2019

A Christmas gift from the Navigator:

December:

Someone emailed me with a fourth gearbox rebuilder about an hour away, professional web site, spoke to them and they seemed OK, so time to stop messing about.

ZS ABS and speedo issues.


November - ZS coolant reservoir leaking.

October - time to think about getting the V8 gearbox rebuilt:

Started scouting around, and speaking to people. The big issue was the thought of having the get the engine and box out in one go, which isn't possible at home with the hoist I can borrow, and sending the car away again is really something I didn't want to do. However I got passed onto an ex-BL/Rover chap local to me who repairs them, and he told me how to get the engine out first, and then the box, which makes it doable at home. But although he can repair them it looks like the bearing between the 1st and 3rd motion shaft is making the noise, which can mean the case-hardening on one or other shafts has gone through, and this chap has no source for one of the shafts.

Roger Parker mentioned a commercial enterprise a long way away from me who says he can do it all, including the OD (which being OK I'll have rebuilt anyway as I don't want that having a problem after the gearbox is done, like I have with the gearbox after the engine was done) once I get the box down to him which means either a very long journey or trusting a carrier.

Then spoke to Clive Wheatley who said he'd heard bad things about that place and gave me the contact info for another commercial enterprise which is local, sounded fine on the phone but quoted half what the other people did. As requested I emailed him detailing the problems and seeking clarification on the price ... and a couple of weeks later have heard nothing - not good.

Then found a supplier of both 1st and 3rd motion shafts - albeit at 600 or so each, so back to the first local chap ... but he's now at his holiday-home in Dorset until March!

Late September:

Having seen two apparently different 4x4 MGBs i.e. shells on Land Rover chassis at MG events in 1992 and 1994 I receive an email from the present owner of one of them.

 

September 22nd - Sywell Pistons and Props:

Or not, as it turned out. Beautiful day Saturday, but dire forecast for Sunday which could have curtailed a lot of flying and made wandering around the other events pretty miserable. As it turned out it didn't seem too bad as even the Lancaster turned up, even more amazing as it was 'standing in' for the Dakota! Maybe next year.

September 16th-18th - North Devon Coastal Path:

A last-minute thing based on a good forecast for a few days. With a couple of pals, our walking group has reduced in numbers significantly with the younger ones dropping out! Drove down Monday afternoon with the wipers on and off all the way, and sea mist and drizzle that evening - not quite what we were hoping for given the forecast. Stayed in Ilfracombe at the Glen Devon Hotel for 19 pppn which is probably as cheap as you can get. Apart from the 'shared' shower and toilet we weren't sharing with anyone it was perfectly acceptable for us with a good breakfast. Tuesday dawned sunny and cool with a bit of cloud. Drove out to Hunter's Inn at Heddon's Mouth near Martinhoe in pal's car that we left there, and started the walk back at 9:45 am.

A bit of a climb out of the pretty valley by which time the sky was cloudless and remained so, and temperatures very comfortable for the exertion. Good views along the coast of course, but not quite as scenic as round Port Isaac. A steady slog without too much upping and downing to the highest point of Great Hangman, then down a bit and up again to Little Hangman before dropping down to Combe Martin. One of our number was suffering a bit with a dicky hip so skipped Little Hangman and opted to stay in the pub at Combe Martin while we carried on to Ilfracombe. Combe Martin to Ilfracombe is not very inspiring, quite a lot alongside the road rather than on the coast until Watermouth with a cafe at the harbour and a welcome cup of tea. Then more scenic, including an annoying section that takes us 90% the way round a very large field when you can see the exit just a couple of hundred yards away from the entry. Much more upping and downing here, with the dreaded staircases with varying 'pitch' so you can't keep up a steady pace, then down to Hele again alongside the road. From there it's a choice of 3/4 of a mile by road round Hillsborough hill to Ilfracombe, or 1000ft up to the top and back down again over the course of a mile. Having come this far we might as well, and what a slog that was. Staircases most of the way up, a bit better down, and get back to the B&B at about 6pm. So eight hours with few stops and 13 or so miles. We two get into the V8 and drive to Combe Martin to pick up No.3, then on to Hunter's Inn with one of them squashed in the back to pick up his car!

