Monthly Archives: August 2011

Return to Normal

We’ve just passed a “normal” weekend at home, and I realized how long it’s been since we had one of those.

Saturday, I was marshalling a BARC meeting at Oulton Park, and Sunday enjoyed a proper Sunday Lunch after preaching at the 9.00 service at St Luke’s.

Think the last time we had such a weekend was probably some time in June! — maybe even longer ago than that.

Oulton was enjoyable for the most part, if pretty uneventful from a marshal’s point of view. Weather mostly good, though we did get a brief spell of rain mid-afternoon. This caused a big hiccup in proceeding, because the Classic Formula Fords had just formed up on the grid when the rain started; the race was declared “wet” by the stewards, so the cars had the option to switch to treaded tyres — most opted to do so, but had to return to the paddock to do the swap; by the time they had done that, it was drying up, and now they wanted to go back to slicks after all! Chaos! At this point, the organizers decided to bring out the next race instead, while the Classics sorted themselves out. We must’ve lost about 30 minutes with all this going on.

Matt and the boys turned up in the afternoon, with Peter in tow (no doubt called into service to help Matt out, since he had the little one as well as Archie and Jack — Anna at Chester races for the day).

Sunday, it was really rather nice to be doing nothing unusual, though the day was marred slightly by the toughness of the lamb joint — but, hey! you can’t have everything.

Quiet week ahead, with a short visit to Garstang: the main item on the agenda is starting holiday preparations.


Just came across the WordPress facility to “Publicize” blog posts, so I’m making this blog entry to test it.

A Right Pain in the Neck

One of the most awkward, nigh-impossible jobs in maintaining the MX-5 must surely be the adjustment of the clutch pedal travel. (Well, OK, there are probably worse tasks, but the stiff muscles and crick in my neck currently make me favour this one.)

Increasing trouble with engaging or changing gear in recent months finally forced to me tackle adjustment of the clutch pedal, as it became clear the clutch was not fully disengaging.

I knew, of course, that the job really needed doing, having noted in routine servicing that the pedal travel was not within spec. But I’d put off doing anything about it because of the inaccessibility of the adjustment mechanism.

The excellent MX-5 Enthusiast’s Workshop Manual, by Rod Grainger, talks about “…standing on your head in the driver’s footwell, and generally adopting a position that would make a contortionist proud…” in order to work on this adjustment — it’s not wrong!!

Had to remove driver’s seat for access, and even then it was a pretty uncomfortable, not to say painful, experience!

Still, there’s no such word as “can’t”, as someone (Napoleon?) allegedly said, so after much wriggling and squirming, and not a little cussing and muttering, I finally managed to fettle it. Happy to say the clutch now disengages at a respectable distance off the floor.

However, there is no further adjustment available, which may mean I’m eventually going to have to service the clutch itself. At which point, I may well have to revise my opinion on the most difficult jobs! — but that’s a story for another day.

Unusual Views of a Welsh Forest

Interesting but rather muddy experience Last Sunday …

Charity Passenger Rides for Wales Air Ambulance.

A couple of weeks ago, I spotted an opportunity on offer in the August edition of Outpost, the BMMC Northwest newsletter — for a donation of £25 to the Air Ambulance, you could get a passenger ride in a rally car somewhere in the middle of nowhere in North Wales. Obviously too good an opportunity to miss! Posted off my cheque forthwith and in due course got instructions by email to head for a location on the B4501 between Llyn Brenig and Alwen Reservoir.

After doing my duties at the 9 o’clock service at St Lukes, we dashed home to change into suitable attire and set off for the specified location. Opted to go via A55 to St Asaph, thinking the good roads would be quicker, but was frustrated by a lot of slow traffic on the A51 when we set off; and when Google Navigator on my phone elected to take us on a rather tortuous and at times quite narrow route avoiding Denbigh, began think we should have opted for the direct route via Wrexham. Still, we got there in good enough time, in the end.

Arriving at the site, we were directed up a forest track, lined on one side by loads of parked cars; guy arriving ahead of us dived into a vacant slot quite quickly, and we began to understand why as the route became muddier, narrower (with sharp drop-off both sides) and more crowded — wondered what we were getting into! Eventually arrived at the end, and had to be directed backwards to an empty slot where we could park.

Signed in and had a “briefing” — this amounted to, “Don’t touch anything. If you feel it’s too fast for you, raise your hand. Use the sick-bag if you need to!” There was obviously going to be a bit of a wait, so I returned to the car and we ate our butties. Then I joined the queue to borrow a helmet, then stood around for maybe a quarter of an hour until my turn came to get in a car.

My ride was in a 40-year-old Saab, probably a 96, though could have been a 93, driven by a guy who looked like he’d been rallying for about the same number of years. The run lasted about three or four minutes, I guess, though I didn’t time it. Definitely an interesting experience! Most noticeable thing I think (apart from the speed at which the trees flew past) was the noise of the gravel, rocks or whaLlangoltever hammering against the underside of the car. You’d probably want to do it a number of times, to fully appreciate the skill involved.

Once I’d handed back the headgear and exchanged a few pleasantries with the lass in charge, the remaining challenge was to N-point turn the car without sliding of the edge of the track. That accomplished, we made our way back to the main road.

Returned home via Llangollen, with a stop “for comfort” in Corwen. Llangollen absolutely heaving — I’d thought we might have a coffee there in passing, but the car park was rammed, so we kept going up to the Horseshoe Pass and drank our flask there. Thence to Wrexham (bypass) and so home.

Spent some time on Monday morning removing quite a lot of North Wales from the wheel-arches and driver’s foot-well!