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Cars > Simon’s Garage > Blog


205 : 1 - 0 : Attrition

By Simon

Filed under: /blogs/browse/t/vehicle/v//p

Well, the trusty 205 completed the toughest 400 miles it'll do for a while I think!

First of all, I was horrendously late getting down to Bristol for the drive down to Chris's so the car was thrashed good and proper on the way down there - cruised just below 90 most of the time, and didn't drop below 80 for the entire trip (nearly 100 miles). So I arrived at Chris's somewhat wired but not as late as I could have been. Smashed my record for the trip by an incredible 22 minutes, down from 1h36 to 1h12! Mind you, that is the first time I've done it in a car with a real engine, and it was from the Esso in Knowle to Chris's house on Old Park Hill - both nice and close to the motorway.

After a small break for pizza and digging out my tux from the (quiet) house, it was back to the M5 for a slightly gentler drive down to Cullompton services at J28. Tone and Ellie in Tony's E30 325i and Sarah and Chris in his MX-5 were accompanying me, on my lonesome in the 205 of wonder.

Chris had planned a nice route of rally-esque roads which was excellent fun and surprisingly not too bad to manage without a nav. We rejoined the M5 at J29, from where it was not far to Chris's house (luckily I ended up behind him for the last bit so I couldn't get lost!).

On Saturday, we started by playing around with some autotest trials, which the 205 dabble in with handbrake-induced success :) The brunt of the abuse was taken by the trusty Panda though!

Next it was a bit of forest driving, which the 205 and I ended up tackling as the civilized choice of a convoy of 5 vehicles! Not often I end up in that situation, but the other 4 were 2 off-road karts (no suspension!), a quad bike and the Panda... So I found myself chauffeuring Sarah and her 3 flatmates in my car up a rapidly deteriorating track into the woods. It wasn't just unsurfaced, it was pretty much undriven so there was much slithering and clonking of fallen branches hitting the floor! the rear suspension coped better than I expected with the number of people on board too. Near the top, Dean took over the XS and I went in one of the karts. Got embarrassingly beached a couple of times but a quick shove up the arse by the 205 got me going again :) Apparently Dean was a lot scarier to be driven by, say the girls. The fun came to a halt when a stray rock broke the fuel line under the car, but luckily we were able to freewheel all the way back down to the house where a section of fuel pipe was borrowed from under the bonnet (between pump and filter) where there was some slack, and a quite professional repair effected.

The last piece of entertainment was a hilllclimb up and down Chris's (quite substantial) drive. Luckily we used the karts for this, since I stuffed it into a tree and broke the steering rods (sorry Chris!),..

Then today after the Grand Prix and breakfast had been gotten out of the way, the long journey of pretty much the whole M5 lay ahead. The 205 coped tremendously, (in fact it was me who cracked and had to pull off for forty winks) and I really enjoyed the huge sunroof on such a lovely day too. Must get the radio working though. Reached a new maximum of 110 on the A46 on the way back too - its definitely running better :) Just the warmer weather perhaps? Nice empty roads, Easter Sunday, lovely stuff. Had a bit of a dice with a mk5 Escort which ended prematurely when he ran an amber light I wasn't prepared to risk!

All is well, for now...

By Simon

Filed under: /blogs/browse/t/vehicle/v//p

Well, the dramatic tale of clamping I related in my last journal entry ended in a most bizarre way. I arrived at my car in the early morning armed with what I hoped were sufficient tools to dismantle my suspension and remove the clamp, only to find the clamp had gone! Both the other cars that had been clamped had gone, and mine was happily driveable. The autotest went well, and I came 4th. The skinny tyres are definitely the way to go.

The XS and I then enjoyed an exhilirating drive home in the wee small hours. The car got a proper workout and I reached 106 at one point - the first time I've been able really to stretch its legs. The other thing that struck me during the drive is how well spaced the gears are - despite being low and close, they match the acceleration of the engine beautifully through 3rd, 4th and 5th. I think having 2nd would make an unimaginable difference!

The car is now running nicely, although tending to boil its coolant. The instrument panel is playing up too - gauges and lights appear to function somewhat at random! But it runs well. I need it to continue doing so until the AA lift their embargo on me, in a couple of weeks' time! (I've used up the maximum 5 callouts in my membership year, which runs from mid-April). The major test the XS will undertake is a monster event next weekend - driving to Bristol, then rallying to Exeter, then being thrashed in various ways around Chris's property, and a looong drive home. Wish me luck...