Next day I head home while the other two have other plans. Miss the petrol station in Barnstaple so have to carry on at a reasonable pace wondering when the next station is, and it's a local independent where I have to pay top whack. Oh well, it's only money. On the way coming off a roundabout I end up behind a huge wagon with a very tall flat back that seems to come down much lower than normal, and I realise the low-pressure area behind it is sucking up dirt and stones from the road surface that I'm driving into even at the slow speed we are still at. So drop right back, but not before a stone hits the windscreen and goodness knows where else. Stay several hundred yards back until there is an overtaking lane, and at last I can get my foot down. 420 miles and no problems ... except a couple of days later I get in the car to see a crack in the windscreen going across from my side! Oh well - again - I fitted it myself a couple of years ago so I can weigh-up the cost of a new screen against the excess and risk someone else scratching my new paint as happened before. If it's going to happen I'd rather it was me than a so-called professional.

September 7th-8th - The Lincoln Imp with Lincoln MG Owner's Club:

Another first, although we had planned it a couple of years ago until the hotel we had booked informed us the day before that the restaurant was closed. Travelled up via Nottingham (M69 closed, and a far pleasanter journey for it) to Newark for Shell and the Air Museum as a lunch break. The museum was really good, masses to see, a lunch break extended to three hours wandering round, great value at 8 each. Really well laid out in several halls as well as externally (including our eighth Vulcan XM594). Grounds very well kept with a memorial garden for a crew of 19 year-old trainees and two instructors who crashed in a Stirling on a training flight in very bad weather in 1944 and were all killed. Apparently the conditions were so bad locally that operational crews were grounded, but training carries on so they have a chance of knowing what to do if they encounter it on operations - theory at any rate.

We stayed at Supreme Inns, Bicker near Boston. Our room was much more basic than that depicted on the website - more like a Premier Inn, but as we would only be sleeping there for one night or two at the most on another occasion it was fine. The bathroom was getting a little tired in terms of the age of the fittings, but perfectly clean. The staff were really nice and the restaurant excellent with a decent choice, very quick service and good quality. Breakfast buffet was again good, with some of the nicest scrambled eggs from the buffet I've had anywhere.

Started the run under clear blue skies from Threekingham which the locals know as 'Three Kings' - said to refer to three Danish kings killed in a battle with the Saxons in about 680. Or not, depending on who is telling you. Organisers very friendly, some runners and riders around us less so as a friendly greeting on our arrival was ignored. But we are used to that. As with the Yorkshire Pudding Run we had signed up for bacon baps to keep back for lunch. One of the smallest runs we have been on, no list with the route book but we were all on one side of A4 when checking in. It started off as 'the slooooow run' as with four hours to do 70 miles some seemed to be regarding it as a regularity trial, not helped by a cyclist holding us up for one of the longest stretches at 2.4 miles of single-track. Despite that we travelled through lovely countryside and villages, changing from flat open fields to the rolling Wolds travelling south towards Uppingham, then back up to Belvoir castle. Encountered a closed road very near the end, not helped by an incorrect instruction, with cars going in all directions. But a map was included with the route, I reckoned I could tell where we were, and a straight on then left turn would get us back on track, and so it proved. Parked up at the castle but having visited Belvoir before we just strolled down to the public car park and cafe for a cuppa - the castle tea rooms were aimed at people taking afternoon tea at 30 per head! Strolled back through the gardens, not very impressive or well kept, glad we hadn't had to pay to get in at 12 or 18 for house and garden. By around 3:30 we ready to mosey home, still good sunshine so top down and deliberately routed via Nottingham again as madam sat-nav prefers A46, M69 and M6. Good journey back, even the M42 was behaving itself for once. 270 miles and no problems, just a couple of squawks from the clutch pedal again as back in May, after nothing on the 400-miler in July.

