Monthly Archives: April 2009

Update on The Five

Today was a good day, motor-wise: successfully rebuilt the rear brake calliper that I removed and stripped on Sunday, and put it back on the car.

As noted in a previous blog entry (here), the nearside rear calliper was seized on the upper slide bolt; I believed this was the cause of a nasty squeaking noise that had developed of late.

Last Saturday, I removed the calliper and mounting bracket assembly from the car and started applying liberal doses of penetrating oil every few hours and overnight. Sunday afternoon, I set to to try and free the calliper from the mounting bracket. This proved to be very difficult, but I persisted with progressively larger hammers and eventually it  began to move, just a little. There was considerable satisfaction when they were finally separated! (And I only hit myself with the hammer once.)

Cleaned up the corrosion on slide bolts and in the upper bolt socket of the calliper. Then removed the piston and bleed valve and gave the calliper a thorough clean with brake cleaner and meths. The piston and upper slide bolt dust seals were knackered, so ordered a refurbishment kit from MX5 Parts. (Arrived with the usual promptness – they really are a good supplier.)

Rebuild of the calliper went pretty smoothly – getting the piston dust boot on was a bit tricky, but managed OK thanks to “special tool” recommended in Rod Grainger’s Enthusiast’s Workshop Manual (can’t recommend that book too highly!)IMG_1757

A short road test indicates the squeak has gone and the brakes still work, albeit with a bit of a pull to the left and a tendency to lock the nearside rear on really hard braking – hopefully only temporary until the pads reseat themselves.

Had a nice day with the boys yesterday …

(click photos for full size)

I can ride my bike without stabilisers  :-)  “I can ride my bike without stabilisers now” Maybe I should have kept the stabilisers  :-(   “Maybe I should’ve kept the stabilisers”

 I'm not laughing at my brother falling off his bike  ;-O   “Of course I’m not laughing at my big brother”

Happy Easter

Had a slightly hectic but never-the-less most enjoyable Easter weekend.

Good Friday we fetched Lesley’s mum from Garstang. Couldn’t start as early as we might have wished, because of an appointment for a haircut, but we were on our way just after 10 o’clock, and had a pretty good run up, apart from a bit of a snarl up towards Preston. After a quick lunch we headed back and had not problems coming South, although the Northbound was pretty much a car park a lot of the way. Usual fish pie for tea.

Saturday I was marshalling at Oulton Park – practice and qualy day for F3 and GT. Excellent weather and quite entertaining, though it got a bit tedious mid-afternoon. Ended with moderate piece of excitement at the start of the Formula Ford race that ended the day.

Sunday began with church, of course, at St Lukes. Then home to get the lunch under way and await arrival of Anna and gang. Very pleasant lunch and a good time had by all. Mother-in-Law well pleased to see the boys, naturally.

Monday back to Oulton Park for race day – posted at Old Hall again. Weather a bit misty and overcast to begin with, but came out sunny once more towards lunch time. Good day’s racing, with a bit of action in the second F3 session – car spun in front of us and took out another, which cart-wheeled and ended upside down. My first real involvement in an incident, and I managed to kill the electrics successfully and not fire the extinguisher!

Woe! Woe! and Thrice Woe!



The Five continues to throw up unscheduled tasks to be grappled with, when what I really want to do is get on with the tuning project.

Currently, I have at least three things needing attention:

  1. Rear near-side brake calliper is seized to the upper slide bolt
    I’m hoping that I’ll be able to free it with a generous application of penetrating oil and judicious use of a hammer. If not, it’s going to be an expensive fix 😦
  2. Coolant leak from the tee-piece on the thermostat housing
    Apparently a common fault, and not a straightforward fix, because you can’t replace the housing without removing the timing belt – a task I would rather avoid. Tried bodging it with Fernox LeakFix tape but it’s still weeping, so I’ll have to bite the bullet eventually.
  3. I think I’m still losing oil from somewhere, though not too seriously

At least the massive and somewhat scary deposit on the garage floor last week appears to be explained by failure to empty the breather catch tank before thrashing round Cadwell! Made a bit of an unsightly mess on the underneath of the car and in part of the engine bay, but I’ve done my best to mop up the residue.

