2006

All that remains now is to try (again!) to find if it is something in the valve gear that is causing the tapping when hot in Vee, investigate/replace her big-ends, investigate/repair/modify the (again!) blowing left-hand exhaust manifold, and drop Bee's chrome wheels off at the wheel repairer to have all the spokes replaced with stainless. For five or six years I had no breakages, then maybe one a year, then regularly one a year, and now it tends to be two a year. It's got a bit expensive and time-consuming doing it in penny-numbers, by all accounts stainless spokes don't suffer from the same problem, which is either caused by a hardening process from the chroming, or the chrome being so hard cracks first then that precipitates sympathetic cracking in the underlying steel.

November 1st, Westonbirt Arboretum

A beautiful autumn day we had been meaning to get to Westonbirt Arboretum for a number of years to see the autumn colour particularly the Acers, so a sudden decision to jump into Vee with a picnic and whiz down the M5. There are two main areas - the Old Arboretum to the right of the buildings as you drive in, and Silk Wood to the left. The Old Arboretum looks the more interesting on the little maps that are available that of Silk Wood making it look like serried ranks of trees as in a conifer plantation. But don't be deceived! Silk Wood is wilder and very varied, with many spectacular trees of its own. There are more paths in the Old Arboretum, but the sign-posting isn't very good, and if anything the map makes things even more confusing, albeit fun wandering round! But enough of that, a fabulous day.

October 29th, Classic Car Show, NEC

Decided to pay another visit as I hadn't been for several years. All seemed a bit low key, pretty-well all the cars were bread-and-butter classics, no Bugattis, and precious few MGs, compared to earlier years. A large proportion of the space was taken up with marque and club stands, each of which was of interest to relatively few people I'd say. Of the rest it was divided into tool sellers book sellers and brochure sellers each selling much the same things as the others. Very little auto-jumble or marque spares, I did pickup a Gunsons analogue auto test meter (my third, let's hope this one lasts a bit longer than the other two!) and a copy of the latest edition of 'MG by McComb' both at about half-price. Other than that at 25 entry plus 7 car park it was a dear do. I shan't bother again I'd much rather go to Stoneleigh MG Show (25th February 2007) at the beginning of the season. One object of interest was the above 'mad Midget' (my description) powered by a 4WD Rover 3.5 V8! Also interesting to see the '123 Distributor' in the flesh, however a big drawback (in my opinion) is that in order to change the curve you have to remove the distributor from the engine as access to the 16-position rotary switch is from the bottom of the unit and not under the cap which makes experimenting with curves, particularly on right-hand drive cars, a real nuisance. Why would you want to try different curves? Because for all its technology the curves it contains relate to the fuels originally available i.e. leaded in most cases, which are pretty irrelevant with today's fuels.

September 17th, Memorial Run, Suffolk

Another excellent run from Terry Elvy, Mrs Terry, and their team. Nice to see lots of different marques on the run, ancient and modern. The only issue seemed to be the very long wait for the bacon bap, looks like the single van isn't as efficient as the Coltishall Catering Corps! Loads to see at the museum of the 'Bloody 100th' Thorpe Abbotts at the start, we could have stayed longer. Lots of personal memorabilia, some superb models, photos, recovered debris, even a belly gun complete with gunner! Standing near the control tower looking down the runway was very atmospheric made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Travelled via 353rd Fighter Group at Metfield 56th Fighter Group at Halesworth with its drop tank memorial and DC3 cockpit right beside the road Horham home to several bomber groups including the last American crew and plane to be lost in the European theatre Fersfield where some experimental radio controlled planes were flown from (including the one JFKs elder brother was killed in) to finish at Snetterton home of the 96th Bomber Group who lost 100 planes and 1000 crew in two months of 1944. Nice memorial at the entrance to the race track, plus a poignant stained glass window in the nearby Quidenham church. A bit of a gloomy start but very warm and sunny afternoon to watch a bit of motorcycle racing and sniff the Castrol R, and a small display of classic racers from "The oily rag club", several of which came bombing past us while we were parked outside the church.

Saturday journey down pretty cloudy but mild in the morning, then warm and sunny in the afternoon. Stayed at the family-run Bull Auberge, Yaxley, near Diss which had beautifully furnished rooms and excellent food and wine. More expensive than the usual sort of places we see but well worth it. The only drawback is that they have Sunday and Monday nights off so we had to find somewhere else to eat Sunday night. Very few places in the vicinity, we ended up at the White Horse which neither of us enjoyed. Cloudy again for the run back Monday morning a light shower which barely wet the road surface, then some sunshine. 444 miles, the only problem being that just before we started out I happened to use the spare ignition key, then found I couldn't get it out. Finally did so but it left the lock disengaged, couldn't get the proper key in, but just using the tip turned the lock to run and start the engine! Wasn't going to fiddle with it there and then or while we were away in case it jammed altogether, but on return home was able to fiddle the spare key back in fully and with a bit of force managed to get the lock all the way back and the key out as normal, which allowed the proper key to be used.

