Saturday, 12 March 2011

Out and about

Over the past few weeks I have had a few opportunities to take ‘t Kreng out for a blast. First we had the second edition of our own very informal “Early Bird” run. In this case a lovely tour with like minded local classic car fans ...




... through the northern part of our Province ...


It also was a trip to get my co-driver for this year’s International Auto Ecosse and 10CR, acquainted with my driving style and with the car. I needn’t have worried, the navigating was perfect.
As last year Roger and Robbie managed to come up with a very nice route, compromising all sorts of interesting roads, ranging from very narrow and “low-slung-licence-plate-on-an-Elise-shattering” (sorry Robbie) country lanes to nice smooth and wide roads with long flowing corners ...




After a short stretch through Germany I overtook one of the Mini’s, and the driver thought it a good idea to stick to my rear bumper. Which of course was easy as long as the roads were fairly smooth, but as soon as the roads became twisty and the tarmac worse he started struggling and in the end I shook him of.
But probably the most interesting bit was a nearly 7,5 kilometre stretch of almost ruler straight road alongside an old disused canal near Griendtsveen. How it looks from the air ...


... and from the ground ...




Due to the very soft and soggy soil in the area (peat), this road had some rather severe damage, in places the tarmac had sagged more than 0,25m¹. Luckily the holes were “smooth” and not pot holes. Turned out to be quite a challenge to maintain a speed of 80 km/h, but I managed it. Have to admit that the front of the car behaved very well indeed, but I used the full extent of the suspensions stroke (with 336 lbs springs). The rear was a completely different story. Halfway through the stretch the rear dampers started to make all sorts of funny noises. I think they are knackered now, so time to fit the coil over’s I have lying around.
After the “canal stretch” it was plain sailing to the finish over some very nice roads and past a few hallmarks for the region, like this castle/abbey dating back to the 12th century ...


An old road along the western bank of the River Maas ....


A typical Dutch river crossing ...


A for our area even more typical small field chapel ...


And the rather new but already famous dragon on a roundabout in the village of Beesel ...


Was good fun to be driving in my own backyard again and, due to the early time of the year and the early hours of the day, it was fairly quiet on the roads. Oh, and did I mention that the breakfast before and the lunch after the tour, at Tom’s farmyard pub, were excellent?

Next outing was last weekend’s “Nacht van het Oosten”, which used to be the traditional start of the driving season. As last year the start was in Beckum. And again there was a very nice selection of cars present ...


















Only downside was that this time the event coincided with Stoneleigh which meant only 2 British CT entrants. It was also the carnival weekend, which again kept quite a few teams away, especially from the Southern parts of our country. But with over 70 teams there was no reason to complain for the organizers.

After the by now traditional Chinese buffet we were flagged of at around 18:25. As ever we managed a decent pace, helped by the fact that we are not interested in the rankings. This enabled us to overtake quite a few teams in the first part of the first stage. So after less than an hour we were driving all on our own. But just before the end of the first stage RenĂ© made another little mistake, which turned out quite nicely in the end. He pointed me to the right instead of left. When we found out the mistake and returned to the previous situation an MGB GT-V8 thought it wise to hurl itself onto the road in front of us! And although he hampered me quite a lot, it was good fun to see him trying (sometimes desperately) to keep in front of me. Was a good chase to the half-way stop, he even managed to misjudge a (I have to say tricky) corner rather badly, locking up his brakes and selecting reverse gear all in one! He wasn’t happy when I told him he’d better not get in front of ‘t Kreng next time! Turned out that despite a few small mistakes we had done very well, as there were only 4 or 5 cars in front of us (we had start number 43).


As I don’t like drivers who are slower but try to stay in front of me at all cost, we decided to keep the stop short. So around 9 o’clock we started on the second stage. As my other pet hate is people who try desperately to stick to my rear bumper, we made sure no one had a chance to do so. And as we wanted to be back at the hotel well before the bar closed, we set a brisk pace. But only after a few minutes we were tempted to retire out of the event, as we drove past our hotel! As it was only just after 9 o’clock we decided not to. But it was a stimulant to keep up a steady pace.
Second stage also was a great drive and as we didn’t make any mistakes, thanks to RenĂ©’s perfect navigating, we reached the finish just after 10 o’clock in the evening. Covering the 74 kilometres in just over an hour ...


The few beers back at the hotel tasted rather well. Was again a top event from Rutger, only downside being that there was no hotel at the finish.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

A little bit of maintenance

Last weekend we took the cars out for the first tour of the year. During that tour I found out that the screen washer pump was by now completely dead at last. It had been steadily become weaker over the past year, so I ordered a new one and took the afternoon of from work to fit it. But when I returned home and opened the bonnet, I was reminded of the rather awkward position of the current pump. As the old pump was clearly working I decided to check the hoses from the washer first. Turned out that the previous screen washer liquid I used doesn’t mix with the one I am currently using, resulting in a slimy substance which blocked the filter. After cleaning the filter gauze ...


... and flushing the reservoir twice the screen washer again was fully functional. At least I have a spare pump now!

With the screen washer sorted I thought it a good idea to check the (front) bearings for play. I fitted a new bearing set to the left-hand front last summer and I hadn’t checked it since last year’s Nachtrit. And during last Saturdays tour the suspension again had to endure quite a beating. Wasn’t really surprising that one of the bearings needed to be adjusted slightly.

After that I tried to localize a light screeching sound under acceleration but didn’t succeed. It isn’t the fan pulley or the alternator, so I presume it isn’t very bad. Will see, next event "De Nacht van het Oosten" this Saturday.