2010

November 14th - Classic Car Show, NEC Birmingham. Now I'm an old git I can get in cheaper ...

... and get there for nothing with my bus pass.

First time back for quite a few years now, two halls full so plenty to see although possibly less 'bits and pieces' stalls than there used to be. A line of lovely BRG square-riggers near the entrance, nice display from the Bugatti Owners Club, not one but four Minor Millions, some of my one-time favourites such as Gilbern Invader and Sunbeam Alpine (sports!), a big chunk of American styling disasters which we quickly passed through, as well as much else of course. Dual entry to the Top Gear/MPH Live exhibition hall (not the arena) with the new UK-spec MG6 and Zero concept cars. Both look better than on TV, particularly the rear of the 6, although the interior seems little different to my ZS. Four-cylinder engine lost in the engine bay, presumably something more meaty planned. The interior of the Zero was vary garish but then it is a concept, I'd imagine it would get toned down for sale.

October.

Thankfully the new track-rod ends cured the steering clonk ... but not the braking clonk! However a warm day and the window open showed that is coming from a rear brake and not the front as I had thought, confirmed by using in the handbrake (doh!), so more investigating to be done on that, as well as the A-arms on the left which seem to have slid to the back of the rubber bushes on the cross-member pivot pin. Subsequently couldn't find anything wrong inside the brake drum, except it could do with a couple of clicks more on the adjuster, which does seem to have removed or greatly reduced the clonk.

September - yet more spannering!

Like Bee I have been becoming increasingly aware of a clonk from Vee's brakes - both when applying them gently and releasing them. Despite levering everything in sight and wrestling with the wheel while the Navigator held the brakes on the only movement/noise I could find was in the king-pin end-float, so embarked on checking and reshimming those. However it made no difference, but during that found a missing bump rubber, and while turning the wheel when stationary found I could generate another clonk which seems to be coming from the track-rod ends, so two more ordered, plus lock-nuts, as unlike Bee it looks like I shall have to be grinding these off!

September 5th - Norwich MGOC Memorial Run

Mostly cloudy all the way there on the Saturday, with the forecast on the morning of the run being for even more cloud. In the event we had a very bright and sunny day albeit pretty windy. As well organised as ever, although the same route run in both directions, and a couple of tulip diagrams/instructions the wrong way round as if they should have been for the other route. Ordinarily it would have been classed as an excellent run, but our previous Memorial Runs have offered more stops at airfields and memorials. Apart from Old Buckenham and an off-route trip to Shipdham Church there was really nothing to see, so a bit disappointing by comparison.

Accommodation pretty grim - motel-like cubicles in a pub car park, we were the only residents both nights! Some of the food was very good, some less so, service from young girls a bit poor. But it was packed with diners both nights, presumably because there isn't much else in the vicinity. Amazing really as it is tucked away in a maze of lanes with virtually no signposts for either villages or pub, you would have to know where it was to get there.

Three dry days with the hood down, 435 trouble-free miles in total.


August - some spannering Bee's MOT came up with an advisory on the track-rod ends - "one slightly worn, one very slightly" - which turned out to be one completely knackered, joint and boot, and the other with a split boot and quite worn! Notes on changing them here. I'd also been getting aware of some vibration in the steering wheel over certain rough surfaces, and found the steering column UJ with some play - for the third time. Notes on changing that here. After doing both there is a very noticeable loss of the previous harshness and vibration through the steering wheel.

August 15th - BMW Festival, Gaydon

As before an opportunity to meet up with son and grandson, on what turned out to be a beautiful day, and could well have been yet another T-shirt and shorts day in Bee if I'd worn the shorts!

August 3rd - Classic Car Meet, Black Boy, Knowle

The first at this site for a long time, but there must have been nearly 100 cars on what was a showery evening.

