Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Club Triumph's 10 Countries Run 2017

As the car's preparations for this year's edition went fairly smoothly I had high hopes that she wouldn't throw any last minute problems at me. She didn't. So on Tuesday late in the afternoon last week we set of towards Lendelede near Kortrijk in Belgium for out first overnight . This way we would be closer at the start. But despite that we missed the official start at 8 o'clock in the morning in Lille. The early breakfast at 7:00 o'clock wasn't early enough!

Day one; Lendelede - Göschenen
(896 km, 13:24hr)

The first day dawned glorious. But sadly there had been a heavy shower shortly before sunrise. As a result of this the hood was to wet to fold down. So the first part had to be driven with the hood up so it could dry;

With the luggage stowed in the boot we set of for the first stretch. The official route would finish in Mulhouse, but as it was only slightly over two more hours to the foot of the Oberalppass near Andermatt, we had decided to book a hotel in nearby Göschenen. But that was still many hours driving away.

The first days drive was a pleasant combination of motorway stretches interspersed with some lovely country lanes, departmental road's and some of the famous "Route National"

But certainly the best bit of driving on the first day was the stretch through the regional nature reserve "Ballons Des Vosges". In several previous editions we have driven through this area at night. This always meant dense fog and as a result of which very difficult driving conditions. Luckily this time we passed through in broad daylight, but even so in some isolated areas there was dense fog (or should I say low hanging clouds?). Together with some heavy rain that had just passed before us, made for some very entertaining driving!

But by the end of the afternoon we reached the outskirts of Mulhouse, and the motorway. Time for the final few hours to our first overnight stop. But before tackling the last section we halted for a final rest just outside Basel;

Two hours later we had reached our hotel for the night. And with the cars tucked away it was time for a few well deserved beers.

Day two; Göschenen - Sankt Martin in Passeier
(459 km, 9:58hr)

The second day dawned cloudy but dry over Göschenen and the surrounding mountains;

So after a decent breakfast and a rather routine inspection of the car, the hood went down and we headed of into the mountains, and towards the first pass of the day, the Oberalppass. As Roger had turned into Andermatt in search for some much needed fuel we decided to stop on top and wait for them to show up. They did, together with lots of other people and cars. And as the light conditions were rather fine I decided on a little photo shoot;

From here the route took us through the Tavetschtal Medeltal and from there over the Lukmanierpass into the Valle Santa Maria and the Val Blenio, and finally into the Valle Leventina. Just north of Bellinzona we turned onto the A13 towards the San Bernardino Pass. As the old pass road is so much nicer to drive than the motorway pass we left the A13 near Mesocco and headed up into the mountains. Was a lovely drive towards the top with only very little traffic. And in time for lunch we reached the Rasthaus at the top;

After lunch we headed down towards Splügen. The original route would take us over the Splügenpass into Italy, but the road between the Splügenpass and the Majolapass was closed, due to a major landslide caused by heavy rain. So we had to take an alternative route over the Julierpass. Turned out to be a very nice road indeed. I think the tyres left a fair amount of their rubber on the tarmac there!
At the foot of the Julierpass we joined the official route again, clocking up some more passes (Berninapass, Forcola di Livigno, Munt la Schera (tunnel) and Ofenpass. And not to long after the Ofenpass we reached the foot of the Umbrail. But by this time it was already late in the afternoon. And as my navigator was feeling the strain, so we decided  to skip the Umbrail and Slifserjoch and head straight into the Vinschgau Tal. Knowing it would at least take us another hour and half to reach our hotel in Sankt Martin in Passeier. In the end it took more than two hours to get there. But the local food and home brewed beer did us much good!

Day three; Sankt Martin in Passeier - Singen
(412 km, 10:21hr)

The official route for this day would be heading south from Meran, making a loop south of Bozen and from there through the Dolomites towards Austria. This section would again go over a fair number of mountain passes. Six to be precise, the Gampenjoch, the Mendelpass, the Karerpass, the Sellajoch, the Jaufenpass and finally the Timmelsjoch. We thought that slightly overambitious. So we had chosen a hotel in the northern part of the Passeiertal, close to the foot of the Timmelsjoch and Jaufenpass. This was because the route I plotted would take us from there to the end of the Passeiertal, over the Timmelsjoch into the next valley, the Ötztal.
So after a relaxed breakfast and a quick check of the car (again nothing wrong) we headed north towards the Timmelsjoch. The top of which we reached within the hour;

From here it was down into the Ötztal and towards Ötz, where we joined the motorway west towards Bregenz. But after Landeck our route took us onto the B188 towards the Bielrhöhe and the Silvretta reservoir. Which we reached nicely in time for lunch!
After lunch we headed down towards Bludenz, from where we would take country lanes and Bundesstraßen towards Dornbirn. Here we could have picked up the official route, but we had set our sights on the northern shore of the Bodensee. But not before another short rest for man and machine at the fuel station in Dornbirn;

After this last rest for the day (well almost) we headed towards Bregenz from where we followed the northern shore of the Bodensee towards Meersburg. Here we took the ferry to Konstanz, but also met up with local Triumph owner Michael, who would accompany us on the last stretch towards Singen;

The final stretch from Konstanz towards Singen again went over local roads and was a nice end to a lovely driving day

Day four; Singen - Rolduc
Germany-The Netherlands
(612 km, 8:36hr)

To be continued after my next holiday!

