By Mike Peake
As proved by the Maesteg meet, summer is here! So I decided to use those long hot days to do some of those jobs I’ve been putting off. This included sorting the oil leak on the fuel pump, engine service, change water pipes and fix hood frame.
I started with the oil leaking from the fuel pump. As you may remember, I was having trouble getting any sort of spanner or socket on the bulkhead side fixing bolt. Everything fouled on the manual pump handle. Gandalf Bill Davies told me that Triumph created a weird extended nut head sort of affair to get around it but didn’t think they were available anymore. However, this set me a-thinking and I had a eureka epiphany type moment. I wonder if I can get an Allen Key headed bolt to fit? A quick trip to my local fastener supplier revealed that I could indeed and he’d even sell me one for 50p.
As soon as I got home, I excitedly removed the ordinary bolt and fitted the new one. Well the thread fitted which was great news but what wasn’t such great news was that I learnt that Allen keys come in both metric and imperial. I only had metric and none of them fitted.
Time to open up my father in law’s socket set of wonders that has never let me down… until now… it didn’t have the 7/32 Allen key I needed. It had the size each side, but not this. So, I called him to berate him for this omission. “Never fear” said Mrs FB’s Dad. “I have such Allen keys in my garage”. By the time I’d got there, he had cut one in half and filed it all off nicely so I could put it in the 7/32 socket and use the ratchet. It worked a treat and Poppy no longer leaks oil… from the fuel pump anyway.
Next on the list was to flush my cooling system and change all the rubber pipes as Poppy had struggled in the Maesteg desert heat. This all went surprisingly well right up to the point I discovered that there was a BIG leak in the bottom radiator hose - but I cured this eventually after many hours of repositioning, wiping and in the end, tightening up the jubilee clip so much that the slotted heads bent! I decided that as the leak was now cured, I’d worry, and no doubt say bad words about that next time I need to change it and carried on with the engine service which again, all went smoothly. Honest.
Long term readers will know that Poppy had a fully working roof frame when I bought her. This happy situation lasted approximately 1 year before the bolt hole above the driver’s door snapped, shortly followed by the failure of the header rail on the near side. However, I had managed to source a frame very cheaply some years ago that I could scavenge some parts from - but not the header rail. I decided it wasn’t worth fixing one without the other. So, because of lack of parts availability and being terminally skint, I have put up with the situation and fumbled the hood up as and when needed.
The discovery that Mrs FB’s Dad had a friend with a welder, prompted me into action and I decided it would be nice to actually have a functioning hood frame. As there was plenty of time before the Coventry meet I stripped out the header rail and took it to my father in law. He laughed and said he didn’t think it weldable, but said he’d speak to his friend. He laughed too.
So, I wasn’t even at square one now as without the header rail, I had nothing to hold the roof up. Brand new header rails were now available from the big stockist, but were really jolly expensive, so I had ruled these out for some time. However, feeling somewhat sorry for me, my in laws very kindly said that they would buy one for me on the condition that they didn’t have to buy me any other birthday or Christmas presents for the rest of their lives. Of course, I accepted slightly quicker than immediately and ordered the new header rail. Unfortunately it didn’t arrive until the Thursday before the Coventry Airport meet so no time to fit it. It will be ok though won’t it? It’s summer!
On the morning of the 22nd July my alarm stridently blared the wakeup call which I didn’t hear. I did feel Mrs FB kicking and hitting me, so I leapt out of bed, got ready and headed up to the lock up.
Poppy fired up immediately and excitedly and we set off. I’d got most of the way to Cirencester before I realised I’d forgotten my award winning Lemon Drizzle cake. Knowing my life wouldn’t be worth a bent washer if I turned up without it, I turned around and headed back home… and promptly broke down.
As I’d replaced the points, my immediate conclusion was that I hadn’t done it properly and they’d closed up which, given my track record, is a reasonable assumption. It was while I was reassembling the points that I noticed that the LT lead had fallen off again. All was soon reassembled, cake collected and a pleasant sunny drive to Coventry ensued - picking up Mark Wilson in his stunning V12 E-Type on the A46 and forming an impromptu convoy for the last few miles. I hope he didn’t feel like the poor relation next to Poppy!
Anyway, site was found cars parked around the planes and a great day was had. Again, the sheer mix of cars at our meets astounded. Heralds and Minors parked next to Jensons and E-Types. It was great to meet up with old friends ½ the Chuckle Brothers, Steptoe and Son, the Fat Controller, Nick Arthur, Simon Stock Yeardon and Paul Cheetham. The last two had the cheek to turn up without a classic car but we forgave them. (Except Simon who was very rude to me about fuel pumps and polish so we didn’t let him have any cake.)
New friends were also made. The heroic Eric Dalton who had driven all the way down from Montrose and even Mike and Bonner Sweeney who had come along to represent our very own captain Paul Sweeney, their brother and uncle. They were actually jolly nice chaps and not a bit like Paul said they would be (heyyyyyyy ...... Paul S). Of course there were more of you and sorry if I didn’t catch up with you.
Star cars of the show for me though were the 2 Pipers. John Malley in his red one and his friend in the yellow (Sorry. I didn’t catch his name.)
I didn’t know these cars existed until our Gaydon show and now here were 2 gleamingly beautiful examples for me to gawk at.
Much fun was had, many cakes were eaten and many chats took place before we got to clamber over a Shackleton Bomber and an Anti-Submarine Nimrod whilst enjoying the talks and explanations from Pete Curran and his team of dedicated enthusiasts.
The undoubted highlight of the meet was when the engines were run up on the Nimrod and then the Shackleton. I actually felt honoured to be stood just feet away from these great machines while they roared into life. The sound in the videos just doesn’t do them justice.
It was a shame that Pete could only get the Port engines running on the Shackleton. Many members seamed to delight in telling me this was because they had just had Triumph fuel pumps fitted, but I think they may have been fibbing to me. It really was fantastic hearing the roar of those two 37 litre V12 Griffon engines though.
On behalf of all of us, I would like to extend our huge thanks to Pete Curran and his team for making us feel so welcome and putting on such a great day with the help of our beloved Fat Controller of events, Gar Cole. Thanks all.
Being one of Gar’s events, he forgot yet again, to book decent weather for the entire day and we suffered some heavy downpours in the afternoon. There was always a handy aircraft wing to hide under though.
The heaviest shower of course, was reserved for home time and I didn’t have a roof. Let’s just say it was a very wet 90 minutes and an adventure.
You get very different sort of looks from others drivers than the usual, when you are driving a convertible car with rain water dripping off your nose and glasses.
Well that’s it for now folks. Our next meet is our group pitch at the Gloucester Vintage Festival. It’s too late to get a free place but you can still come and enjoy a great weekend. Come and say hello to us and get a slice of cake.
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