Marcos Diary - Trials and tribulations of living with a 25 year old car!

Subj: 1998 - Back On The Road Again

The clutch slave cylinder was broken, but still attached to the car and no amount of force or ingenuity seemed to shift it. I attempted to use a blow torch to expand the mount around the slave cylinder, but that just resulted in impressive amounts of flame licking around the engine and gearbox. Not a great idea with a fibreglass car, so quickly discarded.

In the end, I had to pay the local garage to do the work. They came and towed the car in, but took a couple of days identifying the correct clutch slave cylinder. When they did, they couldn't source a correct hose to connect the slave cylinder to fixed pipe on the chassis. Why didn't they reuse the old one? Well, for some reason, they'd cut it in half...

I got a new clutch hose made in Goodridge hosing for just £15 and they returned the car to my home while I was at work. When I got home, I took the car out and found the clutch just as bad as when I'd started trying to fix the problem. I called the garage and they agreed to come and rebleed the clutch on the Friday morning.

When they arrived, they decided that the Master Cylinder had also failed and was sucking air in. This, it seemed, had been the original problem! Anyway, the Master Cylinder proved a lot less difficult to replace (once I sourced one. It turned out to be a Marcos specific part, but the local motor factors had one!) and I even got the clutch bled with little difficulty.

By now, however, I was beginning to enjoy fiddling with the car and I decided to replace the bushes in the front suspension with Polyurethane bushes. A couple of years earlier, I'd picked up a leaflet on Super-Flex bushes, who seemed to have what I required, so I recontacted the UK supplier (Chris Wittor 01753 662905). He gave me a price for the parts (bushes for the four wishbone to chassis attachment points and two steering rack bushes) of £50, which seemed good compared with around £90 which I'd heard from other suppliers.

The bushes arrived promptly and Good Friday was spent trying to remove the front suspension from the car. This didn't prove too difficult, except that both front lower bolts had rusted into the bush sleeves meaning I had to saw the ends off the bolts to get the wishbones out.

Sourcing the correct 'Graphite' grease to lubricate the bushes proved difficult, so I contacted Chris Witter again who recommended CV Joint grease instead, saying that the Graphite grease had become difficult to find in recent years.

Armed with the graphite grease, new bushes and renewed enthusiasm I set to work uprating the front suspension. This proved fairly straightforward, although I did manage to wreck half of one of the wishbone bushes. Chris Wittor generously (and promptly) replaced this free of charge. The steering rack ones went on with no problem.

The next problem to resolve was that of the sticking brake callipers. A number of attempts to remove the jammed one had failed, but (just before I shelled out another fortune to have someone else remove it) I had one last go with the WD40 and achieved success. A quick phone around the local motor factors confirmed that Lucas-Girling no longer make the GT6 callipers, so I phoned Moss in Richmond (not too far away from my home) who had two reconditioned ones in stock. A Saturday morning visit (to get the new ones and deliver the old, to avoid the surcharge and postage costs of returning them later) and £140 was what it cost me to replace both front callipers, but refitting them was easy (aside from having to replace one brake pipe on which a fitting had stripped its thread).

While all this was going on, I was actually enjoying fiddling with the car, so I ended up relaying the wiring loom around the inside and underneath of the chassis rails (rather than, untidily, on top of them) and derusting and repainting a fair amount of the chassis in the engine bay. It still hardly looks show standard, but is a little less disgraceful!

Miraculously, the car fired up first time despite having the loom disconnected and I took the car down for an MOT. First time through they failed it on a couple of minor points (the old "no brake pedal rubber" and the windscreen washer mysteriously stopped working between home and test station), but it was soon re-tested (although a split tail pipe had to be hastily repaired with an exhaust bandage first) and I was ready to get it back on the road in time for the Wellington Park classic car show, near Basingstoke.

