A Nice Surprise.

I sometimes hate my old Microsoft Surface tablet because the operating system (Windows RT) doesn’t allow me to download apps that aren’t from the rather poorly stocked Windows store. Also, the USB port has only enough power going to it to operate one accessory at a time. But, it’s brilliant for Netflix which I use all the time when I’m abroad. There’s only an occasional hiccup, for instance when a film contains various languages – Russian, Chinese, Greek etc – and you hit the subtitle button, they cleverly come up in the language of the country you’re in – which is mostly unhelpful. So, when I left the tablet on the plane, I told myself that I wasn’t that bothered if I never saw it again. Five days later the phone rang; ‘We think we may have located your tablet’. It turned out that it had been handed in at Turin. I checked the database to see where the aircraft had been – everywhere in Europe but Turin, so I don’t know how that worked. Anyway, in a village near Stansted there’s a little industrial unit full of cheery girls and stacks of valuable stuff dopes like me leave on aeroplanes. After stumping up £10 for the tea swindle, my tablet was handed over (which saved me the bother and expense of a replacement).

I missed the Ufford gathering last year and was all set this year for the Hillman’s first proper outing when, on opening the workshop door on the day of the meeting, I was greeted by a large puddle of water underneath the engine. The blinkin’ water pump had failed again. I’m toying with the idea of blanking the pump orifice off and going electric – I just can’t seem to get the pumps properly sealed. This SS Jaguar was my favourite of the day….

… and this is only the second Avon Special I’ve seen after Awkward’s.

Following a fun day out, it was back to the workshop to weld up some flanges for delivery on Monday and then to address the water pump problem.

And whilst I was at it, I thought I might as well whip the hubs off and get to work on the brake conversion. It’s always worth assembling everything with copper-slip and then applying some protective coating over the top of the exposed nuts and bolts because when it comes to taking it all apart, it pays dividends. I use a now unobtainable US Airforce spec gloop called ‘bear grease’ – I bought a can of the stuff many years ago from Vintage Engine Technology to protect the Avro’s nuts and bolts – it lasts forever.

It was good to see that the small hydraulic assist assemblies I’d designed and fabricated for the drum brakes were still in good shape and could go back on if the disc brake conversion doesn’t work out.

Just out of interest, I weighed everything I’d taken off each hub and it came to 9.4kgs. The Wilwood caliper complete with pads, its mounting bracket and nuts and bolts came to 2kgs. I’m hoping that the new disc rotors will weigh in at no more than 6kgs, then I can nod sagely about unsprung weight and so forth – providing of course, there’s no nasty surprises.

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