Monday, July 31, 2006

So what else has been going on over the last year...

Well... one of the main reasons I bought the Bus was because of it's strong engine and strengthened body... makes for a good road rally car... something I've always wanted to try. Bedford Car Club gave me the answer when members of Club Triumph were invited to participate in their navigation rallies. You learn a lot on your first rally...

We turned up on a bitterly cold February Sunday evening in a layby just outside Olney where we met with about 4 other Club Triumph crews. We received our clues and set about trying to solve them in order to plan our route and reach the finish, a pub in Lavendon.

It was at this point Keith C-B and myself started to learn very quickly.
1. when doing a rally on a cold evening, remember to take a flask of tea to drink whilst plotting.
2. you cannot plot using interior lights or even a proper map light - OS Landranger maps are far too big.
3. navigation rally organisers are evil (in the nicest possible way) and will try and trip you up - beware !!

After about an hour of plotting we finally got underway - 5 minutes in and we seemed to be going well, picking up the control boards as we went (confirming we were on the correct route - at that point anyway). It was about that point when everything went dark... We lost main beam - now bearing in mind we are going down single track roads in the middle of the country at night, this isn't good... (later inspection showed the indicator stork had cooked itself). Anyway, somehow we managed to get the car to the end in one piece, but missed a few control boards along the way through mis-navigation and just pure not concentrating. Still, we enjoyed it and voweled it wouldn't be our last.

I knew there was another rally in March, so decided to put right some of the problems experienced...
I re-wired the all of the lights through relays and fused them all seperately. This also included installing the Cibie Oscar+ driving lights and Hella 160 Fog lights I had bought. (see seperate post with diagram).
I purchased a twin flourescent tube 12v light to stick up in the car for plotting the route. Flourescent light is by far better than any other for this as it is a pure white light, white roads look white and yellow roads look yellow... (if you don't know what I mean, take a map out to your car when it's dark and try to distinguish between white and yellow roads using only a torch or interior light... you can't).
For the March rally, I had Dale navigating for me and we ended up being the only Club Triumph entrants. Before we'd even got to the start, we'd already started getting worried... 3 OS maps were required. Keith and I had problems handling one on the last rally, let alone three !! The start was near Milton Keynes, by Shenley Wood. Navigation seemed slightly easier this time, but didn't stop us going wrong a couple of times - but we were enjoying ourselves. The Bus was absolutely flying and the lights made a huge difference, not only with the addition of the driving lights, but the standard units were so much brighter. On the last of the four stages, we had to go through a ford... I drifted the car in carefully, keeping the revs high, gently let the clutch up to get some drive and yep you've guessed it... it stalled. Tried re-starting, no chance. I'd forgotten to stick it in 1st before bringing the clutch up and it didn't like trying to pull in third... d'oh... Anyway, 10pm, freezing cold water all around us and up to the bottom of the doors, there was only one thing for it... get wet. We got out of the car and pushed her out of the water. Dale wound the spark plugs out and turned the engine over a few times to blast the water out of the engine. I spent most of this time bailing the interior of the car out (which had accumulated about 3" of water). Amazingly after about 10 minutes drying, timed by Dale smoking 2 fags, he wound the plugs back in reconnected the HT leads and the car started first time. OK, she was spluttering a bit, but respect was earned that night !!! We reached the finish with eveyone wondering what had happened to us and unfortunately too late for what would have been a much needed beer. Oh well...

Over the course of the days following the March rally, I removed the entire interior to wash everything and allow the car to dry out properly... but it was evident, there were still a few issues, namely noisy bearings. Before the next rally, I replaced both front wheel bearings which had dried out as a result of the off road experience... the best was still to come though...

April's event, Keith C-B back in the navigators seat and we were determined nothing would go wrong this time... and to be fair aside from a couple of plotting errors, we should have been spot on, just didn't quite follow the route we'd plotted on the road, hence we had a few penalties.

The season starts again in October and I can't wait to get the Bus out there in the thick of it again...