Tuesday, 2 December 2008

MOT time and other stories

Two weeks off work and a chance to get some work done on the van.

The van was due an MOT a couple of weeks ago and I knew the parking brake was not working very well so with some help (thanks Barry) I took it apart, lubricated it and put it back together again. The parking brake on the van has never been particularly good and I'm led to believe that's just how Dodge made them. Being an automatic the van usually just gets left with the transmission in "Park" anyway so the parking brake sees more use during the MOT test than any other time.

Dropped the van off at the local garage for the test and waited to see what would happen. It failed due to having a rubbish parking brake! The garage also took it all apart and rebuilt it and got it working sufficiently to pass however so that's another hurdle out of the way (albeit with an accompanying bill for their time of course).

The following day I decided to have a go at upgrading the headlights to modern halogen fittings which was another of those jobs I'd been planning for ages but never got around to. I managed to free off the rusted adjusting screws but whilst trying to remove the screws that hold the light units together one of the plastic mounting blocks broke. When I removed the headlight unit I discovered that the other plastic mounting on that side was also damaged. I've ordered a replacement set but they are only available from the USA so I'm now waiting for them to be imported. In the meantime I've taken the opportunity to dismantle the light units and de-rust and paint the bowls so hopefully they'll last a bit longer once they are re-fitted.

I also tried to fit my new extra-bright bulbs but discovered that there are two different types of H4 halogen headlight bulbs and my bulbs didn't fit the lights! The difference is the base of the bulb. I has thought that the base was what was described by the "H4" name but it appears that refers to the actual glass bulb and filament design. The base can be either "P43t" or "P45t". All modern vehicles with H4 bulbs use the P43t base but some older (mostly British) ones use the P45t fitting (The replacement headlights I'm fitting are from a Triumph Acclaim). You can still buy P45t bulbs but not in the uprated extra-bright types. I have found a trader selling adapters to allow the fitting of P43t bulbs in P45t light units but they are currently out of stock. Whilst I wait for them to be available again I've fitted a pair of standard halogen H4 P45t bulbs from Halfords.

Since the headlight mounting blocks still haven't arrived the van is off the road again despite having the new MOT and tax. That meant I couldn't go collect my new race trailer when I got the call to say it was ready last week however the manufacturer agreed to deliver it so I finally have a brand new trailer ready for next season's racing. I'm very pleased that it is finally here but I think I'm going to need some practice at parking it in my driveway. It is a very tight fit with only a few inches to spare either side! The new trailer is no wider than the old one though and its slightly shorter so I should be able to work something out.

The next job will be to remove the fuel tank from the van and replace the perished and corroded fuel and brake lines. I've already had one attempt at loosening the tank fittings and it looks like being a pain of a job. Some more thought will be needed if I'm to extract the tank without damaging anything. I've also enquired about the cost of getting some airbag spring assisters for the rear suspension of the van as it sinks far too low with the weight of a trailer attached to the tow hitch.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

The Holly Birkett Six Hour Relay Race

As promised, here's something about the race last weekend.

For those who don't know, "The Birkett" as it is known is a different kind of event to those I normally race in. As the name suggests the race runs for six hours but unlike other endurance events such as Britcar or Le Mans where the same car is raced by different drivers, at the Birkett teams enter between four and six cars and each driver drives their own car in turn.

Since the race is open to all types of cars there is a handicap system to make it a fairer competition. The idea is to complete the highest number of laps within the six hours. Obviously a team of slower cars (like our team of Triumphs!) would be at a disadvantage to a team of fast cars such as the many Caterham and Radical full race cars that take part. To even things up, before the race begins each team is allocated a number of "credit laps" which are added to the actual number of laps completed during the race.

Still following all this?

Within a team, the cars can go out in any order and for any length of time so it's up to the team manager to devise a strategy that will allow for the most laps to be completed. Of course breakdowns are common in a race of this length and sometimes people spin or come off into the gravel traps on the circuit too so the strategy has to be constantly modified during the event. The rules stipulate that if two cars from the same team end up on the circuit at the same time then neither of them scores any laps until one leaves the track. That means some care has to be exercised not to send the next car out too soon if the one currently racing doesn't appear exactly when expected.

Fortunately I only had to drive the car and not worry too much about the strategy!

The grid is predetermined based on the handicaps so practice is just that rather than a qualifying session. Each car in the team is allocated to a practice session during the morning. I joined my session in the assembly area and waited to be let out on the track. I was a little more nervous than usual as it was exactly a year since I had last driven the racecar "in anger" on a circuit so I was feeling a little out of practice. At least the weather was fine, clear and dry which wasn't what yesterday's forecast had suggested.

Once we were released onto the track a number of much faster cars that had ended up behind me in the queue came past and then it was down to the business of getting used to the car and the track again. I quickly discovered that the misfire problem I'd had earlier in the year was definitely solved as the engine was revving quite freely. I also discovered that I was having trouble getting the car to go round corners neatly. I initially put that down to my being out of practice but later I realised that not only was the lack of a misfire allowing me to arrive at corners rather quicker than I'd been used to in the past but also my new much larger fuel tank full of petrol had added about 30kg behind the rear axle. In any case I got used to it and was just starting to enjoy myself after about five laps when the chequered flag came out for the end of the session.

So back to the garage and give the car a quick check over. Nothing leaking or hanging off so both me and the car are ready to race. No need to refuel before the race as practice had used less than five litres of petrol.

The race always seems to come around quickly at this event as it follows almost immediately after the last practice session. John, our team manager gave us a quick briefing on the pit signals we'd be using and Les with the first car was off to form up on the grid. I was due to be third car out and we had all planned a forty minute first session so I had some time to wait...

...except that a few minutes later the pit wall crew were waving for Simon in the second car to set off. Evidently Les had some kind of problem on the circuit. Simon set off and suddenly I was in my car and getting ready. It's always a good idea to have the next driver ready to go in case the current car has a problem. Helmet on, gloves on, belts done up, start the car and warm it up and then switch it off and try to relax for a while as Simon was running well and I had forty minutes to wait. In the meantime Les made it back to the garage with the news that he'd simply spun off with no harm done.

Simon completed his forty minutes without incident and the pit board went out to signal him to come in on the next lap. Time to fire up my car and get the engine warm before setting off. Wait, wait, wait for Simon coming down the pit lane and as he passes the garage, I'm being waved out.

Joining a race from the pit lane part way through is very different to starting on the grid with everyone else. You're joining the track with cold tyres and cold brakes and other cars that have been out for some time are at full racing speed. I'm aware of how much earlier than normal I need to brake into the first corner but everyone is giving plenty of room to each other. It takes a while to get everything up to temperature but as the tyres start to grip and the brakes bite better confidence starts to grow.

