Mark turned up at my house on the Friday afternoon in the 2500S and the steering had quite a severe shake at about 70mph. As he had rebuilt the steering rack and replaced the rack mounts a few days before we went along to a tyre place around the corner from mine to get the tracking done and have the wheels balanced to try and resolve the steering shake. There was an improvement but it was still shaking after this, no alternative but to carry on.
|Tracking and Wheel Balancing being done last minute|
A few pictures from the Start
|Mark ready for the off|
|Johnny's Spit, recently restored|
|Roy's GT6 Mark 1 ready to go|
|Tim's GT6 Mk3|
We then left and were making good time going North. However around Newark on the A1 we started having a problem with the headlights. The issue was that when driving along on dip headlights the main beam would intermittently switch itself on, not very nice for other drivers in front or coming the opposite way. We pulled over to have a quick check of the wiring and dip switch stalk but couldn’t really do much at the road side so we drove on to the control point at Blythe services driving on front foglights when ever the fault kicked in. Once we got to Blythe, Mark changed the switch for a spare but the spare was found to be faulty. He put the old switch back and cut the wiring putting another switch in line with the main beam so that it could be switch out. We left to go on our way after a delay of about 1 hour. Shortly after leaving the issue started again and the switch Mark had installed made no difference, we therefore knew that the fault must be further down in the wiring or relays for the headlights, not a quick fix in the dark as the grille and headlamps would need to be removed. We therefore decided to crack on, driving on front fog lights and mainbeam rather than dipped headlights…
At Corbridge on the A68, Mark put his foot down to overtake a slow driving TR4 that was holding us up, our car suddenly started misfiring and the engine nearly conked out, we found it would only run on choke, being very dark and isolated and with nowhere suitable to pull over and investigate we continued with the choke pulled out and it ran acceptably although fuel consumption was likely to be an issue. We decided to wait until the control at Edinburgh Airport to investigate further as it would be nice and light under the bright lights.
We crossed the border into Scotland at the Carter Bar control point about 10 minutes late but it was still open for signing the log book. A few miles later on we were flagged down by Matt George and his team 87 crew who were stranded in a lay-by in Jedburgh with a broken rear drive shaft, Mark had a spare in the boot which we let them have and went on our way leaving them to repair. We caught up with Matt and the crew the next day in Scotland and it was really good to see that they had managed to get repaired and back into the event. Also I've just seen that they have sponsored our team as a thank you which was unexpected!
Before we got into the next control at Edinburgh the fault with the engine running cured all by itself and we could run without choke again…One less job to do.
We arrived at Edinburgh airport just about on time. While I was there I caught up with Chris Sherrington and his wife Zoe who live locally and had come along to give the teams their support. Chris and Zoe had been set to complete the run themselves but unfortunately he couldn’t quite finish building his car in time. I took the opportunity to have a quick chat with Chris who was a member of the Team GB Olympic squad this year taking part in the Judo. I cheekily got him to autograph a photo I’d printed off for my son James who trains at Judo. Many thanks for this Chris he was really chuffed with it! You are in good company as James now has 3 autographs in his collection and the other two are Sir Geoff Hurst and John Surtees OBE!
I drove the next bit of the drive which was from Edinburgh up to Skiach Services just north of Inverness. This included the A9 through the highlands where we had had an incident on the last RBRR having spun off the road avoiding a rather large Stag (deer) that ran out in front of us which had damaged the car. This year the A9 highland stretch went without incident although it was rather challenging driving on fog lights and main beam as it’s pretty dark up there! We got to Skiach on time and also onto John O’Groats on time for breakfast. Before getting into John O’Groats we discovered an issue with the windscreen washers which was fixed at John O’Groats, it turned out the connections were the wrong way round and the pump was blowing into the bottle rather than sucking fluid out!
|John O'Groats Control, Seaview Hotel|
|Team 3 at John O'Groats Control|
|Team 3 at first and last house John O'Groats|
The next stretch across the top of Scotland and down the centre is along some really isolated single track roads with beautiful scenery. Unfortunately we came across a crew who had gone off the road in an accident ahead of us and their car was stuck off the road at the side of a loch. Along with a few other crews we tried to get the car out but were unable. Luckily no-one was hurt and one person actually managed to just about get a signal on the mobile to call out the breakdown services.
|Parked up by Loch Naver, North Scotland|
We were then on our way and made it into our next control stop at the Conon Bridge Hotel where a lunch of Burgers, Bacon Rolls and Hot Dogs had been laid on. After lunch in the daylight Mark took the grille and headlights off the car to investigate the main beam fault, he tried replacing the relays but that didn’t work so I suggested he turned the lights on and wriggled the wiring. Sure enough this managed to flush out the fault which was caused by two connectors shorting out against each other in the wiring. This was sorted with insulating tape so we had working headlights again ready for the Welsh mountains that night.
|Jess & Steph with the Dolomite at Conon Bridge, complete with Tutus and Fairy Wings|
We were the last car to leave Conon Bridge after time spent on repairs and were about 1 hour behind time, so with some careful navigating to cut out some of the advisory route and some “spirited” driving we managed to get to the next stop at Morrisons Garage Stirling on time for the Scotch Pies that they lay on every year.
|Morrisons Garage Control Stp, Stirling|
|Team 3 at Morrisons Garage, Stirling|
|Andy Roberts' Stag Saloon at Morrisons Garage|
The next stint down to the control at Tebay services on the M6 went well and we arrived before the control was open giving time for a coffee. It was then on to the next control at Oswestry which again went well without incident and we arrived early.
