Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Stelvio last week

During my latest trip to Süd Tirol the weather forecast for Wednesday the 23th of September was rather bleak. The forecast was persistent and heavy rain. As it would be to wet to do something else I decided to find me some snow on one of the various mountain passes in the area. The previous day had seen some frost in the morning at an altitude of around 2000 m, so it was a safe bet that above that the rain would fall as snow. And as I am never to ambitious, I chose the highest pass available, the Stelvio 😎 With an altitude of 2758 m there should be plenty of snow to test the traction of my new Land Rover.
I decided to tackle the Stelvio through its Swiss back door, the Umbrail Pass. And not long after I started the climb the rain turned into wet snow. Needless to say that the higher I went the thicker the snow fell. Luckily the Swiss had the snowplough in operation, making the climb fairly easy ...

After the snowplough passed us, the car in front pulled over to let us pass, and not much later we reached the top of the Umbrail, the Swiss-Italian border and the last bit of the southern slope of the Stelvio. Here the fun really started. While crossing the border to the Italian side another snowplough was preparing for another run up to the top. He was clearly surprised when I didn't wait for him to clear the road for me ...

It came as no surprise the we had the road all for ourselves. Still in normal road mode (so no diff lock or low gear) the car pulled ever higher without much drama. But after a few kilometres we saw a small dark blob moving slowly in the distance ...

Turned out to be a Mercedes G(ay😜) with all traction aids added, including snow-chains. Luckily the chance of any oncoming traffic was negligible, so I overtook him. The conditions including visibility didn't improve, but the car soldiered on bravely to the top. But by the time we reached the first buildings we were greeted by a vast white emptiness. Chances of having lunch here looked grim ...

But we saw some lights shining in one of the buildings which looked promising. There were also some cars parked at the top, although they looked like they wouldn't move for a while ...

We did manage to lay our hands on a cup of coffee, but lunch wasn't to be. The (not very friendly) staff immediately retired after the coffee was delivered and paid for, not to be seen again. So nothing much left to do than to carry on, down the northern slope. Turned out that side was closed for obvious reasons, but it wasn't stated on the various signs we had encountered en route to the pass, or even at the foot of the pass itself. Only one option left really, return the same way we came...

Although conditions hadn't really improved while we were at the top, this went pretty smooth. Also thanks to our guardian angel of course 😇) Till we were about 450 m lower on the Umbrail that is. Here we found the road blocked by a German campervan, standing in the middle of the road. Turned out he couldn't control the van any more due to lack of proper tyres and/or snow chains. In short he was scared shitless and wouldn't move the van, afraid of sliding of the mountain. And he had managed to block the road properly with no way around it on either side ...

So not much we could do but wait till the snowplough came up to clear the road a bit. Which took well over an hour, luckily the queue was rather modest, one Land Rover and a Jeep Cherokee. But with the occupants of both cars starting to get rather impatient. Well over an hour later the snow plough turned up and cleared most of the snow, but even than he didn't dare to drive down. In the end I managed to persuade him to move his vehicle over to the side off the road so that at least the cars behind him could carry on. It took him almost 10 minutes to cover 100 metres to a small lay-by. But it showed us that he was a rather useless driver. Every time the van moved a bit he immediately hit the brakes, resulting in four locked wheels and a campervan slowly and uncontrollably sliding down. Quite funny to watch, but in case he managed to block the road again I decided to squeeze past him as soon as possible. And with that hurdle taken I stopped a little further down, to see if he needed any further assistance. He clearly wasn't in a mood to drive any further in these conditions. So I suggested to take him, his missus and the dog down to the nearest village, were they could make arrangements to get their campervan down. But he didn't approve of the idea. In the end he managed to convince a local garage owner in coming up with a set of snow chains, at € 520,- for the service ...

We didn't wait for that, and headed down in search for a late lunch and something to drink.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

FHC resto nr. 41; Painting finished

After returning from Club Triumphs 10 Countries Run last Monday, I went over to the shed for a closer inspection of the paint job. When I opened the gate I got a rather bright welcome. Didn't need to put on the lights 😎

The paint job looks really good. Despite the fact that the paint was quite difficult to apply, and doesn't cover very well. As a result it had to be applied pretty thick. But there's only one runner, on one of the rear wings, and it looks like that can be polished out.

