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Author Topic: On the road with (one of) the world's smallest!  (Read 16135 times)

Stuart Cyphus

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Re: On the road with (one of) the world's smallest!
« Reply #15 on: July 06, 2007, 03:53:48 PM »
 To reply to Mr Macgooan, I did rather wonder what that big white ball thing was which was chasing me down the A40! There's never a Lotus Seven around when you want one.....

Right then everybody, now I've got the hang of the picture posting, here's the proof that the Mini-Comtesse can indeed take to the road.  See it for yourself before your very eyes at School House Farm on 29th July! (form an orderly queue please)




 A little bit of surgery......



 A little bit of discussion....



 And away it goes!!!!
« Last Edit: July 06, 2007, 04:05:35 PM by Stuart Cyphus »

Stuart Cyphus

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Re: On the road with (one of) the world's smallest!
« Reply #16 on: August 06, 2007, 02:37:38 PM »
                                                                             THE LONG HAUL TO KEMBLE
                                                                                        Part One

 During a normal rally season, we generally attend about five or six ordinary vintage rallies, sometimes as paying visitors & sometimes as exhibitors. Over the weekend of 3rd, 4th & 5th August, whilst most were at Stonhams Barn, myself & the Mini-Comtesse were due to appear at Kemble Steam Rally at Kemble Airfield, Gloucestershire, about 35 miles hence from Witney. With the supply of vans from work now unpredictable, I decide to drive the Comtesse to Kemble on the Thursday.....

 Thursday morning dawns overcast, but armed only with Ordnance Survey Map sheet number 163, two adjustable spanners and a large screwdriver, I press the starter at 8am & motor off in the general westerly direction of Gloucestershire. My route is to take me out of Witney, through Lew & Bampton out to Clanfield & then right through the middle of Lechlade & Fairford before turning out through the cotswold countryside and villages to Kemble. Sounds simple enough, but this was going to take some time to do at an average speed of 15-17mph!

 Things started off OK, but less than a mile out of town whilst climbing the bridge over the A40, a car carves me up & forces me onto the ruts I was so far avoiding. Suddenly I saw my bonnet lifting off and disappearing under my own front wheel to the sound of scraping fibreglass. When finally I could stop, I looked back through the rear window expecting to be looking upon a sea of millions of blue shards of fibreglass. It was quite a relief to see it sat still in one piece in the gutter. I walked back and picked it up. Apart from one broken hook which holds the locating rubber band, a few scrapes and a three-inch crack in one flange, it was undamaged. I re-attach it, and carry on.....



 At Patrick Edwards's yard, Clanfield, 12 miles out.

 The first major obstacle to overcome was Lew Hill, a long winding uphill drag on the way to Bampton, but to my surprise the Comtesse romps up it! Through Bampton & out to Clainfield with no mishaps to report, and very soon (all things relative, I'm averaging 17mph remember) Lechlade looms and through I trundle. It has taken me an hour to get here. Just out of Lechlade I spot Dad in a gateway. He set off for Kemble at 6am driving the Martin truck (top speed 10mph) towing the Lister Autotruck (top speed 4mph). I pull over, stops the engine & we chat a while. I make to restart the engine, & nothing happens! After an hour of sustained running, the Comtesse is vaporising & wants a rest too.



 Meeting Dad in gateway in Lechlade, 15 miles out.

 Twenty minutes later and it feels like continuing so off we go, next port of call being the middle of Fairford in the rush hour and it is now raining. A lot. Being the rush hour, nothing in Fairford is moving faster than me anyway. Having built up speed I'm not stopping for anything on the roundabout just out of Fairford, rather surprising the Ford Mondeo behind me. In fact I can't remember even touching the brakes for the last half hour!

 Now comes the long drag along the A417 before turning left at Point 105 into the cotwold countryside on unclassified roads towards the villiages of Meysey Hampton & Down Ampney (For those following my route from their armchairs). From here on in, the road surface gets noticeably worse, with all mannor of ruts, raised drain holes and sunken manholes, so much so that at times I'm reduced to a craw out of sheer mechanical sympathy! Now & then a car whizzes by, usually in the worst of places and always at speeds much in excess of the limit despite the road surface. In fact during this drive I've noticed that the most curtius drivers are usually lorry drivers. The worst are usually young women in nondescript hatchbacks.  All the time it is still raining.

