The Graham Hill Sprint and other diversions

Again limited progress on the RF84.  I did pop rivet the name plate to the firewall, the importance of which is almost purely symbolic. The gearbox is off at MBR and the front suspension and pedals still at URS.  Pressing the bearings out of the front uprights is still a work in progress.  Finding a time that is convenient for everyone involved with the press is proving a bit difficult – so a 20% off offer on a 10 tonne press at Machine Mart will have to be bought into play this weekend.


Recently I’ve had a bit of work done on the Panda.  I’ve probably mentioned the Ragazzon exhaust here before, but I’ve also had a set of Columbo and Barriani cams fitted. I called C&B a little while ago and they suggested a cam profile which would give a small increase in top end whilst improving torque and driveability.  So after these had been fitted by Bradleys in Shipton Under Wychwood; great job Adam and hope the finger is on the mend; getting out seemed like a really great idea.  Good job I’d entered to Owen MC Graham Hill Sprint at Curborough, on the figure of 8 course. I also needed the HSA points, being stuck somewhere near the bottom of the table. (As an aside Hill is probably the first racing driver I can remember being aware of.)

On the morning of the event I woke to possibly the worst cold I’ve had in years; tempted not to go I instead starting consuming industrial quantities of Lemsip Max and got in the car.  As you’d expect when there isn’t a single raindrop on the weather apps it started pouring just before my run.  90s was a pretty terrible time, but I wasn’t exactly 100%.  Second run – still wet and I managed to knock off about 5s and put in a respectable time.  The combination of exhaust, air inlet and cams seemed to have transformed the car. Still a 100hp Panda (now up to around 113hp if the Bradleys Dyno is any judge of these things) but now one with a motor which revs cleanly and enthusiastically, and sounds the part too. The people at C&B had been spot on. By my timed run the track was almost dry, so I could go for it a bit more.  Upshot: 8/10’s off my dry track PB, and with a stinking cold.  When the rain started again I abadonded any ideas of a final run – I’ve thrown it away at Curborough in the wet before. I was more than happy with the time, but much happier when I saw the number of HSA points that I’d scored later in the week. From the foot to the middle of the table in one event!! 3 more HSA events should improve the table position some more by the end of the year.  I might even consider others, depending how class A1 looks just before they hand out trophies..

Grahah Hill

Fast lap from Graham Hill Sprint



A visit to MBR, RF-84 pics, hub woes.. and solutions..

Lots to report on the RF-84.  Firstly the trip to visit Mark Bailey on Friday.

I was under no illusions about the state of the Hewland MK9 that I bought last year.  It was always going to need new bearings, seals and a stack of other bits. And as Mark stripped it it was evident that this was the case.  It also needed a little welding, and the bolts needed replacing with studs as per the original. The job list is extensive, but I’m pretty sure that I’ll have a decent box which will last a few seasons when the work is done.  As we talked as Mark worked, it became apparent that we knew a lot of the same people, and had even raced at many of the same Kart meetings in the 80’s.

When I bought the car Dermot said he’d bought it from Mark.  That was indeed the case, and the pictures shown here are a small selection of those that I took away with me on Friday.  They are both useful for the rebuild, and a great record of the car as it was raced a few years back.

A great way to spend a morning.


A job that needs doing before I complete the rebuild of the front suspension is to change the wheel bearings.  This involves a lot of a work and a press.  Having lined up the use of a press all I needed to do was undo the bolts which pass through the hubs.  Simon from Universal said something like “this should be straight forward”. Well it wasn’t.  The bolts must have been torqued to something like 400Nm and it was simply impossible to undo them. I spent a good part of Saturday trying. And then I spent the evening working out what to do. I came up with a fixture which would hold the hub whilst I undid the bolt; sometimes when I’m working on the car I forget I’m an engineer.  When I remember what I do for a living some of these problems are easier to solve.  By Sunday evening I’d undone the bolts. Quite a sense of achievement.