2001

December 25th

After a visit from Santa I discover ... a jigsaw. Well spotted by my daughter.

December 11th - farewell to the Mini

Not Bee or Vee but an LBC none the less. My Mum has decided to give up driving and I sold her Mini for her. Owned by her from new since January 1973 (unfortunately missing the free road tax by a matter of days) and only done 54k - barely run in. Was good condition outside and pretty-well immaculate inside. Got all bills and receipts including the original bill of sale, sadly she didn't know she should have kept all the old MOTs and tax discs and I didn't know she wasn't. She's also passing on a book of unused petrol coupons from the early 70s when either tanker driver strikes or revolting Arabs threatened petrol supplies. Got 500 for it which considering she only paid 700 isn't bad, 7 depreciation per year! Buyer has a small business restoring Minis and plans to use it himself for a time, glad it will carry on for a while yet.

October.

Not one but two pictures of Bee in the MG Owners mag this month.

September 8/9/10 - Bath to Bournemouth and The New Forest.

Flagged off from Victoria Park Out of the single-track lanes at last Interviewed at Bournemouth Mainly pleasant run down to Bath and overnight stop in the middle of nowhere. How's this for official logic? We park in a line of cars in Bath's Victoria Park. I notice we are on a single yellow line, but parking bays are also marked. Ask a traffic warden where the Pay and Display machine is and he points one out but says "You can't park here it has a yellow line." I point out the parking bays and he says "That's why we can't enforce the yellow line." I ask if I should get a ticket and he says "There's no point, we can't do you for parking here because you can still see the parking bays, and we can't do you for not having a ticket because it isn't an official parking space!"

Rather too much mileage in the first half through incredibly narrow single-track roads, my idea of an enjoyable run is not 15 cars in convoy at 10mph getting sworn at by the locals. Second half through Dorsetshire villages much more pleasant. Bit of a shock at Bournemouth to suddenly find ourselves in the midst of a crowd of a couple of hundred onlookers being interviewed. Overnight stop at The Forest Park hotel in Brockenhurst in the heart of the New Forest very enjoyable as always, uneventful drive home.

That's the last of the organised runs and overnighters for this season, just the occasional Sunday morning to get the paper - weather permitting. Because of the number of overnighters we had planned for this year I bought a cockpit cover, as with the best will (and hood) in the world Bee isn't water-tight. The result? Five organised runs and 14 nights parked in the open air and it doesn't rain once - Sod's Law reigns. In fact the only rain we had all year was on the way back from Scotland.

All-in-all a much more successful year - 3800 miles in Bee and 1200 miles to Le Mans and back in Vee.

August 25th - The Vintage Vine and Cider Chase

Lovely day - temps in the 80s and sun nearly all the way, still in T-shirts when we got back home at about 7pm after 220 miles. Obligatory flagon of Old Rosie (scrumpy cider) from Westons. 30 cars of various types on the run, including a LHD TD - and I thought the ZR had cramped pedals!

Fuel gauge started playing up on the way home, didn't take long before I realised it was the usual problem - broken sender resistance wire between 1/4 and 1/2. Had to change Vee's in February, and that was after having to replace both when I first bought the cars.

August - The 'pointless' fuel pump has got to go.

Vee's fuel pump is now playing up on a regular basis. It is the Hall-effect type that was on the car when I bought it over six years ago - supposedly more reliable! I refurbished the points on Bee's pump when I had to change that by the roadside in 1999 and have been carrying it as a spare in Vee for some time. The symptom is always the same - turn on the ignition and I can hear the pump click once as the solenoid energises, but that's it. I have to switch the ignition on and off several times and then it suddenly chatters into life, and all is well until a few days later. Once started it seems to keep going throughout even a long journey. All came apart very easily, and because Vee has the pump up high in front of the tank only a relatively small amount of fuel siphoned out. Went back together OK, but the flexible hoses are a bit manky and the fibre washers needed pulling up a bit to seal. I should have ordered the washers beforehand but didn't, so for peace of mind I'll have to do it again with new hoses and washers. Bee's pump has the earth terminal on the body, but there is a handy earth wire tied up in the harness - must be from the original pump. Some years ago I found a length of tubing that wasn't connected to anything and removed it, but as is my wont I hadn't thrown it away and it was just right for the diaphragm vent pipe on this pump - again must have been used on Vee's original pump. I now have the opportunity to see if I can work out what is wrong with Vees Hall-effect pump.