Did anyone mention roadworks all over Europe!

The day after
A few pictures from some of the cars on the Sunday morning in the courtyard at Rolduc;

Even the local police force turned up to immobilise Ellis' car!

Boring statistics etc.
Total distance covered: 2741 kilometres;
Total fuel consumption: ± 257 litres;
Average fuel consumption: ± 10,7 km/lt (or 30,1 mpg)
Maintenance needed: none

As on the previous edition I added about ⅓ litre of oil to the engine during the whole event. This time after the second day. But again that wasn't really necessary as the level hadn't dropped halfway down the max/min marks on the dipstick. All other levels remained where they should, close to their maximum marks

Overall the car behaved very well. But there will always be things that can be improved. Three things that improved during the run were the dashboard illumination, a still rough gear change and a long brake pedal stroke. The first problem solved itself on the last stretch of the first day. About an hour's drive into Switzerland I noticed that I could read all dials in front of me again. Which meant that the two bulbs to the left of the cluster decided they had been idle for far too long, and started to give light again. 

At the start of the event the gear changes still were slightly rough, especially between 2nd and 3rd gear. But over the event there was a very clear improvement to the gear changes. So much so that when we left Rolduc on the day after the event the gear changes even with cold gear oil were pretty good. Final self repairing problem were the brakes. Due to the design of the self adjusting rear brakes, the stroke of the pedal is sometimes pretty long. Again during the event this too improved noticeably. Clearly the car needs to be driven more!

But there is one item that needs addressing in the not to distant future, the fuelling. Clearly the current set up with twin K&N cone filters in front of the radiator works very efficient. But as a result of this there's more air reaching the carburettors, than the current needles can cope with. So it is running lean, not dangerously, but it certainly lacks some grunt at the top end. And finally and maybe more worryingly there are traces of (dry) oil deposits on the spark plugs of cylinders #1, #3 and #4. Clearly something that needs further investigation. But another trip into the mountains is first on the list. This one with the Land Rover.

Monday, 4 September 2017

10CR preparations, final touches

With most of the mechanics checked, it was time to switch my focus to some less vital, but also necessary jobs. During the previous three editions in which I used this car I always used a pair of slightly adapted thick bath towels as covers for the leather seats. But while searching for the (still not found) spare starter motor, I came across a set of sheepskin seat covers. They actually were ordered for my first Land Rover, but when that was sold I put them away to be reused one day. Which was for the 2007 edition of the 10CR when the covers were fitted to the Bordeaux red DHC. But when that car was dismantled the covers were again stored. And this time forgotten, till a few weeks ago that is, when I stumbled upon them while searching for my spare starter motor. As they still were in good condition and are a perfect fit for the TR7 seats I decided to give them another lease of life. They should add some extra comfort on the long driving days next week;

As most driving will be done during daylight hours I didn't bother with fitting extra driving lights. And as the only driving in the dark for us (teams #56 and #57) will be the motorway section in Switzerland, I decided to also leave the Don-Barrow map-light-magnifier at home. Leaves some extra leg room for the navigator!

Remained the task of checking the emergency tool & spares kit. This was greatly helped by a list I stumbled upon while preparing the folder for the road book, the hotel reservations etc. needed for this trip. I compiled this list two years ago for a friend who participated for the first time. So this one too wasn't very time consuming.
The tools I carry around are only very basic, a few spanners, screwdrivers, small socket set and a few special tools. As for the spares, they too are limited to the usual things that might fail, like water hose repair tape, switches (headlights, brake light, oil pressure), radiator cap and thermostat to name a few. And a few cans with various consumable liquids. I hope I won't need it!

Two other vital bits to "carry" around on this trip are the Autobahn vignettes for Switzerland and Austria. Together with other tolls for some of the mountain passes, and a planned ferry crossing, this trip will probably cost well over € 100,- on toll tickets alone. Add fuel bills to the count ...

And finally it was time to say farewell to my old driving gloves, and replace them with a new pair. I bought them when the restoration of the DHC was (nearly) finished in 2010. And as is clear from the picture below, they have seen a fair amount of action, including three 10 Countries Runs, two Border Raider's, two Taith o Amgylch Cymru, several International Auto Ecosse's and two Alpine trips. They indeed were value for money!

And to finish the preparations I took the car for a short 50 mile drive to see if everything behaved as it should, and to fill the fuel tank. Found nothing wrong!. So of to a hotel north of Lille tomorrow afternoon!