In this event I suspect I probably had the least powerful and slowest car (and driver for that matter!) on the track. I certainly spent probably as much time looking in my mirrors as I did watching where I was going but after a few laps you get used to the traffic and I was enjoying myself. Remember to watch for signals from the pit lane. I'm not used to luxuries like a pit crew with a board but each time around there's either a thumbs up signal or a "hurry up, you can go faster than that!" board out for me. Frequently there are faster cars coming past in the corners and using the bit of track that I want but we all get around lap after lap until eventually the pit board shows "come in" and it's all over. Next time round, into the pit lane. Remember to slow down. The pit lane speed limit is 25mph but my speedometer doesn't work properly so I have to guess. Past the garage and into the paddock as John in the next car sets off to start his session behind me.

A quick discussion with the team back in the garage and I discover that I've taken five seconds off my previous best lap time on this circuit. Excellent, that's a big improvement. The car really is running better, and I like to think that just maybe I am driving a little better too!

Check the car over again and discover that the first session has used around fifteen litres of fuel. Still plenty left for another session so nothing to do at the car again.

Now it's a matter of getting something to eat and trying to keep warm until my next session. Silverstone is always a cold draughty place at the best of times and in late October it's particularly so.

By the time my second session comes around, it has started to rain just a little and we're hearing reports of cars starting to slide off the track. The teams using slick racing tyres all start to change them for wets. No such problem for me as I only have the one set of "all conditions" tyres!

It doesn't seem long before I'm waiting in the car again, helmet on. This is scheduled to be a 20 minute session but as I'm waiting Andy comes to enquire whether I have enough fuel for thirty minutes instead. I have no problem with that so a thirty minute session is confirmed.

Waiting, waiting, waiting again and then away down the pit lane and onto the circuit.

There's just enough rain to make the track slippery now without there being enough to affect visibility. Things are particularly slippery on cold tyres and it takes longer to warm up in the wet too but eventually I start to figure out how to get around the circuit in the changed conditions.

By the end of the session the track was starting to dry out in places but was still slippery in others. It didn't seem very long however before the "come in" board was being displayed and I was back down the pit lane and into the garage again.

I wasn't scheduled for another session but I was back in the car towards the end of the event, waiting again just in case the last car out had a problem. They didn't, the chequered flag comes out and I can undo the belts and go celebrate with the others. On handicap we came 20th out of 56 teams which we all agreed is pretty good going and certainly the best result that's been achieved by a Triumph team recently.

All in all a great day and thoroughly enjoyable. The car performed perfectly all day. The new fuel tank seems to hold enough fuel for about an hour and a half of racing so far more than I'm likely to need in the near future. The ignition system no longer misfires and the car revs easily to 6500 revs (and occasionally beyond!) with gear changes at 6000 revs which is about as much as I can expect from a Triumph 1500 engine that's essentially standard.

A great start to my race season for this year! Unfortunately also the last event for this year so also the end of my season.

There are photographs of the event at Kevin's pages
also here
and here

So when do next year's entries open then?

Monday, 27 October 2008


Well I said I hoped the weekend would be worth all the effort and in the end it was... and then some!

I spent Thursday evening fitting the curtains to the van by the light from a gas powered camping lamp (the job I started ages ago and didn't complete) and shopping for supplies (food) for the weekend. Thank goodness for late night supermarkets!

I'd arranged a hire trailer earlier in the day and picked it up on Friday morning, came home, loaded up and set off for Silverstone. The van ran faultlessly all weekend and hardly even noticed the tons of stuff I had loaded in it and on the trailer. That big V8 is great for this task. The fuel bills are less pleasing though - I think I got about 10mpg with the full load on board and I've done well over 400 miles over the course of the weekend. I'll let you do the maths - I daren't!

Anyway, I arrived at Silverstone after battling with traffic most of the way and got unloaded, signed on and scrutineered before they closed everything up for Friday. For the first time in ages it felt like I was getting ahead of the game. By that time the rest of the team had arrived and some of us went off in search of beer and food (we recommend the Chinese takeaway in Towcester by the way!). Then off to get some sleep.

Saturday dawned bright and clear (and very cold!) but things improved once I worked out how to get the Silverstone showers to produce hot water and then got some breakfast. After that it was practice and then many hours of racing. The Birkett 6-hour relay race is an almost unique event and requires a completely different approach to the normal races I do. I'll write about the race itself later but for now, suffice it to say that I had the most fun I've had for ages!

The misfire on the race car is definitely cured. It now revs easily to 6500rpm and pulls strongly right through the range but particularly between 4000 and 6000 revs which is exactly what it was always supposed to do. I'm very happy with that. I think a rolling road session would be a good plan before next season now just to make sure that everything is tuned correctly with the extra revs but other than that, there's nothing I need to do except to fix the oil pressure warning light which seems to have stopped working. Hardly a major issue and probably just another sensor failed. I seem to need a new one every year for some reason.

After the race was over and everything was cleared up and loaded back in the van, I headed back up the M1. Traffic was much better late on a Saturday night and driving the van home was easy again. I discovered one of the biggest advantages to the van too. I got tired whilst driving home so just pulled into a service area, climbed into one of the reclining seats in the back and slept for a while. Very comfortable and about fifteen seconds from pulling up to sleeping. Excellent! No way could I have done that when I had the old Ford Transit car transporter.

So, after a couple of pretty lousy weeks, this weekend has more than made up for things. Now I just need to compile a list of things to do at the van over the winter and then get on with completing some of them.


Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Are we having fun yet?

I eventually stopped feeling sorry for myself yesterday and got on with trying to come up with some answers! In the end I re-plumbed part of the fuel system into a "jerry" can and took 20 litres out of the van's tank. I've had the van on the road again today and it doesn't appear to be spilling fuel any more so I think that's an improvement although I'm not entirely happy driving around with a known fuel tank problem.

I managed to get the tracking done too although it took over an hour in the end as the local tyre place still weren't organised at the right time. Whilst I was getting that done, the brake and ABS warning lights came on. I suspect a faulty sensor but it is yet another thing to investigate. The van only has ABS on the rear axle anyway and all the brakes still seem to work (well, apart from the parking brake which has always been pretty useless!)

My new trailer is definitely not going to be ready this week as some vital components still haven't been delivered to the manufacturer. I'm not one for giving up but I have given serious thought to pulling out of this weekend's race and cutting my losses. I think it is more sensible to investigate a hired trailer tomorrow and attempt to make the best of it now I at least have a usable van. I've never been this unprepared for a race weekend before! It doesn't help that I'm having the busiest week at work that I've had for some time.

This weekend had better be worth all this effort...

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

One thing after another

Another setback today. Every time there's a problem to be solved, there's always a best case easy way to fix it, a worst case terrible way and various possibilities in between. Why is it that every single job on this van turns out to be the worst case scenario?