August - and a couple of things to keep an eye on with Bee. As mentioned below Bee's clutch has always had a low biting point. I improved it by taking out the wear in the pedal to push-rod linkage, which was adding about an inch at the footpad, but it seems to have got low again, culminating in grinding when selecting reverse on arriving home from the Surrey Run, although OK next day. Not wear this time, so I push the piston back into the slave and let it out again veeeery slowly (so as not to pull air in past the slave seal) in case there is air in the system but it makes no difference. I have a spare push-rod so I modify that to move the hole back about 1/8" of an inch. Lifts the pedal about 1/4" or so, giving that much more 'throw' on the master piston, but I shall have to keep an eye on it. Could be the master or slave seals spreading, or the hose swelling, all are unchanged in my ownership.

The second thing is the driver door lock. Over a few days I noticed the button suddenly get much harder to push. Fine when the door is open, when flipping the latch into the closed position with a screwdriver, so maybe something to do with pressure. Take the latch out and clean and lubricate it, but it's not really any better. I notice that when closing the door with the button in the door seems to hit something solid, whereas I would expect the rubber to cushion it. Ease the striker plate out about 1/8" or so which does seem to make the button a bit easier, but as I say something to keep an eye on.

July 29th - Classic Car Meet, Moat House Inn, Alcester

Quite a few more cars than last month even though it isn't as warm and sunny.

July 22nd - A return visit to Bletchley Park

This time we managed to get into the talk prior to the tour. Also being a Thursday The National Museum of Computing was open (Thursdays and Saturdays only) and we spent most of the afternoon in there. A very good collection of mainframe, business and particularly home computers and calculators, and slide-rules. The worlds oldest surviving computer - the Harwell/WITCH - is nearing completion, due online September this year. The Museum is a separate trust within Bletchley Park requiring its own funding, so having got into Bletchley Park on last years 'passport' tickets we gave an equivalent donation to the museum. Had a quick look at the Bombe Rebuild which is now completed and working (although not while we were there), owners of British motorcycles of the era would recognise the engineering, as there was a large oil drip-tray under the machine with quite a bit of oil in it! However I understand that it does use a total loss drip system rather than recirculatory, so forgiven. Weather very similar to last year i.e. rain threatening but not happening, and very warm. Quite a heavy shower shortly after leaving, and another few spots towards the end of the M40, but Vee got home dry, about 150 miles as before.

July 18th - Epsom Area MGOC Surrey Run to Chatham Dockyard

Did I say three? Despite a very changeable week preceding the run and more rain expected the week after, the three days couldn't have been better. So hot on the Sunday afternoon the Navigator was beginning to agitate for the hood to go up when driving back to our overnight accommodation straight into the sun at about 5pm, and T-shirts and shorts for the journey home on the Monday. If this run gets an 'aka' it should really be 'The Leafy Run' as so much of it was though lovely country lanes with trees arching over the road and some very pretty villages. Whereas normally driving under trees in the shade/cool might be considered a disadvantage this wasn't, given the heat. One minor hiccup with a road closure, and some verbal instructions for a detour (should've driven the route the day before?) where at first I thought I was going completely in the wrong direction, but it turned out right in the end. Lots to see at Chatham dockyard, just fancied an ice-cream but the machine chose our order to pack up. Stayed at The Whyte Harte in Bletchingley, room a bit small but then it was a late booking and they were otherwise full with an engagement party. Friendly manager and staff, good food and drink, and a pretty village. 420 miles without problem, although Saturday afternoon after our lunch stop at Virginia Water Lake I thought my window regulator had broken, but it was just the handle screw come loose. Bee's clutch biting point has always been low, even after an improvement from fixing wear at the pedal linkages, but just lately it has seemed even lower. Didn't want to fiddle and risk upsetting it before the MOT a couple of weeks ago and this run, so now is the time to have a look-see. Nothing has been done to it since the clutch replacement (by a garage) nearly 20 years ago, perhaps they just didn't bleed all the air out.

