a 123 item I bought for the Herald project when I had spare money, adjust the valve clearances, top up the carb dashpots, stick some fuel into the tank and turn the ignition switch! Must get a wriggle on!

However, before that I have another project to do, that being the construction of a car port to house the Spitfire and the Saloon. I am just about to order the timber and hope next weekend to start to build the frame. These will be the conventional method of using 100 x 100mm tanalised timber sections using 24'' Metposts to locate the posts into the ground, these being held in place using concrete. The roof will be corrugated bitumen sheeting with occasional clear PVC sections let in to provide light. I also intend to build in some electrical strip lighting as security/task lighting. Site clearance has been fun, quite a few trips to the dump have been undertaken taking the tree I have had to cut down and an old decked area that was in the way. One of my pet hates has always been frogs and toads, and my god do I have a lot of those slimey perishers living at the end of my garden-ugh!!! Just something about the way they move, so naturally they have stopped play whilst I waited for them to vacate my premises! It'll be great to dry store the cars as last winters rather harsh conditions affected the cars, the saloon really suffered. I intend to fence the port to reduce the rain getting onto them.

The Saloon has been used abit recently, went to Wales in her with some other Triumph owning friends and my old mates Diz and Darren. A good weekend was spent hooning around some Welsh roads with an overnight stay in Aberystwyth,  a real cool time all in all. We went to Pendine Sands, I was amazed at the number of people there, a real seaside beach atmosphere. We went inside the 'Museum of Speed' to view the 'Babs' land speed record car, an  interesting vehicle that struck me as being almost lorry like in its construction, Parry-Thomas was a brave man.
A few of the chaps along with us were about to use their cars on the CT 10CR event and basically used the trip to shake out any gremlins, no car really suffering from any maladies.
For the Saturday night as is the way, a rather nice curry was enjoyed in Aberystwyth and a few beers, but it must be said that most of use were knackered as we had all started at an early time, meeting in Ross on Wye at 08.00hrs, meaning that we left from Surrey, Nottinghamshire and Essex at godforsaken times!
 Left to right, Diz, Darren, Jason and Carl (Carl was gagging to get going as he was thirsty for a beer), photo taken somewhere in Wales

The Sunday morning was spent enjoying a leisurely drive up to drive the Evo Triangle. This section of road being made famous by Evo magazine as they use it for some of their road testing. Whilst the roads were fun, not sure it was worth the trip. Still we did find a nice cafe in the vicinity where cake and teas were enjoyed. Then it was time to get going home, all going our seperate ways. I must thank James Cooper for the welding he did to the car to get an MOT, two nights of welding and grinding needed to build in some solid steel, the car needs new sills!

Carl Shakepeare's lovely Dolomite Sprint and Tom Key's rejuvenated TR6

The GT6 is still with Dave P, it being agreed that he took his time as he inundated with work. I hope to pick her up this coming Tuesday, can't wait. Then I must get her ready for a trip to Cornwall in December, this being used to celebrate the 30th year of ownership since buying the car!

Otherwise car related stuff has been the CT Historic Autosolo at Bovingdon the other Saturday and the start  of planning for the CT Round Britain Reliability Run for October 2014. I entered the 'Solo using the 2.5 and had a complete nightmare, coming third in class, beaten by some wonderful driving by the two James, Shackford and Carruthers, James S coming second overall, my word how good was that. I was keeping up with him, but my third test was horrendous as I wrong tested on one run and then hit a cone on the third run, this decimated my times and pushed me well down the running. James C's megajolted car was fantastic and sounded so pure. Other stand out drives, were Matt Shannon in his BMW 2002, Gill Senior in hubby Clive's Toledo and of course, Mike Helm who won the event in his TR6 rally car. I made a solemn promise to myself  that I must use the Spitfire next year!

The 2014 RBRR opens for entry with publication of the November issue of Club Torque, please see the CT RBRR blog for news!

