Le Mans or Bust

Archive for May, 2006


Wednesday, May 31st, 2006

Thanks to Neil at Speed Chills we have another sponsor! For those that don’t know, Speed Chills has made its name as Private Members Club - a British pub in the middle of the Le Mans circuit. Tom, Graham and myself were members in 2004 (the inaugural year) and found it to be a fine place for a beer (or several) and handy for a quick night time trip to the armco of the back straight to hear the cars on full throttle ripping the air apart.

Unfortunately they’ve sold out this year so make sure you get in early next year. Whilst you are visiting them (and you will won’t you..) have a look at their other deals on the Le Mans Classic and the Donington Le Mans series 1000km

Speed Chills

Thanks again to:

(Why all the links? you ask. Google page ranks - the more pages that link to your page the higher you appear on the search pages.)

[One word expression of malcontent]

Wednesday, May 31st, 2006

I’ll let you pick your own.

However, seeing that we will have set off two weeks from today, and that I fixed the wipers and tested them at the weekend, why did they have to stop working? It seems that the whole right hand electrical stalk has packed up, as the windscreen washer failed to work as well. Time for some WD40 and some hope….

However, the original battery is back in, and charged, and that has made the indicators behave themselves again…. Oh wait, I fix one thing, and something else breaks. I have created the cab of sentient equilibrium! Not only is it a new life source, but a perfectly balanced being, in a state of automotive zen! Take that Dr. Frankenstein! I see your monster and raise you a black cab with a mind of its own….


Monday, May 29th, 2006

Looks like my brain was playing tricks with me again, and I have significantly overestimated the distance between Calais & Le Mans. I’m sure it took us all day last time, but then we were messing about in convoy on the back roads, having tremendous fun overtaking things in fast cars. This time it will be different, as ViaMichelin inform me that it is a mere 424KM from Calais to Le Mans, not the 600-odd miles that I had conjoured at random from my brain. Hey, that’s only a minimum of 6 hours in the cab! Result! :-)

According to the same site, it’s 444KM from York to Dover, so that stage of the journey will take longer than the section in France. I’m still estimating a total travelling time of 24 hours though, its just this way we have more time for breakdowns…

Right, I’m off to pick up the Cab for a week of road testing….

Progress (of sorts)

Saturday, May 27th, 2006

I swear that it’s only a matter of time before sentience is achieved by the indicators, which first of all worked at double speed (off-side only), then normal speed (both sides) then ‘on’ only, and then back to double speed (both sides).

As well as this minor problem the beautiful roof sign (Chris’ labour of love) was not watertight and the sign has gone somewhat streaky (see below). Any chance of another Chris? This time I’ll have a tube of silicone sealant ready.

One the subject of leaks, the (now carpeted) boot was also somewhat damp, due not to a failure of the seal, but of the metal underneath the seal.

However, it’s not all bad news, as I did make some progress today…

It started first turn of the key with only a little protest because of the air in the fuel system, and ran very nicely for the twenty or so minutes it was running. I’m not entirely sure that I needed to buy a new battery for my Golf, so I’m not sure we need to replace the one in DYK. It may be of course that it’s the cause of the indicator playing up, in which case I retract my statement!

The boot seal is (hopefully) fixed after liberal application of a tube of silicone sealant, although I won’t know for sure until it rains again.

The near side wiper lives again! The old arm was shot to hell as all the teeth had been stripped from the hub, and so the spline was rotating freely underneath it. The new one doesn’t have this problem, although as it’s technically not designed to fit the small windscreen of a black cab, it protudes somewhat when at the highest point of its arc. Thanks to Ian’s horde of Morris Minor bits for the arm, and God bless British Leyland for sharing parts between their vehicles :-)

Another section of fuel hose has been replaced (photo below), so now both pipes into and out of the fuel filter are spanking new and don’t let in air. I’m sure this can only be a good thing, and I’ll keep telling myself that until the scars on my hands heal up. It’s not in the most accesible place and in the end I was kneeling on the front crossmember practically diving headfirst into the engine bay.

The cooling system (including the heater matrix) has been flushed through, and all of the orange gunge inside it replaced. This was entertaining in so many ways. Firstly I got a faceful of aforementioned gunge when removing the bottom hose, then I had to flush through the system without the aid of a hosepipe, while catching the gunge to avoid it going down the drain. Not many people know this, but bottom hose is fantastically close to both the alternator and the fan belt, and it’s a miracle it doesn’t clip either of them. I wish I could say the same of my hand…. :-) I think the best part was lying down in the excess water to re-connect the hose, but tbh, it was all worth it when I drove DYK, and there were no leaks from the system, the temp never rose about halfway on the gauge (even when idling after a long run), and THE HEATING WORKED!