Feeling positive after getting the van back from the body shop yesterday I went to fit the new curtains today. That's when I discovered the back doors are leaking again in at least three seperate places and there's a pool of water on the floor again! I've had four attempts to fix this already and I don't know what to try now. Until I sort the problem I can't fit the electrical equipment and most of the trim in the back though.

So I gave up on that job and took the van off to the local tyre place to try and get the tracking set up. They were short staffed and couldn't do the job immediately so I said I'd try again tomorrow when they were expecting to have more people available.

Instead I went off to fill up with petrol ready for the mileage I need to do at the weekend to collect the trailer (hopefully) and get me to and from Silverstone for the Birkett meeting. I put almost 100 litres of fuel in the van for the first time in several years. That hurts the wallet somewhat but at least petrol is slightly cheaper this week than it has been recently. Unfortunately when I got home again I discovered a familiar smell and a stain on the road behind the van. Yes, now it's leaking petrol out!

I've suspected a perished breather hose for a while as there has been an occasional smell of petrol near the van but it never lost any so I guessed it was a breather rather than a live fuel line. Since the entire 130-odd litre tank has to come out to even be able to see the plumbing connected to it, I was leaving that job until I take the van off the road next month over the winter. I now suspect that a breather has come off altogether and fuel is slopping out of the hole as I drive the van. Fortunately it only seems to leak when I'm driving the van, not whilst it's parked so at least my £100 worth of fuel is hopefully safe for now.

Since I have to work on the van outside and it's dark by the time I finish the day job, there's no way I can fix this problem in the next two days. I wouldn't even be able to get an appointment at a garage and pay someone to fix it at that short notice either. I've no idea what I'm going to do about this weekend now.

Rather fed up at the moment.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Not going to plan

Delays, delays... Got the van back from the body shop today. It should have been done on Friday but there was a problem with the paint oven apparently. Anyway, it's now dent-free and an almost perfect colour match. That paint colour was always going to be very difficult to match.

The new trailer is also delayed as some of the parts hadn't been delivered on time. I'm still hoping it will be ready in time for Friday but I'll need to find out in the next couple of days and look at hiring one for the weekend if mine isn't done by then.

Incessant rain over the weekend made it difficult to get the race car out to work on too however after spending some time tripping over stuff in the garage whilst trying to check the oil and coolant levels (really must tidy up in there!) the rain finally abated long enough for me to roll the car out and try to start it. It was completely dead of course. Flat battery. Then whilst connecting the battery charger I managed to short something and melted one of the crocodile clips in a rather spectacular show of sparks, flames and smoke!

Fortunately the battery charger clip was the only casualty and I eventually got the car started with the aid of a jump start pack. Having run it for a while, it hopefully has enough charge in the battery now to start on its own next time.

Next jobs are an oil change on the van (it still has the running in oil in it), getting the tracking set up properly on the van since I'm pretty sure my efforts with a tape measure after rebuilding the steering last week are less than accurate and then replacing some of the interior trim I took out for the wiring and left out for the body shop.

It's going to be a busy week!

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Positive thinking

It seems like a long time since I posted anything here. Probably because there hasn't been much tangible progress to report on any of the projects.

I've laid in a lot of the wiring in the van now and drawn up diagrams for the two new fuse/relay boxes that have to be fitted. All the clever mains supply kit arrived this week too so I'm currently finalising the plans for how that will all fit in. Once it's fitted, I will be able to carry a couple of large leisure batteries in the back of the van which will not only supply all the 12 volt equipment but will also feed an inverter that will provide mains power too. With an external feed connected the inverter runs "in reverse" and charges the batteries instead. All very clever but getting the wiring right (and finding somewhere to install all the equipment!) will take some planning. I'm just compiling a last order of electrical components so I can have a complete kit of parts ready to fit.

I was getting rather depressed with the whole van project earlier this week as I seemed to be spending a whole lot of money and not making much progress. I've spent several hours during the week and the whole of today stripping out the worn steering linkages and replacing all the joints however. It's all back together again now and it feels like I've made some real progress so I'm thinking rather more positively about it all now. I also replaced the sway bar (anti-roll bar) linkages too. I think the ones that came off may have been the original 28 year old ones. They were made entirely from rust anyway! A quick test drive just around the houses here and it does seem to feel a lot nicer but that may just be my imagination, I need a longer run really. Hopefully that's the end of assorted rattling and clonking noises from the front end though.

Next job on the van is to take it to the body shop on Monday to have its dent repaired. A replacement for the broken door mirror was delivered last week but it was damaged so had to be returned. I'll have to wait for another one to be sent before I can fix that.

All progress on the white Spitfire has come to a halt at the moment as Karl was involved in a serious road accident and is still recovering. I'm not in a hurry for it at the moment though so I'll catch up with that project later. I did take part in the Club Triumph Round Britain Reliability Run in the end despite having to withdraw my own entry due to the Spitfire not being ready. Instead I went as co-driver in a Triumph Acclaim (yeah, I know it's made from Honda parts but it has a Triumph badge on it!). The run was hard work as usual but I'm glad I got the opportunity to take part. Thanks Caroline for inviting me to join your team.

The race car is still in the garage gathering dust. It's due out for its only competitive event of this year on the 25th October at the Birkett relay race. I'm looking forward to being able to get on the track again. I have now ordered a new trailer to transport the race car. It's a proper enclosed box trailer and should be pretty good. The trailer is currently being built (yes, I actually bought something new that doesn't need fixing as soon as I get it home!) and should be ready in time for me to use it for the Birkett weekend if there are no delays. The timings will be tight though as I'm hoping to collect the trailer on the Friday, bring it home, load the car and then go directly to Silverstone! The back up plan is to hire a trailer for that weekend from one of two local companies I've found but I'd rather avoid that expense if at all possible.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Ups and downs

Went to the CSCC meeting at Cadwell park at the weekend. The racing was good but someone ran into my van on the way there and caused some damage. Nothing major but annoying. It will get fixed though. I'm just waiting for the insurance company to approve a bodyshop estimate.

My old trailer has been sold now. The new owners collected it today. I need to start seriously looking at the options for a new one. I'm considering a covered box trailer which will be much more expensive than an open trailer but will provide somewhere out of the weather and reasonably secure to park the race car when it's at home. The only problem with that plan is finding something suitable at a reasonable price. I could build another brick garage for the cost of most of them!

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Of trailers, ball joints and wiring...

On Saturday I dragged the race trailer out from where it's been stood for the last four years to have a look at what state it was in. The van dragged it out no problem despite it having one flat tyre and two other wheels with the brakes seized on!