And the parts that got the same satin black finish as the sills and the rear light panel ...

With this part of the restoration finished, it is time to start on the next stage; preparing all the parts for mounting. But first I'll return to the Alps for a short break ...

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Club Triumph's 10 Countries Run 2015

Contrary to the previous edition of this run in 2013 the car didn't throw up any last minute problems. Which meant that we left home for Rolduc as planned, late on the Wednesday afternoon. Of course the car had to throw something at me at the last minute. So just after leaving home the car started to vibrate very badly at just over 100 kph. First thoughts were that I had forgotten to tighten the wheel nuts properly. But a quick check ruled this out. Knowing that nothing was going to fall of we continued towards Rolduc were we enjoyed a lovely meal and a few beers with the other teams that stayed there too. And in the middle of the night the cause for the vibrations sprang to mind. I had checked the tyre's pressure the day before the run and inflated them all back to 2.2 bar. But then I realised that I have always been running them at 2.0 bar ('t Kreng's semi slicks are run at 2.2 bar ...). Something easy to rectify at the start.

Day one; Rolduc - Suben
Netherlands-Germany-Czech Republic-Germany-Austria
(927 km, 17:15hr)

After not such a good night's rest, we headed towards the Football Stadium of Roda JC were the official start would be. And after signing in I lowered the pressure of the front tyres back to their normal setting, which as it later turned out almost completely cured the problem. We were ready to leave, which we did at a quarter passed nine.

The first stretch of the route was motorway all the way to Olpe, from were headed ever deeper into the German "outback". After leaving the motorway it was really time to start enjoying the driving and the scenery. And before we knew it, it was passed noon. Time to start looking for a nice Gasthaus, and have some lunch. Which wasn't as easy as it should have been. In the end we stopped at a roadside Imbiss, only to find out it was overflowing with Brits with Triumphs. As we didn't fancy losing lots of time while queuing for food, we continued our search. In the end we found a small pizzeria, in the small town of Schwalmstadt. With our stomachs filled we carried on ever further east, still in glorious weather. Our next stop would be Rasthof Eisenach. Initially planned as a fuel stop, but we found a cheaper alternative just before we joined the A4 motorway. So we only stopped for coffee. After which it was time for the last leg through Germany.

Sadly the good weather wasn't to last, and by the end of the afternoon, just before the small and rather picturesque town of Stadtilm, the heavens opened. Glad there was an "escape" road where we could stop quickly and put the hood up without getting soaked!  In the rain we carried on. Although the heavy rain didn't last very long we decided to keep the roof up. There remained a slight drizzle from time to time, but also the temperature had dropped significantly. And to add to the entertainment we ran into our second major deviation, again caused by road works. But we managed to find an alternative route that brought us to the last bit of German motorway without adding to much travel time.
We eventually left the motorway for the Czech Republic near Thiersheim. But before crossing the border we stopped to fill up the cars, but also to find some decent food. Which we found in the Local Gasthof Zur Post in Thiersheim.

After a simple but very nice meal we crossed into the Czech Republic. I had mentally prepared myself for heavily potholed roads, but I needn't have worried. Most of the roads were in reasonable condition. The only thing missing on most of them were decent striping and/or street lights. It was all a bit dark. But despite that we made good progress. Till we left the N182 that is. It had become rather foggy from time to time, preventing me from using the beams. And this meant I noticed a few crossroads a bit too late, thus overshooting them. Resulting in reversing on a narrow dark country lane. Luckily between Stribro and Stod we had a local (empty) HGV as pacemaker. He clearly knew the road very well, and I really had to press the car a bit to keep up with him. Good fun indeed.
But most interesting challenge was while driving through the small village of Lhovice. As the maps detail was rather poor we were relying on the satnav. And that told us to turn left onto a very narrow country lane. But after a few hundred meters the tarmac came to an end, to be replaced by a dirt track. Which become more overgrown with every meter. Time to retrace our steps back into the village and have a rethink on the route! In the end we went back to the main road running through the village and set the satnav for the next waypoint. Problem solved. But shortly after we joined the N27 the satnav started losing the maps. Luckily we just had to follow the N27, but it did bring the speed a bit down, because I also use the satnav for pace-note-maps, warning for upcoming sharp bend, hairpins etc. But we did reach the German border just after midnight. Time for a brief stop and a rest for the Satnav. After which it was plain sailing towards Passau and from there over the Motorway towards the border crossing with Austria. Which we nearly didn't make due to an eastern European truck that looked like it had blown its turbo in a big way. Driving behind it meant getting slowly poisoned by its fumes while overtaking it meant passing the truck on a narrow lane (due to road works) in total blindness. I went for the second option. Shortly after that we turned into the service area for a much needed rest. It was 2:15 in the morning and day one was over.

