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.

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