I'm back from a 3000 (!) miles tour with my 77' Spit! I am alive
and the Spit is as well!
In 5 weeks I did roughly the follwing tour:
Oxford (U.K) - Dover - Calais (France) - Bruge (Belgium) -
Brussels - Luxembourg (Luxembourg) - Strassbourg (France) -
Munich (Germany) - Innsbruck (Austria) - Verona (Italy) - Genoa -
Monte Carlo (Monaco) - Cannes (France) - Avignon - Lyon - Paris
- Calais - Oxford.
It was great fun! I stayed especially in region of Genoa (Italy)
for a while and made many day trips to various beautiful places
in this region of northern Italy which is called Liguria.
The major events from a technical viewpoint:
In Germany my speedometer suddenly stopped working. During an
extended stop in Austria (my parents live there) I was able to
cure this problem. Many of you will have noted my postings to the
list at the end of July. After having taken out the speedometer
and the speedometer cable I traced back the problem to the
connection of the cable to the overdrive and reconnected it.
In Italy (Liguria) my cylinder head gasket decided to give up!!!
I had just started one of my day trips (five minutes after
starting the car, the car had definitely not overheated yet)
when the engine suddenly sounded like a VW Beatle and a cloud
of white smoke emerged from the exhaust. I stopped immediately
and investigated the problem. There was water running
down through the exhaust manyfold and two of the spark plugs
were wet (with water) when I unscrewed them. With the help of
some friends of my Italian girlfriend (who used to live there)
the car was recovered the next day (my birthday :-( ) from that
place to a parking space right next to the house where we stayed
that time. After having recieved a new head gasket from England
(next time I'll have a spare one with me, I promise), which took
slightly longer than expected (in the middle of August many shops/
companies including transport enterprises are closed in Italy) I
started my first big repair job I have ever done on a car.
Fortunately I had a decent set of tools and a Haynes manual with
me (the torque wrench I borrowed there). I replaced the gasket,
exchanged oil and water. And indeed, after the fourth try the engine
started up. This was quite a satisfaction and relief after having
worked already for approximately 7 hours under the Mediterranean sun.
After that event I did already 1300 miles without problems (I bought
then a torque wrench in Italy and re-tightened the cylinder head
nuts on a parking space in France on the way back).
- next time I have a head gasket with me when I travel. Also a
torque wrench, a big hammer and a piece of wood (for getting off
the cylinder head), an oil plug spanner is also helpful.
- apart from having great holidays in general (I saw many beautiful
places, had a lot of sun and great fun driving the Spit) I
learned a lot about the car. I was a complete novice in repairing
cars, the Spit is my first Triumph. During this trip I learned
a lot about the car, how to repair it, and how to do some
essential maintenance (like handeling a grease gun for example).
This gave me a great satisfaction, and now I know why these cars
are not only fun to drive (or just to look at), but also fun
to work on.
One question to the list:
How is it possible that the cylinder head gasket blew when the car
was virtually still cold? The only explanation I have is that
in the days before I did some "difficult" trips (steep roads
uphill on hot days/evenings), affecting the head gasket already
so much that its lifetime was limited to some miles more. However,
during those "difficult" trips the car never showed signs of
extreme overheating, the temperature gauge never the crossed
the 3/4 mark.
It is definitely an unforgettable experience to drive a Spit on a
sunny afternoon on one of these curvy roads at these rocky coasts
in Liguria when you have the dark blue sea just below you and some
palm trees above you.......