Preparation for this yearís test of man and
machine seemed to be well in hand. Air inlets had been fitted so they sucked air
through the radiator. These worked well during the ideal icing conditions down
to Devon. A substantial sump shield had been fitted from the bumper back to just
in front of the clutch. A shield was also fitted under the overdrive. This, it
was hoped, would prevent a repeat of last year when the sump was holed in a
ford. Fog lights were fitted to prepare for Wales. As usual, higher priorities
prevented John from doing everything he wanted so the car passed the MOT the day
before the rally. We did fit seats borrowed from Trevor Spero and, wonder of
wonders, the HALDA retained its calibration from last year. At the stopover at
my parents we did a few adjustments and fitted a map box.
As we closed on Landís End the fan belt
went. The spare was fitted and after a sequence of enquiries and a 10 mile
detour we replaced the spare at a tractor garage.
Scrutineering and map checking was completed
early allowing time to try out our new regularity routine several times on the
test course. We returned to the hotel to do 3 hours of plotting of the stages up
to Bristol and the first part of Wales. John studied the tests in the bath!
It is said that as soon as you put competition
numbers on a Jowett it starts complaining. 200 yards into the rally the gearbox
locked into first whilst the gear lever indicated reverse! So our cup and any
hope of a class win vanished. Luckily John had cut a large inspection cover over
the gearbox. John took a lot of convincing not to take the side of the gearbox
off but my past experience indicated a wiggle of the selection change arm and
gear change lever would solve the problem. We made it to through the regularity
stage and the next test. The third test was a Le Mans start and high speed
braking test. The Javelin stopped in a cloud of smoke that enveloped the car and
marshals. It also started misfiring. We had noticed some overheating on the way
down; the severity of which was masked by the electric fan. Well we made it to
the next time control but had no time to work on it. At the next test close to
Liskeard the gearbox again locked in first; so we did the whole test in this
gear. I adjusted the selector rods while John researched where the cylinder head
gasket had blown. We had forgotten to pack the spare gaskets even though they
were on our checklist. I phoned numerous Cornish Joweteers most of whom must
have been waiting for us at Okehampton. Anyhow John Thomas of St Cleer offered a
garage and some Halite. We staggered the 8 miles filling up the radiator a
couple of times. John removed his Bradford from the garage and set off to
collect a used gasket from George Libby who, by this time, had arrived home .
Johnís daughter supplied us with tea and sandwiches while we removed the
offending head. The gasket fitted, we set off with just enough time to make the
main control in Wales. However, every 10 miles we had to stop because the car
would start misfiring and overheat. We stopped to adjust timing many times. We
removed the thermostat, changed all the plugs because the cores had been
destroyed by pinking and finally changed the distributor. By this time, we were
too late to make the MC and pick up our Welsh stage instructions, so we had a
meal and drove to the next MC near Preston to arrive 5 hours before it opened.
That gave us chance to take a nap.
Refreshed and glad to be back in the rally we
faired well, apart from stopping 3 times with water on the plugs over a viscous
snow covered road north of Tan Hill. We also attempted Stanhope Ford and
predictably had to dragged out of the foot deep water by a Land Rover. (Some
good pictures of this to come showing the water well over the bumpers.) We also
dropped a couple of minutes on a navigation stage when a ford claimed the sparks
again. Purchase of some silicone gasket sealer eventually cured that problem.
Gavin Black welcomed us at Edinburgh informing
the waiting Jowett club beside Loch Lomond of our coming. John left his seat
belt on for this test so lost a lot of time. Great to see you all. Mike Crossman, with whom I did the rally with last year, was marshal at Ford, south
of Fort William, and later up at Altnaharra. He is rebuilding Speroís engine
so is an honorary club member. Jim Clarkson from Brora was at the last control
of a good night navigation section (the one where the Jup collected a couple of
boulders 2 years ago). We had enough time to chat for a few minutes which proves
the team was working well by this time.
The Javelin enjoyed the rough roads frequently
scraping the sump guard as it steamed past all the pre-war cars. Stages for us
could be difficult as we needed to overtake the older cars running at slower
speeds. As usual, the organisers put in some sneaky bits of navigation, two of
which caught me out, and the marshals tried a few surprises. One was to put a
car with headlights blazing at a control. Even though I knew where it was we
past it three times.
The Javelin found the going fairly easy so,
provided the reliability is good, the car is one of the best for the event
unlike the Monte where unless you are in the pre-1950 there is not much chance
of a class win.
The weather was fine in Scotland allowing an
uneventful run up the west and north coasts. We went south down the side of Loch
Hope, a long treacherous road ending with the control where we saw Mikeís
familiar ĎSí type Jag . Another 30 miles of familiar highland roads took us
to a new section recently cut from the Altnabreac forest. This was exiting, or
at least it was better than the usual regularity through the plain of Caithness.
It would have been even better if the foresters had not put direction signs up
for us; the weary unprepared navigators could not become lost in 500 sq miles of
forest! Anyhow, dawn was breaking as we followed the pre-war cars at 15mph for
15 miles along the single-track sand-covered track with potholes 6 inches deep.
That was until John, then I, became impatient and we struggled past them to sail
unopposed the final 30 miles to JOG. Here we had a couple of Malts and a hearty
breakfast before the rest of the rally arrived.
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