I won't bore you with everything that's been going on for the last year suffice to say that work took over. My area of operation included Poland, Turkey, France, Italy and Ireland - that meant I saw a lot of airports, taxis, hotels and restaurants/bars - it's a dirty job but someone's gotta do it. What with Zoe my eldest going off to college, Poppy taking up rowing our best friends moving to California (well we had to go visit!) and a big DIY project of rebuilding the main bathroom in the house there just wasn't the time for Triumphs.
Anyway, all that aside, I thought I'd get back in the swing of things and blog about some recent Triumph activity. The PI has been running fine on the odd occasion I have been able to get it out and about. Once a month seems to be the extent of its use these days so last year I decided that I would make some commitments to do a round of events in it this year, once things get stuck in the diary I can work around them and make them happen.
The first of those is the Isle of Wight Triumph weekend, a nice leisurely drive down to and around the island, nothing too taxing on the car, more taxing on the driver's liver due the social side of things.
The second is to take the car up to Scotland on the International Auto Eccose again, I went with Dave Pearson in the Works Mk1 PI last year and in 2010 we were in my PI - but it limped around with a persistent misfire that I have since fixed. So this year it will be third time in a Mk1 PI, mine again. Due to being a miserable old git and having to attend to a house extension build, Dave won't be coming on the IAE so I've roped in serial Dolly offender Carl Shakespeare, aka 32Valves, to co-drive. Carl's not driven the car before but I've done a 10CR with him and we get on well so it should be a laugh. I do owe him as every year he takes my tent to the Isle of Wight and puts it up so I and the girls don't have to contend with tent assembly in the dark when we arrive (the added bonus is that I can get straight into the bar!)
The final big event of the year will be the Round Britain, for those of you who read the Club Triumph forum you'll know that I blog under the RBRR Organisers banner too, as I administer the entries. This year I'll take the PI and pay back another favour or two, this time to serial 2000 offender, Nigel Gair. Nigel and I have done a couple of Ten Countries Runs in his blue Mk2 2000 which is a bit of an iconic car having done many, many events over the years. During the last 10CR we talked about the RBRR and Nigel mentioned that he'd like a change so we hatched a plan to do the event in my PI. Just recently Theo Boonen contacted me to see if I had space in the car for him as he wanted to photograph and document the event rather than drive it. Theo didn't want to drive but was prepared to navigate and pay his way so I thought this might be a reasonable thing to do. We therefore have a three man crew for the RBRR.
All this rambling gets me up to the present day and preparations for all this. I've been fettling the car and trying to use it often but not really fitting it in so on Tuesday I decided to go and see Dave P at Canley Classics, the excuse was to get some parts but also to get a second opinion on a weird MOT issue. The car passed with no official advisories but the tester was interested in the N/S/F suspension. It felt a little loose when jacked up, it was like that last year but now worse and although there was some "new" play that was wheel bearing related (soon adjusted out) the looseness seemed worse. I checked it all over and couldn't see anything obvious, I didn't suspect a failed component as all the suspension was rebuilt only 4 years ago and let's face it, the car hasn't done that many miles since.
The 100 mile drive to Dave's was monsoon like, it pissed down all the way but I was really enjoying myself, the car went fine and is really stable on the road at speed. It cruises happiest at about 80 (I used my private road all the way of course) and although there is quite a lot of wind noise it was a reasonable journey and it was good to get out and stretch the car's legs.
At Dave's he diagnosed "something not right" with the strut after a brief shake and wiggle - that and the bearing needing adjustment and so after adjusting the bearing I stripped the strut off the car. Dave was interested in this as it was not a component he had sourced when the car was built. The previous owner acquired a lot of interesting parts from different sources - a lot of stuff came from Chris Witor and Mick Papworth but no one could remember how these struts arrived and they didn't look like anything familiar - they were not fitted with inserts yet were not factory. To cut a long story short the strut was an original but appears to have been reworked in some way, suffice to say that it was buggered - the fluid seal had been damaged by a bloody great set of gouges in the piston. It appeared as though the piston had been clamped with a set of mole grips or a Stilson pipe wrench and had slipped whilst turning. Game over for this part and it went into the scrap bin.
Dave didn't have any inserts in stock so sorted some spares from the stores and found an acceptable replacement from second hand parts for me. Dave built it back up for me and I fitted it back on the car - what a job, it's like getting a octopus into jam jar, you need 5 pairs of hands (and a hammer helps). I managed it in the end but I have to admit, I did swear a lot.
On the road the car felt fine (but then, to me, it did before) to be honest the only real criticism of the car in the handling department was that it had a tendency to wallow a little on the motorway and I felt it needed better dampers at the front - I was keeping an eye out for some Konis to match the rear. This whole episode has taught me that I don't really know jack about handling! Dave's advice was sanguine "if you couldn't tell it was knackered then you won't feel the benefit of fancy dampers now, plus you can spend that cash on beer" - good advice as ever!
Right, I've typed too much and said too little, see you on the Isle of Wight tomorrow!