Last time I posted this blog, I was moaning about the company cars I have had since saying goodbye to the Focus ST. Well, my employers have since decided that the company car scheme should be revised. Therefore, I was lucky to be able to order a Mini Cooper Clubman SD, the 2.0litre diesel version. Not a bad vehicle, but she does have a flaw, that being the ride, gawd, are the dampers working? Otherwise everything else is good, the car has now done 2000 miles and she is starting to loosen up, the engine does develop lots of torque. Bit of a vibration is present at about 2500 rpm, I wonder if that is due to the engine mounts though as my mate has BMW with the same engine and his does not suffer from thee vibes. I could have ordered a Focus Zetec S with the 1.0 ecoboost engine, probably should have done, but the Mini was decided upon as I wanted a car that was made in the UK. I realise that all profits will go to Germany, but at least UK input is present. Hers's a pic!
The Spitfire

Rather lovely Alfa Romeo Giulia in Goodwood Revival car park

Really nice Cortina GT, this was a stunner, the 5.5J steels really looking good-sorry missed from the photograph.

The 250SWB of Vincent Gay, paddock at Goodwood-what a car! This car featured in my best memory of CLM ,the sound of this car at about 6500 rpm going up the start finish straight at Le Mans has to be one of the best things in life!

Sunday, 16 June 2013

The bearable lightness of being!!!
16th June 2013

Last month I managed to sneak some time off to pop up to Canleys to return the old calipers as replacement for the new ones I had bought for the saloon. It is always a fascinating place to visit and there are always many an interesting Triumph car to look/gawp at in the workshop. I can not mention specific vehicles, but at present at least 4 ex-works Triumph competition cars are being restored, as well as a famous Triumph racing car. I for one cannot wait to see them. Dave Pearson is a top bloke who has re-invested some of the money that he has made into buying interesting Triumph cars, full marks Dave! Club Triumph has a nice relationship with Dave, the Club used to hold the Northern/Midland RBRR Drivers Meeting at his premises and started a number of Historic County Run's from there as well.

I took the saloon out on Drive It day for its first drive since the RBRR last October, a shocking admission that it has been so long since I drove the car. The GT6 is currently at Dave Picton's establishment having the front bumpers retro fitted to the car. Dave's is another good place to visit, whilst there I spied 2 round tail Spitfires, 3 round tail GT6s, 2 E-Type Jags, a sidescreen TR, a Austin Healey 100/4 (bloomin love those cars, even if they are the one with the 4 pot engine) and a Mini, marvellous stuff. Hope Dave speeds up as I am looking forward to driving the GT6 soon, this being the 30th year of ownership for me. Its weird for me to think that I bought the car back in 1983 and as I have mentioned before I enjoy the ownership of the car more these days. The GT6 is a compromised car, but owing to the lovely noise of the roaring six and the good lines I love them!

Went up to the STAR90 show at Gaydon, bit disappointed at the number of cars that were present, however the standard and presentation of them all certainly made up for the lack of numbers. I remember the 75 year celebration at Gaydon and the fact that the place was teeming with Triumph cars. Still reckon about 300no cars were there last Sunday. Umm, it does rather beg the question of where are the cars, are the numbers of Triumph enthusiasts in decline or are owners bored of static shows? Club Triumph had their National Day at the Show, well done to Bob King on his efforts, the guy worked all weekend for the good of the event and CT. A trooper of the first order.

Right, whats the title above about? At present owing to the rather weird arrangement at my place of work we are now not running cars on a lease deal, but hiring them for 3 months at a time. They do not want to spend money on assets, yep, a construction company that does'nt renew its plant!!! So I have now lost the old ST and have passed through a succession of 5 cars in the last 8 months! (Yep, the Inland Revenue love me) These being a Hyundai saloon (So dull that I cannot remember its type and in my opinion still no match for European cars. Is the steering wheel connected to the front wheels? So specc'ed up that it had a reversing camera(Sod the camera, get a suspension designer on board)), two Mondeo 2.0 TDCI cars (Excellent, still  Ford's so must be good), a Focus 1.0 Ecoboost and at present a Focus 1600TDCi. The Focus 1.0L Ecoboost  is a special car and one that thoroughly enjoyed. Its little turbocharged petrol engine that has the plan dimensions of a A4 sheet of paper, it is a cracker, lovely and revvy. It doesn't seem to lack any go and turbo lag is not an issue. However the best thing about the car is not the engine and gearbox, its the handling, turn in being crisp, enabling one to commit to corners with no worries about understeer, the bane of modern cars. Also, the ride is brilliant, taking the awful potholed roads that we now endure in the UK in its stride. All these attributes are simply the product of the low weight engine. Best thing about this car was that I looked forward to a drive, something I always did in the Focus ST, that car is something like a 66% ST!