 Approaching now the bridge over the A419 and here for the first time the road proves too much for the Comtesse, as with its automatic gearbox, it can't make it up & over the bridge! In the true spirit of micro driving, I get out & push!




 Bridge over the A419, 20 miles out.

 For the rest of this section of the run, things pass uneventfully. The villages of Cerney Wick, South Cerney and Ewan pass by at roughly 20 minute intervals and I find myself at Kemble villiage and approaching the last stage of the run, six miles along the main A433 road to Kemble Airfield, which has a 60 limit for its entire length. Rember, I am only averaging 17mph. All goes well for a while, the continuous traffic is not too much of a nuance to me, in fact I can see the hangers of the airfield across the field to my left. Now, where's the entrance? Then I pass it. A large brick wall and an even larger sign reading "Kemble Airfield entrance disused, new entrance on A429." But the A429 is five miles to my left at the front of the airfield & I'm stuck on this A433 at the back of the airfield and the next left turn is not for another ten miles! And the road is getting ever steeper and ever narrower with an ever closer-looming dry stone wall on both sides. The Comtesse struggled valiantly on, getting ever slower in the face of a one in four hill. It gave its all but in the end I called a halt. It had done enough just getting here at all. It had carried me this far, the least I could was help it here, so for the second time that day, I got out & pushed.

 Eventully the left turn to the A429 appeared, as did a gateway. a further ten minutes later and the Comtesse was ready to go again. It was determined to make it to Kemble Airfield under its own power come what may! On it went, and on and on. Still at a steady 17mph. Then at last, the new entrance to Kemble Airfield. It had made it! As I approached the rally HQ, a whole gang of marshalls came pouring out. Most though I had just unloaded it from a trailer round the back. No one be lived I'd just driven it the 35 miles (plus ten mile detour) there. I asked the time of one marshall, the answer was "10:15". Two and a quarter hours it had taken to do 45 miles in total.

 Now there was three days of rally to come and then the journey home again Sunday night, which will be recounted in Part Two, to follow shortly.....    

 
« Last Edit: December 11, 2012, 09:50:01 PM by Stuart Cyphus »

Dan Rodd

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Re: On the road with (one of) the world's smallest!
« Reply #17 on: August 06, 2007, 04:33:39 PM »
my dad was at the rally and took a picture so i will upload it for you.

witney44

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Re: On the road with (one of) the world's smallest!
« Reply #18 on: August 06, 2007, 04:45:49 PM »
Well done Stuart. You deserve a medal. This is what microcars should be about. How about LEJOG next?
« Last Edit: August 06, 2007, 09:20:36 PM by witney44 »

blob

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Re: On the road with (one of) the world's smallest!
« Reply #19 on: August 06, 2007, 09:30:52 PM »
Yes very well done, I would love to have seen all those angry red faces screaming up behind you at 17mph.  :o

P50

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Re: On the road with (one of) the world's smallest!
« Reply #20 on: August 06, 2007, 10:24:23 PM »
Superb!  Total lunacy!  a truly hardcore micro nutter! bravo..
"Men of worth act like men of worth, and men of genius, who produce
things beautiful and excellent, shine forth far better when other people
praise them than when they boast so confidently of their own achievements."
-Benvenuto Cellini

burford57

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Re: On the road with (one of) the world's smallest!
« Reply #21 on: August 07, 2007, 08:59:51 PM »
Hi Stuart, and congratulations on your epic journey.  What a feat!

The Nippi is one that I had my eye on years ago but was sold by the time I got to it.
I contacted the new owner and we kept in touch.  She decided to give up all hopes
of driving it this year as she is now in a reclined wheelchair due to back problems and
I bought it from her.  After a bit of fiddling and farting around, it had its' maiden
voyage around Dover on Sunday but seemed to lack power.  Back in the garage I realise
that the MoT examiner must have nipped up the brake cables to get a reading on the
rolling road and he'd wound them up like springs.  No wonder the drums were red hot!