Sunday, 27 August 2017

More 10CR preparations

In my last post I mentioned a stiff gear change and a "not-yet-life-threatening-oil-leak" from somewhere. Let's start with the gear change. Initial thought was that the spring clip on top of the gear box extension needed some adjustment. But it turned out to be fine, with the gear lever aligning perfectly in the 3rd and 4th gear plain. Only the pivot points needed a good clean and some fresh lubrication. And of course the gear lever knob needed tightening up. All rather straight forward! And far too easy, so to appease my mind I checked underneath the gearbox for any leaks. And indeed there again were some traces of oil. But with the cross member removed the plug in the oil galley was completely dry. But the M12 mounting bolt was completely covered in oil, including the thread. Strange to say the least! Only explanation I can come up with is that the hole for this bolt is machined to deep as a result of which oil can enter from the top? Decided not to take any chances and after a good clean everything was refitted with some sealant between all part, just to be sure!

The "not-yet-life-threatening-oil-leak" turned out to be coming from the front of the engine. The front pulley oil seal to be precise. And it was worse than expected. So it needed addressing sooner rather than later!
I had some doubts about this job, prompted by the fact that due to the custom fan shroud the working space is a bit restricted. But I needn't have worried! The pulley's mounting bolt came of at the third attempt with my trusty 38mm ring spanner. And the pulley itself could be removed by hand!
With the pulley of the engine the oil leak immediately became clear. There was a very pronounced groove worn into the pulley's mating surface by the oil seal;

I could have put in a new seal at this stage and hope for the best! But that would probably mean doing the same job again after the 10CR! And as I do have some spares stacked away at various places I decided to replace it with one of my new spare pulleys;

Left me with removing the old seal (easy with a large screwdriver) and fit a new one. This turned out to be less easy as space is limited to use a hammer properly. But after some 15 minutes of gently tapping, the seal was in place;

And with the front of the car on stands again I took the opportunity to check the font bearings. They were fine, no funny noises and no play at all. Final check point was the alternator. During the last drive I thought it was becoming noisy, pointing to worn bearings. But with the fan belt removed, the alternator spun freely without any noises and no play at all on the bearings. Another item I needn't worry about for the time being (knock on wood!).

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Preparations for the 10 Countries Run

At last I started in earnest with preparing the DHC for this year's edition of Club Triumph's 10 Countries run. I did some general maintenance in the previous months and also very important, took her out on a more regular basis, to see what needed rectifying. As mentioned earlier there had been some traces of coolant leaking from the infamous slot underneath the waterpump. But as the miles went by that seemed to become less and less. But to make sure everything was fine or find out what needed addressing before the 10CR, I took the car for a longer trip into Germany two weeks ago. Which was very pleasant;

But the main reason of course was to determine whether I needed to address the water pump or not. If so that work could be combined with fitting the refurbished SU carburettors. But when I got back from this 450 kilometre round trip the waterpump was leak free. But also the carburettors had behaved in such a manner that I won't touch them till after I return from the 10CR. Due to worn spindles the idle speed sometimes is a bit high. But that is their only fault at the moment. Blipping the throttle lightly will settle the engine at a fairly steady 900rpm.

All good then? Not really! After stopping a few times I heard a not very familiar sound of a spinning gear trying to engage a stationary gear when starting the engine. Clearly something wrong with the starter motor. Nothing to worry about as I did have a spare high torque unit stacked away as a spare somewhere. But to this day I still haven't found it. But predicting  I would find it  as soon as I ordered a new one, that is what I did! And I have to say it arrived from  England within a few days. So yesterday the spanners came out to change the starter motor. All very straight forward and with the old unit removed from the car, I put it alongside the new. At first glance they are identical;

But they are not! Where the old (Wosp) unit on the right needs the original spacer (UKC 6163) fitted, the new unit doesn't.

Another item that needed addressing was the clip for the map-reading-light, which is mounted to the passenger door. The original plastic clip broke of somewhere during the previous (2015) edition of the 10CR. But as I had hardly driven the car since, I had forgotten about it. I had noticed it earlier in the year but on shorter trips it wasn't very annoying, and the replacement clips I had in mind were impossible to purchase locally.
So after returning home from Germany I immediately fired up the computer for a search of the world wide web. And sure enough within minutes I had ordered the correct items. But it took the clips almost two weeks to arrive! And judging from its appearance, the package went through quite an ordeal somewhere on its journey from England to The Netherlands!

Luckily the contents of the package were undamaged. On the left the broken Hella clip and on the right one of the steel clips. Exchanging the clips was only a few minutes work, despite the fact that I had to partially remove the door card to gain access to a spring clip I fitted to the back of it, to give a better mounting point.

The final "problems" I encountered during the last trip was a slightly stiff gear change. As the oil level is correct I'll have a look at the gear-box' extension. Also the (wooden aftermarket) knob on the gear lever had come loose. And there is an (engine) oil leak somewhere. Not life threatening yet, but enough to deserve some attention. But these are for the coming two weeks!