This event was being run, for the first time, by the Greenwood organisation, who also run the London-Brighton Classic car run and the Breamore House event over the August Bank Holiday weekend. However, we almost didnít get there as the car gave up the ghost just half a mile from our home (despite having had a 5 mile or so run the previous day). Initial fiddling proved there was fuel, but no amount of interfering with the ignition seemed to help. I sent Mandy off to collect her sister, who was coming with us, and seriously considered phoning the RAC. However, one last removal and refitting of the condensor (the thing that seems to cause problems 99% of the time when the car has been standing for a while) saw the car cough into life.

The car continued, albeit a little roughly, on the, admittedly short, journey to Wellington Country park and we found a very large turn out of cars. The weather proved interesting as it lurched between pouring rain and bright, warm, sunshine (which led to us taking a rowing boat out on the boating lake JUST as is chose to pour with rain. In minutes, however, we were bone dry again as the sun warmed us through).

The day went well, with us all enjoying the facilities of the park (especially good for the kids), a pleasant picnic (sans rain) and a look at the assembled cars (a great number).

During this time, the effect of fitting the polyurethane bushes was becoming clear. The handling is notably sharper and the steering feels lighter and more precise. For the small outlay, they seem to return an excellent result and Iíll be looking into fitting some to the rear of the car in time for the next MOT.

The next trip out was to the CMI/MMOC meet at the Leather Bottle. On the way home, leading the way from Chris Tubbs in his new Mantara, I could not pass a Toyota pickup. The reason was that Iíd manually adjusted the points gap to try and resolve the non-running problem on the way to the Wellington Country Park. The gap was too small, and there was no power at all above about 3000rpm.

That was soon fixed and I decided to take the car on a rare run into work in Bracknell. Just as I turned onto the business park where our office is, I had a hefty clunk from the rear of the car. I thought something must be loose in the boot and spent the day slaving away. When I came to leave, however, the clunk was worse and got considerably worse. I decided it was actually something under the car, so stopped to take a look. Nothing looked out of the ordinary, so I continued. The noise got worse. Eventually I stopped and walked around the back of the car. The source of the sound then became apparent.

The tail pipe which split before the MOT had completely seperated itself from the silencer, which was then held precariously by just the remains of the exhaust bandage. With my weight on board, the silencer hit the floor on bumps, but as soon as I stopped and got out, the silencer lifted. I couldnít do anything about the box grounding out, so I drove home and put up with the silencer bouncing from bump to bump.

With a weekís holiday away from home just a day or two away and the Loseley House classic car show directly after my return, I decided to knock up a temporary exhaust system. First off I tried building it with no silencer box, but the noise was truly earth shaking, so I compromised by adding a cheap cherry bomb exhaust. Itís a lot noisier than the factory system which has been on the car since 1989, but itís at least semi-sociable (or it will be once I get the system welded together to seal all the leaky joints). Dave Lewis of the CMI has offered the use of a pipe bending tool, so I may have another go at building something a little more substantial or I may have to resort to a new factory system.

When I first got the car someone told me not to waste money on a Stainless Steel system, because the system would be knocked off long before it rusted. 9 years later, that theory has been proved wrong..

Loseley proved, as it often does, a pleasant day out. The Classic Car element has almost taken over from the country show, but this year there were Knights jousting (which was great fun, I thought), trained dogs running through tunnels and the like and similar things to keep the kids occupied. Lauren, my daughter, especially liked the fire engines which were pumping water out of the lake and seeing if they could reach the other side with their hoses. I had intended to visit both days (as Chris Tubbs was going on the Saturday), but I was still building an exhaust on the Saturday. There was, however, a second Marcos present on the Sunday, in the form of an R registered Volvo 3 litre, but I never found the owner to have a chat with.

The rest of the year will see the odd trip to the CMI/MMOC monthly meetings, a run down to Breamore House for the classic car show there, a possible outing to the Shoreham Airshow with the MMOC and finally a trip to nearby Ascot for the London Classic Car Show where the CMI and MMOC are sharing a stand.


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