The next part of the run was driven by Mark through the Welsh Mountains to an isolated control point in the middle of nowhere just north of Landovery. On the way there the car started making some intermittent horrible rattling/screeching noises. We checked it out and couldn’t find anything obviously wrong. After an oil top up we were on our way and I drove the next stretch across the Brecon Beacons and down through the Forest of Dean across the Severn bridge to Gordano Services. Again we were slightly early at the control giving time for a well earned coffee. On the way down the rattling/screeching had continued and also the steering vibration had also come back, we had a quick check but couldn’t see anything untoward so decided to crack on and check the car out in the day light later on. During the next part of the journey the car was unpleasant to drive with the vibration and had now also started pulling to one side a bit. We stopped at Exeter and checked the tyre pressures and found one side was pretty low at the front so this was pumped up. The next control at Oakhampton was reached on time.
I dove the next stint down to Lands End, although the vibration was still there intermittently the car was going well and I was getting a little over exuberant along the empty A30 and overtook several other crews and a black BMW. A few miles later the BMW went past and blue flashing lights came on, it was an unmarked police car, I thought I was going to be booked for speeding but he turned off the lights and turned off the road at the next junction so fortunately all he had done was to warn me to slow down, phew!
We got to Lands end nice and early and had the cooked breakfast that had been laid on. After breakfast it was daylight so we jacked the car up to investigate the rattling, screeching and vibration. Mark found the issue fairly quickly and it wasn’t good news. A front suspension tie rod mounting on the chassis had big cracks and corrosion all around it. We really thought we would need to retire and get recovered but fortunately one of the local Club Triumph Members, Derek Penn, who was Marshalling at the control very kindly offered to weld a repair. Derek lives about 30 miles away near Cambourne so we carefully followed him and his wife Stephanie back to his house avoiding heavy Braking and cornering and driving very slowly.
|Chassis Damage discovered at Lands End|
|Full Extrent of the Damage revealed|
Once back to Derek’s place Mark stripped out the suspension and Derek got to work making up and welding in a repair panel. There was a lot of corrosion around the mounting point so it was fairly challenging but Derek succeeded in making a good enough repair to get us back in the event. Thanks ever so much for your help Derek and thanks for the drinks and the use of your loo Stephanie. Your help really was appreciated and made the difference to us being able to finish the event.
|Derek at work making up a repair panel|
|Welding in Progress|
|The finished repair, not pretty but certainly strong enough for us to continue.|
We were now running about 1 ½ hours late we managed to get in touch with the next control at Bude and they stayed open for us. We then made up a bit of time and got to Badgers Holt control at Dartmeet about 1 hour late and then onto the next control at Sixpenny Handly (Dorset) about 55 minutes late, although we were told there that we had at least 6 cars behind us so we’d made up good time. This had been helped by taking an alternative route that Mark knew living very local to the control, a route that took in a serious driving road, zig zag hill which he certainly enjoyed as he demonstrated how to drive up it.
|Team 3 at Badgers Holt|
We drove on with a spirited drive to the next control at the TR Register offices in Didcot. I was driving this bit and overtook quite a few crews and we ended up there only 10 minutes late which meant we’d made up about 50 minutes.
The last section of the run back to Enfield had an advised route up to the M40 at Oxford down the M40 and round the M25. On a Sunday evening this sounded horrendous so we decided to use an old rather complicated route that had been used on a previous RBRR that would cut across to the A41 on back roads. Mark was driving and I navigated, or at least I tried to. However the sleep depravation of the last two days has really kicked in and “scrambled” my brain so we got lost! Using the sat nav to get us back on track we picked up the official route to the M40 but had now lost loads of time. This wasn’t helped by some awful traffic jams around High Wycombe on the M40. We arrived at the finish about 50 minutes late which wasn’t too bad as they were still serving food at the pub so after checking in and getting our roadbook signed by the Marshalls we had a quick meal before heading home. Job Done!
As of this evening (1 day after the run) we had raised £528 (inc Gift Aid) sponsorship for the Children with Cancer charity which is is just above the target I set of £500. I still have a couple of freinds and family who have promised but haven’t sponsored yet and it's still not too late to donate if you are reading this! Go to:- http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/RBRR_Cook_and_Bland
There is only two years to go until the next Round Britain Run so it will soon be time to get planning and preparing!