July 11th - still in a heat-wave

Three Sunday mornings on the trot now out in Bee in just T-shirt and shorts, never happened before. On one of my many meandering routes through the leafy lanes of Warwickshire I came across this unusual cottage.


July - Bee's MOT. Passed as usual, but with some observations. Nearside rear wheel bearing play, and both track-rod ends slight play. I get the Navigator to waggle the wheel while I feel the track-rod ends and while there might be some play it is minute (subsequently I disconnect both from the steering arms and whilst the left-hand side is loose the right-hand side isn't). However something else is making a noise, which turns out to the column UJ - again! Much more noticeable than the track-rod ends, I'm surprised it wasn't a failure. The cups on the first replacement went into the yokes too easily I thought, and a year later it failed again, but it was play between the cups and the yokes, not within the UJ itself. Took it back to the vendor who said it must be the yokes, but like always I had kept the old UJ and showed that those cups were a light press-fit, unlike his which were loose. Grudgingly gave me 50% off a replacement. That was in 1997, but in looking for the date I see that I had to change it again in 2006. That one had done about 20k which is bad enough, this one has done only about 8k. Needing a UJ and at least one track-rod end it is worth getting them from Moss Europe as I shall also be able to get their rack alignment tool, which at one time was only stocked by Moss America. I tried before but at 7 it was below the 10 minimum order. As far as the wheel bearings go whilst the nearside does have more end-float than the offside they are supposed to have some play of course, so it may just be inexperience on the part of the examiner, they do cause arguments from time to time. Nevertheless I shall probably take a thou or so out of it just to be sure.

June 24th - Classic Car Meet, Moat House Inn, Alcester

Middle of a heat wave and a glorious evening. Quite a few cars there but surprised there weren't more. Lovely sunset as a bonus on the way home. Had a couple of pints (not driving) of especially brewed 'World Cup 2010' emblazoned with the cross of St George. As I write this on the following Monday I wonder how much more of that they will sell now ....

June 11th-13th - Helvellyn and Striding Edge

The walk Lakeland Motor Museum Campbell Collection This time we take the right route and get there! Probably perfect weather - broken light cloud, a cool breeze and low humidity all making for a comfortable climb, and fabulous visibility - we could see the far side of Morecambe Bay to the South and across the Solway Firth to Scotland to the North West. Starting from Glenridding car park and crossing over to the Patterdale route we had a steady climb across the flank of Birkdale Moor to Hole in the Wall and Striding Edge. I started off on top of the Edge, but felt a bit exposed when it narrowed and started switchbacking down so I transferred to the side path. Still found myself on the down-climb at the end but that was fine. A final scramble to the summit plateau and fabulous views in every direction, then a bit of a clamber down onto Swirral Edge and the long path back to Upper Glenridding and a welcome pint of Helvellyn Gold at The Travellers Rest, a brilliant day. I dosed myself up with Ibuprofen during the day and had no knee problems whatsoever, came skipping down the mountain like a 5 year-old. At the B&B noticed a leaflet for the Lakeland Motor Museum at Newby Bridge so made my way over there Sunday morning on the way home. Surprised to see it all looked very new, even more surprised to find it had only been open three weeks! Good journey up and back on the M6, 380 trouble-free miles in (oh yes, the MG content) Vee. Can't wait for next year and our final peak of the big three - Scafell Pike.

June 10th/11th - David Bolton's visit.

David and Helen stop overnight on their way down from Newcastle to Portsmouth, and onwards to the Bordeaux area of France. I originally 'met' David electronically, then we and our wives met up in person on the 2009 Yorvik run, it was good to meet up again. Fingers crossed for David, his mechanic decided that the engine rear main seal was leaking too much oil to risk clutch problems on such a relatively long journey, so had the engine out to replace it, just days before the off!

May 15th - Terry's visit.