Now you may ask why is the old fart banging on about this engine, surely its simple, is this the engine for a Spitfire special? This all depends on the hope that a Ford Type 9 gearbox will fit onto the engine, but I like to think that this is possible as all Fords have shared the same pattern for the bellhousing to block fitment. These engines come in two states of tune, 100 BHP or 123 BHP and will start to filter through to the salvage market soon. Ford are that bullish about this engine as they intend to fit it to the forthcoming new model of the Mondeo, and I believe a 1.5L version will be released soon. Makes one think about the purchase of a mk4 Spitfire (Or, even better a T6 model) and then getting stuck in. Oh yes, two other things I like, these small 3 cylinder engines make a gorgeous intake noise, almost 6 cylinder like at about 3,000rpm and are extremely smooth throughout the rev range. Must admit I am tempted to get the hire car into the garage and pull the engine out to weigh the thing and jot down the dimensions of it! A Spitfire with the aforementioned combo would be some car, bet and hope that a few start appearing soon. I wonder if Caterham will introduce a Seven with this engine, hope so as it will solve the gearbox question (Since writing this I see Caterham are about to produce a smaller engined Seven, go on Mr Hernandez, stick the this engine in one)?

I have always banged on about Ford cars in this blog, but I think they are superb, offering reliability with a good dose of handling and fun. I get fed up with friends and colleagues who rave on about German cars, especially VW ones. Surely Ford offer better reliability and cheaper costs? I did 400,000 mile in my last 3 Ford cars without any real issues. The only faults being the result of ineptitude by a main dealer, no names though.

Last night was spent over at Clive and Gill Senior's enjoying a night of car and chat and of course a lovely dinner. Their daughters were present and it was great to talk to a family that is so enthusiastic about cars. Lucy, their oldest has a lovely little Mini that she is whizzing around Brighton in. Can't think of a more apt car for Brighton than a Mini. Clive's Zetec Spitfire is taking shape and will be some car when done. Come on Clive, I want to see that car at the start of the 2014 RBRR!

Being a member of Club Triumph has been an excellent decision, made so many great friends, is the Club about the cars or the people in it?

I am still working through the final details of the (conventional) engine change on the Spitfire and I hope to fire her up soon, need a few parts that will be purchased soon.

Also, must do some work on the 2.5 as the MOT beckons.

Right off to the garage, must finish the Spitfire as its getting close to the time of firing up the new engine-exciting!

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

No Jam today, or in fact the whole weekend! 
20th June 2012

As last year, my Triumph activities are not as intense as they have been in previous years. Since my last posting I have only entered the International Auto Ecosse, that event taking place over the Jubilee Weekend in June.

I had a great time enjoying some spirited driving in the GT6 in the company of my old mate Darren Reynolds. We spent the whole weekend driving the event with Dave Langrick and his friend Gary in Dave’s infamous Spitfire 2000pi called the ‘Maiden’, Tomk Key and Tom Bamford in the first Tom’s Golf GT1 mk1 and Jason Chinn and Carl Shakespeare in Jason’s mk1 2.5Pi saloon. Tom was using the Golf following his accident in his lovely old TR6, that is now being re-built. That VW is a beast, it has a Corrado engine up front and flys, making a gorgeous noise over 4K revs. Tom does drive the car with a certain verve, the car makes light of those who like the more established traditional motor cars in the UK old car movement and mock the more modern designs. Surely the Golf GTi is a landmark vehicle in the history of motoring and certainly proved that VW could make exciting transcendental cars after years of making the rather awful Beetle which has the vehicle dynamics of a snail. It is still beyond my comprehension why the Beetle and its awful derivatives are so popular?