That’s the other thing I was relatively proud of, getting the heater matrix de-cr@pped and the heater system working. It’s a very simple system whereby the heater control on the dash moves a length of stiff wire inside two different diameter sections of plastic. This wire is pulled by the sliding heater control, sliding inside the plastic, and operates an arm on a valve that forms the junction between the engine cooling system and the passenger heating system. The further towards warm the heater control arm moves, the further the valve opens. That’s how it should work…. However, the metal wire on the heater arm had been bent out of shape, and therefore, when the arm was moved, the wire slid through the hole and didn’t move the valve, while not sliding through the plastic sleeve, but contorting itself further.
If you’ve ever tried to get a piece of wire that has been bent out of shape, back to perfect straightness, you’ll know that it’s an impossible task. (Go on, if you’re sat at a desk at work reading this, pick up a paperclip and try it…) It was also impossible to get it to slide as it should, because it wasn’t straight, and no amount of effort or swearing could rectify this. Therefore I’ve done what all previous owners of the taxi appear to have done, and bodged it. By means of insulation tape, a nut, and the previously removed section of fuel hose, I’ve constructed a working replacement, although I haven’t yet got it hooked up to the arm, as currently the whole section of hose moves in places, and needs to be secured to the inside of the dash before it will properly be sorted. It does however work, and so we will have heating for the trip (even if it isn’t operated as originally designed by Austin).
Perhaps a job for Monday…?
Le What of Bust? Gunge The snapped wire The new control The other end of the heater control The new hose


Thursday, May 25th, 2006

Vociferations to Dan at N138 clothing who are our newest sponsor. Swing by their site and take a look at their wares, the circuit shirt and the 917 in Gulf colours are already classics. Don’t forget the links section of their site whilst you are there - you might see something that is frighteningly familiar!


For buying us a new battery we must also thank Dave Twigg of The New Wilton News.

The New Wilton News

Heartfelt thanks to all our sponsors - it really means a lot to us that other people are prepared to put their name on this venture, please visit them all using the adverts that now appear on the right hand side. In case you can’t make it that far, here are our other sponsors:

Battery Musings

Sunday, May 21st, 2006

The battery on the taxi may well be as dead as a doornail, although more testing is required before we can tell conclusively whether this is the case. However, given that the price tag reads £11, and the price of a new one today is about 7 times that, it may well have reached the end of its life.

Nonetheless, the taxi was brought to life today with a little help from the battery which is also on its way out, removed from my Golf today. Technically, it shouldn’t be able to turn it over, as it’s the battery fitted to work with a 1.6 Diesel, not a 2.7, but it did. It may however be the cause of the indicators going from working (flashing on and off) to sort-of working (coming on and not flashing, just staying lit). Still, I’m fully trained in years of old car use in how to use hand signals….

Outstanding problems include:

The wiper (predictably), although I now how an arm that may fit (courtesy of Ian & his shed of bounty).

The heater matix. It would be nice to have working heating for the drive through the night, but it needs attention, as I suspect that the pipes are full of gak. Time for a spot of drain cleaner….

The handbrake needs adjusting, as currently it’s nothing more than a fancy ornament.

More as I think of them.


Stick ‘em up

Sunday, May 21st, 2006

Well, we’re now stickered up with the branding of our current sponsors: Chilled Heat and Yorkshire Tea. Although, as Chris pointed out, the placement of a graphic bearing the wording “Yorkshire Tea Served Here” immediately below the sign saying “No food or drink to be consumed in this vehicle” was more than a little ironic.

Side View

There’s still space on the Taxi for your company’s logo - just leave a comment if you would be interested in 2000 miles of rolling advertising to some of Europe’s most commited, sports car owning, race fans! [end shameless supplication]

It’s Alive!

Sunday, May 21st, 2006

With the spark of energy provided by Tom’s old battery the previously inanimate beast sprang to life and we took it out for a test run in the Yorkshire rain and an invaluable lesson was learnt: A bus stop is less draughty than our taxi and the heater doesn’t produce hot air. Coats and blankets may well be the order of the day for the overnight leg of the journey.

All in all, it was remarkably well behaved (if a little plodding - sorry if you were in the queue behind us on the A1079) with the usual exception of the electrics. I am convinced that the cable jungle under the dash has become self aware. What with the radio mysteriously starting to work, the indicators sometimes flashing and sometimes coming on constantly (with no discernable pattern) and the unidentified button by the gear leaver I think our vehicle is the next incarnation of KITT - if it starts talking to us in a camp voice we’ll know for certain.

Still, after this weekend’s work it is at least in a state in which I would be happy to set off on our journey. That’s not to say that we’re done but I think [touch wood] we’re on the home straight of the first leg.

Forwards not backwards

Sunday, May 21st, 2006

For the first time this weekend we actually seemed to fix more problems than create new ones.

  • The stereo decided to “just work” despite nothing having changed since we last looked at it
  • Tom replaced the knackered fuel hose in double quick time
  • Carpet was laid in the boot to keep our luggage clean
  • The roof sign is back in place (although not powered up yet)
  • The rear speaker is wired up and working
  • The dashboard is back in place
  • The lights finally work properly after Orde rewired the whole unit
  • Lots of lovely stickers now decorate the taxi

It was all going perfectly until we decided to go for a trial run and discovered the battery was dead as a doornail, oh well.

I have added a whole raft of photos from the day to the Gallery.

Before : IMG_0061.JPGAfter :IMG_0315.JPG


Friday, May 19th, 2006

Well, as if the project, the sponsors and this website weren’t enough, we have now launched a clothing line. Knocked up on an inkjet printer it features the image below, and will be available in all good clothing stores near you shortly. Or maybe not. Still, I’m happy with the first couple of attempts, and if there are any hardcore followers of this site that wish to shew their dedication to the cause (unlikely), then send me a blank t-shirt in the colour of your choice and I’ll post it back suitably adorned.

Pictures of the mechandise will follow shortly…

T-Shirt Image

Pictures as modelled by yours truly…

Model Shot

And a couple of other designs to fit the new domain name:

T-Shirt Image 3T-Shirt Image 2

J885 DYK