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!

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