I changed the wheel with the flat tyre for the spare which has a tyre that is unused but of unknown age. The flat one had obviously been like that for ages as the rubber has some serious cracks in it. All the other tyres were still holding air which seemed like a good sign. I was surprised when the wheel nuts came off easily too although it looks like they weren't properly tightened in the first place!

I freed off the seized brakes with the aid of a large hammer and it actually seems to be in remarkably good shape overall. Even the lights worked when I tried them although I found a wiring fault that must have been there since before I bought the thing.

So it just needs new tyres, new brakes and a new load bed fitting! I've decided to sell it as-is and buy a new one though so it's now listed on eBay. There seems to be some interest so hopefully it will sell and I can work out what I want to replace it with.

I took the van over to Barry's house yesterday and we spent some time checking the wear in the front suspension and steering. It turns out that pretty much every component is well worn so I've just spent another load of money on parts. At this rate there won't be many original mechanical parts left before long!

The steering box also needs a rebuild however I know there is a spare one buried in the long grass and junk in my back garden. It's not in any better condition but at least it should mean I can get the spare rebuilt and swap them rather than having the van in pieces for ages again. I've arranged to go see a local engineer next week and work out what's needed to get the box in a useful state again. I'm just hoping it doesn't end up as another expensive job again.

Beyond that, I've started the long job of wiring the interior of the van. It's something of a daunting task as there's so much to do but hopefully if I do one circuit at a time and label everything as I go along it will all come together in the end.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Another "not much to report" update...

The van came back from having its gearbox fixed. Seems to be working well. An extra cooler has been fitted too for the transmission fluid as the specialist doing the work said the existing one wasn't large enough for towing. Heat is apparently the worst enemy of these automatic transmissions so extra cooling can't be a bad thing.

Having swept four years accumulated debris out of the carpet I took the van to Stafford Showground for the TSSC international meeting. It's much more civilised camping in a van instead of a tent! Especially when it rains as much as it did on the Saturday night.

I managed to buy a few bits and pieces whilst I was at Stafford. All for the van rather than any of the Triumph cars in the end. So my van now has a working lighter socket instead of a hole in the dashboard and modern electronic indicator relays in place of the old fashioned thermo-mechanical ones. The back doors were leaking again this week but I've had another go at sealing them with RTV. I thought I'd solved that problem before so lets hope I've got it this time.

The odometer on the van still doesn't work but I think I've now done the 500 miles which is my first running-in target. The only possibly problem I can see that may need attention soon is a few odd clunkings and other noises coming from the suspension/steering/wheel bearings. The best plan there will be to take it to the local garage and get them to check it over I think. I'm pretty sure there's nothing too seriously wrong.

All in all, not much else to report. Oh, I've also discovered that the headlights from a Triumph Acclaim HLS will fit the van. That means I might have a route to getting some decent halogen lights fitted as the current ones are poor at best.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Time for an Update

Still not much to report I'm afraid. The van has gone off to have it's leaky gearbox looked at. It was good to drive it again after so long and it behaved perfectly on the 40 mile drive to see the specialist that had been recommended to me. I've had a phone call today to confirm that having had a look at it, it really does need a full overhaul which was suspected in the first place. That means that the job will be quite expensive but it should last another 20 years once it's done.

Next job is to decide what to do with my old race car trailer. I'm planning on getting a new one once the van is back in action again but the old one is looking a little run down at the moment. It's been stood outside for four years and to make it usable again it will need all the brakes overhauling, new wood for the load deck and all new road lighting. The chassis and frame is sound although needs some attention with a wire brush and a can of paint. It's a 16 foot hydraulic tiltbed trailer so would have been expensive when new but it's far from new now. I don't know whether it's worth the effort and expense of restoring it to a good condition.

I went to a car show at Hebden Bridge last weekend. Took the racecar out for a run and entered it in the show for the afternoon. It was a good show, helped by the weather staying (mostly) fine and there were a few unusual cars there to look at. A few that spring to mind being Citroen AMI, DS and SM models, a pair of early Range Rovers and a Gilbern. Not often you find all those in the same place at the same time. Lots of other cars there too of course. It's an annual event and worth a look if you're in the area.

CSCC race meeting at Oulton Park this Saturday. Oulton Park is about as close as any race circuit is to me so I'm hoping to get over there for a look. The weather forecast is pretty dismal though so it looks like being a rather wet event.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Quiet here isn't it?

I was at Anglesey at the weekend for the CSCC race meeting. A great weekend with some good racing and even the weather turned out well after a rather damp start on Sunday.

Whilst I was there, Ian pointed out that I hadn't posted anything here recently. I replied that that was an accurate indication of exactly how much progress had been made on my various projects - precisely none!

Anyway, today I have booked my van an appointment to have its leaky transmission looked at although I can't actually get it taken in until August. At least its booked now, that must count as some kind of progress I guess!

In the meantime, here's a couple of pictures from Anglesey.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Water, water everywhere...

...except inside my van!

After a lot of work (and a lot of RTV sealant!) I think I may have finally stopped the leaks in my van. It has been leaking around the roof mounted lights and the rear door seals for years and damaging the interior trim. With any luck I can see about repairing and replacing some of the trim if the water is no longer finding its way inside.

Friday, 30 May 2008

Perfect timing

After I posted yesterday, I remembered that the ignition timing on the race car was set to 10 degrees BTDC. I'd tried advancing the idle setting previously to give greater advance at the higher revs I tend to be using on the track but it hadn't helped.

What struck me yesterday was that my previous attempts were before I replaced all the ignition components.

So today I went out and advanced the idle to 16 degrees BTDC and suddenly the car can rev to 7000 (eek!) I've just taken it up the road and it seems to be going really well. It's hard to use 6000 revs and over on the road without going deaf from the noise, also at high speed the car doesn't track in a straight line on bumpy roads due to it being so low and stiff so I can't get the full potential but I'm much happier that it's all working now. I was worried that I might get "pinking" lower in the rev range with the extra advance but that doesn't seem to be a problem.

So rather than a rolling road session, I might be able to spend the money on a test session on track sometime instead. The only planned job I have left on the race car now is to finish making the new air box I started some time ago. I have all the parts for it, I need to find an aluminium welder to do a bit of work before I can continue though. Someone I know tells me they in turn know a good aluminium fabricator so I'll have to get in touch with them.

Now I need to work on some way of getting the car to and from the track without having to drive it since it's not a particularly pleasant vehicle to drive on the road. Back to looking at the van then I guess!

Thursday, 29 May 2008


Tried the new carb. needles today and discovered that both options made the problem quite a bit worse rather than better. So I'm confused now since I wasn't expecting that. I've put the original needles back until I can come up with a better idea.

