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A marathon of preparation.

I thought I would supplement the tale described on the web pages about Amy and myself on the Classic Marathon to Morocco with one about the 7 months of preparation for the event. OK so I was out of the country or up-country on business most weeks but I buried myself in the garage most weekends. What do you do to a car that has had about 1000 hours preparation for holidays, rallies and races?

The first task is to decide what to do, speak to people who have done similar things before, consult the Jowett sport team etc etc. Then make a list. Well I purposefully haven’t consulted that list for this write-up, mainly because Chris wants it in a hurry.

The biggest problem was wheels. Most of the ones rallied on before have cracked around the holes and cap studs with the strain of big sticky tyres and age. So I had a choice, weld up one of the sets used before or find an alternative. I tried various sources. Frank Wooley took one of his to Lee’s to copy and they quoted about $80 a wheel, but they were a modern off-track design. So Amy and a friend paint-stripped the chosen set while I visited scrap yards for suitable rims. Four Suzuki jeep wheels in fairly bad condition were all I could find. These were despatched to Mike Crossman (whom I did a part Monte with) after I had worked out a design for new centres. Meanwhile I borrowed next-doors arc welder and strengthened the back-up set. These are now on the Javelin as the ones that came back from Mike were superb. They are 16inch 4.5in with a bit of offset to allow me to adjust track with spacers. The 175 tyres, once again kindly supplied by Kingpin, sat flat on the wider rims. Amy checked the run-out on the Javelin front hub. From memory I think I allowed 20 thou. Anyway they balanced up and ran smoothly. Thanks Mike and Frank. P.S. If you visit a scrap yard, buy up any Jeep wheels.

Then there was the suspension to strengthen. Ken Braddock supplied two very strong lower rear arms. New bushes were fitted and 1mm of rear axle tube was ground away to provide clearance at full bump. Bill Lock supplied two torsion bars for the rear that had less residual twist than my well used ones. The Panhard rod retainers were strengthened.

Straps were fitted to support the axle on full bump to prevent the shortened prop shaft for the overdrive from going through too great an angle.

New hangers to take Transit figure 8 doughnuts were welded to the exhaust. The exhaust pipe was also bent as close to the chassis as possible thanks to John Blankley’s massive pipe bender.

Unfortunately I did not renew the front suspension which might have detected a sheared trunnion bolt. Anyway that is one of the jobs to do now while fitting new trunnion rubbers.

The engine mountings were secured with Terry clips so the engine did not take off in the massive yumps. One of these broke, I discovered on return, but the mountings were still intact.

A sump guard was fixed with U bolts and 1 inch wood spacers (to cushion chassis tubes). I already have 45 degree supports to the front tubes. Hopefully, I can publish pictures of the sump and chassis damage sustained. But I was pleased with the design as it saved the engine and chassis where it mattered most. You would not believe the size of the bolder or the 70mph impact or the sparks and noise that caused the damage thanks to the Moroccan youths.

The brake drums were skimmed via Ken Braddock and new linings and springs were fitted.

Next was cooling. I already had a large oil cooler mounted to the bulkhead and a thermostat. Mike Smailes suggested an aluminium radiator. So to hell with the expense I measured up for one, increasing dimensions wherever possible. It came a week before the rally after much delay. Unfortunately, the thread on the temperature sensor was not correct. So again JB helped me out with the correct tap. The Renault 16 fan and a new Kenlowe adjustable sensor were fitted. This would enhance the 8-blade variable pitch mechanical fan that I had carefully balanced. The fan support bracket had broken again so this was strengthened. The system worked well. As far as I know the electric fan never came on even though we experienced hard driving in 90deg plus temperatures. We ran much of the time at half pitch on the mechanical fan, only increasing to pitch in the desert. A couple of days before we took it for a test drive, well actually to get some Pipex air filters, we lost water on the M25 and found the water pump seals had blown. I loosened the rad pressure cap so that we could continue. It was the next day and a few shops before I found a 4 p.s.i. cap to fit. The previous one was 15p.s.i. from Amy’s mini. Even though the rad was mounted on rubber the severe vibration during the rally split the side of it. It is now back with the manufacturers. Radweld cured the leak on the rally, but it only had to survive the last sedentary day.

The heater was removed to save weight and replaced with a plastic bucket to store Amy’s food (it would double as a liquid catcher in emergencies). While in the cockpit, the fire extinguisher, first aid kit, duplicate speedo cables for Halda Speedpilot and Twinmaster, clocks and compass were fitted. The rally seats full-harness belts were checked for comfort and safety. Pockets were put in the door for glasses and maps. The hood frame parts were removed to allow stowage of the hood with the roll-over bar in place. The roll-over bar was padded with foam as we expected our heads to be thrown about. The boot rack was fitted in case we had to carry something like the spare wheel (if the spare wheel tray was damaged) or duty free. All the tools, spares, maps and supplies were stowed securely and accessibly.

In the engine bay all wires were protected, stone guard mesh was fitted to the louvres and rubber skirt (pond liner) was hung across behind the front wheels to protect the chassis from stone blasting. All ignition leads were sealed and lucky we did because it rained all through France and we hit some wet wadis in the desert. The gearbox oil filler was extended to the top of the side of the radiator. The radiator overflow was taken to a container to save any fluid that might boil out. The crankcase breather vents were fitted with tubes and taken to a 2-inch segment of paper air cleaner fitted high up on the bonnet support.

I had spent many weeks designing and testing an air cleaner similar to the original Vokes ( A Renault 16TS actually). This made the engine very quite but I detected a flat spot due to the two sides of the engine upsetting carburation. It would have given very clean air but I decided to lash out and buy a pair of PiperX foam cones at $55. Vacuum cleaner bags for the dusty sections supplemented these. Whilst there I also bought some chrome wheel nuts to make the car look prettier but also to aid removal.

Well that was it, I think, from memory. My list probably included many other jobs. Thanks to all who assisted, especially to Kingpin Tyres that once again supplied strong and sticky ‘boots’. Poor fitting of the tube caused the puncture we had. Always use a commercial fitter is my motto now. I should have learnt from previous years.

Now the engine and gearbox are out for careful examination. You never know I may report on that next.

   Amy's view   Pictures  Video clips 1













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