A rare dry day early in the month means both Bee and Vee get a run out to turn the wheels and everything else.

In summary, a relief to get Vee back and looking very good, but a disappointment with Bee showing problems with No.2 exhaust valve again. Pondering as to options required.


Vee's seats recovered, she's in full use now.

But have found the near-side ARB drop-link broken for the third time since living here. I'm convinced it is the many traffic-calming measures round here, and I can't avoid them. However no problems with Bee, so I think it must be Vee's PO-fitted uprated 7/8" front bar - 40% thicker than standard bars - putting much more stress on the drop-links. These are said to be necessary when fitting (PO again) the RH rear bar, but even when the factory fitted them for 1977 and later they only upped the front bar from 9/16" to 5/8". As it happens eBay has a 5/8" bar for sale, so I get and fit that. Time will tell.

The last few times I've had Bee out she has run fine, but sounded a bit rough backing her into the garage i.e. very light throttle. Head under the bonnet the same light throttle made the engine rock quite a bit. Checked the carbs and found that whilst the rear one was correct to the lifting pin, the front one was weak. Adjusting that I could get it richer, but the lifting pin made little difference, and I couldn't get the momentary rise one should. Checking the plugs the front pair did seem slightly weaker. Didn't seem to make much difference to the rough small throttle opening or engine rock.

Started thinking about Colortune, which many seem to like, although the only time I tried one was way back in the early 70s on a Mini and I couldn't get on with it. The indication was too variable and needed quite large changes of the mixture nut to get a visible change, whereas with the lifting pin only about half a flat one way or the other is needed to go either side of the correct point to hear a difference. Started browsing eBay, and was surprised to find several on offer, and going for quite high prices. Kept lurking, demand seemed to reduce, and I got one for not much more than half-price. Still can't get on with it. Apart from very weak or very rich, anything around the correct area had flecks of orange, various shades or blue to white at various times, with large changes of mixture needed to go from rich to weak which were more obvious as audible changes in idle speed, i.e. just like my previous experience. The only useful thing was sharply and briefly opening the throttle which showed less enrichment on the front carb to the rear, so I enriched the front again to make that aspect the same, and it's a pain to keep swapping between 1 and 4!

The spark plugs are Bosch four-point and as an experiment I've been leaving them in to see how long they would last. It's been nearly 40k now, so I'll try a new set. As an aside Vee's ran for 25k before I started getting hot-start problems. New NGK BP6ES and the rocking is certainly much less, and I can now get a clearer indication on the front lifting pin. Still not the momentary rise, but only half a flat is needed to go from obviously weak to obviously rich, so easy enough to set it between them. Very little rocking now, and it's idling smoothly at 400 rpm on the tach while warming up, I can remember years ago setting it at about 800 as it would rock quite badly below that, and not bothering to try any lower since then.

Still a bit of an irregular beat in the exhaust, and doesn't seem to pull quite as well as I remember, but I've been driving both the V8 and the ZS since then. So once hot I do a compression check, and find a problem. 1 to 4 dry were 165 118 160 168 and wet were 178 132 173 184. So 2 well down, although it came up by the same amount as 1 and 3 when wet, with 4 being higher than the rest both dry and the wet increase. When I had the head gasket fail in May 2014 I started by checking the compressions, and got between 160 and 173 on 1, 3 and 4 with 2 at 127, so No. 2 again and it is worse now than before. No problems with the gasket this time, and last time when pouring petrol into the combustion chambers I did have a leak on No.2 exhaust and weeps on a couple of others, so I ground them all in to get no weeps on any. I didn't redo the compressions after that, perhaps I should have done, but apart from the last few trips I have had no reason to suspect a problem. I put air into No.2 as I did before, and got hissing from No.3 plug-hole also as before, so again exhaust valve.

I'll check the valve clearances, which have always been odd with the rear ones tending to have the greatest gap at other than the strict 'rule of nine' point. Then I'll have to ponder whether to investigate that valve again and risk it happening again, or whether just to replace the head and hopefully be done with it.

September - Vee's progress

First miles, external and internal trim and badging fitted, anti-rust treatment to backs of panels and sills, rear fogs re-fitted, and anti-freeze substituted for the plain water originally used in case it needed to be drained again. Lovely driving her again, especially without the awful hot tapping. Subsequently running-in complete so oil changed to 20W/50 and new filter, and last bits done bar the seat recovering.

