December: - more on the 78 BGT - floor repairs progress.
Weather so wet that neither Bee nor Vee have been out at all this month.
November 5: A gloriously sunny Saturday so an ideal afternoon to let Bee stretch her legs for an hour despite having had frost overnight and only about 8C - top-down of course. First decent run since our return from September's 'retirement' run, what with steering rack issues and a lot of wet weather.
November 4: - Vee's brake graunch: Been so wet lately hardly been out in Vee, but I'm pretty sure I have had the graunch since the last time I cleaned everything in May, time to check things again
November 2: - more on the 78 BGT - OD gearbox switch and floor repairs.
November 1: - Bee's steering rack. Back to the MOT place and the second replacement is showing the same problem - both inner joints worn - as her original and the first replacement. At least this time they showed me how they are detecting it - fortunately not using the shaker plates but by grasping the wheel off the ramp at 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock and rocking it back and fore - definite clonking which goes if the steering arm is pulled towards the front of the car, and I reproduce the clonk at home for further investigation. Not the inner joints, or the column UJ, but pinion shimming.
October 2: - more on the 78 BGT - OD wiring and floor preparation.
October 1: - Bee's steering rack. 2nd replacement fitted, planning on going back to the MOT place for them to just test that and see what transpires. Investigating just how an MOT tester would detect worn inner joints I learned with horror that the station I use has 'shaker tables' to pull and push the steering and suspension about so only one person is needed. The chap who told me - an MOT station inspector - said that said he won't let his station use the shaker table on his Midget as it puts 50 years of wear on the car each time!
September: - more on the 78 BGT - door seals and door closing.
September 9th - The 'Retirement' Run which started out as The Brunel Run with the Bristol Area MG Owners Club.
The Friday trip down the M5 was bad enough in near 30C temps with half an hour in stop-start traffic round Bristol and that was after transferring onto the A38 at Stroud until the M4 to avoid roadworks that would have added another 30 minutes. Even off the motorway I couldn't hear the sat-nav for some reason (it's happened before with Wayz on this phone, 'Here' on the other phone was deafening in all but the loudest traffic) so was having to spend much more time focussing on the screen that I would have liked. Compounded by taking us off the M5 at J21 instead of J22 as the hotel recommended (admittedly further) which meant about eight miles through single-track lanes and tiny villages which wasn't what you want after a long, hot and tiring journey. On the way back on the Saturday there were delays of 40 minutes travelling south round Bristol just from traffic so twice as bad as the Friday, fortunately travelling north was trouble-free.
Also fortunate that it was only a one-nighter. We have stayed at Premier Inn occasionally if we can't find a pub with rooms close enough to the start, but the one at Winscombe was very poor. The room was dowdy and smelt odd, it was as far away from Reception as it was possible to get and had two single beds crammed into the room as a family room which we certainly hadn't asked for. The attached Brewer's Fayre was always going to be basic but the decor was very tired with shiny carpets, and although the staff were pleasant enough service was very slow when it wasn't particularly busy going by the number of unoccupied tables. A single starter took ages to come and when it did was both dried out and almost cold as if it had been under a heat-lamp for ages then taken out and left.