25th August - Bruntingthorpe fast-jet taxi day:

Another first for us, each May and August Bank Holiday, and one we have been trying to get to for a couple of years now. Comet (the only one in the world that moves under its own power), VC10, Jet Provosts, Canberra, Venom. Nimrod, Buccaneers (Navy, folding wings was neat), Lightning. Iskra, Hunter and Victor with most of them doing multiple passes including one fast-pass. Several of them use a cartridge start system which makes a pretty impressive sound and smoke display. We were positioned about mid-way where they were going full tilt just before shutting off the engines, so not the best view of starting up. The crowd line was just 10 metres from the edge of the runway, and ear defenders were absolutely essential for most of them. The smaller jets went up two and three in staggered abreast 'formation' putting us even closer. The Lightning was almost certainly the loudest, trying to film it the sound waves were buffeting against my chest so I couldn't keep the camera still. The Victor perhaps not quite so loud even with four engines as opposed to two, but something that size moving so fast so close is impressive! On its return from the first slow pass it came across the runway towards us in order to make the turn at the bottom, and the wing-tip came across to the crowd barrier so much so that people were leaning back!

As each aircraft had to be towed to the end of the runway and run up I was wondering how much hanging about there would be, but apart from the Victor which took about an hour it was well organised with large-model flying displays in between each run. One of those was a Lightning which probably should come under the category of 'Very Large Model' as it was almost big enough to seat a small child. Taxiing down for its turn and take-off it ended up against the crowd line with someone racing down to retrieve it. It then took off but with some very strange attitudes, then banked across over some tall trees and out of sight. It momentarily appeared at a very steep angle, and moving away rather than climbing, and that was the last we saw of it. Subsequently discovered in a field some miles away, we were told.

Blisteringly hot, and the journey back up the M6 was notable for a half-hour hold-up, which in Vee wasn't much fun. I'll probably go again but the Navigator said she would rather see them flying.

2nd August - Vee's MOT:

After the contretemps with Halfords over the ZS MOT, and despite them doing the work at cost and then giving me a 50% refund because of the blatant errors in the information their workshop staff gave out, I didn't feel comfortable taking Vee there so soon. Two others equally locally - one at 15 with no pass no fee which I'm a bit suspicious about, and the other at 40 i.e. the same as Halfords so that was the one. Quite a bit of hanging about as there is only one person on the desk and I copped for two long phonecalls one when booking in and the other when collection, but she passed with no advisories. He pointed out that the previous mileage record was incorrect as it showed 221,203 - on a 5-digit odometer. The irony is that as she is on the third time round the clock it really was that mileage last time! He put the actual odo reading in this time.

July 27th-29th - The Yorkshire Pudding Run with Leeds Classic Car Club:

In contrast to Cornwall the weather not looking good at all! In the event it was raining when we left home Saturday mid-day, and still raining when we were preparing to come home on the Monday. Heavy spray and a lot of traffic travelling up on the M6 and M65, originally we had planned to spend some time at Turbary Woods Owl and Bird Sanctuary which we have visited a couple of times before, but knowing they don't fly the birds in wet weather we started out later and went direct to the B&B. I say 'direct' but when we diverted off the M65 to fill up with Shell I realised it was very close to The Darwen Spitfire Memorial as the smallest town in the UK to fund a Spitfire in WW2. Drove 'the extra mile' to it but still raining and nowhere obvious to park for a picture. Good job I have the Rhino cover (goes over the erected hood unlike the storm cover) as at the B&B it was pounding down at various times and it does stop the rain coming in round the windows.