August 13th, Pendine Dash, South Wales

Dry and bright, cool and breezy for the excellent and very scenic run down, just a brief shower going past Brecon which wasn't enough to wet the road. Almost a trauma when some twerp behind obviously wasn't paying attention to see me indicate and slow to turn right. He ended up on the grass verge beside me - very lucky as the verge only started yards before, it had been a vertical rock face before that! Went past out hotel (Cothi Bridge, not as good as some we have stayed at but better than others and a nice situation beside the river) and all the way down to Pendine as we wanted to be sure we would get to see the Museum of Speed and wasn't sure if the run would go close by despite its name. A very small museum, just Babs, a couple of motor bikes and some smaller stuff. But it was free entry with voluntary contributions (or in my case the purchase of a small water colour print of Babs) so no complaints. Now really sunny but very windy. Stopped off at Laugharne on the way back to the hotel and what a stunning place. Very atmospheric ruined castle on a cliff overlooking an estuary with salt marshes and sand bars covered in birds like oyster catchers and a white egret, a few small yachts and fishing dinghies, and white cottages dotted amongst the hills on the other side. Dylan Thomas spent his last years with that view it's enough to make anyone wax lyrical.

Even windier for the run, and although a bit cold on the mountain early on there was plenty of sun round the bays and villages and very scenic. Unfortunately being holiday time and a nice day places were very busy and we had to pass on some of the places en route. First rate instructions, although we were all called to start 'en masse' rather than drifting off as and when, which meant convoys for a while until the various stops started breaking us up. Bit of a cock-up on the castle front at the end as there was no information that we had to exchange our Picton Castle entry ticket for a tour ticket (guided tours only) and book a time, luckily we heard this happening in the shop. Should have spent more time there instead of the extremely windy beach at the aptly named Newgale, loads to see in the gardens as well as the castle.

Run home mostly grey but no wind or rain, uneventful till we found the Worcester bypass at a standstill. Got through the city centre easily enough but then got held up by roadworks on the way back out. 460 miles and not a beat missed.

August 5th/6th, VSCC Prescott ... Not

Didn't make up our minds until the Sunday morning dawned warm and sunny. The forecasters kept changing their minds and still didn't get it right. Arrived at Prescott to find fields full of campers, and directed to one of several overflow fields, and this at 10am. Saw signs on the roadside saying the price was 25 - per person! This is outrageous the facilities on the site are minimal with precious few good viewing points even at a 'normal' meeting with probably half or less of the attendance. Taking cash only, and having only brought 40, we declined. The 'See Red' event at Donington was only 15 last year, with far more going on, lots of grandstands, and classic and modern Ferrari and Maserati events to boot. Even the VSCC event at Shelsley Walsh in previous years has 'only' been 15 (Prescott in 2002 10), and I put that down to them desperately needing the money to buy the lease for the track. If this becomes the norm and splitting the field for the Bugatti Classic over two days continues, I doubt we shall be attending again, and we will all lose out.

So we headed for Crickley Hills Countryside Park near Gloucester, a frequent lunch stop on the way to the south coast, with good loos and wonderful views over the countryside. We had often said we should go and do one of the walks instead of just passing through, so that is what we did. But even that didn't go to plan - I lost the map of the route map within a few minutes and had to go back to get another, and then we got mixed up in the roaring traffic on the A417 when we *thought* we were going for a peaceful walk in the countryside. So we deffed that and walked a couple of the tracks in the park itself before sitting in the shade and enjoying our picnic. Some cloud bubbled up over the afternoon, but frankly the shade was very welcome on a very warm and humid day. On the way home when we did pass into patches of sun it was like getting too close to an open furnace door. Still, another scenic route home and a pleasant 100 miles or so for Bee.

