A bit of music from the lamented Radio Blog Club

Le Français

Toujours, je suis désolé pour mes amis( et amies) français(es), mais il est difficile pour moi d'écire en français. Peut-être un jour...
S.V.P. regardez ce LIEN

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Morgan et Moi

Yours truly enjoying the experience

One of the advantages of being freelance or perhaps itinerant (!) is having the chance to take pleasant opportunities when they arise.

A friend of mine, another English ex-pat., has a business based near Toulouse in south-west France. The company is called The Classic Route; it rents Morgan cars to holiday-makers who wish to experience the pleasure of motoring in some really lovely countryside. Here is a link to the website.

My friend contacted me to say that he had two new Morgan Plus 4s awaiting collection in England and would I like to join him in driving one of them to Toulouse? You can imagine that I had to think long and hard about this chance...

My friend explained that such a trip made economic sense: first it actually costs less than having the cars delivered - despite the fact we took our time and stayed in decent hotels with secure parking. Second, the cars are run in properly by the time of arrival and any minor niggles can be identified. And third, there is also the pleasure of driving an open car in France.

So I flew from Geneva to Gatwick on 17th May, a happy date because it coincided with the monthly meeting of the Lancia Motor Club which takes place at the Abinger Hatch pub near Dorking. An excellent chance to meet some friends after two years away, and enjoy a glass or two of good real ale. My friend (a former Fulvia owner) and another and I travelled in a hired FIAT Punto 1400. This model must have the slimmest horses ever found in a motor-car.

The best-laid plans of mice and men etc... On the Friday, various business matters delayed our arrival at Richard Thorne's establishment near Reading and we didn't set off until nearly 8:00 in the evening.

Two nearly ready to go

Initially I found the Morgan Plus 4 rather strange. It is many years since I sat so far back in a car, with a rather nice long louvred bonnet stretching out in front of me. However I did find straight away that Morgan has improved the damping considerably (compared with my previous experiences of the marque) and the ride except on extreme bumps is very good. It took me a few miles (conscious of the responsibility) to adjust to everything.

En route to catch the last shuttle to Calais just after 11:00 p.m., we were passed on the motorway by a chap in a Ferrari 360. In our open cars, we were able to appreciate the splendid noise it made. We met him again at the terminal and he told us he removed the cats - hence the noise! Naughty but nice...

Our first stop was Rouen, we finally went to bed at about 5:30, so Saturday was a rather late start - about midday.


Saturday treated us to lovely weather, during the day at least, so despite having to observe a self-imposed rev limit of 3500 the driving was most enjoyable. We stopped for lunch at Le Mans where the cars attracted (as in fact they did everywhere we went) a lot of interest. We had to answer quite a lot of questions e.g. "Is it a replica?" "How fast does it go?" etc. My friend answered all these with great patience and a smile (a born PR man I think).

I didn't expect to see this at Le Mans!

Our evening stop was at Angouleme where we relaxed over a good dinner and a nightcap in a very lively bar.

Sunday was perhaps the best day. We were able to move to the Routes Nationales et Departmentales and with the cars having covered nearly 1000 miles, we were able to start enjoying the Morgans as they are meant to be enjoyed - and believe me they are enjoyable, especially on sweeping curves... Our trip took us through the famous wine-producing areas around Bordeaux, where we stopped for lunch in lovely St Emilion. Continuing south we drove through the valley of the Dordogne with its excellent scenary, chateaux and pretty towns and villages.

The Dordogne


Soon after Sarlat, it was time to take the Autoroute once again for the last leg to Toulouse, where we garaged the undamaged (thank God!) but rather fly-speckled cars and settled down for a fine dinner, in my case including excellent Magret de canard for which the area is so famous. Toulouse itself is a very attractive city, with an active cultural life - well worth visiting.

There will not be any more Morgan trips this year, but there are plans to expand the fleet to include a couple of classic Triumphs or MGs. I sincerely hope to be asked for those!

And if the above appeals, you can meet The Classic Route at its stand to be shared with Richard Thorne (Morgan and classic Lancia dealer) at the Goodwood Festival of Speed at the end of June.

Fanalone Update

Source: Here

You might remember that I changed the camshafts on the Fanalone. Well the results have been very good.
Last weekend the owner took part in the Rallye Vins Mâcon. I was not there myself (I usually am) but again the car ran well. Unfortunately the exhaust system cried enough aftersix years, so there is some more work to do before the next rally, a local one, Le Rochois. Local knowledge counts for a lot in rallies, so we are hopeful!
More soon.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A Long Silence?

Dear readers,

So sorry for the lack of activity here over the past couple of weeks. I have been away, working on various things, the most recent being an interesting trip to England, where I had to collect a new car and drive it down to Toulouse.

The car in question was unusual and I shall be writing this up shortly.

Thanks for your patience and loyalty

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Fanalone Trouble

A short while ago I mentioned that it was time once more to roll out the Fanalone for another season. The owner prefers not to run the car in the winter – especially here in Haute Savoie where so much salt is put down on the roads.

I began with a road test as is traditional in all servicing procedures. Whilst the car went quite well I thought that it was perhaps not “au point”.

First move some cars!

I removed the cam cover (I regularly check the torque setting of the head bolts with the engine warmed up) and noticed damage to one of the lobes on the exhaust camshaft. Turning the engine revealed damage to a lobe on the inlet camshaft too.

The two damaged lobes may be clearly seen here

With an invitation to open the Rallye Beaufortain for this weekend, action had to be taken.

The camshafts were special ones – the ex-works profile that Barry Waterhouse used to offer at Evolution Engineering. These are quite fierce with 100° of overlap and 11.3mm lift (4.3mm at TDC) and it has to be said that they are a bit brutal with the valve springs, although I ran a set for some years with no problems. The carburettor jetting is modified to take account of the camshafts of course. The only option was to remove the camshafts from my own car. These are not quite as extreme as the originals but have 86° overlap and 10.5mm lift (3.8mm at TDC).

On dismantling, the cause of the trouble was quickly found: the hardening had failed on some of the rocker faces. More dismantling was necessary: this time the spare Fanalone engine was “visited” and some of its rockers removed to replace the damaged ones.

With all re-assembled, the engine fired eagerly and immediately, always very satisfying. After warm-up, only very minor adjustments were required to the idle settings. The subsequent road test showed the car to be smooth and with good torque and willing to rev quickly to 7000. There is evidence that the valve springs are reaching the end of their life making a built-in mechanical rev-limiterJ. They will have to be replaced providing an opportunity to lap the valves and have a look around – after all the valves have not been touched for six years and 22 rallies!

As I write, the owner is at Beaufort for the rally and as the 'phone has not rung, I assume that all is well… Incidentally, the rally is for modern cars only, but the French club La Scuderia Lancia was invited to provide cars for opening and “sweeping up” (voiture balai). Amongst those providing these services apart from the Fanalone, are some Evos and an 037 stradale, a touch of class amongst all the moderns I think.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Nora - the Feline Pianist

Amazing I think - and great fun.

Sod the Law!


New Internet Speed test

Music and Radio Blog Club

Radio Blog Club, a good friend for a while appears to be in some legislative difficulty...

However, in tribute to its brave effort, I shall leave the existing track on this page (which amazingly still works)

Sadly my Playlist no longer works (hence its removal) thanks to the absurd "Hadopi" legislation in France. Apologies to all.