As for the run, initially it was 'the humps run' as there were about five very slow miles of them soon after starting and another stretch later on, by which time it had become 'the convoy run' as with no indicated places of interest we just bunched up stuck behind some people travelling very slowly rather than pulling over and letting others past. Not good with 160 cars on the route! It was only late morning mid-day when people were stopping for coffee and then lunch, and others going off-route for some reason, that we found ourselves blissfully alone in the Dales proper so stopped and had our own lunch break, and fortunately by now the rain had stopped so we did get the second half the run and back to the B&B top-down. Lunch was bacon baps handed out at the start and wrapped in foil if you weren't going to eat them before the start - something we had never considered before as with weekends away we always have a hotel breakfast so have always turned them down. After the breakfasts we had this time we initially didn't think we would fancy them but took them anyway, and they were very enjoyable by lunch-time. We shan't be turning them down again! A bit further on we crossed routes with The Pennine Way near Malham where there was an ice-cream van, with a couple coming away with polystyrene cups of tea. Only ice-creams priced on the outside but I asked anyway, "I'm not really doing teas, but never mind" and that went down well too, with a break to stretch our legs with some walkers interested in the car and what we were doing. A good varied route (bar the humps ...), having done runs in the Dales and the Pendle a couple of times each in the past we did wonder if we would be retracing our steps, but all new for us in the western Dales and eastern Lancashire. A big plus after some of our complaints recently was some nice long inters (only 15 under one mile and three of those were the last three), where there were two turns in quick succession they were given as one instruction instead of two, and no unnecessary ones like every cattle grid despite a number of them on the route - New Forest take note!

We stayed at The Craven Heifer at Kelbrook and it was superb. Attractive outside space (sadly too wet to enjoy) and buildings with very modern rooms. Friendly and efficient staff, the food was fantastic, probably the nicest we have had anywhere in terms of choice and presentation as well as flavour. Very generous portions and the breakfasts were enormous, probably double what we have had elsewhere, it defeated The Navigator on the second day and I had to skip the extra toast and marmalade.

Fortunately travelling back on the M6 it was sunny and very warm so Bee dried out all bar the furry underside of the hood and the spare wheel cover, where the occasional drip comes through the boot lid badges in persistent rain when parked. 435 miles with no problems apart from having to spend about nine hours of them with the hood up.

PS: Given the amount of rain, flooding and damage to roads etc. since our return we probably got away lightly,

July 2nd-5th - Cornwall:

Exploring some more of the South West Coastal Path, this time round Port Isaac and Port Quin - weather looking promising! Had already planned to travel in Vee which was just as well as Bee went hors de combat with a suddenly dead battery just two days previously. Reasonable journey down to The Longcross Hotel just inland between the two ports, an impressive Victorian building with formal gardens open to the public. Spectacular raised conservatory dining room and terrace with a panoramic view over the rolling fields to the sea, at this time of year the sun went down directly out to sea with some glorious colours. Excellent food and wine, and reasonably priced. A green 1965 roadster appears in the car park next to Vee for the three days, didn't bump into them in the car park, and although we had an idea who they were left them in peace.

An ideal location to leave the car behind next day and do a circular walk down to Port Quin, along the coastal path to Port Isaac, then back to the hotel. Loads of film vehicles in the farm just down from the hotel, and Martin Clunes ('Doc Martin') and 'his' son and dog doing some publicity shots in Port Quin harbour. Port Quin is the anglicised name for the village, the old Cornish is 'Portwen', which is the TV name for Port Isaac of course. Port Quin is just a cluster of houses round the harbour, no commercial activity at all despite some holiday cottages. Then climb up onto the cliffs for some superb views of the coastline. Weather not too hot which was just as well as there is always quite a bit of upping and downing along the North Coast, but we have all day. Great views coming into Port Isaac, and more filming, the last few scenes before the school holidays and the hordes descend. Location spotting round the village, have a cup of coffee on arrival, then a bit later a cream tea at The Slipway, both very good. On the harbour a father was just handing an ice-cream cone to his daughter and down swooped a seagull and scoffed the lot - daughter was not a happy bunny!