Day two; Suben - Sankt Martin in Passeier
(547 km, 11:26hr)

After not much more than an hour's sleep we decided to get going again. So after something resembling lunch from the thermos bags we set off for the second leg. It was 4:41. This was also the moment for us to leave the official route. Instead of following the motorway down south towards Slovenia, we left the motorway after some 20 kilometres for Ried Im Innkreis. From where our route took us along the shores of the Attersee, where we enjoyed the views of a very early dawn;

After leaving the Attersee we headed towards Bad Ischl, and from there over the B145, B166 (near Lungötz);

and the A10 and B311 towards the foot of the Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse. We arrived here before 9:00hr in the morning. With the added bonus that this early in the morning there are hardly any tourists to spoil the fun!

As it was rather cold at the top (0ºC), and there is no restaurant there, we decided to postpone breakfast/coffee and find somewhere warmer. Which we found at the foot of the Grossglockner. And after a nice Kafee & Kuchen we headed on towards Italy.
By the time we had almost reached Cortina d'Ampezzo it was lunch time. Knowing there wouldn't be much lunch opportunities after that, and Cortina is a dump of a place in my humble opinion, we decided on a roadside lunch stop. The thermos bags were emptied a little more.

And while having our lunch we saw our first Triumph since setting of from the service station on the motorway in Suben, a yellow Stag. Half an hour later we would again see it in a hotel forecourt in Cortina, where the official overnight stop would be. But as already mentioned I'm not a big fan of Cortina, so our planned route took us further west over some "minor" passes (Passo di Valparola, Würz Joch and Kopfel Joch) towards the Eisack valley and Brixen. From there it was plain sailing over the S12 towards Sterzing and over the Jaufenpass towards our hotel in Sankt Martin. The second day's driving was done, time for a decent meal in one of the village's restaurants, a few beers and a good night's rest.

Day three; Sankt Martin in Passeier - Merklingen Nellingen
(461km, 10:38hr)

Fully rested and after a decent breakfast we said goodbye to our host and set of for the third day. With only just over 400 kilometres planned, this should be our shortest driving day of the event, even time wise. But the start wasn't that promising. Despite the early hour there was already a fair amount of traffic on the Timmelsjoch. And this only started to thin out just before the summit.

As it was rather foggy (or call it cloudy) at the top we didn't bother to stop. No point in admiring grey views. But only a few hundred meters down the northern side the fog cleared, leaving us with a nice empty road. At least I could get up to a decent speed in the descent of this great pass. As long as there were no mobile chicanes around that is!

These young cows clearly hadn't seen much traffic in their life and were rather inquisitive. As a biker found out to his annoyance when three of the cows closed him in for some closer inspection. In the end we reached the ski resort of Sölden. Time for a fuel stop at the garage who recovered us from the Timmelsjoch four years earlier during the 2011 edition of the 10CR.

Was a good choice to stop there as they warned us for an accident between two motorcycles. They didn't know if the road was closed, but pointed me to a simple diversion just in case. The road indeed was closed immediately outside the village. So we retraced our steps a bit and crossed the Ötztaler Ache towards a narrow lane running parallel with this river. And indeed half a kilometre outside the village there was a helicopter in the road, on the other side of the water. Glad that we were forewarned.
Original plan was to not use any motorways that day. But right from the start that morning the satnav gave an ETA for our hotel in Merklingen of 19:00. So we decide to shave a few minutes of our travelling time by using the A12 towards the Silvretta pass instead of small country lanes. We actually gained an hour as a result of that choice. Which meant that we were on top of the Silvretta in time for lunch and a well deserved beer ...

