The Ford RS2000 clutch cable I’d put in place instead of the original rod arrangement had probably stretched a bit and a small amount of adjustment was needed before we set off. I also drained and refilled the gearbox; took the exhaust off and cured another rattle that had appeared, ran round with the grease gun, made up some headlight shrouds and cleaned the windscreen.There was nothing else to do but pack all our stuff into the space behind the seats and go.
Or so I imagined. The ambient temperature had dropped over the last few days and I’d noticed that when driving around, the engine water temperature had dropped correspondingly. The new Pro Alloy radiator is so efficient that I could run into problems in the winter. I had an old dynamo switch that was looking for a home and I wired it in so that the fan could be isolated. On the road, I don’t think I’m going to be needing the fan but, when I do need it, I don’t want it to be burnt out through over work. The switch is also a nice addition to the dash.
And talking of additions, a period AA badge has started the collection on the badge bar. When I get back I’ll fit the ‘Independent Union of Special Builders’ badge – not a lot of people have one of those.
The Ambassador’s Daughter and I set off to Kent to stay with my Big Sister. This would break the trip and, as the Channel Tunnel is only half an hour away from her door, getting the early train would not be such an effort. Big Sister is also a master cake-maker and general all round chef par excellence – so we would set off in fine trim!
Before we got to this point, the car had started to miss-fire – a heart-sinking moment – as we passed Colchester on the A12 but the application of choke solved the problem. I’d left the fan switched off and was monitoring how hot the engine would get without it. The fan is now permanently on as fuel evaporation is clearly an issue.
The next little snag – one which dogged a good part of the trip down to Angouleme – was a sticking rear brake, I think brought on by sitting on the ramp to the train with the brakes hard on. The continuous loop brake cable is good in theory but in practice leaves something to be desired. The cable takes up a set around the pulleys and the self-balancing effect is lost. We stopped at a supermarket and bought some gardening wire and plastic clips and in the car park, we cobbled together a fix.
It was a relief to know that the Hillman could drive into the train without a problem – the turning circle is not great. In half an hour we were in France and then spent the next hour trying to get out of Calais on one of the little green roads instead of the motorway. We managed in the end and headed off to our first stop at La Ferme en Ville, Bernay.