July 7th-9th, Goodwood Festival of Speed

General views of Goodwood Personalities Motor Sport Pioneers
1886-1914 Pioneers of the Targa Florio
1906-1939 Grand Prix racing
1920-1940 Sports and Endurance Racers
1940-1962 Grand Prix cars
1945-1960 Indianapolis 500 GP Single Seater
1960-1970 Racing Saloon Cars
1966-2006 Sports Car Racers
1962-1980 The F1 Car
1970-1990 Motorcycling The Pinnacle of Single Seater Motor Sport Grand Prix cars
1990-2000 Racing Sports Cars
1980-2006 Supercars Rallying

Quite a late decision to go, celebrating 100 years of Grands Prix and Nigel Mansell making his first appearance made up my mind. Fantastic organisation right through, a really classy event. Extremely popular - much more so than the British Grand Prix and significantly cheaper - but so much space and plenty of things going on as well as cars going up the hill it was never overcrowded. Weather just right on the Saturday - plenty of sun but a breeze and some light cloud so never too hot, but Sunday dawned drizzly which didn't clear up until mid-morning, soon dried up and sunny after that though. It was great to be able to get so close to the cars and stars, probably the most amazing part was the F1 cars were driven back through the crowds in the paddock, I shall never forget standing 2 feet away - with no barriers - as they manoeuvred back to their 'tents' under their own power in most cases. Tornado GR4 on the Saturday was a bit disappointing, some fast passes but not much manoeuvring even with the high cloud base. The tail-slides and acrobatics of the MIG I saw many years previously was far more impressive. Red Arrows gave an even better display than I have seen before although unfortunately due to the low cloud base they had to give the low-level display and standing where I was I missed much of the very low-level stuff like the opposition pairs. Very strong cross-wind, so the formation flying was even more impressive than usual. Took loads of pictures, I've only shown one from each class in the thumbnails below, but clicking those takes you to a page with other pictures from the same class.

You could do it in one day, if you missed out the upper part of the hill and the Forest rally stage, as all participants make one run each morning and another in the afternoon, although often with different drivers where stars were concerned. This would allow you to do the paddocks in the morning and get up close to the cars and drivers, and spend the afternoon track-side watching the runs (or vice-versa). With two paddocks quite a distance apart you would be bound to miss a lot of the comings and goings though, even if you did get to see all the cars when parked.

A 390 mile trouble-free run for Vee. Beforehand she had been rattling and tapping quite badly on the short hot runs she had been restricted to for a couple of weeks. But after the long run down she was almost silent and still silent on the hot queuing and stop-start driving to get in both days. Still pretty quiet back at home on short hot runs, but I know she'll get noisier again. I wish I knew what was making the noise, and why it comes and goes like it does.

June 24th/25th, River Exe Rally

What a cracking weekend! Mostly sunny but a bit cool on the Friday, but fabulous weather on the Saturday and Sunday, and another bunch of friendly people. Met a couple for whom this was only their second run, their first being the Arden Heritage the previous week! A very scenic run along the coast from Exmouth to Sidmouth then turning inland and looping back for a delicious cream tea on the edge of Dartmoor, thanks to Tim and all at Exeter Area. We stayed at The Gissons Arms near Exeter, comfortable rooms and great food, but very close to the noisy A38 so make sure you ask for a room on the back. Renewed some memories as we had holidayed in the area when our children were little some 30 years ago, explored a bit further along the coast to Lyme Regis before turning north for home on the Sunday. 490 trouble-free miles, except for the brake servo which was sticking quite a bit in the hot weather, must get that sorted this year.

June 18th, Arden Run to Shelsley Walsh

Another very scenic run from the Arden Club through some classic Worcestershire villages and countryside dipping into Herefordshire with its hop fields and oast houses. As well as regular attender 456 KAC (now showing 399 419 miles!) featured in Lyndsay Porters MGB Restoration Guide there was another very early car showing a December 63 tax disk, presumably its first. (Subsequently heard from the owner, who tells me the tax disc is actually a period copy. His pics and info on this and his other MGs here). A fun run up Shelsley Walsh, but boy doesn't it go quickly! Bee pinking well up the hill, and at the top a few minutes after switching off noticed the temp gauge well into the H zone, but no ill-effects. After our run we sat on the hill and watched the others, and it was noticeable how many of the 72 and 73 cars were pinking, much less so earlier and later years. Weather disappointing after the previous three glorious days and promises from the weather forecasters, but at least it was dry! 130 miles.

June 2nd-4th, Wales Walk, Snowdon or bust!

Took Vee the scenic route on a glorious day up via Bridgnorth to call in at Clive Wheatley's and pick up some bits. Had a long diversion (all diversions are long in Wales as you have to go round the next mountain) off the A5 but the silver lining was a glorious drive from Bala to Ffestiniog on the B4391 - twisty and dippy but with clear views along the road for some spirited driving, enough to have the brakes smoking at the end.

