2015

December - after the disaster, a 'bloody annoying'.

Had the cambelts on the ZS changed by a local garage in October as I couldn't face doing it myself this time as it is such a huge job. First issue was a couple of days after getting it back I checked the oil and found the plastic indicator on the end of the dipstick burnt! Contacted the garage who said they had a new one on order, the manager didn't know how it had happened, and didn't know anything about it when I picked up the car. Hmmm. Then in December parked in a different place to normally I see rainbow patterns on the wet ground at the front of the car - and oil is dripping down from right by where the dipstick tube fits into the engine!!

November - A "don't ask!" disaster

As mentioned before we have been Vulcan chasing this year with daughter and grandkids, so not much of interest in the two MGBs.

But the disaster. I've got to run a 6" duct across the garage from the kitchen to the outside wall for an extracting cooker hood, which involves drilling a hole through the cavity wall into the kitchen and another through the (single-brick) garage wall to the outside. I could go down to 4" with a reducer, but going to all this trouble and expense I might as well go the whole hog. Hired a drill and core bit for two days as I had no idea how long it would take. Boy is it heavy, and working right up against the garage ceiling I have to push at head height, which is really hard work. I drill the cavity wall from the garage to keep the mess in the kitchen to a minimum, so push the V8 outside, and roll the roadster forwards and cover it, so it is well out of the way. Makes a horrendous mess with brick dust everywhere, so I decide to drill the garage wall from the outside ... and of course it pees down. Waterproofs and hat on I persevere, and by mid-afternoon both are done but I'm knackered. The V8 is soaked but it has stopped raining now and decided to leave it outside to dry off a bit. Stick the drill stuff in the back of the ZS to take it back to the hire shop to reduce the hire to one day ... and manage to back into the side of the V8! A combination of being knackered, never having driven the ZS when either of the other two cars are out before, and not being able to see the front of the V8 in the rear-view mirror (OK it was visible in the passenger mirror, but I'm used to seeing a neighbours car in that but further away), all conspire against me. So a moderate repair to the V8 wing which is relatively easy to knock the worst out of, but a major repair to the ZS bumper.

8th to 10th August - Pendine Run

Weather not looking promising for the run itself but a glorious drive down on the Saturday - T-shirts and shorts all the way. Called in at rellies in Swansea on the way to our accommodation at Laugharne, and a bit disconcerted to find gear changes getting difficult with intermittent baulking and soft pedal. Because it was intermittent I surmised that it was the main seal leaking back, which would mean no fluid loss, and that proved to be the case. But I had to make the decision whether to press on and do 100 miles or more up and down Welsh hills and valleys on the run plus the journey home, or abandon and head for home while I still could. I pressed on. A bit tricky getting out of Swansea as every stop and restart is on a hill, but I nursed the clutch by only changing gear when I had to, and when coming to a halt not selecting 1st until I could move off, and we arrived at our accommodation with nothing worse than that.

Rain expected overnight but it didn't look too bad, so didn't put the cockpit cover on over the raised hood, and boy was that a mistake. It absolutely threw it down from shortly after midnight, and was still mizzling when we set off for the start. Water lying on both rubber mats, sill carpets wet and fogging up inside as soon as we got in, although the heater fan soon cleared that. Still mizzling for the start at the National Botanic Garden of Wales, but not long after that it stopped, and by 12:30 the sun was shining so the top came down. A very varied and interesting route with loads of beaches and castles to stop at as one wanted, cloud building up towards the end. Clutch holding up and I was still using it as little as possible. Got to the finish at about 4pm for Barra Brith and Welsh Cake. Although nearly 80 cars were listed we hardly saw any while on the move - we hate convoys. Then back to our accommodation, started mizzling then full rain, but we carried on with the hood still down and it had virtually stopped by the time we arrived.

We stayed at The Cors which is quite a quirky place. Garden reminiscent of a prehistoric jungle (but very well cared for) and a large Victorian House that from the outside looks a little spooky. But the room was good and the bathroom modern, and the food and wine fabulous.

The second night I put the hood cover on, and just as well as by 11pm it was raining and that carried on all night and until about mid-day when we left the M4 for The Midlands. Then the roads slowly dried up, and we were in sunshine by the time we reached the M5, arriving home about 1pm or so. Ideal to leave the car out to dry off, but it still needed more next day to finish off the hood and the sill carpets as some rain always comes in at the bottom of the quarterlight to screen upright seals, and for some reason between the hood and the drop-glass by the Navigators left shoulder. 520 miles most of it nursing the clutch, and apart from some of the weather a good weekend. Only one slight criticism of the run itself - the Tulip instructions were on A5 paper looking like they had been shrunk down from A4 which meant the diagrams and text were pretty small. Given the typical age of the runners and riders, not ideal, and not something we have encountered before. Some fun and frolics attending to the clutch after our return.