The first day started with a loose ground test on some ground at the back of a local garage, followed by some atmospheric driving through the Scottish borders. Darren and I did the test in 32 seconds a competitive time that I hoped we could build upon to use to win the event! We then crossed the Fourth Road Bridge, only the second time I have crossed that road in daylight, all previous crossings being on the RBRR, and set off for the 2nd test venue at an Amazon delivery centre car park near Glenrothes. This test looked to be fun as it consisted of a serious slalom and 360 degree manoeuvrability examination where the driver would rely upon his co-driver to guide him round a complicated course. We were the first car/crew to line up and I think did very well, Darren guiding me with the authority that a good co driver should exhibit, firm instructions making it difficult for me to go wrong. Our time was competitive and I drove away thinking that we were on the right track (literally).

Then it was onto St Andrews and up to Perth for the Saturday night. We stayed at a Travelodge just down the road from the nominated Travelodge venue and subsequently had to drive a couple of miles to meet up with the above motley crew in a pub. After a very nice dinner a few beers were consumed and the banter started to fly. Tom K came up with a gem of a comment following my statement that driving a ‘modern’ car like his that this event must be simple, his reply being that it was like driving an electric chair. Gary followed this up with a line about the car being a ‘Death Row Ride’. Maybe you had to be there, but all of us fell around laughing at the spontaneity of this comment. The beer started to flow and it must be said we all had a great evening talking Triumph BS!

The next morning dawned bright and very blue, amazing considering that London seemed to be under low cloud cover for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations. Surely there cannot be many better places in the UK than Scotland when the sun is shining, the skies are dark blue and the daylight is long! Actually, we had been surprised by the number of Union Jacks we had encountered throughout the route, we thought that the Scots would show complete disdain for the celebration of the Queen’s 60 years reign, how wrong were we! By the way if staying at a Travelodge, the £4.50 breakfast that is delivered to your door is a tadge disappointing, umm that is being mild, it was a disgrace! The night before we had gloated that we had sorted breakfast for the morning, I noticed that Jason did not say much at that point. Him, being a frequent UK traveller and well versed in the UK’s cheap hotel chains made me question our decision and on receipt of the breakfast packages I realised he was correct! I made a mental note, only use B&Bs in the future!

The first section of the morning consisted of a great B road that enabled fast flowing driving, something I have always felt the GT6 excels at with its torquey engine and handling that promotes progressive inputs. It was real fun, especially as we had the ominous presence of the two Toms in the Golf behind us, sometimes sticking to the posterior of the GT6, sometimes backing off, sometimes just well, roaring past!

We then set off down a very bumpy road that ran alongside Loch Earn, this must be a keen fishing hang out as the whole road was populated by camper vans, tents and slowly ebbing fires. I was worried that we might spoil the fishing with the loudness of the cars, however most of the people around the area seemed pleased to see us. After a bit of duck and diving we ended up on the A84 a road familiar to RBRR regulars, unfortunately this was full of slow moving traffic, a shame as the flowing bends make it a real pleasure to drive. We then dived down the A821 which is an interesting road that eventually leads into the tourist town of Aberfoyle. I have driven these roads before and must say that they remind me of roads in the Alps. One of the cars in our group started to encounter running problems, this resulted in us getting to the Loch Lomond tests too late to enable us to have a go. Therefore we were out of the event, to say I was disappointed would be putting it mildly. I was annoyed as no timings for the Tests were present within the Road Book, if we had known we could have got there a bit earlier and completed the Test.