All OK now.  It isn't the one from Kidlington - that guy wasn't selling his after all.

The Ligier, by the way, has found a new home 'oop north and I hope to see it off the
premises this weekend.  That's a bit more in the Secma fund!

Bises a tous
Nick D.
Mitsubago L300 camper van, Honda PC50, Mobylette AV32, Mobylette AV92, Motoconfort X7, Moto Graziella Cheeky Boy, Poirier Manulette MS6 invalid trike, Puch Maxi, Raleigh Wisp, VeloSoleX 5000, VeloSoleX 3300, Power Pak, Cyclemaster & Raleigh RM6.

Jean

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Re: On the road with (one of) the world's smallest!
« Reply #22 on: August 13, 2007, 07:26:55 PM »
Nick can I please have details of the Ligier's new owner to keep the RUMCARS REGISTER up-to-date?  Thanks Jean
Jean
Register of Unusual Microcars

Stuart Cyphus

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Re: On the road with (one of) the world's smallest!
« Reply #23 on: August 15, 2007, 04:36:13 PM »
                                                                                        THE LONG HAUL TO KEMBLE
                                                                                        Part Two; The Voyage Home

 Having made it to Kemble Airfield under its own power, the Mini-Comtesse then proceeded to parade for its adoring fans for the next three days. Saturday & Sunday passed in the usual haze of question-answering and general showing off of its details.




 As the rally wound down on the Sunday afternoon, the decision was made that we would head for home that evening instead of the originally planed Monday morning. With close of rally at 6pm, and following a lengthy chat with a chap who had unveiled himself to have been a Sachs engine mechanic in the '50s & 60s, including working at the London Messerschmitt importers at that time, it was back to the tent to load up for home. Although it had rained almost constantly on the Thursday and Friday, Sunday had seen the sun high in the sky all day and the Comtesse, with only a small vent in one window, was acting rather like a Messerschmitt (or even a Peel Trident  ;D) itself in that respect. I knew I was going to be on the road for "several" hours and the sun was still high, so out came the perspex window in the off-side door. Result; instant ventilation of a decent sort!

  It was just on 7pm when I at last began the homeward trek. For the most part things were uneventful as I retraced my journey through the villiages of Kemble itself, Ewan and South Cerney, although things took on a somewhat surreal note in Kemble villiage as the entire continium of historic army vehicles seen earlier at the rally passed me by in convoy. For my part I got a salute from the Major  who was in charge of the tail-end Bedford RM....  It was also as I approached Cerney Wick from the West that I got lost for the only time this weekend. As mentioned in Part One, I was not navigating by the stars, but by an Ordnance Survey map. However this map dated from 1986.... Yep, you guessed it; They'd moved the road!!! Quarter of an hour later I was back on track and then loomed the bridge over the A417. Once again I had to get out and push.....



 At last, point 105 was reached and it was a right-turn onto the A417 to pass through Fairford with nerry a hitch, unlike the outward trip, and upon passing through Lechlade I decided to pull over and let the Comtesse have ten minutes or so to cool down a bit after about an hour of continuous running. This being the town center, I halt at the side of the road, and removed the bonnet to let the air circulate a bit, whilst also taking the chance to partake of a drink of something myself. I hadn't been standing there five minutes when a chap came up and wanted to know all about the vehicle....  Then he revealed he was a film producer who was in the local area to make a film about the river, but had taken one look at my vehicle and decided he wanted to feature that! I gave him my card. I'm still waiting....

 A few minutes more and I was just about to depart on the final leg home when another chap approaches me (I think it's my hair!  ;)  ;D) He's also fascinated in the Comtesse, then several of his friends arrive on the scene... And so for the next half hour I'm giving an impromptu recount of microcars in general (Yes, I told them all about the RUM Jean) and the Comtesse in particular. All were stunned into total disbelief when I told them I'd had the Comtesse since last October and had only filled the petrol tank once in that time....