September 2nd-4th, South Downs Run

Travelling long distances to the start of a club run is a bit of a dichotomy these days - scenic route which takes hours because of the amount of traffic in towns, or motorways which are much quicker but even busier and noisier and needs the hood to be up. Solid traffic along the M42, M40 and A34 as far as our lunch break at Chieveley services on the M4, then a bit quieter to Winchester. Then the M3, M27 and A27 to Arundel were horrendous. Still, we got there in one piece, glorious sunshine but hood up all the way.

Weather forecast had been wet for the Sunday, but in the event a very slow moving front from the west, when we were travelling east anyway, meant that even by mid-afternoon at Eastbourne it was barely spitting. Despite the South Downs it was not the most scenic of runs - thick woodland early on, then high hedges for most of the rest of the way to the coast, lots of pretty villages though. We stopped by Belle Tout lighthouse and had a walk along the cliffs, and became aware that it was snowing - chalk flakes. Got back to Bee and she was covered in them. Had another stop and short walk at Beachy Head and saw the relatively new memorial to the bomber crews of WW2, then drove on down into Eastbourne. Very well organised and marshalled, and friendly people. Hood had been down all the way, but put it up then and had a short walk along the front, then headed back to Arundel meeting quite heavy rain on the way. The afternoon forecast indicated the rain would give over so I didn't bother putting the storm cover on, but in the event it rained all night so Bee got a bit wet inside, and still raining next morning all the way to Winchester.

Didn't fancy the M27 and M3 again, so this time we headed north from Arundel to Petworth, then west to Winchester, which was a pleasant country drive. Mad traffic then to get onto the A34, and very busy from there all the way home, with a 3 mile stop-start queue to get onto the M40 because the police had closed one lane. Still, only a couple of showers after Winchester, so Bee dried out by the time we got home. 480 miles, a bit reluctant to start after standing in the rain all Sunday night, and water dripping on our legs a bit, but that was all.

August - Vee's progress

Sunroof re-fitted to support the roof for flatting and mopping, back home mid-August, fitted out, and MOT'd on 31st!

July - Vee's progress

Engine running, clutch and brake systems refilled and bled, doors and tailgate re-hung, body painted.

June - Vee's progress

Engine finally delivered, installed, and most engine-bay ancillaries fitted.

June 11th - Arden Heritage Run

The 25th and last ever run, the first in 1993 to the newly-opened Motor Heritage Centre (now the British Motor Museum) was our first organised run in Bee. A bit of a dull start but gradually the sun came out, and it was a lovely warm afternoon. A very enjoyable route from The Valley, Evesham through the Warwickshire and Gloucestershire countryside to Stanway House - much better than last year. Quite a lot to see there, including the house and grounds, a water mill, and the gravity-fed fountain which at 300ft is the highest fountain in Britain and the highest gravity-fed in the world. 117 very pleasant miles, sadly the last 'local' run.

May 14th - Staffordshire Moorlands Run

Hood up for the trip up as it was mostly M6. Start at Foxfield Light Railway, Blyth Bridge. About 25 cars, very friendly people which makes a nice change. We've found this before with these smaller runs that are pretty-well all local club members. Very scenic through north Staffs overlooking Cheshire, then up onto the moorlands. Mid-point at Chatsworth Garden Centre for a T and P, very busy in that area. Finished at one of Arkwright's mills in the Derwent valley - Cromford, with pleasant canal walk opposite. Just one black cloud and a few spots of rain while we were stopped for lunch, so we drove on a few miles into sunshine to eat the rest. Challenging tulip instructions! Several mileages quite a bit off, plus a couple of junctions incorrectly drawn, and what looked like a computer hiccup in the Manifold Valley where there were several junctions shown with no mileages or notes. Tricky enough, even trickier was that hardly any of the turns on the whole route had any information about signposts, so all you had was the shape of the junction to check you were on the right route ... and not all of those were accurate. Fortunately at the end of the Manifold Valley there was a village mentioned which did appear on a signpost to the right, and after a couple of turns we knew we were on the right track. We were in a bit of a convoy in the valley as people were stopping and trying to work out what to do, but at the end of the valley when we turned right all but one other car turned left! Other than that we hardly saw another car for the whole trip, was great - convoys boring as well as irritating for other road users. No clue as to where the run finished (until we got there), so if we hadn't found ourselves on the right route we would have had two choices - phone up and say 'where are you?' Or just head for home. Organisers very apologetic at the end, obviously had some complaints, but as I say lovely people and we had a great day. Very warm in the afternoon, non-motorway journey home except for two junctions of the M42 so hood down, 210 very pleasant miles.