I think a rolling road tuning session may be the only answer to this.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Some success (I think)

Made a bit of progress on the race car. Last week I took advantage of a sale at Machine Mart to buy a hydraulic tube bender. That meant I could finally get on with fitting the drivers side door bar to the roll cage. The bar came with the cage when I first fitted it four years ago but needed bending to fit around the seat. It's now fitted and padded with the new padding that I also bought ages ago.

I also fitted solid spacers to the rocker shaft to replace the springs. These are supposed to give better location to the rockers but I'm not entirely convinced. Some of the rockers still seem to have a surprising amount of lateral movement in them. I don't think it will make it any worse though and the kit wasn't expensive so I'll see how it goes.

The new coil is finally fitted and working OK. I think the new ignition and distributor probably did make some difference after all since I realised that the misfiring is now higher in the rev range than before. Once the new coil was fitted, I took the car out on the road and it seems I now have a slightly different problem. The "hard" misfire at around 4500 revs has been replaced by a more gradual problem starting around 5500. After some experimentation I discovered that pulling the choke out a bit to make the mixture richer helps so it looks like I need some new carb. needles to give more fuel at high revs. I've ordered two different options from Burlen Fuel Systems so hopefully I can get this problem solved properly. I'm now thinking that I perhaps had two problems going on at the same time in the first place.

Since there's not much else I can do until the parts arrive, and work on the van has stalled, I'm off to Mallory Park to watch other people racing this weekend and catch up with some of the ex-TSSC championship Triumph crews.

Saturday, 10 May 2008

More problem tracing, and a show

I spent some time today trying to track down the "misfire at high revs" problem on the race car. I fitted an electronic ignition unit but it hasn't helped. It wouldn't fit properly in my distributor due to (I think) wear in the shaft so I used a brand new Lucas distributor body I'd had in the garage for a while.

I've tried a lot of things now so here's a list (more for my reference than anything)
  • Changed condenser (no change)
  • Changed points (and then changed back as the new ones were rubbish, but didn't alter the misfire anyway)
  • Tried a different coil (didn't help)
  • Made the mixture richer than normal (made things worse so I put it back)
  • Made the mixture leaner than normal (didn't help so I put it back)
  • Got rid of the points and condenser altogether by fitting a magnetronic system. This also meant fitting an entirely new distributor (still no change to the misfire)
  • Changed the main HT lead from the coil to the distributor (no change)
I'd like to try changing the coil again for a brand new one. I ordered one but unfortunately I've been sent the wrong part so it will have to be exchanged before I can try that. Otherwise I'm running out of ideas.

I also drained the oil catch tank today and was somewhat alarmed when almost a litre of bronze coloured water (or what appeared to be water) came out along with the expected small amount of white frothy oil/water mixture. I can only assume that it was a years worth of condensation as I hadn't drained the tank for ages. There did seem to be rather a lot of it though and it was a strange colour. I'll have to keep an eye on the tank and see if it starts to build up again.

In between all this, and trying to do some overtime for work, I went to the Bronte Vintage Gathering which takes place not far from here. Spent a couple of hours viewing an assortment of classic cars, tractors, commercial vehicles and steam traction engines. Also the obligatory stalls, mostly selling tat. I bumped into Dave M there showing off his Triumph Dolomite. Only took the one picture but there was quite a lot going on around the field. Filled some time anyway.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

A day on the track

Managed to get about 350 running-in miles on the racecar in the end, mostly touring around the Yorkshire dales. Using 97 octane "super unleaded" cured the pinking but not the high revs misfire. I Changed the oil and then went to the CT trackday at Cadwell Park on Tuesday.

We had a great day for hooning around the track which is probably my favourite UK circuit at the moment. I think everyone enjoyed themselves and no-one suffered any major problem (or at least no problem that couldn't be dealt with). I didn't take part in all the Triumph sessions so took the opportunity to take a few photographs too. Sadly I only had my pocket digital camera with me. I could have got some much better images with the big camera but then I was supposed to be there to drive!

Unfortunately my car was suffering from a misfire all day which limited my revs to between 2000 and 4500, in turn limiting my top speed somewhat. I spent most of the day trying to cure this problem but only managed to find ways to make it worse. When it was working, the car was going better then ever. It seems to have more power and torque than last year. I can only think that this is due to my having finally got the exhaust manifold to seal.

I've ordered a new coil and an electronic ignition module to eliminate the coil, points and condenser from the misfire problem. I already tried changing all these parts but I don't trust the quality of some of the modern components so I'm going to try the electronic route instead, at least for now. If that doesn't help, I'll have to go through the wiring and make sure there are no problems there.

I'm still waiting for some ATF for the van so no more progress there yet. I'd like to get that back on the road again before long.

Friday, 2 May 2008

MOT update

Car failed the MOT yesterday morning on two minor items. Rear brakes binding (my fault, I'd overdone the handbrake adjustment the previous evening) and indicators not flashing quickly enough. That latter one turned out to be the battery being flat combined with the alternator not generating the required voltage at idle as it was fitted with an extra-large pulley to stop it getting very very hot at high revs on the race track. I refitted the smaller one and it now runs a bit hot but it does charge the battery and the indicators work. Got the car back for its retest before the end of the day and it passed no problem that time.

It's now taxed for the next six months and I've done about 30 miles today as an initial test run and all seems fine. The only problems being that I'm now deaf (the racecar is very noisy inside) and it's misfiring above 4500 revs under load but I suspect that may have a lot to do with the fact that I'm running it on 95 octane fuel as an experiment and it may be "pinking". I think I may need to go back to the more expensive variety of fuel. I may try fiddling with the ignition timing as well to see if that helps in the meantime.

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Polishing (shock! horror!)

The race car is now running. MOT booked for first thing tomorrow. I've checked everything I can think of and I can't see any reason it wouldn't pass except possibly emissions as it's set up for the track and runs a bit rich at idle. That can be easily sorted if it turns out to be a problem.

I even found the time to give the car a wash and polish. Yeah, I know, polishing is a dirty word in some circles but it's kind of an annual event with this car and it at least allowed me to remove all the marks from last season. Soft sticky race tyres tend to fire bits of rubber at the bodywork all the time and the car ends up covered in small black marks.

Anyway, if the MOT is OK, it's down to some road testing and putting in some running-in miles.

Monday, 28 April 2008


On Saturday, with the help of my Dad, the rebuilt engine went back into the car. We fully expected that rain would stop play and we wouldn't get much done but it turned out to be a great day and the whole thing was back together by the time it got dark.

The hardest part turned out to be tying to fit the new shiny polished stainless exhaust manifold I'd bought from Moss. After struggling with it for a while I realised it was just not made correctly. It has several problems that cause it to not even come close to fitting so that will be going back tomorrow. I still had the old one around so that's been refitted now. I now know why the old exhaust kept blowing at the manifold joint, the flange isn't flat so it won't seal correctly. Apparently that one wasn't made right either although it's better than the new one. Ten out of ten for bling but zero for engineering I'm afraid.