Next day drive to Tintagel and its 'King Arthur' connections, but what a disappointment that was. Basically just a T-junction with the visitor centre, King Arthur's halls and The Old Post Office, with a church and ruined castle nearby - and the castle was closed for renovations. Several huge car and coach parks, I can't imagine what they all find to do, I don't suppose many walk far. Still we were there for the walks, and had a pleasant circular over a couple of hours, and a cup of coffee. Only mid-day so moved onto Boscastle. A much nicer place (despite too many people with handfuls of dogs) with very scenic village and harbour entrance, we strolled out to the cliffs at the harbour entrance and spent a very pleasant half-hour sitting up there in the peace and quiet, and more glorious coastal views. While there I realised that the cluster of white 'buildings' we've been able to see in the far distance since we have been in the area is the GCHQ listening station near Morwenstowe we walked past on our previous visit in 2016. Back to the village for another cream-tea, then the hotel.

Next day pack up and head for home. Pretty hot now, and traffic worse in several places than when coming down. 520 miles and averaged 31mpg overall, the only 'wrinkle' being one corner of the rear bonnet insulation that had started to come down recently had got much worse, so needed sticking back.

June 30th: Every picture tells a story ...

June 25th: ZS MOT - and it failed on exhaust back box corroded and leaking which was classed as a 'Major - repair immediately' - and that is where not one, but two sagas started!

June: Just after closing Vee's tailgate there was a bang, but I couldn't think what it might have been or see anything untoward anywhere, but the next time I opened it there was another bang and it wouldn't stay up!

May 31st: Since putting Vee back together following the repaint in 2017 I'd been conscious that the drivers drop-glass was a bit stiff ... and today the handle broke. A quick check showed that half way up the regulator went back and fore easily enough, whereas the glass itself was pretty tight pulling up and pushing down.

May 25th to 27th - Moor 2 Sea, Devon:

Journey down the M5 was a bit of a mare being Bank Holiday Saturday at half-term (but that's our fault) taking 5 1/2 hours instead of just over three, and hot. Stayed at our back-stop of Premier Inn with Beefeater when we were put off by the negative reviews on other places in the vicinity - Premier Inn was a little more stripped-back than we remember but perfectly adequate for a couple nights kip, but the Beefeater at Newton Abbot was dreadful. Dirty, poorly presented and unpleasant food, with some of the advertised components missing and we had to ask for them - like teriyaki salmon with no teriyaki! I was shocked to discover later that Tripadvisor has more 'terrible' ratings for this establishment than any other category.

Another first-timer, and one I'd been wanting to do for a long time. However a little disappointing in that the route did not actually get to the sea, and up on the moors low cloud meant for some of the time there wasn't much to 'sea' up there either. But still an interesting and varied route, with some pretty challenging hairpin bends up steep hills. Route book was just text - no tulip diagrams or inters which I had to do myself, something we haven't had for a long time. One of the benefits of the area is that virtually every junction on Dartmoor has a name, on the upright of the signpost, and included in the instructions so it was crystal-clear that you were at the right junction. We spent a fascinating hour in Dartmoor Prison Museum which has loads to see, and good value at 3 each. Mind you, if you don't get out of the car park by closing time you are locked in! Top-down about half-way until we ran into rain, and even though it brightened up later we were a bit cold so it stayed up. Lovely cream tea at the finish, and friendly people.

Much easier trip home - just over 3 hours in one go. 465 miles in all, with a bit of a squawk and vibration at the clutch pedal on two occasions (once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is ...) in the hundreds of clutch operations that is part of a run like this, so something to keep an eye on.