Late in 2008 Terry got in touch with me to ask if I would be willing to advise him from time to time while he reassembled a 74 MGB GT. He'd bought an abandoned restoration which involved a fully painted and rolling bodyshell, but otherwise pretty-well everything else was stripped out of it (including the engine) in a load of boxes, so it was impossible to say whether everything was there or not or what operational condition anything was in. To add to the size of the task Terry had never worked on an MGB before, so he didn't know where most of the bits went, or indeed even what should be there. But the most remarkable thing is that Terry is almost totally blind, having just a little light perception in one eye, but only being able to distinguish a bright light from darkness.

He was determined to do this himself as he has found in the past that sighted people tend to take over and he likes to do things for himself and not be held back by his sight problems, which developed in adulthood. In the past he has fitted a shower in the bathroom, laid laminate flooring in the conservatory and done many other DIY jobs, as well as holding down a managerial position with Social Services and playing a full part in the care of his two young children. Over the course of about a year he has reassembled this MGB single-handedly, and whilst I have given him lots of verbal advice based on questions, images and video he has sent up to me, the only work I have done on the car is to repair some wiring (as with the best will in the world Terry can't do colour codes!) and fit the tunnel carpet as a hole needed cutting for the gear-lever. In fact I haven't been tempted or able to do any more as Terry lives over 100 miles from me. He has done the whole thing purely by touch and visual imagination from mine and others descriptions, and he has had some pretty big problems along the way getting the engine in, with the clutch slave cylinder, and the fuel pump and pipes all of which required several goes.

After a little less than 12 months of very much part-time work on the car given everything else he has to do the car passed its MOT with only a couple of minor problems. Since then it has only done about 30 miles on local roads. Today he came up to see me in it, a round trip of about 340 miles. He did say that shortly before setting out he was getting very nervous, but couldn't decide which was worse - admitting to people he had chickened out and cancelled the trip, or setting out then breaking down and having to be towed home. So he decided to go for it and hang the consequences, and is now feeling really pleased with the car after a faultless trip.

He intends to sell this car, but in the meantime has bought a road-worthy V8 to keep as he was so impressed with the sound of mine when I visited him, and has just bought another abandoned restoration to complete and sell, this time a 67 roadster. So a little crazy, like the rest of us, just more so. Read the full story here.


May 13th - Vee's MOT.

A rather inauspicious date to chose, didn't realise until after I had said 'yes' to "Thursday next week?". They also didn't want to know the car details which they had always asked for before, and being a timed appointment I wondered who I would get. Mostly it has been the senior tester who has experience with cars of this era, the young whipper-snappers have been know to fail MGBs on front wheel bearings because they have a little play (Hah! See Bee's MOT above!), which they are supposed to of course. When I got there at least the senior chap was there and doing an MOT at the time although he didn't know if he would be doing mine. Last year he mentioned verbally (i.e. not an official advisory notice) there was a little play in the steering rack, which I wasn't surprised to hear having had wheel balance problems for years, and I did wonder whether it was a warning to think about replacing it. However he finished up by saying "But it's OK at the moment" so maybe not. In the event he didn't mention it this year, but did say the rear fog lights weren't working which were the only lights I had forgotten to check! However he went on to say "But as this car isn't supposed to have them we won't mention that!" and I got the pass. That just proved to be the 4-way bullet connector in the boot where the feed wire from the switch connects to the two light wires. I fitted these myself many years ago and used crimp-type bullets, but these are not a good fit for the standard connectors, the blue ones being too big and the red ones too small. Removing and refitting the connector got the lights working again, I may well reterminate the wires using the brass solder bullets, which will need a new connector of course having been 'stretched' by these poxy crimp bullets. One down, two to go.

May 5th - 'Professionals' strike again.

Had two new front tyres fitted to Vee today ready for the MOT. I noticed the fitter used an air-gun to replace the wheel nuts, and on return home to check the torque found the first took 100ft lb to undo it, the second got up to 120 ft lb then the torque wrench broke! I had to use a breaker-bar on that and the rest, they all needed a lot of force, and all turned several degrees under high force before they came loose, i.e. the studs had been stretched.