Having heard of the Ridge Route via Crib Goch to Snowdon many years ago I suggested we go that way instead of the Pyg Track, at which our leader an experienced climber (the rest of us being 'once a year walkers') raised an eyebrow but said 'fine'. First sight of Crib Goch from the car park was this exponential ridge which looked pretty steep at the top. Sure enough the last section was a series of vertical scrambles with serious consequences for anyone falling off. I looked at it and thought "If we go up that and it gets harder further on we are stuffed, there will be no turning back". Fortunately the climb didn't get harder, but then we encountered the ridge. I had fondly imagined that it was a ridge with a path across the top but no, it is a ridge coming to a sharp point with very steep falls for hundreds of feet both sides. The one side was very smooth but the other was faced with what became a series of toe-holds while clinging on to the ridge with both hands - quite scary. After that the various peaks and ridges were easier, and the final trek up the path to the summit alongside the rail track very crowded on what was a beautiful day with superb views in all directions.

Another good drive home taking the same route as before to Bala but then cutting across the mountains and down the valleys to Welshpool to avoid the always slow A5. Around 320 miles, a knocking from the right rear under some kinds of bumps and dips getting more noticeable turned out to be damper bolts less than fully tight after converting back to lever-arms recently, a few minutes with spanner and socket had them nice and tight and quiet again.

May 14th, Dales Trail, North Yorkshire

You could call this the friendly run, or the wet run. We have never had three days of rain on a run before in 15 years. We'd barely got started on the Saturday morning before fine drizzle started, which gets everywhere, so the hood went up after 40 miles. Took the 'scenic' route as usual up through the Derbyshire Dales and Peaks and the Pennines. All was well until past Buxton, then we hit constant traffic and road works and crawled on and off for miles. In the end what should have been a five hour journey took seven ... and it was still raining.

Sunday morning was dry but grey, and very cold, the temps only reached about 7 degrees all day, it had been nearly double that at night for the previous four days! Nevertheless hood down until early afternoon when it started raining again and by which time we were chilled through anyway. Well worth the tour at Kiplin Hall the start and finish. From 4pm it just rained heavier and heavier all night and was still drizzling next morning. Started for home on the Monday morning having decided to take the quick way home as the hood was obviously going to be up all the way, which makes motorway travel bearable. Everything dried up by Sheffield, but by Nottingham the weather closed in again and it rained all the way home. I've never had the lights on so much (pretty-well constantly for the three days) and I had a sudden thought that something had probably burnt out then lo and behold got stopped in traffic by the M18 and noticed the left-hand dipped beam was out! When we got home (after just 3 hours) the car was filthy as well as soaking wet, so I thought I might as well wash it there and then and put it under the carport to dry off rather than wait for it to get dry just to wet it again. Fortunately it was still pretty dry when I finally put her in the garage, and today has been warm and dry to finish her off.

I don't think we have ever encountered such a friendly bunch - the marshals and other runners on the day, and the owners and other customers in the smashing pub we stayed, The Buck Inn at Thorton Watlass near Bedale which also had great beer and delicious food, and has been featured in both the Herriot and Heartbeat TV programmes. The run was really enjoyable even though the tops were shrouded in cloud, we are determined to go back again in the hope of better weather, although one of the marshals said this was the fourth and they hadn't had sun yet! One tip for the future is to fill up with Super or ideally Optimax on the day before, I think we only passed two open petrol stations all day and they only stocked 95. Bee really did not like that on some of the steeper sections, having to nurse her up the steepest bit in first at one point to prevent the pinking.

480 miles with the headlight turning out to be the filament in the sealed beam unit, which is quite a bit cheaper than I was expecting at just over 9 plus VAT. The real bummer was finding the screen cracked again, this time in the bottom left-hand corner, less than 18 months after the last time, probably from running into some dammed top-dressing in the Pennines. I had consoled myself that at least the crack was going diagonally across quite a small area from the bottom to the side and out of the way, only to find another crack this morning coming off the first one at a right-angle and this time heading right across the screen! Almost certainly an MOT failure and therefore another screen change in the next month.

May

Service time for Bee and Vee. Bee is showing some faint cracking of the outer skin of one of the front brake hoses probably best to replace both and only have to bleed the system once. It has been some years since I first replaced them. Noticed some anti-freeze staining below the heater valve, checked the bolts to find them quite loose - about 3 or 4 flats! When I fitted the new valve in 2002 I noticed the casting shrouded the bolt heads a little closer than the old one, I did grind the spanner a bit at the time, ground it a bit more this time and managed to get enough swing to properly tighten it. Rather peeved to find some slop in the steering UJ again, this has now been changed twice before - the first replacement failed the MOT one year later not because the bearing itself was worn but because it was loose in the yoke. I took it back to the supplier, together with the original, to show how loose it was compared to the original, and he did let me have a 2nd replacement at half-price. I say 'peeved' but the original was changed in 96 and again in 97 so perhaps not that bad at 9 years and 20k. Dwell still well in spec hasn't been touched now for well over 10k. Swapped the rear shoes over side to side to see if it does anything about the screeching. I always put a smear of copper grease on every metal-to-metal contact point of shoes, backplate, springs, adjusters, slave pistons, handbrake levers etc. but it doesn't seem to have had any effect for the previous two years. This time, after greasing and swapping over the shoes, the first few miles at least have been silent. One broken spoke on each of the two front wheels.