And we had some time on our hand, we decided to enjoy the fine views at the top;

After lunch we headed down the western slope of the Silvretta toward the town of Bludenz;

And near that town we left the primary and secondary roads behind to continue on so called Länderstraße towards the German border. Was good fun but due to lots of slow traffic and a fair amount of diversions we lost a lot of time so after crossing the border into Germany we decided to take the more direct route. But despite that it was almost half past seven before we reached our hotel in Merklingen. Time for some food and a few beers, sadly not.
Clearly something had gone wrong as a result of which they didn't have a room for us. But  they managed to find and book two rooms in another hotel in a nearby village. They even supplied some money because the hotel they booked for us was slightly more expensive. In the end we checked in, in our hotel for the night in the small village of Nellingen. Food, beer, bed and breakfast were all very good.

Day four; Nellingen - Rolduc
(572km, 7:34hr)

Initial plan had been to start with some country lanes from Merklingen, staying south of the A8 motorway for some 45 kilometres. But as we were setting of from the other side of the motorway and because the entrance to Merklingen was blocked due to road works we decided to hit the A8 as soon as possible. This choice was prompted by the amount of time we lost on the country lanes on the previous day.
While entering the motorway in glorious weather we saw our first Triumphs since we left Cortina behind us. Sadly the nice weather didn't last, and within an hour after leaving I stopped to put the roof up. Glad I did as a few minutes later it started to rain in earnest. Sadly this rain would accompany is almost till the finish at Rolduc.
As most of the driving on the last day was on motorways the rain didn't matter to much. But there were also some enjoyable roads through France (near Wissembourg);

... and through Germany and, after another bit of motorway, Luxembourg. Here we had some fun with an oil spill on the exit of a roundabout. As I felt the front going wide, I managed to correct the car with the throttle and a little bit of opposite lock. René who was just trying to close the distance a bit was taken completely by surprise. Luckily the Dolly fishtailed almost of the road on the right-hand side. As a result of which a Volvo driving rather close behind him missed him just when that car under-steered onto the opposite lane. Luckily for the Volvo driver there was no oncoming traffic.
After this incident it was all straightforward towards Rolduc, over ever more familiar roads. And of course there were some more diversions, the last being almost on the doorstep of Rolduc. But we made it  round without much problems 😊

The rest of the afternoon and evening was spent at either the bar or the barbeque.

Some boring statistics etc.
Total distance covered: 2724 kilometres;
Fuel consumption: ± 264 litres;
Average fuel consumption: ± 10,3 km/lt (or ± 29 mpg)
Maintenance needed: not really

Well the aftermarket wooden gearlever knob came loose, resulting in a rather annoying squeaking noise. But that didn't take more than a few minutes to rectify (including searching for the correct Allan key). And for good measure I added  ⅓ litre of oil after the third day. But that wasn't really necessary as the level had dropped only a few millimetres.

Overall the car behaved very well. But there are some minor issues. Gear changes still are notchy especially between 2nd and 3rd gear. But as there was no swarf in the oil before the event I'll live with that for the time being. During some runs before the event I found out that the fuelling was on the lean side. But didn't have time to rectify that properly. Something for later in the year. Same goes for the 6mm insulator gaskets for the carburettors I ordered before the event, but only received them on the day of our departure ...

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

FHC resto nr. 40; The Future's Bright

I really should have been putting more time in preparing the DHC for the 10 Countries Run which starts this Thursday. But I received these pictures this morning. In the paint cabin yesterday evening, after its final coat of nearly Topaz Orange ...  

So after tinkering on the DHC in preparation for the 10 Countries Run, I went over to the paint shop this afternoon to pick up some of the loose bits, like doors, bonnet and boot lid. And this gave me a chance to have a look at the rather orange result;

The pictures speak for themselves, with the last two matching the actual colour best. Painting the sills, rear valances and rear light panel in matt (50%) black is scheduled for Thursday. Which means that by the time I return from the 10CR it should be ready and waiting for me in the shed. Add some black details and striping together with a bright red interior and you're starting to get the picture. Certainly something to look forward to ...

Monday, 7 September 2015

FHC resto nr. 39; Ready for painting

Received these pictures today. In the paint cabin waiting for its final coats of paint;

At the time of writing the body should be bright orange, with the black bits being added in the next few days. So when I return from Club Triumphs 10CR it should be finished ...