By Simon

Filed under: /blogs/browse/t/vehicle/v//p

With my new engine and box weighing the rear of the car down greatly (£50 in the end, including alternator and carb - bargain!), my car has been imprisoned by some cowboy cockface under the name of Able Parking Services. I was parked behind WHSmiths in Clifton for 45 minutes or so, late on a Friday night when it was clearly shut. I came back out to find my car and two others suffering large yellow shackles.

The release fee is £100 according to the paper stuck to the window, or £125 PER DAY according to the not-very-obvious sign, high up on the wall about 30 feet away. Lets not even mention towing fees - I am worried! However, I think I can take the clamp off if I unbolt the balljoint (its held on with a chain round the suspension arm) and could be away :)

Such poor poor timing, since tomorrow morning I have to rise early, go shopping, put engine in mini garage, load car with MUCH autotest ****, and then liaise at 12:30 with any freshers who respond to the 200 flyers I put on cars this afternoon. Its going to be a long day... and that's without packing for Easter and driving home!

Rally victory, shopping for bits

By Simon

Filed under: /blogs/browse/t/vehicle/v//p

Well, the mighty machine won its inaugural rally last Friday. It was a somewhat unfair victory, as I competed in the novice class, due to having a first-time (although as it turned out, extremely good) nav in Phil, a friend of Niall's. However the car performed well, despite getting the hump and running poorly for a while about once a stage. I blame the cooling problems - the fan isn't coming on, and I'm wondering if there might be a leak in the head gasket as its also using lots of coolant... Let's hope not!

Was chatting to Joe (just bought a Fiat Coupe 20V Turbo, nice) tonight in Jester's who mentioned track days. This is something I'd really like to do now that I've got a proper car. However, as advised by Niall and Tone (and I agree) the XS's brakes aren't going to stand up to track work. Although I've always been pleased with the power and feel of the bog standard 205 solid discs and pads (these are from the Junior actually), they could always improve and what is particularly needed is longevity. I am looking at my options and researching on 205GTIDrivers, which suggests I fit 266mm discs and vented calipers from a 306.

So there's some shopping for the next few months. I may also purchase in Glastonbury tomorrow another engine and box. They've done 90k miles and are on offer for £70 - I think when exams are over I will rebuild the engine with a new water pump, cambelt, clean up the head etc and have a big old fit-parts-to-205 week just like old times...

On the road, niggles to sort, rally debut!

By Simon

Filed under: /blogs/browse/t/vehicle/v//p

After sidling through its MOT retest (much to my great surprise), the XS appears to be evolving back into a car of the kind you feel comfortable driving from A to B. There are two notable issues still - 2nd gear is still absent (I will be rebuilding a box for it) and some pikey smashed one of my headlights whilst I was in Asda :( The issue with the alternator was fixed by the most diligent AA man I've ever had! He was under my car making a working alternator from two non-working ones and bits from his van for an hour and a half, in pouring rain and gale force winds. AA man, I salute you!

The XS will see its first rally tomorrow night, and I'm very excited! I think I shall miss 2nd gear more than I do with normal driving, but it should still be a blast :)


Failed MOT

By Simon

Filed under: /blogs/browse/t/vehicle/v//p

The XS came back from Royal Park Garage today where they got it running right (turned out the leads were on in the wrong order) and ran an MOT test on it.

It failed on the following:
-Nearside rear seatbelt retracting mechanism defective
-Front windscreen washer provides insufficient washer liquid
-Offside front obligatory mirror insecure
-Offside front brake pad less than 1.5mm thick
-Nearside front headlamp insecure

Have a complete brake setup from the other 205 I can put on over the weekend, hopefully the mirror is just loose, although I have a spare one without the adjusting arm if necessary. Seatbelt mechanism might be able to free up, if not it'll be one from the scrappy (need to go to get a headlight anyway). Washers should be easy whatever the reason.

The other issues to fix are: gear linkage so loose its practically non-existent - the MOT guy said there was a de-threaded bracket somewhere along the line. Will probably pick one of those up at a scrappy too. Alternator's not charging but I think I have a spare. Reversing lights don't work, possibly just disconnected? Rev counter stopped working on the way to the test centre. Lastly the heater fan doesn't work so the demisting is half-hearted. Better fix all of the above before I go fitting my fancy stereo and CB radio...

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