Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Boohooo ...

It looks like a rebuild of ‘t Kreng’s front suspension is very near! During a reconnaissance run for next Saturdays Night rally I hit a bump in the road a little bit too hard. The impact ruined the RH front damper insert, but also managed to move the RH strut backwards a fair bit. Due to the TR7’s front suspension set up the LH side was pulled forward by the anti roll bar so much that the LH tyre scraped the lower inside of the wheel arch on less than full lock!

Last weekend I spent a whole day under the car to get everything more or less in shape. I am happy that there‘s no visible damage to any of the suspension components or the body shell. The last one is probably thanks to the strut brace! So I only need a new set of front dampers to get the car back on the road. At least that’s what I thought until I got home this evening with the new tyres fitted to the wheels. Despite them being Yokohama’s with the same dimensions as the previous ones (205/50R15) they don’t fit with my current spring settings. With the old tyres the clearance between lower spring platform and inside tyre wall was minimal, but enough;

Sadly the Yoko A048’s have a slightly wider tyre wall with the wider bit slightly lower than the A032R’s. As a result the inside just touches the lower spring seat. Easily rectified by winding them up a bit, but then the front of the car will be too high. Other option is to put slightly shorter springs in. But that together with the shot damper(s) is reason enough for me to look into something different and use this set up under the DHC. Luckily first contact with a local suspension manufacturer was made a few weeks ago, with plans to visit them within the next few week. Call it foresight!

Probably to be continued somewhere in the (near) future. But it does also mean there will be no car with start number “0” on the 20th edition of the “Nachtrit”!

Sunday, 12 October 2008

My 2nd RBRR

Two years ago Roger and I did the RBRR in his mk3 GT6, but as he has just bought a house that needed redecorating etc. he wouldn’t do the RBRR this year. So I teamed up with McJim for this year’s edition and again it was in a mk3 GT6 (the ex Greeks’ car to be precise). As I thought it appropriate to start and finish the whole event as a team, I flew to bonny Scotland last week. This enabled me to adjust a bit to the car on the way down south to the start in London.
It started pretty good when we went to pick up theGT6 on Wednesday evening. It stopped after less than a mile! Luckily it had only run out of fuel, although the fuel gauge showed that the fuel tank was ¼ filled, or should be ...

The following morning we packed up the car with everything we thought we’d need to survive the run and set of down south. We decided that it would be a good idea to divide the down ward journey in two with a stop halfway down in Kelbrook, the heart of the P&P area. And as a few pictures of the 2008 Round Britain Reliability Run say so much more than words;

Having a coffee break in a road side Diner just south of Blyth, on the long way down to the start;

Marshalling at The Plough;

Around 18.40 we were flagged of for the first leg to Blyth services, and it didn’t take us to long to pass the car of the event (in my humble opinion that is). Team Atlas on the A10 between Hertford and Ware;

At Blyth Services I took over the wheel for the next stretch. Initial plan was to swap drivers somewhere around Corbridge. But as McJim was snoring away happily in the passenger seat and I wasn’t tired yet I decided to carry on. This was prompted by the fact that the planned fuel stop didn’t work out as the petrol station, despite being advertised as open 24 hrs, was closed. Luckily we had a safety margin in the fuel stops so we carried on till Edinburgh Airport for fuel and the second control;

After crossing the Firth of Forth I went into shut-down mode, so not much I remember from that. It started to rain somewhere on this stretch. I woke up to discover we had pulled into a petrol station in Inverness. Which isn’t one of my favourite places at the best of times, but on a rainy night it looks even more dreary. As this picture of a lonely Spit/GT6 at the petrol station proves;

From here on it was my turn again. The plan was that I’d drive up to the next control at John O’ Groats but in Latheron, just before the junction with the A99, I thought it a better idea to stop and give my eyes a bit of a rest as they started playing up a bit. As McJim was fully rested by now he took over for the last miles to John O’ Groats.
Here the weather was so Scottish that we hurried inside the Seaview Hotel for breakfast. After breakfast, a bit of sleep and a quick check of the car it was time to start on the long haul down to Land’s end. So just before 8.00 am, and with McJim at the wheel, we turned our backs on John O’ Groats. In still very wet conditions we headed west towards Thurso and the next scheduled fuel stop;

The further we travelled the drier it seemed to become and when I took over the wheel at the beginning of the B871 (the road running along the River Naver) the rain had decreased to a slight drizzle. This combined with the lovely scenery made for some very nice driving indeed. Only thing to worry about was not to get the car into the water that at some places was rather close to the road ....
On this stretch we also encountered our first breakdown. Well it was only that I managed to drown the cars electrics when I drove a bit to spirited through some standing water. Luckily after a few seconds the engine started without any problems. Slightly more cautious I continued down to the next control, the Conon Bridge Hotel. By the time we arrived there, the rain had stopped completely, which looked promising for the rest of the trip.