The run itself was very strange. No marshals anywhere, or MG/club signs at the entrance to the site from the road, or up the track from there until the field. Lots of voices from upstairs in something that looked like a WW2 blockhouse, but no information as to how to get up there. Somebody else asking how to get up there so we followed them. Got into the room with all the people, wandered about looking for where to sign in ... but that was in another room back out into the corridor. Weirdest of all was that they wouldn't hand out the route instructions until you were at the front of the queue at the start which we have never encountered before. It meant neither of us had an opportunity for a read through to see what was coming up and options for stops, and the Navigator was pitched straight into the first instruction immediately after being flagged off. I'm sure they have been doing it this way for years, and their members (most of the runners seemed to be local) like it that way but we didn't. One good point was a map of the whole route marked up with the instruction numbers, and enough information to (hopefully) get you back on track with a sat-nav if you got lost. A mistake was to take us past the entrance to Frome show which took ages to get out onto the main road then stop-start for a mile or two to get past the entrance with people queueing to get in, similar to Rose of the Shires and Sywell earlier in the year but not quite as bad. A problem not of the club's making was encountering a closed road that wasn't supposed to be until the Monday after the run. A few of us pulled up and there was no option but to turn off and travel up a dirt track and hopefully find the main road, and then where we should have been. But just after starting along that I realised it was a track to a bakery, and there were hand-written signs directing us through the bakery yard and back out onto the road we should have been on, which was only closed off for about 100 yards. Further on there was a cafe and loo stop by a lake nearly half-way round, so we stopped there for a break. By this time we were thoroughly fed up not enjoying the run at all as having expected Somerset scenery all we had seen so far were hedges and congested villages with residents cars reducing the width to a single track. We decided to pack the run in at that point, and because our eyes along with everything else are 30 years older than when we started and having to concentrate harder on reading the instructions, we decided this would be the last one full-stop, and content ourselves with free-style trips mid-week in future.
Funnily enough Bee must have known what the overall weekend was going to be like as she didn't seem keen on going, momentarily cutting out as soon as we left home. I could see the tach flicking so pulled over, removed and refitted the distributor spade connection, and that got us practically all the way to the hotel with only a couple more brief hiccups. I did think the spade connection wasn't quite as tight as I would have expected, so took it off again and pinched the connector up a bit, it went on firmer and never missed a beat for the rest of the trip. My fault for taking that connection off a couple of days before the run to see if the wire would reach round the oil filter (later harnesses were configured that way probably to prevent that wire getting wrapped round the steering column when it left the harness with the coil wires). It didn't reach, so I just put it back. Probably a tarnished spade, going back in a slightly different position and picking up tarnished metal instead of clean, and a marginal connection. Pinched up it probably cut through the tarnish. As the Navigator said "You always say never to fiddle just before a trip", so mea culpa. 288 miles, as said very hot with the Saturday the hottest day of the year, no concerns in the traffic, normally she runs at about 7:30 since fitting this temp gauge, on the way down was more like 6:45, and on the way home at a steady 60-65 was virtually over the 'N', something I've not seen before. No concerns though running or stuck in traffic.
So the end of an era, we have done some glorious runs over the years and met some really nice people, but all good things must come to an end sometime.
August 2 - Bee's replacement steering rack gets the same advisories as before!
August 1 - Contacted by a local owner looking for some help with the electrics on his 1978 MGB GT.
July 11th-13th - Freestyle to Norfolk for a couple of days coastal walking.
We were very lucky with the weather seeing as we had torrential rain on the Sunday before and the forecast was not good. In the event the only rain was during Monday night, and well on the way back home on the Thursday afternoon, plenty of sun mornings and afternoons otherwise. The first day we walked along the beach towards Blakeney, but it was largely shingle so hard work up on the bank and down at the waters edge where there was some sand and the going was easier there was very little to look at. So we turned inland at Salthouse and caught the Coast Hopper bus to Blakeney. Excellent service, mostly half-hourly in each direction between Cromer to Wells-next-the-Sea. Blakeney quite a nice place, and the whole area is a revelation after the South West in that parking is plentiful and in many cases free, as at the Village Hall in Blakeney. Had a coffee down by the harbour, then a 2 1/2 mile walk in a loop out to the coast and back to Cley ('Cligh')-next-the-Sea and it's windmill, then the bus from there back to Weybourne. Weybourne beach has two fishing boats resident with crawlers to push them out and pull them back up the shingle. On the second morning one of the boats was out with the crawler on the water's edge, we could see it not far out pulling up lobster pots and hung about a bit hoping to see it come back in, but walked on and missed it. We went in the other direction to Sheringham with walking much easier on cliff path, steepish hill at the end where the Coastguard lookout is with good views back along the coast. Not much going for Sheringham, busy with narrow pavements having to keep going in the road to get past slow people, pushchairs, mobility scooters and people with handfuls of dogs. So had a coffee and up to the station and the North Norfolk heritage railway to catch the bus back, steam engine and a diesel both in so something to look at.
