Garage Woes

By David Garstang

Well it’s been a while since I last wrote something so this may take some time, and it starts back in February.

I had been waiting for an appointment for a minor operation on my nose and I received a letter in the post saying the operation was to be on Thursday 26th April which was OK as it was an in and out operation in a day. This still left time to prep the rally car for the 1st May bank holiday weekend when I would be competing on the Berwick Classic. So the day of the operation arrived and I duly arrived on the ward for 7:30 am as instructed to wait for my operation I finally went to the operating room at 5pm. Apparently the operation went successfully but I was not wanting to wake up from the aesthetic and my nose was constantly leaking lots of red fluid, so the hospital staff suggested that I stayed on the ward for the night, luckily I was allowed home at 11:00 the following morning and my designated driver arrived for me at 3pm after gossiping with friends and forgetting what the time was. I was also instructed not to bend over too much and not to do any lifting for a week. Bang went prepping the rally car or so I thought.

Monday arrived and I was still leaking fluid from a very sore nose, running a temperature and having a constant headache, the better half suggested that I phoned the ward to see if this was normal. I did as I was told and was informed that all was normal and to take paracetamol. Which I was, plus ibuprofen, and it had not making a dent in the pain. By Tuesday I was at the doctors and informed that I had got an infection in my sinuses and was given antibiotics and told if I felt any worse to come straight back or go to A&E. Fortunately the tablets started to take effect after 24 hours. But I still did not feel up to bending over an engine bay or grovelling under the car to do the prep work. Fortunately my Dad took the hint when I phoned him and offered to come up and help.

I ran out of tablets 24 hours before going up to Berwick for the rally and was starting to feel a bit more normal but still not right. So Saturday afternoon arrived and I took the car to scrutineering and went through with no problems so it was off to the start at Berwick Speedway to meet up with my navigator and sort out paperwork and have a good crack with fellow competitors. We set off on Saturday afternoon and soon got into a good rhythm, as I was running in a new navigator we decided to start off slow and build up speed to where we were both comfortable. Well that lasted one test as my new navigator was straight on the ball and could easily keep up calling out the route as I went faster. As I started to settle in for an enjoyable afternoon a misfire started to develop and very time I looked under the bonnet the air filter had fallen off the carb. The test got better and better and a mixture of regularity on the road sections was keeping it interesting for my new navigator but the misfire was getting worse and always seemed to happen just at the start of each test and we would then do the test on 3 or 2 cylinders depending on the misfire. After one particular arduous run around a test the car died as I pulled away from the finish line. More investigations under the bonnet revealed a distributor cap that had 2 consecutive segments worn away to almost nothing by the rotor arm. We managed to nurse the car back to the finish on Saturday. I then parked the car up at our digs and jumped into the modern car and hurtled back home to get a new distributer cap so that we could at least start the day with a good cap, nothing I could do about why it was eating the last one but would look into it after the event, I was just hoping that it would not eat the new cap before we finished.

Traveling to the start on Sunday and the car was behaving fine and was going really well. My navigator met me at the start and informed me that even with our problems the day before we were lying 15th overall and 4th in class (my class included a lot of 2 litre escorts). The first couple of tests went fine and we seemed to be putting up decent times but on about the third test after a water splash the car conked out mid test. After pushing it out of the way of the next competitor it eventually started and we put it down to water on the distributer. We proceeded to the next test site, which looked according to the diagram, like a blast down a concrete drive with chicanes into a yard to do some manoeuvres and then finish. We set off flew down the drive through the chicanes and into a stop astride but I could not get reverse and only seemed to have a gear box of forward gears and every time I let the clutch out the car would die. We pushed the car out of the test and finally got it started and found some gears and managed to pull away from the test site but soon had to pull over to the side of the road as the car was unfit to drive. Looking under the bonnet revealed a snapped engine steady bar and a top engine mount that looked to have been destroyed. I decided that it was sensible to retire from the event (second year running now) and get the tow car and trailer. For a few weeks the car sat on the trailer until I had finally ordered some different engine mounts and decided to take the car to my Dads garage as he has a four post lift which makes dropping the engine out of the car a lot easier (it’s easier to do the top mount with the engine out of the car) I also decided that at the same time I would change the driveshaft oil seals to stop the leaking oil getting sprayed all over the engine. We got the engine ready to remove so that it was only held in place by 4 bolts, we decided that we would leave the engine in place as we needed to measure up where the gearbox mount would fit and where on the inner wing we will need to drill holes and fit reinforcing plates. As we did not have the gearbox mount we made a list of all the things that need ordering and had them ordered so that we could drop the engine out the following weekend.

The following weekend arrived and I could only spare the Saturday to do any work, as I wanted to compete in the Spadeadam Grass auto test on the Sunday. So it was a quick zip down to Dads (only a 180 mile round trip) to trial fit the gearbox mount and do the necessary fabrications, we dropped the engine out and changed the drive shaft seals but could not refit the engine as not all the parts had arrived. We were missing the new top engine mount.

On the Sunday I had a go at the grass auto test, the first one of the season for me and I was allowed to use the club car as mine was still inoperable and I had not had time to drag my RS2000 out of hibernation. I have put my name down for the auto test on the 1st July so I had better get one of my cars back on the road soon.

Hopefully all the bits will arrive this weekend and I can get the car back on the road for Sunday the 1st July.