May 2nd - Chepstow and District Rotary Club Wye Valley Run.


First time on this run, and the first time I have been aware of it. After three or four weeks of dry and sunny weather, like the summer in the last week, of course the weather changes for this weekend. Dire forecasts of heavy rain turned out to be gloriously sunny in the morning, a shower and then some more persistent rain in the afternoon but very localised, then torrential rain for the first third or so of the journey home, thankfully dry the rest of the way so Bee could go back in the garage dry.

A very early start - up at 5:30am :o( - for a 90 mile sprint to the start at Chepstow castle. A really enjoyable 90+ mile run, varied terrain from the Forest of Dean to the Wye Valley and Herefordshire countryside, with several places to stop and get out for walks and exploring, finishing a few miles away at Caldicot castle. Won a bottle of wine in the raffle at the end :o) A friendly bunch all in all, with a very mixed bag from a 1921 Crossley to a bunch of modern Ferraris and a Bentley. Got talking to a couple of chaps in a Midget and a Sprite who had done Stelvio a while ago, picked up some useful info as I'm hoping to do this with our Son in his BMW M3 sometime soon. The Crossley was particularly interesting as it had an SV registration, as do many vintage cars it seems, and I had often wondered about this. The owner told me SV was never issued originally so is used for 'age related' re-registrations where either the car has been re-imported (as in his case) or the original registration has been lost, or the car has been built up from boxes of bits. However other sources say SV was issued by Kinross from 1904 to 1954, but these may have been 1, 2 and 3 digit numbers, 4-digits (as in the case of the Crossley) being used for these age-related plates, at least the higher numbers.

All in all about 290 miles, Bee running faultlessly as usual, except there was a loud 'twang' towards the end of the run and something hit my foot which turned out to be the clutch pedal return spring! This has happened before and broke in exactly the same place, looks like one of the loops is being bent back and fore a little bit each time the pedal is operated as the fracture is on the side of the loop and not at the end where it contacts the pedal and bracket. This spring was new about 15 years ago!


March - disc and caliper change on a 72 GT.

Having had serious health problems for a while my pal will be unable to tackle anything like this for a while. He knew I'd had the same problem (sticking caliper) on Bee last year, and said I was the only person other than himself he would trust to do it! No pressure then ... What with the bad winter and being away all of February this was the first time the weather was likely to be good enough for a full day working outside, but was still frosty. The job went well finishing early afternoon, but on a test drive it was obvious something was still dragging, and it was the back brakes. So nothing for it by to strip, clean, grease and reassemble those as well, which took another couple of hours. About seven hours work, mostly spent on my knees (still suffering six weeks later), and after the 90 minute drive home I could barely get out of the car I was as stiff as a board! Still waiting to see how the brakes are, but he is not well enough yet to get the car out. (In June this year he sadly passed away without having been able to drive the car. God rest you, David, I'm reminded of an inscription on a headstone in a Somme battlefield cemetery, an area we had both visited - "Those that live on in the hearts of others will never die").

February - Australia

Touring, but not in an MG. We spotted three frog-eye Sprites in a couple of days in Melbourne, all the more surprising was discovering that my cousin's husband who we were with at the time has a frog-eye himself as well as a BN1 Healey. So that left us with plenty to talk about while the girls talked homes and families. Whilst in Adelaide we found a copy of the Adelaide Hills magazine with an article about a day-trip from the hills to the Murray River, which was quite amusing, reproduced here. Spotted three other frog-eye Sprites in the Melbourne area which was a surprise, but after that just one MGB in Melbourne and an MGF in Sydney. 24 hours on a plane coming home saw me explore most of the seat-based entertainment system. One item was a TV program on Holden cars, including this 70s advert which has got to be the best car advert of all time, so much better than the 'up themselves' and irrelevant rubbish we get these days.