July - engine side-cover change for Bee

Bee has never dropped much oil, but just lately I have noticed more than usual, and the drive needs to be kept as oil free as possible. Normally I put the cars back in the garage because of this (Vee drops the occasional spot as well) but occasionally a spot still ends up on the drive, although engine degreaser, scrubbing brush and water shifts it. I'd always thought it was coming from the rocker over, but after several goes at straightening the cover and sealing the gasket I was pretty sure that was now oil-tight, especially as paper towels wedged round the edge came up clean. I was also pretty sure that it was coming from higher up than the drain hole in the bell-housing, and careful examination (as best one can) of the side covers showed those as pretty mucky, so decided to change the gaskets and bolt seals. An investigation of catalogues and suppliers web sites showed a number of options over the years, so ordered what I felt was needed ... and found my 1973-era Gold Seal wasn't quite the same. Full story here.

Not much MG-ing, you may think, and you would be correct - run-wise at any rate. As this is the final flying year for the Vulcan we have been concentrating on that so far. Together with a week in Santorini and a weekend staying with our son (V8), three Vulcan weekends (ZS) on the trot meant that we didn't have a 'normal' weekend for six weeks. One weekend 'off', then an awesome display at RIAT Fairford and a few weeks before Little Gransden (sadly weathered off) at the end of August so hopefully will fit an MG weekend in between. VTTSC day at Coventry Jets should see another Vulcan display two weeks after that, and hopefully a final hurrah with a trip up to Doncaster for the final flight some time after that. In the event the trustees of the VTTSC pleaded with people not to attend, which we honoured, but there were final displays at Gaydon and a final tour over Wellesbourne in compensation.

May service for Vee

Also uneventful, except unusually this is after the MOT, normally I like to service them first so I can have a good look over under and round beforehand. Another advisory about the right-hand front wheel bearings having a little more play than the left, this after a previous advisory for the same thing, where I had investigated and found the hub nut only finger-tight and the incorrect shims! So I shimmed it up and it seemed OK, maybe it had bedded-in, as it does seem to be slightly more than the other side. So investigated, but unfortunately I need three 3 thou shims to replace a 10 thou and only have one, so I add those to the next shopping-list and that will have to wait for another day.

May 10th - Charnwood Caper to Abbey Pumping Station and the National Space Centre

First time for us, local-ish, but quite an early departure given the 50 mile trip to the start. A very well organised run with nearly 80 cars, mostly but not exclusively MGs. Couldn't help calling this 'The Rape Seed Run' as there was so much of it around on the route. About 80 miles of pretty villages and lovely rolling countryside, with a coffee stop at Wistow Rural Centre, and unusually for us we found a perfect spot for lunch at just the right time. A bonus was being overflown by the Red Arrows in the closing stages! Finished up at Abbey Pumping Station which is a magnificent example of Victorian heavy steam engineering, and right next to the National Space Centre. The latter is very child orientated, but surprisingly free access to a lot of displays and 'buttons to push'.

Weather better than expected with quite a bit of sun and milder than of late, so hood down for the run but up for the motorway journeys at each end, 190 miles with no problems except the clutch release bearing is still intermittently noisy.


May 1st-3rd - Fly-walk in Wales

Instead of the Lakes we decided to go to Snowdonia this year for our Saturday walk ... after Friday on the 100mph zip-wire at Bethesda! Booked a 3pm slot to give us plenty of time to get up there, and on the day it's dry and bright and really quite warm later in the afternoon. Kitted out in suit, harness, helmet and goggles we did the shorter wire first - two going together. You are weighed and either additional weights (for light people) or air brakes (for heavy, I needed neither unlike some of my colleagues) and are also given a braking point where you put your arms out horizontally. This wire seemed a little disappointing at first as it started out quite slow. Then you accelerate, and keep accelerating, and suddenly the end is approaching very quickly indeed. You are caught by a bungee which decelerates you rapidly, then grab the hand of a member of staff who prevents the bungee flinging you back up the wire, and guides you back to a platform where you are unhooked. Then a very bumpy drive in a truck up to the top of the mountain and the long wire, with good views all around including the Menai Strait and Anglesey, and Tryfan where we are going the next day - with snow on the top! We pause under the wire just below the start to watch several people launched, then it's our turn, same procedure as before. This time acceleration is very rapid, air is roaring in my ears, and we seem to be skimming across the slope of the mountain. Then the mountain drops almost vertically away to leave you hundreds of feet above a lake. Now you seem to be hardly moving, but the air is still roaring. Plenty of time to look around, then it's arms out at the braking point, and catch a 'shepherds crook' held by ground staff as these wires are higher off the ground than the shorter wire. This time the cables go up slightly towards the end, so as well as the bungee flinging you backwards, if you didn't catch the crook I can see you running back down the wire and getting stranded. A superb experience, and well worth the 60.