I haven't finished making the new airbox for the racecar but it's well on the way. I've fitted my old K&N bolt-on filters for now to get the car running. I managed to get the engine started earlier today but for some reason it's not getting any oil up to the cylinder head and rocker shaft. There's plenty of pressure at the bottom end but no oil at all at the top. I even removed the blanking bolt from the end of the oilway in the head with the engine running (and the rockers lubricated manually) and there's no oil at all. No idea what's going on there. The cylinder head was stripped down and cleaned as part of the rebuild so there shouldn't be anything lurking around in the oil passages to cause a blockage.

Anyway, that's the story so far. I have some time off work this week so I'm still hopeful of being able to sort this one out in time to get an MOT and do some running-in miles before the track day next week. Time is passing rather too quickly though. Oh, and we have lots of rain forecast for the rest of the week which may make it rather difficult to be working outside.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Tip of the day

Todays candidate for "best thing I bought for the car" is a micron oil filter from Moss. It's a direct replacement for the standard GFE150 part but has part number GFE24 instead (and is twice the cost)

I had one of these fitted to the race engine last season due to the normal part being out of stock at the time and today I've just visited the engine builder who has pulled the engine apart after a seasons racing. The oil is very clean, almost new looking and the big end bearings are hardly worn. I know I don't do many actual miles in this car but those I do are on the circuit and the engine gets thrashed. Triumph 1500cc engines aren't supposed to rev regularly to over 6000rpm (getting on for 7000 on occasion) and I'm very impressed with the complete lack of gritty stuff in the sump. Chris the engine builder remarked on it too.

So I've just ordered two more of these for this season (one for running in and another for running after that). They seem to "do exactly what it says on the tin" and keep the crud in the filter and not circulating round the engine.

On a related note, when I originally drained the oil before removing the engine from the car, there was the remains of a broken split pin attached to the magnetic sump plug. It turns out that it came from the front of the rocker shaft and must have broken off and dropped out at some point. There's a bit of the casting broken from the rear rocker pedestal too so it looks like the rocker assembly has had a hard time. Both problems are easily fixed though fortunately.

The van came back from the local garage today with a nice shiny new exhaust fitted. In the end it proved too difficult to make up the necessary custom pipe so the garage have removed the internals from the old damaged catalytic converter and just put the empty casing back in place to join up the system. Seems to work well and it might be just my imagination but it felt more lively on the way back from the garage as though the old exhaust was perhaps partially blocked. That's not too unlikely in fact as the cat was damaged and the rest of the system was rusty and full of soot from the old engine burning huge amounts of oil before I took it off the road.

It's hard to properly see any improvement on the 1 mile drive from the garage in traffic though! If I can sort out this gearbox fluid leak I'll give it a proper test sometime.

I had a fun time last weekend touring the Dales and sorting out some more of the route for the CT "Dales Bramble" along with Caroline and Paul. I think we have a more-or-less complete route now and it should be a good event later in the year. This weekend's job is still planned to be fitting the new race engine in the car, assuming it's back together in time. Currently it's expected to be finished on Friday in time for me to collect it.

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Some real progress

I feel like I've made some significant progress this week.

I sorted out the spare wheel problem on the van by buying a new tyre of the correct size. Whilst it was apart I took the opportunity to get the wheel itself blast cleaned and powder coated. It looks like new now. I've just ordered a new spare wheel cover to fit the larger tyre so that should be one problem I don't have to worry about any more.

I also decided that the van exhaust replacement wasn't something I wanted to tackle on my own so I've dropped the van off at a local garage today to let them try and fabricate the odd shaped length of pipe that's needed to replace the cat and make it all join up.

Unfortunately it seems that the auto transmission on the van is leaking fluid from the rear of the housing. That's a job I was really hoping didn't need doing. I knew there was a slight weep from there but it looks like it's worse than I thought. I've read that the rear oil seal can be replaced without having to remove the entire gearbox so some further research is needed to see whether that is a feasible option.

Since the rain has held off today for the first time in what seems like weeks, I spent the day replacing all the brake pads and shoes on the race car (see the attached photo, maybe I should check them a bit sooner next time!). A new set of race tyres arrived last week so they are now fitted too. I also got the new exhaust system out of its box and worked out how that all fits together and changed the oil in the gearbox so I'm reasonably confident that once the engine comes back I'll have a complete kit of everything that's needed to put the car back together again. With any luck that is next weekend's task. I'll go catch up with the engine builder on Monday and see whether it looks like the simple job we were anticipating or whether he's found anything nasty. Here's hoping for that one to go to plan!

By the way, a blue Triumph Acclaim drove past whilst I was outside earlier. Was that you "Toledo Man" or is there another one in the area?

Tomorrow I'm meeting some people to try out a possible route for part of the CT "Dales Bramble" which takes place in June. That should make a change from all this mechanical stuff anyway.

EDIT: Hey, I finally managed to work out how to get my blog to work in UK time. The incorrect timestamps had been irritating me for ages!

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Tram lines

Spent the day at Crich Tramway Village today. They were having a standard Triumph marque day in addition to their normal exhibits including the working trams. It was raining heavily when we set off from Bradford with a small convoy of Triumph cars (and one Citroen - Sorry about that!) but the weather cleared up by the time we got there and we all had quite a pleasant day. Here's a bunch of photographs of the goings-on.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

...and now for something completely different...

At the meeting on Friday I managed to get myself invited to "Uncle Jack's Run" today (Sunday). This turns out to be a gentle potter through some nice scenery with a few nice classic cars. Sadly I don't have a working classic car so I had to take the Citroen AX but it was still fun. We finished up at Castle Howard in North Yorkshire. I took a couple of pictures so this blog now officially has illustrations to go with my ramblings. If this works, I'll try and take more pictures of stuff as I go along.

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Running In

Some good news at last. I managed to pick up some ATF and putting that in the transmission seems to have sorted the gear selection problems. I took the van to the Pendle and Pennine CT meeting on Friday, stayed there overnight and then spent some time today driving around. I reckon I probably managed to do at least 60 miles and apart from the windscreen wipers stopping at a rather inconvenient time on Friday everything seems to be OK, so far at least. I've no idea what was wrong with the wipers but when I started the van again this morning they were working fine so I'll have to leave that puzzle for later.

I collected most of an exhaust system along with the ATF so I'll have to start looking into how to make that fit soon. I plan to remove the (damaged) catalytic converter so I need to work out how to join the standard front and back sections with something custom made in the middle. The rusted hole in the existing muffler isn't too serious yet so I have a little time to think this one through.