I didn't actually replace the oil and filter as after a trip to Snowdon in early June I'm planning to get the sump off and look at the big end shells. I am peeved to find Vee's right front damper weeping slightly (replaced Feb 04 less than 5k miles), but have always acknowledged that rebuilt units are only as good as the original core and if the shaft is scored a new seal won't last long. I had a rear replacement on Bee fail after 12 months, but since then that and a front replacement have been fine. As it is only weeping slightly I think I shall leave it until the MOT (in a few days) and see what they say. I did have to reset Vee's dwell this year, also after about 10k miles, as the V8 only has plus or minus 1 degree whereas the 4-cylinder has plus or minus 5 degrees on the 45D (3 degrees on the 25D). Visual evidence of very slight rubbing of the drums on the back-plates, not even showing shiny metal. No perceptible movement in the bearings, and no noise when turning the hubs (or when driving). As the back-plate isn't a precision item I belted them with a lump-hammer and a block of wood. Update: Vee passed the MOT, and although they gave me advisories on a windscreen chip and slight play in the kingpins no mention of the dampers. The chip has been there a couple of years with no mention previously, and a different chap did it this time to usually, so perhaps he is a bit more pernickety.

April

Got round to fitting the lever arms to Vee, after some fiddling about, see 'Steering and Suspension' and click on 'Tubular Dampers'.

March 15th, Has Spring Sprung?

After the worst winter (for MGing) I can recall I finally managed to get both cars out for the first decent spin since sometime in November. Normally I can expect at least one sunny Sunday morning a month where the roads are salt-free and dry for a spin in Bee, and if it is cloudy then Vee. Not particularly a harsh winter but definitely colder, and colder longer, than for a few years. We have had a lot of around-freezing weather so they keep putting salt on the roads, and very little rain to wash it off again, so even on a dry and sunny day I'm not keen to get either car out. The best I have been able to manage, even mid-week, has been a couple of trips around the town where the roads were drier than further out.

But today, quite against the forecast, we had a lovely mild sunny day, having had some rain the previous two days, and what a pleasure it was to get both cars out again. Also got some brownie points by spending an hour or so in the garden clearing up the leaves from Autumn.

And the answer to my question? Is 'no'. We are back to zero, salt, and snow flurries next day.

February 19th, Stoneleigh MG Show and Spares Day

Back again, after missing last year's show waiting for grandson Byron to make his appearance. Arrived about 1/2 hour early to find the Visitor's entrance still closed (they always manage to cock it up one way or the other). I was looking for a couple of rear brake cylinder E-clips (already had a spare back-plate and cylinder) to test my home-brew E-clip fitting tool and they were easy enough at two for a quid. I was also looking for drop links and dampers for the rear suspension as I'm intending to junk the Spax tubulars (which are a waste of money) before they fail again. Several places selling 'refurbished' drop links (sand-blasted and a splash of black paint) at about a tenner each but I kept looking. Found a stand in the 2nd hall with a pair of dampers and drop-links and he only wanted a tenner for the lot! Bit of a result, even if the dampers need exchanging for a reconditioned pair. I'd also been thinking of getting a 1/2" drive breaker bar as I had to borrow one when working on the V8 engine a while ago, and picked one of those up off a Draper stall for another tenner, typically 15 quid or more elsewhere. Finally looking for a piece of carpet to make a load cover out of for the V8. The cheapest stuff off the roll was about 15 quid a metre, and ideally I was looking for more than that which would have meant thirty quid, albeit of good quality. Then I found someone selling 6ft by 6ft sheets of what were described as current Volvo or Peugeot grade for a tenner a sheet. Not brilliant quality, but as it is only for a load cover and not walking on it should be fine. I could have had a pukka GT load-space carpet for eight quid, which is pretty good value (I have used my existing piece as a cover before now but when under way everything slides around underneath it which is irritating) but it would only cover stuff with the seat back upright. This sheet will allow me make a cover big enough to go over the whole space even when the back seat is lying flat to give more room. All-in-all a good morning's shopping.