I’m occupied at Oulton Park for the F3/GT meeting tomorrow and Easter Monday, and with a sermon to prepare for the following Sunday, I’m not sure how much time I’m going to have next week for car work.

Something Old, Something New …

Tomorrow being our wedding anniversary, we decided to have a day out today (likely to be less busy, we reasoned). Since we haven’t been there for quite a while, we settled on Shrewsbury.

Took the train, it being a good deal easier and quicker than the drive. Shrewsbury station proved to be an interesting entry to the town –


Started off by cruising the shops, beginning with the inevitable visit to M&S – a place you could easily get lost in for a several days, being on several levels and largely devoid of daylight. Escaped into one of at least two multi-level shopping mall/arcade type developments that have appeared since our last visit (admittedly a good many years ago). There has evidently been quite a lot of development in the town centre, including pedestrianization of the main street.

However, there is rather more to the town than its opportunities for standard retail therapy. For a start, there was a small farmers’ market where we got some good cheese


Had a nice lunch in a small cafe in the Bear Steps area near St Alkmunds church (reputedly founded by Aethelfleda, daughter of King Alfred)

bear_steps300     stalkmundschurch3

Then crossed the river …

… to the Abbey, fictional home of Cadfael, the monk detective popularised  in the TV series. (Rather more significantly, perhaps, this was the venue for one of the first democratic parliaments in England – history having always been a weakness of mine, I forget the details and dates; but it was a very long time ago!)


Ended the day by whiling away a pleasant few minutes in the well-maintained grounds of the castle, before returning to the station, where we chanced to meet a guy from church on his way to Barmouth for a short bike ride to Yarmouth.

All-in-all an enjoyable day. Must try not to let it be quite so long before we visit again – there is apparently a very nice park and riverside area that we didn’t get around to on this occasion.

Cold Start to the Season

(belated blog update #2)

First meeting of the year at Oulton Park on Saturday proved to be a very cold and somewhat damp start to the season.

It was a BARC meeting, featuring championship races for a mix of sports and saloon cars (no open-wheelers) and a kart race (see here for some details). Generally a good selection of racing, with the wet spell late morning providing some good entertainment!

I was at the Island Bend post, which is pretty exposed when the wind blows – and it did, for most of the day, from the North.

There were a few incidents: enough to keep us busy, but nothing serious.

Main drawback to the day was the late finish, caused by someone doing some damage to barriers in the penultimate race, which meant a delay for repairs causing the last race to run right up to 6.30pm curfew.

The Nurburgring? – probably the closest I’ll get!

(Belated blog update…)

Had a day on track at Cadwell Park last Friday. According to the people who run it (MotorSportVision, who also own our local track, Oulton Park), this circuit is “fondly nicknamed the ‘Mini-Nürburgring’”. I don’t know about that, but it’s certainly an entertaining, varied and quite demanding drive.

Went over on Thursday afternoon, taking the scenic route over the top: from Congleton via the Cat & Fiddle to Buxton, then Bakewell, Chesterfield and on to Lincoln. Excellent drive, top-down almost all the way with mainly blue skies and sunshine. Peak District and the moors quite stunning, as always. The view of Lincoln from a distance across the flat plain is very striking – never been in that part of the world before; they have some excellent driving roads – easy to see why bikers love it!

The trackday itself was organized by TrackAction Online and run by MSV with their usual efficiency. After the briefing and sighting laps, had several sessions on track in the morning and a couple after lunch. Clocked up about 150 km in all. The circuit is not dissimilar to Oulton Park in some ways, but more varied I think; several blind crests and tricky combinations; two fast straights and lots of both fast curves and slow corners.

The trip back (Lincoln, Newark, Nottingham. Derby, Stoke) felt a long haul, though it should have been the quick route (I thought!) – not helped by Jane directing me through Lincoln instead of around it!

Definitely worth the visit, but a bit of a long way to go.