Hopefully I'll remember to order the new spare tyre during next week too. I'm also planning to go see the engine builder about my race engine and try and find out whether it will be ready for me to fit back in the car in time to get an entry in for the CT track day at Cadwell Park next month. Come to think of it I need to find out what's happened to the new fuel tank I ordered as well. That should have been here by now.

Monday, 31 March 2008

Fed up

I changed the oil in the van again and put some good quality Millers Running-in Oil in and when I started it up, the tapping noise gradually faded away. Hurray!

I also finished wiring the rear fog and reversing lights and tested all the towbar wiring I fitted last week. There's still the heater control cable to fix (it broke last week whilst I was out driving) but I'm ignoring that for now.

So this weekend I spent an hour in the sunshine fitting the new front fog lights and driving lights that have been in a box here for over three years. I still have to wire them in but I need to work out a location for a fuse box and some relays first.

That left me half a day to go put some miles on the engine and get some serious running-in done. At least that was the plan. In fact I drove about 40 feet (the distance from where the van was parked onto the road) before it was obvious that something was wrong with the transmission. The (auto) gearbox wasn't engaging properly. It seemed to get a bit better as the engine warmed up whilst I was investigating but I ended up parking the van again as the fluid level was obviously low and that's a bad thing for an auto. box.

I'm sure the fluid level was fine when I checked it last week and there's no evidence of a leak so I don't know where it's gone. It's had a whole (US) gallon since I drained it and changed the filter. I'm hoping it's just that the level is a little low and it didn't like starting from cold. Unfortunately the ATF for this gearbox is not available from the average car parts shop in this country so I'll have to buy some from a specialist.

Whilst I was underneath looking for leaks I noticed that the exhaust silencer has rusted through and now has a hole in it so I may have to replace the exhaust sooner than I was intending too. I knew it needed doing but I was hoping it would last until I'd got the engine run in and the van fully back on the road. Yet another thing for the growing list of "things that need fixing on the van".

On the matter of the spare wheel, I've decided there's no option but to fit the correct size tyre and sort out the cover later. That'll be more expense then!

Oh, and the left exhaust manifold is leaking coolant again. I'm really fed up with things going wrong now, it's about time the list of things to do started getting shorter, not longer.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Good for a while...

Easter long weekend. A chance to get some things done without inconveniences like work interrupting...

On Friday I spent the day putting the van engine back together. Having started to refit the first exhaust manifold, the bonnet release broke so that had to be fixed before I could continue. Fortunately I discovered that it is possible to release the bonnet from inside the van with the aid of a long length of 20mm square timber! The manifolds went back on more easily than I was expecting although it still took the whole day and the left manifold still contacted on the heatshield which then had to be adjusted as well. I also noticed that the retaining spring for the spare wheel cover had rusted through so I've had to remove the cover for now. I really must look into getting a new spare tyre too as the current one is over three inches smaller in diameter than the road wheels. I need to work out what size is best since a 235/75 like the road wheels won't fit into the spare wheel cover but the 205/65 that's currently the spare is tiny by comparison.

Anyway, by the end of the day the van was finally running again and didn't appear to be leaking any vital fluids. I re-torqued the cylinder heads whilst the manifolds were off and I guess the coolant leak must have been coming from the head gasket joint. On Saturday I tidied up some bits and pieces and started to put some running-in miles on the engine. Apart from a dislike for going up particularly steep hills, the van ran pretty well and I gradually got braver and went further from home! A run down a dual carriageway to see what happened at more than 50mph and all seemed great. Later in the day I went to visit a friend and whilst waiting at the last junction a few yards from their driveway, the oil pressure dropped to zero! This actually happened just as the lights changed and I was about to set off and the increased revs as I pulled away seemed to provide oil pressure again.

After some head scratching, we came to the conclusion that the oil dipstick is too long and is giving an incorrect reading which meant I didn't have enough oil in the sump. This was backed up by draining the oil which gave rather less than 4 litres in the drain can. We refilled with 5 litres of oil and everything was fine afterwards so it seemed that no harm was done. I drove home without further incident and in fact the van seemed to be running better than ever, presumably the new engine is starting to bed in already.

Then on Sunday I started the van in order to move it to do some work on the towbar electrics and there was a distinct tapping sound from the engine. I've not been able to localise this sound but I'm guessing that one of the hydraulic lifters is sticking. I'm hoping it's nothing more serious and I'm also hoping it can be cured without having to dismantle anything as getting to the lifters means stripping down all the top of the engine and I have neither the time nor the enthusiasm to start that job again. I'll try changing the oil again and swap the cheap supermarket stuff we put in at the weekend for some decent branded oil. It had good stuff in to start with but we only had the cheap stuff to hand to get me home the other day.

I really hope nothing is damaged as I'm very fed up with one thing after another going wrong with this project.

On a slightly more positive note, I did finish wiring the towbar and also fitted (but haven't yet wired) the new rear fog lights and reversing lights which is a small step forward. Not much use if the engine isn't working properly though :-(

Monday, 10 March 2008

One step forward and two back

Fired up the van again at the weekend. I thought I'd have a look at a small water leak from the back of the left hand exhaust manifold. The mounting studs for the manifold go right through the water jacket on this engine so if they don't seal correctly, it's easy to have leaks.

After messing around with the stud for a while it was obviously damaged beyond use so I stuck an appropriately sized bolt in for now just to see if it cured the leak. When I had a look underneath, it wasn't dripping from where it had been before but there was rather a lot of water running down the side of the block. It seems I have more than just a little problem. I'm sure it wasn't that bad before so I don't know where it's all escaping from.

Also I thought I could see a few tiny bubbles in the water where it was flowing over the head gasket joint. Since I'm going to have to remove the exhaust manifold to try and track down this coolant leak I can look at re-torquing the head as well. The head bolts are helpfully located right behind the exhaust manifold and directly under the rocker shaft so it all has to come apart to get at them. Time to order some new exhaust manifold gaskets as well whilst I'm at it I suppose.

Beginning to wonder what I have to do to get this van back on the road!

Some good news however in that the much-delayed work to get the engine out of the race car finally took place at the weekend too so I've delivered the engine to my local engine builder to have its bearings replaced and a general check over before refitting it.

I've also just ordered the new eight gallon fuel tank I'm going to need for the longer races this season. Eight gallons is probably somewhat more than I'll actually need for a 40 minute race but I don't have to fill it to the top and it should mean I never have to upgrade again.

Plans to fit an electric water pump to the car are currently on hold since I need to get the engine back in first in order to work out how to mount the pump and how to get the plumbing to work. I already bought the pump so I'll probably look into getting that fitted later in the season.

Monday, 3 March 2008

A sound I've not heard for a long time...

