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14th May 2017
18 hours in the PV544
A messy week in the workshop really...
  • Rebuilt Ray's Zenith 36VN (early B18 Amazon), to try and resolve over-lean running, to no avail - the only bit not replaced was the economy diaphragm, which is pretty floppy and tired: Burlen have now delivered this and we'll fit it tomorrow.
  • Put my youngest daughter's Midget on the ramps to sort out the brake warning light, and ended up replacing all the brake pipes to sort out the runs. I then had to leave for South Wales, so it all needs securing and bleeding. Also tomorrow!
  • Built up and sent out a gearbox for a Ford V8 special (I think), whose reverse gear had been trashed.
  • Friday I set off in Emma's PV to pick up Bob Blows from Stansted, then out to Magor for scrutineering of the Leukaemia Rally. It's been a couple of years since I did this event, and besides wrong-slotting a couple of times I have little recollection of it. So I chose to leave the worn tyres on the rear, assuming sealed surface tests. I was wrong!
    • Despite a couple of accident delays on the M4 we got to Magor before 4pm, cuppa tea down on the waterfront, then back to the hotel where Jim Deacon and I chose to start a queue at 5.30pm - resulting in first place for me in scrutineering, a bit of a result!
    • Paul Loveridge did his job efficiently, immediately spotting our electronic dizzie, which I'd predicted and had the OE unit ready to go.
    • Saturday, breakfast at 0615 and then start at 0846 for Test 1 at Chepstow Racecourse - two sealed surface, followed by a huge and fast test around the racecourse - loose surface, superb!
    • 4 regularities before lunch, all of which Bob navigated with the precision earnt from years of night rallying, however we met several locals on single track roads: my reversing skills are now much more impressive (if you've tried this in a PV, you'll know that it isn't easy). Sadly 2 of these were shortly before the final controls, resulting in more than 2' of penalties that we could do nothing about.
    • After lunch were 2 more regularities, I recalled a couple of sections - "slot L here, ermm it looks like a housing estate" instructed my navigator - but I remembered that this was indeed the road, and we confidently went up it successfully. Then a narrow lane with cowparsley brushing both sides of the car, that I recalled calling a wrong slot with John Griffiths, who then manfully got us back on time on the last outing.
    • The regularities were all conservatively timed, dictating 15/20/22mph, which was perfect given the single track nature of them. And despite the simple pre-plotted nature of the navigation, caused a few wrong slots among the top seeded crews.
    • The tests were truly fabulous - is it really a case of my last rally being the best? Certainly this one was the best fun I've had in the driver's seat in years.
    • A couple of sealed surface tests at the start, repeated at the finish. The other 12 were wonderful loose surface tests - all of them taxing and slippery, and a couple of rough bits that I know for sure 3 of us attacked on the assumption that our Volvos were designed for this...
  • Leukaemia rally Summary
    • Sadly Gareth's Amazon retired at lunch when he ripped the LHR torque arm off the axle - he had beaten us on two of the tests during the morning.
    • Seeded 16th, we managed 13th at the finish. 30th on Regularity performance, 13th on tests, and 3rd in class
    • Test Times
      • PV544 of Henchoz/Blows: 13th
      • 144 of Griffiths/Pitt: 33rd showing John's ability to row a big and stock B18 along swiftly
      • 122S of Green/Maguire: 35th
      • P1800S of Wood/Miller: 36th - amongst this was a couple of really good times
      • 122S of Grant/Brake: 41st
      • 131 of Williams/Darlington: 47th
      • 122S of Hockridge/Gosling retired at lunch due to suspension arm failure
    • Then home, via Stansted. However the M4 was shut all weekend J13-J12 - so we duly got off, and feeling bored by doing 35mph in a 60 limit in a queue of cars, Bob (who knows these lanes from night rallies) calls "slot left, there's a deep ford, but it's going to be dry, isn't it...".
      And, it was deep, for sure! Deep enough to make the PV (that hasn't misfired after fording in years) misfire for a mile until the dizzie dried out. The water was above the top of the wheels, ie the dizzie was immersed. Wonderful! Had we not been so far from home, I would have gone back just to do it again!
    • A great social event also...
  • Amongst our work, on Thursday we head West yet again, to pick up our newly acquired PV444 from Chester on Friday...
I shall get back into the habit of taking photographs. Soon...
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