After this we had a good look at the Road Book and decided to cross the Clyde over the Erskine Bridge and get out of the Glasgow district as quickly as possible by using motorways and dual carriageways. This took some time as the traffic was quiet heavy, but we got down and back on the route in the vicinity of Ayr and then followed the A713 until we got to Patna. Here we decided to pull over and decide if we should get back on route or just ‘boot’ it back to Longtown. We decided to take the B road through the Carick Forest and boy that was the right decision. What a marvellous road coupled with stunning scenery, so good that we decided to pull over and have a look around. This was a mistake as two days later I started to erupt with midge bites, gawd! After this was a fun and fast drive back to Longtown, via a minor excursion into a lay by. There was a test laid on in Longtown, as we had not completed all the tests we all decided to give them a miss, the reasoning being that the cars needed a breather!

After this it was back to the Graham Arms for a nice meal and the awards. Big downer, the only ale on sale being John Smith’s, why is mass produced UK so rubbish! This years IAE being won by a couple of Cumbrian lads in a wild Hillman Imp. There was a mistake by the timing judges and Steve Thompson and Gary Sneddon were given the main award, however Steve himself realised that the Imp lads should get the award and very sportingly gave the prize to them. Well done Steve, what a sport (Now, loose the bizarre clothing and start to dress like an Englishman)!

So that ended the IAE and whilst the eight of us had a great time driving around Scotland it must be said that the IAE was not as much fun as I had in previous years. I must say thanks to all the lads (The Mild Bunch)I spent time with, great spirit, banter and fun coupled with a few drinks in the evenings, marvellous!

Not a great pic this, but there they are, yep a mild bunch!
The GT6 went really well, not sure who started the rumour that I had wheel bearing issues, apart from adjustment of the fan belt I did not put a spanner on the car. I did check a wheel bearing by putting her up on the screw jack, but all I could detect was a minor bit of movement.

By the time we got back we reckoned we had covered some 1350miles, and it’s a great pleasure to state that we did not encounter one traffic jam, hence the total of this blog entry!

Massive thanks to Jason for sorting our B&B accommodation near to Longtown, he found a most suitable place for us for the Friday and Saturday. Nice work Mr Accommodation Officer!

I must also thank Dave Pearson of Canley Classics for finding a new CV pot two weeks before the event, without that our entry into the IAE was looking doubtful.

One final pic from the IAE, Matt Roughly's very nice BMW 2002, nice and standard!!!

One interesting aspect of driving the GT6 for its first major run since the crash re-build is that the lack of front bumper definitely reduces the water temperature, I think the car runs at 5 degrees C cooler. However, this does not make me think of continuing driving the car without a front bumper. I sold my crashed bonnet to Richard Brake and since I made the decision to stick the bumper back on, he very kindly gave back the bonnet support tubes to me so that I could use them. I will also stick the rear quarter bumpers back onto the car, these have been off her since 1984!!! To help reduce the water temprature I may well look to get a radiator built for the car similar to the one shown in Kas Kastner’s GT6 Competition manual of the late sixties.

I have nearly finished the Spitfire’s new engine and gearbox installation and will now have to run her in, this will consist of an over night run to the west country one Saturday night. I last did this in 1992 when I built a new engine for the GT6, seems a great way to get varied driving under the car’s belt and explore the rev range gradually.

Next up are Classic Le Mans and the CT Autosolo at Bovingdon. James Cooper is coming with me to CLM and I hope to take the 2.5 mk1 to Le Mans, the car will make mincemeat of the mileages involved and will enable us to travel in comfort and of course not limit the amount of stuff we can take. Today I got the old car MOT’d and must say that on the drive back she went very well, truly a superb car. I am looking forward to taking her to Le Mans, should be a blast. I have now sorted the overdrive, simple fault, a contact withing the column switch had become loose. A present I have used a 5 amp Lucas toggle switch, this will be replaced in due course by either the correct switch or a toggle switch with a LED in the end. Some jobs need to be addressed before CLM, the most important items to sort are the rear tyres, I will have to purchase some new 185/65/15 rubber, hope to be able to source either Continentals or Michelin tyres at a good price. The Revolution wheels are starting to corrode, so I will have to get the rims polished, bet that will be expensive, this may have to wait until the eve of the RBRR.

