For the second time as a classic car owner my blood ran cold; climbing out of the Triumph, ready to tuck it away in the garage, I noticed the offside rear wheel’s alarming camber – a problem that had been cured just hours before with the installation of the new rear end.
I jacked it up and was stunned to see that the new studs had all but completely pulled out of the old aluminium trailing arm, with nothing but the hub nut separating me from disaster during the 70mph blat back from Thatcham. The car was totally undriveable and I’d had such a scare that I parked it and left it for two weeks.
Time, however, wasn’t on my side, and I needed to get the car fit for a long-weekend getaway to Bruges. Attempts to fix it in-situ were foiled by the ageing locking wheel nuts – the one on the damaged rear wheel refused to budge. Unable to limp to a garage, I called the AA, who gamely tried (and failed) to free the wheel, in the process destroying the nut and knackering the alloy.
Will de la Rivière at Beech Hill Garage came to the rescue and I had the car transported to Reading for fettling. Classic Driving Development – supplier of the brilliant CV driveshafts – managed to send a replacement hub stud overnight, and it took John Alexander at Beech Hill just minutes to drill it out. The situation was worse than I thought: with so little metal surrounding the stud holes, a new trailing arm was needed. My wife, Laura, saved the day this time, driving from London to Wins International in East Grinstead to collect the part, bring it to the garage and shuttle me home. Incredibly, we’re still married.
By the following day the car was back together and running well, and the chaps at Beech Hill even had time to mend the exhaust – it turns out it was another knock-on effect from the incorrect gearbox being fitted, which sits lower than a J-type. The trip home was mercifully uneventful, and smoother than ever. All that was left was to get it home and prepare for our dash to the Dover-dunkirk ferry.
The trip perhaps sounded more of an adventure on paper than it was in reality, given that the drive from Croydon to Dover was longer than that from Dunkirk to Bruges, but once on the other side we ditched the motorway in search of scenery. The area is quite industrial and, with the exception of Veurne, the best architecture came when we arrived in Bruges.
Anyone who’s tried to find the Zand car park will no doubt be familiar with the accidental detour we took through the heart of the city, where the car got loads of attention from tourists. Hopelessly lost, I eventually saw a policeman and turned down a road to ask for directions, which proved a mistake: the officious toad stung us with a €58 on-the-spot shakedown, nearly reducing Laura to tears.
Discretion being the better part of valour, we decided to leave the car in the underground car park for the rest of our stay, but couldn’t
‘Hopelessly lost, I saw a policeman and turned to ask for help – the officious toad stung us with a €58 fine’
resist an early morning sprint through the centre on our final day (which turned out to be ‘No Car Sunday’ – you couldn’t make it up).
The run to the ferry was easy, and I was chuffed to meet a group of Triumph owners waiting in the queue – even more so when I realised that the starter was playing up and we needed a bump-start.
Later, Dunkirk ‘Little Ship’ enthusiasts Justin and Pete threw their weight behind us at the Dover end, and we had lots to chat about: it turns out readying a boat to cross the Channel is one of the few endeavours more time-consuming than preparing a Triumph!
Δ Beech Hill Garage: www.beechhillgarage.com Δ Classic Driving Development: classicdrivingdevelopment.co.uk
Big saloon poses by the canal, minutes before Bruges was closed to traffic. Above right: by Nieuwe Papegaai mill on the city ramparts
Clockwise, from left: on the ramps at Beech Hill Garage; both the nut and stud were destroyed; original trailing arm was too thin to helicoil
TRIUMPH 2500TC RUN BY Greg Macleman OWNED SINCE June 2017 PREVIOUS REPORT August