July - Test drive the MG ZS 180

Just got back from a test drive of the ZS 180 in full canary (Trophy) yellow - brilliant (drive and colour)! Very tractable in traffic, pulls well from low down, a bit of a snarl (a bit muted after the V8, perhaps) when you put your foot down, and a smooth delivery of power. Really sharp steering and powerful brakes, very flat although comfortable drive over 'normal' tarmac surfaces, you can only feel the stiffness of the suspension over bad surfaces. Mind you, having only driven two 25-year-old cars for the last six years comparisons with its competitors are probably not my strongest suit. It really looks the part - although maybe that boot spoiler is a tad over the top - and fantastic value. Sat in the ZR but the pedal positioning really is poor (no worse than the 25 though). The clutch pedal is strangely 1/2" to 1" higher than the brake in all three cars making it a bit of a stretch with my aging ankles to move foot from rest to pedal while keeping the heel on the floor. Heel-and-toe is easy - although not so much 'heel' as opposite sides of the ball of the foot. I consider the 45 to be the most boring of the Rover variants, but how different the ZS is!

Move over (now where have I heard that before?) Corrado VR6 and make room for the ZS. All I have to do now is convince the Navigator.

July - Local classic meet

Finally got to the local classic meet just up the road at the Royal Oak, Hockley Heath. First Tuesday evening (in summer, first Sunday lunchtime in winter) each month. Nothing organised except a couple of marshals to help with the parking - and they certainly needed them this time on such a warm and sunny evening. The place was completely packed out (over 300 cars I heard later) - everything from someone's pride and joy of a rusty Hillman Hunter up to some real exotics like De Tomaso, Bentley and Rolls ancient and modern, Yank tanks, motor bikes and scooters.

June - Scottish Highlands

Hotel at Bowness on Windermere Crystal-clear air
deep blue sky
and waters of Loch Lomond like a mirror Trotternish peninsular
Isle of Skye Little ferry at Kylerhea
Isle of Skye Kyle of Lochalsh with the Skye bridge in the background Sunlit Castle Urquhart with a brooding Loch Ness behind Wild-flower meadow from Crathie Church
Balmoral 'Pack-horse Bridge' at Carrbridge
Cairngorms
Fairwinds Hotel highly recommended Glamis Castle
Angus
child-hood home of Queen Elizabeth
The Queen Mother
Me and the Navigator in the roadster for an overnight in the Lake District (Hardknott, Wrynose and Kirkstone passes) then up to Bannockburn and Loch Lomond. Two nights at Kyle of Lochalsh (met Tony and Denise Pawson of Chesterfield Group) with a day on Skye in between. Then up Bealach na Baa (said to be the most spectacular mountain pass in the British Isles) to terrify the Navigator (the drop was her side) - doubly so when she realised we were coming back the same way! Couple of nights near the Cairngorms rubber-necking Royal residences then an overnight at Gretna (the romance isn't dead) on the way home. Took the scenic route south - the Navigator gave me a bit of a hard time when she spotted the "Shap Summit 5 miles" sign, but it was a mere trifle after what had gone before. Great weather (no rain till the run south round Edinburgh) superb scenery (Scottish mountains may not be that high on the map, but many of them rise straight up from sea-level), loads of wild-life (Osprey and Heron nesting, Peregrine falcon, Buzzards, woodpeckers, wild red deer in the hotel grounds, red squirrel, seals in Kyle of Lochalsh), some comfortable hotels and great food. Other than the running-on and pinking, 1600 trouble-free miles.

Suspected we wouldn't find much Super Unleaded so I took a bottle of Castrol Valvemaster with octane booster. We didn't - and the pinking and running-on was far worse than I had ever experienced with 4-star leaded, LRP, Super Unleaded with unboosted Valvemaster, or even standard Unleaded with unboosted Valvemaster. I had to retard the ignition by a couple of degrees which sapped power and raised the running temp but did nothing for the running-on, so I had to resort to stalling it in 4th. Par for the course, you might say, but I had just fitted the MGOC anti-runon valve! Click here for the saga of the anti-runon valve.

June - Le Mans


In the V8 (solo, Le Mans is not the Navigators cup of tea) this time, with Neil and his lady in his. Hold-ups on the M1 (1 hour), M25 (15 mins) and M2 (20 mins) in warm weather down to Dover - V8 cooking nicely. Diabolical overnight stop in Dover (sorry, Neil and Sonia) about which the least said the better. Good run down to our Friday night hotel in the company of a couple of Ferrari's, several Porche, a TVR Tuscan, Lotus Elise, E-type and others (made a nice display up the hotel drive). You know about the weather and MG result at the race, but the experience was brilliant and I enjoyed every minute of it. Run back to Calais/Dover Sunday night, I have a (decent) hotel, but Neil and Sonia have to drive all the way back to Holyhead to catch the Monday morning ferry. 1200 trouble-free miles.