Monday afternoon sitting in the pub garden enjoying a drink there was sounded like a very low and near helicopter, but it turned out to be a Bell Boeing Osprey tilt-rotor! Unusual enough except perhaps close to where it is based some 60 miles away, but it then spent half an hour doing circuits and what seemed to be landings as it dipped below the houses. The Mucklebury Military Collection adjoins Weybourne and it seemed to be focussed on there. I kept thinking it would be leaving so didn't run down the lane towards the beach initially, then when I did just caught it before it left. Had I gone earlier I would have got better pictures.
Thursday morning was glorious although looking at the radar expected some heavy showers on the way home, but started out top-down. Got towards Kings Lynn and blow me if an Osprey didn't appear again in the field next to us. Looking blacker by now, I hoped our route would take us past it, but no bang into the middle of a sudden heavy shower. Fortunately just yards from a petrol station so nipped in under the canopy to put the top up. More heavy showers most of the way home, with heavy and slow traffic in the A14, M6 and M42. Fortunately stopped far enough from home for Bee to dry out (just as well as it rained non-stop on Friday). Off the M42 into the peace and quiet of Solihull, yards from home when there was a road closure and we had to go round the Wrekin back into the town centre and out again on another road. Annoying. 320 miles with Bee having a rest while we were there, and no problems.
June 2 Another unexpected benefit of running Vee on high octane.
June 1 - Bee's left rear damper change. Not a big job - theoretically just three nuts/bolts with no collateral dismantling required. But there can be a couple of problems along the way primarily with disconnecting the drop-link from the damper arm which means it's easier to take the damper, drop-link and spring bottom plate off as a unit and deal with them on the bench. As it happened the nut came undone and the drop-link pin came out of the arm, so only took about an hour, as did fitting the (reconditioned exchange) replacement.
4th June - Pendle Run, Burnley and Pendle MGOC:
Sunday and a beautiful morning and less than a mile to the Old Stone Trough for the start, for all marques an ages. As I say very friendly people, and I wondered what we were going to be faced with as I overheard one of the local members ask if we were going up a particular hill and when told "Yes" she said "Oh, that's cruel!". A very challenging run on mainly steep and narrow roads, but several times 'up on the top' fantastic views across miles of countryside, including the three Yorkshire Peaks and Pendle Hill itself. We had an hour's break at Gisburn Forest Hub where I just managed to spot they had toilets and a cafe (not in the notes) as we were passing - the first in over 40 miles. Plenty of parking but another unusual system where your number is recorded on entry and you pay on exit by typing in the registration (maybe we need to get out more ...). The charges only start for periods of 2 hours and more, we were there about an hour so free, then pottered back for the finish at about 3pm. The navigator wins on the raffle again - this time a bottle of Shiraz, more use to us than two microwaveable dinosaurs ...
Back to the Craven Heifer (highly recommended) (note this is not the pub of the same name near Skipton of which we know nothing). No vibrations all day but speeds rarely got above 40 and were mostly below, wheels and tyre checked again but nothing obvious. Sitting outside in the sun with a pint for the second afternoon was very welcome. Another great evening meal and breakfast next morning, and head for home. Sat-nav hanging off the mirror strut ... for about two miles when we encounter a huge tailback. Road resurfacing where they are conducting traffic in convoys along one side of the road, annoying to see about 30 cars come past each time but we only move forwards about five car lengths. Sat-nav is supposed to warn of things like this, but didn't. Half an hour later we are through, but once onto the M65 the vibration starts up again. Sometimes the gear lever is really moving around so I wonder if the gearbox mounts have parted, again nothing we can do. Then I start to hear a strange noise from the left rear, and almost immediately it's obvious we have a puncture ... getting out to see loads of wire strands sticking out of the tread like a wire brush! Fortunately a relatively quiet motorway and the near-side for wheel changing - but the trolley jack only just fits under. It's enough though so a quick change and on our way, and all vibrations stopped, so it was obviously the tyre. I'm relieved, as I wondered if it was going to be something else on the car that was going to take a lot longer to find and fix. Sat-nav wants us to turn off and head for Manchester - no way! After that a relatively easy journey onto the M6 and back home, with the sat-nav directing us onto the toll-road as expected.