...the rumble of the V8 in my van. I eventually got it started at the weekend. After much head scratching and going through the entire ignition system testing for faults, in the end a good dose of "easystart" was what it really needed!

It remains to be seen of course whether it will start again from cold next time or whether there's still something wrong with it but I did a few laps of the housing estate to test it out. I think the linkage between the throttle pedal and the automatic gearbox needs a bit of adjustment but it seems to drive fairly well at least for the very short distance and low speeds I've done so far.

Next thing will be to take it a little further afield and see whether it can cope with hills and speeds above 30mph, which were a problem for it back in October when it had it's MOT test.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

More actual progress (yes, really!)

I finally figured out a way to lift the very heavy and awkward inlet manifold onto the V8 at the weekend. So the job I abandoned before Christmas has finally moved on again. In the end I dug out a couple of short lengths of chain from the garage and bolted them across some convenient fittings on the top of the manifold to form "handles" so I could actually lift the thing. I still have no idea how I managed to get it fitted the first time around.

I spent most of Sunday scraping off old gaskets and then refitting the new ones. Hopefully they're the correct ones this time, they're definitely different to the ones I used last time. I also used copious amounts of RTV sealant to try and make sure they don't leak. Normally I try and avoid using gasket sealant but the manuals all recommend applying some to these inlet manifold gaskets so I have.

The throttle body looked like it should have a gasket under it too but they don't seem to be available. I've made some up using gasket paper. I've never tried making my own gaskets before so I'll just have to hope they work.

Since the weekend I've made a start on reconnecting all the plumbing and wiring that goes with this engine. I found a large (and entirely uninsulated) bodge in the wiring that connects the ECU to the various sensors on the engine and one wire hanging on by the last couple of threads of copper. A little work with the soldering iron sorted that one out. The result doesn't look very pretty but it can't be seen anyway once everything's back in place and it should work fine.

I've also removed the EGR valve and blanked off the fitting. Who needs exhaust gases piping back into the inlet and weakening the mixture anyway? More than one person I've spoken to recommended this as a way to avoid possible problems. The van originally had a full complement of 1990 US-spec emissions control gear which is slowly being stripped away as things break and don't get replaced. The UK regulations don't require anything like the same level of emissions control and it's not entirely clear how much difference is made by some of the parts on there anyway. With any luck the removal of some of these parts will also result in a little more power output from the engine by the time I've finished.

I'm hoping to get all the various pipes and wires reconnected by the end of this week so I can see about trying to start it up again at the weekend. Here's hoping for some decent weather so I can continue working on it.

Not much more progress on the race car yet. A few parts have arrived ready for the pre-season rebuild and I did spend a few minutes bashing the dent out of the rear valence (only taken me three years to get around to that job!) but the next real job is still to remove the engine.

Monday, 18 February 2008

Clunk -click, click, click, click

Finally got around to upgrading the four-point harness in the racecar to a full six-point one at the weekend. The four-point one tended to lift the buckle when I tightened the shoulder straps which made it uncomfortable. Having the extra straps should prevent that. I actually bought the add on kit last year but never got around to fitting it. In the end it was easier than I thought it might be. I think I spent longer trying to get the adjustment right afterwards than I did actually fitting it.

I was hoping to get the engine lifted out too but I needed an extra pair of hands so that one will have to wait for another weekend.

That's about it for now. More of my pointless ramblings in a week or two!

Monday, 11 February 2008

Spring cleaning

It must be spring. I've actually made some progress on things so something certainly changed.

Unfortunately I was working part of the weekend so couldn't make the most of the proper spring-like weather we had. I did have Sunday afternoon free though and spent it dismantling the race car, removing all the ancillaries from the engine and getting ready to lift it out. It will need new bearings at least after last season's racing. Once I get it over to the engine builders we will find out whether it needs anything else doing as well.

The big news this week is that I've had a clear out and sold my Ford Transit recovery truck. It's kept me on the road for the last three years moving the race car around but it had to go to help fund all the work I need to do on the other vehicles. In particular the van and trailer that I intend to use for the race meetings in future. The Transit was starting to deteriorate (read "rust") and was at the point where it needed salvaging before it became too bad. Anyway, the new owner seems quite pleased with it and collected it today. The front of my house might actually look quite respectable soon what with the engine no longer hanging out of the van and no rusty transit clogging up the road outside!

I also dropped off the frames we made two weekends ago to be powder coated so I might be able to start on the interior of the van too once I've got them back next week.

It's only February though. I'm looking forward to the real spring and summer already.

Monday, 28 January 2008

Workshop Weekend

Not much to report actually.

Spent an interesting Saturday welding up some steel box to form the frames to support some of the interior of the van. Many thanks to Paul for his assistance and the use of the workshop. I'd never have got all that done in a day on my own. A pity we managed to weld two of the mounting brackets on incorrectly but that can be easily sorted out!

No progress on anything else, real life keeps getting in the way. I can't progress with the van engine until the gaskets I ordered turn up and they're on back order from the USA.

I did talk to Karl Dandridge the other day and decided what work needs doing on the white Spitfire so that's a step forwards I guess.

Monday, 21 January 2008

A quick update

About brief update on what's been happening since the last time I wrote anything then (which was 3rd October 2006 apparently!)

Well another seasons racing has come and gone. Much fun was had, no mishaps worth mentioning and every race completed. Not much more to add to that really. The race car is now in the garage waiting for the annual pull-the-engine-out-and-replace-the-bearings effort. I have a few plans for modifications over the winter although I need to save up some money before I get too involved. More on those plans later.

The white Spitfire completed the 2006 Round Britain Reliability Run without any problems at all. It hasn't moved much since however as rust is getting the better of parts of the bodywork. Currently this car is residing in Karl Dandridge's workshop near Coventry awaiting some much needed attention.

I did get the van engine sorted out in the end and it worked long enough to drive it to the local garage for an MOT. There's a major lack of power though and it won't do more than 30mph on a flat road (and hills are impossible) so it's currently in bits again whilst I try and track down a suspected air leak causing a very lean mixture. Unfortunately the winter weather has put a stop to that job temporarily so I've been trying to get together all the necessary parts for the interior work that will need doing once the mechanical bits are sorted out properly. I have many plans for this, mostly involving complicated electronic devices...

Oh, and the Transit recovery truck is up for sale now too.

I think that about covers the update of the fleet. Hopefully now the blog is back up I can post more regular updates as I go along (I know, I said that before!)

Saturday, 19 January 2008

A new beginning...

OK, it's about time I started a new blog to replace my old one that was hosted on a server that got hacked way too much. This one should fare a little better I think.

I'll see if I can archive the old postings somewhere. Not that I expect anyone to actually want to read them but I never throw anything away...

Well, I'm back. I'll suppose I'd better go away and think up something to write about now!