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Second year at the Cholmondeley Pageant of Power (aka the Goodwood of the North, CPoP) and it was a tricky preparation ramp up, with Alan recommending a clutch-plate change and still no word from Brembo about replacement brake calipers. The brakes had locked up at the Northwich Thundersprint, which had us all scratching our heads. The launch of the new Morgan 3 Wheeler and Range Rover Evoque, meant some busy days and late nights preparing Telegraph Motoring copy so Triking preparation took a back seat and it was with just one day to go that I set about removing the Moto Guzzi Le Mans engine to attend to the clutch and try to do something sensible with the brakes.
In the end the clutch friction plate was worn but intact, with some heat staining to the flywheel, but I replaced the plate and bolted it all up tight. All finished at about 12 midnight in between rain showers. The brakes were more difficult and I replaced everything upstream of the calipers and hoped like crazy. I don’t know if other Triking owners suffer trailer problems, but the small trailer I rent from Guildford Trailer Hire has a habit of spitting out its ramps and grinding the sides of the machine. On Thursday it did just that, crushing my toes with the weight of the ramp and the front wheel. I wimpered a bit, pulled on sandals and got into the borrowed Land Rover Discovery to drive to Cholmondeley via Nigel at NBS at Ingestre in Staffordshire for an impromptu engine service. He’s something of a maestro with these 90-degree vee twins and changed oil, plugs, filters and fiddled with mixtures and running speeds until it sounded great.
Didn’t sound so great the following afternoon for first practice. The engine would fire and die, fire and die and after the marshals had written me off, I resorted to that Formula One mechanic trick of staring at the engine until the answer comes through the ether. It turned out to be a missing earth tag, which earthed when the engine started and then wobbled off and stopped the little beast.
Cramming a blue and black foot into a racing boot was one of the more painful experiences of the weekend and thus shod I had an effective operating radius of about 10 metres. The circuit doctor confirmed there were unlikely to be any broken bones, “but that’s going to hurt like a bastard.” It did.
It’s a lovely event the Pageant, being a mix of mix of seriously quick hill climb, military pageant, country fair, public concert, power-boat race, four-stroke scrambling meet and 101 other spectacles. My brother William, who spannered for me, bought his family, who enjoyed the event last year. There is a bit of an issue with the weather, however, it chucked down for most of the weekend and in the brief, bright patches, the track never truly dried out.
My class, “Three wheelers and Trikings”, consisted of Iain Stewart’s beautiful 1929 Morgan Super Aero, Dave Kruse’s 1998 Price Suzuki Windle sidecar and Graham Hilditch and Tony Dalton in the newly reframed Weslake powered sidecar. I don’t know what I expected of the JAP-engined Morgan, but Iain set a cracking pace right from the off. Shod on Dunlop racing rubber, the little beast tore off the line and round the highly challenging corners with Iain sliding across to the passenger side on left handers to keep the wheels on the ground. You can’t do that in a Triking because of the transmission tunnel and leaning over just doesn’t give the same amount of stabilization – I’m going to have to think about that for future events. I was comprehensively outgunned and out driven, and although I stuck some unrealistic revs on the Guzzi and also saw the inside front wheel hovering some 10 inches off the ground in some of the left handers, I couldn’t get within 11sec of the Morgan. For all that, it was a great, if very damp three days and solace, when it came, was from an unexpected source. Hobbling back to the time keepers hut on the Saturday I fell into limping step with five-times Le Mans winner Derek Bell. “You’re in that blue thing are you?” he said. “My goodness, Andrew, wheels in the air, sliding all over the place, that looks very hairy.” I almost burst with pride.
So apart from rebuilding the front wheels onto proper billet hubs, having a racing clutch fabricated, I now need to find more power and more grip. There’s not a racing car in the world that couldn’t use an injection of either, but I’m on the look out for a Daytona/Centauro overhead camshaft engine to at least get on terms with a 1.3-litre JAP, racing tyres, a lightweight racing seat, and a decent tilting-platform trailer. I attended the launch of the new Mark II VW Beetle this week and must have resembled Long John Silver sans parrot.
For the immediate future, however, I’ve got to get a sponge in there and dry the poor old thing out. Tony Divey would not approve of the way I’m looking after the last Triking to leave Marlingford. On the other hand he just might…