On the net the other week and I found this car for sale, in fact I believe it has now been sold. What a nice looking mk2 GT6, hope whoever has bought her uses the wee car. Apart from the 5.5J Dunlop holed steels, she looks very original and certainly makes me question the lack of bumpers on mine! Without being a GT6 anorak, the car also features an original mk2 steering wheel, very rare!

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Times passes slowly... er, no it does'nt!

29th April 2012

Sitting around today looking out of the window at the torrential rain of the last two days and thought I’d better write something for this blog.

Not a lot to report on the saloon, its MOT has expired and I need to put her through it soon. At present it will fail as I think it needs some welding on the underneath, also I’d like to fit another speedo and new speedo cable. Looking at the Chris Witor website, I see that he does mk1 Pi speedos, good news and not an unreasonable price of £25. Otherwise I think the car would be fine. The aim is now to use her for the forthcoming Classic Le Mans trip at the beginning of July, she is so dependable and cruises so well that it is an obvious choice. After that it will be the RBRR, another event the car is ideally suited too. I used the car on the 08 RBRR and it must be said the car made the event relatively easy (RBRR easy, yeah, right!), hammering the fast motorway sections and with the nice handling compromise that these cars exhibit make the fast A road sections good fun. The route that we will be using is similar to that used in 2010 and will enable one to have fun in Scotland and Wales.

The Spitfire is progressing along again after a period of apathy. I have entered the forthcoming Bocardo Autosolo at a Silverstone car park and hope to use the Spitfire. I entered a 7Oaks event last year and came second in my class so I hope to do better this time in the light blue car. I will be in the same class as Matt Helm and James Cooper, so I expect some serious competition. Matt is nearly untouchable in his 1500 Spitfire, however James using his m4 Spitfire may be catchable. However, he has improved so much that I think this may be a problem.

At the present time a number of jobs need to be completed, these being:
1. Alternator and water pump installation
2. Carburettor and air filter installation
3. Re-fit the interior including wiring up the J type overdrive
4. Re-fit the exhaust

After this I will then have run the car in, this leaves two weeks, so it could be a ‘touch and go’ scenerio. After that, I hope to install new brakes to the front of the car these include Hi Spec alloy callipers I have in the storage shed. I have little bit of corrosion to deal with around the front indicator sidelight area of the bonnet. I will get this repaired over the winter. All in all, I am looking forward to driving the Spittie again.

Preparation for the June International Auto Ecosse continues for the GT6, the only snags being a MOT needed in May and the rear end vibration that is still plaguing the car. I have fitted the diff and driveshafts that I got Canley Classics to have a look at in March. One of the snags I encountered was that the rear chassis fixing for the differential had distorted quite badly, the outer sections of chassis closing in hard against the diff. This meant that I had to lever the diff out. I called up James Cooper who very kindly came over with his welder and stuck in some new reinforcement sections, these have done the job and made really hold the diff to the car. I replaced the rear bushes with red polybushes, this lead me to think that I might have solved the rear end vibration issue. Not a chance, what a bummer! Dave Pearson at Canleys found one of the inner CV pots to be badly corroded, as he did not have any in stock he replaced the bearings and fitted the pot to the driveshaft. On driving the car I found the vibration had diminished, sadly the vibe returned after the Autosolo event I did at North Weald aerodrome, in fact it is now worse than ever. I hope to collect a new inner pot soon and fit it before the IAE.

Got to say I am looking forward to the IAE, it will be nice to take part in the event again, many friends are taking part including some who have not before: Dale Barker, Tom Key and Carl Shakespeare. The mixture of great roads, tests and socialising make the event great fun. The only shame being that Dave Pearson, Joe and Frank Welling and Craig Gingell are not coming along this year, their prescence will be missed. Last years event had some stand out moments, the weirdest being standing in a bus shelter eating dodgy pie and chips with a lot of Triumphists while rain fell as if it had never rained before, er, yeah, you had to be there! Once again my old mate, Darren Reynolds is coming up with me. Darren should really drive the tests as he is a better driver then me. I am a bit pissed off with him at the moment as he has just sold his superb Subaru Impreza, a special factory one full of alloy panels and trick suspension parts. Possibly the fastest car I have driven, this at a time that the car was suffering from serious clutch slip! He's had some superb cars over the years, these include a couple of Kent engined Caterhams, Cosworth Sierra 3 door, BMW M3, Mini 1275GT, Elan Series 3, Alfa Romeo GTV 2000 and some MGs: MGB GT and Midget.

