A Special Builder's Notes


The Special Builder's Breakfast Club

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20 March 2015

The Road To Le Mans.

Whilst everything else is going on, I've got to find the time and let's face it, the funds, to get my Racing Driver's License so I can take part with Learned Counsel in the Le Mans Classic. Fortunately, as Learned Counsel is an old hand at this sort of caper, I have the benefit of his 40 years' experience to draw on.

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You may recall that we collected a second Jowett Jukebox from a lock-up in Birmingham last year and Learned Counsel has already amassed a sizeable collection of engine parts - certainly enough to make a racing engine with all the good bits and a spare to have in the back of the van, just in case. The engine for the racing car will have a newly made crank and, of course, the special close-ratio gearbox that was built for John Surtees.

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First on my list of things-to-do is print off the Motor Sports Association (MSA) medical form and pop down to the doc's to see if I'm fit for purpose. Then stump up the folding for the license and, after reading the MSA yearbook and watching the CD a few times, toddle off to Snetterton for the Association of Racing Drivers Schools (ARDS) test. This involves a couple of written papers, the first of which requires 100% to pass (a complete knowledge of the various coloured flags and the way they're deployed is essential) and the second - I think one wrong answer is allowed. I don't mind tests - I always think they're rather interesting - but I'm of the view that to go in to a test unprepared and think that you can somehow wing it is a risky strategy.

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So it's fortunate that I was sent this week to Germany to do some undersea cable magnetising. Cuxhaven is on the Northern coast of Lower Saxony at the mouth of the River Elbe. It's quite a long drive from Calais (the overnight Harwich - Hook of Holland ferry was out of action on the night we had to leave) so a stop in Eindhoven made the journey less arduous. The Siddis Mariner hadn't yet arrived by the time we pulled into the dock at Cuxhaven but there wasn't a long wait and the magnetising kit was set up on deck by 10.00pm ready for an early start the following morning.

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I collected last weekend, a couple of bits for the Riley racing car; a block and another rear axle and half shafts that the owner had forgotten he had. I began to think that I'd wasted rather a lot of time altering the Merlin rear axle but perhaps not.

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The second axle, although complete and the casing already turned to fit the retaining clamps, weighs almost as much as the rest of the car. And I think it's a torque tube type so that makes it even heavier.

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A new bread-maker has provided the inspiration for further experiments in home baking. Wheatgerm (the good stuff they extract from flour in the milling process) is now a regular ingredient, as is oatmeal. Dried dates are flavour of the month and that accolade might be extended also to dried apricots though The Ambassador's Daughter tells me that the sulphur dioxide that's used to retain their yellowy-orange colour in the packet, is very bad news - dried apricots should be a more yucky brown.

The road to Le Mans could be fraught with all manner of peril.

previous post Hats Off.
next post In My Dreams.


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