Saturday dawns - and it's raining. So get kitted out in full wet weather gear, and head up the A5 for one of the laybys under Tryfan. Five of us in a pal's BMW, which bongs at one point, and he says 'three degrees' ... then it starts sleeting. At the layby it's blowing a gale with horizontal snow and very cold. But nothing daunted off we troop, with a group of Commandos one of whom says to me "We have to do this, but you must be mad". We are at the milepost buttress heading for the Heather Terrace, so almost from the start it gets pretty steep with some scrambling. Snow is beginning to lay, so great care needed on sloping slabs. Then we see people coming down and they say that at the moment we are in the lee of the mountain, but at the top of the buttress you are fully exposed to the gale and snow and they decided discretion was the better part of valour. One of our number was not feeling well so decided to turn back, we pressed on a bit further but decided there was little point so turned back as well. Back to the B&B and dry out, then nothing for it but to stroll down to Bettws and explore. Didn't take long, so inevitably ended up in several pubs for the afternoon.

We were staying at Oakfield House just outside Bettws, the group reckoned it was the best place we had stayed at, I can recommend it highly. Sunday raining even more so we just headed for home. I'd forgotten Vee's sunroof leaks, my seat was wet, so I put my waterproof jacket over it. My passenger said there was a drip of water on the sun visor, so I wiped it off and tipped it down to wipe the top of it, and got a cascade of cold water right into my lap for my trouble! My pal roared his head off, the last time it happened was at Ben Nevis but that time as I went round a roundabout it all cascaded over him, so honours even. 290 uneventful miles, weather drying up as we got closer to home so Vee was dry externally on arrival, and just needed some time in the sun to dry out internally next day.


April service for Bee

Uneventful except to find a trace of dampness on one shoe where it goes into the lower piston on the left-hand rear back-plate. Peel the boot back to find it damp in there as well. I can't really leave it, and do have a spare (bought two when I needed to replace the other side a couple of years ago) as well as clips, so just get on with it. For some reason comments about people using circlips instead of the dreaded E-clip were going through my mind, and I suddenly wondered if circlip pliers would make the fitting any easier - and it was an absolute doddle! That was even with straight pliers, angled ones would be even easier as the one U-bolt wouldn't be in the way. Valve clearances checked, don't normally do this each year as they never change, but as expected after last-year's headgasket changed I found the gaps closed up a little.

April 12th - MGB Register Spring Run to Sudeley Castle

Our first time on this, but apparently they have been running it for 25 years involving Sudeley many times! A choice of two start points plus 'DIY', Hatton Country World suited us being only about half an hour away. Very much a "will it, won't it" as after a glorious week rain was forecast for the Sunday. But they always get it wrong, and this was no exception. What was forecast to be dull all day with rain in the afternoon turned out to be gloriously sunny albeit with a cold wind. It's true cloud built up mid-way through the afternoon but by that time we were inside the castle. Got greyer later, but no rain until about an hour after getting back home (eventually).

A glorious route through the many pretty villages and much scenery of Warwickshire and Gloucestershire, sadly marred by an unexpected road closure about half-way for Sunday morning top-dressing. We tried to fiddle our way round but just couldn't line up where we were with the instructions, so after a while just made our own way cross-country to Winchcombe. Lots of interesting stuff in the castle, gardens not at their best this early but still lots of spring colour. Barn and Snowy owls in the grounds for the Navigator.

Journey home straightforward until just outside Evesham and a bad accident at a junction we needed to get through. Police blocked everything up as usual and showed no signs of keeping the traffic flowing, so we had to turn round and retrace out steps, ironically on probably the longest lane we had been on all day without any turnings, and a 15 mile detour.


March - It pays to fiddle

I'd been helping a pal track down a lighting issue and possible bad connections by comparing voltage at various points on my car with his. This meant having the ignition on for a few minutes at a time, coil disconnected but didn't bother with the pump. About twice over several days I got the slightest whiff of what might have been petrol, but as I have a spare gallon in the garage and all sorts of other chemicals, couldn't track it down, and while the ignition was on the pump only clicked infrequently, so ignored it. Then during another play where the ignition had been on, I heard an occasional 'tick' after it had been turned off. That allowed me to track down the source.

January - "well 'oil be blowed"

Following the replacement of Bee's oil filter adapter last spring I had noticed that the cooler hoses were in the wrong holes in the radiator diaphragm panel - Clausager shows the short one in the lower hole and the long one in the upper, whereas mine were the other way round. I wanted to correct that as well as replace the almost certainly original gauge hose, and also to fit a 'low oil pressure' warning to warn of sudden and total loss of pressure which is reported from time to time, and does rely on you looking at the gauge to spot. Got all the way through that, and tested for leaks twice, then on the third, longer, test where I had got the car out of the garage so as not to fill it with fumes, I spot a jet coming from one of the cooler hoses! Full story here.