 Setting off at last, one turns left at Radcot bridge and down along the five-mile-length of single track road with passing places that leads past Patrick Edwards's yard and on to Clanfield. It was here that I had the only real trouble with other road traffic during the entire homeward run. This road seems to be a favorite for the GTi & 4x4 brigade, and now & then some poncemobile would scream towards me dead in the middle of the road on the narrow bits. It was always them who finally gave way however, being one of the advantages of not having a reverse gear.... Then there was the black 4x4 that sat on my tail for the first two miles along this road despite my repeatedly waving it past at every passing place. The twenty-something woman (yes, it was one of those!) finally decided she'd overtake me as we pulled up to a blind crossroad. It was also along here that a mechanical drama struck.....

 About three miles down this road, a screeching sound suddenly made itself heard over the engine, and equally suddenly everything went dead, and the Comtesse ground to a halt. My first thought was that the engine had seized, an event I had been fearing happening from Thursday morning onwards. I whipped the bonnet off to be met by waves of heat but how to tell a seized engine just by looking? Somewhat cautiously I decided to press the starter. Result; Absolutely nothing. Even the electrics were dead.

 Just picture the scene for a moment dear reader. The sun is just starting to set and myself and the Comtesse are stranded in the middle of a lonely country road precisely fourteen miles from home and two miles in either direction from the nearest form of civilisation. The only sounds to be heard is the birds in the trees and the wind in the corn in the fields around. I stand there and ponder. My mechanical aptitude seldom extends past changing a wheel, and besides, the only tools I have are two adjustable spanners and a big screwdriver. It was then that I thought it odd that the electrics had packed in as well as the engine, for even if that had seized, should not the electrics still function?? I leaned into the car and reached for the main ignition switch mounted over the right-hand rear wheel arch, directly above the battery. In doing so, I glance at the battery, which those following previous chapters will be aware, is now a full-sized car battery sat on the floor, and I instantly see the cause of the problem. One of the battery leads had bounced off! Yet a further example of the combination of poor roads and a vehicle with almost zero suspension.



 With the battery reconnected, the engine fired straight up. Oh me of little faith for believing it had seized, and the remaining fourteen miles home, through Clanfield, Bampton and Lew, passed entirely without any further incident. I pulled up the drive of home at precisely half past nine. Total time to get home being two and a half hours. Getting the window back in took a further three-quarters of an hour.

 So there you have it. The Comtesse made it both there and back again entirely under its own power (Such as it has). Chances are these were the longest journeys this car, which had been standing from 1977 to 2004, has ever undertaken. Average speed was reckoned to be 15-17mph. Total travelling time four and three-quarter hours. Total milage 75.  
« Last Edit: December 11, 2012, 09:53:19 PM by Stuart Cyphus »

witney44

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Re: On the road with (one of) the world's smallest!
« Reply #24 on: August 15, 2007, 05:18:01 PM »
Fabulous stuff Stuart. :-* But why didn't you wait to have it published in Rumcars News for all to read?  ;D

Dan Rodd

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Re: On the road with (one of) the world's smallest!
« Reply #25 on: August 15, 2007, 05:35:48 PM »
well he already gets two pages to himself ;D ;D

blob

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Re: On the road with (one of) the world's smallest!
« Reply #26 on: August 15, 2007, 06:26:55 PM »
What a most enjoyable read that was! Somehow I knew you

Bob Purton

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Re: On the road with (one of) the world's smallest!
« Reply #27 on: August 15, 2007, 07:19:44 PM »
I enjoyed your story Stuart. Why bother getting another car, you seem to be doing ok with that one!

Peelpower

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Re: On the road with (one of) the world's smallest!
« Reply #28 on: August 15, 2007, 08:26:03 PM »
I do understand Stuart absolute !
It must be the addiction to collect microcars. I have got that" illness" since 25 years, and i still love the microcars.
Regards  ;)

marcus

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Re: On the road with (one of) the world's smallest!
« Reply #29 on: August 16, 2007, 04:08:37 PM »
Ah , the old collecting bug. I would have it too, but I suppose I am "lucky" in that I only just have space for one small car, so I always HAVE to resist temptation
Just remember: as one door closes behind you, another slams in your face