Garage Woes

By David Garstang

1st July – Spadeadam demonstration auto test at Carlisle, The car was ready and already loaded on the trailer the week before, so it was a quick trip down the road to Carlisle auction mart where the carpark was rammed with polished cars of all makes and models. The Spadeadam team of volunteers had set out the auto test the day before and Barry then gave a driver’s briefing as there were a number of things that we had to abide by to ensure that we met all the MSA stipulations. Due to the very sunny weather that we have been having so far this summer the gravel area that we were using was bone dry and very dusty, so we had a democratic vote and decided to make Nigel be the sacrificial lamb to kick up a dust storm and see how many of the polished car brigade would come charging over with tyre leavers waving as the dust was blown over their cars. Unfortunately, due to a few complaints we had to abandon giving a demonstration of auto testing. At the end of the day as I was loading the car back onto the trailer the brakes decided that they were not going to work. As I have fitted new slave cylinders at the back and new callipers at the front I presumed it was an issue with the master cylinder. Just another job to sort out before the Hexham Northern Dales event on 15th July.

I started hunting on the internet for a new master cylinder but was having no joy in finding the correct one, I then turned to the Burton Power catalogue and saw that they do a brake bias master cylinder kit that replaces the Fiesta one and the servo but it was £230. I then decided that perhaps a seal kit might be the way forward. So I duly ordered one and it eventually arrived on the Monday 6 days before the event.

14th July – Due to it being a simple job to remove the old seals and replace and work was a bit busy it was not until Saturday the day before the event that I decided to get on with the job. Now there are 4 seals in a Fiesta master cylinder and the new kit had the necessary 4 new seals but when I fitted them I found that 2 of the seals seemed a bit big, luckily the new big seals were replacing what looked like to good old seals so I decided to leave the old seals in place. Everything was fitted back on the car and I started to bleed the brakes using a one-man operating bleeding system. This was totally ineffective due to being old and having too many air leaks. I roped in a friend to press the brake pedal whilst I opened and closed the bleed nipples, after a while we decided that there was still an issue with the master cylinder so I let my friend go home and set to fitting the 2 new seals that I had left out after inserting them in the master cylinder and then getting a new one man bleeding kit I set to and bled the brakes. I quickly noticed that there was a problem as very little fluid was coming out. So it was off with the master cylinder again and I then noticed that the seals that I thought were too big were indeed causing an issue as they had jammed up and would not let the pistons move freely. As it was now 4pm I decided that I would pack in and let the organisers of the Norther Dales know that I would not be competing. At 6pm I suddenly had a brain wave and remember that another friend (yes, I do have more than 1) had recently bought a Mk 1 Fiesta so I rang him and managed to get him to agree to lending me the master cylinder off his car. So, a quick 200-mile round trip saw me in possession of an old but good master cylinder. Which I fitted and then bled the system, a quick trial run of 2 yards and pressing the brakes in the garage seemed to show that I had brakes.

15th at 6am I was trying to quietly put a rally car on a trailer in a residential area without waking the neighbours, it was then back to my house to see if Heidi and Will were awake and ready to leave for 7am to make sure I got to scrutineering on time. When I got home I found the pair of them still in their beds, so it was decided that they would follow on later as they were marshalling with the Spadeadam team and did not need to be there too early.

The car passed through scrutineering without a problem and the brakes still seemed to be ok if a little spongey. The event was set up using 4 tests run one after each other and completed 5 times during the day. I set out tentatively on the first round of tests as this was the first time that I had gotten to use the car after refitting the engine. All went well through the 4 tests if a little slow. I was able to get faster during the course of the day but that Helen Harkness was considerably faster than me. I must watch Helen and see what she is doing, I guess she is just a lot smoother and less wheel spinning than me or is it that she is using a modern car with that bit more power?

Anyway I have had to give the borrowed master cylinder back so I am on the hunt for a new one.

Next event will be the Doonhamer in September due to holidays being booked when the Blue Streak is happening.