At present the GT6 is going well, in fact it seems relatively fast for a GT6. On Friday evening I went over to James Cooper’s to collect some parts from him and afterwards decided to go for a drive in the late evening sunshine over on the country roads that are around the Cobham Common area of Surrey. The car still seems to handle well for a GT6 and will rev out in all lower gears, in fact most of the performance seems to come in at over 4K revs. She still turns in well and seems to ride poorly surfaced roads quite well. In fact its an exciting little car to drive fast, the most excitement being the exhaust noise over 3K, fair makes the hairs on the back of the neck stand up! 

Got to say I think I will replace the front bumper over the winter. To help with this Richard Brake has kindly let me have the old bonnet tubes that were on my old dented bonnet when I sold it to him last August. I still have the rear quarter bumpers that I took off the car back in 1984, these will go back on at the same time. 

I still have not delivered the suspension parts to my brother in law to get them powder coated, I will have to get my finger out on that one as I would like to have the new suspension on for the CT Autosolo in July.

This summer/autumn offers some great events for me to enter:

20/05: Oxford MC Bocardo Autosolo at Silverstone: Spitfire
2 & 3/06: International Auto Ecosse: Scotland: GT6
15/07: CT Autosolo, Bovingdon: GT6
5,6 & 7/10: CT RBRR: 2.5 SU
12/10: HERO Throckmorton Challenge: Spitfire

All seem quite affordable, that is apart from the HERO event, £250 is the cost of that single day event consisting of 17 Tests and a few regularities, a bit pricey!!! Maybe I should save my money and enter LeJog one year?
Depending upon how the Spitfire goes and what money I have available I would love to start Sprinting the car next year, however I think I may have to defer that idea for another year. The event that really attracts me is the 7Oaks Motor Club ‘Motorsport at the Palace’ sprint that is held at Crystal Palace park. The company I work for re-surfaced a section of the course in 2010, so I got to meet a few of the organisers and I must say the Club is staffed by some true club motor sport enthusiasts. The event seems geared towards historic motoring and I am sure would be really good fun. I think Matt Helm hopes to enter the event one year, if he does I am sure he will do very well as he is a talented driver.

I mentioned above that I used the GT6 in the recent CSMA North Weald Autosolo, it was good driving the little car again but must admit I found it hard work. The course used a large test area, however the tests were deceptively intricate and not really suited to the GT6. I won the over 2000cc Historic Class, but as Mike Helm (TR6) and Andy Martin (Vitesse) had retired I did not really have to struggle. Richard Brake was in my class using his mk1 saloon, Richard did well considering the bulk of the vehicle, but I am sure he would admit that he would never challenge me, howver using his Spitfire/GT6 hybrid and I am sure the story would have been different. I came 3rd of the Triumph owners, being beaten by Matt and James Cooper in Spitfires. 

James is really starting to mount a challenge towards Matt and I think could well start to equal his times when his new Spitfire is ready. This car will feature a Subaru final drive coupled with CV driveshafts and lower wishbones, a tuned 1500 engine running on Weber sidedraught carbs and a fibreglass bonnet so I imagine he will be very competitive. I’d love to do similar mods to my mk2, however I think that would de-value the car, my reasoning being that I need to sympathetically modify the car in a 60s manner!

I have been reviewing this Blog recently and must apologise for the lack of photos, I will have to start to take the camera out into the garage when working on the vehicles.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

It was never gonna turn out bad, and it did'nt!

Sitting here at the PC when I should be out in the garage, however it’s a tadge parky for any spanner action!

