Report from Pete Pascoe
Our group consisted of Phil and Jenny (MK2 Savage), Mike and Linda (MK2 Lotus), Graham and Claire (modified MK2 Estate), Lynn and myself (MK2 Lotus). By day 13 we had kind of got into the habit of getting on the road by 09:00, which means being out of bed before 08:00. The strange thing about this hotel was it was on two sides of the road, and yes you are right in thinking that the dining room was on the other side of the road from the side we were staying. So after a very good breakfast, went back to our room and picked up our bags. I think the Europeans are just about getting the hang of a proper breakfast, because it was one of the best of the trip.
I had loaded the bags and checked over the car, this included lifting the car with a trolley jack and checking the gearbox oil level. On the previous day we had been stuck in quite heavy traffic and the gear shift had started to feel a little heavy. I didn’t know exactly what caused it, possibly sitting in traffic on the way into Weingarten but also, for some strange reason, my battery was flat. I still run with a 25amp dynamo and regulator control box so I could have discharged the battery by sitting in traffic with the engine on tick over.
Anyway it was time to get under way, so I got the jump leads out of the boot and Phil was good enough to give me a jump start. We headed out of town behind Graham and Claire as they had a satnav. As we headed off towards the north west we passed through some light rain. We had decided to stay on the main roads/motorways to make it easier on the cars.
We pulled into the services for a fuel/comfort break. After our stop we went to head off again, and I was perhaps hopefully thinking that my battery would have recharged itself after a bit of a run. But no such luck, it was more serious than that. With some help from Mike, Graham and Phil we had a look at the engine bay wiring and sorted out a couple of small problems. These were mainly caused by the new stainless steel exhaust system transmitting more heat into the engine bay. So we push started my car and carried on our way.
As we were having electricity problems we went in front, with Graham and Claire behind us. This meant we were navigating from our ten year old maps, and to make matters worse it started to rain again. Rain on motorways isn’t good at the best of times, but in a fourty three year old car on the wrong side of the road and with electricity problems it was horrendous. Towards the end of this stint I had to choose between wipers or indicators, I didn’t have enough electricity to run both.
If I’d have thought we stood a chance of getting this fixed at the side of the road, I would have stopped at the next services but I didn’t think we had any chance at all. I thought we would do better to try to keep going as long as possible without being a danger to other road users. It helped us that Graham was behind us with his lights on and he was ‘shepherding’ us as much as possible.
We made it out of the other side of the bad weather and had a good run on the last leg of our trip. It was at this time that Graham and Claire took over the lead and we followed them into the hotel which was right next to, and part of the racetrack complex. We got checked in and took our bags up to the room before heading straight back out to have a look at what was going on with our car.
Firstly thanks all that helped – Rod, Graham, Roger, Mike, Phil, Eddy, and Magnus. The first thing to be removed was the dynamo. I had taken some brushes with me – that’s one reason for staying with a dynamo and reg box – you can repair them on route. With the dynamo out I checked the brushes, I didn’t think that the old ones looked at all bad, but Mike did point out that the windings inside had moved and possibly arced against the inside of the dynamo. With Lynn sitting in the car keeping an eye on the state of charge, by watching the ammeter, we then checked the regulator control box. This seemed to do something but we were not fully confident this was working properly. The ammeter needle was bouncing around all over the place, but the battery was finished so Phil very kindly volunteered to run us down to the local B&Q style shop to buy a new one. We picked up a slightly over size battery, to cover the possibility of having to run ‘on discharge’ again.
When we got back to the hotel it had started to rain again. Lynn had gone to our room to get ready for dinner, so I thought I would have a go at getting the car fixed. So with Mike, Phil, Graham and I think Roger holding umbrellas I lay under the car and tried to get things back together. But at that moment the heavens opened and the thunder started. By now it was coming down like stair- rods, and as it transpired I was laying in the largest puddle in the entire car park.
The guys got wet, and I must admit I was absolutely soaked through to the skin. I was so cold that I could not hold a spanner without my hands shivering so much it wouldn’t stay on the bolt. It was at this point that I said “that’s it, I’ve had enough”. The car was pushed into a now available space undercover along side Brett who was trying to mend a brake problem on his MkIV, where we got all the loose parts bolted temporarily back on before we abandoned the car for the night and went for a nice hot shower and then to dinner.
It was over dinner that Rob and Pete came up with the idea that it would be great if we could get all the Cortinas out on the track for a photo shoot. I don’t know quite how they managed it, but they didn’t just get us on track, they got us a couple of laps around the grand prix circuit too!
The following afternoon, after going on the track just using power from the new battery, our electricity supply problems were solved, we tracked the continuing problem down to the dynamo and reg box. As luck would have it, Rod (MkIIOC spares man) just happened to have replacements in his car. It appears that the dynamo failure had caused the reg box to fail in turn, and this had meant we were running ‘on discharge’ for some time.
Unfortunately, Rod didn’t have any MkIV parts so couldn’t help Brett who by this time had discovered he needed a new master cylinder. Thankfully the local Ford dealer not only had one, but incredibly, they also managed to fit in the job on Brett’s estate straight away that afternoon.
I must at this point say a massive thanks to everybody that helped, it was a very testing time under awful conditions thanks again.
All photos © Cortina MkII Owners Club LTD