So as I say an 'interesting' trip, but mostly enjoyable. 395 miles which is the furthest we had been since Dorset almost exactly two years ago, and no problems apart from the tyre.
21st May: - Rose of the Shires, Northants MGOC
180 miles, no problems, and the joint longest run since the Lincoln Imp two years ago. Next day an apology from the organiser saying "a little advertised event the proportions of which little was known." But I have to say Twitter posts have been advertising this two-day event since 11th October 2022 along with many other web sites so hardly 'little advertised', and going by the traffic hardly 'little known' either. I do wish people would put their hands up and say 'sorry, we got it wrong' when it's appropriate.
Black Tulips in May:
May 1st: Another graunch turning Vee into a parking space - Tesco again!
April 1st: Woke up one morning suddenly realising I hadn't checked the alignment of the steering column UJ with the new rack! Although I have checked the alignment on both cars once I got the gauges other than that although the racks have been off and back on (Vee's several times for the off-side exhaust manifold) they can only go back in the same position as long as you use the same shimming. 'Fortunately' the weather has been too bad to allow any running. The full alignment process is a fiddle and quite long-winded, it was quite a bit out, and following that with two beautiful days I had the first decent run since changing the rack. Either the alignment process helped, or the new rack is bedding-in, or I'm just getting used to it but the reluctance to self-centre that last little bit seems less noticeable than before.
At about the same time Vee was out as well and braking during some slow manoeuvring I heard a 'graunch' and felt a vibration, and again later on. I then remembered when I had heard that sound before - leaking wheel cylinders! So next day wheels and brake drums off, wheel cylinders dry, but with the offside drum and shoes the 'outer' half of each were black and oily. I'd been aware of signs of oil - glistening - on the face of the both hubs where the brake drum contacts, and inside the hubs, but it didn't seem to be coming from or going anywhere. Cleaned it all off with brake cleaner and cloths - several applications needed, both sides for good-measure. No sulphur smell that you would expect from axle oil, or signs of leaking from the hub nut, so I'll have to keep an eye on it.
March: A decent bit rain right at the beginning of the month ... prior to more low temps and snow in a few days! Vee out again for more shopping, and changed the second headlight so both are now 'bright eyes'.
Snow came and went and a mild and dry spell after decent rain mid-month so they both get to stretch their legs again. Only the second time out in Bee since the rack change, I'm getting used to the lack of the last little bit of self-centering about the straight-ahead position, what was more noticeable this time is the effect when straightening up from a sharper turn as at a T-junction. Driving both cars back-to-back Vee needs quite a bit of restraint to a strong self-centering action, Bee used to be the same and when I apply the same restraint (as I always have done) to the weaker self-centering it carries on turning for longer than needed and I've had to turn back a bit. Hopefully I'll adapt to that, also hopefully the rack will get freer.
February - Not as much rain as I'd have liked to wash salt off but mid-Feb got a Sunday morning out in Vee, plus shopping the following morning and a run out in Bee as part of getting the tracking checked.
January - Time to change Bee's steering rack, and due to the weather the only time either car came out was for a couple of circuits round my road just to turn the wheels.
This year's jigsaw - "Tangmere Hurricanes" from an superbly detailed painting by Nicholas Trudgian.