May 19th - Charnwood Caper, North Leicestershire:

"At least it was dry". Good starting point at Quorn Railway Station, with a steam train pulling in to add to the interest. Good organisation and friendly. Second time on this run but the first half was through too much built-up area and too many right-turns onto busy trunk roads. Also marred by catching up with about eight cars in convoy travelling at 35mph, we took an hour and a half to do the first 40 miles, with an MGB with excessively fat arches popping and banging in front of us all the way. The first stop showing refreshments and loos was half-way in, and by that time I seen at least one car parked by a field gate with a female in the passenger seat and no driver - reason obvious :o) The first stop was packed, the second and third only a few miles further on so we had our lunch-break at the far end of a nearly empty car park in peace. The second half was more scenic, on our own most of the time but still got stuck behind a 35mph Midget for too long, with other cars building up behind us. If that happens to us we pull over and let them through, but what do I know! Finish at Thoresby Hall Ollerton at about 1:30, with craft shops and a museum for the Nottinghamshire Yeomanry. Won on the raffle! Stroll around and headed home at about 2:30 as it was 80-plus miles home. Despite the forecast for heavy showers and thunder we saw barely a spot all day and some sunshine. Good route book with plenty of information, too much to read en-route. Also too many intermediates at every village and junction even when all we were doing was staying on the main road, which led to 60 of the 90 inters being a mile or less. Maybe we have been doing these way too long and are getting picky. 215 trouble-free miles in all.

May - the Big Clean prior to the first organised run. Doing the wheels I spotted a broken spoke - first since 2009, I think. Odd as I had the wheels off for the service and always check the spokes, but none noticed then. Used the weight of the ZS to push the bead off the rim at the required point. The V8 is easier as I can jack under the spring pan rather than having the suspension hanging down with the ZS so less jacking is needed to get the wire wheel tyre under the other one, but the V8 was behind the roadster on the ramps.

May 14th - Bee's MOT: I wonder how many actually are continuing with MOTs (as they claimed they would) now a lot more cars are potentially exempt. Government figures show only 6% of pre-1960 cars continued to be tested when they had become exempt, current figures for the latest exemptions are around 50%. Different tester this year who turned down the opportunity to have me help, probably because I was the only car there at 8:30. No problems, and he measured the emissions for me (for interest) which I'd not been able to get before - 8.82% CO and 947 HC. Back home put it on my Gunson's Gastester and it was pretty close. Oddly if I have the Gastester level I can't get it down to 2.0 for calibration, but if I tip it slightly sideways either way it drops right down! An advisory of 'near-side rear damper light misting or not damping', manual bouncing it just does one and a half when released which seems normal, and the fluid level was correct. A few weeks ago I did find a fluid of some kind on the floor under the damper, what it was I can't imagine, it's not dropped any since. On the question of advisories, the cars usually get one or two which having inspected I often do nothing about, and they don't get mentioned again!

Feb to April: Plenty of sunny weather in Feb and March so both Bee and Vee getting plenty of local use. Late March early April the three cars get serviced and a look over, round and under. The only things of note were the handbrake lever boots on Bee breaking up - very common these days, so I get two pairs expecting Vee's to be much the same but they were fine. What I did spot on Vee is the near-side track-rod end dust-cover not seated correctly at it's large end and its blue retainer spring a bit buckled. While trying to reseat that (gave up) I notice it had a hole in it, so after some faffing about ordered a pair of the covers. Some time ago someone gave a source for silicone rubber versions, but looking at those they were quite a bit bigger than the ones on Vee, particularly the distance between the small end and the large end. The closest I could get off the same supplier (in Bulgaria!) were still slightly big in that dimension but closer in the others, and in polyurethane. There are other suppliers but also quite a bit bigger and in rubber, so I'll see how I get on with the poly ones. Springs not supplied, the large retaining spring is actually flat rather than round wire, but I manage to tease that back into shape and refit the existing cover pending arrival of the replacements.

January 1st: Skies grey but roads dry and salt-free for our New Years Day walk, so get Vee out. Off the drive and ... mizzle spots on the windscreen! Oh well, never mind. It mizzled on and off all the time we were out and I needed the wipers on the way back, so she needed leathering down before going back in the garage. Only did as far down as the bright trim strips as I could see the wheels and the sills had picked up a film of dirt, that can stay for a wash in warmer weather. Frost forecast for the next five days, and there was some salt around next day, so they'll be parked up for a while now.