May - Vee's progress

Engine being built-up, doors, tailgate and bonnet with the backs painted

May - Black Tulips in Hockley Heath:

April 29th - 15th Wye Valley Run

In the past we have done this in a day, but it has meant a very early start, so this year we travelled down the day before for an overnighter. In the event a good decision as not only were we were expected to arrive at the start between 8 and 8:30am, but the run was a long one at 100 miles which would have meant the whole 290 miles in a single day.

Again no confirmation until immediately before the run, not even the cashing of the cheque. We nearly didn't get to the start - travelling from Monmouth to Chepstow along narrow lanes we were suddenly confronted with someone trying to overtake a van on a bend. It was only by us doing an emergency stop that she was able to pull back in behind the van before hitting us. On arrival we were supposed to be displaying a number so we could be guided to our numbered parking space, but no-one seemed to be taking any notice. At least we found the chap handing out the routes this time, but there only seemed to be two people marshalling the start, only one at the end, and no-one in between. An unusual 60's-looking two-seater at the start - a Doretti. Had vague recollections of the name but nothing else. Seemed to be British going by various features, and a bit 'Austin'-ey, but turns out to be Triumph-based by Swallow, 1954-55, so a pretty (as well as attractive) modern design at the time. Wandering around the car park we then came across second one!

The first 20 miles was pretty tortuous as it was all single-track and one of the slowest cars went off first, so it wasn't long before a convoy formed, which causes mayhem when you meet people going about their normal business coming the other way. Fortunately they all turned off into the first stopping-point - Llandegfedd Reservoir, and with a sigh of relief we carried on. After that we barely saw another car apart from at the other stopping points at Goytra Wharf, Weston Cider Mill (Old Rosie cider!) and Ross-on-Wye. The highlight was Kilpeck Church near Hereford, which dates back to Roman times. Very small, basically just one internal space, but with the most amazing 'grotesque' carvings around the main door and all the way round the building at the top of the walls. These have never been restored or replaced, but look as fresh and as sharp as the day they were carved. Finish as before at Tintern Abbey, but having toured the site last year we didn't need to do so again. We had been intending to take a walk up the River Wye, but having done quite a long walk round Ross, the clouds were really dark, and it was getting cold, we only stopped a few minutes before doing what most seemed to be doing - and that was heading for home.

Weather disappointing given the promises of plenty of sunny intervals even at 7am that morning - we had about two minutes at Westons Cider. However only a few spots of rain, not too much wind, but it was still pretty cold. Hood down all the way round the run, but up for the journeys down and back home. 290 trouble-free miles in all.

April - Bee's overdrive

Whittling down the leaks, I had identified one from the solenoid cover. I replaced the gasket, and put a smear of sealant on both sides for good measure. But as well as not fixing the leak, OD started dropping out soon after setting out, and eventually stopped working altogether. Electrical tests showed current was ceasing, but a test-wire added to the solenoid wire bullet showed that voltage was still reaching there, so the solenoid coil itself was faulty. Other discussions about solenoid leaks opined that leaks were down to the O-rings, so given those two things I opted to replace the whole thing. That fixed the OD, time will tell whether it also fixes the leaks. It did, and also revealed the cause of the electrical failure. I'd also identified an occasional drip from the gearbox drain plug, which is a tapered thread, and slackening that by about half a flat and retightening about 3/4 of a flat seems to have stopped that one as well. That just leaves a single occasional spot from the back of the sump somewhere. I've had a gasket for a while, and probably should have changed it when the engine was out for the clutch. But as that was in the middle of the 'season' I wanted to avoid too much time off the road as well as "shipwright's disease".

April - Vee's progress

Body primed, engine-bay top-coated and sides and back re-equipped, block bored.

March - Vee

Progress on the body and removed parts

March - Bee

Bee's clutch biting point had seemed low for many years, despite repeated bleeding. I went to quite some trouble to modify the push-rod and pedal to give more 'throw', but with very little effect. However after the clutch change last year, and the work to centralise the release bearing on the cover plate, it was now miles too high! I'd tried to reverse my modifications, which helped, but it was still too high. Then someone gave me a pair of pedals, so I swapped the clutch, and it's now much better.


Things come to a head at the restoration workshop, but even though there has been no progress on the engine Vee goes into the paint shop.


A couple of times last year I had the ZS solenoid click, but there was no crank until I released the key and tried again. When it did it again this month I had to do something about it rather than leave it until it packed up altogether.

Manage another short run in Bee this month. That's the good news, the bad is that work on Vee has stalled. I've not been able to do anything since the end of October, but worse is that the engine parts still haven't come back from the machiner, with no idea when they will, and all sorts of problems with the two people running the operation.