Having got the GT6 back from Dave Picton’s establishment I am overjoyed by the work that he and his team have done. However this has had one major downside, the engine bay now looks crap! With this in mind I have stripped out the engine bay valances down all the wiring and cleaned the cables with whites spirits and will bind them using expandable braided sleeving. At present a lot of the bullet connectors for that connect the bonnet wiring are those awful insulated blue bullets, once I can afford the proper crimping tool, I will replace those with the correct OE bullet connectors.

For many years the car has had alloy engine bay valances, these are now in an awful state, so I will clean these down and paint to attempt to make them more presentable. On the subject of engine bay valances, I see that a chap on e-bay sells new units that look to be very good. Two types are available, one set with louvres and one set without, both sets look very jazzy and at £60 a set not a bad price! One or two GT6 owning friends think I should not fit the valances as they deflect the heat from the engine and radiator into the gearbox tunnel and then of course into the cockpit, I can see the logic of this argument, but the majority of the heat that enters comes from the exhaust so I will continue to use the valances as they do keep the engine bay cleaner.

I have now stripped down the front suspension units that I bought from Dave down, I will be taking these to my brother in laws powder coating establishment next weekend to get them painted. Hit a snag though as the OS lower wishbone is not useable, but as usual the CT jungle drums have resolved that problem and Clive Senior will let me have one, ta, Clive! Once back from being painted, they will be polybushed and put onto the car. The turrets I have will look good when painted, of course, the snag when fitting the OS turret is that the steering column has to be dismantled, still a good time to check over the steering system.

Once this has been done, I will turn my attention to the bulkhead area around the master cylinders, battery etc. This whole area looks very shabby and needs some serious attention from the spray can. So it’ll be out with the wire brush and get stuck in cleaning and then paint it, thinking about satin black or maybe grey. On the CT forum, I see lots of people rave about Por paint, I am not so sure and will probably go for rattle cans! Richard Brake has just told me that Halfords mix up Triumph colours, blimey!

Then, it is time to get stuck into the interior of the car. A layer of sound insulation needs to be fitted under the carpet and then I need to clean up the luggage bay side trim panels and fit them. Unfortunately the luggage boards were damaged in the accident, I have a new OS board for the petrol tank side so will cut and fit a 8mm mdf board over the spare wheel. These will be bolted to the long bridging bracket that fits between the wheelarches. Once done, I will re-fit the roll over bar.

The drive back from Dave’s place at Waltham Cross, was very instructive. I still have the rear end vibration, so I will have to tear down the rear suspension and get that looked at before June as I desperately want to take the car to Scotland for the IAE. However the car drove straightly and seemed so solid, this all bodes well for some fast road action!

One of the snags of driving the car back from Waltham Cross was that I spent a lot of time looking in the rear view mirror with the dread that some plum was going to hit the car up the arse again, gawd, I was nervous! The rear of the car has been hit twice in the last 3 years and I half expect to be going through the whole accident process again!

I have attached two photos that show the car as she now looks. I must admit that at present I am in two minds about the bumperless look that I opted for, I think it makes the car look like a mk1. However it will cost a fair bit to change back to the original look, this cost would include the new bumper, from what I have seen these are dead pricey, £200? Of course, one attribute to the lack of bumper is that I have got rid of some front end weight, little less understeer? I do like the stick on number plate and this will stay, of course this means no front bonnet badge, but hey, more weight saving!

Once this chunk of work has been done I will then just use the car!

Overall I am really pleased with the outcome of the accident shenanigans. I must use this space to publicly thank Dave Picton, he guided me though the repair process and I think has done a great job on the car. Of course, one could say that Dave (hopefully) made some money out of the job, but it was a risky job as the car was very badly damaged. As we both discussed, the car is well known within CT circles and does seem to have a degree of notoriety, therefore anything other than a great job will be sniffed at by some of the experts within the Club. One or two who have seen her think she looks better than ever and I must agree, check out the gaps! Therefore, I would not hesitate in recommending Dave and his business.

All I need now is some good weather to enable me to go out into the garage and get stuck in!

Here are a couple of pics of the Spittie!