The next leg, from Conon Bridge to Stirling turned out to be the best so far. The weather had cleared and the Scottish scenery was at its best, what more do you want. At one point along Glen Coe I even thought of stopping the car and go for a photo shoot of the scenery but decided against it. Needless to say we made good progress to the control at Morrison’s Garage in Stirling.
Here McJim managed to bribe the marshal to sign the road book before the control opened so we could go over to his home in Glasgow to refresh ourselves a bit. After a shower and a simple but very nice dinner, prepared by his wife, we got in the car again to start on the second night. This is in my in my opinion the worst bit of the RBRR driving large stretches of motorway at night as you get more tired. Added bonus was the rain which kept coming down most of the time. But we did manage to get to the Lancaster and Gledrid Services fairly well on schedule.

We did have some annoying problems with the car though. Firstly it was impossible to get any heat into the interior which is very un-GT6-like. The other annoying problem was that the seal of the rear hatch was knackered allowing water to soak the driver’s seat and the parcel shelf behind the seats. Also the overdrive didn’t work as it should. In 2nd gear it would switch on and of randomly, in 3rd it worked OK and in 4th it was on all the time ...

While we were at the Gledrid Control the rain eased of so we decided to press on as long as it remained dry. Since heavy rain was forecast we decided to take a more direct route via Shrewsbury, Hereford, Abergavenny and over the Bristol Channel into England. The weather actually was fairly good until we arrived at the M4. That’s when it started to rain ... very heavily. Luckily large parts of the M4 are well lit by streetlamps making the driving slightly more bearable. Also having a rather heavy engine/counterweight right on top of the front axle helps quite a lot in keeping the front wheels in contact with the road when there’s standing water :x
The weather remained rather wet all the way down to Land’s End which didn’t make the driving any more enjoyable. At least it gave me the chance to take a few rather moody pictures;

James testing his car's battery.

After breakfast and signing of the road book we immediately left for Sennen Cove to get some rest before the other teams arrived. But as the weather was rather ... uhm ... photogenic I got the camera out and took some more pictures instead. Control stop number 11, the Lifeboat station at Sennen Cove;

After we visited the Lifeboat station and the road book was signed, it was time to start on the way back to London. Sadly just before Penzance we saw some vapour coming out from underneath the bonnet and the dashboard. Although the temperature was still at its normal place in the gauge, we thought it better to stop and have a look under the bonnet. This revealed that the water pump seal had gone. As McJim hadn’t had the intention of replacing one at the side of the road he’d left his spare home ... Luckily one of the other teams who passed by had a new one in the boot, which quickly changed hands. Half an hour’s spannering later, and with some assistance from yet another crew, we were back on the road (thx chaps).

As we had lost quite a bit of time we even had a chance to get another sighting of Team Atlas. Sadly shortly after this they had to retire with a broken wheel bearing. We didn’t have these problems and fairly on schedule arrived at the Dartmeet control. A quick check of the car revealed no more leaks, so after a cup of tea we were off for the cakes at Pimperne. This prospect alone was cheerful enough but then the sun managed to make an appearance a few times.
Just before we entered Pimperne I even managed to get the car’s tail out on a roundabout. As I wasn’t pressing on to hard and the over steer was rather viscous, I presume there must have been something like oil on the road. Luckily I could catch the car with an armful of opposite lock, but it startled some other road users. While pulling into the parking lot at the Pimperne control some people came over to point out that a fair amount of fuel was leaking from the car. A closer inspection showed the fuel hose to the fuel pump had come loose. Luckily fairly easy to fix but rather annoying as we didn’t have a clue how this could happen. But as it had lasted for more than 2000 miles already we didn’t worry too long and went for some lovely cakes.

From here on it was rather straight sailing to the last control at the TR Register's offices in Didcot and from there back to the Plough, where we arrived around 19.15 hr. We had made it! After a meal, a few drinks and some socializing it was time to say goodbye to everyone and head for the hotel;

The car made it back all the way to Scotlandshire without any further problems, clocking up some 2750 miles over the weekend. Though it did burn a few litres of oil;

Thanks very much to the organizing committee and all the volunteers who marshalled at the control stops, in making this great event possible.