May - Ireland

Neil
Sonia and Jen the Navigator at Killary Harbour
Connemara Tranquility of Kylemore Abbey Impossibly blue sky and sea and white sands of beaches near Clifden Spectacular Cliffs of Moher Clonmacnoise on the Shannon Lunch break on a glorious day
Brilliant six days spent driving Bee through mid-Wales and Snowdonia, in Ireland with the MGOC, and an extra day with a V8 mate (Neil Cotty) in Dublin. Fine weather all the way. Neil's brake servo is sticking on so we remove and plug it. Get to drive Neils tweaked V8 in Dublin - pretty impressive, although I have never experienced traffic like that in Dublin. Surprised to find I hardly notice the lack of brake servo. You gotta love the Irish - Neil warned me on arrival that if I saw a young person on their own in an old car bearing 'L'-plates they had probably failed their driving test at least twice. "How so?", I asked. "Because they have to be accompanied before their first test, and if they fail that. But if they fail their second test as well they are then legally allowed to drive unaccompanied!" 890 trouble-free miles.

April 14th - The Wyedean Heritage Tour

The first organised run of the season, and a dry one. Around 80 miles through the Wye Valley and Forest of Dean in the company of 21 other classics of various types, plus another 150 or so to get to the start and home again. The Dean Heritage Centre was a first for us, and whilst wandering around the exhibits we came across a photograph and account of a garage and coach company in the early part of the century based in Hereford. Nothing particularly strange about that, but the owner was named Munn, and the ancestors of my Father-in-Law Harry Munn came from Hereford. Had quite a leisurely run round and got to the Finish in nice time for the buffet - or so we thought! Arrived to find the gannets had been and there were only a couple of pulled-about sandwiches left.

April - Bad News and Good News

The bad news is that the Kimber Run has been postponed because Chatsworth House (the start and finish for the run) is closed because of Foot and Mouth. Postponed to September, where it clashes with the Bath to Bournemouth that was postponed from last year due to the petrol crisis! Oh well, this is probably the first of many cancellations, and after last year's paltry 1500 miles or so we were planning a lot more trips this year.

The good news is that I win 20 in the

March

Taking an extended break from work - far too much else to do. Bee needs a new left rear wing 1/4 panel. The current panel was on the car when I bought her - if I knew then what I know now I would have replaced it as a matter of course (the other side was perforated anyway). Still, it's the first bodywork in 11 years. Even though Bee is mainly a summer car, she still gets wet plenty of times. Also replaced one of the chassis outriggers - it had been done by a PO but was beginning to crumble again.

Also finally got round to sorting out the wear in Bee's clutch pedal, clevis pin and m/c push rod which was making the clutch engage noticeably nearer the floor than on Vee. Measuring the wear I found I was losing over 1/2" of travel. I replaced the push-rod and clevis pin, and opted to fill the worn part of the hole on the pedal with weld and file it out again. Only took a couple of hours and it has made a worth-while difference.

Vee had new tubular manifolds recently but one of them was blowing slightly so I got some new gaskets. The manifolds on Vee have always been a pain - the old ones kept cracking and the down-pipes worked their way off. They also seemed slightly too small in that I could not get all the bolts in easily without drilling and filing out some of the holes. The new manifolds fitted just fine originally - but again need drilling out to refit them. Amazing. They must 'shrink' in use. Also fitted the Smartscreen intermittent wiper control to make driving in our drizzle a bit less of a hassle. With any luck we will get a dry summer. Vee also had the tank transmitter fail just a couple of days before the Stoneleigh Spares Show - convenient or what? Same as before, dropped steadily from full to about 1/4 tank then suddenly went off all together. Swapped the unit OK - broken turn in the resistive element in the old unit. The new unit seems to be calibrated significantly different to the last one (which itself was significantly different to the one before that several years previously. Oh well, back to recalibrating the gauge!

February

Late last year I had noticed that Bee would cut out very briefly very occasionally, not on every run, but increasingly so. Also noticed the tach cutting out at the same time - aha, coil! Over the winter the weather has been so poor (if not frost i.e. salt then just plain wet) I have been running the engine for 20 minutes or so about once per month and the last two times the engine died when up to temp. Bought and fitted a new coil, no time yet to see if it does the trick. (May: it did.)